December 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
Flashback: Blizzard of 1993, Lawrenceville, GA. Recently turned twelve year old Laura is officially snowed in with her family and friend who had the unfortunate experience of spending the night before the snow came and was thus stranded for three days. That’s a long time for a twelve year old. Laura, in her food experimentation phase, decides to make ice cream from the drifts of snow piled on the back deck. Previous exploits include microwaving bacon on a metal strainer (“sparks!”) and mixing flour and water together and nuking until solidified (“bread!”). Our heroine grabs a sugar cone from the pantry, an ice cream scoop from the drawer and heads into the frigid afternoon to scoop her some (non-yellow) snow. Then she flavors her ice scream/snow cone with vanilla extract. Half a bottle’s worth seemed like a good amount. Because who doesn’t love vanilla ice cream? Needless to say, the experiment was another culinary failure.
Now move forward to Day Three Hundred Forty-Nine when Laura once again sets out to make some ice cream. She finds a recipe online for an easy shake ‘n freeze treat. A large and small freezer bag, one filled with ice and salt, the other with heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla, and the new ice cream experiment begins. In a video montage, Outkast’s “Hey Ya” would be stuck on the “Shake it” refrain as Laura furiously jiggles the bag within a bag for several minutes. Two sore arms and five mental sing-a-longs of “Shake it like a Polaroid Picture” later, the cream and sugar and vanilla mixture turn to a state between a liquid and a solid.
The bag of slush goes into the freezer for an hour or so and when it comes out….ICE CREAM!
The texture is more like frozen yogurt, but the taste is pure yum. Commence further culinary experimentation!
August 30, 2012 § 1 Comment
Day Three Hundred Thirty-Four arrived on Superbowl Sunday. Patrick and I planned to head over to Marc Crifasi’s house to watch the game with a bunch of others. I was mostly excited to see a commercial I had worked on air right before kickoff. But really, that isn’t nearly exciting enough so I also tasted a Marc Crifasi specialty: Fried Oreos.
Fried foods are tasty enough in moderation, but I usually try to stick to meat or potatoes. I’ve eaten a fried green bean or two, but not too many other greens. And definitely no sweets. The Scottish rave about fried Mars Bars, but I never gathered the courage to sample the wares. I mean, that was the country who eats haggis, right?
Marc wandered the room, a plated of powdered sugar sprinkled fried rounds perched in his hand. Patrick grabbed one for each of us and we gently blew on the dessert until it had cooled a little. And then we ate.
Fried never tasted so good. The white filling in the middle melted in the heat of the frier, while the chocolate wafer softened somewhat as well. It literally melted in my mouth. I only wished I had a glass of milk to wash it down with instead of a beer. I quickly ate another one before the flavor of the first was gone forever.
While I will not go out and immediately buy a deep fryer to create my own magical crispy sweets, I will certainly not hesitate to sample other chocolatey morsels cooked in this manor.
That’s not a dare.
March 23, 2012 § 1 Comment
Growing up, I’d always been a super picky child when it came to eating new foods. I didn’t actually escape this phase until I was sixteen. I had enrolled in an exchange program and lived with a family in France for a month in the summer. They had interpreted my favorite food of “chicken fingers” as simply chicken and had an entire roast bird waiting for me when I arrived. Politeness overcoming my disgust at the idea of picking meat off a bone, I heartily embraced the chicken, and anything else that was put in front of me. And I realized it tasted good, really good. On Day Three Hundred Three I applied the philosophy of trying any food at least once to my dinner and ordered a pastrami on rye sandwich at The Wrecking Bar. It was also the first time I had eaten at the restaurant.
While the meal came out looking tasty, I could never get over the stringiness of the meat. The texture of both it and the bread were not quite what I had in mind. I determined that I do not like pastrami, and I do not like rye bread. But the vegetables were very yummy, and I do not think my distaste of the sandwich was in any way a reflection on the food at the Wrecking Bar. Instead, it was more a reflection on my taste buds. They appear to still be at times picky.
I still vow to try anything at least once.
January 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
My friend Andre hosts an event every year, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It’s deemed “Turkey Turkey Tuesday,” and from its inception involved a massive roasted holiday bird coupled with a bottle of Wild Turkey. The Tuesday in the title is quite self-explanatory. There’s only been one year since I’ve known Dre that this momentous event has not occurred. Even while we were in Grad School in Newcastle, we celebrated, albeit on Thanksgiving Day proper. However, this year, on Day Two Hundred Fifty-Nine, the dinner was not held at anyone’s house, but rather at the Highland Inn Ballroom. So for the first time in its history, Turkey Turkey Tuesday was held in a bar.
I had actually arrived back in Atlanta from a rainy Montgomery commute right before the ballroom opened its doors to an assortment of friends and acquaintances. Patrick picked me up at Thrifty, where I happily left the minivan and we headed to the bar. I was curious how Dre would be able to accomplish a TTT of this magnitude. He cooks all day, and for several leading up to the Tuesday. He makes everything. And this year he finished it all off in one of the Highland Inn’s kitchen equipped suites.
Unfortunately, I was only a spectator this year, and did not hold the coveted taster position as I may have in years past. See, Dre doesn’t eat vegetables, so in return for peeling a few dozen shrimp, the tasting role includes trying all of the glazed carrots and green beans and giving approval.
We didn’t stay too long, as I was knackered from the white knuckle journey back into Atlanta and had to work in the wee hours of the morning the following day. Having the celebration in the Ballroom was pretty cool, but I still miss the intimacy of a cozy kitchen in someone’s home. Maybe next year I will volunteer our house. Or at least I’ll volunteer myself as a taster again.
January 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
When Patrick and I stayed at Folly Beach in May, we ate steamed oysters at hole-in-the-wall restaurant after our kayak adventure. They were so delicious that I vowed on our return I would consume an entire tray by myself. I accomplished this on Day Two Hundred Forty-Five.
We headed to Bowen’s Island restaurant with my parents in the evening and I originally intended to partake in the “all-you-can-eat” portion of steamed shellfish. However, after evaluating my hunger situation, I opted for the single large tray of the food. I’m glad I did, because frankly, it was a lot of seafood.
To stay true to my task on consuming the large platter of oysters alone, I did not share with Patrick. Fortunately, my parents were far more generous and less gluttonous than I, and Patrick was able to get some oyster eating in. I didn’t ever feel the aphrodisiac effect oysters are supposed to have on the system, but I did enjoy a tasty meal of freshly harvested South Carolina delights.
November 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
I wanted to go to the Atlanta Greek Festival this year, but unfortunately was scheduled to work or had plans every day it was open. When I found out I had a random Thursday off, I knew how I wanted to spend it. I dragged Patrick along with the promise of Greek food for lunch. We planned to stay for an hour or so.
I checked out the website and noted that parking was extremely limited, but there was a shuttle that you could get. Since we weren’t planning on staying too long and because we figured that the Thursday visit wouldn’t be overly crowded, we drove straight there. Patrick pulled into the parking lot of the Greek Orthodox Church, saw that parking was blocked off, and went to find a spot in a nearby neighborhood. A neighborhood with menacing signs declaring “NO Greek Festival parking.” He circled around again, and by this point we were both pretty hungry, starving for the Greek food we knew awaited us just inside.
In the end I compromised and agreed to go to the festival drive-thru for our lunch. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat, so I got a little of everything, mixed into a combination plate. Greek-style chicken, marinated souvlaki, moussake, pastitsio, spanakopita, with green beans and rice. It was eighteen bucks, but I figured it would be more than enough for a few meals. I added on a side salad and baklava for dessert while Patrick ordered a gyro.
We went home to eat our forty dollar lunch. I opened my styrofoam packaging and found exactly what I wanted; a little of everything. I ate the moussaka and pastitsio and had a little taste of the rest, saving it for Patrick to finish later. And of course, I scarfed down my baklava.
While we didn’t end up getting the whole Greek Festival experience, we did get some tasty food, and it was pretty cool to pick up takeaway from the back of a religious building.
August 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
Driving down Moreland Ave, I often pass the relatively new eatery, Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand. It looked like some crazy colorful hipster joint, but I had no idea what kind of food the stand served. Well, I assumed chicken. Duh. But was it biscuits, links, patties? I had no idea. I was thinking it would be an assortment of chicken biscuits, considering it was opened by Delia Champion, the founder of the Flying Biscuit. Well, I found out on Day One Hundred Forty-Six, when Patrick and I headed there for lunch, and for the first time I had both a chicken meatball and a meatball sub.
We headed into the small shop and checked out the menu printed large on the wall. It was overwhelming, and I was hungry. I settled on the Grinder, a more popular menu item according to the nice lady behind the counter. And I got a frozen raspberry lemonade, just cause.
I sipped my frozen delight while we waited for our food. I definitely got a brain freeze, but the drink was so deliciously sweet that I didn’t mind too much. Within a couple minutes the paper bag of lunch was handed to us, and we headed back to the house to consume our slingers.
My meatball sandwich was a huge mess of marinara, giant spicy chicken meatballs, basil, and mozzarella. I stared at it for a moment, trying to decide how to attack such a monster. The meatballs were over three inches in diameter. Would my mouth even open wide enough? I was about to find out.
I took a giant bite and wiped some marinara from my chin. The chicken meatball was pretty good. It had a kick to it (according to my bland palate), and went well with the sauce and cheese. I’d only ever had meatballs on pasta before, but consider me a convert now. I was only able to get through about half of the sandwich before I felt my gut bulging with chicken sausage and frozen raspberry lemonade, so I boxed up the rest for Patrick to snack on later (I’m weird about leftovers, especially sandwiches). I enjoyed my lunch, and I think Patrick did as well. Maybe next time I will try a link sausage. My stomach is growling just thinking about it.