Posted by: KStrate | June 3, 2009

I’m Moving to Atlanta, and so is Dawg Food

After months (and months) of deliberation, I’ve decided to keep Dawg Food and have it travel with me to the big city, Atlanta, G-A!

I went back and forth zillions of times trying to decide if I wanted to keep my baby or put it up for adoption, and I am lesliehappy to announce Dawg Food will be staying with me.

It’s an exciting time, right? I’ve graduated from college, have a fantastic internship at Jackson Spalding, have a super-duper roommate, in a ballin’ neighborhood, and there are more restaurants than I know what to do with.

Seriously.

There’s one on every single corner. I am SO EXCITED about the new journeys to come with Dawg Food, and I hope all my readers will stay with me! Athens followers, I won’t forget you. You can rest assured that when I come back to the Motherland, I’ll post about where I eat. It will still be great.

Since I’m not from Atlanta originally, I don’t even know where to start with restaurants! So far, I’ve been to:

-Two Urban Licks

-Zoe’s Kitchen

-Noon Midtown

-Noche

-Fellini’s Pizza

I was still in my deliberation phase during all of this, so I’m not planning on posting about what I ate previously. Maybe I will later, but not now.

So here you go, Atlantans: where should I start? What are some of the best (and semi-cheap/don’t-break-my-intern-budget) places?

I want to know, so enlighten me.

I’m so happy to be back in the blogosphere!

P.S. Be on the lookout for a facelift on the Web site. I can’t have all Athens restaurants on there anymore!

P.P.S. Photo is courtesy of my good friend, Leslie Emanuele. You’re the best, Leslie!

Posted by: KStrate | March 30, 2009

This isn’t about food. It’s about love.

I usually don’t do this, but I couldn’t hold it in.

Ever since spring break, my best friend Jaime and I have only been able to think about two phrases:

Give Love. See Everyone.

Pretty simple, don’t you think?

The two phrases, Give Love. See Everyone., were inspired in two different situations.
Give Love: When Jaime was on Alternative Spring Break in Philadelphia this year, she volunteered with a bunch of UGA students at a developmental disabilities center for adults. Not many people think about grown-ups who are give-love-2unable to dress themselves or perform simple cognitive tasks, but they exist. Mr. Mike Barnes, one the directors for the center in Philly, inspired the group from UGA the whole week by saying, “everyone just wants love. That’s all anyone really wants. Just give them love.”

See Everyone: When I was in Denver over spring break, I had the privilege of attending her grandfather’s 80th birthday. When my uncle was making a toast to mygrandfather, he said, “the best way to describe my Dad is that he sees everyone.” I thought about it a little, and realized that Pop really does see everyone. From the cleaning lady in the hotel to the taxi driver to the shy, new people at his church, Hershal McConathy makes a genuine effort to build a relationship with others. Think about it. See Everyone.

Why are these phrases so important?

It’s so easy for us as foodies to go through each day forgetting to tip our server, say thank you to the drive-thru person, or forgetting to tell those close to you that you love them.  There are so many differences and prejudices that infiltrate our world today that we become jaded and don’t remember the one thing all of us have in common. We just want to be loved.

That’s why we’ve come up with Give Love Week. This is an optional challenge that we hope all of you will try to do. Whether it’s every day for the next week, Monday to Monday, or just once this week, show someone love. Try to see everyone. From the custodians on UGA’s campus to the lady in the drive-thru at McDonald’s, show them love in whatever capacity.

We all interpret and show love differently, so we’re leaving it up to you to give love the way you see fit.

At the end of the week, we want you (if you want) to send your stories to us. How has this focus in the past week made a difference in your life and in the lives of others?

What do you think we can all learn from this? It would be such a blessing and a privilege to read the stories from everyone to see how you’ve reacted to the challenge. Feel free to send this to people who you think would like to participate, too. E-mail your stories (and pictures if you have them) to katherinestrate@gmail.com.

Monday to Monday. Give Love. See Everyone.

I hope you Dawg Fooders are up to the challenge.

Posted by: KStrate | March 24, 2009

The Big Easy Cafe Do’s it Right!

I love Cajun food. I don’t know if it’s because of my Louisiana heritage, or because it’s a rare commodity in this part of img_0839the country. Either way, my friends and I were itching for a low country boil this past weekend, and we got one!

When my friend, Sarah, first mentioned having a low country boil, I was stumped. I hadn’t heard of any place around town that offers that menu option, so I e-mailed my ever knowing former boss, Brian Brodrick at Jackson Spalding, to see if he knew of anyone.

Like always, Brian came to the rescue, and recommended the Big Easy Cafe in Watkinsville. Wat-ville represent!

The Big Easy Cafe

Phone: 706-769-3030

E-mail: itsmillrtime@att.net

Hours: Monday, 6 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 6 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.; Saturday, 8-11 a.m. (breakfast only)

Owners: Tammy and Scott Miller

I called the Big Easy Cafe and talked to Tammy, one of the restaurant owners, who is actually from Louisiana. I told img_0842her we wanted to have a low country boil for a tailgate before the baseball game on Friday, and put the plans in place.

We met Tammy and her husband, Scott, and their two children at the parking lot below the baseball field on Saturday afternoon, and they already had the water boiling and the potatoes cooking. Woo hoo!

There were about 15 of my friends, my dad and me included, but I was nervous because there were a few low country boil connoisseurs in the midst. My friend, Rachael Sharpe and her daddy (pictured in the post) are from South Carolina, and they are shrimp experts! After we ate, though, Mr. Sharpe said the LCB passed his test, and that made me happy.

If you’re looking for an easy catered meal, try this! It was only $13.50 a person, and we had shrimp, andouille sausage, potatoes, and onions (they forgot the corn). Once the food was done, they put it in some big alumninum pans, dumped out the water, and headed out. It’s so easy, and the clean up is even better. The $13.50 included cocktail sauce and img_0843crackers, so that was nice. We decided to go BYOB, and it was so perfect. A good beer and some good shrimp? You can’t get much better than that.

My only wish was for more sausage. The people who came in line last didn’t get any, so maybe make sure to ask them to make a bigger shrimp::sausage ratio. Other than that, the taste was great! It wasn’t too spicy, and everything was cooked perfectly. The shrimp didn’t taste tough, so that was nice.

I’d encourage you to drive out to Watkinsville and check out the Big Easy Cafe. It’s been open for about four years, but Tammy and Scott have been in the restaurant business for a while. Tammy went to culinary school, and Scott has a degree in restaurant management.

Put April 24 on your calendars because the Big Easy Cafe is having its annual crawfish boil in front of the restaurant. They’re having 1,000 pounds of crawfish driven up from the Louisiana coast just for us! It should be a good time.

Verdict? Yummy.

Going back? You betcha.

Posted by: KStrate | March 20, 2009

Dawg Food’s Bucket List

As many of you know, I’m scheduled to graduate from UGA in May. So, my May 9, I will have said goodbye to Dawg Food and all that is college. I am on a search, however, to find a fitting successor, so let me know if you have any recommendations. :)

I realized I only have seven weeks left at UGA, so I decided to make a Bucket List for the places I’d like to review (that I haven’t been to yet) or places I just need to go back to before I leave Athens. I don’t want to get too sentimental, so let’s just get to the point.

“The Great Dawg Food Bucket List”

  • Athens Regional Medical Center Cafeteria: Sounds weird, I know. However, I’ve heard from many reliable sources that the cafeteria at ARMC is amazing, especially the apple cobbler. I’m a sucker for cafeterias. We used to go to Luby’s cafeteria every Sunday after church when I was little, and I love a place where you can get Jell-O, mashed potatoes, macaroni, fried chicken, a roll, and chocolate pie in one swoop. I hope ARMC Cafeteria lives up to my high expectations.
  • Weaver D’s: I still can’t believe I haven’t been there. Before I even came to UGA, my neighbor told me that I needed to eat at Weaver D’s. In the past four years, I haven’t made a trip there. It’s a must.
  • Big Easy Cafe: A rather new establishment, the Big Easy Cafe in Watkinsville is home to Louisiana and Cajun food. I’m actually eating a low country boil from there this weekend, so I’ll let you know how it is.
  • Any UGA Dining Hall: Like I said, I love cafeterias. I think it’s only appropriate for me to eat in at least one of the UGA dining commons before I graduate. They filled my little freshman head with so many memories of froyo, egg white omlettes, lasagna, salads, turkey sandwiches, and the ever-so-addicting chocolate cookies that I can’t help but go back one last time.
  • Black Forest Bakery: The old location of Black Forest on Prince closed about a year ago, but it has been reopened on the East Side by Johnny’s Pizza. I read an article in the Athens Banner Herald about it a couple of weeks ago and decided I needed to check it out. Maybe I’ll order some donuts for a class or something. We’ll see.
  • Places I’ve been but want to go back to: I really want to revisit all of them, but here’s a shorter list…La Dolce Vita, The Sultan, Farm 255, The Five and Ten, Porterhouse Grill, Mirko Pasta, Dondero’s Kitchen, Clocked, The Basil Press, The Globe.
  • (you insert here): Where would you like me to go? Is there a restaurant I haven’t talked about that I need to review? Let me know!

So, before I kick the Dawg Food bucket, I hope I’ll be able to visit all or most of these places. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Posted by: KStrate | March 11, 2009

Sorry for the absence

Hey everyone!

Sorry I haven’t been updating recently. Over the past two weeks, I’ve been to Washington D.C., Waco, Texas, and Denver, Co. What a traveler am I!

I promise there will be more reviews once I return to God’s Country.

Stay tuned!

Posted by: KStrate | February 3, 2009

Pauley’s: Not quite like Paris, but close enough.

Pauley’s is a new restaurant and bar that opened up on West Clayton across the street from Transmet and between General’s and Cutter’s.

I was really excited about a new, creative restaurant that wasn’t too big to handle and had a lot of personality. In caseimg_0749 you didn’t know, Pauley’s specialty is crêpe-making (pronounced KREHP…with the “e” like “egg”). Now, as a wannabe Parisian and self-proclaimed crêpe connoisseur, I was ready to taste a crêpe Athens-style.

During my first visit, I went there with Anna for dessert. My assumption is when most people think of crêpes, they think about dessert crêpes. I may be wrong, but that’s what we went for.

It’s a very long and narrow restaurant, but it has a lot of personality and intimacy. Anna was waiting on my at the second table on the right. I plopped myself up on the tall barstool and began to look at the menu.

There were a lot of options, but the two of us decided to get a S’Mores crêpe (Anna) and the Nutella with strawberries crêpe (me). When I studied abroad in Paris, I think me and my friends ate at least two crepes per week, and I don’t think I had had one since I came back to the U.S. almost two years ago.

Needless to say, my date with this crêpe was long overdue.

We also ordered some wine (Hey! It’s Thursday night…) and sat and talked about all things girlie until our dessert img_0750came. Anna, too, had studied in Paris (the same trip I did but a year after me), so we were equally excited about our “leetle French treet.”

I’d say the crêpes were about the size of a medium-sized piece of pizza. They were definitely thicker though (unless you go the meat lovers, I guess), and the Nutella and strawberries were oozing out of mine. I could see the back of Anna’s, and the crêpe looked perfectly folded in a triangle with pieces of graham cracker and globs of marshmallow creme drizzling onto her plate.

Hungry yet?

I don’t think there’s any sense in trying to hide the fact that we both ate our crêpes in their entirety. They were wonderful, delicious, and hot. That’s the key.

The only thing we thought was different was they’re a little thicker than we were used to. In Paris (probably b/c a lot of the street vendors are cheap and don’t want to use a lot of crêpe batter on you), the crêpes are very thin- about 1/4 the size of a pancake. These were about half as thick, but they were still good. Since it didn’t hinder our eating, though, I’d say they were pretty good.

A week later, I went back with another friend of mine, Sarah, to catch up over lunch. Neither of us had been there forpauleys lunch, and we were excited about the menu. Sarah is a vegetarian, but she had no problem deciding what to get. There are a lot of vegetarian options, which made her happy.

I ended up ordering the chicken pizza crêpe, and she ordered the house salad. We waited a while but were thrilled when they came.

My crêpe was even thicker than the dessert one because of the chicken. It tasted just like a chicken pizza, except softer because it was a crêpe, not pizza dough. There was tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, spices, and chicken inside, and they drizzled the top of it with some tomato sauce. Nice presentation.

Sarah’s salad came in a huge, flat bowl with a crêpe on the bottom. She didn’t know what one was, so I explained it to her. After eating her romaine lettuce, red onions, croutons, and dressing, she ate some of her crêpe and took the rest home.

Overall, I think Pauley’s is a fun, semi-cheap, unique place to go for any small occasion. They have a full bar, and 78 beers on tap (I think that’s right.). Try it, and I think you’ll like it. This also isn’t just a “chick place.” When I went with Sarah, I ran into my friend, Eric Tonn, who was there with one of his dude buddies.

Pauley’s- not quite Paris, but good enough for girls and guys.

Posted by: KStrate | January 31, 2009

Nip Tuck

I decided Dawg Food could use a little facelift, so that’s why it looks different than the last time you visited! I’m really indecisive, so I may change it a couple of times before I find the one I like best.

Just a heads up. :)

Posted by: KStrate | January 27, 2009

The Sultan is a must.

I am constantly amazed by the wide variety of restaurants that exist within Athens.

Since I heard about The Sultan last semester, I have been dying to try it. The Sultan is a local Lebanese restaurant that is located out on Atlanta Highway, right beside Best Buy. It’s almost to Bogart on your right.img_0748

My first experience with Lebanese/Middle Eastern food was when I studied abroad in Paris two summers ago. If these next few sentences come off seeming stupid, please forgive me.

In case you didn’t know, Lebanon is located on basically the other side of the world in a climate that is extremely different than ours. In fact, most of the crops they grow in the Middle East cannot be grown in America and vice-versa. What I found most fascinating about the Lebanese restaurant was what their food was made of- the crops in their backyard.

Does this make sense to you? It was sooo different than anything I had ever had, but, when you think about it, the eggplant, lamb, beef, chickpeas, nuts, rice, and vegetables are just what grow. It’s a simple concept, but it made me so excited to try everything.

I hadn’t had Lebanese food since Paris, and last Tuesday I got to have it again. Fist pump!!

I went to The Sultan on a whim, and decided I’d go in for a to-go plate. I was by myself, so I was a little apprehensive about going into a new restaurant alone. However, I walked in the door, and I was greeted by the owner and a nice family who looked like regulars. They were just hanging out and cutting up. I knew right then it was going to be a good experience.img_0747

After looking at the menu, I decided to go with the ground beef skewers with a side of hummus. The ground beef was mixed with onions and spices, and they came with a vegetable skewer. They were on top of some yummy basmati rice and came with a side salad.

I paid my $12 and went to the car. Oh my gosh…my car smelled so good. I was so excited about my Lebanese meal that I seriously had to stop myself from running in my house.

Once I got settled and ready, I decided the plate was too big to eat in one sitting. So, I took one beef skewer, the vegetable skewer, half the rice, the salad, and the hummus on a plate. The inaguration balls were on, so I plopped in front of the TV to watch all the festivities.

The ground beef skewer was fabulous. It wasn’t tough, but you could definitely taste the Middle Eastern spices and onions mixed in. It wasn’t a super strong flavor, and it was very tasty. The vegetables tasted grilled, and they definitely were a nice complement to the beef.

I loved the rice. I don’t know what they boil it in, but it tasted like there was a little chicken broth or something. I could be totally wrong, but I’m just trying to describe it to you.

The hummus was AMAZING. There’s nothing like good, authentic hummus, and it was so beautifully displayed even if it was in a styrofoam dessert tray. He topped it with paprika and olive oil. I made that stuff last for three more days. The pita he sent with it was awesome, too. It had been toasted a little and was hot.

All I have to say is TRY IT. If you’ve never had the traditional dishes like falafel, tabouli, or baba ghanoush, that’s where you need to start. I’m sure the people at The Sultan will explain everything to you. For all you picky eaters, it’s not WEIRD. It’s just different. Step out of the box, and go to The Sultan!

Posted by: KStrate | January 23, 2009

Casa Mia does it again.

Last Wednesday, most of the Executive Board from PRSSA went to Casa Mia to celebrate two birthdays, our friends img_0735Leslie and Kelli.

We originally went because of an e-newsletter I received from Casa Mia about a “15 for 15″ deal where you could taste 15 wines for $15. Seeing that as a good enough incentive, we headed over in the cold to check it out.

We ended up just ordering tapas like usual, but it was fun seeing everyone tasting the wines “over yonder” by the bar. There were some finger foods up there, but we decided (1) because it was a school night and (2) we were ligitimately hungry for more than just wine, we should eat something of substance.

Here’s something for ya: It took all of us about 20 minutes to find a parking spot. What was it about that Wednesday night that made it IMPOSSIBLE to park? In all of our years at UGA, we’ve always been able to find a spot. A couple of us snuck into some lots illegally (oops), and some of us parked out in the sketchy areas. Either way, we all made it, but I decided to share that rare experience.

Since it was a birthday party of sorts, we decided to start off with drinks. Kaitlyn got one of Casa Mia’s famous margaritas; Aaron and Kelli got Sangria, and the rest of us went with the vino. They all tasted great especially with the plantains that were brought at the beginning.img_0736

Alright, let me see if I can remember what everyone ordered:

Lauren and Kelli split a quesadilla and some fried calamari. Both were on special that night, and they seemed to be a hit! One complaint was the quesadilla was about as big as your hand, aka small. The pieces were probably about three bites worth, and we all agreed that wasn’t big enough to be on special. If you’re paying for something that’s on special, it needs to be a little bigger. But that’s just our opinion.

If you’ve ever eaten calamari, you probably know the wide array of textures and tastes that can come from it. However, the calamari they ordered that night was fantastic. It wasn’t rubbery, and the breading on it was very unique. It was almost Southern style we thought. Like fried chicken, you could peel off the breading if you want, so it was very light. Some calamari has the breading just glued to it, and I think that contributes to the rubberiness. :)

Kaitlyn ordered the Cuban sandwich with a side of mashers. She was starving, and there defintely wasn’t anything left on her plate. Kaitlyn will tell you she’s a proud member of the clean plate club (as are a lot of us), and her Cuban looked fabulous. It was a great size, and, if you weren’t that hungry, you could probably save one half of it for the next day. I also had a little fork full of her mashed potatoes, and they were yummy, too. They weren’t buttery, Southern mashers; they were flavorful and light.img_0738

I got the Latin sushi roll which was fabulous. It was a plantain stuffed with either chicken, steak, fish, or veggies (I chose chicken), and it’s drizzled with an avocado sauce. I had gotten this once before when my dad was in town, and I couldn’t help but get it again. I hope you can see from the picture how fun it is. They even serve it on a sushi plate. When you bite into the pieces, you can taste the plantain, and it has a very soft texture. It’s not very banana-y, even though you might think so. The chicken and the citrus flavors mixed in are a perfect complement to the plantain, and it all tastes better once you dunk it in some of the homemade guacamole.

I also ordered a side of Yucca. I can’t come to Casa Mia without having it, and it totally made my day. I’ve described Yucca in some of my earlier posts, but it’s like a thick, healthier, better French fry. They also bring it with some kind of pink sauce (no doubt mayonnaise based, dangit), but a little bit of that stuff goes a long way. img_0737

Leslie ordered a side of fritatas. I can’t exactly tell you what those are, so she’ll have to comment on them and tell you how they were.

Jenny ordered grilled shrimp with a side of veggies. They came on a skewer, and they looked pretty good! I could tell they had definitely been put on the grill, and they smelled great! Her side of veggies were all eaten. If you’re hesitant about ordering fresh veggies from here, don’t fret. They’re well cooked and very flavorful.

Aaron ordered the black beans with a side of veggies and…I think there was something else. He’ll have to comment on how it was. Aaron is our only vegan, and I think he was pretty satisfied with his meal. He didn’t get much on his plate, so next time he’ll have to order something extra. I do think he loved his side of veggies, though. Everyone raves about the sides of veggies.

Anna ordered…(coming soon…I’ve texted her, and I’ll fill it in later)

It can’t be a birthday party without some cake. I snuck away to the waitress while people were taking bathroom breaks to set up the surprise. They brought both girls a piece of chocolate cake (they know better than to give a girl a birthday cake that’s not chocolate.), and it was delish. Leslie and Kelli both shared, and that made everyone happy.img_0742

I think we were there for about 2 1/2 hours. What do we have to lose? We’re all seniors and heck, what’s one less hour of studying, right? Of course we all know this is completely false because all of us are super-insano Type A personalities, so I’m sure all of us were thinking in the back of our minds “Crap, I have a lot to do when I get home.”

Oh well. If it wasn’t for nights like these, I think we’d all go crazy.

So, here’s to good food, tapas, friends, and chocolate cake.

Posted by: KStrate | January 19, 2009

Fun Inaguration Surpise at Dondero’s Tomorrow!

If you get the weekly menu from Dondero’s Kitchen, you’ll see that they remind you “DON’T FORGET TO ASK FOR YOUR FREE INAUGURATION CELEBRATION SURPRISE.

Isn’t that fun? In addition, the Monday Menu includes

Salmon & Pea Penne *new & delicious*
Eggplant Parmesan over Dressed Penne
Spicy Blond Chili
Pimento Cheese Sandwich
Spinach Salad w/ Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

I don’t know about you, but I may hold out and come on Thursday when they have

Mediterranean Fish with Roasted Potatoes
Baked Cauliflower, Tomato, & Feta with Roasted Potatoes
Mulligatawny
Sloppy Joes
Garden Salad w/ Honey Dijon Dressing

For some reason, I was thinking about Sloppy Joes the other day, and now I really want one. I’ll definitely have to review that one on here.

If you don’t make it to Dondero’s tomorrow, go celebrate somewhere in Athens anyway! I’m sure a bunch of restaurants will be having Inaguration Specials, so change things around and go out on a Tuesday night.

I don’t know about you, but I am so, incredibly excited about tomorrow. I’m going to be on CNN.com the entire day watching all the coverage. What a monumental time in our country. This is what America’s all about.

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