Chez Madeleine

Friday, December 29, 2006

Thumbs Up


Recenty, three friends met up at the Diner across the street from me. Kevin and Jessica are two of my favorite people in the world. And the fact that they're recently married makes me believe in love.

Kevin is an uber-talented High-School teacher, blogger extraordinare, history buff, baseball coach, and website designer. He designed my sister's wedding website, and is going to eventually help me take this one to the next level. How cool is it that he engages his students by blogging about American History? Check it out.

Jessica is equally talented and charming. She is one of the smartest women that I know, and her advice qualifies her to understudy with Dear Abby. Jessica is the kind of person you could talk to all day. I love her companionship and I live for her advice.

Jessica and Kevin love Brunch. They would make it a sport if they could. They're on a quest to visit all of the best brunch places in Atlanta, so I thought it was only natural that we meet at my personal favorite, Thumbs Up Diner.

It was a few weeks before Christmas, so we were greeted with holiday mugs of coffee:


Wanting to show his diverse culinary tastes, Kevin ordered Lou's coffee, a blend of hot chocolate and coffee topped with whipped cream:

Kevin and Jessica studied their menus seriously, eventually settling on the Yukon Omelette for Jessica (with smoked salmon and cream cheese) and the Mexican Egg wraps for Kevin:


My omelette with goat cheese, spinach and mushrooms:

Kevin and Jessica with their meals:

We had a great time at brunch, catching up on our lives and eating lots of protien to sustain us for the rest of our Christmas shopping. So, if you ever want to come over for brunch, I'll take you to Thumbs Up diner...just name the date and time....



This Christmas season, I appreciated all of my gifts. Mostly the gift of a great laugh with a friend, of an old family photo, of a pajama day with my family. My life is filled with the best kind of gifts.

I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about the highlights of my Christmas:

1) The flawless execution of a Bon Appetit menu on Christmas eve: Standing Rib Roast, Yorkshire Pudding with bacon, roasted tomatos with Stilton, Green Beans with carmelized shallots, and potato gratin. I can tell you that this plate rivaled what was in the magazine!

2) My mother: If you ever think for one minute that what I have is god-given talent-think again! Every inspiration for every party, dish, creation comes from my mother. Just a few highlights were her cranberry speckled drink cooler--who would've thought to add cranberries to the ice!


Her flower arrangement for Christmas Eve-with cranberries too (those little suckers are versatile!):


And her Christmas morning breakfast: on the bottom is the potato gratin from Christmas Eve dinner, topped by crispy bacon and a perfectly poached egg. Herbs on the plate, ladies and genteman. She's an Alfred Portale apprentice:


3) This lunch I made for my mom and I on Christmas day-- Ham & Brie grilled cheeses with crudites from the night before:


4) My culinary presents!

Le Creuset Oven Mitts from Kathleen:

The Gift of Southern Cooking from Tara:


This kick-ass tea brewer and loose teas from Aimee (I'm drinking freshly brewed tea as I type this, Aimee!). You set it over your mug and it pours right in and you can brew in the microwave.



And these unique items from my Mom:
Chardonnay and Oak Fleur de Sel (I'm so excited about this I could eat it raw)

Truffle Sauce (oh-my-goodness)

White Balsamic Cream (the consistency of shower gel)

Please send ideas about how to use these items...

It was an incredible Christmas, and I'm happy to be back in Atlanta now getting ready for New Years with friends. Then, I'm off to Brazil & Argentina for 9 days for work. I promise to return with stories and photos of Malbec, Argentinian Beef, half-naked Brazilian girls, and the like.

In the meantime-tell me, did you receive any culinary gifts this year that you want to share?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

First Annual Cocktail Party

I'm afraid I may have fallen from my perch as "hostess with the mostess" this weekend when, at my first annual cocktail party, I did a lot of bitching that no one else hosted parties. I love to host, and would marry a votive holder, a chinese lantern, or a napkin ring holder if it met me on the right night. I'm a sucker for a room full of people, a table full of bites, and a rampant rip-roaring theme.

So, my first annual party was held on Friday night. The menu was:
Spiced Bourbon Cider
Baltimore Egg Nog with Rum & Brandy
Espresso Martini Station

IMG_1188 IMG_1185 IMG_1194 IMG_1196 IMG_1216 IMG_1207

Italian Fig Cookies
Buckeye Balls
Peppermint Cheesecakes with a cookie crust
Dark Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods
Three-Chocolate Bark with spiced pecans and cherries
Black Spice Cakes with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting and Caramel
homemade Sharp Cheddar Cheese Straws (from Tara)
Sweet and Salty Pecans (Kathleen)

The mistletoe was hung...

The buckeyes were dipped...

The eggnog was imbibed with brandy and rum...

And this food blogger celebrated with her great friends, and gave thanks for a wonderful 2006. Here's to many more parties in 2007 (at your house of course)...

Three more days to go!


Three more days to go in the Menu for Hope campaign, and we've already way surpassed our goal. As of now, we've raised $32,176! That is going to make such a difference in so many people's lives.

Don't forget to bid on my prize and many others. I am personally going after the red Kitchenaid Mixer, the original "banner" design for a blog, and the Alice Waters signed platter.

My prize code is UE07, and you can donate for it here.

You know you've been wanting to's the time....

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Menu for Hope III

Some people are great cooks. Some are great writers. Some are philanthropists.
And then there are those encapsulate all three. Pim is one of those chicks. I don't know her personally, but her blog is a feast for the mind, and her heart is as big as the Eiffel Tower. Pim has organized her third annual Menu for Hope from December 11-22 with the help of food bloggers from around the world. This time she will be raising funds to support the United Nations World Food Programme.

During the holiday season we do a lot of things that we're not proud of--we cut in line at the mall, cut people off in traffic, pray that we get the biggest cream puff of the buffet, and hope for the big checks from our grandmothers. Do something that makes you feel good--donate for the Menu for Hope and you could win a gift certificate to eat the Inn at Little Washington, or a Red Kitchenaid Standing Mixer. Either way, you'll feel good. I guarantee it. Karma is good stuff.

Adam Roberts of The Amateur Gourmet, organized we food bloggers on the East Coast of the USA and he has also donated two really cool prizes--one for New Yorkers, and one for non-New Yorkers. I am definitely bidding on the non-NYC prize!


Your truly has entered an Atlanta food experience. I'm inviting you to spend the day with me in Atlanta. I'll share 8 years of food discoveries with you in one day! You'll leave having experienced great biscuits, soul food, and new southern cuisine. When you get home, you'll be dying to try the stuff that Atlanta chefs have been cooking up for locals, so you'll leave with a copy of Atlanta Cooks At Home-a collection of recipes from Atlanta's favorite chefs.

Your Itineraraire Extraordinaire:

Start out the day at the legendary Flying Biscuit cafe, where they make and sell thousands of their famous biscuits per day. Nestled among funky Craftsman bungalows in the heart of Historic Candler Park, the original location of The Flying Biscuit Café is one of Atlanta's favorite spots for brunch.

Next, a tour of the historic neighborhoods of Atlanta--Candler Park, Inman Park, and Druid Hills where Driving Miss Daisy was filmed. Nosh on Chick-fil-A nuggets while Sarah escorts you around town, and you'll learn why Chick-fil-A chicken is one of the most coveted foods south of the Mason-Dixon line! We'll take a break to rest our tummies on Emory's bustling campus.

Lunch at the Busy Bee Cafe where Meat and Three in Atlanta was invented. Everything is cooked with pork, giblets, ham hocks etc, and the fried chicken is the tenderest around. You can't leave Atlanta without experiencing Soul Food like this; it'll put peach fuzz on your chest!

Next, we'll be on to the International Farmers Market in Atlanta where food watching and people watching is primo. The wall of spices alone is enough to make you feel bland. Pick up some to take home with you!

Our day of eating Atlanta concludes at Chef Scott Peacock's Watershed Restaurant. Chef Peacock has brought southern cooking to new levels at Watershed. Co-owned with Indigo Girl, Emily Saliers, this is the perfect spot to end the day with a glass of wine, a juicy porkchop or vegetable plate, and some Very Good Chocolate Cake.

You'll sleep well in the Dirty South after this day of eating!

Here's how it works.

Here's what you should do...

1. Go to the donation page

2. Make a donation, each $10 will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. Please specify which prize or prizes you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. Do tell us how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code -for example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for UW01 and 3 for UW02.

3. If your company matches your charity donation, please remember to check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

4. Please also check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we could contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

5. Check back on Chez Pim on January 15 when we announce the result of the raffle. (The drawing will be done electronically. Our friend the code wizard Derrick at Obsession with Food is responsible for the wicked application that will do the job.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Celebrity Spotting at Shaun's


When I heard that Shaun's was opening in the once-grand, now-defunct spot where the Inman Park Patio used to live, I was excited. One more Edgewood eatery I could add to my long list of "things that have improved my property value since I moved in". I mean seriously, I'm not sure if I can take all of the credit for effectively moving the culinary epicenter of Atlanta to within two blocks of my house, but I think its fair to say that this little gourmet is attracting quite the flock of restauranteurs to her 'hood.

Shaun Doty has had a long and successful career in Atlanta, as owner and chef at MidCity Cuisine, and then for a brief stint at Table 1280 which I wrote about several months ago. Apparantly the man has a temper. Our waitress at Taurus a few months ago told us

"Yeah, Shaun is the kind of guy who is nice one minute, and then the next minute he throws a chair at your head."

We got the distinct impression that she was speaking about herself in the 3rd person when I spotted a little bump on her noggin.

Our evening at Shaun's actually began on Monday of that week when I called to reserve a table for Saturday night. The reservation went rather quickly, but we were confirmed for 4 on Saturday. About a half an hour later, the phone rang. It was Shaun's--confirming my reservation. Thorough, those hostesses. They probably have to be in order to avoid the chair-throwing rage that Shaun goes into when he's mad.

The extra-thorough, or extra-confused hostesses at Shaun's actually confirmed my reservation 7 times between Monday and Saturday. New restaurant. Or erasable ink or something in the reso book.

The highlight of our evening was being seated at the communal table. Shaun actually stole this idea from me. I've been talking about having a French communal farm table at my future restaurant since I was 5. I can't believe I got trumped on my own street. But anyway, we were at the center of the communal table-sort of stuck between a group of beautiful couples, and a couple that was spewing hatred for communal eating.

We communal communists loved it however. We felt that we were at the center of the restaurant-sandwiched between the kitchen and the door. Later, sandwiched between an ambiguously gay couple and a couple who was sharing each other's food. Sandwiched nonetheless.

We started with cocktails. A girl needs a cocktail as spicy or delicate as she is, and we found some pretty good matches on the menu.

I chose the calvados cocktail: calvados apple brandy, cointreau, orange juice and soda, served up. Kathleen, the stinger that she is, went with the ruby red eye: absolut ruby red, campari and fresh grapefruit on crushed ice. Emily, playing it very sweet, chose to imbibe on the mistral mimosa: prosecco with lavender, honey and lemon.


In the meantime, the people next to us left angrily with bitter words for the waitress. We should've warned them about the chair-throwing. They said "you tell Shaun we don't like the bread or the communal table", and they took their 1982 BYO bottle of expensiveness and stormed out with the flair of teenage girls.

Instead of leaving in an angry rage, we instead chose the maryland crab cake with ground mustard butter and the butternut squash raviolis with ameretti, sage, pine nut foam. I was having pleasure spasms from the combination of the butternut squash and the amaretti cookies crumbled on top when Emily snapped me out of it and told me that Giada from the Food Network invented that combo.



Kathleen chose white shrimp and grits with berkshire pork, poached egg. I loved this giant glass bowl. How minimalist.


This is a terrible photo of Emily's parmesan risotto with henmushrooms and black truffle butter. I was trying to be subtle by using no flash so that I wouldn't wreck my chances of spotting a celebrity.


My painted hills skirt steak with capers, watercress, hazelnuts, and parmesan fries was incredible. Warm, medium-rare steak topped with fries that were dredged and dredged again in the saltiest, nutties parmesan.


And then just when I was about to have to leave Shaun's without a celebrity sighting, Jeff from the Bert Show came in with Jessica (his wife) from Jessica Shops. They were seated directly behind us. And I took this far away, dark, indistinguishable photo of them behind Emily.


After Jeff & Jessica, there really wasn't anything that could top the night for me, so when our warm chocolate brioche pizza with homemade marshmallows came, it was just an "eh" for me. I tossed back a homemade marshmallow and thanked Atlanta for being one of those places where seeing B-list celebrities can still make a girl happy.

As we left, I thought I might have heard the sound of Shaun throwing a chair...but maybe it was just the pitter patter of celebrities rushing to eat at Shaun's....


a gift from Santa


You may remember that the last time I made my roasted root soup I asked Santa for an immersion blender.

On Thursday, this box arrived at my office from Santa "re: my blog". Quel suprise!

This was inside:

When I was younger I really did believe in Santa. I remember looking through the bannisters when the light was so dim that it was hard to focus. Trying to make out the blurry objects. Knowing that it was too early to wake mom and dad up.

These days, I'm asking Santa for creme brulee torches instead of Strawberry Shortcake dolls. I've made a list of some of the things I really want for Christmas:

1) The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks

2) These kick-ass appetizer spoons so I can pretend I live inside a fancy hotel where amuse bouches get their own special servingware

3) Le Creuset Dutch Oven, but what shade would look best for me?

4) These oven mitts, because I don't have any

5)These latte bowls so I can drink my coffee from a big bowl like I did in Paris

I'm still shopping, don't worry.

But Santa, if you're out there, thanks for thinking of me. The next time I make soup, it'll be for you...