Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cruise Into Whole Foods Market for "Healthy, Wealthy and Wise" Tour

Lately, when I go to the grocery store I feel like I buy the same thing in the same flavor on the same aisle every week! I guess I do this because it's safe, I know I can afford it and it's in my comfort zone. I have to say though, it's getting a little old. I mean, who wants spaghetti four nights a week?!

That's why I am really excited about the Whole Foods Market "Healthy, Wealthy and Wise" Tour! On these tours, store guides lead customers down the aisles and show them how to plan, shop and prepare healthy menus that are rich on taste but stingy on the wallet. It's a great way to learn about what Whole Foods Market has to offer, what's in season and their quality standards. At Whole Foods Market, food is food. Absent are artificial anythings, antibiotics, hormones and byproducts. When you consider the "Whole Deal" -- long term health benefits, flavorful and fresh foods and dollar-saving recipes, you'll wonder why you didn't tour the store earlier! For more information and tour times, visit your local Whole Foods.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First Look at The Nook, on Piedmont Park

A fried Twinkie? I knew before I had it that it was going to be a hit in my book. I mean honestly who can turn down fried desserts- I for one, can not. Imagine funnel cake with a creamy filling… it was scrumptious! The fried Twinkie wasn’t the only highlight of my meal at The Nook, the meal as well as the ambience was perfect for a relaxing Monday evening.

I was fortunate enough to visit The Nook prior to their opening and used my visit as a chance to get a sneak peek at their upscale tavern food. I started my meal with the seared scallops Napoleon- two scallops topped with roasted corn guacamole. The guacamole was a great balance to the sweet taste of scallops and had a smoky southwestern flavor that I ate right up. My chicken wrap didn’t disappoint either. My wrap was made up of warm chicken, goat cheese and spinach paired with tots. And from my prior confession- you know I couldn’t turn down a fried Twinkie to top the whole meal off. The meal was fun and the menu had character.

I can’t wait to visit The Nook, on a warm spring day and sit outside on the patio overlooking the park. The view combined with a cool beverage could make anyone’s day. Next up on my list to try out… the “Totchos” and sweet tea ice cream!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Lady and Sons (and The Women Who Loved Them)

First, I’d like to say that I tried really hard to hate it. I figured The Lady and Sons restaurant was a tourist trap, but, since I was a tourist, I felt obligated to go. Maybe that’s the best way to approach a celebrity restaurant; low or no expectations. There were five people in our party and two had been to the restaurant before. They were not impressed, but wanted to be team players. Also, as a disclaimer, I am generally not a fan of buffets. They always seem picked over and the food is usually lukewarm. Now that the formalities are over with…

My first impression of the restaurant came at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. After a loooong Friday night in Savannah (St. Patty’s Day weekend, no less), we rolled out of bed to the revelation that we would have to leave right then to get in line to make a reservation for 1:30 that afternoon. Not a good start. We weren’t the only ones to get that memo because when we got there, the line was down the block. When we reached the front of the line, we were told that the restaurant was not serving parties of five that day. Also not good. So we reserved a table for four and went home to get some rest.

When we returned to check in for our reservation, the hostess went ga-ga for one of the crew’s boots. When she realized our party was actually (still) a party of five, she decided that since she liked our shoe game, she’s let us slide (thanks Steve Madden!).

Paula Deen and her (cutie pie) sons have given something great to Savannah! The Lady and Sons restaurant fed me the best Southern meal I’ve had outside my grandmother’s kitchen. Four of us ate from the buffet, but one of my companions ordered the fried shrimp from the menu. All of the dishes on the buffet were in small pans so fresh food was constantly replacing half empty pans.
On the buffet: fried and baked chicken, riblets (served naked with bbq sauce on the side), black-eyed peas, rice, mashed potatoes and gravy, creamed corn, baked sweet potatoes, lima beans, green beans, collard greens, a salad bar and the richest, most succulent, cheesiest mac n cheese I have ever had.

I know, it all sounds so ordinary. I don’t know what separates this restaurant from every other place in town that serves Southern or Soul food, but there was something special going on in the kitchen here! Everything was amazing. Even my girlfriends who had been to the restaurant before were surprised with how tasty every morsel was.
Since I wanted to give a fair and balanced report ;-), I felt obligated to try everything. I was trying to be cute and sat down after I got my salad, so my food did not get cold while I ate the salad. My friends were not so discriminating and finished off the last of the lasagna that was on the buffet. It was the last batch and was, apparently, delicious (they didn’t want to share, so I guess I missed out). The chicken was juicy; the naked ribs and accompanying bbq sauce were reminiscent of grilling out with friends on a hot summer afternoon; the collard greens were spicy with a hint of Southern charm; and, as previously stated, the macaroni and cheese was TO DIE FOR!
We ate much more than our share and then continued to try to force food down; it seemed like such a waste to even leave the juice from the greens on the plate. We briefly discussed the etiquette of licking the plate, but in the end decided that although we could probably get away with it, there was just no more room in any of our bellies. Just one thing… dessert comes with the buffet! Dessert was a choice of banana pudding, peach cobbler or the rotating dessert, which, for us, was a chocolate chip gooey cake. I just wish I had room in my jeans or my shoes for another bite…
Needless to say, The Lady and Sons is a winner. A great deal of our conversation the rest of the day was devoted to justifying just one more plate. After I finished being miserably full, I dreamed that I had taken a plate to go. None of us were hungry until breakfast the next morning.
Take a bow Ms. Deen and sons, you have created a masterpiece!

*I think I actually drooled when I was posting the pictures!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Where to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

If you aren't going to be in Savannah with me this St. Patrick's Day, then you better find green beer and shamrocks in Atlanta. Here are a few places around town that will be celebrating this Tuesday - Erin Go Bragh!

Kozmo Gastro Pub will feature a classic Irish comfort dish of corned beef hash with braised cabbage and grain mustard potatoes with beer bread. Green beer will be flowing along with the Keltic Kozmo, expertly hand crafted by house mixologist Jimmy Rudnick.

Marlow's Tavern - The Vinings location will offer Irish home-cooking with the likes of Guinness-marinated brats with homemade Irish cheddar Tater Tots at lunch, and shepherd's pie, fish 'n chips, bangers and mash, colcannon and corned beef and cabbage at dinner time. Evening appetizers such as Irish cheddar cheese dip and salmon boxty are terrific with the drink of the day -- Guinness, Guinness and more Guinness. For dessert? More Guinness, as in orange-chocolate Guinness cake. The leprechauns behind the bar will be mixing up plenty of feisty libations, and live entertainment by Under the Porch keeps toes tapping to New Orleans-style jazz and funk from 6:30 p.m. on. 2355 Cumberland Parkway, 770-432-2526.

Marlow's Tavern Duluth taps into green beer for $2 a mug, pints of Guinness for $4 and Irish car bombs for $5. Round out the menu with a plate of corned beef and cabbage! 1950 Satellite Boulevard, 770-622-2033.

Marlow's Tavern Northlake will be celebrating on the rooftop patio. There they will have rollicking Irish drinking songs, Irish snacks, and beer specials of green beer for $3, $4 pints of Guinness and $5 Irish car bombs will keep those Irish eyes a smilin'. 4156 LaVista Road, 678-987-1197.

Whole Foods Market in Sandy Springs will host a Shamrock Scavenger Hunt. Stop by Customer Service for an entry form and then explore the store for the shamrock hidden in each department. Record the location of each one you find on your form, and when you've picked them, turn in your form. The one adult and one child winners will receive a bag filled with Whole Foods Market products. Whole Foods Market Sandy Springs: 5930 Roswell Road; 404-236-0810.