fiddlehead definition

fid·dle·head [ fídd'l hèd ] (plural fid·dle·heads) noun
Definition: edible fern shoot: the coiled frond of a young fern, often cooked and eaten as a delicacy

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wish I was in Charleston today...

The South's much anticipated locally-sourced, refined dining spot by James Beard award winner, Sean Brock opens for dinner service today. If I could have swinged it, I would be at a table at Husk tonight enjoying fresh from the farm southern fare and sampling one of the 50 varieties of bourbon Chef Brock will be offering. I love everything that Chef Brock stands for: fresh local ingredients, inspirations from the authentic south, using heirloom ingredients (including pork), seed saving, ingredient driven cuisine, in-house pickling and charcuterie. McCrady's, Brock's first Charleston institution, is one of my favorite restaurants and I am sure once I visit, I will be adding Husk to my list.

To top it off, Sean is a super nice guy, easy-going and fun to chat with. I am especially fond of his fiddlehead tattoo on his ever growing sleeve of goodness.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

lovely earthenware

I fell in love with this personalizable platter I found on Etsy from Inherwordsceramics. I just bought one for a wedding present and have bookmarked the page for future gifts. I love the lowercase, fun font and being able to choose my own colors. Service was sweet, fast and friendly.

Monday, September 13, 2010

why blog

I often hear/read a chef discussing why he/she loathes the food bloggers. Sometimes I nod along until I realize that I guess I fall into that category. I'm not really a food blogger in the true sense of the term. I never set out to write a blog to be noticed, but rather as an outlet after a tragedy turned my life upside down. Focusing on things that inspire me and make me happy started to make me feel joy again. And while I will never be the same shining spirit I once was, I have lived vicariously through artists and chefs who's craft I believe in while creating this blog. If I can be a part of their success, if only through wishing and saying nice things on my little blog then I have accomplished a lot.

When I stumbled upon this lovely calligraphy piece on Etsy I felt reassured that this is a good outlet and not silliness. It makes no sense. It makes no money but it feels right to love one another, eat each other's cooking and say it was good. I will never bash your restaurant for the rude things you do and I will never waste time on bad meals but I may write about you occasionally and wish for greater recognition than here. I will comment on the real bloggers blogs and vote for you in polls. Not all bloggers are looking for fame and fortune. Some of us are not building an empire, but treating your food as an art form that is fleeting and must be captured before consumed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Empire State South Grand Opening

I have been excited for quite some time about the proposed restaurant Empire State South restaurant with chef/partner Hugh Acheson at the helm. I love his style and sensibility when it comes to food and gathering. His respect for the seasons in his approach to local produce prepared simply and pure creates dishes without pretense. It is admirable as well as delicious. I love the juxtaposition, or rather that it does not seem to be a juxtaposition when you are eating his refined comfort food.

When I found out that the Chef de Cuisine was to be Nick Melvin of Parish and formerly The Inn at Serenbe, I was uber excited. Nick is passionate about his craft, about veggies fresh from the garden, trout fresh from local waters, pickling, local, seasonal, whole animal...I could go on and on. He is profoundly passionate about Empire State South and I can't wait to taste what comes from this motivation.

I am ready for the soft opening this weekend and the grand opening next week. I have talked with Nick about the menu (which he elucidates in great detail) and now I can see versions on the website. I took a tour and oh my is it lovely. The dark wood, the milk paint, the dishes, the antique lighting, the kitchen, the garden, the a la Marzocco GB-5 for espresso, the small batch bourbons, the bocce court. It is all so composed and speaks of a vision.

There are already events like the Farm, Fork and Cork dinner benefiting the Southeastern Horticultural Society whose mission it is to build and maintain learning gardens throughout the Southeast. Empire State South is already reaching out, strengthening the southern community and living up to its moniker.

But wait, there's more...

(isn't she lovely?)

I wasn't aware of the boxed lunch menu! You can pick them up or have them delivered. A twelve dollar adorable and yummy lunch in a tiffin. What a fun idea and what a yummy bunch of choices. The tiffins make me smile because I have a pie carrier that I take with me everywhere that looks very similar. My mom had one. My grandmother had one. My friends love to make fun of it at our annual cookie swap UNTIL they see how neatly my cookies are stored and carried away.

You can get a tiffin too. Look at this one from Ten Thousand Villages. Adorable.

A Malaysian friend of mine sent me a handful of these creamy corn candies. I don't have much of a sweet tooth unless it involves chocolate, but I do like savory desserts. I decided to try one. Inside the pouch was a disc shaped candy in the dullest of food colors, off brown. Not caramel colored, but off brown. Dull. What's that phrase we always heard through school "don't judge a book by it's cover?" Applies here. This yummy, velvety candy tastes like homemade fresh sweet corn made into creamed corn. I am not sure what sort of Willy Wonka magic was needed to make it but i am certain unicorns and rainbows were involved somewhere. These are magical like a dessert and a snack in one, a prelude to dinner if you will.

I need to share them with this blogger . Have you read Who eats this stuff? It is a really charming blog about an Atlantan who tries a new food each day. My kind of challenge.

Back to the Willy Wonka food. Remember this part of the movie when the gum-chewing Violet Beauregard snags a piece of the forbidden three course dinner gum? These candies reminded me of the blueberry girl. Wonder if they have mashed potato gum in Malaysia?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

watermelon obsession

I found this seasoning and thought it would be good to enhance chicken for tacos and salads. It made me laugh twice. First, when I saw the words around it:"not a candy." Second, when it said it was a fruit and vegetable seasoning. Fruit? The ingredients are a mixture of ground chili peppers, salt, and dehydrated lime juice. So while I was preparing dinner using my own mixture, I sliced up a watermelon and tossed some Tajin on it. Yes, this is indeed a fruit seasoning! So, so good. I just ate a plate of watermelon.

Now I am thinking popcorn, jicama, cucumbers. Ooh tomatoes? yes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I leaf you

I swoon over this leaf puzzle by justhatched on Etsy. My sweet first baby had falling leaves painted on the walls of his nursery. This would make a lovely baby present.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Part Deux

On Sunday, August 8 I attended the 2nd annual Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival at JCT Kitchen. The atmosphere was filled with positive energy, even in the ticket line. The day was gorgeous. It was hot but what is more cooling and refreshing than a tomato? After chatting with the lovely volunteers from Georgia Organics, I started making my rounds. First stop, Miller Union and tomatoes from Crystal Organics. Steven Satterfield chatted a bit and handed me an heirloom tomato aspic. Aspic? Gross, was my first impression. How wrong was I? This was in my top two dishes I had all afternoon. The aspic had the crisp, clean flavor of tomato broth and each bite of the heirloom tomatoes (yeah green zebras) brought forth a tasty surprise. To compliment it, I had one of Cara Laudino's (also of Miller Union) Electric Boogaloos made with Prairie Organic vodka. I loved the cardamon and muddled yellow tomatoes, simple and perfect.

Next up, Hot and Hot Fish Club's Hot and Hot Tomato Salad with fresh corn, field peas, fried okra, applewood smoked bacon and chive aoli. While he gathered my dish, chef Chris Hastings and I talked about his last Farm to Table and Back dinner at JCT. One bit and I knew this would be my favorite dish. The tomatoes from Yoder farms were simply sublime. The fried pickled okra lingers on my palate.

Around the corner I ran into Hector Santiago of Pura Vida and Super Pan with his steamed coconut blts. Loved every bite! I washed it down with Paul Calvert's La Mancha made with tomatoes from Serenbe Farms. Yum-my! He pureeed roasted heirloom tomatoes with agave syrup and mixed with a shot of tequila. mezcal and basil. Kevin Maxey of Craft/Craftbar handed me a pulled pork lettuce wrap with smoked tomato molasses and heirloom tomato relish with tomatoes from Dillwood farms. Delightful.

Kevin Bragg from Prohibition mixed me up a drink with tomato water and Blue Coat gin. We chatted a bit about the pretty blue bottles and our love for Hendrick's gin until our conversation shifted to how fantastic his concoction was. Seriously, It was dangerous. I could drink it all day. I had a quick stop at Kevin Rathbun's table for a Noring farms shrimp tomato soup dumpling with tomato ponzu and then had a gulp of Souper Jenny's smoked 3 tomato gazpacho. It started to settle in that I would be consuming alot of tomatoes today.

Taqueria Del Sol presented an organic tomato (Serenbe Farms) cruda in habanaro viniagrette on a tostada topped with southwestern crema and a generous dollop of caviar. Savory, light and decadent rolled into one. I strolled over to Ron Eyester who was mixing up Woodland gardens cherry tomatoes with Rosebud mozzarella and anchovies. He gave me a generous cupful and I ate every bite. Standing next to me was the sweet Todd ginsberg from Bocado who had a salad of Adam Herrin's farm heirloom tomatoes, avocado, green goddess dressing, cucumbers and delicious radishes. I really loved this dish for the perfect tomatoes, creamy avocado and crisp radish. It was very put together and Todd was charming to talk with while I sampled.

At Farm 255 I tried a confit blt with tomatoes from FarmsFull Moon . The pork belly was incredible and we had a great chat about my love for farmburger while I noshed with a group. From this I was treated to a grilled cheese keaster from Aria with roof top dried tomatoes from Dillwood farms, applewood smoked bacon and chipotle sauce. I could eat this for every meal. It was savory, hot, melty goodness with so much flavor as the ingredients combined into one. This turned out to be the winning dish for Gerry Klaskala.

On the short walk downstairs I said hi to Eli Kirshstein (who may or may not take over the old Repast space), chatted a bit with Savory Exposure and was greeted with *sigh* air conditioning as I walked in the door. I didn't make it far before getting a great hug and a smile from Hugh Acheson. Have I mentioned how excited I am for the opening of his new restaurant Empire State South? He showed me to his spot with Nick Melvin and tried their Woodland gardens tomatoes with pickled shrimp, field peas and boiled dressing. So very simple and southern and good.

I zigged over to the JCT table and was greeted by Nick Horn's smile AND he and Ford Fry's resplendent Killer Tomato Jelly Donut with bacon mayonaisse. Oh. My. It wasn't something you could take bites of but rather pop in your mouth and wait for the flavor explosion. I crave it now. Whippoorwill Hollow Farm provided the yellow tomatoes for Leon's Full Service's The Golden Ticket. Whew! That was good but strong (and just seeing the name of Leon's makes me crave bacon in a glass). Miles Macwuerrie was a treat to watch at the bar.

There was quite a crowd near Livingston's table but luckily I was able to share with a stranger and enjoy Gary Mennie's Riverview Farms tomato shortcake. Everything was so lovely at every table that I wish i had taken photos but most of the time I was balancing a plate and a glass until I was able to put it in the compost bin. The what? That's right, everything was served in and on compostable dishes/cups. Same goes for the cutlery. Loved it.

Carvel Grant Gould created a warm goat cheese cheesecake with applewood smoked bacon and tomato fig jam from Moore Farm and friends' tomatoes. It was luscious and perfect. I am a big fan of savory desserts and this hit the spot. I headed over to Restaurant Eugene's Tom Cola and tried a swig. It was sweet and good with Prairie vodka, tomatoes from Love is Love farm, lime, allspice, and of course, Coca-Cola. I was delighted to see John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford MS
at a nearby table. His roasted Mortgage-Lifter Tomato Biscuits with bacon rillettes, basil aoli and arugula were out of this world. Read about him in this month's Food and Wine. I want to make this recipe.

I then popped over to Andy Minchow's Holeman & Finch table for a Tom Cat tonic. I was mesmerized watching the mixologists work with tomatoes from WA Hennessey Farm and even more enchanted with the drink. Lovely. After I picked up my drink I chatted with Mike Lata of FIG. We talked about his upcoming Farm To Table and Back dinner at JCT in December. Looks like I will see him twice in one week for that and a jaunt to his Charleston restaurant, one of my all-time favotires. His dish was an heirloom tomato (Crystal Organic) tarte tatin with fromage blanc. The dish was so simple yet so refined. Joe Truex's Watershed table was next with a delicious tomato (Dillwood Farms) pie a la king. "One bite" he said. I listened. It was divine. My mouth was full as I said hello to JCT chef/owner Ford Fry who was having as good a time as the rest of us. I was a bit distracted by Andrew Knowlton of Bon Appetit sitting behind me on a bench. His photos don't do him justice.

La Pietra Cucina prepared a wonderful Panzanella with thai basil and compressed red cabbage with tomatoes from Stoke's Farms. Great flavors. Over by the Pacci table, I talked a moment with Running with Tweezers. She was a big fan of Keira Moritz' heirloom tomato sorbets and ice creams. They were very cute and just the right tasting size in their lil bitty cones.

Before heading back outside, I stopped at Lara Creasy's bar for he Love Apple, Sugar Baby granita. I fell in love and I told her so. Not only was it perfect for such a hot afternoon, but it was so full of tomato flavor. It paired nicely with my heirloom tomato corn dog with brandywine ketchup from chef Linton Hopkins. This delicacy is what i had in my mouth when I ran into Melissa Libby and chatted a bit about how fabulous the event was and how much fun the band was. The Spazmatics are adorable, almost as much as Melissa.

Scott Serpas offered me a shot of garden tomato with pickled shrimp and celery crema. It was yummy, especially the celery crema. Great flavor combo. I was quickly introduced to Brian Stanger of Abattoir and handed his very creative Mason Dixon Sangrita made with tomato juice, chile sauce, and pomegranate juice and tequila. Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill had adorable tomato ice cream sandwiches with tomatoes from Moore Farms and Friends. It was neat to see he and Eli Kirschtein standing next to one another with a gaggle of lady admirers.

I ended my spree of tomato eating with one of the best things there. Anne Quatrano had Hawaiian shaved ice with heirloom tomato herb waters with tomatoes from Summerland Farm. I chose tomato melon for mine and then was told I could add tomato moonshine. "Do it" I said. So, so very good with smoked salt on top. I ate/drank every bit while watching the Spazmatics and took a cookie to go.

Through this adventure with the love apple, I learned that I really like tomatoes prepared in many ways. I only didn't like a few of the dishes. I did miss one, however. 5 Seasons had olive oil fried heirloom tomato ice cream with foccacia crust and lavender infused tomato. Sad to have missed out. Sounds incredible.

The event was so well put together. From the Chefs paired with farms to the band, mixologists and environmental materials used. To top it off, the money raised goes to Georgia Organics. Even Jennifer Popovich Graphic Design, who designed the chef display cards and programs, donated her time and services. Bravo all!

Next year I hope to attend and see much more attention to the farms.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

what was that ingredient?

First think I thought of when I awoke this morning was "what the hell is long pepper?" Here is why:

Last night's Top Chef elimination challenge was exciting for the first time this season with an expectation to produce a great dish best served cold using uncommon ingredients. It even had a twist. During prep, the chefs were told to move to the station to their left and assume it's protein already being marinated, chopped and seared for the previous contestant. Finally, an interesting episode for this boring season. I was familiar with all but the duck testicles but frankly, I don't want to be familiar with them either. I loved watching the chef's faces as Padma ate them, however.

The losing dish was Tamesha's scallops which James Beard Award winner Michelle Bernstein described as "a tongue on top of your tongue." Not sure what that means, but wouldn't want to experience it. Apparently the scallops were over seasoned with long pepper. Each taster mentioned long pepper casually but unlike the duck testicles, no one said "long peppers are..." I googled and learned. While I googled, Foodie Buddha was crafting a delightful post with helpful descriptions of ingredients and preparations that many non-chefs may not know. Kismet I tell you.

Long pepper

Big Tree Farms who learned about these long forgotten peppers from locals describes them like this "The flavor of Balinese Long Pepper is deep and complex; simultaneously releasing an earthy pungency, a sweet hint of cardamom and nutmeg and the spicy heat of chili. The long peppers look like tiny cattails and once ground, roasted or simply snapped in two, they release an incredible floral bouquet." They do not respond to traditional farming techniques but instead choose to sprout where they will under the canopy of trees and along trails. Plucked from culinary obscurity, you can now buy them in these lovely boxes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Omnivore's 100

I thought I would get interactive with this fun blogger meme from Andrew at Very Good Taste. I originally saw it while reading the lovely From whence the sweet bird sang. Here's what I am to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
*a favorite of mine
2. Nettle tea
*easy enough to try stay tuned
3. Huevos rancheros
*not really a fan. rather have dippy eggs and bacon.
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (well, technically alligator but the same?)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
*I even know someone who lives on the stuff
8. Carp
9. Borscht
*best I ever had was a deconstructed version by Kevin Gillespie at Woodfire Grill
10. Baba ghanoush
love it but it makes me laugh when I order it. Schwarma is even more laughter inducing.
11. Calamari
*yum. I prefer the whole babies as opposed to the rings
12. Pho
*had duck Pho last week. gamey but good.
13. PB&J sandwich
*prefer blackberry jam
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
*yes and I think Atlanta needs more streetfood
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
*looked so benign at first glance. heavenly!
20. Pistachio ice cream
*I love
21. Heirloom tomatoes
*best thing on this list. nothing like a fresh, local, heirloom tomato
22. Fresh wild berries
*picked some from the vine this week
23. Foie gras
*feel guilty when people protest because it tastes so very good
24. Rice and beans
*best are always made with love from someone raised in Louisiana
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
*a professor grew them. Pretended they were not burning a hole in my tongue.
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
*love, love, love. raw on the half shell please
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
*love them until they burn my nostrils
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (had both but never this combo)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
*huge fan all ways except sweetened
35. Root beer float
*prefer just the rootbeer. Best is from a place where they rollerskate it to your car on a hot summer evening.
36. Cognac with a fat cigar had both but never together. have had martini and cigar)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
*grew my babies on it
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
*really love. Like it in Puerto Rico. Loved it in Jamaica. Dekalb Farmer's Market makes a mean curried goat
42. Whole insects
*probably have had but will do over for research sake
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
*raised on it
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
*yes but I cannot tell the difference
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
*love it
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
*not really a doughnut fan but love whe the "hot doughnuts" sign is on
50. Sea urchin
*so. very. disgusting.
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
*cannot believe I have never had one. very proud.
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
*Hendricks please. two olives. up.
58. Beer above 8% ABV
* :)
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
*why? taste like wax.
61. S’mores
*3 times last week even
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
*even caught my own before beer-battering them
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
*confused. These are not the same thing but I have had them all.
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantainsin
*twice this week
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
*food of the gods.
71. Gazpacho
*prefer warm soup. just saying.
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
*reminds me of packed lunches and childhood.
78. Snail
*good until you get a piece of sand. always do.
79. Lapsang souchong
*always in my pantry
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
*better than kobe beef
87. Goulash
*could eat every day
88. Flowers
*love them in salads
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
*pretty sure I have especially since I order from The Meadow so often
91. Spam
*I like it with mustard.
92. Soft shell crab
*incredibly delicious!
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
*like it with hotsauce
95. Mole poblano
*a favorite
96. Bagel and lox
*tasty goodness with capers
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
*really a vehicle
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
*first tried in Jamaica and brought home. very good.
100. Snake

Wow! I guess I am an adventurous foodie afterall. Now I am on a mission to try most of the rest.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

no fiddlehead?

Love these new bowls, platters and trivets from Crate and Barrel's Sprout collection. Fellow foragers will love them too. Wish they had one with fiddleheads. Click on the link to see the image of the radish and cress.

Friday, July 2, 2010

♥ and cohones!

Pura Vida always has ample free parking, a rarity in Atlanta when it comes to my favorite restaurants. On a balmy Friday evening as the sun was setting (think the start of a Top chef episode), we parked across the street and hit the crosswalk that leads right to the door. We were greeted with a smile and the percussion of Latin music. We danced our way to our table after returning a wave and a smile to chef/owner Hector Santiago. It is such an electric atmosphere. I have had a different server every visit and each has been friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, efficient and enthusiastic. I don't say this much.

We sat under the brown glass pendant lamps and noted the "rain" falling only behind one window. It must have been from chef Hector's pepper garden growing on the rooftop. I thought of those tasty peppers as I recalled Bon Appetit's 10 best roof to table restaurants list on which Pura Vida garnered a spot. I need to get another bottle of his hot sauce when I leave too.

We usually order a bottle of wine but this time we opted on a few signature drinks. The mojitos are outstanding! Ours had coconut rum, lots of muddled mint and a fresh quarter stalk of sugar cane. We also tried the mango lemonade. Rummy and mangoey as described. The bloody Maria, made with tequila instead of vodka was spicy and flavorful, a perfect match for our tapas.
On first inspection, I noticed many new items on the menu. Our server, Laura, noted that a new menu came out this week and it was "really exciting." We started with a couple of appetizers from the bar menu--a plate of beautiful serrano ham and a melon dish topped with fried jamon. Simple, sweet and salty.

Our tapas began arriving in a steady stream. Steaming coconut buns, a dish I always order, were mouth watering. I couldn't wait to taste the crispy pilon pork belly on the soft coconut pillows layered with cilantro, cabbage and a tamarind sauce. Heavenly. I love this dish especially because the tiny pickled Chile peppers come on the plate.

My mouth was happily on fire with the piquant peppers when my green papaya salad with king crab was laid before me. Great timing, as the cool, tart, crisp papaya with sweet fresh crab cooled my palate. Very tasty and refreshing. I tried on of the buenelos, puff filled with savory cheese as my table mates enjoyed empanadas with Hector's Diablo sauce and huge testones (Mayan fried plantains with chipotle honey and cilantro puree).

Our server came by to see how we were liking our dishes and we asked a few questions. She was so knowledgeable about the ingredients in each dish and drink. Even if she had not been so focused on our experience, the menu had a glossary of items that may be unfamiliar to the diner. I learned a few things on this particular evening.

The hangar steak pinchos with cilantro chimchurri sauce were a flavorsome bunch of juicy, tender meat on skewers rubbed with adobo caribe. They arrived hot. In fact, every dish came to our table hot and fresh. I noticed and appreciated as much just as I appreciated Hector's inventive and clever food prepared from local ingredients.

My apio dish was placed before me and with just a look I could tell it was going to be interesting--celery in many forms. This was my favorite of the night because by description and ingredients it was so unassuming. Crunchy celery and celery root puree gnocchi with a light sauce, layers of both flavors and textures showcases chef Hector's creativity.

Speaking of inventiveness, this incredible plate of Ahi tuna was a sight to behold. Cubes of bright tuna surrounded by lemon caviar, cilantro, a spicy aoli, coffee "dirt." I loved this playful dish for so many reasons.

A long, thin roja pizza was piping hot with roasted garlic tomato sauce and crumbles of Spanish chorizo. This would be a great option for kids but they would have to fight the adults at our table for a bite. We then shared the wahoo and chorizo skewers with banana mustard. Hot and tasty goodness with a rich, tangy sauce that seamed peculiar at first but paired perfectly. Last up, Lobster on polenta that was warm sweet and saucy.

Despite our many plates, we anticipated the dessert menu. I think we tried them all. House made ice creams tonight included guava ice cream that was buttery and peach-like in flavor, leche cream that was ice-milk yumminess and a nutty one that I never did ask about. It was the best one. The chocolate flan brulee was gone very quick as our spoons dove into it's warm, spicy chocolate middle and we ended with the chocolate tart. A perfect dark chocolate ending to a perfect dinner.

Chef hector came to our table for a visit. We chatted about the flavors, ingredients and his motto "heart and balls." His from the hip cooking with no rules, just experimental tastes makes for the best tapas in Atlanta. He is so very charming and so passionate about his craft. He told us how the Top Chef tour has been and about an upcoming demo at the Ohio State fair. He is also rather stoked about gastrotrek to Peru. He is ecstatic about the Mistura Gastronomic Festival which he described as "a foodie paradise where you can eat from one end to the other all day long" and still cannot taste everything. As the sun set we headed home discussing along the way our favorite hidden gems in each dish. Pura Vida never dissapoints.
Pura Vida on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Watermelon Lime Aqua Fresca

As the evening's sizzling summer heat set in, I headed to the local farm stand for a fresh watermelon. I have been making this sweet pleasure a few times a week. It is a crowd pleaser and gives on-the-spot cooling relief. It is pretty, delicious and healthful. Kids love it and adults can easily turn it into an adult beverage with the addition of a bit of tequila, rum or vodka.

1/2 a large, seedless watermelon cut into chunks
( I don't measure. I just filled up a really large bowl
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (5-6 limes. I use Persian limes.
squirt of honey (I use local Tupelo from Weeks Farm)
grated fresh ginger or a squeeze of Gourmet Garden squeeze ginger
ice cubes
lime wedges or fresh mint for garnish

Blend the watermelon chunks in batches.
You can strain if you like but watermelon isn't too pulpy.
Stir in lime juice, ginger and honey.
Fill glasses with ice and pour over.
Garnish with a lime wedge or sprig of mint and enjoy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

summer swag

Here's a link to 50% off deals from Concentrics Restaurants. Deals go through September 7th, 2010. I received this the day after I ate at Two Urban Licks and Parish during the same weekend. Figures.

I've got nothing but love for Parish and Nick Melvin. Not only is he an amazing chef who exudes passion for his craft and respects his ingredients, but the restaurant is housed in an 1890 building that oozes character and charm. My friend and I tried two salads. I had the Crab and Avocado with lump crab, ginger pickled beet root, arugula, ricotta salata and a spiced vanilla vinaigrette. Beautiful, no? Take that beauty and add the taste of the ocean. This salad tasted like sweet sunshine. Flavors both opposing and complimentary resulting in a taste bud trip to the sea.
My friend ordered the Milk and honey salad with baby spinach, house made almond nougat, dried apricots and cherries, applewood smoked bacon and a chile & wildflower honey vinaigrette. It is not a very good photo (sometimes I feel like a big dork taking photos of my food)but it was incredibly delicious. She liked the play of spinach and bacon, while I loved the chile and apricot combination. I loved it paired with my Mettler Syrah.

We chatted a while with one of the servers who had extensive knowledge of wine. he is always delightful to talk with about pairings. I rarely eat bread in restaurants but those thick, warm, freshly baked slices in a paper bag were alluring. I heavily slathered the soft butter with sprinkled sea salt and enjoyed.

Look at my cast-iron roasted Enchanted Mountain trout Delicious. Nick knows his ingredients and respects them. I loved that I knew where this fish came from and that fresh, local veggies accompanied it. I tasted all the bits by themselves first and then purposed my bites with a swoosh of creamy potatoes, chunks of root veggies, a piece of tender trout and a dip in the acidic balsamic. My friend ordered the Pork and dumplings with Gum Creek farms pork shoulder braised in buttermilk, Parmesan dumplings and a spring succotash. I was uber excited to try it because I had tasted a smoked Gum Creek Farms hog at Cochon 555 at Todd Mussman's tasting. The pulled pork looked and smelled delicious so I was not prepared for my taste. The pork was so tender and the sauce was light but rich. It doesn't make sense, but it was the best of both worlds, extremely flavorful but brothy and light and not overwhelming of the pork.
Another glass of wine, a trip through the market and my friend and I were off into the evening. I don't usually mention valet service along with restaurant service, but the valets at parish are like an extension of the staff. On our way in the valet introduced himself and told us that he knew we would have a great meal. on our way out he asked us what we had. We talked about the dishes and he talked about his favorites. Valets are usually in such a rush. This was charming.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vinyl Lager

A hot spring day and a trip to the beer fridge. What's that I see? A lovely Vinyl Lager from Magic Hat Brewery's spring seasonal novelties. Someone hands me a church key. I pop off the top (save it for art projects though) and take a big, cold gulp. Queue this cause it feels like summer!
I am no beer expert, but I know what I like and I like to pull out the flavors just like drinking wine. I hear it pours rich, dark amber but I drank straight from the cold, dewy bottle. The bottle reads lager but it's not lager like to me. It is malty and tastes of caramel but not in on overly sweet way. It starts off smooth but has lots of hops that hit the taste buds after the caramel. Know what it tastes like? Sunshine.

From the brewery: "This brand-new, never-before-poured spring offering to the ancient deities of sunshine and blue sky is a rich and malty smooth-drinking amber lager sensation that makes the season sing."

Jim Pollock, of rock poster fame, designed the beautiful label.

Please go to the website and view the little video promo. So. Adorable. It reminds me of being a kid and watching those great stop motion Christmas movies only this one has a pixie with wings and daisies.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

morel journal

The journals I carry with me are full of reviews, quotes, wines to remember after I have had too many glasses and memories. I think I will add this one to my collection because it fits me perfectly. I found it on Etsy here.

I love reading up on morels on this great site,, that is chock full of everything morel. From hunting to recipes this site has it all about the ever-elusive mushroom.

Monday, May 10, 2010

giddy in the garden

I walk out to my garden 3 times a day. I check on it, water it, talk to it and stare at it. It is a thing of beauty that changes every day. We have a relationship, the garden and I. It is symbiotic. I nurture it and it feeds me. The nurturing of the garden feeds more than my body, however. I have found that it is feeding my soul. Veggies fresh picked and still warm from the sun taste better than any I have ever tasted. They taste better too knowing that I can grow them.

I found this quote today and it made me think of my garden.

The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me and I to them. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Now I must go check on it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Farm Burger but more about the market salad

I can't count the number of times I have headed to Farm Burger since it opened. There is a line out of the door no matter what time I show up and I mean that in a good way. The crowd is always happily waiting, knowing that good food is prepared to order with fresh, local ingredients. On this particular Sunday I arrived at around 1:30 and stood in line for about 15 minutes. In that time I was able to fully read the menu, make some friends and read the fresh ingredients from the chalk board stand. The atmosphere is electric. There is action in the kitchen and there is a convivial hunger from the crowd. Tables are rustic with forks and knives in jelly jars and food arrives (promptly) in metal baskets after orders are placed. Your baskets sit on craft paper place mats with a simple Farm Burger stamp.

The first thing I saw on the menu of the day was fiddleheads. Fiddleheads! My market salad arrived and I gazed a while. Really. It was beautiful and simple and like nothing I had ever seen alongside burgers. It was lovingly composed of Moore's Farm mixed greens, local, sustainably grown green's I can order online and pick up at many convenient locations. Mixed into the greens were easter egg radishes that were crunchy, fresh and peppery. Most of the veggies come from Full Moon Farms, a community supported byodynamic farm or Dillwood Farms in Loganville. The cauliflower was out of this world tasty and fresh. I am not sure how they were marinated (maybe turmeric) but they were not ordinary and they were a terrific compliment to the dates sprinkled about. Slices of carrot rested on the top along with the star of the salad, braised celery. That's right, braised celery. Celery is usually an afterthought in salad, something extra for crunch, because it is in the fridge. Check out this blog about braising celery. My thoughts exactly. On top of it all was a grainy mustard vinaigrette (you could also choose farm Goddess dressing), Parmesan cheese and crunchy, perfect fiddleheads. Every bite was different, complex and savory.

Oh yeah, I had a burger too. The buns were soft, warm and held up. Meat is locally sourced and house ground. I ordered mine with house cured bacon and couldn't get over how thick, smoky and flavorful it was. In short, a tasty burger that i felt good about eating. Sustainability is a mission here and they even focus on materials they use to serve and wrap their products. Fries were hand cut and tasted like the ones I make at home. Onion rings are crispy and beer battered. They come with a paprika mayo that i did not try. I don't really do mayo unless it's hidden but others seemed to really like it. This is a complete aside, as it may pertain only to me, but I don't usually feel that great after eating a burger. Burger remorse is what I call it. It never came that Sunday nor the morning after. Is it the fresh, locally raised beef that is grass fed without hormones prepared thoughtfully?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Artazu Artazuri Garnacha Navarra 2007

Lots of bang for your buck from this find by importer Eric Solomon. This Spanish garnacha goes with just about anything I have tried. Chicken off the grill, pasta with vodka sauce, even spicy poblano sauce. What a gem. It's funny reading other wine reviews about this wine. Some taste plums, blackberries, raspberries, even strawberries. It is definitely fruit forward but inky, oaky and with a mineral essence. I taste cherries, smoky cherries like the cherry tobacco my uncle used to smoke. I also read a review that noted it's friendliness. It's not much for conversation, but we are definitely friends.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

edible butterflies

Formulating plans in my head for baby showers and wedding showers that start popping up this time of you, I came across these delightfully realistic and EDIBLE butterflies. I want to throw a theme party around them, they are so lovely. A designer on Etsy called SugarRobot makes them and I am placing an order today.Check out the peacock feathers.

Monday, May 3, 2010

King of Pops

I have been hearing so much about The King of Pops handmade popsicles that I ventured to the adorable Irwin Street Market to try one. My mouth began watering as I read the flavors tangerine basil, grapefruit mint... I don't know what I expected, but I wasn't expecting flavors in my wheel house. I tried the grapefruit mint and it knocked my socks off (well, I was wearing flip flops). It tasted like grapefruit and mint. It didn't taste like a version of grapefruit and mint. It tasted just like eating the citrusy tart fruit only it was refreshingly cold and didn't spray at me as my spoon hit its fleshy parts.

Reading up on creator, Steven Carse, made me smile as much as the popsicle did. The popsicles are handcrafted, emphasizing natural, local and organic ingredients. In addition to the Irwin Street Market, the popsicles can be found at Souper Jenny's and a cart at the corner of Highland and North Ave. Steven is the nicest guy. I watched him work in the kitchen and was truly amazed by his one man show creating such a delicacy.

Some of his flavors: Grapefruit Mint
Lime w/ fresh squeezed cane juice
Pineapple Ginger
Strawberry Margarita
green apple lemonade (I think there was a mix-up with this because it tasted like apple pie)
tangerine basil
chocolate seasalt
grapefruit mint (my favorite)
mango mojito (fleshy bits of stringy mango-in a good way- and lots of mint)
blackberry lemongrass
strawberries and cream (fresh bits of strawberry)
Strawberry Orange
honeydew watermelon
lemon lavender
Mexican chocolate
watermelon blueberry

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My face is red

My face is red...because I just got slapped! My son slapped me (lightly) after I asked his review of his first bite of Chocolate Slap Yo Mama ice cream from Jake's Ice Cream. He didn't come up for air until there was nothing left. I couldn't wait to try the strawberry rhubarb piescream. It was sweet, light and had big pieces of frozen rhubarb and strawberries throughout along with graham cracker crumbs. The crumbs added a perfect texture that made my bowl seem more like a dessert than just a scoop of ice cream. We also tried the red velvet, a surprisingly perfect imitation of a cupcake. It tasted like a cupcake with buttery icing but was cool and refreshing like ice cream. sold.

The Irwin Street Market was a delightful spot, as I had hoped. It is brimming with hope and possibility and filled with locally made foods and gifts. Can't wait to try more flavors, cannolis, coffee, Candi's breakfast.... on my next visit.

Quintessential Chocolates

I love pulling into my driveway to find a package at the door. Today there was a big brown box awaiting me. Inside, deep inside, was a mylar insulated package which revealed yet another package. Chocolate! This unexpected gift came from Quintessential Chocolates out of Fredericksburg Texas. Lecia Duke,a former architect and graphic designer founded Quintessential Chocolates in Nashville, Tennessee in 1984 after apprenticing under a Swiss master-chocolatier to learn the almost-lost confectionery art form known as liqueur praline (sugar crust). Duke has made liquid-center chocolates with over 150 storied beverages including Frangelico, Amaretto, Crown Royal, Crème de Menthe, Hennessy Cognac, various Kentucky Bourbons, Tequila, and Tennessee Whiskey plus wines of the world including Champagne, Bordeaux, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Port. I read a bit about the process of forming a capsule of cornstarch to house the liquid and the process of enrobing it in chocolate. Fascinating.

The California cabernet was mellow but not overly flavored with the wine (which I would have preferred). The chocolate has just the right amount of richness to blend with the filling but not be too overbearing. I learned a valuable lesson with this first one; take one bite unless you want liquid running down your chin.

The Tennessee whiskey packed a punch. It was an explosion of newly distilled whiskey that ended with the crunch of crystallized sugars. She has really put her knowledge of architecture to use. The liquid centers of the chocolates are unmolested by sugars or additives and enter your mouth in their purest form. I have tasted many liquor filled chocolates but never like this. I may need to call up Ethel M and compare for comparison.

My favorite so far is the Tawny Port. Its smoothness compliments the rich, dark chocolate perfectly.