Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 77

Seitan: Being that today is Halloween, my original plan was to visit Holeman & Finch tonight for the first time and write a truly strange, scary post based on their wide selection of offal. What could be more appropriate, right? I later found out that they're closed Sun. nights, so I had to improvise. However, I found something by accident today that's just as scary as brains or intestines. I'd been out of town all weekend, so I went down to Whole Foods on Ponce to hopefully find something for lunch. I generally don't visit WF much due to the exorbitant prices, but I was in the mood to browse a little.

I was scoping out the hot bar, when I noticed something that I'd heard of but never tried: seitan. I knew that it was some sort of vegetarian meat substitute, but that's about all. I'm not a fan of any faux-meat, and I once suffered a whole day of stomach distress after eating at a vegan Chinese restaurant on Buford Highway that featured nothing but faux-meat dishes. Since I wasn't exactly sure what seitan was, I asked an employee for a sample cup, and I took a sizable chunk to try.
The seitan was labeled as "cacciatore style," with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and some other ingredients (from the middle serving tray pictured). I put the whole piece in my mouth and chewed...and chewed, and chewed. It tasted similar to tofu, but much more solid - almost like a firm piece that had been left out in the sun to dry. If it weren't for the other ingredients in the dish, it would have tasted like nothing at all. This was more akin to chewing on a piece of Nerf football, and not at all pleasant. I'm glad I didn't actually pay for a whole portion.

I'm not opposed to vegetarian cuisine, but this was downright repulsive. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 76

Parmesan and Cracked Black Pepper Bread: Ok, this post may be a little short - I'm headed out early for an out of town gig tonight and won't have any time to post later. Good thing I did some browsing at Whole Foods yesterday after my lunch at Super Pan, and that's where today's new food came from. I noticed this bread while looking at the hot bar, and it sounded different and tasty. I was curious to see how the combo of parmesan and black pepper tasted after being baked right into the bread, so I picked up a loaf to take home.

I cut off a small piece this morning and tried it alone - really good. The bread itself reminded me of sourdough, but with an overwhelming presence of cracked black pepper. I could easily see flecks of it throughout the bread, but the parmesan wasn't as easy to detect. It became a little more present after a couple of bites, but pepper was clearly the stronger presence with this bread.

I'm not sure how long Whole Foods will have this one, but it's worth checking out. Recommend.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 75

Pork Belly Bun: When the GF called this morning and said she wanted to take me to a surprise lunch, I knew I couldn't say no. She loves food as much as I do, so I knew it wouldn't be an ordinary choice. We ended up at Hector Santiago's Super Pan Latin Sandwich Shop, which we both have been wanting to try since they recently opened. I like Pura Vida (Santiago's other restaurant), so I knew this would be good. The menu is comprised mainly of Latin-style sandwiches and sides, but I saw what I wanted pretty quickly: the pork belly bun. Pork belly is one of my favorite things, but I noticed a few ingredients on the sandwich that I wasn't familiar with.

The menu listed the ingredients as "smoked pilon sugar pork belly, shaved cabbage, tamarind sauce, aji coban "sambal" on coconut steamed bun." I wasn't sure what sambal was, nor was I familiar with the construction of a coconut steamed bun. We placed our orders at the counter, and the server brought them a few minutes later. I took my first bite, and was immediately blown away by the perfection of the pork belly. Each bun was stuffed with a huge portion, and it was just as good as any pork belly I've had in any restaurant. Awesome.

Now, on to the unusual ingredients. The coconut steamed bun was completely different from any bread I've ever had, and it's springy texture was the perfect pairing for the pork. I didn't detect a coconut flavor immediately, but there was a definite hint of sweetness. The sambal provided some heat, and I later read that it's a spicy sauce usually served in Indian/Asian countries. This one was made with aji peppers, and it definitely resulted in a little burn after eating. I have a low tolerance for heat, so my forehead is sweating even as I write this.

One of the best sandwiches I've had in a long time, and it luckily featured some new ingredients for me. Check out Super Pan ASAP, you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 74

Red Banana: Today's post was a last minute effort to find something to blog about before I head to Macon for the night. I realized this afternoon that I didn't have any new foods stashed, so I quickly headed down to the Edgewood Kroger to peruse the produce section. I'm often lucky at finding new things there, so I hoped today would be successful. I got a little irritated while looking since almost nothing in the exotic section is labeled or priced, but I did find one thing I'd never had: red banana. How was this different from regular banana? Let's find out.
I tried as soon as I got home, but I'm sorry to say that there wasn't much to report. It tasted exactly like a normal banana, no difference to my palate at all. It was a little bit mushier, but I'm not sure if it was due to ripeness or something else. The Wikipedia entry on these says it has a "slight banana-raspberry flavor," but I couldn't detect that whatsoever.

Oh well. It was fine, since I like bananas, but nothing really new to me. I guess all my finds can't be sensational.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 73

Croque Madame: Today's post is another one of those foods where the individual ingredients may not be new to me, but the combination/preparation is. I had lunch today at the Buckhead Diner (, which is one of the mainstays of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. I've lived here for awhile and never been, so when the GF asked me to meet her for lunch there, I obliged. The menu was pretty basic, but I spied something that I'd heard of for years but never tried: a croque madame. I knew it was some sort of sandwich of French origin, but that's about it. As my readers should know by now, I'll try anything once. so I ordered.
The menu described it as "black forest ham, gruyere, swiss on brioche with mornay sauce and fried egg." I once heard Anthony Bourdain describe himself as an "egg slut," and that description suits me as well. I love anything with fried egg as an ingredient, so I was eager to find out what this sandwich was all about. I also wasn't exactly sure what mornay was, but figured it was some sort of cream sauce. The server brought my dish, and I was shocked at the portion size - it didn't come with a side, and it sure didn't need one. The ham was stuffed in between the grilled brioche, and the whole thing was topped with the creamy mornay sauce and a fried egg. Wow.

I figured it was best to just start eating this thing before I did any calorie counting, so I went to work with my knife and fork. It was actually really tasty, and the saltiness of the ham/bread was a nice contrast to the richness of the mornay sauce. The real pleasure came from the fried egg, which was a little overdone for my taste but still good. The best bites combined all the ingredients in a glorious, runny mess. Yum.

I finished the whole thing, but it was a gutbomb in the most extreme sense. You'll definitely want to do a few extra minutes on the treadmill after tackling one of these, but it's worth it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 72

Persimmon: Once again, I'm discovering that there are a lot of fruits that are brand new to me, even in conventional grocery stores. While getting some random essentials at Publix yesterday, I saw these persimmons in the produce section. I actually bought one of these a few weeks ago at the BHFM, but it spoiled before I had a chance to eat it. These looked nice and ripe, so I picked one up.
 I didn't have any clue as to what these were supposed to taste like, but the sticker on the fruit said to "eat like an apple." Hmm, ok. It seemed a lot more firm than an apple, so I cut off a slice and took a bite. It was definitely more firm, and the skin was noticeably thicker than an apple. The inside flesh reminded me of a butternut squash, but strangely didn't taste like fruit at all. There was a small amount of sweetness along with a faint tartness, but it honestly didn't taste like much. Maybe this one wasn't ripe enough? Based on appearance, I think this persimmon was the the "fuyu"or Japanese variety, so if anyone knows more about the best way to eat them, please let me know.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 71

Chipotle Gouda: Today's entry may not sound unusual compared to some of the other foods I've blogged about, but hey, I've got almost 300 more days of this project to complete. It's getting harder and harder to find new things, so I have to occasionally make foods bloggable that aren't as sensational. That being said, I was picking up some random stuff at Publix today when I saw this cheese in the deli section. I've wanted to start introducing cheeses to the blog, but they can be problematic due to the price. I don't relish the idea of spending $10 on a nice piece of imported cheese that I don't care for (or can't finish), so when I saw this sliceable cheese in the deli today, I got a few pieces to take home.
I've had plain gouda a million times, but I'd never seen this spicy chipotle version made by Boar's Head before. The guy behind the counter told me it had some heat to it, so I was looking forward to trying. I ate a slice on its own when I got home, and was pleasantly surprised. It had all of the creamy saltiness of normal gouda, but the kick from the chipotles was pretty strong in the finish. I could actually taste the pepper flavoring as well as the heat, which I didn't expect. Good stuff. It was really tasty by itself, but I'm going to try it on some sandwiches this week.

In case you're interested, I found it at the Ansley Mall Publix. Recommend.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 70

Borscht: I have to be honest - I wasn't excited about trying this dish tonight. I'd been on the road all weekend with my band, and when I come home tired and hungry, I want comfort food for dinner. Usually that translates into Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken, but I figured I'd change it up a bit this evening. I'd been wanting to try borscht for awhile now, and I found this pre-prepared jar of it at Your Dekalb Farmers Market last week. My original intention was to make it from scratch, but since the GF wasn't that interested in it, I didn't want to end up with a gallon of it on hand for me to finish. So, this Gold's brand would have to suffice for my trial run.

I read online that borscht can be served several different ways (hot/cold, with/without meat), but I decided to keep it traditional and eat it as is, with a little sour cream added. I also boiled a couple of small potatoes as suggested for a side, since the soup itself didn't have much going on by itself (the only ingredients were water, beets, sugar, salt, and garlic). I really like beets, so I didn't expect this to disappoint, and I was right. It was way better than I expected, and the borscht had a nice sweetness along with the beet flavor that I love. The sour cream added some creaminess, and I ended up dunking pieces of potato into the mix instead of eating them plain.

Good stuff. Now that I know I like it, I may attempt making it from scratch soon. If anyone has any suggestions for recipes, please let me know!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 69

Star Popeye Ramen Snack: It's been awhile since I blogged about an unusual snack for my readers, so I figured today would be good to return to one of those. I'm headed out of town for a gig this weekend, and sometimes I like to get my daily post out of the way before I leave - schedules can be unpredictable when I travel, and hotel wi-fi isn't always reliable. Anyway, I was looking through my reserves this morning for a pre-breakfast snack, and I saw this bag of stuff I bought at Super H a few weeks ago. This one initially made me laugh due to its cover art - why Popeye? Is he still popular overseas? And why wasn't this snack spinach-flavored? Let's see how this one turns out.

The bag listed the contents as "ramen snack with star shaped candy." Until recently, I never knew dried ramen noodles were used for snacking, but apparently they're good for more than just reheating in a microwave. I tried a small handful, but it didn't taste like much. The dried noodles were crunchy, but little flavoring was added to the mix. The ingredients listed nutmeg and cinnamon powder, but I couldn't taste much of either. The "star shaped candy" was actually tiny nuggets of crystallized sugar. If it weren't for these, this snack wouldn't have tasted like much at all. Oh well.

I'm always glad when I try something new, but this one didn't leave me much to report. Maybe next time.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 68

Lemon Lavender Popsicle: At first glance, I'm sure it seems like a popsicle of any kind wouldnt be that interesting or new to anyone. However, we in Atlanta are lucky to have a vendor close by that's offering up some exciting flavors. While me and the GF were out doing some errands today, she recommended a pit stop on the corner of North Ave. and N. Highland. For those of you in the know, this is where the King of Pops ( hangs out quite frequently. He's currently the only person I know of in town who's selling handmade popsicles crafted from unusual ingredients, and if you haven't tried, you should.
Today's KOP menu featured several interesting flavors (cucumber lime, chocolate sea salt, blackberry mojito), but I went for the lemon lavender. I've never had anything lavender flavored, so I was excited to see how it mixed with the fresh lemon flavoring in popsicle form. My first bite was tart and refreshing - the lemon was a bit sweet, but not overpowering like the flavors found in conventional popsicles. The lavender element was subtle, but gave a cool, flowery aftertaste. It was perfect for the gorgeous weather, and I could have easily eaten another one. I hope the King of Pops continues to churn out these treats - I highly recommend trying before the weather turns cold.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 67

Lamb Burger: I was extremely excited about dinner tonight. I usually don't get super excited about dining out, but I hadn't had a restaurant meal in 2 weeks. I decided to come off the sabbatical in style tonight at Craftbar in Buckhead. I've eaten there once (as well as upstairs at Craft once), and was eager to return. I've never had a bad meal there - the food/service is top notch.

Me and the GF perused the menu, but I knew what I wanted before we even sat down: the burger. I'd heard a lot of great things about it from several different sources, and I knew that there was no way their would disappoint. Of course I've had burgers before, so I wasn't planning on it being my blog entry for tonight. However, they also had a version made from ground lamb. Interesting. I don't have much experience with lamb, and I'd definitely never had a burger made from it. I decided to give it a try - how could it be bad?

Craftbar's lamb burger featured 2 juicy patties of ground lamb, topped with red pepper jelly and pecorino cheese. I took my first bite, and was blown away. The ground lamb was a little more savory than ground beef, but not that much different. The patties were cooked perfectly, and I was surprised when our server asked me how I wanted them done (medium for me). Most burger places I've been to lately don't have an option for doneness, so that was a nice touch. The red pepper jelly gave a nice sweetness to contrast the meat, and the pecorino added the right amount of salt. All of this goodness was served in between a homemade grilled bun that rivaled Holeman & Finch's, and one of the best bites I had was the bun soaked in a bit of the burger grease. Awesome.

I know this is a bold statement, but this was the best burger I've ever had, and I've had plenty. Who knew lamb could taste this good? We also shared some smoked chicken wings with white BBQ sauce (?) and a fuji apple tart with five-spice ice cream, which were both amazing.

If you've never been to Craftbar, go. Definitely one of the better meals I've had in awhile.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 66

Liverwurst: I've always heard liverwurst mentioned in various circles since I was a kid, but I've never really known what it was. Meat? Cheese? I wasn't really sure. It had been several years since I'd heard it mentioned anywhere, but the GF saw someone eating it on TV last week and told me it sounded like something I'd like. That was enough to rekindle my interest, so I set out to find some yesterday. I stopped by YDFM to look for some other items, but after swinging by the deli counter, I noticed that they had a version of liverwurst made by Boar's Head. Sold. I bought a quarter pound for less that $2 - if I didn't like it, no harm done.
I did a little research before trying, and I discovered that liverwurst is usually made from 10-20% pork liver (mainly to add liver flavor) as well as meat, fat, and various spices. The color was a little disconcerting, and I had flashbacks to the not-so-tasty potted meat I had last month. I hoped it would be better than that, and luckily, it was - much better, in fact. The texture was like bologna, but a little less molded and rigid - almost like a more solid pate. Interesting. I tried a piece by itself, and I was pleasantly surprised. Much better than the potted meat (anything's better than that), and it reminded me of a more savory/rich bologna. I put a couple of pieces on a baguette with some dijon mustard, and it made a really tasty sandwich. Not bad, and I'd definitely buy again.

Liverwurst is another great example of a food that may look and sound unappetizing, but it's really close to something lots of people already enjoy without questioning. If you're the least bit adventurous, give it a try.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 65

Chia Seed Muffin: I have to be honest - I usually stay away from anything that sounds as nutritious as a chia seed muffin. If you've read my past posts, you know I'm not even close to being a vegetarian. My diet is fairly healthy, but I don't follow any sort of rules. If I want it, I eat it, but in moderation. Anyway, while browsing for some dinner options at Your Dekalb Farmers Market today, I noticed these muffins in the fresh baked goods section. I've never had anything made from chia seeds (yes, the same ones that Chia Pets use), but these muffins looked interesting. The dessert counter sold them individually, so I grabbed one for a snack on the way out.

I unwrapped it in the car (I was obviously hungry), and I noticed that it was a lot heavier/denser than your standard banana or blueberry muffin. Upon tasting, I was really surprised at how good it was. It was a little sweet, but much less than I expected. The chia seeds were spread throughout the muffin, and they provided a nice crunch along with some walnuts. I also noticed some raisins, which added a little moisture. I'd gladly buy more of these, and I plan on doing so next time.

Apparently chia seeds have a lot of health benefits, so I felt like I did something good for myself today. Maybe healthy food isn't so bad after all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 64

Zuppa al Cioccolato: For the past week and a half, I've purposely stayed away from restaurants. I'd been doing a lot of eating out prior to my break, and I was starting to get burnt. I've always found that if I frequent restaurants too much within a small amount of time, everything starts tasting the same. The break has been good for me, and cooking at home has been refreshing. However, I was craving something sweet after dinner tonight, and when the GF called and said she was at Fritti, I decided to fall off the restaurant wagon and check out what desserts they had.
Fritti's menu doesn't have a huge dessert selection, but I noticed one that I couldn't resist trying: Zuppa al Cioccolato. The menu described it as "warm Belgian chocolate soup with croutons and hazelnut whipped cream". I was sold, so I gladly ordered. How could chocolate soup be bad? The server sat it down a few minutes later, and the smell coming off the bowl was amazing. The taste was even better - it was like eating spoonfuls of melted, creamy Nutella. The hazelnut whipped cream added a lighter texture, and there were a few whole hazelnuts floating on top with the croutons (which were chocolate flavored, of course). Wow. Definitely one of the best desserts I've had in a long time.

If you're ever at Fritti, save room for this one - you won't be let down.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 63

Unidentifiable Ukranian Snack: Today's post was another find from the Eastern European section of the BHFM. I've had it lying around for the last week, but I came home from a gig tonight starving and looking for a snack to hold me until dinner. I wish I could tell you what this product was called, but the only English writing on the bag was the ingredients (more on that later). I've found that a lot of the E. Euro items don't have any translations on the bag/box, but these looked interesting regardless.
From what little info I had, I gathered that these were some sort of dried bread crouton with flavoring added. There were several flavors available, but one ingredient on this package caught my eye: "cold boiled pork taste." Um...yum? Maybe? Let's find out. I opened the bag, and it was full of little dried sticks of dark rye bread. When I picture croutons, I always think of the standard fare you see on every salad bar, but these were different. As for the "cold boiled pork taste," there was definitely a hint of pork flavor, and the smell reminded me of a pork roast just out of the oven. Maybe it was because I was hungry, but I quickly devoured the whole bag. Each piece had a nice crunch, and just enough salt.

Next time you're in an Eastern European market, check these out if you see them. And, if anyone knows the proper English translation for these, please let me know.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 62

Venison "Hunter Sticks": My parents lived in TX for 11 years, but recently moved back to the southeast. I didn't get to check out too much indigenous TX cuisine on my visits, but my dad had a friend there that did a lot of hunting. He'd always come back from his trips with more deer meat than he could handle, so he'd get it processed and give a lot to his friends. My dad managed to score some good stuff, and that's where today's entry comes from. These are apparently called "hunter sticks," and they're made from venison that's been cured and dried, then processed into a small salami-type stick. It's like a Slim Jim, only without a million preservatives and fillers.
I've actually had these in the freezer for awhile but never tried, so I thawed a few yesterday.  Each "stick" was a little less than a foot long, so I cut one in half to see what was inside. It looked like the venison was mostly lean, but a little fat was mixed in, which is ok with me. These blew away any Slim Jim I've ever eaten, and the firm snap of the casing gave way to a salty interior that was really tasty. It was also much less greasy than store-bought jerky, which was a nice surprise.

I hope my dad can score me some more of these when they visit TX. If you ever see these, definitely try!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 61

DuriO Durian Chips: I can't seem to stay away from anything related to the elusive durian. After my truly bizarre attempt at a Durian milkshake last year, I was pretty sure I'd never try anything featuring durian as an ingredient again. However, for some strange reason, my curiosity hasn't gone away. If you don't know what durian is, do yourself a favor and look it up on Wikipedia. Let's just say that opinions are mixed about this oddity of a fruit.
While shopping at the BHFM last week, I noticed these dried durian chips on the way out of the store. I've been telling the drummer in my band about how bizarre and disgusting my durian milkshake was, so I picked these up in hopes of relating my experience to him. These were dried, much like banana or pineapple chips, so I figured they'd be a bit less harmful than the real thing. I also noticed that there was a little sugar added, which could only help the taste.

Upon trying, I was surprised at how palatable they were. I'm not saying they were good, but compared to the milkshake, they were delicious. These tasted almost like a less-sweet dried banana chip, with a bit of a sour aftertaste. I expected to get a whiff of that weird rancid garbage-like smell as soon as I opened the bag, but it was nowhere to be found. I gave a piece to my drummer, and he wasn't that impressed at all. After all my hype, he was expecting something disgusting, but it didn't happen with these.

If you're looking for an easy way to enter the world of durian, check these out. Try the real thing at your own risk.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 60

Herring Filet in Oil w/Korean Style Carrot & Corn: So today marks my official completion of 2 months for this project. I wasn't even sure if I'd make it this far, and it hasn't always been easy. However, all the positive feedback has definitely helped, and it's made the whole process a lot more fun. So if you've been following along, thank you! Only 10 months to go...try and stick with me if you can.

Today's post comes from a batch of great stuff I bought last week at the BHFM. I was on a serious Eastern European kick (still am, actually), and I spotted this interesting item in the cold section behind the deli. I couldn't figure out a brand name since most of the E. Euro stuff doesn't have any English writing on it, but it appeared to be herring packed in oil with some "Korean carrot" and corn. I don't know what Korean carrot is, or why it would be part of an E. Euro dish, but it looked good.
I finally decided to give it a try today, but was glad I decided to eat it at home - it was a real pain to open the plastic container, and some oil leaked out in the process. The herring filet was sliced thin and packed in sunflower oil with spices, and the "Korean carrot" and corn were arranged along the sides. There was also a blob of some kind of cream in the corner, and I assumed it was for putting on the herring. I'm not a fan of mixing dairy with fishy stuff, so I left that alone. I tried the carrot first, and it was tasty - like carrot salad, but with a strong vinegar flavor. The herring was tender and good, but I let a bit of the oil drip off before eating. The corn was standard - nothing new to report there. I really liked this little dish, and will definitely try the other varieties the BHFM have in stock.

FYI, I found out that "Korean Carrot" is a popular side dish in Russia and the Slavic republics. The name refers to Stalin's mass deportation of Koreans from the far eastern Soviet Union. Interesting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 59

Blood & Tongue Head Cheese: After looking at my last few days of posts, I decided today that it was time to shake things up a bit. I met a friend for coffee today over near Buford Highway, so I decided to swing by the BHFM afterwards to see if I could find anything out of the ordinary. I strolled past the Eastern European deli counter, since I'd noticed a lot of great looking meats/sausages there last week. And then, I saw it: blood & tongue head cheese. Awesome. If you've paid attention to my past postings, you know I love stuff like this, so I told the attendant to slice me off a quarter pound.
If you don't know what head cheese is, do yourself a favor and look it up online. Let's just say it isn't cheese. This one was comprised mainly of congealed blood (not sure if it was pork or beef) and thin slices of tongue. I also noticed some nice chunks of fat mixed in with the rest. I was really excited about trying, so I brought it straight home and tried a slice. Really tasty, believe it or not. Imagine a more savory piece of mortadella or bologna, with a lot more flavor than both of those. I know you're probably thinking that anything made with blood as a primary ingredient couldn't possibly be good, but this definitely was. If you put it on a sandwich, you wouldn't know the difference between this and bologna, texture-wise.

I've learned over the years that appearances and names can be deceiving when talking about food. Sure, blood and tongue head cheese sounds gnarly, but if you can get past that, you'll be glad you tried.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 58

Piroshki with Cabbage: After last week's dinner of belyashi from the New Odessa market, I was eager to try more eastern European savory baked goods. It's hard to beat their combo of flaky pastry and meat/vegetable fillings, and I have yet to try one I haven't liked. I was glad that I bought a couple extras last week - they reheat well in the oven. Today's lunch was the homemade piroshki with cabbage that I got from the BHFM. If this one was anything like the others, I was sure to enjoy.
After heating the piroshki in the oven for a bit, I cut it in half to examine the contents. Inside the flaky pastry was a filling of shredded cabbage, much like sauerkraut. Really tasty, and the cabbage filling was a nice contrast to the saltiness of the dough. It was really close in flavor/texture to the kreplach I ate a few weeks ago, and according to online sources, they're considered very similar. I still have yet to see the sweet fruit-filled versions of these, so that's next on my agenda. Considering how well these reheat, I'll definitely have to buy more on my next BHFM trip. Delicious.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 57

Fresh Date: Like I mentioned before, I've found a lot of new foods lately just by browsing the produce sections at various markets. The amount of fruits/vegetables I've never tried seems limitless, especially when I'm at a good farmer's market. On my last visit to the BHFM, I noticed these fresh dates in a bin near the front. I've had plenty of date flavored foods as well as dried versions, but never the real, unadulterated thing straight off the date tree. They were extremely inexpensive per pound, so I figured it couldn't hurt to try.

I've had these laying on my kitchen counter for a few days, since I read online that they're best consumed after the skin turns mostly brown. They seemed ripe enough today, so I grabbed one and took a bite.The thin skin gave way to a white flesh on the inside, and the texture was almost like a miniature apple. Interestingly, it didn't really have any flavor at all - almost none. I'm not sure if I ate it before it was sufficiently ripe, but it didn't taste like anything. The date had a small pit in the center, so I ate as much as I could around it before giving up. Maybe these aren't meant to be eaten by themselves, but I could be wrong.

From now on, I'll stick to the dried version until I find a variety of fresh date that's more tasty.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 56

Halva: On last week's visit to New Odessa, the Eastern European market, I discovered several interesting items that I'd never seen before. Tonight's post was definitely a surprise, considering that the GF told me it really wasn't that good. I trust her opinion, so I didn't expect to like it. However, I really enjoyed it, and can't wait to buy more.

For those of you who've never heard of it, Halva is a confectionary treat made from tahini (sesame paste) that's dried and crumbly. It apparently can also be made from numerous other ingredients, but this one was the tahini variety. It was also covered with a thin dark chocolate coating, but the GF said it's often served plain. I actually didn't know that this had the chocolate coating until I unwrapped it, but that's nothing to complain about.
I wasn't expecting much from halva, but I have to say I was really impressed. The texture was like a cross between a Butterfinger and malted milk ball - crunchy and nutty, and the chocolate coating added some richness to the tahini. I could have eaten quite a few more of these, but I unfortunately only bought one snack-size piece. On my next trip back to the market, I'll definitely be buying a full bag of these. Yum.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 55

Ho Tuk: Even though I made myself take a break from anything Asian this week, I spotted today's item on my last trip to the Buford Highway Farmers Market and couldn't resist trying. It was in the hot prepared foods section, back in the left corner of the massive store. I've bought plenty of great stuff from this area, but never gotten around to trying these. From what I've read, Ho Tuk is a Korean pancake-style pastry, usually filled with a mix of brown sugar, sesame seeds, peanuts and cinnamon.
Since I'd had it at home for a couple days, I decided to heat it up for a few minutes in the oven to keep it from getting soggy. Once it was hot, I cut it in half and tried, and it was really great. The brown sugar/sesame filling was a great pair with the thin dough of the pancake, and I eagerly devoured the whole thing pretty quickly. These would make a great breakfast or snack, especially with a cup of good coffee. I also learned that you can buy a packaged mix to make these at home, but that could be dangerous. Out of all the things I've tried recently, this was one of the best. Highly recommend.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 54

Mexican Guava: While browsing the produce section at the Buford Highway Farmer's Market this week, I noticed these Mexican guavas near the front. I recently posted about my first experience with guava, but I wasn't that impressed by it. Despite that, I was curious about the Mexican variety, and tossed one in my basket to try. They were fairly inexpensive by the pound, so what did I have to lose?

The first difference was obviously the size - these were much smaller than the guava I'd tried before, and I  could easily hold 3 or 4 of these in your palm. I took a small paring knife and split it down the middle, and it looked like a smaller version of the standard guava - whitish flesh, with a core of small seeds running down the middle. I cut a piece off one of the halves and tried it. The flavor reminded me a lot of the previous guava, only a little sweeter. I actually liked this one a lot better, since the first one I tried didn't taste like much. This one had that pear-like flesh that I love, but the skin had an almost grassy aftertaste. I'd definitely eat these again, but I'd advise anyone trying  to watch out for those seeds - they don't chew easily!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Day 53

Antelope Patty Melt: After checking out a reading at SCAD by one of my favorite authors, Chuck Klosterman, me and the GF headed over to the Westside location of 5 Seasons Brewery ( for a late dinner. I'd heard good things about their food and beer, so I was hoping to find something blog-worthy on the menu tonight. To my surprise, there were a few items that featured ingredients I'd never had before. One in particular caught my eye - the antelope patty melt. I love all things burger-related, so I was curious to try this version made with ground antelope instead of beef. I don't have much experience with wild game, so I couldn't resist.
Our server brought my food, and it didnt look anything like the patty melts I'd had before. Instead of griddled toast, the bun was made from grilled rye flatbread. On top of the sizable ground antelope patty, there was melted white cheddar cheese, bacon, and sauteed mushroom/onions. Yum. My first bite was awesome, but honestly didnt taste any different from ground beef. It was a little greasy, but not so much that it was bothersome. I was hoping for some sort of new flavor experience, but it didnt really deliver in that department. However, it was really good - one of the better burgers I've had in awhile. It also came with a side of smoked potato salad, which was also excellent.

I'm really glad I tried 5 Seasons. If you're in the market for upscale pub food and good beer, check it out.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 52

Belyashi: After a lengthy Asian food binge as of late, I figured it was time to change things up a bit today. I love Eastern European food, especially the smoked fish and pickled stuff, so I headed out to a couple different locations with the GF to find some. We hit a great little market off Clairmont called New Odessa (2793 Clairmont Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30329), where we picked up some savory pastries for dinner. They also had some really tasty imported candies, but tonight's post is all about the meat pies, also known as belyashi. It's basically a round pastry filled with ground beef, then pan fried and baked.
After getting the belyashi home, I decided to heat it in the oven instead of the microwave - I didn't want the dough to get soggy. Once it was hot, I cut into it and took a bite. Delicious. The pastry was nice and flaky, and the ground beef was almost like a well-seasoned hamburger patty. Surprisingly, it wasn't that greasy. The crust reminded me of a knish, another one of my favorite foods. My only regret is that I wish I'd bought a few more of these, but I'll definitely be making a trip back to New Odessa to sample more. In addition to  homemade foods, they also have a great packaged and cold section. Highly recommend.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 51

Topokki Snack: As you might have noticed, the past few days have been devoted to several different Asian snacks, all of which I picked up at the Super H Mart in Duluth last week. I normally haven't been stockpiling new foods that much, but my schedule was a bit unpredictable last week, so it was better to be safe than sorry. However, I did find quite a few interesting things on the last Super H run.

Tonight's entry is called "Topokki," which I assumed would be some sort of crunchy chip or cracker. The packaging described it as a "red pepper paste dipped snack," and I noticed that the ingredients (thankfully in English) included wheat, flour, and a "topokki paste" made from refined sugar and red pepper paste. Sweet and spicy at the same time? I'm in.

I opened the bag, and I swear it looked like someone had put some dried ziti with marinara in there. Strange. I took a bite, and it was a crunchy chip-like thing, covered with the slightly sticky red pepper paste. I first noticed the sweetness, but the pepper flavor had a nice little burn as I finished chewing. Pretty tasty. Once again, I'm pleasantly surprised by an Asian snack. They're often very different from what I expect, but that's bound to happen with this kind of cuisine. I'd try this again, for sure.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Day 50

Red Bean Jelly Candy: I'm not gonna lie - sometimes this project has been a pain in the ass. Like tonight, for example. I was hanging out over at the GF's house, and I realized that I hadn't yet made my daily blog entry. It was 10:00 PM. Oops. I didn't have any food with me, so I had to run home and eat something to get my post in under the wire. Blowing it off isn't part of the deal, and I guess I should have known there would be times when this wasn't easy.

Anyway, today's entry is another find from last week's trip to the Super H Mart in Duluth. Someone told me last week that I was choosing too much Asian food, but it's hard to ignore the Asian influence in the markets here. And, I've had some great finds in that area, so expect to see many more. This "candy" was in the snack aisle, and there wasn't much English writing on it other than the list of ingredients.

I opened the package, and the candy was encased in a foil wrapper. Once opened, it looked like a shiny, sticky tube of solid candy. It had a gelatinous texture on the outside, and it reminded me of the canned cranberries that are popular around the holidays (right as they're dumped out of the can, of course). I cut a piece off, and it definitely had the sweet red bean flavor that I've experienced a lot lately with Asian desserts. The texture was sticky, chewy and a bit grainy at the same time. While the main ingredients were red bean, brown sugar, and glutinous rice flour, I mainly tasted the sweetness. This one was OK, but nothing I'd care to repeat. My last visit to Super H was a bit rushed, so maybe next time I'll do a bit more intensive browsing.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day 49

Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit: This was another find from Your Dekalb Farmer's Market in Atlanta. I'd seen these off and on in markets, and when I noticed them at the same time as the dragonfruit I posted about previously, I decided to try. I didn't know anything about the eating method or what it would taste like, but that's exactly why I'm here - to find out.

I read online that the best way to eat it was just like the dragonfruit - split lengthwise down the middle, and scoop the pulp out with a spoon. Easy enough, but when I started handling it, some of the remnants of the thorns that were previously removed got stuck in my fingers. Ouch. It took some intensive tweezing to get them out, and I think one of them is still in there. Anyway, once that crisis was averted, I got down to the eating.

Once it was split open, the fruit revealed a juicy white center, filled with seeds. I scooped out a piece and took a bite, and it didn't taste at all like expected. Kind of like a honeydew melon, and not much fruit flavor to speak of. The extremely hard seeds kept me from chewing too much of it, since I was afraid of cracking a tooth. I got a little of the pulp down, but spit the rest in the trash can. The taste was OK, but not anything I'd care to repeat. With the little thorns and the tough seeds, this was a high maintenance attempt.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day 48

Matdongsan Peanuts Crunch Snack: I know it seems early in the day to be blogging about snacks, but I'm on the road this weekend, and I may not have interwebs access again today. I committed to doing this every day with no excuses, so here we go. Today's entry is another find from the Super H Mart in Duluth. I love their Asian snack aisle, and like yesterday's entry, I couldn't really identify this by looking at the package. "Peanuts Crunch Snack" didn't explain much, so I decided to try.
The picture on the bag made it look like some sort of cracker or pretzel, but I suspected my findings would be different. I tried one, and it tasted like a pretzel covered with a thin coating of peanut brittle, then sprinkled with sesame seeds. My suspicions were right, and they were actually pretty good. I let my drummer try one, and he said it tasted like a "candied pretzel." I always like hearing other opinions on what I'm eating, and his was fairly close to mine. If you like crunchy, peanutty treats, then definitely track these down at the Super H.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Day 47

"Korean Cracker": OK, so I know that description is sort of vague, but I'm not sure what else to call it. I found this oddity in the snack section of the Duluth Super H last week, and by now, you guys should know how I feel about things I can't identify. The only English description on the box simply said "Korean Cracker," so that's what we'll go with. The word "choco" was also strangely on the cover of the box. It looked like it was going to be some of cookie with a chocolate filling, which was interesting enough for me. Let's try it.
I opened the box, and there was a small plastic bag inside containing the snack. It consisted of these tiny little round cookie things that were about as big around as a nickel. They also each had some sort of cartoon character printed on them. I popped one in my mouth, and it was a lot like what I expected - a small, thin cookie shell filled with a little bit of semi-soft chocolate. Pretty good, and the cookie provided a nice crunch when combined with the "choco" filling. I ate the whole bag quickly, sort of like you would with M&M's or any other candy.

I've been really happy with all the Asian snacks I've found so far, so if you're looking for new snack-y treats, head up to Super H or any other Asian market - there are plenty in the ATL area.