Best Things We Ate, September 2016
Welcome back to the “Best Things We Ate” series!
As promised last month, the detox diet did not begin in September. There were just too many delicious events I couldn’t not take part in.
First of all, we took an epic trip to Northern California for my mom’s 60th birthday and while Yosemite isn’t exactly known for its food (the views more than make up for it!), we may have indulged quite a bit in Sonoma and San Francisco. Then it was my birthday, so obviously I had to eat all of the pasta at Boccalupo (oh my god, you guys, the chicken liver ravioli is just insane and almost made me forget that this is now my last year as a twentysomething). In between all the fun and traveling, I tried my best to keep the fridge stocked with healthy meals and lots of produce, but alas, September was not my month for getting back on track.
But October… this is the month. Y’all hold me accountable, alright? I’m ready to get back into a regular workout routine, back into eating healthy, real, whole foods, back on my anti-inflammatory diet, back to feeling great! Who’s with me?
Before we go though, let’s revisit some of the best things we ate in September, shall we?
Organic Popcorn + Chardonnay at Lynmar Estate
Okay so this picture isn’t actually of the popcorn because I was too busy shoveling it into my mouth to stop and take a photo, but this is my family at Lynmar Estate in Sonoma, easily one of the most beautiful wineries I’ve ever visited. Here’s a view from their tasting terrace:
I mean, come on! How gorgeous is this place? If you’re ever in Sonoma, I highly recommend stopping in at this stunning winery and sitting on their terrace with a flight of Chardonnay and several bowls of their organic popcorn, which comes with different flavorful toppings/sauces/salts based on the seasons. During our visit it was a citrusy chimichurri that I wouldn’t have though would work with popcorn, but was outrageously delicious (we literally ordered three more after trying one!). It paired so perfectly with their Chardonnays, which were incredibly well-balanced and crisp, refreshing, beautiful.
As expected, the rest of our meals in Sonoma were equally delicious, particularly our dinner at Peter Lowell’s, an intimate, cozy restaurant in Sebastopol that serves truly farm-to-table fare with an insane amount of flavor and freshness. Zazu Kitchen and Farm was another winner, and my favorite wines came from a biodynamic winery called Littorai that is a must-visit for anyone interested in natural, organic viticulture (or just ridiculously good wine!).
As I mentioned, the eats in Yosemite were decidedly less memorable (though scarfing down pizza in Half Dome Village after a 9-mile hike was pretty awesome!), but the views were the most breathtaking, postcard-worthy, how-many-Instagram-posts-are-too-many vistas I’ve ever seen. In fact, I just can’t help myself but to share a few of our favorites.
Here’s Mattie and I at the top of our hike… 21,000 steps, 5,600-foot elevation, 2 waterfalls and endless “oh my god” moments looking at the view. While this was one of my favorite activities in Yosemite, I have to tell you that if you do nothing else, you must do a sunrise hike to Sentinel Dome…just look at this!
Foie Gras Gyoza at Pabu (San Francisco)
I have to admit that almost all of the meals we ate during this trip to San Francisco were disappointing, particularly an incredibly overpriced, watered-down dinner at Slanted Door, which I was most excited to go to. Unfortunately, I found all the food to be incredibly bland and the service was horrendous.
On the bright side, we had one of my favorite meals of the year at Pabu, Michael Mina’s sushi and izakaya restaurant. When we used to live in D.C., we frequented their Baltimore location as often as we could. It’s actually where Matt and I fell in love with Japanese food and really learned what true sushi meant (thank you to chef Jonah Kim for sharing this world with us!). But the Baltimore location has since closed, we obviously moved to Atlanta, and so when I saw they had an SF location, we made a beeline for it as soon as we arrived in the city.
These foie gras gyoza (Japanese dumplings) were absolutely ridiculous. A rich, velvety filling lingers inside a delicate dumpling wrapper that is just swimming in the most addicting ponzu sauce. I may have tilted the bowl back when we were done for a few sips (don’t tell!). The happy spoons (a mind-blowing spoonful of oyster, uni and salmon roe) were delicious, as usual, as was the okonomiyaki. If you’re in the SF area, I can’t urge you enough to go eat at Pabu.
Cocktails at The Treasury (San Francisco)
Another awesome spot we found in SF was one we happened to walk past on the way to dinner one night–one look inside and we couldn’t not stop in for a drink. The cocktails at The Treasury are simply amazing–I went with STANDARD OIL (Rittenhouse rye whiskey, Dolin rouge vermouth, Drambuie, coffee bitters), while Matt opted for a more playful drink–they literally set this barrel on fire and then turn the glass upside down to infuse it with the smoky aroma. SO GOOD! They also happened to have some ridiculous pocorn (theirs was spiked with a seaweed salt), so I’m sensing a trend here…and I like it!
Every single bite at Venkman’s (Atlanta)
You guys, I cannot get enough of this place. Venkman’s is the live-music-venue-meets-chef-driven-restaurant that is just 2 blocks from our loft and I am in there weekly seeing what chef Nick Melvin is cooking up–it’s always something new, fresh, seasonal, inventive and, most of all, delicious. I actually reviewed this place for 17th South Magazine a few months ago, and have been addicted ever since. I’ve now gotten in the habit of just following chef Nick on Instagram, watching what he posts about new dishes and then heading that way as often as I can to try his latest concoction. This salmon crudo was so good–I love the way he plays with contrasting temperatures, textures and flavors, and most of his plates have an Asian lilt, so you know I’m all about that!
All the salads at Brezza Cucina (Atlanta)
Now that we live walking distance to Ponce City Market, I find myself there wayyyy too often. But in the best way–how lucky am I to live so close to one of the hottest spots in Atlanta? I’ve found a few of the restaurants to be a bit hit or miss, but Brezza Cucina never disappoints. While their pizza is fantastic (go for the Soppressata Picante with Oregano, Chilis and Pickled Red Onion), their salads are my go-to choices. They’re super fresh and always chockfull of seasonal produce. Matt’s obsessed with their kale salad, but my favorite is their Chopped Salad, with gorgonzola, bacon and tons of seasonal vegetables. We recently stopped in before going to see Kaleo perform and split the chopped salad and their octopus dish. Whoa!! You guys, this is what octopus should taste like. Not only was it tender and perfectly crispy on the outside, but the flavor combinations were absolute perfection: Potato, Salame, Cherry Peppers, Capers, Aioli, fresh herbs. This hit all the right notes!
Roman Cauliflower at Boccalupo (Atlanta)
One of our favorite restaurants in Atlanta is Boccalupo, so obviously Mattie took me there for my birthday last week. While handmade pasta reigns supreme here, every time I go, I always order their roman fried cauliflower. It’s laced with lemons, capers, mint and chiles and it’s one of those dishes that with every bite, you find yourself audibly moaning with glee and wondering how they could make plain old cauliflower, a fairly bland veggie if we’re being honest, taste so damn good. You can actually find the recipe for this dish in my cookbook, Atlanta Chef’s Table. If you want a signed copy, let me know and I’d be happy to mail you one (she shamelessly suggests while reminding you that local cookbooks make for awesome gifts and the holidays are just a few months away….)
Root + Revel Recipes
And don’t forget about the amazing dishes we ate here on Root + Revel, like these Easy Roasted Veggies with Pesto. Start your morning off right with this Acai Turmeric Smoothie. Or whip up my favorite Southeast Asian dinner with these Thai-style sauteed greens with coconut milk and this Thai grilled chicken.
WHAT WAS THE BEST THING YOU ATE IN SEPTEMBER?
Share your favorite dishes in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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