August 23, 2011

Miller Union, Atlanta

Last weekend my mom and I took a weekend trip down to Atlanta, Georgia. We had a family reunion to attend on Saturday but decided to go down a day early and check out a cool dinner spot. If you've read my bio at all you know that I get my obsession with food, drink, and dining out from my mom, so when the two of us get together, it can be trouble.

After researching some local Atlanta blogs and magazines and asking some of my foodie friends, I was led to Miller Union. A fairly new restaurant, opened in November of 2009, Miller Union is a simple, classic, yet modern take on upscale southern fare. As often as possible, Miller Union uses organic, local and sustainable ingredients; a huge plus for me (and something Nashville needs more of in my opinion).

Located in a refurbished warehouse in Atlanta's old stockyard district, Miller Union's rustic wood interior and pantry-formed walls full of cookbooks and other "homey" details is just the type of place you'd expect to eat farm-to-table southern food. As usual, my mom and I arrived early for our reservation so that we could have a drink or two at the bar. Let me tell you, if you like vodka, even at all, Miller Union has one of the best vodka cocktails I've ever had! The "Strega Nona" is basil infused vodka, Strega (an Italian herbal liqueur), bitter lemon soda, and lime. Seriously, insane.

After our drinks, My mom and I were seated in a cozy little nook right next to the main dining room. We started out with a great bottle of Gruner Veltliner and the "feta snack," something I'd been eyeing since I checked out the menu a week prior. A perfect summer dip made of creamy feta, olive oil, and cracked pepper served with fresh cucumbers, carrots, and watermelon radishes, the "feta snack" was simple and delicious.
Our wonderful bottle of white
After some serious thought since everything looked so amazing, I decided on the Triggerfish entree; a lightly fried, mild white fish served over roasted spaghetti squash and topped with a delicious sweet and sour vinegar sauce with red peppers and basil. My mom got the vegetable plate which was a gorgeous plate full of summer veggies: fresh sliced tomatoes, green beans with basil, roasted yellow squash, a warm field pea and sweet corn succotash, and finally, some of the best fried okra I've ever tasted.
Summer vegetable plate
Triggerfish entree

We finished our meal with an amazing chocolate cake filled with bing cherries and served with house-made earl grey and dark chocolate ice creams. A perfect ending to a perfect meal. After typing this and looking at the photos, I almost want to drive back to Atlanta again this weekend. So, check out Miller Union next time you're in Atlanta. So good... seriously.

Oh, P.S. - I almost forgot to mention that they had the best sourdough bread I've ever had. It was so fresh and served with really creamy, REAL butter. How could I have forgotten that??

Miller Union
999 Brady Avenue
Atlanta, GA

August 16, 2011

Whole Wheat Orzo and Grilled Vegetable Salad

I am in a book club. Yes, it sounds nerdy, but I assure you, it's really fun. A bunch of cool chicks get together, talk about a good book, and eat and drink wine. I love to read but I really love to eat and drink wine, so this is a perfect excuse to do both. For each book club, everyone is asked to bring a dish. I am proud to say that even with a busy work schedule, I have taken a homemade dish to every book club for the past 2 years! It's usually something simple and easy but always delicious.

For our last book club we discussed "Room," by Emma Donoghue, which I highly recommend, and I took a yummy pasta salad: Whole Wheat Orzo and Grilled Veggies with Feta, Olives, and Herbs. It has been my favorite salad I've made this summer!
Whole Wheat Orzo and Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta, Olives, and Herbs
1 cup whole wheat orzo, cooked
2 small zucchini (I also used some squash because my dad had some fresh from the garden)
1 large red bell pepper
olive oil, for brushing vegetables
Italian seasoning
 1 1/2 cup black olives, drained and cut in half
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 T chopped fresh basil
2 T chopped fresh oregano
1/2 to 1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled (I like a lot of feta!)

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1. Cook orzo al dente. Drain and let cool while you prep other ingredients.
2. Cut the zucchini and red bell pepper lengthwise into fourths and remove seeds and stem from pepper.  Brush the vegetables on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with dried herb mix.  Grill vegetables until they are cooked, but still slightly crisp, about 10-15 minutes. (I was short on time for this batch so I simply sauteed the veggies in a frying pan which is fine too.)
3. Thinly slice green onions, olives, and chop fresh herbs.  
4. Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon, and dried oregano for the dressing.
5. Cut the zucchini and pepper into bite-sized pieces and put into a plastic bowl large. Add about 1/3 of dressing and stir so all the vegetable pieces are coated with dressing. Let marinate. 
6. Add the cooked orzo, green onions, and herbs to the vegetables and add enough dressing to moisten all ingredients. Stir in the olives and crumbled feta and that's it! Serve chilled but not too cold.

I made my salad overnight and it kept great. Hurry and make it before summer is over and you miss out on all the beautiful squash and zucchini!

Happy Eating,

August 10, 2011

Park Cafe

After a recent date night at the Frist Center for the Andy Warhol exhibit, my boyfriend and I ended our night at one of my favorite restaurnats in Nashville, Park Cafe. Located in Sylvan Park, Park Cafe is a cozy neighborhood place complete with dim lighting, funky art, and a cool space split into seven small dining rooms. There's also a covered patio in the back. When my boyfriend and I eat at Park Cafe, we usually find ourselves nestled at one of the tall tables in the bar.

Park Cafe not only has some of the best food in town, but I am in love with their drinks. My current obsession is their cucumber martini. On this dining trip, the menu had changed a bit, but definitely for the better. Being a vegetarian (sometimes I eat fish), there were some new options for me, including the most amazing vegetable plate I have ever had, seriously. Veggie plates are hard to make exciting, but Park Cafe nailed it. It consisted of a frisée salad dressed simply with lemon and olive oil, baby patty pan squash, roasted baby carrots, grilled asparagus, a lady pea and onion salad, their famous szechuan green beans, and a delicious corn pudding!
Seriously, how awesome does that look?
The other entree we ordered was the sous vide chicken. It came with a seasonal panzanella salad with micro greens, cucumber, roasted corn, tomatoes, huge chunks of local feta, and homemade bread all dressed in delicious olive oil and tangy vinegar, drizzled with basil oil. My boyfriend said the chicken was tender and amazing.
And of course, if you eat at Park Cafe you have to get the green chili mac and cheese, even if you're not hungry! It is definitely the best mac and cheese I've ever had. Individually baked with parmesan and pepper jack, green chiles, and topped with breadcrumbs. Just amazing! This stuff saves exceptionally well and is really delicious the next day, or if you're me, is a great midnight snack when you get home from dinner.
If you live in Nashville and haven't been to Park Cafe, or just haven't been in awhile, go check out the new and improved menu. If you are from out of town and visiting soon, definitely hit this place for dinner one night. And maybe get a mac and cheese or two for the road.

Happy Eating,

Park Cafe
4403 Murphy Road

August 5, 2011

Friday's Foodie Find

Sorry to skip a restaurant review or recipe and go right into another "foodie find" post, but it's Friday, and I'm going to try to bring you a cool new gadget or product every Friday.

Along with the Juiceman, another one of my favorite kitchen gadgets is the 4-in-1 avocado tool from Williams Sonoma. It is amazing! As much as I love avocado, I use this thing a lot. It makes peeling, pitting, scooping, and mashing an avocado easy and fun. The tool has a serrated edge for cutting through the skin, a curved tip that helps remove the pit, and a scoop that gets the avocado out of its skin without much of a mess. It also has a masher that is great for making guacamole.
The only negative about this tool is that it's not made for left-handed people. Kind of a bummer, but lucky for me, I'm a righty and get to use this thing all the time. So, if you're a righty and love avocado too, go get an avocado tool and make some guacamole!