I am a life and wellness coach but I also lead by example. I sort of have to, don't I? One of which is something I am a big fan of: 30 day personal challenges. Our lives, our bodies and much of our health circumstance is determined by our lifestyle choices.  Even much of our joy or lack thereof is by choices.  We are all where we are right now in this moment because of ALL the millions of choices that led up to this moment. 

I saw this video earlier on TED talks about what you can do in 30 days (link below).  I have done nearly a dozen 30 day challenges the past few years. I feel inspired to do a year of 30 day challenges all covering completely unrelated topics yet they all relate to ME and who I am and who I want to be. Sure I did the work to be the woman I always wanted to be NOW. It feels great to be her and I am so incredibly proud and happy with myself but why stop at this? Why not be an even more accomplished more diverse woman in just a year from now? 30 days at a time.

I hope this inspires you to do some great, or even just silly things, in 30 days that make you feel more whole, more well rounded, well lived, well traveled or more of whatever you want to be. It doesn't cost anything but a little focus.  Don't we all feel accomplished when we reach a goal no matter how big or small? Give yourself the gift of life. 

May more joy be yours!


We've all seen those odd deodorant crystals in the health section of Whole Foods, Natural food stores and even some enlightened drug stores. But what are they and more importantly, DO THEY WORK?  The U.S. , save some hippies, I find is generally obsessed with being odor free if not overly scented.  I am the first to admit I am a huge fan of fragrance despite how toxic most of it is.  I am a fan of my underarms not smelling bad too. 

So what's the fuss about using  a traditional deodorant/anti perspirant? There are conflicting reports about the aluminum in many anti perspirants causing breast and other types of cancer. I don't know about you but I am not going to risk it. 

There are two very different formulas I use for somewhat different reasons both with effective results. 

CRYSTAL brand roll on.  The EWG cosmetics database rates this nearly a 0 it is so safe (The higher the score 0-10 the more danger it presents for various reasons the site specifies). Me, I rate it a 8 out of 10 for keeping odor away even when I am on a one hour run in August.  I still get damp as these DO NOT block sweat but they do eat up the bacteria that make it smell unpleasant.  CRYSTAL also has zero scent whatsoever and that has a place if I am spritzing on some fragrance. 

http://www.thecrystal.com/

Angel Scent by NATUROIL is a great brand that has a whole line of skin treatment products that are based on therapeutic grade essential oils.  Some oils have tremendous anti fungal, anti bacterial and anti aging benefits and this spray on deodorant has many of those key ingredients in it. It's an entirely different formula from the crystal deodorants. I feel like it's comparing apples to oranges. Both delicious but for different reasons. This too keeps me odor free for hours even on days that I run. The bonus here is the botanical scent and the spray delivery formula. I like that I can also use it during the summer days to refresh myself when I am out and about. Just slip into a restroom and spritz when you're in freshening up and of course in the gym bag. 

www.naturoilskin.com

http://www.naturoilskin.com/angel-scent-deodorant-for-women/



That intoxicating scent of smoke is in the air each time you pass Spiced Right heading into - or out of - downtown Roswell.  I could resist no longer today.

A standard no frills cue joint decor. There is a stage for live music but I was in for lunch and the only entertainment is the other patrons at this time. It's a full house at lunch time and we are the only women in the place (except the hostess who is beautiful and friendly).

Now for the food: Namely RIBS. Big juicy pork spareribs and they do not disappoint!  Fall off the bone flavorful, smokey and tender.  Brisket was trimmed maybe a bit too well for my liking but flavorful and tender just the same.

Two sauces are on the table, smooth and spicy.  The spicy is pretty tame despite the promise of heat when you can clearly see the flecks of pepper flakes in it.  Both are super sweet and dark. If that's how you like your sauce you will love it. I realized barbecue is such a personal thing so I will never proclaim any cue spot as THE BEST. 

We both got fried okra and my friend claimed it to the best she's had anywhere. We both ate up every bit of it (it doesn't keep well).  Hashbrown casserole is a bowl of finely diced potatoes cooked in a thick bechamel and topped with some cheddar. Very edible but basic.  I ate the whole little cup it was in.  Corn souffle is nice too. It's pretty sweet but this is the south and I can tell this place plays up to the sugar lovers of the world.

All in all a darn tasty spread. Don't be surprised if I go back.

Spiced Right Ribhouse BBQ on Urbanspoon
Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

It's breakfast in bed (still a bit under the weather) and an easy one at that. I eat this quite often for breakfast actually. Not just on a vegan week kick.

Enter wholemeal pumpernickel bread. Enter ripe avocado. Enter a fresh lemon. Toast that slice til it is good and crispy then smear over about a half of a ripe avocado and put a few drops of lemon and pink salt over it all.  Creamy, crunchy and nutritious. I've been known to have this for dinner with a small cup of butternut or creamy tomato soup on the side too.  I have trouble getting enough avocado into my diet and it's such a fantastic beauty food I make a point to find ways to eat it.

 

Other than on toast I put it on bean chili or in a salad with roasted chilled beets and orange. I find guacamole just invites too many unhealthy carbs and too much cal consumption of avocado taking it off the healthy road and onto the road of excess.

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

I've been an avid tracker of eating for nutrition for years.  The protein/fat/carb ratio seems a bit silly really if you're not getting proper nutrition as a whole. You can eat thousands and thousands of calories, still feel hungry and tired--and look like junk if you're not eating for nutrition. 

I happen to use Cronometer. It's a free program and you can upgrade to a gold membership but it's not necessary. It just depends how geeked out you want to get over your  numbers. I can geek out over numbers like you wouldn't believe! 

Case in point, You can see on this day I had approximately 1000 calories (I ran in the morning hence the net cal discrepancy), I had a large volume of food and I eat mostly vegetarian but get a high amount of nutrition as a result. I feel fantastic and have no cravings for anything because my nutrition intake is so high on a regular basis.  Speaking from personal experience and as a nutrition coach, supplementing the  lacking nutrients with vitamin pills doesn't have the same effect as eating the food does. I do supplement iron once a week and magnesium daily to keep my restless legs quiet at bedtime.

I am human so not everyday is perfect but when you eat with this kind of awareness you make  better choices in general. Try logging your food one day and see where you may be coming up short .  I can help you make some tweaks or additions to get your nutrition consumption high fairly quickly.  I promise it's not difficult and you will be so glad you did.


My birthday was a last week and as per usual I want the same dinner every year. I am so cliche.  Red meat, red wine and dark chocolate.   Hal's, this is where you come in. After a miserable experience at Bone's for birthday v2013 I went back to Hal's which I had a great experience at a few years back. Crossed fingers it would be a repeat performance. My heart couldn't take another bad birthday steak.

Mind you I've been mostly vegetarian for a while now but I still wanted that slab of perfectly cooked beef. I got there early so I could pack in as many one on one  times with different friends throughout the day. This was the early shift! at 5:30 it's quiet still. By just after 6 pm it is packing up. I ate upstairs this time. The waitstaff was half the age of the waitstaff last time I was there but just as attentive, if not more attractive to boot. A little man candy is always a nice side dish even if it's not on Hal's menu.

I hear the front desk and two different servers call out to regular diners citing that they have their regular table ready for them. Hal's as a lifestyle? I can dig it.

I ordered the oysters bordelaise again. Perfectly fried oysters perched on a shell. Just a kiss of fresh lemon and it's really a fine way to start a meal. My friend got a chopped salad which was crunchy and flavorful. Very fresh tasting.

Enter the bone in ribeye. (Angels were singing)  This glorious cut perfectly cooked and seasoned made me so happy!  As good as ever. Trout almondine came too. It is a bit blasphemous to get fish at a steakhouse in my opinion but it sure was delicious. This isn't a dish about bold flavor, but one of balance. Fish flaky and tender , crust thin crisp and not oily and lots of crunchy almonds adorning it.  For food, nuts are the ultimate accessory in my opinion. 

Sides, I got creamed spinach remembering how good it was and it still is. Crispy barbant potatoes are super tasty. Nicely and simply seasoned, tender inside and crunchy outside. You can get them with blue cheese or garlic butter but I want for simple so nothing would distract from the clean beefy flavor of my steak. 

Martinis are still strong and well made. Thank you for making me happy on my birthday Hal's.  See you next time!

Hal's on Old Ivy on Urbanspoon



Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

or flu-like symptoms.  Waking up to feeling not so great and the stomach upsets that come with the flu I didn't take in any food until sundown. Times like these a well stocked pantry is niftier than ever (and if you live in an area that gets snow, stock that pantry now in case you can't or don't want to go out in it for some good eats).  

All I could manage in my weakened state was steel cut oats. I couldn't even manage to stand long enough to keep stirring them for 20 minutes. I threw caution to the wind, poured in 1 c . oats, 1/2 tsp pink salt, 2 c. filtered water and 1 c. of canned coconut milk (remember fat keeps you pretty all year and all life long!) and let it do what it would.  The kitchen timer is your and my best friend.  It keeps you from botching up in this A.D.D world.  I put a lid on my coconut oat cocoction and went back to bed. Fast forward 20 minutes later and voila!  With just a little flat whisk encouraging the bottom of the pan it all came together in a perfect texture of warm comfort with very little work. I'll save the elbow grease for when I am back at 100%.

 

I love raw coconut sugar for my hot cereals!  If you haven't tried it, it has a lovely caramel-y taste with added nutrition benefits. It's a bit pricey so I reserve it as a finishing sugar vs. one you might bake with or make bbq sauce with. Just as you may have several types of vinegars, flours, rice, salts and grains in your pantry arsenal why not have several kinds of sugar?

Happy cooking to you sick or otherwise! I will start a winter kitchen to give you some warm and healthy ideas to get you through the holidays and beyond without having to buy bigger jeans by February!

 

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

I have been about 80% vegetarian for 2 months now.   A nice side effect of a high nutrition diet is you don't really want things like sweets or dairy.  The body is so fulfilled with the nutrtion your food is providing it doesn't want anything else. Cravings are gone and energy is high (and skin more gorgeous than ever).  However a week of birthday celebrating which seems to always entail steaks went down this past week. I didn't enjoy it like I used to and cakes did not taste appealing to me at all.  Now is the perfect time to do a vegan week again. I know it's my popular blog series every year.  

Each day I will post at least one of my vegan inspired meals/snacks to tempt you to dip into healthier waters.

Today's vegan:

Marinated crispy baked tofu from The kitchn.

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-baked-tofu-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-74358

coupled with my favorite Dr. Furhman's orange cashew dressing as the dip. 

http://yummyplants.com/vegan-recipe/mismash-salad-with-orange-cashew-dressing/

 

 

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

You'd think as much as I dislike Italian food I wouldn't frequent Ippolito's.  Why you would be incorrect in this assumption is one thing and one thing only: THE GARLIC ROLLS.  They are as good (ahem GREAT) as ever and free (the bread basket on the table is this and only this item) with refills. Don't be low rent and not order food just because these fill you up. 

I ordered the Pepe, a spicy Italian sausage wrapped in dough and brushed with honey before baking. It used to be served in a log shape but now it comes cut and on a bed of tomato sauce. Being that I dislike tomato sauce I didn't appreciate this  revamp move but upon tasting it, it WORKS.  That sweet honey compliments the sausage nicely.

I opted for the white pizza, which is sundried tomatoes, no sauce, herbs and mozz all finished with fresh chiffonade of basil. Crispy crust with no black spots. YUM.

Ippolito's gets their cakes from Alpine Bakery. The restaurant  in Alpine is staffed by former Ippolito's kitchen staff and now both benefit from each others culinary talents. Sadly my favorite Alpine coconut cake was not in the case but the chocolate mousse chocolate cake was and that fits the bill just fine.

See you soon, Garlic Rolls. Love you always (even when I am on a diet!)

Iron Stef.

Ippolito's on Urbanspoon

Hello, World!





Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

I was in the Spire Midtown residence building and had Mexican on the brain. Fortunately I didn't have to go far, for Senor Patron is located at the base of the building.  Located close to Ecco with paid (no valet) deck parking you will find this fun Mexican joint.  Outdoor seating that is on the street but it's one way so it limits the noise.  Tonight the inside was no quieter because it's got a bit of a sportsbar feel with all the screens loudly on some games . All sports looks and sounds the same to me so I couldn't tell you if it was multiple game or just one with some sort of significance.

There are plenty of cocktails to choose from but I am a traditional margarita on the rocks drinker. I got a house margarita (and two more) and much to my delight it didn't have a sickening unfresh margartia mix taste. I have no doubt it's a mix but it is  a better quality mix than an El Toro type joint.  Hence the extra two.

I got a small size of beef queso, my standard desire when a margarita is in hand but I went one further and got a taco salad. I was expecting the traditional crispy round bowl shell but what came out was a fabulously whimsical and delicious giant taco shaped shell! I had to take and impromptu phone photo (I apologize for that) but had to show you all !

The ingredients inside the shell are generically delicious.  It tastes like any other Mexican joint taco salad with shredded chicken and somehow ground beef also ended up in mine as well as the tablemates beef taco salad had some shredded chicken. Hey the more meat the merrier! 

If you like super thin fresh crispy chips Senor Patron is your spot. My usual Mexican joint has thicker chips that don't taste impressive. This is a welcome change.

The inside is pretty loud with the high ceilings but it's more stylish than other run of the mill Mexican spots. There is an upstairs that looks even more stylish and has a bit less noise factor. No one stays in these places long so you can dine and dash.  Service is fast and adequate.  I slipped into the ladies room and I suppose the Spire is reflected there. They are the most beautiful bathrooms you will ever find in a low price Mexican joint. 

I will head back to Senor Patron next time I am in the Spire. 



Senor Patron on Urbanspoon
Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

I suspect this establishment is what put Peter's of Dunwoody out of business. It's not a standalone like Peter's was but it is infinately better.

Once inside you forget there is a stripmall all around.  The dining room is fairly large, surprisingly so.   The server quickly greeted us and soon after I realized they have a very impressive amount and quality of service staff! It feels like Buckhead!!

The menus is the usual suspects of Italian food. A few daily specials were additionally presented. Wednesdays are half price select bottles of wine (you can get a damn good bottle for under $20) or $5 per glasss for teetotalaers.

I ordered up some fried green tomatoes with the roasted pepper sauce on the side.  They were super crisp from start to finish. The slices are slathered on one side with goat cheese before being coated and fried.  YUM

Wedge salad is generic. My guess is the dressing is from a bottle/mass produced. It lacks personality but I ate it all.

The carbonara with some chicken added  is not to be missed. Wonderfully creamy, smokey, salty and all around satisfying.  I could eat this on an almost daily basis.

Veal picatta with lemony risotto is another tasty plate of food.  The scallopinni is tender thin and draped over a perfectly cooked and seasoned lemon risotto complete with visible lemon zest. The briny classic caper sauce brings the starch and protein together perfectly.  I cleaned the plate!!!!

The dining room was impressively full on an early weeknight. Wonderful for an intimate dinner for two or a larger group that just wants a nice place to gather near home.  

Impeccable service by the whole staff. I never wanted for anything. Well done.   A nice fine dining experience without the enormous fine dining price tag.

Carbonara Trattoria on Urbanspoon
Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

I had a little giggle when I pulled in. This burger joint used to be a bank that I worked out quite some time ago. The safe seems to be the kitchen now. As it should be. That's where the gold is kept, right?

I will say I am a bit of a purist about my burgers. I prefer to make them at home. I really haven't quite grasped the whole concept of going out to eat one unless it's fast food and you're on some ungodly long road trip with limited options.  Don't talk to me about a turkey burger or worse, a TUNA burger. Tuna does not a burger make. That is a fish sandwich. End of story.` The counter doesn't stop with beef, turkey and tuna.  They overwhelm you with not only the likes of a chicken breast, bison and vegan options. And to keep it even more non traditional you will find burger bowls because carbs are the devil in some food religions.  Then you move onto an ungodly amount of choices of what to put on your burger. I am not joking. It's like taking the SAT's all over again.  There are boxes to check and the more you check you go into high finance spreadsheet territory. 

Speaking as someone who gives menu options to clients for a living, too much choice is not a good thing. I realize it's an American thing but a lot can go wrong in the hands of an  unskilled eater (and a lot can go right).

Away from the whole burger and sandwich situation is lots of other things to keep your mind off what comes between a bun/in a bowl.  Traditionally you will find shakes and fries. Untraditionally, and thankfully, you will find some spectacular sweet potato fries and onion strings. Those on a plate with a blasphemous turkey burger may actually make me happy here.  My friend didn't even bother with one of 2086 sandwich concoction options. She simply went for a bowl of chili!  It did manage to come with two fat slices of grilled bread and she cleaned that bowl til it shined. 

There are pages of non burger items on the menu before you even get to the burgers!  All this made it lose its burger joint appeal and the concept got a little lost on me early in.  I don't mind a high priced meal by any means but they do want $5 for a big cookie and the burgers just simple 1/3 lb without add ons start at 10.50.  Once you change the bun, fancy up your cheese or pick kale over lettuce prepare to pay.  If you don't get beef, many of the other between the bun options cost more as does a bigger beef patty. That big appetite of yours comes with a price you know.

All that said, my burger was perfectly cooked and very tasty. I loved the half and half of onion strings and sweet potato fries. Nice service and free soft drink refills makes it all go down easier. 

If you're overwhelmed by choices they do offer a premade burger menu with the build preset and taste tested but why not stick to the basics? Burgers are comfort food.  I save adventurous dining for ethnic cuisines but that's just me.  I didn't have a warm fuzzies when I left like I had hoped from a burger. I had a fully belly and a doggie bag though. You chose your priorities.

I doubt I'd return here, especially having discovered Village burger and nothing yet beats that home made iron skillet seared beef patty with the perfect lean fat ratio.  It's 3 bucks and I don't have to put on shoes to enjoy it.

Counter burger is just too much everything else but a burger.  I will give it a good rating for the quality of food. Concept wise it is just too much.

The Counter: Custom Built Burgers on Urbanspoon


Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

This one is easy to miss if you aren't familiar with the area. It's a former Bruster's location inserted into a parking lot. Let the whimsy continue!  It's very small inside (6 tables and a few bar stools) but plenty outdoor patio parking lot seating. You can always take it to go too.

That said , Village Burger is worth finding if you live in the area. Not destination dining but this is one of the better homey hand formed beef patties and hand cut fries.  Not all burgers in the world are comfort food but these sure are. Clean beefy flavor, fresh toppings and many cheeses to pick from unless you go bare.  It does have a Five Guys feel but much more personal (I like Five guys but it can be a bit of a grease overload).   The fries are what really give the full rounded comfort experience. Skin on, medium thickness and super fresh tasting.

They also offer a veg burger, turkey burger, chicken grilled or fried and tenders.  Grilled cheeses are there for the taking as is a BLT with avocado. Skip all of that and get a beef patty. Single or double based on your hunger level. I had a one hour run before my meal and a single filled me up just fine (along with fries of course).  

Frozen custard is available too! Vanilla, chocolate or a swirl of both.  I'd suggest skipping this if you're a custard afficiando with lots of NE regional boardwalk custard experience. It's fine but forgettable.  There just is no good custard in Atlanta that I know of. If you know please tell me.

I see more Village Burgers in my future! 

 

Village Burger on Urbanspoon


Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

Pimento cheese has been a bit of a revolting mystery to me. I remember growing up in S. Florida and seeing tubs of premade mass produced orange spread studded with something red at the local Winn Dixie.  My young aversion to all red things like tomatoes and peppers growing up carried into adulthood where I would order martinis and pick out the red things stuffed into my olives. Mind you this is before blue cheese started getting stuffed into them. That's another blog for another day though.

Now, while I still dislike bell peppers and tomatoes a more recent tasting of a more fresh preparation of pimento cheese changed my tune.  The cheddar was in visible shreds and sharply flavored along with a bit of heat.  This is not the processed velveeta based mess from my childhood. It still wasn't perfect but it was like night and day from what my past experience had been. After toying around I came up with a richly flavored pimento cheese spread that still keeps with its true essence. I was a struggle to keep out raw garlic which is my favorite in any dip or spread but I did it.

A more grown up pimento cheese

8 oz softened cream cheese from a block (not whipped)

1/2 c dukes mayonaise

2 tsp smoked paparika

4 Tbsp finely chopped jared pimento

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 c grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 Tbsp freshly coarse grated yellow onion (not sweet)

salt and black pepper to taste

in a medium mixing bowl mix all ingredients with a stand or hand mixer til thoroughly combined. Taste to adjust seasoning.  Transfer into a bowl or storage container and cover. Let flavors meld at least an hour before serving.

 

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

I gave Ecco another shot after an unremarkable visit 3 or so years ago.  The inside hasn't changed nor does it need to. This place does have ambiance to spare.

The menu changes quite a bit so I tend to give an overall review due to the fact of when you go you will have different items to chose from.  Top of the menu is a make your own charcuterie which I love. Add in some nuts and olives and it's a good time at the table.  I got this option and it was great but not prepared by Ecco chefs, just plated up.

We picked 4 cooked items:  a creamed herb corn, beet salad, tomato watermelon salad and pork flatiron. While each is adequate in flavor it was wholly unremarkable. It's not even a matter of the food being just a step away from great, it's at least two steps.  The vegetables were fresh and good quality but somehow the seasoning was just not quite there. 

Desserts are another matter. We ordered two and without question they both were the best part of the whole meal. They change often but the pastry chef has some game! In fact I would consider going for dessert only.

Service has always been great here. The food just leaves me a little cold at the end. I don't plan to go back unless it's a group vote and I am odd woman out.

 

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

It is lunchtime at Erawan Thai and it's like a scene out of a NY Deli at 8 am in Manhattan.  It is noisy, packed, standing room only and the vibe is one of delicious hopefulness.  You know you will eat something fantastic but not quite sure if it will be in the next 10 minutes or not, even if you do know what you want to order.

Me, I have been craving GOOD sweet and sour for weeks. The frightful options anywhere reasonably close to home almost makes me lose my interest in it.  Gloppy orange flat tasting sweet and sour with zero depth is less than unsatisfying. It's simply unacceptable.

We finally get a table. I was so hungry I was tempted to eat my iPhone and file a lost claim to get a new one. The wait wasn't over 10 minutes but I hadn't eaten breakfast and had run for 45 mins. That's one appetite Erawan had to quench.  It's a little understaffed and I knew that going in by the HELP WANTED sign on the door so I will skip the service review. Ours did the best she could considering the circumstances.  I had my camera with me but I was  so out of my mind hungry  I forgot to take photos!

I ordered  a sushi roll to get things going then sweet and sour pork and Him-Ma-Parn/Cashew nuts which is a protein of your choice (we got chicken)  in a savory sesame sauce with slender slices of celery, onions and carrots.   You have an option of white rice or brown. My white was slightly less than remarkable but the brown with the other dish is really worth having. It's studded with reddish and brown grains. Lots of personality and flavor. Nice portions sizes for lunch too!

The sushi was as good as any Thai joint.  Nice size crunch roll that came out quickly. My observation of the packed dining area and the sitting sushi chef is that people aren't coming here for the sushi.

The sweet and sour pork (you can get it with any protein you like I just find pork carries off the flavor the best in this application) is without question the exact fully  satisfying sweet and sour I have been craving.  It's not gloppy orange instead it's a soft brown concoction of salt, sweet, sour and distinct hint of Thai that makes this cuisine generally so satisfying.  The crisp tender fried pork was tossed in this sauce and it stayed crisp til I finished. I probably wouldn't enjoy it with the flavorful brown rice because that would affect the flavors here but the brown definitely works well with the more temperate flavor of the second dish we enjoyed.

You can order non organic or organic/grassfed meats. The latter has a slight upcharge.

We're getting sweet n sour again this weekend via takeout.  Thank you Erawan Thai for getting it right!!!!!

 

Erawan Organic Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

Zeal has been open in East Cobb coming up on one year now. Recently a new chef has started so if you didn't have a great food experience in the past give it another try.  Especially if you need gluten free options. This menu is chock full of them! Delicious ones at that.

Zeal has some nice outdoor seating if you don't mind looking at a parking lot but it is at the end of the strip so there is minimal traffic.  Inside it's modern and fresh while still being cozy. Also if you need a late night spot this is an alternative to pubs just down the road.

 

Zeal is a nice change from all the chain restaurants in the area.  You will find a mix of family friendly items for less adventuresome eaters and some more refined items so everyone at the table is happy.   Zeal knows their market. The menu changes with the seasons so you're sure to have a new selection of  yummy things to pick from if you stop in every so often.  It's a weeknight and it's a pretty full house. A good sign.

 

 

Fried green tomatoes served over arugula and topped with some fig studded goat cheese is a classic. 4 big fat crispy fried tomato slices generously slathered with the goat cheese mixture. I could have eaten 12 of these! Complexity and comfort all in one southern favorite.

Duck poutine for all of us duck lovers. Tender braised duck  and gravy share french fries along with classic cheese curds. Grab a beer and a napkin and get ready to make a delicious mess with this one. It is ducky so you won't be able to pass it off as "chicken" to the little ones. Besides, chicken poutine sounds a little um, lame.

Chicken lollipops are an easy table favorite. Small drumettes frenched to give an easy- to- eat crispy bite of chicken. It's served with a tasty but pedestrian mango chili sauce.  Nothing spectacular but I would eat it every time I dine there.


I ordered up the Kansas city strip. It's a bone in moderately thick cut of beef. What is so delicious about this steak is the charcoal grill flavor!  The meat was juicy and perfectly cooked on top of having great flavor.  The cut of beef may vary but day but you're sure to get a tasty plate!  Roasted fingerlings split and cooked til velveety inside and crisp outside are a perfect compliment.

Don't let the name fool you, "airline chicken" isn't what you may think. Back when airline food was good it was served with part of the wing on it. So is this one. It is still just as awkward to eat. But if you love chicken this is your entree option.

If you aren't up for a full on big entree there are small plates which border between appetizer and main size.  If you get an appetizer and salad  , a small plate will finish off your savory courses nicely. You can't go wrong with this lamb dish with a honey beet puree.


You can't really go wrong with any of the dessert selections. One caveat and it could have just been an off batch, is the pie jar flight. Three flavors come in the flight and one had ZERO taste.  The cake and cheesecake I tried were borderline fantastic.  I can't say if there is a proper pastry chef in the kitchen but I wouldn't be surprised if there is.


Zeal isn't exactly destination dining but for those that live in or are passing through east cobb with an empty stomach Zeal will fill the bill-or the belly as the case may be.


Zeal on Urbanspoon
Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

Very spur of the moment I found myself at the door of Villa Christina in Dunwoody  (unprepared to review and I am of course, beyond mortified to have iPhone photos of food) , a Hyatt hotel popular wedding venue in Atlanta.  Once inside the complex you could forget where you are!  Atlanta is known to be a green city and traveler's get a real eyeful of that here.

It's a Saturday night and we are the only ones in the restaurant.  I don't quite know what to make of this.  Do they mainly do their business on weeknights to business travelers?  Depend on special events?  It's mid August and the lawns are prime for a wedding but none are going on here today. I am hungry and just care about my empty stomach right now.

The dining room is lovely. Upscale with a tuscan style paint job, yellow and a sky scene painting on the ceiling.  It overlooks the gardens and lots of light is shining in on the tables.

The menu is decidedly Italian as you'd expect. I found the wine list to be a little generic but fine for the masses.   I ordered up some calamari with grilled lemons and peppers and calamari I got!  A very generous portion that two of us couldn't even finish. The bread basket arrived with butter and a scoop of green olive tapenade. That was likely the reason we couldn't finish the calamari. That and the calamari was underseasoned. A little salt remedied that.

Calamari

Calamari

The entrees were a little tough to narrow down because there are so many on the menu that tempt. It's not normally this challenging for me to narrow it down to 2-3. I opted for a creole style pasta. I had the wheat spaghetti swapped out and put pappardelle in its place. A very flavorful cream sauce with creole seasoning, smokey andouille sausage and perfectly cooked large shrimp with tails on.  Perhaps not Italian but it sure is delicious. This is another generous portion of food. My dining companion had a plate of grape leaf wrapped grilled salmon  drizzled with balsamic glaze and a side of creamy polenta. Another perfectly cooked dish!  The polenta gets thick and firm as it sits but it is tasty!


We both opted for a death by chocolate type dessert trio. A scoop of super rich chocolate ice cream with a wedge of minty chip biscuit atop an almond tuille, chocolate creme brulee and molten lava cake.  All delicious but I kept wanting a pile of whipped cream in the middle of the plate for all three items to share.


The service here  was top notice all night. A true example of hospitality. In fact it may be the first time in a very long time I told the server how wonderful he is when he brought the check.



Villa Christina on Urbanspoon
Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

Indian is one cuisine I haven't ventured into for a variety of reasons. One being Atlanta has been lacking in that  cuisine for some time and when visiting England for an extended period of time where Indian is wildly popular, the only thing I wanted in my mouth was glorious fish and chips.

I am open to new foods and love a variety of flavors so very much was looking forward to my Copper Cove experience.  It's on N. Fulton street just off Pharr road and parking is a bit tricky depending on time of day. Rest assured it's worth sorting out because inside this unassuming place is some spectacular food.

The inside could use a bit more settling in and perhaps a woman's touch but otherwise get over it and dive into the menu!  To an inexperience Indian diner such as myself the menu is deliciously overwhelming. My dining companion knows the cuisine very well and guided me a bit but the waiter was more than happy to help as well. I intended to order many things and take home the rest of what I couldn't finish. I did not want one dish to  flavor my perception of the cuisine as a whole.  That would be like marrying your first love and missing out on all the wonderful other loves to come.

Order Naan, don't ask why. You will thank me at the end of your meal after you've enjoyed this bread with each plate of food you order.

Naan, an Indian table staple

Naan, an Indian table staple

 

First up is some paneer filled samosas.  They are served in a standing cone with a squeeze of lemon and two very complimenting sauces. One tamarind based and other a green hypnotic blend of herbs with a bit of heat. I have not even the words to describe the heavenly taste of what is called "shrimp puree" on the menu.  Delicate pillows of dough are generously filled with an impeccable coconut milk and shrimp sauce.  This is the last meal I want on earth all on one small plate. I really was tempted to cancel my entrees and get more of this. My dining companion agreed, this indeed should be their signature.

Shrimp Puree. Heavenly.

Shrimp Puree. Heavenly.


I ordered a tandoori shrimp, Jhinga tandoori.  It came out sizzling on a (sorry to say this) fajita type hot plate and it was sizzling perfumed shrimp with finely julienned mixed bell peppers and sweet onions all cooked to some hypnotic perfection. Where has this food been all my life?!  This is the furthest thing from Americana cuisine ever and I am happy to be on the ride.

Jingha Tandoori

Jingha Tandoori

My second entree to taste was Shahi Korma.  This has zero heat and is a lovely coconut cream concotion that coats a pile of rice beautiful. It has texture from whatever protein you opt for as well as gold raisins and almond.  Very satisfying.

We got a bowl of Byrani for the table, delicious seasoned rice with dried fruit and nuts. 

Copper Cove doesn't have a liquor license quite yet but there is beer and wine. The staff is so warm and excited about the food and it shows. What a pleasure to spend my money at Copper Cove.  Can't wait to go back!  Lunch buffet on weekdays so you can try  a lot and be out in time to get back to work.

Copper Cove Indian Bistro on Urbanspoon


Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

If you haven't been attending these special limited seating dinners you are missing out. This night Chef Val Domingo flexed his creative muscles and modernized 1960's foods. He cited first thing he couldn't go down the jello mold route, for which we were all thankful. 

The beloved wedge salad that was a mainstay on trendy menus in the 60's, and still is good today, got a modern twist by grilling the romaine enough to give it a smokey finish, mini heirlooms and crumbled crisp bacon garnished it along with a blue cheese vinagrette.

 Remember oysters Rockafeller? Val does and he put a southern twist on it with some deliciously tender braised collard greens.  Meaty briney oyster with collards and hollandaise browned til bubbly makes my tummy happy.


Surf and turf was right on trend in those Mad Men years. This play on it was positively delicious!  Pork tenderloin stuffed roulade style with a crab cake type filling served alongside some lobster mashed potatoes.  I had come into the meal famished but this quelled the stomach growling. A broiled tomato half on the dish reminded me of my childhood. Mom used to make them all the time.

Pound cake was the rage and Val modernized it by grilling it and serving it with strawberry sauce. He loves to make speciality ice creams and prepared a basil one to give this one a real summertime flair.


Word on the street is the next dinner will be themed around The Walking Dead.  Watch out for zombies stealing your food.

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson