Sunday, July 17, 2011



By Doc Lawrence

It was a journey into Atlanta’s evolving culinary culture. The neighborhood, Inman Park, is original Atlanta where progressive denizens seamlessly blend with the community and its rich heritage, something you might expect to find in places like Savannah and Boston. The aromas, sights and sounds mix well here. The clientele, food-focused Gen X-Y’s, provided, I believe, a glimpse of Atlanta’s future.

Doug Dillard, far left, with Savi's Gourmet Team
Welcome to Savi Urban Market.

I opened the door to attend an intimate media dinner and faced a chrome and stainless steel device I mistook for high-tech pinball or a gizmo on loan from the International Space Station. Instead, I soon learned from my host, esteemed wine journalist Greg McCluny, it was the Enomatic Wine Dispenser which pours tastes of up to 16 different wines for a very affordable charge.

McCluny led me through an Enomatic wine flight and I tasted wines from different countries for a very low cost. “Old dogs,” he commented, “should occasionally learn something new about wines.” I agreed and we laughed.

Savi features an abundance of farm-fresh products thanks to a partnership with Doug and Rosetta Dillard’s Dillwood Farms, the heralded Loganville, Georgia farm that keeps the operation supplied with high quality natural, Georgia-grown produce. Mr. Dillard, a Decatur native and powerhouse Atlanta lawyer, told dinner guests that while young he dreamed of becoming a farmer, but discovered that practicing law and farming are compatible and lucrative.

Fresh rules supreme at Savi, mirroring the farm mission and management at Dillwood Farms. Savi has other advantages: meat is cured and roasted here and they also cook food employing the sous vide method whereby food in vacuum sealed packages is cooked for an extended period at a low temperature assuring that dishes have enhanced flavor, aroma and tenderness.

Don Trimble, Savi’s Executive Chef, served up a menu showcasing portions of various dishes, all utilizing sous vide cooking, nicely paired with wines selected by McCluny and veteran wine professional Dan Thompson from Savi’s impressive inventory. No experiments here. When you are good, I thought, you are also positioned to become great.

Strolling through the cheese display, I was delighted to find Georgia Gouda and Thomasville Tomme, two magnificent cheeses from Thomasville, Georgia’s acclaimed Sweet Grass Dairy, signals that here farm to table isn’t a marketing cliché and management has a solid Georgia perspective. An added benefit: cheese monger Joy Messerschmidt is approachable, knows her store’s wines and will cheerfully provide pairing suggestions for these and other cheeses.

Savi’s gourmet to go is a store specialty. Before leaving with your dinner, take a few minutes to look for that special bottle of wine (it’s probably here), and think about breakfast the next morning. Homemade sausage with fresh baked bread? Organic yogurt or eggs with other artisan cheeses?

Savi Urban Market works for those who appreciate effortless gourmet dining with some taste adventures, all bundled up in quality. It’s a higher life.

Also, join my journey along North Florida’s Spanish Trace. Organic wines, elegant B&B’s, an herb farm, goats as pets and a historic wine tasting at Tallahassee’s Mission San Luis.

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