Archive for the ‘Food & Drink’ Category

Late Night Edgewood

So Edgewood is the new Ponce. I mean this in the best possible way. It’s become one of my favorite streets in the city – delicious food, only the occasional whiff of fecal matter, a bar where they know my name, barber shops where they blast funk out the front door at 8am. You’ve got modern and retro with Circa and Rolling Bones. There’s high-minded good food and low-minded good food – Dynamic Dish and King Slice. New and old, with Sound Table and the Jamaican place, and, well, the neighborhood itself, a cornerstone of Atlanta history. It’s also one of the more racially integrated places in the city, in that black people and white people are there in roughly equal numbers (I’ve said it before: that’s a whole new post. Maybe more like a series of discussions. Decades-long series of discussions). But basically, it’s a good place to be at most hours, it’s bike and pedestrian friendly, and it’s about a 2 minute ride from home.

Image from the Atlanta Time Machine, Edgewood and Hillard, no date listed

Overall I was pretty happy to see some of the coverage for the city council’s proposal to designate Edgewood and Auburn Avenues a special “Entertainment District,” which would mean later closing hours for the bars there. Businesses would pay an extra fee to cover extra security and clean-up. Since it worked so well in Underground, why not, right?

Underground issues aside, we all know the story – old-money Buckhead Betties on their morning strolls didn’t like walking across the remains of late-night thugs shooting each other, so they voted to drop back the hours of bars throughout the whole city, because there aren’t any stabbings before 2am. Oh, and then, of course, they razed the Buckhead Village, which, though I couldn’t give you directions there (um, go north on Peachtree a ways?), still affects all of us in the message it sends.


Food on the Streets

Not just talking about chicken bones. The push for food carts on Peachtree, launched earlier this year, is still on – Atlanta is home to a movement clamoring for clean, delicious, LEGAL street food in the city.

The conflict is a silly set of conflicting laws – basically, Atlanta thinks people need to be protected from the guys selling purses and sunglasses in Five Points, and thus has a vending ordinance that mandates “No vehicle shall stop or stand [on public property] and do business for more than 30 minutes.” On the other hand, the state is responsible for keeping dangerous or poorly prepared food out of our bellies, so Georgia law dictates that mobile food units can only have a permit for one or two locations (so that health inspectors can easily locate them). So Atlanta says “keep moving,” Georgia says “don’t go anywhere,” and we miss out on taco trucks and falafel vans. Bummer.

Events have special permits for food carts – that’s why we can get greek sammiches at the Sweet Auburn Festival and funnel cake at Dogwood and Cameli’s pizza at Soccerfest this past weekend in the Cabbagetown Park.  It’s also how they are holding monthly Urban Picnics at the Sweet Auburn Market – they took a hiatus due to a permitting issue, but will be back on the 25th and every last Friday of the month thereafter.

Westside Creamery's Maggie

I haven’t made it to a picnic yet, but I sure ate the hell out of some Korean BBQ from a truck at Atlanta Streets Alive and have overindulged on some of Westside Creamery’s ice cream.

I’m a fan of street food. I’m a fan of anything that gets people outside. I LOVE playing outside, and even I’ll find myself sitting at a desk for 9 or so hours without budging. Buying and eating food on the sidewalk is one more little hack at car culture and one more little lift-up to people culture that I love to see sprouting in Atlanta.


The King

photo from facebook, delicious popsicle from the king

I hate people like this.  The kind of people who have an awesome idea, maybe sitting around on a porch drinking beer with their friends, listen to everyone say “that is frigging GENIUS! We should TOTALLY do this!” and then, well, actually do it, having fun and apparently succeeding in a business venture in the meantime.

So I may be extrapolating here, and I don’t really hate Steven Carse, owner of King of Pops in the least, because he makes delicious popsicles and sits in the sun and sells them out of a little cart on the corner of North and North Highland. This is something I can support.  Also available at Irwin Street Market and Souper Jenny’s, these things are, did I mention, delicious, and they come in flavors like blackberry lemongrass and mango mojito and chocolate sea salt.

People cannot get enough of these things, especially on hot weekends. I got the coveted window seat at Manuel’s for brunch Sunday afternoon and witnessed an endless steady stream of popsicle-seekers. Love that he’s encouraging  foot traffic in Atlanta, too! Does anyone know if he runs/will run into an issue with the food truck police? Or since his popsicles are pre-made and individually wrapped, is he okay?

Follow him on Twitter at @theKingofPops for daily flavors, selling-out and weather delay updates, and laments like “It hurts my heart to see disappointed popsicle seekers” and “Stayed up until 4 a.m. making pops. Should have done an all nighter. I’m really sorry to anyone I missed.”

veggie tips?

so here is the thing. after a lot of thought, i gave up meat about 10 days ago. this is pretty tough because i am a serious meat eater, and a quick look at some of my favorite places to eat, fox bros bbq and five guys burgers come to mind, will tell you that i am going to be struggling a bit.

so to all you vegetarians out there. where should i go? where are the best places to go in town to get a meat-less meal?

i have discovered previously a wonderful veggie corn dog at the midway pub in east atlanta, and a decent black bean burger at canyons burgers in brookhaven, but after that i am kinda stumped.

any help would be greatly appreciated.

Luna: Savior of Mitchell Street?

photo from the

(photo courtesy due to my lack of camera that evening)

So I know the title is a little silly, but if you’ve met the man, you’ve probably spoken with him at length about the way things are and the way they ought to be, and if you talk to him over a few glasses of wine, well, you start using silly, grandiose words like savior. The other night I had dinner at Paul Luna’s new place, Lunacy Black Market, tucked away on a quiet block of Mitchell Street. It’s my strong feeling that this is Atlanta’s greatest new place to spend an evening. It doesn’t feel like a restaurant, it feels like a movement, and Luna is a guy you just want to believe in, so here I go, passing the word along from what little platform I have.

First off, a brief history of Luna in Atlanta.  Paul Luna, the owner-chef “to whom words like ‘legendary’ and ‘bad boy’ have been routinely applied” has opened a handful of restaurants in the city in the last few decades, among them Eclipse de Luna and Loca Luna. He and his partner, Cynthia, just opened Lunacy Black Market, and I’m not going to rehash the reviews that are dotting the local blogs,  just link to them, because it seems like everyone has the same experience there – the food is simple, beautifully prepared, delicious, and beyond cheap. Disconcertingly cheap. No  liquor license yet, (though not for want of trying) so bring your own.


Getting to know Jack

Being unemployed, I’m always searching for a way to get out of town that doesn’t involve spending too much money. Funny enough, despite being so close to Tennessee, I never really go there on purpose. I’m always passing through on my way to other states. But I always swore, before I die or move out of the South (whichever happens first) I had to visit the Jack Daniel’s distillery. Kind of like a pilgrimage to Mecca… Except I worship at the altar of booze.

Because I hate being stuck in the car alone, I managed to convince my bartender friend to accompany me, citing the infinite educational value to be attained in learning about the whiskey distillation process. Early one Friday morning, we jumped in my car to make our journey to Lynchburg, TN. Now that I was actually paying attention to where I was driving, I realized: Tennessee is beautiful! Especially once you turn off the interstate for the final leg of the journey, traveling along winding country roads through dense forests and rolling hills. A blanket of fog lent the appearance of an impressionist painting with its hazy, muted colors.

Before making our way to the distillery, we made a pit stop at a liquor store. Know before you go: In a cruel twist of irony, the distillery is located in a dry county. You can buy commemorative bottles of Jack on site at the distillery, but there is nowhere in town to actually go get your drank on. However, on the bright side– the tour is 100% free. What surprised me was how far some of the other folks had come for this tour; California, Florida, even Canada… My friend and I had driven the shortest distance, and that was 3 hours!

The whole tour took about 90 minutes; it was extremely entertaining, despite the fact that we were not allowed to take photos of the most interesting parts (to keep some things a mystery, I reckon). By the end my brain was flooded with facts and trivia: For example, did you know Jack Daniel was only 5’2″? That’s my size!

Jack Daniel's distillery
(This statue was clearly modified to make Jack taller…)

At the end of the tour, we were given lemonade, which quickly became Lynchburg Lemonade after my friend busted out his flask full of JD Single Barrel. Hey– dry county or not– Jack would approve, and you know it.

Afterwards we drove into “downtown” Lynchburg… This is clearly an area that would dry up and blow away if not for the blessing of tourism. Every store in the town square was packed to the gills with Jack Daniels merchandise. If you can think of an item, it probably had the JD logo emblazoned on it: clothing, pool tables, dart boards, golf clubs, patio furniture, bar stools, barbecue grills, light switch covers…

And, of course:

Belt buckles! (In true redneck fashion, I have a collection.)

Next time you want to leave Atlanta, but don’t feel like venturing too far, get thee to Lynchburg!

I like food.

Christine Lauterbach, I am not. However, I like food. I eat food. So I feel I’m qualified to talk about food.

Last week, I was invited to sample Applebees’ new “Unbelievably Great Tasting and Under 550 Calories” menu. So, I dragged the boyfriend out in the rainy weather to check out the new menu. And, I’ll admit I was pleasantly surprised.

As someone who has constantly struggled with their weight for most of their life (but is finally winning the battle), I’m used to the promise of great taste, with fewer calories, and the disappointment that generally follows. I was already familiar with Applebee’s Weight Watchers selections (being a successful WW member myself) so I was curious to see what else they had to offer.

There are five selections on the menu: two shrimp entrees, one chicken entree, one steak entree and a salad. I selected the Asian Crunch Salad and the boyfriend chose the Asiago Peppercorn Steak. Let me just say, my salad was definitely a complete and full meal. In fact, the boyfriend even finished it off for me because I was just, well, full. The combination of grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, sugar snap peas and a teriyaki-based vinaigrette were, in a word, yummy. Although, I did leave room for a bite of his steak and steamed herb potatoes which did not disappoint. In fact, he cleaned his plate. The shrimp entrees looked appetizing but as a non-seafood eater I did not try them.

With prices ranging from $9-$12, you definitely get your money’s worth for still under 550 calories. While I know that the ITPers of the group probably don’t know where to find a local Applebee’s (or even care to*), for those of us who either live OTP or dare to venture OTP, the new Under 550 Calories menu is a good choice for those watching both their wallets and their waistlines.

*But if you do care, the only one ITP is on Lawrenceville Hwy in Decatur.

using that scoutmob.

since i posted about scoutmoba few weeks ago*, i thought i would just take a moment to follow up on my experiences with the service.

i have used it twice, both times for 50% of deals. the first time i used it was the day after scoutmob had launched and i used it at no mad cantina and while the server was a bit confused when i showed him my phone, he returned with the manager who promptly gave me 50% off the check.

by the time i used scoutmob a week later for brunch at murphy’s the servers were pretty well prepared and the table next to me was actually using a scoutmob coupon too (one note from murphy’s – the scoutmob iphone app requires you to be near the location to get the coupon and i couldn’t get a gps connection inside so it wouldn’t let me pull up the coupon. suggest pulling up the coupon before heading into a venue.)

both of those establishments were picked, btw, because i had a scoutmob coupon.

there are a ton of other scoutmob coupons sitting on my phone that i am dying to use too as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

so call me a fan. you should get on board atlanta, and if you have an iphone get the app. it’s a pretty cool way to manage the coupons.

Dinner with Lynne

A friend of mine with a generous spirit recently donated to our local NPR station, WABE. The donation wasn’t enough to warrant receipt of a stainless steel coffee tumbler, but instead an evening with Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

For those who haven’t yet been properly introduced, Lynne is the host of NPR’s The Splendid Table, during which she speaks of food with such a passion, with such colorful words and such dreaminess in her voice that you find yourself in love with the items she’s describing.

Callers ring into the show with questions surrounding a surplus of an item or soliciting new ideas for an old favorite and Lynne greets each of them with a calm gusto I lack the words to describe.

After a lovely chat with WABE Sr. VP and General Manager John Weatherford and his lovely bride, and a ten minute (!!!) chat with Lynne herself, we were seated.

Lynne read the menu and improvised, causing my friend to lean in and whisper “I need to take her to lunch with me every day. Imagine what she could do to a Chik-fil-a menu…”


The meal was a fancy 5 courses number – which by the way was delightfully and appropriately preceded by light delicious apps and free flowing wine. There was one that involved bleu cheese on a gingersnap but I was still so high from my conversation with Lynne I’d forgotten it almost instantly.

Course 1 – Classic Caesar Napoleon of brioche crouton, filet of romaine heart, aged parmesan frico, salt cured anchovy and quail egg.

It was fine right up until Kim double dog dared me to eat the anchovy. *shudder*

Course 2 – Chef’s choice seasonal fresh fruit sorbet intermezzo. It was so delightful, I don’t remember what the hell fruit it was.

Course 3 – Main entree: Thyme seared petit lamb chops and crab cake Napoleon severed with truffled asigo potatoes, grilled white asparagus tips and broccoli-rapini and finished with demi glace.

Good, not great. My lamb was over cooked, but there was a sweet spot on the potato that nearly sent me to the moon. Looking over my shoulder, I could see Lynne’s chop was cooked perfectly.

Course 4 – Cheese course: brie, 18 month aged gouda, manchego, aged white cheddar and gorgonzola blue. Present but not mentioned: strawberry, fig, and an unidentifiable brown object.

Course 5 – Desert: study in apple. Dried cranberry and apple crisp in micro hazelnut torte shell, vanilla bean crème brulee stuffed roasted apple cup, cinnamon apple fritter with bourbon crème anglaise.

Topping it off: the rest of my wine followed by French Italian (!?) dark roast decaf.

For me, it wasn’t about the food entirely: it was about Lynne and her contagious spirit and passion. It was about spending quality time with a friend sharing a perfectly imperfect cliché riddled once in a lifetime experience.

You can buy Lynne’s book The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio’s Award-Winning Food Show By Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Sally Swift via this nifty link.

As for scoring dinner with Lynne? Cough up some change during the next pledge drive instead of just whining about it, you never know what surprise fringe benefit you’ll get out of it.

(originally posted on my personal blog)

macon, i think i may be too dismissive of thee.

your author at lemongrass thai bistro in macon

your author at lemongrass thai bistro in macon

i had to go to a conference in macon this weekend. now usually, when i go to this conference, i basically spend my time griping about how much i can’t stand macon, going to the meetings and getting out as quick as possible.

this time however, i asked myself, could there be more to this sleepy little city than i have given it credit for. while there for the meeting, i decided to try out some local flavor and see what i came up with.

first and foremost, driving parts of macon other than where the meetings were, i realized it’s a beautiful old southern town. amazing architecture, gorgeous churches and houses are everywhere. the downtown has been fixes up and has many streets with large roadways lined with cherry trees and small parks in the middle.

i tried three ‘local’ place while i was there. i ate lunch at a place called the market city cafe and had an excellent grilled cheese with homemade potato chips. my friend that i was with had a sandwich that she described as “thanksgiving on bread” with turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce. the place was absurd inexpensive.

later that evening three of us went to lemongrass thai bistro in downtown macon for dinner. the place truly did have some of the most amazing thai food, well prepared and presented and very tasty. pricey, but good, and shockingly good for what i expect from macon.

final place was joshua cup coffee which is one of the neatest coffee shops i have been in. great spacious place with lots of art on the walls and amazing deserts.

so i gotta say, i think i need to give macon a little credit. i would like to organize a road trip down there when i don’t have meetings and actually check out what the city has to offer from a cultural standpoint. it looked like a lot of live music for sure, and the georgia music hall of fame which i think i would like to see.

okay, macon. i apologize and am now willing to give you a shot.

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