Georgia on My Palate

This afternoon I had the opportunity to explore the newish Ponce City Market, one of those fancy food courts (with a few shops on the side) that seem to be springing up in every major city. This one happens to be in the old City Hall East, which before that was the Sears Roebuck building. In other words, it’s got a lot of history.

One of the numerous eateries that immediately appealed to me was Bellina Alimentari. After having fun looking over their Italian import products, I noticed that they also had a carefully curated cheese selection as well, so I picked out two homegrown hunks, Thomasville Tomme from Sweet Grass Dairy and Southern Aged’s Georgia Gold. The Tomme was probably my favorite, because it’s so easy to eat and eat and eat! The GG cheddar is actually the only cheddar made in Georgia which makes it pretty special.

I also requested a half loaf of the impressive schiacciata (aka Florentine focaccia) on display. It was about 2 inches in height, very fluffy, and required a hand washing or wipe down after each little bit I tore off from it, as it was quite oily, but in a good way! There were big crystals of salt atop and every single bite was a pure delight. When married with either of these delicious cheeses, it was even more heavenly.

I also selected a third cheese, Out of the Ashes, based on the intriguing label alone. It was made by a couple who call themselves, Woodsman & Wife.

This one definitely packed a punch! As you can see below, it had a very ashy rind and a super creamy interior. The flavor was quite strong and to be honest, it was not my favorite, definitely an acquired taste. I wondered if, like my beloved Kunik, there was certain window in which to purchase it before it became overripe.

We ultimately didn’t eat that much of it, and I didn’t take it back with me on the plane, for fear of wiping out everyone with its growing aroma. So, I guess the moral of today’s cheese story is don’t pick your cheese based on its label. Though knowing me, I’ll likely do this again anyway.

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Kimball’s Cheese Does Please

Tonight, I went out with two college chums, Harbourne Blue and Hamakua, to the highly recommended Kimball House, located in the depot across the street from our old stomping grounds. We could’ve eaten on campus, but I think we made the much better choice to visit one of Decatur’s finest, hippest eateries.It will come as no big surprise that I opted to get the cheese plate as my main entrée. Starting from the left, there is Caña de Cabra, a Spanish goat cheese; then, Belletoile, a triple cream brie; next, Deer Creek’s 7 year Proprietor’s Grand Reserve Cheddar; and finally, the Sweet Home Perdido, from yes, Alabama.

As you can see I also had quite a few accompaniments, too: a tangy mustard, some pickles, microgreens, chopped nuts, and my absolute favorite, a homemade strawberry jam. I was licking the ramekin at the meal’s end–I kid you not.

The cheeses were all delightful, and I was kind and shared some with Harbourne & Hamakua. Beyond my rapture with the jam, which caused a Proustian style flashback in me to freezer jams from my childhood, I can’t say that I had a favorite cheese. Probably the cheddar went best with the jam?

Kimball House supposedly changes their menu every day, so I look forward to going back and seeing what new cheeses are available to sample.

Goo Goo Tots

I got to Atlanta just in time for The Vortex‘s 25th birthday bash. My ATL bestie Idiazabal had initially mentioned going out for Indian, but when we heard about their big day, we knew we couldn’t miss it. Plus, tots! We ordered some of their Cheesy-Cheese Goo to go along with them, and it was delish. The only unfortunate thing was that I’d forgotten that the Vortex is pro-smoking and being in a restaurant clouded by smoke just seems weird in this day and age. Even in Europe, where smoking is so much more common, the smokers have to go outside in almost every country. So, the atmosphere wasn’t the greatest, but the food was still delish, if a tad disgusting. I’m not gonna ask what exactly makes this cheese so gooey.

Also, you can get pimiento cheese here on your burger, including a damn fine veggie one. So, two points for cheese minus one point for smoke. Yep, I’ll be back, but maybe doing takeout next time, if Georgia still hasn’t caught up with the rest of the world.

Take Two

My lunch this afternoon had an element of déjà vu to it. Like today, about 3 months ago, I was on my way home to Georgia. I was flying Delta, whose terminal D is the nicest of all at LaGuardia, and I had extra time to kill, so I sat down at Crust and ordered some bruschette. On the left is Butternut & Mascarpone and on the right Ricotta & Fennel. Obviously, there are some other ingredients–a bit of pesto mixed in with the squash and mandarin slices piled atop the ricotta–but the recipe is pretty simple. And if you aren’t like me and fearful of any cooking that involves chopping, you might even try to make them yourself at home.

Anyway, back in January, I had this very same meal, but unfortunately, my camera was lost/stolen before I had a chance to upload the pics I took at that lunch, so finally I had the opportunity to recreate what had disappeared. And I certainly didn’t mind revisiting this restaurant a second time. I like to think of the squash one as the main and the mandarin one as the dessert. Both were delicious and there are many other bruschette toppings to choose from, so if you find yourself stuck in this NYC airport with a sucky delay, at least know you can pass the time with some tasty food.

National Beer (& Cheese) Day

Today is National Beer Day. I don’t know who decides these things, but on my way through Grand Central this evening, I saw that Murray’s had some cheeses on sale that reputedly paired well with beer. So, I picked up a small hunk of the Swiss Challerhocker. I also got some of Effie’s (effin’ amazing) crackers. I think I got the rye variety this evening.

Anyway, back to the cheese. Challerhocker is described as being a sort of super Appenzeller with extra cream mixed in and being given more time to ripen. I’ve tried a few basic Appenzellers before (pre-blog) and they were fine basic Swiss cheeses, but this one was extra yum. I found myself continually cutting off “just one more piece” and then another and another. It’s a very friendly cheese that your palate will adore. Do yourself a favor and take this “cellar-sitter” home with you. Your taste buds will thank you. And pop open a brewski on the side. Ahhhh….