Friday, October 24, 2008

From Burgers to Brisket: Enjoying the Best of Beef At Woodfire Grill's White Oak Pastures Dinner

I have had the pleasure of trying White Oak Pastures' ground beef on two different occasions. Both times I cooked it myself, by seasoning the beef, forming into patties, grilling and slapping it on a bun. The burgers were delicious, full of flavor and I loved knowing that it was locally-raised grassfed beef. That's why I was excited to find out that Atlanta's very own Woodfire Grill was hosting a sustainably-raised beef four- course dinner on Thursday, October 23, featuring White Oak Pastures beef.

My beau and I headed to Woodfire Grill last night and right when we walked in we bumped into the man himself, Will Harris, owner of White Oak Pastures. It was really neat to meet him and chat about the dinner. We then sat down in our booth in the newly renovated restaurant and took a look at the prix fixe menu. We decided to go with the wine pairing for each course to really get the full experience.

Our first course (right) was a trio of beef tenderloin including, traditional tartare with organic truffle oil and olives; carpaccio with horseradish emulsion, arugula oil and pink pepper and grilled rare beef with ginger, shaved onion and hot Chile oil. This course was accompanied by a 2004 Marques de Gelida Brut Exclusive Reserva, Cava, Spain. The plate was extremely colorful and the perfect teaser for the courses to come.

The next course (right) was a wood grilled strip loin with Yorkshire pudding, Hakeuri turnips, creamed turnip greens and natural jus. It was accompanied by a 2006 Casa Lapostolle Merlot Rapel, Chile. This course really surprised me. Turnips just didn't sound all to enticing to me, but they were amazing! Not to mention, the meat was cooked to perfection.

Our third and main course (left) was a slow cooked beef brisket with roasted carrot puree, marinated radish, fried pumpkin seeds and smoked chile jus. This dish was accompanied by a 2005 Santa Rita Carmanere Reserve, Rapel Chile. This brisket was so tender and the carrot puree was the perfect accompaniment. Another enjoyable course with beautiful execution.

Lastly, for dessert we had a bittersweet chocolate cake with roasted peanut-chocolate chip ice cream and fried banana sauce. As you can see in the picture, I dug right into this one and forgot to take the photo first. This dessert was accompanied by a 2007 Banfi Roso Regale, Brachetoo D' Acqui, Italy. The ice cream was surprisingly salty but when put with the rich chocolate cake, it was an unforgettable combo. This dessert was the perfect ending to an amazing meal at Woodfire Grill.

Overall, the evening was a fun way to try what both Woodfire Grill and White Oak Pastures have to offer. It's really great to see a restaurant support their local farmers and I thought it was so cool that Will Harris came out for the event. I can't wait to try and cook some of the other cuts of meat myself. I'm sure it won't even compare to Chef Kevin Gillespie's menu, but a girl can try!

Aqua Vino at The Georgia Aquarium

Last night I attended the 3rd annual Aqua Vino event at the Georgia Aquarium. The event invited guests to enjoy the entire Aquarium and the Grand Oceans Ballroom from 7-9:30 PM. Throughout the night, guests were invited to sample from more than 200 exceptional wines from around the world and gourmet fare from some of Atlanta's top restaurants.
One of my favorite samplings was from Dogwood restaurant -- they served up the best shrimp and grits I've had in awhile. Guests were also able to bid at the remarkable Silent and "Get Hooked" auctions. Proceeds went to benefit the Aquarium's state-of-the-art Veterinary Services facility and the Correll Center for Aquatic Animal Health.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sara in the City - Cheese Dip Bailout?

Times are tough. The economy is down, gas prices are unpredictable and it seems like the cost of food rises daily. Food lovers like us are feeling the pressure and we can't expect a gourmet government bailout.

Depressing, huh?

But there are rays of sunshine to be found, and I located one in strip mall in Collier Hills. The beacon of hope is Salsa Havana, a Latin bistro with menu items inspired by Spanish, Mexican and South American cuisine. The food was delish and inexpensive, the service was great and the fresh sangria hit the spot.
But what makes this simple restaurant different from any other neighborhood Mexican joint? What makes it the light and hope for food lovers in our awful economy?
Free cheese dip refills.

No, you aren't hallucinating. Salsa Havana offers free refills on their creamy, three-cheese dip. Gathering with friends and indulging in this scrumptious dip is the perfect way to get rid of your financial woes. If you're craving something more substantial, try the grilled flank steak with fried plantains or the paella. It's so good, you'll want to dance for joy! Luckily, Salsa Havana sponsors salsa dancing classes the second Saturday of every month.
Thanks, Salsa Havana, for keeping both my wallet happy, my stomach full and my feet moving!
Sara C

Whipahol is Wacky!

Now that John Kessler has broken the news in his article in today's AJC, it's safe for me to admit that I was at the Whipahol tasting a week or so ago at Eclipse di Luna on Miami Circle. It's like Reddi Whip with alcohol. Whipalicious? Well, not sure I'd go that far. Potent enough to whip you into a drunken stupor after a few? Without a doubt.

A small group of Yelpers were carefully selected (by me) based on their adventurous spirit and fondness for cocktails. We tasted all four flavors: amaretto, cinnamon, orange and macadamia. The bar staff at Eclipse di Luna were Whipahol wizards, blending concoctions like vanilla vodka and orange Whipahol (no thanks) and Frangelico with amaretto (yes!).

This product isn't legal in Georgia yet but I'm sure it will be a hit when it is. I might be able to score a sample if anyone wants to try!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Woodfire Grill Serves Locally Raised White Oak Pastures Beef At October 23 Dinner

A while ago, when Team MLA joined Whole Foods Market’s Eat Local Challenge, I was introduced to Will Harris's White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, GA, through the beautful flank steak I grilled (which was also delish). Tomorrow, October 23, Harris’s grass-fed beef will be the star of the show at Woodfire Grill’s four-course dinner, where guests will dine on three beef courses and cap the night with a delectable dessert. The White Oak Pastures dinner, which is the first in a series of dinners planned to benefit Slow Food Atlanta, costs $60 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) and $25 for wine pairings. Slow Food Atlanta will receive 10 percent of the evening's proceeds. Reserve your seating from 6 p.m. on; call 404-347-9055.

Woodfire Grill: 1782 Cheshire Bridge Road; 404-347-9055.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pinot Noir, Ce Soir? Try 15 at Toulouse Wine Tasting on October 22!

If you're like me, you enjoy a good glass of wine from time to time but really know much about what you are actually drinking. I have come for find out that I like Pinot Noir but, where does it come from? What gives it that fabulous color? What types are best? The list goes on and on. Well, I'm in luck because Toulouse American Bistro has an informative and entertaining night school opportunityfor those of us who want to learn more. Toulouse, the cozy French-American bistro overlooking Peachtree Creek, has earned a big name and a plethora of accolades in wine tasting circles since opening in 1994. This month's Pinot Noir tasting on Wednesday, October 22 follows in that tradition. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., guests may sample 15 wines accompanied by palate cleansers for $30 per person. Toulouse holds monthly wine tastings, ranging in price from $30 to $45 per person depending on the featured wines. Reserve your spot now by calling 404-351-9533. Toulouse: 2293 Peachtree Road; 404-351-9533.

DailyCandy Definition

Do you encourage your friend, Dieting Donna, to order dessert or super-size it? Guilty? Well then, according to The DailyCandy Lexicon, you are a sinabler. If you order up the same for yourself, does that make you co-diet-dependent?

Sinabler-n. Someone who’s a bad influence on your diet.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pork & Cork at South City Kitchen Midtown

Since the debates are over, there is no reason to sit at home tomorrow night listening to talk of pork barrel spending. Instead, visit South City Kitchen Midtown to eat and talk all things pork. Executive Chef Dean Dupuis is dishing up a special prix fixe wine dinner featuring Benton Smoky Mountain Country Hams. Allen Benton, the pork master himself, will be the guest of honor at tomorrow's dinner so come hungry, come with questions, but leave politics at home!