Friday, November 30, 2012

Taste of Atlanta '12


Just when I think that the people behind Taste of Atlanta can't possibly top the previous year's festival, they go and do it! This year I was privileged to attend The Big Grill kick-off party for the first time, and what a blast that was! They are not kidding about the Grill theme, the picture above was just a small sample of all the different kinds of grills being used by some of Atlanta's top chefs to create smokey treats for us to sample.


Smoked Cod Sliders from the Optimist


Banana Pudding Bites from JCT Kitchen/No 246/the Optimist


Yacht Rock Schooner were blasting out great music all night long, keeping us entertained as we ate and drank our way through all that delicious food!


Grilled Banana Split from Davio's made with High Road Craft ice cream, this was one of my favorites!


The next morning, I ignored all of the previous night's overindulgences, and headed back down to the festival bright and early. They had a lot of different activities going on this year, so I created a list in advance of which panel/demo/activity I wanted to be doing at any given time. I had to check out the Kids Great American Bake Off winners in the Dixie Crystals Family Food Zone. Makenna Stalvey and Autumn Gruber were so cute as they showed the audience how to make their Colorful Wisdom Cake.


Next I headed down to check out the food trucks. Mac the Cheese seemed to be very popular with a line snaking half way down the block!


Honey-Pasilla Chile Smoked Salmon Chip from Inc. Street Food


I loved how so many of the restaurants really went all out with their decorations, Milton's Cuisine & Cocktails rustic front porch facade was so impressive!


Chef Brian Horn manned the pommes frites station for JCT Kitchen, if you've never tasted their fries, you really need to. They are my favorite in the city and for the festival, they serve them Belgian style with plenty of different dipping sauces to choose from.


Thai salmon wrapped in rice paper with citrus ponzu from SOHO American Bistro inside the VIP area


Manchego and quince paste skewers from Barcelona, their gazpacho blanca in the background was also delicious!


I absolutely loved these little Ahi poke tacos from Del Frisco's Grille - I try not to eat more than one of any thing to let others try them, but I may have broken my rule and had two of these.


One of the more entertaining booths this year was the Honest Tea Honest Compliments stand. I will admit that I was willing to wait in line to hear someone say something nice about me and I was not the only one. I was impressed by the range of honest compliments offered, they didn't just give one or two, they found something different to compliment about everyone ahead of me in line. In case you were wondering, I apparently have a very nice smile.



Another new addition to the festival this year was the Kitchen Workshop, limited to VIP ticket holders, this is such a fun way to learn the secrets of some of Atlanta's most talented chefs! Plus, we had the very best equipment to work with, Cook's Warehouse, who were a sponsor, gave us all Shun knives to use. As those are my favorite knives, I was tempted to take one home with me, but I resisted the urge.


I took Chef Adam Evans of the Optimist's class on shrimp and had a great time!


These were our beautiful fresh shrimp, provided by Whole Foods.


After I de-veined them, I just cooked them until barely done, they were perfect!


Chef Adam making the sauce we would use to drizzle on our plate



High Road Craft provided another of my favorite bites at the festival


Their chocolate bread pudding a la mode with home made fudge sauce was the height of indulgence!


These mini sticky toffee puddings from the Atlanta Grill were another excellent sweet treat! 

I can't wait to see what fun new things Taste of Atlanta will come up with next year!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ammazza


Lately I've been staying closer to home, I'm trying to cut back on my gas usage - 11 mpg gets pretty expensive, but I have made a few exceptions. Even though the newly opened Ammazza in the Old Fourth Ward is approximately $12.88 away, I've been twice and am thinking I need to go back for another visit.


When you first walk in, you can place your order at one of the two registers at the front, or you can head to the bar at the back to order. You can sit at the long communal table or at one of the regular tables or booths, but don't forget to get your plates, silverware, napkins and water before you sit down - those can be found at stations around the dining room.



The gorgeous Antipasto Classico with Spotted Trotter meats, housemade mozzarella and other cheeses, roasted onion focaccia, roasted peppers and olives tasted as good as it looked. If you aren't in a pizza mood, not something that has ever happened to me, you can grab a seat at the bar, order one of their cocktails and this and be very happy.


The Terra pizza is a white pizza with mushrooms, more of the housemade mozzarella, goat cheese, basil and truffle oil. I know that truffle oil isn't "cool" right now, but I like it and felt like it really worked here. As you can probably see, the crust is a thicker style than most of the other pizza places are doing, but it had good flavor and nice char, so it's ok in my book. I liked the Pizza Fritta even more, it was stuffed with tons of meatballs, sausage and pepperoni and the sauce was on the outside. The texture of the dough was fantastic and surprisingly not at all greasy.


We had a hard time choosing a dessert, so we tried a few things. The Torta Caprese is a very dense flour less chocolate almond cake. The Pasta Fritta Con Connella were perfectly fried yeast dough balls rolled in cinnamon sugar, these were right up my alley. The Cannoli was also delicious with a shell that they fry in house daily, a nice light ricotta filing with citrus peel and sometimes chocolate chips.


While Italian Acunto ovens seem to be a fixture around town, the Connerty brothers went in the opposite direction, bringing their wood-fired ovens in from California. They have extended their out-of-the-box thinking to other facets of the restaurant, including the carry-out pizza boxes. Made out of sugar cane fiber with dimpled bottoms, they are more absorbent than regular cardboard and keep the crust from becoming soggy. It's this attention to detail, combined with their commitment to sourcing the best local ingredients, that really make this a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Ammazza
591-A Edgewood Ave SE
Atlanta, GA
30307
404-228-1036