Georgia Green Dining Guide

              a guide for greenie foodies

Pucker up...

...and kiss these two books on food fermentation. You're gonna love 'em!

Keeping your carbon footprint small can involve several strategies, one of which is food preservation. Locavores eat foods that are locally grown, foods that haven’t had to travel by planes, trains, and ocean liners to get to them.  But what do locavores do between harvest times? It helps to know something about food preservation.

We’re not talking about artificial preservatives, here. No, that wouldn’t be green dining at all. But foodstuffs have been preserved for centuries, long before anybody came up with sodium metabisulfite, butylated hydroxytoluene, et al. One of the ways it was done long ago involves fermentation, which, when managed properly, produces compounds that protect the food from invasion by harmful (to us) molds and bacteria.

Various microbes live and thrive in the foods and beverages that we consume. Most of the time, we keep them from taking over by refrigerating our perishables and consuming things before they, well, ferment. But certain foods like cheese, yogurt, tempeh, and kimchi and beverages like beer, wine, kefir to name just a few of each, are only possible because of fermentation.

Some foods that were traditionally fermented, like pickles and sauerkraut, are no longer prepared that way by the companies who produce high volumes of food. They add vinegar to take the place of naturally-fermented acid that was once the preservative for those foods. And trust me, the store-bought sauerkraut tastes nothing like what my great-grandmother made (she was descended from German immigrants in the North GA mountains).Well, I have recently made some kraut and some sour dill pickles without using one drop of vinegar and let me tell you, they are mahvelous.  Want to try it yourself? I’ve got a couple of books to recommend.

I found the first book, The Art Of Fermentation by Sandor Ellis Katz, in Avid, a great little bookstore in Athens, GA. The subtitle is, “an in-depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world”, and that it certainly is. If you want to know anything and everything about the history, the science, the culture of culturing, then this is the book for you. It’s an encyclopedia devoted to the subject of food and beverage fermentation, a wealth of information on a fascinating subject.  Some of the chapter titles are: Chapter 1 – Fermentation as a Coevolutionary Force; Chapter 2 – Practical Benefits of Fermentation; Chapter 10 – Growing Mold Cultures. There are also chapters on specific food groups: Chapter 5 – Fermenting Vegetables (and Some Fruits Too); Chapter 10 – Fermenting Milk. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning all they can about food fermentation. You can use this book as a reference for starting your own food fermentation or just read it for the education, it’s great either way. Katz is the author of another book on this subject, "Wild Fermentation" and a book about the food revolution "The Future Will Not Be Microwaved".

The second book is more of a cookbook in nature, a “how-to” book with lots of color pictures showing exactly how to do it, with recipes for most of the common fermentable foods. "Real Food Fermentation" by Alex Lewin is for those less interested in the whole fermentation story and more interested in getting things going in the kitchen.  “Real Food Fermentation” may not cover everything that “Art of Fermentation” does (it never mentions fermenting acorns, for instance) but it’s a great book for anyone who wants to know exactly what they need and how to do it when making sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, crème fraiche, kombucha, and a bunch more. It’s a very attractive book with lots of color photos to help you see the process better. While “Art…” does have some interesting electron microscope photos of the bacteria and molds that do the work, when I’m waiting for my first attempt to develop into edible food I prefer the before and after shots of the sauerkraut in “Real…”. Lewin authors a blog called "Feed Me Like You Mean It."

I’m glad to have both books and if I had it to do over again I would still get both. I can’t even recommend which to get if you’re only getting one, because it depends on how you like it. If you prefer in-depth knowledge over nice photography and quick start-up, then get “The Art of Fermentation”. If you prefer a user-friendly how-to book that will let you jump right in and start cooking, then go for “Real Food Fermentation”. I read the instructions in both books for making sauerkraut and for making cucumber pickles and found no contradictory information. I used info from both but it was "Real..." that I had open on the counter when I made the kraut and the pickles (see below).

Actually, on the sidebar to the right side of this blog (you may have to scroll up or down and look for them) you’ll find links to both books on Amazon. Go check them out and see what you think. I’m going back to the fridge for another pickle (yum!).

They're back...

Hello, friends; long time no see. I know it's been a while since we posted to this blog, but we're back finally, and with a slightly different take on the whole dining scene. We still want to promote green dining, but we want to broaden the scope of our observations to include...well, everything.

Ok that's a lot, but as time goes on maybe you will see what we're getting at. We still want to review restaurants and their efforts to serve their customers while remaining environmentally responsible. In fact, we plan to revisit those dining establishments that we have previously reviewed and update their status as to their green practices.

But we also want to talk about much more than just restaurants. Like the things you can do at home, where most of us do the majority of our "dining". Food and beverage can come to us in so many forms, so many ways. Almost every day, there is news of some issue or problem associated with factory farming, genetically modified food, bulk food production, processing, distribution, et al. We hope to bring attention to some ways to avoid supporting all that. I think we'll find that the food that is fresh, local, and minimally processed is not only better for the environment, it's better for us (and it tastes better, too). 

We'll be talking about home food preservation where we'll explore ways to make the most of local, seasonal foods; home gardening, be it a big, sunny plot in the back yard or a few planters on the patio; local sources of fresh foods; the joy of composting; recipes for seasonal produce, etc, etc.

We hope to be visiting some of our local food producers to give you an eye-witness account of their operations; cow and goat dairies, free ranging chickens, organic produce...whatever we can find that's fresh and wholesome, local, sustainable, and green.

At the moment, I'm reading a couple of books on food fermentation and hope to do a review of each one shortly. The books are "The Art Of Fermentation" by Sandor Katz and "Real Food Fermentation" by Alex Lewin. Check back with us soon for those reviews and my evaluation of the sauerkraut that is presently fermenting away in our kitchen.

Thanks for listening!


Lucky us, we were invited to attend the soft opening of Davio 's in Phipps Plaza last week, complete with bite-size samples of their fabulous food and an assortment of adult beverages. “Why?” Larry asked when I told him. After all, Davio’s bills itself as a Northern Italian Steakhouse, not normally the kind of place that screams green to folks like us that eat with the environment in mind.

I didn’t know why. Maybe it was because they get their beef from Brandt, the Brawley, California ranchers who feed their cattle vegetarian diets of corn and locally-grown alfalfa, who compost waste and send it back to the alfalfa farm in order to reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers, who have sworn off hormone and antibiotic injections for their well animals, and who advocate the use of the whole cow as one way to reduce waste. We don’t eat cows but we think people who do should have the choice of purchasing meat that comes from sustainable operations like Brandt, a ranch whose owners care about the humane treatment of their animals. The increasing availability of meat from ranches like this that are both sustainable and humane are likely the driving force behind the increase in the number of flexitarians , those often-former vegetarians that eat limited amounts of meat now that you can get it somewhere besides those nasty factory farms.

Or maybe we were invited because there was a social ecology slant to the event. All attendees were encouraged to make a donation to the Schenck School, whose mission is to educate students with dyslexia and related learning disorders. As we've mentioned before, we think humans are a fabulous species every bit as worthy of love and care as the spotted owl, the snail darter or any of those fellow creatures our type is more well-known for throwing ourselves in front of bulldozers and chainsaws to protect. Telling ourselves that we were going just to support the children, we hopped in the car and took off for Buckhead.

<< MORE >>

Good food is even better when shared

Oh, this is good. I mean, I'm not going because I'm happily married to the big guy but if I were in the market, I'd be in the market. Whole Foods Market in Roswell, that is, where the Whole Foods Market Singles Meetup Group will gather for the first time on Thursday, July 29, 2010.

I've been telling you for a while where you can find good food that's conscientiously prepared but it never occurred to me to tell you how you could find a good dinner mate to sit across the table from you and look deeply into your eyes while you share it. Luckily, someone else thought up this vast improvement to eating alone for you and I'm just passing it along.

<< MORE >>

Thriving and diving in Savannah

We went to Savannah last month to dip our feet in the water and dive into the sumptuous culinary offerings of Thrive, a Carryout Cafe . Thrive is the second Georgia restaurant to earn the designation of Certified Green Restaurant awarded by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA).

Since we've already gone on and on in this blog about what it takes to be a Certified Green Restaurant (be Styrofoam free, use sustainable furnishings and building materials as well as sustainable food sources, efficiency in water and fuel consumption, waste reduction and recycling, chemical and pollution reduction, and the use of eco-ware if disposables are used at all)...why not go on about it again? It's quite an accomplishment for a restaurant to meet these standards and to commit to the GRA's requirements for ongoing progress in reducing their carbon footprint.

We knew going in that we were going to be really happy with Thrive's greening efforts. What we didn't know was – Can they cook?

<< MORE >>

Green your kitchen

Ever since we started viewing the world through green-colored glasses, we've gotten increasingly aware of ways we can make more sustainable choices in the details of our day-to-day lives. That's important because as much as we love going out to eat at all  the conscientiously managed restaurants we've been telling you about over the past year, most of our meals are still prepared in our very own kitchen, thanks to Chef Larry, and it's there that the choices we make will have the greatest impact on our world.

We've been composting, recycling, and keeping an eagle-eye on packaging waste for awhile but it was just last week that I started catching the gray water in our kitchen sinks. It was quite a surprise to see how much of it was going down the drain when it could be put to so much better use raising petunias.

There are probably all kinds of little actions like that we could take and changes we would be happy to make if the need for them were brought to our attention. That's why we were so glad to learn about Food + Shelter , a benefit taking place this Sunday, April 18, between the hours of 2-5. << MORE >>

Passionate Duo - Park's Edge offers Great Food and Warm Hospitality

Wow, what a dinner experience we had at Park's Edge, a tony Inman Park restaurant and bar. Tuesday Night Dinner Group (Larry, Kathy, Linda, Karen and I) walked into the very friendly and open arms of owner Richard N. Wadlington, Jr.  After a short while, Chef Jorge I. Pacheco came out and spent a fair amount of time chatting with us too. It felt like they had personally invited us over for dinner and were cooking up something special for us alone. Given that Atlanta is in the worse recession in recent history it's amazing that  Park's Edge just recently celebrated its one year anniversary. The quality of the food and the hospitality feels like a harbor in the economic storm.  

Ooh la la - the food.  Chef Pacheco is from Mexico City and Mr Wadlington is from Los Angeles. As a result, the food has a clean California style with innovative and bold Mexican flavors.<< MORE >>

Viva Java Vino!

We heard about Java Vino from Phil Palmer, chief cook and bottle-washer (and owner) of Radial Cafe. As of a couple months ago, Java Vino is the exclusive coffee roaster for Radial and this is a good thing 'cause they surely have some fine coffee! Since Palmer is so intent on being green and buying from sustainable sources, it comes as no surprise that we found a story in all this, one suitable for the GGDG.

We dropped in at the coffee and wine shop, all unannounced of course, to speak with Steve Franklin who, along with his wife Heddy Kuhl, are the owners and operators of Java Vino. Steve was there and he was very busy, it being an especially good day for a cup of good coffee (the temperature was in the teens!) and the place was bustling.

<< MORE >>

Come in out of the cold!

Atlanta Green Drinks, a networking group for people interested in environmental issues, is having their first mixer of the year tonight at Radial in Decatur. Atlanta green brewer SweetWater, has graciously donated beer for the event (muchas gracias) and you're invited to bring your own bottle if you have a taste for other adult beverages, since Radial doesn't have a liquor license. Even though they can't serve alcohol, Radial will be cooking up some light apps for us and if you've ever eaten there, you know you are in for a treat. If you've never eaten there, well, it's about time you did.

So come in out of the cold, earth lovers, and meet your peeps. We hope to see you there.

Radial Revisited

As soon as Lisa and Dee told us that Radial Cafe was their new favorite place for a weekend breakfast, we started planning a meetup with them there. Not that I need an excuse to eat at Radial, but it was handy to have one. If you remember, we have an early post about Radial, wherein we praised them for being the only restaurant in Georgia to have gotten certification from the Green Restaurant Association. Well, I just checked and they still are the only restaurant in Georgia to be GRA certified. That says a lot of good things about Radial, not so much for the rest of the state. Come on, people.<< MORE >>

Rosebud blooms in Virginia Highlands

Our Saturday night out with friends Lee and Peter started pretty well - rock star parking right in front of  the restaurant - and it got better as the night progressed. We were dining at Rosebud in Virginia Highlands, the restaurant which occupies the space formerly known as Food 101 Morningside. Ron Eyester, formerly a chef at Food 101, is the executive chef/owner of Rosebud and has created a classy-casual place that still has the feel of the true neighborhood gathering place. Ron can be seen regularly out in the dining area, meeting and greeting patrons, obviously enjoying himself and making everyone feel welcome. When he's not out front, he's cooking up marvelous goodies, like the cream cheese and rosemary pound cake with whipped cream and blueberries pictured above.<< MORE >>

Send a flood of support Gloria's way

Remember this picture of Gloria taking our money at The Mercantile register?

Well, she needs some more. The home of Mercantile manager Gloria Limanni and her husband David was badly damaged in the 100 year flood that recently took Atlanta residents by storm. Since the Limanni's followed FEMA's recommendation to drop their flood insurance (I'm from the government and I'm here to help), they're now up a creek, so to speak, and could really use your help with covering some of the expenses they'll be incurring in the work to restore their home.

<< MORE >>

Gettin' 10 cents off coupons wherever I go

Last Friday I stopped by Whole Foods to pick up a few things for dinner. I'm ashamed to say I've never noticed before that they give people a ten cent discount for bringing in their own bags. I've been giving credit to Earth Fare and IKEA and Sam's Club for offering incentives for people to bag the bags but somehow I glossed right over the fact that Whole Foods has been doing the same thing all along.
<< MORE >>

Flying Biscuit

I met Linda for dinner at the Flying Biscuit in Candler Park last week. If you haven't had their fried green tomatoes, which I have learned are not actually fried (but in fact are green tomatoes), I recommend you fly on over there and place your order. Manager Jeffrey told us that the (unfried) green tomatoes are first baked and then finished off on the grill before being topped with a luscious cashew-jalapeno relish and a big fat dollop of goat cheese. They were then finished off again by Linda and me and would be by anybody else that orders them, I'm quite sure.
<< MORE >>

Great American Dine Out

We're so dad-gummed fortunate to be able to go to all these fabulous restaurants (in our own car, no less), order exquisite dishes, pair food with wines, chat up servers and chefs, leave tips and go to sleep at night with full bellies. When it comes to food, our worst problem is that sometimes our bellies are too full.

It's not like that for everyone. Some people go to bed hungry. Some of those people are children.
<< MORE >>

August 8, 2010 - Put it on your calendar

I wish I'd written this article about the Killer Tomato Festival. We had such a juicy time there.

And speaking of killers, I could have choked Larry for forgetting to bring the camera. There was so much eye candy (by which I mean good-lookin' food and drink) at this event that we could have captured for your viewing pleasure, if only we'd been more prepared.

The organic tomatoes were supplied by local farmers, mostly by our neighbors at Whippoorwill Hollow Farms, so all the chefs had high-quality ingredients to start with and their abundant creativity carried them from there. We learned about new restaurants we haven't visited yet  (but will) and saw chefs (like Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale) and mixologists (like Miles of Leon's Full Service) from some of our favorite eateries. Fresh, local, organic produce was the star of this show and it shone for an enthusiastic audience of boozy foodies.
<< MORE >>

GIANT shrimp festival

The Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival
got underway today at the Jekyll Island Landmark Historic District with the $3 Shrimp Sample Night, which gave attendees a chance to taste recipes from the each vendor for the low, low price of (you guessed it) only 3 dollars. Highlights of tomorrow's programming will include an Amateur Cooking Competition, cooking demo by Chef Robert Tulko, entertainment by the Big Dawg and Paul Show, music by the Randall Bramblett Band, magic shows and more.
<< MORE >>

My sweet compostable you

Here's a great article from Biocycle magazine about the impressive increase in compostable packaging products that are available to restaurateurs and grocers who want to green up their operations and to individuals who want to green up their homes. This may be the most thorough and informative article written for a general audience that I've seen yet but if you're not interested in all the technical details of different compostable materials, let me share one idea from the article that caught my eye.

Buzz Chandler, President of Asean, a manufacturer of compostable products, is quoted in the article as saying, "...when something goes to a landfill, it’s being sealed in a mummy’s tomb where nothing goes away.”

Uh-huh. So true. And he's not just talking about Styrofoam here; he's talking about his own (and everyone's) compostable products.
<< MORE >>

Happy birthday, Mercantile

The Mercantile in Candler Park is celebrating its one-year anniversary on September 20. They'll be handing out chocolate chip cookies between noon and 3 and Larry and I plan to be eating chocolate chip cookies between noon and 3. Sweet.

Want a side of milk with your cookie? Russell Johnston of Johnston Family Dairy near Madison (no Georgia; I know what you're thinking) and a Mercantile vendor, will be a featured guest at the soiree. The Johnston Family Dairy does what unethical producers(un)scrupulously avoid - invites people to come in and take a look at their operations.You can arrange to visit the farm, tour the milking barns in between milkings and even pet and feed the cows.

<< MORE >>

Brunch at Wahoo! Grill

After our trip to Cedar Key, when we first started noticing all the trash that gets dispensed in the service of carrying out leftovers so as not to waste food, Wahoo! Grill in Decatur was one of the first restaurants we saw using compostable take-out containers. WooHoo!

We were already crazy about their food and observing this act of thoughtfulness toward the world made us feel even better about them. It was like finding out that someone you've already fallen in love with just happens to be independently wealthy and you didn't even know it. It was icing on an already sweet cake.

<< MORE >>

About Us

This blog is about good food, done right. "Done right" doesn't just mean well-prepared, as important as that is. "Done right" means purchased, prepared, stored and served in a way that does right by the environment. We want to break our bread (and spend it) at eateries and grocery stores that embrace green practices. Please join us in our search for sustainable dining establishments and food purveyors of all types and let us know when you find them - we love to eat.

Kathy Brown and Larry Johnson

Bloggers @ Large:

Kathy Brown
Larry Johnson
Dayle Hosack

In Defense of Food - Pollan

Food Matters - Bittman


The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food

Civic Agriculture - Lyson

Easy Green Living - Loux

Our Blog's Rating on Urbanspoon

Georgia Green Dining Guide Atlanta restaurants

Real Food Fermentation

The Art of Fermentation

Custom Text 6

Custom Text 6