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.