Farm Fresh at Farm 255

“Excuse me waiter, there’s an animal in my salad.”

This was probably the best line I’ve heard in a while, and it was said by a friend to our server while eating a salad at Farm 255.

But more on that later.

Since last year, I’ve always wanted to try Farm 255. The Athens restaurant specializes in farm-to-table cuisine, with all of its produce, meats, and dairies coming straight from local farms. Sure it was out of my budget (fresh slaughtered cow ain’t cheap), and I know my palette isn’t sophisticated enough to tell the difference between local beef and Wal-Mart beef; but it was on my Athens bucket list.

And darn it, if I wasn’t going to finish it.

The inside decor of the restaurant looked like an updated farm-house interior. The scene was rustic, yet inviting and I was eager to try the Farm Burger with grass-fed beef, cheddar, shallot aioli, lettuce, pickled cucumbers and  chicken liver mousse.

The burger itself was good, not the best I’ve ever had (hello, Clocked!) but not the worst. In fact, something about it was almost too rich (blame it on the chicken liver mousse?) and too fresh to eat.

Yes, I realize how wrong all of this sounds. But seriously after years of dining on Steak and Shake, my taste buds just aren’t accustomed to day-old slaughtered cow.

Give me a frozen patty any day.

Meanwhile on the other end of the table my friend discovered a tiny meal worm  slithering away in her salad.

Calling our server over, she said the above quoted line…verbatim.

I almost choked on my chicken liver mousse.

The server was apologetic, and said that the lettuce was tilled this morning, and must have not been rinsed off  properly.

“This happens a lot,” she also added.

Oh boy, this wasn’t Fresh Express we were eating.

Surprisingly, we all had a good laugh about it at the table.

I don’t think I’ll be back at Farm 255 for a while. For one, I can barely afford it, and two, I’ll wait until my taste buds can mature properly – less Skippy peanut butter, more duck pate.

Yeah, like that will ever happen.

Farm 255

255 West Washington Street  Athens, GA 30601

(706) 549-4660

When Life Hands you Lemons…Make Lemon Bars!

I love lemons.

This factoid is no secret to close friends, relatives and acquaintances.

Lemons make me smile. How can they not? They scream summer, which is my favorite season.

So naturally, I had to make lemons bars.

I’ve made them before, but these lemons bars might be the best I’ve made yet.

The tangier the better, and the lemon filling (or curd) was rich, sweet and tangy.

I can’t receive all the credit.

No, no, no….

That should go to Ina Garten from Food Network’s “The Barefoot Contessa.”

I think I’m in love with this woman.

She has a beautiful house in the Hamptons, a KitchenAid, a husband who only comes home on the weekends, and a pantry full of “good bread,”  “good olive oil” and “good chocolate” among other “good things.”

In other words, I want to be like her when I grow up.

But until then, I’ll just settle for her lemon bars.

Lemon Bars

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

Makes about 15 squares

Shortbread Crust

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup  sugar

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon  salt

Filling

6 large eggs at room temperature

3 cups  sugar

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until incorporated with an electric mixer. Next, gradually add in the flour, along with the salt, and mix gently  until the dough forms. The dough will be slightly sticky. With floured hands, place the dough into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and spread out with hands, making sure the pan is covered evenly with the dough, building up to a 1/2 inch border on all sides. Chill for 30 minutes.  Then bake for 15-20 minutes until the crust is lightly browned.

For the filling, whisk together eggs, lemon juice, sugar, and zest. Gently add in the flour, and whisk until incorporated. Pour over the crust, and bake for 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and ENJOY!

Easter at Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles

I really miss the Easter’s of my youth – dying eggs, Easter egg hunts and Easter baskets.

Wait, what am I saying?

I hid eggs for my brother for the fun of it and received a mini easter basket (okay, it was two packs of gummy bears and a year supply of gum) from my mom.

See, I’m still a kid at heart.

One thing that I really love about Easter though, is Easter brunch. This Easter I went to Gladys Knights Chicken and Waffles in Midtown Atlanta to feast on butter, lard, sugar and salt.

It was delicious!

Gladys Knights Chicken & Waffles is famous for their….wait for it…Chicken and Waffles. What I really love about the restaurant is their macaroni and cheese (yes, better than mine), cornbread that tastes like yellow cake (cornbread purists beware), yams doused in rum, brown sugar and butter, and their peach cobbler.

My oh my oh my.

Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles

Peachtree 529 Peachtree St

 Atlanta, GA 30308

Phone 404-874-9393

Smothered chicken, squash, and mac' and cheese

Food Carts, Meet Athens, Athens, Meet Food Carts: The Athens Food Cart Festival

Well it was about time!

If one could only imagine the nights I’ve had ‘tossing and turning’  and dreaming of Athens becoming a food cart destination, à la Portland and New York City, only to wake and realize that instead of food carts and trucks, we’d be getting a Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and a downtown Waffle House.

Welcome to Athens!

But actually, this really hasn’t kept me up at night – what has is my job search and boy(s) that don’t text back, however I was ecstatic to learn a couple of weeks ago, that food trucks and carts (many from the Atlanta-area) would be coming to Athens for the Athens Food Cart Festival held this past Saturday.

Students from UGA’s College of Environment and Design hosted this first-ever festival, with the idea stemming back from a graduate course in Spring 2011. According to the festival’s blog, “the street food festival is designed to raise awareness of the many benefits of mobile food vending for the Athens community.”

Vendors such as La Fonda Dawgs (a UGA campus staple), Farm Cart (Athens) King of Pops (gourmet freeze pops), Nacho Mama’s Taqueria, Honeysuckle Gelato, Nana G’s Chik-n-Waffles and Yoli’s Street Food (Cuban) were at the festival, just to name a few.

My time at the festival was brief do to another obligation that same day, however I managed to go to La Fonda Dawgs (one of the few vendors with a reasonable line) and finally try something I have wanted to taste since freshman year: the BBQ chicken sandwich. Tender grilled chicken with a tangy, sweet sauce, and a steal for $4- it was worth it.

Of course  I should have gone to an Atlanta vendor and try something out of reach in my day-to-day life, but this was one last thing to cross off my Athens bucket list.

One to-do crossed off, 99 more to go.

Let’s do this.

Honeysuckle Gelato: Flavors include Bourbon Pecan, Moon Pie,and Snacks on a Plane (biscoff, peanuts & pretzels)

Yoli's Street Food

Pressed for Time Paninis

Rice and Beans in Miami: Puerto Sagua

What spring break trip to Miami is complete without trying authentic Cuban food?

Not mine.

In the midst of getting sunburned, rained on and walking around in ridiculously high stilettos to fit in with the Miami crowd, I was determined to have an authentic Cuban meal in Miami.

I deserved it, darn it.

I went to the Cuban restaurant Puerto Sagua last spring break, and tried their Cuban sandwich (shaved pork, ham, mustard and pickles on Cuban bread) which was delicious. But after trying Papi’s Cuban Grill in Atlanta, I wanted more!

As I saddled my weary friends from the beach and into the restaurant, I felt at peace.

I had only been BEGGING them to go with me since day one (this was day four).

Puerto Sagua is a popular dining destination for tourists who want a bit of authenticity to their Miami trip. It’s right on South Beach and the prices are relatively cheap.

I had the pollo asado (roast chicken) with black beans, yellow rice and maduros (sweet plantains). The restaurant gives out large portions, and each meal comes with Cuban bread. Everything tasted great (especially the beans and maduros) and I was well satisfied after.

The motto for Spring Break ’12 was ‘what happens in Miami, stays in Miami.’ But in this case, I can’t keep a secret.

 

Puerto Sagua

700 Collins Avenue  Miami Beach, FL 33139

(305) 673-1115

A Night on the Town at FLIP Burger in Atlanta

My mom decided to be adventurous two weekends ago and try something new.

She decided to take us out to eat in Atlanta.

This was a  big first for her.

Seriously.

Normally she restricts our eating-out establishments to O’Charleys, La Parilla and Olive Garden.

 I do love my chains, but there is only so much unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks I can eat.

Therefore, one weekend when the stars were aligned, I somehow convinced my mom to take us to FLIP burger in Atlanta.

FLIP burger is a self-proclaimed “burger boutique” that specializes in creative burger meats and toppings, and essentially redefines what one thinks of a hamburger. The menu offers shrimp, chorizo, falafel and lamb burgers among the usual turkey and beef patties. FLIP is also known for their unusual milkshake offerings, including their Krispy Kreme and  nutella and burnt marshmallow milkshakes.

I ordered the turkey burger with Monterey cheese, avocado, alfalfa sprouts and pomegranate ketchup. I also ordered  a side of vodka battered onion rings with a serving of beer mustard on the side. Obviously, I was looking for a way to let loose that night with my mom and little brother.

Not.

My mom and brother ordered the traditional cheeseburgers, and added a Krispy Kreme milkshake on the side, thick with glazed donut chunks.

The Do’s: Amazing onion rings. Did I get tipsy off of them? Hah, that would have been an interesting night.  The beef cheeseburgers were also good.

The Don’ts: My turkey burger was just so-so. I ordered it because of the toppings, however I realized that I am a beef girl through and through. Not FLIP burgers fault, I was just expecting a bigger flavor than what I got.

And with my visit to FLIP burger, came my demise as a vegetarian.

Where’s the beef?

***Pictures are really dark, due to me still not knowing how to work my iPhone, and the “sexy” mood lighting of the restaurant.***

Flip Burger

1587 Howell Mill Road

Atlanta, GA

404-352-3547

Strawberry Pancakes and Cream at The Last Resort

I was so adamant this Sunday on trying something savory for brunch.

I was determined not to have my sweet tooth get the best of me, and to order something my 11-year old brother would probably not enjoy.

I’m 20-something years old, and I should be able to eat grown-up food like eggs Benedict and roasted vegetable frittatas with fontina and goat cheeses.

Alas, I failed this mission.

But who can resist pancakes with a strawberry and lemon compote – the special of the day?

Not this girl!

The pancakes, which were good on their own, came with a large serving of whole strawberries and syrup.  Although a little on the tart side, the dish balanced out with the addition of maple syrup and whipped cream.

Oh Gawd, I love real whipped cream.

Don’t even get me started on Cool Whip.

Friends had the Ranchero Omlette with black beans, texas caviar (pico de gallo), Monterey jack cheese, salsa fresca and cilantro crema,served with a jalapeno scone, and the Atlanticville Pasta made with salmon, shrimp, and greens in a Dijon cream sauce.

Maybe next time I’ll order the eggs.

Nahhh….

 

The Last Resort Grill

184 West Clayton St.

Athens, GA

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna Roll-ups

I’ve “unofficially” become a vegetarian.

And I don’t like it.

Honestly though, I’m too lazy to defrost a chicken breast.

Actually, I just forget.

I’ll just blame it on my Comm Law class.

Yeah, that’s it.

I love lasagna, see “Roomie Night Lasagna” and this time, I just didn’t feel like spending $4.00 on ground beef ( I know, terrible) and defrosting it the night before. Therefore, I decided to make a quicker lasagna using only spinach, ricotta cheese, marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.

I didn’t even miss the meat. Spinach has iron right?

PETA you love me.

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna Roll-ups

8 pre-cooked lasagna noodles

A container of ricotta cheese (get the smaller tub)

2 1/2 cups of an Italian Cheese blend (mozzarella and parmesan)

1 jar of marinara sauce or a tomato sauce of your choice

One 14 ounce bag of frozen spinach

Garlic powder, salt, and pepper

Mix all of the ricotta cheese and 1 cup of the Italian cheese blend in a small bowl. Season liberally with salt, pepper and garlic powder to suit your taste.

Boil or microwave the spinach according to package directions. After cooking, drain the spinach, making sure all liquid is taken out. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Pour  1 cup of marinara sauce in a baking dish so the noodles won’t stick. Taking one noodle, spread about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture on it, covering all of the noodle. Next, place about the same amount of spinach on top of the ricotta cheese. Gently roll the noodle and place into the baking dish. After all noodles have been filled and rolled, pour the remaining marinara sauce on top of the noodles, and top with 1 cup of the cheese blend.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Enjoy!

On a Cold Sunday at Five Star Day Cafe…

…four friends trampled through drizzling rain, frigid weather and sketchy bystanders lurking on the street corners of downtown Athens, all in the name of food.

It was Sunday after all, and for my three friends who are on the meal plan,( I don’t judge), Sunday night means no open dining halls and sometimes meals of dry cereal and ramen noodles.

The rough life of a college student…in a nutshell.

Alas, Five Star Day Cafe, a local restaurant serving “soul food,” was on the top of our list. The menu first and foremost appealed to me with its offerings of comfort foods, such as banana pudding, macaroni and cheese, fried green tomatoes and BBQ.  Plus the general kitsch (in a good way!) of the restaurant, including its decor inside and outside screams Athens.

At the restaurant I ordered the Carolina BBQ pulled pork sandwich topped with slaw. It was delicious, and honestly one of the best BBQ items I have had in a while. If you like sauce, and lots of it, this sandwich for you. The cole slaw was great too, as was the corn muffin served alongside. As  a side dish, I ordered macaroni and cheese.

And this is where things got complicated.

I will eat just about any type of macaroni and cheese, except for Easy Mac (blasphemy!).

Five Star’s mac and cheese was less than appealing to me. The mac was dry and lacked in flavor, cheese and otherwise.

Even though I like Velveeta, I still have decent taste buds otherwise.

So while Five Star Day Cafe certainly has the potential (seriously, go get that pulled pork sandwich), this poor girl trudged back to her car, in the rain, still searching for her holy grail macaroni and cheese.

Are you out there?

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Burger with a side of cheese grits

Fried Green Tomatoes with a black-eyed pea salsa

Five Star Day Cafe 

229 East Broad Street

Athens, GA

(706) 543-8552

The Ultimate Comfort Food: Three-Cheese Grilled Cheese at Melt Shop in NYC

This was a good one.

So good, that I walked 10 New York City blocks, took one subway train and endured countless and countless of stairs to get to this outdoor restuarant stand.

Did I mention I was rolling a suitcase weighing the size of a 12 year old kid with me?

If you were in Midtown East on February 14, and saw a girl lugging this atrocity up a flight of stairs, muttering obscenties to herself, than that my friend was me.

Please don’t judge.

The Three Cheese Melt at the Melt Shop was well worth it. Made with goat cheese, gruyere and fontina, with roasted tomatoes on sourdough bread, it was divine!

It didn’t matter that I could feel the butter from the bread building a wall of plaque in my arteries, or the cheese going directly to my thighs. After all, I had already done enough exercise for the whole week  just trying to get to the place.

I further upped the calorie count by ordering a side of tator tots with their special Melt sauce. I’d compare it to Raising Cane’s sauce, but that may be an insult to Melt Shop. More Melt sauce please.

But don’t take my word on this foodie adventure, take a look at THIS  (Click it!) video  from OMG Foodie.

Melt Shop

601 Lexington Ave
(between 52nd St & 53rd St)
New York, NY 10022

(212) 759-6358

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