Lunch and Learn: A Savings Plan for Travelers

Are you looking to travel more in 2016 and beyond? Join Go Eat Give for a workshop to make sure you fulfill your New Year’s Resolution. Whether you are starting with a small or large budget, Curt Coulombe, financial advisor for Elliott & Associates Wealth Advisors, wants to help you devise a savings plan to ensure you financial flexibility to travel at least once per year.

“Lunch and Learn” ticket includes a light lunch and presentation.

RSVP required. $10 donation benefits Go Eat Give, 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organization that raises awareness of different cultures through travel, food and community service.

Order tickets via Eventbrite at https://travelfund.eventbrite.com/

Women of Vision Come to Atlanta

Ever wondered what it would be like to travel the world, taking photographs, working for National Geographic? What sounds like the best job in the world, is actually one of the most difficult ones personally and professionally.

I recently attended an exhibition on Women of Vision: National Geographic Photographers on Assignment at Fernbank Museum of Natural History (on display September 26, 2015- January 3, 2016), where the influential photography of 11 award-winning female photojournalists is on display. Sponsored nationally by The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., Women of Vision was curated by National Geographic Senior Photo Editor Elizabeth Krist, who had the challenging task of choosing a selection of images to best represent the broad portfolios of the 11 extraordinary photographers.

women-of-vision-national-geographic-photographers-on-assignment-2-638Next to the photographs is a background story on what social issue the photographer witness or what her feelings were. There is also a video podcast about the female photographers where they talk about what it’s like to be a traveling photographer on assignment for National Geographic.

Some of the things these acclaimed women talk about is having courage to go to places most people wouldn’t think of going to. National Geographic Photographers don’t just cover tourist attractions; they go to warn torn, disaster sites, and are often in the middle of conflict. Safety is an issue. They could be out on the field stuck in the middle of a dessert with little water or in the jungle waiting for leopards to emerge for weeks at a time.

There is the pressure of finding the right photograph that tells a story. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is not a catch-parse in this line of profession. While there is a details story to go along with most photographs, these women are out there to capture a moment in history with a photographer. Sure it’s wonderful if they get recognized as a National Geographic photographer of the year, but most National Geographic photographers do what they do because they are passionate about it.

Women of Vision features nearly 100 photographs, including moving depictions of far- flung cultures, compelling illustrations of conceptual topics such as memory and teenage brain chemistry, and arresting images of social issues like child marriage and 21st-century slavery. In addition to the photographs, visitors have an opportunity to learn how National Geographic magazine picture editors work closely with the photographers to select images and tell a story.

“For the last decade, some of our most powerful stories have been produced by a new generation of photojournalists who are women. These women are as different as the places and the subjects they have covered, but they all share the same passion and commitment to storytelling that has come to define National Geographic,” said Kathryn Keane, vice president of National Geographic Exhibitions. “The exhibition reaffirms the Society’s position as a respected leader in the field of photography.”

“This provocative exhibition will take our visitors on an eye-opening journey that highlights a range of subject matter and natural history themes,” said Dr. Bobbi Hohmann, Fernbank’s Vice President of Education, Collections and Research. “Through their compelling images and stories, Fernbank’s visitors will gain a better understanding and appreciation of our world and its many inhabitants.”

Women of Vision underscores National Geographic’s history of documenting the world through photography and its ongoing commitment to supporting photographers as important and innovative storytellers who can make a difference with their work.

Go Eat Give is giving away 4 tickets to see Women of Vision and Queen of Sheba exhibits at the  Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Leave a comment below and enter to win. Drawing will take place on Monday, Nov 23, 2015 and notified by email. 

A Slice of the History of Pizza Pie

Luca Varuni is a master at his craft. As head chef and owner of Varuni Napoli he swears by the freshest ingredients and uses traditional Italian techniques to create the best Neapolitan pies. Growing up in Naples, Italy, he was surrounded by Italian chefs and studied under renowned chef Enzo Coccia, head chef of the only Michel rated pizzeria in the world. After years of experience, he has settled in Atlanta with the goal of showing everyone what real Italian food is supposed to taste like. Inside Varuni Napoli you will notice large family-styled tables as well as conventional seating for smaller parties with the aim of creating an atmosphere best fit for you desired experience. Don’t be afraid to go alone, sitting at the bar gives you a firsthand experience and a direct view of the chefs at work. Since Varuni Napoli is based on the idea of tradition, we must travel back in time to see where these traditions originated to appreciate how pizza has ended up on our dining table.

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Pizza has a complex history. Some suggest this dish started in Greece, others say Egypt, but the pizza we are familiar with today, got its start between the late 1700s and early 1800s in Naples, a city filled with the poor and working class.

The majority of the population required a quick and inexpensive meal during the day, before returning to work. Street vendors sold these flatbreads made with different toppings to satisfy the needs of workers. They were not looking for a rich or high quality meal, just a little something to tide them over during the long work hours.

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A man named Raffaele Esposito, considered by some to be the father of modern pizza, was known all over Naples to serve the most delicious pizzas. After Italy was unified, King Umberto and Queen Margherita visited Italy when Esposito was called on to make different pizzas for this royal couple. During the meal, Queen Margherita expressed her delight with the flatbread covered with mozzarella, basil and tomatoes (to represent the three colors of the Italian flag) so much that they named the pizza after Queen Margherita. After approval from the queen, the popularity of pizza grew and expanded beyond the borders of Italy.

Similar to Queen Margherita, Luca Varuni is also passionate about margherita pizza. He says here in this interview, “You can tell the quality and authenticity of a pizza place by the quality and authenticity of the margherita.” He proudly explains that the cheese, sauce and olive oil for his pizzas are all from the region Naples.

During the late 19th century, many Europeans moved to the United States of America searching for factory jobs where the Neapolitans started family run pizzerias. Americans couldn’t get enough of this Italian novelty as it spread quickly all over the country. Once pizza made it’s way to US, Gennaro Lombardi opened the first documented pizzeria in New York City in 1905, which still operates today. Pizza is a simple dish that started as a snack for peasants, and is now devoured by young and old people all over the world. There are hundreds of pizzerias all over the United Sates, but the Gayot Guide recently named Varuni Napoli as one of the top pizzerias in Atlanta for 2015.

Join Go Eat Give for a taste of Napoli at Destination Italy on July 29th at 7:00 PM at Varuni Napoli. To purchase tickets, click here.

Toco Hills opens its doors to Masti Indian Fusion

A little over two months ago, the Toco Hills Shopping Plaza in North Druid Hills opened its doors to an Indian restaurant with a twist. Meaning “fun” in Hindi, Masti draws a party when it comes to Indian street food. Kabob dogs, Butter Chicken Tacos and fish and chips are just a few of the unique mash-ups found on the menu.

Masti Flyer

By pairing international recipes together, Masti aims to bring familiarity into the mix and steer away any reasons why one might avoid eating Indian food. Its varied menu aspires to attract any and everyone from the most selective eater to food critics.

Masti’s décor is inviting, full of color and customer service goes above and beyond. Take note of the wall décor replicating designs you would see on traditional costumes worn by Indian women.

Masti offers A La Carte Specials, Daily Specials and a full menu for your choosing. To gather an idea of their endless options, the Go Eat Give team sampled items from the appetizers, main entrees and dessert menus. Complimentary rice chips were served as we tried a few traditional and fusion options.

rice chips

Mango Lassi

mango lassiSimilar to a smoothie, Lassi is a yogurt based drink blended with fruit (in this case mango), cream and water.

Deconstructed Aloo Tikki Chat

We dove right into Aloo Tikki Chat, a chickpea curry topped with paneer and lentil filled potato patties. This dish is usually enjoyed during teatime in India, the duration between lunch and dinner where heavy snacks such as chat, sandwiches and samosas are eaten. Aloo Tikki Chat was filled with a blast of flavor and holds a spice you can adjust to your liking. Definitely a must try!

Butter Chicken Tacos

butter chicken tacosMasti used a pancake made from rice batter typically seen in North India, to wrap rice and buttered chicken in the shape of a taco. The pancake was overbearing the buttered chicken and would have been more appreciated as separate items. Fun approach to the taco, but not highly favored at our table.

Amritsari Fish & Chips

fish and chipsHands down one of our favorite items on the menu. A popular street food found in North India, the Amritsari Fish & Chips is executed by frying tilapia in chickpea flour and difference spices. Masti did a fabulous job replicating a meal you could order from a food truck in India.

Kabob Dog & Paneer Dog

IMG_2981Masti’s twist on hot dogs offer options for vegetarians and meet lovers using either Paneer Bhurji, a cheese commonly used in Indian dishes or kabobs. Respectively, they are both placed in toasted hot dog bun topped with relished onions, bell peppers and Masti Sauce. Another unique approach to Indian-American fusion, but doesn’t really sell in flavor. Could be a favorite among children.

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Faloodi Kulfi

Fall in love with this rose and vanilla combination topped with sweet noodles, basil seeds and rose syrup. Faloodi Kulfi is a popular Indian dessert and is your answer to scorching weather!

Galub Jamun

IMG_2998A sweet tooth satisfaction, Galub Jamun is a warm doughnut ball swimming in honey and rose infused syrup. Pair it was a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’re in for a treat.

If you’re curious to try one of Masti’s not-so-traditional combinations head over to Toco Hills with a friend and share a few options family-style. The large portions will be sure to fill you up even when sharing. Don’t forget to grab a spoon full of one or two options at the Paan table. You can choose from an array of these natural mouth fresheners ranging from betel leaves to dried papayas.

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Masti Indian Restaurant
2945 North Druid Hills Rd, Suite C, Atlanta, GA 30329
www.mastiatlanta.com

In the Kitchen with Chateau Saigon’s Phuong Nguyen

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Phuong Nguyen, manager and chef for Chateau Saigon Vietnamese restaurant in Atlanta, to learn about his food and culture. Phuong’s friendliness and sincerity was evident from the beginning of our conversation, and I was fortunate to learn firsthand about the food, sights, and culture in Vietnam. Phuong also opened up to share his favorite memories of Vietnam, his thoughts on coming to America, and the story of how he came to Chateau Saigon.

Here is what we discusses:

Q: What are your favorite memories of Vietnam?

A: My favorite memories are from when I visited the North of Vietnam with my friends. We would spend time relaxing and hiking in the mountains. I’m from the south, and there are a lot of differences between the north and south. The north has more nature, mountains. The rice fields are different in the north and the south because of the geography. In the south, rice fields are planted on the mountains, which is interesting to see in contrast to the flat fields in the south. The food is also different, like pho – it’s sweeter in the south.

Q: What Vietnamese dish do you like best?

A: Pho (a Vietnamese soup dish made with noodles, herbs, and meats). I could eat pho every day and not get tired of it.

pho_chinQ: What is your favorite place in Vietnam?

A: My favorite place is in the mountains, in DaLat city. DaLat is about an 8 hour bus ride from Saigon because of the geography in the mountains. It’s very different from Saigon; there are three main differences. First, there are no traffic lights in all of DaLat. Second, there are no rickshaws, which are everywhere in Saigon. It would be impossible to use rickshaws in DaLat because of the mountains, so people use motorcycles to get around. Lastly, there is no air conditioning in DaLat. The weather is much cooler there than it is in Saigon, and there is no need for it. When I go to DaLat, I spend time riding bikes around the big lake, relaxing, and going on tours of the palaces. There are three palaces in DaLat that used to belong to the French. There are also two villas, and people now believe the villas are haunted.

dalat_viewQ: How did you come to work at Chateau Saigon?

A: I was able to make a connection to the restaurant through my aunt. She was the one who sponsored me to come to America, and she actually sponsored my whole family. The process for me to get here took a long time – 12 years. It began when I was still young; my parents did not say anything about moving to America until it actually happened. I wasn’t sure I wanted to come at first. My sister and I had a shop in Vietnam, and even though we probably would not have made as much money there as we would here, we would have made a pretty good living.

There was also the issue of needing to learn English. In Vietnam, I studied for four and a half years to get my degree in civil engineering, and I am taking English classes now for a program at Kennesaw State University. My whole family, my parents and sister, are now here in America, except my wife. I knew my wife from school and had been dating her for years when I moved to the United States, and we got married during my last trip to Vietnam. Now we’re working on the process for her to come to America.

Q: What is your favorite part about working at Chateau Saigon?

A: I really like being able to talk with other people. It gives me a chance to practice my English, and I enjoy meeting people.

Q: What are some things about Vietnam that most people probably don’t know?

A: Vietnam has a lot of great street food. People use motorcycles for their main transportation there, and they can stop and get something to eat from a street vendor when they get hungry. Street food includes meatballs and fresh fruit, and some places serve rice, eggs, and noodles. The food in Vietnam is also fresher than it is here in the United States, especially seafood. In Vietnam, some restaurants have tanks where they raise fish or octopus to cook. Another thing is that we actually have pizza in Vietnam. The sauce used on the pizza is sriracha. You can get pizza with octopus or calamari as toppings. Vietnam loves seafood and spices.

top-10-Street-FoodTaste Chef Phuong Nguyen’s authentic recipes at Go Eat Give Destination Vietnam on June 23rd, 2015 7pm at Chateau Saigon restaurant. Tickets at www.destinationvietnam.eventbrite.com

~ By Sarah Margaret, a student at Emory University pursuing a major in History with a concentration in Law, Economy, and Human Rights. Margaret loves to travel, and she is currently learning Italian to prepare for studying abroad in Florence in the fall. Her hobbies include hiking, photography, and learning to cook.

Saris and Samosas: Indian Culture in Atlanta

Last Thursday, May 28, 2015, Go Eat Give brought Atlanta a taste of Northern India, and it was delicious. Over fifty members and guests from the area joined us at Indian restaurant Bhojanic Buckhead location for Destination India dinner. There was excitement in the air as the evening began and attendees mingled over mango martinis and Kingfisher beer, taking the opportunity to purchase exclusive Go Eat Give India t-shirts and raffle tickets before settling down in their seats.

There was much buzz about the raffle, and for good reason: first prize winners received a free plane ticket to India, generously donated by our sponsor Air India. The restaurant gave off an exotic yet inviting feel, warmly lit with hanging Indian lamps and decorated with brightly hued pillows of all colors. Near the end of the long, family-style table arrangement, large carts with intricate designs were loaded with enticing food, adding to the sense that I had been transported to India.

Destination India at Bhojanic

The meal began with a variety of samosas served as appetizers. Some of these tasty Indian pastries were filled with spinach and spices, while others were filled with a combination of spiced potatoes and peas. Guests also enjoyed turkey kebabs with mint chutney. Small cups of mango lassi, a popular yogurt-based drink, served well to offer guests a break from the heat. I particularly enjoyed the unexpectedly delicious combination of spicy and sweet.

Dinner continued with biryani, a savory Indian dish consisting of rice and a combination of vegetables or meats with spices. Traditional Indian street-style chips, known as chaat, were topped with mint and tamarind sauces and made to order from a street food cart.

Linda Harris at Destination India

As guests finished their main courses, Dr. Jagdish Sheth, an esteemed Professor of Marketing at Emory University, treated everyone with his engaging speech. Dr. Sheth was born in Burma to a Jain family and emigrated to India as a refugee in 1941. In his speech, he offered insight to the world’s vast variety of culture, fascinating guests with observations on how geography affects the cuisine, clothing, and habits of many different countries. Dr. Sheth kept guests laughing throughout his riveting speech, and his sense of humor and amiable personality showed through as he regaled us with a story about his children fulfilling his dream of driving a Jaguar with “Jag’s Jag” on the license plate for his sixtieth birthday – with a rental car!

Dr Jagdish Sheth at Go Eat Give

After the speech, guests were treated to delicious desserts. These included rasmalai, made of sweetened milk and cheese flavored with cardamom – Dr. Sheth’s personal favorite. Another treat was gulab jamun, which is essentially a ball of fried dough similar to a donut ball in sweet syrup. It’s safe to say these were a huge hit, as they were gone within fifteen minutes of their first appearance.

The excitement continued as the time for the raffle arrived. The second prize winner received two tickets to the Rahat Fateh Ali Khan concert at the Fox Theatre donated by Café Bombay, and first prize winners of course each took home a free plane ticket to India!

As the evening wound down, guests had the chance to learn more about the culture of Northern India with a video, which detailed the experience of those who travelled with Go Eat Give on the last trip to India. Speeches were given by some of the trip’s attendees as they detailed their favorite memories and experiences. Many guests mentioned how much they valued the opportunity to stay in the homes of Go Eat Give Founder Sucheta Rawal’s family and friends in Chandigarh, an experience that allowed them to see India in a way not possible for the majority of tourists. Guests also enjoyed a musical performance by NINAAD, whose song and instrumentals channeled a fusion of tradition and Bollywood style.

Overall, the evening was a delightful success! You can see more about the event by watching Go Eat Give on WSB-TV Channel 2 Atlanta on Saturday, June 6th at 5:30 a.m. and Sunday, June 7th at 12:30 p.m. on the People 2 People Show.

~ By Sarah Margaret, a student at Emory University pursuing a major in History with a concentration in Law, Economy, and Human Rights. Sarah is an event planning and marketing intern for Go Eat Give. She loves to travel, and she is currently learning Italian to prepare for studying abroad in Florence in the fall. Her other hobbies include hiking, photography, and learning to cook.

Convention Food Like You Have Never Seen Before!

The Cobb Galleria Centre provides a venue and catering services for various events ranging from trade shows to shareholders meetings to Bar mitzvahs.

At a chef’s table presentation, executive Chef Nick Walker aimed to show us that large venues could have flare, too. His approach to preparing unique menus may raise an eyebrow at his combination of ingredients and techniques, but it’s all a result of an everyday question he asks himself, “How do we make it interesting?”

By incorporating fresh meats and seasonal components, 80% of which are sourced locally in Georgia or regionally in the southeast, Chef Walker prepared a seven-course meal to recognize non-traditional flavors and combinations, local markets and worldly wines.

When we were greeted with champagne upon entering the kitchen, I knew it was sure to be a great lunch. Let’s begin.

Warning: photos may cause mouth-watering.

HORS D’OEUVRES

Shrimp and Grits Fritters, Spicy Red Pepper Jelly, Spring Onion

Zonin Processo – Italy

shrimp & grits Fritter

It was hard to resist a second go-around with these sweet and tangy bite-size fritters.

FIRST COURSE

Charred Octopus, Shaved Asparagus, Roasted Beets, Country Ham, Arugula Vinaigrette

Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc – New Zealand

OctopusandBeetSalad

For a handcrafted flavor, the ham is aged for 400 days at a meat shop in Alabama.

SECOND COURSE

Braised Rabbit Tortellini, Morels, Smoked Walnuts, Parmesan Foam, Mache

Esteban Martin Joven – Spain

Rabbit Tortellini 1

Tip for braising: use duck fat! It was used to braise the rabbit to achieve a high smoke point and is also, a go-to cooking oil for Chef Walker. The tortellini was freshly prepared for the occasion and as guilty as I am to admit, rabbit is delicious! Coated with walnut dust and Parmesan sauce, it fully earned its place on the menu.

THIRD COURSE

Seared Halibut, Sweet Corn, Andouille, Green Tomato Chow Chow, Shrimp Broth

Leyda Pinot Noir – Chile

Halibut1

For Halibut, I will throw out my conditional circumstances when eating seafood. It was cooked to perfection! I enjoyed the sweet corn puree and the additions brought by the broth using pure pepper juice.

INTERMEZZO

Blood Orange

Blood Orange

This is exactly what Chef Walker meant when he said to keep it interesting – a carbonated blood orange! He accomplished this piece of art by injecting Co2 in the blood orange and allowing it to chill for 48 hours. Think of eating soda versus drinking it.

FOURTH COURSE

Chicago Cut Lamb Chop, Orange Coriander Crust, Spring Pea Puree, White Asparagus, Parsnip

Musso “Pora” Barbaresco – Italy

LambChop

Here is a spring Chicago style lamb with a mint green pea puree. The wine worked well to contrast the sweetness in the pear and spice in the wine.

FIFTH COURSE

Lemon Mousse, Almond Crisp, Espresso Granita, Poppy Seed Crouton

Limoncello

LemonMousse

Dessert – What I was secretly and patiently waiting for. Chef Walker called this “spring on a plate”. He used reserved raspberries and candy orange zest to top a poppy seed play on angel cake. Amazing!

To describe the presentation as interesting is an understatement. Hats off to Chef Walker and his team! Find out for yourself by visiting www.cobbgalleria.com for upcoming events at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

~ By guest blogger, Senait Chrisostomo. Senait s currently a Go Eat Give volunteer and is working toward a career in international education. She is a Seattle native who enjoys traveling and learning about different cultures. Senait has traveled to 8 different countries and recently spent two months in Germany and Eritrea. 

Learning about Muslim Contributions to Civilization

The Medieval period that directly preceded the Renaissance is often regarded as a primitive age of thought for civilizations at this time but as the Western world struggled to develop, the Islamic world flourished from the development in sciences and advancing their culture. The time of Islamic enrichment is often misrepresented and under-appreciated to common historical accounts of this era, therefore it is important to appreciate all contributions that come from various regions in order to create a global understanding of different cultures.

On Tuesday, March 4th Go Eat Give partnered with The Atlantic Institute to host a lunch and learn event to educate the Atlanta community about Muslim contributions to society presented on contributions that the Islamic world had brought into society during the European middle ages. Georgia State University Political Science Professor Rashid Naim and Fairyal Halim  from the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta shed light on the Islamic Golden Age, depicting it as a spread of humanism from Arab states to Europe which was the underlying philosophical movement that led to the era of the Renaissance.

muslim contributions

The presentation weighed heavily on the impact Muslims had on public education. Halim spoke about the Islamic civilization as the first that placed importance on educating the masses by democratizing education. Arabic was the “language of civilizations” and attracted scholars from all over the world. The city of Cairo in Egypt houses the oldest university that has been continuously open till date. Many educational awards used today come from the Islamic culture, such as the concept of achieving a diploma, and wearing a graduation cap. Have you ever wondered why the graduation cap is flat? Traditionally, scholars would balance the Qur’an on their heads so it was designed to be flat.

muslim contributions

With the growth of educational programs, the Arabic world also advanced health care at the time. Cairo became home to the Ahmad ibn Tulun hospital that opened it doors citizens of all faiths and backgrounds and is considered to be one of the first institutions to offer assistance for the mentally ill. Throughout the Arabic world, other hospitals were opened, mimicking the secular structure of Tulun Hospital. Another great invention that society has probably taken for granted was soap. These fundamental necessities that we rely on everyday for health safety and overall cleanliness are all due to the advancements made by the Arabic world during the Medieval era.

muslim contributions

The mission of Go Eat Give’s speaker series is to educate the public of the cultural contributions of Islam in society, an often overlooked segment of the population in the west. The programs are funded by the One Region Atlanta grant, dedicated to building a more inclusive region by providing civic engagement and community building opportunities that connect metro Atlanta residents of all cultural and faith backgrounds.

~ By guest blogger, Lilly Iijima. Lilly is a student at Oglethorpe University pursuing a major in International Studies with a minor in Japanese. Growing up in a multi-cultural household, she has seen first-hand the power of personally experiencing a different culture to eliminate previous misconceptions. Through this work, Lilly is committed to educating others about different countries and regions while learning about them herself.  

A “Culturally Fresh” Lebanon

 

Go Eat Give had the pleasure of welcoming a new group of attendees to Destination Lebanon at Nicola’s Restaurant last week!  The Greening Youth Foundation, a non-profit that works with underserved and underrepresented children to create overall healthy communities, attended the event bringing 15 students from Grady High School in Atlanta. And, this will not be the only time that Go Eat Give will host the Greening Youth Foundation. We are excited to announce that Go Eat Give has decided to partner with the Greening Youth Foundation to create a new program entitled “Culturally Fresh”. The aim of the program is to help raise awareness of international cultural and environment issues among the youth in the southern United States.

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The night started off with appetizers – hummus and baba ganoush, and a Q&A session with Lebanese born Nicola, who was an educator himself before he opened his restaurant about 31 years ago.  The students were full of enthusiasm and asked him lots of questions about his life growing up in Lebanon and immigrating to the United States. In addition, they had to complete a treasure hunt assignment on Lebanon. The assignment included questions about the typical Lebanese diet, interesting facts, and history of Lebanon.

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The second course included stuffed grape leaves, fried artichoke hearts, traditional fattoush salad, tabbouleh, and kibbee, which were all delicious. Later, the main dishes served were kafta with Lebanese rice, chicken a la beef, and chicken with artichoke hearts.  Dinner was especially exciting since most of the students from Grady High had never tried Lebanese food before!

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The bunch also had a unique opportunity to hear from Mr. Hrair Balian, Director of the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center and adjunct professor at Emory Law.  He is also Lebanese born, specializes in Middle East conflicts, and speaks English, French, and Armenian.  Hrair discussed the culture of Lebanon, including how it evolved through time due to the influence of other countries and how this evolution has created the rich diversity of Lebanon’s population.

After the speaker and discussion, we were able to taste baklava for dessert (my personal favorite!).  Baklava is a rich and sweet pasty made of thin layers of filo dough and filled with nuts and honey.

Lastly, the students got a lesson in Dabke dancing from Nicola.  Typically there is a dabke leader, and the group joins hands together and stomps to the beat.  We had a blast, and theentire crowd at the restaurant got together for a line dance around the room.

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We are very excited about the future of Culturally Fresh and truly enjoyed the students joining in on the food, friends, and fun.

Farm to Table Southern Style

Enter the kitchen of Chef Thaddeus Barton to find authentic flavors of the South, blended with his culinary skills from Chicago, San Francisco, Ohio and Portland. At Farmhouse, the main restaurant located at Serenbe Farms (south of Atlanta), the chef and farmer come together each morning to plan a locally inspired menu. Ashley (the farmer) gives an inventory of vegetables and herbs growing on the property, and Chef Barton changes the menu weekly. Ingredients are not only sourced from Serenbe, but also neighboring farms in Georgia and around the south.

serenbe farms

The first thing you have to try on the dinner menu is the Farmhouse Yeast Rolls. These are melt-in-your-mouth buttery-warm biscuit style bread rolls that are comforting at all levels. It is very difficult to stop once you grab one bite! Chef Barton says he played around with the recipe till he got it “just right.”

yeast rolls at serenbe farm

A popular dish in the south is Fried Catfish. Delicate fillets of fish are breaded with rustic corn flour and deep fried till crispy. These are served with a red chili sauce to turn up the heat.

fried catfish at serenbe

No visit to Georgia is complete without Fried Green Tomatoes. This classic southern recipe has slight variations in the batter, sauce, and presentation (I have enjoyed ones with blue cheese). The tomatoes are picked from the gardens at Serenbe located right outside the Farmhouse restaurant. It is highly encouraged that you take a short walk around the campus before sitting down for a gastronomic feast.

fried green tomatoes serenbe

Chef Barton keeps true to his diverse culinary experiences when serving the Jambalaya Risotto. Peppery flavored shrimp, chicken, and sausage in perfectly looked arborio – oh my!

Jambalaya Risotto

If you crave for those weekend dinners at your grandmothers home, come to Serenbe on a Sunday. The Farmhouse serves a mean Fried Chicken, with green beans and mashed potatoes (sides change weekly) from 11:30am-6pm.

The desserts are southern as they can be – satisfying Red Velvet Cheesecake, crunchy and not overwhelmingly sweet Pecan Bourbon Pie, and a cake-like Peach Cobbler.

To wash it all down, try the Farmhouse Martini (Hangar 1 Vodka, Cointreau, Organic Cranberry Juice, Lime Juice, Prosecco), a glass of the Lavender Champagne, or select from a comprehensive bar menu.

Serenbe also features a Southern Chef Series that includes cooking classes and book signings with celebrity chefs from the south. Coming up in 2015: Linton Hopkins from Restaurant Eugene, Kevin Gillespie of Gunshow, Asha Gomez of Spice to Table, Gerry Klaskala of Aria, Ford Fry of The Optimist (plus a few others), Art Smith of Southern Art, Iron Chef Chris Hastings, and TV personality Nathalie Dupree. Reservations need to be made months in advance.

Additionally, the Serenbe Farmers and Artisan Market runs from May – October and is open to the public. Enjoy a meal in the country and take some bounties home to cook with!

Click here to make a reservation at The Farmhouse at Serenebe Farms.