Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mellow Mushroom - Kennesaw, Georgia

Image from Mellow Mushroom website

It's fair to say that in any new city I usually find myself making my way through a list of pizza joints. Always searching for the pizza that'll be my go to.

I've been on a continual quest, for my idea of good pizza, for years. I've found it in a few places; a decent Sicilian pie here, the pretty good hand-tossed pizza there. Some really good pizza.

Original Atlanta location - Image from Mellow Mushroom website
That quest recently brought us to Mellow Mushroom. Mellow Mushroom is a pizza chain that got its start in Atlanta, Georgia in the early 1970's. You can still feel the peace, love and hippy vibe when you walk into their stores. 

As the Dining Companion can attest I have a pretty vague way of describing what my ideal pizza is. As has been said before, I know it when I see it. Or taste it in this case.

I found pizza happiness at Mellow Mushroom.

Our usual go-to order is a regular cheese pizza and it didn't disappoint. The crust was crisp with great chew and wonderful flavor. I'm not sure what all the Mellow Mushroom folks are doing with their dough but whatever it is, keep on doing it. The crust is great, the pizza sauce was flavorful and the whole thing is topped with lovely, melty, cheese-y goodness. 
Cheese Pizza

Mellow Mushroom has a lot of inventive pizza combos on their menu. One of those caught the attention of the Dining Companion. Along with the cheese pizza we got the Red Skin Potato Pie. It's made with red skinned potatoes, bacon, caramelized onions, do I need to go on?!
Red Skin Potato Pie - Olive oil and garlic base with sliced roasted red potatoes, Applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onions, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Garnished with chives then drizzled with sour cream and spicy ranch dressing
The potato pizza was easily the best pizza I've had in a long time. Seriously. It's that good. If you're lucky enough to have a Mellow Mushroom nearby go get this pizza.

Quest complete. At least for now.

Happy dining!

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.