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, January 31, 2012

One Eared Stag lunching

One Eared Stag possesses a neat parity for me. It is enchanting when the sun streams in on a sunny afternoon yet holds the coziness I crave on a dreary day. On this particular visit the white washed walls were bathed in light. It almost looks like the animal busts are enjoying here too, huh? I had not appreciated what a beautiful day it was until I saw the sun this way.
On the way to my corner table I glanced at the long table in the middle of the upstairs (upstair?) room. Pears. This inviting table seems to always have a different tablescape and today it is a smattering of pears. One of these days I am going to reserve that table for me and 13 friends. From here one could see what is going on in the kitchen, check out the interesting cabinet of goodies and stare at the shelves of canned veggies lining the walls as we wait for the ever changing menu items from Robert Phalen.

The bar has an impressive wall of bourbon. I gazed longingly and finally ordered a couple of cocktails to try.

My favorite: The Boozy Floozey (background). Also: root beer-like drink in process (middle) and the Roselinda (foreground).

First up, cold water oysters. They were perfectly shucked (lately a few restaurants I have visited have been a bit sloppy with their shucking). I loved the presentation. The plate was beautiful but didn’t need to be. I scraped off the mignonette. The best part of eating an oyster (to me) is tasting the sea. I think I usually close my eyes when I eat one. ..”smell the sea, and feel the sky let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic.” But I digress.

My favorite dish in Atlanta currently: rabbit rillettes with tomatillo escabeche and toast. As I try to write this, I gush. This peasant pate is just the perfect combination of soft, smooth, savory comfort . If the term rillettes is new to you, it is simply a potted meat a little less processed than pate. The board is beautiful and the components are warm and cool, savory and tart, soft and crunchy. I love the celery leaves with the rillettes, as they lend a subtle earthiness. I eat the tomatillo escabeche alone. It is crunchy, tart and a lil spicy. I have had Thomas Keller's signature rillettes many times and this is, well, better.

Buttermilk fried chicken with roasted veggies and Eden Farms bacon. Super moist, flavorful chicken fried to perfection over carrots, turnips and collards. What’s not to love?

Virginia lump crab roll with lemon aoli and an arugula salad. Not for the faint of heart or the small of jaw, this large roll thrilled me. The best part was the buttery goodness of the toasted bread. Don’t get me wrong, the roll is filled with sweet crab meat and a zingy lemony aoli, but the bread is heaven.

House cured Lomo and peach preserves, arugula, sweet balsamic. So good.

Apple bourbon and a Boozey Floozy

Trotter fritter with fried farm egg and wax bean salad. Tender on the inside, crunchy on the outside and oh so good smeared in the yolk of the farm egg. Eating trotters make me feel good much like recycling. I would order this again and again. * Since I wrote this, I have. I have visited One Eared Stag several times and each time was enchanting. The food thrilled me, the atmosphere was just my speed and the service, THE SERVICE, was the standard by which other restaurants should be judged. Any of these three could be the reason for a return visit but all three makes One Eared Stag a must visit restaurant. Period.

I am so looking forward to One Eared Stag's leap year dinner on February 29th with Robert Phalen (One Eared Stag), Ryan Smith (Empire State South), Drew Belline (No246), Josh Hopkins (formerly of Abattoir, will now head STG Trattoria), Guy Wong (Miso Izakaya), and Stuart Baesel (Community Q). Info here on Chow Down Atlanta's blog.

One Eared Stag on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Four Coursemen Adventure

Nancy, Matt, Eddie, Damien, Patrick and Randolph

There is a real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrityand accomplishment.
--Norman Peale

On a quest to celebrate local and sustainable ingredients, The Four Coursemen are off on a new adventure on the Cooking Channel where they must source, cook and serve a 5 course dinner party of 30 guests in a locale unknown to them before they arrive. The challenge here is really sourcing the ingredients and dining location because whipping up an incredible feast for 30 is a skill they have mastered.

Since 2008 The Four Coursemen have been hosting dinners for 28 twice a month in a cozy Athens house to the lucky online registry winners. Make that very lucky. Dinners sell out in less than ten seconds these days. There is a reason they sell out this quickly. Passion for food, wine, local fare, sustainable ingredients and fun exudes from this bunch. Each dinner is a celebration of their community, sustainable and seasonal  ingredients, the craft of the brewer or cheese maker, and the challenge to make it great and never do the same thing twice. Quality components make for a great meal but intentionality is an ingredient not to discount.

In last night's premier episode, Damien, Matt , Patrick, Eddie and Nancy found their Denver destination  in their silver information pig (Hermholz?) and headed off for adventure. Upon arrival in Denver, a document case revealed their true destination of Carbondale, a 3 hour drive.  Once on the road, they began their pursuit of local ingredients, tableware, accompanying wines, and a spot for the gathering. Here  is what they purchased:

Crystal River Meats--purchased 30 lamb shanks and locally harvested hay and found a venue (the owners' brother's home)

Leroux Creek Vineyard--The first course wine. Leroux Creek grows Chambourcin and Cayuga grapes organically. They also purchased freshly foraged chanterelles.

Zephyros Farm and Garden- lemon cucumbers, black tomatoes, and others . All in all, 5 boxes of veggies.
Avalanche Cheese Co.- fresh (4 day old) chevre for the dessert course

Highwire Ranch- 6 Elk hearts, 15 bison bones (for marrow), 10 bison "fries" (testicles); Peak Spirits--gin mash for marinating
Revolution Brewery-a growler of their dark stout (Stout Ol Friend) for marinating; Ela Family Farms- Peaches so good that Eddie said they were better than Georgia peaches. (gasp!); Farmer's market- produce and spices; Sopri's Liquor and Wine- 10 bottles of wine, 12 bottles of beer; Bethel Party Rentals-tableware; from the venue garden-- cabbage, broccoli.

After a heady brainstorming session, the menu was set, the guests were invited and the lamb was braised. Patrick set up the dining area with the same feel as dinner parties in Athens: slightly angled napkins, printed menu,water glass, wine glass and simple flowers. It looked gorgeous, especially with the view.

After guests arrived, Damien rang the dinner bell (well, triangle) and welcomed everyone to the feast.  You could see familiar faces in the crowd from the day's shopping excursion.

1st Course:  Bison fries with a ring mold tomato cucumber tartare over yogurt, arugula and oregano flowers (tzaziki style). This was paired with an Infinite Monkey Theorem Albarino.

2nd Course:  Chanterelle Mushroom Soup with olive oil and nasturtium flowers and leaves as garnish. Guests thought it paired nicely with the Leroux Creek Chambourcin ( I think), as it brought out citrus notes from the mushrooms.

3rd Course:  Marinated and seared elk heart over roasted broccoli with a bit of anchovy and topped with bison marrow butter (unsalted butter, trragon, lemon zest, roasted bison marrow and a bit of the anchovy brine). Nancy paired this with a 2009 Lapierre Morgon, (Marcel Lapierre's last vintage before he died). Elk heart recipe here.

4th Course:  Braised lamb shanks in hay over cabbage slaw with carrot greens and black tomato jus. This course was paired with beer--a Great Divide Belgium Yeti Imperial stout. Lamb shanks in hay recipe here.

5th Course:  Goat's milk ice cream with chunks of chevre with peaches, lemon zest and thyme shortbread and honey basil sauce.  Nancy paired it with a Domaine Huet sparkling chenin blanc. Ice cream recipe here.

Cheers to Colorado. Cheers to The Four Coursemen! Can't wait for another episode. I have been doing finger exercises to be quicker when the reservation status is open for a Four Coursemen dinner in Athens. I must admit I shed a few tears at the end of the viewing. I am so happy for a group of people challenging themselves with what they love and supporting local growers, brewers, wineries and cheesemakers.  They are good people, on and off the air.



Thursday, January 5, 2012

A New Turn in the South by Hugh Acheson

Hugh has been working on and talking excitedly about this book for quite a while. I picked mine up at his book release party at Empire State South on October 18th and couldn't wait to dig in. My first impression: so friendly and approachable. I know, sounds like a peculiar way to describe a book but the 120 recipes inside are presented in a style akin to a relative explaining a family recipe how-to.

The first item of business in the book is to lay out his approach to food and what is most important to him. local first
sustainable second
organic last
 Get a copy here on Hugh's Open Sky page

The photography by Rinne Allen is gorgeous and Hugh's doodles throughout add whimsy and charm. Unlike most cookbooks, I read it cover to cover. I have another cookbook like this, one of Irish recipes.  When I brought it home and began to read, I made a cup of Irish breakfast tea and cozied up under a blanket.  The writing and ingredients transported me to the foggy seaside and heathered hills.  A New Turn in the South really puts into words the spirit of the south with innovative, yet simple recipes. It's not fussy but it's new--seasonal, southern ingredients with a twist.  Vegetables play a large role as well as pickling. I love the anecdotes interspersed with the recipes and the homage to the main ingredient that heralds each ingredient list. I finished the book with a deep understanding of the sense of place I taste when I eat Hugh's food.  It's a prize on my shelf, like the oysters of a chicken. (It also has a magnificent inscription)

Hopefully coming soon: A New Turn in the South II: This Time with Fiddleheads.