Adventurous eats at One Eared Stag

Considering all the new food I’ve eaten in the past year or so, it’s become extremely difficult for me to find anything new or interesting in a conventional restaurant. Luckily, the One Eared Stag is anything but conventional. If you’re in the mood for an adventurous meal with ingredients that will raise your eyebrows, this is the one of the best spots in Atlanta to find it right now.

Me and the GF had a great meal there last weekend, and I was fortunate enough to try 3 dishes that were brand new to my palate. We started with a “season’s end heirloom tomato tart” with mustard, truffle, and goat cheese. I’ve had quite a few sweet dessert tarts in my life, but never a savory tart like this. The pastry was perfectly buttery/flaky, and the thin-sliced heirloom tomatoes worked extremely well with the dollop of creamy goat cheese on top. I’m not quite sure where the mustard and truffle came in, but I could have eaten another one of these on my own – it was excellent.

Before we got to the main course, we also had a Eden Farms trotter terrine with peach preserves and pistachios. I love the combination of terrines, pates, etc. with a sweet element, and this one was no exception. I’d never experienced a terrine made from trotters (pig’s feet), and the result was a little chunkier/fattier than others I’ve tried. It was almost like a much better version of souse, with a peppery bite that was enhanced by the peach preserves. The crumbled pistachios also added a nice crunch – good stuff.

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Our main course contained an ingredient I wanted to try during my original blog, but never had the chance to: oxtail. The dish was called a “Brasstown oxtail parmentier, with whipped potatoes and chard scallions.” I had no clue what a “parmentier” was, and our server explained that it was much like a shepherd’s pie, with a layer of shredded oxtail covered by whipped potatoes then broiled. Fortunately, it tasted as good as it sounded. The oxtail had a pulled pork-like texture with a slightly salty flavor that paired well with the ultra-creamy, buttery whipped potatoes, and the chard scallions on top reminded me of sauteed green onions. Me and the GF agreed that this was one of the better dishes we’ve had in awhile, so if you see it on the menu, definitely try it.

Since I was still wondering what a parmentier was, I decided to do some research. According to Wikipedia, it’s a dish that’s basically the classic French version of a shepherd’s pie. It’s named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, who is “remembered as a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source in France and throughout Europe.” The dish hachis parmentier refers to the version made with mashed potato and diced meat.

I love learning things like this about food – it’s almost as fun as eating it.

Red Hot Sichuan Peppers at Peter Cheng’s

First of all, let me apologize to my readers for taking so long to get a new blog post up. I’ve been doing plenty of eating since my last entry, but unfortunately, I haven’t tried anything that’s been new to me since then. I guess that’s understandable, considering that I recently ate 365 new foods in a row.

Anyway, I did manage to try a couple of new things last weekend that were definitely new to me, and they came from a local restaurant that I’ve been wanting to try for awhile: Peter Cheng’s. Anyone that pays attention to the food scene in Atlanta has probably heard of PC’s and its history, and after hearing several great things about the food, me and the GF decided to finally give it a shot.

If you’ve never tried authentic Sichuan Chinese cuisine, you better be prepared to sweat. Much of it is prepared with Sichuan peppers and peppercorns, which give the food a level of heat that, in my opinion, is unparalleled. I like spicy food, but my tolerance for heat is extremely low. My forehead is sweating as I write this just from thinking about it, if that tells you anything. I’d previously experienced Sichuan-style cooking at Tasty China in Atlanta, and I was curious to find out how PC’s compared.

After perusing the menu, I found 2 dishes that I’d never tried before that sounded tasty. The first was dry-fried mushrooms, which I knew would come with a hearty dose of the peppers. I’d tried the dry-fried eggplant at Tasty China and loved it, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong with the mushroom version. The other was a deep-fried dish called Shan City Chicken, and I stupidly chose to disregard its spice rating of 2 peppers. More on that later.

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The mushrooms were excellent – not at all like the ones you’re used to dipping in ranch dressing at your local bar. The Chinese mushrooms were the long, skinny kind with a small cap, but I’m not exactly sure what they’re called. Much like the dry-fried eggplant, the result was a crunchy (but not greasy) mushroom with a soft center. The dish also included cilantro, scallion, and a moderate dose of the red Sichuan peppers. Really good, but I was sweating after a few bites. If only I’d known what was in store for me with the chicken dish, I would have stopped here.

Our server brought the Shan City Chicken shortly after delivering the mushrooms, and I was shocked. I’d never seen so many peppers in my life. Keep in mind that the peppers are not intended to be eaten – they’re used only as a flavoring/spice agent. In addition, the dish also included small strips of deep-fried chicken and a healthy dose of cilantro. It looked good, so I couldn’t wait to try it.

After a few bites, I started feeling the intense effects of Sichuan pepper overload. My mouth became numb, my lips started tingling, and my forehead was pouring sweat like I’d just finished 30 minutes on the treadmill. The heat was overwhelming, and to be honest, it was all I could taste. The chicken itself was salty and crunchy, but the intense burn totally blew out my palate. I guzzled water and ate white rice to attempt to alleviate the torture, but they didn’t help much. The GF wasn’t sweating nearly as much as me, but neither of us could finish the chicken.

I have learned that I simply cannot handle the “hot and numbing” Sichuan cuisine. It’s no reflection on the food or the restaurant, but my palate just can’t handle it. In the future, I’ll stick to dishes that have a low (or zero) pepper rating. Yeah, I’m a wuss.

Brandade & liver at the ST

As my readers have probably noticed by now, the new version of “Who Eats That Stuff?” hasn’t been updated as frequently as the old one. I guess that’s to be expected, considering that I blogged every single day for a year with the previous blog. Also, I haven’t really eaten any new foods over the past couple weeks – keeping it simple has been refreshing after the insanity of the last year.

Luckily, I managed to encounter a couple of new foods at the Sound Table in Atlanta last night that I thought were worth sharing. They were previewing their new fall menu, so me and the GF headed down to check it out. Even though I don’t go into each meal looking for something to blog about anymore, I noticed a couple of dishes that were new to me that sounded really good. One was brandade croquettes, and the other was a duck liver dish featuring whole livers wrapped in braised napa cabbage.

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First, the brandade. Brandade is a mixture of salt cod and olive oil that’s usually spread on bread or potatoes. I’d eaten brandade in its traditional form, but the ST’s version featured the brandade (mixed with potato and garlic) deep fried in croquette form, with each piece resembling a small hush puppy. They were also served with a red pepper coulis for dipping. It’s hard to resist anything deep fried, and these were salty, crunchy, slightly fishy goodness. The coulis provided a bit of heat, and I could have eaten about 20 more of them. Highly recommend.

Next was the duck liver. I’d eaten duck liver before, but only in its ultra-fancy foie gras form. Unadulterated duck liver was a new thing for me, and these were sauteed, then wrapped in braised napa cabbage. The dish also featured apple, bacon, and pistachio as flavoring agents, and I was curious to taste how the liver worked with the other ingredients. The liver itself had a intense, gamy flavor that reminded me of chicken liver, and the other elements added some sweet/sour notes that worked well with the main component of the dish. As usual, I could have eaten more of this one, but more than three pieces of liver would probably be overkill. If you like liver in any form, check out this version at the ST.

Hopefully my breaks between posts will become shorter as time goes on, but for now, I’m not pushing myself. Check back soon for more new foods…

Welcome back!

Even though I just finished a whole year of blogging once a day, I couldn’t resist going ahead and starting something new. I really like telling people about new foods that I try, and I didn’t want to lose the momentum I’d gained by waiting too long to reveal this new blog.

With that in mind, I bring you my first new food post for this new project, and it’s a good one. By now, my readers have heard me speak highly of Holeman and Finch. It’s my favorite overall restaurant in Atlanta, and in my opinion, no one else has a menu as adventurous as theirs. During one of my visits a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to try something that I’d been curious about for years: brains. H&F was the first place I’d been to that featured brains on the menu, and I couldn’t resist. I originally ate these when my previous blog was still going, but due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to write about them.

I knew nothing about how brains were prepared, but H&F’s were described as “veal brains with black butter and toast.” Other than the toast, this was all new territory for me. When our server brought the dish, it didn’t look nearly as threatening as I expected. The thinly sliced veal brains looked almost like a hamburger patty, with a dark color that I assumed was from the black butter. I’d never heard of black butter, but it’s basically like brown butter that’s been cooked a bit longer in the pan.

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The flavor was nothing like I expected. It reminded me of liver, but much less intense. The texture was closer to scrambled eggs than anything meat-oriented, and when combined with a bite of toast, the egg comparison was even stronger. The black butter gave the brains an added layer of richness, and I’m glad I was sharing this dish with a friend – it wasn’t exactly light eating. I’d definitely be up for trying brains again, especially with a different preparation. Considering their relatively light texture, I’d imagine they’d be fairly adaptable to other cooking methods.

Even though I won’t be posting every day anymore, I promise to update whenever I discover something new that I think my readers might enjoy reading about. If you’re a returning reader, thanks for sticking with me! If you’re brand new, please check out my previous blog and follow along here from now on. It feels good to be back…