Cocktails in the Garden Returns May 2

Atlanta’s most beautiful weekly cocktail party returns this week — Cocktails in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden launches on Thursday, May 2nd for the 2013 season.

Cocktails in the GardenFrom 6pm to 10pm every Thursday from May through September visitors will get to sip beer, wine and cocktails while strolling through the gardens. There will be live cooking demonstrations and tastings from chefs in the Edible Garden, and DJs spinning live music. Held every third Thursday will be the Art & Science Café, a series of discussions that will explore the unique and innovative ways artists and scientists work together.

Visitors will be able to check out Imaginary Worlds: Plants Larger Than Life. The exhibit features living sculptures including a unicorn, cobras and butterflies that are made from thousands of meticulously groomed annuals. The sculptures range up to 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide.

Drinks may be purchased at cash bars located throughout the garden, and food may be purchased at MetroFresh in the Garden.

Admission to Cocktails in the Garden is $18.95 for adults and free for garden members. Guest passes are accepted. Click here for more information.

Cocktails in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Every Thursday Night, May through September, 6pm – 10pm. 1345 Piedmont Avenue NE, Atlanta

Snapshots from the 2013 Buckhead Wine Festival

Guests sipped a variety of wines, beer and spirits at the second annual Buckhead Wine Festival, held Saturday at the Andrews Entertainment District.

Georgia was well represented — in addition to sampling wine from the state, guests could taste and buy locally made cheese, macarons, cupcakes, jellies, pickled vegetables and more.

The Buckhead Wine Festival offered a chance for many to get their first taste of Richland Rum, a rum distilled just two hours south of Atlanta, in Richland, Georgia.

Click below for snapshots from the 2013 Buckhead Wine Festival.

Truchard Vineyards: Wines from Carneros

By Robin Alix Austin

The Truchard story is a story about farming. Tony Truchard is a farmer, first and foremost – as described by his son Anthony, who visited Atlanta in March for the High Museum Wine Auction.

Truchard VineyardsDirt-coated fingernails, a pickup truck and long hours planting, tending and pruning – Anthony paints a vivid picture of his father. Even in his 70s, Tony is still out in the vineyards as often as possible, truly committed to the quality of his grapes.

Tony and Jo Ann Truchard were among the pioneers of grape growing in the Carneros region of Napa Valley. They purchased a 20 acre parcel of land there in 1974, and in 1989 established a winery producing wines made from estate-grown fruit. Today Truchard Estate Vineyard is 400 acres of which 270 are planted; in addition to making their own wine the Truchards sell grapes to more than 20 Napa Valley wineries. Winemaker Sal De Ianni joined the team in 1998.

Farming has always been a family affair. From the age of 10, Anthony and his brother John (who owns John Anthony Vineyards), were out in the vineyards with their father. This connection – to farming and family – is felt when you speak with Anthony. After sharing a glass of wine with Anthony and his wife Suzanne, you’ll feel like you’re a part of the Truchard family.

As any winemaker will tell you, good wine starts in the vineyard. The Truchard family puts as much care into crafting their wines as they do cultivating the grapes. Each bottle tells a story – of the terroir, the technique and the hands-on approach to making wines.

Among the many delicious Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that were tasted during the High Museum Wine Auction, the ones from Truchard Vineyards stood out.

Truchard ChardonnayThe 2011 Chardonnay is fresh and bright, with flavors of golden apple, ripe pear and Meyer lemon. Oak adds soft layers of vanilla and baking spices. The finish is crisp, with lingering citrus. ($30, 13.9% alcohol)

The 2010 Pinot Noir is supple and silky in the mouth, with berry aromas that expand on the palate. Plum, raspberry, strawberry and cherry cola mingle with flavors of black tea and vanilla, supported by gentle tannins and well-balanced acidity. ($35, 13.9% alcohol)

Following the High Museum Wine Auction, I had the opportunity to taste Truchard’s Syrah and Cabernet Franc.

Truchard Pinot NoirThe 2010 Syrah has rich flavors of blackberry and boysenberry, with cedar and earthy notes adding depth. Present tannins give the wine a pleasant mouthfeel, and the elegant finish has lingering vanilla and allspice. ($30, 14.3% alcohol)

The 2010 Cabernet Franc draws you in with intense black fruit and spice aromas. Mouth-filling flavors of black currant and plum give way to tobacco, black pepper and vanilla, culminating in a long and satisfying finish. ($35, 14.2% alcohol)

Deep ties to Carneros, a passion for farming and a dedication to expertly-crafted wines – the Truchard family’s story can be tasted in every bottle.

For more information visit www.truchardvineyards.com.

Images from Truchard’s website

AG Pick: Mas de la Dame Rosé du Mas 2012

The French know how to do rosé right. And some of the best rosé can be found in Provence, in the south of France.

Les Baux and vineyardsThat’s where Mas de la Dame is, in a commune called Les Baux-de-Provence. It’s a gorgeous area in a beautiful part of Provence, best known for ruins of a fortified castle that overlook the vineyards and olive groves below.

Owned by sisters Anne Poniatowski and Caroline Missoffe, Mas de la Dame has 140 acres of vineyards at the foot of the medieval village of Les Baux. Farming is done organically, and the grapes are harvested by hand. Jean-Luc Colombo is the consulting winemaker.

Mas de la Dame Rose du MasIt’s hard to imagine a more perfect setting for enjoying rosé than sitting outside with a chilled glass during the summer in Provence. But with a glass of the Mas de la Dame Rosé du Mas 2012, you can nearly recreate the experience at your own home.

The wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Cinsault. The grape juice spent 4 to 8 hours with the skins to get its pale peachy-pink color.

The Rosé du Mas opens with aromas of fresh berries and rose. On the palate are delicate flavors of ripe raspberry, wild strawberry and peach, with subtle fresh mint notes. The finish is clean and refreshing.

This is a rosé to make even the most skeptical wine drinker a rosé fan.

Enjoy the Mas de la Dame Rosé du Mas outdoors on a warm and sunny day with lunch or as an aperitif. It pairs well with salads, light pasta dishes, grilled pork, barbecue or fish. Serve the Rosé du Mas chilled.

$14, 12.85% alcohol

Kettle Brand Introduces New Flavors

Just in time for picnic and barbecue season, Kettle Brand is introducing two new flavors of potato chips: Maple Bacon and Sweet & Salty.

Kettle Brand potato chipsThe Oregon-based company celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2012. As it gets set to celebrate 31 years in July, Kettle Brand continues to push flavor boundaries with chips that reflect fans’ cravings for something smoky, salty and sweet. The new flavors come after nine months of testing and tasting hundreds of prototypes.

Proving that anything is better with bacon, Maple Bacon combines the smoky flavors of bacon with the sweetness of maple syrup and a touch of chili pepper spice.

Sweet & Salty has the saltiness you crave in a potato chip with the subtle sweetness of caramel corn.

The two new flavors, like all of Kettle Brand’s chips, are made with all-natural ingredients and cooked in pure, all-natural oils. The chips are verified by the Non-GMO Project.

Kettle Brand’s other flavors include Cheddar Beer, Jalapeño Jack, Spicy Thai and Fully Loaded Baked Potato as well as traditional flavors like Sea Salt & Vinegar, Sour Cream & Onion and Backyard Barbecue. Kettle Brand chips are available at supermarkets around the country.

For more information visit www.kettlebrand.com.

Disclosure: The Amateur Gastronomer received complimentary samples of Kettle Brand potato chips.

South City Kitchen Midtown Celebrates 20 Years

Happy anniversary South City Kitchen Midtown! This month the sophisticated southern restaurant is celebrating its 20th year.

SCK logoSince opening on Crescent Avenue in 1993, South City Kitchen Midtown has won numerous awards and continues to be regarded as one of the top dining spots in Atlanta. Located in a refurbished 1920s bungalow, South City Kitchen Midtown is a delicious destination for a number of occasions, from business lunches to romantic dinners, or a relaxing weekend brunch.

South City Kitchen Midtown patioSome of Atlanta’s favorite chefs spent time at South City Kitchen Midtown including Jay Swift of 4th & Swift, Todd Mussman of Muss & Turner’s and Ted Lahey of Table & Main. Today it’s Executive Chef Chip Ulbrich who for the past five years has been putting his spin on mouthwatering dishes like buttermilk fried chicken, she-crab soup, shrimp and grits and banana pudding.

“Part of the challenge here is honoring the 20-year history while keeping the cuisine relevant,” said Chef Ulbrich. “Local ingredients, Southern tradition and contemporary techniques help keep us at the forefront of the Atlanta dining South City Kitchen Midtownscene while consistently exceeding evolving expectations.”

Want to bring South City Kitchen into your own kitchen? Try this recipe for the restaurant’s Fried Green Tomatoes and Red Pepper Coulis (link opens in new window).

South City Kitchen Midtown is operated by Fifth Group Restaurants, which includes South City Kitchen Vinings, La Tavola Trattoria, Ecco, The Original El Taco, Alma Cocina and Lure, plus catering and design company Bold American Events.

South City Kitchen Midtown, 1144 Crescent Avenue, Atlanta 30309.
(404) 873-7358

South City Kitchen’s Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe

South City Kitchen Midtown is celebrating its 20th anniversary in April. Bring a taste of the sophisticated southern restaurant into your own home with their recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes and Red Pepper Coulis.

Fried Green Tomatoes

fried green tomatoesIngredients:
• 4 green tomatoes sliced into ¼ in slices
• 1 lb goat cheese
• 1 cup flour for dusting
• 6 eggs whisked
• 2 cup bread crumbs
• salt and pepper
• oil for frying

Directions:
Season green tomato slices generously with salt and pepper. Place about one tablespoon of the goat cheese on the tomato slices with a spoon.

One at a time, dust with flour, dip in egg and coat with bread crumbs. Deep fry at 375 °F and deep fry until golden brown.

Red Pepper Coulis

Ingredients:
• 6 sweet red peppers
• 1 large onion
• 6 cloves garlic
• 6 fresh basil leaves
• 1 cup tomato juice
•  ½ cup white wine
•  ¼ cup sugar
• salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Cut onion and peppers into one inch pieces and smash garlic with the side of a knife. Sweat onions, peppers and garlic until translucent. Add sugar and stir. Add white wine and reduce by half. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes. Puree in food processor and strain. Season with salt and pepper.

photo provided by South City Kitchen Midtown

Snapshots from the Edna Lewis Celebration Dinner

On what would have been her 97th birthday, Edna Lewis was remembered for her remarkable life and legacy April 13th at a celebration organized by the Edna Lewis Foundation.

Ms. Lewis, who passed away in 2006, brought Southern cuisine to the national stage and influenced generations of Southern and African American chefs.

Chefs Art Smith, Darryl Evans and Joe RandallOn Saturday members and supporters of the Edna Lewis foundation enjoyed a five-course meal inspired by Ms. Lewis. In attendance were Ruth Lewis Smith and Mattie Scott, Ms. Lewis’ sister and niece, and John Henry Thurston, Ms. Lewis’ cousin. Throughout the evening her family and the chefs shared stories of Ms. Lewis and her love of cooking.

During the cocktail hour guests were served duck confit and dried fruit empanadas, smoked salmon BLTs, pickled seafood served in a mason jar and cornbread bites stuffed with crab and smoked gouda, created by Chef Charlie Hatney of the City Club of Buckhead.

Chef Art Smith shared his stories about Edna Lewis as guests enjoyed a Bourbon and Virginia ham tasting with Southern Art’s Mixologist Clay Livingston and Executive Chef Tim McGee.

Edna LewisThe first course was a roasted kabocha squash and gala apple soup prepared by Chef Kevin Mitchell of the Culinary Institute of Charleston. Cardamom crème fraiche and prosciutto cracklings added additional flavors to the rich soup.

For the second course Chef Todd Richards of The Shed at Glenwood served lamb belly with roasted garlic hummus and pickled radishes.

The third course was a salad of arugula and frisee with creole cured salmon, parsnips and pecans with a Bourbon vinaigrette prepared by Chef Duane Nutter, Executive Chef at One Flew South.

The fourth course was a thyme & rosemary crusted pheasant breast from Chef Darryl Evans of the City Club at Buckhead. It was served with a Hoppin John rice cake and kale and mustard greens ragout.

For dessert Chef Jennifer Booker of Your Resident Gourmet served a decadent lemon chèvre cheesecake with blackberry sorbet.

The mission of the Edna Lewis Foundation is to honor, cultivate and preserve the rich African American culinary history by offering a variety of events and programs designed to educate, inspire and entertain, and promote a deeper understanding of Southern culinary culture and heritage. It was founded in January 2012 by Chef Joe Randall of Chef Joe Randall’s Cooking School in Savannah. For more information on the foundation visit www.ednalewisfoundation.org.

Credit for first photo: Angela Hatney

Edna Lewis Foundation Hosts Second Annual Celebration Dinner

Top southern and African American chefs will come together this month to celebrate the grande dame of southern cookery: Edna Lewis.

Edna LewisThe granddaughter of a former slave, Ms. Lewis was a chef, cookbook author and teacher. Her second cookbook, The Country Cookbook (published in 1976), was the first-ever cookbook written by an African American woman about African American cookery that gained national fame. Ms. Lewis spent many of her later years in Atlanta, and passed away in 2006 at the age of 89.

Click here to read more about the history and legacy of Edna Lewis.

The Edna Lewis Foundation will host its second annual birthday fundraiser on Saturday, April 13th at the City Club of Buckhead. Founded in January 2012 by Chef Joe Randall of Chef Joe Randall’s Cooking School in Savannah, the Edna Lewis Foundation is dedicated to the study and preservation of African-American food traditions.

The evening will begin with a Bourbon tasting provided by mixologist Clay Livingston and Chef Art Smith of the Southern Art and Bourbon Bar.

Following hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Charlie Hatney of the City Club of Buckhead, guests will enjoy a five-course dinner. Participating chefs include Chef Kevin Mitchell of the Culinary Institute of Charleston; Chef Todd Richards of The Shed at Glenwood (and 2013 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southeast Award Nominee); Chef Duane Nutter of the Lush Life Restaurant Group; Chef Darryl Evans of the City Club of Buckhead; and Chef Jennifer Booker of Your Resident Gourmet.
Click here to see the menu.

Tickets for the dinner cost $125 per person and may be purchased online. Net proceeds will benefit the foundation and its programs.

For more information on the Edna Lewis Foundation or to join, visit www.ednalewisfoundation.org.

The Edna Lewis Foundation’s Birthday Celebration Dinner, Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 6pm. City Club of Buckhead, 3343 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta.

photo credit: Edna Lewis Foundation
Chefs Cary Neff, Art Smith and Joe Randall at the 2012 event.

A Passion for Terroir at St. Innocent

To hear president and winemaker Mark Vlossak talk about the wines of St. Innocent is like listening to a conductor describe conducting a symphony. Each element in crafting a wine has its own role, whether it’s the grape, soil, weather, yeast or oak (new barrels, used barrels or none). When the winemaker brings together the melody of the grape with the harmony of all other variables, the finished wine is a true work of art.

St Innocent winesSt. Innocent Winery produces small lots of handcrafted, vineyard-designated Pinot Noir and white wine in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The name comes from the middle name of Mark’s father, though apparently he acted not so innocently every once in a while. Mark aims to produce wines that capture the essence of the grape and the terroir of each site, using oak only when complementary. The texture of each wine is important to Mark, as is its ability to pair with and enhance food.

St. Innocent practices sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming on its estate vineyard of Zenith Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, and leases blocks of vineyards from other Oregon growers who use these methods.

Mark shared five exceptional wines from St. Innocent Winery during the High Museum Wine Auction:

St. Innocent Chardonnay & Pinot BlancThe 2011 Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Blanc is Alsatian in style. Most of the wine was fermented in stainless steel, while a little less than one-third was fermented in neutral barrels; this was done to preserve the delicate fruit flavors while adding texture. The wine spent eight months aging on the lees before it was bottled. The St. Innocent Pinot Blanc has apple, melon and white apricot flavors that mingle with white flowers and ginger. Refreshing minerality and well-balanced acidity add depth and structure. The finish is crisp and dry. The Pinot Blanc is great at lunchtime or with hors d’oeuvres outdoors on a warm evening; it also pairs well with shellfish, ceviche, white fish, salads or Asian or spicy dishes.
($20, 12.5% alcohol)

The 2011 Freedom Hill Vineyard Chardonnay is made entirely from Dijon clones. In crafting this wine Mark sought the fully ripened fruit and rich texture of white Burgundy while capturing the terroir of Freedom Hill Vineyard. The grapes were whole cluster pressed, then barrel fermented in used French oak barrels. The wine aged on the lees for one year. The mineral makeup of the vineyard comes through in this Chardonnay, layered with delicate flavors of golden apple, pear and lemon. The finish is clean, with just a whisper of toasted almond. Pair this wine with seafood, risotto, chicken or other small birds.
($24, 13% alcohol)

St. Innocent Pinot NoirThe 2011 Villages Cuvée Pinot Noir is a blend of grapes from Vitae Springs Vineyard and grapes from young vines at Zenith, Freedom Hill and Momtazi Vineyards. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged for 12 months in 16% new French oak barrels. Red berry and violet aromas introduce a palate of fresh raspberry and cherry, with layers of black pepper and baking spice. Pair the Villages Cuvée Pinot Noir with chicken, pork, full-flavored pasta dishes, duck or sausage. ($24, 12.5% alcohol)

The grapes in the 2010 Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir came from the McMinnville AVA in the northern Willamette Valley. After fermentation in small stainless steel barrels and French oak the wine was aged for 16 months in 38% new French oak. Complex and intense, this medium bodied wine has flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, cherry and blueberry. These are complemented by earthy notes of spice, black truffle and forest floor. The Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir is silky smooth in the mouth, with gentle tannins and well-balanced acidity. Mark suggests pairing this wine with braised meats, stews, sausages, cassoulet or cheese. ($32, 13% alcohol)

Like the previous wine, the 2010 Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir was fermented in small stainless steel barrels and French oak, then spent 16 months aging in French oak barrels (31% new). Rich and elegant, this Pinot Noir has flavors of boysenberry, red currant and olallieberry layered with roasted fig, white pepper, allspice, dried rose petals and a hint of candied orange peel. Pair this wine with hearty chicken or pork dishes, ratatouille, lasagna, grilled lamb or filet mignon. ($42, 13.5%)

For more information on St. Innocent Winery visit stinnocentwine.com.