Sunday, February 16, 2014

16 February 2014

It has been a marathon weekend. Friday night, Valentine's Day, was spent in Atlanta at the Four Seasons! After cocktails in the lounge, we proceeded to downtown Atlanta for dinner at White Oak Kitchen. While the atmosphere was less than intimate, the dinner was divine. We opted for the four course meal with wine pairings, and it did not disappoint. The meal began with a celery root salad followed by a delectable smoked trout mousse. The entree delivered with a grass fed filet with parsnip tart topped with an Ellijay apple and black truffle relish. The flavor truly etched a moment in my mind! After dinner, we returned the hotel for a nightcap with my favorite server of many years. Regardless of how long I stay away, she always remembers my quirky drink – a Colorado Martini: shot of Belvedere Vodka and Baileys shaken up. It was a great start to a memorable weekend.

On Saturday morning, we had an enjoyable breakfast at Babs on Juniper. I had heard about this little gem for many years, and it delivered. The food was delicious, and the owners entertained. We returned to Canton with full bellies in time for a short respite. Saturday night consisted of an amazing evening at the Cherokee Arts Center for Gospel Fest IV. I was asked by the event's founder and former Canton Councilwoman, Pat Tanner, to offer a welcome from the City of Canton. It was an honor and a privilege to have my first "ceremonial" duty as a councilman to introduce this incredible event. The theater was filled with some of my favorite people, and the night was magical and uplifting. My dear friend, Carmen Tanner Slaughter, served as Mistress of Ceremony, and she preached the truth! Her talent, heart and spirit defines humanity, and the entertainment raised the roof from start to finish. Among many blessings that night, I was thrilled to have my niece Kacey, her husband Chris and my twin grand nephews, Pierce and Reagan, in attendance. After the amazing show, we ventured to Riverstone Corner Bistro for a late dinner. We had a great time, and they treated us very well – as usual. In addition to our impromptu dinner mates, Sandy McGrew, Gary Mullet, Will Carlan, Carmen Tanner Slaughter, Cantrece Gober and the incomparable Jennifer Dunn, we were happy to find our neighbors – Pat, Nugget and Michael Gold – at a nearby table. As always, Mike and Shelly Farrar and their staff hosted with style and grace. The twins proclaimed they wanted to eat at RCB every night and returned to the Hampton Inn to enjoy their first night in a hotel. Oh the joys and carefree spirit of childhood!

Sunday began with a slow start followed by a vigorous hike around town. Jeff and I walked from One Britt down to the new Etowah Park. From there, we caught the railroad tracks along the river to downtown where we scaled a steep hill to the historic cemetery behind the Arts Center. From there, we proceeded down East Main Street to home. The Bailey family was waiting to follow us to Cherokee Market and Scott Boys BBQ for lunch. The twins and I enjoyed feeding buns to Cow 97 and petting Josie before chowing down on the best barbecue in North Georgia! While there, we were happy to find our friends Meghan Griffin, Quinlan and Jack Tuszynski enjoying the smoked goodness as well. After lunch, we ventured inside Cherokee Market to chat with Lisa Meyer and curate ingredients for tonight's Sunday Supper. In honor of our dear friend's 30th birthday, I decided to cook a vegetarian Sunday Supper for John Clark. Johnny turned 30 on Thursday, and we celebrated with a post snowstorm meal at Union Hill Grill. Since his party was somewhat subdued by the week's weather, I wanted to honor his milestone with a tad more celebration. I went for an interpretation of the typical steak and potato dinner with a vegetarian twist. Most of the fresh ingredients came from Cherokee Market, and I prepared cauliflower steaks with "smashed" red potatoes. For the sides, I cooked fried winter okra with a homemade ranch dipping sauce, braised baby Vidalia Onions, and roasted garlic with Tuscan bread. For dessert, I baked Johnny a Honeybell Orange Pound Cake with orange scented whipped cream. We chowed down and followed a great dinner with the latest episode of Downton Abbey.

So the weekend filled my soul, spirit and stomach with an amazing celebration of family, friendship and community. Tonight, my sweet dreams will be filled with blessings and the joy of life. This weekend, I followed the path less taken, and that made all the difference.

Peace Out.

The Menu:

- Cauliflower Steaks with Garlic, Lemon and Parsley

- Smashed Red Potatoes

- Fried Winter Okra with Ranch Dipping Sauce

- Braised Baby Vidalia Onions

- Roasted Garlic Bulbs with Tuscan Bread

- Honeybell Pound Cake with Orange Scented Whipped Cream

- A Bushel of Gratitude

The Recipe – Cauliflower Steaks with Lemon and Garlic

1 head Cauliflower
3 tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Parsley, finely chopped
4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
Juice and Zest of 1/2 Lemon
1 tsp Paprika
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment.

Remove the leaves from the Cauliflower and try to not damage too much of the stem. Thoroughly rinse, and then slice the Cauliflower into 1/2 inch slices from the stem to the top. Add any lose florets to the pan.

In a large bowl combine Olive Oil, Parsley, Garlic, Lemon Juice and Zest, Paprika, and a small pinch of Salt. Arrange in one even layer on the cookie sheet, and brush with the garlic and lemon mixture.

Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until things are golden brown and crispy on the edges.
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