I’m embarking on a new year of writing that celebrate others like me, who LIVE TO EAT! Just such a person is 28-year-old Alex Rold.
Rold takes eye popping, UNREAL, mouthwatering Instagram photos of all his foodie adventures in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s not the marketing analyst’s day job but perhaps it should be. I know his mother…yet I found my foodcentric cohort on his IG page, @roldinginthe_eats through drool of mouth. Sufficed to say, I was hardly the first one to notice Alex’s keen eye for superlative places to eat.
He was featured on Atlanta Eats a little over a year ago, when he said his nosh hobby really took hold and sent him on a photographic tour of the famed Buford Highway – a 7 mile path of restaurants, food halls and markets, that really are a dream come true for anyone with taste buds.
Buford Highway has its own China Town and massive food courts, with stalls that are like a United Nations in food: Korean, Mexican, Vietnamese, Dominican, African, you name it!
“If you’re not used to Buford, it can be overwhelming. The diversity you’ll find there, sometimes language barriers – it’s the best Asian food, best true Szechuan food, I’ve had in my life. I’m there almost every night of the week,” said Rold.
He recommended we all try the numbing peppers at Good Luck Gourmet and Masterpiece. Nam Phuong is definitely a favorite haunt for Vietnamese food.
Rold said his near daily trek down the four-lane highway, stretching from just north of Atlanta (Brookhaven) to Duluth, GA in Gwinnett County, has been the path toward more than just amazing food.
Being food oriented has also been the path toward the best friendships of his life.
“I recognize friends from Instagram on Buford Highway all the time – people I never would have met were it not for our shared love of eating,” he said.
Clicking through the IG pages of his fellow Atlanta food advocates, one can find recommendations for the best fried Korean chicken wings, dumplings, tandoori chicken, Pho, tacos, burgers and ice cream.
I, @jorjmorgancooking have followed them all and urge my own food blog subscribers to do the same. The photo below is one of Alex’a Instagrams. It reads:
The Shed Burger – @creekstone_farms grass fed angus beef on brioche topped with homemade bacon jam and smoked Gouda. Served with fries.
If you are looking for similar pics of gorgeous grub, check out his friends on these Instagram pages:
In the meantime, here’s a list of best international Buford Highway restaurants according to the Travel Channel, and my solemn vow that I will persuade Alex in the near future to join my Super Supper Book Club – because I know he likes to cook almost as much as he loves to go out. Don’t worry, Rold. I won’t breathe a word of what happened when you invented your own ice cream flavor with limited edition Captain Crunch.
Speaking of gourmet, here’s Alex’s own effort at making Japanese soufflé pancakes, which he said his New York Times Cooking subscription taught him how to make.
I may feature my own version of these fairy tale cakes sometime in February, and bring a short stack to my next Super Supper Book Club, should we decide to feed and read on a novel like Crazy Rich Asians next.
And not just any Southern girl either – Amanda Wilbanks, owner of the Southern Baked Pie Company spent part of her Friday afternoon on the phone with us, dishing on all butter crusts, pies as small as a tassie and as large as a wagon wheel, blackberry pies, pies made with fresh, organic blueberries that are growing all over Georgia right now, and her savory chicken pot pie that is her favorite to eat but the hardest to make.
“I used to love to make chicken pot pie with my Grandma, who I called Betty. We had to cook the chicken first, which took hours. The pie doesn’t have vegetables like a lot of people think, but its simple, honest ingredients: chicken, dumplings and salt are heavenly.”
Jorj.com eagerly awaits Grandma Betty’s recipe, but it’s not on the list of what Amanda’s publisher is okay with sharing right now. We’ve pre-ordered her cookbook, which will be released on August 7.
When you click on Southern Baked: Celebrating Life With Pie, you can immediately look inside and see how to make her famous pie crust, which calls for one whole stick of butter.
“I admit I’ve gained a few pounds,” Amanda chuckled, “but I’ve never been happier. Making this cookbook was hard work, but my friends helped me test every recipe and arrange all the photo shoots. We had so much fun. Sure, it was 12 hour days for a solid month, but we nibbled and hung out as friends. Amazing.”
As an author of many cookbooks myself, I can relate. Like me, Amanda’s recipes are also inspired by travel.
“About ten years ago, I was studying abroad,” she said, “and when I was in Prague I had my first taste of a made-from-scratch pastry. It was a tart. When I bit into it, I was shocked at how good it was; the custard was warm, and the dough the softest and most buttery I’d ever had. The fruit inside the tart shell was perfectly sweet.”
It was a perfect segue. I told her about Canvas and Cuisine, with Sue’s oil paintings of far flung farmer’s markets and the exotic recipes they inspired me to create. I think the three of us are such like-minded individuals that I sent Sue some of Amanda’s pies. I myself tasted the pies’ marvelousness when someone gifted them to me through the mail. The Southern Baked Pie Company ships all over the United States.
This is Amanda’s store and HQ in Gainesville, Georgia.
She told me she spends most of her time here, but does drop by her other two stores in Alpharetta and Buckhead from time to time, ready to roll up her sleeves, get out her pre-refrigerated pie making ingredients, and make what she loves. Her product managers like to tell her, “We got this.”
And this, would be her family’s dream. The pie entrepreneur says her mother-in-law, Sandy Wilbanks got the whole thing started by showing Amanda how to make buttermilk pie. That was in 2012, and she’s been making all sorts of pies ever since. Her very favorite right now is chocolate chess pie, which tastes especially good washed down with a glass of Prosecco, a few ripe berries floating on top. Her husband, Alex convinced her to sell her pies professionally, and it’s to him, whom she dedicates her cookbook.
“Alex is the one who always believed in me the most.”
The mother of two will mark her 5th year as a store owner shortly after the book’s official release. She says they plan to host a book signing party at the Gainesville store, on August 18th. “It’s a tiny shop,” Amanda says, “so we’ll probably bring the celebration outside, and serve a few pies.”
August 18th is a Saturday, and Fridays are free pie days – so if you bring a hankering for the blackberry pies – a favorite of Southern Baked this summer, you will probably be in luck for a fresh baked encore. But who knows? It could be anything. No notion is too pie in the sky here…
One of the best things about writing a book is finding experts in your subject matter, and really getting to know them. This time, I had the pleasure of talking with Joanne Blake, the CEO of Style for Success. Her advice echoes that of Emily Post, making it clear that the best family dining experience, packed with great flavor and even better conversation, is a matter of etiquette!
To begin with, Joanne weighed in on the all too common problem of kids disrupting a nice dinner by asking to go to the bathroom. She recalled delivering a dining etiquette presentation at a restaurant, where a seven year-old girl continually asked to be excused:
“She did this in part to gain my attention,” says Joanne, “and also because she wasn’t keen on eating everything on her plate. In subsequent presentations, I encouraged the children to visit the restroom AND WASH THEIR HANDS before we started the presentation. I explained to them that it was not only good manners, but the hygienic thing to do. I asked them to stay seated until the very end of the meal, prefacing my request with ‘just like the grown-ups do…’.”
Help Your Child Feel Like a Grown-up. This can be done by minimizing interruptions and excuses to leave the table halfway through the meal. If the child leaves because they don’t like the food, try exposing them to a variety of different foods and veggies, and don’t make a big deal of it if they leave some of it behind. Remember: even adults don’t always clean their plates.
Explain why it’s important to behave at the dinner table. You can do this by reminding the child that it interferes with everyone’s conversation if they’re constantly getting up to leave, spilling food, or not listening when other people talk. Remind them that they won’t earn their place at “the big people’s table” until they learn to converse cheerfully and eat neatly, i.e. putting a napkin in lap.
Praise and reinforce good behavior. At the dinner table and beyond, parents should be clear and specific about what their children are doing well. Example: Your picky eater refused to try pineapple until tonight, when you served a side of it with dinner. Alas, she ate the fruit with her fingers instead of using a fork. Resist the urge to correct the mistake, and say instead that you are proud of her for giving a new food a try.
Remember, Having Good Manners Makes You Savvy, NOT Stuffy. If you want your kids to eat neatly at the dinner table, provide every person with a napkin that covers the entire lap. Just for fun, print a diagram of the way the dinner table should be set and give your youngsters a chance to recreate the picture when they set the table. A great example is this info-graphic from Huffington Post’s piece How To Set a Table Without Being Stuffy. The pictures include settings for both formal and informal dining.
Like this? Look for more great tips in my upcoming book!
Remember that good manners begin at home! Think of your kitchen as a classroom, and let me help you see those lessons through. DINNERTIME: It’s About Food and So Much More will be published in late 2015 by Motivational Press.