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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One from the Archives

Dusting this oldie but goodie from a couple of years ago... I call it, "Uncle Emeril"...!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Brasserie Goes for the Golden Ring

A brasserie is defined as a restaurant serving simple, hearty food and drinks at affordable fares. A place where friends can come toegether in a vibrant atmosphere...

Add another notch in St. Pete's belt for upcoming/underrated food city... Cassis, a classic American Brasserie, is open for business (http://www.cassisab.com/) on Beach Drive, and by ambiance/architecture alone, it warrants a favorable review. As it turns out, much to my delight, the food is stellar as well...

While there have been mixed reviews of its consistency so far, that is to be expected of any new restaurant, so I always keep that in mind when dining at a place with less than a month of service under its belt. As I said, the decor is beyond reproach: bright, taxi yellow fluorescent lighting, vintage tile floor, subway tile pillars, mirrored walls... very French-American. Classy touches catch your eye at every turn: the zinc top bar, the mahogany wood, the dark leather banquette seating, the globe light fixtures.
French owner, Phillipe, is a former neighbor of mine, and his wife designed the entire space, soup to nuts. And that's just the inside -- remember, we're talking St. Pete, so outdoor sidewalk seating is de rigour and always in demand -- and it's the finest in the area, in terms of location and comfort.

Now, to the meat and potatoes -- literally...

I ordered the Philly Cheese steak Spring Roll on a recommendation for starters, and it didn't disappoint. Crunchy outside, with tender, juicy shredded steak and melted, gooey cheese inside, complemented by a spicy chile sauce on the side. Then, for my entree, I couldn't resist the Braised Beef Short Ribs. So tender and flavorful, and even though I would've preferred a bit more of a braised crust on the exterior, the interior was perfectly done, and the potato puree and red wine sauce with beef jus it rested on was beautifully executed. The baby carrots were a revelation for me; I almost declared it my favorite thing on the plate.

My compliments to Chef Jeremy Duclut (pictured). He's built a solid reputation and resume, and may look familiar to Food Network junkies (like myself)... he was a champion on "Chopped." I consider it a minor coup to have someone like him cooking in this area...

And I look forward to many more dinners, not to mention brunches and lunches, at Cassis...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm Down With Decatur

My #1 enclave in the suburban Atlanta sprawl is Decatur. Feels like a walking city, with lots to do and see and experience in a very small footprint. Eclectic, youthful, upscale, but accessible... this is Decatur (and a great place to raise kids if ya got the dough).

My brother-in-law took us to a killer spot there on my most recent vist. Place called The Brick Store (http://www.brickstorepub.com/). Man, what a setting: tavern-like feel, all authentic, lots of nooks and crannies to look at, from the antler chandelier, to the mile-high vaulted ceilings, to the chalkboard menus of beer... and aged scotch! Sensational craft brew selection to choose from... almost too many options. The menu is dotted with Belgians, Stouts, Porters, most of them obscure (at least to me). We tasted a few, and they were all muy interesante.

Instead of a meal, I chose the "meat and cheese" tasting offering. 2 cheeses. 1 meat. Decisions, decisions... under advisement from our knowleadgable waiter, I went with Bentons Farm Country Ham for my meat selection. Aged 18 months, "proscuitto-style" from a farm in Tennessee, it was outstanding. A real farm-to-table feel. Same thing with the cheese, although 1 of the farms is decidedly far from the ATL...like across an ocean! That would be the Ivernia cheese --from Ireland. Likened to "Ireland's parmesan," it was a bit nutty, a bit salty, and a touch sweet. Great overall balance and I loved the firm texture. The second was a local yokel -- from south Georgia (outside Thomasville, to be exact). Sweet Grass Dairy Asher Blue. Robust, dense, and creamy. Good cows they got there in Georgia!

Read all about it...

Here is an article I came across that I thought you'd enjoy...


Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Happy Place Revisited

Back from Spring Break in Georgia, which means... I get to make my habitual pilgrimage to my one of my favorite eateries in the country: The Flying Biscuit in the Candler Park 'burb of Atlanta...

A gorgeous spring day to spend a late morning/brunch feast.

As much as I'd love to dive into the rest of the menu and sample everything the Biscuit has to offer, I cannot avoid the magnetic pull of the High Flyer. It has everything I love about this place, all on one plate: 2 eggs, chicken sausage, creamy, dreamy grits, a side of an organic oatmeal pancake with peach compote, and -- you guessed it -- a biscuit! Yes, yes, this is a carb-lover's dream, and I should not make a habit of going this route... but the induglence is always justifiable after the first bite.

Love the Bohemian, easy going atmosphere at this, the original Flying Biscuit (there are a couple others in the ATL and they are now branching out to FL and NC -- funny story: Had a guy from Charlotte stope me at Disney World to comment on my Flying Biscuit tee shirt I was sporting!).

They're all about healthy, hearty portions in a friendly environment.

If you've never been to one -- get there! This place is the one reason I would seriously consider trying out the restaurant biz...