Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fresh Lard

Yes, you read that title correctly. Yesterday, I bought some fresh lard at the Buford Highway farmer's market, something that I have wanted to do for awhile. I have used supermarket lard for several years. I recently found out that commercial lard is processed much like shortening. They process with the same goal---longer shelf life---and with much the same results. I wanted to compare and see what difference fresh lard would make.

So far, I have made both peach pie and biscuits. This is my mise en place for the biscuits. You can see that the lard is light brown in color, very different from the translucent white of the industrial-grade variety. Even after sitting in the refrigerator overnight, it is still soft and pliable, also unlike factory-made lard. That makes it very easy to work into the dough.

Here is some of that peach pie...

And here is a biscuit. In both cases, the taste was subtle but definitely there. At first, both the pie and the biscuit tasted similar to what I would expect from factory lard. After a few minutes, particularly for the biscuit, a bit of pork flavor came through in my mouth. I suspect that the peaches in the pie masked whatever pork note may have been in the crust. I'm sure that some people wouldn't like it, but I think it is pretty tasty. And, as I understand it, fresh lard is healthier, although I understand that is a relative concept. But I will definitely put fresh lard on my rotation of fresh ingredients.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Better Half

Better Half's location on 14th Street is boutique-sized and very stylish. The crowd when I visited was dressed casually but clearly there for a nice evening.

My main course was yellow fin tuna. The fish was very well prepared in an interesting way: well-cooked for about 1/4" depth, then cool beneath. I'm not sure how they made the tuna transition from cooked to cool in such a small distance. It came with quinona, the It Grain of 2014, and some very nice fingerling potatoes.

My banana cake was superb. It had all the taste of a banana and all of the texture of a cake, a combination that isn't always easy to achieve. It was served with dollops of cream on one side and icing on the other.

Better Half on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Fry Guy

Georgia Tech seems to have committed to having food trucks on campus regularly. Today, I tried Fry Guy, which was parked near the Clough building. Nothing like a little fried food to perk you up after a long lecture. This truck has a very pure mission---it's all french fries. The variety comes in the coatings and toppings.

I went for a classic paper cone of fries and asked for extra spicy. The coating included both salt and red pepper flakes, giving a nice tweak without being overwhelming. I am conservative on my toppings and I couldn't bring myself to try the mayonnaise. My ketchup sauce was wonderful. It had a healthy amount of vinegar, making it more pungent than the Heinz stuff. The heat in the ketchup was pleasant and tickled my tongue.

Fry Guy on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Viet-Nomie's Food Truck

We had a mini food truck conclave today at Georgia Tech with two food trucks in front of the College of Computing. I used this as my chance to try Viet-nomie.

This is my tofu bahn-mie. Even before I started, the smell of vinegar coming off the sandwich was intoxicating. The bread was fresh out of the toaster. The combination of the warm, crunchy bread with fresh, uncooked vegetables is an amazing combination of sensations. The tofu was great. The sauce was spicy in a sneaky way. I didn't notice it immediately, but my mouth gave off a pleasant buzz for several minutes after I finished.

Viet Nomie's Gourmet Cafe & Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 14, 2014

Veronica's Cafe at DARPA

I have visited DARPA's new building before, but I hadn't noticed their cafe. This trip offered an opportunity for a quick peek. By the time I arrived at 2 PM, the grill was closed, but they offer a variety of burgers and sandwiches. They also have several refrigerator cases and a wide variety of snacks.

What's DARPA, you ask? The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency, people who invent new technologies to help defend the United States. They invented the Internet, among other things. It's a building full of dedicated people working hard to protect our country. You have to have a reason to visit this building, so don't drop in for a snack, but I'm sure that this cafe is a big help for the people who work there.

Veronica's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mustard Seed BBQ

Mustard Seed BBQ is in a low-key location off the main road. But this is real BBQ: a family operation who care about their food.

I tried the rib plate. The pork ribs had a bit of tooth and very good, subtle smoke flavor. Their sauce is mustard-based and pretty moderate. I saved my beans but my greens were excellent. This is excellent, hand-crafted BBQ.

Mustard Seed BBQ on Urbanspoon

Mustard Seed

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni's in the Westside Provisions District has established a reputation for outstanding ice cream. They are also open until late in the evening.

This is my chocomole: chocolate, cinnamon, hot sauce, and some mix-ins. It was very rich and smooth. The hot sauce gave just enough of a kick, making an excellent contrast to the richness of the cream. This ice cream is not cheap, but it is very, very good.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams on Urbanspoon

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Vintage Frozen Custard

I just tried Vintage Frozen Custard's new permanent location on Howell Mill, an outgrowth of their truck. I got a chance to chat with the owner/chef Malik, who clearly puts a great deal of effort into and takes pride in his ice cream. (As a historical note, frozen custard is just what it sounds like, an egg/cream custard that has been frozen. Purists reserve the term ice cream for a product made only with cream, no eggs. But most of what is called ice cream is, in fact, frozen custard.)

I went with the classic chocolate, which I greatly enjoyed. It was rich with cream and a hint of that egg. The chocolate flavor was very well balanced. The texture was nice and firm---this isn't DQ soft-serve. Malik also gave me a taste of the vanilla, which was also great.

Vintage Frozen Custard on Urbanspoon

Vintage Frozen Custard

Monday, March 3, 2014

La Jolla CA: La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club

Sorry that I don't have photos for this meal, but perhaps that's just as well. The food was ho-hum but the main message of this entry is the very poor service I received.

When I arrived, the hostess was nowhere to be found. The waitress told me to sit anywhere, then disappeared without even giving me a menu. After a few minutes, I went to the entry for a menu. The hostess had appeared and I asked her if I could order. She didn't. After another few minutes, I asked her again to order and she told me that the waitress was the only person authorized to take orders and she was busy in another part of the restaurant. After several more minutes, she finally appeared and took my order.

The food was workmanlike but I was surprised that my buttermilk pancakes came naked. Most California restaurants would try to celebrate the state's wonderful array of fruits, but not this restaurant. I was disappointed that a luxury hotel restaurant would not put a little more effort into their food.

The Marine Room on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lilburn: Spiced Right Smokehouse

I just enjoyed a wonderful plate of BBQ at Spiced Right. It's a little further up Lawrenceville Highway than I normally travel. It certainly has its creature comforts---plenty of TV screens playing both sports and Food Network---but this is a down-home, unpretentious BBQ establishment. Their collection of sides shows more variety than many BBQ places, including fried okra and corn pudding.

This is my rib plate. The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender. Little pockets of fat were left in the crevices of the bones, making gooey, succulent treats as I worked my way through. The beans were pretty sweet with brown sugar but also savory and tasty. The corn pudding was excellent: sweet, milky, and with a nice dose of cinnamon.

Spiced Right Smokehouse Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Spiced Right Ribhouse

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Food Truck Day

Tuesday was food truck day at Georgia Tech. It's a great idea and one that I hope the adminstration keeps up. As you can see, the event hosted a lot of food trucks and attracted a lot of students.

I ordered my lunch from Yumii. I was hungry but I toughed it out in the long line. Their food is Asian/Mexican/Southern fusion. That means burritos with Asian hot sauce and pork (although I ordered the tofu version). Quite tasty…

Yumbii on Urbanspoon