Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Divan



Blurry (boo) but still legible (yay!)

Persian Coffee


Can't remember the name but it's supposed to sate three people

Room ceiling

Crab Risotto Croquettes - crab, cream cheese, herbs, Saffron buerre blanc


Falafel - chickpeas, cumin, cilantro, garlic yogurt sauce

Front: Marinated Goat Cheese - herbs, extra virgin olive oil, wrapped in grape leaves
Back: Filet Mignon Medallions - spinach fettuccini, parmesan cream sauce


Birthday cake from Henri's (I believe)

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate - yum!

I had never heard of Divan; I was lucky enough to join a friend's bachelorette party here for dinner. ^_^ The menu's on the pricey side but hey, it was worth it.

Quick rundown:
Persian Coffee - yummers
Unnamed Mixed Drink Concoction - pretty good, actually
Crab croquettes - yummy
Falafel - eh, something was amiss 
Marinated Goat Cheese - ehh... I didn't think anything was wrong with it but my friends thought so. O.o
Filet Mignon Medallions - YUM
Cake - devilishly good

I urge you to check out the Yelp reviews before you go.

Cafe Intermezzo


Wild Mushroom and Prosciutto Ravioli with Pesto - wild mushroom ravioli and prosciutto in a pesto creme sauce, garnished with Parmesan cheese and micro greens


Normally I go to Cafe Intermezzo for coffee, and I often use it as a late-night hang-out with friends. This time... was different. The food's a bit on the expensive side for me (much like their drinks), but it was about time I tried it. (Sorry for the blurry pics!)

I chose the ravioli mostly because I hadn't had pesto in a while. I can't even remember the last time I ate it. This dish had about 4 actual raviolis in it and they were jam-packed with goodness. It was so rich! I could feel my arteries clogging with every bite. O_O The Parmesan and micro greens added a nice texture to it, too. Try this - at your own peril. I will also take suggestions for drink pairings. ^_^

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SunO

Honeydew bubble tea with bubbles (tapioca pearls) - this isn't listed on the online menu but it is available in store

Thai tea bubble tea with bubbles (tapioca pearls)

Side note: We used a halfoffdepot voucher, which we had gotten for free when they had the $5 give-away a while back.  ($5 give-away paid for the $5 voucher worth $10 at SunO's Pleasant Hill Rd location.) Basically, our tab was $0. ^_^

Top: Strawberry Banana
Left: Brownie Overload
Right: Green Tea Red Bean

Bottom right: Some concoction my friend put together O_O It was still tasty, of course!
It may be the SunO Pappinsu... with extra condensed milk.

Most Asians are aware of SunO Desserts [pronounced soon-o]. There are four locations so far: Pleasant Hill Rd near H-Mart; Jimmy Carter Boulevard in the Hong Kong Supermarket; North Decatur Rd near Emory University; and East Broad St in Athens near University of Georgia (UGA). As of late, many non-Asians are aware of it, too. 

The concept of shaved milk ice is "new" to some Americans. It's lighter than ice cream, yogurt, and gelato but weighted down and flavored by sweetened condensed milk. There are two sizes: small and large. You'll almost always have to share a large with someone - it's just too much for one person. The menu provides different combinations for you, or you can make your own version. 

To my knowledge, the teas are made from powder, not scratch. They are still tasty but don't expect to have an authentic tea there. [Try Mr. Tea House instead - it's only two doors down.] The honeydew version was very sweet - my sweet tooth loved it! In comparison, the Thai tea was really bland. My friend says it's supposed to taste that way. Needless to say, I gladly stayed with my honeydew tea. :oD

We didn't really purchase ALL four of those SunO buckets. We ordered two, then found out that the kids behind the counter messed up a customer's order. Thus, we were gifted two large SunO buckets for free. Two buckets was manageable for five people, but four?! We tried to get more friends to come over and help us with this "problem," but no takers. We had a lot of SunO that day... O_O Good for a hot afternoon. All SunO locations have free Wi-fi as well. ^_^

Ted's Montana Grill


BBQ Chicken Salad - Spring mix tossed with pulled bbq chicken, Cheddar cheese, roasted corn, Anaheim peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, red onion, fried tortilla strips, cilantro, and ranch dressing [less onions]


For shame! A chain restaurant! Ted's Montana Grill - those of us in the South are familiar with the name. I opted for a semi-healthy salad - there's always something dastardly unhealthy in them nowadays, isn't there? Tsk, tsk. 

The salad was humongous! I had a little bit of troubling finishing it... actually, (confession!) I shouldn't have finished it but I did. O.o I knew a vinaigrette would taste weird with the bbq chicken, so I kept the ranch dressing. I didn't lather it on the salad like most people do though, so I curbed *that* many calories at least. >.> You could (and perhaps should) box half of it when it comes to the table because there's plenty for two meals. The salad was tasty and the bbq chicken didn't seem that dry, which is a plus. Even if it were, the dressing is there to "help."

Williams Sonoma Ice Cream Demo

Scraping vanilla bean for seeds; used to make vanilla ice cream

Blueberry topping

Peach sorbet - made in less than five minutes!

Peach sorbet

Variety of ice cream machines/tools with flexible measuring cups in forefront

Vanilla ice cream made from scratch

Vanilla ice cream + blueberry topping

Popsicle - using orange-rimmed tools on counter

I forget the flavor. -____-"

I just thought this was funny. Truth in advertising! ^_^

Cookies 'n creme ice cream - used same machine for vanilla ice cream from above - except the cookies 'n creme came from a package, not from scratch.

Homemade custard - vanilla bean seeds on top

Cookies 'n creme ice cream

KitchenAid has an ice cream maker attachment for .. about $60, if you already own a stand. (Plug!)

Ice cream is food. Williams Sonoma hosts an annual From Scratch - Ice Cream demonstration. [On the WS website, go to Store Events/Complimentary Technique Classes.] I was fortunate enough to spot this event in a daily deal email I receive for the Atlanta area. I had mixed feelings about the demo - on the one hand, I wanted to make the ice cream myself; on the other, it would've taken forever for everyone there to participate in that process. After all, this demonstration took place to shill the store's products. I'm glad there were samples! Sadly, this event occurs only once per year, so you'll have to wait until next year to see one in person. Pencil it in for July 2012.

In the meantime, will I be making ice cream from scratch anytime soon? Probably not. I would want to do this with at least one friend in the kitchen - this is a great learning and tasting experience to share with others. If it happens though, you can be sure that I'll document the whole process.

Cellar 56



Wild Mushroom Polenta - Saute of wild mushrooms over Locatelli Polenta (potatoes!)


Cellar 56 is located next to East Andrews. They serve tapas - these, however, are a bit pricier than the Eclipse di Luna/Loca Luna variety. On the plus side, there's more variety in terms of available dishes.

The Wild Mushroom Polenta was my "vegetarian" cop-out order. I knew it wasn't healthy vegetarian but I also didn't want to unnecessarily and unceremoniously stuff my face with other, more fattening choices. Yes, I could have chosen a salad ... salads are great. At the same time, salads can be BORING. O_O

Ahem, I digress. The mushrooms were sauteed just right and the polenta was just crispy enough for me. Though I was tempted to add ketchup, I didn't. The combination was great as is - no additional flavoring necessary. I believe the waiter said that two to three dishes generally make up a meal. What I saw at the table confirmed that statement! I'd go with a group of people so you can try out different dishes without incurring a huge tab - I recommend this strategy for anything tapas-like, i.e. Taste of Atlanta (held in October), so you can maximize the number of tasted dishes. We sat "outside" in the courtyard area - with no air conditioning - so I'd recommend sitting indoors if you can. O.o

Verde Taqueria


Queso [Jalapeno queso - perfectly creamy and cooked with pickled jalapeños. Topped with a diced, fresh jalapeño garnish], guacamole [Made fresh all day - served with a lime slice], and salsa [Fresh house-made salsa with a slight jalapeño kick]
Note: This is a combination appetizer - queso, guac, and salsa.



(Top) Fried fish taco - Cornmeal dusted fried tilapia with fresh coleslaw, fried jalapeños, and chipotle aioli
(Bottom) Fried calamari taco - Dusted in cornmeal with fried jalapeños, coleslaw, and jalapeño ranch sauce

Um, one half of a fried fish taco... ^_^ I'm just pointing out the size of it. It's a pretty substantial taco!

Dinner plans fell through, so friends recommended Verde Taqueria. I hadn't heard of this place before, and I had eaten at Varasano's the night before, so Mexican was a great idea. This restaurant is located in a newish plaza off of Dresden Drive. I've passed by it a few times, noting that it's like a mini Virginia-Highlands. In fact, the parking lot was so full, I had to park in the neighborhood across the street. O_O

The tortilla chips were sturdy, perfect for dipping into any of the three delicious dips in front of us. The salsa and queso did have some kick, but not to the point of drowning yourself in water. On some occasions, I like chunky salsa; on others, I like it finely puréed. Verde Taqueria's version was the latter. In all, I liked the combo appetizer.

I ordered the fried fish taco and the fried calamari taco - two tacos are enough! This was the first time I encountered a full-fledged fish taco - needless to say, I was impressed. By "full-fledged," I mean that it was hard me to close the darn taco to eat it because there was so much filling! YUM! It tasted great, too. The size makes it worth the money. The calamari taco required a little strategy because it consists of little fried pieces versus one slice of fried fish, but it too was tasty. I would definitely go back for more tacos.

Oh! We also shared an order of fried plantains (more yum) and churros with chocolate sauce. Sorry, no pics! But these fall in line in terms of tastiness. :oD Two thumbs up.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Varasano's


Decor

Pizza-eating instructions - this actually came in handy!

Chica Bella - Ricotta and Mozzarella finished with arugula and a pinch of lemon

Fat shot aka wide shot

Crostini Bruschetta - Grilled bread, chopped tomatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic, and herbs

CLOSE-UP!

Slice of Margherita pizza - Mozzarella and tomato sauce with basil

I'd heard of Varasano's before and finally found the time to go with a friend of mine. Anyway, I ordered the Chica Bella with the illogical reasoning that the arugula on top would counteract the unhealthy pizza below it. -____-" It reminded me of a forest when it arrived at the table. The pizza was slightly bigger than a personal pan-size - perfect for two people! I want to say there were six slices total, so three per person. The crust was extremely thin (thus the eating instructions - reminding me of calzones, really) and the toppings seemed to be just the right amount considering the thin crust's capabilities. Unfortunately, the "pinch of lemon" turned me off from the Chica Bella. Don't get me wrong - I ate my half of it, but I was sidetracked by that lemon taste. To me, it made the pizza taste a bit sour, with a somewhat bitter aftertaste. :o\ I wouldn't order it again.

After the pizza, my friend and I were still hungry but not hungry enough for another pizza. So, we ended up getting the Crostini Bruschetta, which was good and crunchy. The toppings made for a delicious combination on the bread.

Then, after all of THAT, our waitress came over with another pizza (the Margherita)! O_O It was either a wrong order or one of the chefs was in training - either way, she offered us the pizza on the house. (Score!) Wish we hadn't ordered the Crostini after all! I couldn't say 'no' to this opportunity and I convinced my friend that we could each try a slice. ^_^ I know that Antico's offers the same pizza, so in addition to getting something for free I was also conducting a little taste experiment. ;oD

The Margherita was infinitely better than the Chica Bella, but I still prefer Antico's version. It helps that Antico's makes their pizza fresh and their crust is slightly thicker, allowing for more generous toppings. In this pizza battle, I have to say I prefer Antico's.