Urban Pl8 Let’s the Food Allergy Masses Eat Cake!

If you’re looking for a place that caters to food allergies or dietary restrictions where you don’t have to eat a salad or a bunless burger, this is the place to park yourself and nosh on some yummy grub! Urban Pl8 is known in Atlanta for serving up delicious, healthy food allergy-safe meals with an affordable price tag. Emphasis on affordable! Their menu is almost exclusively gluten free or paleo but without sacrificing taste, including their city-wide famous chocolate pudding made from avocado and cacao. Nom, nom, nom.

Urban Pl8 prides itself on using only fresh, local and sustainable foods and ingredients to create their delectable dishes and now offers a periodic Paleo night dinner.  Next Paleo night is Tuesday, May 29th where they will be serving zucchini, coconut, parsley soup, a choice of either pan-seared salmon or juniper berry and black pepper crusted pork tenderloin and vanilla cake and peach jam for dessert!

So the next time you’re wondering where to quell your noisy stomach but don’t have the patience to adjust the menu to suit your needs, hop on over to Urban Pl8 where you actually have more than two choices and the food tastes like, well, real food.

Open for Lunch Tuesday – Friday 11:00 am-2:30 pm, Dinner Wednesday – Saturday 5:30 pm -9:30 pm and Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm.

http://www.urbanpl8.com/

Dairy free, gluten free chocolate pudding cake from Urban Pl8 on the Westside of Atlanta off of Huff Road.

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A Recap of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Published for Deep South Magazine on May 16, 2012 which included a Pinterest board of pictures I took during the festival.  There will be more to come on this story as the Festival was a grande affair with many layers and stories.

http://deepsouthmag.com/2012/05/atlanta-food-wine-festival-recap/

Chef Asha Gomez of Atlanta’s Cardamom Hill

Had the pleasure of chatting with Chef Asha Gomez of Cardamom Hill at the opening Toast for the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival on May 11, 2012. What a lovely person and so down-to-earth. She and I began to talk about how no matter where you are in the world, there is something special about the food in the Southern region of any country as well as the people. We agreed that this subject needed more in-depth exploration. Southern India to the Southern US. Story coming soon to Deep South Magazine! Thanks to Thomas Spravka of spravkaimaging.com for this great memory!

An Open Letter to Anthony Bourdain: No convincing needed. No response required.

Posted to Skirt.com on April 11, 2012 in response to Mr. Bourdain’s obsession with Paula Deen and her diabetes. Someone retweeted this to him and he responded in agreement to my letter. 

Mr. Bourdain,

While I respect your unapologetic candor, love for the authenticity of food and folks, a stiff drink, respect for cultures and your impressive resume, I move that the Paula Deen issue be tabled and laid to rest. We all agree with you. No convincing necessary. She shouldn’t have lied about her diabetes while continuing to cook fat-ladened, butter-drenched, bacon-filled foods for her millions of fans only to obliterate her own health in the process and disappoint many a drooling pie hole. However, unless these fans have been living under a rock for the last 25 years, don’t read the paper, listen to the news, watch Dr. Oz, or check in with Oprah regularly, most people realize that while these foods she cooks are probably extremely delicious and tasty, they are not healthy and will only lead you down the road to a big, fat serving of heart attack city. Everything in moderation, right? Paula Deen 0, Diabetes won.

Your unabashed honesty and lack of social decorum is what draws me and millions of others to watch your shows (diggin The Layover, by the way), read your thought-provoking books and try new foods that otherwise might have our noses turned up in incomprehensible revolt. I am in total agreement with you on the Deen issue. However, it didn’t escape me that you were already not a fan and were looking for an in to take this southern belle of buttery wares to task. Boom. Diabetes. In like Flynn. Donzo. You’re Oprah a-ha moment had finally arrived, finger pointed skyward, time to bring the butter queen down! To the Bourdain mobile! And just like that, you were off on your bacon-greased smear campaign. The first to call her out. I told you so, Paula, I told you so. But within a week, your moment of right became tired.

Please note, that while I am still an adoring fan, love your shows, would pay to dine with you so I could pick your foodie brain, drink a few shots and talk punk rock, I really wish you would move on from the Paula Deen propaganda and focus on doing what you do best, bringing awareness to food misconceptions, finding hidden gems, culinary authenticity, calling out food fads as well as being a lovable smart ass; if there is such a thing. We the people are glad that she was outed, we are glad that she admitted wrong, we are glad you got your moment to point the finger at unhealthy cooking and bring to light that diseases like Diabetes take no prisoners and could give a “BLEEP” about your celebrity status. The regular Joe, is now Paula Deen. But it’s time to let this Savannah belle deal with her decisions and hopefully find a way to continue cooking the foods she loves in a healthy way, bringing her fans along for the ride and redeeming the South’s reputation. Not all of us consume butter by the metric ton. We are loving the Southern cuisine done clean movement that is currently sweeping the food nation. Viva le South!

Paula Deen’s diabetes: The horse has been mutilated, the issue DOA, the chicken has flown the coup. Butter is dead.

Sincerely,

A fan of live horses, food and punk rock music living it up in the South

Bourdain for President!

Bocado’s Italian Cousin Has Arrived in Buckhead with the Opening of STG Trattoria

From my skirt.com post on April 3, 2012

Bruschetta w/ roasted eggplant, buffalo mozzarella and pickled onions

Bocado’s Italian cousin has finally come to town! STG Trattoria in Buckhead is slated to open Tuesday, April 3rd with its fresh take on authentic Italian recipes adapted from the Old World, perfectly portioned plates of pasta and pie (‘za that is) and cafe-inspired communal seating. All the things Atlanta loves about Brian Lewis’Bocado are now tied up with a beautiful Italian bow. Buckhead’s newest addition gives its patrons a hip neighborhood gathering place with small plates, fine wines and gourmet Neapolitan pizzas catering to both the casual diner and the after hours scene seeker. The space is comfortable and inviting while staying true to the sought after chic yet mellow vibe that many of Atlanta’s most trendy restaurants provide.

Don’t come to STG expecting heavy cream sauces, heaping bowls of pasta and cheese-laden breads. You won’t be waddling out of here with the buttons on your pants undone, but happily satiated, clothing intact. STG has uped the ante by bringing in two of Atlanta’s finest, Executive Chef Josh Hopkins (formerly of Abattoir) and Chef de cuisine Adam Waller (formerly of Sotto Sotto), to take the culinary helm and focus on creativity using traditional methods and fresh ingredients. Watch them work their magic while sipping on wine and munching on marinated roasted eggplant toast with buffalo style mozzarella as they slip your lamb mint pizza into one of the two Acunto ovens imported from Naples (blistering your ‘za to perfection in just four minutes). Pizza not your thing? STG has you covered with homemade pastas like swiss chard ravioli, rabbit ragu or pork cheek bucatini with its smokey bacon flavor to get those taste buds popping.

Adding to STG’s coolness factor is the beautiful brick wine cellar that flanks you as you walk in the front door. All wines from the cellar (aka Tunnel o’ Wine) are available for retail sale. Upon entering the main dining area, you find a wide open space with high ceilings, large industrial windows to let in natural light and two extensive communal dining areas, one long table, the other U-shaped, both with ample views of the open kitchen and prep area. STG also features an aperitivo-inspired “Amaro Bar” with amari/aperitif-based cocktails for those seeking a unique libation to pair with their meal. Can’t stay for dinner? No problem. Call in your order and pick up a bottle of fabulous wine from the cellar and some gourmet Italian goodness to go. A great option for the nearby neighborhoods, an intimate at home dinner party or perhaps a late night snack after a tough day of governing the state (lookin’ at you, Nathan Deal).

From the hip yet unpretentious space, to chic communal dining, to the open kitchen, to the clean, authentic-inspired food, STG Trattoria is going to become a must eat in Atlanta. It isn’t visible from the road giving it that hidden gem, foodies-only effect but is centrally located in Buckhead’s financial district across the street from 103 West and next to the St. Regis Hotel. The fact is, Brian Lewis has done it again with this great new addition to Atlanta’s dining scene that might just be the forerunner to bringing Buckhead back.

STG Trattoria • 102-E West Paces Ferry Road • Atlanta, Georgia 30305

http://www.stgtrattoria.com/

Table and Main in Roswell Adds Southern Flair to Canton Street

Published in Roswell Patch January 2012 – my whimsical review, story of the fantastic food at Table and Main in Roswell, Georgia. 

Fried Chicken! YUM-EE!

Sometimes being a freelance writer has major perks. You’re not always holed up in your office from dawn to dusk, brain full of words and ideas, tea plugged into the IV, chocolate close at hand, a slave to the page. Sometimes I am released from my word cave and allowed to venture out into the real world. My love for all things eatable is why I have to run 4-5 times a week. So when my editor at Deep South Magazine emailed me with two new restaurant assignments, my stomach leapt for joy! My mission (and I always choose to accept), find THE places to eat Southern in Atlanta and keep it to four. Um, really? Despite this difficult task, I came up with my top three choices but I still needed a fourth.

My sister, a Roswell resident and lover of all things delicious, suggested Canton Street’s Table and Main. This young upstart has been making a lot of noise in the local foodie circles since its opening in July 2011. It already has a loyal following among the Canton Street regulars and I was excited to join them. Trusting my sister’s taste buds, I quickly made a reservation for the following Saturday night which was the beginning of Roswell Restaurant Week! My sister and brother-in-law would be joining us in our endeavor and were ready for the challenge. I shot off an email to Ryan Pernice, General Manager, to let him know I would be in and that Table and Main would be profiled in the spring city guide the magazine was putting together. The restaurant was also getting a mention in the upcoming article 50 Where to Eat Now in 2012 in the South. I knew I was taking a risk pitching them before I had actually sampled the fare, but based on the Yelp and Urban Spoon reviews as well as the word on the street, I just had a feeling. I trusted my gut; pun intended.

Saturday night arrived! I donned on my battle gear…4 inch platforms, black skinnies and a leather jacket. Being good foodies, my husband and I had already given the menu a once over and discussed it at length during the car ride up from Midtown.  Our long runs are always Saturday morning, so the evening meal is our reward. When we arrived, the century-old house was packed, people spilling out of the front door, most without reservations.  The décor was hip and sophisticated yet warm and inviting at the same time. It would appeal to the urbanite and suburbanite alike. After giving our name to the hostess, we were seated immediately. As we walked to our table, I saw people laughing, drinking wine and enjoying themselves. It was a good sign. The table next to us was a group of ladies enjoying a girls night out.  The wine was flowing and it was there that I got a glimpse of the fried chicken. There are no words, well, one, HUGE! It was as big as the plate, fried to perfection sitting over a bed of potato salad. I resisted the urge to jump the table and placed my tongue back in my mouth. I played it cool.

Table and Main had an extensive wine selection which made me very happy. My husband had his choice of quite a few local brews, including his favorite, Sweetwater 420. The full menu was open to us but there was a Prix Fixe menu developed especially for Restaurant Week featuring proven favorites and some new concoctions conjured up for this inaugural event.  For $25 you could select an appetizer, entree and dessert from the three choices in each category. There it was, the fried chicken. I had been good all day.  I ran my 7.5 miles, my husband his 12. We deserved this! My pregnant sister, Kathy, after thoroughly checking out whether she could consume certain fish, cheeses, etc, decided on the Prix Fixe menu as did my husband, Paul and myself.  The spinach strawberry salad and she crab soup were ordered along with my fried chicken, the tuna over grits and shrimp and grits. My brother-in-law, also a Paul, ordered off the regular menu and went with the hush puppies and burger.  

Now THAT’S a burger!

I could hardly stand it, I was ready for that fried chicken. I had seen it served to three other nearby tables. Where was mine? It had been 30 seconds since I finished my salad. And then…our servers announced that dinner was served! Our mouths watered as each dish was set in front of its respective conqueror. The helpings, generous, just like at my Granny’s house. My fried chicken towered over the other entrees, again, fried to perfection with crispy skin, tender and juicy meat. The shrimp in my sister’s meal, not puny, not cut up, but whole and beautiful. The burger my brother-in-law was to devour was large and in charge, cheese dripping off the sides with three considerable steak fries. My husband’s tuna cooked exactly the way he requested served over tomato-based grits with a side of asparagus. The conversation subsided. We were too busy eating, no time to talk. By the end of the main course, I declared I was so full I couldn’t eat another bite. I had conquered the fried chicken! But it was time for my favorite part of any meal, dessert: Chocolate Pudding with Chantilly Cream and ‘nilla Wafers, Bourbon Butter Pecan Ice Cream and Apple Cobbler. I thought, ok, I can find space for this. Based on facial expressions and gasps of “this is SO good”, dessert was a major hit! Needless to say I finished mine. I did not share with my table mates. I am not ashamed.

Ryan returned to the table to ask us if we had enjoyed our meals. “Delicious!” “Outstanding!” “Fabulous!” “I’m full!” A big grin emerged on his face, pleased that we had joined the many Table and Main(er) converts. I told Ryan that my “gut” feeling about this place was correct and well worth the mention on our 50 list. I would be in touch with him in a month to sit down, over drinks (I love my job), and discuss the restaurant to profile it in Deep South for their city guide. He thanked us for coming out, especially my husband and I for the drive from ITP. I told him it was no trouble especially when there’s Canton Street food involved.

Paul and I after a fine Southern meal

Smiles on our faces, stomaches happily distended, appetites sufficiently tamed we walked out of Table and Main vowing to come back again. I am excited to sit down with Ryan and chat him up on the menu as well as the premise behind this wonderful new edition to Canton Street. Atlanta is becoming known as a foodie town. There are so many fantastic places to eat all over this city. But for me Canton Street is by far one of my favorite places to dine. Where else can you restaurant hop and get Asian, Mexican, Latin, Pub, Contemporary, French and now Southern cuisine all on one street? Are you reading this ITPers, Canton Street is worth the drive. And if you are looking for a hip yet quaint eatery that reminds you of your granny’s cooking, get thee to Table and Main! It’s Southern comfort food done right. I suspect with my hardy appetite, long run saturdays and hankering for good fried chicken, I’ll be a regular.

Table and Main; they cleaned up Granny’s cookin’ but kept the flavor. It’s magic! 1028 Canton Street, Roswell, Georgia  30075