Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

July 29, 2011

Surely Pearly

East Pearl
1810 Liddell Ln
Duluth, GA

har-gau - shrimp dumpling

The last time I was in Atlanta, I want to go to the outlet mall before heading home. The Discovery Outlet Mall is up Rt85 in on Sugarloaf Pkwy, and I wanted dim sum, but on the way to the outlet mall. So, there was one place that came up and it was East Pearl. By the time I got to the East Pearl, it may have been about 1 pm, after the lunch rush, and this place was not too crowded, plenty of parking, and easy access off of Rt 85. I was excited to be able to get dim sum midweek, like you can in NY, LA and Boston! There is no worthy dim sum in Nashville, and there is definitely no dim sum mid-week in Nashville, so this was just a nice treat for myself.

I got all my favorites, shrimp dumplings, veggie chive dumplings, sticky rice and piquot. I love dumpling dim sum. I love the rice noodles around the stuffing. I love the little bits you can take of them. I love the flavor. I just love how cute little dumplings are. I love most all things dumplings. The piquot wasn't the best, not enough fermented black bean flavor, it was just steamed pork. And there isn't a stick rice dish I don't like. I love sticky rice. It must be how bread people feel about bread. I have been to restaurants where stale rolls with margarine are served, and it is just terrible, but the bread people eat it up because they love bread. Well, that is how I feel about sticky rice, even if it is bad, or day old, or cold, I still love sticky rice. This sticky rice wasn't the most complex recipe, rather it simply had some ground pork in it, and I still ate it all because I haven't met a sticky rice dish I haven't liked yet.

For an area so far outside of Atlanta, and Decatur (Buford Hwy - the most delicious road in he Atlanta area) this is a nice little dim sum outpost.

piquot - pork, and jung - sticky rice in banana leaf

So after lunch, I went to the Discovery Outlet. What fun for me! I have not really been shopping for clothes for over a year, maybe 2. I have a sister that still lives by the 1980s motto "Shop 'Til You Drop" almost everyday, and she is probably smirking at me for not shopping for clothing more than once every other year. At the Discovery Mall, there is a Sears Clothing Outlet with clothes at is $5 or less. Yup, every piece was $5 or less. I got a bunch of Land's End clothing there, and Land's End is really very sturdy and well made clothing. Yes, this brand may be a little boring for some, but it is perfect for me. I got 4 shirts and 2 jeans for $30+tax. That is a good deal for 1st rate new clothing!! The Land's End jeans are super sturdy, well made, comfortable and I am so happy to have these jeans for $5 each. I originally did not know that everything in the Sears Clothing Outlet was $5 or less because the tags still have the original tags on them. Had I known, I would have bought more of the jeans because 1 pair originally retails for 6 times as much! I could have gotten 6 pairs for the same price as 1. Amazing. What can I say, I love Sears, and Land's End, and I love this Sears Clothing Outlet!

East Pearl on Urbanspoon


July 25, 2011

Atomic Number 3 Cubed

fire feature in the outdoor seating area

Three cubed is 3x3x3 = 27. Cobalt is the 27 element in the periodic chart of elements because it has 27 protons in its nucleus. Pure cobalt is a silvery colored metal. Cobalt blue is actually cobalt chloride, and it this chemical combination can actually be used as paint pigment. Cobalt fluoride is a really lovely raspberry pink and can also be used as paint pigment. Cobalt blue is really stable and is great to use as a coloring in glass and china.

But this blog post isn't really about the element cobalt, or the atomic number 27, it is about a restaurant in a really beautiful setting on the bay side of Orange Beach, AL called Cobalt.

raw local oysters

This place has the dinner time view that is worth a million bucks. This place doesn't look like much from the front, but when you walk in, you see the whole back wall is glass with west facing windows to watch the splendor of the daily sunset. Most of the tables inside have view out the back windows, and there is a big deck with more seating to watch the sunset outside.

shrimp and grits

What I really like about this place is the variety of the raw oysters. I opted for local Alabama oysters. They are big and meaty oysters with a clean finish. I believe it was back in February that all oysters from the Alabama Gulf Coast were given the "all clear" for harvesting after the BP oil spill. I was told Alabama Gulf Coast shrimp and oysters are inspected for oil, and oil related tainting, so it is really safe to eat this seafood again. So, I did. It was a good deal at Cobalt, it was $0.50 per local oyster. You could order 1,2 or a dozen or more for $0.50 each. Cobalt also serves oysters from other origins, but they cost more.

view from the restaurant

For dinner, we all opted for various dishes made Gulf shrimp. I love Gulf shrimp. Like the oysters, they are big and meaty. They are not as orange as farmed shrimp, they are more creamy in color with a slight tint of peach. The texture is of a more fragile and less dense lobster tail. There is nothing like Gulf shrimp. We got firecracker shrimp for a starter for the table. We had 6 people, and believe me, this appetizer was way more than enough for all of us. I would say we each had at least 6 shrimp each, there were so many. We also got the hummus starter as well, and that was a huge portion. We were actually full by the time we were done with the appetizers, and we still had our entrees to come. A bunch of us got the shrimp and grits, and one of us got the fish filet special of a fish variety we never heard of, or so he thought. The shrimp was good, but the grits were a little old and lumpy. The one fellow ordered the fish filet special of a fish variety we never heard of, but was came out I think it was either the red fish or snapper or some ordinary fish. We all heard him ask for the special, but the waitress started fighting with him telling him what he ordered (he did not order ordinary fish, 5 of us heard him say the special). So, pretty much the waitress had her attitude with him, told him that is what he is getting for dinner and that is it, and she walked away with a bitchy smirk on her face. Why did we tip her 20%, I don't know, but that is what we normally do. The fellow is just a good sport, and ate his meal that he did not order, and paid for and tipped on a meal that he did not order. So at least everyone's meals were on the table, so we know that she didn't spit, cough or put snot in our food after we tried to correct her.

OK, so the service isn't the best, and there is at least one waitress that won't make corrections, even if it is her fault, and she finds no problem in blaming our good natured fellow for her mistake. What this restaurant has going for it is the view, plenty of raw oysters, and an outdoor deck that is worth a visit.

Cobalt on Urbanspoon

July 22, 2011

Sorbet Experiment 1

I love Mark Bittman's easy recipes. This one seemed to easy to be true. And it kind of was.

I went to my super secret organic blueberry patch and picked blueberries, and tossed a bunch in the freezer. The Man went to the store and bought some yogurt with real live active cultures for me because I was out. I have sugar, lemon for the zest and water at house. So, I did what he did. The result was tasty, but an ugly mess. I may have whirled it up too much because it
started to be melty. I put the majority of it in the freezer, and a day later I have a hard frozen block of tasty mess.

the frozen block of mess

The flavor with blueberries and lemon zest is just delicious. The texture with the yogurt was a little gummy right out of the machine. Then I tried it again about an hour in the freezer, and it was really goopy and gummy like old cold oatmeal, but the flavor is just still delicious. Visually, it looks like I killed something in the food processor, but the flavor is just delicious. This recipe would be great if I could make the texture and visual appeal better.

I still don't have an ice cream maker, so the sorbet, ice cream, and the like are still ever elusive for me. I keep trying to find a frozen treat method that does not require an ice cream maker. Maybe I should have added less yogurt and a teaspoon of alcohol to keep it from freezing into a hard block of mess.

July 19, 2011

Take a Voyage

local cheese and fruit plate

I will start off by saying that this restaurant is located in one of the resort hotels on the beach side of Orange Beach, AL. In the past few decades hotel restaurants have declined and many have closed because they just cannot compete with the more delicious chef owned restaurants to be had. Well, Voyager is not only competing with chef owned restaurants, it is leading the way in Orange Beach for excellently prepared food. The specialty here is seafood, and many options on the menu include locally caught seafood and and locally made cheeses. This meal we had stacks up to any of the best meals I have had in the USA, including NYC, New Orleans, Boston, and Chicago. I mean really good.

seared scallop appetizer with wasabi gravy

We had the little kiddies with us, and I gotta tell ya, the waitress taking care of our table, and the kitchen, was so accommodating to the kiddies. Since the kiddies don't have the taste yet for some of the intricate sauces and preparations, our waitress said the kitchen could make anything they wanted. Mac and cheese, fried chicken, steak, fries, whatever the kiddies desired. And, I must add, it wasn't just chicken fingers or mac and cheese from some food distributor, it was carefully made from scratch dishes for the kiddies. Very nice, the kiddies ate well this evening, and I think the kiddies felt pampered for the evening.

locally caught Gulf shrimp and snapper

We started off our meal with a cheese plate and the seared scallops. The cheese plate was as good as or better than any cheese plate I have gotten in Alabama. The dairy farm that made the cheese is Sweet Home Farm in Elberta, AL just in the next county west of Orange Beach. The Elberta brie style cheese was delicious, slightly tart and creamy. The gorganzola and the herb cheese were also quite flavorful, and stood up to the flavors that were to come from the next courses. We also started with the seared scallop which was topped with a wasabi mustard, caviar and sake wine sauces. It was amazing! The sauce was a twist on a classic French mustard and white wine sauce, and it really worked for the scallops. I just could not get enough of this sauces! I wish I knew how to make it.

white chocolate cheesecake

For our entrees, we got the classic shrimp and grits, shrimp and snapper in tomato sauce, and a classic snapper in meuniere sauce. In the South, as I am told, you can tell a lot about the kitchen for how they serve grits. This trip the grits were exactly to the liking of the Southerner. We all also enjoyed the locally caught Gulf shrimp. The shrimp have a specific meaty lobstery texture, a soulful flavor from the ocean, and a really nice pale peach color. There is nothing like wild caught Gulf shrimp. The tomato sauce on the shrimp and snapper dish was again just delicious with a tomato umami flavor. But, the sauce to end all sauces was the meuniere sauce made in a creole New Orleans tradition. I have never made meuniere sauce, but it definitely starts off with a flour and butter. There was a little chili pepper kick to this one, but just a little to add another flavor aspect to the sauce. I just can't guess how this sauce was made, but everyone at the table agreed it is the sauce we like the best.

As we ate our dinner, one at our table had eaten here before. He also has been around the block many times in New Orleans, New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, etc and he knows what he likes to eat, and what tastes good. He said that chef at Voyagers used to cook at the Commander's Palace in New Orleans, and decided to get away from the hustle and bustle by moving to Orange Beach, and found himself cooking at Voyager. This one at my table said he thinks that the meal we had at Voyager is probably one of the best meals he has ever eaten in his 50 years. He also made a claim that this meal was as good as or even better than any meal he ate in New Orleans. Seriously, I believe him because the food was that good.

keylime pie

And to end the dinner we all shared a few desserts. Our waitress brought us a plate full of chocolate covered strawberries as we were deciding dessert. The kiddies loved the chocolate covered strawberries. I think that it was the chocolate they liked the best. Now, what would happen if I covered broccoli, cauliflower and green beans with chocolate, would the kiddies be as excited to eat those? Now that gave me an idea, take dehydrated green beans and dip them in chocolate, I bet that actually would be good.

Anyway, when you are on the Gulf Coast, you have to have key lime pie. It seems that pastry chefs in the Gulf Coast area take key limes and key lime pie very seriously. This key lime pie was perfect. We enjoyed it a lot. And, I have been thinking about cheesecake so we got the white chocolate cheesecake. It was a nice way to end the meal.

Voyagers on Urbanspoon

July 16, 2011

My Garden 2011

Here is my veggie garden for 2011. I feel like I am a bit behind my friends who have been harvesting since April. But, at least my garden is growing. This year, I did not start any seedlings, I just tossed seed into the bed. I saved seed from some of my local organic food from last year. I rinsed pepper and tomato seeds, and then put the seeds in little dishes to dry. Then I stacked to dishes of dry seed and put them in a cool, dry and dark place. By spring, I had no idea what seed was what, so I had no choice but to just make a hole in the dirt with my finger, and toss some seed in, and see what comes up.

Amish paste tomato

All of my original tomato plants got eaten by something. I don't know what. Every plant that came up, was about 2-3 inches tall were all hopefuls. But the next day, all the leaves would be striped off and a small dying twig would be left.

pepper of unknown variety

I kept seed of a variety of pepper plants including banana peppers, pizza peppers, poblanos, orange, cherry bombs, and cayenne. The pepper shown above is not matching any peppers I grew last year. It is a complete surprise. None of the banana, pizza, poblano, orange or cherry bombs came up. The only peppers that have come up is the plant as shown above and about a dozen cayenne plants. Eh, I don't love peppers anyway, except for a couple New Orleans recipes I make. I can just go buy a few peppers.


The rest of the plants I have in there are kale, brussel sprouts, lettuce and a bunch of herbs. The brussel sprouts had a hard start too, as the critters seemed to like to chew on those very well. The sage as well, all 5 of my former sage plants were eaten. I had to go buy another, #6, and that seems to be the charm. The oregano, mint, thyme and rosemary from last year are doing quite well. The basil is new. I wish I had some of the varieties I had last year, but I only have one this year.

the veggie garden

It was an experiment this year to see how the garden would grow if I just dumped seed in the garden plot. So far so good. We have yet to eat off of it, but I hope by the next few weeks we will.

July 15, 2011

Blueberry Crisp - Recipe

Finally, I figured out a recipe for blueberry crisp. It works. It isn't the best one that I have made, but it is the 1st one I bothered to write down what I did. Part of the reason why I keep a food blog is to remember what I ate if it is good, and what I make if it is good. The last few times I have made a blueberry crisp, I had made a big batch of topping and kept it in the freezer, and used a baggie of topping each time. I don't remember how I made the topping, and it was really good. I guess I had brown sugarin the house, and there is something magical that happens when butter, brown sugar and flour blend together in the oven, it makes a nice crunch buttery topping.

assembled blueberry crisp ready to be baked

The topping is:
1/2 cup white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar*
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup almond slivers
6 tbs butter
*I would have used brown sugar if I had it in the house, but I didn't today. I had only white ganular sugar, so that is what I used. It is not optimal to use just white granular sugar because white sugar doesn't make that nice crunchy crust.

The filing
6 cups of frozen blueberries**
2 tbs sugar
1-1/2 tbs corn starch
**The blueberries I had picked at my super secret organic blueberry patch, and put up some blueberries in the freezer to use for later. Well, later is here, and I decided to make a blueberry crisp. I am pretty sure fresh, or store frozen berries would work.

baked blueberry crisp

The method:
Keep everything cold while preparing
Stir all the drying topping ingredients in a bowl
Cut in the butter into the topping ingredients
In a different bowl mix the filling
Butter a deep baking dish (maybe 9x9 or corning dish)
Dump the filling into the baking dish
Dump the topping on top and smooth to an even layer
Bake at 350F for 45min
Let stand uncovered to cool

July 11, 2011

Tennessee Onion Soup

I made Tennessee Onion Soup with mostly local organic ingredients. It is some of the best onion soup I have ever had. Move over Lipton, there is a new soup in town.

onions to be cooked down in home churned butter

I started off making 2 pots, one with sauteed onions, and the other for beef stock. To make the sauteed onions, I put some home churned butter in a heavy pot, and then added 3 large onions sliced thin to saute until soft, wilty and slightly caramelized. After the onions were a little wilty, I added herb de Provence, salt and pepper. When the onions were done being slightly caramelized, I added a cup of chardonnay and brought the chardonnay to a boil to cook off the alcohol and leave the nice wine flavor.

beef stock on the make

In the stock pot, I browned beef soup bones. After the bones were done browning, I added water, carrots, celery, parsley, garlic, onion and a little salt and pepper. I let that simmer for a long time. When the onions were done, and the stock was done, I ladled in the stock over the onions and let that simmer for a short while. Then it was done! How long did it take? Hours. Is it worth the wait? Yes.

combined stock and onions to make soup

The ingredient list:
garlic, onion, celery, parsley - The Barefoot Farmer
salt - Himalayan pink salt
pepper - Penzey's Spices, I forgot the origin of the peppercorn
herb de Provence - Matanzas Creek Vineyard
chardonnay - Sterling
butter - home churned from JD Milk cream
beef bones - Triple L Ranch

July 7, 2011


smoked brisket and 2 sides

Puckett's of Leiper's Fork, TN is a general store, automotive store, lunch counter, bathroom break, cool drink or coffee break place, and everything in between. On the few occasions I have been to the Leiper's Fork location, I have seen some locals run in for a few staples for their home like bread and milk, I have seen some hunters coming as their last stop for breakfast, bathroom and road food before heading out, I have seen a bunch of bicycle club people roll in for a gatorade and biscuit break before riding another 20 miles, and I have seen families and friends stop in (like myself) just because Puckett's of Leiper's Fork is the destination. Puckett's FINALLY! expanded into downtown Nashville at the 500 Church St location, centrally located for all those who work and live in in downtown Nashville.

Puckett's of Downtown Nashville is so popular at lunch time that there is always a waiting line out the door. We tried going before the symphony, and it was a line out the door. We tried to go one Saturday lunch, and there was a line out the door. I tried to go at 2 pm for a late lunch thinking the line out the door would be gone by then, and there still was a line! I tell ya, Puckett's Downtown Nashville has a good thing going. People love dining at Puckett's!

At the downtown location, Puckett's serves break and lunch everyday, and dinner everyday except Sunday, but if the Titan's play this year, they will serve dinner on Sunday on game days too. The weekend breakfast includes a brunch bar with all you can eat Southern goodness including thick cut bacon, eggs, oatmeal, grits, gravy, biscuits, toast, fruit, and at least 15 more items to choose from. The website says they will only serve brunch bar until 1 pm, but when we got there they will serve the brunch bar as long as there are people still eating off the brunch bar, and that was about 2 pm for us. We also got lunch items too. There is a giant smoker rig in the Downtown Nashville location, so all the smoked meats including pork, brisket, chicken, bologna area all smoked right there at 500 Church St. I am not sure they have smoked brisket everyday, but they have it on the weekends, so that is what I got. Very tender, smoky and delicious. The pulled pork was also good. I love the style of fries served here too. The award winning hamburger (so says the menu, but I am not sure what award it is) is a good solid choice if you want a hamburger. They folks sitting next to us got the spinach artichoke dip and chips app. It looked really good. Then the neighbors couldn't contain themselves and started tell us they come to Puckett's Downtown Nashville all the time, and always start with the spinach dip because it is so good! The neighbors live downtown and they get takeout from Puckett's when they don't feel like cooking at home. Yet another Nashville resident who loves Puckett's.

After typing up this blog post, I am thinking I have a taste for Puckett's Downtown Nashville. Perhaps, I will have to take stroll to Puckett's in the next day or two get my fix of Puckett's.

Puckett's 5th & Church on Urbanspoon

July 1, 2011

Vinegar Experiment Part 3

Vinegar Experiment Part 3

a cup with a little vinegar in it

Is it soup yet? Well, it is vinegar. I looked into the crock, and there is a nice plum purple bacteria layer on top of the vinegar. The mother layer is an opaque film, maybe a mm or 2 thick. The vinegar color is the same color of the wine we used to make the vinegar. It is a nice dark garnet jewel color, not that watered down color the store brand red wine vinegar. The vinegar is quite fragrant like vinegar. I poured a little vinegar into a small glass to taste the vinegar, and it is just lovely. It is a smooth acidic flavor, not harsh like the grocery store brands. It is sour, but not too sour, and it has a slight fruity nose to it. As I sip on the vinegar, it coats my mouth and it is quite pleasant, inviting, addicting almost. If I tried to sip on store brand vinegar, I would be coughing and it would not be pleasant, nor addicting.

This vinegar experiment is a success.

What I have read about others' homemade vinegar, they said that they love their vinegar and it tastes so much better than any you can buy in the store. I too am singing the same song. This is better than any industrial vinegar available for purchase.

I guess I am going to keep feeding vinegar crock with the left over red wine in our bottles we drink with dinner. That will keep the mother alive and well, and she will continue to make vinegar. I am also going to make things now with red wine vinegar! Anyone have any good recipes? Anyone? Anyone? Let me know! Leave a comment with what I can make with this lovely vinegar!