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


0824 Pasta and a Simple Tomato Sauce

I brought home another five pounds of tomatoes from the garden on Sunday.  The Romas were set aside for roasting and for last night’s goulash, but the rest went into a small but fantastic batch of pasta sauce:

Garden Tomatoes

They simmered and sweat away in our big stock pot until the juice rendered out, then I ran them through the food mill to remove the skins and seeds.  A few more minutes in the pot with a handful of herbs from the front bed, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be freezing this batch of sauce.

It was too good to wait.  I stirred a ladleful into my macaroni Sunday night, and it was fantastic.  Shane’s went out to dinner with a friend, so tonight I had a simple dinner of linguine, a bit of goat cheese, and a generous amount of the beautiful sauce.  There’s half a cup left, and I’m tempted to just sop it up with the rest of the no-knead bread.

0320 West Side Market

Shane’s mom suggested that we cook at home rather than going out – so we met her at Cleveland’s West Side Market to do our shopping and plan dinner. Somehow I slept terribly last night, and as a result, the market was a bit more overwhelming than it would’ve been otherwise. Like Philly’s Reading Terminal Market or the lovely North Market in Columbus, the West Side Market is a hectic maze of independent vendors selling cheese, produce, baked goods, fresh pasta, spices, and all manner of meats in preparation for various ethnic cuisines – plus places to grab a quick lunch or a cup of coffee.  We shared a very hot crêpe complète for lunch, which we hastily ate in a stairwell as we couldn’t find anywhere to sit.  Better than standing over a garbage can, I suppose.

What did we get for dinner? Fresh black pepper linguine, a loaf of bread, and a slab of butter made from the pasteurized cream used to make Parmigiano-Reggiano.  A bottle of Italian red wine (can’t remember the kind, but we liked it a great deal) picked up later in the day, and a homemade marinara.  A happy compromise, and a nice day (after I got a nap).

0202 Seared Chicken Breasts with Lemon-Chive Pan Sauce

A bona fide kitchen disaster tonight.

Jill and Kevin gifted us with a subscription to Cooks Illustrated for Christmas, and tonight was our first attempt at a recipe from the magazine this year. Shane devoured the latest issue one night before bed, and was very excited to try several recipes – including their new-fangled method for pan-seared chicken breasts, complete with a lemon and chive pan sauce. Following the recipe, I boned the chicken breasts and baked them in the oven for about 30 minutes at what my oven claims was 350 (just realized it was supposed to be 275 – first problem). The breasts were then brushed with a slurry of butter, corn starch, and flour and placed in the waiting cast iron and then WATCH OUT.

Almost immediately the kitchen filled with smoke, and I alternated between turning the breasts with the tongs and running around opening windows. And yes, it’s 25 and snowing tonight. As soon as the chicken was done, the cast iron skillet was relegated to the front porch. I put the pan sauce together, and we sat down to eat, having discovered that the roasted carrots were not anywhere close to being done. At least they weren’t on fire.

The verdict? Overcooked (my fault) and not at all the golden, tender breasts advertised. The flavor was good, though, and we sopped up the pan sauce with the Avalon International beer bread that we’re so into right now. If I were to visit this particular recipe family again, though, I’d save a bunch of time by just grilling the chicken breasts and making the delicious sauce, albeit slightly less delicious absent the pan drippings.

Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts from Cooks Illustrated (online subscription required)
Lemon and Chive Pan Sauce from Cooks Illustrated (online subscription required)