Friday, May 2, 2008

Me, Tom Colicchio and a Taste of the Nation

Oh yes, that is me and celeb chef Tom Colicchio standing arm in arm at last night's Taste of the Nation event at the Georgia Aquarium. Talk about a good time! This was the 20th anniversary of this event, and every year it is a huge funraiser for Share Our Strength.

There were more than 50 of Atlanta's best restaurants present last night, and the food was exceptional. Some of the most memorable dishes for me were The Globe's green curry & coconut soup shooter, Aria's housemade pork schnitzel with tomato ginger jam, Beleza's tuna & watermelon skewer, and, my favorite, Craft's braised pork lettuce wraps.

Now, I know what you really want to know is, where was honorary guest chef Tom Colicchio during this full-house event? He was standing at Craft's table all night, shaking hands, taking photos and serving up lettuce wraps. He even auctioned off his chef's coat from the evening. Poor man must have been asked a million times if Richard Blais will win this season's Top Chef. Chef Colicchio held his tongue and didn't give away any secrets.

The evening ended with a exceptional live auction. The highest auctioned item was a special Atlanta Chef's dinner for 11 at home. The dinner included the participation of some of Atlanta's most darling chefs - Gerry Klaskala, Gary Mennie, Carvel Grant Gould, etc. The bidding got so high that the chefs actually huddled on stage, mid-bid, and declared they were changing the dinner from 11 guests to 14. Then Ted Turner, honorary chairperson for this year's event, chimed in and offered to match the top bid. In the end, the dinner went for $17,000! Incredible!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Virginia Willis Picks up Pan and Pen at Cook’s Warehouse - Midtown for Bon Appétit, Y'all Book Signing

As a California girl to the bone, I am much more likely to say “dude” than “y’all,” but I have to confess -- I have been enamored with Southern cooking since the first day I relocated to Atlanta. Synonymous with Southern hospitality, Southern food is all about making oneself at home with a plate of food; which is something I can definitely dig my fork into! As I continue to develop my skills as a weekend cook, I love to chat and swap recipes with others who have the same passion for Southern food as I have. That’s why I was so excited to hear that the author of my new favorite cookbook is coming to the Cook’s Warehouse.

Y’all come, now! Virginia Willis will sign her much anticipated new cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y'all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking (Ten Speed Press 2008) and engage in cooking demos at Cook’s Warehouse – Midtown on Friday, May 2 from 7 – 9 p.m. Such multi-tasking comes easily to the former producer for “Martha Stewart Living” and “Epicurious” television shows. Why buy this southern cookbook? Alton Brown sums it up best, “Although her food is undeniably southern, it comes across as international, universal even. Other than Patricia Wells and Marcella Hazan, I cannot think of another cook who has managed to pull this off."

Come taste, talk, and take home an autographed copy (hint, Mother’s Day is May 11) . . . you may even win a copy as a prize during the evening’s raffle. Music, entertainment and tastings are a given. $25 per person; proceeds benefit the Les Dames d'Escoffier Scholarship fund and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Click here to register. Cook’s Warehouse – Midtown is located at 549-I Amsterdam Avenue, NE; 404-815-4993.

Already “booked” this Friday night? Stay tuned! We’re in the know as to where and when Willis will be signing this gem again, and we'll never let you down!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It’s Okay To Play Favorites In The Sunday Paper's "Best Of" Awards!

It’s wonderful to be an American and know that you can openly share your opinion by voting for your “best” places and faces in Atlanta in The Sunday Paper’s Reader’s Choice contest. Readers should put down the paper and log on to submit their faves for everything from local celebrities and neighborhoods to pet spas and stores galore. Those who enter will earn a chance to win a $50 Café Intermezzo gift certificate! We’ll drink a European coffee to that!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We Are All Screaming for Ice Cream!

Today is going to be a long lunch break kind of day. Why you ask? Because I'm anticipating long lines at Ben & Jerry's when I stop in for my free scoop. Yep, you read correctly. Today is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop. I'm not going to get my usual scoop of Phish Food. I think I'll try something different like Neopolitan Dynamite. Your favorite flavors are free from noon until 8 p.m. Find your closest Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop here. See you there!

Here is a little background on why this day exists. Thirty years ago in Burlington, Vermont, Ben and Jerry started scooping out free ice cream one day each year to thank all their friends and neighbors for supporting them over the past 365 days. This heart-melting tradition continues, and lucky you, today is THE DAY!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

White Oak Pastures Farm Day Fun

I drove down to Bluffton, GA (180 miles SW of Atlanta) yesterday to celebrate the grand opening of Will Harris' White Oak Pastures harvesting facility. A couple hundred people showed up to eat Will's grassfed beef and participate in the festivities. The cooks made sausage, chili, beef stew and more - all from White Oak Pastures. YUM.

The sun burned off the clouds and it was a great day. Lots of folks made the trek from Atlanta, including Whole Foods Market's Scott Allshouse, president of the South region. A loan from WFM, along with grants from OneGeorgia and Early County allowed Will to build the facility, allowing him to "harvest" his cows right there on the farm instead of loading them onto an 18-wheeler and sending them hundreds of miles away. The facility was designed through consultation by the famed Temple Grandin and is amazingly humane. These cows are born, grow up, and finish their lives all on this beautiful farm, dining at an all-you-can-eat grass buffet.

Another amazing fact is that the facility is "zero waste." Even the waste water is reclaimed to be used for fertilizer. Will says that there are very few facilities like his in the country and now he knows why! The regulators have had a hard time understanding his goals - suggesting, for instance, that he just truck that waste water up the road to the nearest town and dump it in their waste treatment plant! So every step of the way he's had to educate someone, which is good for all of us.

It was fun to see so many Atlantans come out to enjoy the day. Those included Slow Food's Julie Shaffer, Georgia Organics' Barbara Petit, Whole Foods Market's Cheryl Galway and Darrah Horgan, GRA's Green Alliance Holly Elmore, Emory/Sodexho's Christy Cook and Savannah's "Farmer D." Terry Coleman was there to speak and represent the Agriculture Department.