Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Strawberry Preserves

Summertime means canning time. I can both fruit preserves and tomato sauce. I managed to miss the peak of strawberry season but better late than never. I bought a box (six quarts) of strawberries from Buford Highway Farmers Market. This pot is four of those quarts cut up. As it turns out, that was a bit much for this pot, which boiled over when I added the sugar.

And this is the pressure cooker with nine pints nestled inside. The remaining quarts of raw strawberries made four more pints. I use the low sugar recipe. It isn't overpoweringly sweet and lets the flavor of the fruit shines through. Fruit preserves are a little bit of sunshine to hold for those darker days of winter.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Decatur Farmers' Market

I paid my first visit to the Decatur Farmers' Market. It is located in a thankfully shady corner of the First Baptist Church. It has a good number of real ingredient vendors plus a good selection of prepared food vendors. Here are a few of the purveyors that I had a chance to visit.

Mountain Earth Farms has a beautiful selection of vegetables. I took home some perfectly ripe tomatoes.

Watson Peaches offers both organic and non-organic peaches. I took home several of each for my first batch of peach preserves of the year. The batch turned out beautifully peachy.

Partnership Farms offered beautiful vegetables and, if memory serves me correctly, some meats as well. I bought a head of cabbage that I turned into a wonderful batch of tangy cole slaw.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Update from the Tucker Farmers' Market

I went to the Tucker Farmers' Market for the first time this year and, to make a long story short, went crazy. This is a small market but with a high proportion of vendors who sell very high quality food. I thought I would tell you about two of those vendors.

This gentleman---a condiment hybridizing engineer, no less---introduced me to Sinclair's Sauce. I can assure you that the sauce is very tasty despite that "G" on the label---must be a printing error or something. It isn't your standard Western-style ketchupy sauce. Instead, it mixes some East Coast flavors along with its tomatoes. It has a vinegary tang and I detected a bit of mustard, too. I think this will go superbly with pork, which I hope to try soon. Luckily, my bottle doesn't have that unsightly typo on it.

This very nice lady is the creator if Island Spiced Bakes and Bites. She offers take-home portions of her cakes. I took home a piece of the rum cake, which I greatly enjoyed. It was rich, sweet, and moist but in very good balance, with nothing overpowering. She was very modest---I had to twist her arm to let me take this photo---and very talented.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Doraville: Man Chung Hong

Grant and Marie introduced me to Man Chung Hong, another wonderful spot on Buford Highway. It's tucked into a corner of a not-very-flashy two-story strip mall. The only directions I can give you are look on the northbound side of the road and be ready to backtrack, just like I did. Inside, the décor shows the owners' care for their food and customers.

The restaurant is owned by a Korean family but serves a primarily Chinese menu. Grant explained that they have two menus, both Chinese, but that you usually have to ask for the Schezuan menu. We all ended up ordering from that secret menu.

The meal started with a nice Korean touch of kimchi.

I ordered this eggplant dish served sauceless but battered. I love the texture of the batter, which is just moist enough. Even without a wet sauce, the toppings carried plenty of heat. A very enjoyable dish.

And here are our other dishes...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

News: Maison Robert Will Close Soon

I just found out that Maison Robert, a mainstay of the Atlanta food scene for 39 years, will close on Thursday, July 14. That date is, not coincidentally, Bastille Day. The Reeb family has given Atlantans a great deal of joy for many years. They have been very nice to me as well. Au revoir et merci!

Tallulah Falls GA: Tallulah Falls Roadhouse & BBQ

I've passed the Tallulah Falls Roadhouse many times on trips up north. My trip with the Contes gave me the perfect excuse to stop for what was supposed to be a snack and turned out to be a very enjoyable dinner. We sat outside on a beautiful day. The service was extremely hospitable.

I ordered the black bean patty, minus the bun. The patty was quite good. I could taste the beans and other ingredients very clearly. The effect was very hearty. The Brunswick stew was excellent; Catherine, who ordered a bowl for herself, agreed. The potatoes gave it great body; the chicken and corn hadn't been overcooked and still retained their taste. Catherine also reported that the pulled pork sandwich was excellent.

We couldn't resist sharing the peach cobbler. It was excellent with great fruit flavor. The crust was light brown, not white, perhaps suggesting some brown sugar in the crust. The ice cream was simple but very enjoyable.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Flying Cloud Cafe

I was at Tallulah Gorge State Park on a sunny Saturday, desperate for a cup of coffee, when this oasis appeared before me in the shape of an Airstream trailer. It turned out to be The Flying Cloud Café. The owner explained that this is the first food truck in a Georgia State Park; they've been there on weekends since the beginning of summer. She also showed me the inside of their beautiful trailer, which sported a hardwood floor. Their menu features both breakfast items and lunch sandwiches, including both hot and cold varieties. They don't open until 11 AM, so don't expect to pick up breakfast at the crack of dawn. The trailer seemed to attract a steady stream of customers while I was there. Food trucks in state parks fill a real need and The Flying Cloud is a welcome addition.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Bar Margot

I had a chance to try the Bar Margot at the Four Seasons in Midtown. As one might expect, the surroundings were very relaxing and luxurious, the service impeccable.

I started with a salad. The features were goat cheese and some rich, luscious beet. But many supporting players also contributed, from pecans all the way to the lettuce, which was very fresh and crisp.

I then enjoyed an outstanding onion soup. I've never tasted a soup so rich with onions. They were earthy and flavorful. The cheese (a gruyere?) was sharp and the perfect complement to the onions. The broth was very rich. An umami-rich bowl, indeed.

Banana Cream Pie

I've been thinking about banana cream pie for awhile. A few extra bananas allowed me to put that thought into action. I blind baked a crust, then lined the bottom with a thin layer of chocolate ganache. The organic bananas went in next, followed by the vanilla pudding. What a great breakfast.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Brooklyn Bar Menu Generator

I just ran across the wonderful Brooklyn Bar Menu Generator, yet another demonstration that fiction and reality can be hard to distinguish. This Web site dishes up as many bar menus as you would like with the click of a button. It uses a collection of stock ingredients and simple combination rooms to generate each menu, all driven by a random number generator. The algorithmically-created menus sound scarily close to a menu that you would expect to be handed in a hipster hangout.

On the subject of food parodies, the film Shakespeare in Love featured a short but very funny parody of modern menus.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Denver CO: Tamayo

Cathy and I got together for a wonderful lunch at Tamayo. It's on the southern end of Larimer Square. Its corner location gives it great light. The service was very friendly and helpful.

We started with the classic guacamole. It was rich and delicious with just the right amount of heat.

Both of us ordered the chicken mole poblano. The sauce is supposed to be complex with hints of many different flavors. Tamayo's was exemplary, with many different flavor notes. The sauce balanced heat, richness, velvetiness, and the richness of spices.

Tamayo Restaurant

Friday, June 10, 2016

Boulder CO: Dot's Diner on the Hill

Mike and I enjoyed a chance to catch up and talk photography over a breakfast at Dot's Diner on the Hill. As it turns out, there are two Dot's, as we discovered when we each went to a different one. This edition is snug inside a small shopping center across from campus and very easy to miss. The atmosphere is classic diner although it isn't an eating car---the place has been here for a long time and wears its welcome well.

This is my veggie omelet, served with home fries and a biscuit. The home fries were my favorite part of the meal. The food was fine but not outstanding.

Boulder CO: Riffs

Rhonda, Karl and I enjoyed an evening of fellowship and good food at Riffs. It's in bustling downtown Boulder on the Mall. Some of their menu items are small plates while others are full-sized entrees. They serve several types of dishes but their menu featured plenty of excellent seafood on the night we visited. The service was very gracious and effective.

I ordered two small plates. The first was a beet and goat cheese salad; beets are a big crop in Colorado. The second was smoked trout, also a local favorite. Both dishes were flavorful, subtle, and excellent. Rhonda and Karl reported that their dishes were superb. As I recall, Rhonda ordered octopus and Karl ordered salmon.

We couldn't resist ending the meal by sharing this beautiful and delicious cobbler. As Rhonda pointed out, this little dish had a lot going on. The ice cream was rich, creamy, and fairly subtle. A bit of salted caramel snuck in the middle. The fruit was very fresh and the pastry flaky.

Boulder CO: Bitter Bar

Karl and I enjoyed a pre-dinner chat at Bitter Bar. It's in downtown Boulder but on one of the slightly more secluded spots. The wafting odor of the marijuana dispensary next door only adds to the relaxed feel. This is our cheese plate, which was outstanding. All the accompaniments were also excellent; I particularly enjoyed the figs. Karl enjoyed a mixed drink upon which he heaped satisfied praises.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Moab UT: Jailhouse Cafe

I just enjoyed an outstanding breakfast at the Jailhouse Cafe in Moab. This place has earned its name, having served as the county jail in the late 1800s. They have outdoor seating but I ate in the charming jailhouse, complete with historical photos. The service was extremely warm and welcoming.

This is my red pepper, mozzarella, and pesto omelet. The eggs were perfectly cooked---fluffy, light, and nourishing. The fillings were very fresh and full of flavor. I haven't seen this combination before but it worked very well. The pesto was a great idea. The whole wheat toast was of outstanding quality. The potatoes were cooked with just the right amount of crust on each cube.

I also ordered a ginger pancake and I'm glad I did. The pancake was soft and fluffy with the right kiss of ginger. It was served with an apple butter with a nice touch of ginger---I will have to try adding some ginger to my next batch of apple butter.

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The next morning, I went back for another breakfast. This is their outstanding multi-grain waffle. These people really care about their food

Grand Junction CO: Otto's

Otto's is at I-70 at the business route exit. By the time you read this, the restaurant will have converted to a buffet breakfast. But let me take this opportunity to pay homage to their outstanding blueberry pancakes. The pancakes were soft, fluffy, and thick. The blueberries were fresh and flavorful. I haven't had better pancakes in quite some time.

These little blue dots were all that remained to testify for the presence of pancakes just a few minutes before.

Grand Junction CO: Dream Cafe

Who'd a thunk it---Grand Junction is hip! When I young, back in the 20th century, Grand Junction was best known for its outstanding peaches and produce. Today, it seems to have grown into a lifestyle hub. As you can see, Main Street has been nicely refurbished. The town is bursting with interesting restaurants. Outside of town, you have easy access to year-round outdoor activities.

I had a wonderful breakfast at Dream Cafe. Downtown is a few miles from the highway but Dream Cafe is well worth the trip. The restaurant was very busy but I managed to snag a counter seat. My veggie omelet was outstanding, fluffy and perfectly cooked. The filling ingredients were fresh, flavorful, and tender. The biscuit was so soft and fluffy that I had to eat it with a fork; the fruit preserves were excellent and probably locally made.