September 2, 2014

Recent Home Cooking and Drinking

A bout of recent home cooking exploits in which I focused on vegetables in my quest to finish the summer on a healthy note. Pictured above is a fig and ricotta salad with fresh figs found at Whole Foods last weekend. I  used leftover chive oil and balsamic reduction from some dishes you'll see below to round out the dish along with pecans and broccoli sprouts. I'm pretty happy with how this disk looked and tasted.
Roasted beet salad, goat cheese and charred pecans, finished with O & Co. Massimiliano Geraci olive oil, and more balsamic reduction (hey, once you reduce some balsamic, you'll find ways to use it!).  Thanks to #DudeBro for turning me on to O & Co. olive oils (can be found at Star Provisions for you locals).
From a recent dinner with friends at my house: steak tartare and fried oyster with pickled red onion and roasted red pepper. This was my riff on a memorable dish I had at Mike Lata's, The Ordinary in Charleston last summer. I was pleased with how this turned out. The contrast of crispy hot oyster and cool, rich, raw beef is a winning combination.
From the same dinner, the first course was a smoked beet salad with goat cheese/buttermilk crema and charred pecans. Got this recipe idea from John Currence's excellent newish cookbook, Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey. Beets. I like 'em, in case you haven't noticed.

At the same dinner, we also drank some fine Burgundy wine. No wine trumps well-aged Burgundy. Nothing, nadda. Too bad I can't afford to drink like this more often. I suppose if I did drink like this more often, it would become less meaningful over time, so it's probably best as it is now, a rare and special occasion.
More of the wines. Drinking above my pay grade. Until next time...

August 27, 2014

Brunch at One Eared Stag

I don't eat at One Eared Stag often enough. After my most recent two visits, it is clear I should do something to remedy this situation. Each time I do visit, I leave immensely satisfied, and often wowed by the creativity and finesse of the dishes. Most recently, I stopped in for brunch, which included the homey black pepper biscuits with sausage gravy pictured above.
There was a really deft touch with vegetables on the next couple of brunch dishes, as well as an obvious commitment to eating the season. Above is an heirloom tomato salad with cucumber water, bay oil, and foam. Late summer in a bowl.
Next is a fig salad with ricotta, speck, and bay oil. I might not look like much, but an excellent combination of flavors and textures here. Again, perfectly seasonal.
Fun doughnuts served hot and sticky. Yeah, doughnuts.
And then there is The Meat Stick, which is one of, if not the best burger in Atlanta. So there. Go to One Eared Stag, people. Go now. Go often. That's my plan from now on.

August 22, 2014

Makan

I stopped by for my first dinner at the newly-opened Makan in Decatur. I had visited a couple of the Makan pop-ups at Parker's back in May, but this was my first visit for dinner at their cool space adjacent to the Marriot Courtyard on the square. Makan is doing Asian comfort food, a mix of Taiwainese, Korean, and Chinese, with a commitment to locally-sourced, quality ingredients.
There are some interesting cocktail options, as well as a good selection of local and craft beers. The Shiso Fresh and So Clean above is a refreshing mix of gin and house made shiso syrup with a mint float.
After a few items off the banchan cart, including tasty pork jowl, and refreshing tofu with mint and parsley, we started with a couple of pork buns. The belly was nicely crisped on the outside and metly and fatty on the inside. Decent buns, too. A good rendition.
Makan's KFC, the Wednesday-night-only special Korean Fried Chicken. Air dried and fried to ultra-crispy, and drenched in sweet, spicy, sticky sauce. I definitely got some ginger, fish sauce, and Korean spice in that sauce. I'd eat these again.
Ramyun, Korean-style ramen with overnight pork broth. The ramyun has rich, fatty broth with a lot of depth and a saltiness that hits just at that point where it's almost too much, but is actually perfect (as David Chang might say). The slurp-worthy noodles are from the renowned Sun Noodle Company in NYC. The poached garlic and kimchi (served on the side) are nice additions to a solid bowl of ramyun that I can see myself eating a lot more of as we leave the sweaty southern summer behind.
Sesame balls for dessert. Like sesame beignets with red bean core, served hot they go really well with the black sesame gelato (no picture). I enjoyed my meal at Makan, and I really like the two guys at the helm of the restaurant. I hope they continue to develop and refine the menu and become a fixture on the square as their food fits a niche that Decatur needs.

August 17, 2014

Cheeseburgers!

This summer, my partner-in-crime and I ate some of metro-Atlanta's best cheeseburgers. I say "some" of the best because this is not an exhaustive list of the best cheeseburgers in the entire metro area. We didn't go all-geeked out-food-blogger-esque and eat three burgers at lunch each day for a week. However, over the course of two months we ate a dozen or so burgers around town and took pics and notes on what we ate. We did include one out-of-town burger as the Husk cheeseburger is too good to leave off the list. We also chose not to eat at "burger joints," so no Farmburger, Smashburger, or Grindhouse on our list. Not that those burger joints do have great burgers; they do, we just played it a different way. So, without further ado, in order of preference from top left to right are our 9 top burgers:
1.The Meat Stick at One Eared Stag   2.Holeman & Finch at the Ted  3.Burger stack at Bocado
4. Husk in Charleston  5. Pinewood Tippling Room  6. The General Muir
7. The Imperial  8. Leon's Full Service  9. Homemade in cast iron
 
The Meat Stick at One Eared Stag came out on top of our list. The meat stick is cheeseburger perfection. The bacon in the grind adds a fatty, salty, richness that when coupled with the nicely crisped edges and toasted bun creates a heavenly burger experience. No need to confuse this perfection with toppings that ooze or drip or over-complicate things. Just beefy, cheesy goodness. My mouth is watering now thinking about this burger as I'm writing.
The H&F burger at the Ted. This was our first-place burger most of the summer, until we ran into the Meat Stick. There's been plenty written about the legend of the H&F burger. I won't retell that story here. Plain and simple, this is a great cheeseburger, and it's impressive that they can crank these burgers out by the hundreds (thousands?) on game day without losing too much of the quality you expect in the H&F burger.Yum factor high.
I hadn't had the Bocado double stack in a few years. It is still awesome.Similar to the meat stick in texture and meat-to-cheese ratio, the Bocado burger is juicy, salty, and crunchy in the right spots. The patties are thin and crispy, coated with lots of drippy, yellow American-style sliced cheese. Big yums.
All of the other burgers on our list are very good to exceptional burgers. I'd be happy to eat any and all of them at any time, and I do more frequently than I perhaps should. It should be noted that since we ate each burger once this summer, the burger on the day we ate it is reflected on our list. For example, I expected that The General Muir burger pictured above would finish higher on our list, but it was just a bit too dry and well done on our visit. Still good, just not sublime as usual.
A couple of nice surprises on our list were the Pinewood Tippling Room burger pictured above served with their crack-like tater tots. Also of note was the sloppy, but tasty double stack at The Imperial in Oakhurst. We also included our own double stack, with house ground brisket and chuck, since it was pretty damn good itself. So, we ate a bunch of burgers, and I managed to not gain ten pounds by letting my lunch partner with the 12 year old-metabolism do most of the eating. Our next mission is to get busy eating the metro-area's best fried chicken. Until next time...

August 10, 2014

Random August Awesomeness

Some random pics and thoughts as I clean up pics off my phone and desperately search for something more interesting to write about. The last few pics from our second summer trip to Charleston include the shrimp roll with Geechie frites on our return trip to The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan's Island. Really liking the new Obstinate Daughter.
Fish fry at Leon's Oyster Shop. Another welcome newcomer to upper King Street from Brooks Reitz and company.
And, back in the A: While visiting my buddy Eric at Le Caveau Wines in Chamblee I stopped in for lunch at Southbound, the new restaurant in the ongoing gentrification of the area of Chamblee along Old Peacthree Road. The grouper BLT above was solid, but perhaps unremarkable. A crispy kale and quinoa salad was the star (sorry, no picture). The space is beautiful, though, and judging from the booming Wednesday lunch crowd, Southbound is a welcome addition to the area.
Decatur: Chicken Cordon-Bly and the cheeseburger at Pinewood Tippling Room. The food at Pinewood has been really solid on my last two visits. Early on, I thought Pinewood had a lot of work to do in the kitchen, and it seems they have really made some improvements in that area.

Back at home, I was pleased with how this smoked beet salad looked and tasted. I played with a recipe from John Currence's recent book, Pig, Pickles & Whiskey. Smoked beets on the Big Green Egg were a revelation alone, and the addition of charred peanuts and buttermilk and goat cheese crema all worked well. Tasty summer salad right there.
Ribs on the BGE. Not much else to say about this.
Two wines from one of my favorite biodynamic, no sulfur-adding, geeky, purist producers, Thierry Puzelat, from the Loire Valley. Eric keeps a good bit of Puzelat in stock at Le Caveau. If you are looking for something different than supermarket swill that's been manipulated to taste like cherry coke, try this stuff. Like, when's the last time you drank Pineau d'Aunis? Unless you said you've never drank Pineau d'Aunis, you're probably lying. Until next time...