Friday, August 11, 2017

Currently Obsessed With: Team Building With Taste

The other day, I got to be part of a real-life “Top Chef” competition. Scratch that, I won “Top Chef!”

OK, so I wasn’t on the actual show, but I did get to participate in a timed culinary event, cook inside a commercial kitchen (v cool for this foodie), and create a dish alongside a professional chef (even cooler). It was all part of Team Building With Taste, a new way for any team to bond over food (I mean, is there a better way to bond?).
Each team working on their assigned recipe (c) Team Building With Taste

Here’s what happened: A group of Atlanta media and food bloggers arrived at the Atlanta facility of Team Building With Taste, and after a round or two of adult beverages, we were separated into four teams. Each team had to cook a pre-determined recipe, with choices like smoked salmon crostini, meatballs all’arrabbiata, and falafel pitas.

My team was making choripan sliders: Homemade chorizo patties on buttered slider buns with chimichurri sauce. The basic recipe was provided to us, as well as all the necessary ingredients, but each team was free to get creative. Just like in “Top  Chef” or “Chopped,” the Team Building With Taste kitchen had a stocked dry pantry and plenty of fresh ingredients we could add to our dishes.
Just a sample of the fresh ingredients we could pick from to add to our dishes (c) Team Building With Taste

My team improvised by stuffing the chorizo with apple wood-smoked bleu cheese and adding caramelized red onions to our dish. It sounds a little overpowering, but it turned out really well! Well enough to win the competition, at least :)

We only had 50 minutes to complete our dishes and make one plate for the judges. Each team had a professional chef (shout out to our chef Kerry Meier of the Lowcomotion food truck) work with us throughout the whole process, helping us chop, saute and grill. Once the timer ran out, the chefs finished plating the rest of our dishes, which ended up being our dinner (talk about yum!)
Chef Paul working with his team to get creative with their recipe (c) Team Building With Taste

Before we could eat, each team had to present their dish to the whole group, and a panel of judges graded us on the taste and look of each plate. The whole evening was a blast and all the food was delicious! Everyone had to work together in a fast-paced environment, coming up with creative solutions to issues that arose along the way, and reaping the rewards in the form of a tasty dinner.
The smoked salmon crostini (c) Team Building With Taste

The falafel pitas (c) Team Building With Taste

The choripan sliders (my team's creation) (c) Team Building With Taste

And you don’t have to be a food blogger to participate. All sorts of corporate teams have gone through this challenge, and their reviews are glowing. If your department at work is in need of a morale boost, I would highly recommend Team Building With Taste--it’s certainly the best team building activity I’ve ever been a part of.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Taste Tuesday: Jefe's Tacos & Tequila

It's Taco Tuesday, folks, and I found some tasty new tacos for you to devour! They're at Jefe's Tacos & Tequila in Town Brookhaven, and they are delicious. But this new taqueria is about more than just tacos.

WHY GO: Because it's Taco Tuesday, duh!

THE VIBE: Festive! Think lantern lights, awesome patio, and plenty of cold beverages to suit your preferences.
(c) Jefe's Tacos & Tequila

DRINK THIS: The Paloma. It's kind of like a margarita, but with grapefruit juice and without the extra sugar. If you prefer to sip your tequila, try a mix-and-match tequila flight instead: Pick 3 different types from various price points to see which one you like best.

Oh, and, heads up: If you're in a beer mood, I hear Jefe's might start offering $2 Tecates soon.

EAT THIS: The shrimp ceviche tostada! OMG, you guys, it is so good! Sure, you can start your meal with queso or guac -- as you would at any other taco restaurant in town -- or you could try something new. This dish is full of shrimp and avocado and tomato and cilantro goodness. It is super tasty!
The shrimp ceviche tostada

If you're continuing the "try something new" streak, go for the sope ranchero for your main meal. The garden fresh burrito bowl is a great choice if you're trying to get more veggies in.
Sope Ranchero

And of course, this eatery is known for tacos, so do try a couple. I recommend the carnitas taco, the so cal and the bravocado: fried avocado with corn, black beans, pico and cotija cheese.

LOGISTICS: Jefe's Tacos & Tequila is located in Town Brookhaven (in the spot where Noche used to be), so there's plenty of free parking. And if you're looking for something to do after your meal, there's Cinebistro, as well as plenty of shops and bars within walking distance.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

New Taste Tuesday: 5Church

5Church is surely becoming a new Atlanta staple. The restaurant recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and just acquired a talented new chef, Scotley Innis, so it's about time this eatery made an appearance on Belly of the Feast. Without further ado... 

WHY GO: Because you're up for some ridiculously delicious, contemporary Southern food. Yep, that's right: Contemporary Southern food.
Fried green tomatoes stuffed with pimento cheese -- doesn't get much more Southern than that :) 

THE VIBE: Dare I say, contemporary? But it really is: A sleek and modern interior, with grey, white and black accents, and the entire text of "The Art of War" spelled out on the walls and ceiling.

DRINK THIS: The Viper. It's kind of like a better-for-you margarita: Tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, cucumber water (oooh), and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper.
The Viper cocktail is like the Goldie Locks of cocktails: Not too sweet, not too bland -- just right

EAT THIS: Hands down, the charred octopus. If you only get one dish here, please let it be the charred octopus.
Charred octopus over white cannellini beans, with roasted tomatoes and chorizo

I know, I know. Octopus is on every menu in town now, so what sets this one apart? The beautiful bed of cannellini beans the octopus rests on, that's what! They're perfectly seasoned, have a little bit of a kick to them (thanks to the smoked paprika vinaigrette), and have some chorizo mixed in. This dish is divine! And the octopus is perfectly cooked, of course.

I would also highly recommend the beet salad, Atlantic diver scallops and lamb lollipops.
The beet salad with arugula and salted almonds 

If you're not a fan of beets, this salad will change your mind. Three different types of beets are prepared several different ways and mixed together expertly. It is summer in a bowl.
The shiitake mushrooms and spring peas make this scallops dish

The lamb lollipops: Accompanied by roasted carrots and a chocolate demi-glace
And for dessert, do save some room for the s'mores floating island. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but this dessert is as cool as it is delicious: A deconstructed s'more made up of toasted chocolate meringue, vanilla crème anglaise and graham streusel. Yum!

The s'mores floating island is now one of my favorite desserts in Atlanta 

LOGISTICS: Located at the corner of Peachtree and 14th in midtown (at Colony Square), 5Church has complimentary valet parking. They also have pretty great happy specials and a beautiful patio that always draws a crowd.

P.S.: Credit for the very first photo in this post goes to Lauren Patrick of Pretty Southern, one of my good friends and fantastic Atlanta food bloggers. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Heads up: Havana Nights at the Regent Cocktail Club

(c) Chris Watkins
Mojitos, live Cuban music, rooftop patio. You don’t have to travel to Havana to get all this. Instead, head to the Regent Cocktail Club in Buckhead.
One of the Regent Club's mixologist hard at work (c) Chris Watkins

Every first Thursday of the month, Buckhead’s best rooftop bar hosts Havana Nights 7-10 p.m. The Regent’s expert mixologists can make you a perfect mojito (or caipirinha or rum punch) for $10, and a live band plays until well after the sun sets on the Atlanta skyline. Dancing is not required, but certainly encouraged.
The leather chairs and dark wood finishes of the Regent Club interior (c) Chris Watkins

The bar menu is, of course, available all night long. If you get hungry, order the soft pretzel—it is gigantic and tasty and its presentation is fantastic. The wagyu sliders are also highly recommended. And tonight, there will be boozy mojito popsicles, made with specialty Brugal 1888 Gran Reserva rum!
Your drink choices for Havana Nights: Caipirinha, rum punch, mojito (c) Chris Watkins

The Regent Cocktail Club is located right on Peachtree Street, in the Shops Buckhead Atlanta, on top of American Cut. See you tonight? 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Heads up: Progressive dinner party on the Beltline

Confession: I’ve never been to a progressive dinner party before. But I’ve always wanted to go to one, which is why I’m extra excited for this year’s Rock, Wine and Stroll event put on by Two Urban Licks and Parish restaurants.

Curated by Todd Rushing of Concentrics Restaurants, the two-eatery bash will feature wine from six different wineries, whole lamb and pig barbecues and live music.

Two Urban Licks will be serving whole roasted hog tacos with hand-made tortillas and all the accoutrements. I’m talking salsa verde, mole negro, pico de gallo, queso fresco and and queso fundido, as well as homemade guacamole. This restaurant will also have oysters on the half shell with pickled habanero mignonette.
Two Urban Licks interior 

Parish, on the othe rhand, will have spit-roasted whole lamb with homemade pita, pickles and other traditional condiments. Other sides include marinated sweet peppers, sweet and sour eggplant, hummus, fava bean and carrot salad, as well as grilled mushroom and bulgur salad.

OMG, I’m already drooling!

All this takes place Thursday, March 23, starting at 6:30 p.m. You can call either restaurant for the reservation. It’s $40/person to attend either one of the restaurants, or $75 to attend both.

I’m planning on going to both restaurants. See you there?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Taste Tuesday: The Tavern at Atlas

I left my heart in the Tavern at Atlas… that’s how the saying goes, right? Am I using it correctly?

Seriously, though, the newest addition to Atlas, the restaurant inside the St. Regis hotel in Buckhead, is easy to fall in love with. The Tavern has a gorgeous patio -- think stone fireplaces and greenery throughout -- as well as a phenomenal new food & drink menu.
How stunning is this patio?!? 

WHY GO: Because everything about this restaurant is beautiful and gorgeous and wonderful, from the food to the decor to the art.
The main Atlas dining room (c) Tomas Espinoza

THE VIBE: Elevated, yet somehow relaxing. You feel very much at home here, despite the fancy cocktails and the real Picasso, Monet and Chagall paintings hanging on the wall.
Just one corner of the amazing outdoor patio

DRINK THIS: I highly recommend the Rhone Sour. It’s made with Bulleit Rye (my current obsession), lemon and egg white foam, and topped with a wine float.
The Rhone Sour cocktail is in the right back (c) Heidi Geldhauser 

EAT THIS: In addition to creative cocktails, the Tavern has an impressive food menu: The rosemary roasted ruby beet tartare, petit lobster pot pie and caramelized veal sweetbreads will wow the biggest of foodies. But the menu also has items like parmesan thyme fries, beef sliders and cheese twists, which certainly contribute to the relaxing overall atmosphere. Add a little live music, and you’re never going to want to leave.
The beet tartare, sliders and parmesan fries (c) Heidi Geldhauser

Caramelized veal sweetbreads and the Rhone Sour cocktail
You have a couple of options for food: You can order a number of small plates at the bar/lounge (or the absolutely stunning library) for sharing, or head to the main dining room for a coursed meal. Or -- my personal favorite -- a combination of the two, where you grab some appetizers and cocktails from the Tavern menu and enjoy the rest of your meal in the main dining room.
First course: Spring pea soup 

Second course: Roasted beet salad
Main entree: Pan-seared trout with mushrooms, brussel leaves and satsuma slices 
Whichever experience you choose, it will be filled with locally-sourced ingredients, artful presentation and unparalleled service. Do save some room for dessert -- it is beyond impressive! Talk about amazing presentation!
Still dreaming of this chocolate mousse

LOGISTICS: The Tavern at Atlas is located inside the St. Regis hotel in Buckhead. Once you valet, head inside the hotel and go up the stairs on the left. Go down the hallway until you see the entrance to Atlas at the end, on your right.

The Tavern menu is available in the newly designed lounge, bar, library and outdoor patio, starting at 4 p.m. daily.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Happy National Oreo Cookie Day!

What is your favorite way to eat an Oreo cookie? Do you dunk it in a glass of milk before taking a bite? Do you split it in half and lick the filling? Today we celebrate all the different ways to eat Oreos, because today is National Oreo Cookie Day!

My favorite way to eat an Oreo is fried (calories from Oreos don’t count on National Oreo Cookie Day, right??). It’s the perfect treat, whether you’re at a local fair or or need to bring a dessert to a potluck dinner. And it is easier to make at home than you might think!

The fried Oreo experts at the Atlanta Fair shared the super-simple recipe with me -- check it out:

-Cover an Oreo cookie in funnel cake batter
-Fry for 2 minutes
-Flip the cookie and fry for another 2 minutes
-Drain grease
-Place cookie(s) in a bowl or on a plate and cover with powder sugar

Who knew it was this easy to make these tasty bites?

To make them a little more personal, I like to play around with toppings. In addition to powdered sugar, you can drizzle the cookies with caramel, raspberry syrup or chocolate sauce. You can also switch up the batter and make red velvet fried Oreos -- yum!

If you prefer to leave the Oreo frying to the professionals, you can always visit the Atlanta Fair to satisfy your craving. Going on now through April 2, Atlanta’s favorite fair is located in the Grey Lot of Turner Field and has all the traditional festival treats, including candy apples, elephant ears and cotton candy.

Of course, it also has some awesome rides -- like the Towering Ferris Wheel, 45-foot Ring of Fire, and the Inversion -- so it’s a great way to spend time with family and friends, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or are toting around little ones.