Category: Special Ingredient

Where I Shop in Atlanta… Markets, Grocers, Vendors and more!

groceryI’ve always loved grocery shopping. It could be because it combines two things I love– picking out new things AND food.

And as a child I remember my mom (the consumate educator) would test my math skills by making me add up totals in my head while we shopped– a habit I’ve lately abandoned. And if i was on point I’d get a treat! ANY. THING. I WANTED. AT THE STORE! Usually tomatoes or swiss cake rolls. I know those are random options, but I would eat all of the tomatoes before my mom had a chance to cook with them– so she started buying me my own. I still love them today.

Outside of that, I had loads of other opportunities to earn sweets because my older cousins hated going to the store with their mom. So I would volunteer to go with my aunt when I was little. She would test my memory by verbally giving me a list in the car and pretending to need my help remembering. No matter what, I came home with a treat from the Kroger bakery when I went with her. #spoiled. So it was always good times!

Anyway, there is no one rewarding me for randoms tasks while grocery shopping these days, BUT i still enjoy going up and down the aisles, considering meal options and comparing prices. Over time I’ve learned where to go for certain things. And I want to share that with you guys!!! If you live in Atlanta– these are the places that I like to shop.

BEST PRODUCE: Any Metro-Atlanta Farmers Market!

I’m not going to say one farmers market is better than another for produce. It kinda depends on the produce you’re looking for, but I’ll say that farmers markets generally have better options than traditional grocery stores! I love checking out small pop up markets too. They usually feature locally grown organic items. I’ll splurge for that!

Side note: Dekalb and the Sandy Springs pop-up have great greens, but Buford Hwy has great potatoes and tomatoes.

BEST SPICES: Your Dekalb Famers Market!

HANDS DOWN. They have a wall of spices packaged in a variety of weights for the lowest prices you can imagine. I buy big tubs of coarse salt and peppercorns for less than $1.00 every time I go. And if you’ve ever tried to buy nutmeg at a traditional grocery store, you know that it’ll cost you a smooth $5 for nearly none. And at Dekalb, you can get an eff load it for under $2.00. That’s just an example. But think of a natural herb– and they have it for the low!



Coffee… What I Drink Until I Can Have Wine

At any moment before lunch, I can be seen with a cup of coffee in hand. I don’t stick to a specific espresso drink, but just about any coffee-centric beverage will do. And if you follow me on Twitter or Foursquare, you know my regular haunts! When I’m in Decatur, I love to stop by Dancing Goats! They brew Batdorf & Bronson coffee.

Whatever your reason for hanging out in a coffee shop, Dancing Goats Decatur can accommodate. With comfy sofas at the front for relaxation and reading (great natural light), large tables at the back for working and meeting (free wi-fi), and even outdoor seating for quick stops when walking the kids and dog (there’s a water bowl).

I not only love the environment, but of course the java! I had the pleasure of visiting their roastery in West Midtown off Chattahoochee Ave. I could pretend to be an expert on coffee roasting now, but instead I’ll just tell you that flavor comes from roasting. And this spot gets it right. Of course you can buy the beans and the grinds at the coffee shop. (PS- the decaf is created through the Swiss Water Process).

Anything you can get at your local starbucks (who i also adore and where I hold a gold card membership) can be made at Dancing Goats and most of them are better (sorry starbucks). My favorites include:

  1. Evergreen Orange– espresso infused with orange, rosemary and thyme (BEYOND YUMMY),
  2. Iced Hazelnut Latte– iced lattes come in one size
  3. cafe au lait– i don’t know what they do differently, but it tastes AMAZING!

There are other locations (mostly in Washington), which I intend to visit. Check out which ever is closest to you!

Dancing Goats Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon

Macaroni… Easy-Peesy and Cheesy


One of my favorite dishes to eat ever is a good macaroni and cheese. I like it creamy and full of flavor. My personal recipe (not shared) is inspired by Chef Delilah Winder’s 7-cheese macaroni (which Oprah dubbed the Best Macaroni & Cheese in the WORLD).  When I met Chef Delilah and tried this dish– I had to agree.

The woman knows what she’s doing. And she has no problems sharing how it is done. I swear it is easy-peesy! You basically dump the ingredients into a large mixing bowl (with the exception of the eggs) and mix is as best you can. Chef Delilah puts on gloves and mixes it by hand– she doesn’t believe that a spoon can do it justice.

Anyway, I’ve shared her recipe below. But just know that you can substitute these for your faves and even use less options. I only use 3 to five cheeses when I make it, and I add a little ground mustard seed.  Once I perfect a written recipe (with measurements I mean), I’ll post it as a Part II (Maybe for Christmas). And once you get it all down, you’ll be able to add ingredients like sausage, crab, lobster, etc.

Click below for Chef Delilah Winder’s Macaroni recipe courtesy of the food network.


Salads… Not Just Iceberg Lettuce

I know so many people who say things like “I don’t eat salad”, “that’s rabbit food”, and “it just doesn’t fill me up/taste good”. But I think these are people who subscribe to the theory that salads can only be made with one type of green. Check out this video detailing some other options. So next time you’re in a restaurant, you’ll know what they are talking about on the salad menu.

Click below to find out the most healthy greens to use!  (more…)

5 Ways to Screw up a Wine Pairing

In the August issue, executive wine editor Ray Isle names the best summer value wines. Here, he explains how you can do wrong by those fantastic bottles in a new series called What Not to Do.

1. Artichokes.
Artichokes hate wine. They grow on their little stalks thinking, “I hate wine. Ooh, I hate it. I’m gonna grow here for a while, then I’m gonna go mess up some wine.” The reason they do that is that artichokes have a compound called cynarin in them that basically makes wine taste awful. If you’re dead set on eating artichokes and drinking wine with them, the best option is a light-bodied, unoaked white wine like a Grüner Veltliner from Austria. But you’d be best off with beer: a nice brown ale ought to work just fine.

2. Serve your wine too warm (if it’s red) or too cold (if it’s white).
Warm red wine tastes alcoholic and flabby. Serve reds a little below room temperature and they’re not only more pleasant to drink, but they taste better with food (throw them in the fridge for 30 minutes before you pour them). Icy cold whites don’t taste like anything, so pull them out of the fridge a few minutes before serving.

3. Try to make two stars share the table.
This doesn’t work in Hollywood, and it doesn’t work at your house, either. If you have a truly extraordinary wine to pour, serve it with a simple dish. If you’re spending 15 hours trying to re-create one of Thomas Keller‘s intricate recipes fromThe French Laundry Cookbook, pour something good—but not equally spectacular.

4. Serve oily fish with tannic red wine.
Fish oils react harshly with tannins, so don’t, for instance, serve mackerel with Cabernet—unless you like the taste you get from licking a roll of pennies. With oily fish, skip the reds entirely and go white. Any of the crisp, minerally seaside wines: Albarino from Spain, Vermentino from Italy, Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s Pacific coast. All of those are good options.

5. Overthink the whole thing.
Really. This is the biggest way to screw up a wine pairing, not because the wine and food will taste bad together, but because you’ll turn yourself into a neurotic mess who makes Woody Allen seem like a Zen buddhist. Most wines can happily live alongside most foods, in a kind of neutral you-go-your-way-and-I’ll-go-mine state. Just stay away from those artichokes.


10 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Coffee Beans

To my friends, I may be a Javaholic. I love a good cuppa joe. PS- I never call it that, but it somehow seems appropriate when blogging. Anyway, I drink at least one cup every day. And I like to add warm and savory spices for extra flavor. I wanted to share these tips with you for how to make the best cup of coffee possible, courtesy of KRUPS USA and good people at 5W. Enjoy. –Dani Styles

Tip 1 – Buy Better Beans: No, we don’t just mean the more expensive bag in the coffee aisle. Fresher beans equal better coffee, so look to smaller, independent coffee shops that stock beans that are roasted on the premises or nearby. Quality establishments will stamp your coffee with its roasting date, so you know you exactly how fresh your coffee is. Coffee taste peaks from 1-3 days after the roast, and if stored properly will last up to two weeks.


Tip 2 – Store Correctly: Contrary to popular belief, you should never store beans in a freezer or a refrigerator. Coffee actually absorbs aromas from surrounding foods, and freezing the coffee will alter oil properties affecting taste. KRUPS recommends transferring whole bean coffee into an air tight container after opening, and storing in a cool, dry and dark place.


Tip 3 – Do it Yourself: Freshly ground coffee makes a world of difference, as beans start losing flavor immediately upon reaching the grinder. Grind beans yourself right before you brew, and pay attention to the coarseness of the beans, as different filter shapes require different textures. For example, mesh filters require a coarser grind, while paper filters require a finer grind, and espresso requires grinds that are almost of a sugar-type consistency for optimum flavor.


Tip 4 – One for Good Luck: KRUPS recommends measuring ground coffee out to equal one tablespoon of grinds per 5 oz of water, plus one heaping scoop at the end for good measure.


Tip 5 – Water Works: The quality of the water being used is extremely important. KRUPS recommends using cold, filtered water, especially if your tap water is not of good quality or emits a strong odor or taste.  Since coffee is 98% water,  the taste of the water will come through in the brew.


Tip 6 – Don’t Hesitate: Brewed coffee should be enjoyed immediately, as it will begin to lose its optimal taste mere moments after brewing. Coffee should never be left on an electric burner plate for longer than 15 minutes, or it will develop a stale, burnt taste. If not served immediately, coffee should be poured into insulated containers and used within the hour. KRUPS insulated internal tank system on the Cup on Request machine avoids this issue, and the brand’s Thermal Carafe Machines also eliminate the need for transfer, as the pot itself can be removed from the plate immediately after brewing. As a rule of thumb when using Thermal Carafes, KRUPS recommends running hot water in the carafe prior to brewing, otherwise, the cold stainless steel will cool down the liquid much too quickly.


Tip 7 – Become a Coffee Connoisseur: Much like a fine wine, coffee should be enjoyed with all the senses. Take note of acidity, aroma, bitterness, body and nuttiness. For in depth coffee tasting, or “cupping” tips, check out the guide from here:


Tip 8 – Quick Sips: KRUPS recommends drinking smaller, more frequent servings (about 1/4 cup every hour).  Research shows that caffeine works best in small, frequent doses, and a large cup can actually lead to a crash.


Tip 9 – Butt Out: Studies show that caffeine combined with Nicotine intake significantly reduces caffeine’s staying power. Nicotine suppresses the effect of caffeine, cutting some of its stimulating properties in half.


Tip 10 – Cat Nap: Since it takes about 20 minutes to feel the effects of coffee, and sleep is the only solution to really offer a feeling of restfulness, the best way to get that second wind is by drinking a cup, then taking a quick nap while the caffeine sets in. You’ll wake up feeling alert and refreshed!

5 Tips for Pairing Beer with Vegetables

I find wine pairings very challenging. And beer pairings don’t even cross my mind. But when it is expertly matched with my meal, I remember why I drink beer in the first place. I think carnivores like myself will find this article as useful as vegetarians. We often think to pair our beverage with our meat, but what about the side dishes. –Dani Styles

As written by Jen Murphy for Food & Wine Magazine.

ONIONS– Best with onion rings: a slightly bitter, hoppy pale ale like a Sierra Nevada or Alpha King, the flagship beer from Three Floyds Brewing Co. in Munster, Indiana.

ROOT VEGETABLES– They’re sweet, so they go well with a beer that also has notes of caramel. Try pairing with an American porter, such as Avery Brewing’s New World Porter.

WILD MUSHROOMS– An aggressively hoppy, malty beer with a bitter kick—an American strong ale like Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard—pairs with the umami flavors in mushrooms.

TOMATOES– An amber ale such as Ballast Point Calico has rich flavors and a smooth finish—just right for acidic vegetables like tomatoes.


5 Tips for Pairing Red Wines with Vegetables

I find wine pairings daunting, so I’m always grateful for tips. I often think about pairing my wine with my meat, but pairing based on the vegetable makes perfect sense. I thought these were so easy to remember that I had to share them. Bookmark this and refer to them next time you’re entertaining. –Dani Styles

As written by Ray Isle for Food & Wine Magazine.

Pairing red wine with vegetables can be tricky. Here, five fantastic combinations.

– Tomatoes, which are acidic, will taste better with a relatively acidic red, like a Sangiovese.

– Pair dark, leafy greens like spinach or chard with light reds such as Gamay; greens make full-bodied reds too astringent.

– Match mushrooms, lentils, miso and other earthy ingredients with an earthy red like Pinot Noir.

– Tannins intensify heat, so for dishes with hot chiles, pour soft, fruity reds like Zinfandel.

– Protein-rich vegetarian dishes (with cheese, for instance) often stand up to tannic reds like Syrah.

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