Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" - Local Three Kitchen & Bar

This month Nikki and I visited Local Three, quite a different experience from what we expected, but in a good way.

Welcome back to our Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers", a monthly series by wanderlust ATLANTA and super-popular food Instagramer atlantafoodie! Our third stop on this 10-restaurant tour was Local Three, the first time for me and the first time in a few years for Nikki.

What we believe is a unique spin on 'Top 10' lists, we're not counting down, but instead we're showcasing some of Atlanta's restaurants with numbers in their names! Some we've been to before and others will be a first-time experience. We're going to make all of them FUN!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: atlantafoodie

We ordered our starters from the "TODAY" section of the menu, both of us loving local and fresh. Neither of us had ever heard of serving green strawberries (and I certainly never picked them early from my childhood garden), but they were delicious! What a wonderful surprise. 

They're not tart like green tomatoes. They have their own distinct flavor tethered to the luscious strawberry taste we all know and love. The dish is composed with bresaola, whipped goat cheese, radish and lemon.  


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Local Three's "House Cocktails & Libations" is a tribute to celebrities and other famous personalities who we lost in 2016. What a wonderful tribute.

As soon as I saw "A New Hope", there was no need to look any further. I didn't even finish reading the ingredients before my mind was made up...and no, I wasn't under the influence of a Jedi mind trick.

A New Hope is constructed with L3 Herradura Luchador, Carpano Antico, Luxardo, and Cherry Bark. Each cocktail is accompanied with a quote from the celebrity who inspired the libation's title, in this case:

"Hope is all we have...and Tequila." - Carrie Fisher

Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The second dish we enjoyed was "Mike's Hand Made Tortelloni". We have no idea who this Mike person is, weren't told by our server, and I can't find anything on their website (it's probably obvious, I just missed it), but let me tell you...Mike makes a delicious tortelloni! 

Swiss chard, duck sausage, sweet peppers and cured olive are the featured ingredients in this dish. And they're fantastic! It's a hardy dish, in great contrast to the dishes we were about to enjoy. 


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: atlantafoodie

The decor at Local Three is whimsical, contemporary and speaks to sustainability...it's designed with intent. Nikki arrived before me and was at the bar when I arrived—we're traditional like that. The bar itself is made of massive planks of what looks like reclaimed wood. It's stunning. The bar decor is fun and it sparkles in all the right places. 

The group clustered around the bar looked like a regular happy hour crowd—talking, laughing, enjoying each others company—and while we would have typically have loved to join in, it'd been a long weekend before, so we went ahead and asked for a table. 

The dining room is stylistically appointed with reclaimed/distressed wood and other re-purposed items. On the side of whimsy, each table has a different set of salt and pepper shakers! A small detail, but one that we found quite clever and fun. The cabbage shakers pictured above were on an unoccupied table and the ones on our table were miniature, bulbous airplanes!

The atmosphere is, in my humble opinion, "fine dining for the casual customer". Servers do not wear uniforms, instead they're in jeans, with their aprons being the only identifying article indicating they're a member of the establishment. 

To give you an idea of this unique style combination, their Sunday night special is called "Flip You for It". This special's website page features a pro wrestler doing some kind of mid-air flip. The "flip" is your server doing a coin flip at your table. If you win, your bottle of wine is only $1. If you lose, you pay full price. May the odds be ever in your favor! 

Wine by the bottle ranges from $35.03 to $150.03 (most menu prices end in ".03"...again, this is a clever bunch!), and they have an extensive, but not exhausting, wine list. And of course they have a full bar, wine by the glass, beer in draft and bottle, and wonderful libations. There's something for everyone!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I couldn't shut up about how incredibly delicious my Pan Roasted Gulf Redfish was. I didn't talk with my mouth full, of course—mother taught me better—so, much of my raving about this dish was after it'd disappeared from my plate. 

I almost didn't order it because the ingredient list was so "simple". It read: "Olive Oil Potatoes, Preserved Tomato, Thin Beans, Lemon". It was incredibly fresh and the marriage of flavors were spot on! I could eat this dish every night for a month and probably still want more! 

Lesson Learned: Never underestimate "simple".


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: atlantafoodie

Nikki said of her dish, "The Panko Crusted Carolina Flounder was delicious! Sometimes panko crust can taste heavily fried, but this was very light and delicate. The green garlic romesco had a strong flavor, but if you enjoy garlic as much as I do, then you'll definitely enjoy this dish."

Nikki and I will often share a taste of new dishes we're trying, but I honestly don't remember that we did so on this occasion. I think I was probably enjoying my own so much that sharing didn't occur to me. Is that horrible or does it just speak to how amazing the food was?


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

For dessert we ordered the Cheese Tasting. Although nothing special to the eye, the cheeses and accompaniments are delicious! While the cheeses aren't local (the nearest from North Carolina and the farthest from California), the accompaniments are from right here in Georgia! 

With the cheeses and flatbread are Emily G's jam (I have Emily G's "Blackberry Vanilla" in my cupboard right now!) and Grateful Bee Honey. The cheeses were delicious and a perfect variety, but the icing on the cake were the local jam and honey...amazing!

The service was good. Our server was pleasant and took good care of us. The other service staff were highly attentive. Empty plates disappeared almost immediately and never was a dish taken that had something on it that we were still enjoying. That takes keen observation skills and it's really a talent that you don't get in every restaurant. It was noticed and appreciated.


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The space where Local Three is located is very near where the trio was planning a restaurant just as the Great Recession hit. The locale, in a gorgeous building (lobby pictured above), was obviously an excellent decision...their doors have been open since 2010 and they've enjoyed great success and I'm sure they will for years to come!

Local Three is the brainchild of three determined, eco-minded, food lovers. I've followed Chef Chris Hall on social media for years...super kind, intelligent and considerate. From what I can tell he lives the restaurant's Company Values. I've had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Turner when he served as Chairman of the Georgia Restaurant Association. He's also Board Chairman of The Giving Kitchen. These guys believe in giving back to the community! I've yet to meet Chef Todd Mussman, but perhaps on a future visit to Muss & Turners.


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three | Photo: atlantafoodie

The hostess, the evening of our visit, was prompt and efficient, but had we been out for a special occasion, the desired tone would not have been set for "special". As we left, however, the hostess gifted us a huge smile and a genuine "Thank you!

We had a pleasant evening. I'm glad we got to experience Local Three. 

THINGS TO KNOW before going to Local Three:
  • Don't depend 100% on GPS. Use GPS, but first go to the restaurant's "Contact & Directions" page on their website for detailed instructions. I used GPS only and took a couple of wrong turns. Website first, then GPS.
  • There's free parking in an adjacent parking garage. You'll need to take an elevator to the restaurant level.
  • Excellent for groups!
  • Local Three is immediately off I-75, making it a great stop on the way home when traffic is just too much!
  • Definitely check out their "Events & Specials" page...lots of fun going on there!
OF NOTE: These amazing guys opened a new restaurant, just yesterday! When you get the chance, check out Muss & Turner's East Cobb. (ABC article) (Facebook)


Here's our planned Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers", one per month in 2017:

ONE midtown kitchen
599 Dutch Valley Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30324

TWO urban licks
820 Ralph McGill Boulevard, NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Local Three Kitchen & Bar
3290 Northside Parkway, NW, Atlanta, GA 30327

Bar Margot at Four Seasons
75 14th Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

5Church Atlanta
1197 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30361

Six Feet Under
437 Memorial Drive, SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Seven Lamps
3400 Around Lenox Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30326

8ARM
710 Ponce de Leon Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Nine Mile Station
675 Ponce de Leon Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

10th & Piedmont
991 Piedmont Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

Disclaimer: If you live in Atlanta or visit on a regular basis, you know how quickly the Atlanta restaurant scene can change. Our lineup is subject to change based on the Atlanta restaurant landscape over the first 10 months of 2017. Also, all opinions are our own and not at all influenced by the restaurant owners, staff or PR firms, whether we treated ourselves or were hosted by the said restaurant.

If you're enjoying this series, please follow:

atlantafoodie on Instagram
wanderlust ATLANTA on Facebook Twitter Instagram

Thank you for coming along on what we think will be a FUN food journey over 10 months in 2017. Our selection of restaurants is a subjective choice of what we think will be an exciting new way to experience Atlanta restaurants: "By the Numbers". Please, tell your friends and family what we're doing and invite them to also come along for the taste tour!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Atlanta Blooms! 2017

Happy first day of Spring! 

Now is a perfect time to visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden, specifically for its annual Atlanta Blooms! exhibition. 


Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Although we had an extremely mild winter—seems last week was our "whole" winter—the Atlanta Botanical Garden is filled with thousands and thousands of daffodils, tulips and countless other blooms! Right now! 

The photos in this post were made just yesterday, March 19, the last day of winter. Hard to believe, but true story!


Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

My favorite flower is the tulip

I think this is greatly in part due to a story my mother told me as a child. As it goes, we were visiting my grandmother and little Travis, barely old enough to walk, comes into the house bearing a single stemmed blossom, saying, "Flower, Mommy, flower!

That flower was the only surviving tulip in grandmother's garden following a harsh freeze. And I picked it. Sweet and innocent, I was. I've loved tulips all my life because of that story. I miss my grandmother Evelyn dearly.


Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

If you've not been to the Garden in the last few or couple of weeks, get there soon so you can see the "field" of tulips surrounding the "Water Mirror", accented by the Dale Chihuly Saffron Tower, the sculpture we got to keep after last summer's Chihuly in the Garden exhibition. They're spectacular!


Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I was afraid that last week's freezing temperatures would have wiped out all the new blooms, but Garden staff either took great measure to protect them or planted extremely hardy varieties. I'm grateful either way. 

I know that the Garden plants tulips (at least a great many) that will thrive even though mild winters. A lot of tulips, as I understand it, require a number of days of below-freezing temperatures to—in the spring—reach their full potential height. But tulips and everything else pictured here are thriving, despite the recent freezing temperatures! 


Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I read in National Geographic Magazine—known for its magnificent photography—many, many years ago that the optimum times for photos are sunrise and sunset. I "listened" to that and do my best to take advantage of that wonderful lighting. I get super excited when I see the results of such lighting. If only it weren't so fleeting.

The photo above is one that had the sunlight behind it. I encourage you to get creative and not assume that "back lighting" is a bad thing. With digital cameras—the freedom to make hundreds of photos in a single outing, if not more—there's ample opportunity to explore and discover what works and what doesn't. 


Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Make all the "tiptoe through the tulips" jokes you want (there's a lot more history to this song than most know)...the bottom line is that Atlanta Blooms! is one of the most magnificent flower displays in all of Atlanta! Please, do make time to see it.

This display has encouraged many Atlantans to plant more spring bulbs in their own gardens. The Atlanta Botanical Garden has been a wonderful influence on beautifying out city!


Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I encourage you to get "up close and personal" with the flowers in this exhibition, while respecting the Garden, of course. 

It's not respectful or polite, to the Garden or other Garden visitors, to trample into flower beds to get the "perfect" shot. It's not enjoyable for others when beds are disrupted and plants damaged for the sake of a picture. Enjoy the Garden, but please leave it intact for others to enjoy. I'm just sayin'.


Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

While I like to play with light, there's the occasional shot with full-on sunshine that makes for a decent photo. 

If you're a budding photographer, I encourage you to experiment—and to read, read, read up on tips and best practices for optimal photographs. Just imagine how amazing your photos will be if you build on what others have already learned and then let loose your imagination on top of that!


Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

This particular flower fascinates me! To me, it looks like a praying mantis with Phoenix wings! You see it, don't you? And it's a tulip!

Have you seen Santa Mantis during "Garden Lights, Holiday Nights"? 


Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Get to the Garden soon so you can enjoy Atlanta Blooms! and if you visit by April 9, you'll also get to enjoy this year's spectacular Orchid Daze!

When planning your visit, be sure to check the Garden's website for other programs on or around you planned visit. There's always something "blooming" at the Garden!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Patak Tradition

A few times a year I go on a full-day excursion that includes a farmers market, a sausage chalet, a state park and a kitchen. It's a tradition that I believe any local or visiting tourist could easily fall in love with...I know I have. This tradition is more adventure than excursion and this particular adventure centers around Patak Meats.

But first...


Chef Terry Koval, Wrecking Bar Brew Pub | Freedom Farmers Market | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Chef Terry Koval, Wrecking Bar Brew Pub | Freedom Farmers Market | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Patak Meats (more about them momentarily) is open to the public only one Saturday per month, the first Saturday of the month. On the rare occasion that I have the first Saturday of the month free, it's tradition time! And that always starts with a visit to a local farmers market.

I've been to a LOT of Atlanta farmers markets—not all of them, but a lot—and Freedom Farmers Market at the Carter Center has become my personal favorite. In great part due to its manager, Holly Hollingsworth, as well as the awesome vendors and entertainment she brings to that particular market. 

You know how some people will follow their hairdresser or their mechanic when they make a change? I'm like that with Holly...I know whatever market she's managing is going to be the best, so when she accepted the position to open and manage Freedom Farmers Market, I followed her. Opening day, a few years ago now, they had more than 3,000 visitors! And they're still going strong.

I'm a major foodie and I love celebrity-spotting. Combine those loves and you're regularly attending markets for their cooking demos, often conducted by local celebrity chefs. When I saw that Chef Terry Koval, Executive Chef at Wrecking Bar Brewpub, was going to be at Freedom earlier this month, I cleared my calendar so I could go. 

I'd not yet met Chef Terry, but I had just a couple weeks before won a gift certificate for 'Dinner for Four at Wrecking Bar Brewpub' at Party for the Parks, an annual fundraiser hosted by the Olmsted Linear Parks Alliance at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. I couldn't pass up the chance to meet Chef Terry and enjoy a sneak peek/taste of his cuisine before going to the brewpub for dinner with friends.


Chef Terry Koval, Wrecking Bar Brew Pub | Freedom Farmers Market | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Chef Terry Koval, Wrecking Bar Brew Pub | Freedom Farmers Market | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Chef Terry is totally awesome! Before introducing myself, watching him interact with other market-goers was very telling. I totally get why my friends who know him and have been to (or are regulars at) Wrecking Bar Brewpub love it there so much. After I shared with Chef Terry that I write, he continued to be his awesome self, which is also telling.

That morning, he wasn't there for a 30-minute cooking demonstration. Chef Terry was there to cook for market-goers for the full four hours that the market was open! Color me impressed! Speaking of color, he had fired up his Big Green Egg cooking up brats that he topped with house-made chow-chow relish (I'd never had it this delicious!) and Wrecking Bar Brewpub beer-infused stone ground mustard.

It was the most delicious breakfast EVER! 


Freedom Farmers Market | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Freedom Farmers Market | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I highly recommend getting on Freedom Farmers Market's email list. They regularly update you with what's upcoming and they don't spam you with unwanted emails. AND they're open year-round! 

There's live entertainment, fresh flowers, it's family-friendly, has loads of vendors—of all kinds—and of course there are the weekly chef demos. Their coffee vendors are the best and I usually find something amazing for breakfast. While this visit's breakfast ended up not being a traditional breakfast item, there are amazing bakeries and other food items available for immediate enjoyment. 

I almost always find something unexpected, too. On this visit it was a cookbook, but I'll tell you more about that at the delicious ending of this post.


Patak Bohemian Meats | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Patak Bohemian Meats | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The centerpiece of this tradition is Patak Meats. My friend Barry turned me on to Patak and now I go as frequently as possible, on those first Saturdays of the month when I can make it into an adventure!

In operations since 1981, Patak Meats is of Czech and Polish origin, but offers fine European meats and sausages (and a sampling of other international items) from around the world. I usually leave with brats, different kinds of sausages, pepperoni, various salamis, cheese(s), and I very much like the sauerkraut they carry. Their prices are amazing and the quality is superior!

They're open during the week, but most of us 9-to-5-ers can't get there during the week, so when you go on that one Saturday a month, expect a line. Be patient. It'll totally be worth it. The line can be quite long in the early hours, but lessens as the day progresses. 

The problem with waiting until later is that they might run out of what you really had a taste for. That's happened a couple of times to me when seeking their pepperoni—it's sooooo delicious! There's always an abundance, so you'll never ever leave empty-handed, but plan on making it a "tradition", because I'm pretty sure you're going to want to go again and again.

Remember to bring your insulated bags with ice packs or a cooler that's already iced down, particularly if you're not heading straight home.


Sweetwater Creek State Park | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Sweetwater Creek State Park | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

My next stop on this traditional adventure is nearby Sweetwater Creek State Park. We've often made selections at Patak Meats that we can easily turn into lunch in the Park, before exploring the trails to commune with nature (and work off the calories). There's an abundance of picnic areas, many of them waterfront.

Even in March, the Park was magnificent. I've walked the Red (History) Trail on many occasions, but this time I wanted to go somewhere in the Park that I'd never visited. I took the Yellow (East Side) Trail, the one that has their famous huge metal bridge!


Sweetwater Creek State Park | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Sweetwater Creek State Park | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I'd read about the Yellow Trail some time ago and remembered that there was a "bridge" on it. Well, I didn't do a refresh before heading out on the trail this particular day, so when I came across the wooden bridge along the path, I was like, "What?! That was a lot of hype for such a modest footbridge!" Then, after a couple of snapshots logic returned and informed me that the footbridge didn't cross the creek, so that wasn't the famous one.

Beautiful even in winter, I can hardly wait to return in spring and summer to see the contrast between the rust color of the bridge with light, bright and dark greens of the forest. In any season, the Escher-esque experience of approaching and walking through the bridge is as fascinating as it is beautiful. 


Sweetwater Creek State Park | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Sweetwater Creek State Park | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

When you're exploring Sweetwater Creek State Park, keep your eye out for wildlife. You can glean a little of what you might see on the Park's website, but I highly recommend a visit to their Interpretative Center (welcome/information center) before taking to the trails. Not only do they have information about the local wildlife, they have a wonderfully appointed gift shop (with bottled water and ice cream!) and a full-fledged museum!

I'm not sure what this little guy is (pictured above), but I've seen similar creatures all over the city, I think. He was startled at first, but then quickly became a ham for the camera. 


A Cabagetown Cookbook
A Cabagetown Cookbook

After visiting the Park, I headed home to enjoy my farmers market and Patak loot. I've made it a habit that any day I go to a farmers market there's a fresh meal that evening. It's a delicious habit! But on Patak days, I get to enjoy fresh produce AND fresh protein!

When exploring Freedom Farmers Market earlier in the day, I saw a lovely lady at a booth featuring cookbooks. Being the foodie and cookbook collector that I am, of course I went over and investigated. 

Cabbagetown Cookbook is a collection of recipes from Cabbagetown residents and the proceeds from the cookbook go towards projects that enhance the quality of life for the Cabbagetown Community, with an emphasis on the Cabbagetown Parks and their Community Center. 

The person selling books that day, which I didn't know at the time, is the current president of Cabbagetown Initiative, Karin Kane. When I asked if she has a recipe in the cookbook, somewhat surprised at the question, she proudly pointed out that hers was the first in the Entrees section...Mediterranean Chicken! I purchased a copy and Karin graciously autographed her recipe page! 

I lived in Greece for more than two years and absolutely love Mediterranean cuisine, so dinner that night was, I determined before leaving the market, going to be Karin's dish.  

Not at all subtly, I framed the photo of my new Cabbagetown Cookbook by other recent local chef cookbook acquisitions, also signed by their authors. They include: The Broad Fork, by Chef Hugh Acheson; Chicken, by Chef Cynthia Graubart; and Dinner Dejavu, by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker

Farmers markets are great for chef demos, and The Cook's Warehouse is great for chef book signings—I've met all three of the aforementioned chefs at Cook's, some on multiple occasions!


Beautiful Briny Sea | Freedom Farmers Market | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Beautiful Briny Sea | Freedom Farmers Market | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I did a fair amount of shopping on this particular farmers market visit, not realizing at the time that I would be using many of those ingredients to prepare a recipe from a cookbook that I purchased at the market that very morning.

I stopped by the Beautiful Briny Sea booth and purchased the first three salts I tasted. I got the Sultan Papadopoulos (which I used with Karin's recipe), the Hot Steve (no idea who Steve is, but the salt is wonderfully spicy!), and the Magic Unicorn, which is more universal and the one being depleted most rapidly from my cupboard. 

A quick word about buying and eating locally sourced food. I'm 100% behind the farm-to-table movement. It's great for the environment, it's great for the local economy, but perhaps the greatest motivator for me is that local, in-season food tastes the freshest and the food's nutrients are at their peak. Fresh is best...you just can't argue with that.


(Almost) Karin's "Mediterranean Chicken"
(Almost) Karin's "Mediterranean Chicken" 

Confession: I committed one of the worst home cook cardinal sins. I didn't read the recipe first! I was just too excited about the whole just-bought-the-cookbook-and-ingredients-and-now-I'm-making-a-dish-from-the-cookbook experience! No excuses...I know better. But I'm also determined.

I already had most of the ingredients for Karin's chicken dish at home, but would be using chicken breast that I got at Patak Meats that morning, and Beautiful Briny Sea salt, as well as onion, and green garlic that I'd picked up at the Freedom Farmers Market that morning.

I had assumed that I was making a pasta salad type dish and had already started cutting and cooking. Then I read the recipe. I backed up as much as I could and ended up getting creative in my attempt to absolve myself of previously mentioned transgression. The final dish had the elements of Karin's dish, and the flavor...Wow! Or as Karin says in the recipe itself, "YUM!" Yum, indeed!

There you go, that's one of my traditions, a few times a year: a farmers market, a sausage chalet, a state park, and a kitchen. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Out Front Theatre: Season 2

With one show still to go in its inaugural season, Out Front Theatre has announced an exciting, profound and what promises to be an exceptionally entertaining second season.

It’s been incredible to see the outpouring of support we’ve received during our inaugural season and only hope that we can continue to grow that support in the season to come!” said Paul Conroy, Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Out Front Theatre Company. “From beloved film tributes, to Southeastern premieres and more, the new season will continue to bring LGBTQIA stories to the forefront of theatre right here in Atlanta.”


Out Front Theatre Company's Season 2 Lineup (2017-2018)
Out Front Theatre Company's Season 2 Lineup (2017-2018)

I've had the great pleasure of seeing the Out Front's first two productions and can hardly wait to see everything else they bring to the stage! First up in Season 2...


The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Rocky Horror Picture Show | Out Front Theatre Company
The Rocky Horror Picture Show | Out Front Theatre Company

The 1975 cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, starring a quite young (and busty) Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry, had been out for some time when I first learned about it. While in high school in Wyoming, a fellow art class student, a transplant from California, created a LARGE format reproduction of the movie poster...of course I was fascinated. 
The Rocky Horror Show, a cult classic and smash musical, will kick off the new season from October 19 – November 6. Complete with cascading toilet paper and an array audience participation, this deliberately kitschy rock-n-roll, sci-fi and gothic musical is more fun than ever! With music, lyrics and book by Richard O'Brien, the show is a humorous tribute to science fiction and horror movies. The production tells the story of a newly engaged couple getting caught in a storm and stumbling upon the home of a mad transvestite scientist just as he’s unveiling his new creation - a sort of Frankenstein-style monster. This monster takes the form of an artificially made, fully grown, physically perfect muscle man named Rocky Horror, complete "with blond hair and a tan.” The musical was adapted into the 1975 film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” starring O'Brien as Riff Raff, which has the longest-running release in film history.
Travis' first Rocky Horror
Travis' first Rocky Horror
It wasn't until many (many, many) years later that I finally saw the movie in its entirety in a movie theater. There were a lot of firsts that first year when I moved back to Atlanta. In 2010, I went to a midnight showing—the "traditional" showtime for this film—to see it for the first time. 

While waiting in line, a young lady was walking around planting giant kiss marks on theatre-goers and painting—in lipstick—a giant "V" on the foreheads of Rocky Horror virgins. While I qualified, I opted for just the lips. 

Fast-forward to inside the theatre. It was packed! I was the oldest person in the theatre, but having the time of my life. It was very much like I'd heard over the years, lots of audience participation, but even more fun than I'd imagined!

Lips Down on Dixie performs "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" in front of the movie screen every Friday night at Plaza Theatre. You've got time to catch a show there before seeing the stage play at Out Front!


The Mystery of Love and Sex


The Mystery of Love and Sex | Out Front Theatre Company
The Mystery of Love and Sex | Out Front Theatre Company

Let's be honest...the title alone makes you want to see this one, right? Ah, ah...I said honest. Truth be told, it sounds quite profound...and like so many true life stories I've heard in my lifetime. I'm anxious to see this one!
Second in Out Front’s season will be the Southeastern premiere of Bathsheba Doran’s The Mystery of Love and Sex. Deep in the American South, Charlotte and Jonny have been best friends since they were nine years old. She's Jewish, he's Christian; he's black, she's white. Their differences intensify their connection until sexual desire complicates everything in surprising, compulsive ways. The Mystery of Love and Sex is an unexpected love story about two souls meeting and the consequences of growing up. Playing February 1 – February 18, 2018, The Mystery of Love and Sex premiered in New York City at Lincoln Center in February of 2015.

Buyer & Cellar

Buyer & Cellar | Out Front Theatre Company
Buyer & Cellar | Out Front Theatre Company

I honestly don't know what this show is about, but we were told that Barbra Streisand will not be making a guest appearance. It's still while off, so you never know, right? This show is a co-production with ART Station in Stone Mountain, another theatre that I've quite enjoyed and where I met Charlie Ross. That partnership alone makes me want to see this show!

In a co-production with Art Station in Stone Mountain, Jonathan Tolins’ Buyer and Cellar will set up shop March 8 – March 25, 2018. As a struggling actor in Los Angeles, Alex More takes a job working in the Malibu basement of a beloved megastar who thinks “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world!” One day, the Lady Herself comes downstairs to play. It feels like real bonding in the basement, but will their relationship ever make it upstairs? Winner of the 2014–2015 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show, Buyer and Cellar is an outrageous comedy about the price of fame, the cost of things and the oddest of odd jobs.

Sordid Lives


Sordid Lives | Out Front Theatre Company
Sordid Lives | Out Front Theatre Company

I can hardly wait to see Sordid Lives! I love the movie (2000) and the television series (2008). I grew up mostly in the South and the humor in Sordid Lives is on point and bellyaching hilarious! I'm sure I'll see this one at Out Front more than once...May 2018 is going to make for a lot of anticipation, but I'm certain it'll be worth the wait!
Concluding Out Front’s second season from May 3 – May 20, 2018 is Del Shores’ black comedy about white trash, Sordid Lives. When Peggy, a good Christian woman, hits her head on the sink and bleeds to death after tripping over her lover's wooden legs in a motel room, chaos erupts in Winters, Texas. Her VERY colorful family must come to grips with her accidental death and deal with their own demons while preparing for what could be an embarrassing funeral. A cult classic with LGBTQIA fans, the original stage play premiered in Los Angeles on May 11, 1996 and ultimately won 14 Drama-Logue Awards, and was adapted into both a movie and television show.
Travis & Ann Walker (Aunt LaVonda, Sordid Lives)
Travis & Ann Walker (Aunt LaVonda, Sordid Lives)

When I was living in Washington, D.C., I had the great pleasure of meeting Ann Walker, who plays the hilarious Aunt LaVonda in both the movie and television series. Ann is magnificently sweet. She seems like she would be a wonderful real-life aunt and a wonderful friend to have. Grateful to have met such a sweet lady and talented actress!

Out Front Theatre is working with BRAVE Public Relations, a firm whose client base is as wonderfully diverse as is Atlanta. They've connected me with many shows and attractions, for which I'm extremely grateful.

"Thank you!" to Out Front Theatre Company for inviting me to the Season 2 Announcement Event, hosted at 10th & Piedmont (They have an awesome brunch!!!). It was great seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones and hearing about a season of theatre that is going to be great fun! All my best for continued success, Out Front...see you soon!