Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Fabulous looking Slice of Pizza

Pizza from dinner a few nights back. The base was made of organic whole wheat and it came from Harry's Farmers Market, Marietta. A packet of 2 pizza bases costs $4.99, if I remember correctly. For the first time, I made a pizza sauce with tomato paste, fresh basil, thyme and freshly ground black pepper. Toppings included red, yellow and orange bell peppers, sliced onions and shredded vegetarian organic mozzarella cheese.

Verdict? The pizza looked fabulous! As far as taste goes, the sauce was a little too sour. I think I should have added some sugar to cut the tartness. Tomato having such a dominant flavor, I couldn't do much else... :(

Friday, February 18, 2011

'Jhootha? What is that?'

In traditional Hindu homes, there are certain rules regarding food. This includes (and is not restricted to) preparation and storage of food, serving, consumption, cleaning, etc. The main idea behind these guidelines is that food is sacred, and it needs to treated with sanctity. Makes sense, doesn't it? The food we eat nourishes our body, our minds, and our souls. It becomes us. Obviously, it is important that we pay attention to what we feed our body and mind. Ayurveda has specific guidelines about food and its consumption. Here is a science that looks at the body as part of the Universe it resides in, and I cannot imagine a better perspective to understand health and well-being. Anyway, I am no authority on Ayurveda, so I'll move on to writing about what I originally intended... the concept of 'Jhootha.'

'Jhootha' is a Hindi word that literally means 'liar.' It's also used in the sense of 'cross-contaminated.' Simply put, if I were to use a ladle to taste the soup bubbling away on the stove, then put the ladle back into the pot, it essentially means that the soup is 'Jhootha.' Seinfeld's famous 'double dip' episode talks about the same point. In case of a meal that comprises of meat and vegetarian preparations, using the same serving spoon for both kinds of food amounts to cross-contamination as well. Maybe not so much for the folks eating meat but I'd imagine a very different response from the vegetarians at the table.

Essentially, it is about maintaining the purity of things, in a larger sense. Keeping the milk from curdling because you used a spoon that was resting in the yogurt container, maintaining the cleanliness of your actions, keeping the space around and within sacred and special... I am not sure if that makes much sense. But I'll leave it at that for now. And hopefully come back to it later when I am able to articulate better.

Anonymous (in the comments below) tells me that the actual pronunciation of the word is 'Jootha' and it means cross-contaminated. The Hindi word for 'liar' is 'Jhootha,' with a heavier emphasis on the first syllable. Thanks, Anonymous!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Broadway Cafe

The ScoutMob coupon is allowing me to sample new places in and around the city. Last weekend, four of us trooped to Broadway Cafe. No fancy dining place this is but the food was fairly nice, I thought! I would probably go there a second time if it wasn't a tad far... :( Should mention that this is a Kosher restaurant (one of the few in the city?) - probably that explains the many Jewish families with little ones present that evening.

To start off, we ordered a plate of Potato Chips. These folks don't have a website; so I cannot verify the exact name of the dish. Anyhow, we got a huge plate of Sweet Potato home style fries. We asked them to get us a bowl of ketchup as a dip. Nice fries, and it was good that we had friends with us. It would have been impossible for P and I to finish them. I recall thinking that it would have been nice had they sliced the sweet potatoes thin and roasted them. Delicious and healthier(?). 

We also got a plate of roasted vegetables and hummus with pita bread wedges. Now that I look at the picture, the hummus looks more like cream cheese! Seriously trying to recall - what DID we get? In any case, it was fairly decent tasting. I do remember that the pita wedges were like LEATHER. So tough that it was difficult biting into them.

The above is a collage of all the dishes we ordered. Thai Stir-fry with Vegetables and Tofu (top left), Pad Thai (bottom left), Roasted Vegetable Pizza with Mushrooms and Feta, and Lasagna. S had ordered the Thai Stir-fry and he specifically asked our server if they used Tofu or gluten. Now this was a new topic for me. I learned that many places mention tofu but use gluten instead. I suppose, when they say gluten, they actually mean texturized soy protein, that is understood to be a far more processed substance than tofu (soy bean curd). S said that it was an ingredient that he always found challenging to digest. Anyway, his dish was far too liquid-y, he said. It was more a soup consistency, he thought. I didn't sneak a taste, so no comments.

P ordered the Pad Thai. It was fairly nice but unremarkable. The flavors were mild and the vegetables tasted fresh and crunchy. My husband ordered the pizza. It came on a flat bread base with sundried tomatoes, olives, mushrooms and a pesto spread. I liked it but he thought it was just okay. As for me, I ordered the Vegetable Lasagna. Very uncharacteristic for me because I am not a fan of this dish. It always seems as if the sourness of tomato dominates the flavors, and what remains is the stringy baked cheese that turns cold too soon, and then the doughy taste and texture of lasagna sheets. Let me just say, this was not the worst Vegetable Lasagna I have eaten. But I don't think I will order this for a while. It doesn't seem like a dish I will ever have a taste for. Unless may be I sample it in Italy?

Skipped dessert, went home and played Taboo... good fun with good friends. As for Broadway Cafe, I would go there again if I was in that part of town. Not sure if I'd make the drive for the kind of food we ate that night. Or maybe I would!

Broadway Cafe
2157 Briarcliff Rd
Atlanta, GA 30329

Monday, February 14, 2011

At Vingenzo's where it ends on a sweet note

Visited Vingenzo's again. Last weekend, if I remember right. P got an email from them informing about the special of the day - Roasted Sweet Potato Gnocchi Sage Hazelnut Butter. Sounds fabulous, doesn't it? So off we went. Besides, our last dining experience there was so good that I'd have been game going to Vingenzo's anyway.

I suppose it was Friday night because the restaurant was full. Thankfully, we got a table pretty soon. Not that I'd have minded waiting. I love the cheery vibe of this place. As we were waiting, we thought we would get something to drink. From the non-alcoholic drinks menu, we picked the Limoncello. The youthful bartender told us that it was a lemonade-y drink with fresh basil infused. Sad to say, I couldn't discern any flavors of basil. Tasted like a regular lemonade, and a tad too tart for me to enjoy... :(

This time, we decided to pick something from the mozzarella bar. I wish I could remember what kind of cheese we got. It was possibly Bufala (buffalo mozzarella, I suppose?), light and stringy. It came with roasted cherry tomatoes, peppers and capers. Missed taking a picture of the lovely platter. Hmmm, maybe they drizzled some balsamic vinegar alongside too. Very delicious, simple and flavorful.

We had to get the special, didn't we? We also ordered a basic Margharita Pizza. San Marzano tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and basil. Verdict? The pizza was good. As always, the base was thin and crispy. The cheese was half-melted, ready to flow out of the pizza! A little too stringy, I thought. Tasty, nonetheless.

Our daily special? Kinda disappointing! The flavors were predominantly sweet, lacked any other contrasting flavor. We asked for some freshly ground pepper which made a little bit of a difference. The flavor of sage could hardly be detected in the midst of all that sweetness. The gnocchi was sprinkled with hazelnuts, so at least there was a crunch to the dish. Disappointing and expensive ($19), I thought.

Thankfully, dessert salvaged the rest of the meal. Chocolate hazelnut gelato, YUM! Not very dark, neither too bitter nor sweet... perfectly creamy and rich. Loved it.

I suppose I should mention that more often than not, buffalo mozzarella is made using animal rennet. At least, that has been my experience whenever I have gone out looking to buy it. Besides, I am 99% sure that most cheese that comes from Italy uses animal rennet. Let me just say that sometimes, super-soft buffalo mozzarella makes this vegetarian a little weak in her knees. 

105 E. Main Street, #105
Woodstock, GA 30188

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jerusalem Bakery

A couple of weeks ago, I stepped into Jerusalem Bakery in Marietta. A sleepy space, a single attendant, shelves filled with freshly baked pita bread, packets of sesame-studded bread sticks, date rolls, walnut biscuits and cookies, baked pies... You get the delicious picture. This is a place I have been meaning to visit since some time - never got around to it.

I looked around, peeked into the freezer filled with various kinds of cheeses (almost all of them kosher, with non-animal rennet - YAY!), and walked out with a bag of whole wheat pita bread and a packet of date rolls. The date rolls were very delicious and the sesame seeds provided a nice crunch. The pita breads? Fabulous. I realized that buying pita bread from a bakery (at Jerusalem, they bake it daily) makes the hugest difference. I finished the last pita round (or bread?) a couple of days back. Can you believe that it was still oh-so soft? Btw, cost of a packet of whole wheat pita bread? $1.69 only. And believe me, it is a lot more delicious and less expensive than what you could buy from your big grocery store.

Again visited the bakery yesterday. The light was good, so I got some good pictures. This time I bagged a box of date rolls (the non-sesame kind), my packet of whole wheat pita breads, and a box of Ma'moul (walnut stuffed pastries). P found the Ma'moul very sweet but I thought it was pretty delicious. There is a liberal sprinkling of powdered sugar that I dusted off as much as I could. Haven't sampled the date rolls yet but I am sure they're delicious. About Ma'moul, if you want to know how to bake them at home, read this on Desert Candy, one of my favorite food blogs.

Jerusalem Bakery
585 Franklin Rd, Suite 160
Marietta GA 30067

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Sufi's is one of those places where the decor is lovely, the ambience is great, the food is nice... but the lighting is too dark to take good pictures. Not that big a deal, right?
Can't seem to be able to write much today, so I'll say it in bullet points!
  • Fabulous, I repeat, fabulous pita breads. So soft that they are like the Indian naans, flecked with black sesame seeds, I could make a meal of these. Actually, I did so the next day! Now that I think about it, these were made of white flour and there's a probability that egg was incorporated into the dough. Not sure, though.
  • Not many vegetarian items on the menu. A couple of visits and I would have sampled every vegetarian dish served.
  • I think all the appetizers contain eggplant. So if that is your hated vegetable, you will probably need to skip to the entrees.
  • How could I forget the platter of nuts-cheese-herbs-butter?!! You can see it above. Along with the pita breads, they bring you a small plate containing walnuts, rounds of feta cheese, a couple of slabs of butter, fresh basil (and another herb that I couldn't identify). I suppose you load the bread with these tidbits. Very very very nice.
  • Our appetizers' order got a little messed up, I think. Or so I thought. Anyway, we got Hummus, Mast Kheyar and the Sufi's Special. P thought that the hummus was strictly okay - I thought it was pretty nice. Sufi's Special featured spicy sautéed eggplant, onion, garlic, and chick peas in a spicy tomato sauce. It was nice, although a little spicy for my palate, and tasted much like the Indian baingan bharta. Mast Kheyar is a dish of beaten yogurt with chopped cucumber and herbs. Raita, anyone?
  • Our server got us a bowl of smooth beaten yogurt. We didn't order it and so I don't know where that came from.
  • For the entrees, I got a bowl of Ash Joe soup and P got a platter of Vegetable Kabobs. P adored the soup; it contains barley, lentils and red beans, topped with herbs, chopped mint (didn't get that flavor, though), caramelized onions (YUM!) and whey. P liked it so much that he started thinking about how we could recreate it at home.
  • The Vegetable Kabobs featured seasonal vegetables (zucchini, squash, peppers, mushrooms, onions), marinated and cooked over an open flame. That was a nice dish, all the vegetables retaining their crunch, dark grill marks along side. The basmati rice was very nicely done too.
  • There was no dessert menu but tons of options! Wish I remembered some of them... anyway, I think we ordered rose-flavored Persian ice cream. It came with chopped pistachios and other nuts, reminded me of the Kaju Draksh flavor from Natural's Ice creams.
Would I go to Sufi's again? Possibly, yes. For the awesome nut-herb platter. The fabulously soft and pillowy pita breads. To sample the desserts, yes!

1814 Peachtree Street
Atlanta GA 30309