September 28, 2011

Hermitage Blanc

I tend to spend a lot of time drinking wines from Burgundy. It's not a secret if you ever check in on this blog, I've found over the last couple of years that Burgundy is where it's at for me with wine. While I love Burgundy, I do so at the detriment of totally ignoring other wine regions.
The other night, some friends came over for some wine drinking and football watching. One of my buddies brought along the 2001 Jaboulet Aine Hermitage Blanc Chevalier Sterimberg, a white wine from the Rhone valley. Hermitage Blanc is a varietal produced only in the Rhone Valley from Marsanne and Roussane. This wine was a bit of a revelation. It was rich and dry and really had a nice mature palate presence. A very good wine that reminded me to get outside my normal routine in search of great wines.

September 21, 2011

Bottle Shots

Drank some wines this past weekend. Took some pics of the bottles. That's all.


September 15, 2011

2011 Decatur Wine Festival

The 2011 Decatur Wine Festival is scheduled for Saturday, November 5 this year. This festival has become one of Decatur's premier festivals. I wouldn't know first-hand, as I've never been. I'm not big on mass wine tasting festivals. The ones I've attended, albeit never in Decatur, are often overcrowded, with too many people sucking down what is mostly mass-produced, overworked wines made in the hundreds-of-thousands of cases by large corporate beverage entities. That's not to say this festival won't be a grand time; it's hard not to have a grand time when hanging out in Decatur. And my disdain for large food and wine festivals is not a knock in anyway on the one being held here in my fine city of Decatur...it's just not my thing. But, if it's your thing...here's a list of participating wineries.
 Tickets for the wine festival went on sale Thursday, Sept. 15 at a cost of $35. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available through www.ticketalternative.com.

The festival is held on the Square in Decatur.

September 6, 2011

The Bakery at Cakes & Ale and the Return of David Sweeney

As many of you know, Cakes & Ale, my favorite Decatur eatery, recently relocated to a bigger space on Decatur Square near the Marta Station on Church Street. Along with the bigger space, the restaurant now offers breakfast and lunch daily.
Even better news came a week ago when it was announced that David Sweeney, the mastermind behind the now defunct Dynamic Dish, would be at the reigns for lunch service at Cakes & Ale. David has a bit of a cult following around Atlanta for his masterful work with food. Ask a foodie about their favorite Atlanta eateries in the past five years and Dynamic is sure to be at the top of the list. Kudos to Billy and the Cakes & Ale crew for bringing Dynamic Dave in to run lunch.
Billy and David working lunch

I hooked up with a couple of fellow local bloggers for lunch during the first week of the bakery's lunch service last week. We sampled five dishes over the course of lunch.  The quinoa bowl is just delicious. Quinoa, tender beans, peas, and expertly prepared brunoise of peppers, onions, and herbs topped with fresh cheese. Coincidentally, my last lunch at Dynamic Dish featured a similar dish that was equally delicious last year.
Also incredibly tasty was the crostini topped with fresh goat cheese, butternut squash, jalapeno, and cilantro with a side of heirloom tomatoes dressed with balsamic.

We also shared an ultra-fresh and seasonal tasty green salad, as well as a rich and smokey trout spread on slider-sized brioche sandwich. The key here to the delicious food, as it always has been at Cakes &Ale, is the quality and freshness of the ingredients. Sweeney also demonstrates his genius again in how he builds flavor into seemingly simple dishes. Each bite tastes familiar; yet, each bite is also layered with rich, bright, pronounced flavors.

The lunch dishes are not big; you'll see prices that may seem cheap at first glance, but you'll need a couple of items to really feel full at lunch. That said, it will certainly be money well spent. I can't wait to return for more of this lunch goodness.


Bakery at Cakes & Ale on Urbanspoon

September 1, 2011

First Take: Sapori di Napoli in Decatur

I stopped in Wednesday night to try the pizza at the much anticipated Sapori di Napoli in Decatur. The restaurant was rumored to be opening in early summer, but after several push-backs, they finally opened their doors on Tuesday night. As of now, the restaurant is still getting organized and it's a very casual space inside; it's really one smallish square room with no-frills wooden tables and chairs. It rather reminds me of old neighborhood pizza joints I'd frequent as a kid.
The 5,000 lb. wood-burning brick oven, which was cranking away at 400C/750F while I was there, was imported from Naples in attempt to bring the true taste of Napoletana pizza to Decatur.

We tried several dishes including the arugula salad, arancini, margherita pie, and a $13 bowl of spaghetti that my daughter talked me into allowing her to order. I don't know when a bowl of spaghetti with red sauce became a $13 dish, but the pasta is hand-made daily, and the red sauce is mighty fine. For some reason, I can hear Bourdain ranting in my head about a $13 bowl of spaghetti and red sauce at a pizza joint...but I'll leave that to your imagination.
The Margherita pie was pretty darn good. The dough was light and airy, nicely blackened in spots, though I would have liked it even darker on the bottom. I suppose this will come in time as the oven gets more broken-in. I will say the dough was not in the least bit soggy, something that is a bit of a pet peeve for me with Napoletana pizza. The sauce was incredibly fresh tasting with bright tomato flavors and the perfect amount of salt. The pie is probably big enough for two adults to share, if you also order other items. However, if I was hungry, I could probably knock one pie off by myself with no problem.

I've only tried the Margherita, there are numerous other pies on the menu (ranging from $15-$19), including variations on the Margherita, as well as numerous "sauceless" pies that feature items such as cherry tomatoes, speck, or sweet peppers and ricotta. I visited once, so I am not going to pontificate as to whether or not Sapori belongs up in the pantheon of great pizza in the ATL. It is clear, from one taste, that Sapori is as close to true Napoletana-style pizza as you will find in Decatur. Is it worth a trip across town? Probably.
Will I return? Definitely. And often.

Sapori di Napoli on Urbanspoon