Mar 09

Eat Squad #9: Homemade Jamaican Food

From our very first Eat Squad, the Barocai, Slick + I have wanted to see what Atlanta has to offer by way of Caribbean food.  And, we knew just where we wanted it from…

The lovely Ms. Roshal (pictured above), who with her boyfriend are important components of Eat Squad, grew up in Jamaica.  Her boyfriend, Z, frequently raves about Roshal’s talent for cooking authentic Caribbean food.  We knew that if we were ever lucky enough for her to host a dinner party for us to try out her cuisine, we were in for a treat.  So we started hinting – and she caught on.  :)

On Sunday evening, Roshal cooked us an amazing, traditional Jamacian/ Trinidadian meal that Slick + I have been incessantly talking about since. 

Please witness our feast:

Curried goat + potatoes with Jamaican/ Trinidadian curry.

Roti: Traditional bread to accompany curried goat. (Similar to naan.)

Pelau: Trinidadian rice dish cooked in coconut milk with chicken, beef + PIG TAIL!  (Which Slick + Mr. Barocas loved.)

Jamaican sauce made with scotch bonnet pepper, onions + vinegar to go over Fish Escovitch.

Fish Escovitch.

A gorgeous salad with strawberries + yellow peppers.

Malibu coconut rum + pineapple cocktails to accompany the flavorful meal.  (We all kiddingly mocked this drink as the “college girl’s drink of choice,” but had NO problem finishing a large pitcher…)

Everything was SO unbelievably fantastic!

Although Roshal does not have plans to open a Jamaican restaurant in Atlanta, I think the lesson here is that sometimes the most delicious + exciting food could be right under your nose.  Sure, heading over to Buford Highway to try cuisine from around the world might be the easy way to do it – but it won’t necessarily be the best you can get.

When you have the opportunity to taste Caribbean dishes at a traditional restaurant, I strongly recommend you try the dishes pictured + described above.  (Although, go easy on anything made with scotch bonnet pepper – yowza!  I learned the hard way…)

xx, L

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Categories: Buford Highway,Eat Squad,Where we're Eating

Oct 19

Eat Squad #8: ATL Chinatown Food Court

Captain Kurt, who you may remember from such Washington, DC posts as How to Gain 30 Lbs. in 3 Days + Spectacular, Spectacular, was in town over the weekend.  Kurt is an incredibly adventurous eater, so he was a perfect candidate to join us for Eat Squad #8 at the Atlanta Chinatown Food Court.

The CTFC is more than kind of amazing – located in the Atlanta Chinatown Mall on New Peachtree Road in Chamblee.  According to the mall’s website, there are 100,000 Chinese-Americans in Atlanta, and the mall is an area for them, and anyone else who appreciates Asian culture, to socialize, shop + dine.  Mr. Barocas had eaten at the CTFC a few times before, so he spearheaded our trip. 

Please witness our culinary adventure:

(This was all handwritten!)

(Mr Barocas’ buddy @ Chong Qing Hot Pot – where the majority of our food came from.)

(Perusing food picture books to help us select our feast.)

(Slick serving himself some rice.)

The meal:

Okay, so I’m going to be real w/ y’all:  I’m definitely into food, but I’m not a culinary genius…  I am not really sure what everything was that we ate (with the exception of the pork dumplings + Cari’s chix fried rice, of course).  The boys did the ordering, which was fine by me, and we ate whatever was brought over to us.  Everything was delicious, and total cost for all that food for five people was about $10 per person!! 

The CTFC is such an interesting cultural experience, and I would definitely recommend a visit to adventurous eaters + anyone who wants to have a really fun/ filling meal that won’t come close to breaking the bank.  Bring your appetites, though – even you serious eaters.  Consider yourselves warned…  :)

About Atlanta Chinatown: http://www.atlantachinatown.com/en/about.html
Mall Directory: http://www.atlantachinatown.com/en/directory.html
Directions & Maps: http://www.atlantachinatown.com/en/directions.html

xx, L

Atlanta Chinatown Food Court
5383 New Peachtree Road
Chamblee, GA  30341
770.458.6660

Chong Qing Hot Pot on Urbanspoon

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Categories: Brookhaven,Eat Squad,Where we're Eating

Aug 25

Eat Squad #7: The Iberian Pig

Soooooo, Lindsay has a new favorite restaurant. 

It’s called The Iberian Pig, and you can find it hidden in downtown Decatur. 

also, you can find it here in this picture. you're welcome.

Although it took Slick + me an extra 30 minutes more than everyone else to find it for Eat Squad last week, it was absolutely worth the hunt.  (Seriously, though, it takes a committed foodie to find this place.  I kinda felt like I was on The Amazing Race…)

As soon as we found it + met our friends, I was ready for a drink.  Much to my complete surprise + great excitement, they feature the Aviation on the menuI mean, it was just like they KNEW me.

well hello, gorgeous

The menu at The Iberian Pig is pretty freaking phenomenal.  The tapas list was extensive + creative enough to fully grab the table’s attention, so we decided to share a bunch of those among the six of us.  Here’s what we ate:

charcuterie + quesos

patatas al valdeon

salmon ceviche (special)

salchicha 3-ways

the ladies...

...our studly gentlemen

bbq octopus w/ patatas

first order of pork cheek tacos...

...second order of pork cheek tacos

jonah crab croquetas

B.W.D. (bacon wrapped dates)

cabrita carbonara w/ slow roasted goat

tocino con manzana

calamares

NOT PICTURED (but incredibly delicious):  ALBONDIGAS – wild boar sausage meatballs stuffed w/ piquillo peppers, Macedonian dates + roasted tomatoes.  Finished w/ pimenton creme and oyster mushrooms.

Every small plate we ordered was unbelievably good.  And, we went to town!

so insanely full - could barely stand up to take this, but nice lookin' group, eh?

This was the best meal I’ve had in a long time.  The Iberian Pig gets points for (1) really friendly + knowledgeable staff, (2) an incredibly creative + beyond delicious menu – there’s so much more that I’m dying to try, (3) offering the Aviation martini + bacon-infused bourbon (which was v. tasty) at the bar + in the dining room, and (4) for its kind-of-hidden-and-hard-for-Lindsay-and-Slick-to-find Decatur location. 

Once we finally found it, though, the giant hunt sorta made us feel like it was OUR restaurant.  Which, in fact, it is now.   :)

xx, L

The Iberian Pig
121 Sycamore Street
Atlanta, GA  30030
404.371.8800
www.iberianpigatl.com

The Iberian Pig on Urbanspoon

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Categories: Cocktails,Decatur,Eat Squad,Where we're Eating

Aug 06

Eat Squad Log #6: Imperial Fez

Last night, a very small group of us Eat Squad-ers made plans to meet for dinner at Imperial Fez in Peachtree Hills.  Frequently, I’ve driven past Imperial’s black awning and have been curious about what the deal is with this restaurant that never appears to be too busy, but seems unfazed by the economic downturn…and by time, generally.

I was the first of the four of us to arrive, and was pleasantly surprised with the authenticity of the restaurant.  Albeit a bit weirded out about how empty and quiet it was, which resulted in a panicked call to Cari, “WHERE the (insert: expletive) am I – and WHERE are y’all?!?!”

Cari informed me that they were on their way, and that I should watch the TV look at the wall covered with photos of noteworthy restaurant patrons until they arrived.  The wall was pretty outstanding – including photos of Imperial’s chef with Governor Schwarzenegger, Teddybear Turner and Reba McEntire, herself!  Reebs!!

Good thing I wore my fancy 4-inch heels to dinner…

The host walked us into a cozy Oriental-rug-covered room, and sat us all down on what looked like a plush, but pretty worn out couch.  This is where all the people were!  Surprisingly, too, there were a sizeable amount of people there – many more than I’d guessed.  Our server asked us to place our hands into a silver bowl, and he washed them for us with water.  Then, he handed each of us a towel to throw over our left shoulder for the meal, and he instructed us to only eat with our right hand.  Yes, hand – not fork. Hand.  So fun!

We selected the 5-course dinner, which runs $45 per person.  We all agreed that that was a pretty solid deal.  We started off with the Harrira Moroccan Lentil Soup with Moroccan Bread (Whole Wheat & Honey) + Moroccan Crackers (Fekkas). Slick said that this was his favorite part of the meal.

Next up was Moroccan Salads with a Side of Red Harissa and the chef’s signature hot sauce.  Our table was not well lit, but I remember eating eggplant, spinach, dill + cucumber and something with rose water, which tasted like perfume to me.  We used the Moroccan crackers to shovel the salads into our mouths.

By this point, Cari and I tired of the towels on our shoulders and put them on our laps.  We appreciated the idea of keeping with the tradition, but we didn’t trust ourselves not to be messy.  Our server brought us an appetizer called B’stella to share, which was my favorite part of the meal, and was super delicious!  Cari told us that it was made with sweet spices, chicken and eggs.  (We used forks to eat this one…)

As soon as the forks appeared, they were used throughout the rest of the meal.  We each ordered an entree, and they were devoured in a flash!  So quick, in fact, that most of the pictures I took are of half-eaten dishes.  Our entrees are ranked below in order of what I liked best to least*:

1 – Cornish-hen Tajine baked with apricots, ginger, saffron + honey.  Garnished with roasted almonds + sesame seeds.

2 – Chef Rafih’s Special Beef Ribs marinated with Moroccan herbs, spices + dried sweet chili (not pictured b/c we ate it too fast…)

3 – Lamb Tajine Morozola baked with Rass El Hannut (32 aromatic spices prepared by the chef) + garnished with onions, raisins + roasted almonds

4 – Roasted Lamb Shank M’Choul baked with cumin, garlic, paprika, fresh cilantro + herbs.  Garnished with exotic wild mushrooms.

*Note: I’m pretty sure that I don’t care for lamb, generally, because everyone at the table liked the lamb dishes the best.  Slick did not care for the chicken because he said it was too sweet for him.

Dessert was yummy, but I’m not sure what it was and I can’t find it described anywhere on their menu.  There was powdered sugar and chocolate sauce on the outside, and the inside tasted like baklava – but not quite as sweet – with apples and nuts.  We also had fruit skewers with strawberry sauce.

We ended the evening with sweet Moroccan Hot Mint Tea.  Before he brought us the bill, our server had us put our hands back into the silver bowl he used to wash them at the beginning of the meal, and he brushed rose water onto them.

Throughout the meal, the skinniest belly dancer I’ve ever seen preformed for us.  At first she just danced, but then she got all crazy with swords and fire. I was v. impressed.

These were the cutest kids EVER! :)

The meal was almost three hours long, but it was totally + completely enjoyable in every way. It was very easy to forget that the restaurant is situated on Peachtree Street not far from the hustle + bustle of Midtown.  I strongly recommend Imperial Fez for a birthday party, a fifth or sixth date, or for a big group of people since almost everything is family style.

P.S. You can get a hookah for the table at the restaurant for $25.

Check out Imperial’s daily specials on the second page of the menu here: HOOKAH TIME!

xx, L

Imperial Fez
2285 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA  30309
404.351.0870
www.imperialfez.com

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Categories: Buckhead,Eat Squad,Where we're Eating

Jun 09

Eat Squad Log #5: Cafe Agora

On Slick’s recommendation, Eat Squad visited one of his favorite restaurants in Atlanta on Sunday evening – Cafe Agora.  I’d been there once before w/ the Shapiros after our V-Day Extravaganza at Chateau Elan, but I’d only tried their hummus + pita.  This time, however, I tried everything – many thanks to Al, the restaurant owner, who fork-fed me a nice portion of the meal.  (I’m not kidding.)

Cafe Agora - Buckhead

Upon arriving at Cafe Agora, Slick introduced me to Al and he slid two glasses of tap H2O in our direction.  I told Al that it was my first time at the Cafe, which had come highly recommended from Slick.  Without saying much, Al walked to the back and came out with a small maza plate of hummus, baba ganoush, ezme, kisir + piyaz and eggplant salad, as well as a small plate of spanakopita.  He sternly informed us that we had to finish everything on the plate if we wanted to eat dinner there.  (It didn’t take long for me to realize that this isn’t a man you want to argue with… ) Instead, I mentally prepared myself to ingest large quantities of Mediterranean food over the next hour and a half – whether I wanted to or not.

As soon as some more of our Eat Squad arrived, we sat down at the somewhat rickety, unassuming tables in the small restaurant and waited to order.  When the server approached our table, he brought over a large version of the maza plate w/ warm pita for the table to share – a nice welcome gift from our friend, Al.

Once we polished it off, the server took our orders.  Everyone except for Foodie Buddha and I got the Agora Mixed Grill (mixed plate of meats).  FB and I ordered the Gyro.  (Honestly, I didn’t really have a choice – I was told (or commanded may be the better word?) by Al to get it.)  Sure – whatever he says.

LISTEN TO AL!!  I loved it.  It was awesome.

I was concerned that the gyro was going to be fatty, but I seriously didn’t find an ounce of fat on it.  Instead, when I unwrapped the aluminum foil holding my huge gyro together, it overflowed with meat, lettuce, onions and tzatziki.  It was delicious, and I ate all of it.

Al brought over a large plate of pistachio baklava for dessert.  I thought that it was pretty greasy, but it was certainly tasty and we didn’t have a problem finishing it.

What a fun experience!  That’s really what it was – an experience.

Al isn’t for everyone – I will say that.  I’m not sure how my father would feel about Al forcing a forkful of food in his face…  And, I kind of think that Al arbitrarily makes up his own prices when you approach the register, which is more than a little eyebrow raising – frankly I’m not sure it’s even legal.  Regardless, I got a kick out of him, and the Cafe Agora gyro has been summoning me back ever since I left on Sunday.  I definitely recommend checking this place out, and please send Al my regards when you do.

xx, L

Cafe Agora
262 E. Paces Ferry Rd. NE
Atlanta, GA  30305
404.949.0900

www.cafeagora.com/index.htm

Cafe Agora on Urbanspoon

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Categories: Buckhead,Eat Squad,Where we're Eating