Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dogwood's New Menu is Awesome

I love birthdays! Especially mine. These people who don't want to celebrate theirs, well, I just don't get them.

So, last weekend was my birthday and I decided to head to Dogwood. They have a new fall menu I was dying to try and it's just such a pretty, special restaurant. We could not have been happier with the choice. Makes me wish I was getting a year older again this week. Okay, not really.

We started with the grits bar, of course. The Logan Turnpike "Fools Gold" grits have new toppings and we chose the braised forest mushrooms. YUM. Then we had the seared foie gras with smoked pumpkin, pecan-raisin toast and red wine-black pepper gastrique. Y'all. This was unbelievably good. Decadent. A must have. To balance the sinfulness of that dish we chose a soup for our other app - a root vegetable puree with a wild boar-cranberry sausage and lingonberries. Licked the bowl. Sure did.

For entrees I encouraged my friend to have the signature SoCo glazed pork chop with carmelized shallots and the most delicious sweet corn souffle while I tried a new dish - pecan rubbed tuna with fingerling potatoes, applewood smoked bacon, carmelized onions and bar-b-que drizzle. Another hit!

The nice folks at Dogwood insisted that we have dessert since it was my birthday. I chose the coffee gelato which really was the perfect ending. We also had the fried bread pudding that was delicious. On Friday, Meridith Ford Goldman gave the restaurant a glowing review in the Atlanta Journal Constitution - I see she had many of the same dishes I had!

If you haven't been to Dogwood yet, I encourage you to try it, even if it's not your birthday!

Friday, October 3, 2008

New Red Wine at Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery

I've had the privilege to visit Wolf Mountain Vineyards the past few weeks for their fall harvest. I've watched (and videotaped) the grapes come from the vine, get destemmed, crushed and the juices go into fermentation. It's been a very cool experience. I also got to see the first batch of Wolf Mountain's newest wine, Howling Wolf Red, be bottled. The limited-release is a non-vintage blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon with elegant tannins and a soft, fruity finish. Yep, I tried it. Howling Wolf Red will be available for purchase ($24.95 per bottle) only through Wolf Mountain beginning tomorrow, Saturday, October 4. Make a weekend trip to Dahlonega to get the first taste or trust mine and buy a bottle from their online store - since wines can now be shipped in Georgia.

Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery is located at 180 Wolf Mountain Trail in Dahlonega, Georgia; 706-867-9862. For driving directions click here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

NiceCream is Really Nice ... and Creamy!

I met Dr. Leon Lashner over a year ago and was soon invited to regular gatherings at the kitchen table in his loft to sample the non-dairy ice cream he was creating. His friends, old and new, would eagerly show up to take a spoonful of the newest flavor, check the progress of their favorites, and share their critiques. Most of all we were a fan club cuz this stuff rocks!

So it was more than awesome to see all that hard work come to fruition with Sunday's NiceCream launch event at Jake's in the Irwin Street Market. Over 200 hundred people came to try six flavors: Coocoo for Coconut, Dave's Chocolate, Tropical Vanilla Bean, Banana Chocolate Chip, Passion Fruit, and Double Cappuccino. All the ingredients are organic and top quality - no wonder it tastes so good. If you know someone who is lactose-intolerant, this will change his/her life! Have you tried the stuff they have to eat? Yuck!
And great news! Leon is dabbling in the sauce biz too. He had four sauces to try: Strawberry Balsamic (my fave), Dark Spicy Chocolate, Sea-Salted Caramel, and Rum Sauce (I think this was a lot of people's fave). Right now you can buy NiceCream at any of the three Jake's Ice Cream locations.

It's pretty easy to have a dream or a grand idea. It's anything but easy to make it become a reality. Heck, it's not even easy to watch someone do it! Leon, who by day is a gifted chiropractor and homeopath, has methodically made this dream happen, one (sometimes difficult) step at a time.

I'm not saying go buy some NiceCream so you can support the American dream. I'm saying go buy it because it's frickin awesome! But doesn't it make it sweeter knowing this was just some guy in his house with an ice cream freezer saying, "Hey, I think I have an idea..."

Ecco Offers Lots of Lovin' Spoonfuls at The Sunday Share on October 5

Now that it's finally cooling off in Atlanta, soup weather is upon us. That delicious, warm feeling, filling you with goose bumps from head to toe? Yes, it’s a heady case of love at the first spoonful and you can get it by digging into that soup bowl at Ecco. More faithful than a Golden, more heartwarming than a Norman Rockwell painting, soup comforts and encourages conversation, without the worry of getting that piece of spinach salad between your teeth. Executive Chef Micah Willix is stirring up a house-made bouillabaisse that’s quite a catch for the bistro’s October 5 Sunday Share menu. $25 per person includes tax and gratuity; additional charge for alcoholic drink specials. Scoop up your friends or come solo to the communal table at 6:30 p.m. For reservations, call 404-347-9555.Ecco is a Fifth Group Restaurant located at 40 7th Street, NE in Midtown; 404-347-9555.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

5th Annual Harvest Midtown Festival

This year's cultural event will be held on Saturday, October 4 from 1-5 p.m. Among the participating restaurants are favorites such as Ecco, South City Kitchen, Marlow'sTavern and Dogwood. And if that's not enough to fill a Saturday afternoon, guests will also enjoy a fall fashion show, an organic farmer's market and live chef demos.

The Harvest Midtown festival will be held on 5th Street between Peachtree and West Peachtree streets. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Arthritis Foundation.

Time to Buy Tix for Les Dames Event in November

As some of you know, I'm spending two weeks in Chile in November. Of course I'm looking forward to it, but I just realized I'm going to miss THE BEST food event of the year! Should I cancel???

Seriously, Les Dames D'Escoffier (LDEI), of which I am a proud member and secretary of the board, puts on a great event at Serenbe every year. The 8th Annual Afternoon in the Country, sponsored by LDEI is held on Sunday, November 9 starting at 1 p.m. at Serenbe in the Chattahoochee Hill Country. Over 50 chefs, restaurants, caterers, wineries, breweries and retailers will be on hand to dole out samples under big-top tents. An enormous silent auction, decadent cake raffle, live music, hayrides and more round out the afternoon. New this year is a Friday night event - a very nice one at that. On November 7, "Evening in the City" will be held at The Mansion on Peachtree. Only 75 tickets will be sold to this exclusive event. The evening begins with a 51st floor champagne "view of the city" reception followed by a four-course Wente Vineyards wine dinner and a private concert by renowned jazz vocalist Francine Reed.

So whether you're a city slicker or a country bumpkin, as long as you enjoy good food and wine, I promise you will enjoy these events. Among the participants are favorites such as Bold American®,Ecco, La Tavola Trattoria, Via Elisa Pasta, White Oak Pastures, Whole Foods Market and Woodfire Grill. Please go and have some sips and nibbles for me!!

Click here for tickets to either event. Proceeds benefit Georgia's organic farming community and the scholarship fund for women in the culinary, beverage and hospitality arts. Atlanta LDEI is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
And yes, this picture is of some Dames having fun at White Oak Pastures. That's Angie Mosier, me, Cathy Conway, Carolyn O'Neil and Virginia Willis. See how fun we are? Tee hee.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Packing More Flavor Per Mile Than a Smart Car, tsp spices' New Smart Spice Pulls Into Whole Foods Markets!

Its that same vicious cycle: I get excited to actually cook a meal. I put on my cute apron and promise my beau a wonderful dinner. Then, I take one look at my messy, good-for-nothin' spice selection and am automatically OVER the whole cooking idea. In my line of work, I know a great meal takes good flavor and let's face it, the left over bottles of my mom's spice selection just ain't gonna cut it. I'm thinking its time for something new, something smart...

That's why I am so excited that Smart Spice from The Seasoned Palate, Inc. is now available at Whole Foods Market! Each slender Smart Spice carton features four one-teaspoonful packets of pure, organic spice sealed to keep flavor in, light and moisture out (MSRP $2.99). Toss those faded spice-drawer clunkers in the recycling bin... once you taste a recipe flavored with these potent spices (no fillers here), you won't turn back.

The Seasoned Palate, Inc. also produces tsp spices, an award-winning line featuring one-teaspoon packets of organic spices housed in designer tins. Click on The Seasoned Palate blog for spice enlightenment.

DailyCandy Definition

Do real men eat yogurt? Apparently so, according to The DailyCandy Lexicon. Hence the development of “Bro Yo” – a cup of the cultured creamy stuff blended up in manly flavors to woo the testosterone set. Bro Yo: n. yogurt intended to appeal to men, often in flavors like chocolate or cheesecake.

Suggested usage: Chip had a gut feeling his day wouldn’t be complete without a cup of his favorite Bro Yo flavor, nutty buddy dark chocolate with pomegranate swirl.

Morton's The Steakhouse Partners with Make-A-Wish Foundation

Morton’s The Steakhouse – Buckhead is hosting a special Sweet Charity anniversary dinner and silent auction on Saturday, October 4 to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation® as part of the restaurant company’s “30 Wishes for 30 Years” celebration. The night will begin at 7 p.m. with a cocktail reception and passed hors d’oeuvres followed by a sit-down dinner in the upstairs boardroom at 8 p.m. There will be live music throughout the evening.

The four-course celebration menu includes: Caesar salad, Morton’s single-cut filet, mashed potatoes, garlic green beans and cheesecake. Chef Tony Ballester and his staff won't be the only ones in the kitchen, though. Felicia, a Make-A-Wish child, will be fulfilling her wish to be a chef in the kitchen. After kitchen duty, Felicia will get to enjoy the fruits of her labor at the sit down dinner with her family before they head to Orlando for the second half of her wish -- wonder what she could have wished for in Orlando? The event is $175 per person, with $50 per ticket and all silent auction proceeds going to Make-A-Wish Foundation. For reservations, click here.

The local Sweet Charity party is just one of a year-long series of special events being held at Morton’s steakhouses across the United States to mark the 30th anniversary of Morton’s The Steakhouse. In its largest charitable initiative ever, the company hopes to raise enough funds to grant the wishes of 30 children living with life-threatening medical conditions.

Morton's The Steakhouse Buckhead: Peachtree Lenox Building, 3379 Peachtree Road, NE; 404-816-6535.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chews Local

This past Thursday was the kick-off event for Atlanta's Local Food Initiative (ALFI) at The Glenwood in East Atlanta. This event introduced ALFI's five year plan for Atlanta as well as Georgia Organic's 2009 Local Food Guide. It started out at the East Atlanta Village Farmer's Market held in the parking lot of the local Ace Hardware. What a great market - tons of fresh produce and awesome live music.

Then, the event moved to The Glenwood for great music, organic wines and local beers, and an incredible array of appetizers made from The Glenwood and surrounding restaurants. Appetizers included bruschetta, deviled eggs, mini smoothies and cheese grit squares. The event had a huge turnout, and everyone was excited to talk local. There was a great turnout from some of Atlanta's favorite farmers - Farmer D, Love is Love Farm and so many more. It was fun to see these guys outside the weekly farmer's markets they attend.
After the cocktail reception, Georgia Organics and The Glenwood hosted a benefit dinner for GO. What an incredible experience - several nearby restaurants, all with a passion for cooking local, came together to prepare a four course feast for us. It was a great example of restaurants that have the "farm to table" mentality without the far-to-often high price tag. Our dinner started with a squash soup with ginger and cilantro from Dynamic Dish. The squash came from Gaia Gardens and Woodland Gardens. Second course was campfire Rainbow trout from Bramlett Farms with roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, lemon rosemary butter, apples, leeks and red peppers prepared by The Glenwood.
Third course (my favorite course) was Asian brined pork from Riverview Farms on mashed sweet potatoes with garlic, ginger and five-spiced apples. This dish was prepared by The Graveyard. We ended the meal on a sweet note with a goat cheesecake (goat cheese from Decimal Place Farms) served with house brewed muscadine wine ice cream, candied pecans and a muscadine balsamic reduction, also prepared by The Glenwood. The ice cream was incredibly good, so good in fact I forgot to take a photo of it. Sorry!

All I can say after a meal like this is wow. The Glenwood, Georgia Organics and ALFI did an amazing job of putting together a great launch for the Local Food Guide and ALFI. I'm looking forward to seeing how ALFI affects our local food scene over the next five years.