Decatur’s Kitchen Garden Dinner Party: A Fundraiser

rabbit paella photo

Guests to a recent Decatur fundraiser came from as far as Indonesia as well as an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Other guests included Decatur residents who have a passion for good food and good community. The “Dinner Party” was a fundraiser organized by Global Grower’s Network to support “Decatur’s Kitchen Garden” which is a garden and gathering place for 35 families from various war-torn countries who cultivate and harvest a bounty of fresh produce while learning how they can contribute their wealth of good food expertise to Decatur’s vibrant community.

This was the second year for this culinary event that showcases Decatur’s food community. It brought together the growers, benevolent meat producers, extraordinary Decatur chefs, and people who love food, fun, and contributing to community life. Not only did the guests of this dinner get rewarded with an outstanding menu of fresh and deftly prepared food, but they had the satisfaction of knowing they were helping fund teaching programs and tools for the farmers. The setting for the party was the historic Decatur Cemetery, the oldest municipal cemetery in the Atlanta area.

Now on to the food. Gathering with cocktails and passed appetizers from Avondale’s Pin Street Market and Sweet N Sinful Bakery set the scene for the bounty of fine food to come. Eleven of Decatur’s restaurants each prepared platters of food for the tables. Restaurant No. 246 started off the feast with summer melon salad, while Twain’s chicken ballotine with pickled okra had just the right notes to spark the appetite. Course 2 revved up the taste buds with Chai Pani’s okra masala and Farm Burger’s pork cheeks with pepper jelly. The next course featured rabbit – with Iberian Pig’s rabbit liver and bacon mousse enhanced with picked shallots on rustic bread; and Sawicki’s paella with a confit of rabbit saddle. With your appetite now in high gear you were presented with Brick Store’s crispy pork belly, roasted butternut squash and warm sweet potato greens; and Steinbeck’s pork belly fried rice with smoked eggplant and poached eggs. As you were to the point of satiation, chicken presse by Kimball House and mushroom spaetzle by Leon’s Full Service were presented as the last course. Since there is always room for dessert, no one could pass up the profiteroles filled with muscadine jelly prepared by Cakes & Ale.

Be on the lookout Fall of 2015 for another one of these fabulous gourmet dinners that help give back to the community as well as promote awareness of the importance of fresh and wholesome food.

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Amplify Decatur at Eddies Attic June 20-22

The fourth annual Poverty is Real concert series takes place this weekend at Eddies Attic.

Amplify-Decatur

Billed as Amplify Decatur, the weekend will feature three nights of live music from some of the hottest singer/songwriters in the southeast including Jennifer Daniels, Steve Everett, Marshall Sease, Five Eight —a four-piece rock band from Athens, Those Darlins — an exciting indie rock sensation out of Nashville, and concluding Sunday with “My Hometown,” a Bruce Springsteen celebration, featuring ten amazing local and regional acts performing mini-sets of The Boss’s greatest hits.

Saturday afternoon features a program for children called the Learning Groove, featuring Eric Litwin, author of the first four “Pete the Cat” picture books, along with local musicians for an interactive kid’s show.

For the full schedule of shows and times, click here.

So what is Poverty is Real?

poverty is real

It’s a non-profit organization that stages music concerts to raise money for local charities that combat poverty. All the proceeds from this weekend’s concerts at Eddies Attic will go to the Decatur Cooperative Ministry, a proven, effective organization running multiple programs aimed at diminishing homelessness.  Visit Decatur wrote about PIR last year.   Since then, Poverty is Real has been growing and has hired a full time Executive Director. Growing means more concerts for more charities (Poverty is Real wants to do 12 shows in 2014), which means helping more people access organizations that find ways to get them out of poverty and live better lives.

So come out this weekend to hear some great music for a great cause.

 

 

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Decatur Restaurants Are Award Winners

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Kimball House bar area.

Eventhough the winners for the 2014 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef  Awards won’t be announced until May 5, the Decatur restaurants and chefs nominated as SEMI-FINALISTS are already winners in Decatur. They have won over our taste buds for sure, and they have won over our hearts with their dedication to their craft and high standards of service. We award them our loyalty as appreciative and hungry customers.

 As Decaturites we are very proud that four of our restaurants/chefs have places at the table of semi-finalists among top-notch establishments from all over the United States. Another thing to boast about is the fact that Decatur had four semi-finalists — almost as many as the entire metro Atlanta area with five semi-finalists. Decatur has truly established itself among the top tier of best foodie cities. 

Congrats to the following Semi-Finalists – you are already winners:

  •  Outstanding Bar Program: Kimball House (In business for less than six-months, this restaurant has come out of the gate way in front.)
  •  Outstanding Restaurateur: Ford Fry from Restaurant No. 246 (and others); Mike Klank and Eddie Hernandez from Taqueria del Sol
  • Best Chef/Southeast: Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale

 

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Live Music Scene Spotlight: Roxie Watson

March 15th:  Roxie Watson CD release party at the Variety Playhouse

Roxie Watson cover

Mark your calendars to be there for the release of “Songs from Hell’s Hollow”, the third CD of alternative bluegrass goodness from Roxie Watson, an Atlanta band with Decatur roots.

The five-piece string band started out in 2007 as a gathering of friends who were also veterans of the Atlanta music scene.    Over time their music evolved from performing covers to writing sparkling originals that combine elements of country, bluegrass, rock-a-billy, gospel and some good ol’ rock and roll that showcase lush, 4 part vocal harmonies with intricate instrumentation.    They have developed a dedicated following that has regularly sold out song writing venues like Eddie’s Attic in Decatur and the Bluebird Café in Nashville.   We were fortunate to have them perform at a Decatur Concerts on the Square last year.

Roxie Watson stage shot

The new CD, Songs from Hell’s Hollow, includes a cover song and eleven original compositions.   It was recorded earlier this year in New Orleans at the Music Shed Studios, that boasts a client list including artists such as Dr. John, Harry Connick Jr., R.E.M.The CureAmanda Shaw, Trombone Shorty and many others.    Songs from Hell’s Hollow will be released in local stores such as Decatur CD and the Wuxtry on Tuesday, March 11th, as well as the usual Internet outlets.

So make plans to be in Little Five Points on Saturday night, March 15th to attend the Roxie Watson concert and the CD release party at the Variety Playhouse.   Tickets are $15 and doors open at 7 PM.   Show starts at 8 PM with Jamie Lynn Vessels, a singer/guitarist from New Orleans, opening  for Roxie Watson.    Support live music Decatur!

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A day with my daughter

As a busy mom of two kids under the age of five, plus working a more than full-time job, it isn’t often that I get to spend quality time with each of my kids on their own. Try as I might, it seems like there is always a birthday party, a work event, or some other reason why we can’t slow down.

But last Saturday, I got the chance to spend time with my daughter, Molly, without cell phones,  meetings, or her little brother.

We headed into downtown Decatur and made three stops. First, a quick bang trim at Salon Red Kids. I have blogged before that I think this is one of the best deals in town. For $5 you get a friendly, professional cut, a happy kid who gets to watch Disney movies while she gets her hair done, and a lollypop when its all over. Plus, she doesn’t end up looking like “that kid” whose mom decided she could trim her bangs herself.

Molly's freshly trimmed bangs

Molly’s freshly trimmed bangs

Next, we took a brisk walk down to Mellow Mushroom to fulfill Molly’s request for pizza. The kids menu is the jam- tons of options including French bread pizza, giant dough pretzels, meatballs stuffed with cheese, or mac and cheese. All come with apples or broccoli and a drink, and wait for it…$5.50!

Once we ate all the meatballs we could stuff in our faces, we strolled over to Jazmin Spa where I discovered the new “best deal in town.”  Molly got a kids pedicure complete with foot soak, nail trim and buff, lotion and polish all for $5. I am not kidding, I had to pick my jaw up off the ground. Only $5?!

Tiny toes, color a la Disney's Frozen

Tiny toes, color a la Disney’s Frozen

Happy girl, princess dress and all

Happy girl, princess dress and all

For those few precious hours, I honestly would have paid just about anything but the fact that our Molly/Mommy Date (that’s what we call our scarce outings together) came in under $25 once I tipped everyone was such a pleasant surprise.

It just goes to show you that even though you may think you know Decatur, there are little surprises to discover all of the time!

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Comfortable and Appealing

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Black Eye Pea Dip

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The Imperial, a bar on College Avenue in Oakhurst on the site of an old gas station, is comfortable and appealing, just like the retro automobile it is named after. Since day one (or maybe day two) it has been packed with an overwhelming crowd of neighborhood folks and bar regulars. Even early on a slow and cold Sunday night when I visited, tables were scarce. Why the big and happy crowds? – the space is comfortable with a nice big bar plus booths and tables; the owners are there to help welcome, seat, and serve customers; the menu is likeable and interesting enough; food is well prepared and of good quality; and the prices are right. What more could you want from a neighborhood bar?

Sure it is bar food, but it is good bar food — ample portions with just a few unexpected extras thrown in to make some of the menu items crave-able. The black eye pea dip sounds tame enough, but when it is topped with drizzles of sriracha hot sauce and served with veggies, pita, and those fabulous spears of pickled okra, it takes a step up. The chicken wings aren’t your wimpy little flats or peg legs – they are whole chicken wings served with your choice of dipping sauces – yum to the hot and sweet sauce. The charred broccoli salad served on arugula and accompanied by roasted beets, grilled apples and a big handful of cranberries will keep a veggie lover busy and happy for a while. And the big juicy burger not only has bacon but it has piminto cheese as well.  It’s those extras that make you smile.

 This being a beer joint, it has lots of beers — craft, draft, and familiar bottle brands; an ample list of hard liquors; and enough reasonable reds and whites to go with a bar food menu. So, if you are in the mood for some hops and food that makes your tummy happy, check out The Imperial.               

 

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More Reasons to Celebrate for Decatur Restaurants

 

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Greek mandolin serenades the birthday celebreation at Cafe Lily

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Bar at Kimball House

It seems like Decatur just can’t stop getting high marks for being a great city. Recently the American Planning Association awarded Decatur one of the “Top Ten Neighborhoods in the Country.” They found out we were one of the ten best places in the country to live because of our sustainability, walkability, schools, businesses, long range successful city planning, among other attributes — all of the things we locals know and love about our great town.

 Then just as we are still in the afterglow of that award, the Atlanta Journal Constitution comes out with their “2013 Fall Dining Guide” where they touted the four top neighborhoods for great restaurants. Decatur was at the top of the list with Duluth, Roswell, and the Westside – – our restaurants on par with revered restaurants such as Bacchanalia and JCT Kitchen.

 A big part of our success has to do with committed business owners who have become a part of our community and contributed to our success. We have many restaurants that have been with us for more than 10 years – and they have grown and prospered along with the city. One of those restaurants is CAFÉ LILY. Amid toasts of congratulations from loyal regulars with the melodic music of a Greek mandolin in the background, in grand style Café Lily recently celebrated 14 years of being a part of Decatur’s vibrant restaurant community. Owners, Bette Pitillo and son, Chef Anthony Pitillo provided a Greek band for the evening’s festivities. They started off the dancing and it wasn’t long before guests were on the dance floor with them. Chef Anthony showed off some high stepping while onlookers crashed plates to the floor and shouted “opah”.  Happy Birthday Café Lily and thank you for being a part of our great city.

 Kimball House at the old Decatur train depot has opened to rave reviews. It is a beautiful space with a lovely inviting bar and acclaimed mixologist, Miles MacQuarrie, as one of the partners in the endeavor. The guys from super-successful Brick Store Pub and Leon’s Full Service also have a hand in the establishment. Try one of the specialty cocktails and an order of Parmesan cheese straws and you will be very happy.

 

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