#LexusEats: My Week with a Lexus Hybrid SUV

#LexusEats

One of the perks of writing and being a social media junkie like me is that you get some very creative offers. Lexus, creatively tying in Atlanta’s food scene to their marketing, has offered some ATLien foodies the chance to drive around in on of their 2014 models for a full week.

I only had one decision to make: sedan or SUV? As I’ve never had an SUV, it was a simple choice. Since this was a hybrid, it had over 450 miles with a full tank of gas.

Of course, I made sure my calendar was full for the #LexusEats week. The first day, Monday, was the least exciting with a visit to my dentist on my agenda. However, the short drive gave me time to get acquainted with the many features in the SUV. The weather was a bit chilly, so I took full advantage of the heated seats, turning the dial all the way up!

Lexus Hybrid SUV #lexuseats

Lexus RX 450 Hybrid SUV

Day two I was meeting up with a good friend for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. After my 16 ounce margarita, I was singing along to the many channels on the satellite radio (but my dial consistently found its way back to channel 80). Eighties music forever!

By the third day, I was already accustomed to the Lexus and it’s easy to use controls. I really liked the dashboard which comes equipped with navigation system and fully integrated smart phone options for hands free dialing. It was also the first of two times that week that I used valet. It was a nice change of pace to pull up with a car that I’m proud to drive rather than one I loathe.

Lexus Hybrid SUV #Lexuseats #lexuseats Hyrbid suv Lexus

The next day, I had a lunch appointment at a restaurant with super tight parking spots. And wouldn’t you know, almost every one was taken. However, the rear camera helped me to back into the one space I found. After a night of Mexican followed up by my PB&J burger (peanut butter, blue cheese, and fig jam), I thought some healthy eating was in order stayed true to my convictions ordering a salad. I may or may not have preceded said salad with fried shrimp.

Friday, I treated my aunt to dinner on her birthday, at Ray’s on the River. To make it extra special we picked her up in this carriage and rode together to dinner. Although this SUV isn’t huge, it was ample room for two – probably even three adults to fit comfortably in the back. I had the bourbon pork chop but wish I’d ordered crab cakes, though no one else regretted their menu selection.

Tech Chef at GA Tech

Tech Chef at GA Tech

After a full week, you would think I’d take it easy, right? Heck no! I headed out bright and early on Saturday to be a judge at Tech Chef (GA Tech’s version of Top Chef). As I circled round and round looking for parking to no avail, I envied students enjoying their cushy life on campus. I sampled shrimp risotto, whole fish with ginger sauce, and a delicious sweet potato ginger pie. Those kids can cook!

Hunger run walk atlanta #teamtweet #lexuseats lexus car review

As my week with the Lexus was coming to a close, I ended it on a truly fun note. I participated with some friends in the Hunger Walk / Run event in downtown. If you are fit but not a runner (or NOT an early riser like me) this is the charity event for you. It didn’t start until 2 pm and was a short 5k around downtown. Our team (#TeamTweet) raised over $1200 for Atlanta Community Food Bank! It was such a beautiful day I had the sunroof open all the way as I cruised home.

I drove just over 600 miles in the week I had the Lexus. As my week driving the Lexus hybrid drew to a close, I was, understandably, a bit sad to give it back. It had been a pleasure driving it around Atlanta.

Hold the Meat: 3 Vegetarian Restaurant Dishes I Love

I love meeting new foodies and breaking bread together. One of the funniest moments I had when meeting a new foodie friend was over pizza at Ammazza. As I stuffed a slice loaded with meatballs and sausage into my pie hole, he extolled his love of the many terrific vegetarian restaurants around Atlanta. I responded with “That’s terrific but I’m not sure why you’re telling me.” (all us Indians aren’t vegetarians). Even in the dimly lit restaurant, I could see the red on his face. I just laughed it off.

Although I don’t think I’ll ever cut out meat completely from my diet (a girls gotta have a cheeseburger every once in a while right?), I have made an effort to cut back on how much meat I consume. But that’s not to say you can’t have a vegetarian meal at a restaurant and leave feeling very satisfied even if you are a carnivore like me. Here are several dishes I’ve had that were incredible.

Vegetarian Platter at Aladdin's, Sandy Springs

Vegetarian Platter at Aladdin’s, Sandy Springs

Vegetable platter at Aladdin’s Mediterranean- It comes with Falafel, cucumber salad, dolmas, rice, baba ghanouj and hummus. It is so filling you could even split it with another and leave full.

Kale Pakoras at Chai Pani

Kale Pakoras at Chai Pani

Kale Pakoras at Chai Pani – The kale trend has certainly peaked. Kale chips, kale smoothies, kale slaw, you name it – it’s been done to death. While these fried chunks of goodness may not be fantastic for your health, they sure do taste good!

La Tagliatella Pizza

Eggplant Pizza at La Tagliatella

La Tagliatella Pizza – Though the midtown location might have recently closed, they do have another location in Emory. While the spot is known for handmade pastas, my favorite is their namesake pizza, with thin sliced eggplant drizzled with honey and balsamic.

 

Pioneer Chef Darryl Evans Honored at Le Cordon Bleu

Chef Darryl Evans

Chef Darryl Evans

Edna Lewis foundation and Le Cordon Bleu celebrate Chef Darryl Evans. Evans was one of the foundation’s former board members who passed away in late February. He was the first African American gold medalist in the Culinary Olympics. (Yes, there is a Culinary Olympics).

Chef Darryl was most recently the executive chef for the City Club of Buckhead but worked at the Four Seasons and Villa Christian. He was most known as one of the premiere black chefs of our time, not only in Atlanta but all over. Check out this article on Darryl Evans by John Kessler.

To celebrate Chef Evans, the Edna Lewis Foundation will be hosting two events at Le Cordon Blue: a casual affair on April 12 and a multi-course upscale soiree on April 13. Proceeds from the event benefit the Chef Darryl Evans Culinary Scholarship program.

April 12
What:
Wine Tasting, Bites and Dessert
Where: Le Cordon Bleu 1927 Lakeside Parkway, Tucker, GA
When: Saturday, Apri 12,, 2-5 pm
Cost: $35

April 13
What:
5 Course Dinner prepared by by Chefs from Across the country
Where: Le Cordon Bleu 1927 Lakeside Parkway, Tucker, GA
When: Saturday, Apri 13,, Cocktails: 6:30, Dinner, 8:00
Cost: $125

To buy tickets to one or both events visit: Edna Lewis Foundation

Atlanta Film Festival Foodie Shows

Atlanta Film Festival foodies

The Atlanta Film Festival kicks off Friday, March 28 and offers a variety of food-centric programming, screenings and events with attending directors as a part of its Film to Table Series. Here are some of the food-related events:

Food on Film
Saturday, March 29, 2:15PM – The Plaza Theatre, Chipotle Auditorium
Food on Film is the festival’s annual celebration of movies for foodies. This year attendees will snack on culinary shorts including “The Cake Lady,” “Sumo Roll,” “Sausage” and “The Scarecrow,” followed by the documentary “Sriracha,” an examination of our nation’s new favorite hot sauce. Pass & ticket holders may join in for actual film-inspired treats at the Highland Ballroom afterwards, made possible by Epting Events.
Admission: $10
Attending Talent: Griffin Hammond (Director, Sriracha)
Randy Clemens (Writer, The Sriracha Cookbook)

Dog Days
Sunday, March 30, 9:30pm – The Plaza Theatre, Chipotle Auditorium
directed by Laura Waters Hinson & Kasey Kirby
USA, 2013, English, 75 minutes
After losing his job in 2009, Coite Manuel sets off to build his dream business with the help of two unlikely women—Deane, his harp-playing aunt, and Siyone, an East African hotdog vendor and single mother of four. Staking his meager life savings on a vision to revive Washington, D.C.’s dwindling hotdog vending community, Coite faces bewildering challenges—from hostile city regulations and an entrenched local monopoly to the sudden popularity of food trucks. Filmed over the course of four years, “Dog Days” journeys to a world where the top dogs of big business meet the underdogs of street food in a comically serious caper about the promise and struggle of the American dream.
(Film to Table)
Admission: www.AtlantaFilmFestival.com/tickets.

Farmland
Sunday, April 6, 12:30pm – The Plaza Theatre, Chipotle Auditorium
directed by James Moll
USA, 2014, English, 70 minutes
Most Americans have never stepped foot on a farm or ranch or even talked to the people who grow and raise the food we eat. “Farmland” takes an intimate look at the lives of farmers and ranchers in their twenties, all of whom are now responsible for running their farming business. Learn about their high-risk/high reward jobs and passion for a way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation, yet continues to evolve.
(Film to Table)
Admission: www.AtlantaFilmFestival.com/tickets.
Attending Talent: James Moll, Director

poor calvin's restaurant downtown atlanta

Poor Calvin’s, Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Review

Set in a nondescript old home in downtown Atlanta, if you blink, you might miss Poor Calvin’s.  But it would truly be a shame if you did. Stepping inside the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by the bartender, hostess and manager. How’s that for being welcomed?

The name struck me as odd and was one of the first things I asked Chef Calvin about when I saw him. He said it is loosely based on a restaurant in Florida called Poor Richard’s, but it also a name that has stuck from Calvin’s friends. He said when he finds a restaurant space like his present space, he puts a lot into renovations and such building it up and as a result is “poor” when first opening. Incidentally, he opened a restaurant several years ago in Statesboro, to bring a touch of Asian food to South Georgia. Lucky for us, it didn’t resonate well with those folks and Calvin moved north.

Poor calvin's Atlanta downtown asian fusion

Frankly My Dear Cocktail

Asian fusion restaurant atlanta

Poor Calvin’s dining room and bar

Before diving right into food, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the superb cocktail menu. There’s a terrific mix of classic cocktails like the Dark and Stormy, Sazerac and Aviation, fruity cocktails like the Fuji Apple. But it was none of those that caught my eye. Instead, I went for the Frankly, My Dear with Gin / St. Germain and house made rosewater. I followed that up with what is the best Pisco Sour I’ve had outside of Peru.

We ordered the crab cake (if you read this blog regularly, you know I’m a slut for a good crab cake!) and the Pop Rocks Duck Pate (pictured at the top of this page). I mean, c’mon, with a name like that how could we not order it. And yes, it does come crackling to your table.

frog legs in Atlanta

Frog Legs

Chef Calvin sent over the Frog Legs too. I’d never had them before. These were served with Roti (Indian bread) and a Thai curry sauce.

I wish more servers in Atlanta were like ours that evening. Besides being there when we needed him without being intrusive, it was more than that. Blaine was able to steer us in the direction of things that were standouts on the menu and describe things without being pretentious or talking down to us.

Atlanta downtown dining Asian fusion

Pork Chop Special

During our dinner Chef Calvin took time away from the kitchen to sit down and chat with me for a while. We discussed his life abroad, mostly Europe, where his family is to this day. When I asked him why he chose to move here (the US) he said that he likes the creativity he has here. Not so in Europe, I inquired? Nope, he says. They are much more traditional there and customers don’t seem to like deviations from the norm. “Americans are much more adventurous eaters,” says Calvin.

Sneaking a peek at the menu, days before we headed to Poor Calvin’s I sort of had made my mind up on my entree – Chilean Sea Bass, but after hearing the description of the Unicorn fish and the fact that I’d never had it before, I changed my mind. And I’m thrilled I did. Hat tip to Blaine and Chef Calvin for encouraging me to try this dish.

Unicorn Fish Atlanta Poor Calvin's

Unicorn Fish

The Unicorn is so named for the horn that sticks out on top of its head This meaty fish (I needed a knife to cut it) didn’t disappoint. It is definitely a stronger tasting fish. The creamy artichoke-sun-dried tomato sauce would have outmatched a lighter fish.

poor calvin's fusion

Pear Dessert

The pictures speak for themselves as to the care and thought put into the plating of every single dish. I really hope you’ll go support this downtown gem. Disclosure: I was hosted by Poor Calvin’s for this dinner but the opinions expressed are my own.

510 Piedmont Ave
Atlanta, Georgia 30308
(404) 254-4051