Friday, January 31, 2014

Meat Week at The Smoke RIng

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Grant of Marie Let's Eat! alerted me to Meat Week, a week-long BBQ-hopping event. I managed to make the Friday night get-together at The Smoke Ring. While I was there, I met Tracy, captain of Atlanta Meat Week and one of the founders. She explained that Meat Week is really about community and fun. I certainly enjoyed myself: I was able to see some of my old blogger friends like Grant and Marie, meet new bloggers, and meet some of you civilians, too.

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By the way, this is what food bloggers look like when their food arrives. We always have to take pictures of the food as long as it arrives.

I ordered a combo plate with baby back ribs and brisket. The baby backs were good, the brisket was great, with a nice smoky flavor and tender but firm texture. I tried several sauces, my favorite of which was the mustard-based sauce. It isn't on the table by default, so be sure to ask for it. The grainy mustard is paired with a wonderful vinegar to make a sauce that goes particularly well with beef. My side, crispy brussel sprouts with maple syrup, was truly amazing. The flavor of the brussel sprouts came through and was perfectly modulated by the sweetness of the maple syrup. The cornbread was very good.

The Smoke Ring on Urbanspoon

The Smoke Ring

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cooking Through Snowpocalypse II

Snowpocalypse II or Son of Snowpocalypse? Why don't we have a poll to see what people prefer.

I made my way home relatively quickly on Tuesday, only an hour and a quarter. (Sadly, several of my friends were examples of the many people who fared much worse.) What does a food nut do when she can't leave the house? Cook, of course!

For my main meals, I worked on some meat I had saved up in the freezer. This is a section of a brisket that I cooked a few weeks ago. Add some Arthur Bryant's sauce (thanks to my sister and brother in law) and a loaf of freshly made 100% whole wheat bread, and it's a meal. I used a pork roast and a can of beans for a pretty tasty bowl of chili.

I saved most of my cooking for recreational dishes. This is a batch of chocolate truffles I whipped up on Tuesday night. Truffles are pretty simple---just add chocolate to boiling cream---but they do give you a sense of accomplishment. I also made a batch of brioche dough and used a bit of it for pecan sweet rolls this morning; sadly, they disappeared before I could photograph them.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Takorea

Hyesoon introduced me to Takorea, a Korean/Mexican fusion restaurant. We had a nice casual dinner and a trivia game as a bonus.

We each had tacos: tofu and pork/kimchi for me, calimari and chicken for me. The pork/chimchi was a great combination; the heat in the kimchi sneaks up on you in a very tasty way. My tofu taco was tasty, too.

Our fries were fried in sesame oil. I was surprised at this one---I think of sesame oil as something I buy and use in small quantities. But let me tell you, they were great. We could really taste the sesame in the fries. To add to the experience, they had a great cruncy coating and were liberally salted. They made a great treat.

Takorea on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Santa Monica CA: Pacific Dining Car

My friends Larry and Jim joined me for a wonderful evening at Pacific Dining Car in Santa Monica. I stumbled upon the original PDC in downtown LA many years ago and have always enjoyed both the food and the traditional steakhouse atmosphere. The Santa Monica version upholds the tradition. I found the service inside the restaurant to be very gracious; unfortunately the valet parking attendant was not at all helpful.

This is my ribeye steak. Although tasty, I wish that it had a bit more char on it. I believe that we carnivores should enjoy our meat-eating experiences and a bit of character on the surface of the steak is part of the enjoyment. We also ordered creamed spinach, a steakhouse favorite of mine that was very well executed. My personal highlight was the onion rings, which were delicately cut and coated with a very crispy crust.

Pacific Dining Car on Urbanspoon

Pasadena CA: Marston's

I stopped by Marston's first thing in the morning. I was in the market for hearty breakfast and they certainly satisfied me.

My multi-grain pancakes had all the flavor you would expect from so many grains packed together. The pancakes were loaded with wonderfully fresh fruit. I ordered a fluffy scrambled egg to complement the pancakes.

Marston's on Urbanspoon

Los Angeles: 800 Degrees Pizza

After a long day of travel, I had a satisfying dinner at 800 Degrees Pizza in Westwood. The name, of course, comes from the wood-fired ovens they use to bake the pizzas. The pies themselves are assembled in front of you at a set of stations for your different ingredients---you can explain and point to your heart's content.

I ordered a margherita with sausage and mushrooms. The pizza was very hot when it came out of the oven---a bit of a challenge for a hunger-crazed person like me. The crust had just the right amount of chewiness and a little bit of char. I wish that the toppings had included a little more sausage, but given the very reasonable price I can't complain. Although I wouldn't call this a high-end, gourmet pizza, it was quite tasty and a good value.

800 Degrees Pizza on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Decatur: Sobban

Sobban is one of those only-in-Atlanta combinations: Korean food with a Southern twist housed in a classic Arby's chuckwagon building. (The horn-headed steers in the tile floor are from the Arby's days.) The restaurant is decorated in the style of a gracious Decatur home, modern and with character. The restaurant was jam-packed when I visited but the service was fairly efficient and very helpful.

My food was spectacular. I chose the catfish as an examplar of the Southern/Korean fusion. It was coated with a blackening spice mix that was a bit different from the standard New Orleans blackening spices; the fish was very succulent and flaky tender. I don't know what was in the sauce, but it was in the style of a tartar sauce and complemented the fish very well. The hushpuppies were tasty and the pickled vegetables were wonderful and not overly hot. The Korean sweet potatoes were outstanding. They were made in the style of home fries, hand cut and ranging from extremely crispy to just a little tender. They had a slightly sweet coating that perfectly complemented the sweet potatoes without overpowering them.

Sobban on Urbanspoon

Sobban

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Brookhaven: Avellino's Pizzeria

Avellino's has established a Brookhaven outpost. The atmosphere is small and cosy but brightly lit and inviting; it offers both table and bar seating. The service was very friendly and efficient. It's a popular place, with a line of people waiting for tables.

As you can see, they have a very spiffy wood-fired oven.

This is my vegetina pizza and the vegetables were spectacular. The olives were my favorite, but it also had greens, peppers, and wonderful mushrooms. The crust was nicely soft and chewy, with just a bit of char from that wonderful woodburning oven. The mozzarella was wonderful. The sauce was graciously applied in just the right amount, not so much as to drown that wonderful crust.

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/9/1805157/restaurant/Brookhaven/Avellinos-Pizzeria-Atlanta

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sandy Springs: Teela Taqueria

A food blogger's conclave was my motivation for visiting Teela Taqueria. Of course, we all had to take photos of our food before we could eat it. And discussions of our meals led to discussions of restaurants ranging from Veni Vidi Vici to Del Taco---we are an eclectic group.

I tried the mole chicken taco. The sauce was tasty, but I didn't consider it to be a very mole-y sauce. If anything, it reminded me of a Chinese sauce. It was spicy and just a little sweet. I noticed after I ordered that they offer a lettuce wrap as a low-calorie alternative to the tortilla, which is a very nice option.

Teela Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Teela Taqueria

Friday, January 3, 2014

Chamblee: Union Hill Kitchen

Union Hill Kitchen is in old Chamblee, up the street from the Marta station. The atmosphere is upscale casual for dinner. The atmosphere is relaxed; jazz vocals play in the background. The service was excellent.

Deconstruction seems to be a theme here, at least for the meals I ordered. I started with the summer salad. Those aren't tomatoes on top of the greens. They are instead tomato sorbet presented as tomato-y snowballs. They were spectacularly good. The cold, oddly enough, enhances the saltiness and acidity of the tomatoes. The texture of the sorbet adds crunch to the salad without resorting to croutons.

My main dish was the fried chicken, served atop a mountain of wonderful mashed potatoes. The fried chicken had a generous crisp crust and meat that was cooked just the right amount to retain its juiciness. The chicken had been deconstructed---its bones had been removed, then it was reassembled to resemble the original breast.

Chef Alexis stopped by to chat. He explained that they opened for lunch in October, then expanded to dinner in December. Lunch has a more casual atmosphere. He also explained the secret of his fried chicken: a drizzle of locally-sourced honey and sriracha sauce. The combination is very subtle but effective. It doesn't ruin the crunchiness of the crust and neither the sweet nor heat are overpowering. But the combination takes this fried chicken out of the ordinary.

Union Hill Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Union Hill Kitchen

Doraville: Han Il Kwan

Being in the mood for beef, I decided that Korean food would hit the spot. Koreans love their beef, after all. I made my way to Han Il Kwan on Buford Highway in Doraville. It's pretty large but divided into several rooms, which helps reduce the noise. The service was very friendly and attentive.

The big spread is one of the pleasures of a Korean meal. The hostess cooked my brisket for me at the table using the portable burner. I wrapped the meat in lettuce and combined it with condiments and sauces. I had three sauces, ranging from broth to a somewhat tangy sauce. Condiments ranged from cabbage kimchi and pickled vegetable to egg. Very tasty! Han Il Kwan on Urbanspoon

Han Il Kwan