Restaurant Rewind | Airport Edition: Paschal’s + One Flew South ATL

On my way back from visiting Sunshine in Sarasota, I was stuck with a 2.5hr layover in the gigantic Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport. I figured with 5 terminals, there had to be some decent food to discover. I did a quick poke around the internet and came across Food & Wine’s Ultimate Airport Survival Guide. Since I was below the Mason-Dixon, their suggestion of Paschal’s classic Southern fare seemed like the perfect choice. And why have I never heard of Bruce’s Green Hot Pepper Sauce before?!?

At Paschal’s, I threw down on some fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, collards greens, + cornbread.

After I savored my last bite, I checked my Twitter to see that Taylor from Mac & Cheese shot me a strong recommendation to try One Flew South, the other suggestion on the F&W guide. Then there was Taylor’s follow-up: Do not miss anything “Benton’s” on the menu – bacon or ham – if you do pork. Oh, I do pork and I def have to do pork recommended by someone who’s been a vegetarian for over 20 years. I hopped on the tram and headed to Terminal E – proud in my Phillies shirt on a quest for bacon.

Sweet jesus… a beautiful, fine dining restaurant serving sushi and southern fusion… in an airport. While I waited for my Benton’s selection to arrive, I sipped on a serious, perfectly-made Vesper. Thank you, bartender who’s name I forget who has a dad who lives in Philly!

And then my glorious plate arrived… crisp frisee tossed w. a pink peppercorn vinaigrette flanked by Benton’s bacon + Sweet Grass Dairy goat cheese topped w. basil poached pears. It was so fresh with truly beautiful flavor combinations and damn near the best bacon I’ve ever had.

Did I mention I was in an airport?

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@ Sunshine’s: Crawfish + Summer Corn Chowder

While my friends + fam were anticipating Hurricane Irene’s wrath in the Northeast, I was in sunny, hurricane-free Florida… oh, the beautiful irony! Sunshine, my dear friend and the amazing creative behind Blog Full of Jelly, moved to Sarasota this past spring and I was stoked to finally make a visit down to see her new home. Kelly, a baker at Whole Foods + Philly friend of Sunshine’s, was visiting at the same time so we had a killer trifecta of creative food lovers. We did our share of eating out, but Sunshine upped her wonderful hostess status by making her version of Martha Stewart’s Summer Corn Chowder. I’m glad I had my camera and the beautiful Florida sunlight to shoot our way to a delicious bowl.

And what could make a delicious corn chowder even better… crawfish!
Cornfed agreed.

I did a bit of corn kernel removal, but mostly harassed Sunshine w. my camera.

Some of the tiniest, cutest potatoes I ever did see!

Kelly (wo)manned the grill like a champ.
I can handle a gas grill, but she was definitely a pro when it came to charcoal.

BBQ Chicken + Kielbasa right off the grill – a perfect accompaniment to the chowder.

Crawfish + Summer Corn Chowder topped w. bacon + a whole lotta love!

Instafood: Bacon + Eggs

Sriracha sunny’s! Can’t eat eggs w.o it anymore.

Bacon on my Breville panini press.
Fat just slides away… for me to save and cook w. later!

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To Taste: Flavored Finishing Salts collabo w. Sunshine

Sunshine turned me on to this awesome how-to video on how easy and rewarding it is to make flavored finishing salts. Eric Gower, the handsome personality behind Breakaway Cook, introduces diverse suggestions for ingredients to flavor moist sel gris. I’m beyond envious of his spice shelf and could watch his videos over and over and over.

Creative Use of Salts from Eric Gower on Vimeo.

Sunshine suggested and I agreed that this was a great inspiration for a crafty foodie collaboration! She had also found some mini jam jars that would be perfect vessels to store our new seasonings. We chose an afternoon during my week of leisure between jobs and got to planning our approach.

In the video, Eric Gower makes 4 different salts with lavender, matcha, smoked paprika, & saffron. We couldn’t get our hands on any of those ingredients, so we thought of great flavorings of our own. Sunshine finally located the sel gris at Trader Joe’s that is suggested as the base for our blends and we prepared our ingredients for blending. We heated the oven to about 275degrees and started drying our lime wheels, herbs, mango, & bacon:

Lime Wheels, Bacon, Herbs, & Mango

While our fresh ingredients dried in the oven, we set up the food processing attachment to the Cuisinart stick blender Dre got me for VDay. Quickest way to my heart is through a kitchen gadget! First up was some crystallized ginger we located on a last minute trip to the Asia mart. We ground it and added in about 2 T of the sel gris. A few more seconds of blending and we had so simply made our premier flavored salt.

Crystallized Ginger Salt

Luckily, we saved some fresh mango slices to sample the salt on. It was a perfect pairing!

Crystallized Ginger Salt on Mango

We still had some time to kill while our items dried in the oven. Sunshine found some really fun Victorian-inspired banner designs that we printed out as labels for our jars. We cut and arranged them on the lids with pencil-written names. One already filled and four more to go!

Labeled Salt Jars

The fresh herbs were first to be fully dried so we ground up the basil, thyme, oregano, & parsley. The result looked like a bowl of emerald-speckled diamonds and tasted amazing on fresh tomato slices.

Herb Salt

We whirled up our lime batch next, but I somehow missed getting a decent pic of it. Once the mango was crispy, we added it to two separate batches: one with just mango and another with the addition of bacon for a sweet & smokey approach. Both looked and tasted beautiful.

Mango Salt

Bacon Mango Salt

By this point in the afternoon, we’d downed quite a few Absolut Boston (elderflower & black tea vodka) and Arizona Lemonade cocktails. We moved the party to the patio to snack and focus on sampling all of our salts. I pan-fried chicken breast and sliced some more tomato as simple hosts for the variety of salty tastes.

Flavored Salt Sampling

They were all amazing but our stand-out favorite was definitely the crystallized ginger. We finished up our meal with sliced fresh strawberries… with salts, of course! I’m sure our cholesterol levels were staggering by the end of the day.

Strawberry w. Mango Salt

Even the Baby Kitty joined us for a great afternoon on the patio. She loves to stalk flies from the edge of the garden.

Baby kitty stalking flies

I’m so glad Sunshine stumbled upon this project as it is one of my favorites to date. We have alot of fun ideas on using our salts, so keep an eye out for exciting updates.

Flavored Finishing Salts

Check out Sunshine’s blog post on our crafty flavored finishing salts project on Blog Full of Jelly!

Weekend Update: Spring Patio Brunch

The last few weeks were a whirlwind as I finished up my last few weeks at my job. I was faced with Sunday as my only day off and was gonna make the best of my 50% of a weekend. Sunday morn, Tom popped over for brunch with champagne in hand. I was stoked to host him & Dre on my cleaned up patio. It was a perfect sunny day over orange raspberry-lemonade mimosas, buttery blueberry pancakes, bacon, & sriracha scrambled eggs with my favorite guys!

Buttery Blueberry Pancakes

L'eggo Tom's pancake!

Dre - picture of confidence in his Sunday whites

My Moufullobacon

Spring Patio Brunch

Restaurant Rewind: Date Night @ Sampan

I love date night! On a Friday in early March (bear with me, I’m a bit behind), Dre & I made plans for dinner at Sampan, the new hot spot I’ve been dying to try.  We walked into the bustling restaurant early for our 930pm reservation and sat at the bar for some cocktails. First on the drink list, and my choice, was the Blood Orange Martini w. Gin, Lillet, & Blood Orange. It a great balance of sweet & tart, but I was really jealous once I sampled Dre’s crisp Yuzu Sake Martini w. Gin, Elder Flower, & Lemon Grass. So far, so good!

Dre noticed that there was counter seating overlooking the energetic open kitchen. The hostess confirmed that a twosome was about to pay their bill and seats would be opening up. SCORE! What more could a foodie ask for than to watch the magic happen (under great lighting,too!). We got to know the cold line chefs, Matt & Onna, along the way and oggled the food porn they effortlessly executed. I’m always refreshed by a culinary team so dedicated to their craft.

Tuna w. Avocado, Puffed Rice, Flat Bread, & Spicy Sauce

Earlier in the week, I met Michael Schulson, the man behind Sampan, at a Philadelphia Weekly sponsored panel discussion on “Chefs, Bloggers, & the Blogosphere.” After the event, Chef Schulson graciously indulged my request for some personal menu recommendations. I definitely took his suggestions seriously! While we waited for each of our 7 carefully selected dishes to arrive, we sipped Sampan’s monster cocktail, the Scorpion Bowl – 64 ounces of rum, gin, white win, & fruit juice. It was really tasty, impressively strong, & lasted through the whole dinner. Our first dish, the Edamame Ravioli was light, tender, & perfectly enhanced with white truffle oil.

Sampan's Edamame Ravioli w. Truffle, Shoot, & Sake Broth

I always like to try different interpretations of the famous Philly Cheesesteak and we really enjoyed Chef Schulson’s version. The braised beef was rich & savory, accented with crispy shallots & Sriracha’s perfect heat.

Philly Cheese Steak w. Bao Bun, Shallot, & Sriracha

Next, a contrasting plate of cool freshness arrived. Chilled poached lobster nuggets laid under a simple pico of flavor-packed chopped tomatoes & garlic speckled with tender black beans for a perfect intermezzo between savory dishes.

Lobster w. Black Bean, Tomato, Garlic

I love bulgogi, so the Korean BBQ Beef Satay was a no brainer. Double-enforced skewers pierced tender ribbons of marinated medium-rare short rib topped with traditional kim che. They were a bit too pink for Dre’s liking, but that just meant more for me to savor.

Korean BBQ Beef Satay w. Short Rib, Bulgogi, Kim Che

The following dish may have be my favorite & the most interesting. I was excited to see the flavor combination & presentation of hiramasa, a sustainable substitution for yellowtail, bacon, arugula, & a pear kim che. The menu may tell you what you’re getting, but in most instances not how you’d expect to get it. From the deconstructed spicy tuna (see the photo above of Ona preparing this dish) to the current plate in front of us, Sampan’s surprises always seem to please. I really loved this dish. Beyond the interesting plating, the flavor blend was spectacular. I took the time to include a morsel of each element on my fork for each bite. The clean hiramasa fillets, painted with a peppery arugula puree, were a flawless palate for smokey bacon and sweet & spicy pear kim che. The portion was impressive and I still could have eaten another plate!

Hiramasa w. Bacon, Arugula, Pear Kim Chi

Another interesting take on a traditional dish was Sampan’s Peking Duck. The tender duck meat was pulled & served with foam in a small glass jar. The accompaniments included julienne cucumber, shaved scallion, & tamarind pancakes to build your own Peking Duck soft taco.

"Peking" Duck w. Tamarind Pancake, Scallion, Cucumber

Our final dish was a last minute decision and a menu item I’d been eyeing since before we made reservations – the Wonton Taco. The wonton wrapper, crisped in the deep fryer into a perfect hard taco shell, was stuffed with spicy succulent rock shrimp balanced with blood orange & avocado. We were one of a few tables left & we scarfed them before I could snap a pic.

Sampan’s energy and delicious cuisine were a perfect setting for another amazing date night with Dre. I couldn’t imagine anyone else I’d want to “mmm & ahh” over an impressive dinner with!

Next trip to Sampan – bahn mi & homemade ice cream!

Quickie: Yogurt & Granola w. Blackberries + BLT w. Sriracha Mayo

Seeing that I work 6 day weeks for 5 weeks straight, I had to make the most of my one & only day off this week. Once I peeled myself out of bed after a much needed sleep session (interrupted too often by allergy/cold induced coughing fits), I knew I needed some fuel to get through the chores on my list. I set out for the kitchen on a quest for Sunday Brunch for 1. 15 minutes later, I came out with a bowl of Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla Yogurt topped with Cascadian Farm Oat & Honey Granola and fresh whole blackberries for the breakfast half of brunch.

Vanilla Yogurt & Granola w. Blackberries

A classic BLT with Sriracha mayo was a perfect match to complete my brunch couple. And so the rainy day laundry & cleaning & bloggin begins…

BLT w. Sriracha Mayo