25 Sep

So, there's this

in Artisan, Atlanta, Business, Local, Markets, South, Specialty Food

We're sorry that we haven't posted in a while, but we hope you'll like what we've been doing--creating an online retail site selling artisan foods produced in the Southeast (for real, y'all). Please check out Local Market South and let us know what you think. There you'll find a whole lot of foods we like to eat. And a whole lot more coming soon.

Thanks for taking a look!
Jennifer + John

30 May

We Like to [Pizza] Party

in Antico, Atlanta, Cooking, Dinner Party, Gelato, Ice Cream, Morelli's, Pizza, Recipe, Westside Creamery

Pizza!Certain phrases inevitably elicit a Pavlovian response of joy—for instance: take the day off; no, you eat the last xx [piece of cake, hors d’ oeuvre, whatever floats your fancy]; I got a present for you; there’s an ice cream social today—you get the picture. Like most things, we learn the happy response young and cultivate it over years that include innocence, puberty, attempted return to innocence, “growing up,” and ultimately trying our darnedest to experience the simple joys wherever we can find them. That’s a whole lot of set-up for the following: PIZZA PARTY! And to borrow from one of our recent dinner party guests, “Woot!”

From giddy childhood excitement over Little Caesar’s (“Pizza, pizza!” and Crazy Bread so wrong it was right), to sitting in a Pizza Hut (for real, sitting inside) with a Personal Pan and Book It! pride, to nights spent visiting with family in Connecticut sharing a pie at the Berkshire, it was clear that, like with most foods, more goes into a satisfying experience than just ingredients—let me explain…Since my youth, I’ve discovered mind-blowing pizzas in Italy, New York, Chicago, and right here in Atlanta (Antico Pizza, for crying out loud). But, every once in a while, nostalgia trumps all and it doesn’t matter if it’s gourmet or if it’s just alright, I want to be back around the table with my mom, dad, brother, and whatever pizza we happen to have, covered in sauce, gooey cheese, and ridiculous grins. I’ve always said that there are some foods you just can’t eat around people who don’t know and love you—I’m real messy, so this includes BBQ, ice cream, large sandwiches, most Mexican dishes, and pizza. No matter how food-soaked I am, though, I’m always smiling.

And this brings me back to pizza. It makes us happy when we’re little, when we first learn of the term “Pizza Party” and all of the free-wheeling, cheese-laden yumminess that the event implies. It makes us happy when we’re in college, when we learn that it’s freaking cheap, satisfying, and everywhere. It makes us happy when we’re adults and we discover it on fancy menus, when we find that “flatbread” is just code for inexpensive, delicious option. And John and I aren’t there yet, but I hear that it makes us happy when we have kids because, ahem, it’s cheap and you can disguise vegetables in there. WHICH IS THE BEST PART, RIGHT? You can put whatever the crap you want on that pizza and it’ll be fine. Well, mostly. Use discretion, ok? Or, if you don’t want to use discretion, do some of these things.

Speaking again of a lot of set-up…So, we had a pizza party recently and it totally rocked. I highly recommend it for a dinner party. Buy some crust (we got whole wheat ones from Whole Foods pizza department). Ask folks to bring whatever they want to put on that sucker. Break out your baking sheets (or, if you’re like us, break out your embarrassing number of pizza implements, from cast iron to pizza stones…). And bam! Fast, easy, good, and as fancy as you want it to be. We went kind of fancy that night (tuned Pandora in to Italian music and everything)—Pizza One: homemade pesto, thick mozzarella from Atlanta Fresh, and sliced tomatoes. Pizza Two: saucy marinara, goat cheese, salami, and mushrooms. It was a small dinner party, but if you planned this puppy on a large scale just THINK of the pizzas…and you could even go crazy-like and make dessert pizzas (goat cheese, peaches, and honey; Nutella and banana; a gazillion other good things…). But we made gelato.

Why did we make gelato? Cause we have an ice cream maker and it’s awesome. What’s also awesome? Fresh strawberries. So we made strawberry gelato. Making gelato, ice cream, frozen yogurt, any frozen concoction, really, is ridiculously easy. With the right recipe, there are few ingredients, no-fail instructions, and super-impressive results. Just remember to actually keep your ice cream maker’s freezer bowl in the freezer at all times. Otherwise, you’ll be real sad when you get ready to make ice cream and have to wait 24 hours. Even if your bowl’s in the freezer, you’ll need to read ahead in your recipe to make frozen things in a timely fashion. But if you do your homework, it’s really simple to knock out frozen desserts with little effort. Or, if you hate effort, go get you some Morelli’s or Westside Creamery.

If you don’t hate effort and you do love to party, go make some pizzas and gelato. Whether you decide to go fancy or not, it’ll be super-fun for everybody—even for those of us forever covered in cheese (is there any other way?).

01 May

So, So Fresh

in Atlanta, Barefoot Contessa, Buckhead, Cooking, Farmers Market, Recipe

Snap peas and asparagusWe’re so enjoying the springtime bounty from our favorite farmers market—from first-of-the-season asparagus to sublimely sweet strawberries, it’s a great time to buy local. I’ve created some super salads completely from Peachtree Road Farmers Market ingredients, including a pretty little spinach, goat cheese, strawberry, and pecan plateful. And John’s been thrilled (insert sarcasm here, followed by acquiescence) to try new veggies like Swiss chard, which is just beautiful right now. This NYTimes.com recipe was the perfect way to introduce him to the leafy green, as pasta provided a tasty vehicle for the chard, red peppers, and goat cheese. Another flavorful, easy springtime recipe we’ve recently enjoyed with market veggies is Barefoot Contessa’s basic Oven-roasted Vegetables; the fennel, potatoes, beans, and asparagus are all in season—and good parmesan is a perennial around our house. If you’re not itching to get in the kitchen, don’t let that keep you from stopping by your local farmers market; fresh produce is as easy as snap peas and carrots—just bite, chew, and repeat. Oh, and don’t forget the strawberries (oh, the strawberries…yum!).

Available at Peachtree Road Farmers Market NOW:
Arugula, Asparagus, Beets, Carrots, Eggs, Fennel, Green Beans, Herbs, Kale, Lettuces, Onions, Peas & Pea Shoots, Snow Peas, Spring Garlic, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, plus fresh yogurts, cheeses and local meats.  

18 Apr

The Real Magical Animals

in Atlanta, Buckhead, Cheese, Food Event, Shops

I am a firm believer in the powers of the pig. It truly is a wonderful, magical animal that can give us ham, pork chops, bacon, pork belly…not to mention the endless creations featuring pig as star, both good (Morelli’s Maple Bacon Brittle ice cream) and not-so-good (Bacon Air). BUT, what can’t that hog give us? The answer is what defines for me why Homer Simpson is wrong (just this once) when it comes to the real magical animals. Pigs can’t give us cheese. And you know I’m not talking about head cheese.

Holeman & Finch lunch with Liz ThorpeWhy all this ruminating about swine and cheese? Last week I had the pleasure of attending a special luncheon at Holeman & Finch featuring discussion with Liz Thorpe. As Vice President of Murray’s Cheese Shop and author of the recently published book The Cheese Chronicles, Liz knows a thing or two about the luxurious product that can only come from our friends the cows, goats, and sheep. The whole pig thing came about when the cheeses at the luncheon arrived, plated beautifully, on a pig-shaped cheese board. Par for the course in Holeman & Finch, which prides itself on the ingenious preparation of pig in many delectable forms, but it was enough to remind me why some animals are more equal than others.

On to the good stuff! At the luncheon, I enjoyed Sweet Grass Dairy Chevre, Burrata di Andria, Westfield Farm Capri, La Serena, and Nettle Meadow Kunik. Accompanied by beet chutney, fig preserves, spiced pecans, fresh strawberries, and H&F bread, as well as a perfectly dressed salad of spring lettuces, ramps, radishes, and pickled mushrooms, I couldn’t have dreamed up a better lunch. Paired with a crisp white wine and finished with pears and sorghum syrup, I pretty much decided I could live on bread, wine, cheese, nuts, veggies, and fruit alone. Ok, it would be several days at least before I missed the might of meat.

After much sampling and re-sampling (a tough job, I know), my favorite cheese on the board was the Nettle Meadow Kunik–a goat’s milk cheese made into a triple crème through the introduction of Jersey cow cream. As Murray’s declares on their website, “Brilliant!” It’s buttery and tangy, mild enough to please anyone but flavorful enough to bore no one. It is dense, creamy, and crave-worthy. Additionally, it was interesting to read on Murray’s site that the cheese-maker feeds her animals only organically-grown grain and hay, as well as a variety of herbs. Everything they’re doing at Nettle Meadow is working, in delicious fashion.

The Burrata di Andria came in a very close second-favorite. The fact that if not otherwise in polite company I would have picked up the bowl and drank its leftover contents…perhaps indicates a tie. This cheese is so fresh that you’ve got to eat it within two weeks which, given its enrobing, creamy, salty-sweet goodness, shouldn’t be a problem. It’s similar to mozzarella di bufala, which I fell in love with while studying abroad in Italy, eating fresh mozzarella from buffalos whose fields I had moments before walked by. For me, burrata has all of the fresh creaminess of mozzarella with a little more flavor. Flavor that makes you want to slurp it out of a bowl. 

I always enjoy goat cheeses and found the tart, fresh offerings from Sweet Grass and Westfield Farm to be prime examples of flavorful chevre. Liz mentioned to us that we goat cheese lovers are lucky to be in Georgia, where dairies like Sweet Grass can benefit from a climate that fosters near year-round grass-feeding. It’s because of this diet that the Sweet Grass goats produce a slightly more yellow-hued chevre than their Massachusetts counterparts. I thought they were equally delicious, but am so proud to have Sweet Grass as a local go-to.

Finally, I least enjoyed the La Serena, but my personal tastes don’t generally lean toward cheeses that are described as “barny.” I know that some folks seek out “zippy” cheeses like this and, unlike my experiences with full-on stinky cheeses like Stilton, I thought the Serena to be palatable. Its gooey core was especially balanced when I paired it with the earthy beet chutney. I also appreciated the ancient technique of using dried wild thistle to set the milk–as with any food or drink, a little knowledge goes a long way toward true enjoyment.

The Cheese Chronicles by Liz ThorpeI’m excited to learn a lot more by reading Liz’s book, because the cows, goats, and sheep are only the beginning (or middle?) in great cheese stories. Field to farm to table couldn’t be more important than it is in the world of cheese-making and there couldn’t be more incredible stories than those of the artisans who bring us this most magical product.

Check it: Now is the perfect time of year to put together a beautiful cheese board (be it pig-shaped or no)! Not only do cheeses have terroir, but they have seasons, too–in fact, goats and sheep tend to mate in the fall and stop producing milk during the winter. That means that beginning in April is the best time for fresh goat and sheep’s milk cheeses. Cows produce milk year-round, but the early spring and fall milk, when cows are eating grasses and flowers, brings the most yummy cheeses. 

03 Apr

Attention, Market Shoppers!

in Advocacy, Atlanta, Buckhead, Farmers Market, Food Event

Peachtree Road Farmers Market veggiesThis time next week (and the week after that, and the week after that…right up ‘til the end of the year), our pantry will be chock full of farmers market goodies! Saturday, April 9 marks the opening of our favorite outdoor market – the Peachtree Road Farmers Market, held each Saturday from April through December outside Buckhead’s Cathedral of St. Philip. It’s the largest producer-only market in the state (meaning that the folks selling you stuff actually produced that stuff), with over 65 vendors this year. You’ll find fruits, veggies, eggs, organic meats, baked goods, cheese, yogurt, pops, ice cream, Savannah-caught shrimp and all kinds of basking-in-the-sun Saturday market enjoyment. PRFM also hosts weekly Chef Demos, seasonal events like the Slow Food Ice Cream Social, Halloween Parade, and Holiday Artist Market, plus special events and live music. I love Peachtree Road Farmers Market so much that I write their blog. Check it out for opening day details – and get excited for all things good, fresh food!

Image courtesy of Peachtree Road Farmers Market

Location

Peachtree Road Farmers Market at Cathedral of St. Philip
2744 Peachtree Road, NW
Atlanta, GA 30305
20 Mar

Places of Goodness

in Atlanta, Buckhead, Chocolate, Dessert, Farmers Market, French, Midtown, Restaurants

From when we are little, we know what goodness is. Good things bring joy and often come by way of good people. For many of us, myself included, goodness and love have been shared over meals prepared with great care; not necessarily grand feasts, either. From fresh buttered toast to tenderly rolled pasta, the best foods I’ve eaten are those that come from a place of goodness.

AtmosphèreOver the last month, John and I have visited a couple of places that have made me think about the beauty of good food intentions. We finally made it to Atmosphère, a French bistro about which we’d heard much and which happens to be around the corner from us in Midtown. We had frequently seen happy diners sitting out on the patio and were finally lured in by a great special offered on Tuesday to Thursday nights – the $25 per person three-course menu. For a slight increase, you may choose the special of the evening as your entrée choice. When we arrived, we were greeted by the owner, shown to our “special table” and taken excellent care of by our kind, but not overbearing server. Our salad and soup courses were accompanied by piping hot-out-of-the-oven bread – bread with that magical French combination of crunchy outside, chewy inside – our entrees were perfectly portioned and seasoned, and the crème brulee was perfect. We paired the meal with an affordably priced bottle of rosé and could not stop smiling for most of dinner. The food was delicious, yes, but the night was more than that; I almost can’t resist saying that it was the atmosphere (I guess I didn’t resist it), but by atmosphere I mean the people involved, too. It’s the owners, the waiter, the chef; the whole restaurant beams with pride for its people and its food. It’s a place of welcome. A place of shared goodness.

CacaoThe second place that has made me think on the goodness of people and things is the much-talked-about Cacao Atlanta, the only bean-to-bar chocolatier in town. For a fascinating look at owner/chocolatier Kristen Hard and at the complex, politically charged world of cacao, check out this great article from Bill Addison (it was originally printed in the February 2011 issue of Atlanta Magazine). Addison is so right about the reverential feel of Cacao’s boutique space. We visited the new Buckhead location with its pristine white woodwork and marble, antique touches and, of course, gently placed rows of chocolates that are as exquisite to the eyes as they are to the mouth. This is another place where it’s easy to feel the care and love that goes into making and sharing this food. The women behind the counter believe in the mission of fair, good chocolate as much as their boss does and they can’t wait for you to taste the results. After you select a few treats, your choices are placed on a precious silver tray; you sit in one of the bistro-style chairs, and can’t help but think of each chocolate as a happy little blessing. In that moment, you just see good. And it takes someone who makes a thing called a Love Bar (and means everything behind the name) to bring you there.

Peachtree Road Farmers MarketThe new Cacao Atlanta is right across the street from somewhere we can always find good people and good food – the Peachtree Road Farmers Market – opening its season on April 9. We’re excited about our favorite farmers as well as some new vendors at the Market, like Westside Creamery and Queen of Tarts. Peachtree Road is the largest producer-only market in metro Atlanta and it also happens to be our favorite. Each Saturday you can find amazing people and fantastic food, both for immediate snacking and groceries for the week. In other words, it’s pure, unadulterated goodness. 

Locations

Atmosphère
1620 Piedmont Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30324
Phone: (678)702-1620
Peachtree Road Farmers Market
2744 Peachtree Road NW
Atlanta, GA 30305
Phone: (404)365-1078
Cacao
2817 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
Phone: (404)467-4670
22 Feb

Sweet. Salty. Sprinkled.

in Atlanta, Bakeries, Barefoot Contessa, Cooking, Dessert, Recipe

It’s a funny thing, how our food tastes evolve. When I was little, I developed a love for toast and jam. My mom has a knack for placing the triangles of butter just so, in the corners and a dot in the middle, where the result is pillowy pockets of butter hugged by golden brown crunch. Topped with sweet jam of almost any variety (strawberry, apple and raspberry top the list), it’s a love I haven’t outgrown. During my teenage years, it took form as that ready-to-go breakfast sensation, the Pop-Tart. Not nearly as delicious to me as fresh toast, Pop-Tarts were appealing mainly as a go-to vessel for something sweet, be it jam or chocolate. The fact that they’re glazed didn’t hurt, either. In college, I even savored cold Pop-Tarts after long camping trip hikes. So when I recently saw Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery on The Today Show making home-made Pop-Tarts, maybe I didn’t think of it as my carbohydrate + sweet quick-treat maturing into adulthood. That might be a stretch. But I did think that making my own breakfast pastries sounded pretty darn good. Check out the recipe for yourself. A few disclaimers based on my experience: making the dough a day ahead is awesome; rolling it out can be tricky—I found that my Silpat worked best as a surface; DON”T OVER-FILL—I think 2 tablespoons was a bit much for each tart and I will definitely cut back the next time I make these, maybe to 1 tablespoon; if you do over-fill and don’t seal the dough together enough, like me, prepare to mop up jam from your sheet at 5 minute intervals during baking; don’t worry, you’ll get through it, and the leaking jam doesn’t cause the Pop-Tarts to taste any less delicious; USE SPRINKLES, for crying out loud, they’re pretty and yummy. Despite my minor pop-tastrophe with over-filling, I’m totally going to make these again. The pastry is buttery and flaky. There are endless possibilities to fillings. And sprinkles rock. 

John likes sprinkles, too. Well, he likes salt sprinkles better than any rainbow variety. He loved butter from a young age, also. As in, he ate sticks of butter. Luckily, like kids who ate Crayolas and Play-Doh, he grew out of it. But what this habit grew into, I’m convinced, is his love of caramels. Those sticky sweets’ main ingredients are cream and butter. And he must’ve eaten salted butter because salted caramels are John’s favorite. It’s pretty easy and quick to make this treat yourself, as long as you pay careful attention and have a candy thermometer. Try Ina Garten’s Fleur De Sel Caramels. I made a few adjustments: I used a 9 x 9 pan and chose not to roll the caramels. I cut them directly into squares instead—by turning the 9 x 9 pan out onto a cutting board, cutting the square in half and then into smaller squares. I also chose not to individually wrap the caramels, but to store them in a single layer in an air tight container in the fridge. Last, I didn’t have any fleur de sel on hand, so I ground up kosher salt in my mortar and pestle for a finer texture and that worked just fine. It’s really up to your tastes, so you can get creative with the salts. I tried Bella Cucina’s Tuscan Rose & Pink Peppercorn salt to tasty effect as well. I’ll never outgrow a good sprinkle.

If you don’t feel like getting in the kitchen yourself…
Find locally homemade Pop-Tarts by Atlanta’s Red Queen Tarts
Find locally handmade caramels (salted or chocolatey) by Atlanta’s Cacao

13 Feb

Radical Chocolate

in Chocolate, Dessert, Poncey Highlands

There’s something about places you have to know about in order to find; places you won’t just happen upon. Sugar-Coated Radical is such a place. It is a small chocolate haven tucked away in Poncey-Highlands, behind the ironic thoroughfare that features Chipotle, Green’s and Whole Foods (the "green" triumvirate). Upon entering the closet-like enclave, you’re greeted by the warming scent of chocolate, and by pastry maven Taria Camerino; or perhaps by one of her sons. Straight ahead is the kitchen. To your right is a simply beautiful array of handcrafted chocolates. The care that was taken in their making is evident as they are described to you. The flavors are thoughtful and intense. And the chocolate is rich and deep.

Thanks to Creative Loafing’s Cliff Bostock for tipping us off to Taria’s lovely shop; Camerino has previously worked at some of our favorite spots: Alon’s, Top Flr, Holeman & Finch, Restaurant Eugene and Highland Bakery. We arrived at Sugar-Coated Radical curious and were treated to a sampling of fresh chocolate covered s’mores (vegan, gluten-free and delicious), dark chocolate ‘enrobed’ Ragged Mountain rum-white chocolate ganache topped with candied mango, and dark chocolate yerba mate (the yerba mate intensified the chocolate nicely). Some of our favorite selections were milk chocolate covered pear-honey (the honey was caramel-like and the hint of pear so delicate), dark chocolate covered malted milk/vanilla bean powder whipped white chocolate ganache (described, and accurately so, like a milkshake), milk chocolate covered caramel with black lava salt, dark chocolate covered massaman curry-white chocolate butter ganache with toasted coconut, a spicy “Black Heart” chocolate filled with chipotle/Mexican vanilla bean, and to cool our palates, dark chocolate scented with lavender. Next on our list to try: White Heart (raspberry pate de fruit/rose petal-white chocolate ganache), fig/goat’s milk brie-dark chocolate ganache with Oregon walnut, and olive-oil dark chocolate ganache/Balinese pyramid salt. Oh, and drinking chocolate. Yes.

This chocolate is transcendental. Go get some.  

Location

Sugar-Coated Radical
680 Drewry Street
Atlanta, GA 30306
03 Feb

Game On

in Atlanta, Cooking, Recipe, Virginia Willis

Whether you’re planning to watch “The Big Game” this Sunday or planning to do anything but, you might want a snack. Meet Virginia Willis’ Coca-Cola Glazed Chicken Wings (yes, you may remember the similarly spiced Coca-Cola Glazed Ribs we tried this summer). My Mema used to say that Coca-Cola was a cure-all and, well, I’ve yet to prove her wrong (not that I’m inclined to try). These wings are sticky sweet heat. They’re not too spicy and they give you a nice broiler-kissed chew of a bite. Few ingredients + little fuss = perfect snack. Give them a try this weekend and you won’t be sorry. Or you could always try freezer food roulette…Warning, friends, that’s a slippery slope.  

29 Jan

Quite Possibly Atlanta’s Best Block

in Burritos, Cocktails, Cupcakes, Dessert, Fries, Poncey Highlands, Restaurants, Shops, Street Food

Walkability is not Atlanta’s strong suit. Sure, there are a number of tree-lined streets where we love to take a stroll, many of them in our neighborhood and the surrounds. And yes, we know Decatur is awesome for walking around, but I didn’t name this post “Quite Possibly Decatur’s Best Block.” This blog is also not called “Trees We’ve Seen.” So, what makes Atlanta’s best block the best? Food per square foot of walkability, naturally.

We’ve told you before of our love for Burro Pollo and it still ranks as one of our favorite hot, fresh, delicious weekend meals. And, after sitting curbside enjoying burritos and agua frescas, we’ve been known to head down the block for a sweet popsicle from King of Pops. But now, ladies and gentleman, there is a triumvirate of street foods on this beautiful block of North Highland between Ponce and Freedom Parkway. For now, there are Belgian fries. Yes, people, Belgian fries. They are fat spears of piping-hot, skin-on, seasoned deliciousness, served up fresh to you in a handy cone from The Fry Guy; he’s set up just outside The Highland Inn. The fry cone is $5 and there are a variety of dipping sauces to choose from (we liked the slightly spicy red curry ketchup). We found the cone to be quite shareable and a welcome snack as we waited in the Burro Pollo line.

Last, just to make our point that this block is fantastic for its brick and mortar spots as well as its street food kings, we stopped in The Atlanta Cupcake Factory for a Salted Caramel and a Vanilla cupcake (sprinkles get me every time). We like that Cupcake Factory’s little cakes are, in fact, little; they’re the standard muffin cup size, just the right amount of sugary satisfaction at the end of a meal. For comparison, if we’d eaten a CamiCake, we’d probably have had to check into the Highland Inn for a nap. The flavor choices at Atlanta Cupcake Factory are fun too, from El Diablo to Sweet Potato Bourbon to old favorites like Red Velvet and Chocolate Peanut Butter. All of the frostings are cream cheese based and while this style isn’t my favorite type (butter cream is), their icing is perfectly creamy and the cake beneath is bouncy and moist. We know that pie is the next dessert trend, and we do love ourselves some pie, but until a pie stand opens up next to The Fry Guy (please, someone, open a pie stand), we’ll eat our little cake and enjoy it, too.   

Now, if you need to take a break after enjoying such a tasty walk, stop into Young Blood Gallery & Boutique to shop it off and pet their cat. If it’s just too much excitement for you, sit for a while at Cafe di Sol and nurse a Grapefruit Rosewater Martini (our favorite thing about the place). Cheers to Atlanta’s Best Block!