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…
It always starts with a trip to the farmers market. During this particular visit, I was drawn to stalks of fresh ginger, almost 2 feet long! The bulb is large, pale-yellow, pink and incredibly fragrant. This ginger needs no peeling; it’s as pungent as any you have eaten. I stood behind a young man who had collected an armful of ginger stalks. I asked what he planned to do with all that ginger. He told me he owned a small general store down the road, and needed it for customers. How cool!
As I waited for him to pay, I looked around at the other offerings in the stall. There were peppers! I mean boxes and boxes of peppers –varieties that I never heard of. The farmer was smart to include the names and description of each one, including the heat level. In addition to the familiar poblano peppers, I decided to try both Lemon Drop and Trinidad Perfume peppers.
Filling my basket with my treasures, I started out of the market. And then…… well, it is apple season. I ran smack dab into a stall that held over two dozen varieties of apples. Cameo, Spigold, York, Yoko, Prairie Spy…. The assortment of apples was amazing! The farmer offers you a five-dollar bag, or an eight-dollar bag and you chose your favorite apples.
Peppers, ginger, apples…. A fall harvest treat, and the perfect ingredients for one of my favorite condiments… chutney!
My cookbook, Sunday Best Dishes: A Cookbook for Passionate Cooks has a recipe for Roasted Pepper Chutney that I serve with Welsh Rarebit. (Yes… this is yummy). I took that recipe, and adapted it to include all the ingredients that I found at the market. The chutney is delicious. The heat from the lemon drop peppers stays in the background, so that just when you think the chutney is a touch too sweet, the pepper creeps into the after taste. It’s special! I served it on roasted pork for company and then on top of some soft cheddar cheese for an appy the next day. It you are looking to make gifts for holiday giving, whip up a batch of this chutney and treat your friends!
Sunday Best Roasted Pepper Chutney
On Welsh Rarebit Sandwiches
This chutney can be as spicy as you like—it all depends on the peppers you choose. Roasting them gives the dish a smoky depth of flavor. Make a big batch and store it in the fridge; that way you can slather the spread on toast and top with cheese for a midnight snack later on!
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
4 large red bell peppers
2 orange Anaheim peppers (or 4 medium jalapeno peppers)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
½ cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 fresh bay leaves
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 cup homemade chicken broth, or prepared low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan on high heat. Place the whole peppers onto the grill. Char the skin on all sides until black and blistered, about 20 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover and set aside for 15 minutes. Pull off the charred skin. Remove the stem. Use a knife to scrape away the seeds. Chop the peppers. If you are sensitive to hot peppers, wear gloves for this task. Remember to wash your hands carefully after working with hot peppers.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chopped peppers, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, mustard, paprika and chicken stock. Simmer until the chutney becomes thick and syrupy, about 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.
2 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated, about ½ cup
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
4 thick slices artisanal bread, toasted
Preheat the oven on the broil setting. Stir the cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise together in a bowl. Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet coated with vegetable oil spray. Spread a layer of chutney onto each slice. Spread a heaping spoonful of cheese topping over the chutney. Broil until the topping is browned and bubbling, about 4 to 6 minutes.