Archive for July, 2010

Ode to My Food Processor

Posted in cooking, local food, product, recipe on July 30th, 2010 by Betsy – 9 Comments

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Dear Mini-Food Processor,

You have been a wonderful kitchen gadget for our family.  Making hummus with you has been a favorite Sunday activity.  Your salad dressings are delicious and you always know just the right amount to make.  The perfect size for a batch of pesto, you’ve been a great friend in our tiny apartment.  Even though we keep you on the top shelf, almost weekly I stand on my tip toes, grab you, and put you to work.

You’ve been working overtime recently, as we’ve had an endless supply of basil.  Thank you for your hard work.  You never disappoint.  Even when I fine a large chunk of garlic in my hummus that you forgot to chop up, I don’t mind because I know that I ask a lot of you.

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I have a confession to make, Mini Food Processor.  You’re going to have a new home.  It’s not that we don’t love you, but it’s time for us to buy a bigger food processor.  You will always be our first and I  have many fond memories of our time together.  Now that we’re moving into a home with a more spacious kitchen, it only seems right to buy a larger model.  I’m looking forward to working with our new food processor, chopping onions and other veggies, but just know that you will never be forgotten.

Your new home with the Williams will be much more spacious than the living conditions you’ve had for the past year.  Meredith will take good care of you, I promise, and make many yummy foods with you.  Keep chopping away.

Love,

Betsy

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Basil Dressing (in the Mini Food Processor)

This is a great dressing for salad and delicious to add to other summer dishes. Lighter than pesto, so it absorbs better into whatever you’re making.  Also, let’s be honest: Sometimes I’m a little cheap to make pesto.  Pine nuts are pricey so this is a solid alternative to pesto and not as rich.

Great to use with:

  • Roasted potatoes
  • Pork chops
  • Grilled bone-in chicken breasts
  • Tossed in a cold quinoa salad
  • Salad dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
  • juice from ½ a lemon (add more if you want it to be more tart)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • s&p

Put all of the ingredients, except olive oil, into food processor and mix.  Once blended, add olive oil.  If you want it to be more liquid thank thick (less like pesto and more like salad dressing), add more olive oil and white wine vinegar and less cheese.

Other Great Uses for the Mini Food Processor:

Hummus

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Pesto for pasta or pizza

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Processing ‘The Wire’

Posted in TV on July 27th, 2010 by Betsy – 3 Comments

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Sometimes I don’t talk about food and gluten on this blog.  Today is going to be one of those days.

Earlier this spring, my friend, Jen, encouraged (ok, forced) David and me to watch ‘The Wire.’ A year or two earlier we attempted tackling this show via our Netflix queue and I couldn’t get through the first two episodes.  I wrote ‘The Wire’ off as too violent, too many F-bombs and too confusing.  Jen doesn’t like a quitter so she made us give it another try.

Five months later, we’ve watched all five seasons of this HBO drama based on the city of Baltimore, where David and I lived during our first two years of marriage.  (The suburb of Lutherville that we called home was drastically different than the corners where the show takes place.)

I have to admit, during the first few episodes, I had no idea what was going on and I hated it.  I hated the show; I hated its violence; I detested the cursing; I couldn’t figure out who the characters were and what was happening with the story line.  It made me feel stupid and wimpy.

That being said, on Sunday night David and I stayed up until midnight (that’s about two hours later than I normally go to bed), watching the final episode.  I’m relieved it’s over so I can move on with my life.

There’s no way that I can adequately describe ‘The Wire’ in a post and do it justice.  I very much have a love/hate relationship with this show and the characters that consumed my waking and sleeping for the last five months.  Gritty and brutal,‘The Wire’ traces the intertwined lives of fictional Baltimore city cops, drug dealers, addicts, politicians and even children.

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Each season has a different theme: drugs, the docks, politics, journalism.  Of course my favorite theme was education, during the fourth season.  The brokenness of the public school systems as well as the inability for children to break out of the world they’re born into was absolutely heartbreaking.  I felt utterly hopeless as I watched.  I think this season particularly affected me because I taught in Baltimore, but in a very different setting.  I worked in a private school for affluent families and students who had infinitely more opportunities than Randy, Dukie, Namon and Michael on ‘The Wire,’ despite living only 15 minutes apart.

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I neglected to mention when I wrote about our anniversary, that just before dinner, we watched the final two episodes of the fourth season and I hysterically cried only thirty minutes before our fancy evening out.  Yes, I know these people aren’t real, but it’s all too real nonetheless.  The Towers and the corners are such a foreign, yet close, world, and the people and children unwillingly affected by it are hauntingly real.  For the bulk of our ‘Wire viewing,’ Jen has been in Europe, living the life of an ex-pat, reading, journaling and sight seeing.  Meanwhile, I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, literally weeping while watching this show.  Thanks, Jen.

I’m not quite sure who I would recommend ‘The Wire’ to.  In the last five months, I’ve always been excited to find someone else that watched the show.  (Before we got hooked, people who watched ‘The Wire’ annoyed me.)  The other night, we discovered that our friend, Amy Julia and her husband watched ‘The Wire,’ and I felt an immediate bond because we’d shared five seasons of murder, drugs, fraud, hope and hopelessness through the lives of Daniels, Omar, Bubbles, McNulty, and Presbo.  I feel smart and accomplished for making it through the series (Is that bad?) and I don’t regret watching it.  I will never watch the show again, however, and I even vowed on four different occasions while watching the show that I would never watch another episode.

The final episode was bittersweet but it was time.  Time to say goodbye to the Corners, to the Greek, to the completely flawed police officers I’d come to know for the previous 57 episodes.  It would have been nice, however, to have a little more closure in the final episode.  Of course I was still left with many questions.  Why did we barely see Presbo in the last season?  What happened to Randy?  Does Kema spend more time with her son?  Does McNulty get clean?  What happens to Cutty?

Do you watch ‘The Wire?’ Favorite characters?  Is it hopeful or hopeless?  Do you get annoyed with people who are obsessed with talking about ‘The Wire?’ Thoughts?

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Gelato!

Posted in Atlanta, local food, vegetarian on July 23rd, 2010 by Betsy – 7 Comments

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Nothing says summer like gelato.  This wonderful treat reminds me of my study abroad during college.  Traveling through England, Spain, France and Italy, our trio of girls would search all day for the best gelato.  It was so hot in Italy (sort of like Atlanta right now) and gelato was the best way to cool off after a long day of sight seeing.

I love gelato and it should be naturally gluten-free, right?.  Unfortunately, most gelato places offer glutenous flavors, such as cookies ‘n cream and others that contain crumbly toppings that easily contaminate the gluten-free flavors.

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Recently, David and I discovered Paolos Gelato in Virginia Highlands.  I walked in a noticed immediately that none of the flavors screamed ‘gluten.’  (No cookies ‘n cream, no cookie dough, etc.) Good sign.  I then asked the woman working about whether their flavors were gluten-free.  She didn’t know so she asked another guy.  (Possibly the manager?)  He asked if I had celiac and he said his best friend has celiac and eats their gelato all the time.  Hurray!  (Just make sure to tell them you want your gelato in a cup, without the cookie.)

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Paolos is a great new discovery and the perfect spot for an after dinner treat on a summer evening.  We went the other night and it hit the spot.  (David lost a bet so he owed me dessert.)  My favorite flavors are the mint chocolate chip and straciatella.  Delicious!

Does anyone know of any other good gluten-free desserts in Atlanta?

Paolos Gelato – 1025 Virginia Avenue Northeast – Atlanta, GA 30306-3523

Phantom of the Opera & Taqueria del Sol

Posted in Atlanta, Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants on July 20th, 2010 by Betsy – 7 Comments

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On Gluten Freedom, I’ve shared with you many things about me.  Many nerdy and quirky things about me.

You know that I love ‘The Bachelorette.’  Did you see last night’s episode??  Frank is pitiful.  I once again vowed that I’m never going to watch another episode of the show.

You know that I love famous chefs and folk music.  Um, Indigo Girls are playing in Atlanta on October 15th.  Mark your calendars!

You know that I dream of someday being a farmer.  Now that I’ve spent some time working at Serenbe Farm this summer, I’m not sure I have the stamina for that career.  (Bugs like me too much…I’m covered in chigger bites as I write.)

One of the other things that I love which I haven’t really shared with you is musicals.  To quote Tobias Funke from ‘Arrested Development,’ (a great show, by the way…much better than ‘Bachelorette’) I love the “theeeater.”  As a child, my favorite family trip was to New York City where we saw three musicals in 48 hours.  This trip would be my husband’s worst nightmare, but he politely puts up with my love of musicals, nonetheless.

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Tobias Funke from 'Arrested Development'

Can I sing?  Nope.  Did I ever act?  Not once.  Do I still love shows?  Heck yes.  Why, I’m not quite sure.  Maybe it’s because that’s what we listened to in the car when I was little.  (I had no idea how racy “Les Mis” is until around age 18.  The song, ‘Lovely Ladies’…Wow.)

So last week, when our friends, Peyten and Stan, asked if we would like to see ‘Phantom of the Opera’ at the Fox Theater with them, I quickly accepted before asking David what he thought about the idea.  I hadn’t seen ‘Phantom’ in 12 years, and they’re claiming this is the last national tour of the show.  (Probably just a marketing ploy, but I fell for it nonetheless.)

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After accepting Peyten’s offer, then came the question of where to go for dinner before the show.  An 8:00 start time limits one’s options, especially for me, who always worries about being on time.  (I don’t want to risk missing the overture.)

IMG_0023 Peyten suggested Taqueria del Sol as it’s apparently a quick stop for a meal, despite the long line that’s always stretching out the door.  I had never been to this beloved Atlanta spot, as I’m weary about places that serve food quickly and en masse.  Thanks to blogger, Celiac Eats, who loves Taqueria del Sol, I was willing to give it a try.  As the time for dinner got closer, I became more anxious about the impending meal.  (I know that’s weird for you non-celiacs, but going out to dinner can be very scary, especially when you’ll be confined to a theater seat for the next three hours.)  I texted my friend, Anne, (also celiac) and asked her opinion.  She was lukewarm on Taqueria so I began to plan on eating dinner prior to the Taqueria stop.

David encouraged me to call ahead, just in case, and I did.  He’s full of great ideas.  The manager, with whom I spoke, has a gluten allergy herself.  She knew everything I could eat and was very specific, which I love.  She even told me that I can have chips if I come for lunch, but not for dinner because at that point the fryer is contaminated.  Such helpful information!

Most of the enchiladas are totally gluten free and the corn tortillas can be substituted for the tacos.  They were some of the best corn tortillas I’ve ever eaten.  For dinner, I ordered one Memphis taco and one Veggie taco, with a side of the Charros beans.  I also got some guacamole because I can never resist guac.  The brisket taco is also gluten-free so I’ll try that one next time.  Both of my tacos were delicious.  The Memphis comes with smoked pork, jalapenos, bbq sauce and cole slaw.  A perfect combination.  Sweet, salty and crunchy.  (I love weird combos and combining textures.)  The veggie taco was delish as well!  I enjoyed my meal while sipping on a tequila and tonic.  Yes, a tequila and tonic.  Don’t knock it ‘till you try it.  I promise, you’ll love it.  Just think margarita, without the too tart, too sweet grime that stays on your teeth.

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As I mentioned, Taqueria has an intimidating line out front, but it’s worth it.  You can walk to the bar and order a drink to enjoy while you wait in line.  The line moves fairly quickly so it looks worse than it is.  I’m so glad to discover another spot in Atlanta where I can grab a quick, and relatively cheap meal, that’s gluten-free friendly.

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And of course, we made it to the Fox in plenty of time and I thoroughly enjoyed the show, trying not to sing along.  Afterwards, I did have trouble explaining to David why I think ‘Phantom of the Opera’ is so good.  It just is.

Quinoa for a Crowd

Posted in cooking, event, local food, recipe on July 16th, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Recently a group of us hosted a luncheon to celebrate my good friend, Mary Stuart, and her baby that’s on the way.  On a steamy, summer day, it can be difficult to create a menu.  When it’s hot outside, we’re not looking to eat heavy, rich, foods.  Instead your food should be light and refreshing.  Also, this luncheon was not at my house, so I had to take transportation into account when planning.  I  didn’t want to be assembling my dish upon arrival, so my ‘quinoa for a crowd’ actually tastes better when made a day in advance.

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As the name implies, this recipe makes a lot of food, and I always make too much food when I’m playing host.  Leftovers are delicious and this quinoa makes for a great lunch during the week.  In our Atlanta group of friends, I’m not the only gluten-free eater, so we labeled the items for the luncheon that were gluten-free and kept them at the beginning of the buffet line, in order to best avoid contamination.

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Quinoa for a Crowd (Serves about 10-12)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups quinoa
  • 5 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoons salt & ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 bag frozen, shelled edamame
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes

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Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 table spoon white wine vinegar

Rinse and drain quinoa if package instructs you to.  (Some do and others don’t.)  I have a very fine strainer that I use for rinsing my quinoa.

Heat olive oil on medium heat.  Add quinoa and stir for a minute while cooking.  Add 1 cup broth and stir while the quinoa absorbs the liquid.  Once liquid is absorbed, add 3 more cups.  Lower heat to medium-low.  Let cook, stirring occasionally.  Add salt and pepper.  Add more liquid as needed.  You’ll know the quinoa is done because it will ‘pop.’  Not like popcorn, but you’ll see that the quinoa becomes bigger and there will be a little line in the middle of each grain.  It will take about 20 minutes for quinoa to cook.  (Unlike risotto, I think it’s hard to overcook quinoa.)

Remove quinoa from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Meanwhile, finely chop red onion.  Heat shelled edamame (according to cooking instructions on bag).  Drain and let cool.  Cut tomatoes in half.  Put onion, edamame and tomatoes into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk lemon juice, honey, olive oil, white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard.  Taste.  Depending on how tart or sweet you like your food, add more honey and olive oil (for sweetness) or add more mustard or lemon juice (for tartness).  This is completely about your flavor preference.  I find that anytime I make a vinaigrette, I keep sampling it until I’m content with the flavors.  (Not very precise or scientific, I know!)

Once your quinoa has cooled, add the grain to your large bowl.  Mix with tomatoes, edamame, and onions.  Add your vinaigrette and toss.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  If your salad dries out a little, just add some more lemon juice or olive oil before serving.

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As I mentioned, this quinoa, is the gift that keeps on giving, so I brought the leftovers to a dinner that same night.  Still delicious.  And I ate it for lunch the next day.  And the next.

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Another highlight of the luncheon was the chicken salad that my friend Meredith made, using one of Emeril’s recipes.  I loved the cashew and apple combination.  Salty, sweet and tart, all in one.  Not too much mayo either.  You can see this naturally gluten-free recipe here.  (The only change Meredith made was omitting the parsley.)  Of course, thoughtful Meredith even remembered to bring gluten-free crackers for the chicken salad!

What do you like to make when cooking for a crowd?

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Whole Foods Buckhead Hosting Gluten-Free Expo

Posted in Atlanta, cooking, event, GF product on July 13th, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

I just learned from the Gluten-Free Examiner, Jennifer Harris, that there will be a gluten-free expo on Saturday, August 7 from 12-4, at the Buckhead Whole Foods.  There will be demonstrations and gluten-free vendors so you should definitely check out this GF event.

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Whole Foods has been a very successful grocery chain, with mixed reviews.  Some criticize it for pushing out smaller, local, natural food stores while others applaud it for bringing quality ingredients to communities and supporting some (not all) local farms.  A January article in the New Yorker entitled, “Food Fighter” featured Whole Foods’ founder and CEO, John Mackey.  This article provides an interesting perspective on the store and Mackey.  It’s worth the read.

Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey

Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey

Despite the controversy associated with this high-end grocery store, I always appreciate Whole Foods’ large selection of gluten-free foods, and random ingredients like quinoa, almond flour, bean sprouts, and every nut you can imagine.

Here are some of my favorite things about Whole Foods:

  • Great selection and prices on wine (10% off if you buy in bulk.)
  • Whole Foods Gluten-Free Bakehouse Pie Crust (Great for Tomato Pie & Quiche)
  • Each item in salad bar is clearly labeled with ingredients
  • Amazing cheese selection
  • The best store bought gluten-free cupcakes, ever.
  • People say Whole Foods is expensive (and it is) but there are good deals to be found.  Cedar’s hummus is often “Bo-Go” and Lara Bars are often the best price in town.  (You get an extra 10% off if you buy the whole box.)
  • Whole Foods meets all of the shopping needs for the contestants on Top Chef.  (Sometimes the tilapia’s frozen or one contestant buys out all of the lamb chops before his opponent can get to them, but for the most part Whole Foods has everything.)

Thoughts on Whole Foods?  Favorite Saturday splurge when wandering the aisles?

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Tomatoes, Galore

Posted in Atlanta, local food, meals, recipe on July 8th, 2010 by Betsy – 8 Comments

I know it’s summer when I find any excuse to slip tomatoes into our meal.  Once you’ve had great, fresh, local tomatoes, you can never buy a grocery store tomato again.  These tomatoes from Crystal Organics Farm are the real deal.

Bright red slicers…

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Heirloom tomatoes…

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Cherry tomatoes…

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Last week we had a tomato overload in the Metcalf house but I didn’t get sick of this seasonal treat.  Here’s what we made:

Quinoa with edamame and cherry tomatoes

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BLT’s

IMG_1530And of course the family favorite, tomato pie.  One of the easiest recipes, the key to making this delicious dish is using huge, beautiful, summer tomatoes.  No excuses here.  This is truly a seasonal recipe.  A great centerpiece to a summer meal, I like to serve tomato pie with corn on the cob and a salad.  David likes to eat the leftovers for breakfast.

Tomato Pie…

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Tomato Pie:

Ingredients:

  • Gluten-free pie crust (I use Whole Foods Bakehouse, but of course you can make your own too)
  • 4 large tomatoes, cut into extra large slices
  • 4 tablespoons Chopped basil
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • S&P
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

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Heat empty pie crust in the oven at 350 degrees.  Remove crust from oven and let cool completely.

Place one layer of tomatoes in the pie crust.  Sprinkle with s&p and add basil and green onions.  Add remaining tomatoes in another layer.  Mix cheddar and mayo in a bowl and spread evenly on top of tomatoes.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, until cheese/mayo starts to brown.

(The juicier the tomatoes, the more watery the pie can be.  Don’t be dismayed if it’s not beautiful when you slice and serve the pie.  It’s still delicious!)

IMG_1543Happy Cooking!  What are some of your favorite tomato recipes?

Anniversary Celebration at Restaurant Eugene

Posted in Atlanta, Restaurants on July 6th, 2010 by Betsy – 8 Comments

This weekend, David and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary.  Could I possibly be old enough to have been married for six years?!  It’s hard to believe that this time six years ago, I had just said “I do” to my best friend.

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I don’t want to be cheesy in this post, but I’ve got to tell you, I am one lucky girl.  For those of you with celiac disease, or any health related issues, you know the true meaning of “in sickness and in health.”  David has amazingly stood by me and supported me throughout years of health problems.  I truly don’t know what I would have done without him.

Fortunately, being sick is not the main thing I think about when I reflect on our marriage.  We’ve done many amazing things together: toured the wine country in California and Oregon, hiked the Great Wall, lounged on the beach in Thailand, looked at art in the Louvre, taught and coached together, ran a 9th grade girls dorm, looked out on the water in Maine, hiked on the Appalachian Trail, and gone for cocktail cruises on the Eastern Shore.

Of course, one of the things we enjoy doing together the most is preparing and sharing meals together.  For our anniversary celebration this weekend, we went to Restaurant Eugene, to enjoy the culinary work of James Beard nominated chef, Linton Hopkins.  We were not disappointed and this was the perfect splurge for a special meal.

The menu at Restaurant Eugene changes nightly and Chef Hopkins buys most of his food from an extensive list of local farms that they include on the menu.  Everyone was eager to accommodate my dietary needs and worked hard to keep me informed and well taken care of on this night.  Even the ‘runner’ who brought out our dishes knew what I could and couldn’t have.  Amazing.  At Eugene, you can go the 5-course tasting menu route, but David and I chose to order a la carte.  We had plenty of food and the portion sizes were perfect.

Judith, the assistant maitre d, brought us a taste of chilled radish soup, that was delicious.  A perfect start to the evening.  For an appetizer, I ordered the Georgia White Shrimp with red torpedo onion, bacon, dandelion, squash blossom, and squash parmesan broth.  Squash blossoms are a rare treat so I couldn’t resist this dish.  The saltiness of the bacon added great depth to the bites of squash and the overall flavor of the dish.  David started with the pork belly which he nicely shared with me.  The only part of the pork belly dish that wasn’t GF was the parmesan cake, which the chef kept separate so I could taste David’s too.

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For my entrée, I selected the Pancetta Wrapped Veal Loin with maitake, baby bok choi and onion lavender puree.  It was heavenly.  As I’ve said before, everything tastes better wrapped in pancetta.  I consumed every bite (except one that I spared for David).  The mushrooms and bok choi went surprisingly nicely with the veal and pancetta.   The veal was cooked perfectly medium rare.

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At the end of the meal, they brought us a trio of housemade sorbets to sample which included the unique flavors of peach, ginger and lemon thyme.  David loved the ginger (it was a little strong for me) and my favorite was the lemon thyme.  A refreshing, and not too heavy, way to finish up the evening.

Overall, we had a great experience at Restaurant Eugene.  This is definitely one of the higher end restaurants in Atlanta, but definitely worth it for a special occasion.  We never felt rushed and the small dining area makes for an intimate and relaxing setting.

Happy Anniversary, Friend!  Cheers to many more years and meals together.

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Note: I took the food photos with my new iPhone (!!!) so the quality could be better.  I’ll keep working on it though.

Cooking for the 4th

Posted in cooking, event, local food, meals, recipe on July 2nd, 2010 by Betsy – 1 Comment

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The 4th of July gives us a great excuse to break out the grill, cook for a crowd and do some low key entertaining.  Here are a few photos and recipe ideas to get your creative juices flowing for the 4th.

Old Bay Burgers

Pulled Pork Barbecue

Grilled Salmon

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Roasted Okra

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Heirloom Tomatoes with Feta Cheese, Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar

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Peanut Butter Cookies

Peach Blueberry Crisp

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Happy Independence Day!  A special Happy 4th to my family and friends who will be celebrating outside the US of A, in Japan, Austria, and Mexico.  You are missed!

Fenway gives it the old college try

Posted in event, travel on July 1st, 2010 by Betsy – 5 Comments

My friend, Peter, sent me this photo from Fenway Park last week.  His email read, “Sad gluten-free options, but at least they try.”  I couldn’t agree more.  While some ball parks seem to have more ample GF offerings, at least the folks at Fenway acknowledge the gluten-free diet.  Who knows?  Maybe more GF treats are on the way…

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