Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sharing with my friends and food

Before my boys fall asleep at night, I often ask them to think of something that makes them feel happy. This usually helps them to shake the agitation and frets of the day and move them toward peaceful sleep and pleasant dreams.

My first son would say he liked imagining he was driving a train or flying. If they can't think of anything because they are too worked up, I usually come up with something that I know will bring them peace. Star wars, lightsaber battles, you know peaceful things..

Recently, I asked my 6 year old son, "What makes you happy?" as he hunkered down for a long winters sleep.

"Food. Really good food," he replied.
That's my boy.
One of his school assignments was to write and draw something that Martin Luther King was working toward...

He wrote, "Sharing with my friends and food"
His picture showed two figures battling with light sabers eating what looked like a grilled cheese sandwiches.
I really have no idea where he gets it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Little bit of heaven...or just call it Alpine Bakery

If you are a woman, any age, and live in or around the Roswell area, and have not been to Alpine Bakery, get in the car and go there right now.

Generally, whether it be that time of the month, maybe I'm a little down, maybe the sun is shining and the birds are singing and things are perfect, whatever the case may be, I can walk into this wonderful pastry shop and instantly get a smile on my face. Flaky pastry, cream, chocolate and more just seem to equal bliss to me. I do enjoy a good pastry.

However, I have found that Alpine Bakery does have one extra perk going for it that other area bakeries do not have. There is a lovely, blue-eyed, nice looking young man that works behind the counter. Yes ladies, a good looking man AND pastry -- doesn't get much better than that.

This Christmas, I made my annual Christmas Eve trek to Alpine Bakery at about 10 AM to purchase the mini canollis that my family likes to enjoy before we tuck into bed. The bakery is buzzing and I am handed a number as I walk in the door so I will know my place in line.

Fathers, mothers, daughters are all perusing the goods as the counter help at Alpine is hustling to get everyone's orders filled quickly. Then (angels sing here), the doors to the kitchen behind the counter open and Mr. Blue Eyes walks out, pie in each hand and announces to the crowd, "I HAVE PIES :)!"

I'm done. Perfect. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chateau Elan -- Thanksgiving 2008

You must know this about me -- Thanksgiving -- is my favorite holiday. It is, of course -- say it with me, people -- "ALL ABOUT THE FOOD."
I do put a lot of love and care into the preparation of my Thanksgiving meal. Since we've moved to Georgia and don't have any family to share it with, we typically invite people from other countries to our house for the meal. I've found that international people don't usually have a preconceived notion of what the meal should entail. You won't get them driving home on their cells phones telling their friends-- "I CAN'T BELIEVE SHE DIDN'T SERVE MASHED POTATOES!"
There is also a special feeling of gratitude of sharing with people and giving them an experience that all Americans can join together in without religion gunking things up. It is a day to be joyful for the things that ya got.
We've had people from Colombia, Malaysia, Norway, Turkey-- oh that was a big hit. We got a lot of mileage out of that one-- serving turkey to the Turks.
So with all my homespun tales of a UN culinary gathering.
This year....we went out to eat.
Ha. What fun.
Chateau Elan had a Thankgiving Buffet and hotel pkg that we did as part of a celebration of our 10th anniversary and mother-in-law could watch the kids for the night....

My first course
* Green bean casserole
* Grilled pepper crusted flat iron steak with au poivre sauce
* Maple yams with roasted pecans and marshmallows
* Potato au gratin
* 5- Spice chicken thighs with sauteed okra and tomato relish

They did have one table dedicated to caviar! Heaven on earth. They had a fabulous wasabi flavored caviar that is worth noting for its spicy kick.

I didn't think the pasta bar would be one of my favorite things. Normally we stay away from pasta dishes when we go out since we can do a fair job of this at home, but man am I glad I tried. This fella made one hell of a fresh butternut squash ravioli that had an earthy element from apple wood smoked bacon and celery root carrot hash.

The biggest disappointment of the night was dessert. I know I know...seems impossible...I had my eye on a couple of them. I was so looking forward to the cranberry fruit torte, but by the time we were ready for dessert they had brought out a new torte which was still frozen in the middle. I told one of the guys that was stocking the dessert table and he said he would let the chef know. I should have asked them to microwave it for me, but they all seemed so busy. So I just did a cheese and fruit plate the French way and called it a night. I big fat belly night.

Wine tasting and lunch at Cafe Elan -- Nov 2008

Here's to us! A wine tasting at 10am in the winery of Chateau Elan. Yes yes....10 am. We hadn't even eaten breakfast yet. The only wines worth noting at Chateau Elan are from the muscadine grape. The muscadine is native to the Southeast and has a light, crisp sweet, low alcohol flavor.
To make it all worthwhile these grapes are packed full of those healthy compounds and antioxidants just like blueberries, green tea, red wine and dark chocolate. You get the picture-- make mine a double. The winery's literature says, "Compared to other grapes, muscadine grapes have 40 times more resveratrol -- the polyphenol, found in red wine that is proven to benefit cardiovascular health, blood sugar levels and the aging process, among other health issues."
So the best selling wine -- for a reason is "Summer Wine" which is made with their muscadine grapes and a splash of peach. It is great over crushed ice, though I don't think the wine snobs would approve.
Because we were pretty relaxed and happy by 11am and couldn't really drive home, we walked around the grounds and decided to have lunch at Cafe Elan which is located in the same building as the winery.

I picked the grilled salmon sandwich which was marinated and thinly sliced with grilled red onion and caper dijon aoli. It was served on fresh pumpernickel bread. I talked to the waitress about changing the bread since I thought the pumpernickel flavor would just ruin the whole thing. She assured me it didn't, and I had to trust that someone would know better than me. Turns out, someone did.
I didn't think the food could get any better from the night before. But I almost enjoyed this more. It was small attention to detail and flavor with a fresh greens salad on the side.
My Hunka ordered the delightful little number pictured toward the back of the plate (above) the Herb-Roasted Portobello Foccacia Marinated Portobello Mushrooms, Roasted Peppers, Arugula and Mozzarella.
The maitre'd walked around telling everyone (except for us before ordering) that the Crabmeat Crusted Orange Roughy was really the signature dish and MUST be tried.
I'll have to go back.

artisan foods --- Roswell Ga -- Nov 2008

The review and the story got me in the door. The chefs of this little joint in Roswell are a husband wife team. The wife is Japanese. The husband -ahm- Louisiana maybe? Anyway, we walked in and I thought I was back in Japan. There must have been 5 Japanese ladies gabbing at the counter. This was going to be good I thought....Japanese people, as long as I'm generalizing, have razor sharp taste buds. They have an amazing attention to detail in the texture, flavor, color and combination of food.
For me, I had the roasted vegetable sandwich on ciabatta. Hunka had the shrimp salad. Both were quite good. But my expectations, I think, were a little high.
Will I go back? If someone requests it. Other than that....there are other places I must go...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Z Pizza

I met my friend Laura for lunch at Z Pizza yesterday.
Laura is a gorgeous gal that sings like a rock star, in fact I sound a great deal like her when I'm belting out tunes in the Honda van. We met about six years ago when our two oldest were in preschool together.

Laura was familar with the Z Pizza joint since she stomps in that part of the hood. I went there once and knew I needed to go back and try a different item or two.
The restaurant uses such fresh organic ingredients and interesting combinations of flavors, I was kinda surprised to find out it was a chain. A California chain...which I guess explains it.

You can get a lunch special one slice of the pizza of the day and a salad for 7.95.

I chose the Tuscan Mushroom Pizza made with homemade roasted garlic sauce, mozzarella, Cremini, Shiitake and Button mushrooms, caramelized onions, feta, truffle oil and fresh thyme. The crust is made with Montana Winter Flour. I'm not sure what that means, but it is thin and fresh. But really I'm a girl all about the toppings, so I just sorted to scraping the stuff off the top and eating it with a fork. The same kind of stuff I give my three year old grief over, but I point out -- I did use a fork.

The salad was the garden salad which used mixed greens and they do a good job of tossing the dressing in without drowning it. Love black olives, but frankly....could do without them on this salad.

I feel this place is kind of a secret around these parts, because if word got out....fuggetaboutit there's not getting a seat for lunch.
Good thing no one reads this blog.

5315 Windard Pkwy
Next to Starbucks

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chocolate Cake

So, I am baking treats for our UMW Bake Sale at church and posting my progress in my fb status because Deb has asked me what lovely treats I am creating.

Next morning, manning the table. Too Much Chocolate Cake with Satiny Chocolate Glaze is the first cake sold. Next, lovely older member of our congregation begins to ask me questions about my Rum Cake:
"Did you make it from scratch?"
"Did you use real rum?"
"I'll take it."

Now we are halfway through the sale and a very frantic husband comes to me, "I need the chocolate cake!" I feel that he is channeling Deb through his request. Because I love Deb, I agree to whip together another Too Much Chocolate Cake with Satiny Chocolate Glaze for young Kai's 9th birthday. I hear that a Darth Vadar candle holder was placed on top. Perfect!

I hope the chocolate cake was a success and much enjoyed :)

I read Andry's status update about her baking "Too Much Chocolate Cake with Satiny Chocolate Glaze." And after wiping my drool off the keyboard, I messaged her....this cake must be mine. (insert evil laugh here)

I was at work when said bake sale was going on, so I called my husband and sent him straight fo that chocolate cake. You should know that Andry is quite the gal in the kitchen and pretty much anything she makes is fabulous.

Thank heavens Andry agreed to make another one for us. It just happened to be Kai's birthday and Thanksgiving.....

Thinking about it makes my eyes tear in appreciation. It is a dense rich bit of chocolately heaven, not too sweet. Great with coffee or a glass of milk, or straight off of a knife the next day for breakfast and lunch.....