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Julia Bainbridge

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Israeli restaurants, however they’re defined, arrive in Atlanta

Israeli Food in Atlanta - Julia Kesler's Brekkie pop-up
An Israeli-inspired breakfast at Julia Kesler’s Brekkie pop-up

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

On one side of Bellina Alimentari, customers can buy prosciutto crudo, balsamic vinegar from Modena, and more than 10 shapes of dried pasta. On the other side, they can sip lambrusco made in Emilia Romagna and eat chicken cooked Milanese style, pounded thin and coated with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.

The 4,000-square-foot market and wine bar in Ponce City Market is clearly, fiercely Italian. Its owner, perhaps less obviously, is Israeli.

Tal Baum was born in the northwest port city of Haifa and grew up eating shawarma and bourekas, pastries filled with savory ingredients such as potatoes or spinach. But she wasn’t convinced Atlanta was ready for that food when she opened Bellina Alimentari four years ago. Or maybe it was her own hesitation: “It’s a complex culinary culture,” she says, one she wasn’t quite prepared to represent. The “safer bet,” she decided, was to focus on “already familiar and loved” Italian cuisine.

Israeli Food in Atlanta - Tal Baum
Tal Baum at the under-construction Aziza, one of two Israeli restaurants she’s opening

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

To be fair, that wasn’t exactly a difficult choice. Baum got to know and love polenta and porchetta and pinzimonio herself, as a young adult studying architecture at the University of Florence. “I felt like I left my heart there,” she says of Italy, where she lived for seven years before moving to Atlanta.

Now, after proving that “I know what I’m doing” with Bellina Alimentari, Baum is working on two new restaurants, scheduled to open this summer, that are closer reflections of her identity: “100 percent Israeli.”

Though there are abundant “Middle Eastern” restaurants in Atlanta, ones designated as “Israeli” are rare; Baum and a few other chefs are trying to change that. Rina, which Baum refers to as an “Israeli diner,” will be a family-friendly spot in the Ford Factory Lofts offering salads, hummus, falafel—Baum’s grandmother’s recipe—and grilled meats reminiscent of those found in a shipudia, or a skewer house. (“It basically means skewer-ria; I don’t know how to translate that!”) Over in the Westside Provisions District, Baum will use Aziza and its wood-burning oven to serve more Sephardic-leaning foods. “That’s where I want to highlight the Israeli dishes that people don’t necessarily know about, the ones that have roots in Persia and Syria and Lebanon and Morocco and Iran.” (Baum is an Ashkenazi Jew; her husband is a Sephardic Jew.)

Baum admits that, until recently, she was nervous about the idea. “Some people love Israel,” she says, putting it simply, “and some people do not.”

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is older than the country itself, and the question about what exactly constitutes Israeli food can be a heated source of debate. When Rachael Ray tweeted a photo in late 2017 of an “Israeli feast” including hummus and stuffed grape leaves, complaints about Israel’s so-called appropriation of dishes that had long been staples of Arab kitchens were swift. “First, the Israelis take the land and ethnically cleanse it of Arabs,” James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, responded. “Now, they take their food and culture and claim it’s theirs, too!”

Who first mixed chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and lemon? The Lebanese, Turks, and Syrians have all said it was their ancestors. And when Israelis claim ownership of hummus—or tabbouleh or falafel—Palestinians see it as one more form of oppression.

The history that led to this fraught present might not feel so foreign to Southerners. For far too long, enslaved Africans who shaped Southern cuisine weren’t given the credit they deserved, and while overdue gratitude is finally being paid to cooks like James Hemings, who worked for Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, the reckoning forces us to lock eyes with an abhorrent past. “Embedded in the fried chicken at Busy Bee in Atlanta is the story of former governor Lester Maddox and his fight to keep the Pickrick Cafeteria segregated,” Southern Foodways Alliance director John T. Edge told Atlanta in 2017. “Order a barbecue plate at Fresh Air down in Jackson, Georgia, and that ’cue connects you to the mid–20th century pitmasters who worked the political rallies of demagogic Southern politicians.”

Of course, the only way to categorize or define Israeli food (or Southern food) is to take stock of the cooking of all its people. Israeli is therefore a cuisine informed by Bulgarian, Romanian, North African, Yemenite, Lebanese, Syrian, and Turkish immigrants, among others—all citizens of a country that’s only been around for 70 years.

Israeli Food in Atlanta - Julia Kesler's Brekkie pop-up
Julia Kesler at home

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

Julia Kesler is proud to say that her food is inspired in part by her Israeli roots. Born in South Africa and raised in Georgia, she spent several summers visiting extended family in Israel. When she was 20, she worked on an organic farm outside Haifa “harvesting beets, crushing mustard seeds, and eating watermelon straight off the vine during afternoon breaks,” she says. Now a private chef and caterer in Atlanta, Kesler serves what she calls “Israeli-influenced breakfast” to the public monthly at the Grant Park Farmers Market, Freedom Park Farmers Market, and the Spindle Kitchen. (Look for signs that read “Brekkie,” and follow @stopthinkchew to find out where else Brekkie is served.)

In Israel, she says, you’ll see savory items such as salad, cottage cheese, and meat on the breakfast table. “It’s not pancakes and oatmeal.” The key to the extra-creamy hummus in her Middle Eastern Eggs (which are scrambled with za’atar and served with greens and roasted peppers) is Lebanon’s Alkanater brand tahini. “I buy the gallon buckets.”

Her dishes sell out fast, she says, because they’re vegetable-heavy but satiating. It’s a style of eating that’s caught on; Israeli-style cooking is having a moment across the country. The food is colorful, fresh, flavored with spice as opposed to fat, and meant to be shared. “It appeals to a wide range of dietary needs,” Kesler says. Restaurants from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York are getting rave reviews with their Israeli or Israeli-inspired menus.

Israeli Food in Atlanta - Julia Kesler's Brekkie pop-up
Kesler’s satiating but veggie-heavy dishes sell out fast.

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

“I’ve wondered why we don’t see more of it in Atlanta,” Kesler says, standing in her friend Shay Lavi’s kitchen. (She points out that Yalla, the food stand from the team behind the General Muir, is a popular spot—though it should be noted that it bills itself as “modern Middle Eastern” rather than straight-up Israeli.)

Lavi moved here from Israel in 2014. “There’s a constant war that never ends, and issues that never resolve—it was very hard for me to make a real living there,” he says. Earlier this year, he opened Rozina Bakehouse & Coffee on Hurt Plaza downtown, where he serves shakshuka (eggs poached in tomato sauce) and a falafel burger with tahini and pickled cabbage.

Lavi says that his customers, who range from students to nearby office workers, “go crazy” for that falafel burger, which makes him especially happy because he sees the dish as an opportunity to educate. “Falafel is Egyptian,” he claims. “I learned to pickle cabbage from my grandma, who was Libyan. And tahini? Everyone has it, so that represents the whole Middle East.” Much like the United States, Lavi says, Israel “is a place where everybody came in and just got mixed.”

Lavi, Kesler, and Baum didn’t plan to simultaneously bring more Israeli food to Atlanta. It just happened that way.

“I don’t think Americans know what Israel really is unless they go there,” says Lavi. “I want to give them a little taste of it.”

This article appears in our May 2019 issue.

How moving to the South taught me it’s okay to ease in slowly

Little By LittleStanding next to my childhood best friend, her belly two months away from flattening again, her front teeth pinching her bottom lip as she surveyed three different baby blues on the wall of what was to become her son’s nursery, I never felt more unlike her. Not because I don’t want to have children—which I don’t—but because I could never see myself taking a week to test for just the right paint color.

I’m aware that it’s a valuable exercise. In this particular room, for example, which faced west and featured a bay window, the blues looked greener on the wall than they did on the paint card. Allison would have to try out the bluer set of blues, from the page starting with “Andover Blue” and ending with “Blue Ash,” if she wanted to achieve her vision.

Call it impatience or decisiveness, but I move into homes immediately and completely. Rugs are placed, pictures are hung, and towels are washed and folded within 48 hours of my lease’s start date, every time. I’m not exactly bragging. This isn’t a huge challenge when you’re dealing with 500 square feet (which is what a journalist’s salary will get you in New York City); renter status bars you from making any changes to cabinetry, flooring, or, yes, wall color; you were lucky enough to inherit some antiques; and you have a sharp eye. (That part is bragging.)

When I moved to Atlanta two years ago, my sofa, coffee table, and bed were also making their ways south. Once inside my 1,800-square-foot loft, they looked better suited to a dollhouse. The sound my mattress made when I flipped from lying on my back to my stomach that night damn near echoed.

I needed to fill this big white box with stuff—more stuff than I’d ever had to consider purchasing, placing, and using to create “rooms”—and it was going to take some time. Taking time, though, is not a skill of mine. Every day, returning to my bare home felt excruciatingly lonely.

It didn’t occur to me to ask for help until two months later. All of my energy was going toward my job, and I had become complacent when it came to developing a social life in Atlanta, including entertaining at home, something I love to do. Finally, I set up an appointment with an interior designer through an online service called Homepolish. Little by little, Savannah and I found lamps, tables, sideboards, dining chairs, and plants. Little by little, my big white box became warmer, cozier, homier.

I invited people for dinner. I invited one man, in particular, many times. Eventually, I gave him my extra set of keys, something I’d never done before.

If he and I ever move in together, I think I’ll take my time decorating. Our bedroom deserves just the right paint color.

Julia BainbridgeJulia Bainbridge
Bainbridge has been an editor at Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, Atlanta magazine, and Yahoo, where her work was nominated for a James Beard award. She is the creator of The Lonely Hour, a podcast about loneliness—but it’s not a bummer. She also has a book coming out in 2020 (Ten Speed) about nonalcoholic drinks, and it won’t be a bummer, either.

This article appears in our Fall 2018 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

Take a tour of true Korean food in metro Atlanta

Korean food
Seung Hee Lee at Dan Moo Ji

Photographs by Gregory Miller

Within minutes of meeting Seung Hee Lee, two things become abundantly clear: The South Korea-born Atlantan loves food (especially oysters) and wine (exclusively of the natural variety), and she is highly opinionated. “Korean food is so much more than barbecue, and I’m keen on more Americans knowing that,” she says as she drives her two-seater Honda hybrid through Duluth and Suwanee.

An epidemiologist at the CDC by day, the 34-year-old studied Korean Royal Court cuisine at the Taste of Korea Research Institute in Seoul in her twenties and published a cookbook, Everyday Korean, cowritten with author Kim Sunée, last November. Asked why she wanted to write a book, she points to the bastardization of kimchi, which traditionally gets its kick from Korean chili powder: “A popular food magazine featured a kimchi recipe that had Sriracha in it, and that made me so angry. I get it, Sriracha is readily available here, but come on!”

It’s safe to say that readers have taken to doing things the Lee way. Everyday Korean was a top new release on Amazon, and Lee’s 33,000 Instagram followers (@koreanfusion) stay hungry for her cooking and entertaining tips. Here is her deeply discriminating list of where you should eat Korean food now—no KBBQ included.

Korean food
Banchan and Hobakjuk at JS Kitchen

Photograph by Gregory Miller

JS Kitchen
Banchan shops are popular in Korea, and Jang Su Jang owner Shelly Lee opened this one, which doubles as a cooking classroom, in Duluth last year. “She gets really involved in picking out the ingredients, and she makes all of the banchan from scratch,” Lee says, from the scallion kimchi to the myeolchi-bokkeum (dried anchovies). JS also sells rich bone broth, takeout bento boxes, and hobakjuk (pumpkin porridge) in the winter. “This is the only Korean place I would recommend over my mom’s food,” Lee says as her eyes widen. “Seriously.” 3492 Satellite Boulevard, Duluth, 470-268-8435

Jok-Ga-A Dong-Chim
This Seoul-based chain is known for its spicy jokbal, or braised pig trotters, a popular late-night food in Korea. “A lot of people order it for delivery because it’s still really tasty at room temperature,” Lee says. The Duluth location serves the usual accompaniments: kimchi, raw garlic, dipping sauces, and lettuce and perilla leaves for wrapping. 3751 Satellite Boulevard, Duluth, 470-299-6150

Korean food
Kimbap at Dan Moo Ji

Photograph by Gregory Miller

Dan Moo Ji
This restaurant opened a decade ago and is a favorite of Lee’s for standard street foods like kimbap (a rice and seaweed roll), tteokbokki (spicy stir-fried rice cakes), and kimmari (deep-fried seaweed-wrapped glass noodles). “Get the kimmari, and dip it in the tteokbokki liquid. You will not regret it.” 3230 Steve Reynolds Boulevard, Duluth, 770-814-2310

Korean Food
Tteokbokki at Dan Moo Ji

Photograph by Gregory Miller

Korean food
Interior at Dan Moo Ji

Photograph by Gregory Miller

Sam’s Korean Japanese Restaurant
A few pages into the menu, you’ll find the only section that isn’t translated into English. Point, indicate the number of people in your party, and your server will grab a live fish from the tank, fillet it, and serve it raw. “Korean-style sashimi is not the Japanese kind,” Lee says. “We like it fresh and firm, not rested and tender.” 3525 Mall Boulevard, Duluth, 770-623-2004

Editor’s note: The print version of this article featured an additional restaurant, Busan Fish Cake, but the restaurant closed after the story went to print.

This article appears in our April 2018 issue.

Home for Dinner: Lois Reitzes of WABE’s City Lights

Home For Dinner: Lois Reitzes
Lois Reitzes with her son, Michael (left), and husband, Don, at home in Morningside

Photograph by Raymond McCrea Jones

This may come as a surprise, but Lois Reitzes, 64, does not play music during dinner. The WABE’s City Lights host, who has been with the station for 38 years, gets too distracted. “My ear becomes too engaged,” says Reitzes, who studied classical music at Indiana University. “It is just some fault in my wiring that I cannot focus on a conversation when music is playing. If I put on Ella [Fitzgerald], for example, I’m off! I start wondering, how can she scat like that?”

So tonight, it’s quiet in her cozy Morningside home, save for the voices of her husband, Don, a sociology professor at Georgia State University, and her son, Michael, a campaign strategist. In the mix is, of course, her own distinctive warble. “That’s just a fluke of nature,” Reitzes says of her voice. As Don finishes the turbot, roasted Brussels sprouts, and baby red potatoes, Reitzes explains their dinner ritual. “I don’t get home until six, so we usually make something quick like grilled fish or flank steak or omelettes. And I like good vegetables. They make me feel virtuous so that when I begin my downward spiral into consuming chocolate later in the evening, I don’t feel quite as guilty.” She calls her love for chocolate—anything that isn’t white chocolate—“very serious.”

Special sauce
One of Reitzes’s favorite Atlanta restaurants was Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine, which closed in 2009. In an effort to recreate one of its sauces, Reitzes starts with Soy Vay’s Island Teriyaki Sauce—“Soy for Roy!”—and adds ginger, black sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and marmalade from Zingerman’s. “My generous cousin Darlene bought me this marmalade, and it was so good I planned to order some more, but then discovered that one jar is $35!”

In her glass
Reitzes used to drink wine, but a few years ago, the sulfites stopped agreeing with her. “I get terrible headaches,” she says. “However, I have no problem with whiskey.” The bar in the living room contains an Oban single malt and a 12-year double-cask Macallan.

Dogs allowed
Reitzes calls Rex, her golden retriever and toller mix, “the sweetest, softest, silliest dog ever, but he has no interest whatsoever in retrieving.” Despite his size, he’s more of a lapdog—and yes, he is allowed at the table.

This article appears in our March 2018 issue.

CARE’s Social Suppers raise awareness for the challenges girls and women face globally

CARE Social Suppers
CARE’s Social Suppers allowed Asha Gomez to make her own version of “stone soup.”

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

In the folktale about stone soup, hungry travelers convince a town to make a meal together. All it took was a small food donation from each household. “I love that story,” says Asha Gomez, chef and owner of the Third Space, a culinary event facility at Studioplex. Gomez, who consults with global humanitarian organization CARE, made her own stone soup at the first of what she and CARE’s Tilia Parks call Social Suppers. “Our goal is to get people talking about the challenges girls around the world face,” Parks says. Every guest brought a vegetable for the simmering pot, and, an hour later, the group sat down to eat and engage in conversation. In March, as the world celebrates Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, they’re ramping up Social Suppers—and urging you to throw one. Head to supper.care.org to learn more. (Plan to post from your own dinner party? Make sure to use the #March4Women hashtag.)

This article originally appeared in our March 2018 issue.

Breakfast meets barbecue at B’s Cracklin’s Bomb-Ass Biscuit Pop-Up

Bryan Furman and Erika Council
Bryan Furman and Erika Council

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

Seven lucky Saturdays in 2017 had B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque chef and owner Bryan Furman and Southern Soufflé blogger Erika Council serving breakfast. They opened B’s doors at 9 a.m. on those days (the Riverside restaurant usually doesn’t open until 11 a.m.), slinging Council’s biscuits stuffed with country ham and apple butter or Furman’s fried chicken or sausage gravy. “If you come to a barbecue joint looking for a healthy breakfast, you’re in the wrong place,” Furman says. “We do not do gluten-free here!”

At some point, they added brisket hash to the menu. Then, they started selling beignets. And almost every morning, they sold out.

Thankfully, 2018 will see more from these two. “I’m trying to get Bryan to let me put that chopped pork barbecue on a biscuit,” Council says. “And we’re talking about smoking some pimiento cheese.” We chatted with them about their partnership.

Bomb-Ass Biscuit Pop-Up
To find out about the next Bomb-Ass Biscuit Pop-Up, follow @southernsouffle on Instagram

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

How did you two meet?
Furman:
I knew her name and had read her blog, and then I heard she was doing a Sunday supper at Kimball House, so I went. She made soul food—fried chicken, mac and cheese, and biscuits with apple butter. Man! I had never eaten good apple butter before, so I never really liked it, but this changed my mind. After that dinner, she dropped off some apple butter at the restaurant.

Council: Well, he traded me for a container of his hash and rice.

When did you first cook together?
Furman:
We collaborated with Mike and Shyretha Sheats on a dinner here for Black History Month. He was a line cook at Staplehouse, and now, they put on dinners around town for a series they call the Plate Sale. During that time, Erika got the idea to do a biscuit pop-up here, too.

Council: The Bomb-Ass Biscuit Pop-Up.

Furman: And I thought, “I’m here already in the morning working the smokers. Why not?”

You’re known for your biscuits, Erika.
Council:
I learned from my grandmothers. My grandmother Mildred Council owns Mama Dip’s in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and I had to work there—for free! My other grandmother, Geraldine Dortch, was an activist, and she used to sell buttermilk biscuits, cakes, and pies to raise money for the Civil Rights movement. I’m a software engineer by trade, but biscuits are just my thing. They taste better when Bryan lets me use his lard, though.

Erika Council biscuit
Erika Council biscuit

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

So will you two keep putting on the Bomb-Ass Biscuit Pop-Up?
Council:
Yes. I want us to represent what there’s not enough of: two African Americans who have a successful culinary project.

Furman: That’s why I want to put my face on the B’s logo. My delivery guy just learned yesterday that I’m the owner. He just assumed I work for someone white. I asked Killer Mike if he thought it was a good idea, and he said yes. He said, “It ain’t important that whites know you’re black. It’s important that blacks know the owner is black.”

Council: Kids in our community don’t think that things like this are available to them. By making ourselves more visible, we’re saying to them, “You can do this. Look, we’re right here.”

2061 Main Street, 678-949-9912

This article appears in our March 2018 issue.

Home for Dinner: Jaycina Almond and Sienna Brown

Home for dinner
Jaycina Almond (left) and her baby, Syx, dine at Sienna Brown’s Old Fourth Ward home.

Photograph by Raymond McCrea Jones

Since Jaycina Almond, 22, and Sienna Brown, 23, met in October 2016, they haven’t spent more than two weeks apart. In fact, the friends make dinner together about four times a week.

“I’ve burnt a pot of water before,” Almond says of her cooking skills. But the model wanted to eat healthier during her pregnancy—she and rapper 6lack have a daughter named Syx—so Brown, an artist and a seasoned cook, stepped in to teach her how to make “vegan-ish” dishes. “I said vegan-ish,” Almond giggles as they talk about their menu for tonight: salmon, brussels sprouts, and mac and cheese. “Mac and cheese is something I just can’t give up; it’s part of our culture,” she says. Brown keeps the dish classic with bechamel sauce and sharp cheddar.

Their friendship has become somewhat of “a thing” online. “People are always asking about our skincare routines or where we got our earrings,” says Almond, who has 35,000 Instagram followers. The two women have just launched a YouTube series called Swear By, which they’ll use to feature “anything and everything that we love,” Brown says.

Their busy schedules won’t get in the way of dinners, though. “We live seven minutes away from one another, exactly,” Almond says.

On the radio
Their friends, mostly, who make up much of Atlanta’s young hip-hop scene. The evening’s soundtrack starts off with Lil Uzi Vert, then moves on to PVNDO, whom Brown manages, and finally to singer-songwriter BOSCO. Just before dinner, MadeinTYO’s first single “Uber Everywhere” plays. “MadeinTYO came to my old house and started mumbling some words,” Brown says. “A few weeks later, I started hearing them, in a song, at clubs all over the place. That house was such a creative lair.”

On the counter
Syx sits on one side of the island, and on the other side, a quarter cup of chopped garlic. “Garlic is for everything,” Brown says.

On the table
Brown’s Jamaican parents ran a Caribbean restaurant in Florida, where she grew up. One of the cooks taught her how to steam salmon in a foil pouch, and that’s how she makes it to this day. “Well, he didn’t really teach me; I just watched and learned,” she says. “Jamaican people don’t like a whole lot of questions!”

This article originally appeared in our February 2018 issue.

Marddy’s shared kitchen is on a mission to protect against Westside gentrification

Marddy's
Keitra Bates opened Marddy’s, a commercial kitchen in Ashview Heights, in December.

Photograph by Kaylinn Gilstrap

Marddy's
Raisha Williams, aka the Cookie Lady

Photograph by Kaylinn Gilstrap

If you don’t spend time in southwest Atlanta, you may not be familiar with the Cookie Lady. But if you live in Ashview Heights, Westview, the West End, or Adair Park, you’ve probably eaten one of Raisha Williams’s chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, or butter toffee cookies.

She sells them for $3 each or $5 for two. In three days, she can make close to $400 doing her #WestsideCookieHustle, as she calls it on Instagram, at barber shops and beauty shops up and down Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

“We—you know, black people—that’s kind of like our meeting place,” Williams says. The bowl of her KitchenAid mixer cracks mid-sentence, but she’s got a few replacements. “If you’re in a barber shop, somebody’s coming in there selling something, whether it’s cakes, some hair, some jackets.” According to Williams, small shop owners in the predominantly black community are wide open to bootstrap entrepreneurs soliciting their clients. Tyler Perry’s early success depended on this way of doing business.

In December, Williams moved her baking operation from her home to the southernmost edge of Ashview Heights, where a new, shared commercial kitchen will soon double as a market on the weekends. Its name, Marddy’s, is a mash-up of “market” and “buddy,” and membership requires that tenants complete the food safety coursework required to obtain a health department-issued certificate—a legitimizing step they didn’t have to take back when they were cooking at home. For Marddy’s owner Keitra Bates, this is not just an entrepreneurial upstart; it’s a hedge against gentrification.

In 2013, Bates opened Westview Pizza Cafe, where she used ingredients from small growers such as the nearby Westview Community Garden and Mayflor Farms and made a point to employ people with criminal records, giving them a chance to support themselves. But in 2015, after new owners bought the building on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard and raised the rent, she closed. (D Cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch and also operates a catering business, replaced it.) Today, barely a stone’s throw from Bates’s former cafe, a gelateria and a kombucha shop are slated to open soon.

Marddy's
Keitra Bates and artist Fabian Williams discuss his mural, in progress on the side of Marddy’s

Photograph by Kaylinn Gilstrap

The west side portion of the BeltLine has undeniably hastened gentrification in portions of southwest Atlanta. According to Georgia State University urban studies professor Dan Immergluck’s February 2017 analysis of housing costs near the BeltLine, median sale prices increased 68 percent near the southwest segment between 2011 and 2015. (The other three segments saw median prices rise by 40 to 51 percent.) Higher values can be good for homeowners looking to sell and for the city’s overall tax base, but for people who want to remain in their homes, rising taxes pose a problem. Same for renters, whose monthly fees often grow in direct proportion to their landlords’ taxes.

All of this means that “the driver of neighborhood change, in-movers, become increasingly affluent and less diverse,” writes Immergluck in the report. “This will increase the overall economic segregation of the city and the metropolitan area.” Immergluck is more explicit on the telephone: “Displace these people, and you weaken the community and lose the cultural heritage, which is a huge asset.”

The Market Buddies
Meet some of the first tenants at Marddy’s.

Marddy's
Jaasmeen Hameed

Photograph by Kaylinn Gilstrap

Jaasmeen Hameed bakes vegan bean pies and desserts for local Muslims and Rastafarians who follow strict diets. She calls her brand Spirit Foods. “I look at cooking as something spiritual because I put good intentions into it, and I have a reverence for it,” she says.

Marddy's
Harriett Williams

Photograph by Kaylinn Gilstrap

Harriett Williams wants to grow her sister Melanie’s cake business, A Little Slice of Heaven Bakery. “My sister uses my mom’s lemon pound cake recipe,” Williams says. “It’s been in our family for years and years.” Williams will bake and sell the cakes at Marddy’s.

Marddy's
Asiah Alghanee

Photograph by Kaylinn Gilstrap

Asiah Alghanee used to sell her umami-bomb Mama Power Kale Salad Dressing, made with sesame oil, nutritional yeast, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes, out of the trunk of her car. She calls her brand Mama Power Foods.

Marddy's
Asiah Alghanee’s kale salad dressing

Photograph by Kaylinn Gilstrap

“I don’t begrudge people bringing what they like into whatever communities they move into,” Bates says. “That’s their right. But their tastes might not reflect the people or the culture that’s already there, and eventually, we reach the point of erasure.”

Closing her restaurant and watching the neighborhood transform lit a fire under Bates. “I wondered what would happen to people like the elderly gentleman I call the Sweet Potato Pie Man, who sells his wife’s mini sweet potato pies by going from small business to small business,” Bates says. She surveyed her neighbors, finding that not only was there interest in a project like Marddy’s from other black entrepreneurs in the neighborhood, but also most of her new white neighbors were unaware that they could purchase these handmade goods close to home.

Marddy's
Mini sweet potato pies

Photograph by Kaylinn Gilstrap

“How could they know about this food if they didn’t go where it was sold: barber shops?” Bates says, noting that many of these people drive outside of the neighborhood when it is time to dine. “They consider the west side a food desert. It’s a very peculiar case of cognitive dissonance.”

Marddy’s exists because these entrepreneurs exist, Bates says. “I’m not creating the business; I’m helping them take the next step.” She became one of eight Center for Civic Innovation Westside Innovation Lab fellows, receiving $10,000 to get Marddy’s going. Otherwise, it’s been very much a grassroots effort; she called in her nieces and nephews to paint the walls inside the one-story stucco building at 1017 Fair Street.

“Our networks have grown,” says Jaasmeen Hameed, a Marddy’s tenant. Hameed sees benefits to the project beyond access to the kind of kitchen that will help her bake on a larger scale. “We’re coming together in one space.”

This article originally appeared in our February 2018 issue.

With lower-alcohol Suppressor cocktails, less is more

Drink More

Somewhere around eight years ago, two of this city’s more scholarly cocktail makers, Ticonderoga Club’s Greg Best and Kimball House’s Miles Macquarrie, were discussing how they might drink less. Not fewer cocktails per se, but less alcohol.

“With the cocktail renaissance came a bent towards stirred, boozy drinks,” says Best, who was then working at Holeman & Finch Public House. “But Manhattans and martinis aren’t what we want to drink on a regular basis.” Macquarrie, who worked at Leon’s Full Service at the time, agrees: “It’s tough to sustain an evening that way.”

So, they came up with a term: Suppressor. “You’re basically suppressing the booze, and you’re enabling kind of a longer ride, as it were,” Best says. They set a rule: No ingredient in a Suppressor-style drink should be over 25 percent ABV (amount of alcohol by volume). “So a lot of the Suppressors contain aromatized and fortified wines, beers, or ciders,” Best says. “And a lot of them took on a spritz-y profile because it’s easier to stretch something with bubbles, whether it’s sparkling wine or club soda.” Then, they asked some of Atlanta’s best bartenders to concoct their own Suppressor-style recipes and commit to keeping them on their menus. “This style of drink can be tricky,” Macquarrie says. “Fortified wines are great for acid, and amaros have that bitterness, but each of them also contains a lot of sugar, so taming that and balancing out the drinks is a fun challenge.” Suppressors became somewhat of a thing after that.

And they still are. The recipes may have changed, and the term may no longer be printed on menus, but the vernacular is there. “You could walk into just about any bar in the city and ask for a Suppressor-style cocktail, and you will absolutely get one,” Best says, listing BoccaLupo, Ration + Dram, Bon Ton, Cakes & Ale, and, of course, Ticonderoga Club and Kimball House. Try it.

Make one at home 

Champ-Ale
2 ounces Genesee Cream Ale
2 ounces dry sparkling wine, such as Cava
1 1/2 ounces Casa Mariol Spanish vermouth
3/4 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce rich cane syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Lemon peel

Assemble the beer and wine in a large tumbler glass half filled with ice. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake the other ingredients, then strain over the beer and wine blend. If need be, add a few ice cubes to level the drink, and stir gently. Garnish with lemon peel. Recipe by Greg Best

This article originally appeared in our January 2018 issue.

Home for Dinner: Mac Powell of Third Day

Home for Dinner Mac Powell

“We wanted to show that love can go beyond the color of your skin,” says musician Mac Powell of the blended family he’s created with his wife, Aimee. The couple, who have three biological offspring—Scout, 18; Cash, 15; and Camie Love, 14—adopted two more children with the help of Bethany Christian Services. Emmanuel, eight, came first, and then in 2010, the need grew for good homes for children affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Along came Birdie Clare, seven. “We were blessed to receive the children that we did,” says Mac. Almost all of the Powells are seated around the dining table in their Powder Springs home tonight (Scout is off riding horses in Colorado), but before they can dig into pork tenderloin, twice-baked potatoes, and green beans, it’s time to give thanks. Mac tours either as a solo act or with his Christian rock band, Third Day, about 100 days out of the year, so when he’s off the road, he stays close to home and makes sure the family sits down together. “Barbecue sauce!” Emmanuel says, as soon as the prayer’s over, and he’s granted his wish while Camie Love helps him cut his meat into eight-year-old bite sizes.

Home for Dinner Mac Powell
Pork tenderloin, potatoes, and green beans

Photograph by Raymond McCrea Jones

Christmas Tradition
Instead of a Christmas card, Mac sends friends and extended family a copy of the Powell Family Christmas CD, featuring renditions of “Away in a Manger,” “Silent Night,” and other standards.

Young Love
Mac and Aimee met in the marching band at McEachern High School in Powder Springs. “She played flute and piano, and she sings as well,” Mac says. “We both have a great love for music that we passed on to our children.” Emmanuel has a drum kit upstairs, and Scout is in a band called Lemon.

Double Act
Mac says that Third Day “sounds like American rock—anywhere between Springsteen and Tom Petty. For about five years now, I’ve been doing solo country stuff, but that’s few and far between. The band’s been pretty busy!”


This article originally appeared in our December 2017 issue.

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