Archive for June, 2008

Hanging in there

I’ve been totally derelict with regards to this blog. As I’ve bitched to many of you too many times to garner any sympathy, things were a little crazy/hectic last week as we were deposed from our house for what really were some minor repairs. (The repairs themselves were minor, but the preparation, duration and aftermath clean up was a complete pain in the ass).

Anyway, I’ve come back with a treat. One of my favorite food bloggers (Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks) recently posted this recipe for grilled potato salad and it spoke to me. It’s summertime and I’ve been craving a good potato salad. Heidi totally kicked it up a notch. Take a look at her original recipe, it may inspire you as well (the majority of her site is pretty inspiring, as is her book).

We all know I’m not a food blogger. I don’t have the time or talent. I love to cook but lately I just don’t have the energy to put anything more complicated than a salad together. Work has been kicking my ass and I’ve succumbed to the reality that I simply cannot prepare gourmet multi course meals every night that require lots of prep and/or labor. Luckily, this recipe is pretty easy and totally doable on a tired work night. Check out the original and then take a gander at my take below (which may be against the spirit of the original, since I used mayo, but I wanted something creamy. But mayo is def not the dominate flavor, trust me.)

ps: I’m not a photographer, either. Please excuse my poor quality photos.

Indoor Grilled Potato Salad

More notes (sorry, I’m wordy tonight). J was using the grill to cook his weekly chicken rations, so I used my Le Creuset grill pan. (thanks, Jilly Bean & Roth!). I started grilling the potatoes on the pan but we have a problem where our vent hood isn’t really a true vent hood – it just circulates the vapors around the house rather than venting to the outside. The smoking from the grill was threatening to set off the fire alarm, so once I had a nice crust with grill marks I popped the potatoes in the oven at 450 til they were cooked through (but not mushy). Next time I make this salad, if I’m not using the outside grill, I would either parboil or bake the potatoes first (again, til just cooked through and not mushy) and then grill them. Regardless, it worked out well this time.

Ingredients

Potatoes (I used red – I’m sure there’s lots about what potatoes work best for this type of salad, waxy, starchy, whatever. I’m not savvy enough to recommend any, but red potatoes were definitely tasty)

Olive oil

Coarse sea salt

Squash (I used regular yellow summer squash, and made long thin ¼ inch slices)

Green onions (why did I turn down my dad’s offer for fresh green onions from the garden?)

Radishes, sliced thinly

Bacon, cooked, torn into about 1 inch pieces (if I was feeling really decadent, I would have cooked the bacon and then finished cooking the potatoes in the bacon fat. Alas, last week, being displaced and all, we ate poorly so I forwent the even tastier bacon fat route and just used olive oil)

Arugula (or other mixed greens)

Lemons, cut in half – I just realized as typing this I forgot the lemons Heidi suggested, which really would have added some great brightness. But I’ll include them here so no one makes my mistake

Tater salad

Dressing (see Heidi’s version for a lighter, mayo free dressing):

A few cloves garlic, minced and crushed

Mayo (plain yogurt would probably be a good sub, to get that creamy texture I was after)

Balsamic vinegar

Methodology

Cut the potatoes into wedges or other pleasing shape that’s grill appropriate. Toss with olive oil and sea salt. (some fresh herbs or spice might be good at this point as well. Chives, parsley, or curry powder are possibilities). Slice squash and brush with olive oil (or grapeseed oil, so it doesn’t smoke).

Cook potatoes (see my extended note above about the how on that one). Grill squash, lemons cut-side down, and green onions.

While stuff is a grillin’, cooking, whatev, cook the bacon. (admission – I totally used the terrible already cooked microwave bacon because I was being lazy).

Make the dressing at this point, while stuff is cooking. Mash up the garlic, add mayo to taste (not too much!) and mix up with balsamic (all to taste, of course – I don’t do measurements).

When potatoes are done and slightly cooled, but still warm, toss with dressing and bacon. Make sure not to drown the potatoes with dressing, just enough to coat, the warm potatoes will absorb some of the dressing.

To plate – I did this as a composed salad, because I like the way it looked. Red radishes, yellow squash, greens and potatoes (J, being flattering, said the only way it could be prettier is if I had put it on a better plate).

Make a layer of arugula (or other greens), and sprinkle with a splash of olive oil and vinegar of choice (mine is balsamic). Make a row of radishes, then yellow squash, then potatoes. Top with a grilled green onion. Top with a squirt from one of those lovely grilled lemons (don’t be like me and forget that step!)

side view

Did you read the above? Do you understand now why I should not have a food blog? That is probably the most disjointed hackneyed recipe ever written. Be happy I only post the occasional recipe. Now, it’s back to sales and funny news items.

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Glut of Atl Summer Festivals continues

This time, with 50% more beer!

Atlanta Summer Beer Fest.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, which gives you unlimited beer tasting and a pint glass.  Only drawback is it’s being held at the L5P Front Page News – if there are big crowds, could be unpleasant.  Still, fun way to kill a summer afternoon.

George Carlin dies

Interesting law tie in – a broadcast of his “Seven Words” bit became the subject of a Supreme Court case dealing with First Amendment issues (government won that one, free speech lost).

Huffingting Post obit

Want to make your heart explode?

Too much cuteness!

Itty Bitty Kitty Committee

Makes me want another kitten! Can you be a crazy old cat lady if you’re married?

A word of caution – whatever you do, don’t read about Jerry Lee, unless you want to spend a good 20 minutes trying to hold back the tears.

Vacation all I really wanted

So, as I’ve mentioned before, we recently spent our (belated) honeymoon at the Little Dix Bay resort on Virgin Gorda, in the British Virgin Islands. LDB was created by Rockefeller as a sort of wilderness resort, meant to capture the natural charm and beauty of the island. Rosewood bought the property and renovated it to make it a totally luxurious and upscale place. In order to keep with the style of the island and the sort of resort Rockefeller envisioned, there still are no locks on the doors (at least, there’s no way to lock the room from the outside) and no TVs in the rooms but really, I can’t say we missed either of those things. You can “rent” a portable DVD player (which we requested, and were given a TV/DVD player combo instead) and borrow movies from their library, abut that’s about it. Supposedly the resort recently added Wi-fi but we (smartly) left the laptop at home. We checked our e-mail a few times at the reception desk just to check in, but that’s about it. All this is to say – I didn’t miss TV or the internet, at all. Rosewood has a sister resort, Caneel Bay on St. John (American VI). J had stayed there before, which is what drove us to LDB. They offer some sort of package where you can split your stay between the two but we stayed put at LDB.

We flew into St. Thomas via Delta. It was a little over a three hour flight, not bad. Since this was a once in a lifetime trip, we flew in style in first class so I took advantage of pre-take off mimosas (as well as free drinks in flight) to get the party started. (No, I did not arrive at St. Thomas drunk, tyvm). We got to St. Thomas, got our luggage and searched the airport for the “Commuter Plane” section where we were supposed to meet our pilot. We finally found him, filled out some customs forms, and then crawled over the wing to get into the tiniest plane that I have ever flown. It was only a 15 minute hop from St. Thomas to Virgin Gorda, and truly it wasn’t *that bad* although a little bumpy. J took pictures the whole time and we now have no idea which island is which, although the view was very pretty. (You could also fly into San Juan, take a small flight or ferry to Beef Island or Tortola and then some sort of Ferry arrangement – a. I’ve heard San Juan’s airport is a nightmare b. that’s a lot of transportation. This was the most direct and efficient route, although also probably the most expensive). The Virgin Gorda “airport” is essentially a dirt strip runway with an adjacent shack. I’m not exaggerating. But we landed without incident, went through customs were the agent merely waved us in (what if we had had contraband?!) and we then waited for the taxi to take us to LDB. Being as everyone was on “island time” we waited a little bit for the taxi at the nearby Flying Iguana. Of course, the minute we sat down with our beers, the taxi showed up. Figures.

Plane to VG on Fly BVI

Our tiny plane

We take the short drive to LDB. We saw a little bit of Virgin Gorda along the way and let me say this – a lot of tropical islands which have been exploited by the tourist industry suffer widespread poverty among the locals. The locals of Virgin Gorda were certainly poor, but I refuse to go so far as to say it was to the level of a third world nation (ok, the PC term is developing nation, but Virgin Gorda is probably still developing, so I’ll use the non-PC term in order to give the proper image). But there were no grass huts or shacks and no naked children with distended bellies running around. There were wild goats and roosters, and it’s fairly desert like, but it wasn’t all that bad. Yes, it was poor, but not Sally Struthers tearing heartstrings destitute poor.

ANYWAY, arriving at LDB, we were taken to our room. There was a slight snafu at first which was quickly handled (we had requested an upper level suite and were first taken to a first level suite) but it got straightened out. Our room was right on the beach and had a great view. There was a deck with some lounge chairs I wish we could take home. The room was recently renovated and very clean and well appointed. The bathroom was big with an outdoor shower that J keeps claiming was “worth the price of admission.” (Ok, yes, we probably took 1-2 showers a day out there, everyday. I never used the tub). Our arrival was greeted with a bottle of chilled champagne, chocolate covered strawberries (J claims he didn’t order these, so I’m guessing it was a honeymoon thing) and the complimentary bottle of rum provided to every guest on arrival. Plus some snacks in the mini fridge J had requested for our arrival. (Rosewood is so great – they offer a list of snacks and drinks to stock your room with prior to arrival. Of course the prices are outrageous, but it’s nice to have that sort of thing taken care of beforehand.)

View from our room

Outdoor Shower

Outdoor shower, with birdy

Rather than hit the beach right away, we took a nap, tired from our travels. It was really hard to drag ourselves out of bed for dinner but we finally managed to get cleaned up and down to the Pavillion, which is a large open air restaurant which features music entertainment during dinner. The food and service were pretty good. LDB offers a meal plan; a fixed rate gets you breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday, whatever you want. Based on the posted prices we def got our money’s worth. We had tons of lobster, scallops, tenderloin, sea bass, etc.

Next morning, we hit the breakfast buffet at the Pavillion. They offer a menu which you can order from (J never did, I had eggs benedict a few days which were great and waffles one day – they were not great). The buffet offered bagels, pastries, fresh fruit, juice, an omelet/egg station, a smoothie station, cereal, potatoes, bacon and sausage, etc. Plenty of options. The first day we walked along the beach from the Pavilion to our room, mostly just to see the beach. The water is so amazingly clear it’s almost unbelievable. The beach is gorgeous and, during the off season at least, fairly peaceful.

the Beach

LDB Beach

We got back to our room but didn’t hit the beach yet – we had a couples message scheduled at the world-renowned spa in order to get us into proper relaxation mode. A little golf cart shuttled us up to the Cliffside spa, where we relaxed by the infinity pool before our appointment. Then, we were taken to separate locker rooms to change into robes and taken to our suite for the messages. So worth it! The hour passed all too quickly. Feeling relaxed, we sat by the deck of the suit, sipping lemon water and enjoying the view. Then we showered (the spa locker rooms also offer an outdoor shower, where J had a kitten visitor watch him) and took the golf cart shuttle back to our room so we could hit the beach.

Once we staked out a bohio, the little thatched huts with lounge chairs, we flagged down the service guy to bring us some pina coladas. Nothing like a frosty drink on a hot day, beachside. We alternated in the sun and shade, trying to take it easy in the sun the first few days. We cooled off in the water and basically did nothing until lunch time, we when sauntered to the nearby beach grill for lunch. The Pavilion also offers a lunch buffet, which we did a few times, that was very good as well. Made to order grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. and all sorts of salads and whatnot. Beach Grill wasn’t bad either; we tended to eat on the later side of the lunch hour and managed to avoid the “crowds.” (It was off season and while busy, I never felt the resort was crowded). Then back to the beach for more sun and sand. Eventually we head back to our room to clean up for dinner, we had reservations at the Sugar Mill, the smaller more romantic restaurant. We ate there most nights and overall were pretty happy with the food. Some dishes were hit or miss, but for the most part we ate very well.

Bohio - where they bring me my drinks

Bohio

The pattern of breakfast (during which we enjoyed reading the Times digest, a poorly edited copied digest of outdated news), beach, lunch, nap, beach, dinner was pretty much an accurate depiction of the majority of our trip. Sure, we did some stuff. Took a visit into Spanish Town (weren’t impressed). Did a beach drop to Long Bay, where we enjoyed our own private beach for half a day, because we had the beach to ourselves. They dropped us off by boat with an umbrella. You can also order a picnic lunch to take with your. We took a snorkeling trip one day which was a lot of fun. We also took a sunset cruise to the north end of the island and saw Necker Island, Richard Branson’s place. We did a lot of snorkeling. We even visited the gym every now and then! We bought Cuban cigars at the resort gift shop and smoked them on our deck, while scheming how to bring them back with us (we didn’t, although we probably could have). We took a taxi to The Baths, a series of granite boulder outcroppings that creates a series of pools and did some pretty cool snorkeling in the area, as well as enjoyed lunch at The Top of the Baths. We walked along the beach at sunset and at night. We went to the manager’s reception and enjoyed island punch, as well as the Grand Buffet at the Pavilion (which was pretty grand). We checked out the pool one day, briefly, just because I felt we should. But mostly, we chilled on the beach, relaxing, reading, napping, snorkeling, floating and swimming. And it was absolutely perfect.

The Baths

THE BATHS

It was extremely hard to reconcile to ourselves the fact that we would soon have to leave and return to reality – alarm clocks, jobs, having to cook and clean up after ourselves. No turn down service or golf carts to take us where we wanted to go. I was ready to send for the cats and make a go of it down there. We kept scheming of ways we could live in the islands, at least part time (not during hurricane season). I don’t think I have any complaints about LDB. Sure, the food wasn’t always five star top notch, but it was definitely above average. The majority of the service we received was incredibly helpful and friendly. In short, we had an absolutely amazingly wonderful vacation, a totally perfect honeymoon. And I have the best husband in the world, since this vacation was pretty much all his doing.

I’ll try to post some more pictures later. I hope how I can figure out how to embed the tiny movie clip I took of the beach, since I couldn’t figure out how to take a panoramic shot with my camera, and some of the underwater pics we took, some of which came out really well!

Terrifying or Hilarious? You be the judge!

Bea Arthur stars in Sex in the City Parody.

Summer Ale

Ah, summer.  What’s not to love?  Warmer temps, outside patios, shorts, vacations and summer brews!  Does anyone remember Dogwood?  I loved that beer (stupid GA distribution laws).  I especially loved their summer ale.  While I still miss Dogwood, there are plenty of other summer ales to fill the void.  As I come across them, I’ll try to highlight them.  I almost made the title of this post “Summer Ales – the Series” but didn’t want to obligate myself.

I love Belgian-style wheat beers.  Blue Moon is one I particularly enjoy.  Imagine my delight last night to see their summer ale in stores:

I had to say the name allowed before I realized I should have been drinking this last week.  (Was it only a week ago I was in the islands?  Sigh – seems so long ago).  I will say – this beer is really sweet, you can definitely taste the honey notes.  It may be too cloying for some beer drinkers.  I bet I could make a really tasty ice cream from it, though.  Overall, I’m not sure I could drink a lot of this – but maybe a really cold one after dinner in lieu of dessert every now and then would work.

Have a favorite summer ale?  Let me know so I can sample.

To Market To Market

I really really love summer produce. Cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, fresh peas, greens, tomatoes, squash, etc. It is truly a shame that the national chain grocery stores closest to my house have absolutely pitiful produce departments. And seriously, what’s with the freaking thunder and rainstorms? A. it’s annoying as all get out when I reach for something, only to get unexpectedly sprayed. 2. It wilts most of the veggies (especially fresh herbs) much faster and makes an all around general mess. Produce managers, STOP THE INSANITY! You’re little “rainstorm” ain’t giving me the illusion this stuff is fresh off the farm!

Luckily, there is a growing selection of farmer’s markets in the Atlanta area that do offer fresh off the farm produce. No, it’s nothing to rival San Francisco’s Ferry Market, or any of the totally awesome Cali farmer’s markets, but, it’s local, seasonal and usually lots of organic offerings. Here’s a run down. Any to add to the list?

Morningside Farmer’s Market

Saturdays Year Round from 8:00 am to 11:30 am
1393 N. Highland Ave Atlanta GA 30306 404.313.5784

Decatur Organic Farmer’s Market

Wednesdays 4pm-7pm (I know, wtf?), year round

163 Clairemont Ave.
Decatur, GA 30030
at the corner of Commerce Dr. and Church St

Piedmont Park Green Market

Green Market is held every Saturday morning from May 3 until Dec. 13, 9:00am to 1:00pm. Located along the 12th Street entrance to Piedmont Park.

Peachtree Road Farmer’s Market

Regular Season

April 5 – October 25

The Peachtree Road Farmers Market is open every Saturday, 8:30 amnoon.

2744 Peachtree Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30305 (parking lot of Cathedral of St. Phillip)

Marietta Square Farmer’s Market
The Marietta Square Farmers Market shall be in operation each Saturday morning from May through August 2008, rain or shine. Selling will begin at 9:00am and finish by 12:00pm

Located on the Historic Marietta Square
Marietta, GA 30060

Clearly, the fatal flaw to these offerings, Decatur aside (those crazy Decatur people), is they are only open early Saturday morning. It’s really hard to motivate myself to get out of a nice comfy bed on a Saturday morning for fruits and vegetables. But I’ve made it my goal this summer to eat more seasonal locally produced food stuffs, so I’ll be making an effort to check out a few of these. Plus, I’m just a food geek and really love stuff like this.

Back, with a vengeance

Well, not so much.  But back, finally.  Although I’m still really busy, I’ll try keeping this thing alive.

First order of business, honeymoon was the awesome.  Did NOT want to leave, the place was amazing.  I highly recommend LIttle Dix Bay.  Highly.

Next item on the agenda, it’s time for outdoor summer movies.  As you probably know, drought, blah blah blah, no movies at Piedmont this summer.  Screen on the Green has moved to Centennial.  Not sure how that will be (no booze!) so I’m not terribly sure I’ll be making the effort for that one.  (Plus, Piedmont Park is just so much closer to me!).  However, line up includes Chicago, ET, and Footloose.  (Jaws was last week).

Also, GA Tech puts on summer movies on 5th Street.  Since this is much closer to me, it’s much more likely I’ll be checking this one out (I haven’t in past years).  The line up isn’t that great but Hairspray and/or Superbad would both be fun.  Flicks on 5th.

Of course, you could always check out the original outdoor theater, the drive in.  You don’t even need a reason!  (Other than you can sneak in booze without fear of being thrown out).

Any awesome summer stuff going on in/around Atlanta or other parts of Georgia?  Let me know.