Oct/Nov Gavage [So Ba Ramen, The Ordinary, Xiao Bao Biscuit, Varasano’s Airport, Corner Pizza, Park 75]

November 11, 2013 · 1 comment

in atlanta, dining out, out of town dining


Some miscellaneous shots from the last few weeks, another in the gavage series, if you will. My work schedule and new father life has been crazy, but a blogger’s gotta eat.

I went to Maryland for an engagement party (Eastern shore is drop dead gorgeous in the Fall) and my friend Bill gave me some intel on where to stop. It was the tail end of the season, but I had some great local crabs and oyster chowder. I ate a ton of shellfish on that trip, concluding with “seafood skins” (potato skins topped with oysters, scallops, etc) at a pub in Baltimore with family. I ended up with brutal food poisoning for over three days. It was more savage than the oysters I had in April at Lure which eventually required a stomach CT scan. Good shellfish is expensive enough, throw in a couple grand of out-patient procedures and I’m switching to good, clean chicken for a while. Wait, chicken is bad for us too? Damn.

Really, I don’t hold a grudge. I think I was just unlucky. Shit happens. (Literally * 100)^2


I had ramen with Brad at So Ba where Mihoko Obunai has been slangin’ the broth for a month or so, at lunch only. I enjoyed it, though had reservations about each of all three styles we tried. The lobster and chicken broth is my hands-down favorite. They all need to be served blazing hot (they are not), as has been noted by others.

Tonkotsu style below.


This dark version is called Mabo Nasu ramen, a take on the Chinese dish “mapo tofu” which is popular in Japan and includes eggplant. It’s fiery and rich and I was glad I shared this bowl with two others as I wasn’t interested in having a whole bowl’s worth of this flavor.

Side note on ramen – my recent Japan Ramen post some how was picked up by a writer in Japan and distributed through an affiliate of Yahoo, so that post has (in less than a week) become my most viewed post ever. Apparently it was of interest because they got to see ramen through the eyes of an American. I’m not sure that some of my sarcasm and idioms translated exactly right (I saw numerous comments that referenced my “Japanese people must have a second stomach for noodles” comment) and some commenters were clearly making fun of me, but that’s cool.


I visited Charleston for work a few weeks ago, and of course hit the town for a couple hours.


I parked on upper King near The Ordinary, where I began my walking tour with some smoked, cold oysters and a draft Evil Twin sour beer, which are all over Charleston right now, in part due to their relationship with Westbrook.


I walked on over to Two Borough’s Larder, where it was ramen night, so the menu was limited. Not wanting to fill up, I had some padron peppers with tuna conserva then continued my walk to Xia Bao Biscuit where I had luscious, addictive Sichuan style pork dumplings and fiery papaya salad. It’s s fun place and I wanted to try so much more.


I ended my night at FIG, still my favorite spot in town for a bite and cocktail. And I can’t forget to mention the bartender I’ve come to know, Andrew King, who seems to have a rapport with every local and guest perched at his small bar. I’ve sat at the bar three or four times in the same number of years and each time, the moment I sit down a hand is thrust out to shake mine – “Good to see you again, what’s it been, a year? What are you drinking?”

Color me impressed. Oh, and by the way, the answer is one or three of the negroni inspired cocktails.

Moving on. EVO pizza is near my office in North Charleston. It’s very solid.


This pie at the Varasano’s may be less impressive looking, but I still find myself in love with the thin, chewy sourdough tang of Varasano’s pies. The pizzas are smaller at the airport, for about the same money as their larger Buckhead brethren, but in the time-money vacuum that is airport dining, $12 for a Nana’s pizza seems fair. It’s an odd space, the open bar directly connected to the rest of the food court. One lady sat down next to us asking if she could eat her fast food at the bar, the exact same thing happened to another friend of mine.


Friends invited me to a Burgundy dinner at Park 75 last week, and it rocked on all fronts. Generous amigos served me wine only megamillionaires will be able to afford twenty years from now, and Chef Robert Gerstenecker created an excellent parade of superb food, which weren’t overwrought and paired very well with the juice. Alaskan King Crab with scallops.


Veal breast with white truffle and ravioli.


Venison with matsutake mushrooms and a puff pastry filled with scalloped potatoes.


Katie and I made a quick stop for lunch at Corner Pizza, which I’d never visited, and actually never heard of before. While I’m not a fan of sliced tomato on pizza, I was pleasantly surprised. I like all sorts of pizza, and this was well put together for the style.


Wings were very saucy, but rubbery like oven wings, or fried wings that were under cooked and allowed to steam.


I have another gavage post just related to cooking, but will save that for later. But this is a pizza I cooked about a week ago. How did it taste? How did I cook it? Did anyone get sick from my cooking? Check back for more!!


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  • martha

    Your crab-related posts inspired me to go buy live ones from BHFM. Weirdly, all of them were female and quite a few appeared to be illegal (tip-to-tip < beer can). The ex's family has a place on the Eastern shore of MD, so we are spoiled on good crab, and I must say these were pretty good. And since they charge by the pound and not by count, it's cool if you get an "empty" or two. Thanks for the inspiration!

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