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.

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.

4 Ways to Taste Georgia-Made Ice Cream

Whether you prefer ice cream, gelato or custard, there’s room for them all as you taste your way around the state.

Honeysuckle Gelato

Photo courtesy of Honeysuckle Gelato

1.)  At a festival. Georgia is home to numerous annual ice cream festivals including the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival, Ice Cream Festival at Crooked Pines Farm, Slow Food Atlanta Ice Cream Social, and Miss Mary’s Crankin’ Ice Cream Festival in Roswell.

2.)  From the source. Whether it’s craft ice cream you prefer or a more commercial brand, you can visit the factory when you’re in Georgia. Alton Brown’s preferred brand, High Road Craft, can be found in Marietta while Mayfield Dairy Farms offers tours in Braselton. One of the best parts of visiting High Road Craft is being able to buy their small batch and test flavors that you can’t find anywhere else.

When you’re in Savannah, visit Leopold’s, the classic ice cream parlor seen on the silver screen. They make their flavors in-house and you can’t beat their old time-y atmosphere.

Up in North Georgia, stop by Mountain Fresh Creamery for a sweet treat on your way through the mountains.

And, next time you’re near Fort Valley, plan on heading to Lane Southern Orchards. Their peach ice cream is legendary.

3.)  Where you live/work/play. Vintage Frozen Custard has set up shop at Westside Provisions District offering “premium frozen custard” inside an old fashioned ice cream parlor. Honeysuckle Gelato is set to open their first brick and mortar location inside Ponce City Market later this year. You can also find their gelato at Davio’s inside Phipps Plaza.

4.)  Where you shop. Stop by Georgia’s Whole Foods Market and The Fresh Market locations to find prepackaged ice cream, gelato and custard from Georgia’s vendors.

EileenEileen is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.

Tour #GeorgiaEats with Georgia Crafted

Have a love of Georgia products, made with locally-sourced Georgia ingredients? Well, this might not come as much of a surprise, but so do we! That’s why Explore Georgia has partnered with Georgia Crafted on their August subscription box full of #GeorgiaEats goodies!

Georgia Crafted BoxGeorgia Crafted shares their obsession with Georgia artisan creations – ranging from bath and body products to candles that share the scents of the state – through subscription and gift boxes, which they mail right to Georgia lovers’ doors! Each month brings a new box with a new theme and new Georgia surprises.

For example, the November 2014 subscription box focused on the tastes of fall. Georgia Crafted brought Georgia-lovers carefully selected  tastes of the North Georgia Mountains to add a little fall flavor to their day. The box’s surprises included products sourced from R & A Orchards, Malvi Marshmallow Confections, K-Teas, Cartwright’s Popcorn and other local North Georgia makers. Their boxes celebrate everything from The Masters and South Georgia to the Southern Gentleman, Southern Belle and Southern Hospitality.

It’s that love of Georgia and the dedication to showcase all the state has to offer that excited us about partnering with Georgia Crafted for the #GeorgiaEats box! And we can barely wait until they arrive at your door this August, because we are working together to immerse you in Georgia’s culinary scene. Each box will come with 5 amazing Georgia food products highlighting local culinary treasures from every corner of the Peach State. So head on over to Georgia Crafted’s website and subscribe and we’ll take you on a tour of #GeorgiaEats!

Oh! And don’t forget to post a picture of your box with the hashtag #GeorgiaEats for the chance to be featured on Explore Georgia’s Instagram feed!

Tour #GeorgiaEats

Taste the State with Georgia Restaurant Week

Georgia Restaurant WeekThe culinary scene in Georgia is wonderfully diverse, with restaurants across the state offering an array of delicious options ranging from traditional Southern cuisine and locally-sourced treats to flavorful ethnic dishes and amazing seafood. The inaugural Georgia Restaurant Week, held July 13th though 19th, celebrates the state’s unique and varied culinary scene by offering patrons the opportunity to enjoy some of their favorite local eateries and discover some new dining experiences through exclusive deals and menu options!

Each participating restaurant selects a Prix Fixe Menu to offer diners during Georgia Restaurant Week, hosted by the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Division and the Georgia Restaurant Association. These menus are available during dinner service at the fixed prices of $15, $25 or $35 per person or per couple, depending on the eatery. This annual event celebrates the flavors of Georgia by showcasing the state’s culinary experiences and highlighting unique local flavors, notable chefs, award-winning restaurants, agritourism destinations and much more.

So what kind of dining experience do you want? Because Georgia Restaurant Week can offer it. If you want dinner with a view, make your way to the 30th floor at Nikolai’s Roof, in Atlanta, where you will find an amazing view of the city skyline while enjoying more than 300 hand-selected wines. Or perhaps you like some live entertainment with your meal? Then you won’t want to miss dinner at Scott’s Downtown, in Gainesville, where you’ll enjoy jazz music while you dine in their comfortable atmosphere. Appreciate fine art in The Library at Epic Restaurant, in Columbus, where you can’t help but be enveloped by the warm, welcoming atmosphere alongside the Chattahoochee River. If you want to eat outdoors, the patio at Joe’s on Juniper, in Atlanta, within walking distance of Piedmont Park, is the place to be. Keen to try something foreign to the American pallet? Cinco Mexican Cantina, in Cumming, and Der Biergarten, in Atlanta, provide authentic selections of both traditional and contemporary ethnic dishes. These are but a few of the amazing dining experiences offered by participating venues; find more by visiting GARestaurantWeek.com.

With a vast array of restaurants to choose from, you could find your new favorite eatery any day of the week. Georgia Restaurant Week runs from July 13th to July 19th in accordance with participating restaurants’ regular hours. We recommend you make a reservation, as these deals won’t last forever. So come on out and have your appetite ready! Join the conversation online using #GeorgiaEats and enjoy Georgia’s incredible culinary scene!

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