Posts Tagged ‘ corn ’

Smokebelly…Craft Barbecue in Buckhead

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

LC and I were recently invited to try Smokebelly, the new barbecue restaurant in Buckhead that features a selection of smoked and roasted meats paired with tempting sides and craft cocktails. Our friends TH and D joined us.

The fellas behind Smokebelly were all born and raised in the South and are involved with several successful restaurants and businesses in and around Atlanta including Tin Lizzy’s, The Big Ketch, Milton’s Cuisine, and The Furbus. Here, they combined rustic wood elements with colorful metal chairs for a casual country atmosphere. There’s a big front porch where guests can relax and enjoy an ice cold beer and entertainment on the weekends.

We began our visit with cocktails, a Paloma for me and a drink made with vodka and watermelon juice for LC called From the Vine. It was so delicious, we all ordered one later.

Our fantastic server, Tyler, came by to get us started on a complimentary round of appetizers. We decided on the fried pickled okra and pimento cheese. Although the spread comes with thick and crispy housemade crackers, I was craving it on their chiccarones, the way they served it at a recent charity event. The combination is heavenly. We also tried some mighty fine deviled eggs.

Unlike most traditional barbecue restaurants, Smokebelly offers a variety of healthier options called “skinny fixin’s” like lettuce wraps with vegetables or smoked turkey. I applaud this approach and look forward to trying these lighter dishes, but on this particular evening, I would be eating meat, and lots of it.

But not LC. He ordered the BBQ glazed salmon for his entree with bourbon sweet potato souffle and sweet corn and edamame succotash on the side. He was, and I quote “enthralled by the succulent taste of the fishy wow wow!”

The rest of us decided to share the Pit Masters’ Platter, an assortment of meats with two sides. Since D and I were craving pulled pork, we got two servings of it, along with smoked sausage and chopped brisket. We chose mac ‘n’ cheese and smoky braised kale for our sides and also dug into LC’s sides while he was distracted by his salmon.

The Pit Masters’ Platter was a gigantic metal tray piled high with our meaty selections. Pulled pork and smoked sausage were tasty, but the sauce on the chopped brisket stole the show. My favorite side was the smoky braised kale, but my friends loved the corn and edamame succotash.

For dessert, I was outvoted, so we tried the Coca-Cola cake. Since I dislike cake and Coke, I didn’t think it stood a chance. The result, however, was moist with a hint of spice.

We really enjoyed our visit to Smokebelly and look forward to coming back for some live music and more chef-crafted ‘cue!

128 E. Andrews Drive NW 404-848-9100

Old McDonald’s BBQ at Lake Lanier

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Near the entrance to Lake Lanier Islands there is a BBQ dive called Old McDonald’s Real Pit BBQ. For years I thought I might find a big smoker and a redneck serving pulled pork on paper plates behind the sign with enormous red letters, but recently discovered there’s a cute brick and mortar restaurant with tables, chairs, and a collection of pig memorabilia just around the corner.

Guests order at the counter from a menu of standard meats and sides. Ribs, chopped or sliced pork, chopped beef, and smoked chicken are available as plates or by the pound, ideal for picnics at the lake.

LC and I stopped by on our way to the houseboat and picked up a few plates, two chopped pork and one smoked chicken, with a variety of sides. Each plate also came with a cup of Brunswick stew and Texas toast. If we loved it, perhaps we would get a few pounds for the 4th of July.

Turns out the standard fare was…just standard. We are partially to blame as we failed to request anything spicy, however, the pork lacked the wonderfully charred and chewy bits that I craved. Although I would have preferred chopped chicken, the quarter smoked bird was tasty. Both would have benefitted from a spicier sauce.

Mediocre sides included soupy slaw, chewy corn, and thickly battered fried okra. Green beans and mac ‘n’ cheese were better choices. LC had apparently eaten there before and liked the stew, but it failed to impress me. However, the Texas toast was awesome.

Although we didn’t order Old McDonald’s BBQ this 4th of July, we would certainly consider it for small parties in the future. They also offer catering if the party isn’t so small.

5774 Holiday Road, Buford 770-945-8608

Monday Night Lobster at Goin’ Coastal

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Since my birthday dinner at Watershed had to be postponed, LC and I opted for a casual meal at our neighborhood favorite, Goin’ Coastal, on my actual birthday which luckily fell on a Monday. If you’ve never visited Goin’ Coastal in the Virginia Highlands on a Monday night, make plans to do so for their $20 lobster special!

We had reserved a couple of seats at the bar where we like to chat with the staff. I ordered a glass of grenache and LC tried a Moscow Mule, a refreshing cocktail made with vodka, lime juice, and ginger ale, served in a frosty copper mug.

A few oysters Rockefeller, baked with spinach, bacon and parmesan, whetted our appetites for the shellfish to come. Fresh, vibrant greens garnished with cherry tomatoes, carrots, and onions were served family style, dressed with housemade citrus vinaigrette…a light start to a decadent dinner.

At Goin’ Coastal, they steam the whole beast and serve it simply with drawn butter. We both ordered a side of corn on the cob. LC unceremoniously ripped my lobster apart and removed the greenish gunk. Then it was ready to be devoured! A nut cracker is provided to get the sweet meat out of the claws. It’s a messy job, but well worth it.

Lobster…delicious at any age.

1021 Virginia Avenue 404-941-9117

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The Shores of O’ahu…Shrimp Trucks and More!

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of our Disney-esque resort, LC and I rented a car so we could drive around and see some sights. Our new friend B, a California transplant that moved to O’ahu three years ago, joined us on a drive along the coast that took us to the North Shore, with miles of beaches and dozens of shrimp trucks.

Unlike food trucks here on the mainland, these trucks are stationary, each with brightly colored handpainted menus. B suggested we stop at the second group of trucks including Giovanni’s, a popular shrimp truck. But before we made it to the shrimp, LC spotted the bright yellow BBQ corn stand. It was Uncle Woody’s and serves just what the sign says, grilled corn. Ears are seasoned with a choice of five flavors…we chose the baja blend.

We gnawed off the tiny sweet and spicy kernels as we walked over to the covered picnic tables that serve the constant stream of diners at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Offering only three flavors of steamed shrimp, we opted to try some of each…lemon butter, scampi, and spicy, which warns no refunds are offered to those that can’t handle it.

Plump shrimp were doused in either crushed garlic (scampi), fiery hot sauce, or nothing at all. Anyone can steam shrimp, it’s the seasonings that makes the difference, and theirs had too much of everything. My favorite were the lemon butter because they were essentially plain, served with melted butter.

Both plates came with scoops of boring white rice filler, commanding the price of $13 each. Thankfully, we only ordered half a dozen of the garlicky ones. Even B didn’t eat them.

Continuing on the road around O’ahu’s shores, we arrived at Haleiwa town, with some cute shops and restaurants, so we decided to take a break and enjoy a cocktail. B suggested Haleiwa Joe’s, a seafood grill on a bay. We started with a round of margaritas with tangy li hing powder rims instead of salt. Although we had eaten 2 1/2 dozen shrimp just hours before, we decided to order a couple of things.

Among the authentic Hawaiian dishes B recommended, lumpia was a favorite and on the menu at Haleiwa Joe’s. Basically, lumpia are enormous spring rolls, these stuffed with kalua pork and taro leaf, and served with lomi-pineapple and sweet chili sauces for dipping. Nice.

LC added island white fish ceviche to our order, and since there were three of us, I figured we needed one more small dish, spiced edamame. Both arrived, the marinated fish, chopped and pleasingly presented in a small fried tortilla bowl, was freshly caught that day, just like the shrimp served by the trucks. Chopped cabbage was a great crunchy accompaniment, but the combination was somewhat dry. A citrus-y dressing would have made the difference.

Ignoring our dinner reservation at Town just three hours later, LC and I polished off most of the plates. See what happens when we try to eat even more at Town…

Uncle Woody’s BBQ Corn 66-1550 kamehameha Hwy (808)551-7716
Giovanni’s 66-472 Kamehameha Hwy (808)293-1839
Haleiwa Joe’s Seafood Grill 66-011 Kamehameha Hwy (808)637-8005

Breathing Fire at Six Feet Under

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

On our way to ride Skyview, the enormous ferris wheel recently erected in downtown Atlanta, LC, Little T, and I stopped by Six Feet Under for a late lunch. We chose seats at the bar overlooking historic Oakland Cemetery.

Although he claimed he wasn’t going to have a drink, LC promptly ordered a skinny margarita upon arrival. We watched as our pierced and tattooed bartender squeezed the juice from a bunch of lime wedges by hand, including plenty of pulp. Then she added white tequila, agave nectar, and a splash of triple sec. She shook it up and served it over ice in a glass with a heavily salted rim. Perfect. I had to have one.

One may think the restaurant’s name refers to its neighbors at the cemetery, but in fact, it has a double meaning since their specialty is seafood. Not a fan of fish, Little T ordered a chicken sandwich and housemade chips.

Every time LC and I dine at Six Feet Under we order spicy rat toes, shrimp stuffed jalapenos wrapped with crispy bacon. We also order a couple of extra spicy dragon toes made with habaneros instead of jalapenos, stuffed with scallops rather than shrimp. Our past experiences proved that the jalapenos can be hotter than the habaneros, but on this visit the dragon toes had us breathing fire! The side of ranch for dipping did little to alleviate the burning sensation. They certainly made our meal memorable as we were thinking of little else the next morning.

In addition to torturing ourselves with habaneros, we decided to share an order of three catfish tacos. LC orders fish tacos wherever they are served, but I only order them at Six Feet Under…they are the best in town. Flour tortillas (no, don’t have corn tortillas) stuffed with grilled catfish, cheese, jalapenos, cabbage, and salsa verde sound somewhat ordinary. Although I dislike cucumber, ironically, it’s the drizzle of cucumber wasabi sauce that takes these tacos from ordinary to extraordinary. A side of roasted corn salad was the finishing touch.

Our bellies full and our lips ablaze, we were ready to ride the big wheel.

437 Memorial Drive SE 404-523-6664

Corn Corn Corn!

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Although I grew up eating corn on the cob fresh from the garden, most of the corn I encountered in my college years and throughout my twenties was the popped variety.

The word corn also became synonymous with dogfood. SS would say it in a goofy, high-pitched voice, eliciting excitement, and sometimes drool, from his canine kids Conan and Ivy.

Then my nutritionist Mom blacklisted corn, grouping it together with other starchy vegetables and grains that were, likewise, high on the glycemic index. Another kernel wouldn’t pass my lips for over a decade.

A few recent dinners, however, have put corn back in heavy rotation. Sweet, chewy, buttery, and so cheap! And it’s easy to prepare…just shuck a few ears, boil them for eight minutes and serve with butter and salt. Enjoy an ear of corn for dinner and the next morning, its “medicinal” qualities will be clear…just like your colon.

Corn corn corn!

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Holy Taco…Hardcore Corn

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Starting off 2013 with reruns like everyone else!
Chef Robert Phalen’s shrine to the tortilla, Holy Taco is a quirky spot that fits right in its East Atlanta neighborhood. Much like his dishes at One Eared Stag, Phalen makes use of obscure ingredients and offal in dishes like his fried chicken hearts faco and the “Buffalo style” pig tails appetizer.

The expansive patio comprises most of the seating with a long bar inside. Brightly painted brick walls reminded me of Cabo. A nice selection of tequila is available by the shot, but they are just as expensive as the drinks, so we ordered our standard skinny margaritas with salt. By the way, if you are planning to sit on the patio, make sure you wear something long enough to cover your thighs. The chairs and tables are the black wrought iron variety that cause (nearly) permanent indentations.

Although I wanted to order something unusual like arepas, we resorted to our usual chips, queso with jalapenos and guacamole to start. The chips were cut from their corn tortillas, which are not made in house but obviously come from an authentic (although admittedly not Mexican) source, then fried, creating thick and flaky chips. Guacamole was much like mine, just not as spicy. But the bottle of XXXHot Habanero Sauce on the table scorched our tastebuds when added to the queso…ay carumba!

We did venture off the taco trail by ordering the pan fried padron peppers as a starter. Eaten individually or added to our queso, these little boogers packed a lot of flavor, but only about one in ten were hot….exactly like our server said.

However, we were at Holy freakin’ Taco so we had to order tacos! I only wanted one, but it was so hard to choose….young goat or grilled shrimp? In the end I couldn’t resist the skirt steak with cotija cheese, while LC tried the 12 hour roasted pork shoulder and the beek brisket tacos, all in corn tortillas. We also got a side of corn on the cob, described as “streetstall-style roasted organic”.

Every taco I eat is a test of authenticity compared to the God of all tacos eaten in Playa del Carmen. Holy Taco’s tortillas were made of yellow corn (yay!) but were flimsy enough to require two per taco (boo!). Unfortunately, juices from the fillings caused the tortillas to get soggy and fall apart. I enjoyed the steak and the pork, although a liberal sprinkling of cilantro would have helped both. Neither of us cared for the brisket which was accompanied by five pieces of carrot. I couldn’t find the Vidalia relish that is mentioned on the menu. The corn, topped with spiced mayo and queso fresco, was sweet and awesome, but I think it would have been even better with roasted chili butter.

I really wanted to save room for the pan de chocolate or an order of churros, but I ordered another skinny margarita instead.

And that’s how I like my corn. Hardcore.

1314 Glenwood Avenue 404-230-6177

New Fangled Southern at JCT Kitchen

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Originally posted about a year ago….funny, it sounds like it could have happened yesterday.Friday night LC and I found the dining room at JCT Kitchen jam packed, despite the torrential downpour and severe thunderstorm warning. We had an evening to ourselves and wanted to enjoy a nice adult meal at a cool place.

Surprisingly, I had never made it to JCT before. It was one of the first restaurants to lure the trendy dining crowd to this somewhat industrialized neighborhood. Everything I had heard was positive so I was excited to give it a go.

The space is open, exuding warmth and simplicity, much like its neighbors Quinones Room and Baccanalia in the same complex. Across the way is the White Provisions building home to culinary star Abattoir and right next to the original Yeah! Burger.

Seated across from each other at a two-top along the wall, LC commented that conversation was nearly impossible, given the constant chatter from tables nearby. It was true, the atmosphere was anything but intimate. We would have preferred the patio had the weather cooperated.

We started with cocktails from their creative list, utilizing spirits like bitters, bourbon and rye, which has become rather de rigeur for upscale trendy restaurants these days. I was excited to see a sloe gin fizz on the list, taking me back to my childhood when my parents hosted card games and my Mom made this drink by the pitcher.

After delivering our cocktails, our server read off an entire menu’s worth of specials. I almost stopped him, having already decided on the bacon wrapped pork loin, when he said the word “duck”. The game had instantly changed. It was a breast and confit, I assumed a leg, with an orange champagne sauce served with sauteed peppers….a weird pairing but he had me at “duck”.

But first we wanted to sample a couple of starters, the “angry” mussels and the bacon wrapped figs with blue cheese. We found both dishes to be very impressive. The figs were not baked but rather raw, sliced in half with a thick strip of chewy bacon intertwined among the halves, which rested in an intensely sharp blue cheese sauce that provided the appropriate balance to the dish. A smattering of toasted almonds added a fun crunchy element.

A medium-sized bowl of mussles arrived, steaming in their aromatic broth flavored with peppered bacon, serano chilis, and onion. Although small, the shellfish were great. I especially enjoyed dipping the crusty rustic bread in the spicy broth. We loved ‘em!

When our server checked in I switched to prosecco. LC ordered the shrimp ‘n’ grits and I went for the duck, of course. His dish was richer than the Kennedys, grits engulfed in cheeses and butter, topped with shrimp and a battered and deep fried poached egg. A week’s worth of calories and fat, but decadently delicious.

My duck, however, was not exactly what I expected. Yes, the breast was nicely displayed with a crispy skin. Based upon our server’s description, I was expecting a leg confit, but instead the breast was served on a mound of shredded confit, seasoned with the orange champagne sauced described, creating a concoction which sort of reminded me of BBQ. The oily, crispy, gaminess of the confit was entirely lost. I wasn’t thrilled about the peppers to begin with and they did little to elevate the entree.

An unexpected favorite of the evening was the side dish of corn succotash that LC ordered. Bathed in butter, it was the epitome of Summer in the South. Ironically LC had actually changed his order to the squash, but it was a happy mistake.

We decided to forego edible dessert in favor of the liquid variety upstairs at JCT Bar. An acoustic guitarist entertained the crowd of thirty-somethings inside as the drizzle continued outside. A train chugged past as we headed to the car, anxious to get home and work off the surplus calories.

1198 Howell Mill Road 404-355-2252

JCT Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Running on Diesel at Dinner

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

The drive back from Alabama was uneventful, conveniently ending in my neighborhood right at dinner time. Little T wanted Yogli Mogli for dinner (not a terrible idea) but LC and I thought it might be prudent to have it for dessert. So we stopped by an old favorite, Diesel, for a bite.

I tend to forget that Diesel is a smoky bar, full of tattooed dudes and chicks with multiple body piercings since we always sit on the patio. Its rock ‘n’ roll vibe doesn’t quite fit into the preppy persona of the Virginia Highlands. We ordered a couple of Miller Lites and watched a zombie movie marathon on the flat screen TV.

Little T ordered the house salad while LC and I decided to split the special, pork tenderloin stuffed with a mixture of dried apricots and walnuts, then wrapped in bacon and smoked in their Big Green Egg. irresistible! We chose corn on the cob and jicama coleslaw as our sides.

At first I was disappointed with the pork. The stuffing was beige with no discernable flavor. However, LC pointed out that the meat was very tender. A bright cranberry liquid was spooned on top giving a dish a somewhat “bloody” appearance (maybe it was a side effect of the zombie’s munching on each other’s limbs) and lending a tangy sweetness to the dish. We enjoyed the crunchy slaw but the corn lacked the spicy seasoning promised on the menu. And butter.

Considering where we were, I decided it was a passable dinner. Next up, Yogli Mogli!

870 N. Highland Avenue 404-815-1820

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Low Country Boil…on a High-Brow Houseboat

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

What’s better than a low country boil with all the fixin’s? A low country boil on a luxury houseboat!

Last Saturday was the inaugural voyage of Goin’ Coastal’s Sunset Cruise. The weather was perfect, and the shrimp were boilin’. As the houseboat left the dock, guests mingled and relaxed with a glass of wine or beer.

Chef and restaurant partner Seth Hendricks and my man LC came up with the idea during our many martini and lobster-fueled visits to Goin’ Coastal in my neighborhood. a few meetings later and the idea became a reality. Cooper Global provided the venue and chauffeured transportation to Lake Lanier, while Hendricks and his staff were in charge of preparing the food on board.

LC and I had stumbled upon an amazing acoustic guitarist, Steve Q, at 10 Degrees South the week before. He provided the entertainment for the event and had everyone dancing on the top deck. Promoted via Urban Daddy, the dinner cruise was quite a bargain at only $75 a ticket for this first voyage, with beer and wine included. Guests reportedly consumed forty bottles of wine and 45 lbs. of gigantic steamed shrimp!

Along with shrimp, Hendricks boiled up a batch of andouille sausage, red potatoes, and corn on the cob. When everything was done, he and his crew poured it all into an enormous metal warming tray, drizzled it with melted butter, then sprinkled his special seasoning mix over the whole thing. Folks lined up to get a heapin’ helpin’ of deliciousness as the sun set over the water. Perfect.

LC and I are no strangers to the family houseboat. We’ve celebrated his birthday, Memorial Day, and Labor Day on it, sleeping (or perhaps, not) in two of the five bedrooms. I’ve made a tub of my famous guacamole in the kitchen in the cabin, helped cook bacon and eggs for eight with LC’s cousin DC, and enjoyed burgers grilled on the upper deck. It’s 100 feet of luxury.

Cooper Global and Goin’ Coastal anticipate many more cruises throughout the Spring and Summer. The Cooper houseboat, The Family Tradition, is also available for corporate and private rentals, with a maximum capacity of 100, not including shrimp. Email for information and pricing.

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