Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lawrenceville: Special Kneads and Treats

Special Kneads is in downtown Lawrenceville, a very cute and well-maintained neighborhood. It serves a wonderful collection of tempting baked goods: cupcakes, cakes, cookies. It also has a higher mission.

The bakery employs people with special needs, giving them a way to earn a decent living and build their self-esteem through useful work. It also uses proceeds to support a number of other important causes for people who are in need of help.

Here are my two cupcakes: chocolate decadence and red velvet. I could smell the sweetness of the icing as I walked in the door and these cupcakes lived up to that promise. They were moist, tender, and full of flavor. The icing was sweet and creamy without being overpowering. You really should visit this special place.

Special Kneads and Treats

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Toco Hill: Sublime Donuts

Sublime Donuts' new location in Toco Hill opened today! It's located at the corner of North Druid Hills and Briarcliff. The decor is modern and bright. Their new electronic signage is stunning. Those high-definition photos of donuts invoke a truly Homeric feeling.

I ordered a double chocolate that didn't survive the short drive to the office. It was outstanding, just as good as the donuts from the home location. The icing was very chocolaty and a great treat. Hmmmmm....donuts...

Sublime Donuts

Chamblee: Viet Tofu

Viet Tofu is an example of what seems to be a trend on Buford Highway. The format is homemade take-home food. They might have one table but you really aren't supposed to eat your food at the restaurant.

As you can see, Viet Tofu has a wide variety of foods. Much of it is tofu with various flavorings---that's the back row in the photo. The front row of the photo shows some of the other types of buns, etc. they serve. This photo doesn't show yet another row of food that was behind me. Many of the signs, but not all, have both English and Vietnamese.

I took home a bun with me and enjoyed it later. I thought the sign said vegetarian but I could have been wrong. In any case, it smelled great when I heated it and it tasted great as I ate it. A very good snack at a reasonable price.

Viet Tofu

Thursday, April 21, 2016

ATL: Fly Burgers

When my plane parked at the gate across from Fly Burger right at dinner time, I took the cosmic hint and tried it. I was able to get a table right away, although not everyone was so lucky. Service was very friendly but the kitchen seemed a little disorganized. I ordered the protein cheeseburger. The meat was nice and juicy, the bleu cheese creamy. It came with only one lettuce leaf per side, which isn't quite as effective as Inn N Out's multiple-leaf system. My cole slaw was a little tangy and a nice complement.

Fly Burger

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Chamblee: 8 Fahrenheit Ice Cream

8 Fahrenheit is the new ice cream sensation on Buford Highway. It's on the ground floor of a small shopping center on the southbound side of the highway.

Here is the list of flavors available on my visit. I ordered the Sexy Georgia. ALl the ice cream is served sundae-style but their technique, which the staff explained is Thai, is very different from the traditional American approach. The ice cream is made to order on a cold plate, giving the emporium its name. Their process is extremely labor intensive, but the result is not just an excellent sundae but also an entertainment experience.

Each order is hand-made. The ice cream maker starts by chopping up the mixins.

He then pours the custard from a little pitcher---you can see the pitcher disappearing at the top of the frame.

He chops and mixes everything together for a minute or so.

He then spreads the mixture out in a thin layer on the cold plate.

After the ice cream hardens, he scrapes it into rolls...

...and stuffs them into your cup. Another staffer adds the toppings---fresh peach, chocolate chips, and peanuts in my case.

The result is this beautiful and delicious treat. The peach and tea flavors came through very well in the ice cream. The brain freeze hit me after the first bite---this ice cream is much colder than the American variety. The good news is that it holds its shape much longer, so you don't have to feel rushed to eat it.

The store is extremely popular. I can see why given the combination of great food and fun experience.

8 Fahrenheit

Dillard GA: Fatz

I am in a mood to be grateful. I had reason to be appreciative of Fatz during my recent drive through northern Georgia. Restaurants open for Sunday dinner are hard to come by in this neck of the woods. After several unsuccessful explorations, I found Fatz on the main highway. The food was satisfying. The service was extremely gracious and helpful.

The meal started with bread. It may have been fried and was quite tasty.

Next was a salad, which I ordered with a nice vinaigrette. The bacon bits were quite good.

For my main course, I ordered the ribs/chicken combo. The ribs were tender with a good sauce; I enjoyed sucking the bones after a day outdoors. The chicken tenders were crisp on the outside, moist on the inside. I couldn't finish the chicken so my server packed the rest up for me. She also offered to bring me a to-go cup of water, which I gladly accepted. A very thoughtful end to a good meal.

Des Moines IA: Smokey Row

Mom, Wilma, and I got together at SMokey Row for a visit. It's an extremely popular place at every time of day. Wilma explained that a lot of students enjoy the outstanding network service as well as the food. The food and beverages are consistently excellent. The barista staff is very, very hip. On this visit, Mom had a chai, I had a root beer, Wilma had coffee, and we all shared a very good cookie.

Smokey Row

Des Moines IA: A Dong

A Dong is Mom's favorite restaurant and a Des Moines favorite. When the restaurant reopened recently after a kitchen fire, the town flooded back. During our lunch, the restaurant was at least as crowded as ever, perhaps even more so.

We started with Vietnamese egg rolls, straight out of the fryer. The wrapper was delicate and crunchy. The filling was dense without being heavy.

Next, I enjoyed a bowl of won ton soup, a family favorite. The broth is clearly homemade---rich and silky. The side salad is always a treat.

For our main courses, Mom ordered her favorite shrimp. I ordered tomatoes stuffed with pork, which wer edelicious. The pork was porky but not heavy. The sauce gave just the right amount of umami.

Another great meal...

A Dong

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ames IA: +39 Restaurant, Market & Cantina

My Iowa State friends treated me to a wonderful dinner at +39. It's in one of the newer section of Ames. The room is bright and airy. The owners are Italian and that shows through in both the food and service.

I started with a Caesar salad. The dressing was light and delicate.

For my main course, I had to order the pork---this is Iowa, after all. The Valdostana is a breaded pork cutlet, pounded thin for tenderness. The pork was succulent and moist. The breading was crisp but not overly so---it was tender in a very comforting way.

Italian kitchens are famous for their desserts. I loved this wonderful jam-filled cake. I couldn't finish it, of course, but I did manage to save some for breakfast.

+39 Restaurant, Market, & Cantina

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ziba

I enjoyed my8 brunch at Ziba. It's tucked away in an older storefront near Grant Park. The interior has been handsomely renovated. Service was very friendly and helpful.

This is my omlette. It was very well prepared, fluffy and not even a bit greasy. Some cream cheese in the middle gave it a great texture. The home fries were crispy and nicely salted.

Ziba's Bistro

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Silver Springs: Rumi's Kitchen

The Khans and I enjoyed a superb meal at Rumi's Kitchen. I had visited their old location a half-dozen years ago. Their new digs are quite large. Despite this, they provide excellent service and wonderful food. Despite being a crowded Saturday evening, we didn't feel the slightest hint of rush; to the contrary, we were encouraged to take our time and enjoy. The stellar reputation and long lines are well-earned.

We started off with the standard bread, cheese, nuts, olives, and herbs...

but our waiter suggested the off-menu appetizer assortment. Our eyes popped open as they kept laying these dishes on the table. We tried two kinds of eggplant, hummus, yogurt and cucumbers, spinach and yogurt, and something else I can't remember (it was a long meal). Everything was outstanding. I really canpt pick a favorite.

This is sumac (I think, still a long meal). Our waiter recommended that we sprinkle it on meats, explaining that it highlighted their taste and improved our health, too.

The Khans had beef and chicken kabobs. They said the food was excellent but too much to finish after all those appetizers. I ordered the chicken kofta: ground chicken balls with apricot, almonds, yogurt, and sour grape juice. The sauce was lighter than the typical Indian kofta. I loved the combination of sweet apricots, almonds, a bit of cream, and and a bit of sourness.

I had seen some baklava go by so I made sure we tried some. They were possibly the best I've ever had. They were made with pistachios, harder to find than the typical walnuts. The pastry was superbly crisp and flavorful. And the baklava had just enough honey to sweeten, not too much to overwhelm or to turn the delicate pastry into a soggy mess. What a great way to end a truly memorable meal.

Rumi's Kitchen