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Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine

The Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine

By Jeffrey Steen | Managing Editor

… Bullipedia and the elBulli Foundation will grow, and contributions will ensure that the world of haute cuisine will not remain locked in ivory towers and many-starred kitchens. It will be of all, and for all.

When the doors closed on legendary elBulli restaurant in Spain in 2011, the world held its breath. Small and prohibitively expensive, it had nonetheless served as proofing ground for dozens of culinary innovations, including the small plate molecular gastronomy of world-renowned Chef Ferran Adrià. Over the last several decades, the man and the concept became one: a pinnacle of culinary genius and, what UK newspaper The Guardian dubbed, “the most imaginative generator of haute cuisine on the planet.”

Though chefs of all caliber ebb and flow, a talent like Adrià was not wont to rest in the shadows when service halted at elBulli. Instead, he took his years of innovation and replaced the restaurant with a foundation—a study of culinary arts, past and present.

Little surprise, then, that 2014 saw Adrià at the world’s foremost meeting of culinary minds—a conclave of journalists and food personalities at the newly-unveiled Abadía Retuerta Le Ferran Adria Domaine, a 900-year-old abbey and winery converted into a hotel near Valladolid, Spain. The conclave was mostly Adrià’s creation—an inspiration that came from the hotel’s esteemed managing director, Andrés Araya, and the hotel’s top chef, Andoni Luis Aduriz. The idea was simple: pay homage to the last 20 years of culinary progress while simultaneously making the world aware of a stunning new destination.

Over the course of two well-fed, sumptuous days inside Le Domaine, 15 decorated journalists from countries near and far talked gastronomy. “Ferran wanted to hear what people thought of the last 20 years of culinary growth in their respective countries,” Araya explains. “He really wanted to collect these thoughts as material to inform the elBulli Foundation.”

From waxing about watershed events that influenced the development of cuisine, to volleying thoughts on the maturation of a dish (paella necessarily among them), the conclave spoke to historical context both nationally and globally. There was no prescription set for change, but rather, a solicitation for information—a painting of gastronomy that will soon fill the pages of Adrià’s most recent project, the Bullipedia.

Araya describes the scene with a remembering smile: “When Ferran arrived, the room erupted into laughter, high-fives, and hugs. Then he said candidly: ‘My dear friends, we are here to create an historical document. I want you to be part of it.’” What followed—between elaborate meals and wine tastings—were discussions recorded for the Bullipedia, a wiki for the world on the many layers of food that have informed culture and society over the last 20 years.

“There was a lot of pride in what people shared, and passion in what they said,” Araya recalls. And the setting—that beautiful blend of ancient and new—played no small part in the stir of emotion. Le Domaine is Baroque-Romanesque in style, and captures a wealth of Spanish heritage that marks it as the crown jewel of Spanish architecture. Araya is fond of noting, understandably, that the hotel has earned the prestigious Europa Nostra Award for the thoughtful renovation of the abbey and monastery that make up the heart of the property. While most of the conclave took place in assembly, guests had the opportunity to wander Le Domaine and experience history and modernity at play. There were lingering moments in the 12th century abbey that made one reflect on the past, hours of indulgence savored in the spa, and sparks of revelatory inspiration that ignited in the elegant dining room. What better setting for an historical conclave?

Admittedly, two days was barely enough time to scratch the surface of two decades of culinary history. But this conclave was not an isolated event; it was, rather, an intentional beginning to a new tradition, designed to be held annually. With it, Bullipedia and the elBulli Foundation will grow, and contributions will ensure that the world of haute cuisine will not remain locked in ivory towers and many-starred kitchens. It will be of all, and for all.

“Everything about the conclave was a success—the food, the discussion, the experience,” Araya says. “Would I change anything for next year? Not much. Truthfully, I’m still getting phone calls and messages thanking me for the experience. Everybody loved it.”

The conclave was so well received, in fact, that Araya has already begun to scout guests for next year. Among the names likely to be attendance is one Helena Rizzo of São Paolo, Brazil whose humble yet celebrated restaurant, Mani, is turning heads and palates the world over. And no wonder—Rizzo was recently named the Best Female Chef by the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards. Who else will garner a coveted invitation for 2015? Well, Araya confesses coyly, time and opportunity will tell.

For information about the elBulli Foundation, visit elbulli.com. To learn about the amenities and offerings of Le Domaine, visit ledomaine.es. To revel in the next generation of food knowledge, visit bullipedia.net.

Kermit Lynch

By Maya Silver | Editor 

Before wine country tours fell into vogue, Kermit Lynch—a wine merchant, musician, and writer among other things—wandered the French hillsides in search of the perfect bottle. Twenty-five years after the publication of “Adventures on the Wine Route,” his classic memoir will be reprinted with additional material. Regrettably, we weren’t able to taste wines with Mr. Lynch, but we were able to savor his brilliant anecdotes and reflections on a life devoted to wine.

What is your single favorite from the list of most memorable wines at the end of your book? Where and how would you enjoy that wine? 

I cannot separate the wine from the circumstances in which it was consumed. That 1929 Hermitage would be right up there. I was with three friends who mattered a lot in my life: Gerard Chave, Robert Parker, and Boz Scaggs. Our dinner included pig knuckles, lamb testicles, and veal kidney. Yes, vivid memories remain of that evening.

But the top wine experience would have to be the 1961 Romanée-Conti. I drank it with Aubert de Villaine at his home in Bouzeron. While we tasted the 1961, we also tasted Bach’s cello suites in recordings by Casals and Rostropovich. The wine and the Sarabande from the second suite tasted quite similar, at least to my ears. It was a cold night, and we both sat listening close by the fireplace while the wine and music seemed so intense, so profound, so unpredictable in the paths they took. That 1961 Romanée-Conti goes places I never imagined a wine could go.

Have you ever considered opening a winery yourself?

In 1998, I purchased Domaine les Pallères in partnership with Daniel and Frederic Brunier. The winery is in an enchanted valley near Gigondas in the southern Rhône. It had been in the same family for over 500 years, and has long enjoyed the reputation as the most elegant, most “Burgundian” of the region. I like each of its varietals: young, old, and in between. The oldest I’ve tasted was just three years ago, a 1964 that just kept getting better until the bottle was empty.

Do you believe that French wine is the best in the world? 

What a question. As I start to answer, I think of all the great California wines I have tasted—great Cabernets from the ‘50s and ‘60s, for example, and I love the wines of Italy. I don’t like answering this question because, well, I don’t think there is an answer that is correct. To each his own, as we say. But France might have the edge in one sense. The difference between the highest achievements and the lowest is quite vast in France. At the highest level, you have Yquem and Romanée-Conti, and the great white Burgundies, the first growths of Bordeaux pre-1982. Such majestic wines soar compared to the ordinary plonk that a lot of the French drink. My god, what a voyage.

You frequently mention the upsides and downsides of organic wines. Do you have hope for the eventual production of consistent, low-risk natural wines?

We are already at the point where we can produce consistent, low-risk natural wines. At Les Pallières, for example, we are as organic as can be in the vineyards and winery.  Nothing added except a minimal bit of sulfur dioxide at the bottling. The problem with sulfur dioxide is nothing more than a problem of quantity. Too much and it screws up the wine. A minimal dose protects the wine. I have tested the limits over four decades and experience shows me that a minimal touch of it has no negative effect at all. Indeed, it has a positive effect: your wine won’t go off in the bottle. If we find a way to keep our bottles of wine near freezing until the day we want to drink one, then we can make wine with no sulfur dioxide and no flaws, but not until then.

In your book, you remark that you’re always in a rush: “As pleasurable as my business is, there is too much territory to cover.” Are you less in a rush these days? 

I have turned over the day-to-day running of the wine business to Dixon Brooke. He also helps me with selecting the wines we import. So, yes, I am spending less time on business than before. My fifth music CD is almost ready to go. I’m trying to decide if I want to title it “Down In Heaven,” or “Life Is Up, Life Is Down.” And I am in the jotting-down-notes stage of a new book. So, busy enough, but no, not in a rush.

Charlie Trotter

By Maya Silver | Editor

Many aspiring chefs pay their dues (literally) by attending culinary school to lay down a proper educational foundation. What did Charlie Trotter do to prepare for a culinary career? The self-taught chef took a year off from college to read as many books as possible, many of which were cookbooks. This led to the launch of a small catering business, a fine-dining expedition across the U.S. and Europe, and, shortly thereafter, a leap into the shoes of a restaurateur.

His eponymous Chicago restaurant, Charlie Trotter’s, is nothing short of an institution. For over a quarter of a century, it has served as a breeding ground for many of the chefs and techniques that constitute ever-evolving modern American gastronomy. “His legacy is a contemporary cuisine that paved the way for a lot of people in Chicago,” explains Ryan McCaskey, Executive Chef at Chicago’s Acadia Restaurant. “He was a pioneer here—not only as a destination restaurant owner, but for the many young cooks that went through his kitchen, and then went on to become great chefs themselves.”

In addition to earning a reputation for innovation, Charlie Trotter’s also won tremendous critical and popular acclaim. The restaurant boasts a Forbes Five Star Award, 11 James Beard Foundation Awards, and the designation as one of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” by Restaurant Magazine. Trotter, besides helming such a celebrated restaurant, was a culinary empire unto himself, conquering 14 cookbooks, a PBS cooking show, and humanitarian work to advance access to culinary education.

Whether or not you’ve heard of Mr. Trotter, you’re probably acquainted with his inventions and influences, including elaborate tasting menus, sustainably-sourced proteins, organic produce, and the popularization of quinoa.

Trotter was also known for being somewhat of an uncompromising maverick. Always on a quest for excellence and perfection, Trotter introduced the concept of “firing your customers” in one of his books. “What an odd concept,” chef McCaskey says. “But it mostly just confirmed that what he does—and what many high-end chefs do—isn’t always going to be for everyone.”

One of Charlie Trotter’s favorite quotes comes from jazz musician Miles Davis: “A legend is an old person with a cane known for what he used to do. I’m still doing it.” Trotter’s indelible mark persists in his vast influence, his philanthropic work, and the comprehensive cookbooks he’s bestowed upon generations to come, aspiring to excellence. Up until his very last day, Charlie Trotter was indeed still “doing it.”

Take a moment this season to remember Chef Trotter in your kitchen by preparing a timeless recipe from “Home Cooking with Charlie Trotter:

Olive Oil-Poached Cod with Tomatoes and Broccoli Rabe from the Late Chef Charlie Trotter

serves four

Note: Poaching in oil may sound like it would produce oil-soaked fish, but it actually seals in the juices and results in tender, moist fillets. It is a good cooking technique for firmer fish such as cod, swordfish, or salmon. The key is for the oil to be warm, but not hot. Keep the thermometer in the oil as the fish is cooking, and adjust the heat to maintain a temperature of 110-115 degrees. If you cannot find broccoli rabe, you may substitute one small head of broccoli.


3 large tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Broccoli rabe and cod:
1 bunch broccoli rabe, cleaned and blanched
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 c, plus 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 5-oz cod fillets, skinned
1 tsp fresh green basil leaves
1 tsp fresh purple basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the tomatoes: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds and then peel off their skins. Cut each tomato into 8 wedges, place in a small roasting pan. Toss with garlic, 1/2 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and thyme. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft. Remove tomatoes from pan, season with salt and pepper, cover, and keep warm. Strain cooking liquid through fine-mesh strainer, season with salt and pepper, and keep warm.

For the broccoli: Cook broccoli in butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until warm. Season with salt and pepper.

For the cod fillets: Warm olive oil in medium saucepan over very low heat. Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper and place in warm oil. Cook for 3 minutes, flip fish over, and cook for 3 more minutes, or until just done.

To plate:  Ladle roasted tomatoes in center of each plate and top with a fish fillet. Arrange broccoli rabe around plate and drizzle with tomato cooking liquid and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Garnish with green and purple basil.

Reprinted with permission from “Home Cooking with Charlie Trotter” by Charlie Trotter, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. Photo credit: Kipling Swehla © 2008

Chris Kimball of Cook's Illustrated

By Maya Silver | Editor

There has long raged a debate as to whether cooking is, at its heart, a science or an art. For Christopher Kimball, founding father of the Cook’s Illustrated kingdom, the answer is clear as clarified butter. Kimball has devoted himself to using scientific analysis to perfect recipes, techniques, and even product selection.

Kimball’s vision is so unwavering that it almost leads one to wonder whether he experienced a traumatic, harrowing kitchen disaster in his youth, inspiring him to save other cooks from similar experiences by bulletproofing methods of home food preparation.

It all began in 1980 with Cook’s Illustrated magazine, a black-and-white, no-frills, advertisement-free publication that some might call austere. From there, Kimball’s enterprise has grown to include Cook’s Country magazine, numerous cookbooks, a website, a PBS cooking show—a study in subtle deadpan humor—as well as an online cooking school.

Bespectacled, bow-tied, and occasionally dressed up as a cooking ingredient in a goofy, felt costume, Kimball is difficult to pin down; we tried our best.

You’ve said that, “…cooking is about putting food on the table night after night, and there isn’t anything glamorous about it.” What, most frequently, do you put on the table night after night? 

Simple food with big flavors and textures. I’ve been cooking a lot from Yotam Ottolenghi [author of “Jerusalem” and “Plenty”] these days, or I improvise a simple salad, soup, or sauté.

What has been your most profound revelation in the test kitchen to date? 

Don’t forget the salt.

If you were to open a restaurant, what type of food would you serve?

I would never open a restaurant! Too much work. Either I would do something totally off the wall, such as experimental Michelin-rated Nordic restaurant, Noma, in Copenhagen (assuming I had the talent, which I don’t), or make the same food I cook at home, charge a fair price, and leave it at that.

When you do dine out, where are the best places to eat? 

I rarely eat out these days unless I am on the road. I love the Turkish food at Depot62 as well as the sandwiches and salads at Al Ducci’s, both in Manchester, Vermont. In Boston, there are a million good places but I love Ana Sortun’s food at Sofra Bakery & Café in Cambridge, as well as Gordon [Hamersley]’s offerings at Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston.  

Since you raise your own pigs, we assume you’re a bacon connoisseur. What’s your favorite bacon recipe?

Cooked and eaten hot off the plate.

In the case of time restraints, do you ever jettison the diligently-acquired culinary lessons you’ve learned and just wing it?

Winging it never works. You can do variations on a well-understood theme, but making stuff up out of thin air is, well, high-risk. Try a steak and salad instead.

What, to date, has been your most grisly cooking disaster? 

I love disasters—that’s how I learn (and am still learning). My worst disaster was boiling a calf’s head to make Mock Turtle Soup. What the 19th century recipe did not tell me was that I had to remove the brains and eyes. My whole-head preparation resulted in a cloudy, mucilaginous soup that was a long way from the clear broth I was expecting. Who knew?

Mock Turtle Soup

Mock Turtle Soup, originating in the mid-18th century, is usually made by cooking a calf’s head in water. It’s a less expensive English version of turtle soup.

Below is a 19th century recipe for “Mrs. Fowle’s Mock Turtle Soup” adapted from “Martha Lloyd’s Household Book:” 


1 large calf’s head (brains and eyes removed!)
1 c calf brains, chopped
48 oz good mutton or veal broth
8 oz Madeira wine
1/2 tsp thyme
pepper to taste
1 large onion
2 large onions, juiced
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/4 pt oysters, minced
salt to taste
sweet herbs
16 forcemeat balls
2 hard-boiled egg yolks


Boil calves head in water until fur is scalded off and horns are tender, then cut into slices about the size of your finger. Add broth, Madeira, thyme, pepper, onion, lemon zest, oysters and their juices, salt, onion juice, sweet herbs, and brains. Simmer for 1 hour. Serve with forcemeat balls and egg yolks.

Village Brewery

By Maya Silver | Editor

The signature chai spice medley of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, fennel, and black pepper has us hooked—particularly when accompanied by caffeine and frothy milk. But how about paired with alcohol and hops?

Dogfish HeadIt seems to have started in 2009 with the Sah’tea. This modern version of a ninth century Finnish ale is part of the Dogfish Head Brewery’s Ancient Ales Program, which recreates brewing recipes from up to 9,000 years ago. This “highly-quaffable” chai beer has an enlivening black tea background and delights the tongue with hints of juniper berries.

It’s no wonder that Coloradoans have caught on to the chai trend—the warming spices of a chai beer make it a perfect après ski beverage. At the 2013 Great American Beer Festival, the Chai Milk Stout earned the Yak & Yeti Brewpub the Silver Award in the Herb and Spice Beers category. And over in Boulder, the Bhakti Chai Brown Ale from Avery Brewing, available on draft only, uses the special Bhakti tea blend infused with freshly-pressed organic ginger and fiery spices.

Apparently, the chai craze has also crossed borders into Canada. Diving even more squarely into Indian flavors, Big Rock Brewery’s Life of Chai Ale incorporates the subtlety of rose petals, the spicy sweetness of cardamom, and zesty ginger notes to create a “party in every sip.” On the dark side Village Brewery delivers the Village Monk Chai Winter Porter—a “jolly, black brew” that dazzles your taste buds with fennel, mint, black pepper, and chocolate, smoothed by luscious caramel.

Pyramid Brewing

And for Blue Moon lovers, Pyramid Breweries has conjured up the unfiltered, fusion-inspired Chai Wheat Ale, oozing with caramel, spice, and noble hops, provides a balanced beer-drinking experience that still plays well with a slice of orange.

Chow down on Chai: Chai beer fits naturally with Indian dishes, like curries, jasmine rice, and tikka masala. Chai spices are a perfect complement to many sweets, too. Pair with kheer, a coconut basmati rice pudding, or a slice of cheesecake. For the ultimate in chai desserts, make a chai beer float topped with a scoop of vanilla—or chai!—ice cream.

Edible etymology: “Chai,” or “cha,” is the word for tea in many Asian languages. In Indian, the spice blend used in the tea is called “chai masala.”

Beer Stats

Brewery: Dogfish Head Brewery
ABV: 9-percent
IBU: 6
{Delaware; dogfish.com}

Chai Milk Stout
Brewery: Yak & Yeti Brewpub
ABV: 5.2-percent
IBU: 26
{Colorado; theyakandyeti.com}

Bhakti Chai Brown Ale
Brewery: Avery Brewing Company
ABV: 5-percent
IBU: 17
{Colorado; averybrewing.com}

Life of Chai Ale
Brewery: Big Rock Brewery
ABV: 5-percent
IBU: 12.5
{Alberta, Canada; bigrockbeer.com}

Village Monk Chai Winter Porter
Brewery: Village Brewery
ABV: 5.2-percent
IBU: 18-20
{Alberta, Canada; villagebrewery.com}

Chai Wheat Ale
Brewery: Pyramid Breweries
ABV: 5.5-percent
IBU: 21
{multiple locations; pyramidbrew.com}

Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen

 “My childhood’s home I see again,
And sadden with the view …
The very spot where grew the bread
That formed my bones, I see.
How strange, old field, on thee to tread,
And feel I’m part of thee!”
—Abraham Lincoln, 1846

It all began in a one-room cabin in Indiana that served as a kitchen, living room, dining room, and bedroom for the Lincoln family. You could say that Lincoln was basically raised in the kitchen. Yet the culinary customs of presidents past are often overlooked in favor of their famous quotes and major accomplishments.

Luckily for us, however, award-winning author and cook Rae Katherine Eighmey paints a presidential portrait of President Abraham Lincoln through food in her new book, “Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times.” Get to know Lincoln at the dinner table with Eighmey’s culinary vignettes.

Corn, in All its Many Forms 

Under a tree, with a book in hand, Lincoln often snacked upon corn dodgers—small corn cakes. He also likely enjoyed hominy—grits made from stone-ground corn—and many other corn products due to its ease of cultivation compared to wheat flour.

Corn Dodgers

makes 18 dodgers


2 c coarse cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp melted butter or bacon drippings, plus more for cooking dodgers
1-1/2 c boiling water
1/3 c regular cornmeal (optional)


Mix coarse cornmeal and salt. Make a well in center and pour in butter or drippings. Pour boiling water over fat and stir carefully. Cool for 20 to 30 minutes. If needed, add a bit more water or up to 1/3 cup regular cornmeal to make a loose, workable dough. Place 2 tablespoons of dough in the palm of one hand and gently press into an oval 2-inches long and 1-inch wide. Over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of  butter or drippings in skillet. Place dodgers in skillet, lower heat, and cook until bottoms are browned and tops are firm and dry, about 8 to 10 minutes. Flip carefully and finish cooking until browned on both sides, another 5 to 7 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen by Rae Katherine Eighmey, courtesy of Smithsonian Books

The Gingerbread Boy

A gingerbread man was a rarer, but far more beloved, snack of Lincoln’s. His mother once gave him three homemade gingerbread men, which he took to eat beneath a hickory tree. A neighbor boy approached and said, “Gimme a man.” Lincoln gave him one and, as he slowly continued to eat his first, watched the boy gobble his up in two big bites.

“Abe,” said the neighbor boy. “Gimme that other’n.” I want it myself, thought Lincoln, but he gave it to him anyway and watched the boy devour it speedily.

“You seem to like gingerbread,” Lincoln observed.

“I don’t suppose there’s anybody on this earth likes gingerbread better’n I do,” the boy responded. “And I don’t suppose there’s anybody on this earth gets less’n I do.”

Professional Bites

Before his election to the Illinois General Assembly, Lincoln dabbled professionally in the culinary world, filling the shoes of a corn and wheat mill overseer, flatboat trip cook, and general store manager. During his service in the Black Hawk War, Captain Lincoln likely drank whiskey and ate generous amounts of bacon with his troops.

William Herndon, Lincoln’s law practice partner, noted that he frequently ate a breakfast of charcuterie, cheese, and crackers at work. Herndon also described Lincoln’s unique consumption of apples: “He would grasp it around the equatorial part, hold it thus until his thumb and forefinger met, sink his teeth into it, and then … begin eating at the blossom end … I never saw an apple thus disposed of by anyone else.”

The Sweet Life

During Lincoln’s courtship with Mary Todd, she made him an almond cake that he deemed, “the best cake I ever ate.” Whether or not this was a significant factor in their eventual betrothal, it certainly kept Lincoln close to the kitchen. He was even reputed to don a large blue apron himself and help Mary with the cooking on occasion.

According to charge accounts the Lincoln family kept at stores, one of their most popular purchases was sugar. They consumed a whopping gallon of sweet syrup every 10 to 12 days and approximately 11 pounds of sugar every two weeks. Perhaps Lincoln’s sweet tooth kept his wife busy preparing almond cakes and other baked goods by the basketful, or maybe their three sons poured generous amounts of syrup on their pancakes.

Food for Presidential Thought

In political office, Lincoln sustained the generosity he exhibited as a boy during the gingerbread incident. During a political barbecue, Lincoln relinquished his seat at the head of a table for an older waitress and dishwasher known as Granny. After her repeated refusals, he vacated his chair, taking his turkey leg and biscuit to eat beneath a tree.

Aside from being able to afford turkey, pork, and other meats, Lincoln developed an appetite for oysters—but only when cooked. He once refused a raw oysters, noting, “If I should eat a raw oyster with you, it would be the first time I had ever eaten one.”

The dinners surrounding Lincoln’s presidential election were equally memorable. Prior to his inauguration, he feasted upon mock turtle soup, corned beef and cabbage, parsley potatoes, and blackberry pie. After his inauguration, the party dined on a fussier meal of Potomac shad—a river herring—which gave everyone a nasty bout of food poisoning.


Cruzado {366 Fifth Street NE; 404.872.0846}

Formerly Las Palmeras, this exciting new concept—recently opened in the heart of Midtown by Owner and Operator Grace Lee—offers an enticing fusion of Cuban, Pan-Latin, and Caribbean cuisines. Housed in an historic 1920s building, Cruzado creates a special niche in the community. The casual ambience and warm environment lend themselves perfectly to Latin and Caribbean favorites, many of which Lee grew up eating in South Florida. Executive Chef Carlos Alberto is a Puerto Rican native with over nine years of culinary experience. Signature dishes include the Pollo Asado (marinated fried chicken with a Cuban sauce), Rabo Encendido (oxtail stew), Medianoche (ham, roast pork, and cheese in a sandwich) and handmade Cuban Tamales, to name a few. Venture over to the hookah lounge and bar for tapas, mojitos, and a smoke, if that’s your bag. cruzadorestaurant.com

The Family Dog  {1402 North Highland Avenue; 404.249.0180}

Chef Ron Eyester and Jason Chenette of Rosebud have introduced a new neighborhood bar to Morningside—The Family Dog. This is a place for those who like their music loud and their drinks strong, along with some creative pub fare that might make you do a double take—like the Spaghetti and Lobster Egg Rolls. You’ll also find a selection of farm-to-table cuisine, “Fat Tuesday” specials (think Po’ Boys and Oyster Stew), and a hefty beer and cocktail list. And for those well-trained ears among us, visitors will appreciate the jukebox blasting nightly, and the local artists appearing every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. thefamilydogatlanta.com

Aspen Bartini {322 East Paces Ferry Road; 404.549.8700}

At Aspen Bartini, the attire may be upscale and chic, but the attitude is all about casual comfort. Aspen is a social club—part lounge, part dance floor, and part piano bar—with combined flavors of cosmopolitan nightclub and rustic wilderness lodge rolled into one. This no-cover establishment in Buckhead keeps the beats pumping with local DJs rocking and the house pianist belting it out on a baby grand. Executive Chef Tony Sharpe prepares appetizers, entrées, lunches, and desserts to bolster a variety of premium wines, beers, and signature drinks. Book the VIP section—boasting rustic décor and extra special service—for a party or anniversary, and visit on Tuesdays for Tasty Tuesday deals with discounted wine, fruit, and cheese plates from 5-9pm. aspenbartini.com

Article 14 {1180 Peachtree Street, Suite B; 404.443.8432}

Unfolding in the heart of Atlanta is the next chapter of the Legacy Restaurant Partners dynasty, Article 14. Recently opened on the corner of 14th and Peachtree Streets, Article 14 offers a refreshing take on dining, paying homage to the deep-seated local tradition of storytelling. Chef Bernard McDonough (also of Olmsted) brings top culinary talent and a variety of cultural food traditions to the table. His menu—partitioned into “Sections” and “Amendments”—tells a delicious story, complete with traditional favorites, fresh seafood, house-cured meats, and homemade dressings and sauces. Try the Buttermilk Fried Plantation Quail or the Angel Hair Pasta with butter-poached lobster, and perhaps you’ll feel compelled to tell a friend. article14.com

Moderna Atlanta {8540 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs; 770.557.0945}

On February 22, 2013, Moderna Tacqueria and Teatro opened in Atlanta, presenting an artistic new dining and nightlife experience. With about 5,000 square feet, this restaurant’s ambiance is hip and modern, designed with sustainable architecture and contemporary flair. Enjoy over 11 varieties of tacos, abundant Latin-inspired entrées, and tequila drinks aplenty. And know that behind the pumping music and chic scene, there’s a compassion that sets Moderna apart. Owner Josh Ahlzadeh, upon hearing of a local family with a gravely ill child, contributed the proceeds from Moderna’s grand opening event to the toddler’s medical expenses. Going forward, Ahlzadeh plans to support local performing arts, sports, and creative arts programs throughout the area. modernaatl.com

Argosy {470 Flat Shoals Avenue; 404.577.0407}

Opened on February 28, 2013, Argosy restaurant offers the neighborhood a casual beer pub—the new place to go for American craft brews and contemporary Southern cuisine. During the remodel, 100-year pine wood was torn from the rafters and repurposed for the walls and furniture. This resulted in an atmosphere reminiscent of a wooden ship’s hull. The restaurant’s name stems from the Italian word for “merchant ship,” a fitting moniker considering the design. The three-tiered dining space is complete with an upper balcony and an ample back bar decorated with rustic taxidermy and living terrariums. But the real excitement is in the menu, which offers a taste of everything from wood-fired pizzas and burgers to hanger steak, scallops, and whole branzino. Start with some housemade pickles and olives, and finish with a profiterole to round our your Argosy experience.

Crooked Tree Cafe {2355 Cumberland Parkway, Suite 110; 770.333.9119}

The Crooked Tree hearkens back to Owner Jeff Haeger’s fond memories of climbing shady oaks during a camping trip to Cumberland Island off the Georgia coast. At his restaurant, he advocates for green practices and locally-grown ingredients, including meats, poultry, and produce. After sourcing and preparing the meat, the Ole Hickory smoker cooks low and slow for flavorful, hickory-smoked Brasstown Pork, Springer Mountain Chicken, and House-Smoked Turkey and Swiss sandwiches. If you’re in the mood for smoked goodness, we’re pretty sure we’re barking up the right tree with Crooked Tree Cafe. Pressed for time? Order for the whole family with their convenient takeout packages for up to eight. crookedtreecafe.com

Poor Calvin’s {510 Piedmont Avenue NE; 404.2544052}

Poor Calvin’s, the new go-to for Asian-American fusion cuisine, came to Atlanta in late November of 2012. But don’t let the name deceive you—Poor Calvin’s is rich in cultural, flavor, and character. Inspired by his travels around the world, Owner and Chef Calvin Phan adapts classic, conventional American-style comfort foods to create unexpected—and wildly successful—flavor combinations. Think Lobster Macaroni and Cheese infused with Thai curry, or Grilled New York Strip with Southeast Asian spices. Now open for brunch (on Saturday and Sunday from 11am-3pm), Poor Calvin’s dishes up the ante on items like Omelette in the Pot (silky smooth eggs served steaming hot, surrounded by vegetables) and Savory Korean Pancakes. Located in a beautifully-renovated Irish pub—complete with a full bar—this affordable Asian-American fusion joint has flavors for any palate. poorcalvins.com

Cafe Posh {4920 Roswell Road NE, Suite 14; 404.303.7303}

The Old-World feel at Cafe Posh has created quite the following of customers. Shimon and Simona Edery create soul-warming Israeli dishes like shakshouka and falafel, alongside a selection of breads from Alon’s Bakery which includes croissants, biscotti, and cookies. Now, Cafe Posh has upgraded the menu, the space, and the beverage selection to include beer, wine, and brand-new coffee drinks. cafeposhatlanta.com