Friday, July 25, 2008

Wine, Old Fashioned Caramel Cake and Friends

You probably have some "old" friends like I do - friends that you don't see for months at a time, but when you finally get together you are able to pick up right where you left off from the last visit. My 2 buddies and I rendezvoused in LaGrange Georgia this week. Yes, that's LaGrange! A small town south of Atlanta on the way to Columbus Georgia. Becky clued us into an upscale restaurant with an interesting wine list. I chose a Australian Riesling named "Barking Mad" to drink with our appetizers through entrees. It was luscious - very fruit forward with enough crisp acidity to finish dry. The pictures you see are my favorite food picks of the evening: the choice of 4 homemade house salad dressings; the pasta arrabiata with big fat juicy shrimp; and the wonderful caramel cake that was soooo worth the indulgence. (I'll think about it for weeks to come, as I haul myself out of bed for boot camp.) The best part of the evening was the end. As she was leaving, a diner from several tables away stopped by to share her envy of our good time. She told us that we had inspired her to call her friends for dinner. We invited her to join us, but she was off for home. So, call your friends this week - pick up the conversation from the last time and enjoy being with the people who know you best! You can read about The Basil Leaf at

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fun, Fresh, Fast Food on Saturday Morning

I just had to share some pictures from the Marietta Square Farmers Market on Saturday. How much fun to meet local folks who are interested in good food - we had lots to talk about. I made the Italian Tomato Salad with Tomato Basil Dressing from the June 6th edition of the Friday Four - and shared it with about 30 of my new friends. You can find the recipe at Look for the June 6th edition: Tomato Basil Dressing. I'll be at the Market next Saturday, demonstrating another easy, delicious and quick garden-fresh dish to make at home. Come join me! You'll find lots of just picked vegetables and beautiful flowers on the Square. And next week it's the Annual Christmas in July celebration. For information on the market check out

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fresh Flavors for Fast Food

It's hard to believe I am going to blog about fast food. But, I am. Years ago, I used to travel to California for business. When I did,  I always kept a lookout for an El Pollo Loco. And now, finally they have arrived in Atlanta! This Mexican transplant is actually good-for-you fresh food that tastes great. No, it's not a dining experience, but the bright colors, fun food and friendly service make for a super quick bite. Here's more awesome news - If you love food that tastes delicious without being bad for you,  you'll appreciate the menu, where you will see a heart icon designating healthier choices. Even the website has an easy-to-use nutrition calculator to check out your lunch or dinner damage - or not! (Did I mention the food tastes really good?) After ordering you can graze through the salsa bar containing salsas from mild to hot, cilantro to sprinkle, chopped onions for your self rolled soft tacos or lemons to squeeze on your chicken. From burritos to cheese quesadillas El Pollo Loco is a super choice for vegetarians, too. I'm very happy they have landed in Atlanta - hope you will be too! Visit the website for locations at

Monday, July 14, 2008

Friends and a French Cafe

Ooh La La! My friend Trish transported me to France yesterday morning. We "brunched" at Douceur de France, a tiny pastry shop and cafe. The smell of chocolate croissants wafted out as we opened the door. The assortment of pastries was beautiful. This small restaurant carries more than just sweet indulgences. It serves breakfast, lunch and mouthwatering take away. Check out the soup in the mason jars - what a great idea! Individual quiches are made to go as well. The sandwiches and panini looked great. We settled into a table on the patio, and both of us opted for veggie omelets, accompanied by croissants and strawberry jam. The cappuccino was perfect. And just like a meal in France, we were never hurried - we had lots of time to talk about big ideas and enjoy the company of each other. Take a look at my French place at or grab a friend and explore a French cafe in your town.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Eating Greek

If you like to graze, Greek food is made for you. Meze is the Greek answer to Spanish tapas. Two recent visits to Blu Greek Taverna, a small restaurant off the Marietta Square have reminded just how much I love the "finger food" of Greece. And you will too! Your table can be covered with countless small dishes: flaming goat cheese, handrolled grape leaves, calamari, octopus, shrimp and wonderful chargrilled kebabs. Briny Kalamata olives and hefty chunks of salty feta dressed in oregano and served with warm pita wedges are always a great way to start. Greek spreads are made for sharing. Tzatziki is made with thick creamy yogurt and fresh crisp cucumbers. (If you have ever enjoyed a Gyro, you have probably tasted Tzatziki.) Of course, hummus is always wonderful. Melitzanoslalta gets its delicious smoky taste from roasted eggplant. You'll recognize Taramosalta by its beautiful pink color - caviar and potato create a rich creamy mousse. Of course, a glass of Greek wine is a perfect match for your meze. Greek wine is becoming more popular and available everywhere in the states. Try a refreshing white made from the Moschofilero grape brimming with citrus, floral and melon flavors or a red made with the Agiorgitiko grape that has a dark cherry taste with good tannins, similiar to a Merlot. Now you can begin your own Greek wine adventure to discover you favorite pairing with fresh, simple and delicious Greek Meze. Check out Blu Greek Taverna at or uncover a Greek gem in your town!

Monday, July 7, 2008

In Praise of Vouvray on a Hot Summer Day

This picture makes me want to open a bottle of Vouvray right now. Aren't lazy summer afternoons wonderful? I had such a good time catching up with an old friend the other day, I wanted to celebrate our visit and our drink. Read my review of this too-easy-to-drink soft and velvety quaffer in my latest wine review at

Saturday, July 5, 2008

So Here we are - the triumphant Saturday boot campers! For the past year and a half, I have been attending a boot camp on the Marietta square for 3 mornings a week. At 5:15 AM. Yes, that's 5:15 AM. The best part is at 6:15 AM you are finished with your exercise, and ready for the day. The collective "Woo Hoo" from the group at the end of the workout is sincere! The worst part is when the alarm goes off at 4:30 AM. When I roll over and think, "Am I crazy?" I'm not. The boot camp is the best thing I have ever done to grow my fitness level. I would never challenge myself without the camaraderie of the group and the encouragement of the leader. A bonus is that I feel so good! This summer, a free boot camp is being held on Saturdays at the square. Not til 8:00 AM. It is so much fun to meet a larger group of folks who are interested in increasing their strength and having fun. No matter what your fitness level - try a boot camp. It will get you going! If you want to find out about mine, check out

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Squeezing in the door, I asked: "Is it always this busy?" The answer made me happy we had arrived just after opening. "Oh no, it's not busy. When the line is out the door and up the hill - that's busy." Welcome to carnivore paradise. The aroma of paprika and other herbs and spices is heady. This is the best meat market in town, hands down. Standing in line is half the fun! Everyone is friendly and helpful. And that's good, because the list of 79 meats and sausages is just the beginning of what is available. You'll need help to discover what a Kassler Rib looks like, learn what Landjager tastes like, or to uncover the differences between Hungarian, Hunters, Alpine, House, Czech, German, Genoa, Odessa, Ukrainska, Russian, Moldova, and (don't you love the name of this one?) Tourist Salami. As you chat up your temporary neighbors you'll discover everyone's most loved meat and how they prepare and serve it at home. The bonus at the end is the prices. You'll be astonished at the value. When was the last time you spent $2.99 a pound for hand sliced smoked bacon? I can't remember. No credit cards here so come prepared with cash, check or ATM card. Run - don't walk for a taste of authentic European-style fresh and cured meats. Located  in the Atlanta "hinterlands" and open only one Saturday a month,  check out the hours and directions before you take off at