MY-lanta is FOOD-lanta
Just returned from a weekend with the girls in Atlanta. A few furious days of catching up on work and now I finally have time to reflect. (Or perhaps, dayDREAM that I was there once again!?!)
The city really lived up to its nickname “MY-lanta,” because our itinerary was, indeed, MY perfect marriage of Global hip and the old world hospitality and traditions that sustain me. I mean, who else chases a speaking engagement at Emory University presenting His Holiness The Dali Lama with Neopolitan pizza at Antico Pizza followed by an eclectic-meets-old-world-South cocktail party in the rolling greens of Druid Hills!?! (Druid Hills made its name for itself as Atlanta’s premier suburb when it was founded in the late 19th Century, home to many of Atlanta’s leading families including Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler. I mean, so good!) It was the perfect day. My spirit and creative soul were officially fed. Now it was time for my stomach.
I awoke excited to eat. Immediately. Breakfast at The Flying Biscuit where I fell in love (natch) with their Love Cakes which provided a heavenly foundation for two eggs, tomatillo salsa and feta cheese. I also had a plate of grits because…well, when in Rome, no?! Mental notes taken to chat with Chef Shawn because I am envisioning a riff on mini love cake hors d’oeuvres at our next Tex Mex-inspired affair.
A quick breather from food and we were back at the table again, this time at Miller Union (a Bon Appetit 10 Best New….) It’s all warehouse to farmhouse chic and the menu showcases Southern heart with a fresh modern approach. Pan-seared duck breast, sweet corn & butter bean succotash!?! Brilliant!
Monday morning and we hit the road. Buford Highway. Nicknamed Highway to Heaven by Creative Loafing Magazine. And, if Heaven isn’t clouds and harps, but instead, all about food, then kudos, CL. You nailed it.
Here, what appears to be a non-descript string of strip malls, becomes an unbelieveable gustatory wonderland of international family run restaurants with loads of personality and down-to-earth (“fundamental” as my Atlanta friend, Richard says) global foods. As restaurants whizzed past in my car window, I saw signs for Vietnamese and Korean Barbecue. Wait! Hit the breaks! Old Havana Sandwich Shop. Here, I bit into the best Cuban Sandwich (crusty bread, pork, ham, swiss and load on the pickles) I’ve ever had. It’s all about the pickles.
I’ve been obsessed with Atlanta ever since 2003 when Entertaining Company was invited to travel there and produce a traditional Southern wedding for a good friend. That day, we went old-South, and served pimento cheese and benne wafers, bourbon-glazed ham and tea sandwiches on a white wrap-around porch. But this trip opened my eyes to the fact that while Atlanta still loves its traditions (thank goodness,) it is also a very modern city with an increasingly Global palate.
Grits and Korean BBQ? Okra in the Cassuolet? Let me grab my fork.