March 30, 2013

Recent Eats and Drinks

Some recent pics from home cooking and a couple meals with friends. I made the salad below from a recipe in Richard Blais' new cookbook. It was good. Not really groundbreaking, but an interesting take on a traditional iceberg and blue cheese salad with Blais' homemade "ranch" dressing. I added chorizo. Tasty enough.
Also took another stab at making Ramen. This batch was even better than my first attempt last month. I let the five pounds of pork bones roast for over an hour to get some nice caramelization and I let the stock simmer for eight hours. It was rich, with deep salty/porky flavor. I used some decent Ramen noodles that I found by chance in the "International" aisle at my local Kroger.
The dish below was made by my friend Rowdy during a recent outing at his house. Spaghetti with garlic, lemon, and grated bottarga with some parsley and tarragon thrown in for good measure. Good stuff.
We also drank some damn fine wines from Burgundy that night:
Back at home I opened this incredible bottle of California Syrah from Edmunds St. John, a winery I've raved about here in the past. Affordable California Syrah that ages for 20+ years and reminds you of a great Cote Rotie. What's not to love?
I also recently did another lunch run on Buford Highway. The second lunch that day, after Gu's, was a stop at Chicago Supermarket, where we ate the legit tacos pictured below. Great stuff. More on this and other Buford Highway fun later.

March 22, 2013

Tasty China!

I hadn't made a trip out to the original Tasty China in Marietta in quite some time. Tasty China is a bit of a legendary restaurant, in part due to the mercurial Peter Chang's time as chef here. Several years ago I got schooled on the brilliance of Tasty China by this guy, who is now winning raves as a winemaker in California. There was a period of time when our food and wine geek team would frequent Tasty China, getting strange glances from the other diners, as we did again last week, as we carry in two dozen of our own wine glasses and literally dozens of bottles of wine. It's always a good time. Some of the dishes from this current visit:
Fragrant shrimp with chilis and fried onions. 
Dry-fried, spicy eggplant. A favorite. Killer dish. Numbingly spicy.
Braised white fish in an insanely spicy chili oil. Crazy dish. Really freaking spicy, but so good.
 Lamb "hot pot." Eh, this was just ok.
What to drink with all this spicy Sichaun-style Chinese food? Off-dry white wines, like this Pouilly Fume from Didier Dagueneau.
Or this killer 1983 Riesling from the Rheingau. A sublime wine.
The aftermath.

March 17, 2013

Buford Highway Eats: Quoc Houng, Pho Dai Loi #2, Crawfish Shack

I'll start with a confession. I've never spent time eating on Buford Highway. There, I feel better confessing to what is surely some kind of sin amongst foodies in the ATL. Buford Highway, that road with seemingly endless opportunities to try legit ethnic cuisine from a dizzying array of cultures and ethnicities. From Mexican, to Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and beyond. Finding it unbelievable that I as a Buford Highway-food virgin, my buddies the Buddha, and this guy, recently took me on the first of what will likely be many more adventures on Buford Highway.
First stop, Banh Mi at Quoc Huong Banh Mi and Fast Food.
The banh mi at Quoc Huong are ridiculously inexpensive; think $2.50 each. And if you buy 5, you get 1 free, which means you can get six of these buggers for around 12 bucks. Seems crazy, right? Oh, they are pretty damn good, too.
Pictured above is the roast pork, below is the special with pork, pate, and chicken. Great stuff.
Next up was Pho Dai Loi #2 for some Pho.

The rich broth, which is both sweet and salty, is the key here. I got #12, brisket and pork.
The pork spring rolls were  a good little starter.
Not quite done at this point, we had to run across the street for some crawfish from the Crawfish Shack. I wasn't too impressed with this stop.
We chose to get a pound fried, which takes time, I guess, as we waited nearly 25 minutes for our basket of crawfish and side of fried mac and cheese nuggets. Eh...Not a great ending to the afternoon, but two out of three isn't bad for a first run. I'm already gearing up for the next time.

March 11, 2013

Recent Eats & Drinks

Some recent pics of food and drink things around town.
Paid a couple visits to the new Victory Sandwich Bar on Church a couple weeks back. It was good; nothing earthshaking, but solid little sandwiches. The sandwiches are small, so don't think you are making a steal when you see $4 each on the menu. You probably want to eat a couple if you have any kind of regular appetite. The Cool Chik above is pretty good as are the side spicy ramen noodles for $3.
The beeter: "Beet" pastrami, kimchi.Beet slices topped with spicy kimchi. Kind of a sloppy sandwich that's hard to keep together, but the mix of beet and kimchi is an interesting flavor combo.
The Castro:Victory's take on a Cuban. Pretty good.
Also stopped in recently for breakfast at the Bakery at Cakes and Ale. Above is the Decatur Breakfast Sandwich. House made English muffins, eggs, gruyere, and scallions. Hits the spot on a Saturday morning after a long Friday night. As does the Caliente, a spicy Mexican mocha (with house made marshmallows!), picture below:
Recent dinner at Big Tex was made better by this tasty, seasonal Smitten Golden Rye Ale from Bell's:Only available in February and March it's another winner from the good folks at Bell's.

March 5, 2013

New Eats: Chai Pani in Decatur

In case you weren't hadn't heard, and weren't one of the hundreds of people waiting in line for a table this past weekend, Chai Pani opened in Decatur last Friday night. I stopped in for dinner during their launch Friday night, and had a good meal, but there was some opening night madness, so I paid them another visit for lunch yesterday with this guy.
Chai Pani is the second restaurant from the husband & wife, Meherwan & Molly Irani, who own and operate the now two locations. The original location in Asheville has garnered its share of accolades over the past four years. All of the food on my two visits has been good, some very good, and definitely leaving me wanting more. Some of the food sampled thus far by yours truly:
The kale pakoras is just crazy good. Seems simple enough: kale fritters with a curried chickpea batter and dipping sauces. So damn good, it is actually hard to stop eating these. Nice balance of being light, salty, and crispy, yet the kale does not get lost in the mix.
 The vegetable uttapam was also very strong. Like an Indian crepe pizza. Great flavor here.
Bombay chili cheese fries. Curried Indian turkey hash on masala fries, topped with paneer, and served with tomato chutney. Indian stoner food, and it is good, even sober.
Okra fries. I wasn't crazy about these. My table mates liked them more than I, but I've never been a big okra guy.
Another strong dish. Potato puri.
There also some interesting cocktails on the menu like the Kashmir Sour, which is basically a whiskey sour spiked with Kashmir chili powder. All-in-all Chai Pani is off to a very good start, and based on the crowds that have shown up for both lunch and dinner, they will be a fixture in Decatur for a good long time. A welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Chai Pani on Urbanspoon

March 2, 2013

NOLA, Part Three: Domilise's Po-Boys

The third and final post on eats during my New Orleans trip last month. One of the food highlights of the trip was a visit to Domilise's Po-Boy shop. I was unfamiliar with Domilise's before the trip, but my friends who were playing tour guide assured me we had to go to what was their favorite place for po-boys when they were living in the area. Come to find out, Domilise's is a bit of a legend in New Orleans having been a fixture in uptown for over 70 years. They were recently profiled as part of the Sandwich Story video series by Saveur, as well as being singled out as the NOLA Po-boy shop in a recent feature in Garden & Gun.

Domilise's feels untouched by time. The menu above appears virtually unchanged for decades, except for the prices. There's no pretense here; you might even drive right by the place if you weren't really looking for it. However, what you find inside, is good folks serving up killer po-boys, which is all they have from this homey location for generations.
    The humble kitchen where the magic happens.
   The oyster station.
    The back bar.
    Fried shrimp and fried oyster po-boy. You've got to get your po-boy "dressed," which adds lettuce,
    pickles, ketchup, hot sauce, and mayo. The combo of the fat, crispy gulf oysters with the creamy
    mayo and veggies is just sublime. A good baguette is key, too, and Domilese's uses bread from
    Leidenheimer's, another local family-owned company with long, deep roots in New Orleans.
    If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, do yourself a favor and head uptown to try one of these
Domilises Po-Boy & Bar on Urbanspoon    po-boys. You won't be disappointed.