Wednesday, August 31, 2011

P.F. Chang's Triple Happiness Happy Hour

Tuna Tataki Crisp - my favorite street fare offering.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro is offering a special Happy Hour they call Triple Happiness. The triple refers to "drinks, dim sum and street fare". I was invited to come sample several of the drinks and food selections just a few weeks ago. Beverage Director Mary Melton and Market Chef Nico Roldan were on hand to explain the food/drink pairings and answer questions.

I was impressed with the variety and quality of the drinks. Many of the ingredients are made in-house such as fresh squeezed juices and unique sphere-shaped ice cubes. The Coconut Lemon Sour really hit the spot for me. I also really enjoyed the tuna tataki crisp, the Shanghai street dumplings and the spicy wontons.

Although the fare is quite tame for the adventurous eater, the selections may cause the uninitiated to branch out from chain restaurants like P.F. Chang's to try smaller, off the beaten track Chinese restaurants that offer more unique and authentic dim sum: think Buford Highway. P.F. Chang's Triple Happiness is a fun idea and I hope the promotion continues. Being at P.F. Chang's also brought back fond memories of eating at the Charlotte outpost as a youngster - thanks P.F. Chang's!

Pork & Rice Siu Mai.

From left, clockwise: Dragon martini with Dragon fruit vodka, pomegranate juice and yuzu puree; Dark & Spicy with fresh juiced ginger and Cruzan rums; Blue Moon Belgian White beer; Coconut Lemon Sour (my fave) with coconut water, Pearl Coconut Vodka, fresh lemon and pure cane sugar; Yuzu Ginger Mojito with ginger, yuku and sake.

Flaming Red Wontons. These were also very tasty.

Asian street tacos - beef, pork and shrimp.


Special gin & tonic with Fever Tree tonic water and ice sphere.

Shanghai street dumplings filled with chicken, ginger, green onion and soy. I really liked this sauce.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro (Vinings) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Monterey Aquarium

Loved our visit to Monterey Bay Aquarium. We packed in a LOT of sightseeing during our few days in the Bay Area. Below are a few more photos from our time in Monterey.

Love these flowers!

Walnut Avenue Cafe - Santa Cruz, CA

Awesome mocha - especially after the 5 hour flight delay!

Our first day in the Bay Area we stopped by Santa Cruz to look around and have some breakfast. Walnut Avenue Cafe was just what we needed after a flight delay the night before and not a lot of sleep. Strangely enough, we saw our seatmate from the airplane on the street just before we entered the restaurant! Small world sometimes.

Can't remember the exact composition of this egg dish but it was tasty!

Special shrimp scramble with potatoes and a delicious muffin.

The outdoor scene. So cute.

We walked over to the beach after breakfast and noticed that the famous carousel is 100! Cake after breakfast = yum.

The beach in Santa Cruz with boardwalk and rides to boot!

Walnut Avenue Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meehan's Downtown Summer Series Peach Dinner

Medjool Dates wrapped with Benton's ham, Sweetgrass chevre with Georgia peach & champagne gastrique, served with Reprieve French-style Ale. A great start to a delicious and fun meal.

I was invited to Meehan's Public House's downtown Atlanta location for their Summer Series - Part II dinner. This dinner featured dishes containing peaches paired with beers from Jailhouse Brewing Company. Dinner guests (about 20 of us total) were seated in the restaurant's private room at a long communal table. Chef Jordan Wakefield was on hand to explain each dish and Stephen from Jailhouse provided commentary on each beer pairing. I really enjoyed this event. The food was fabulous and it was fun getting to know some of Meehan's regulars. Meehans Downtown is holding its Summer Series - Part III dinner - this time featuring pecans and beers from Sweetwater Brewing Company, on August 30 at 7 PM. Click here to see the full menu.

Meehans has two other locations in Sandy Springs and in Vinings. The Sandy Springs location will hold Pink Floyd: A Musical Dinner - a five course dinner with beer pairings - on September 22. Click here for more information and to see the menu.

Bourbon poached peach salad with grilled Georgia wild shrimp, Belgium endive, Sweetgrass Dairy goat cheese, spiced Georgia pecans & white peach & ginger vinaigrette, served with Mugshot IPA.

Some of the beers we tried: Reprieve French-Style Ale, Mugshot IPA, Slammer Wheat. We also tried Breakout Stout (not pictured).

Sonoma County foie gras, pan seared with smoked Georgia peaches, toasted brioche & warm peach compote, paired with Slammer Wheat beer. So delicious - it was a real treat to have foie gras.

Peach smoked Niman Ranch pork belly with Ansen Mills & blue cheese grits, grilled Georgia peaches with local collards & peach & jalepeno chutney, with Reprieve French-Style Ale. This was hands down my favorite dish of the evening. The blue cheese grits paired perfectly with the collards and the succulent pork belly.

"Slap Yo Mama!" Peach Cobbler with homemade peach sorbet, vanilla ice cream & caramelized peaches, served with Breakout stout.

Take home souvenir! These can be refilled at area stores such as Ale Yeah in Decatur.

Meehan's Public House - Downtown on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 14, 2011

100th Birthday and Another Lovely Birthday Cake

100 Years and counting... my stepdad's mom Annette. Many of us call her "Aunt Anne".

She requested a cookout...

My mom had this neat cake made commemorating Aunt Anne's many years in Philadelphia (1928 - 2005) as well as her 100 years. Aunt Anne kept insisting, "I am not 100!"

Dips made by my fabulous sister-in-law Nicole. Yum.

My DH, the grill master on the giant Foreman. It was a wonderful celebration of a long life. We look forward to 101 next summer!

Another birthday, another cake - this one for our friend Dana in Atlanta.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Smashburger: Buckhead

An outpost of Smashburger, a national burger chain, opened in Buckhead in July. Another John's Creek location just opened this week and another location is planned for Alpharetta. I was invited to try Smashburger for lunch during a busy workday several weeks ago. Luckily, the Buckhead location is around the corner from my office so getting there was quick and easy. Smashburger took over what used to be Fatburger. In addition to signature burgers and a build your own option, grilled chicken, veggie burgers, hot dogs and entree salads are available. Sweet potato fries and haystack onions add to the "side" mix. There are no combos, so if you want fries with that you need to say so. The burger is available in three sizes, which is nice. View the Buckhead menu here. I enjoyed the Atlanta burger and Smashfries - the herb mixture on the fries is tasty and I liked the spicy flavors on this signature burger.

The Atlanta Burger: Peach BBQ sauce, Wicked Pimina cheese (I assume this is a trademarked version of Pimento, however I didn't really taste cheese in the mix), grilled jalepenos and Vidalia coleslaw. On the side: Smashfries tossed in olive oil, rosemary and garlic.

The Classic Burger with Fried Pickles.

The chocolate milkshake with Nutter Butter added - probably my favorite part of the meal! They use Haagen Dazs ice cream, which is my favorite commercial cream. Other mix-ins include Oreo and Butterfinger. Ice cream floats and malts are also available.

Smashburger on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 12, 2011

Peaches from Georgia Peach Council and a Cookbook

This summer I was fortunate to be provided with a box of peaches from Pearson Farm through the Georgia Peach Council along with Peach County, GA native Gena Knox's excellent cookbook, Southern My Way: Simple Recipes, Fresh Flavors. The peach crop this year is wonderful and I truly enjoyed eating and cooking with these peaches. I made peach ice cream (my own recipe) as well as a Georgia Caprese salad and a Cornmeal Peach Cake from Knox's book. The cornmeal peach cake was particularly spectacular. I actually made two!

Georgia Caprese Salad with Lime Vinaigrette (Gena Knox's recipe)

My box!

Cornmeal Peach Cake, cooling.

The sliced warm cake with homemade peach ice cream. Gooey and delicious!

If you haven't bought any fresh peaches this year, buy them now - they are still ripe and can be purchased at any of the farmer's markets around town.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cook's Warehouse Midtown Breakfast with Chef Nancy Waldeck

Luscious shrimp and grits, baked cinnamon and maple french toast and strawberries with lime glaze. A healthy take on delicious classics.

Back in June I was invited to a breakfast at the Cook's Warehouse Midtown location in Ansley Mall. I had not yet been to this location, which moved from Amsterdam Walk. The space is large, with a wonderful kitchen for cooking classes and great kitchen products as always. Chef Nancy Waldeck entertained us by cooking several of her wonderful recipes - the shrimp and grits was a favorite - and showed us how to keep the calorie count down in addition to making the dishes taste great. Tricks for this include using low fat cream cheese in the grits and using chicken stock instead of cream when sauteing the shrimp. Nancy has a wonderful website and blog as well as a book called Taste and Savor. Cook's Warehouse is a must-visit for anyone who loves to cook and also a great place to learn, since they have many classes ranging from basic to advanced and theme cooking.

Chef Nancy Waldeck gave us some great tips, like how to cut a bell pepper properly for slicing and cooked the above tasty breakfast for us before our eyes.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Pie Shop

Coconut Cream Pie = heavenly.

I was invited to try the fabulous Pie Shop back in July. This recent addition to Buckhead puts out pies, tarts, custards, tassies and more, including both sweet and savory items. In addition to what is pictured here, I've also tried their Savory Custard with Okra and Mushrooms, Vegetable Pot Pie, Cherry Pie, Chocolate Pie and Lavender Honey Pie. A unique feature: the shop stays open until 1 AM on weekends to accommodate dessert-seekers and bar hoppers in the neighborhood. Their communal tables allow for lunch, dessert or a snack (or dinner on the weekends!) to be eaten in; or you can take a whole pie to go. The selection changes weekly - click here for the current menu - and you can join the shop's email list to have the weekly selection emailed to you on Monday. The combinations range from classic to inventive - definitely a place worth seeking out.

Entrance to Pie Shop. You drive around back to reach the entrance. Look carefully for the Pie Shop sign on Roswell Road as it is easy to miss.

Pie on display.

Strawberry-topped Cheesecake bites with gingersnap crust, Caramel-Banana Tassies with Pecan-Shortbread Crust, and Peanut Butter Cream Tassies with Chocolate-dipped Cookie Crust.

Three Grape Pie - unique and tasty.

Strawberry & Candied Lemon Peel Pie - my second favorite after Coconut Cream.

Wall of pie poetry - a really neat idea!

North Georgia Fried Apple Pie.

Butterscotch Meringue Pie.

Owner Mims Bledsoe with the pie boxes used for takeout. Tell her Amy on Food sent you!

Pie Shop on Urbanspoon