Gavage – Varasano’s, Rousseau at Park75, ESS, The Pit [Raleigh], Cooking

June 1, 2012 · 1 comment

in atlanta, cooking at Home, dining out, recipes, wine in the city

It was decided last month that when I have a glut of photos unrelated to a planned post, I’ll be calling it my “gavage” post. Suck it, California. Unlike our fatty geese friends, we humanoids do have a gag reflex, so apologies in advance for the force feeding you are about to endure.

I had pizza at Varasano’s.  They seem as consistent as ever, though lately, the cooked end crust hasn’t quite lived up to my memory of the pillowy softness of their early pies, which were notoriously fickle. Below is a Nana’s with sausage.


And this is a new pie, the bufala and coppa. I liked the idea, but it’s super salty.

The pizza was just a warm up for the consumption to come later that evening. I somehow scored an invite to a masters-of-the-universe wine dinner, and by the power of Grayskull were these Rousseau wines gorgeous! We had over a dozen Rousseau wines, not a single one of them corked, and all of them fell somewhere on the excellence spectrum between “fantastic” and “ball-tingling”. The downside is we didn’t get to hang out with each wine for very long, to really let them show their magic over time.

Rousseau @ Park 75

Sous chef Sydney Jones prepared a worthy meal, with dishes ranging from Paddlefish Caviar, Smoked Salmon Mousse, Crème Fraiche, Chive Vinaigrette, Roasted Shallot Potato Cake to Roasted Duck Breast, Quince Glazed Veal Sweetbreads, Toasted Brioche, Red Wine Sauce, and a personal favorite pictured below, Roasted Lamb Medallion, Gigante Bean Puree, Roasted Scallion, Smoke Zucchini Pinwheel, Mint.

Full Park 75 photo set on Flickr here

Rousseau @ Park 75

Moving on. My sister Jillian graduated from Clemson, and we celebrated the weekend in Greenville with her, featuring a nice meal at a Ruth’s Chris. I saved a birth year wine for her, an ’89 Cos D’Estournal Bordeaux which was very nice, though not a stunner.


We had fun, and I ate a big steak. Ruth’s Chris sure does like the butter. And I don’t understand their deal with bringing it out on an almost sizzling plate. Doesn’t that continue to cook the steak? Don’t you want the steak to rest before slicing into it? I pondered these questions while gnawing on a ribeye bone.

Fast forward a couple of weeks (I went to Chicago in between, post pending) and I went to Empire State South with friends. It was my most impressive meal there to date. The presentation, creativity, execution, and service were all a step above my last dinner there, which was quite a while ago. The prime steak tartare with fried egg was maybe a touch too spicy for such excellent beef, but the smattering of flavors and textures was distinctive and intriguing while maintaining deliciousness.

And Katie’s warm veggie salad was simply beautiful, an edible garden type of dish.

This week I’ve been on the road for work once again, in North Carolina. I have a full post on that coming, but this sampling of North Carolina BBQ from The Pit should hold you over. There are spare ribs, baby back ribs, chopped pork, pulled pork, and chopped smoked turkey. The turkey BBQ was good, but the problem with turkey is that, well, it doesn’t taste enough like pork.

The Pit

I’ve been able to cook only a little bit lately. The pinnacle of pizza to me is Neapolitan style, though I do like to sample variations. I made a foccacia style pizza, though I wasn’t quite happy with the end result. I don’t think I par-cooked it long enough before adding toppings, so it didn’t rise quite like I had hoped, even with a three day cold ferment. It was actually better once reheated.

Last week I cooked the Bev Egg probably four times, which is where you cook an egg in bacon fat, crumble bacon bits onto the egg, then spoon the bacon fat over the whites so they set while the yolk remains runny. Killer.

And my friend Matt and I cooked up some ribs and steak for Memorial Day. They weren’t the best ever, but sipping a few cold ones, hitting up the pool, and eating a bunch of smokey food isn’t a bad day, no matter how you look at it.


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