Warning, this is a cupcake, picture free post. More just the musings of a self proclaimed foodie.
So as I've mentioned, I love cooking just as much as I love baking. Admittedly, sometimes even more...I just produce more creative, consistently good baked goods. That said, I am no chef nor proclaim to be one. So view this post as notes from a well trained, self educated home cook.
I got to go to a fun new place today. I love exploring cities. A friend of mine and native Atlantan took me to a place she knew I would enjoy called Star Provisions. It's a restaurant and a market. They sell things like meats, seafood, cheese, bread and pastries (as well as ridiculously cute service ware, linens and other such fun things for all your entertaining needs and wants). They also have a gourmet cafe menu with breakfasts with luscious looking large quiches and lunch with sandwiches and other such things served on wonderful vessels like tomato parmesan focacia.
It's in an area with lots of other great restaurants and fun little shops, all within a block. A fun place to go, but very tempting on your wallet (unless of course spending $50 for a kids shirt isn't even comprehensible and then not so tempting, like it was for me.)
Now the food however...good ingredients are expensive. They just are, as much as it pains me to say, but they really do make a big difference. If you are only putting 5 ingredients in a dish it will taste infinitely better if you get the best quality of those ingredients you can find. As much as I would love to have an unlimited grocery budget to play with fun high end ingredients reality and practicality reign me in. Whole Foods and I used to be frequent friends, now we settle for quarterly or so minglings.
I knew I wanted to sample some of the glorious ingredients (like the $60 a pound Foie Gras!), but reality and practicality again needed to balance me out. So I thought about dinner. Local slab bacon, parmigiana reggiano and freshly made baguettes all were reasonable (the parmesan in small amounts) and looked great. Spaghetti Carbonara was now on the dinner menu (with bread and a salad with a honey balsamic dressing) with plenty of leftovers for lunch and enough baguette to make a breakfast bread pudding or french toast with. One of the nice things about these small specialty markets is you can buy however much you want or need, not a packaged quantity that will probably go bad before you get to it.
I walked out for $8 and change. $2.50 for the baguette (which was bigger and better than comparable at Kroger or Publix and theirs are $2), $4 or so for the parmigiana reggiano (1/8 of a pound which was enough for dinner and probably another 2 dinners) and about $1.50 for the bacon (1/4 pound).
I was happy. My gourmet lunch cost more than the main ingredients for at least 3 meals. They even had cupcakes to try. Which looked delicious and I probably would have been tempted by if I weren't full, in a bit of a rush and knew I had homemade chocolate chip cookies at home.
All this to say, if you have the least bit of foodie tendencies or just enjoy a fun place to eat really good food you should take a trip down to Star Provisions. I'm not really very familiar with all the areas of Atlanta, but I think it was considered more in the west side. It wasn't that far from downtown in my opinion. The bacon alone made it worth the drive!
If I intrigued you with my spaghetti carbonara, here is my favorite recipe. I use bacon instead of pancetta, more like half an onion, a little extra white wine (1/3 cup instead of 1/4) and just Parmesan, no pecorino. Also since I'm pregnant I went ahead and added the eggs while the pan was still on and cooked it a little bit to make sure the eggs were cooked. No longer than 2 minutes. The best part is this can easily be made in less than a half an hour. I sometimes make the sauce an hour or so before hand and just reheat it while I'm boiling the water for the pasta. Quick easy, and gourmet looking. Can't beat that!
Do you have a favorite place you go to satisfy your inner foodie?