Friday, October 30, 2015

#FlavCraze Atlanta Blogger Competition

When I was first approached to be a part of the organicgirl #FlavCraze Atlanta Blogger Competition, I knew I wanted to participate, so when my box of greens and dressings arrived, I dove right in and started tasting! I have to say that I absolutely love the new products, and I'm not just saying that because they gave them to me to try, I genuinely adore them! 

I am a longtime fan of pea shoots, as you know if you read this blog regularly, I love them in pasta and stir-fried pea shoots are one of my favorite things to order at dim sum, so the new sweet pea blend caught my attention immediately. When I started tasting it with each of their four new dressings, it was delicious with all of them, but I had an ah-ha moment when I tasted it with the lemon agave, it was the perfect combination of sweet and tart and I knew I had the beginnings of a fantastic dish. 

Living in Atlanta, I have tons of great restaurants to choose from, representing cuisines from all over the globe. While it is hard to choose just one favorite, I frequently find myself craving the light, bright flavors of South East Asia, which is why I decided to use my new bounty to do my own take on Vietnamese summer rolls. 

Shrimp & Pea Shoot Summer Rolls

1/2 lb cooked shrimp
2 c organicgirl sweet pea greens
1 bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
1/4 c organicgirl lemon agave dressing
4 sheets rice paper

Dipping sauce
1/4 c organicgirl lemon agave dressing
1/4 c crunchy peanut butter

This is one of those recipes that you really need to have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go, because once you start working with rice paper, you have a finite window to get each roll made. First make your dipping sauce by whisking together the 1/4 c organicgirl lemon agave dressing and 1/4 c crunchy peanut butter until combined. Next, take the 2 c organicgirl sweet pea greens, bell pepper and 1/4 c organicgirl lemon agave dressing and toss lightly. Fill a large shallow bowl with hot water, from the tap is fine, it doesn't have to be boiling. Take 1 sheet of rice paper and submerge it in the water for 5 seconds. It will still feel stiff when you pull it out, but it will continue to hydrate and soften. Place it on your work surface and form a line of shrimp across the edge closest to you. Top that with a quarter of the greens/pepper mixture and begin to roll your rice paper. Try to keep the rice paper as tight as possible to make the summer rolls easy to cut and eat. Repeat with remaining sheets of rice paper and filling. Cut in half and serve with dipping sauce.

Tip: Don't try to do more than one at a time as the rice paper turns into a fragile, sticky mess really quickly!

For more ways to use all of the new organicgirl products, follow them here:
Twitter: @iloveorganic 
Instagram: iloveorganicgirl  
Pinterest: organicgirl

Where to Find organicgirl Products
organicgirl products are available at grocery stores and natural food markets nationwide, including Whole Foods, Publix, Natures Garden Express and many neighborhood markets in Atlanta. To request availability at your local store, print and submit this product request form to your produce manager:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Taste of Atlanta Barcraft Semi-Finals 2015

Competitors and Judges
If you are one of my loyal readers, despite my infrequency in posting, you probably already know about the Barcraft Competition at Taste of Atlanta, mostly because I wrote about it here. This year's competition was a little different, because instead of having 3 rounds of competition at different bars around Atlanta, they decided to have one big mix-off at Graveyard Tavern

What made this year's contest fun was that it was really well attended, with 13 competitors, plus their friends and supporters, it was kind of like attending a family reunion. As we chowed down on chicken wings and fingers, fries and tots, plus some healthy vegetable looking things that I ignored, we caught up with each other and visited before the competition started.

This year's winner was none other than the Spitfire herself, Paige Lane, Bar Manager at Lady Bird Grove & Mess Hall. She was the very first to compete and made a lasting impression with the City Slicker, her strawberry rhubarb cocktail. I'm not going to lie, it was my favorite too, especially the Fernet-Branca pickled strawberries she used as a garnish, I could have eaten the entire jar! The other component of her win is that Paige has raised her competition game so much over the past year or so. Even though this is a fairly informal competition, she took the time to arrange all of her mise on slate tiles, and even had her glasses set on mirrored coasters on another larger slate tile, an incredibly attractive and professional presentation.

Another of my favorites was called something that I'm not listing here, because I try to be family friendly, but it had Kahlua and a shaved white & milk chocolate dusted rim. Now that I think about it, that was a missed opportunity, if I had combined Paige's strawberries and Ari's chocolate...

Arianne Fielder's fall inspired apple cocktail, go get one at The Butcher, The Baker

If you want to support Paige or cheer on any of the other finalists, you need to buy a VIP ticket for Taste of Atlanta on Saturday, September 26, as the Semi-Finals will take place in the VIP Grand Tasting Experience with Beer and Wine by Hop City tent from 12:30P-2:00P. Finals will be held at The Chef's Table on Sunday, September 27 at 3:00P.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Taste of Atlanta Barcraft Competition 2014

E. Tyler Alford's winning drink

If you've been trying to decide which day to go to Taste of Atlanta this year, my suggestion is to do both Saturday and Sunday, because, trust me, you do not want to miss out on the Barcraft Competition presented by Fernet-Branca! I went to the Quarter Finals that were held at the Painted Pin, Bellwoods Social House and the Family Dog, and the contestants who are competing for the coveted title made some amazing cocktails!

First, let me say thank you for the amazing hospitality shown by all of the venues hosting the Quarter Finals, the food was all delicious, and the punch, don't even get me started! Graham Lansford's punch at Bellwoods - Cutty Sark Prohibition, Stirrings Ginger liqueur, black and almond tea rich syrup, fresh, unstrained lemon juice, a splash of club soda and fresh thyme leaves was so very easy to drink, I had to stop myself from chugging the entire bowl!

Graham's punch

The first round at Painted Pin featured some of the fruitiest entries with lots of pineapple, coconut, berries and even hibiscus, which paired beautifully with the featured spirit, the Fernet-Branca. The Semi Finalist selected was Bobby Eldridge from Empire State South, whose Tiki inspired cocktail was as beautiful to look at as it was tasty to drink. 

Bobby Eldridge

The next round at Bellwoods featured some stiff competition, but E. Tyler Alford from Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville, beat out all of our Atlanta favorites. I will say his Bull's Blood concoction was pretty amazing, I even asked for the recipe. He said he would email it to me, but he hasn't, so I'll have to try and get it from him this weekend.

E. Tyler Alford

The last round was held at the Family Dog after a last minute venue change and despite more stiff competition from some of my favorite people - Paige Lane, Graham Lansford, Timothy Thiel and  Leo de Rivera, yet another out-of-towner took the prize, Marcelo Nascimento from the Social in Chattanooga. 

Marcelo Nascimento

Luckily Atlanta's bartenders got a second chance to advance when Charles Freeland from the Painted Pin won the coveted crowd favorite spot. He knows how to work social media, he even created an event on Facebook to get all of his friends out to vote for him, take note less savvy competitors!

Charles Freeland
There was one more Wild Card entry, Rich Stradtman of Baraonda, who supposedly won based on the creativity of his cocktail name, but I'm pretty sure it was because he brought bowls full of whiskey infused chocolates. I may have eaten half a pound of them, so I can tell you they were ah-MAZ-ing!!!!

Rich Stradtman
Please come out on Saturday and Sunday and help make this a local Atlantan only final round of the Barcraft Competition, sorry Marcelo and Tyler, but I want my guys to win!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Flowers

Helleborus 'Pink Lady' ?

This has been an unusually cold winter for us here in GA, so I am so happy to see a few signs of Spring!

Hamamelis 'Diane'

Hamamelis 'Jelena'

Unfortunately, my camellias dislike the cold as much as I do.

As this past weekend was so warm, I thought my tropicals needed an outing, so I brought them out to enjoy the sun and a nice bath.

Polypodium aurem 'Mandianum'
What can I say, I like hairy feet - in ferns, that is.

Polypodium aurem 'Mandianum'
Fuzzy fern fronds unferling...

My bog orchid always blooms at this time of year, as does my favorite begonia Phil, although his blooms didn't last due to being kept under the heat vents in my office. Poor Phil.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Don Antonio by Starita

Antonio Starita
If you are a long time reader of this blog, you probably remember my post on STG Trattoria from a couple of years ago. For a while, it was my favorite pizza spot in town, with fun cocktails and the best panna cotta I'd ever tasted. Then their pizzaiolo ran into some trouble, Josh Hopkins left for Empire State South and it just wasn't the same after that, so I continued on my quest for the perfect pizza. Fast forward to Les Dames d'Escoffier Afternoon in the Country in November where I was lucky enough to get the last, room temperature slice of margarita pizza being handed out by a lovely Italian gentleman, Roberto Caporuscio. Even though it wasn't hot and the crust was decidedly limp, I could tell that it had the potential to be a truly delicious slice of pizza. During our conversation, I found out that he was representing a new, not yet opened pizza place called Don Antonio by Starita. When I asked where they were located, I was surprised to hear that they were opening in the STG space.

Potato Croquet
I waited patiently for the grand opening, what seemed like forever, but was really only two months. I was fortunate enough to attend a preview night where I got to sample quite a few things off the almost overwhelmingly large menu. The biggest surprise for me were all of the tasty antipasti, from the croquets with their velvety soft potato interior and oozy cheese creating a lovely contrast to their crispy exterior, to the completely insane home made burrata filled with truffled cream, it's hard not to fill up on them while you wait for your pizza.

Fried dough stuffed with provolone and pepper
Luckily, the pizzas only take about 90 seconds to cook, so if you don't want to stuff yourself silly on all the lovely starters, you can just dive right into the pizza.

Italian Old Fashioned
As with STG before, they have a solid list of cocktails, including an Aperol Spritz that will be a big hit when the heat comes back to Atlanta, and my personal favorite, the Italian Old Fashioned. Let me just say that I am not a Scotch drinker, but somehow, this drink tastes like caramel and vanilla and everything delicious. Plus, I can never pass up any drink topped with cherries.

The pizza choices are completely different from anything else being offered in town, both because they have a number of gluten free options that are apparently as good as the real thing, and because they offer different shapes and styles than I have ever seen before. The Rachetta, above, has a "handle" stuffed with ricotta and mushrooms as well as the mixed vegetables and mozzarella on the "head", so it's like getting two pizzas in one.Their signature Montanara Starita is a lightly fried disc of dough, topped with their flavorful tomato sauce, little pieces of intensely smoky mozzarella and fresh basil, baked in the oven for another few seconds to melt the cheese and then served. I will say, when I went back with a friend, the sauce was actually cold, but I didn't really mind because I was wolfing it down too fast to pay much attention to minor problems.

Prosciutto e Arugula
With over 50 different pizzas to choose from, there is sure to be something on the menu for everyone. The Prosciutto e Arugula was one of my favorites, with the salty ham and bitter arugula, as was the Pistachio e Salsiccia with pistachio pesto, fennel-y sausage, creamy mozzarella, it was wonderful.

Nutella Pizza
It's worth saving room for dessert, if you are a nutella fan, it's their slightly sourdough crust baked, sliced open and slathered with a generous smear of melty nutella, cut into wedges and dusted with powdered sugar. You may want to eat an entire one yourself. If you want to see more of my pictures from Don Antonio by Starita, and other restaurants around town, follow me on Instagram.

Don Antonio by Starita
102 West Paces Ferry Rd NW
Atlanta, GA
Phone: 404-844-2879

Monday-Thursday:  Lunch 11:30AM-2:30PM, Dinner 5:00PM-10:00PM
Friday & Saturday:  Lunch 11:30AM-2:30PM, Dinner 5:00PM-11:30PM