Friday, December 30, 2016

Duluth: Crave Pie Studio

Today was a great day to try Crave Pie Studio.It's located in the beautifully restored old town Duluth. The shop is airy and open. The huge and spotless kitchen area is visible from the tables through a big window. They bake all sorts of sweet pies and a variety of savory pies as well.

This is my maple pecan pie. I consider pecan pie to be a good test of anyone's pie skills and a crucial skill for a Southern baker. This was an excellent example, one of the best I've had in awhile. The crust was rich, flaky, and moist. The filling was filled with pecans---none of this pecan flotsam floating on top business. The maple syrup came through very clearly. It was very enjoyable and didn't last long. I wasn't as happy with the coffee, but that did nothing to dent my enthusiasm for the pies.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Decatur: Kitchen Six

it's opening night at Kitchen Six and the place is buzzing. It's located on Lavista Road in the Oak Grove neighborhood. The décor is that of the dining room of a nice, comfortable house. The staff was firing on all cylinders and service was both very efficient and extremely gracious. The menu has a Southern slant---chicken, pork, vegetables---but is not didactic.

I started with some hush puppies. Not only were they excellent but they had little knobs that made perfect handles for the dipping sauce. I'm not sure if the handles were deliberate but they are a really great idea, particularly given the quality of the sauce. It was a remoulade with just enough tang.

For my main course, I ordered the bone-in pork chop. The meat was tender and juicy with just the right amount of toothiness. Pineapple pieces on top gave it some zing; several small carrots and some kale gave us the Southern vegetable touch. The slaw was superb; I think it had cardamom, but whatever spice it was made a great complement to the meat.

For dessert, I ordered the chocolate raspberry cake. It may have been flourless but I could be wrong about that. It was very rich, dense, and moist. The mercifully small piece was the perfect way to end an excellent meal.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Baking

I baked this German apple cake. The recipe is from Classic German Baking via Epicurious. It's delicious and a nice change of pace from apple pie. The crust contains egg for richness. The filling includes apples, cranberries, lemon juice, but no added sugar; it's a great balance between sweetness and tartness. The top crust is coated in baking powder + lemon juice; once again, sweet but not too sweet.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Lunch at Amelie's

Saibal, Asif, and I went to Ameilie's for a meeting, giving me an opportunity to refresh my memory of their lunch. This is my jambon et fromage---ham and cheese---which was excellent. The ham was thick and juicy. I chose Gruyere for my cheese, which I consider hearty and very French. The baguette was delicious with a crunch, nicely browned crust and a soft interior.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Breakfast at the Federal

I recently found out that The Federal, the steak restaurant located appropriately near the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, serves breakfast (thanks to Nancy for the tip). In need of a breakfast, I decided to give it a try.

Given their emphasis on beef, I ordered the brisket scramble. It was perfect. The eggs were soft and fluffy; the potatoes were moist with just a touch of crispness; the brisket was moist and very flavorful. Everything came out on a sizzling-hot skillet. This was a very enjoyable, very satisfying breakfast that will last me most of the day. I was a little disappointed by the coffee; I prefer a less forward, more restrained blend. But wow, what a breakfast.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Tofu Scramble at West Egg

I had a chance recently to enjoy one of my favorite breakfasts, the tofu scramble at West Egg. It includes tofu, mushrooms, and a veggie mix; I ordered potatoes on the side. This dish has plenty of umami without being overpowering. It's savory and filling but won't turn you into a lead balloon. The West Egg staff is always prompt and courteous even under the heavy strain of their ever-present breakfast crowd.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Infused Cake

It is the time of year for cake and for special treats. This case started out with King Arthur Flour's yellow cake recipe, which was designed for soaking with syrups. I soaked this one with a combination of strawberry preserves and honey. It turned out to be a great combination. The notes of the honey florals and strawberry both came through very nicely. Covered with a chocolate ganache, it was moist and delicious.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Update: Breakfast at Thumbs Up

Thumbs Up is one of my favorite breakfast spots and I have a new favorite dish there. I think it's called Val's Omelet but I'm senile and I could be wrong. In any case, it is filled with veggie sausage, potatoes, tomatoes, and assorted other vegetables. It is very hearty and robust. It was particularly welcome on a cold, rainy morning. As always, the service was very polite and welcoming. Keep it up, guys!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Red Chili Cafe

I need to spend more time on Stone Mountain Highway. It's an interesting mix of African-American, African, and the Atlanta grab-bag. Red Chili Café is an example of the variety along this road. It serves good Chinese food, a bit of Japanese, burgers, and fried fish. They also serve an assortment of wine and beer. The atmosphere is very pleasant and well-kept. The service was very friendly and helpful. The owner stopped by to chat; he told me that they have been open for five months.

My dish was an example of the variety offered here. My tofu was the real deal and very good. The tofu itself was soft and silky. The sauce was a little salty and plenty hot---not enough to make me cry but enough to clear out my sinuses. The rice stuck together like good Chinese rice should. The string beans and red beans on the side were fine but the tofu was the star of the show.

I also got a whiff of this crispy fried tilapia.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Nectar

Nectar is Georgia Tech's outpost of the Decatur healthy food emporium. It's located in the EBB building atrium. They serve a variety of sandwiches as well as smoothies and snacks.

I ordered a veggie chipotle sandwich. It was loaded with mozzarella and salad fixings. The chipotle gave it zest but it wasn't hot. The sauce did make the experience pleasantly messy. The combination of mozzarella and chipotle was hearty and tastebud-pleasing.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Chattanooga TN: Lupi's Pizza

Grant and Marie introduced me to Lupi's, their favorite pizza in Chattanooga. The space is large and inviting. The menu features local beers as well as the traditional pizza and calzone.

They even offer this tasty grape soda. It's made by White Rock in New York, so it has a reasonable claim to Brooklyn authenticity.

We ordered two pizzas: sun dried tomato and mushroom; sausage and peppers. The crust was soft and inviting. The cheese was of very high quality. And the ingredients were very fresh and gave a nice zing---sun dried tomato is a particular favorite of mine that isn't all that easy to find.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Spatchcocking a Turkey

I picked up a deal on a turkey and decided to use it to try spatchcocking. This technique flattens the bird to promote even cooking.

Here is the bird. Directions talk about cutting out bones but I didn't bother going that far. I just used my kitchen shears to cut the breast in half. After roughly laying out the bird, I used the palm of my hand to flatten it out. It couldn't have been simpler. This technique not only exposes the interior to more direct heat, it also nearly eliminates vertical variations in temperature, resulting in more even cooking.

I coated the bird in olive oil and a little salt. I cooked it at 450 for 30 minutes, then turned the oven down to 350. This bird weighed only 10 pounds but it took just under an hour and a half to cook. The result was tender and juicy with a nice, crunchy skin. I enjoyed some turkey for dinner; the rest went into the freezer for turkey pot pies.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving at Davio's

I usually cook Thanksgiving dinner. But this year I decided to go out for a change. I enjoyed a wonderful meal at Davio's with excellent food and gracious service.

The meal started with Davio's wonderful popovers. A popover is always a treat. This one was eggy rich and came out warm.

The dinner was even more plentiful than the description led me to think. The main plate included turkey (moist and tender), Yukon gold mashed potatoes (nice and creamy), dressing (moist and low-key), and cranberry/apple relish (excellent and a perfect balance of tart and sweet). The sides included corn with red pepper (a nice touch of heat), greens (truly outstanding, with a slightly sweet start), and macaroni and cheese (superbly creamy with a touch of parmesan reggiano to enliven the rich cream). I couldn't finish it all but I made a creditable showing.

It isn't Thanksgiving without dessert. My flourless chocolate cake was the perfect way to finish the meal. The raspberries accented the relatively mild chocolate.

I am grateful for this wonderful meal and for the care of the staff who served me and everyone on this day. I am grateful for many things in my life. A happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Decatur: Go Vegetarian

I just had a wonderful brunch at Go Vegetarian. Atlanta is the new melting pot and this restaurant is the perfect example. It's in a strip mall that combines Indian and middle Eastern stores with a huge Goodwill complex. Go Vegetarian itself is African American owned and boasts a typically American menu---burgers, fried chicken---made with faux meats and entirely vegetarian.

I went with the fried chicken and waffles. It was delicious. The chicken itself was savory with a good texture that gave your teeth something to sink into. The coating was very crispy and fluffy. The waffle was exemplary. I tried the savory sauce but stuck mostly to good ol' fashioned syrup. Vegetarian food with this range of flavors requires special skill and care; Go Vegetarian is a treat.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chai Peking

Chai Peking is a mainstay of the Toco Hills neighborhood; tonight was my night to finally try it. It's located in the Toco Hills Kroger, between the deli and bakery. You can either eat it in Kroger's at one of their tables or take it home. Did I mention that it's kosher?

The proprietor told me that General Tso's chicken was "the number one favorite" so that's what I ordered. It comes with soup, egg roll, rice, and drink. This was a very enjoyable meal. I asked for the chicken broth for my soup, which was outstanding. The General Tso's chicken was excellent: crust still crispy, sauce an outstanding balance of sweet and savory. The egg roll was very comforting. It's no wonder that Chai Peking has been around for so long...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Proof Bakeshop

Proof Bakeshop is at the heart of Inman Park, nestled in next to the MARTA station. They serve a variety of breakfast and lunch items, both savory and sweet. The space is very open and light; the service was very helpful. I was able to try several different treats during my visit.

My grilled cheese sandwich was excellent. The gruyere and carmelized onions made it very savory and filling. The bread seemed to have a few raisins in it; its richness was what it took to go with the cheese and onions.

The granola is a small bowl of very high quality ingredients: Greek yogurt on the bottom, then granola made fresh, topped with thinly sliced apples.

The croissant was rich, buttery, very large, and bien cuit (well done).

I didn't get a shot at the donut but it sure looked good.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Cattywampus

Cattywampus is a newish addition to the Georgia Tech food truck parade. They serve a variety of hearty foods. I tried their grilled cheese sandwich, which made a very satisfying lunch. The two types of cheese make it. In addition to a nice cheddar, they add a good helping of goat cheese. It's the soft treat of the sandwich.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Breakfast at the Pisgah Inn

The Blue Ride Parkway is one of my favorite places. I got up in the morning, watched this sunset, then headed to the Pisgah Inn for breakfast. THeir veggie omelet is hearty and very well prepared. I ordered it with a biscuit that I enjoyed with strawberry preserves. A few cups of coffee and I was ready for a morning hike. The Pisgah Inn has both spectacular views and excellent food that is also surprisingly very reasonably priced. My breakfast was only $10. Trust me, you can pay that much for breakfast with a view of nothing more than the New Jersey Turnpike.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Asheville NC: Ultimate Ice Cream

I finally had a chance to try Ultimate Ice Cream and I understand what all the fuss is about. It's a cozy little shop in a cozy little neighborhood. The freezer, as you can see, is no fuss.

I ordered the dark chocolate ice cream. It was superb in both taste and texture. The cream and chocolate both came through perfectly. The texture was fluffy and silky.

I enjoyed my ice cream outside. I didn't enjoy the company of a dog, but I approve of any ice cream place that puts out a dog bowl. Why should your dog suffer while you enjoy?

Asheville NC: Luella's BBQ

Luella's is a nouvelle BBQ outfit on the north side of Asheville. It is nestled among the trees in a lovely neighborhood. The restaurant has lots of windows for inside seating and plenty of outside seating. Service was courteous and amazingly fast.

This is a combination plate with pork and brisket. Both were very moist and tender. For the pork, I tried both the mild and hot vinegar sauces. To my surprise, I preferred the milder one because it didn't assert itself too much. I enjoyed the spicy tomato sauce for my brisket. The hushpuppies were very good. The fried okra was fresh out of the fryer and excellent. The slaw was of the vinegary variety, which I usually enjoy, but this version is heavy on the white stuff and didn't have quite enough variety in tastes for me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Columbia MD: Eggspectation

Shuvra, Jarmo, and I talked about online education over a great breakfast at Eggspectation. It's a local chain that serves breakfast and lunch. The décor was spacious and welcoming; they went to a lot of trouble to recreate an old brick factory décor in a new building. The service was very helpful with coffee and water always on the ready.

This is my Southwest sunrise omelet. It was filled with peppers and avacadoes. The omelet was very tender and fluffy. Lyonnaise potatoes are their signature side dish; they delivered on starchiness with a hint of crispness. The rye bread was a light bread that didn't interfere too much with the omelet.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Decatur: Pyng Ho

I recently had an early dinner at Pyng Ho in Decatur. It has been part of the Emory neighborhood for a long time. The décor is classic old school Chinese-American restaurant. The service was efficient and very courteous.

This is my tofu with vegetables. Nothing fancy, but it was well prepared and I was grateful to have it. 5 PM is a good time to have dinner out; the room is quiet and contemplative.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Doraville: Sunrize Cafe

Sunrize Café is across the street from the Doraville MARTA station, ensconced in a cozy brick storefront. The owner tells me that he has been open for about three months.

The baked goods come from a Mexican bakery. Supersized items seem to be the norm at these bakeries and Sunrize's collection certainly fits that description. Most of the items in the case here are sweet but they also offer a variety of savory pastries. I went with the fig croissant and a coffee.