Atlanta: Home of Ludacris, Adult Swim, and Grits. Lots of Grits.
Oh lord, I have GOT to learn how to make grits properly. I could live on that stuff. It's like risotto or polenta, only BETTER.
A culinary rundown of our trip:
Friday night: We went all day long in the car with nothing but the road food I had brought: fruit leather, hummus and Wasa bread, and generic Cheerios mixed with Craisins, so by the time we checked into our hotel, we were ravenous. We went to a little Michael's-style pub that was relatively nearby and in what turned out to be a very cool neighborhood. We started with some fresh soft pretzels that were dipped in Guinness before baking and served with really coarse mustard. They were completely delicious; I burned my tongue because I couldn't wait until they were cool. For my dinner, I had steamed black mussels with a salad made of red and yellow roasted beets, blue cheese, and arugula, with balsamic vinaigrette. It was so. wonderful, in that way that food is when you haven't had a real meal all day. Yum.
The next day, we took Rachael Ray's advice and went to a cafe called the Flying Biscuit. They had a perfect combination of a totally southern diner and a menu that boasted lots of organic and vegetarian-friendly stuff. They had no red meat on the menu and a free-range chicken sausage that was house made. It was so great that we went there BOTH mornings and completely pigged out. Over the course of two days, I had: oatmeal pancakes with peach compote, eggs over medium, grits (twice), sausage, biscuits (they were like four inches tall and completely changed texture when you bit into them), a vegetable scramble, organic side salad, and love cakes (black bean cakes topped with feta and sour cream). OOF.
Saturday night: Brunch was so insane that we just forwent lunch altogether, opting for a reservation at a southwestern tequila bar caleld Agave at 9:15. They had fresh chips and housemade salsa. Ed had a fancy margarita which I tasted and liked, but I remain skeptical of the combination of margaritas and spicy food, so I stuck with water. I had a very sharply spiced grilled shrimp (craving it lately for some reason) that came with a fried jalapeno-cheddar grits cake (!) and grilled asparagus. Oh, yum. No words. Really.
Ridiculous food-tourism related side-note: Ed and I went to the Coca-Cola Museum on Saturday afternoon, and while it was appropriately corporate and glossy and "Death squads? What death squads? Have some free soda!" it was actually pretty fun. They had a timeline of vintage ads that spanned an entire floor, and it was neat in the way that any timeline of changes in (mainstream, whitebread) American tastes would be. Most importantly, the third floor was like one giant soda fountain, and it gave us the opportunity to try both the best fountain Coke we'd ever had (perhaps it was the ads talking, but I think it had more to do with the fact that it was made across the street not hours ago) and Sodas from the U.S. and Around the World. This included Fanta Birch Beer (I love it), Tab (blech); lots of very yummy fruit sodas of varying sweetness (apple [China] and lemon [Israel] were my favorites); and something called Bitters Soda from Italy that I sincerely hope is used in manner similar to the liqueur, since it is the most vile thing I have ever tasted. Everything got genuinely creepy and the post-soda stomachache hit us around the gift shop, but it was neat to try so many different kinds of soda. Very Willy Wonka, what with the Life Lessons and Being Grateful for What We Already Have and learning not to overdo it with the fizzy lifting drinks.
Verdict: I like Atlanta, though I think I would prefer living there to being a tourist there. I will try to write more in my regular journal about what we did that was not related to food.