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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kudzu Supper Club and The Perennial Plate

Kudzu Supper Club brings together growers, patrons and chefs to celebrate the sustainable farms of Georgia. Add wine to the mix and an incredible evening of enlightenment and exploration ensues. I had the priviledge of attending one of the unforgettable dinners on October 9th, 2011.

Close to the event date, the secret location was emailed to the guest list along with directions. On Sunday afternoon we set forth to Burge Plantation in Madison, Georgia for an experience I will not soon forget.The drive to the dinner spot was breathtaking, so removed from the city that I felt transported into another time. It was very easy to settle down and relax in this atmosphere.  Out of the car, I was instantly greeted by Kudzu founders, Brady Lowe and Cory Mosser and introduced to Daniel Klein of The Perennial Plate. Unlike a usual dinner party, these type of gatherings are always much more approachable.  Must be something about a shared purpose or simply a love of food but I felt comfortable around everyone and made fast friends with those around me.Chefs, farmers and diners mingled in the spirit which this enterprise had intended. I don't want to get sappy, but it was a beautiful thing.

I had only been out of the car for a minute before Brady placed a glass of Riesling in my hand. See? Good people. Loved this Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Washington State Riesling--apple/apricotty with a zing finish.
 The reception began with a welcome from Brady, a selection of local cheeses, and a bucket of chicharrones and kale chips. I had to physically separate myself from the bucket of goodness.

Made my way to the fire to take in the smells (and maybe a bit of bourbon). Delighted to find Chef Nick Melvin (Rosebud) and Chef Shane Devereux ( The Sound Table, Top Flr)manning the coals.  Wanted to scoop this simmering lamb into my mouth.

This was my view from the fire. Dreamy, isn't it?

At the fire I had the first of many of these--Nick's sea salt skewers with seared lardo and padron peppers. Perfection.
Everyone took their seats at the table. Mine was on the side looking down over the lake. Artisan bread was passed along with charred elephant garlic and olive oil to schmear. We also had jars of pickled goodies to sample. I made sure my seat was near Nick Melvin's pickled carrots and pickled beets. They are legendary.

Head and trotters terrine. Nom Nom.We also had incredible lamb pate in jars but we enjoyed them quicker than I could snap a photo.

I loved the joyful tablescapes of happy Burge Farm veggies. The first course continued with a salad of baby farm greens and winter radishes. Food tastes infinitely better when it has just been harvested and eaten on the dirt it was grown within.
Scholium Project Naucratis 2009
Second course begins with more crusty bread that will soon be sopping up the most flavorful broth I have ever tasted. (really) Daniel Klein of the Perennial Plate prepared a Gum Creek Farms whole lamb with Indian Organics foraged edibles. I don't think I took a photo of this dish, mostly because I was agasp at how lovely it looked, smelled and tasted. It was so layered with different flavors and textures. Knowing that the whole lamb was used and hearing the tale of foraging the woods on the property for edibles furthered my love for it. Honestly, there was not a drop left in my bowl.
Sokol Blosser Estate Pinot Noir 2008-perfect with lamb and pork. Tasted of cherries.
Buttermilk sorbet intermezzo. Loved the pickled watermelon rind.
Chef Nick Melvin describing the experience and getting us excited about our third course (s). He puts love into his food. You can't do anything but smile and feel good when he talks about sustainable, local ingredients and heritage pork.  He is a maestro.
I neglected to snap more photos of our meal but don't regret it. I was having such a great time meeting the people at our family-style table and savoring each delicious bite. This photo is of my neighbor's plate after he had already dug in.  We had plancha crisped sausage (made by Nick) and nardello peppers--yowza, so good.  Next up, dry-aged, Gum Creek Farms pork scallops. I think Nick mentioned that they were sou vide which made me realize how much effort had been put into this dinner.  He must have been up all night. The "scallops" were perfectly cooked (again, amazing for being outside on a farm) and packed full of flavor from both the heritage pig and the pesto. On the side, but certainly able to stand on their own, were Burge organic spiced greens and a hash of local apples, sweet potatoes and roasted poblanos.  Spray bottles of potlikker were on the table for the greens. SPRAY BOTTLES OF POTLIKKER!
Dessert course blew my mind. This is a candied bacon and fresh creme Sticky Piggy Pudding. Sweet and salty and creamy. It was both decadent and comfort food at the same time. I could have eaten 4 of them.

A parting shot at the end of a meaningful evening. Tommy Searcy of Gum Creek Farms, Nick Melvin of Rosebud, Brady Lowe of Taste Network and smiling Cory Mosser of Burge Organic Farm. Taking a quote from Steve Jobs, "And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work." This group of men, Daniel Klein of The Perennial Plate included, believe in and love what they do and it shows. This was such a great collaboration of good and I was ecstatic to be a part of it. I would dine like this weekly if the opportunity arose. I don't really feel adept at putting the atmosphere into words but being surrounded by happy chefs, farmers, meat magicians (Rusty Bowers of Pine Street Market was there as well), wine enthusiasts, foragers and adventurous diners all bent on a sustainable taste experience was intoxicating.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Buckhead Diner rolls out new menu

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of trying out the new menu items at Buckhead Diner and meeting Executive chef Charles Schwab.  The atmosphere was classic as always, just as the restaurant describes itself ,  "nostalgia that's always in style." The staff was friendly, prompt, and professional through each course.  Chef Schwab seemed very enthusiastic about the roll out of the new menu. Signature dishes like  homemade potato chips w/Maytag blue cheese, sweet and sour calamari, and veal meatloaf with wild mushrooms will remain but some newcomers have been added to spice up the menu. There are lots of options for those looking for gluten free choices as well.

A simple plate of white truffle deviled eggs was placed before us. They were lovely with just the faintest hint of truffle and shallot.

The ceviche dayboat was stunning with perfect shrimp and scallops over mango, papaya and shallots. I tasted using the thin and crispy sweet potato and plantain chips. I loved the cool, crisp seafood and fruit with the crunchy texture and slight saltiness of the chips.

Warm fritters filled with pimento cheese were presented on a pool of spicy pimento jelly. Delicious and comforting.  I don't think any of the jelly was left on the plate after we sopped it up with the exquisite cornbread.

I wondered aloud what was coming next when our server placed chopsticks (GA made) next to our plates. From a distance I could see a beautiful pile coming our way and I couldn't wait to dig in. The Spicy "Pow Pow" Rock Shrimp is so reminiscent of Nobu's famous Tempura Shrimp with Creamy Spicy Sauce. And just like Nobu, each perfect bite popped with a tiny explosion of flavor.  This description sounds so generic, but it really was an explosion of flavor. I would fight for these morsels.
My favorite dish of the day was a beautifully put together Cobb salad with white balsamic vinaigrette. The Point Reyes blue cheese elevated it to something spectacular.
Vegetarian flatbread. Loved the arugula and pesto.
Horseradish crusted Maine cod with summer bean and corn succotash.
This turkey paillard was as remarkable in taste as it was in beauty. This thinly pounded turkey breast "Jardiniere" was wood grilled lending to juicy smokiness. It was smothered in asparagus cuts, tiny tomatoes, shaved radishes, fingerling potatoes and arugula with just a touch of olive oil and lime vinaigrette. So light and bright.  The next time I eat at Buckhead Diner, this is what I am ordering.
Last but certainly not least was the award-winning white chocolate banana cream pie. (It won best dessert from James Beard in 1994). White chocolate is not a flavor I enjoy but you should know the rest of the table was swooning.  Recipe to follow.

Ingredients:                                                 Servings: 8
Sugar Dough

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup sugar, plus

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons beaten eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

White Chocolate Pastry Cream

1 cup milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

3 large egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces

1 1/2 ounces white chocolate, chopped

white chocolate curls (optional)

6 ounces white chocolate, chopped

The rest

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

4 ripe bananas

1/2 lemon, juice of

1 1/2 tablespoons banana liqueur or 1 1/2 tablespoons rum

1 1/2 tablespoons white Creme de Cacao or 1 1/2 tablespoons Amaretto

unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting top of pie


1To make the sugar dough: Combine the butter and sugar in a food processor until just blended (or cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender).
2Add the egg pulsing or tossing to combine.
3Add the flour and mix until it is just incorporated, no longer.
4Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill for at least 30 minutes.
5Preheat the oven to 350°F, place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven.
6Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is about 1/8 inch thick.
7Gently fit it, without stretching, into a buttered 10-inch Tart pan (preferably with a removable bottom and fluted sides).
8If you do not have a tart pan, you can use 10 inch or deep 9 1/2 inch pie pan.
9Trim off the excess dough, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang.
10Tuck in the overhanging dough, pressing the edges of the crust against the sides of the pan and forming a high, fluted border.
11Line the dough with a sheet of buttered foil (buttered side down) and weigh down with weights or beans.
12Bake the shell until the sides are set, about 12 minutes.
13Carefully remove the weights and foil and gently prick dough all over with a fork.
14Continue to bake until pale gold and baked through, about 5 minutes.
15Cool the pie shell completely on a wire rack.
16Making the White Pastry Cream: Bring the milk and vanilla bean to a boil.
17Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale and light, about 1 1/2 minutes.
18Whisk in the cornstarch until smooth.
19Remove the saucepan from the heat, and whisk 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture.
20Repeat once or twice.
21Scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk and return to a boil, whisking the entire time, boil for one minute.
22Remove the pastry cream from the heat, and whisk in the butter and white chocolate until smooth.
23Strain the custard into a clean bowl.
24Place a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream and refrigerate until cooled.
25Shortly before serving time, whip the cream until nearly stiff.
26Thinly slice the bananas and toss with the lemon juice.
27Fold the bananas and the liquers into the chilled pastry cream and gently fold in the whipped cream until blended.
28Fill the cooled pie shell with the filling.
29Gently scatter the chocolate curls over the filling, covering the tart completely.
30Very lightly dust the chocolate curls with cocoa powder and serve.
31To make the chocolate curls: Melt the white chocolate in a double broiler until smooth.
32Pour the chocolate onto a marble slab or the back of a smooth baking sheet.
33With a spatula, spread out the chocolate into an even 1/8 thick layer.
34Set aside to cool to room temperature.
35Push a chef's knife blade away from you through a 4 inch width of chocolate, forming a loose curl.
36Continue to form chocolate curls with the remaining chocolate.
37With a large spatula, very gently transfer the curls to a baking sheet and refrigerate until needed.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Field of Greens 2011

Field of Greens is one of my very favorite food events of the year.  More than anything, I think it is because of the people it attracts.  We gather on the farm not to look nostalgically but to look forward to sustainability and celebrate local food with the partnerships between chefs and farmers. Many of the restaurants involved base their menus around the week's harvest.

Like last year, the day was as gorgeous as if we had ordered the perfect day.  Before the tasting tent opened I strolled around the market area and picked up some goodies:  tomatoes from a local farm, a jar of Wedgies and Rasta beans from Phickles Pickles and bacon from Pine Street Market. I headed over to the silent auction area to place a few bids to help farmers in need.  While bidding I could check out the vendors nearby. I tried a bit of High Road Craft Ice Cream and smelled the delicious Jittery Joe's coffee while friends bought caramels from Sugar-Coated Radical.

The aromas emanating from the tasting tent was too much and I made my way in. Restaurant areas were well spaced and I never had much a of a wait for a bite. 

Delicious house-made lamb sausage with blueberry pickled onions
 from Duane Nutter of One Flew South

Butterbean hummus with pepper jelly on sweet potato chips
from Leon's Full Service

From Brickstore Pub-I could have eaten 10
One Midtown Kitchen goodness from Drew Van Leuvan
#246 African squash soup with pumpkin seeds

Pork pate from Parish

Ryan Smith from Empire State South--deviled ham roulade with pickled veggies and radish on bacon-mustardd crackers.

Robert Phalen from Holy Taco/One Eared Stag
made this trotter terrine. (I may have had more than my fair share)

Nick Melvin of Rosebud serving up some comfort (chicken and biscuits)
Muss and Turner's/Local Three meatballs. ( I had seconds)
Food 101's pork belly slider with kimchee
Chef Justin Burdett preparing  house-made pork sausage, stewed greens, shaved radish
over chestnut puree. I thought he said he drizzled something with thyme over the top. It was

Huitlacoche Quesadilla with poblano from Taqeuria del Sol
Huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on corn. It is expensive
and delicious.


My favorite dish, Tennessee Hot Chicken from Linton Hopkins
of Holeman and Finch and  Restaurant Eugene.
So hot, so tender, so wonderful. Do you know about Price's Hot Chicken in Tennesee? Watch this

After all the yummy bites and bowls I headed to the  F'n' Chef Competition
emceed by my favorite radio personality, Mara Davis.  Three chefs, Terry Koval (Farm Burger), Nick Melvin (Rosebud) and Eric Ottensmeyer (Leon's Full Service) battled it out with White Oak Pastures' beef and local veggies. 
 Ottensmeyer took the win!
Master of ceremonies, Ron Eyester of Rosebud.

All in all, a beautiful day on delightful Whippoorwill Hollow Farm with delicious food, smiling people, great market items and silent auction winnings. All this fun in the the name of good will towards farmers in need and promoting local food. Can't wait to hear how much money was raised for Slow Food Atlanta.