Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Highlight #102: Taste of Atlanta - Restaurants: Joli Kobe Bakery & Cafe, Straits, Bhojanic, Cafe 458, Sugno Gelato, and Johnny Rockets

Over the years I've grown fearful of crowds, especially when parking is a part of the equation. So every year past I've stayed away from the Taste of Atlanta at Atlantic Station, until this year. This year, I decided to be brave. After all, I've lived with crowds all those years in China and my dear husband J still teases me for my ability to part the human sea if necessary.

Girlfriend J and I arrived early as the vendors were just finishing their final setup. Before long, the meats began to sizzle on grills all through the grounds.

I had planned to start the day with something salty, but as soon as I saw these macarons, my plan went right out of the window. Finally, we have a bakery intown that makes macarons on a daily basis. I tried the pistachio, my go to flavor, and like it. I am not going to lie, this wasn't the best or even the top ten macarons I've ever had. But beggars can't be choosers. This was pretty darn good considering we don't have any other place intown when the craving hits. Now if Alon's decided to stock them on a regular basis, then we'll have competition.

I followed up the sweet stuff with something I've been craving, spicy Indian from Bhojanic. The bright orange color of the chicken tikka masala scared me a little, but the taste was just fine. A little spicy, but not enough to induce any sweating, the flavors were quite complex and cohesive.

Ribs seemed to be everywhere on Saturday and one of the best I tasted was from Straits. I still have not made my way to the restaurant, afraid to be disappointed, especially since I just came back from feasting in Singapore, where Straits draws its inspirations. But these little ribs were surprisingly tender and thoroughly seasoned with a nice interpretation of southeast asian sweet/savory flavor if not an authentic one. I enjoyed it very much even without any forks or napkins.

The rib bits from Cafe 458, on the other hand, were less successful. Quite a bit tougher and a little too sweet, the hoisin stickiness pretty much overwhelmed any other flavor.

We also had some shrimp curry from Asam house that was alright with tiny but not over cooked shrimps.

On the dessert end, I was super excited to see Sugno Gelato as I had heard some good things about it and probably wouldn't have driven all the way up to Cumming to try it. I was able to get both caramel and coffee in a single cup. Unfortunately, neither wowed me. They were not bad, neither too sweet nor too rich. But nothing in the cup grabbed me. I couldn't detect any coffee nuance or caramel richness.

To use up the last of our tickets, we bought a couple of shots of Johnny Rockets milkshake in both vanilla and chocolate. You know what, these wowed me. Creamy and old fashioned, both the vanilla and the chocolate tasted of whole mike and real cream. What more could one ask for. It was simply yet heavenly.

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