March 29, 2015

March Ramblings

Some recent food and drink ramblings. The pollo perfecto from Superica in Krog Street Market. This chicken leg, with super crispy skin and rich, cinnamon-laden mole is probably the best thing I've had at Superica. I'd order it again tomorrow.
From a prior lunch visit to Superica, very solid barbacoa tacos. I like Superica, perhaps more with each subsequent visit. It appears that most of the east side of Atlanta likes Superica, too, judging from the size of the crowds on my last two visits.
I hadn't been to The General Muir in about six month and had forgotten how much I love that place. We did all veggies dishes for dinner, a standout being the black lentils with charred cauliflower and yogurt above.
Another one from General Muir, kale fritters covered in a blanket of Parmesan. Here's to putting The General Muir back in the regular rotation.
I made a quick weekend trip down to Tampa with my brother and some friends for two nights of debauchery at Bern's Steak House. What? Who flies to Tampa for two dinners at an old steak house? Thing is, Bern's is no ordinary steak house; they happen to have one of the largest and oldest wine cellars of any restaurant in North America. Think hundreds of thousands of bottles, with many bottles dating back to the early 20th century. It's a wine lover's dream. Like Disney World, for adults.
The main lobby at Bern's. Stepping into Bern's is kind of like stepping into a hole in the time-space continuum. It's windowless, and dimly lit, and woody, and carpeted. It feels a bit like Vegas, and a bit like Vito Corleone's basement. Most of all, it feels like party time.
Like Fight Club, the first rule of Bern's is that you don't talk about Bern's. To that end, I won't be sharing pics of the numerous bottles we enjoyed. I'll tease with just the one above to leave you in awe of the treats you can find in Berns' cellar. A 1977 California Zinfandel from Ridge that will change your mind on what Zinfandel is an can be. Amazing. Now back to chasing the Bern's dragon...

March 17, 2015

March in the Kitchen: Banh MI

I'm a sucker for a good banh mi. It's probably one of my all-time favorite sandwiches, and I stand by my assertion that one Atlanta's best sandwiches ever was the lemongrass chicken banh mi at the now-long defunct Pangaea, that opened in the early days of the west side's rebirth. I recently made banh mi at home using pork shoulder that I smoked on BGE for about 12 hours. I basically follow David Chang's Momofuku-style recipe, it's become my go-to for banh mi at home. I tend to interchange pork or chicken depending on what I have around the house, though Chang's version is made with pate. I got some baguette from Lee's Bakery on Buford Highway, a place I had heard about plenty, but never visited. These baguettes were a revelation; light and airy with a perfect amount of crunch to the flaky exterior. I used to waste my time trying to make my own, which is something I'll never do again after tasting these. Oh yeah, you can get 3 for $1.00! How many food items today can you think of that are actually kick-ass and cost 33 cents!
I also made a batch of Kenji's Sichuan-style dry-fried green beans. His lifehack on the traditionally deep fried dish is to broil the beans raw before dressing. The beans were tasty, and rightfully spicy with powdered and whole Szechuan peppercorns throughout. I could have gotten more color on the beans; just need a little longer under the broiler next time. A simple dish with robust flavors that can be whipped up quickly.

March 3, 2015

Superica, Swenson's, Sunshine and More

I recently made a lunch visit at the newly-opened Superica, in the soon-to-be-too-crowded-for its-own-good-Krog Street Market. Superica is the latest restaurant in Ford Fry's over-growing empire in the metro-ATL dining scene. Superica is billed as Tex-Mex, something that was missing in Atlanta according to our server. The nachos above were solid, the best part of a meal that also included tacos and enchiladas. The nachos are done Texas-style (my lunch date told me that, and he's worldly, so I usually believe him). With Texas nachos, each large chip gets the full treatment of toppings, instead of the nachos you might be used to where you get a mountain of tortillas chips with only a scattered covering of cheese and other toppings. With Texas-style you get a handful of large, fried- to-slightly-puffy chips, each fully coated with cheese and other goodies. Tasty.
The "puffy" tacos pictured above above did not deliver the life-changing experience our server promised. Hard to eat with your hands, maybe over-dressed, and the beef was sadly lacking flavor. The chicken mole enchiladas we had were  good, if somewhat underwhelming. It is a fun space, though, and I could certainly see giving Superica another shot soon.

I was recently on the road visiting family in northeast Ohio where Swenson's drive-ins are a legendary institution. Greasy burgers and fries delivered to your car, just like the old days. The "galley boy" with everything is the go-to cheeseburger. It's messy, greasy, and oh-so-good.
My brother continues to send me great beers from small, craft breweries from around the New England area. I guess it has something to do with the fact that that part of the country had a head start on brewing over the rest of us, as the number of amazing beers coming from New England is mind-boggling. The Sip of Sunshine by Lawson's Finest is a perfect beer if such a thing exists.
Lopez de Heredia wines have become a favorite of mine over the past couple of years. I don't (can't) drink as much Burgundy as I once did and these brilliant Riojas from LDH are a worthy replacement. Truly sublime wines that age well and become sophisticated and elegant with age. Sort of like Burgundy, but for a fraction of the cost. I said, sort of like Burgundy. Wut?
And delivering even m ore bang for the buck is Chinon from Olga Raffault in the Loire Valley. I know I post on some wack wines that most people just won't care about as they they tend to be wines that are too expensive or too hard to find. The Raffault wines, however, are accessible and won't break the bank. Thing is, despite the relatively low cost, these wines can age for years and years and become truly brilliant after 20 or more years. Go see Eric at Le Caveau Fine Wines in Chamblee. He will hook you up.

February 22, 2015

The Wines of Herve Souhaut

Time for some wine talk, something I don't do much of around here anymore. I recently got turned on to
the interesting wines of Herve Souhaut by my buddy Eric at Le Caveau Fine Wines. Souhaut makes wine under the Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet lavel from old vines in the northern Rhone Valley, in area that is widely accepted as being having some of the best soil for wine-making in Europe. The wines are produced by hand,  naturally and organically, with no added sulfur or chemical treatments. The wines can be drinkable young, but they show their best stuff after a few years of bottle age. The white wine pictured above is mostly Roussane with a little Viognier in the mix. This one is especially drinkable now, though a little age certainly won't hurt.
The Les Cessieux is a complex and brooding Syrah that is a brand new wine for Souhaut in 2013. This one isn't giving up the goods yet and is in need of some time before it really starts to strut its stuff. This is a wine to buy and forget about for five years. 100% Syrah from the rocky soils around St. Joseph in the northern Rhone valley. These Souhaut wines are rare, produced in small quantities, and it is treat to get to taste them. Go see Eric at Le Caveau and get some of the rarest wine in town. You won't regret it.

February 15, 2015

February Food Stuffs

A melange of things I've consumed lately. Otherwise known as a picture dump with a few words. I made Kenji's version of cassoulet again this weekend. He uses chicken. It works. Cooked uncovered for four plus hours, along with some gelatin in the stock, and you get a nice little crust along with the crispy chicken legs and thighs. Great stuff.
Brisket and rare steak Pho at Chateau Saigon on Buford Highway. Solid. First time at Chateau Saigon for me. Interesting space. Slightly upscale interior, by BuHi standards, a large and diverse menu, and a newly redone and interesting wine list. Check out their spiffy new website.
What's that, you want more Buford Highway? Hard to go wrong with tacos from El Rey. Having grown accustomed to hipster, ITP-lunches that run me $20+, it's nice to leave El Rey stuffed on tacos and chips for $7.50.
Had the opportunity for a quick lunch in Oxford, MS last week while on a road trip. I tried to have lunch at John Currence's City Grocery, the restaurant that put Oxford, and Currence, on the modern culinary map. Alas, City was closed for a private event, so I walked across the square to Currence's more casual, Boree, a NOLA-inspired pub and grub joint. The fired shrimp po-boy above was solid, if unremarkable. Wish I had more time to explore around the Oxford square, felt like a fun place for eating, drinking, and revelry.
Stopped by to see the good people at Fred's at Krog Street. The cauliflower and eggplant banh mi is one of my not-feeling-like-overdoing-it go-to orders at Fred's. The bread. The bread makes it. Thanks, Rob.
Foie and pork liver pate with house mustard, squash butter, and croissant from Kimball House. The Kimball House kitchen continues to impress me lately. Initially, I thought of KH only as the oyster and cocktail place, but I've had some wow dishes over the last few months. This one killed it. So good. What's not to love about Kimball House? Carry on.