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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Edible Flowers at Ecco

fresh violets

I love this idea of a communal table with dishes celebrating what is blooming. Violets dot my yard and I look forward to candying them for topping cupcakes. Chef Craig Richards of Ecco is going to color a wood-fired pizza with his this Sunday. I can't wait to see the local lettuce and flower salad!

From Fifth Group:
April showers bring edible flowers to the communal table at Ecco's next Sunday Share dinner on April 1 at 6:30pm. Executive Chef Craig Richards will explore the many ways in which flowers can not only add delicious flavor, but amazing color, to many dishes. For example, lovely wild violets  are set to make their debut on a whole wheat wood-fire pizza with mozzarella and chive flower pesto. Other menu items include local lettuce and flower salad with orange blossom honey vinaigrette; roasted lamb sirloin with rosehip jam; leek, basil and pesto soup with anise hyssop; paprika-roasted game hens with fennel and rosemary; and a lovely lemon verbena ice cream.
Sunday Share Celebrates Edible Flowers
Ecco | Sunday, April 1 at 6:30pm | $35 per person (excludes alchohol and gratuity)
Click here for reservations

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Seasons 52 Spring Menu Preview

I recently had the chance to try the new spring menu items at Seasons 52 in Buckhead. I frequently hear friends talk about dining there but haven't been to either location in Atlanta. See, my perception is that if a restaurant holds all of its dishes to a certain calorie count, I will undoubtedly leave hungry. Seasons 52 has a full menu of dishes under 475 calories. So, on a beautiful spring evening I entered highly suspicious.

Our cocktail reception began with a strawberry Kir royale, a pretty and girly drink. Very springy.
Ripe plum tomato flatbread with fresh basil, herbs de Provence, Parmesan, and roasted garlic. Very fresh and very light. How I crave fresh tomatoes after winter.

Artichoke and goat cheese flatbread with spinach, balsamic onion, and roasted peppers.

Artichoke stuffed artichoke leaves with organic arugula, Parmesan, and a balsamic glaze.
Our webinar began with Senior Culinary Director Cliff Pleau, and Master Sommelier George Miliotes. They spoke of the inspiration behind dishes and pairings and the seasonal ingredients used in the dishes. We had the opportunity to tweet questions and they answered them. This interaction was fun and proved very informative.

Tomato and Haas avocado salad with arugula, 4 year balsamic glaze and grilled bruschetta. I really loved this simple salad. Bright, fresh tomatoes and tart balsamic mixed with peppery arugula. Haas avocados have a higher fat content than most, making them more savory. It was at this time that I glanced out of the window to the scene on the patio. It was filled with al fresco diners enjoying a spring evening.  I would love to eat this salad with a crisp and light white like the Aveleda Vinho Verde Master Sommelier George Miliotes chose to pair with this dish.
Columbia river steelhead trout with spring veggies, basmati rice, and lemongrass sauce. The moment I read this on the menu I knew what I would hear (and I was correct): "I thought it was supposed to be trout." A member of the rainbow trout family, steelhead are similar to salmon in look as well as flavor. They are a wonderful choice when considering seafood, as they are on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list as a "best choice" for sustainability. The fillets were cooked perfectly and the lemongrass sauce was a clever alternative to a rich buttery sauce.

 Spicy snow peas and shiitake mushrooms with roasted almonds. The snow peas were crisp, the shiitakes meaty and luscious, and the almonds crunchy. Great bite.

Lamb T bone chops with asparagus, truffle mashed potatoes, and red wine glaze. This is where I eat my words, well, my supposed words. This dish was so very good. The chef told us that the lamb is first rubbed with "char 52," a seasoning blend including lavender and freeze dried molasses, oak wood fire grilled and topped with the glaze.

George Miliotes expertly chose a jammy Alegrini Palazzo della Torre Corvina Veronese which he referred to as a "turbo charged Valpolicella."

Mini Indulgence Desserts (front front to back): mocha macchiato, raspberry/mandarin cheesecake, chocolate peanut butter mousse, meyer lemon pound cake, fresh fruit cup, no-nut rocky road, southern style pecan pie, key lime pie, and red velvet cake). Confession: I had one bite of the key lime pie and it proved tasty. While my table enjoyed sampling (and oohing and ahhing) the desserts, I had another lamb chop.

While waiting for the valet I thought over the meal. It was seasonal, fresh, tasty, and can be enjoyed on an expansive patio on many Atlanta evenings. The chef, Brian Besaw, has been with Seasons 52 for 8 years and mentioned how much he loved his job. There are reception rooms for events. The spring menu would be great for a baby shower or wedding shower. Also, I thought about the lamb.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Leap Year Dinner at One Eared Stag

(from Origami USA)
Leap year come but once every four years. The rest of the time it does not exist. Why shouldn’t we do something grand and adventurous to celebrate this ephemeral ghost of a day? This year I did just that. No, I didn’t propose to a man in Ireland or jump from a high cliff, I attended the Leap Year Dinner at One Eared Stag with a collection of some of the finest cooking talent in Atlanta and I had a transcendental experience doing it.

I was welcomed as I stepped through the door with a French 75 and quickly introduced to the couple that would be table mates with us. My date and I were encouraged to mingle and enjoy the appetizers circling on silver platters. It was such a fun and relaxed atmosphere. I was able to speak with many of the chefs for the night and meet a few interesting new friends.  Forgive me for the photos but it was rather dark (romantic, good dark) in the restaurant.
trotter fritters with honey (I think I had 180)

head cheese with minute pickles
Someone clinked on a champagne glass and Robert Phalen welcomed us to One Eared Stag and introduced us to our chefs for the evening.  Our three tables were already having a wonderful time engaging in conversation. It is such a positive experience to dine in a restaurant when everyone is delighted about the evening and there to support the ensemble of chefs. Bring on the first course

Buttermilk fried white Georgia shrimp heads with romesco aioli-such a great way to start. So crispy with a flavor of the sea. From Robert Phalen-One Eared Stag
1st course wine pairing: Domaine Ostertag Les Vielles Vignes de Sylvan
Crisp and bright with a minerality that played well with the shrimp and the roe.
Fine herb custard with asparagus, roe, pork fat croutons
Easily my favorite dish of the evening and perhaps so far this year. The photo doesn't do it justice but this dish was creamy, but not heavy, and layered in textures and flavors. The bacony pork fat croutons were a flavorful end component to each bite and the 'pop' of fresh caviar tantalized my palate.
From Drew Belline of 246

Braised Eden Farms bacon, bacon brodo, kale
Bacon in bacon broth paired with bourbon. You already know this is good, right? Our table was silent while we finished this dish. We savored every bit in the bowl.
From Robert Phalen- One Eared Stag

The bourbon pairing: Black Maple Hill 8 year small batch
Incredible delicious, warm and smoky on it's own and paired so wonderfully with the bacon and the duck. It really cut the richness of both and added another dimension. I really love that this course was paired with bourbon.
Scallops, crispy smoked duck salad, burnt maple bourbon
My first bite was of the duck and it was a spectacular mouthful; so smoky and rich. This was such a mix of texture and flavor, warm and cool, soft and crisp, and sweet and smoky. Really makes me look forward to the opening of STG.
From Josh Hopkins of STG Trattoria
Brasstown Beef heartare, bottarga, southern giant, toast
I love dishes with unexpected ingredients married together and this certainly qualified. The dense, rich, and a lil gamey (good gamey) beef heart finely minced with salty bottarga (poor man's caviar) and southern giant greens on the thinnest sliver of delicate toast is a preparation that underscores the unique texture and flavor of the heart.
From Robert Phalen of One Eared Stag

3rd Course wine paring: Domaine de Nerleux Saumur- Champigny Clos des Chatains 2006
What a great food wine-dry, tannic, savory. It tasted of plums or cherries with notes of spices and a hint of roastiness. Terrific Cabernet Franc.

Sea Island red pea consomme', skin, bloodogna, crisp garlic
This dish was beautifully pulled together and playful. The consomme' arrived in a small mason jar. I tasted it by itself before pouring in the dish of spring veggies and pork. It was vibrant yet simple; uncluttered would be a great descriptor. Once added to the pea shoots, crispy garlic, rich and flavorful bloodogna and crispy pork skin, it transformed as a carrier of incredible flavors. I need more bloodogna in my life.
From Ryan Smith of Empire State South

Barley fed chicharrone with powdered kimchi
Crispy, salty, interesting.
From Robert Phalen of One Eared Stag

4th Course pairing: Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale

Japanese hamburg, poached egg
A delicious play on a Japanese hamburg, a popular Yoshoku (Japanese western-style dish), only this version is way more delicious with the addition of a poached egg. This bento box staple usually is accompanied by a thick brown, Salisbury steak-like sauce. Guy's sauce was delicate and slight. Every person around me cut into the egg and watched it ooze over the tender meat and then we sat together in absolute silence. So very good.
From Guy Wong of Miso Izakaya

Sweet Citrus Cream
Ambrosial, light, citrusy (obviously). Loved the thinly sliced dried slices on top.
From Robert Phalen of One Eared Stag

We also enjoyed a cornmeal cake with confit citrus and honey cream from Stuart Baesel of Community Q. My photo is blurry (ahem, 6 drinks) and I apologize. It was a great way to end the meal. Super light and sweet but not over bearing.

I left with a huge grin on my face and a satisfaction of money well spent. Such a great evening was had by all. Atlanta really showed its culinary chops and I was a lucky girl to be there. Leap year lucky, even.