Healthy eating for the new year

Georgia Trend Magazine. January 2022.

During the first few days of the new year, many of us strive to change our eating habits. But a few weeks into our resolution, we realize that following a specific diet is not conducive to our lifestyles. We still occasionally need to go out for date nights, office lunches and celebrations with friends and family. Our society comes together over food; we draw comfort and joy through food. So, we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves about eating right all the time. Instead, be more mindful and follow these easy tips that will help you keep your health in shape when dining out. The New York Times’ Michael Pollan’s seven-word manifesto still holds: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Pick healthier restaurants

Raw Hummus Photo By R Thomas

Eating out doesn’t mean your options are limited to smoothie joints, soup cafes and salad bars. Many good restaurants focus on vegan, vegetarian, Mediterranean and Keto-based menus. Look for dishes that include fresh ingredients, whole grains and grilled meats. Longstanding landmark R. Thomas’ Deluxe Grill in Atlanta, offers healthy dining 24 hours a day. Try the raw hummus, cashew cheese, sloppy veggie Joe, quinoa and tempeh Thai bowls.

Make better choices

When dining out at ethnic restaurants, you can choose entrees that include leaner proteins, more vegetables and fewer starches. At a Chinese restaurant, select steamed dumplings instead of egg rolls and plain brown rice instead of fried rice.

Choose soft whole wheat or corn tortillas and ask for sour cream on the side at a Mexican restaurant. And when eating Italian, fill up on a hearty salad and avoid dishes with too much cheese and creamy sauces.

Eating spicy food speeds up metabolism and satisfies cravings. Head to Namaste Savannah Nepali restaurant for the whole red snapper, tandoor chicken and mixed grilled platter.

Pack your bags

Often, it is large portion sizes that throw our diets off, and taking doggie bags back to the office is not always an option. Order the smallest available steaks and seafood, or split an entrée with your fellow diner. You can also ask your server to pack half of your dish in a to-go box when you order.

The National Power Lunch Credit Erin Wilsonpeg

During Athens Restaurant Week in summer, The National offers diners an option to share two-course power lunches and three-course dinners that include a roasted flavorful carrot salad, zaatar roasted chicken breast and sweet corn gelato, among others.

Choose drinks with low sugar

Drinks translate to liquid calories. Try to eliminate regular soda and sweet drinks from your diet. Instead of ice tea, try sparkling flavored water, nonalcoholic beer and herbal tea. Southbound Brewing Company in Savannah has a light lager beer that is a great choice for a low-calorie and low-carbohydrate beer (especially for Keto dieters) that doesn’t sacrifice flavor. Cut back on alcohol to a few times a week. And when selecting an alcoholic beverage, opt for red wine or tequila and avoid the mixers that tend to add more sugar to cocktails.

Skip the desserts

It’s best to skip this section of the menu entirely, but an occasional treat is justified. Order a low-fat dessert that comes in smaller portions and share it with other diners at the table. Atlanta’s LottaFrutta is the perfect spot to go out for a funky pint-sized fresh fruit cup topped with dairy-free creams, honey, granola, fresh lime and spicy chile.

No matter what your new year’s food resolutions are, remember to eat slowly and savor every bite.

~ Written for and published by Georgia Trend Magazine.

Georgia’s First Black Brewery Hippin’ Hops Crafts Fresh Beer and Seafood

Cuisine Noir. October 2021.

Hippin’ Hops Brewery and Oyster Bar is the first African American-owned brewery in Georgia. Its first location opened this year in May on Glenwood Avenue in the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta, and two more Hippin’ Hops are scheduled to open later this year, also in Georgia.

Owner Clarence Boston, originally from North Carolina, is a mortician by trade and beer maker by night. He got interested in brewing at an early age. “My grandmother made wine out of fruits she had in her yard, like muscadine, peaches and green apples. She taught me and my brother how to make wine, but my wine always tasted like vinegar. So I decided to make beer instead!” humors Clarence.

Clarence Boston, co-owner of Hippin' Hops Brewery and Oyster Bar
Pictured: Clarence Boston | Photo credit: Hippin Hops

“We opened the brewery during [the] pandemic and are doing extremely well,” he adds. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Boston noticed a rising demand for alcohol. He also saw that microbrewery was a booming business, though there weren’t many African-Americans brewers around. According to Nielsen’s market data, total alcohol sales outside of bars and restaurants surged roughly 24% during the pandemic.

Good Food for Good Brews

This is not the first business that Clarence and his wife and business partner Donnica Boston have started. The serial entrepreneurs own a real estate investment company, funeral homes, crematoriums, bars and restaurants across North Carolina and Georgia.

Hippin' Hops beer
Pictured: Beer by Hippin’ Hops | Photo credit Hippin’ Hops

Hippin’ Hops is designed to look like a beer garden with indoor and outdoor seating, as well as fun games such as cornhole, beer pong and Jenga. Brewed on-site are bold, sweet and bitter stouts, sours, ales, lagers, Belgians and IPAs. “Our goal is to introduce people to craft beer,” says Boston. “We don’t have a particular style of beer. We want everybody to come to our brewery, so we brew to appeal to all cultures.”

All in-house beers are made without additives, sugar and unnatural flavorings. Highlights include Bier Saigon – a fruity and flavorful Belgian-style saison with complex aromas that are perfect for drinking during warm summer months – and Top Five, an IPA brewed with sorrel that is also a bestseller.

Donnica helms the kitchen side of the brewhouse, the menu of which is primarily inspired by her Louisiana roots. With shrimp and grits, alligator po’boy and Cajun shrimp deviled eggs on the menu, the food is as much of a focus here as are the drinks.

Oyster collardfeller at Hippin' Hops Brewery and Oyster Bar
Pictured: Oyster collardfeller | Photo credit: Hippin’ Hops

Clarence takes great pride in their variety of east coast oyster preparations – served raw on the half-shell, oyster Rockefeller with homemade cheese sauce, oyster collardfeller with collard greens and smoked turkey, and smoked gouda oysters with garlic butter sauce. Executive chef Jamarius “J.” Banks, a former contestant on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay,” runs the kitchen operations.

Hip Hop and Beer

The trendy name Hippin’ Hops came from Clarence’s love for hip hop music. The brewery and restaurant are designed for friends to lounge through the evening with good food and drinks while listening to a live DJ (Thursday-Sunday).

When the Bostons received an overwhelming response from the public for being the first Black-owned brewery in Georgia with its own location, they “didn’t even know” that they were the first. Less than 1% of the nearly 8,500 craft breweries in America are Black-owned, according to the Brewers Association’s 2019 survey. “Perhaps people think there’s too much investment involved in opening a brewery,” Clarence points as a reason for the gap.

Hippin Hop Brewery and Oyster Bar crew
Pictured: Clarence Boston and Hippin’ Hop team | Photo credit: Hippin’ Hop

His advice to anyone looking to open a brewery is to start small and not to get many investors involved. Also, he recommends hiring expert chefs, managers and brewmasters so that all aspects of the business run smoothly even when you are away. “Most of all, don’t just talk about it, go ahead and do it.”

Hippin Hops Brewery and Oyster Bar is located at 1308 Glenwood Ave. SE in Atlanta.  Go to the website for hours, upcoming events and menu.  You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

~ Written for and published by Cuisine Noir. All rights reserved.

Eat Where Georgia Leaders Dine

Georgia Trend Magazine. Sept 2021.

Whether it is a childhood memory, a family reunion or a first date relived, we all have a special place for a specific dish or a restaurant. This month, I spoke to four elected officials from Georgia about their favorite food memories.

Rep. Kasey Carpenter, (R-Dalton) is a second-generation restaurant owner. When he is not eating comfort foods like crispy fried chicken tenders at his restaurants – Oakwood Café and Cherokee Brewing + Pizza – the University of Georgia grad heads to award-winning chef and author Hugh Acheson’s Five and Ten in Athens. “It takes me back to my time in college where my wife and I would go out on dates,” says Carpenter. “Now that we have four kids, we go back to Athens for a couple’s getaway. The seasonal menu is great, but my favorite is the whole fish [snapper or seabass, depending on the catch], accompanied by a stellar wine selection,” says Carpenter.

~ Continue reading on Georgia Trend Magazine.

Inviting garden and rooftop dining

Georgia Trend Magazine. August 2021.

As we mask up again, you don’t need to give up eating out and meeting friends entirely. Fortunately, restaurants across Georgia have set up relaxing al fresco dining, where you can enjoy the late summer breeze and beautiful views in a safe environment. Graze and sip at some of these delightful and tasty rooftops and gardens across the state.

Rooftop, Drayton Hotel, Savannah

The Rooftop is just what its name implies – a bar and restaurant located at the top of the boutique Drayton Hotel offering some of the best panoramic views of City Hall and the Savannah River. Book a table for weekend brunch that might include monkfish roll on toasted brioche, or grab late afternoon cocktails to watch the sun set over the historic district. Two Tears in a Bucket may sound sad, but it is a cool citrusy summer drink made with vodka, blue curacao, bergamot, lime and foam.

~ Continue reading on Georgia Trend magazine

This Juneteenth, Grab a Plate of Gullah Geechee Goodness

Greatist. June 2021.

The Juneteenth season is about remembrance and celebration. We remember the day Union troops arrived in Texas, announcing that the Civil War had ended and enslaved people were free. And we celebrate the cultures that have been preserved and reborn out of that time. 

One such culture is that of the Gullah Geechee people, one of the oldest communities of Black culture in the United States. Today you can mostly find Gullah Geechee communities in the coastal lowcountry regions of Georgia, Florida, and both Carolinas. And, as with so many other vibrant cultures, food is their lifeblood.

We spoke with a couple of Georgia restaurateurs who have made it their mission to preserve the rich Gullah Geechee cuisine for today’s generation and those to come.

Smalls but mighty: How one couple gave their food legacy new life

Food doesn’t get much more soulful than Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen & Bar, a mouthwatering spot opened in 2019 by executive chef Gregory (Gee) Smalls and general manager Juan Smalls in downtown College Park, just outside Atlanta.

The Atlanta power couple made their mark by introducing Gullah Geechee cuisine to the community (and providing scholarships to LGBTQ students through their nonprofit organization, The Gentlemen’s Foundation).

Continue reading on Healthline Media’s Greatist

Celebrate Juneteenth with food & drink

Georgia Trend. June 2021.

Juneteenth, celebrated June 19, is the oldest national celebration of the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. It is not only a day of reflection, but also a day to celebrate African-American cuisine and culture. This week, cities around the state are hosting parades and festivals. Some businesses are organizing diversity-focused conversations. Black chefs and restauraunters are also planning special meals and tasting events to educate and acknowledge the significance of the date.

Continue reading on Georgia Trend…

Virtual team events for work and fun

Georgia Trend. May 2021.

More than a year into the pandemic, we have somewhat gotten accustomed to working and socializing virtually. While nothing can replace the warmth of a face-to-face interaction, many people are still getting comfortable meeting in a group setting. During this transition period, it is important to stay emotionally connected with your coworkers and clients, appreciate them for sticking by your side and enjoy a fun team-building activity together.

Georgia’s culinary professionals offer groups a chance to come together socially and create memorable experiences over food and drink, in a convenient virtual setting. Try your hand at cooking, wine tasting or mixing cocktails alongside the pros. Add a creative dimension to your Zoom events by changing your background and screen name (think how everyone will react when Bobby Flay and Paula Deen sign in).

~ Continue reading on Georgia Trend.

Peach Plate: Entertaining Safely

Georgia Trend. May 1, 2021.

Holiday parties, office luncheons and company-wide events – these staples of business life all but disappeared in the past year. Some of us are still not comfortable dining out in a group setting and continue to eat lunch at our home offices. Others elect to meet at spacious restaurants or open-air patios. As we resume some sort of normalcy, restaurants, caterers and private chefs have adapted to satisfy all comfort levels.

~ Continue reading online on Georgia Trend Magazine’s website or grab a May 2021 print issue.

Cooking Up Care

Georgia Trend. March 2021.

This Women’s History Month, meet four Georgia women in the battered restaurant and culinary sector who are helping their colleagues weather the pandemic and all its effects. From growing, cooking and serving food, to paving a path for emerging culinary entrepreneurs, these women have led during truly difficult times. Though they flourish independently across the state, they are connected by food, camaraderie and a commitment to lift each other up as they work to nourish bodies and souls.

Continue reading on Georgia Trend

10 Ways to Work Pimento Cheese into Your Game Day Menu

Chowhound. October 2020.

Often referred to as “Carolina Caviar” or “Southern pâté” in the southern United States, pimento cheese is a classic at tailgates, parties, and in lunchboxes around the country—and these are some of the best pimento cheese recipe ideas around.

This unique cheese mixture is traditionally made with shredded cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and sweet cherry peppers called pimentos. You can add hot sauce, horseradish, jalapenos, garlic, pickles, or any condiment to season the spread. Blend it smooth or leave it chunky. Serve it as a dip with veggies and crackers, spread it on sandwiches, add it to collard greens, or top it over a pizza. The possibilities to personalize pimento cheese are endless. Continue reading on Chowhound