eAT-Lanta

For the past couple of years I’ve been fortunate enough to have a conference scheduled in Atlanta in September. Had a blast checking out the latest home technology at the CEDIA Expo and just as much fun eating some of the best meals of my life. These are some of the highlights.

Flip Burger Boutique
Top Chef All Stars winner Richard Blais was near the top of my list of “Chefs Whose Restaurants I Want To Eat At”. His familiar flavors and chemistry experiment cooking techniques intrigued me and excited my appetite. Liquid Nitrogen milk shakes? Yes please. Deep fried burger with house pimento cheese? A must. And the array of fried sides (pickles, fries, onion rings, okra) and accompanying sauces were paired perfectly. This was my first gourmet burger experience (it was a few years ago) and still one of the best. I can still taste the chilled delight that was the Toasted Marshmallow Nutella milkshake.

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Antico Pizza Napoletana
The. Best. Slice. Of. Pizza. Ever. (That I’ve eaten to date). Everything from the glass case of cannoli at the counter, to the large communal table, to the kitchen dining where all the acton takes place and diners sit at mismatched picnic tables, the place transports you to Italy. When you go here, order your pizza and find a seat in the kitchen. There you will be surrounded by Italian music blaring from a small radio, bags of imported Italian flour and San Marzano tomatoes. You’ll see the pizza masters tossing fresh dough, piling on fresh buffalo mozzarella, sausage, herbs and whipping them into one of three ovens for their 2-minute trip to bubbly crispy pizza perfection. Then you’ll be served your perfect pie on a baking sheet covered in craft paper. And you’ll savor every delicious bite, all the while trying to figure out when you will be able to get back to Antico for another meal (a big challenge when you live in Springfield, MO). Their hours are 11:30 – Until We’re Out Of Dough. Don’t be late.

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Woodfire Grill
Home of my other favorite Top Chef, Kevin Gillespie, master of all things pork (down go the pig tattoo), this was my must stop destination last year. I happened to be in town when Chef Kevin was out cooking on a cruise ship, but was assured by the staff that I would enjoy the same quality experience. They did not disappoint. Splurge when you’re here and order the 5-course chef’s tasting. I tried things I never would have ordered off a menu. And enjoyed every one. For anyone wondering, properly prepared pork belly is melt-in-your-mouth, smokey, salty goodness. Other highlights included the seared scallop with corn and truffle puree, the wood grilled duck breast and the blueberry semolina cake. In reality, all dishes were stunning. I’ve included a shot of the menu (ask for one and they will print out what you ate). All in all, start to finish, the best fine dining meal I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy. Thank you Chef Kevin (and Woodfire Grill kitchen staff). And thank you Crestron for paying the bill.

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Varasano’s Pizzeria
#3 on my list of best pizza I’ve ever had. Behind #1 Antico and #2 Pizzeria Mozza (LA). The owner has one of the most viewed pizza blogs on the Internet and decided to put all his research and testing on display and opened a restaurant. It was a good decision. The house sausage and caramelized onion with Emmenthaler cheese was a standout. Bottom line, ATL is a pizza lovers destination.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed these highlights from my dining in the ATL. Bummed the conference got moved to Indianapolis this year. Any restaurant recommendations in Indy?

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Tasty Tuesday

Welcome to Tasty Tuesday, a weekly link-up where you can showcase anything tasty you’ve made, eaten, or just seen.

You can post as little as a picture, or as much as an entire week’s worth of meals. Just make it tasty.

I’ll eventually get a button for everyone to put on your posts, but for now please link back here with the Tasty Tuesday Permalink.

https://megabites417.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/tasty-tuesday/

My addition to the festivities was a deliciously simple comfort food experience at RC’s Restaurant & Lounge. In a quest for tasty fried chicken, my sister-in-law recommended this little gem in Kansas City, specializing in hand breaded, crispy, peppery pan-fried chicken. Paired with real mashed potatoes, scratch made white gravy, green beans and biscuits, it brought back childhood memories of Sunday dinner at grandma’s house…great memories.



Blanc Burgers + Bottles = Delicious

During a recent trip to KC for meeting w/ the extremely talented folks at Hufft Projects and Baldwin Denim, I took the opportunity to hit up one of my favorite burger spots: Blanc Burgers + Bottles.
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For me, there are two types of burger joints, of which I love both: 1) Greasy (in a good way), traditional dive 2) Fine dining between a bun. Blanc is the latter.

All the following culinary buzzwords apply: locally sourced, organic, grass fed, house made. All these ingredients come together in an inspired menu of appetizers (standout: Shatto cheese curds), salads and of course burgers.

A variety of gourmet bottled beverages are also available. Do yourself a favor and enjoy your favorite burger with a locally made Soda Vie next time.

This visit we went with some old favorites and found some new ones.

Started off with the Gouda Cheese Fries. Perfectly thin, crispy fries topped with a velvety gouda cheese sauce and awesomely crisp, thick bacon. These were out of this world and devoured within minutes of them hitting the table. Quite possibly the best plate of cheese fries I’ve ever had.
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For my burger, I went back to my old standby (and best burger on the menu) – The Inside Out. This masterpiece comes packed with creamy, tangy blue cheese inside the burger, then is topped with crisp bacon, lettuce, a battered onion ring and scratch made ketchup. All served up on a buttery grilled brioche bun that is sturdy enough to hold up to the substantial burger. The meat was perfectly cooked to my desired medium, extremely juicy and well seasoned. Most importantly, melted cheese oozed out with every bite. You have to try this burger.
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Classic – Aged white cheddar, lettuce, tomatoe, house made pickles, ketchup and mustard.
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For sides, we had my wife @iAmNotAFoodie’s favorite: Truffle Fries. Still love the mini shopping cart.
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Soda Vie. Flavors like Thai Basil, Mojito, etc. All very natural (yes those herbs were in the bottle), all very tasty. Not too sweet. And the coolest bottling ever for a soda.
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BLT salad w/ black mustard seed ranch
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This was another stellar meal @blancburgers. Chef Josh Eans and his team have put together an amazing upscale burger concept. Now they just need to bring one to 417-land.

Blanc Burgers + Bottles
http://www.blancburgers.com

Grad School gets an “A”

If you haven’t been to Grad School, it’s time to register. Not for class, but for one of the best casual meals in 417.

Story goes that the owner opened this place in lieu of graduate school (hence the name). Judging by the killer food, owner’s passion and large crowds, his decision was a wise one.

This particular Saturday I was craving a tasty burger. If you find yourself with a similar craving, The Full Ride will not disappoint. Hands down one of my top 3 burgers in Springfield. Crispy edges on the double beef patties, thick-cut bacon, loads of oozing soft sharp cheddar, lettuce and tomato. Served with perfectly crisp and deftly seasoned fries. The pictures speak for themselves. Try not to drool on your screen.

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We also had the Ali Baba: hummus served with fresh fried tortilla chips and grilled pita. Tons of flavor. Would have liked more pita, less chips, but both were great.

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Other favorites here are the Long Beach Tacos (best fish tacos in town), Rasta Pasta (improved version inspired by owner’s previous days at Rasta Grill) and The Cuban (house baked ham, chorizo, swiss, pickles, pressed on the grill).

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My 4-year old also wanted to contribute to this review. He took his own photo and all comments are his words. On his chicken nuggets, Ollie had this to say:

“I like the frying.”

“It’s better than Wendy’s.”

And overall, “Pretty yummy.”

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Grad School
434 S Jefferson
Springfield, MO 65806

Eating, Photoing, Cooking, Tweeting, Blogging the Foods We Love

–Foodie Additives

The Pizza House

There is no other food I crave on a more frequent basis than a pepperoni and sausage pizza from The Pizza House. A Springfield institution for over 50-years, they still crank out the thinnest, crispiest, tastiest pies in town. Bite-size square after bite-size square you will work your way from the perfectly burnt edges (my favorite) to the gooey center. Before you know it, you have eaten the entire pizza.

Stick with the basics here: pepperoni, sausage (amazing), ham, peppers, onions, cheese. If you are looking for gourmet pizza, head to The Grotto or Minsky’s. Want authentic Italian style pizza? Bruno’s is your place. This is Springfield style. And I love it.

Great pizza, great location (north-side!), great owner. Say hi to Stacey for me.

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The edges are always the first to go. (Mouth watering as I write this)
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Our Valentines Day tradition: PIZZA! Stacey makes it extra special for my wife and I.
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Yes, they have salad. Nice and simple: lettuce, tomato, lots of cheese and Ott’s French dressing. Reminds me of dinner at my grandma’s when I was a kid.
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Lahaina Grill

Since we were in Maui celebrating our anniversary (and first trip with no kids), my wife and I treated ourselves to some truly amazing meals. Lahaina Grill was definitely one of the best.

We were late setting a reservation, but were able to grab two seats at the bar when they opened at 5:30. We ended up enjoying a great evening of delicious food and good conversation with the couples seated on either side of us.

We started the meal with off with the Caprese salad. The local tomatoes were the star of the show, and a touch of truffle oil added a nice earthy note. A great rendition on this classic, as tasty as it was beautiful.

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I also had a bowl of the Kula sweet corn soup with chive creme fraiche. Creamy, but not too thick and full of fresh sweet corn flavor. Really enjoyed it.

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For entrees, I went with the Maui onion and sesame crusted Ahi with vanilla beam jasmine rice. This was the single best piece of Ahi I’ve ever eaten in my life. The crust was perfectly flavorful, but didn’t overwhelm the flavor of the exceptionally fresh fish. The vanilla bean was not too strong and provided a nice sweet note to the rice. Amazing dish.

(Sorry about the photo lighting. When entrees came, the sun was down and the lights dimmed.)

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My wife went with the seared local Mahi with herbed mashed potatoes, gorgonzola, pancetta and chardonnay beurre blanc. Another special dish. Really liked the gorgonzola. And let’s face it, pork in any of it’s forms makes everything better.

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A meal like this must conclude with dessert. We picked up a coupon across the street at Ululani Shave Ice (another must stop) for a free Triple Berry Pie, their signature dessert. We also both love chocolate, so we added a Road to Hana, Maui (chocolate cake, chocolate sour cream mousse, macadamia nut caramel). Both were very good, but the Road to Hana was our favorite.

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All in all a very memorable meal. Of the fine dining meals we had on the trip, this is the one I would do again, without a doubt. It’s a Lahaina institution and it is clear to see why. Fresh, flavor dishes served in a very cool location. Mahalo Lahaina Grill. See you next time we’re in Maui.

A Shining Star Noodle

My only regret about Star Noodle is that we didn’t find it earlier in our stay. Tucked in an industrial park in Lahaina, this James Beard Award nominated restaurant and chef are cranking out house made noodle dishes in all shapes and sizes.

On our first visit (went twice in 3-days) we worked our way through what seemed like half of the menu. Diners around us were fascinated by the number of dishes we ordered as a party of two.

First thing that impressed me was the nonalcoholic daily drink special. Since neither my wife or I drink alcohol, this was a welcome and refreshing treat. Fresh squeezed Asian pear lemonade.

Our 1st appetizer was the Mala Dog: all beef hot dog, wrapped in Hawaiian sweet bread, then deep fried. It was served with 3-garnishes: mango ketchup, kimchi mustard, Maui onion cucumber relish. I have a real weakness for elevated junk food and this was en point.

Next app: Vietnamese Crepe. This was not your ordinary crepe. It was deep fried and extremely crunchy. Filled with coconut curry pork and shrimp. Garnishes included mint, Thai basil, cilantro, bean sprouts and a sweet chili sauce. All this was assembled in the combination of our choosing in a local Kula lettuce cup. Unquestionably the best lettuce wrap I’ve ever eaten.

The Steamed Pork Buns with pressed pork, hoisin, shiitake mushroom and pickled cucumber were awesome, so much so that a second order was heavily considered. The soft, spongy bun was perfectly complimented by the crispy, salty, sweet hoisin pork and slightly acidic cucumber. Mouth watering just thinking about it.


For entrees we chose two house made noodle dishes. The Lahaina Fried Soup featured a fat chow funn noodle, ground pork and bean sprouts. The Singapore Noodle had vermicelli noodle, chicken, shrimp and veggies in a curry sauce. A squeeze of the calamansi limes provided on the side finished off the dish. Both were full of flavor and the house made noodles were the clear star as you would expect.


This was without a doubt one if the best meals of the trip.

Second visit dishes, all equally inspired:

Fresh Kula Strawberry Soda muddled with fresh mint.


Sizzling Garlic Steak–perfectly cooked steak, sweet Maui onions, toasted garlic and an amazing sauce.


Pad Thai–the best version I’ve had. Loved the garlic chives.


Daily Special–Spiral noodle, jumbo shrimp, thinly sliced pear and red grapes, Thai basil in a coconut curry sauce. Wish I had a plate right now. Wow.


If you’re lucky enough to be on the beautiful island of Maui, do yourself a favor and stop in to try any of Chef Simeon’s Asian entrees and noodle dishes. Star Noodle gets five in my book.

Star Noodle
286 Kupuohi St
Lahaina, HI 96761
http://www.starnoodle.com