Food Guy goes to American Foods and Beverage

My friend, we will call him “Food Guy,” loves food. He loves it in a spiritual, ecstatic way.  Great restaurants are his church.   He wants to experience all the exceptional foods Atlanta has to offer, trying everything from hole-in-the-wall burger joints to the fancy foodie Buckhead bistros.

His girlfriend is a vegetarian, and six days a week so is he.  On either Saturday or Sunday of each week he has what he calls an “invisible” day.  It is invisible in that his girlfriend does not see him eat meat. Of course she knows he does it, but she doesn’t go with him on these food adventures. He can’t go to a restaurant alone of course — he would look a bit crazy ordering all the things he wants to try, which is how I got the job of food buddy.  I go with him, as an extra body across the table, a blow up doll so you can use the carpool lane.  I don’t order my own food; sometimes I don’t even look at the menu.  I am just there to try all the foods he buys.

This works well for me, because as a struggling writer I don’t have the funds to go to all these places on my own. As such, I realized I might as well write about all the places we go.  That makes it more like a real job.

Sunday we went to “American Foods and Beverage” at 250 Buckhead Ave.  First of all, I want to talk about the name.  Ok, it is descriptive, kudos. They are a place that provides American foods and beverages. So do half of the restaurants in Atlanta.   I feel like they should have tried a bit harder with the name.  This is the second location of this restaurant, the original being in Fort Worth, Texas.  Maybe the name is cute there with all the Mexican and Tex-Mex places, I don’t know. However, it is not a cute name here.

The location is overly fancy.  When Food Guy said we were going to a place with house-cured bacon and sandwiches I had an image in my mind.  This was not it.  I felt underdressed. I felt really underdressed when the server informed us that they had “complimentary water service, flat or sparkling,” like that was a big deal.  I have Atlanta tap water at my house and a SodaStream – you are not doing me any favors here.  This is not the first place I have been to that has done this, but they were the most proud of it.   Dear restaurant owners, pointing out complimentary water is dumb, please stop.  If someone is so wealthy that they are eating in Buckhead then odds are if you charged something for water they might not even notice.  But telling them “Ohh, free water” seems to imply that this should make a difference.  If the cost of water was the financial tipping point of eating there, then a person could go someplace else, like maybe Waffle House, which by the way has a complimentary water service and cherry syrup for their Coke.

We only had one beverage. Food Guy’s friend, L, got the Bloody Maria. It’s a bloody Mary except with tequila instead of vodka.  I am not a fan of Bloody Marys in general, but this was pretty good.  I would share one, but not want one of my own.

Time to tell you about the food.  My friend ordered for both him and me.  L ordered as well.  Between us we had:

  • House made bacon BLT: Thick cut, in-house smoked and cured bacon, with a runny egg, lettuce and tomato. This was good.  The bacon was a little thick for my tastes, but Food Guy and L loved it.  I think the egg was a nice addition. I would eat this again.  This came with fries, which were average thick-cut fries.  The bacon is their “thing,” the reason we were there in the first place.  I was not disappointed.
  • Corned Short Rib Reuben: This sandwich wins. Corned short rib has all the delicious flavor of corned beef, but it is so much better.  Corned beef is often chewy and fatty, but short rib is a much better cut. It was perfectly cooked with perfect texture.  Also instead of sauerkraut they used shredded braised Brussels sprouts, and the sauce was very good.  I could eat this sandwich every day.   It was served with fresh made potato chips, which were meh.  Not enough salt for me and a little too greasy.
  • Scotch eggs: The gimmick here was they were made with chorizo instead of sausage. The great thing about them was they were nicely soft-boiled.  Other than that, they were just like you would expect scotch eggs to be, but a little spicier.  Not bad, but not special.
  • Steak tartar: Not the best I have ever had (I say all fucking fancy, like this is not the third time I have had it in my life), but not bad.  The meat was not great enough to be the star of the show, and the other players were boring.  Better beef and less presentation would be good.
  • Fried chicken, with rosemary biscuits: Sorry guys, you are seriously going to have to up your game on this one. You are in Georgia; we know what good fried chicken tastes like. This was not it.  It was OK, I ate it.  But I wouldn’t take it to a family reunion, if you know what I’m saying.  I would feel ashamed taking this fried chicken to your house after your grandma died.  The portion was too small to make it at all worth the price.  The biscuits and apple butter were very good, however, perhaps they can be ordered by themselves.
  • A side of the special bacon: This was thinner cut and longer-cooked than that in the sandwich. It was my kind of bacon.  I have nothing bad to say about this bacon.  Good job, person who made the bacon.
  • Devil’s Food Cake: Good cake, maybe better than average, but not the best. Then again my mother was an award-winning southern baker, so maybe I just can’t be impressed by a slice of cake. The ice cream that came with it was quite good.

The deal that gets me wonderful free food is that Food Guy orders it all.  Had I been ordering myself, I would have tried the rigatoni with cheddar or ricotta pancakes, or was it French toast?  I would check the menu, but it seems that they must have spent too much money on the location and fanciness, because the only website I can find is for the location in Texas. But here is their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/AmericanFoodBevAtlanta

Speaking of fancy, all the food was a little on the messy, drippy, or greasy side, which is great, but fuck you for making me feel underdressedwith your fancy tables, water service and Buckheadness.  If I had dressed up I might have ruined some nice clothes.  I guess rich people can just get their clothes all greasy and go buy more clothes.  Average people like me don’t do that. They should either make an effort to be a bit more casual or a bit less moist.

I would eat here again and try other things if Food Guy or anyone else was paying.  I would only pay my own money for the Short Rib Reuben or a side of biscuits and crispy bacon.

Homestead Food 4

We made this meal on Sunday.   I am a little late blogging about it because I have been super busy with gardening and animal projects. But I figured I should post about this one before I make the next one.

Ingredients:

  • Roasting chicken from GrassRoots Farms (GA, one bought item)
  • Olive oil (Exempt)
  • Smoked Salt (Exempt, Gift from Lori)
  • Bee Balm (Garden)
  • Onion (Garden)
  • Oregano (Garden)
  • Carrots (Garden)
  • Chard (Garden)
  • Blueberry Honey (Exempt, Local)
  • Radishes (Garden)
  • Lettuce (Garden)
  • Butter (Exempt)
  • Strawberries (Garden)

…This meal started with a trip to the farme’rs market on Saturday.  We decided we wanted to have some local meat in this meal and the Decatur Farmer’s market (http://decaturfarmersmarket.com/wordpress/) is a good place to find lots of local foods.   We got several things other than what is in this meal, like goat cheese, milk, and a sunchoke.   We also had delicious falafels for lunch there.   We should go more often.

The chicken was prepared by rubbing it with a mushed up mixture of olive oil, bee balm, oregano and smoked salt and filling the cavity with an onion.  Bee balm is a very good herb that is seldom used in cooking anymore.  The Native Americans used it to flavor meats like poultry and venison, and for good reason.  The flavor is great on meats.  It is a very easy to grow plant,  a good companion to tomatoes, brings all the bees to your yard and has interesting looking flowers.

There is still no end in sight to the chard, but the garden has offered up a few new foods, as you can see – radishes and strawberries.   With the lettuce, radishes, and carrots we made a simple salad.  The chard was sauteed in butter and over cooked.  We finished the meal with a few tart strawberries drizzled in blueberry honey. I picked the strawberries a little early because I wanted them so bad, and even not quite ripe they were delicious and added so much to the meal.   In the next meal there should be lots more, and then pretty soon blackberries.   I wish I had a tree that grew shortcakes!

Homestead Food 3

So I said I was going to do this every Friday or Sunday.   You might notice that today is Tuesday.   Friday it got put off because a friend wanted to come, but the friend ended up not able to come.  It got put off on Sunday because I just did not want to do it.  And that is a good thing in a way.   The goal of this is to make me sort of understand what it would be like if this was my only food supply, and on Sunday I got a bit of an idea about that.  I ended up having a salad from the garden that day but instead of a full garden/local/community meal I had steak and mashed potatoes.  Because I wanted it and because it is so easy to go to the store and get anything I want.   Had the food in my yard been the only food supply I would have been very unhappy.

There is so little to eat right now, so very little variation.  On Sunday when I put it off I got this crazy idea in my head of doing it Monday and it would be better.  Then on Monday I went out for tacos, about a mile away.  So today I said enough stalling.

The Ingredients:

Omelette:

  • Eggs (Gift from Erik)
  • Salt (Gift from Lori)
  • Chard (Garden)
  • Oil (Exempt)
  • Sauteed Onion (Garden)

Grits:

  • Local Grits (Farmer’s Market, single bought item)
  • Water (Tap)
  • Salt (Gift from Lori)
  • Butter (Exempt)

Peach Chutney (Exempt, canned by us)

  • Local Peaches (picked and processed by us)
  • Raisins
  • Some other fruits (I don’t remember what)
  • A ridiculous amount of vinegar

I did not want eggs and chard again. Temper Tantrum Did Not Want.  This is very similar to what we had last week, but switched around a bit.  When I look out in the garden there are unripe strawberries, little tomato plants, small peaches, tiny blackberries, and 2-inch high corn.  I want those things to be ready and I want to eat them.  I want foods that I like better, like squash, green beans, and black eyed peas.  It is also a little annoying that I can’t just throw in some French bread or beef broth whenever I want.   I have some pretty strong food insecurity issues because of a very poor childhood, and having to eat only what I have is really making me have to deal with those issues.

Knowing I was going to have to eat eggs and chard today has made me so motivated to work harder.  I know I could not do anything about the dinner tonight, but I am sure going to try to have a better one this weekend or next week.  The last few days I have done lots of planting, weeding, and transplanting.

I am also thinking about community more.  I am actually thinking about people I want to invite to dinner;  not just Erik, who did not join us tonight because he fears grits.    I am thinking about joining some meetup groups and actually going to their meetings.  I am thinking about how to be nice to the friends and family I do have so they will please bring me food.  I am thinking about how I can help the people around me survive, and how they can help me survive.  Yes I know that sounds very dramatic.  I am a rather dramatic person.

Another upside to my annoyance at today’s dinner is that I know that my pleasure with each new food as it becomes ready to eat will be even greater than normal.  My mouth is watering thinking about how amazing some fresh strawberries would be right now.  I could deal with more eggs and chard if I could just have a bowl of berries to go with it.

Now with all of that drama out of the way, the meal was actually pretty good.   The egg part of the omelette was delicious and the chard was OK at the beginning.  By the end the chard tasted a bit too bitter to me, and I did not want to keep taking bites of it.  The grits tasted like grits and butter, so there is nothing wrong with that.  The peach chutney was better than I remember it being.  The peach flavor was very bright and fresh; the pepper was just right, giving only a hint of spice, and the vinegar was not quite as overpowering as I remembered it.  The chutney matched well with the omelette.

Homesteading Food Challenge 2

This past Friday we did our second homesteading/community meal.   Our friend Erik joined us.  Having a guest made it more fun and also gave use an extra ingredients- eggs.  Erik keeps four chickens, so he brought lots of eggs.  Have so many eggs a quiche seemed like the logical choice for dinner.

The Ingredients:

Salad with herb olive oil dressing:

  • Mixed Lettuce (garden),
  • Carrots (garden)
  • Herbs (garden)
  • Olive Oil (Exempt)

Quiche:

Pie Crust:

  • Flour (single store bought ingredient)
  • butter (exempt)
  • water (tap)
  • salt (exempt)

Filling:

  • Eggs (Gift from Erik)
  • Swiss Chard (garden)
  • Onion (garden)
  • Broccoli (garden)
Drink:
  • Water (Tap)
  • Orange Mint (Garden)
Dessert-Pie crust baked with honey:
  • Pie crust (see above)
  • Honey (Gift, from step father)
  • Strawberry Preserves (Local, picked and processed by us)

We all had a lovely evening planning, cooking and eating our meal.  We listening to music, talked about our week and our thoughts.   We also talking about things we wanted to plant, future meals and friends to invite.   Not sure what we are going to eat next week, but I am sure it will be just as much fun to harvest and make.

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Food Challenge 1

We made our first dinner tonight for our food challenge.  See the last post for details.

These are all the ingredients:

 Salad – three type of lettuce (garden), carrots (garden), Hawaiian salt (gift -Lori)

Main dish – cowpeas (garden, preserved), onion (garden), oregano (garden), thyme (garden), butter (oil exemption), smoked salt (gift -Lori)

Dessert – organic Greek yogurt (single store- bought item exemption), strawberry jam (local, canned by us), blueberry peach syrup (local, canned by us)

Drink – mint (garden), honey (exemption)

We both had fun with it.  We ate at the table and talked instead of watching TV, which was novel. The lettuce was crunchy. The carrots, though small, were super sweet and delicious. Mint tea was refreshing.   The beans were surprisingly good, seeing that they are over a year old, and the salt gave them a hint of smokiness which gave the illusion of meat flavor.  You can’t go wrong with strawberry preserves and Greek yogurt.

Dried beans are amazing. This year we are going to try to put away a lot more beans.  And lots of other things as well.  I am regretting not canning any tomatoes this past year. It would be nice to get a pressure cooker and can things other than jam, tomatoes or pickles.

It was odd to have such a simple meal.  Our dinners are pretty complex on average, with lots of ingredients and several different dishes cooking at once. It was a little weird without pasta or potatoes.   I love carbohydrates, so I miss them anytime they are absent.   I should really try harder to grow potatoes this year.

This meal was also way more healthy than we normally eat.  Much lower fat than normal, since the only fat was less than a tablespoon of butter and the full fat yogurt.  So many different veggies too; I bet we got lots of vitamins and minerals.

For the next one, I hope someone wants to join us.  This would be much more fun with friends, and there would be more food!   I don’t have any worries about next week”s since we have a different sort of dried beans, but after that it will pretty much just be salad.   Next month the salad will start getting better, since radishes and celery should be coming up any day now.

Having this much good fresh and preserved food at the beginning of March makes me feel pretty good about the work we have done in the last few years, and it encourages me to try harder for the future.

Homesteading/Community Food Experiment

We have decided to start a new food challenge.  For one meal a week, we will have a meal of food that we grow or food that I can legitimately say comes from our “people”.

I guess I need to describe this idea first.  I don’t live in an actual community.  I live in a neighborhood, and I give food to my neighbors when they come over to see what crazy thing I am doing.  Last night I let neighborhood kids pet my chickens and I gave them each a carrot.  It is always Halloween at my house. But we are not a community.  I don’t help them with their tasks. They don’t bring me food or offer to help with my tasks.  I don’t know most of their names.  I try to interact like I did yesterday.  But it is sort of hard because we don’t have much in common, most of them don’t want to interact, and I have social interaction issues.

But there is a small group of people who I consider my community.  Close friends that I care about, who I would be happy to help with planting, harvesting or burying the body.   Most of these people are in the Atlanta area, but not all of them.

So here are the rules:

Baseline – All of the major components of the meal have to be from our yard or be grown, raised, or made by people we are friends with.

Examples:

-Anything that is growing in our yard right now.

-Any of our own harvest we have preserved.  We have pickles, dried cowpeas, sunflower seeds, and dried beans.

-Pork from Issa (http://lovelivegrow.com/) and Joshua.  We ordered a pig from them. It will be several months before this part gets added in.  Any other food we buy from actual friends is good too.  I need to make friends with someone who has a milk cow. :-)

-The eggs our chickens will make, or eggs given to us by a friend.  *cough, cough..Erik*

-Herbs in our yard

-A simple thing a friend grows, processes, or makes and then GIVES to us (not like buying the pork, it has to be a gift).  This could be a loaf of bread –even if it has more outside ingredients than we would be allowed ourselves.   I am trying to simulate what it would be like to be mostly self sufficient in a community.   People in that community could give us things that we don’t have the ability to create.   But this can’t be something like a friend brings us a whole meal, or taking us out to dinner.  It has to be a reasonable farming community item.  Something they could have grown or made themselves.  Examples could be bread, muffins, wine, mead, meats they cured themselves, foods they have grown or raised.

Exceptions:

-Salt. We have no ability to create our own salt.  I guess we could go to the ocean and try to figure it out.  But for now salt from the store is allowed.  I am thinking I will only use salt Lori gave me for Yule, as that would fit with the idea more.

-Oils. At present we don’t grow any oil crops.  We could, and I plan to in the future. But for now olive oil, butter, coconut oil, etc. are all allowed.

-Things we harvested and preserved from local sources.   We have strawberry and blueberry jam from fruit we picked ourselves but did not grow.  We also have peach salsa, peach chutney and some pie filling. But we can’t just go buy something from a farmer’s market.

-Honey. This one is only for now.  Once we have bees, then we will only be allowed our own honey.  But right now I can use local honey or honey my stepfather gives me (He has bees in middle GA. He is kind of like my people, sort of.)

– In each meal there can be one ingredient that does not fit the rules.  Like I could use chicken broth if I want to make a soup.  Or I could add a store-bought meat to something, or local grits.   Whatever the extra ingredient is, it must be explained.  It also should be as local and/or as cruelty-free as possible.   This is one ingredient, not one item.  So for example I can’t bake my normal bread.  The bread I like to make is flour, butter, yeast, milk, eggs and salt.  So that is three ingredients I don’t have – flour, yeast and milk – four if I have to buy eggs.  But if a friend gave me a starter (like sourdough),  then the only thing I would need would be flour for some breads.

I am going to try to make this meal happen around the same time each week. And then post a picture and explanation of the meal.  Any friend who wants to donate is also invited to eat with us.

 

The world I am hoping to weave here is one where I sit down with friends over a meal wrought with our work.   We laugh, talk, and learn a little about each other.   I want to grow a tighter community with people who are passionate about this. I’ll be grateful for the gifts my friends give me and feel good for what I give them.  Eating together is an ancient and beautiful ritual that has been lost in our fast-paced world.  We have so little connection with where our food comes from and there is so much food.  I remember food meaning more to me when I was a child living in pretty serious poverty in coal country.  The venison my father hunted,our garden, the maple syrup we harvested and made all felt so important.

I’m hoping this fosters a sense of urgency about my homestead.  Sometimes I don’t work as hard as I should. Seeds get in late, weeds grow, and bugs run wild.  Food has been lost because I just left it sitting.  A few sparse meals will help. I also think this will increase my own sense of accomplishment about what I do.  The fact that I think I can do this means I must have confidence in my homesteading.