Monday, September 30, 2013

Ode to Nick, and Antebellum in Flowery Branch, Atlanta

Normally I'm writing a post trying to make it funny or sarcastic, but this post is a rare exception that's just going to detail a day and some delicious meals with Nick.


Our last day in Georgia, we were lucky enough to be picked up by one of my best friends from high school.

Nick and I spent countless hours playing basketball in my front yard along with several other neighborhood boys and my little brother Sam. We were also known to play manhunt at night with the same ballers, throw a football (me horribly, him extremely well) down the street, jump off my next door neighbor's roof on to their trampoline, and harass his younger cousins (said trampoline owners) and my younger siblings in unity. He's also the kid that jumped on my Ford Probe and dented in the roof in an attempt to dunk the ball on our driveway hoop (my Dad totally yelled at him). Growing up together on Antares in our early/late teen years and the shared bond of both having been yelled at by my Dad and survived all the trampoline madness made me think of Nick as a brother... which just makes me extra proud of the restaurant he opened and the success he's experiencing :)

First, Nick is still a bitchin best friend even after all these years, because he let Doug and I borrow his Corvette for the afternoon while he prepped at work for the afternoon. 

Top down, baby.
Doug driving, and looking a little nervous. 

Is that a toupee? No, just the wind. I hope. 

Flowery Branch is just under an hour away from Atlanta. It's very tiny in terms of population, green, beautiful.

Oh, great, NOW you tell me drugs don't work! -Flowery Branch police station. 

Downtown Flowery Branch, hoppin on a Friday! Seriously this is it. It's 1 block long. 

Lake Lanier. 

Nick has opened up his own restaurant, Antebellum, in Flowery Branch. We got the behind-the-scenes tour of the restaurant and kitchen, and a private lunch (they are only open for dinner). 

Nick's restaurant, across the street from the downtown area.

One of the sous chef's prepping for dinner. 

Doug was pretty astonished, as you can see. Also, check out that bitchin wine opener on the right.

Me, scouting the wine closet. 
The dining room.

Nick spoiled us with a special lunch. Busting out some white wine pared with the best burger I've had to date.

Wine bucket - fancy! 

Doug at the bar. 

Me, doing everything in my power to not shove my face directly in to this plate. 

This burger was, hands down, incredible. Served on texas toast with pimiento cheese (of course) and bacon, cooked perfectly, with a side of sweet potato fries. 

Obviously we enjoyed our lunch. 

Super full after lunch but knew we had to man up for a bigger dinner, so we walked around Flowery Branch checking out the sites, stores (few antique shops with the usual crap), and bookstores. We were told to show up at 8 for dinner, which was right around sunset - very beautiful. 

Across the street from the restaurant.

Started with cornbread (again, and of course) with some green tomato jam. Amazing.

Paired with a cucumber lemon drop.

I actually flat ironed my hair this morning. What, you can't tell? The humidity continues to bestow some volume in to my limp locks. I finally understand why the rest of the country is all in to "hair products". You definitely need them down here. Hair a hot mess (literally), I'm letting it go because our skin was so dewy and moisturized the whole trip. Silver lining of humidity.

Giving the appetizer beverage a critical taste.
First course was a local butter lettuce with red delicious apples, goat cheese, red onions, pistachios and lemon honey vinaigrette.

Second course: Sweet corn soup with pink peppercorn whipped cream and baby basil. This was possible our favorite dish of the night - a tiny, yet perfect cup of soup.

Pared with a flute of Cava Argentina Champagne.

The third course was possibly my favorite (again). Fried green tomatoes with bacon jam, brioche, fried egg, hot sauce and a mimosa ice (to cleanse the palette). Sort of a modern, southern take on a brunch item, a bacon egg tomato sandwich with mimosas. It was divine, and the best fried green tomatoes ever. 

For the main course, I chose pan seared scallops with cauliflower two ways, grilled okra, dry cured olives, baby cilantro and harissa vinaigrette. The fried okra was incredible (best okra I've had to date, again), and the cauliflower came purred and grilled - both excellent. 

For Doug's main course, he chose grilled, petite lamp t-bones with creamed potatoes, peas and vidalia onions with harissa curry mayonnaise and roasted almonds. Phenomenal. Oh, and both our main's were paired with a red wine, a Columbia Crest Les Chevaux H3.

The true weight gain came in the dessert course. Chocolate raspberry martinis and a trio of desserts.

The Semi-Freddo, an espresso custard with cream and cookies.

The Chocolate Bread Pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and melted caramel. We're still fantasizing about this one.

Berry cobbler. Enough said.

At the end of the night after a few drinks Nick told Doug he was glad he seemed like a cool guy, because he loved his Becky and didn't want to have to kick anyone's ass that night. Doug took it in stride and smiled, and Nick and I agreed he was a good choice (Nick knew my ex's and no longer harbors a fear I'll marry one of them I guess). Likewise, Nick's wife is beautiful (and expecting!), and I can't explain how happy it makes me to see someone's dreams come true. There are some people in life that you want good things to happen to - and Nick is one of them.

Enough gushing. Next time you're in Georgia make the drive to Flowery Branch and eat at Antebellum!

Update: when I told my Dad that we'd visited Nick in Georgia, his first response was "is that the kid who jumped on the car to dunk and dented the roof?" Yes, Dad. That's him. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dr. King and Stevie Wonder

Our last full day in Hotlanta! We were feeling guilty about our lack complete absence of MLK sightseeing in the city so far, so we hit it up first thing. I was apprehensive at first, since I’ve come to have the reputation of being a prejudiced bitch in the Aye Tee Elle, but I figured Dr. King would take mercy upon me and want me to come say what’s up anyway.

Here’s his childhood home, where he was born. It’s a big house – his grandparents lived on the first floor and his family resided above.

This is the church he attended as a child and young teen, and where his father pastured. Dr. King came back and co-pastored with his father later in life.

This is the final resting place of Dr. King and his wife, Coretta. Across the way is the eternal flame.

The visitor’s center was small, and had the usual historical and video and pictorial displays. Like most people, I’ve heard Dr. King’s I Have A Dream speech in class and on the television several times, and can hear snippets of his other speeches at various points in my life. So, I was surprised at how astounded I was in hearing what incredible a speaker he really embodied. After several short and one long (30 minute) films in the center, you hear several of his speeches – he has an excellent way with words, tremendous candor, and was a truly motivational speaker – not only in the content of his speeches but in the tenor and tenacity you can hear in his voice. Reading about how he sacrificed convenience and comfort for himself and his family to lead a movement in the 50’s and 60’s was inspiring, and his calm and collected demeanor in preaching non violence was moving. In retrospect, I was happy I didn't sock that street guy in the face. ‘Cause, you know, Dr. King would have been pretty bummed about that I think.

This is the wagon they used to pull Dr. King's casket to Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Mural outsite

Also in the visitor's center was a phone booth. Holy fuck!

They had a pretty sweet “walk of fame” outside the center. The walk of fame was confusing, as the purpose was unclear – they had civil rights leaders and pastors… along with Ted Turner and Sammy Davis Jr. footprints. Whatever. I followed the famous footsteps of Stevie Wonder so I was happy.

Ghandi, watching over the hall of fame.

Me and Stevie. <3

EPIC food today. EPIC. Oh wait sorry, we need to stop using the word EPIC to describe cool things, because it's obnoxious and wrong. Anyway, one of the best meals of my life was consumed today... prepared by a Cabrillo High (that's my high school in Vandenberg Village/Lompoc) alum! All the way in the South! High def and dimly lit pics coming tomorrow!

So what about you? Have you seen the MLK sites? Walked in any famous footsteps? Resisted the urge to sock some asshole in the face because you're trying out this "non violence" thing? Decided that you are in desperate need of a foot transplant after seeing a picture of your disgusting veiny feet?