Before moving to Chicago to go to law school, I lived for two years in Atlanta. Among the many things I loved about Atlanta, the food scene was top of the list.
My favorite restaurant is Surin of Thailand. A small, sparsely elegant restaurant in the Virginia-Highlands section, Surin dazzles with its clean, bright Asian flavors. It's impossible to choose between the Fresh Basil Rolls and Surin Baskets appetizers. The Basil Rolls perfectly blend the flavors of tender pork and shrimp with the crunch of bean sprouts and the freshness of sweet basil. The Surin baskets are a lovely crunch filled with shrimp, ground chicken and sweet corn. Order both.
I don't think I ever tried a dish at Surin that I didn't love. The chicken curry is a balanced mix of earth and sweet and the Spicy Basil Leaves is the perfect level of spice.
My other favorite Atlanta restaurant is The Flying Biscuit Cafe. The Flying Biscuit has opened additional restaurants, but the original location is in Candler Park. It's tiny space with an adorable sunflower mural in one room. The menu is full of fresh, unique dishes. The Flying Biscuit improves on classic Southern fried green tomatoes with a sweet and spicy cashew and jalapeno relish. And of course, if a restaurant is going to calling itself The Flying Biscuit, the biscuits better be outstanding. They are. Light, fluffy, and just a touch sweet, they're divine.
My favorite dish is the somewhat cutesy named Love Cakes. They are earthy and spicy and complimented by the tang of the Green Salsa and feta cheese. The Flying Biscuit is generous to share the recipe on its website (click here) but I've pasted it below (and noted substitutions) for convenience:
2 (15 ounce) cans cooked black beans
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup masa de harina (This is a fine corn meal, usually found in the Latin foods section)
1/2 cup Green Salsa (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup slivered red onions
Rinse and drain black beans in a sieve.
In a small sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, cumin, and salt until onions are translucent. Place drained beans and onion mixture in a bowl and mash with a potato masher until well combined.
Gradually add masa, allowing mixture to absorb it before adding more. Test dough by rolling it in the palm of your hand. Keep adding masa until dough doesn't stick to your hand and holds the shape of a ball.
Divide dough into 16 small balls and flatten into cakes. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Saute cakes until lightly browned on each side, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.
Top with Green Salsa, feta cheese, and slivered red onions.
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 serrano peppers, stemmed and seeded (I substitute 1 jalapeno is serrano peppers aren't available)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (I use black pepper)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Peel the husks off the tomatillos. Place them in a roasting pan with the onion, garlic, and Serrano peppers. Roast for 25 to 35 minutes. The tomatillos will break down and become juicy. Remove form oven and cool.
Place the roasted ingredients in a food processor and puree. Season with salt, white pepper, and cilantro. Chill until ready to serve.