Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rio de Janeiro Brazilian Buffett - Marietta, Georgia

The Dining Companion and I have been checking out local Brazilian restaurants. Recently we had lunch at Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro is a small buffet restaurant located in a strip mall.

The first thing we heard after we greeted the staff was "I don't speak English." That's ok I replied, I don't speak Portuguese, I'm sure we'll figure it out. And we did.

We sat down and with the help of an English speaking employee, got the lay of the land. Rio de Janeiro's buffet is available for dine in or take out. As a matter of fact, while we were there, no one else joined us for lunch but many people stopped by for take out.

I managed to get one, only one, halfway decent picture of the food. 

Clockwise from the top: Layered chicken dish, pasta salad, a lovely rice and bean dish and boiled yucca
The Dining Companion and I are familiar with a few Brazilian dishes. None of those dishes were on the buffet. I'll be honest, I asked what these dishes were and I was told.(Muito obrigada!) I didn't write anything down and the dishes aren't really listed anywhere. That said, everything we tried was good. (MENU)

From what I understand, Rio de Janeiro, is a typical quick service Brazilian lunch spot. Something you might find in Brazil.

The buffet is small with a handful of items. Some items change depending on the day of the week. At some point we'll get back to sample some of the other choices.

Was this my favorite Brazilian restaurant? No, but it was a serviceable lunch option and a good way to try a few new things.

As it happens the Rio de Janeiro buffet is located in the same strip mall as the Brazilian Bakery Cafe. When filling up at the buffet for lunch be sure and save room for some tasty pastries a few doors down.

 Jantar feliz!
(Happy dining!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Brazilian Bakery Cafe - Marietta, Georgia

All I know about Brazilian food I learned from a waiter at Fogo de Chao. Well, mostly. It was on his advice that the Dining Companion and I sought out our first Brazilian restaurant that wasn’t a churrascaria.

Poking around the local dining scene, the Dining Companion found that there are a few Brazilian restaurants in the area. Armed with that knowledge we set out to try a couple. The Brazilian Bakery Café was first up.

We were there early on a weekend morning. It wasn’t overly busy which was great for me. I was able to ask about some of the delicious looking things on offer without holding up a line. The guy behind the counter was very helpful. (I wish I had his name) We looked over the options in the cases and chose a few things to try.(menu)

Coxinha are deep fried drumstick shaped fritters filled with chicken

We had one of the split pastries above. Filled with vanilla cream.

So many things to try!

There were cakes as well and flan

We ended up with a coxinha, a small shrimp pie and a ham and cheese pastry called an Americano. The coxinha we’d had before but the other two were new to us. We enjoyed all of the things that we tried.
Clockwise from top: Ham and Cheese pastry, coxinha and a shrimp empadinha

I did end up getting a sweet pastry as well. It was so good that it didn't last long enough to get its picture taken.

I asked about the feijoada and found out that we were there too early. We’ll be back for it another day. From what I can tell most of the local Brazilian places serve it on Saturday. Brazilian Bakery Cafe has it both Wednesday and Saturday.

The cafe also offers different soups and salads daily and bacalhoada on Fridays. Bacalhoada is a dish that consists of salt cod, onions and potatoes. There are sandwiches too. A little something for everyone. Judging by the steady stream of people coming in and out while we were there it's a popular weekend stop.

Chocolate Easter Eggs
I saw several foil wrapped packages hanging here and there in the bakery. I asked about them and was told that they're chocolate Easter eggs, a tradition in Brazil. They each have a hollow space inside that can be filled with a small toy or something. I'm sorry I didn't get one.

Sitting in the café was what I imagine being on vacation in Brazil would be like. Everyone it seems, but the Dining Companion and me, were speaking Portuguese. It's the kind of thing that can transport you right out of your everyday and into something new. We love that.

There are a couple of other places that we're going to try. One of them is a buffet place and the other appears to be a market with a place to eat attached. They both look interesting.

Stay tuned, the Brazilian food adventure is just beginning.

Happy dining!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

National Beer Day - Prost!

In honor of National Beer Day I thought I'd talk about one of our favorites. The family of Shiner beers.

The Spoetzl Brewery, where Shiner is brewed, is located in the small town of Shiner, Texas. The brewery was started by German and Czech immigrants in 1909. They couldn't find the type of beer they enjoyed in their home countries so they decided to brew their own. The brewery gained in popularity and the owners decided they needed a trained brewmaster to helm it. That brought in Kosmos Spoetzl. He bought the place and changed the name but kept the Shiner name on the beer. It's changed a bit from the tin shack it was then but the beer is still brewed with care and like they say, every drop is still brewed in Shiner.

Shiner has a standard line-up of beers and also brews special occasion and seasonal beers. One of the summer seasonal brews we've enjoyed is their Ruby Redbird. It's a tart, refreshing beer made with Texas Ruby Red grapefruit and ginger. The perfect thing for a long, hot, summer day or anytime something refreshing is in order. Happily, the Ruby Redbird has made the jump to a standard offering and is now available all year.

Iced beer in troughs is located on the way to the counter at some BBQ joints
A few years back we started seeing Shiner Prickly Pear in the summer. At the time the only places we found it were occasionally in the iced beer troughs at Rudy's BBQ and in Shiner Family Reunion six packs. It's one of our favorites and we bought it whenever we came across it.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago and imagine my surprise when we found this...

...in a grocery store, in Georgia! We'll be happily drinking this all summer.

Shiner is now available everywhere. Lucky us that means we can now find it in most of the places we visit. It's not a craft brew or a micro-brew. It's just good beer brewed in a place steeped in tradition.

Definitely check out the Shiner Ruby Redbird or Prickly Pear if you can find it. They both go well with BBQ, good friends and long summer days.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

If it seems like I've been lost in lets remember...

The other day the Dining Companion said that I was "always nostalgic about the places we've been." That's true. I tend to get wistful about places we've visited.

Revisiting a place we enjoyed doesn't feel like a rerun or a an attempt to relive past good times. Returning for me, is the chance to seek out new experiences, things we might have missed the first time around. Maybe the chance to see a place in a whole new light. 

Lets be honest, New Orleans at Mardi Gras is not the same New Orleans you'll see at other times of the year. Mardi Gras is fun but the city is about so much more than that. How could you not want to see it in a different guise?
The same could be said of Munich in September. We loved Oktoberfest and had an awesome, beyond belief time. But I long to return; to see the city under a summer sky. To experience a different Munich than the one we saw before.
So nostalgic? Maybe. But not so much a look back through rose colored glasses or with a hope to recapture some ideal. No, more of a chance to see more and do more in a place I've grown fond of.

While the list of places I want to see is long, there will hopefully always be room on it to return to the places I love. 

Happy traveling!

If it seems like I've been lost
In let's remember
If you think I'm feeling older
And missing my younger days
Oh, then you should have known
Me much better
Cause my past is something that never
Got in my way

Billy Joel - Keeping the Faith

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Rotisserie Shop - Kennesaw, Georgia

I've been keeping a list of restaurants that I want to try so when the Dining Companion asks what I want to do for lunch I have some ideas. Some of the places on the list made it there because of one dish on their menu. The Rotisserie Shop is one of those places.

Specials menu and featured desserts

The interior has a homey, rustic vibe. One that carries through in the original art work displayed in the space. I believe the artist is Jeanie Tomanek. I loved the art. Loved.

Now to the good and not so good parts of lunch and the reason this place made my list.

One not so good thing was the service. It was way too intrusive. I get that everyone is different and some customers like very high-touch. I'm just not one of them. Very kind but trying way too hard. 

Another little bump was timing out of the kitchen. We ordered an appetizer (really the whole reason I was there) and a little later ordered our entrees. We were just starting on our appetizer when the entrees hit the table. Better timing by the kitchen is definitely in order.

Now the good stuff, the food, and the reason I was there. The Pork Poutine starter. Poutine is a French Canadian dish that got its start in Quebec. It consists of french fries, gravy and cheese curds. I've seen different versions of this dish on menus lately but the one at The Rotisserie Shop had the ring of authenticity and I just had to try it. (Yes, I know that roasted pork is not authentic to poutine. It sure was good though!)
Pork Poutine - hand cut fries, pulled pork, cheese curds and rotisserie gravy
Our untimely entrees were good as well. I had the Rotisserie Chicken Club with a side of the days special Brunswick Stew.
Rotisserie Chicken Club and Brunswick Stew
The Dining Companion had the Rotisserie Chicken with a side of Jalapeno Cole Slaw.

Rotisserie Chicken with Jalapeno Cole Slaw
I tasted the jalapeno cole slaw and immediately started planning a way to swipe it. I did manage to kind of trade the Dining Companion my Brunswick stew for his cole slaw so I didn't need to outright steal it. All of the food that we ordered was tasty and well prepared. However, the jalapeno cole slaw and the poutine is what will get me back in the door.

The Rotisserie Shop is a good, local, non chain option serving thoughtfully prepared, locally sourced food. If you're ever in the northwest Atlanta area in need of a good lunch spot you'd do well to give these guys a try.

Happy dining! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bay Breeze Seafood Restaurant - Marietta, Georgia

Image from Bay Breeze website
Bay Breeze Seafood Restaurant is one of the places the Dining Companion and I visited the last time we were in the Atlanta area.

Bay Breeze is a local place that, while not fancy, offers good food at reasonable prices.

Image from Bay Breeze website
Image from Bay Breeze website
We started with grilled jumbo shrimp. 

Then moved on to entrees.

Jumbo shrimp stuffed with crab stuffing
My favorite side is shown wrapped in foil above. It's a perfectly baked sweet potato. I love sweet potatoes and I'm always happy to see them on a menu.

We also ordered a mixed seafood platter. There was fish, clams, oysters and a couple of other items. I'm definitely a fried seafood fan. For those that aren't there are broiled platters available too.
Fried seafood platter - and no, those round things are not onion rings, they're hush puppies
There are plenty of options available for the non-seafood eaters in the party. Bay Breeze offers chicken, steak, burgers and a few other landlubber options.

There are daily dessert specials as well. The day we were there we had the chocolate cake.

The tipped over but still delicious chocolate cake
No matter where our travels take us we find it's a good idea to look past the chains and seek out something local. It usually works out. There's been a clinker or two over the years surely. But when that strategy pays off we end up at a place like Bay Breeze. Good food, friendly service and only available while we're local. 

Happy dining!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Taste of South Texas

The Texas Gulf Coast; it's hard to imagine a more perfect storm of foods that I love. It's where you can find a mix of great seafood, steaks, barbecue, TexMex and even authentic Cajun food.

There's everything from good BBQ at a chain like Rudy's to really great barbecue at a local one-off like Killen's Texas Barbecue.
Rudy's Texas meat market style barbecue
Rudy's Green chili stew
Killen's Beef Rib and Brisket
Killen's Ribs and Sausage
All the great TexMex is like my idea of heaven.
Everything good about a TexMex breakfast
Freshly made tortillas
Breakfast tacos
Some of the best TexMex we had was at Lupe Tortilla. The best veggie fajitas and awesome margaritas. Just so good.

There's a place in Houston called Abe's Cajun Market. I can't even remember all the times that we ate there. It's a local place, off the beaten track, but for Cajun influenced cooking it was our go-to.

Cajun spiced boiled shrimp (image from Abe's website)
Crawfish Etouffee and Seafood Gumbo (image from Abe's website)
Image from Eater Houston
Besides a barbecue joint, Chef Ronnie Killen also helms Killen's Steakhouse. A gem of a restaurant located in the Houston suburb of Pearland. I had a wonderful meal there highlighted by both a perfect Manhattan and a perfectly prepared steak. Definitely worth the drive.

Another favorite is Perry's Steakhouse and Grill. Although we never did have a steak at Perry's, their signature Famous Pork Chop is amazing.

While there are a lot of places to find fresh seafood in the area, one of the nicest is Pappas Seafood House. Wonderful fresh fish cooked simply and a fried stuffed avocado appetizer I love.

A short and sweet list of the places the Dining Companion and I enjoyed. If you find yourself in the Houston area any of these places would be well worth a stop.

When I think about places with a food culture I think about a place like Southern Louisiana with its creole and Cajun flavors or coastal New England with its great seafood. Houston, for me, hadn't been a part of that conversation before. It is now. If you're looking for a place with a great mix of some of the best food cultures look no further. You'll find it in the Lone Star state, on the Third Coast, where the best of land and sea come together.

Happy dining!