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food porn: atlanta food trucks

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Food trucks evoke memories of the state fair for me. Comfortably chilly weather, the loud hum of generator-powered everything, the smell of something savory in the air. On a lovely cool day this past fall, I took leave from my little office and went to sample some Atlanta food truck eats at 12th and Peachtree.

 


wow food truck menu

wow food truck menu

pulled pork arepa - wow food truck

pulled pork arepa - wow food truck

 

WOW food truck atlanta

WOW food truck atlanta

 

wonderlicious on wheels

wonderlicious on wheels

 

tamale queen food truck

tamale queen food truck

 

jus' loaf'n food truck

jus' loaf'n food truck

 

sweet auburn bbq food truck

sweet auburn bbq food truck

 

the mobile marlay

the mobile marlay

 

mobile marlay menu

mobile marlay menu

 

fish and chips from the mobile marlay

fish and chips from the mobile marlay

 

fish and chips - the mobile marlay

fish and chips - the mobile marlay

 

slider u  food truck

slider u food truck

 

buen provecho food truck

buen provecho food truck

 

just good food now

just good food now

 

ibiza bites

ibiza bites

 

Life is Food. Taste Life. Ibiza Bites

Life is Food. Taste Life. Ibiza Bites

 

ibiza bites menu

ibiza bites menu

 

signature bite - ibiza bites

signature bite - ibiza bites

 

cake pops - ibiza bites

cake pops - ibiza bites

 

honeysuckle food truck

honeysuckle food truck

 

yumbii truck

yumbii truck

 

cheers,

k

food porn: weekend in amsterdam

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This year’s trip to London included a weekend jaunt to Amsterdam. 2 days in Amsterdam isn’t nearly enough time to see all that the city has to offer. But… I did my best.

Here’s a recap of the weekend in Amsterdam, as told by my belly.

welcome spread

welcome spread

The trip to Amsterdam had been a long one. By the time I reach my room, I’m exhausted and a bit frazzled. The bottle of wine and tasty crackers my host has laid out looks like mannah from heaven to me.

 

fruit of the room

fruit in my guest room

 

romeo fries plantains

romeo cooks plantains

Shortly after I hit the streets of Amsterdam, I’ve already made a new friend. Frankie, a Surinamese Dutch guy. Frankie introduces me to Romeo – the cook in a Surinamese bar/restaurant in central Amsterdam.

 

tastes of suriname

tastes of suriname

And Romeo introduces me to Surinamese food. I can’t identify half of the items on the plate, but I enjoy every bit of it. There’s some pickled veggies going on here, along with a spicy sauce and plantains.

 

taste of suriname

I would have asked Romeo more about the food, but I know better than to try to get a guy’s attention when football is on. The bar is packed with older gents watching (and loudly yelling at) the evening’s soccer match. Frankie, Romeo, and everyone else in the room is enthralled. I am invisible. Which is great. ‘Cause nobody needs to witness my assault on this food.

 

romeo's catch

romeo's catch

 

late night snack

late night coffee break

 

After dinner, Frankie plays tour guide for the next few hours. He walks me around most of central Amsterdam, pointing out street names and points of interest that I need to remember when I’m on my own tomorrow. I pretend like every street name he makes me repeat doesn’t sound exactly like the last one.  I sometimes have difficulty understanding Frankie’s English because of his accent, but after a while, I tire of asking  him to repeat himself. A little past midnight, my head is spinning from it all. I suggest we stop for coffee. Frankie takes me to a little Middle Eastern eatery with really, really good coffee. I take sips of coffee and stare appreciatively in silence at rotating, shiny meat.

 

my friend frankie

my friend frankie

Frankie moves like a hummingbird. I feel lucky I convinced him to stand still long enough for me to get this pic. My friend Regina had previously asked me to take a pic of the Amsterdam Hard Rock Cafe. Two birds.

 

amsterdam fruit market - morning

sleepwalking in amsterdam

The next morning, I’m up early to make the most of the day. I was out with Frankie ’til almost 2 am. When I spy this fruit market on my morning walk, the colors are so bright against the overcast Amsterdam sky, I think I must be sleepwalking.

 

amsterdam fruit market - berries

 

 

lovechild berries

lovechild berries

The clerk at the fruit market describes these berries as ‘the lovechild of a raspberry and a strawberry’. I cop some. He’s right.

amsterdam fruit market

 

vlaamse frites

vlaamse frites and a scary dude

By this time, I’d been sightseeing by foot and by boat. Time for a snack.

belgian fries w/mayo

belgian fries w/mayo

Lovely people, the Dutch. Can’t for the life of me figure out why they (or anyone) would want to do this to their fries. Ech.

 

belgian fries w/curry ketchup

belgian fries w/curry ketchup

That’s more like it. Perfectly prepared by a man in a lab coat. I secretly dub him, Professor Fry Guy.

 

abraxas latte

abraxas latte

 

tabletop image

pancakes! amsterdam

My view of the table top at Pancakes! Amsterdam.

 

pancake fixin's

pancake fixin's

 

utensil clock

time to eat

 

goat cheese pancake

my neighbor's goat cheese pancake

I’d intended to come to Pancakes! Amsterdam for breakfast, but by the time I make it there, it’s well after lunch. I decide to skip the more breakfast-y American pancakes and go for a Dutch pancake. It’s more of a crepe-style pancake with a choice of sweet or savory toppings. The English version of the Pancakes! Amsterdam website claims that they also have “Glutton free” pancakes available. I wasn’t interested.

veggie pancake w/bacon

veggie pancake w/bacon

 

 

spring roll

spring roll

For my last meal of the weekend, I thought I’d try a rijsttafel – a sort of smorgasbord of Indonesian dishes served with rice.  Not the best plate of food ever. But a decidedly flavorful end to the trip.

rijsttafel

rijsttafel at Bojos

proost,

k

3 simple soup recipes your grandma would be proud of

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soup-recipes

“As the days grow short, some faces grow long. But not mine. Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness comes early, I am suddenly happy. It’s time to start making soup again.” ~Leslie Newman

As a kid, the return of cold weather meant one thing: the return of my grandma’s soup. My grandmother’s soup was slightly different each time depending on what leftovers remained from that week’s cooking. Sometimes there was beef, other times chicken, and occasionally, only vegetables – but it was always the gut-and-soul warming concoction I needed to make me feel that all was right with the world. A big bowl of grandma’s soup along with a perfectly grilled cheese sandwich equaled toe-curling goodness.

As much I used to enjoy soup eating, soup making wasn’t something I ventured into until fairly recently. I think somewhere along the way I convinced myself that only grandmas could make good tasting soups, and that I should steer clear of such foreign territory. In reality, though, soups are fairly easy for even novice cooks. And they’re an excellent way to make a meal that’s quick, budget-friendly and full of feel-good flavor. Plus, soups are universal. Every culture has at least one signature recipe for slow cooked veggies and meats in savory broth that’s a beloved dish at almost any dinner table.

The basic formula for most soups is the same. Step 1: Saute or roast aromatics and seasonings. Step 2: Add other ingredients. Step 3: cover with liquid. Step 4: Bring to a boil, or simmer until everything reaches desired texture and flavor.

As Ina says, “How easy is that?”

Here are 3 of my favorite soup recipes that any grandma would be proud of.

 

Lentil Soup with Root Vegetables

Lentil Soup recipeIngredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 stalks of celery
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
ground spice mixture (1 Tbsp cumin, about 1 tsp each of: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, paprika)
2 cups of green lentils
root vegetables: your choice of carrots, parsnips, and/or potatoes
6 cups vegetable broth or stock
salt and black pepper to taste
Optional (but highly recommended): 2-3 leaves of fresh culantro (not cilantro)

Chop or thinly slice all of the vegetables and the garlic (chopped veggies give a more homestyle feel; sliced veggies, a more refined one). Heat olive oil on medium high in a large pot, and add celery, onion, and garlic. Saute until onions begin to turn translucent. Add ground spices and saute for a minute, stirring constantly so you don’t burn the spices. Add remaining vegetables and lentils and stir to combine all ingredients. Add enough vegetable broth to cover everything. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low. If using culantro, add to the soup. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender and lentils are cooked through (about 40 minutes to an hour), adding more broth as needed. Stir occasionally during cooking. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Why you’ll love this soup: It’s very low effort. It’s 100% vegan so you can feel good about eating it. The blend of spices gives an earthy Middle Eastern flavor that’s exotic without being weird.

 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:curried-butternut-squash-soup-recipe

olive oil
salt and black pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
1 not-so-sweet red apple, peeled cored, and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 carrots, peeled and chopped
3-4 butternut squash (about 3 lbs)
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp garlic powder
approx. 5 cups chicken broth or stock
special tools: blender, immersion blender, or food processor
for garnish (use any or all): chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, dried cranberries, coconut flakes, chopped cashews

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut each squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds/pulp with a spoon. Drizzle chopped veggies, apple, and squash halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place chopped veggies and apple on 1 baking sheet and squash on a separate baking sheet, skin side up. Place in oven and cook until very tender (about 20 minutes for apple/onion and 45 minutes to 1 hour for squash). Allow roasted ingredients to cool. Scoop out squash flesh and add to blender or food processor with roasted ingredients, and about 1 cup of chicken broth. Depending on the size of your blender or food processor, you may have to do this in batches. Blend mixture until you have a puree. In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium high and add curry powder and ginger. Saute for 1 minute, then add squash puree and enough chicken broth to reach desired consistency. Heat on medium until warm. If you’re using an immersion blender, add all of the roasted ingredients to the sauteed curry powder / ginger mixture in the pot. Cover with chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and blend in the pot until you reach the desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with garnishes on the side.

Why you’ll love this soup: The color is beautiful. If you’re used to sweet butternut squash soups, you’ll enjoy this savory alternative. You can customize the flavor and texture to your heart’s content with the garnishes.

 

Easy Vietnamese Pho Ga (Chicken Pho)

pho ga recipeIngredients:

olive oil
2 medium onions
3 slices of fresh ginger
6-8 cups of chicken broth
1 tsp of fish sauce
16 oz rice noodles (or angel hair pasta)
1-2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (preferably dark meat)
for garnish: thai basil leaves or chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeno, chopped green onion, lime wedges, chili sauce (sriracha), bean sprouts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel onions and cut into quarters. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Place onion and ginger on baking sheet in oven. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook rice noodles (or angel hair) according to package directions. Place cooked noodles into 4 separate bowls. In a separate pot, add chicken broth and fish sauce and heat on medium-low. When onion and ginger are roasted, add to chicken broth. Heat on medium-low for 15 minutes. Add a small amount of chicken and each garnish to each bowl on top of cooked noodles. Ladle hot broth into each bowl (leaving onion and ginger in the pot) and serve with extra garnishes on the side.

Why you’ll love this soup: It has everything you expect from traditional chicken noodle soup with a decidedly non-traditional flavor. It tastes almost as good with or without the chicken in the soup. It’s even easier to make than the other two soups above.

cheers,

k

photo: Vegetable soup by Lottery Monkey, on Flickr

photo: Lentil Soup by Back to the Cutting Board, on Flickr

photo: pho ga by jslander, on Flickr

food porn: buford highway bingefest

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You know, you really have to be careful about the kind of people you hang with. The wrong crowd can get you caught up in all kinds of foolishness, and truly cause you to lose all sense of yourself.

Such was the case this past spring when a food-loving friend invited me to join some other food-loving friends for a little dim sum at Gu’s Bistro. What started as a simple weekend lunch gathering turned into a multi-hour, multi-stop foodie bender along Buford Highway.

The limits of decency (and my waistline) were definitely stretched.


gu's bistro

 

chengdu cold noodles - gu's

chengdu cold noodles @ gu's bistro

zhong dumplings

zhong dumplings @ gu's bistro

sticky rice w/pork filling

glutinous rice and ground peanuts

glutinous rice w/ ground peanuts @ gu's bistro

As we were departing Gu’s, I overhead some talk of going to a nearby ethnic market to check out the food court. I was game. Those with prior engagements and / or a semblance of sanity peeled off from the group. The rest of us pressed on to Assi Plaza, just up the road a piece on Buford Highway.

 

russian easter cake

russian easter cakes - lana's express

russian easter cake @ lana's express

 

Beautiful Russian Easter cakes from Lana’s Express. We placed an order for a smattering of items from the menu, and wandered around the market for a bit while waiting for the food. That’s right. Just before Easter, and instead of fasting, we’re gorging ourselves. Wanton heathens, the lot of us.

mexican desserts - panaderia @ assi plaza

mexican desserts - panaderia @ assi plaza

 

panaderia - assi plaza

 

ron's pair

My friend Ron shows me his bowls. Not sure if he notices that one is bigger than the other. He looks so happy, I can’t bring myself to tell him.

 

russian delights

Tastings from Lana’s Express include: pelmeni (meat-stuffed dumplings), roast chicken with rice and a ketchup-based sauce, and two pickled salads – one with cabbage and carrot, the other with cucumber, tomato, and dill.

 

pickled salads - lana's express

 

 

hot dog toppings

hot dog toppings @ america's top dog

 

Oh, what? You thought it was over? After we finish our second lunch, someone in this group of people I am now beginning to realize is a bunch of crazies, starts talking about a hot dog place nearby that has a ridiculous amount of toppings on tap, and at least 5 different types of hot dogs to choose from. When I hear my own voice answering yes to the question, “Wanna go?” I know I am one of them.

 

hot dog menu - america's top dog

 

Turns out there’s actually 7 different varieties of dog on the menu at America’s Top Dog in Chamblee.

 

ode to the hot dog

 

regional hot dog dress

regional hot dog dress

 

hot dog - naked

hot dog (naked) @ america's top dog

 

hot dog - dressed

hot dog (dressed) @ america's top dog

 

After all of this, we head to a Lebanese bakery in  the same plaza as America’s Top Dog. We don’t eat again, but a few of us take home some Middle Eastern treats for later. Ya know, just in case. No pics of the Lebanese bakery, ’cause I’m too full to lift a camera. All I can do is sit and giggle like a giddy schoolgirl.

 

We finally leave Buford Highway and retire to one of the crazies’ backyard deck, where we lounge about like stuffed ticks and listen to our host read excerpts aloud from his favorite Szechuan cookbook. Later on, he shows us this hilarious video he recently saw on YouTube. A little video about an animal known as… the honey badger.

 

 

After the day’s gluttony, I totally identify with this creature.

cheers,

k

spatchcock chicken recipe

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I first had spatchcock chicken a little over a year ago at The Sound Table in Atlanta. The dish was most impressive because of its simplicity – cuts of bone-in chicken, with an herby-citrusy flavor and a nice char on the skin. Determined to recreate the dish at home, I searched the interwebs and discovered that the term ‘spatchcock’ had nothing to do with how the meat was flavored, and everything to do with how the meat was cut.

Put simply, to spatchcock means to remove the spine or backbone of the bird in preparation for oven or grill roasting. Spatchocking is actually the more formal cooking term for butterflying. The whole point of spatchcocking is to allow even cooking of both white and dark meat portions of the bird. As anyone who has roasted a whole bird knows, it can be near impossible to have juicy, fully-cooked thighs and legs without also ending up with dry, overcooked breasts and wings.

Get your head out of the gutter, please.

Since my first taste, I’ve spatchcocked my fair share of birds.  I even spatchcocked last year’s Thanksgiving turkey – it cooked in record time and was the most flavorful roasted turkey I’ve ever had. Dark and white meat were equally juicy. The skin was perfectly crispy, and the under-the-skin seasoning technique I use had infused every bite with serious flavor.

Plus, I get to giggle a bit every time I tell my guests what they’re eating.

 

Recipe for Spatchcocked Chicken

 

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

1 lemon

2-3 cloves of garlic

salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, marjoram (or use whatever blend of herbs/spices you prefer)

1-2 Tbsp butter (optional)

 

Kitchen Tools

sturdy kitchen shears

latex gloves (optional) – I get kinda squeamish when handling raw chicken, so I always don a pair of latex gloves for the prep.

mini food-processor (optional)

 

Prepare  the seasoning mixture by combining the oil, butter, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs in the food processor and processing to a thick paste. Alternatively, mince the garlic and stir together in a small bowl with the other ingredients. Half the lemon and squeeze juice of one half into the seasoning mixture. Stir to blend. Cut the whole lemon into thin slices. Set lemons and seasoning mixture aside.

Rinse the bird well, including the inner cavity. Place the bird on a stable surface or inside of a large baking pan, breast side down. Using the shears, cut vertically along either side of the backbone from one end of the cavity to the other. Depending on how good your shears are, this may be easy or it may be pretty hard. Use a bit of elbow grease. Rock the shears back and forth to break the bones on either side of the spine. Channel your inner Hannibal Lecter. Sip a Chianti. You’ll get through it.

 

Irony

 

At the end of that gruesomeness, you should have a spineless bird in front of you, and a bird spine in your hand. Save the spine for making stock, or toss it out.

The secret to really crispy skin on a roasted bird is really dry skin to begin with. If you have time, let the bird rest in the fridge anywhere from 1-24 hours. I usually stick a few toothpicks into the bird and drape a towel or paper towels over them. I don’t like the idea of uncovered raw chicken in the fridge, and the towel would stick to the skin if I didn’t use the toothpicks. If you don’t have time for all that, just blot as much moisture as you can from the skin and proceed with seasoning the bird.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Run your hand gently under the skin covering the bird’s breast, separating the skin from the flesh. Go all the way down to the thigh area, being careful not puncture the skin. Using a teaspoon or your hands, take small amounts of the seasoning mixture and rub all over the bird, under the skin. You may have extra seasoning mixture left over. Take lemon slices and slide them under the skin. I usually place 1 slice on each thigh, 2 on each breast, and tuck a lemon slice under each wing. Sprinkle more salt and pepper all over the skin. Place the bird in a roasting pan and cook for 40 minutes to 1-hour, until done (3 tests for doneness: juices run clear; leg/thigh moves easily in socket; thermometer inserted at thickest part of breast reads at least 160 degrees).

 

Grill 6 - Spatchcock chicken with a cracked spice rub. Accompanied by grilled endive with olive oil, lemon, marjoram and roasted potatoes with rosemary, garlic, olive oil. The bird was a bit unevenly done requiring a regrill of the breast. Still digging.

 

Note: When I tried this recipe with turkey, I did not de-spine my own turkey. I bought the bird from the Sweet Auburn Curb Market and had the butcher there make a cut on each side of the spine while the bird was still in its wrapper. I suggest you seek similar assistance for a larger bird.

 

cheers,

 

k
Photo 1: via Leon Dale Photography

Photo 2: via Another Pint Please…, on Flickr

Photo 3: via that.turtle, on Flickr

food porn: lunch in atlanta

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I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve been holding out on you. I assure you however, there was no malicious intent. I’m just… lazy. You see, I’ve been having some pretty fabulous (and some just alright) dining experiences around Atlanta lately, and I’ve just been too lazy to write about them.

But the good news is, I haven’t slacked off on taking some pretty fabulous (and some just alright) pictures of these dining experiences. So here’s what I figured. Instead of stockpiling all these tasty little visual tidbits and pretending like I’m actually going to do each one justice with a proper review, I’ll just show you the goods.

Since when has porn been about dialogue, anwyay?

 


This week’s food porn features pics from some of  my favorite atlanta lunch spots.

 

stir fry @ urban pl8

stir fry @ urban pl8

Look at the separation on that brown rice. Yeah, you like that, dontcha?

beet salad @ urban pl8

beet salad @ urban pl8

lunch @ the orginal el taco

red chili steak & fried chicken tacos @ the orginal el taco

el burger @ the orginal el taco

el burger @ the orginal el taco

Only thing sad about this lunch is that El Taco only serves lunch on the weekends. Que lastima.

alligator egg rolls @ 5 seasons brewery, westside

alligator egg rolls @ 5 seasons brewery, westside

salt and pepper fish @ new paradise (buford highway)

salt and pepper fish @ new paradise (buford highway)

garlic green beans @ new paradise (buford highway)

garlic green beans @ new paradise (buford highway)

chicken koobideh wrap and salad @ sufi's

chicken koobideh wrap and salad @ sufi's

sabzi @ sufi's

sabzi @ sufi's

The sabzi is an assortment of greens, herbs, and other accompaniments to be enjoyed with flatbread. Sufi’s sabzi: mint leaves, basil leaves, cucumber slices, butter, feta, olives, and walnuts.

yogurt and beets @ sufi's

yogurt and beets @ sufi's

fried chicken sandwich @ bocado

fried chicken sandwich & fries @ bocado

burger stack @ bocado

burger stack & garlic herbed fries @ bocado

Bocado’s burger stack is what the Big Mac dreams about being when it grows up.

fish tacos & fried okra @ marlow's tavern

fish tacos & fried okra @ marlow's tavern, midtown

Seriously, is there ever a bad time for fried okra? Methinks not.

cheers,

k

Eat St. Filming Atlanta Food Trucks Nov. 11-15

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Hey Atlanta –

Want to come out and sample some of Atlanta’s best food truck fare AND get a chance to be on TV? 

Eat St. – the Food Network Canada show that profiles food trucks in North America – will be filming in Atlanta from Friday, November 11 through Tuesday, November 15. Five of Atlanta’s most loved food trucks will be profiled on the show, with a different food truck being filmed at a different Atlanta location each day.

Here’s the skinny:

 

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11th

Ibiza Bites – @Ibizabites

Where? 733 Lambert Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30324

12pm – 2pm

 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12TH

Tex’s Tacos – @Texstacos

Where? Howell Mill Food Park, 1927 Emery Street, Atlanta, GA 30318

12-2pm

 

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 13TH

Mobile Marlay – @Themobilemarlay

Where? Virginia Highlands

12 – 2pm

 

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14th

Wow! Food Truck – @wowfoodtruck

Where? Tower Place in Buckhead 3365 Piedmont Rd NE Atlanta, GA

12 – 2pm

 

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15th

Buen Provecho – @Buenprovechotrk

Where? King Plow: 887 West Marietta St. Atlanta GA 30318

12:30 – 2pm

 

For full details on the food trucks and filming dates, visit the Eat St. blog.