Thursday, April 30, 2009

No Way Mole!

This Wednesday, I got to attend the McDonald’s Perfect Pairing - an event where six culinary students from the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Atlanta competed for a scholarship—Top Chef style. Each student paired an item off of McDonald’s menu with one of their new McCafe drinks. The McCafe items feature drinks such as an iced mocha, latte and cappuccino. Each pairing was then presented to a panel of judges who tasted and scored each student’s entry.

Needless to say I was skeptical from the beginning. To be honest--I just can’t imagine sitting down to eat lunch and thinking that a latte would best complement my chicken nuggets. Admittedly, I am a coffee snob and addict--yet some things just don’t work well with coffee. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much innovation and thought went into some of the pairings that the culinary students presented.

Some of the students paired what I found to be more common sense items together. For example, an iced caramel latte with an apple walnut salad, or a bacon, egg and cheese with hot chocolate. Neither of these seemed too far out of the realm of a normal meal. One student, Phillip McCrillis, branched out and truly impressed me... it also seemed to be the one meal the judges continued to nibble at while scoring and listening to Phillip talk.

Phillip’s pairing, No Way Mole, was a winner, not only in my book but also for the judges who selected Phillip as the winner. He paired a Southwestern chicken sandwich (Southwest BBQ sauce on the side), baked apple pie with vanilla ice-cream adorned with a crushed sugar cone on top, with an iced mocha. He came upon the flavor as he was experimenting with different menu items and put all of these items in his mouth at the same time. With all the items together he exclaimed “No way mole!" Mole is a popular Mexican sauce tinged with a chocolate flavor that Phillip swears you can recreate with these common McDonald’s items.

Congratulations Phillip on your scholarship! For all of you who didn’t see Phillip’s pairing, head on over to McDonald's and experiment with your own pairings of the new McCafe--the options are endless.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Preview of Pacci

Friends, family and I wined and dined at Pacci last night, and I am still full. After sipping drinks in the lively bar, we were seated in a private nook towards the back of the restaurant. From the moment we sat down, our waiter tended to our every need. From fabulous wine, soft bread and tapenade to filet, rack of lamb and short ribs, indulgence is an understatement. The list goes on to include beef carPACCIo, gnocchi, bread pudding, shrimp carbonara (with house-made pancetta, fried egg, sweet peas and onion), and my favorite, halibut with fava beans in a sweet corn broth. The ristorante opens tonight for all of Atlanta to enjoy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pimento Cheese

Thought I would share that I discovered the most heavenly pimento cheese in Atlanta at JCT bar. And the best part is that it only cost me $1 on Thursday night. Delish.

So Many Choices, So Little Time! Here's a Peek at What's Coming Up for Cinco de Mayo Next Week!

It's time for margarita mayhem! Cinco de Mayo is just a week from today and it's time to make plans. From drink specials to Mexican mega-meals, Atlanta restaurants are giving us plenty of reasons to head out and enjoy the holiday! Check out what's happening around town!
Marlow's Tavern in Alpharetta celebrates "Marlow's de Mayo" with a cantina party on Saturday, May 2. Festivities begin at 1 p.m. with fiesta food favorites including carne asada, carnitas and grilled chicken and south of the border drink specials of $3 beer and $5 margaritas and sangria. Live music follows from 2-5 p.m. Marlow's Tavern Alpharetta: 3719 Old Alabama Road; 770-475-1800.

The Latin beat comes on strong for Cinco de Mayo festivities at Eclipse di Luna at Park Place on Tuesday, May 5. Always lively, the pulse kicks up a notch or two at 5 p.m. as Fernando Fernandez jockeys up the tunes, and the Winton Peck Band plays throughout the evening. Traditional tortas and burritos are some of the $5 Mexican tapas to devour while gathering $3 Dos Equis, $4 margaritas and $6 Herradura margaritas at the multiple bar locations. There's no cover, but there will be plenty of prizes! Eclipse di Luna - Park Place: 4505 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Suite 11; 678-205-LUNA (5862).

Say "El Yeah" to the festivities at El Taco in the Highlands. You can't go wrong with buckets of Dos Equis (5 for $15). Or try the "EL-a Tasty!" -- the bartender's special margarita of the day, combining Sauza Blanco tequila, strawberry flavor and house made sour mix -- just $7.25. After a couple of those, your high school Spanish will come right back to you. Add in El Taco's great tacos, some chips and salsa, and a bunch of amigos and you're guaranteed one 'el of a good time! The Original El Taco: 1186 N. Highland Avenue, NE; 404-873-4656.

Uncle Julio's Casa Grande will be home base for Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Buckhead this week. Come casual to this eclectic eatery with its big patio and be ready to imbibe in some of Uncle Julio's signature margaritas, such as the Swirl (frozen margarita swirled with frozen sangria). Go your own way by choosing from more than 15 different tequilas for your margarita or try different Mexican beers from the "grande" selection. For authentic, border-style go-withs, dig into smoky grilled fajitas, sizzling shrimp brochettes or marinated grilled quail served with roasted fresh vegetables and spicy salsa. Uncle Julio's Casa Grande: 1860 Peachtree Road, NW; 404-350-6767.

We've been waiting with anticipation and the time is finally here! Five Seasons Brewing is opening its newest location at the intersection of Howell Mill Road and Marietta Street with a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Georgia Organics will benefit from "Five Alive on the Westside" from 5 - 10 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5. Come help the party grow! There will be plenty of hors d'oeuvre made from farm ingredients to enjoy. Your $5 donation goes straight to Georgia Organics. Five Seasons Brewing: 1000 Marietta Street, NW.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bark Up the Right Tree at Woodfire Grill on April 29

On Wednesday, April 29, Woodfire Grill is hosting a Dogfish Head beer dinner where the bites are just as strong as the bark! Guests will get to taste three varieties of microwbrews paired with Executive Chef Kevin Gillespie’s three-course menu. Aprihop accompanies the first course of lightly cured wild Alaskan salmon, cucumber and apricot salad and hard-cooked egg. Indian Brown Ale comes next with a wood-smoked loin of beef, braised mushrooms, celery mash, confit garlic cloves, black pepper and lemon jus. The meal ends with Raison d’etre and golden raisin financier with Irish car-bomb ice cream and latte sauce. Cost is $45 per person. Reservations required; call 404-347-9055. Woodfire Grill is located at 1782 Cheshire Bridge Road.