Football, Jazz, and Holiday Dining
By Doc Lawrence
|STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS|
This holiday season began with a double header: Georgia played Georgia Tech in one of the nation’s oldest college football rivalries followed by the SEC Championship game between Auburn and Missouri at the Georgia Dome. The holiday's are capped off with the Chic-Fil-A Bowl, always a sell-out.
For those who believe the holidays must include the gourmet experience, there are many restaurants and bars near these games. Many are exceptional.
Visiting Atlanta will be an empty experience without spending a little time on the “Gone With The Wind Trail,” an assemblage of sites that pay homage to Margaret Mitchell and the city’s grande dame, Scarlett O’Hara. The Margaret Mitchell House faces Peachtree Street close to Georgia Tech’s campus. A veteran bartender will make the legendary Scarlett O’Hara cocktail on request. Like the Old Fashioned, good cocktails never fade away.
The dining mainstays in Atlanta include the world’s largest hot dog purveyor, the venerable Varsity adjacent to Tech and its stadium. The Varsity is an institution and has been serving students, locals and visitors for more than a half century. The place rocks and if you look around, you might see Bill Clinton, Charles Barkley, Julia Roberts or Wynton Marsalis enjoying a chili dog with onion rings accompanied by a Coca-Cola, which, by the way, is headquartered just a few blocks up the street.
Authentic Southern cuisine Atlanta-style is de rigueur at Mary Mac’s on Ponce de Leon near the Fox. Not many restaurants in North America can claim His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a diner.
Cocktails? If ambience is important, the bar at Atlanta Grill in the Downtown Ritz- Carlton offers hand-crafted drinks served with.live jazz..
|LOBBY BAR, RITZ-CARLTON BUCKHEAD|
The bar in the Atlanta Palm in Buckhead has always claimed the top spot. Plus, it’s next door to Lenox Square with the best holiday shopping experience this side of Bal Harbour.
Fine dining? Too many to list, but my favorites for years remain Restaurant Eugene in Midtown and Chef Joe Truex’s masterpiece, Watershed on Peachtree. Truex, a pure Southerner, was mentored by New York City legend Chef Daniel Boulud.
|CHEF JOE TRUEX|
Decatur, the impressive pedestrian friendly city adjacent to Atlanta features unforgettable dine around experiences with a rich mixture of diners representing in large part Atlanta’s acclaimed universities. The U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey is a Decatur resident.
|TOM KEY AS C.S. LEWIS|
If you haven’t overdone it with football and tailgating, take in a performance of O.Henry’s Christmas classic “The Gifts of the Magi,” a stellar production at the Balzer Theatre. Founded by the incomparable actor/director Tom Key, The Balzer is emblematic of Atlanta’s rich arts tradition. And there’s the amazing Kris Kayser stealing stage thunder as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Alliance Theatre Company’s production of “A Christmas Carol.” Dickens’ timeless tale takes on new energy.
|CHEF LARA LYN CARTER|
Aunt Pittypat’s Roasted Cornish Hens
For the Hens:
6 Cornish Hens
1 Navel orange
1 Vidalia Onions
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Wash and pat dry the hens. Sprinkle the hens evenly with salt and pepper. Cut the orange and the onion into 6 sections and place one piece of each in the cavity of each hen. Roast the birds in a 425 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. When the hens have cooked for 15 minutes, begin basting them with the glaze every 10 minutes. Remove the hens from the oven, baste them again and allow them to rest 10 minutes.
For the glaze
½ cup hot pepper jelly
½ cup sweet Georgia peach preserves
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 orange
Mix the ingredients together and heat over low heat until the jellies dissolve and all ingredients are mixed well. Divide the mixture in half. Use one half for basting and the other can be served alongside the hens
Georgia Holiday Casserole
4 cups of cooked basmati rice
2 tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic minced
1 Vidalia onion
10 oz. package of frozen spinach thawed and drained
2 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese shredded
1 cup Smoked Gruyere cheese shredded
In a skillet over medium heat melt the butter. Dice the onion and sauté the onion in the butter until transparent. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes. In a large bowl combine the rice, onion mixture, spinach, eggs, milk and cheeses together. Pour the casserole into a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Bake the casserole in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.
WARMEST BEST WISHES FOR A MERRY CHRISTMAS
AND A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON!