Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dekalb International Market, aka our home away from home

One of our favorite places in this new city is... a grocery store.  But not just any grocery store!  The Dekalb Farmers Market, or Dekalb International Market, is a year-round market with an incredible offering of goods.

Their products range from excellent and varied produce (common sightings: lemongrass, tamarind, a variety of dried chili peppers, fresh garbanzos, asian greens, and so many unfamiliar things we've started a list of ingredients we hope to learn to cook), to an array of well-priced spices, dried fruits and nuts, rices, baked goods, and a truly amazing seafood and meat selection.
All of the employees wear badges indicating which languages they speak.  You'd have to be a truly dedicated Sporcler to be able to match all of the languages to the appropriate country.  
Here is Alex examining a dragonfruit (in his hand).  We can't remember what the other fruits pictured are called.
some lovely carrots and chard....
tomatillos, garbanzos and scallions, oh my!
and just a few of the fish on offer.  I really should have taken more pictures of the fish counter (understatement; its more like a giant shop in itself) and meat counters.  Small armies stand ready, prepared to scale and steak the whole fish of your choice, or scoop out fresh lobster and crab.  All of the meat is grass-fed and hormone-free, which is a big relief for us.  
Word of caution: bring a sweatshirt!  The Dekalb Market is at ice-box temperatures to keep the produce as fresh as possible.  Despite the sweltering August heat in Atlanta, most of the Dekalb Market employee's wear heavy winter coats under their aprons.  We learned the hard way.  But it was worth it!  

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Our trip to NC

This post is a few weeks behind.  Our trip to North Carolina to visit my family seems ages ago!  Since then, we've explored Atlanta, gotten in a car accident, and Alex has started class!  We've got some more specific posts on the way, but for now here's a smattering of NC and everything else that has happened.

We spent a lovely afternoon in Smithfield, NC with my grandparents (grandmother and Hallelujah Harry the frog pictured).
Got a tour of my brother's new office in Charlotte, NC and some Bojangles chicken & biscuits on his Saturday lunch break (he works a lot).
Visited the North Carolina Museum of Art's new wing (Alex pictured with a fine Morris Louis).
Mona Lisa optical illusion ball (not its actual title... can't remember)
Joseph Cornell box!  yay!
Alex and Didi, my parent's westie, having a bonding moment.
On our way home, we stopped in Chapel Hill to get breakfast at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, a popular drive-thru breakfast establishment...
... and went next door to Caffe Driade, one of my favorite college haunts, for cappuccinos with one of my favorite college people :)

Then it was back to Atlanta where disaster struck(!) in the form of a sleepy driver...
...who crashed into my car after scraping the side of my neighbor's car. Both cars were parked and empty, so it was a clear case of fault.  Unfortunately, repairs will take about a month :(

But on a positive note, the school year has gotten off to a great start for Alex!  He's making lots of new friends and is excited about his classes.
Here he is on the first day of school (not pictured: new lunch box and thermos).  

Hope everyone is enjoying the last days of summer!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Buford Bound (Crawfish Shack 4337 Buford Hwy Atlanta)

When I first visited Atlanta I was told a truism: that the best food is found in strip malls. This axiom is completely true on a patch of highway north of Emory called Buford. It is the Atlanta version of Chicago's Devon St.. It too is full of ethnic eateries but spread out and all in strip malls. Notice the sign has a marker designating this corner as "little Thailand" and "little Phillipines".

We made our way to a place we first read about in the NYTimes: (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/28/dining/28united.html) .
It's called the Crawfish Shack and is a Cajun joint run by a Vietnamese family. Both cultures are present on the menu. We however went for the crawfish, hush-puppies, and fries.
Boiled in Cajun spices these little dudes are delicious. We were also impressed by the hush-puppies, which are some of the best we've had in our Southern travels.

The only way we could have enjoyed this meal more is if we were the ones who got to write the NYTimes article. Regardless we are now Crawfish fans.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Raleigh Return (Waffle House 3909 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC‎)

Lilly and I are in North Carolina for a few days to visit her family before life gets busy in Atlanta. We've been seeing lots of people and ofcourse eating lots of food, like Waffle House. Being a lifelong Northerner I don't know much about the South, but even I know about Waffle House. It is the ubiquitous 24 hour breakfast joint on every off-ramp south of the mason dixon line. So we had to go.We met up with Lilly's old bud Rachel who showed us the ropes.

Like you can't be bashful with your hashbrowns you need to order them covered in stuff. We got ours "smothered" i.e. with sauteed onions. Then ofcourse lots of waffles.

Everything was cheap and we had bottomless coffee. I feel like I've been missing out. I'm not sure why the Norwegian immigrants to MN never "smother" anything.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Atlanta Arrival (Mary Mac's Tea Room 224 Ponce de Leon Ave)

Lilly and I are now officially moved into Atlanta and happy to be here. Although we both loved Chicago Lilly is happy to be back in the South and I'm happy to explore a new part of America. And what better way to be welcomed to the south than with plates full of fried vittles.

Lilly had a college friend visiting us by the name of Mary Mac. While driving around we saw a diner with the same name. With nothing else but this coincidence to recommend it we went in. Turns out this restaurant is a real Atlanta institution (www.marymacs.com). It was great. Serendipitously we found one of the best places to begin sampling southern food.

I got blackened catfish, sweet potatoes, and fried green tomatoes. (My first fried green tomatoes and I loved them).
Lilly got Fried Chicken, broccoli souffle, and coleslaw.

Here's our Mary Mac with a big plate of sides at Mary Mac's

For us new arrivals Mary Mac's was a real treat. We are now firmly convinced we can only go to places that share names with people in our car.