Keeping dry in WaterHaven

Last month Larry and I attended the first meeting of the Mission Zero Meetup. We met some very nice, smart people whose mission is to treat the world with care and integrity so that it will last long enough to host the next generation and beyond. Not a bad goal, eh?

When we left the Interface building it was pouring outside so we decided to dash over to WaterHaven and ask them to pour us one inside. Behind the bar we met Tom, a 30 year veteran of the restaurant industry and another nice, smart person who aims to treat the world with care and integrity so that it will last… It seemed to be the theme of the evening like

Tom told us that a number of WaterHaven’s wines come from farms that use biodynamic, organic, or otherwise sustainable growing methods and he was happy to speak with us about the restaurant’s other green initiatives as well. He told us that WaterHaven uses compostable take-out containers rather than that nasty Styrofoam and purchases food locally whenever local farmers and vendors can supply the restaurant with top quality products. They recycle glass, plastic and cardboard. Their straws are made out of corn and their stir sticks are made from wood rather than plastic. Tom also said that when the trout man goes to North Carolina for trout, he takes the used oil with him for conversion to biodiesel. All in all, WaterHaven is doing a commendable job of greening their operations.

Although we had grabbed a sandwich on our way into town, I’m a sucker for a beet salad and when I saw one on the menu I yelled “beets!” before I knew what I was doing. That’s the kind of impulse control problem that makes me stay out of casinos, auction houses and other places where it can get me into trouble, but in this case it served me well. WaterHaven’s red and golden beets were that perfect texture, substantial enough to sink the teeth into while still soft enough to convey a comfortable welcome to the teeth and tongue. And dear me, they had the aroma and taste of rain-drenched, organically-farmed earth. Oh, yum.

Tom introduced us to manager Cassandra Loftlin, who actually remembered me from a retreat I attended last winter at Serenbe, where she was then employed. Either she has a very good memory or I behaved very badly through the weekend. I’m not sure which, but hoping for the former.

Cassandra gave us some specifics about the restaurant’s suppliers and shared more about WaterHaven’s vision to do “what we can, where we can for our neighbors.” This mission statement is echoed on the restaurant’s web site, which includes a tab for community and you can visit it to see a picture of Sparky, the assistant dog who doubled as a greeter for the restaurant on opening night.

Tom hustled us up a couple of the few remaining bumper stickers that were leftovers from a Georgia Organics meeting held at WaterHaven, as well as a copy of their guide to local foods. As I’ve mentioned before, you can get a copy of this nifty guide through the GO’s web site, but it’s nice to have a hard copy to carry around in the car with me.

I’ll recycle it after I thumb it to shreds.

The REAL green beer – with all due respect to Saint Patty

We recently had dinner at Max Lager’s American Grill and Brewery in Atlanta with our beer-loving Athens friends. When JR, Max Lager’s owner, manager, CEO, executive chef and brewmeister, stopped by our table to see how we liked the beer (as brewers always do when we’re with Owen) I took the opportunity to snap his photo and ask about the brewpub’s green practices.

I was happy to hear that this restaurant is taking steps toward the greening of their operations. Max Lager’s has recently switched to compostable take-out containers, which was especially good news for me since we were running behind to catch the Los Lobos concert at the Botanical Gardens (great show) and I had forgotten to bring my little plastic tub in with me. The veggie Maxadilla was just too good to leave half-eaten on the table like a tip, so it was nice to have something I felt okay about carrying it home in. Well, to the concert and then home.

We’ve noticed that brewers and beer lovers in general seem to be a pretty ecologically aware crowd. We’ve reported on the Decatur brewpub, Twain’s before but just to refresh your memory, they donate spent grain to farmers and spent oil to biodiesel makers; they recycle plastic and glass, utilize equipment and practices that conserve water and use compostable take-out containers. They charge a bit extra for take-out orders, which is a good way of allowing diners to pay for what they actually use, rather than spreading the costs around to consumers across the bar…er…board.

We’ve volunteered at Owen’s Classic City Brew Fest in the past and know that he and Kerri head back up to the Foundry the morning after that exhausting day so they can make sure all the empties get hauled to the recycling center and don’t end up in the trash. They also contribute a big chunk of the proceeds from the event to local charities, which is a great benefit for the community. Last year, I met representatives from the Humane Society and a battered womens’ shelter that were recipients of some of the green.

We recently attended Summits Wayside Tavern’s monthly beer school, where we heard from the the Sierra Nevada rep about all the tons, I mean tons, of green things this brewery is doing to minimize the impact of its business operations on the environment. For one thing, as a member of the California Climate Action Registry the brewery tracks and works to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. It produces its own clean power through solar panels on the roof, recycles and works diligently to reduce waste. In fact, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger honored the brewer for its efforts by awarding it an Environmental and Economic Leadership award in 2005.

Atlanta’s 5 Seasons breweries have also made a strong commitment to operating in an environmentally friendly manner. The folks there have teamed up with RainHarvest Systems to install a rainwater catchment system for brewing what is probably the first micro-brewed beer made entirely from rainwater. This has got to be a big relief to Lake Lanier boaters given the popularity of the 5 Seasons restaurants and their brew.

5 Seasons also shows a lot of integrity in the preparation of its food – lots of local produce, all natural meats and artesinal breads baked in-house. Some of the spent grains used in the production of their beer are added to their bread and the rest of it goes to a local organic farmer for composting.

And if you missed seeing Fresh at Sevananda last month, 5 Seasons will give you another chance to catch the flick in October when, along with collaborators the Weston A. Price Foundation and Above and Beyond Farm, they’ll host the movie and a panel discussion. There will also be a silent auction, and proceeds from the event will go toward offsetting the cost of future educational programs.Tickets are $10 and are available through the website of Our Natural Life.

Aside from their green practices, brewers seem to be the ultimate do-gooders in the hospitality industry. Fifty cents from the sale of every pint of Max Lager’s Quadratic Liquation goes to aid Atlanta’s homeless. Sierra Nevada’s founder, Ken Grossman, is on the board for the Western River Conservancy and last spring donated a portion of every 12-pack sold of Sierra’s Pale Ale and Summerfest Lager to the organization, which works to protect river ecosystems in the western United States.

Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewery is a corporate partner in the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy organization that works to protect the Chattahoochee River and the “ecological health of the fish, wildlife and people who depend on the River system.” They are also host to Beer4Boobs, a benefit supporting local organizations that work toward “providing diagnosis, education, support and research to thousands of Atlanta area women affected by the disease” of breast cancer. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, so look for updates in the future.

Please, drink responsibly. Get your beer from brewers, restaurants and tavern owners that are serious about their responsibility to the environment (and those of us that live in it).

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.

You might as well know that even though we’re in love with Wahoo, we’re kind of polyamorous when it comes to restaurants so we haven’t dined there in awhile. We like to play the field and eat around. What with GRA-certified Radial just down the street, new Sunday brunches at Twain’s and Carpe Diem, vacations, chores, sleeping late and Larry’s willingness to make pancakes at home, we’ve been overdue for a Wahoo meal. This past weekend we decidedit was time to stop back by and rekindle that flame.

We always end up ordering the same thing – sides of grits and breakfast potatoes and the tofu scramble and burrito for our entrées, because they’re the two vegetarian choices on the brunch menu and because we like them. Last Sunday we varied that a little because they had a ricotta-lemon pancake special we didn’t think we could pass up. We’re glad we didn’t – these were delicate little discs of flavor, artfully arranged with flavorful, fat blackberries and blueberries and drizzled with honey.

Well, yum. And it was all served with a side of guitar music by Elliot, which we likewise thoroughly enjoyed.

One of the fabulous things about writing this blog is that it gives us an excuse to strike up conversations with restaurants’ servers, managers, chefs and owners. We’ve met some really nice people this way and Drew, our Wahoo server on Sunday, solidly fits into the “nice person” category.

Drew is a newbie to Atlanta, having recently moved here to attend graduate school at Emory, but he’s an old hand at sustainable practices. He told us that in addition to using compostable to-go containers, Wahoo is big on the farm-to-table concept and buys a great deal of its food from local farmers. Wahoo’s chicken is organic and the salmon is wild rather than farmed. Wahoo doesn’t compost or recycle (Drew does) but the manager likes the idea of recycling and may make a move in that direction in the near future.

We hope so. You know, no matter how much you love somebody, you can always see a few places where they could stand to tweak their performance a little in order to be even better than they already are.

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.

That level of transparency is a good indication that the Johnston family has got nothing to hide. Those of you who liked milk until you read that scary, downer dairy farm scenario in Peter Singer’s book, The Way We Eat; Why Our Food Choices Matter, can now regrow your white mustaches sans guilt – as long as you buy from a producer like Johnston.

If you’re thinking, “that’s great for milk – if only the Johnston Family Dairy made cheese and yogurt…” you’re in for a treat. AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery takes the Johnston Dairy milk and combines it with other Georgia ingredients to turn it into fresh and delicious grownup snacks. These folks will also be at the party so you’ll have a chance to taste a variety of their products there and grab some more to stock up at home.

Happy Birthday, Mercantile. And many 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 piece 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.

So when your favorite restaurant is conscientious enough to hand you your leftovers in a cardboard carryout, take the box home and compost it, for gosh sakes. If you throw it away, it goes to the landfill, “that mummy’s tomb,” forever. Even though it might not leach poisons into the earth, air and waterways the way Styrofoam does, it takes up space on the planet that nothing else can now use. Forever.

I told you I would get back to you and let you know if the bioplastic bags I got at Return to Eden actually composted in my barrel. I emptied out the compost last weekend and the bags were still there, fresh and new as the day they were born. They didn’t look a bit like they had spent the last two months in the dark with a bunch of garbage, whirling around in the leaves and peelings on the mornings I got up early enough to turn the barrel before work and then actually remembered to do it, getting squirted with the garden hose and nibbled on by micro-organisms. You’d think they’d show a little wear and tear.

I’m not saying that bags like these won’t compost in a commercial composting operation, but the chances that they’ll ever actually make it to one are extremely small. Taking reusable bags to the grocery with you, and reusable containers to the restaurant for leftovers, is far and away the best route for earth angels to take.

But if you do end up with compostable products that won’t  compost in your pile (biobags, indeed!) or if (god forbid) you don’t have a compost pile, you can find a commercial facility near you by clicking here on

Then take your stuff there and turn it in to good old reusable dirt. Don’t let it stake a claim on a piece of real estate that could have better things to do than hang out with a bunch of trash.

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.

Sunday’s activities include the professional cooking competition featuring shrimp and grits dishes from local restaurants and vendors. There will also be a cooking demo by Chef Joe Randall of Joe Randall’s Savannah Cooking School, more live music and magic and more competitive shrimp eating. So if you’re feeling competitive, or just hungry, come on out and eat.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Wild Georgia Shrimp are a local food source caught by local shrimpers using methods that release turtles and other incidentally captured sea life unharmed. The shrimp are produced sustainability in the cool, clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean and adjoining estuaries and are not overfished.

So go ahead, eat all you want. We’ll spawn more.

August 8, 2017 – Put it on your calendar

I wish I’d written this article about the a great workout program. 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.

If I had a complaint (besides Larry leaving the camera at home) it would be that the event coordinators could have done a little better job of trash disposal but as always there were a number of thoughtful individuals who stepped up to the bat and took responsibility for their own debris. Case in point – we briefly talked trash with Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill who was offering these marvelous little frozen gazpacho push-ups that looked and tasted like creamy nostalgia. Gillespie had posted a basket for the used push-up sticks in front of his booth so he could take them with him for recycling. What a guy!

I’m sorry I can’t show you some photos of this colorful day, but that darn Larry…

Anyway, let this be a lesson for you. Even though we’ll be there next year with bells on, you really can’t count on us to give you the scoop. You’ll just have to go taste it for yourself.

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.

Today, September 20, 2009, is the first day of Share Our Strength’s annual Great American Dine Out, a benefit that works to alleviate childhood hunger by raising money through participating restaurants. Those restaurants have agreed to donate a portion of their sales this week to the program, so when you eat out between now and September 26, you’re helping to support school nutrition programs, community gardens, food pantries and increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables for the most vulnerable members of our society.

You can find participating restaurants through Share Our Strength’s website, but some of the ones you might already be frequenting include Ted’s Montana Grill, Marlow’s Tavern and WaterHaven. Remember, you’re not just eating for yourself anymore; you’re eating for the children.

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.

I also had, and can also recommend, the vegan barbecue burrito complete with collard greens and mushrooms all wrapped up in a sun dried tomato tortilla. It was very flavorful and filling and large enough for me to take half of it home for lunch the next day. Of course, I had had all those tomatoes…

The tomatoes aren’t the only thing that’s not fried at the Flying Biscuit. Everything is (not fried). There’s no used oil that needs to be disposed of or recycled into biodiesel. There’s no used oil at all. The decision to cook without it is a cost saver for the restaurant and the environment. I think it’s also better for your skin.

Jeffrey told us that the restaurant recycles its cardboard, uses compostable to-go containers and uses cloth napkins rather the than disposables. They try to minimize the amount of plastic and Styrofoam they use but Jeffrey said that that’s not always easy to do as a result of cost factors and health department regulations. I’m not sure what he meant by problems with the health department regs and I wish I’d asked but I guess not knowing gives me a good excuse to go back and find out.

Jeffrey was happy to pose for a blog pic with Linda (who is still obviously happy about her food) but he warned me not to include the woman at the table behind them because she’s in some kind of witness protection program. So if you know who she is, try to be circumspect about where she likes to eat. You never know.

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.

I like Whole Foods and I’ve been sad to see all the the energy about boycotting them because of John Mackey’s views on health care. Maybe the government should be taking care of our health care; I don’t know, but I do think we should be taking care of our own health in such ways as buying organic produce and eating a plant-based, ecologically friendly diet. Yes, organics can be more expensive than factory farmed food choices. In my humble opinion, they’re worth it.

That beautiful Heirloom tomato I scored at Whole Foods on Friday sure was. We filled up on it and the crusty artisan bread and the goat  cheese cranberry torte, the roasted garlic and the ripe olives, and we went to bed happy and full. It was a lovely way to start the weekend.

The next morning we rolled out of bed and into those big comfy chairs at Borders where we like to read books and drink the coffee from Seattle’s Best Coffee shop right there in the store. We got another pleasant surprise when we were given ten cents off of our coffee purchases just for asking them to pour it in the stainless steel mugs we always keep in the car for just such an occasion.

So take your own bags with you when you grocery shop and take your own cups with you when you stop by the coffee shop for a little jolt of caffeine. Get your discount when you do. It’s like having coupons for ten cents off wherever you go.

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.

The Mercantile owners Janea Boyles and Samantha Enzmann have set up a blog to make it easier to contribute to the cause and to keep track of the Limanni’s progress in rebuilding. Please help this lovely person if you can. She’s the one who is always ready to help you when you walk through the door at the Mercantile.

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. Or the drunken cherry bread pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream pictured below.

Named for Jerry Garcia’s guitar, Rosebud features plenty of Grateful Dead references in the decor with photos of Garcia and the gang, murals of Dead song titles, etc, that along with TVs over the bar and rock & roll on the stereo give it a casual air that complements, rather than clashes with, the overall elegance of the restaurant’s atmosphere. In other words, a comfy, classy place.

Our waiter, Thomas, was very helpful as we constructed a veggie platter from the side dishes, even arranging for us to order some items that were not listed as sides but were really meant to accompany an entree. I led off with the eggplant tempura app, and followed with mustard-grain whipped potatoes, red wine braised mushrooms, and creamy greens. Lip-smacking good and totally satisfying. Kathy had pretty much the same except she subbed some tasty Brussel sprouts for the mushrooms.

The staff at Rosebud is rightfully proud of their devotion to locally grown foods. Their bread comes from Alon’s Bakery right across the street; the authentic Italian, certified organic pasta is made fresh locally by Domenic Lucas, Jr. of Zio Micu’s Garden; chicken comes from Springer Mountain Farms of Mt. Airy, Georgia; pork and sausage, along with locally milled grits, come from Riverview Farms in Range, Georgia. Not all their meat comes from local producers. Beef and seafood originate in Chicago and Boston, respectively, but they use certified wild-caught Georgia shrimp whenever possible.

For their fresh produce, Rosebud goes to Woodland Farms in Winterville, Split Cedar Farms ( in Henry County, Crystal Organic Farm in Newborn, Garmon Family Farm in Whitesburg, and Moore Farms in Woodland, Alabama. The buttermilk for their fried chicken (and soon, hopefully, ice cream for desserts) comes from Sparkman’s, a family-owned, all natural, artificial hormone free dairy in Moultrie, Georgia.

Another green practice of Rosebud’s is their use of compostable take-out containers.

So the next time you’re in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood, and in the mood for a true neighborhood eatery, try Rosebud. You won’t be disappointed.

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.

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.

Java Vino is a coffee and wine house located in the Poncey-Highlands neighborhood. They offeer a great selection of coffees and wines from around the world, as well as a scrumptious menu of freshly prepared sandwiches, soups, salads, and pastries. They have a number of vegetarian choices and they all looked great!  We had already eaten, darn it, so we didn’t get to sample the food, but we’ve always got room for coffee.

I just had to try their espresso (to me, that’s the measure of a coffee house – how well they do a straight shot of espresso) and I was not disappointed. It was delicious and strong without being sour or bitter.

Java Vino is truly a family-oriented venture. As stated earlier, Steve and Heddy are co-owners of the shop and roasting business. The house coffee comes from Heddy’s family’s farm (the Selva Negra Estate) in Nicaragua – a Fair Trade coffee, shade-grown using sustainable farming practices. In fact, the Selva Negra Estate won the Specialty Coffee Association’s Sustainability Award in 2007.The Kuhl family grows, harvests, processes, ships, roasts and brews the coffee for a true seed-to-cup experience. We are happy to report that Java Vino is also proud to be eco-friendly. They use biodegradable cups and all their to-go orders are packed with biodegradable forks, knives and spoons.

Java Vino has a very interesting (and commendable) refill policy. If you want a refill on your coffee, it’ll cost you $0.50. That $0.50 doesn’t go to the store, however; it goes to charity. The charities rotate every few months to spread the goodness around.

Java Vino seems to be doing a lot of things right, and doing a lot of right things. Check ’em out next time you’re in Poncey-Highlands. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

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. For an appetizer we shared an order of Avocado Eggrolls, a crispy eggroll crust filled with avocado and sun dried tomatoes and a walnut tamarind sauce. The Baby Spinach Salad was perfect with blackberries, goat cheese, roasted pistachios and just lightly dressed with a raspberry vinaigrette. For the entrées, Kathy and Larry were very happy with their Pan-Seared Tofu Stir-Fry with veggies and soba noodles in a citrus soy sauce. The rest of us had the Sesame Grilled Salmon with ginger sticky rice, strawberry red onion ragu and green curry beurre blanc.  Just writing that makes my mouth water all over again, but I do need to use my bowflex max trainer m7 review to work off the meal though.

We were all so happy and cheerful that we almost forgot to ask Richard and Jorge about their green practices. They were very excited to share with us that they buy as much local, fresh and seasonal food they can at the Forest Park and Decatur farmers’ markets. They made Kathy really happy when they said they recycle all their glass and paper and all to-go containers are recyclable paper.

So what more can I say….get thee to Inman Park and get royally treated while eating fabulous food.

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. There, we’ll have a chance to feast on sustainably grown, locally sourced food prepared by WoodfireGrill Chef Kevin Gillespie while feasting our eyes on the LEED registered home of Matt and Jennifer Liotta. Certified Kitchen Designer Matthew Rao, Dencity , and Michael Habachy will be there to offer food for thought about how guests, including Larry and I, can make our own homes more sustainable. We’re all about that.

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 – does the p90x3 meal plan fit here?

Even though we had already perused the menu and chosen things we might order when we got there, when we actually stood in front of the display case and saw the attractively dressed food lined up like little entrants in a Georgia beauty pageant, all we could do was stare and point.

The veggie pate was a visual knockout.Though listed as a lunch menu item, it looked substantial enough for an evening meal. We wanted to eat light before we hit the beach so we went with the avocado sandwich and a cup of soup. And the answer to our question, gentle reader, is – Yes, indeedy, they certainly can cook.
While we chatted and enjoyed our yummy meal, we noticed a sign that identified the cafe’s coffee as being from Ogeechee River Company, whose proprietor, Scott Miller, was known to Larry from whatever kind of fraternity coffee roasters and connoisseurs belong to. Poor guy started jiggling his leg under the table just talking about it.

It was a quick trip and we didn’t make it to Cha Bella, the other Savannah restaurant that we’ve been dying to try. I would be disappointed about missing it if it didn’t mean we are just going to have to go back at our earliest opportunity. Sigh.

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.

If your interest in pairings goes beyond which organic wine goes with which local, hormone and cruelty-free, sustainably produced meat and sustainable cookware (or better yet, veggie), get thee to the Whole Foods Market Meetup Group.


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 other 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. Whatever it was that got us through the door, when we arrived we were happy to be there. Davio’s is a beautiful spot with an inviting bar that Larry immediately bellied up to while I scored us a comfy booth. Server Molly Belvioso came by and offered me an appetizer but I shook my head and tried to convey regret. “Vegetarian,” I told her, the way some people might say “Alcoholic” if they were being offered a drink. Humanitarian that I am, I was okay with just drinking for a couple of hours and then grabbing some plant-based grub from Cakes & Ale on the way home (after all, it was for the education of young children), but Molly offered to bring me a sample of Davio’s truffle oil mac and cheese.  She returned with it at about the same time Larry had managed to elbow his way through the crowd and slide in across from me. He waved an Italian beer in my face and told me it was one he had never heard of before, which is really saying something about its relative rarity, at least here in the States. “Take a picture of it,” I suggested since we had actually remembered to bring the camera to this event. Our faces still burn from all the times we’ve been invited somewhere special and left home without a camera or even a pen to take notes with. It’s like we’re out to prove we’re not real journalists, just a couple of working stiffs who love good food and the good earth that produces it. Larry fiddled with the camera for a few minutes and finally decided that the memory card was full. “I guess I could use my IPhone,” he suggested. “But I’d look like an idiot.” “You are an idiot,” I shrugged. “We’re both idiots.” He jumped to his feet and snapped some quick shots, then slunk back down in the booth and hid behind his beer when the guy with the flash box as big as our bedroom turned toward us. We sopped up the rest of our truffle oil and looked over the pics. They were pretty sorry as you can see, but we weren’t too bothered by that because Molly had just reappeared with some veggie pizza. “Take two,” she encouraged when we each had scooped a slice onto our plates. “They’re small.” As it turns out, Davio’s has a fair number of vegetarian choices on its menu , including a paella and a number of sides that could be combined into an outstanding platter. We asked Molly if there were any shades of green to the restaurant’s operation and she said something about bottled water that we couldn’t hear over the din of the crowd and disappeared. I cocked an eyebrow Larry’s way. “I hope she doesn’t think bottled water is green.” Well, maybe. She returned with two glasses and a bottle of Aqua Health. “People want sparkling water,” Molly told us. “But we filtrate this on location and eliminate the transportation costs associated with buying it elsewhere and trucking it in. And we sterilize the bottles and reuse them so there’s no packaging waste.” She opened the bottle and poured us each a glass. Delicious! Davio’s has made plans to recycle their grease and they are considering a more comprehensive recycling plan for their glass, paper and cardboard. As you might expect there is no composting, an activity that Phipps would be unlikely to approve given the need for a big old pile of dirt outside the door but the Northern Italian Steakhouse isn’t doing too badly, all things considered. So now we know why we were invited. And given the quality of the pizza and the various appetizers that Molly brought us or directed our way, we’ll definitely return.