Atlanta Chinatown Mall

As a true lover of food, I’m always looking for a great meal. You may be thinking that since I’m a Chef, a great meal means lots of fancy food, served as lots courses-all costing lots of money. Nope. To me a great meal means delicious food with big flavors, lots of fresh ingredients and affordability. I also like to step out of my comfort zone from time to time and try something new. I’ve found all of that, and more, right here in Atlanta at the Chinatown Mall. It’s tucked away off I-285 and New Peachtree Road, and offers Chinese, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Laotian and Korean culture all in one small community.

Atlanta Chinatown Mall

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Chinatown Mall

My favorite location at the mall is the food court. No surprise there, especially considering it offers six restaurant stalls, a bakery and two dine-in restaurants. The food selections are all authentic cuisines from around China, recipes passed down from generation to generation. I’ve enjoyed Peking Duck, which is a whole duck cooked until the meat is tender and the skin crisps up crunchy and delicious. The Crispy Pork Belly with a Spicy Hoisin Sauce is another dish I like that cooks the pork belly until the fat and lean are both rich and crisp, before being dipped into a sweet and spicy sauce. And then there is my all-time favorite, a big piping hot bowl of Red Pepper Fish Stew. This stew is thick with chunks of succulent white fish swimming in a broth thick with red hot peppers and Chinese vegetables. Yum! The main thing to remember when checking out the Atlanta Chinatown Mall is to bring a big appetite, your sense of adventure and cash-they don’t accept plastic.

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.

Mountain Biking at Boundary Waters Park

BOUNDARY WATERS PARK: PERFECT PLACE TO BEGIN MOUNTAIN BIKING

Set alongside the Chattahoochee River, Boundary Waters Park is dedicated to active recreation like swimming, sports, fishing, and mountain biking. This Douglas County park is home to the paved Chattahoochee Hill Country Greenway, as well as natural surface trails. Beginning behind the park’s Aquatic Center, the Greenway cuts a 3/4-mile out-and-back path through the woods.Boundary Waters Park

The mountain biking fun begins when bikers leave the pavement and hit the dirt. About 12 miles of natural trails are broken up into three off-shoots from the Chattahoochee Hill Country Greenway. Originally designed for equestrian use, these shaded trails are characterized by mostly flat terrain perfect for beginner mountain biking practice. The multi-use natural trails are marked with red, yellow, and blue blazes. Bikers encounter some gear-changing hilly sections on the red trail and learn to cross simple root systems on the blue and yellow trails. Boundary Waters Park

Experienced mountain bikers might enjoy the speed of this easy ride. But, the real benefit to new mountain bikers is the combination of paved and natural trails. This gives beginners the opportunity to move between the paved greenway and natural trails as often as they need. The entire trail system is open to pedestrians and bikers, with the natural surface trails also being used by horseback riders. Mountain bikers, please remember to yield to equestrians.

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Exploring Atlanta’s Neighborhoods

Municipal MarketDowntown Atlanta is a well known for tourist destination with the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium (voted number one aquarium in the US by Trip Advisor), College Football Hall of Fame and the newest addition to the skyline, the Center for Civil and Human Rights. But Atlanta isn’t all about attractions. To truly get the flavor of this city, visit a few of Atlanta’s distinct neighborhoods. Here are three Atlanta neighborhoods worth exploring:

Sweet Auburn: The Sweet Auburn Historic District is a mile and half stretch along Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta. At the turn of the century, this area was one of the wealthiest African American streets in the world. During the 1960’s it was the center of the civil rights movement and home to Rev. Martin Luther King. The Sweet Auburn Curb Market has 24 individual businesses, including a full service bakery and 11 of the most popular eateries in the city; my favorite is Venezuelan Arepas from Arepa Mia.

Little Five Points: Little Five Points is one of Atlanta’s oldest and most unique commercial districts. Known as L5P, this neighborhood has an alternative feel with several independently owned and one-of-a-kind shops. Junkman’s Daughter carries a variety of items and has attracted costume designers from Atlanta’s burgeoning movie scene. Criminal Records offers old school vinyl, as well as CDs and hard to find comics. L5P has a vibrant music scene with several live venues and funky bars like Star Bar with its shrine to Elvis. You have to be over 18 to visit The Vortex, but anyone can marvel at the giant skull entryway. The edgy L5P Halloween Parade in October is a must see event for all ages.

Castleberry Hill: Recognized as a federal historic district, and a City of Atlanta Landmark District, Castleberry Hill was once a factory-warehouse area but is now best known for its growing arts scene, restaurants and loft residences. The community sponsors the 2nd Friday Art Stroll that includes numerous galleries, restaurants and retail events. This event was the readers pick for best neighborhood art walk by Creative Loafing, the city’s alternative newspaper. Our visit to the art stroll made me feel like I was in a totally different city than my hometown. After viewing a wide variety of art, and participating in a wine tasting, we grabbed a bite and margaritas at No Mas! Cantina.

SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

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Georgia’s Unique Museums

From Antebellum Southern tradition to Gullah Geechee culture; from presidential houses to prestigious golf tournaments – Georgia has something to meet everyone’s interest. And Georgia’s museums reflect that diversity. Here are five of Georgia’s most unique museums to explore while seeking out all that is interesting and offbeat:

Road to Tara Museum: In Jonesboro you can discover all you’d ever want to know about Gone With the Wind. Margaret Mitchell’s book was based in no small part off of her grandparents’ tales from a plantation just outside the city. The museum offers a glimpse into the story, combining the real history of the Civil War’s Atlanta Campaign and Battle of Jonesboro with Margaret Mitchell’s fictional tale and Hollywood’s Gone With the Wind. From tribute dolls of every character to Scarlett O’Hara’s underpants, this museum is the perfect stop for any fan of this timeless story of the South.Road to Tara Museum

Georgia Rural Telephone Museum: Housed in a renovated 1920s cotton warehouse in Leslie, this museum houses the world’s largest collection of telephones and telephone memorabilia. Here you’ll find the rarest examples of telecommunication stretching back to 1876, including presidential candidate Jimmy Carter’s two 1970s switchboards used during his campaign, the phone used to announce President McKinely had been shot in 1897 and even a jukebox phone!

Crawford W. Long Museum: Did you know the first use of ether as an anesthetic was by a Georgia surgeon? This Jefferson-located museum commemorates Dr. Long’s role in the development of one of the most important advances in medical procedures. Head to Jackson County to experience how this country doctor-turned-surgeon for the Confederacy became the ‘father of painless surgery.Crawford W. Long Museum

The Panoramic Encyclopedia of Everything Elvis: Why travel to Graceland or spend outrageous amounts of money seeing impersonators in Vegas when you can have everything Elvis here in Georgia!? Located on the third floor of the Loudermouth Boarding House (which is on the National Register of Historic Places) in Cornelia, this experience celebrates Elvis’s successes and well as his flaws. If you love The King, you have to check out Everything Elvis – it is, after all, the only museum to house a body part of his: the Elvis Wart.

Billy Carter Gas Station Museum: While Jimmy Carter was busy running the country, younger brother Billy was busy running a local gas station. The Plains establishment features some of the First Brother’s unique wardrobe choices, as well as many empty cans of the short-lived beer named for him: Billy Beer. The next time you’re visiting the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, take a quick detour to experience the life of one of the best known presidential siblings.Billy Carter's Service Station Museum

Georgia Pecan Oil

TRY GEORGIA PECAN OIL FOR THE PERFECT COOKING EXPERIENCE

Georgia Pecan Oil

Pecan oil and more from Oliver Farm

Imagine the aroma of fresh Georgia vegetables like sweet corn, crunchy peppers and spicy onions, being sautéed in a hot pan drizzled with oil. I know you’re thinking, ‘she must be talking about olive oil.’ Well guess again. I’m talking about Georgia pecan oil. It’s full of antioxidants like vitamin E and flavonoids, it’s high in protein, but also in oleic acid-which is the same type of healthy fat found in olive oil, and as an added bonus is bursting with flavor.

When placed side by side with olive oil, Georgia pecan oil comes out the clear winner. It contains 9.5% saturated fat, which is less than in olive oil, is rich in monounsaturated fats, and low in saturated fats. Although pecan oil is nothing new in the word of healthy oils, it is new to most cooks. Pecan oil’s mild nutty flavor is neutral  enough to take on the flavor of whatever seasoning is being used with it, has a high smoking point of 470*F, and is versatile enough to use for frying, baking, and as the base for salad dressings, marinades, and infused oils. Making this Georgia grown oil the perfect every day oil to cook with.

To give you a little peek into how versatile Georgia pecan oil actually is, I’m including a Southern spin on hummus. Using black eyed peas instead of chick peas, cider vinegar instead of lemon juice, and-you guessed it-pecan oil instead of olive oil, this Black Eyed Pea Hummus will make you a believer:

Black Eyed Pea Hummus
Original recipe by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker
Yields: 5 cups

Ingredients:
2-14.5 ounce cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1-14.5 ounce can chick peas, drained and rinsed
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pecan oil, I like Oliver Farm Pecan Oil
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Garnish:
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
Pecan oil

Directions:
Place all of the ingredients into a food processor with the blade attachment.
Pulse for 2-3 minutes or longer for a smoother hummus.
Adjust taste with salt and pepper and additional vinegar, as needed.
Garnish with chopped pecans, scallions, and a drizzle of pecan oil.
Enjoy with pita chips, crackers, or fresh cut veggies!

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.