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.