Coffee in Five Courses at The Third Space Atlanta

6535424631-5Love coffee? Love damn fine food? Love chocolate? Then this class is for you!

Join my friend Jason Dominy of Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters- Atlanta as he schools you in coffee while you feast on the delicious food pairings by Chef Eddie Russell of Parish Atlanta and the delectable chocolates by Kristen Hard of Cacao Atlanta – Bean to Bar Chocolate A learning experience not to be missed for coffee lovers.

You’ll never look at coffee the same way again. 

 
Thursday evening • May 23rd • 6:30-8:30 • The Third Space in the Old Fourth Ward-Studioplex.

Go here to sign up –>> http://www.eventbrite.com/event/6535424631/eorg

STAPLEHOUSE: Kicking Cancer’s Ass While Giving Back

staplehouse_logoCulinary. Cancer. Community. These three words have come together in a most extraordinary way over the last six months. On December 21, 2012, Chef Ryan Hidinger of STAPLEHOUSE  (an underground supper club) was dealt a life-changing blow.  After weeks of feeling poorly, thinking he had caught a nagging stomach virus, he and his wife, Jen, went to the doctor to find out the cause of his pain. What they heard was beyond shocking. Stage IV gallbladder cancer. Ryan is only 35 years old.

Ryan and Jen had been planning since the inception of STAPLEHOUSE to turn this venture into their dream restaurant. They had selected the building, and the wheels were in motion to begin a new chapter in their lives. Within minutes, all of that came crashing down around them. The Hidingers would have to put everything on hold. But what happened within days of the diagnosis was truly extraordinary, and speaks volumes of Atlanta’s culinary community. Fundraisers were set up in their name to help cover the enormous cost of treating this rare form of cancer. Donations were pouring in from all over the country. And with that, Team HIDI was born thanks to family, friends, chefs, restauranteurs and Atlanta’s diners.

Six months later, the fundraising has transformed not only the lives of the Hidingers but the future of STAPLEHOUSE. Today, Ryan is fighting (and winning) a fierce battle against cancer thanks to the generosity of the Atlanta dining community.  Demonstrating tremendous Grace, Ryan and Jen (along with their family and friends, such as Chef Ryan Smith of Empire State South) have revitalized STAPLEHOUSE, turning it into a purpose-driven restaurant which will help raise funds for those in the culinary community experiencing financial hardships.

Please join the Hidingers in making their dreams reality, and help them give back to the community who has given them the hope and strength to kick cancer’s ass!

To learn more about STAPLEHOUSE and The Giving Kitchen, or to donate, visit www.staplehouse.com/ or www.indiegogo.com/projects/staplehouse-a-purpose-driven-restaurant.

team-hidi-logo

Upcoming Events in Support of STAPLEHOUSE and The Giving Kitchen:

Rootbeerpalooza!

May 16, 2012 at Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters- Atlanta from 7-9pm. 

https://www.facebook.com/events/587633497922620/

Memorial Day Pig Roast

May 26, 2012  at the home of Jason Apple (Atlanta Food Blogger Sociey, The Kitchen Man Can and Kitchen Fronts of Georgia) from 4:30 pm – until we get kicked out.

https://www.facebook.com/events/101914930013294/

Red Pepper Taqueria Industry Night

Beginning May 13th, every Monday from 10p-12a through May and June, Red Pepper Taqueria will donate 10% of sales from Industry Night to The Giving Kitchen!

http://www.eatredpepper.com/

Dining Out for Team Hidi:

A percentage of sales from your meal will be donated to Team HIDI at the following restaurants: Muss and Turners, Local Three and Empire State South

What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking

mrs-fisher

I have always been fascinated by food history and, in particular, Southern food history. There is something about knowing where your food comes from that excites me, as if I have been let in on a special secret. I’m not talking about just what farm on which your vegetables were grown or how your pork was raised, but really knowing how the dishes you prepare each night, the old family recipe kept locked away in a decaying book, the one dish that defines your entire childhood came into being.  There’s a story behind it all; a beginning, a middle and a never-ending. But nowhere can you find more history, a chance to glimpse at the daily life of yesteryear, than a vintage cookbook. These books to me are the Old Testament of food, filled with poetic preludes, kitchen law and folklore, nearly extinct ingredients and antiquated cooking methods. The pages call out to the reader, enticing, tantalizing, waiting for someone to recreate a dish or learn a forgotten technique modern kitchen appliances have made obsolete.

Most vintage Southern cookbooks were written by former matriarchs of large plantation families, while others by women of humbler means like those on the farms that covered the varied landscape of the South, and still others by the many city slicker Leagues of Atlanta, New Orleans or Charleston. However, for me, the most fascinating cookbooks are those by African American women living prior to 1940. Pages upon pages of dishes and recollections which followed their families through slavery and into the almost as cruel Jim Crow era.  It is in these books that we learn of their daily diet, the various plants and animals grown on their tiny plots of land, how they survived on little yet always seemed to perform the miracle of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes regularly.  You can almost hear them speaking to you as you read aloud the recipes written in their distinct vernacular. A history lesson wrapped in food, etymology, seasons and culture.

I recently stumbled upon the cookbook What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking through a friend of mine after discussing our mutual love of Southern food in an historical context. As we nerded out over our affinity for vintage African American recipes, it became apparent that I needed to add this lovely to my growing collection. Yes, I am becoming the crazy cookbook lady.

Abby Fisher is said to be the first ex-slave to write a cookbook. She had moved to San Francisco from Mobile, AL after the war with her husband and began to cook and cater for the various wealthy families of the city. With the help of the Women’s Co-operative Printing Office of San Francisco, Mrs. Fisher published her many recipes in 1881 which included dishes like Ochra Gumbo, Corn Fritters and Chow Chow. It is likely she had the recipes transcribed for her as it is said she was mostly illiterate.  Her story is now a part of Southern history and the food she cooked preserved forever in print for the next generation. 

And just like that, Amazon has notfied me that my copy of What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking has shipped.

Awaiting your arrival, Mrs Fisher. In a mere two days, my kitchen will soon be yours.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1557094039/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

Nutritious Secrets

My CSA was full of color this past week as we begin to transition from the cold of Winter to the rebirth of the land as Spring approaches. There is so much beauty in the vegetables and fruits grown on the farm, but the vibrant colors hold nutritious secrets. Secrets that gift us with life, longevity and in some cases, a healing touch.
photo (85)Speckled Butter Beans
Rich in protein, good carbs and fiber as well as iron, copper, folate, phosphorus, thiamin and magnesium.

Those with sulfite sensitivities found in processed foods will find that eating molybdenum-rich foods like butter beans may help counteract the effects of sulfites and decrease side effects like dizziness and headaches.

Sweet Potato 

A super food, rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C due to its dense, orange flesh.

The pretty color of this root veggie carries with it many health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties, lowering of blood sugar levels and in a recent discovery, has proven to possess anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties as well.

photo (84)Green Squash
Rich in vitamin C, B6 and fiber due to the lovely green skin.

Although a starchy veggie, the green squash is full of antioxidants with links to blood sugar regulation. Leave the skin on to receive the most benefit opting to steam or sauté it instead.

 

This week’s box also included local winter greens, oranges and tangerines as well as mushrooms and beets. But these are three of my most favorite vegetables to eat during this transitional period between Winter and Spring.

Dinner of Dreams

PushStart Kitchen in Atlanta, GA is a supper club located at the historic Goat Farm Artist Commune in the Westside neighborhood. Chef Zach Meloy and his wife Cristina open their home to 18 strangers 3x a week and offer their guests a custom meal via communal dining. This historic yet urban environment nestled in between the railroad tracks, Westside Provisions District and the Atlanta Waterworks is a world unto itself where chickens, turkeys and yes, goats, roam the grounds. Where artists of all kinds create in their studios and dreams come to life in loft spaces to the din of the trains passing by.

This was my birthday wish: great food, great conversation and great friends. I wanted my birthday to be a gift to those present at the table last evening. The gift of friendship, support of each other’s life pursuits and incredible food. No one had to worry about allergies (gluten free menu), the cost of their meal (paid for), the company they were keeping (connections were made).  And who doesn’t love capping off a night of food and friendship with a little orange-infused moonshine!

Thank you to my wonderful husband for making this happen for me! It was my dinner of dreams.

Photos and food courtesy of PushStart Kitchen.

So this happened last night –>>

Pork albondigas, cotija, sour cherry jam.

Pork albondigas, cotija, sour cherry jam.

Poblano corn pudding, oyster mushroom, charred onion mascarpone, cilantro.

Poblano corn pudding, oyster mushroom, charred onion mascarpone, cilantro.

Pork loin, carrots in several ways, preserved lemon yogurt, black olive.

Pork loin, carrots in several ways, preserved lemon yogurt, black olive.

Flour less chocolate cake, clementine sorbet, vanilla milk jam, blood orange syrup.

Flour less chocolate cake, clementine sorbet, vanilla milk jam, blood orange syrup.

NEED! Food Photographers and Southern Food Writers!

Attention food photographers and Southern food writers! If you are (or you know someone who might be) interested in working with a group of creative, Southern smart asses on a very cool venture about the South, contact me at food@twistedsouth.com.

Send a cover letter along with writing samples or your photographic portfolio for consideration.

Cheers, y’all!

The Seed Underground by Janisse Ray

SeedUndergroundI’ve heard this woman speak on local food and seed saving a few times.  She is an activist in every sense of the word including being arrested for protesting land grabs and environmental disasters. This book is on my Christmas list for many reasons, mostly because I believe in the cultivation of heritage seeds which have almost been bred into extinction save for a few people, like Janisse, who have taken up the cross for these plants. Historic preservation is a general term which includes buildings, art, literature, oral history AND our food.

Here’s a link to purchase her book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Seed-Underground-Growing-Revolution-Save/dp/1603583068

The Real Roots of Southern Cuisine

collard green 1This is my recent article for Deep South Magazine with Chef Todd Richards of The Shed at Glenwood in Atlanta. A fascinating, enlightening and frankly, refreshing look inside the food Southerners take pride in cooking and in eating. Slavery is deeply rooted in its history and its transformation.  Chef Richards also discusses the term “Soul Food” and what it really means, where fried chicken came from and Southern cuisine’s two key ingredients.

Forget everything you’ve ever learned or thought you knew about Southern food because it’s all about to change.

http://deepsouthmag.com/2012/12/the-real-roots-of-southern-cuisine/

100 Mile Dinner-Give Mo’ Thanks

In the Beginning…

On a mild November evening in Avondale Estates, 70 strangers, 6 chefs and 5 local farmers joined together as a community of food lovers and locavores to celebrate Thanksgiving 100 Mile Dinner style. Held in a yet-to-be-leased store front in the Avondale Tudor Village, the simple space was dressed in local art and mustaches; a nod to the cause being benefited, Movember (a month-long charity in which men grow ‘staches for cashes to fight prostate/testicular cancer). Above the bar, the King of ‘Staches, 80’s icon, Tom Selleck of Magnum P.I. fame. Three long dining tables clothed in white with mason jars of Gerber daisies greeted guests who quickly began propping their chairs up; the polite art of saving seats at such affairs. Then it was time to get down to the business of eating and drinking! And so began a night filled with beautiful food, thoughtful libations and new friendships; and for some, food firsts.

Cocktail Hour and Tastes

Salvador Dali Sparkler

Pumpkin Tortelloni with Maple Gastrique and Fried Sage

Upon entering, guests were handed the first of five drinks crafted by Seven Lamps head mixtress and beverage manager, Arianne Fielder. This sparkly concoction of prosecco mixed with cranberry syrup and ginger liqueur, aptly named “Salvador Dali” after the curly stached surrealist, set the mood for the evening, joyous. The tastes by Daniel Chance of Campagnolo were equally as joyous with passed hors d’ouevres of east coast oysters with Mt. Apple mostarda and crème fraîche and stations which included 18-month proscuitto on cheesestraw lavosh, warm turkey rillette on a corn muffin with cranberry jam and pumpkin tortelloni with maple gastrique and fried sage. Mixing and mingling while slinging back oysters, nibbling on small bites and sipping on sparkle was just what everyone needed to end their weekend.

Setting the Tone

Rusty Bowers (far left) of Pine Street Market introducing the Chefs

For many that night, it was their first community dinner, for others, veterans of such affairs, it was a night of networking and indulging, carefully enfolding the newbies into the mix. No one was left lost or uncomfortable. The chefs walked the floor, shaking hands and introducing themselves. The farmers doing the same while making sure to plant themselves (pun intended) amongst the diners at the tables in order to get to know their patrons. At 7pm, dinner service commenced with Rusty Bowers of Pine Street Market explaining the flow of the night, the purpose of the dinner and the chefs accompanying him: Daniel Chance of Campagnolo, Terry Koval of The Wrecking Bar, Kyle Griffith of Pine Street Market, Nick Melvin of Garden District, Layne Lee of Sweet n’ Sinful Bakery and Arianne Fielder of Seven Lamps.

Mains

Braised Rabbit Leg with Sweet Potato Purée and Persimmon Chutney

Burge Organic’s Winter Green Salad with Pine Street Lonza

Terry Koval kicked off the first course with an ingredient many had never eaten before, rabbit. A nervous anticipation came over some while others readied their fork and knife for a familiar bite. Presented was a perfectly braised Bullard Farms’ rabbit leg with sweet potato puree and persimmon chutney. It melted in your mouth. Audible gasps could be heard around the room as people savored every morsel. Delicious! Arianne paired this bite with a smooth yet lusty 2010 Rickshaw Pinot Nior.

The Stranger

Next Kyle Griffith’s salad of Burge Organic’s winter greens, Pine Street Lonza, pumpkin seed brittle and goat cheese with honey vinaigrette. The salad was light and flavorful, a refreshing palate cleanser from the rabbit before and the heavier course to come. A combination of ingredients that worked beautifully together, paired with Arianne’s “The Stranger”, blue coat gin, honey water, lemon, fresh blackberry pear cider and a nod to actor Sam Elliott’s ‘stach with a “kiss” of absinthe.

Meat n’ Three

Gum Creek Pork Rib Roast

Gum Creek Pork Rib Roast, Roasted Broccoli, Confit Goose and Chestnut Brioche Stuffing

The second course, or the meat n’ three, had Nick Melvin and Rusty Bower’s take on Thanksgiving served “family style”. A true community feel as each bite was passed by smiling faces in bowls overflowing with food. On the menu, crowned Gum Creek Farms‘ pork rib roast, grilled squash with mint chimichurri, roasted broccoli with brown butter cheddar mornay and fried shallots and confit goose and chestnut brioche stuffing. The pork roast, pure perfection. A generous portion of tender, juicy meat topped with pomegranate, devoured in seconds. All of the sides created a balanced plate where the star could shine while the supporting cast could each bring their own charms to the table. A crowd favorite was the confit goose stuffing. Moist and full of the flavors of Thanksgiving.

The Magnum P.I.

Arianne’s “Magnum P.I.” cocktail complimented this course with bold exquisiteness. Keeping with the hearty, rich tastes, she mixed Four Roses Bourbon with Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth, Southern Tier 2Xmas (spiced festive ale), vanilla-maple foam and whiskey barrel bitters topped with a Tom Selleck ‘stache. Brillance in a glass.

Sweet and a Little Sinful

Apple Tart, Maple Custard, Pumpkin Beignet

Layne Lee’s tasty treats closed out the night in the same way it began, a joyous celebration of Fall. Beautifully presented in front of each guest, a platter of small bites which included Gruyere apple tart with salty caramel, pumpkin beignet with spiced crème anglaise and a maple and candied pecan custard. The tart was like popping Fall in your mouth. The beignet a little sexier all powdered sugar, spice and everything nice. While the custard brought you home to Granny’s house, comforting, sweet and full of charm. What better cocktail pairing than Arianne’s take on Hot Buttered Rum aka “Hot Buttered Chuck Norris”, Barcardi Anejo Rum, Mercier golden delicious cider, butter and round house kick of spice. A drink that allowed guests to sit back, relax and discuss the experience with new found friends around the table. (Apologies for lack of photo of “Chuck Norris”, by this point the writer was savoring every bite of this delicious course and lost her head in it).

It is finished. 

Bravo to the chefs, farmers, mixologists and volunteer servers for a wonderful evening. With bellies full and hearts happy, guests were given a great send off into the holiest of food holidays, Thanksgiving. This day of thanks conjures images of family and friends, hearth and harvest but it is also about community, giving back, the giving of talents. 100 Mile Dinner’s “Give Mo’ Thanks” illustrated this point wonderfully with all anticipating the next time we will break bread together in January as a community of friends.

Last Weekend for U-Pick at Mercier Orchards…Also Hard Cider!

The last U-Pick weekend at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, GA is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am-4pm each day. On the branches now are Pink Ladies, Fujis and Braeburns with early season Beni Shoguns still dappling a few trees. Unlike the produce aisle at the grocery store, testing the merchandise is encouraged; orchard policy! Sorry folks, no more Granny Smiths but they are available in the orchard store along with many other early season varieties already bundled to take home.  The orchard is very hilly which means boots, sneakers or a good pair of tread shoes are recommended. Cute hats and scarves optional.

Each variety of apple has its own unique taste and purpose, so study up before you hop on the tractor to the orchard.

Pink Ladies

Beni Shogun: In season during September, an earlier ripening version of the Fuji.  Yellow, very sweet and lightly crispy.

Braeburn: In season October-April. Red, orange in color with a mixture of sweet and tart flavors. Ideal for baking tarts or pies.

Fuji: In season Mid-October. Sweet and crunchy. A great snacking apple.

Pink Lady: A late season bloomer, October-November. Firm, sweet, but tart. A great apple to both snack on and use in cooking. Good for apple butter or preserving as well as baking.

**Caution! The yellow jackets are particularly bad this year. The staff in the orchard have allergy and first aid kits on hand in case of emergency. 

Before you head home, make sure to stop by the bakery located in the orchard store for a fried pie and to pick up a couple dozen Apple Cider donuts! Everything is baked fresh on site.

Hard Cider for Sale!

New to Mercier this year is the Hard Cider Tasting Room. Yes, hard cider made from Mercier’s apples all pressed, fermented and distilled on site. Currently they have three flavors to choose from Old #3, Black Bee and Lone Tree with more flavors on the way! These delicious ciders are all natural with no preservatives. The tasting room is serving a flight of four ciders (one which is not available yet) to those 21 years or older. Purchase a pint of your favorite brew for $5 and then bring a bottle or four home with you for $9 a piece. These ciders are only available through the Tasting store but there is talk of broadening the operation to accomodate wholesale markets in the Atlanta area! You hearing this, Tower Package?

Cheers, y’all!

Mercier Orchard Store is open Monday – Sunday from 7am – 8pm.

U-Pick/Tractor Rides are available through the end of October, Friday – Sunday from 10am – 4pm

Dark Harvest Haunted Tractor Tour is available Friday, October 26, Saturday, October 27 and Wednesday, October 31 from 8pm – 11pm.