Saturday, May 30, 2015

El Taco Veloz

Taco Veloz is a Buford Highway classic. It's a tiny little drive-in that's open all sorts of hours. The food is very good and pretty darn cheap.

Here are my tacos, one beef and one pork. I also ordered a cheese quesedilla that didn't make it into the photos. The meat was very flavorful and tender. Each was wrapped in two tortillas that were soft and delicious. The cheese quesedilla just plain oozed with flavor. This food isn't particularly neat to eat, so be prepared. But it's a great spot to grab a bite to eat.

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Chamblee: Mediterranean Bakery

Mediterranean Bakery is one of those great little places in the Other Chamblee, north of 285 and east of 85. Even though it is away from the foodie magnet of Buford Highway, it still does a good business. Their oven seems to run endlessly. In addition to the restaurant, they also sell a selection of groceries. That's very dangerous for someone like me---I was starting to get ideas.

One of these pies is zatar, which is a combination of sesame and herbs. The other is half cheese, half zatar. I really love zatar. The sesame combines with the rich herbs has a very natural taste, like being in the pine forests. The bread on which they were spread was the tender/chewy combination that we all love.

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Grayson: Grayson Coffee House

I'm not entirely sure where downtown Grayson is but Grayson Coffee House seems to be centrally located on Grayson Parkway. It's in a very pleasant old house with several rooms in which patrons can relax with their coffee. Based on the look of some of the exposed wood inside, I would guess that the core of the house is about a century old.

Here is my iced coffee, which was very tasty. They use Jittery Joe's coffee, which came through nicely along with the cream. They have a big selection of baked goods. Their breakfast selection seems fairly complete, including oatmeal. They also run a car service in the mornings---just park in back and they will come out the back door to help you.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Chamblee: Golden BBQ

Golden BBQ is the latest very good restaurant in a little strip mall on Buford Highway whose name evades me. The Gang of Food descended on Golden BBQ for a very good dinner. As usual, we ordered a lot of food and shared both photo ops and nibbles. I would have to say that Vin's order of pork belly, the first shot in this series, was the consensus hit of the evening. My order was a casserole with beef on top and transparent noodles on the bottom. It handily satisfied my beef craving.

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Golden BBQ

Friday, May 22, 2015

Macaroni and Cheese

This may sound un-American but I didn't grow up eating macaroni and cheese. We were a macaroni-and-tomato sauce family. In fact, I refused to eat cheese as a child. Mom still reminds me that I referred to cheese as "spoiled milk." Eventually, I learned to appreciate and love cheese. I've had a hankering for cheese for the past few days and I decided to cure it by making macaroni and cheese.

I made my own pasta. This was the first time that I have used the Italian grandmother method of rolling up the pasta sheet and cutting it. My first attempt resulted in the rolls sticking together at the edges. I rolled out the sheet again with a little more flour. That was enough to do the trick.

The sauce starts with a butter-and-flour roux. I used heavy cream as the base. After adding an egg, I added some grated cheddar cheese.

Here is the finished dish. Wow, was it good. It was rich and creamy but the taste of the cheddar really came through. The wide pasta noodles held up very well to the heavy sauce. Was I missing something when I was a kid...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Lab Coffee Compound

Lab Coffee Compound is ensconced in the back corner of the Bio Quad. One of the advantages of this location is their great views of both the city and the quiet, wooded areas that grace the Georgia Tech campus. The restaurant itself pushes hard on the nerd vibe. They have an amazing collection of junk food for sale---Microsoft would be envious. They also support an impressive collection of antique video games plus some cool lab equipment.

I often go there for iced coffee (or in the winter, hot coffee). Today for lunch I ordered the chicken burrito. It was a huge monster and tasty, too. It had enough heat to get my attention. The mix of ingredients was rich and filling: chicken, beans, corn, cheese.

Lab Coffee Compound on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Chamblee: Mad Italian

I got together with Leslie, Marie, and Grant for a good dinner at Mad Italian. It's right off 285 and I have long been curious about it but never quite made it there. I should have stopped by earlier. This is one of those relatively few places in Atlanta that can satisfy my need for a good Italian sandwich.

This is my sausage, pepper, and onion sandwich. Everything about it was great: the sausage was juicy and flavorful, the peppers and onions were done but not overcooked, the sauce was the right balance between sweet and acidic, and the roll was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. This baby didn't last very long. Everyone else enjoyed their food, too.

Mad Italian on Urbanspoon

The Mad Italian

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Decatur: Tava Indian Bistro

Tava is the latest edition to the ever-expanding Patel Plaza in Decatur. It describes itself as "Indian street food elevated," a description with which I certainly agree. The decor is modern and very tasteful. My service was extremely considerate and attentive.

The Internet is a wonderful thing. As I waited for my food, I learned that a tava is a form of cooking dish that is used to make breads as well as some other items.

I started with Bhajiya chips---Indian potato chips. My mom would describe these as home fries, slightly thicker and softer than store-bought potato chips. The tamarind and mint sauces are always my favorite but these chips are the perfect way to enjoy them.

For my main course, I ordered tava baingan, eggplant stuffed with spices. The flavors and spices in this dish were just wonderful, a complex amalgam that was pungent and savory. I ordered extra spicy; the result was hot enough to get my attention but no where tear-inducing.

Tava Indian Bistro

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Decatur: Masti

Masti is the latest addition to North Druid Hills Mall. It bills itself as Indian street food. To my untrained eyes, this appears to mean quite a bit of south Indian street food with some north Indian favorites thrown in, as well as a few Americanisms (sliders, hot dog buns). The atmosphere is bright and cheerful. Although the restaurant was overcome with Mother's Day madness, my service was unfailingly polite.

I started with a cup of chai. The milk and spices were very soothing.

I ordered the thali, which allowed me to try several different dishes. For dinner, you choose 2 of the 4 dailly specials. I went with paneer tikka masala and chicken korma. The chicken korma was fine but I particularly enjoyed the dal and paneer tikka masala. All the dishes were well spiced but not particularly hot. That is, which the exception of the excellent pickle. It did everything that you want an Indian pickle to do to your mouth, which is to confuse it with a swirl of acid, heat, and exotic flavors. The bread was fresh and quite good.

Masti on Urbanspoon

Stone Mountain: Donnie's Country Cooking

I've eaten breakfast at Donnie's Clairmont location quite a few times. After a trip to Stone Mountain, I had a satisfying lunch at their location on Stone Mountain Highway.

I ordered a 4-veggie plate: pinto beans, corn, collard greens, fried okra. Nothing fancy here but everything was well prepared. And as always, the meal was a very good value.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cafe Intermezzo

We capped off our end-of-semester/start-of-spring festival with dessert at Cafe Intermezzo. This was my first trip to their relatively new midtown location.

We split some almond tiramisu. This is the best tiramisu I've ever had (and I had more than my share during my many years in New Jersey). The cake is soft and rich with liqueur and espresso, interspersed with marscapone. The almonds on top really do add quite a bit---they are a perfect complement to the espresso.

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Cafe Intermezzo

Ribalta

Several of us went across the highway to celebrate the end of the semester and the beautiful spring weather. Ribalta is just off Peachtree and its sign is fairly inconspicuous. The space itself has lots of light. The service was in the Italian spirit---friendly and easy-going.

The meal started off with some bread from the wood-fired oven, light and with a good, dark crust.

I ordered the buffalo mozzarella pizza. Although you can't tell from the photo, it's pretty darn big for an individual pizza. I would classify the crust as in the Italian style rather than the New York style. Pizza crusts in Italy are often extremely thin; New York crusts are just a little thicker to balance the crunchy and chewy textures. Ribalta's crust was extremely thin and very flavorful. It soaked up the sauce and cheese very nicely, making it a little softer.

Hyesoon let me try her panini. It had the same great crust as the pizza. The artichokes on top gave a distinct but sublet flavor. I suspect that the taste of the artichokes would have been a little lost on a pizza with red sauce but here they were perfect.

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