Sunday, August 30, 2009

Highlight #224: Morimoto legacy - Restaurant: Zento (Singapore)

There is always something new to see in Singapore. Since I got married here last September, the city gained the Marina Barrage, a dam that divides the Marina Channel. Besides creating a freshwater reservoir, the barrage also provides a green space for picnicking and kite flying. What you see here is the underside of the green space I am referring to. Yup, the grass is grown on top of the bridge/roof structure.

Here is the view on top. That's the new lux casino development in the background.

After walking around, we drove out to Dempsey Hill to visit Zento, opened by Morimoto disciple chef Gunawan Wibisono. We tried a few of his signature dishes. This tuna pizza was quite delightful. A crispy toasted tortilla held up a base of seaweed salad, slices of tuna, and a house sauce that is somewhat based on Japanese mayo.

The scallop carpaccio was reminiscent of a dish I had at Morimoto years ago. The scallops felt sweet and cool on the tongue, a very soothing dish. Of a similar mouth feel was the mango tuna roll. Wrapped in sliced green mango, the roll was light and refreshing, perfect for the hot tropical weather.

This is a spicy salmon hand roll in rice paper. I actually really liked the texture of the paper, a little chewy and faintly sweet.

Mom-in-law loves miso butterfish, so we also got this classic. It's hard not to fall in love with the ultra fatty fish completely deserving of its name. The miso paste was not too heavy or sweet, but just sticky enough to stand up to the rich flesh.

Dessert was a chocolate tart. Toned down for the lower sugar and butter tolerance of Asians, it was enjoyably light, but definitely not decadent.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Highlight #223: Awesome bowl of ramen (Singapore)

Central is a big mall-ish cylindrical building near the Quay in Singapore. Rather than a variety of chain stores, it houses mostly Japanese food establishments. A couple of years ago, a transplant from Saitama arrived here, specializing in ramen. Rather than the usual selection of soup bases such as shio, miso, etc., the basic ramen here is served with a chicken stock bubbling away in large cauldrons. The ramen itself is of a very skinny kind that is quickly cooked to just al dente and stays that way for quite a while.

Some call this the best bowl of ramen in Singapore. Having not tried other ramens here, I have no idea if that's true. But for its style, it is indeed awesome. In particular, the soup base has a great deal of depth beyond just salty. In the normal bowl seen here, there is just one slice of kakuni or pork belly, but it is melt in the mouth good. For me, one is enough due to richness, but I see many that can put away lots, which can be ordered as additions. Another favorite topping is the soft boiled egg having a bright orange and runny center.

In addition to ramen, we also tried an order to gyoza. Simply boiled, these little ones are delicate on the outside and soft on the inside. Plenty of garlic chives help to cut through the richness of the pork filling. The slight spiciness of the dipping sauce is also very appetite enhancing.

I've already put this place down for repeat visits on future trips.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Highlight #222: Dreamy lamb in the Esplanade (Singapore)

Besides being very clean, Singapore also boasts pretty harbors and some very unique architectures. The Esplanade, which houses the national opera house and library, is lovingly dubbed "the durian" for its domed and prickly appearance akin to the nation's beloved smelly fruit. Besides the cultural stuff, the Esplanade also shelters some good eats, one of which is Mirchi - Taste of India.

I am not calling this the best or even one of the best Indian food in the country. There are too many options here. After all, Singapore, with its 10% Indian population and a president of Indian decent, is one of the best places outside of India to eat Indian food from all of its regions. Mirchi serves northern and colonial Indian food rich in thick and creamy curries. We ordered three to go with our garlic naan.

Chicken tikka masala, a curry of British origin is a dish made up of traditional chicken tikka (chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt then baked in a tandoor oven) in a masala sauce. This particular one is super flavorful and very tender. The sauce is ultra creamy from yogurt and a good amount ghee or clarified butter. The palak paneer was also very creamy with fried cheese cubes, but I prefer mine a little less thick.

By far the best dish of the evening was the raan-e-mirchi, a dish recommended by my father-in-law. It's a whole leg of lamb baked in the tandoori. The meat was fall off the bone tender and so well seasoned, even the most inner parts needed no additional sauce.

We went to the esplanade for the view, so eating Indian was not a problem for us. I am not sure if Indian should be the meal of choice in one's formal cloths before heading into the opera hall, but I'd seriously consider it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Highlight #221: Fast breakfast in Shanghai

Eight hours after touching down in Shanghai, I managed a quick breakfast, a midday meeting, and then was off to Singapore to spend the weekend with the husband and mom-in-law. Not able to venture too far from where I was staying in Shanghai, my breakfast options were limited. Luckily, there is a Yong Hei Soy Milk installation nearby.

A successful chain from Taiwan, Yong Hei focuses on freshly blended soy milk of all forms. You can have yours cold, hot, sweet, or salty. I tend to stick to my non-sweetened cold version. The just blended soy fragrance is very refreshing and much unlike the commercial stuff in the carton.

Other than soy milk. Yong Hei also serves breakfast items such as noodles, congee, buns, and even xiang long bao (soup buns). Needing something not too heavy or messy before my meeting, I chose the pork and preserved veggie stuffed rice. Just the right size, it was filling and flavorful. I particularly liked the fact that the rice here is not too sticky and is loosely packed so as not to sink to the bottom of the stomach and weigh me down.

After so much flying in such a short time, I am looking forward to some good southeast asian eats this weekend with the family.

Btw, if you don't see many posts, it's because blogger as well as facebook are censored in China.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Highlight #220: Almost off

Mostly for work, but I'll try to work in just a little fun too. I am off today for China, Singapore, and maybe Indonesia. Will try to post... Right now, I just have these pepper crab on the mind.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Highlight #219: Dry aged beauty - Restaurant: Capital Grill

Yes, it's a chain. But don't hate it. Look at this Delmonico. How could you not fall in love?

Bone's is good, no doubt. It's my go to steak place, but most of the steaks there are wet aged. I know there are many who worship the wet aged style. Those steaks tend to be tender, but not too gamy. They are also often cheaper, because aging in a vacuum bag does not lead to mold, which must be trimmed off of dry aged steaks.

But if you are like me and like your beef beefy and macho. This dry aged beauty is your ticket to a really good place. It's a big boy, this one. So I opted to share it with my husband, who doesn't like to deal with the parts near the bone, which I absolutely love. :)

For a little variety, I order the 2lb lobster, also to share. It looks pretty mutilated here, doesn't it? It tasted like a Floridian rather than a real Maine native, even though I was told that it is most definitely a northerner. So I guess the lesson is order a steak from a steak house and forget about variety.

This is got to be the most intensely espresso flavored espresso chocolate torte I've had yet. If you like espresso, this one has plenty of nuance that do very well with a good dark red like our 2003 Beringer Private Reserve Cab, which has a smoky nose of chocolate.

Capital Grille
255 East Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 262-1162

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Highlight #218: More duck! - Restaurant: JCT Kitchen

JCT Kitchen is one of my go to places when the heart wants something rich and flavorful. This past week, I tried a new to me dish and it hit the spot yet again. On one side, a duck confit showed off some crispy skin and seasoned to the bone dark meat. On the other side, a few glazed duck meatballs demonstrated why duck meat is superb with a little sticky sweetness. To soak up all the juices was a layer of pillowy gnocchi. Soft and supple, they were perfect to chew and did not feel leaden going down. The leftover was wonderful the next day as well.

JCT Kitchen
1198 Howell Mill Rd NW # 18
Atlanta, GA 30318-5580
(404) 355-2252

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Highlight #21:7 Jenna's mom knows her cake!

Mrs. Morrison, thank you so much for this wonderful recipe that knocks the socks off every time! Happy 45th anniversary too! And thank you Jenna for letting me have the family recipe!

Yes, it's innocent looking. Yes, it's simple. But let me tell you, this one is sexy beyond belief in the mouth. Incredibly tender and moist, it goes down, oh so easy. Everyone is always surprised by the pronounced but not too intense almond taste. I also like to use coconut milk in my icing to give it a more tropical spin. Anyway you make it, this is a crowd pleaser.

Preheat oven to 350. Boil 1 cup cubed butter and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups plain flour, 2 cups sugar, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. soda, and 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract. Grease a 9 by 13 baking pan. Pour in the cake mixture and bake in oven for 20-26 minutes. You may need a few minutes more. Just test and make sure a tooth pick comes out clean from the center.

Boil 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup milk or coconut milk in a saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in between 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups of conf. sugar, and 1 tsp. almond extract. I stay on the low side for sugar as I don't like my frosting too sweet. As long as you have a good texture for pouring, it's fine.

While the cake is still warm, pour on the frosting and spread. No one has been able to resist this cake yet!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Highlight #216: A really indulgent snack - Restaurant: Dogwood

Getting stuffed from a huge meal is much less appealing to me than the prospect of eating many snacks throughout the day. So when the husband orders a big entree for dinner, sometimes the first real meal of his busy day, I prefer to order a couple of appetizers to share. This week, we had a super snack winner at Dogwood.

Baby back ribs are glazed with an ultra sticky tea-mustard concoction. I didn't pick up so much of the tea, but the mustardy tang was very nice. The cabbage and radicchio slaw was dressed indulgently with big chunks of blue cheese, that after some mixing, also created a nice creamy binder. The size of this rich appetizer was perfect. Eating the whole thing felt like an indulgence rather than gluttony.

565 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30308

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Highlight #215: Showing off the bread - Sandwich shop: Noon

I think my lunch buddy Jenna (above) and I collectively know just as many lawyers as ex-lawyers. And the ex-lawyers tend to do everything from running restaurants, to writing books, to starting small businesses. Considering the amount of schooling required, it makes one wonder what it is about this profession that drives/prepares people to venture into these other things. Perhaps it has something to do with the type of individuals that choose to go to law school. Perhaps we are just a more flexible or less focused bunch. I mean you just don't see that many ex-doctors or ex-cpas. Or maybe I just haven't been looking in the right places for those. :)

Anyway, Noon, the newish sandwich shop in midtown is opened, you guessed it, by an ex-lawyer. The idea here is to serve sandwiches made of high quality ingredients in a modern setting. To that end, it succeeds, although one does pay for the quality and location. Each hot sandwich with meat filling is over $9. The size of the whole sandwich is about two inches longer than the half sandwich I had at Tiny Bistro a few posts back. Instead of paying the price for meat, I went with the peperonata panino at $6.95 and spent the extra on a jumble chocolate chip cookie.

Once we ordered at the counter, we found some seats to wait for our lunch delivery. The sandwiches come on baking sheets with the cutest pickles. Jenna splurged on a $9.25 Sopressata panino and kindly offered to swap a half with me. In return, I shared half of my monster cookie.

We both agreed that the breads were the undeniable stars of these sandwiches. No surprise, they came from the now wholesale only H&F bakery. Pressed to crunchy but not hard, it was a joy to eat. My sandwich's fillings of roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella tasted fresh and bright, but were just a tad bland. I liked Jenna's sopressata more for its spiciness and assertive saltiness. But most of all, I loved the bread.

The monster cookie reminded me of the even bigger chocolate chip cookie from the famed Levain Bakery in my old neighborhood in nyc. Like the Levain cookie, the chocolate chips maintained a runny consistency in the cookie and got all over our hands. The outside of the cookie, however, was slightly harder than I would have like, but I love really chewy and soft kinds, so anyone that prefers a little more structured dough would probably like this.

crescent avenue
between 11th & 12th street
1080 peachtree street, suite 6,
atlanta, ga 30309

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Highlight #214: Baklava again! - Bakery: International Bakery

With work, I am super careful about meeting deadlines. Thinking back, I can't actually remember any disastrous inadvertent misses in my eight years of dealing with time critical cases. Outside of work, now that's a different story. I am the worst slacker EVER.

Exhibit A, my first wedding anniversary is almost up and I am just getting around to figuring out what to do with my wedding dress. Don't worry, it has been cleaned. By what to do, I mean making it suitable for reuse. Yes, I said reuse, not as a wedding dress, but as a party dress to wear any time. It never really made any sense to me that I would spend all that money on a dress I love and then never to wear it again.

In this case, reuse is made easier by the fact that I insisted on tailoring my wedding dress from a floor length gown to tea length for the tropical wedding. It had to be special ordered because I also asked that the lace details, which used to fan out near the floor, to be moved up to the bodice. It ended up being perfect for the hot weather, my sub-human sized frame, and gave me something functional to work with now.

Long story short, my reconstruction plan came quick. I will swap out the champagne colored belt for another color and trim the inside lining towards the bottom of the lace in the same color of the belt. It makes sense in my head. We'll see how it turns out when the tailor is done.

If you are starting to wonder what this has to do with food, worry not, eating was most certainly on my mind as I went shopping for my swap out satin at Gail K on Cheshire Bridge. Just a little stretch down the same road is International Bakery, hidden in a tiny strip of four or five stores. I have never seen any other customers while there, but the old fashioned Greek desserts always delighted. Normally, I get the eclair or the cookies. But this time, I went straight for the baklava. Those great ones from Analya must have really turned on a switch in my brain.

This one is a little different from the one from Analya, however. Haven't eaten enough of these, I am unsure if the difference is due to cultural variations between the Greek and the Turk. In any case, the pistachio in this version is less green and taste more toasted. Also, the honey syrup is less soaked in and more runny. Most significantly, the phyllo sheets are less integrated and exist more as a separate top layer in preserved crunchiness. This is a good bakalava, no doubt, not coyly sweet or excessively dense. But when compared to the greener and more integrated version at Analya, I prefer the later's delicate sensibility just a bit more.

International Bakery
2165 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE # 5,
(404) 636-7580

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Highlight #213: Super moist pork chops

This is a really simple one pot meal that tastes super indulgent. Most of the flavor and texture transformations result from the hour in the oven, while you sip wine and figure out the sides. Little work and max reward, that's my kind of cooking.

first, preheat oven to 325 degrees. At the same time, sear both sides of your salt and peppered chops on medium high. I cook for two, so it's all done at the same time, but if you have more chops, you may need to work in batches.

Then remove the chops and use the same pot to brown some chopped onions (1 small) and reduce a half box of sliced mushrooms. You can brown the onions first, then add the mushrooms. Once the onions are browned, I add about a half cup of chicken stock (some water will be released by the mushrooms), a tablespoon and half of Dijon mustard, a half tablespoon of Chinese garlic chili paste and let it all cook on medium for a bit. Taste and adjust to make sure that the seasoning is to your liking. This is how I avoid recipes, I just taste as I go. At this stage, it shouldn't be too salty as the juices will reduce more in the oven and you still have the opportunity to add salt later. When off the heat, I put in a splash of coconut milk for creaminess. You can try just plain milk too. Don't cook your mushrooms to death. They will cook more with the chops in the oven.

Return the chops into the pot. Cover them with some of the cooking liquid. Then into the oven they go, covered for an hour. If you have more chops, you may need to cook longer. Just test with a fork to make sure that it goes into the meat easily.

Once done, you can take out the chops and reduce and season the sauce the way you like. The best part about this dish is the super tender texture of the chops. In addition to the time in the oven, the mustard also seems to tenderize the chops further. It's super simple and so good to eat. Be prepared to make more chops than you have people. My husband ate one and looked longing at mine until I gave him some.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Highlight #212: Worthy contender, but enough to take the top prize? - Restaurant: Vingenzo's

Many food sources/bloggers have reported on the ITP Fritti vs. Varasano pizza war. It appears that there is also pizza ambition aplenty OTP. One in Woodstock got some particular love on the Atlantacuisine forum. Its proximity to hubby's Georgia distribution warehouse gave us an opportunity to visit for dinner.

The fairly sizable restaurant is housed next to the train tracks in a building styled like a small station. A large wood burning oven equipped kitchen occupies the whole back section of the open dining room. We got the side wall banquette seating with a great view of the whole room.

Heirloom tomatoes are in season. Super juicy and flavorful on its own, it is served simply drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and peppered. The housemade mozzarella was soft and creamy. Simple but delightful.

Our arugula salad came with quite the charming surprise, a couple of green Italian olives. Very lightly cured, they are less salty than most olives found in the US and reminded us of the similarly awesome ones in Barcelona. Apparently there is no distributor in the US for these, but they can be bought by the pint or gallon at Vingenzo's. Very cool.

The sopressata pizza above is smaller, but denser than the Fritti pie. There is no moisture issue with this pie. No excessive sogginess ever set in during the meal. The char on the bottom is also quite good looking. For those who find the Fritti sauce a little too sweet, this one is sans sweetness. All in all, it's a great pie. My one issue with it stems from the strong chew. Don't get me wrong, I like a bite to my dough. But I don't like it as much when it ends with an assertive pull if that makes any sense. The outer crust of the Fritti pie, for me, has the perfect amount of chew. The center, however, sometimes has condensation issues.

After pizza, we sampled the housemade gelato in pistachio, my all time favorite flavor. Naturally colored, the gelato has a good pistachio nuttiness and medium creamy texture, all the signs of a well-made dessert of its genre.

105 East Main Street
Woodstock, GA 30188

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Highlight #211: Sweet potato pie for a hot summer day - Ice cream shop: Morelli's

Sweet potato pies are probably what I look forward to most around Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I don't get it much other times of the year so you can imagine my delight when I spotted it on Morelli's flavor list.

Being naturally made, the ice cream is not intensely colored. But not to worry. There is no skimping on taste. With eyes closed, each spoonful was just like a frozen sweet potato pie blended smooth with milk. The scoop underneath is black walnut. Compared to the sweet potato pie, this one's namesake flavor was much less pronounced. Next time, I'll most likely try something else.

749 Moreland Ave SE
Ste B-102

Atlanta, GA 30316
(404) 622-0210

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Highlight #210: Weeknight beef Stroganoff

I had cubed some beef in preparation for a red roasted dish, but ended up not having enough time to wait for the slow simmer required. At the last minute, I decided to reduce the cubes in size for a quick cooking improv beef Stroganoff.

Change of plans happen often in our household and I am generally ready to deal since I don't cook from recipes. Not bound by rules gives one a lot of freedom in the kitchen. Growing up in China, my mother never had a single cookbook in the house. For that matter, I never heard of friends' moms cooking from books either. Everything was passed down or figured out and generally done by feel.

Beef Stroganoff normally involves thin strips of meat that sear quickly. I had cubes, but because they are cut small, they can also be used for flash fry in a pinch. Once my beef is browned on all sides in some oil on high (just a few minutes), they were removed to a bowl.

To the same pan, I then added one small diced onion to brown on medium. While that is going, I sliced up a box of button mushrooms. When the onion started to look caramelized, the mushrooms went in with a toss of salt to help them sweat.

As the mushrooms got to the point of looking half reduced in size, I poured in about 1/4 glass of the white wine that I was drinking (a Sauvignon Blanc) along with a half cup of beef broth and a tiny pinch of nutmeg.

When all started to look good enough to eat (mushrooms sufficiently reduced to desired size), I tasted it for salt level and added some pepper. The beef went back in with about a cup of Greek yogurt for thickness once off the heat.

For a quick 20 minute main, it was pretty perfect over a bowl of rice with some veggie on the side and a glass of wine.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Highlight #209: A very competent cuban sandwich - Restaurant: Tiny Bistro

Ever since Havana Sandwich Shop closed due to fire, I have been hoping to find another reliable place to go for a simple cuban sandwich. As of this week, Tiny is on the list. What I like about this version is that it doesn't try to be out of the box. There is no more filling than the requisite ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, but each is of good quality, especially the roasted pork, the element that tends to be dry, was moist and flavorful. The majority of the pleasure I derive from eating a good cuban sandwich is from the bread. The satisfying crunch from a good press is what puts the smile on my face. I heard that the bread here comes from New Orleans. I am not sure if New Orleans categorically makes better bread, but this one is definitely wonderful when pressed. Another thing to note is that this sandwich was pressed flat, the way that cuban sandwiches are supposed to be done in my mind. This seems to be a detail that was consciously thought out, since my friend Debra's pressed turkey sandwich got the press grill marks as shown below.

What you see here is actually a half sandwich, so I imagine the whole one is big enough for a growing boy.
I had meant to ask for the broccoli salad, but failed during execution. Debra, however, remembered to ask for her side of cucumber salad. I didn't taste it, but it looked pretty and fresh.

Tiny Bistro
1039 Marietta St
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 745-9561

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Highlight #208: Horlicks!

A malt barley, wheat, and evaporated milk powder that you mix with more hot milk, horlicks is sold at coffee shops all over Asia. Toasty, malty, and creamy, it's real comfort in a cup. And it's even pretty healthy. I flew with my powder from Singapore, but I am pretty sure some version of it can be found at the local H marts too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Highlight #207: Now I can say that even the dessert is good - Restaurant: Cafe Antalya

So I've raved about the savory here in a previous post, now I can say that the baklava is heavenly as well. As you can see, these babies are not over doused with too liquidy syrup, but are certainly saturated with a fragrant honey sugar mixture.

Each forkful is sticky with pistachio and syrup soaked phyllo layers. The crispy top layer realy brings the whole thing over the top. Love love love and I am not even normally a fan of baklava.

Cafe Antalya
8290 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30350
(678) 527-0900

Monday, August 10, 2009

Highlight #206: A different kind of business meeting - Restaurant:

Last week I had a lunch meeting very different from my usual. There were no conference rooms, video casts, or catered food. Instead, we met at Catfish Jim's, a kick butt fry joint that is totally worth the drive up to Kennesaw.
The menu is simple. From the big board near the front counter, we each picked out a fried main, including catfish fillets, catfish in the whole, chicken etc., and two sides. Free hush puppies were given for snacking while we waited for our number to be called. Hot, crunchy, a little sweet, and almost greaseless, I had to try very hard not to ruin my appetite with these.

I prefer my food in the whole whenever possible. As anticipated, my whole catfishes were fried at such high temperature, the tails turned completely crunchy and chip-like. Love that stuff! Even better than the hush puppies, I couldn't detect any grease on the catfish even when patting them with my paper napkin. The cornmeal crust had a sandy texture and totally satisfied in its perfect contrast to the tender white flesh within. The mac and cheese and green beans were just okay. but seriously, who has the stomach space for that when there are two whole catfish to devour.

As a side note, Catfish Jim's advertise that it sells only Mississippi farm raised catfish. In most cases, farm raised fish is less flavorful than wild. But for catfish, a natural bottom feeder that tends to pick up a muddy taste in the wild, the farm raised breed, which eats feed that only float on water to encourage the catfish to stay off the bottom, has a much more delicate and clean taste. As a matter of fact, Mississippi's catfish farmers are already marketing some grade-A fillets not as catfish, but as Delacata, to differentiate it from the humble catfish.

Catfish Jim's
1997 Cobb Pkwy NW
Kennesaw, GA 30152-4503
(678) 290-8808

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Highlight #205: Still the favorite - Bakery: Matty Cakes

I may stray from time to time to flirt with other pretty cupcakes around town, but I always come back to my sweet old fashioned staple at Matty Cakes. Deeply chocolaty, almost finger stickingly moist, and borderlining too large, this old fashioned chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting is immensely satisfying and the ultimate in my book.

Matty Cakes
1830 Piedmont Ave
Atlanta, GA 30324
(404) 917-2253

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Highlight #204: Congrats and late night pizza

Congrats to dear Debra, whose first book "The Go-Getter Girl's Guide" is finally in print and ready to hit stores nationwide on September 1.

After many drinks we all needed something cheesy and salty to soak up the alcohol. There is no better place for that than Cameli's in the scary Kroger complex near our loft. The monster slices are enormous, crunchy, salty, and immensely satisfying during these after midnight hours. But seriously, even during daylight hours, this slice is deserving of being called "great" in the "by the slice" category. The dough has a great crispness, but is not cracker-like. In other words, there is a nice chew. The topping are not over done and the sauce not too sweet. Really, when all one wants is a slice, this is hard to beat.

699 Ponce De Leon Ave NE # 12
Atlanta, GA 30308-1859
(404) 249-9020

Friday, August 07, 2009

Highlight #203: Smore! - Bakery: Star Provisions

Look at it, how could I walk away and not take it home with me. The size of a baby's fist, the marshmallow portion dissolved in the mouth like a puff of cloud. The real surprise lay at the very bottom of this little package, a real graham cracker crust! Sealed and held together by a layer of dark chocolate, the crust was loose like that of a pie crust at room temperature and crunched like a cookie the next day straight out of the fridge. In fact, I liked the fridge treatment for the chocolate cake portion too. My preference for a denser texture was satisfied as the chill compacted the normally fluffier cupcake. Cold or room temperature, the chocolate taste was deep and nuanced indicative of the high quality dark chocolate used in the baking. Lovely stuff.

Star Provisions
1198 Howell Mill Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30318-5552
(404) 365-0410

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Highlight #202: Southern delight - Restaurant: Udipi Cafe

Located in a predominately Indian strip mall situated off a quiet stretch of Church street, the slightly dark dinning room was sparsely populated with lunch patrons. From the moment we walked in, it was clear that the servers wanted us to partake in the lunch buffet set up in the back. We managed to hold firm and order what I really came here to eat, the utthapam.

Described as Indian pancakes, the utthapam or uttapam are made from a mix of lentil and rice flour. Unlike pancakes made from wheat flour, these are a bit less fluffy and a bit more sticky like mochi. The slight tang of these and the bubbling holes on the surface suggest some level of fermentation. That aspect reminds me of the fermented injera, of course the tang is a lot more muted here.

To top or dip the utthapam, I asked for vegetable korma, a coconut based dry curry of potatoes, peas, and carrots. The ultra smooth almost slippery texture of the potatoes were particularly pleasing.

For those who generally consider Indian food unhealthy, the utthapam would prove them wrong. Simply composed of rice and lentil, these babies are much healthier than the cream and butter infused American breakfast pancakes. Top or dip them in as much or as little curry/chutney as you like and enjoy.

Udipi Cafe
1707 Church St.,
Decatur, GA