you’ll find these shaggy, ghostly, often enormous wonders alongside better-known shiitakes and oyster mushrooms. The cooked texture is akin toshellfish, with a delicate flavor that brings to mind lobster. Buy them from owner Jonathan Tescher, previously the farmer services coordinator for Georgia Organics, at the weekly Decatur and Grant Park markets (among others), and check Sparta Imperial’s website for mushroom recipes devised by local chefs.
> Lunch Greats
The “city too busy to hate” is more about lunches on the fly than lengthy repasts. But these five midday meals will make you wonder why you don’t take time for a languid lunch more often.
Can’t face a porterhouse at noon? Try the sirloin burger, a two-fister that the kitchen will even split into a couple of sliders. bonesrestaurant.com
Go for Steven Satterfield’s fried oysters on a hoagie, smoked chicken salad, and the ice cream sandwiches. millerunion.com
One Eared Stag
Look for wonders like pan-fried dates with olives, white anchovies, pine nuts, and a scattering of mint leaves. oneearedstag.com
The buttery lobster roll (a lunchtime treat; it’s only served at the restaurant’s oyster bar during dinner) rivals all others in the city. theoptimistrestaurant.com
Order Persian classics like lamb or beef kebabs, and share a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and parsley. rumiskitchen.com
Many Fold Farm Cheeses
Rebecca and Ross Williams founded their farm in south Fulton’s Chattahoochee Hills in 2009, selling eggs, lamb meat, and blueberries. But it wasn’t until 2012, after they’d established a sheep flock and built a 3,000-square-foot creamery, that they debuted their masterworks, instantly the finest sheep’s milk cheeses made in metro Atlanta. Sheep’s milk has a gentle tang similar to goat’s milk, most evident in the Williamses’ brebis, a soft, bright cheese akin to fresh chèvre. Their aged cheeses deliver even more wow. If you like Humboldt Fog, the popular aged goat cheese from California’s Cypress Grove, try Many Fold’s Condor’s Ruin, shaped like a pyramid and with a texture that segues from dense at its center to creamy around the edges. manyfoldfarm.com
> Ma Cuisine by Adeline
Perrine Prieur, owner of Perrine’s WineShop, tipped us off to Adeline Borra, who was raised in Burgundy, France; teaches cooking classes around town; and prepares restaurant-quality meals in people’s homes. I was new to how the chef-for-hire process works: Borra sent a proposed menu with choices for each of the four courses she prepares. She brings the dishes, cooks and serves the food, and cleans the kitchen when the meal is over. Sold! Though Borra threw in Italian and New American suggestions like mushroom risotto or roasted sea bass with celery root puree, I requested a straight-up Gallic dinner. She dazzled with cheese soufflés that mushroomed out of their ramekins, poached egg in red wine reduction (a Burgundian specialty and my favorite dish of the night), a riff on beef Bourguignon made with short ribs, and apple tart with salted caramel sauce. Given Borra’s sprightly presence, the meal’s precise pacing, and how stress-free the whole evening felt, the $350 bill for three of us seemed entirely reasonable. macuisinebyadeline.com
Nantucket Bay Scallops
These tiny jewels have disappeared until late fall/early winter, but they’re a sigh-inducing treat appearing more regularly on Atlanta’s seasonal menus. Forget the fleshy sea scallops that chefs sear to golden crispness year-round. These are Neptune’s candy, gumdrop-sized mollusks (harvested from, yes, the waters around Massachusetts’s island famous for wealthy vacationers) that emerge from the depths so sweet they hardly need cooking. Anne Quatrano, who grew up in New England, loves them: She might serve them at Bacchanalia
sauteed and served with maitake mushrooms and other vegetables in clam broth. Thomas Minchella at Mc-Kendrick’s Steakhouse
fries them in a light tempura batter. Wherever you spot them, just make sure the preparation looks simple: You don’t want too many ingredients masking their singular flavor.
Olive Oil Specialty Store
In the same way that wine shops hold tastings, a new crop of stores specializing in olive oils encourages you to sample before you purchase. Oli + Ve
, which opened in Roswell in 2012 and has since launched locations in Buckhead and Vinings, stocks freshly pressed extra virgin olive oils from around the world, depending on the growing season. Sipping helps you decide if you lean more toward fruity, buttery, or peppery oils. The company also blends flavored varieties (like blood orange, garlic, or Tuscan herb) and thirty balsamic vinegars, which make ideal salad dressings and marinades. Emory Point’s Strippaggio
(the name refers to the word Italians use for slurping olive oil) opened last June and sources sixteen olive oils, mostly from California. Look for the Ternero olive oil blend, which has a beautiful banana aroma, or the Cask 10 balsamic vinegar, with its hints of orange and fig. oliandve.com
"Pick A Pickle"
On March 25, Empire State South chef-owner Hugh Acheson released a mini follow-up to his James Beard Award–winning A New Turn in the South. Billed as a culinary swatch book, the fifty bound recipe cards provide instructions for pickling fruits and vegetables in every growing season, including green strawberries, beans, okra, beets, and turnip stems. One section covers classic Southern condiments like brandied peach butter and chowchow. A final chapter dives briefly into fermentation, with guidance on kimchi and sauerkraut. The endearing format alone would make this a
> Preserving Place
Martha McMillin traded in a successful law practice to launch this project—part specialty foods purveyor, part cooking school—in the Westside Provisions District. The market lures with small-batch finds like Bourbon Barrel Foods’ smoky soy sauce brewed in Kentucky, and the store’s own condiments (including vanilla bean apple butter, pictured right). In the spacious commercial kitchen, McMillin hosts classes on subjects like Canning 101 (the store sells all the DIY supplies you need). Most classes cost $75 to $95. preservingplace.com
> Penzeys Spices
You’ve likely heard of the folksy catalog sent out every couple of months by this national retailer of spices, which was founded in Milwaukee in 1957. But visiting the chain’s store in Sandy Springs (its only location in Georgia) offers an olfactory education you can’t experience anywhere else in town. The spices beckon from wide jars, ready for you to ogle, sniff, and compare. The differences in cinnamon—gently sweet Indonesian, heady Chinese, potent Vietnamese—are alone an epiphany. Dried herbs may have fallen out of favor with gourmands, but the chervil and tarragon could change their minds, as could spot-on spice blends for curries or chili con carne. penzeys.com
If the only pastrami you’ve ever known comes presliced from a grocery store deli, an alternative-universe experience awaits at the General Muir
’s deli counter. Chef and co-owner Todd Ginsberg brines Angus beef for ten days with pickling spices, rubs it with coriander and peppercorn, smokes it for eight to ten hours, and then slowly steams it until the meat is meltingly tender. The restaurant serves its pastrami as a sandwich, but what a treat to take a slab home. Simply slice it thickly against the grain and gently reheat it, preferably by steaming. thegeneralmuir.com
Bacon-cheddar scones, buttery croissants, delicate fruit galettes: The Little Tart Bakeshop
has so much to recommend it. But the biggest revelationfrom behind its butcher-block counter may be the quiche—a tall, custardy marvel that
rescues the savory pastry from association with 1980s horrors like raspberry vinaigrette. Crème fraîche lightens the quiche, revolving local vegetables like shiitakes or cherry tomatoes cut the richness, and a bit of whole-wheat flour in the crust adds nuttiness. Little Tart owner Sarah O’Brien is opening a stall in Inman Park’s upcoming Krog Street Market this summer, where she assures us the quiche will also be served. littletartatl.com
Kale’s fifteen minutes of stardom are stretching into several hours, with no signs of abating. But to bring a twist to kale salad mania, farmers this year are rolling out the sturdy green in a fresh new color scheme. Rainbow kale crosses dark, bumpy Lacinato and frost-resistant Redbor varieties. The result is a beautiful, durable plant with blue-green and purple leaves, red veins and stems, and curly, frilled edges. Look for it now—and again in the fall—at local farmers markets, including Saturday’s Peachtree Road Farmers Market, where it is sold by Dahlonega’s Heirloom Gardens
Seafood Counter at Buford Highway Farmers Market
Mere yards outside the Perimeter, this megastore (not technically a farmers market) covers more than 100,000 square feet and features forty aisles of fresh and packaged foods organized by country of origin. As dizzying as it is to ogle spiky Asian fruits, sample freshly griddled tortillas, and discern the differences among Eastern European pastries, the most impressive draw is the winding seafood counter. It displays more than 100 varieties of pristine fish and shellfish packed on ice. The familiar (picked crab, wild shrimp, snapper, Dover sole) mingle with the exotic (kingfish, shark, silver pomfrets). As an added bonus, the staff will prep the fish one of eight different ways, including cleaned with head on, filleted, cut into steaks, and butterflied. aofwc.com
Organic strawberries grow smaller than supermarket berries, but their flavor is intensified: sweet, tart, lush. Decatur’s Love Is Love Farm at Gaia Gardens
(which sells at East Atlanta Village Farmers Market) and South Carolina’s Watsonia Farms
(find them at Brookhaven and Dunwoody farmers markets, among others) produce especially sublime fruit. Strawberries usually arrive by mid-April and last until late May or early June, but Mother Nature has the last word. loveislovefarm.com; watsoniafarms.com
> Storico Fresco Pasta
Michael Patrick is Atlanta’s pied piper of pasta. In 2012 he enchanted customers at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market with filled pastas made from obscure recipes he learned while kicking around Italy. Last year he opened a Buckhead storefront hidden in the back of a complex on Roswell Road, where he offers a mix of esoteric glories like casonsei (half moons stuffed with pureed roasted beets and smoked ricotta), as well as magnificent versions of old favorites, including the silkiest lasagna we’ve ever tasted. Once a week, Patrick makes his version of a timballo, the huge savory torte filled with pasta and meats made famous in the movie Big Night
. Sign up for the store’s newsletter to learn about Patrick’s regional Italian dinner series. storicofresco.com
Chicago Supermarket, a bustling Hispanic grocery on Buford Highway, carries several brands of locally made corn tortillas—including El Milagro, produced in Chamblee, which tastes worlds different from the lifeless versions sold in chain groceries. Even better, though, is making your own tortillas from the ground-to-order masa dough sold by Chicago for $1.19 per pound. Because the dough is so fresh, you hardly need more than a pinch of salt before pressing palm-sized balls into tortillas by hand or with a rolling pin. If you’re making tacos for a crowd, you can always invest in a simple tortilla press, which the market also sells. 5263 Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-452-1361
Put these tiny pickled plums, a staple of Japanese cuisine, on your radar asone of the next ingredients du jour. Salty, bracingly sour, and the dusky pink of a fading sunset, umeboshi are already showing up as accent flavors in dishes around the city. We’ve spotted them adding their fruity nip to cucumber soup at Decatur’s Paper Plane
and to octopus with dandelion greens and charred scallions at Buckhead’s Aria
. At home, whole umeboshi add a pleasantly bracing note to a gin and tonic, and a store-bought vinegar derived from the plums makes for kicky salad dressing. The Japanese revere umeboshi paste (made from pureed plums) as a hangover cure. Whole Foods Market and most health food stores carry umeboshi in many forms, but for the broadest selection, visit Tomato Japanese Grocery Store
, with locations in Smyrna and Norcross. tomatostoreus.com
Edged out during the cocktail’s vodka-fueled Middle Ages in the eighties and nineties, vermouth has returned triumphant as part of the recent spirits renaissance. Originating in Italy and France, vermouth is a wine aromatized with herbs and other botanicals and fortified with unaged brandy. Its herbaceous complexity is essential to martinis and Manhattans, but you can
also sip the best vermouths solo as an aperitif, preferably chilled or with an ice cube or two. Find these three standouts at H&F Bottle Shop
and Tower Beer
, Wine & Spirits
. hfbottleshop.com; towerwinespirits.com
Carpano Antica Formula
An ideal intro to sipping vermouths, with a rich earthiness that starts floral and ends bittersweet with traces of warm spices like cinnamon.
Carpano Punt e Mes
A more aggressively bitter vermouth for seasoned palates. It stands up to rye whiskey and gives Negronis extra nuance. At H&F only.
Light and floral, this showcases vermouth’s gentler side. Elegant with just a citrus twist, but it also mingles well in gin cocktails.
Craft cocktails and microbrews dominate Atlanta’s beverage culture, but wine is emerging from its lonely place in the cellar with some new vino-minded ventures. Late last year East Cobb scored with Stem Wine Bar
, an offshoot of always-busy Seed Kitchen & Bar right next door. An accessible list, broken into well-known and offbeat varietals with helpful tasting notes, and a short menu of smart small plates (garlicky shrimp, warm duck confit salad, an irresistible sticky toffee date cake) keep the seats around its marble bar filled. In Roswell, Vin25
strikes a savvy balance between know-them-and-love-them Cabs and Chardonnays and some worthy underdogs like grapefruit-scented Verdejo from Spain. Inside the Perimeter, Vine & Tap
just opened its doors in Buckhead in February. Most wines on its tightly curated list are available by the glass thanks to the Coravin, a device that extracts wine from a bottle without uncorking it (see our review
for more information). stemwinebar.com; vin25.com; vineandtapatl.com
Xiao Long Bao
Restaurants are prone to speedy staff turnover, but Chinese kitchens take the turnip cake when it comes to departures. Perhaps it is the constant shuffling that makes finding a proper xiao long bao,also known as a soup dumpling, so frustrating in this city.
The Shanghai delicacy should have paper-thin skin, a simple pork-based filling, and plenty of warm broth inside. Northern China Eatery
on Buford Highway steams the juiciest version in town. Current owner Zhi Wen Qi hails from Tianjin, just south of Beijing in northern China, where dumplings reign supreme. By fall, Qi will have run the shop for two years. Let’s hope he sticks around. 5141 Buford Highway, 770-458-2282
In Georgia we have two exceptional yogurt producers. AtlantaFresh
uses hormone- and antibiotic-free milk from Southern Swiss Dairy in Waynesboro. Its plain, whole-milk Greek style is the definition of “pleasantly sour,” though the company also makes low- and no-fat in zippy flavors like ginger peach and bananas Foster. Dreaming Cow Creamery
is a spin-off of the South Georgia family that makes the famed cheeses at Sweet Grass Dairy. The yogurt’s texture is less thick but creamier, with flavors that are both subtle (honey pear) and full-throttle (blueberry cardamom and a wake-you-up dark cherry chai). Whole Foods Markets across the metro area carry both. atlantafresh.com; dreamingcow.com
Connie Miller’s calming cafe in Chamblee caters to every kind of tea lover. For sticklers, she carries high-end varieties—white, green, oolong, black—whose wine-like flavors evolve as the loose leaves are steeped multiple times. (One green, a pre–Qing Ming, tastes like mulberries by the third cup.) She stocks a gamut of herbal teas (including South African rooibos and Indian ayurvedic blends) and flavored teas if that’s your yen. Miller also inducts neophytes into the Tao of tea with $20 classes that take you through five or six samples and background on tea production. The composed, knowledgeable staff members gladly open canisters so you can sniff through the assortment. ezentea.com
Photography credits: Cool Beans, Juicy Jenny, Ma Cuisine, and Vine & Tap: Andrew Thomas Lee; Knife: Courtesy of Wüsthof; Illustrations and lettering: Liz Noftle
This article originally appeared in our April 2014 issue.