Monkey bread, also called monkey puzzle bread, sticky bread, African coffee cake, golden crown, pinch-me cake, pluck-it cake, bubble loaf, Legal Brioche and monkey brains  is a sweet, sticky, gooey pastry served in the United States for dessert or as a treat. It consists of pieces of soft bread with cinnamon sprinkled on it and is often served at fairs and other parks.
Chef Lauren Raymond is one of the strongest players in Atlanta's pastry game. She started out by baking bread at Star Provisions, and has also been the assistant pastry chef at Empire State South, worked the biscuit station at the original Watershed under Scott Peacock, served as the opening pastry chef at the General Muir and Miller Union, and served as the VP of Operations at High Road Craft Ice Cream. Raymond most recently landed the pastry chef position at 4th and Swift.
Now, Raymond is in the biscuit game with her partner, Jori Mendel, whom she met over challah at the General Muir. The company, which is named after Mendel’s grandfather “Boom Boom,” debuted at Peachtree Road Farmers Market this season. If the last few weeks are any indication, Boom is bound to become as busy as fellow market vendor Crepe Masters, whose stall frequently has one of the longest lines.
Simplicity is something Raymond says she learned to appreciate from mentors Scott Peacock and Steven Satterfield. They taught her that pulling off simple food requires a ton of good technique and even better ingredients. With Boom Biscuits, Raymond uses Peacock's tips to craft what are some of my favorite biscuits in Atlanta right now. They are flaky, buttery, and just the right size for sandwiches.
I must live under a rock, because, until a recent trip to Mexico, I had never heard of Tostilocos. Or Dorilocos. Or Takilocos. Or whatever you call the version of Tostilocos that's made with Conchitas Encanto corn chips. Maybe Conchitalocos? No, it took a trip to Mexico for me to be enlightened in the ways of this street snack, which is essentially a south-of-the-border version of Frito pie. And I am now forever grateful.
Tostilocos are not a new thing. If you've been to Monterrey or Tijuana in the past fifteen years, in fact, you've probably passed by a stand or two or twenty selling bags and bags of the stuff to hungry patrons. Chef Adrian Villarreal, of the Spence and the upcoming Rreal Taco, grew up in Monterrey, and recalls seeing them as early as the mid-'80s.
"I first saw Tostilocos, or at least a variation of them, as a young kid," Villarreal says. "I could walk and buy them at the neighborhood bodega, at school, or in the street outside school. Later in the nineties you started to see a lot of little stores in malls or strip malls that did them and chamoyadas (fruit drinks) as their main business. I don't even remember if they had a name for them."
Tostilocos have started gaining attention here in the U.S. in recent years. John T. Edge, the South's wandering poet of all things delicious, wrote about them in the New York Times three years ago. NPR featured it last year (click on the link and dig that animated gif). I'm willing to bet that somewhere along Buford Highway at this very moment someone is whipping up a bag of Tostilocos. And rightfully so, the stuff is delicious and super simple to throw together.
Pharmaceutical companies have been trying for years to create a supplement that boosts health the way red wine has been shown to, usually using dried Japanese knotweed which is also high in resveratrol (Cacao, peanuts, cranberries, and blueberries are as well). It’s a pretty amazing compound that works as an antifungal agent on the skins of grapes and works to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels while raising HDL (good cholesterol) and metabolism. Most studies on resveratrol have been performed on mice—imagine the tiny goblets—or yeast cultures with few involving human subjects. Of those none have measured long-term health or longevity.
Enter a new player on the market, Vinia red grape powder. Bioharvest, the company behind the product, purports they have “pioneered a way to provide the benefits of red wine, in one convenient zero calorie packet.” The burgundy fruit powder claims to have pure extracted resveratrol from Avnir red grapes with one serving equaling a similar amount “as found in 1000 grapes or one bottle of ‘fine’ wine.” A 30 day supply runs $149.99 and can be mixed with anything you would normally eat or drink without calories, sugars, or alcohol.
Driving south on I-75 towards Florida, a couple hours south of town, you start seeing billboards for Carroll's Sausage somewhere around Cordele. They're noteworthy mainly for the fact that you don't often see billboards for sausage companies. At least not in Atlanta. And who can deny the urge to visit a sausage company once you've seen their billboard (OK, their DOZENS of billboards) along the interstate?
Just like those billboards, Carroll's Sausage and Country Store sits right by I-75, in Ashburn, Georgia. If you see the giant Georgia peanut by the side of the road, you've just passed Carroll's, so turn around. Once you exit your vehicle, legs sore from the drive, just follow your nose in through the door, where whiffs of smoke and pork and Southern pride scent the air.
Inside, you're greeted by beef jerky bins and displays of scuppernong wine and row after row of molasses and sorghum and every-type-of-jarred-stuff-you-might-hope-to-find in a Southern roadside market. Imagine the love child of a Cracker Barrel and a butcher shop, and you'll be pretty close to picturing Carroll's Sausage and Country Store.
Wholly Brownie, kicking off with this entry, intends to be an occasional blog on one man's search for brownie bliss.
Tales of grail quests, as literary lore goes, are routinely fatal to their authors. Specifically, writing the last line of a quest for the grail (or maybe even just a grail) seems to beckon the Grim Reaper like no other enterprise.
Good thing someone’s always coming along with a new brownie recipe, in that case. Of course, some folks consider the eating of processed sugar one of the open-armedest invitations to a premature demise a person can make. A better thing, then — well, maybe — that I ignore what some folks consider conventional wisdom.
My sweet tooth is basically bigger than my whole head. Steve Almond’s memoir Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America is my own autobiography, despite having been written by someone else (if I’ve failed to eat at least one piece of chocolate on any day of my adult life, I must’ve been in a fugue state at the time because I cannot recall such a day).
Move over Pappy, there is a new way to impress your friends by dropping vast amounts of money on a mere glass of booze. Recently spotted: Article 14 in Midtown likely has Atlanta’s most expensive cocktail on its menu. The Barrel of Jewels costs $99 ($99 DOLLARS!) and mixes Louis XIII Cognac, Lock Stock & Barrel straight rye whiskey, Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, and bitters.
This riff on the classic Vieux Carré is presented in an etched crystal whiskey glass that sadly is not a take-home keepsake.
Louis XIII dates back to the 19th century and is aged up to one hundred years. Only encountered in prestigious places (so the website says), it's a taste of a century in a bottle.
Regardless of what comes in the glass, Article 14's $99-cocktail begs the question: How much is too much for a drink in this town?
In the US, canned goods tend to have a lowbrow image, so the idea that the very best of an item comes in a can is somewhat foreign. But canning has been around approximately 200 years. In Spain, the best white asparagus? Canned. The best tuna? Canned. The best razor clams or mussels? Canned. Anthony Bourdain did an episode of "No Reservations" in Spain that featured canned seafood, and let's just say it will change your mind on the merits of canned seafood forever.
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