Friday, February 27, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Canadians, Deviled Eggs, and Gentleman's Relish

What can I say? With an introduction like that I guess that there’s no need to tell you anything further about myself. Accept that Joe and I have been friends for several years, starting when he moved in with me for three months while preparing himself for life’s longest and hardest adventure…. marriage. Those three months turned into over a year, Joe was taking his time before diving in to the nuptials. While Joe lived in my home we grew to be great friends mostly base on our mutual love of great food and wine.

This being said, when Joe started this site I new that he would need true guidance from someone who actually understood the difference between a trendy “Atlanta Scene” and a quality dining experience. I will be choosing fine restaurants, bars, and dives around Atlanta and educating you, my lowly minions, on their worthiness.

Now for the meat and potatoes:

Everyone’s favorite Canadian and Tailgater extraordinaire Mike and his beautiful wife Amy have joined forces to create a new 7 pound 10 ounce half Canadian baby boy named Winder. In tribute to the Canadians my first subject will be Mikes favorite gastropub. Holeman and Finch public House.

A gastropub (or gastro pub) is a British term for a public house which attempts to specialize in high-quality food. The name is a combination of the terms gastronomy and Pub. “Gastro Pub” is the result of David Eyre and Mike Belben’s creation of a pub called The Eagle in Clerkenwell, London.

H and F (to you hipsters out there) is located at 2277 Peachtree Rd. (Peachtree Memorial Dr.) Atlanta, GA Map 404-948-1175 (Don’t bother calling for reservations.)

Food: The menu is nothing less that striking. If you can’t find something that “puts a little hitch in your gitty up” there is something terribly wrong with you. I started with the salumi, charcuterie and sausage ($15). I respected the fact that they were curing and developing their own meat, but was in no way impressed with their results. The Deviled Eggs three ways (3$) were delicious, the corn meal fried oysters ($9) were prepared perfectly. I did not however try the “Gentleman’s Relish” nor the “Crunchy Gentleman” (H and F’s take on a ham sandwich). The menu contained several items that I felt were a bit of a stretch for most people, BBQ Pigs tail comes to mind.

For my main course I had to try the much ballyhooed H and F Burger. This burger is made up of H and F’s own mixture of special cuts of our hoofed friends. The burgers are prepared to be served at 10 P.M. Don’t bother ordering one earlier or suggesting a temperature that you would like the burger to be served (i.e. Medium Rare). The server will get a giggle from such ridiculous request and inform you that 24 burgers will be served at 10 P.M. and “not to worry our chef knows how to cook a burger.” The result, a really good, but over hyped burger. They would be better served to put it on the menu, lose the hype and let people enjoy one of the Atlanta’s truly good burgers. Now for dessert, the Devil's chocolate cake ($7) was Fresh and tasty. I believe the young lady I shared it with would have stowed away the leftovers in her purse had she not cleaned the plate so thoroughly there was no need to wash it.

Décor: The interior of H and F is very well decorated. It is what someone like “Cookin Joe” would call “modern rustica”. I however would not, because I do not raise my pinky when I drink tea. Plus- I don’t drink hot tea…. Just sayin. I digress, the only problem is that the space is so small that (when busy) there is no comfortable place to sit or stand. This is a great problem for the ownership because this means that they are busy, for myself it didn’t work for the simple fact I don’t like to be crowded while trying to enjoy my dining experience.

Service: The attractive hostess whom had already informed us earlier that they did not take reservation would now let us in on the fun fact that the only table in the restaurant that would allow our group of 8 to dine together was occupied. Not to worry! The group were now starting to leave one at a time. Crisis averted? No! We then learned that “because we are a public house” we would need to sit in seats at the table as they opened up. That’s right! Let me make a suggestion, if you like your legs (or especially walking)- and I do not know you, do not ever come sit at my table while I am finishing dinner with friends. It made the atmosphere shrink and took me back to grade school cafeteria rooms of my past. Our 85 pound metro-waiter gave excellent service while maintaining an air of arrogance until I made it clear that I was not a fan of the seating arrangements nor the attitude of the sum of the staff when questioned about such things as the seating or the “H and F” Burger.

Cost: Surprisingly not that bad, I had three starters, the burger and dessert for around 50$. Throw in your typical Buckhead drink prices and I left around $125 with tip.

Overall dining experience: Canadian Mike” loves this place and especially there beer choices, the ladies loved the drinks, but I thought the overall experience was disappointing. Not to worry H and F faithful, the crowds will continue to pack the place for their overall high quality food and service. As well as the fact that the average trendy Atlantan (that I abhor) will keep attacking this scene for years to come.

I rate this 3 out of 5 on the Wild Hog chart (graphics to come) due to the pomp and physical discomfort.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Found my notes...

...and away we go. Sorry for the delay.

Aroma: Fruit. Cherries, Strawberries mostly

Taste: To me, California PN is often heavier than it's European (or New Zealand) counterparts. Big fruit flavors, darker color, etc. This one, however, seemed lighter than most Cali Pinot. Unlike an old world Pinot Noir, the flavors were more fruity than earthy, but the body was lighter (to me, despite containing 14% Merlot), and there was a good bit of acidity to it. Heavier than Oregon's finest, but lighter than California. I liked this wine and look forward to drinking it with a piece of freshly-caught salmon. Or canned salmon. The catfish ate all the fresh salmon in my neighborhood pond. Ooh...a pork chop would be good. Remember that guy who played for Mississippi St. whose name was "Pork Chop Womack"? I hope to someday name a child "Pork Chop". That name commands respect.

Aroma: Off-putting at first, but after a few swirls, I got sniffs of berries, little bit of leather, and herbs, particularly oregano (or that could have been my friends out behind the shed).

Taste: Soft tannins, like many Cali Merlots, with flavors of ripe cherries, berries, and even some charcoal. I thought this was a perfectly serviceable Merlot. I was wary of the gimmicky name at first, but was not disappointed by the true wine beneath. Nothing special, but not a bad buy for $10-12. Also, don't let the screw cap scare you off: this is becoming far more popular these days, as cork can allow air into the wine and oxidize/ruin it. Real cork is also subject to "cork taint", which can ruin a wine as well. So don't fear the screw never stopped you from drinking that 40 oz. of King Cobra, did it?

Funny thing. I didn't take any notes on this wine, but I specifically recall it tasting different than the last time I had it. Why didn't I take notes? Because my notes say "see previous notes," referring to when we tasted this wine in a previous post (A Zinfandel Tasting).

But, I'm a dumbass. I recall this one tasting less chocolate and cherries, and more berries and pepper. I still liked it, but it was more, uh, "punchy", I guess. Probably more acidic.

So, let this be a lesson: even self-proclaimed "wine enthusiasts," who act like they know what they're doing, are not immune to stupifying effects of boozin'.

Aroma: Okay. I wrote "Barrel Room". That's a smell a lot of people may not know, unless you are a shameless winery tourist, a rat, or perhaps Sloth from The Goonies.
Anyway, "Barrel Room" is the smell of where the wine is aging in oak barrels. This tells me that this wine smelled like vanilla, oak, toast, and some classic Cab smells, like dark fruit, leather, and cocoa.

Taste: Blueberries, Vanilla, Black Cherry, Herbs. Despite the described aroma, the oak was not completely overpowering the fruit flavors. I thought it was pretty decent for a $17.99 bottle of Cali cab, until I saw it at another store for $9.97....friggin' Fresh Market. Anyway, for $9.97, this is a good deal.

2005 Novelty Hill Columbia Valley Syrah

Okay. If you don't know where the Columbia Valley is, it's not in California. It actually runs from Washington down and runs along the Washington-Oregon border. So, this wine didn't fit with the "rules", but at this point, we didn't care. Furthermore, we weren't spitting throughout the night, so my notes REALLY suck here. I wrote, "classic syrah...can't pick out the scent." Wow. That's knowledge. From my experience, I can gather that this was a powerful wine with peppery aromas and flavors, laced with dark fruit, mint, leather, tar, and some nice structured tannins. I wouldn't think of Washington State as an adequate producer of a warmer-weather grape like Syrah, but it did seem similar to a more northern-Rhone wine, like Cote-Rotie. Not necessary a wine for the beginner, and a far cry from jammy Australian Shiraz, but worth a try if you're looking to get into Syrah (which is a good idea, in my opinion).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hall & Oates: Greatest Band EVER??

I'm gonna let the picture do the talking.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Cosmopolitan Redneck

It feels good when you're duped into thinking your website is getting some attention. So, when my buddy Brad said, "hey, you're website's getting some attention from me, and it's missing the voice of an Arkansas-born food snob," then I had to jump at the chance to bring him on.

So, welcome Brad Dickison (aka "Hog Wild", because he's a Razorback from U of A) to the blog. Brad will be eating his way around Atlanta, regularly trashing the concept of the "gastropub", and either bringing the IQ of this site up or down. Once in a while, he may even regale us with a tale of whiskey-washed shenanigans.
If you don't know who Brad is, he's my old roommate and a good friend. Here's a picture for some of you who don't know him:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

California Love

Got together at pal Lindsay's place last Friday to taste some wines and tell some stories. The rules were simple: everyone bring 2 bottles of a particular varietal wine, all from California. The suspects were Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Donned in my "Awesome Possum" t-shirt, the coup-de-gras of sommelier gear, I proceded to try to pontificate on the sanctity of the vine to a bunch of drunk college buddies. Sure enough, this was neither the time nor the place, so we just started popping corks and tucking in. I must say: I don't consider myself a pretentious wine snob, but I sure look like a li'l stinker in this particular photo (right). Oh well. It reminds me of Mike Myers talking about Colonel Sanders in So I Married an Axe Murderer, with that "smug look on his face. Oh, you're gonna buy my chicken...ooooohhh." See the bottom of this post if you don't know what I'm talking about.

So, with Kenny (pictured, left, to the right) half-in-the-bag, on the cusp of performing his famous Mick Jagger strut, we tucked into some very decent wines within the $12-15 range (though many were $17-20, and I bet those people couldn't afford Taco Bell later that night. Suckers!). As in most tastings we started with the lightest body in Pinot Noir, then went to the Merlot, the Zinfandel, the Cab, and finished with the Syrah.

Behold the lineup, from left to right:

-2006 Courtney Benham Sonoma/Mendocino County Pinot Noir
-2005 Screw Kappa Napa Napa Valley Merlot
-2007 Cline "Ancient Vines" California Zinfandel
-2005 Dynamite Vineyards Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon
-2005 Novelty Hill Columbia Valley Syrah (not California, but more on that later)
-2007 Dacu Ribera Del Guadiana (Tempranillo)...not part of the tasting, but worth noting

With our motley crew of selections lined up, we set out to find the best. What wines took the cake? Well, that will have to wait for the next post, because I have to go to sleep and dream about not going to work tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this previously-mentioned movie clip:

Monday, February 16, 2009

A View of Healdsburg, CA

Just messing around with Google Maps (what can I say? I'm part of the "ADD" generation), and pulled up a memorable corner of the world. The "Street View" option has really branched out, even to more remote areas of the world. This is the corner of Dry Creek Rd. and Lambert Bridge Rd. in Healdsburg, CA...the heart of "Dry Creek Valley" wine (if you only see a blank white rectangle, click "View Larger Map" below it).

View Larger Map

If you look around- to the West (down Lambert Bridge Rd.)- are some vines and Passalacqua Winery, which has some really great views, and good Zinfandel. Here's Heather standing in front of that great view:

To the east of the road, up the hill is one of my favorite places, F. Teldeschi winery. Our first experience there started with Bill Wertzberger walking into the delightfully unimpressive tasting room (reminded me of the "pakjuan" room at Woodrow in college), wiping his eyes and exclaiming that it "sucks to get citric acid in your eyes." I loved this place already. We went through a completely laid-back tasting, in no particular order, tasting outstanding zinfandels, syrahs, and delicous "field blends". Then, an unassuming guy walked in in jeans and a t-shirt and started chatting us up. Sure enough, it was Dan Teldeschi, one of the owners. You would have never known it. We talked about NASCAR and how much he loved Atlanta. He referred to the city of Smyrna as "Schmegma"....ha ha ha. My friend Jeff built a house in Schmegma. Anyway, Dan and Bill were simply not who you would expect running a winery; especially if you hang out in sometimes-to-often pretentious Napa Valley. Oh yeah, and the wine tasting was $2. You can't beat that. If you see their wines, I highly recommend them, especially the Zinfandels and the Terranova blend. Try The Wine Cellars in (hee hee) Schmegma Village Market, or Harry's Farmers Market.

Finally, if you look to the right of that, there's a place to get a good sandwich: The Dry Creek General Store. Eating a meat-filled loaf of warm, crusty bread while half-cocked on great wine is almost on par with a Sunday-afternoon "Quantum Leap" marathon on the know, with Cheetoes stains all over you sweat pants and a 3-day old neck beard.

"Joe, you wear sweat pants?"

Shut up. They're flexible.

Friday, February 6, 2009


I guess I look like this guy. I can see it, so that probably means it's really true.

Personally, I'm not too thrilled that I'm starring in such a stupid commercial. I'd rather star in a commercial where I fight crime while riding a shark.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Zinfandel Tasting

A set of wines provided by some friends at a recent tasting:

The bottles in the picture, from left to right:

2005 Oak Ridge Winery OZV (Old Zin Vines) Zinfandel: Perhaps the best of the bunch. These days, the Zinfandel grape is often made in to wines that are extremely high in alcohol (upwards of 16%)...this has to do with the fact that the Zinfandel grape is notorious for unevenly ripening, so vintners will often leave the grapes on the vine until the last grapes ripen. The overripe grapes fall off the bunch, and those left on have ripened to the point of having a great deal of sugar in their juice. In fermentation, sugar is metabolized by yeast, and the two byproducts are carbon dioxide, and magical alcohol. With excessive sugar comes excessive alcohol.

Anyway, I digress...this wine is not overwhelmed with high alcohol, which is actually quite pleasant. Trust me, if you're drinking it to get bombed, the 13.95% isn't gonna set you back much. But, with less alcohol, a wine's fruit, acidity and other flavors are not overwhelmed by the "hotness" associated with high alcohol. For this reason, this wine has a good balance of jammy fruits, chocolate, and spice. Not bad...

2006 Peachy Canyon "Incredible Red": A 100% Zinfandel from the Central Coast of California (an area about midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles...this is where the movie Sideways took place). Once again, a zinfandel with surprising low 13.9% alcohol. However, I recall not enough acidity, leaving the wine a little "flabby" (meaning too fruity and sweet, because there's not enough acidity to balance the wine and give it some comparing sugar water to lemonade). Not "incredible", but decent for an everyday wine.

2005 Clay Station "Old Vines" Zinfandel: I'll tell you, I really just didn't like this wine. Just too "fruity". The Clay Station website describes this wine as "bold and fruit-driven, with ultra-ripe blueberry, blackberry and cherry flavors," so they're confirming my description. Now don't get me wrong; I'll drink the hell out of some Hawaiian Punch, but it's not what I'm looking for in a wine. However, that's just may love it.

2005 Cline "Ancient Vines" Zinfandel: If you're looking for a winery that (in my opinion) consistently produced very good "value" wines, I highly recommend Cline Cellars. Located in the Carneros region of Napa Valley (just north of San Francisco), they've rarely disappointed me, whether the wines cost $7 or $17. I haven't seen a wine over $20 made by them. Anyway, this wine tastes like chocolate. Good fruit, just barely enough acidity, but the chocolate flavor is no doubt a byproduct of aging in oak barrels, which gives wine a distinct vanilla flavor and aroma. If you EVER notice this in a wine, it's a good way to know the wine was aged in oak barrels. However, sometimes vintners can overdo it with the oak...usually, it's a tricky way to hide the flavor of crappy grapes.

But, in the case of this wine, it's not too much. Just enough to create a pleasant, chocolate flavor. Think chocolate-covered cherries, and you're there. I like this wine, and I hope you will too.

2006 Robert Mondavi "Private Selection" Zinfandel: Okay. Robert Mondavi was a legend in the wine world. He literally put Napa Valley on the map. California wine would not be what it is today without his vision.

However, I seriously doubt this was his "private selection". Mondavi winery makes wines for every price range (which is great...not everyone is drinking $100+ Mondavi Reserve Cabernet). With that said, this is on the lower end of that spectrum, and it tastes like it. Just tastes cheap and fake. Probably fine for an everyday drink, but at- I'm guessing- $8-10, you could find some real values, particularly from South America, Portugal, and South Africa. But, try it out and tell me I'm wrong.