Obsessed

Beach at Little St. Simon's IslandOne of the angels that popped into my 2012 was Victor, an older neighbor of my mother’s. Victor has a San Francisco Giants tattoo on the calf of each leg.

He rescued me during the playoffs. I should have known better than to visit his partner during one of the games. But I didn’t. Victor was patient during the first 15 or 20 minutes we were talking, but he just couldn’t stand not having her with him as he watched the game. It took two or three “Come on over here, THE GAME STARTED!” to register.

This morning, on the radio, General Steve Jones, a regular Friday caller, told the show host that he’d received a limited edition Chipper Jones bat for Christmas. This precious 70+ year old caller sounded as excited today as he must have been when he opened the present.

Steve’s bat is #176 out of 5000. When his sons ordered theirs, they got #998 and #999. He went on to say he was going to make a presentation case so that he can hang his prized possession on his back porch. He offered to bring the bat out to a remote the station is doing tomorrow so that everyone can see it.

The point? Victor and Steve are obsessed – consumed, captivated, engrossed, immersed in – with something they love. What are you obsessed with? What would you tattoo on your calf or drive miles to show off to your friends and total strangers?

If you aren’t obsessed, find something that stirs your soul so much you can hardly contain yourself.

Ice Cream, Anyone?

For anyone who loves ice cream samples and tours, High Road Craft Ice Cream & Sorbet any Saturday from 10am to 4pm is a treat! The Atlanta-based company produces artisan ice creams, gelato, and sorbets, collaborating with sustainable, responsible partners from chefs at 115 area restaurants to Jittery Joe’s, the Athens-based coffee micro-roasters.

High Road hit the market at full trot and has been running ever since. Their recipes are often developed as pairings to chef’s recipes, or as a “I-wonder-what”  wild combination of flavors one of them dreams up. The pace is brutal. 60 hour weeks are not uncommon. But, it IS ice cream! And who could complain making ICE CREAM????

The High Road is Hard to FindThe grouchy lady (my phone’s Navigation voice) will get you to the set of buildings, but High Road is on the row behind the buildings at the road. It’s fairly easy to find once you know that.

Jennifer greeted us as we walked in last Saturday. Lorenz was finishing up a tour, so I tasted some Amaretto Cherry Chocolate Chunk while we waited. Bill Ronay hadn’t tasted the Brown Butter Praline Ice Cream that won the 2012 Flavor of Georgia Food Products Contest, so he had a taste of the varietal of that they were offering.

A group walked in about two minutes before Lorenz came in, so Jennifer hit the freezer for more flavors. Limoncello Sorbet was tart and sweet, a lot like the Limoncello I’ve been making at home with a King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort recipe.

We all hairnetted-up and stepped back into the production area. There are a lot of rules a food producer must follow. Age-ing tanks and vat pasteurizers have to be separate from the other machines & processes.

High Road makes all its caramels, roasts all its nuts, hand squeezes all its lemons & limes, and grinds all its peanut butter. All of the add-ins are carefully created.

They produce product by the pint, by the gelato pan, and in three gallon buckets for their stores and clients. And, since it is illegal to sell hand-packed pints commercially, they have a packing line that pours 10 pints per minute.

All the ice cream, sorbet and gelato – when it is packaged – goes into a freezer that cools it harder than a rock (-30 degrees) in 30 minutes to an hour. As Lorenz says, “We make ice cream, not soup!”

The final step in the process is delivery. Decked out in a top hat and cool clothes, the delivery man makes a hit with hotel chefs and grocery store inventory personnel.

The people who work at High Road Craft Ice Cream and Sorbet are passionate about what they do and love telling their story.

You can buy pints after the tour at the packing house, online, and at high-end retailers and restaurants throughout the Southeast and Southwest.

Tour any Saturday between 10am & 4pm!

High Road Craft Ice Cream & Sorbet

2241 Perimeter Park Dr, Suite 7

Atlanta Georgia 30341

678.701.ROAD

http://www.HighRoadCraft.com

sales@HighRoadCraft.com

Rhinehart’s is Beyond Casual

Two Rhinehart’s Oyster Bars are in Augusta, but whichever one is closest is the best choice. One is in Evans, and one is close to downtown. Both serve fresh, well-prepared seafood, pub food, and sandwiches.

Nobody would wonder if they were owned by the same people. They  look like beach restaurants attacked by graffiti artists. “People won’t get nervous if your restaurant looks like a broken down beach shack” is one of their sayings. Nope, we couldn’t find any!

“Beyond Casual” is their theme. Great food is what you get!

This isn’t exactly what I had, but spicy shrimp like the ones in this picture were a part of our $21.21 Friday Date Night Special. For that price, we got two meals. Mine was spicy boiled shrimp and Bill Ronay’s was medium chicken wings. Paired with awesome french fries, home baked bread, chunky cole slaw, and washed down with Yuenglings, our meals couldn’t have been better on any beach, anywhere.

The Yuenglings were part of the $2.10 Friday beer special. Coors Light is the other choice. They have specials every day. And if you are a Facebook friend who gets their emails, there are a host of extremely well priced late evening specials.

I have no clue where they source their shrimp, but they are big, juicy, flavorful and THE BEST I’ve had in I can’t remember when. I saw a bunch of fried shrimp meals around me. So if peel and eat doesn’t suit you, the fried shrimp is probably a good alternative. Or oysters… raw or fried.

“Ice cold beer make the world a friendlier place” is some more of their homegrown wisdom. Sure enough, you’ll find yourself in conversation with folks over at the next picnic table. People come from all over to chow down at Rhinehart’s.

Catfish, crab legs, fish sandwiches, and an array of beef choices are all good.

Anytime you are hungry in Augusta Georgia, fill up at Rhinehart’s. You’ll be plotting a return trip. Guaranteed.

Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar

3051 Washington Rd

706/860-2337

Augusta Georgia

303 N Belair Rd

706/868-6850

Evans Georgia

Flavor of Georgia 2012 Winners Announced Today

One of my favorite events of the year, the Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest, just concluded at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta. UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development and the Department of Food Science and Technology sponsor the two day event.

115 individuals and companies across the state submitted products ranging from Georgia Peach Chevre to a Hot ‘Lanta Peach Piesicle to a Rum Cake “Musketball”. I don’t know how the sponsors did it, but 26 finalists were chosen to offer samples to the judges Monday afternoon, then to legislators and support teams from the Capitol during a reception Monday evening.

Picking the winners really was a tough job. Every product was a true Georgia treat. If you make it a point to Buy Georgia Made and Serve Georgia Grown, you must seek out these makers’ creations. Your family, friends and guests will be clamoring for more! Guaranteed.

2012 CONTEST WINNERS:

Nicki scoops Brown Butter Praline Ice Cream

Overall: Brown Butter Praline Ice Cream, Nicki Schroeder, High Road Craft Ice Cream, Atlanta

BBQ & Hot Sauces: Sweet Georgia Soul Signature BBQ Sauce, Griffin Bufkin, Southern Soul BBQ (a MUST VISIT eatery), St. Simon’s Island

Confections: Byne Blueberries Dark Chocolate, Richard Byne, Byne Blueberry Farms, Waynesboro

Dairy: Brown Butter Praline Ice Cream, Nicky Schroeder, High Road Craft Ice Cream, Atlanta

Jams, Jellies & Sauces: Lauri Jo’s Muscadine Pepper Jelly, Lauri Jo Bennett, Lauri Jo’s Southern Style Canning, LLC, Norman Park

Meat Products: GeeChee Girl Foods Seafood Gumbo, Debra McFadden-Bryant, The JelSa Group Inc, Albany

Other Products: Mercier Orchards Apple Cider, Rob Kaser, Mercier Orchards, Blue Ridge

Snack Foods: Grits Bits Vidalia Onion Baked Cheese Snacks, Diane Pfeifer, Grits Bits, Atlanta.

Peoples Choice: Three Generations of Chicken Log, Cindy Fulghum, Three Generations of Georgia, Dewy Rose

“The Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest highlights new and innovative Georgia food products and businesses using Georgia agricultural commodities,” Dr. Kent Wolfe, director of the UGA Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development says. “It is our desire that the contest helps entrepreneurs in seeking to enter the food processing industry or expand their current business, to receive publicity, and get exposure for their products. We want the interaction between food processors, brokers, retailers and others involved in the food marketing distribution channels in Georgia to see the great products these businesses and individuals have to offer.”

Oddities in Our Front Yard

It doesn’t happen often, but once in a while, we scratch our heads about what’s in our front yard. We’ve found several birds’ nests on the ground and a few cicada shells stuck to the trees. But these three photos are of the oddest things that have  happened…

The bird wasn’t afraid of us. It was almost as if he were waiting for us, much like a visiting cat, checking to see what we were up to. He came back for a few days, but then he moved on.

The morning the fish fell out of the sky, we were on our way down the driveway, chatting up a storm. All of the sudden we heard mighty wings flapping, then SPLAT! This fish landed within five feet of us. It took our breathes away, too!

You can see puncture marks on the fish’s body where the bird clutched him. We’d seen birds dive straight down into the water, catch a fish and bring him into the air. But we’d never seen the fish fall out of the bird’s claws.

We ran to get the camera. Then back for the tape measure.

Today, we saw this mushroom growing up out of the gravel driveway.

I learned all about how mushrooms are cultivated at the Produce Marketing Show we visited last month. But those mushrooms grew in rich, black soil, not gravel. And mushrooms don’t need light to grow. This one seemed very happy in the sunlight.

We are anxious to see what pops round to our front yard next.

Thank You for Your Service, Soldiers

            Morgan County Georgia’s Veterans Day Celebration

Like thousands of other communities, Morgan County residents gathered in our high school gymnasium to honor and to thank those who served in the United States Armed Forces.

Many of the veterans attend the ceremony each year, including our dear neighbors, Bob & Jean Baker.

The Jr ROTC filled the bleachers next to the older veterans.

The mayor’s son, a physician currently stationed at Fort Gordon, talked to us about his service. Major Curt Gilbert spent his five year residency in Radiology at Cook Army Medical Center. He told us how far the limb loss programs had come as wounded soldiers from the Iraq War came to Cook to be re-habed and fitted in the limb loss programs.

Major Curt Gilbert, MD

The work was challenging and rewarding, but the Major felt more & more that his calling was to deploy to a war zone. He came back to Fort Gordon, then got orders to serve in the only expeditionary hospital in Afghanistan.

He experienced wartime medicine in spades. “The care a team can give in a tent is amazing,” Major Gilbert told us, “In military wartime medicine, you are waiting for those helicopters. It is the most efficient setting ever. The mission is to take care of soldiers. And we took it personally when we lost a soldier.”

The Marines were making humanitarian efforts on behalf of the Afghans to find clothes and blankets for them. The literacy rate among the local population was about 15%. So the Marines built schools, too.

The Major, in a communication to his parents, Judy and Bruce Gilbert, told them what the Marines needed. Within two weeks, the elder Gilberts’ neighbors were sending hundreds of boxes of supplies. One Madisonian included a note in his box. “Dear Curt,” it said, “Here are clothes and jackets. I’m not sure if I’m giving clothes to future enemies; but I hope they keep the little urchins warm.”

When his tour of duty was over, Gilbert rode home in the belly of a C-130. He was the only live person among the soldiers in the five coffins around him.

Thank you for your service, soldiers. We will never forget your sacrifices on behalf of the United States of America.

Everyone, We Are Within Inches of Coming LIVE!

I just realized that readers on this blog may not realize we’re now incorporated on the GeorgiaMadeGeorgiaGrown.com website. If you go to our fabulous new website and click BLOG on the toolbar, you can pick up where I left off over here.

In a day or two, all the information about becoming a juried Georgia Made Georgia Grown member will be posted on the website. If you are a creative entrepreneur, please consider applying.