flower child – atlanta, ga

last weekend tori was in town for some baby andrich festivities, and if anyone knows our family, they love going out to their favorite atlanta restaurants when in town.  don’t get me wrong:  birmingham has a buzzing food scene that is making waves these days, but we all have those must-have or must-try spots when we go to a new city or visit a familiar one.

well, last sunday we decided to take her to flower child, a new restaurant around lenox.  i’d noticed it when we were eating at another restaurant near there last month, and after taking a look at the menu online, i knew it would be the perfect spot for a delicious lunch on a hot summer afternoon.

we arrived right at noon on a sunday, hoping to beat the out-pouring of church crowds.  however, it seems that everyone else in buckhead had the same idea.  our wait wasn’t too long, thank goodness, but the restaurant was already full of folks and looked like it had been busy since open.  flower child is a “fast-casual” restaurant, where you order at the register and they bring your food to you.  don’t worry, though, with a long line you’ll have plenty of time to decide on what to eat.  plus, they had infused water available to help keep you hydrated in that lovely august heat.

to no one’s surprise, we all had trouble deciding what to have, as nearly everything on the menu made our mouths water!  we eventually made our selections, paid, and found a table right next to their charming and colorful “choose happy” wall.  if that doesn’t make you smile, i don’t know what will!

already excited about this new restaurant experience, our minds were blown when the bowls and plates started to arrive.  i’m not going to go through each dish one-by-one (mainly because all you need to know is that everyone loved what they ordered), so what i will say is that everyone was in the clean plate club that afternoon.  i kid you not when i say not a single morsel remained!

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can you find me back at flower child again?  most certainly!  and most likely after a sweaty soulcycle class.  further, do i recommend you yourself try flower child?  absolutely!  i already mentioned it to my friend marty and insisted he invite us when he wants to go.  🙂  if you are looking for fresh, fun fare that gets you excited to put aside your typical greasy meal out, please do yourself a favor and try flower child.  and tell me when you go.  cause imma wanna be there.

vegan week day 1 – chickpea night!

well, everyone, phillip and i survived day one of #veganweek – woohoo!  it’s good to start the week off on a high note, and i think we are both optimistic for the next four days.

this morning’s breakfast was cereal and fruit, pretty safe bets (i’d guess) for a quick vegan breakfast.  well, maybe any breakfast for that matter.  anyway!  since we’d been out of town this past weekend, the refrigerator was a bit empty, which meant that we were both on our own for lunch today.  phillip’s office had lunch catered in, and he had a caprese salad sandwich – tasty!  the cheese might have categorized this meal as vegetarian rather than vegan, but still an honorable effort.

i ventured down the street to a fabulous spot called cafe sunflower.  this restaurant just might change your life, no joke!  their pad thai is unbelievable with coconut-peanut sauce, baby corn, and tofu.  oh, and their avocados this time of year are perfectly green and creamy and flavorful; seriously, to die for!  although i probably ate more than i needed to in one sitting, it was worth every bite.  🙂

now, after the work day was done and the laptops were closed, i headed to the local kroger to pick up dinner.  i figured if we were doing this whole vegan thing, we might as well go all the way, so i found a couple mediterranean-inspired dishes in a vegetarian/vegan cookbook hiding in my cupboard.  and, while we’re talking about this cookbook, i honestly have not the slightest clue as to how it came into my possession.  i can nearly guarantee i didn’t purchase it myself, but don’t we all buy things with the best of intentions that sometimes end up otherwise…?  oh good, it’s not just me.

as i was placing my items on the checkout belt, i couldn’t help but realize this trip to the store was probably the healthiest i’d ever made and, by no coincidence, one of the more expensive ones.  it’s an interesting phenomenon that the cheaper food can tend to be bad for you while you must pay more for something better.  now, i will say that a few of the items i had to buy to make dinner are infrequent purchases that once they’re in the cupboard, i’m set for a while.  i guess i’ll just look at it from that perspective…!

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i hustled home, threw down the groceries, changed into something comfortable, and got to work!  on the menu was homemade red pepper hummus followed by quinoa and pistachio salad with moroccan pesto.  noms!  i very much enjoyed making the hummus because i got to do something i’ve never done in the kitchen:  roast and peel peppers!  for some reason, it was actually quite fun.  please don’t ask why.  there’s just something satisfying about blistering the skin of a pepper, peeling it off, and then crushing it in a blender to make something tasty.  now, i’ve never made my own hummus, but i will easily say that this recipe needed more liquid.  my pint-sized food processor had a hard time blending the chickpeas and peppers all together, so the bottle of olive oil i keep on the top shelf came in very handy.  although it probably could have used a heavy swig more, the hummus still was very tasty.  the coarse texture made us smile because we knew it was homemade.  only critique?  more garlic!

as for the main course, the quinoa salad was a hit!  despite the fact that i accidentally put the roasted peppers in the cilantro sauce instead of chopping them up, the flavor was still impeccable.  the chickpeas gave the dish a nice little “crunch” along with the pistachios.  and the best part?  we didn’t even have to eat a whole bowl of it to be full!  guess that’s what happens when you eat the right stuff.  😉

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with plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow, i’d say we’re on the right track.  and with blog recommendations from you all that will more than likely turn into another meal one night this week, i’m excited!

on a somewhat related note, here are pictures of the amazing food phillip and i had at the lindley park filling station when we visited our friends mary and mike last week in greensboro.  those fried green tomatoes, sweet potato chips, and hot dogs were a great binge before this cleansing week!

and, because i like you guys so much, here’s a few more fun ones from our little weekend getaway.  love it!

san francisco – day 2

thursday morning honestly arrived a little too early for my liking.  although brian’s bed is extremely comfortable, a few more hours of shuteye really would have done wonders.  well, there’s no room for whiners on this vacation, so we were up and at it by 7:30 a.m.  an early day indeed!

brian was going to take the later bus to work so that we’d have a little morning time together.  our first destination of the day was cafe st. jorge for a little caffeine and munchies.  this place was all kinds of adorable, and i’m sure i embarrassed brian with all my question asking and picture taking.  hey, there comes a time when one must be a shameless blogger, and that time for me is now.  this type of coffee shop is right up my alley, and if i lived here, i bet it’s where i would go to write and read.

brian went for a large black coffee and i had a small cafe au lait.  it was a solid au lait, a good thing since it is my favorite coffee beverage.

my cousin is such a stud!

my cousin is such a stud!

for eats i had the banana bread.  i didn’t want anything too filling since i was planning to eat practically all day long.  i wish it had been a little more moist, but the flavors and density you come to expect from banana bread were definitely there.

'naner bread.

‘naner bread.

brian went with his usual in the small granola bowl.  it was the cutest and most homey bowl i’d ever seen in my life, and i’m lucky he let me have a couple bites.  the yogurt wasn’t overly sweet, and the homemade granola was stupid good.  the fruit was fresh, and everything together in a single spoonful made for a very tasty breakfast.

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we grabbed lids for our coffees and began our morning hike.  brian had warned me about the hills, but, yeah, i quickly felt out of shape, and i run half-marathons for goodness’ sakes!  slowly my layers were stripped as we continued upward towards the heavens.  all that was running through my head was miley cyrus’ hit “the climb.”  remember folks, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

brian promised me the effort would be worthwhile, and after we were atop the city, i realized he was absolutely right.  the view from this high up is just gorgeous, a sweeping scene of san francisco and all its neighborhoods.  the breeze was cooling, and the ultimate feeling of relaxation set in as we took in everything.  ah, thank goodness for vacation days!

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salt lake city – day 1

we woke friday morning to a sliver of sunlight sneaking in through the curtains.  we were in luck with beautiful weather that weekend, a great thing considering there was snow back home in atlanta.  sorry, folks!

we freshened up in the suite and rode the elevator down to the lobby.  we had some ideas of where to go and what to do, but we swung by the front desk for a little direction.  we ended up chatting with geoff for about twenty minutes as he gave us the inside scoop of salt lake.  he even helped us out with a local city map!

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after taking up plenty of his time, geoff wished us well as we started out into the morning, heading east on 600 south and then hanging a left onto main.  our destination was apple spice cafe and bakery for some sustenance, and after pushing through the revolving doors and riding the escalator to the second floor, there we were.  the restaurant was completely empty, but seeing as how it’s located in the wells fargo business building, i guess that makes sense that time of day.

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we were warmly greeted by the cashier as we browsed the menu.  but, shoot!  we had just missed breakfast by about ten minutes.  whoops!  i guess we’ll be eating an early lunch then!  we stared down the menu a few minutes more, for we’d both been looking forward to a hot plate of eggs and a mug of coffee.  oh well.  part of being spontaneous is about being flexible, so we just rolled with it.

kyle had the soup and sandwich pairing.  the tomato basil soup was fresh and perfectly warmed when it was served.  he gladly dipped into it the half ham sandwich, a pretzel roll topped with cured ham, havarti cheese, greenleaf lettuce, and their signature sauce.  it was a solid meal, not too filling but not too light.

i also went with a combination meal because it’s not often a half sandwich/half salad plate steers me wrong.  per the cashier’s recommendation, i tried the pomegranate salad.  at first it sounded a little too summery, but seeing as how it was nearly 50 degrees and gorgeous outside, it actually seemed quite appropriate.  the half size serving was very generous and very flavorful.  the poppyseed dressing was light and slightly tangy, complementing the pomegranate seeds, roasted turkey, and candied pecans nicely.  i scarfed it down quickly.

pomegranate salad.

pomegranate salad.

next up was the blt santa fe.  i love blt’s, and with sprouts, avocado, and bbq ranch, it looked like it could be a winner.  unfortunately, it didn’t wow me like i thought it would.  i liked each ingredient on there, but altogether it wasn’t my favorite.

blt santa fe.

blt santa fe.

as we munched away our meals, we basked in the bright blue skies and welcoming temperature.  the sun warmed by back as we dined on their patio, a pleasant start to what would be a truly great day.

the kessie girl.

the kessie girl.

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boston – day 1

mm, who doesn’t love an 8:45 flight on a saturday morning after a night of fireball jell-o shots at the boss’ holiday party?  ah, i knew i wasn’t the only one!  this morning my coworker vinh and i hopped aboard delta flight 104 and shut our eyes on the two and half hour trip up to boston.  we arrived a little early, were picked up by his brother-in-law, and whisked away to his childhood home.

vinh was born and raised in boston, attended tufts university, and often comes back to visit his hometown.  the neighborhood of dorchester is his stomping grounds, and it was a treat to get to see the town where he grew up and spent his younger days making memories. i’ve never been to boston, and a few months ago i heard the band the 1975 was touring in the states.  i was going to miss their atlanta show because i was out of town, but i saw they were going to be performing in boston.  well, that about sealed the deal for me.  i called up vinh and asked him if he’d like to go to the concert with me and show me around his city.  his agreement was nearly instant, and so my boston adventures began!

so much to do and so little time in which to do it!

so much to do and so little time in which to do it!

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soup heaven

panera soup

okay, so maybe i’ve been on a soup kick all week, is that so awful?  i agree that it isn’t, which is why i kept on with it today when we ordered in panera bread for my client training session.  like always i went with the you pick two, selecting the thai chicken salad as one of my options.  it was when i was trying to make my other selection that there, on the order screen, was a picture of the vegetarian autumn squash soup, and my heart was aflutter.  it looked rich and savory and i just had to have it!

i brought my brown bag back to my desk and opened the lid with much anticipation.  first, the smell alone was so warming.  wisps of cinnamon and curry floated up to me, and i dove right in with my spoon.  it was thick with all that pureed squash and pumpkin, and the honey and apple juice helped sweeten it up just a skosh.  the chewy pumpkin seeds were a nice surprise with each bite, and i was glad i had ordered the bowl size instead of a cup – it was that delicious!

if you are a soup-lover like me, i highly encourage you to give this one a try the next time you find yourself hooked up to the wifi and catching up on your personal e-mails and netflix series at a panera bread.  it’s perfect for those cool fall days and will bring calming thoughts of slippers and gloves and scarves to your sweet little mind.

burger vs. burger

so, we’d gotten wind of the 40th anniversary celebration mellow mushroom was having last night, and apparently so had the rest of the city.  i arrived at the brookhaven location and looped the parking lot three times to squeeze into a spot, all to find out that a table for a party of five would be a two and a half hour wait.  tWo AnD a HaLf HoUrS?!  yes, you read that correctly.  i like mellow mushroom just fine, but $2.50 small cheese pizzas and $0.75 pbr’s just couldn’t keep me.  instead, nathan and alison recommended we try the burger place lucky’s just up the road in town brookhaven.  a new restaurant in exchange for an overpacked (and overhyped) mellow mushroom?  count us in!

and folks, let me tell you this much right now.  this post isn’t just about lucky’s. it’s also about cheeseburger bobby’s, the burger joint kyle, bank, and i ventured to for lunch today up in norcross.  it was my first place at both restaurants, and having had them in nearly back-to-back meals, i figured it would be fun to find out which one reigns supreme!

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august in atlanta: hot and fun

i let myself sleep in yesterday, but it wasn’t too late before i was up and about tending to chores and errands.  there was much to be done for kari’s upcoming nuptials; it comes as no surprise that i am taking them to the extremes and going a bit over the top.  but hey, this wedding is the only one i’m planning on kyle and kari having, so it’s now or never.

my first stop was at henri’s bakery to do some taste testing and space scoping.  the patio is going to be perfect for our event, and everything just looked and smelled so delicious.  javier was incredibly helpful with the design details, and i cannot wait.  i had to grab a little treat for myself as i hustled out the door, so i figured a cup of coffee and a chocolate doughnut were good choices.

i zoomed up and down peacthree in the mazda as i made my other stops.  i cannot share all the specifics now because there needs to be some mystery and surprise!  the rest of the morning was a flurry of activity, and it felt great to mark some items off the to-do list.

i had just enough time to stop home and gather myself before sarg showed up.  he was in the redcoat marching band with me at uga for a few years, and we have been good friends since we met.  he and my dear friend lisa actually got married just this june.  the couple was beautiful, and the reception was a blast.  what more can you ask of a wedding?

sarg and i zipped on over to lindbergh to pick up my brother, and then we headed down to orpheus brewing.  a fairly new spot in town, orpheus brewing opened memorial day weekend and has been hosting beer drinkers ever since.  we were a touch early, as were bank and liz, so we took refuge in the shade as we waited to enter.  it was a warm and muggy afternoon (all that rain from friday offered a very brief reprieve from the typical summer weather), and we were eager to slurp down some refreshing brews.

the line of patrons grew quickly, and i was glad we would not have to wait outside too long.  we swiped our cards, adorned our armbands, and quickly took our glasses and tickets to the bar.  i first tried the atalanta, a tart plum saison, which i liked just fine.  however, i don’t think a whole pint of it would have been enjoyable.  good thing their tasting glasses are small!

everyone had their first pours, and we were able to snag a hightop around which we could congregate.  the inside space at orpheus brewing is not too large, and with the limited number of tables, it’s a good idea to get there earlier so you can grab one for your group.

even with folks out on their double-decker patio (which actually is quite nice) and others on the brewery tour, this brewery was still hot.  not one person in there wasn’t sweating like a greased monkey, but it is august in atlanta after all.  i’d say, though, that our group still managed to have a good bit of fun.

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you never know who you’ll see or meet when you’re out and about in the city, and kyle and i had the most serendipitous moment of the day:  a married couple from auburn saw kyle and thought he was clark!  they ended up introducing themselves to us, and we had the loveliest of chats:  the wife bonnie knows clark because she is also an accountant, and the husband joe was in the auburn singers show choir with him.  such a small world!  isn’t it fun to make a couple of new friends?

me, joe, bonnie, & kyle.

me, joe, bonnie, & kyle.

throughout the afternoon i tried more of the brews.  i of course cannot remember the name of my favorite, but i liked it so much i got it twice that day!  if you were to ask other folks, though, they would say it tasted like watered-down orange juice.  i guess i like the taste of watered-down orange juice…?  on the other hand, i could not stand the transmigration of souls, which was too much of an ipa, or the peace.war.truth.lie, which had an unbearable aftertaste.  something i did like very much was the labeling for each brew.  very crafty and creative.  back to the beer, though, i felt like the flavor profiles of their brews were not terribly varied.  you can imagine i probably won’t be begging for another pint of theirs soon.  oh well!  onto the next microbrewery!  just kidding, no more breweries that day.  we were a very hungry brunch, so we dallied over to hobnob at the corner of piedmont and monroe.  i was about to call ahead and let them know we were on the way, but then i remembered it was only 4:30 in the afternoon.  ah, right…

hobnob.

hobnob.

we were easily seated inside, and our waitress kate quickly brought plenty of water for the table.  we were parched and hot and desperate to quench our thirst!  we didn’t take too long with the menu, either, and a few folks were hungry enough to order starters, myself included.  there’s a quinoa salad on the menu, and it proved to be just as delicious as it sounded.  it was a small bowl full of light quinoa, red peppers, corn, and edemame.  there was the slightest kick of heat, and it was a great dish to tide me over until dinner.

quinoa salad.

quinoa salad.

the other end of the table shared a plate of soft pretzels with warm cheese and beer dip.  i didn’t get a taste, but based on sarg’s face and the empty tray, i’d say they enjoyed them.

man hungry.

man hungry.

before too long our early bird dinners arrived.  liz and i both ordered the chicken tenders, and i think we were both a little caught off guard.  don’t they look like fish’n’chips instead?

beer battered chicken tenders.

beer battered chicken tenders.

these were some serious chicken tenders, and you can bet i was full by the time i finished.  you can dip it in a habanero honey mustard or homemade beerbq sauce, but because those tenders were so dang hot, i politely requested a ramekin of ranch and went to town.  as they cooled off, and as i doused those bad boys, they became quite a filling meal along with those very tasty french fries.

everyone else at the table went with a burger.  alison and sarg were very pleased with the lamb burger.  nathan liked the bbq version of the taverner double decker burger.  kyle and bank both had the morningside.  although kyle liked it just fine, both the burger and egg were a little overcooked to his preference.

the lamb burger.

the lamb burger.

hobnob is the latest venture by brothers sean and gilbert yeremyan, their start being gilbert’s in midtown.  even though they are cultured world travelers from turkey, they have been excited to bring comfort pub cuisine to you with friendly and sincere service.  they want hobnob to be your local watering hole where the inviting and comfortable atmosphere and food keep you coming back again and again.  i would certainly come back again if someone were to recommend hobnob, but, as it seems to be the trend lately, i will definitely keep trying new places first.

we strolled back to our cars, enjoying a lovely skyline view along the way.  it had been a fun and sweet saturday afternoon.  good food, good drinks, and even better company.  you can bet that by the time we all got home around seven o’clock, though, that we were quite content with calling it a day.  man, we’re getting old!

strolling.

strolling.

the market – norcross, ga

the market, affectionately known by us old-timers as bleu house market, is one of our favorite lunch spots in downtown norcross.  john and maureen adams have been bringing southern food and barbecue (with a welcome twist, of course!) to the area since 2010.  they’ve gained a strong following from the locals; some of the staff even know our employees by name!

bank, liz, kyle, vinh, and i went there today for some grub, and after the renovations, the market might be better than ever.  the décor has been brightened up and looks a little more organized than it did in the past.  there’s a brand new patio with lots of comfortable seating, covered by the awning and big, colorful umbrellas.

bank and his lady.

bank and his lady.

the menu has changed a bit, which at first caught me offguard, but everything we had today was wonderful.  i’m almost glad i got so full, because i get to have my leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

i was extra hungry this afternoon since i’d worked out this morning, so lots of delectable dishes were in order.  i started with the pimiento (which, by the way, can be spelled with the second ‘i’ – an alternative spelling to pimento, who knew?!) deviled eggs because, well, because they sounded simply irresistible.  i have a somewhat unhealthy love for pimento cheese, i’ll admit it, but i couldn’t pass up these little guys.  i mean, don’t they just look scrumptious?

pimiento deviled eggs.

pimiento deviled eggs.

they didn’t just look it, they tasted it, too.  there was a heaping spoonful of pimento cheese atop each egg, so much so that i looked quite ladylike while taking each bite.  ha, not really.  those eggs were so stuffed, i’m sure i looked like a cave woman while eating them.  either way, i don’t quite care because they were so delicious.  i’d tell you more about their flavor profile, but i inhaled them so quickly that all i really remember is saying, over and over again actually, “oh my gosh.  these eggs are amazing.”  you’ll just have to take my word for it.

CHEESE.

CHEESE.

the entrée plates arrived, and everyone dug in immediately.  we’ll start with miss liz.  she had the sautéed portobello naan-wich, which (ha, “wich”, “which”, it’s funny!) was bursting at the seams with pimento cheese, house greens, and olives.  whether it was out of hunger or love, or perhaps both, she ate the whole thing.  on the side she had the squash casserole that, although boasting a vegetable as its main ingredient, looked quite sinful with all that butter and cheese.  oh, baby.  kyle and vinh had the squash casserole as their sides, too, and liked it just as much as liz did.

sautéed portobello naan-wich and squash casserole.

sautéed portobello naan-wich and squash casserole.

bank went with a naan-wich as well but instead tried the one with smoked turkey.  my goodness, did that thing look intense!  the turkey clearly had been carved off the bone that day.  i almost wished i had ordered it myself!  but, maybe more so than the sandwich, the mac’n’cheese looked and smelled unbelievable.  you can bet that penne pasta was oozing with rich cheese and cream.  i know which side i’ll be ordering the next time i’m here!

smoked turkey naan-wich and mac'n'cheese.

smoked turkey naan-wich and mac’n’cheese.

per the cashier’s suggestion, i had the broccoli salad for my side.  it was tasty and cool on this hot summer day, but i think i’d order something else before i got it again.

broccoli salad.

broccoli salad.

but what about my actual meal?  kyle, vinh, and i all got the brisket naan-wich, and i have no regrets about my choice.  before i even bit into the thing, a couple nubs of brisket had fallen out and onto the plate.  i grabbed them with my fork and was in brisket heaven.  it was so tender and juicy.  it wasn’t overspiced.  without really knowing what my perfect brisket would be, this stuff was it.  don’t believe me?  get on up here and try it yourself.

brisket naan-wich and squash casserole.

brisket naan-wich and squash casserole.

i finally got to the naan-wich, being careful not to let too much fall out as i picked it up for my first taste.  i wasn’t shy and took quite a large bite.  i could hardly believe such a thing existed!  brisket and bacon and coleslaw, oh my!  with each bite, i exclaimed, “man, this is delicious.”  considering vinh and kyle ate all of theirs, i think they’d say the same.

brisket naan-wich.

brisket naan-wich.

although a bit otp, the market is, without a doubt, one of my favorite restaurants.  i’ve never had a meal here that i didn’t care for, and i can probably say the same for my friends.  if you don’t mind going on a little stroll through a cute and charming downtown, come on out to norcross.  you’ll get to find out what the fuss is about, and you, too, might have a new favorite restaurant in town.

adorable.

adorable.