1209 Frita Batidos

There are a few things you can expect when dining at a restaurant that has just opened.  The menu, while printed on nice heavy paper in an attractive font, is still being fine-tuned.  The staff is still getting into the rhythm of prep and service.  Your questions about dishes or pairings may be met with blank stares, as your server tries to remember the tasting notes for tonight’s specials.  You might have to wait.  A while.  For everything.

None of these things were the case at Frita Batidos – Eve Aronoff’s new “Cuban inspired” restaurant.  We’d talked about grabbing a coffee there later in the evening, but I was hungry, cold, and didn’t feel like cooking, so instead we popped in for an early dinner.  We didn’t end up getting that coffee, but neither of us really minded.  Dinner was that good.

The restaurant concept seems to be street food – while the menu contains things other than fritas (burgers) and batidos (Cuban milkshakes), most items can be eaten out of hand at the communal picnic tables and counters.  I ordered the turkey frita – a moist and well-seasoned turkey patty served with lemon mayo on an impossibly flavorful brioche bun.  Now imagine swapping the turkey for chorizo and piling it up with muenster cheese, cilantro-lime salsa, a tropical coleslaw, and a fried egg.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Are you reaching for napkins at the messy, delicious mental image?  That was Shane’s dinner.

Which reminds me – one of these days I need to get a picture of Shane’s happy eating face.  It’s really quite singular – somewhere between pleasure and sadness, a face that could be easily misconstrued if you didn’t know that his taste buds were totally blissing out at that very moment.  I saw that face several times in the course of this meal.

While waiting for our fritas to arrive, we shared a coconut cream batido.  If you like coconut – as I do – this is the closest thing to drinking up an entire coconut that I can imagine.  Batidos are sort of like a milk based smoothie – healthier than a milkshake, but just as decadent in flavor and mouthfeel.  I would’ve happily made this my entire meal – in fact, I might do so in the future.

On the whole, a really enjoyable experience.  The restaurant’s only been open about a week, so I’m sure it’s going to get MUCH BUSIER, but both the menu and the seating lend themselves to fast turnover.  I’m certainly looking forward to going back once they launch their breakfast menu: churros and Spanish drinking chocolate, anyone?


1003 A Day of Epic Walking

With the conference over at noon, I found myself with a free day and nothing to do. Another epic walk was in order, but my first stop was the High Museum, where I had a very important date with my friend Dalí. It was Bank of America’s Museums on Us weekend, so while I would’ve paid the $18, getting in free was even better! The Dalí exhibit focused on his late work, including his obsessions with Catholicism and the nuclear age. It was really fascinating stuff, and I’m glad I made the trip.

The High

I stopped for a cappuccino at Bakeshop along the way, so I wasn’t hungry until later – which worked out well, as I found myself wandering in the historical neighborhoods around Piedmont Park for an hour or so. I tried to get lunch at a restaurant right on the park, but I was apparently invisible, so I moved on and ended up at The Flying Biscuit, where I was seated at a table by a door that opened and banged shut every other minute. My biscuit and soup were excellent, but the service reminded me of why I don’t miss eating alone.

54 Columns

My afternoon walk took me past a game of soccer played by men in kilts, into Scarlett Loves Rhettro and down Ponce de Leon, through quiet neighborhoods and past urban art.  I had no map or agenda, and no reason to hurry back to Dawn’s, so I just sort of zigzagged around until I was hungry and tired and back in Inman Park. I grabbed a beer at a bar near Highland Bakery, then checked out a few shops before stopping for dinner.

Dinner with EB White

My last dinner in Atlanta was nothing fancy, just a black bean burger and a beer with a good book at The Albert. And then a good night’s sleep.

Miles walked: 10

If you go:
High Museum
1280 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 733-4444

903 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 892-9322

The Flying Biscuit
1001 Piedmont Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 874-8887

Jack’s Pizza & Wings
676 Highland Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30312
(404) 525-4444

The Albert
918 Austin Ave
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 872-4990

0930 Burgers and Sauce(d) in Atlanta

I’m in Atlanta for a few days for the LITA National Forum – my first opportunity for professional development since leaving GW more than a year ago.  It’s also my first time in Atlanta, so I’m hoping to see as much as I can during/around the conference sessions.

That said, I arrived with no actual plan, half a day to kill, and no lunch.  Fortunately Dawn, my Airbnb hostess, was similarly hungry, so after dropping my stuff and getting a tour, we grabbed a quick lunch at Grindhouse Killer Burgers, located in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Dawn’s vegetarian, so I was surprised that she recommended a burger joint, but I shouldn’t have been, given how damned good it was. It’s the rare burger place that does veggie options as well as they do the meat, but Grindhouse is apparently one of them. I had a turkey burger with mushrooms and Swiss and crinkle fries and both were so good – which was good, as I needed some quality fuel for the afternoon ahead of me.

Dawn sketched out a walking tour – 2-3 hours of wandering around the parts of the city where people actually live – including recommendations for places to stop for snacks or drinks as I needed refreshments.  2-3 hours turned into 5,punctuated by frozen yogurt, a knitting store, Little Five Points, and a camel-like stop at a drinking fountain on Freedom Parkway.  I walked up Peachtree and down 10th, stopping to chill out in Piedmont Park and to watch a marching band practice.  I hung a right on Highland and checked out a few cute boutiques, passed the King of Pops, and kept walking to Little 5.  And then, growing increasingly tired and famished, I wandered down Euclid, miraculously finding my way back to Dawn’s street with no map or internet-enabled phone to guide me.

My situation was getting desperate.  I passed up the bars and restaurants of Little 5, expecting to find something to eat closer to Dawn’s – and not realizing that a solidly residential area lay between the two.  I was delighted, then, to find myself at the doorstep of Sauced, a relatively new restaurant and cocktail spot on the edge of the Inman Park neighborhood.

Despite my pathetic bachelor eating when Shane’s away, I do genuinely enjoy going out to eat by myself.  I like people-watching or getting wrapped up in my book while eating at my own pace.  I like being in my own little bubble – solo, but not alone.  Tonight, though, I found myself making conversation at the bar – ranging from Italo Calvino to Chicago settlement houses – over a gin lime rickey and a plate of skewers and sauce.  I wish I could tell you about the sauces of the day, but I was too hungry to really take notes.  I know that one was a truffled mayo-aioli-type thing, and another was a peachy chili sauce, and I know that I sopped the sauces up with grilled veggies, sauteed asparagus, and tofu.  I know that the bartender toyed with majoring in the classics, and that my fellow bar diner was reading Ovid because of Calvino.  And I know that after a small but delicious dinner, I climbed the stairs to Dawn’s place and almost immediately passed out.

Miles walked: 8.75

If you go:

Grindhouse Killer Burgers
209 Edgewood Ave in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 522-3444

753 Edgewood Ave
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 688-6554

0715 Burgers and Corn Snack

Since we got our 89.5# of pork two months ago, we haven’t really spent much money on meat.  This is a good thing, as it’ll help the grocery budget normalize over the year or so that we’ll work on the pig, but also means that we aren’t eating much meat OTHER THAN pork.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but sometimes a little variety is nice, you know?

I found myself with a few extra bucks on my way out of the market on Saturday, and so came home with a pound or so of ground bison after a nice conversation with a farmer who couldn’t! believe! that we hadn’t had any of his meat yet.  “I’ve been here 16 years!  I can’t believe you haven’t tried our meat!” “Yeah, but I’ve only been here 8 months!”

Tonight’s dinner was one of those classic Midwest summer meals – burgers and corn on the cob – the sort of thing served at cookouts all summer long.  Nothing fancy, just simple patties grilled on the grill pan, then served on asiago rolls with a slew of condiments available for your dressing-up pleasure.  There are many fancy ways of preparing a good ear of corn, but for me, nothing beats salt, pepper, and a good slathering of butter.  Sometimes simplicity is the best, you know?

0620 Maid-Rite

In honor of Fathers’ Day, I want to say a few things about my dad.

i am small

His childhood wasn’t the happiest, and he did everything from shoveling dog food to running the mouse game to put himself through college and med school. He has worked long hours all of my life to provide the sort of stability and leisure for our family that he didn’t have. He is a well-respected physician who is adored by his patients and his employees. He is also quiet and reserved, with a dry sense of humor and brown eyes, all of which I’ve inherited in spades.

Those long hours meant he wasn’t always around much when we were kids – but they also meant that Mom could be home with us, for which I’m very grateful. They also meant that we could go to private school, take family vacations, and have money available to us for college. And they mean that when Pop does get home, he has earned his downtime and his peace and quiet, which are the only things he ever ask for at the holidays.


We really had to press him last night to find out what he wanted to do for Fathers’ Day, and he finally said he wanted to go to Maid-Rite for lunch. Shane had never been to a Maid-Rite, so when we walked in, he wasn’t sure what to make of it. It’s a chain of diners, really, and their specialty is a “loose-meat sandwich” – basically a burger, except the ground beef isn’t formed into a patty, and is steamed rather than fried. We had Maid-Rites all around, except Mom, who craved their breakfast options, and Eric, who went for the regular burger.

Sunday, 20th June: Happy Fathers' Day

I had wanted to make a fancy brunch for the family for Fathers’ Day – we really enjoy cooking and good food, and I love to be able to share this with our families. Maid-Rite was definitely not what I had in mind – but then at lunch, as Pop told us about going to Maid-Rite with his dad when he was a kid and about his happy memories of sitting at the counter with his dad, I realized that this was his way of sharing something special with us. A Maid Rite sandwich – like peace and quiet, like a good workout, like a well-worn sweatshirt – is a simple pleasure that offers the kind of comfort, nostalgia, and relaxation that Pop amply deserves. And I’m glad we were able to share it with him this morning.

0611 Asparagus to Zucchini

Today was the first day all week that I really felt human.  On a related note, it was also the first day all week that I prepared a real dinner.  Of course, I had help:

Friday Night Grilling

Have I mentioned that we got a meat grinder as a wedding present?  Perhaps I have.  Have I mentioned that it’s GREAT?  Seriously, it’s so easy to use, and so convenient to be able to pull a piece of meat out of the fridge, grind it up, and have quick pork burger patties for four, instead of oversized pork chops to awkwardly share.

Grill Up

In addition to the pork burgers, Shane grilled up a bunch of zucchini (!!!) and probably the last asparagus of the season.  It’s been a good run, asparagus, but I’ve moved on to the end of the alphabet.  What looked like a giant pile of vegetables disappeared quickly, leaving us happy and full.

I’m liking this Friday night grilling thing.  We should do it more often.

0601 Squash, you guys!

When I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a couple of years ago, I was amused by the lengths that Barbara Kingsolver and her neighbors went to in order to get rid of their excess summer squashed – both because it was funny, and because I love summer squashes of all sorts and can’t imagine having excess, much less wanting to get rid of it.  One of my favorite stands at the Arlington farmers’ market had a whole table dedicated to squashes of all sorts, and each week we’d bring home an armful of patty pans, 8 balls, the firm and waxy yellow squashes the color of a stoplight, and the old reliable zucchinis.

So you can imagine my delight when patty pans appeared at the market this weekend!  I picked up a little box for $2.50 with only one thing in mind: grilling.  When tonight rolled around, though, firing up the grill seemed like an awful lot of work for a very quick dinner for two of us – so instead I put the big cast iron skillet on the high heat while I halved the little spaceships, cut up thick slices of Vidalia onion,  and made little chicken burgers.  The skillet was nice and hot when I finished prep, so I added the burgers and onions, slotting in the patty pan spaceships when the onions were done.

Quick, easy, fresh, and good for us.  I like all of these things.  And I can’t wait for the excess of squash that is coming right around the corner.

0524 Burgers on/with Ciabatta

We got back into town just in time for LOST last night, which meant that we didn’t get back in time to do much of anything else.  I’ve already commented on the season finale, which seemed to go extra fast in part because we were trying to get things done during the commercial breaks – unpacking, cleaning up cat messes, planning meals, etc.  We zipped up to Plum tonight after work to pick up a few things, and came home with burgers and a beet salad for dinner.

One of the great mysteries of grilling season is the quantity mismatch between grillables and their bready receptacles.  Four burgers and eight buns. Five sausages and eight buns.  Eight veggie dogs and six buns.  Clearly this is indicative of a shrewd business decision by the burger and bun people, as it always requires buying more than you want.  We only needed TWO buns tonight, though, so we weren’t about to buy eight and instead went home with a large ciabatta roll to split between us.  This worked out better in theory than in practice – but either way, we didn’t end up with superfluous buns lying about.

All in all, dinner tonight made me miss the days of buying a couple of Italian rosemary rolls from Atwater’s at the market in Arlington, grilling up bison burgers from Cibola Farms, and serving them with whatever veg the market had on offer.  The vendors are different now, but I’m looking forward to a summer of much of the same.

Local dinner
photo from last summer, but you get the idea.

0515 David Byrne Day (Observed)

In lieu of a local wedding reception, and also in celebration of the birthday of our favorite Talking Head, we threw a party tonight and called it David Byrne Day (Observed).  We’d been anxiously watching the weather given the omg constant rain, so were delighted to have a beautiful day and clear night for grilling and campfire sitting.

But before I get to that, let me tell you about what we did earlier in the day!

First, we got up and drove to WCCC so that I could run the Washtenaw County Start! Heart 5K .  Last night’s sausages and polenta proved to be excellent fuel, and I logged my best 5K yet, although I don’t think the distance was actually 5K.  To celebrate, we grabbed breakfast at Beezy’s, where Shane overheard a fortuitous conversation: a sever had spotted a moped at a yard sale!  So off to the yard sale we went, returning home with a non-running $100 Suzuki FA50.  Shane spent a good part of the afternoon poking around at the ‘ped, while I camped out in the kitchen and prepped for the party.

I never know how much food to make for parties, especially potluck-y cookout-y type parties.  You always end up with too much of this and not enough of that, with way too many buns and not enough condiments, etc.  The thing you decide not to make is always what someone else also forgets.  We decided to just do a variety of things, knowing that a cake and other delicious treats would be coming with our guests.  Worst case scenario? We order a pizza.

No pizza was necessary tonight, though!  We had tiny pork burgers – made from our pork, ground by me – on homemade dinner rolls topped with delicious pickled red onions.  The roll recipe was supposed to make 24 and instead made 40, so we have a bunch of delicious yeast rolls for the freezer.

Rolls + rolls

I also made cole slaw with the remaining cabbage from last weekend, and a lovely and simple asparagus crostini that disappeared within the first half hour of the party.

Asparagus crostini

In addition, friends brought salads, lots of grillables, homemade bread and prosciutto, dulce de leche ice cream, and a totally beautiful wedding cake (pictures forthcoming).  We ate well, and then we sat around the fire and talked until late.  It was a fantastic evening.

(One of these days I really will talk about our wedding.  I promise.  We’re still working on the photos, and I want to be able to show you guys instead of just telling.)

Pork Sliders With Pickled Red Onions from Moogie & Pap
Pillow-Soft Dinner Rolls from Taste of Home

0406 Mid-70s and Sunny

There was absolutely no way that we could have SOUP on a night like tonight: clear, sunny, even a big muggy and still the FIRST WEEK OF APRIL.  So after walking home from work and climbing in a window (left my keys on my desk – oops!), I ran to Plum to pick up something to throw on the grill.  We’d planned to grill out on Sunday, but had put the meat in the freezer when our dinner plans changed – very practical of us, but not so useful for last minute menu changes.

Instead, dinner was “signature sliders” from Plum’s very nice butchers, grilled on the grill pan – I was too hungry to wait for Shane to clean the grill – sandwiched between slices of Zingerman’s farm bread.  A bunch of asparagus was steamed until bright green and dotted with butter at the table.  It wasn’t quite as beautiful as this meal from last summer, but it was fast and satisfying, and left both of us excited about many summer dinners to come.

Oh, and can I just tell you how much I love the guys at the meat counter at Plum Market?  I’m not sure if ‘butchers’ is the right term for them, but they know their meat, and they don’t mind answering all of my questions.  They’re also just really funny and friendly guys, and they say hi to me when I walk by, even if I don’t stop to pick anything up from their counter.  This is the kind of relationship I’d like to have with all of the people and places where we get our food.

Also! Tonight I planted the first seeds for our garden.  Expect more information about this in the weeks and months to come.