Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A party filled weekend!

This past Saturday my husband had not one, but two parties to attend. The first was a birthday party for our friends' two year old. The second was a pot luck work get together. Since this is a food related blog, I figure I can write about the yummy treats we ate that day.

At the birthday party, they made a shrimp/sausage/veggie boil. There were non spicy and spicy options. Of course I went spicy for everything, including the corn. The spice wasn't anything too strong, which was nice. Sometimes a 'baby kick' is just right. There is no need to go overboard and make people sweat and cry just to get the ultimate spice. The various kinds of sausage tasted good, but I really loved the corn and potatoes. I have been on a major veggie kick recently and those are two that my husband isn't too fond of so I don't make them all that often. Plus that made me feel less guilty about how much I was eating! We weren't able to stay for cake, but I will say that it was an adorable sea-inspired cake with Ariel and all! Too cute for a two year old!

I made a version of the almond and chocolate fudge cookies I mentioned a little while back. I think I figured out the best way to make the cookies so that they look nice and the fudge topping turned out just perfect. The only down side is that after using up my entire batch of fudge to 'ice' my cookies, I still had about half the cookies left and not enough ingredients to make more fudge! I took the cookies that I had to both parties and they seemed to be a hit. (In case you are interested, I made a batch of chocolate buttercream for the other half of the cookies. This worked out well, though it does have a different consistency. Its almost a toss-up, but I think I almost like the fudge a bit better).

For the second party, there was a large variety of food, everything from ribs to Chinese dumplings to French potato pie to baked beans and watermelon. There were too many good looking things to try! I had to go for the ribs, which I haven't had in a very long time. Bone-in ribs are not something I have made at home, I always cop out and get boneless pork or beef ribs for the grill. I didn't notice until later in the party that there was a barbeque sauce with ghost chilies. I think I would have been brave enough to try it out, just to say that I did, even if it was the smallest of small drops. But alas, I did not see it until after I had dessert. Chocolate cake and ghost chili barbeque sauce do not seem like the ideal combination to me. I brought corn bread and my cookies to add to the huge tablescape! I made a simple corn bread, without pieces of corn, per the request of my husband. The bottom was a perfect light golden brown, which made me so excited! (I know its the little things, isn't it?). Its just so nice when breads or cakes are done just right, which has been happening more and more often for me recently.

For dessert, there was a chocolate and raspberry cake from Alon's. A chocolate sponge cake with chocolate and raspberry mousse that looked gorgeous. I hope that one day I can make something that looks that perfect! I have the flavors down, I just need to perfect my presentation skills, which will take all sorts of practice. I also took a small bite of homemade peach pie...yummy!

So if you can't tell, I certainly ate a lot this weekend! But it was all great and best of all I got to try things from all over the world that I might not have made on my own.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wolf Mountain Vineyards

The other place we wanted to make sure we visited before the end of the month was the Wolf Mountain Vineyards Sunday brunch ( I had seen information about this bunch since well before we went to the wine highway weekend this past spring. The drive is almost an hour and fifteen minutes, so it isn't a place we would just up and drive to on a regular basis.

When I saw that the theme of the brunch was artisan cheeses, I knew this was the month to convince my cheese-freak husband to go. When I made the reservation on Friday, they said they didn't have any window seats available inside, so I figured they would be pretty busy.

We chose the 2:30PM seating (they also offer a 12:30PM seating) and got there right on time and got our seats closer to the center of the restaurant. There weren't a whole lot of people there at that time. We ordered a champagne mint mojito and their Chanteloup, a sweet wine wine to go with lunch. The buffet consisted of a chilled yogurt and berry soup, corn bread pudding, summer squash casserole, chicken pot pie, ham, fried green tomato salad and salmon cakes. All of which tasted good, but nothing really stood out from the rest.

The cheese display had things like pimiento cheese, two types of goat cheese, blue cheese and a few cheeses similar to cheddar. I didn't try the blue cheese, I haven't quite developed a taste for the stronger cheeses yet. But I was very happy with the rest, except the pimiento cheese wasn't anything special. I really enjoyed the goat cheese.

The desserts were chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate cheese cake, key lime pie and banana pudding. I think I liked the cheese cake the best. I was very tempted to take my cheese cake up to the coffee bar that had fresh whipped cream and add a dollop, but I restrained myself.

Overall, the food was pretty good, though like the Sundial, the price was much higher than we are used to paying. It was a great experience, but not one we will repeat often. Maybe for a special occasion. I had a great view, but my husband was kinda in an inside corner. It frustrated me to see a few 4 person tables empty near the windows. If they knew they would be free, why wouldn't we sit there so we could both have a great view?

Of course we didn't leave empty handed. We bought a bottle of Delicieux, a port style dessert wine that I loved on the wine highway weekend. I debated about the Chanteloup or their demi-sec, but decided we had spent enough money for one weekend! I love the feel of the area and I am sure we will head back at some point. It is actually a bit closer than Athens and we have gone back there a few times. So it is not unreasonable to think we will head back up to the North Georgia mountains before too long for another day trip. Maybe I will ask to head that direction for my birthday in October.

Sundial Atlanta

I didn't do any baking this weekend, there were a bunch of other things around the house that needed to be done and we also had a few places we wanted to make sure we visited before the end of the month. So rather than just one meal out, we had two.

The first place we went was to the Sundial (, a rotating restaurant in downtown Atlanta. The restaurant is 73 floors up in the Westin Hotel, the highest hotel in the hemisphere. About two years ago, a tornado made its way through downtown and wreaked havoc, causing a lot of damage to the all windowed hotel. The hotel is almost done replacing all of the windows and just reopened the glass elevator to the top. The actual grand reopening of the elevators is tonight. We got to ride in the elevators this weekend for our lunch date. I had gotten a gift card through a while ago and it was due to expire on the 22nd, so we wanted to make sure we got there in time.

As a starter, we had the she crab fondue. I grew up outside of Baltimore so I love crab. Not only does it taste great, but all the memories of home that are associated with it always come back to me. I ordered the roasted sirloin panini with horseradish havarti, arugula and oven dried tomatoes. It was simply delicious! The only criticism I had was that I could have done without the butter on the panini. There was enough flavor in the rest of the sandwich that it didn't need the butter. The greek side salad wasn't quite what I was expecting, but it still tasted good. It was cut cucumbers, banana peppers and onions in a vinaigrette. The copious amount dressing pooled to the bottom, which was a little bit of a turn off for me. I would prefer to dress my own salads since I don't use anywhere near as much as restaurants tend to.

My husband ordered the chicken pappardelle pasta with sausage, spinach and parmesan cream. Of course he asked for only a little bit of spinach since he is anti-veggie. Though I am proud that he did eat most of what came on his plate (with the rest making its way to my plate). I got a taste and really enjoyed his meal, as well. He must have liked it since it was all gone!

We still had some money left on the gift card, so we went for a double dessert. I am always talking about ordering one of the alcoholic ice cream drinks, but rarely do since I don't want that before my meal and afterwards I am usually ready to go home. But I gave in this time, and we shared a white chocolate mudslide...yummy! The taste was great, but the alcohol wasn't very strong. The drink came in a hurricane glass with the Sundial logo on it, which we got to take home a souvenir glass.

The second dessert was called chocolate royal: layers of chocolate hazelnut praline, caramel cream, vanilla streusel, chocolate mouse and dark chocolate ganache. I see now why they call it chocolate royal!!! It melted in my mouth and I didn't want to stop eating! The creaminess of the mousse was contrasted by the crunchy praline and streusel. And you really can't go wrong with a chocolate ganache on top!

Overall, it was a great experience. Even for lunch it was more expensive than we would usually pay. The main reason we went was because of the discounted gift card. I am very glad I came across that deal because otherwise this would have remained on my list of places I want to visit, but probably won't because it costs more than we are used to paying. Hopefully we can get back there, but I am sure it won't be for a very long time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

First mobile food truck permit!!!

This is really exciting!! I just wish that I had a kitchen I could get inspected and a little cash for a used truck...that would be a dream job for me!!!

The following has been copied from the Food and More blog at

Atlanta grants first mobile food truck permit

9:53 am August 3, 2010, by John Kessler

Carson Young with the Yumbii taco truck sent out this Tweet yesterday — music to the ears of the many people vested in seeing Atlanta develop a food-truck culture.

This means the truck is no longer confined to vending mobile food in one or two designated areas. It can now, say, answer the call from an office building and set up operations in its parking lot. This is the promise of Los Angeles-style mobile food: in a city where it can be hard to get to the good food, the good food can come to you.

Yumbii sells the Korean tacos developed by Hankook Taqueria.

One small step for truck, one giant step for truckkind.

Busy Bee Weekend

I spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen this weekend. Here is the breakdown of it all:

- Maryland Crab turnovers and Chesapeake Bay Crab fondue for the Kraft Philadelphia recipe contest

- Mozzarella cheese: I actually got the recipe to work this time, even though it didn't yield quite as much cheese as I had anticipated. The recipe didn't mention how much salt to add near the end of the process and I was a little light with it. I know I can add a whole bunch more next time. Hopefully I can find some raw milk at some point from a farmers market to try again. Until then, I am happy with the results and am looking forward to improving the cheese next time. I also want to try to make ricotta, which doesn't not seem too difficult and does not need a cheese press. I used the mozzarella I made on a pizza last night. It doesn't melt quite as well as the stuff from the store, but maybe that will improve as I keep practicing the technique.

- Mocha cake truffles: devil's fudge cake with mocha buttercream coated in a mixture of dark and milk chocolate...need I say more? I brought them to work today because I can't seem to stop eating them!

- Crab cakes: these didn't work so well since I tried using the imitation crab. I know it isn't the same at all, but my budget is a little tight from some unexpected bills recently.

- Chicken, cheddar and black bean quesadillas: yummy!!

- I bought some carrots to make some carrot cake truffles, hopefully I can make those soon.