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Friday, March 17, 2006

hot and spicy in hotlanta

Last weekend I journeyed to the blooming landscape of the South to escape into the woods with J and M, and to revisit some of my old haunts. While the culinary adventures while hiking are somewhat limited by one’s inclination to avoid unnecessary weight, I did manage to sneak a few of my favorite goodies into my food bag: a hunk of parm-regg to grate over pasta and dehydrated veggies; another chunk of cheese, a dry jack, to add to our black bean salsa couscous burritos; and my personal stash of chocolate, including a Vosges Barcelona bar, Vosges Black Cat bar, and my default fave, the Michel Cluizel Concepcion bar.

The backcountry adventures were bookended by culinary delights in the city. On Friday, we ventured to an old standby from grad school days: Mellow Mushroom. I delighted in warm, soft pretzels fashioned out of pizza dough and brushed to a glistening sheen with butter and then sprinkled with grated parm. I drank two huge glasses of Southern sweet tea, and enjoyed my pizza with green peppers, spinach, and feta. I wish I could’ve taken my leftovers home with me!

And Monday, due to a complexity of factors of changed plans and mysterious trails (“what happens in North Carolina stays in North Carolina...”), I was back in Atlanta by noon, and by 12:30 I was drinking in the fragrance of thai spices at Tamarind, my favorite Thai restaurant. I ordered my usual: iced tea (unsweetened), spring rolls, and mixed vegetable curry. My body was shivering--a combination of air conditioner shock and the lingering chill of the woods--while my mouth was shimmering to life with the gentle heat of the spring rolls and accompanying sauce, and then sweating with the more pointed warmth of the red curry sauce. Yummmmmmmmmmm.

I glanced at my watch, and with 3 hours left before I needed to be at the airport, I decided to drive around Midtown in search of Jakes, an incredible ice cream place I had been two years before. After 15 minutes of navigating the one way streets, I found my spot, pleased with my memory recall. Though there have been some slight changes in the ownership, the dessert itself was as delicious as I remembered. Shivering once again, I settled in with a dish of half ginger (a nice lingering finish to my Thai meal) and half cinnamon coffee, replete with flecks of espresso and spice...

A quick trip up to the shopping mecca known as Lenox Square mall completed my tour de Atlanta, and I hit the trifecta of favorite shops: Sephora, Bloomingdales, and Anthropologie, before steering the rental car through late afternoon traffic and back to the airport. I soaked up the last bits of sunny Southern warmth, before slipping on a jacket over my tank top and changing my flip-flops to running shoes. I stepped into the airport, and awaited my return to the great lakes, where winter still reigns, though Spring tenatively throws out an occasional invitation, like the tease she is.

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