Tag Archives: atlanta

Southern Vegetables Celebrated at Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

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Rebecca Lang, author of Southern Living’s The Southern Vegetable Cookbook

 

“The larger the radish, the spicier it is. Who here is afraid of radishes?” asked Rebecca Lang, author of The Southern Vegetable Cookbook. Leading a sold out class on ‘Vegetable Versatility” at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Lang saw there were no hands in the air. This was a room full of enthusiastic food fans eager to taste and learn veggie-centric cooking tips from chef Todd Richards of Atlanta’s White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails restaurant and visiting chef Digby Stridiron of the U.S. Virgin Islands. While Stridiron sliced into plantains and advised, “Buy the green ones in the market and let them ripen at home”, Richards passed samples of his English pea soup garnished with fresh pea tendrils and shared, “We try to use as much of the whole vegetable together.”

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In its sixth year, the four-day festival features chefs from the southern region and entertains guests with lavish southern themed dinners, cooking classes and wine, beer and spirits tastings.

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Cold beer and hot chicken!

Please note my food festival balancing act skills as I carried a Honeysuckle cocktail made with Cathead Vodka and chicken liver pate with a cup of ice in the middle to keep things cool!

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How it’s done.

Sure there’s plenty of BBQ pig and peach cobbler to please, but there’s a sizable celebration of the lighter side of the south, too.

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Golden Lentil Salad, Odette

 

“Everyone things of pork first, but vegetables are the surprising foundation of southern foods, said chef Linton Hopkins of Atlanta’s Holman & Finch Public House, Restaurant Eugene and newly opened Linton’s in the Atlanta Botanical Garden. “I love vegetables and right now I’m excited about the in-season peas, especially lady peas.”

 

Even the Grilling Terrace at the Loews Atlanta Hotel -home base for the festival classes- put vegetables in the spotlight. Chef Rob McDaniel of the Spring House on Alabama’s Lake Martin smoked whole beets in a Big Green Egg to build a beet sandwich with celery and blue cheese slaw. “You can substitute eggplant or zucchini. Grilling is a great way to enhance vegetables because earthy and smoky flavors go really well together,” said McDaniel.

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New Southern Styles

No longer destined to be ‘cooked to death’ and coated in bacon fat, vegetables are elegantly prepared by southern chefs today. Instead of ham hocks, McDaniel prepares greens and beans with smoked turkey or chicken legs. The crisp and refreshing golden lentil salad served up in the tasting tents by chef Josh Quick of Odette in Florence, Alabama was garnished with a Gulf shrimp relish and tiny touch of ham.

 

Salt and sugar are still part of the recipe when cooking a ‘mess of greens’ but Arkansas chef Mark Abernathy of Red Door restaurant in Little Rock cautioned, “You can always add more salt and more sugar later. You can’t take it out. The sweet and salty flavors will concentrate as the greens cook, so have a lighter touch.”

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Chef Mark Abernathy gets excited about greens!

 

 

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Catch this Norwegian Fish

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Norwegian chef Espen Larsen

There’s more than one fish in the sea, as the saying goes.

Relatively new to the U.S. seafood scene is a premium white fleshed fish called skrei, a wild caught Norwegian artic cod available only from January through April.

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The name skrei (pronounced “sk-ray”) comes from the old Norse language for “the wanderer” because the fish is caught in cold winter months when it’s swimming to spawning grounds in northern Norway. “They swim against the current so they have more muscle and are very lean and have a delicate clean taste,” said chef Espen Larsen. “The meat has more body than other cod.”

 

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Larsen, who owns the Culinary Academy of Oslo, visited Atlanta recently to teach the culinary and wait staff at Legal Sea Foods how to best prepare skrei and describe the fish to guests. One of the menu items sampled was pan-roasted skrei with fingerling potatoes, Brussels sprouts, olives and Meyer lemon. “You don’t want to over power the delicate flavor of the fish,” said sous chef Alexander Clyatt.

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“The texture is awesome. Customers always ask about the flavor and texture of a fish and whether it’s wild or farm raised,” said server Lance Brady. “The more information the better.”

 

Skrei is a featured fish on March menus at Legal Sea Foods in Atlanta.

The fish is so revered in Norway that every part is utilized. The tongue is a delicacy.
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“It’s only available for a short time seasonally,” said Larsen. “For me it’s like looking forward to other seasonal foods like spring asparagus.” Premium prices for the short-term treat means strict protection. “There are fish police who make sure regular coastal cod is not being mislabeled as skrei.”

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Always fun to meet a new chef!

The Dish on Fish

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Espen and Legal Seafoods Atlanta chef Frank Judkins

 

Whether you’re discovering your first bites of skrei, enjoying a favorite fish taco or lunching on tuna salad, adding more fish and shellfish to your diet is a healthy habit. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend we eat at least two four-ounce servings a week. “The guidelines tell us we’re eating plenty of protein in the U.S. but we should shift the types of protein to include more fish,” said registered dietitian Jennifer McGuire with the Marine Fisheries Institute.

 

 

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Don’t Ban the Bon-Bons! Happy Healthy New Year!

If you’ve already banned bon-bons and sworn off French fries, I don’t need to tell you that New Year’s diet resolutions are among the most popular annual self-improvement declarations. 
My New Year’s Resolution is to swim more! 
But, the trouble with telling yourself you’re going to make big changes – whether it’s with food or finances – is that it only takes a few little slip ups and you’re back to your old tricks again.  
That’s why nutrition experts say don’t be so rough on yourself because adopting healthier eating behaviors takes some time. In her new book, The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook, registered dietitian Janet Helm writes, “One recent study found that it takes an average of 66 days before a new habit becomes automatic. 
Helm’s Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook features expert tips from RD’s like moi! Page 205 folks on olive oil!!!
So commit to 30 days, then the next month will be much easier to sustain.”  She adds that long-term behavior change is the result of small victories and little daily tweaks.  For instance, when ordering a veggie omelet ask the kitchen to double up on the veggies and halve the cheese to shave off significant calories and add fiber and nutrients. 
Sometimes a new habit means continuing to enjoy the splurge foods you love, but less often. “Eat your special foods in reasonable amounts,” suggests registered dietitian Jill Nussinow.  “If you love cheesecake and eat it a few times a year, that’s fine. Love great croissants? Eat them occasionally, as in when you go to Paris or the best bakery around.”  You had me at Paris. 

Be Specific

Be Specific: I’ll only use a sprinkling of salt on the top of foods. OK, not as pictured!!!

Diet declarations such as “I’ll never eat ice cream again!” or “I’ll never eat out again!” are just way too broad to be believed. Helm advises being as specific as possible so goals are action-oriented. For instance, instead of “I’ll be more active” make the change to “Get up 30 minutes earlier so I can walk in the morning before work.” 

Be Specific: I will try to limit happy hour to one hour.


Or, let’s say you love southern foods. Rather than promising to back away from bacon and sweet tea, learn to enjoy southern flavor favorites in moderation.   At Buttermilk Kitchen in Buckhead, share an order of pimento cheese and house pickles with a few friends. Order the grilled chicken sandwich that comes with avocado, spinach, grilled onion and bacon but ask to skip the creamy ranch dressing.  Servers are happy to customize your iced tea by adding just a splash or two of sweet tea to take the edge of the unsweetened tea.  

Pimento Cheese on toast with house made pickles and tomato jam at Buttermilk Kitchen, Atlanta
Survey the list of side dishes to see that Buttermilk Kitchen owner and Chopped winner Suzanne Vizethan let’s you order a broiled half grapefruit for a naturally sweet and low calorie dessert.

Resolve to Eat More

While most folks think of nutrition improvements as a list of the things they’re not to suppose to eat, registered dietitian David Grotto has come up with the lists of food you should be eating more of to be healthier.  
Dave is who we call a “Guy-a-titian”
In his new book, “The Best Things You Can Eat” he ranks nutrient rich foods “For everything from aches to zzzz.”  For instance, rather than maligning the ingredients associated with causing heart disease Grotto’s top foods for lowering cholesterol fall into three categories – whole grains, berries and legumes.  Garlic, apples and oatmeal make the list too.  
Another happy side effect of eating more of these healthy foods is that they taste great and keep you feeling full while crowding out the junk foods and fast foods you may be trying to consume less of this year. 

Happy New Year, New You and New Healthy Things to do!

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