Monday, May 21, 2012

Enjoying Empire State South

Last night I finally got the time to celebrate Mother's Day with my family. My mother and I have a recent tradition of honoring special occaisions with attending a cooking class together. This time I planned a perfectly themed night. We started with dinner at Empire State South and ended with her present, Hugh Acheson's new cookbook A New Turn in the South, which recently won a James Beard award for best American cooking, and reservations for an Atlanta Community Food Bank cooking class with Chef Acheson himself!

I have to admit this one will be a treat for me as well! If you have not experienced one of the ACFB cooking classes, you should give them a try. They are typically hosted by Cooks Warehouse as a part of their quarterly schedule of classes. They showcase some of Atlanta's best chefs, prizes, enough food to call it dinner, and wine tastings. As an added bonus the proceeds go to the food bank itself. What a fun way to give back!

Although he has turned over the reigns of Executive Chef to Ryan Smith, Chef Acheson's strong influence is present in the tasty menu. After his recent James Beard wins, the dinning room was again packed with guests. We were looking forward to all of the great takes on traditional southern flavors.

 To start, we chose the In Jars an amazing selection of tasty spreads presented in miniature mason jars. The choices included pimento cheese with bacon marmalade, smoked trout, boiled peanut hummus, ricotta with sauteed mushrooms, and a selection of house made pickles. The waiter laughed as we picked up the jars to scrape out every last bite saying, "that is how we know people like them."

In Jars

For our next course we tried several of the Beginnings, a mixed green salad with duck bacon and a house made cheese puff, a warm vegetable salad with goat cheese, a fried shrimp salad with foraged greens and the farm egg served almost like bi bim bab over rice. The flavors were rich, but not over powering. These were imaginative takes on salads with a southern spin.
Fried Shrimp Salad

Mixed Greens
Warm Vegetable Salad

Farm Egg
For our entrees we chose the pork loin with a light gravy. It was served with beans and roasted vegetables. We also enjoyed the duck over farro with a mustard mustard sauce presented in an iron skillet. Finally we tried the trout paired with Asian greens and mushrooms. The duck was rich and set off by the spicy grain mustard. The pork was light and flavorful. At first I was skeptical of  gravy in the summer, but this presented more as a light sauce. The trout was enclosed in crisp skin and perfectly moist. We added a side of collards and creamed field peas. I could have eaten three bowls of each of these. My mother, who prides herself on her collards, conceded these were some of the best she had tasted!


The Duck

Pork Loin
For dessert we chose the blueberry tres leches cake served with blueberry sorbet and a peanut brittle side, the chocolate and sassafrass creme brulee, and the ginger snap and creme cookies that were melt in your mouth good. Our dinner was a great way to celebrate my mom and for our family to enjoy some of our favorite southern flavors in a new way.

No comments: