Chez Madeleine

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Slow Food

Today was the 1st annual Farmers' Fresh Sunday Picnic in Tallapoosa, GA. That's code for "almost in Alabama". Three city girls ventured to the farm to browse exhibits, troll for celebrity chefs, and dine on the season's freshest produce.

We arrived at around 2:30 today and after a detour which took us past the bee hives and the orchards, we came to a clearing in the woods where there was lots of activity. Tables were set up in clusters, a big grill was smoking away, and beautiful ripe veggies were for sale.

We walked down by the river,


browsed the stalls (Slow Food, Cotton Mill Farmers Market with compost and water filter systems, Antico Mercante cheeses, and the Farmers' Fresh Market Booth),

honor box







and then we got in the supper line, filled our plates with summer bounty, and ate until our bellies could hold no more.

The Menu: Hodge Common Sense Beef Kabobs, Riverview Farms Pork Kabobs, Farmers' Frersh Vegetable Kabobs, Gum Creek Farms Grilled Sausage, Riverview Farms Braised Beef Ribs, Smoked Tomato Gazpacho prepared by Woodfire Grill, Melted Tomatoes with Fresh Ricotta prepared by Gena Berry, Fingerling Potato Salad prepared by Repast restaurant, Heirloom Tomato Salad with Cornmeal Croutons prepared by Rome Street Tavern, and Cornmeal Canapes prepared by Avalon Catering.

the grill

kabobs 2

all kabobs

veggie kabobs

veggie kabobs 2

fingerling potato salad

cornbread croutons



The day was perfect. The food tasted different because it was eaten on a farm. It was a good day, spent with people passionate about growing and eating.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Singin' the Bobby Flay blues

taco eaten

Friday night. Date night. Rush home and kiss the man you love. All of the couples in the world are doing it, too. I never thought I'd get there. Never thought I'd have someone to rush home to at the end of the day. Speeding on the interstate. Friday night outfit.

This Friday, I decided to make fish tacos for date night. I had two ears of sweet corn from my CSA delivery, and some of that gorgeous yellow/green squash to grill on the side. Lee was nice enough to do the rest of the shopping on Thursday night--he made an Equadorian friend at Publix who helped him find such exotic veggies as avocado, cilantro & jalepeno. I found a bobby flay recipe on the food network. I marinated the fish (tilapia) in coarsely chopped cilantro and jalepeno, ancho chile powder and canola oil. We grilled up the corn in the husk and added the squash at the last minute to get it nice and tender.

fish on the grill 2

fish on the grill

I assembled the tacos-with the grilled tilapia, the sweet corn and tomato salsa (sans avocado-the equadorian sold Lee a bum avocado that wouldn't be ripe til next week), and some cheese. We popped the tortillas on the grill for a few minutes.

plate of ingredients


I'm here to sing the bobby flay blues because Lee called the tacos "bland"--and he's right--they were. Despite all of the flavors, the grilled sweet corn, the hot jalepeno, and the spicy fish, the tacos fell flat. They tasted fresh, and the texture was great, but the flavor didn't blow us away.

Luckily, all I need to feel satisfied on a Friday night is a soft place to fall. And one who grocery shops and does the dishes is a bonus I could never refuse.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hidden (Happy) Valley

dim sum 8

Question: How many business school students does it take to identify what's wrong with this picture?

Answer: Four.

As four business school students embarked on a culinary Dim Sum adventure this morning, they used the 5 minutes they had before the restaurant opened to brainstorm marketing ideas for Happy Valley. Test your business acumen by guessing what they came up with!

Clay picked the place and the Zagat advice warned "get there early-long lines at this Atlanta Dim Sum favorite." So, despite the fact that our two guests couldn't wrap their heads around dumplings at 10 am on a Sunday, we arrived early, prepared to duke it out with Chinese patrons four our spots at the lazy susan.


Turns out, Zagat was over-zealous. We were the first people to arrive. Within moments , we had tea and water and our first cart had arrived full of dumplings. Although it was hard to say no to the dumpling peddlers, Clay tried to keep us honest. He refused roughly every other dish. We started with pork and shrimp, shrimp, scallop and chicken dumplings.

dim sum 3

dim sum 2

dim sum 1

Not long after, we grabbed at pork buns which Eileen dubbed, "bizarre", and soon after that we were given a plate full of diverse noodles flecked with pork, mushrooms, and shrimp. As the carts increased in speed and variety, we experienced an unfortunate incident with a fish ball. Clay asked for "vegetable" and the Hidden Valley cart peddler said "fish ball"--we thought she said "vegetable" so we took them.

I was first to try the dense, fishy, sausage-like, gagging ball. I almost couldn't get it down and it took me several glasses of tea after the fish ball before I could return to the spread. I never quite recovered. Towards the end of the adventure, we ordered some broccoli rabe, too.

dim sum 4

At some point during the meal, we realized that the only way to communicate with the dumpling peddlers was by soliciting the help of the teenaged Hidden Valley server. We would call her over for advice or translation and she would serve as our Dim Sum interpreter. Here she came with the dessert cart for us.

dim sum 6

We tried chocolate pudding, pineapple flan, and mango pudding. To be honest, all were moreover flavorless.

dim sum 7

dim sum 9

Finally, we all learned something today. Clay indicated to Eileen that the universal sign for "more tea" was opening the lid on the tea pot. Eileen opened, and within seconds our tea had been replaced. They reenacted it for me here.

dim sum 5

One thing is for sure, Dim Sum, if you can find it behind the burgundy paint, is worth the trip to Buford Highway. We were all stuffed for about $13 each, and we plan to bring more folks next time. We think we're ready to upgrade to a large table with a lazy susan, and we plan to wow our friends with our (now) extensive knowledge about the offerings at Hidden Valley.

Tacos, Dessert & Sex

empty margarita

Friday night, we celebrated Marietta's last Saturday night in town. She'll be here next weekend, but we'll be attending the nuptials of some friends, so this was her last Saturday night as far as Emily & I were concerned.

We hit up Taqueria at around 7 pm and ended up in the longest line ever. Great people watching, but it can get a bit awkward to be next to the same people in line for so long. I was so distracted by my hunger that I forgot to snap photos of our tacos and enchiladas, but I didn't forget to shoot my drained margarita glass. The margaritas at Taqueria are the BEST in town.


It turns out that the real star of the night was Emily. She created a dessert platter for goddesses (us). Yogurt-covered pretzels, shell chocolates, jellies, nectarines, strawberries and lemon goat cheese. To-die-for. We noshed all night long while watching our favorite Sex & the City episodes from all 6 seasons. Now that's just about a perfect night as I can imagine.

dessert platter2

dessert platter

dessert platter3

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Diamonds on the soles of her gold shoes

gold shoes

A few weeks ago, Kathleen emailed me to tell me that she had purchased some new shoes over the weekend. They needed a debut. So, we made dinner reservations at Kyma- a place that we had been dying to try for a while. It was the latest edition to the Buckhead Life restaurant group dynasty, but it had been open for several years. The premise was Greek, specializing in Fish. We made the reso for 4-invited Eileen and Marietta, and anxiously awaited the debut of Kathleen's latest accessory.

We arrived at Kyma last night at around 7:15, and the clientele was, let's just say...early bird? There were several patrons in wheelchairs. We were all dressed up, with no one to see but a few grandparents. Next, we were led to a table that was situated right on the main drag of the restaurant, behind a giant Grecian column. Initially, we were unsure about how the night would shape up, but Kyma redeemed itself with its excellent fare.

The specialty at Kyma is their wood-grilled fish. When you enter, the first thing that you see are their fresh catches of the day on ice. These fresh catches are cooked whole and then fileted and served in a decadent bath of butter, white wine and capers.
frozen fish

more frozen fish

We started off with a basket of warm olive bread that was served with an excellent drizzle of olive oil and a bowl of potent hummus. We shared the Baby Calamari crisped in Olive Oil, the Saginaki (Kefalograviera Cheese in Barbayanni Ouzo and Lemon), and the Spanikopita, cheese and spinach triangles. All were excellent. The saginaki was pungent and soaked in Ouzo, the calamari were tender and crispy, and the spanikopita were flaky and warm with a creamy center.

baby calamari

Marietta had done some research in advance, and went in to the night craving the Lamb Chops “PAITHAKIA” Wood Grilled, Marinated with Fresh Herbs, Olive Oil and Lemon
served with “Greek Fries” and Tzatziki Yogurt Spread.


Kathleen ordered the same. Eileen decided on the Whole Prawns Wood Grilled with “HILOPITES” Square Cut Pasta, Tomato Compote and Kefalotiri Cheese,


and I went with the suggestion of our waiter who suggested the wood grilled Pompano. I also ordered a side order of the greek style fries with tzatziki.

pompano 2

greek potatos

The food was excellent. Eileen's prawns were delicate and rich with tomato. The girls' lamb was tender, flavorful, perfectly cooked, and was paired perfectly with the thick, rich, cooling tzatziki. My pompano was flaky, tender and rich. Perfectly cooked and paired with the butter and capers. The greek style fries were tender coins-stacked perfectly like cards. We had an excellent greek wine with our meal that was light and earthy like a Pinot Noir.

We couldn't stay at Kyma for dessert...we needed a change of venue. The shoes were begging for one, so we headed over to Intermezzo for dessert and fun drinks. We had Sofia champagne (from the Coppola vineyard), Paris on Fire (chambord, cassis and champagne with pineapple juice), Cappuccino cheesecake, and the Paris Brest-a layered dessert of creme anglaise, strawberries, and puff pastry.

At the end of the night, the shoes came off, the girls went home and Friday night ended with a quiet, satisfied drive home.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Kitty in Le Creuset

close up of kitty in le creuset

I haven't been to the grocery store in a week, so I decided to cook my cat for dinner. I've fattened her up lately out of guilt. Its come to this. I have vegetables coming out of my ears, but no time to cook them. Somebody give me a suggestion for squash? And I promise I'm not letting that purple basil go to waste.

But you readers have a lot to look forward to this weekend. I'm taking you to Kyma tomorrow night (Greek Seafood in a swanky setting), Taqueria del Sol on Saturday night for girls night with margaritas, and then, as if you thought it couldn't get any better, Dim Sum on Sunday. We're venturing to Buford Highway...

So, stay tuned as I embark on this culinarily-diverse weekend. And don't worry, I didn't have the heart to put Madeleine in the oven...


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Prince would be proud

week 11 CSA delivery

Its Wednesday! Veggie delivery day. I had completely forgotten when Anne burst into my office carrying her giant brown bag. Next week, I'll be sure to capture her in this stance. She was balancing a large, round watermelon in one hand and the bag in the other. It was very Dirty Dancing meets community agriculture.

She quickly unpacked her goods---a giant bag of tomatoes, and a smaller pack of baby tomatoes. I encouraged her to take the watermelon since she had so valiently carried it from the pick up place, to my office. I like to give her the good stuff first.

I claimed my bounty, and you'll see it pictured above. Fun stuff. Purple basil (that's where Prince comes in), a delicate mini cabbage, a fraternal twin-different but the same-mini boston lettuce ball. More squash with identity problems (green or yellow?), two garlics with strings attached and one red onion. Also, a small stalk of rosemary.

This week, I need to use up all of these squash. Does anyone have any suggestions? I know its unhealthy, but I think I'll fashion them in a casserole. I'm going to use the purple basil in a thai curry. Emily & Sami brought me authentic curries from Thailand last month, and I think that the purple basil would go perfectly in the panang curry.

As for the mini lettuces, they'll be attending a child's tea party. Teddy bears will enjoy lettuce wraps and tea, and imaginary sugar cubes will be added to china tea cups.

Can't wait to cook up my new friends.

One closing thought-sadly, my herb garden has been neglected. So has my cat. I haven't been home much lately. I'm showing you the neglected pair. They asked me to post their photos in the hopes that they would receive some sympathy....