Sublime Doughnuts

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Into my daughter’s final semester at college, we finally made it to Sublime Doughnuts, adjacent to the Ga Tech campus in Atlanta.  It was new to me, but not to her.  “Dad, I’ve been here twice this week.”  Then... why didn’t she volunteer her student ID for a 15% discount?  Grr.

It’s located in a small unassuming strip center with some other restaurants in it, but it’s legend is large.  Accolades are all over the wall, specific to doughnuts as well as the wider category of a bakery. 

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You enter, and you find yourself in line.  As we would later watch, the line never got caught up, at around 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon.  Usually entering two at a time, there was a steady wait of 5-10 people, and the pace of service is by no means slow.

that wait gives you a chance to check out the place.  Seating is limited, but it’s not like it takes a long time to eat a doughnut.  Or two.

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There is quite a bit of art throughout the place, all doughnut themed, of course.  I happen to like robot art, so they get extra credit on that score.

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We selected, clockwise from upper left, the Dulce de Leche, Butter Toffee (pretty darned good), A-Town Cream, Fresh Strawberry N’ Cream (my daughter’s favorite and my first choice should I return), Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Honey Glazed Cinnamon Swirl and the Nutella. 

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The doughnuts were exceptionally fresh, and supply varies throughout the day.  They were out of probably 1/3 of their styles.

An interesting point is that their product actually looks like their marketing photos.  They obviously didn’t follow the model of the fast food industry.  The only negative was the beverage options, which are limited to several small bottles of cokes and a few bottled waters.  A fountain machine would have been welcomed for variety as well as sufficient volume to wash down all that yummy sugar.

Fortunately, I also have a son at school there, so I have two more years to plan visits.

5 of 5 STARS

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Ssam Burger

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Sometimes I try out new places alone, and sometimes I take my kids... if it’s near GA Tech.  My daughter’s boyfriend also came along, intrigued more by a “Korean burger” than he was put off by going with his girlfriend’s strange father.

I read about Ssam in the local paper’s website, which also begs a question coming in a few years of what exactly we’ll call websites made by organizations that no longer publish newspapers.  You can’t just say it’s the local website.  Local news website?  Meh.

It read as follows: “We’ve seen Asian fusion in barbeque and  tacos, but behold!  It’s come to burgers.  Ssam has a few eye-brow raising options like the “Kimcheese” burger that pairs smoky provolone cheese with a refreshing kimchi kick.”

The other references would be Hankook Taco (which I took pictures of but suppose I never posted) and Heirloom BBQ, if I’m not mistaken.  Both of these were winners, to which my food testing crew would attest.

Ssam is located in an “experienced” looking shopping center, but not one that anyone should feel unsafe.  I’m okay with this type of venue.  I could argue that BBQ quality is inversely proportional to the quality of the building that it’s in. 

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Once in, you’re in.  “In” is a good thing, because if there’s 20 people, it’s full.  With a little local buzz and some positive Yelp ratings, I thought that it might already be full, especially ~ 12:30 on a Saturday.  It would fill in almost to capacity as we ate.

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The restaurant has only been open a couple of months, and the newness within shows.  Everything is bright and shiny.  There are no fountain drinks or beer, but canned sodas and bottled water are available.  They keep it simple.

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Like the menu.  There are not a lot of options, though you can add an abundance of extra toppings.  Otherwise, there are 8 Burgers, each $8.50, which includes a side.  There’s “only” 8, but it takes time to read the details as each is unique and otherwise not previously experienced.  You won’t find the usual burger options, not at all.

After thoughtful consideration, each of us chose a different burger, which worked out well for the girlfriend’s strange father who tends to photograph burgers and beer whenever he has a chance...

My daughter had the Seoul Burger, playing it relatively safe.  This includes the Korean BBQ patty, with sesame arugula, sliced red onion and Ssam sauce.  She opted for the onion on the side.  My test bite said “It’s good, really good!”  She also had the Korean Sweet Potato Chips, which she guarded like Smaug with his gold stash.  They have a light touch of honey, which apparently encourages hoarding.

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The guy who dates the girl with the strange father chose the Kimcheese Burger, a Korean BBQ angus beef patty, with provolone cheese, Kimchi relish, and Ssam sauce.  He thought well of it, and is considering how he might infuse some takeaways for his own cooking.

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My son got the Kinoko Burger, which includes blue cheese, shitake mushrooms and Chimichurri sauce.  A rather brave departure for the norm for him, and he enjoyed it.

I have to wonder if my kids accidentally and unknowingly swapped meals, though.  I’m sure they’ll let me know.

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Below was my choice, the Saigon Burger, with “lotus chips.”  The burger includes a lemongrass BBQ Angus beef patty, cucumber, jalapeno, Daikon carrot pickles, cilantro, and sriracha mayo.  It was good and definitely unique.  If I opted for this again, I’d skip the carrot pickles and carrots, which overwhelmed the tasty meat patty a bit, and perhaps add shitake mushrooms and provolone.  But that’s me.  It was certainly a worthy experiment.  Sriracha, by the way, is the a type of hot sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, sugar and salt.

The lotus chips were also a treat.  They’re obviously “holy,” but they’re very thin and light, and were quite good. 

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If we should visit again, I’d probably opt for the Aloha Burger, which includes the Korean Angus patty, bacon, two pineapple slices and chimichurri sauce.  I need to go back a few times, at least, but it gets expensive paying for my food testing crew.  Darn those meddling kids!

4 of 5 STARS

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Snow in the Forecast. Georgians Prepare.

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Here in the deep South, ya’ll, we joke about going to the grocery store and blitzing the bread and milk aisles before a snow storm.   You’ve seen the news of our recent mishap.  We don’t have much equipment to handle snow or icy roads.  A winter storm forecast means we’re stuck at home (or, worse, not at home), possibly for days.  And possibly without power.

Or, maybe not.  The forecasters are sometimes in league with the grocery stores to empty their shelves.   No matter how many false prophecies, we actually do rush out and buy bread and milk.

This is one of Mother Nature’s worst kinds of storms,” said (Governor Nathan) Deal, who added: “We’re not kidding.  We’re not crying wolf.”  2/11/2014

“Crippling ice,” “huge event,” “historic,” “catastrophic,” “epic collisions between ice and Georgia’s white pines” 

Heck, Atlantans, brush your teeth, dust off your LL Bean jackets, and be prepared to hit the streets.  The media will be driving by come daylight to hear how you survived the worst storm since... the last one.

How do we prepare for a forecast slathered liberally with rain, freezing rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, wintry mix, and more snow over the course of 36 hours? 

Below is a photo-journal, taken 48 hours in advance of THE BIG STORM, of how one community (Woodstock, GA) depleted a local Kroger grocery store, which we’ll assume is representative of the 5.5 million living in the greater Atlanta area.

Bread (still some calorie packed peanut butter though):

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Milk - half gallons of Skim and 2% gone:

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Well, there go the basics, based on common folklore.  What else?  Well, we're ape over bananas.

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Beans?  Seriously?  That's a big dent.

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With all that milk, one might assume less cereal would be visible.  Heck, there's still an ample supply of Frosted Flakes.  Wake up, people!

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Apparently, we all favor one particular type of cheese.

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Eggs.  No doubt the ones remaining are either cracked or grade B, Medium eggs, if there are such things.

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Frozen fries took a hit. Go figure.  I can’t.

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Cat Litter. Just proves we're not completely self-centered.

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Mac 'n Cheese.  Gotta feed those kids something... EZ.

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If the meat's been ground or portioned, it's gone.

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Orange Juice supplies will definitely expire before the big day.

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Onions?  Really? Someone want to share their secret Ice Storm Onion Recipe?

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Toilet Paper.  A smart choice in all seasons.

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1 lb. of sugar lasts forever, except during winter storms.  Hmm.

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Bottled water.  No argument.

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And lastly, to thoroughly thwart the Southern red neck thang...  the beer aisle wasn’t a priority for emergency preparations.*

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* To be fair, this is the dead season for southern sports.  College and pro football have ended, basketball isn’t a drinking occasion, and baseball and NASCAR seasons haven’t started yet.  It’s all in the timing.

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The Burglar Who Counted Spoons

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Some years ago when I traveled the highways and byways of Georgia and Alabama, I listened to books-on-tape.  It filled a void when the radio got tired, and I was quickly drawn into the habit of listening to books.  To hear Old Man and the Sea narrated by Charlton Heston is quite a different thing than reading, or maybe not reading, the Cliff Notes in high school.  It turns out that “literature” doesn’t mean “dud.”

What books-on-tape meant, though, is that I was victim to whatever offerings were made available in the library.  It’s strange, but while the thought of buying a book was no big deal, buying an audiobook was unthinkable.  Thus I became a fan of Beaton and Braun and many other authors I would not have sought out, as well as Lawrence Block, who I might have had I had a friend who might drop a mention. 

My first and fortunate entry to his writing was the first of his books with protagonist Bernie Rhodenbarr, Burglars Can’t be Choosers.  Bernie is a “gentleman” burglar with clear moral boundaries outside of his chosen profession who just so happens to get caught up in related murders.  The first several of these books were exceptional, before Block made the stories frustratingly formulaic.  But still, I listened.  I think I even read one or two of them.  But, when I did, I heard Richard Ferrone’s voice, who so perfectly narrated the audio books with which I had traveled.

After saying some years ago that he was through with Mrs. Rhodenbarr’s little boy, Block returns with his The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons, the 11th in the series, almost 10 years from his last. 

Welcome back, Bernie. 

For returning readers, the character is so familiar because we’ve sat in on so many of his conversations.  Bernie tends to talk to his best friend Carolyn at the Bum Rap, and the reader almost feels as if they’re seated at the table.  That said, someone new could easily start with this book, but they might have to be charitable for a time before they warm to him. 

The point is that Bernie may be a burglar, but other than where he might profit, he uses his powers for good, previously to extricate himself and in this case, oddly, to right a wrong (and profit a tad).   The Block trademarks are here, including the New York setting, the familiar cast of characters, the breezy chat, the lighthearted tone, and the final gathering of suspects for the reveal.  And, for the reader in the know, there’s not a character introduced who is a toss-away.  They’re all a part of the bigger picture.  Knowing that makes it more fun to fathom along the way. 

It’s not great literature, folks.  But if anyone likes humorous mysteries that includes current affairs while remaining PG, this is the type of book you’ve been looking to consume a few hours on a lazy Saturday. 

This isn’t the best of the series, but it’s not a misfire either.  If I had my preference, Block would fill in some gaps of Bernie’s backstory, before everything became a pat matter of course.  But, beggars can’t be choosers either.

 4 of 5 STARS

 

 

Worthwhile quotes:

”Every passion is interesting to him who suffers from it.  And one sometimes feels impelled to inflict it on others.”

“When you can’t get a song out of your head, when it’s Muzak and your mind’s the elevator, when it keeps repeating on you like a decimal or a bad burrito, there’s a word for it.  You’ve got what’s called an earworm, and sooner or later it will go away.  But until it does, well, it doesn’t.”

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