As if these ridiculously tempting pictures were not enough, I have to tell you that Olio served up one of the best lunches I’ve ever had. Sitting in their carefully converted oil service station, listening to Nancy Sinatra spin on their record player, I knew I was about to experience something special.
Though we only selected a few side plates to share, it was enough to convince me that these guys know exactly what they are doing. We began our stay with a bottle of Bordatto “Basa Jaun”, a cider unlike any other I’ve ever had. It had the satisfying carbonated crisp I crave, along with a lingering smoky finish that I didn’t know could exist in a cider. Filling my mouth with a sense of the forest, it set a lovely stage for all the lovely fresh ingredients I was about to nibble on.
Just thinking about it is making me want to go back! It’s so difficult for me to accurately describe how delicious it is. Well-balanced, but always peppered with a little surprise, their plates felt as exotic as they were comforting. I didn’t take pictures of every single plate (since I didn’t want to be a dick), but I guarantee you they were all worth remembering.
I’m thrilled to share with you the enviable and mouth-watering talents of a delightful creative entrepreneur that I’ve had the privilege of working with, Shellane Pickett of Apple Butter Bakery! Three years ago she took me under her wing as an intern – teaching me the basics of cake decorating and always putting a smile on my face while doing so. After a brief stint on the west coast, Shellane has returned home (thank the heavens) to realize the dream of opening her own brick-and-mortar bakeshop, serving up everything from mini pies to brownies to custom designed cakes.
I’ve never been more aware than I am now of how difficult it is to do that, to choose a path you love and follow it no matter the obstacles. I remember when this girl had only daydreamed of this moment and to see her finally have it is so uplifting, so inspiring. With her husband, Daniel, and her family by her side, Shellane serves up an array of sweet treats that taste like home. All these delectable creations are imbued with the spirit of the Pickett family; their warmth, optimism, and capacity for love lines every cupcake, cookie, and cup of coffee.
Where did your passion for baking originate from? When did you realize this was going to be your life’s work?
My passion for baking started when I was about 4 or 5 years old… old enough to hold the bowl steady while helping my mom bake some brownies or coconut cake. From then on, I was hooked. I had an idea that this was going to be ‘my thing’ during my junior year in high school. I wanted to go to culinary school, but I took an alternative route and ended up in the same place anyways. I remember I was in my mom’s kitchen decorating a cake and saying to myself “I wish I could just live in a little cottage and bake cakes all day”… I’m still working on the little cottage part!
One can never have too many cafes in their back pocket, right? Sometimes I worry I will run out of things to try here in Atlanta and then I remember.. it’s Atlanta. There’s always a hidden gem somewhere I haven’t had a chance to try and by the time I try them all, there’s sure to be a handful more that have popped up in the mean time!
Parish Foods and Goods is a lovely little rustic restaurant (can you really get enough of those either?) in Inman Park that serves a delightful brunch, lunch, and dinner. But for the more casual pick-up-and-go order, head downstairs to their little market. With well-portioned sandwiches, soups, and snacks, it’s the perfect place for a quick quality bite.
I could really eat Vietnamese food every. single. day. Perhaps that’s because I really did eat Viet everyday while I was growing up. I can’t say that hasn’t influenced my culinary palette, but you just can’t deny the beautiful rainbow of variety Vietnamese cuisine has to offer. The flavors are fresh yet full-bodied, and never leave you with the stomach pangs you associate with Chinese take-out. Sure you know about pho and bánh mì, but did you know about co’m? In other words… rice!
At most Vietnamese restaurants you’ll be able to find some simple co’m dishes, any various assortment of grilled meats with “fragrant” or “broken” rice. Since I’m not expert on cooking technique, I can’t tell you what makes this rice different than regular jasmine rice. All I can tell you is that it’s delicious.
As if the beautiful vistas weren’t enough, Chattanooga holds all those delightful little wonders typically entwined with old Southern culture. Like your random tchotchke shop on the side of the road. The “quilts, fudge, moccasins” sign was all we needed to hit the brakes!
Sometimes I find it quite difficult to explain how or why I love certain places. After initiating a restaurant into your regular rotation, you rarely think about those things anymore. It just becomes a part of you, a part of the things you like, and a part of your regular experiences. Remarkable things turn into habit, almost like eating a bowl of cereal. Growing up on home-made Vietnamese food myself, I took for granted how great it is until I left home and couldn’t have access to it anymore. Luckily, I ended up moving to a city that is more than plentiful of places serving the exact things my inner child craves.
Quoc Huong has been my go-to place to knosh on the beloved Vietnamese treat known as the bánh mì sandwich. Its ingredients are so simple yet so satisfying; nothing really beats a warm crunchy french bread loaf paired with marinated meat and pickled vegetables inside, right? I mean, right.
I have a thing for little local tea houses, despite the fact that I actually don’t love tea all that much. I guess I’m so infatuated with these places because they’re just so ridiculously and undeniably charming. Taking time to sit down and have a spot of tea with a friend is a lovely decision; taking a moment to (re)connect with someone, to truly enjoy their company. How many times can you say you do that on a weekly basis? Probably not that often.
And so I present to you a set of lovely vignettes from my last visit to Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party. The name alone made me fall in love and the moment I stepped in, I knew it would be a lasting affair. I had the splendid pleasure of being joined by Cath of AsianCajuns, one half of a blogging duo that I’ve admired for quite some time now and we indulged in the Caroline Tea, which includes a pot of tea (your choice) and an assortment of delectable goodies. I mean, come on. Need I really say more? Probably not, but there IS more.
Recent travels have taken me to Texas, where my appetite is definitely bigger. I visit Houston at least once a year to see family, but now that I have a cousin studying at UT, a mini road trip to Austin was a no-brainer. The highlight of this weekend trip? Oysters, burgers, and barbecue. It’s a wonder how I was able to keep the button on my jeans from popping off.
The oysters at Perlas were like dipping your toes into the cold salt water of the ocean. Briny, but in the most Invigorating and refreshing way possible. I’m not picky when it comes to oysters because I’ll take what I can get, but seriously. These were amazing.
I’m a self-professed lover of all things delicious, but by no means am I a culinary expert. I just know what I like. And one of the things I like most is coffee. Thank god I have some awesome coffee baristas to teach me what it is to drink (and make) a good cup! If you’ve seen my instagram activities, you probably know I frequent Octane quite a bit. They do have a little piece of my heart, but my other local favorite is Dancing Goats, the brew bar home of Batdorf and Bronson roasters and lucky for me, they just opened a lovely new location at the currently-in-development Ponce City Market.
Why has it taken me three years of living in Atlanta to have lunch in Star Provisions? The world may never know. What I do know now is that it’s the perfect spot to share a casual bite with a friend (which is exactly what I did). Nestled in the heart of Westside Atlanta, Star Provisions is the casual marketplace sibling to Anne Quatrano’s more well-known culinary ventures. I’ve not yet managed to get myself into Bacchanalia, most often named the best restaurant in Atlanta, but maybe this visit could buy me a little more time.
Star Provisions is an order-at-the-counter style cafe that serves a variety of sandwiches, salads, and other delicious baked goods.