Food Issue - Shop like a chef
8 Atlanta pros share where they shop for groceries
Where do chefs shop when they cook for themselves, their friends, and their families, and why? That's what we asked these Atlanta chefs to see if they are just like us or have some hidden secrets up the sleeves of their whites.
This is going to sound extremely lame but I rarely go to a market at all. I will go to a Saturday farmers market for something I know they have but is in such small quantity that they do not sell directly to me, either. Morningside (1393 N. Highland Ave., 404-313-5784) or Peachtree Road Farmers Market (2744 Peachtree Road). Also, I go to Peachtree Road for milk from Country Gardens Farm. If I am craving an Asian ingredient, there is a little market in Marietta in the Boomers strip mall called Tomato Japanese (2086 Cobb Parkway, Smyrna, 770-933-0108) that I will stop by or also Buford Highway Farmers Market (5600 Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-455-0770) for Korean chili flake or big bags of new crop Kokuho rose sticky rice. Clifford Harrison, husband digs rice with everything (his Hawaiian upbringing).
Hong Kong Supermarket (5495 Jimmy Carter Blvd., Norcross, 770-582-6800) mainly because of the seafood. They have great fish and lobsters and crab. I love cooking whole fish at home and this is the place that has the best variety. They also have things like blood and tripe, which is hard to find at other markets. I buy most of my vegetables from the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market (561 Flat Shoals Ave.) and the Grant Park Farmers Market (600 Cherokee Ave.). These markets are so great and convenient to have in the city. The Atlanta I grew up in was mainly potatoes and collards and now you can get Vietnamese mustard greens and a whole pig's head in Grant Park on a Sunday. Amazing, really. The third place is Star Provisions (1198 Howell Mill Road, 404-365-0410) for cheese. I love that funk! Their cheese room is out of control. It has all the great gangster European and English cheese, but they also do a great job of having great domestic cheeses. I am really into Oma from Vermont and Elberton blue from right here in good old Georgia.
Edgewood Kroger (1225 Caroline St., 404-880-4109) for the $150 shopping extravaganza at 11:30 at night for sodas, diapers, snacks, magazines, juices, and some late-night snacks. Whole Foods off Ponce (650 Ponce de Leon Ave., 404-853-1681) for the middle of my day off or cooking for a group of friends, a $100-bag of groceries and maybe some flowers. Their flowers are some of the best in the city available seven days a week. Grant Park Farmers Market when cooking for my family on Sunday nights. I eat brunch there and will buy snacks while walking through it. Buy a loaf of bread from H&F Bread Co., some meat from Charlotte Swancy of Riverview Farms and tons of veggies for one night of good cooking.
I like Whole Foods because I want to know where my food comes from and that there is no added additives crammed into the products to make them shelf stable. The Your DeKalb Farmers Market (3000 E. Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur, 404-377-6400) due to the diversity of the products that they carry. Also, they always have seasonal produce and sell a lot of stuff from farms I purchase from at One Eared Stag. Bonus: My kids dig that place. Kroger for the pure fact of convenience. I have three kids under 4 and we always need milk, juice, peanut butter, waffles — stuff like that. Plus, kids want what they want and as much as you want it to be from organic, all-natural establishments, it's just not always possible.
Always in search of quality ingredients, I take a decidedly high/low approach to food shopping. I can always find incredible quality and rare ingredients at Annie's Star Provisions. It's also worth the trek to Buford Highway Farmers Market, as well as Cherian's International Groceries (751 DeKalb Industrial Way, Decatur, 404-299-0842) in Decatur for all things Kerala and Indian. Little known fact: Cherian's is the best bang for your buck for all number of spices. When cooking for my family (in the service of convenience and quality in my hood) I love the Edgewood Kroger, which I call the Whole Foods alternative when I am pressed for time.
I love stopping in at Bakkal International (5690 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, 404-847-9942) on Roswell Road to buy Kashkaval, Ajwar, Sambal, Boreka pastry, and dried Kalamata figs.
East Atlanta and Grant Park Farmers Market are my local grocers for my staple produce, protein, and bread. I buy there for my profession and can incorporate for my own personal needs.
East Atlanta Village Farmers Market
La Calavera Bakery: I like their sprouted grain loaf. I keep it at home in the fridge and slice pieces off and grill them in my skillet with butter. I also love their raw truffles coated in popped amaranth.
Riverview Farms: My new favorite egg supply. Pork chop.
Scharko Farms: I buy their garlic every year and stockpile it in my fridge. I love their arugula (spicy).
Sparta Imperial Mushrooms: Mushrooms once a week! Shiitake! They keep well in the fridge until I use them and I can prepare them in minutes or eat them raw.
Little Tart Bake Shop: The best granola in the world!
Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet: Their chestnuts are TO DIE FOR right now. (RAW!)
Your DeKalb Farmers Market
Gaudiano Frizzante water by the case, Turkish organic apricots, butter, organic olive oil, organic oatmeal raisin cookies, seaweed (kombu and kelp) for a quick stock, their Spanish sardines (sometimes good with a glass of wine when I'm so tired), cheese (best price, great selection), fresh turmeric and organic ginger (raw for my health!), miso (for that kombu stock), and organic lemons!
Aldi (1461 Moreland Ave.)
Don't knock it till you try it! They have great almonds and good-quality nuts in general. They have good-quality German, Swiss, and (sometimes around the holidays) Belgian dark chocolate. They have organic agave. I sometimes buy the vacuum-packed German sunflower, pumpernickel, or rye bread (it's great in a fix). They also have crazy-ass deals on random stuff like pots and pans and housewares.
I love visiting all the markets, but sometimes my schedule does not coincide with the market hours. I'm off on Sundays, so I often hit the Grant Park Farmers Market if I'm in town and not doing an event. If I'm off on a Thursday evening, I might hit East Atlanta Village Farmers Market instead. I like buying fresh produce and supporting a lot of the same farmers that we buy from at the restaurant.
For supplementary groceries, I usually hit Whole Foods or Sevananda (467 Moreland Ave., 404-681-2831). This is where I buy snacks and breakfast foods/smoothie supplies. Since I'm home in the mornings, I eat breakfast at home every morning. Usually a smoothie with almond milk, kefir, organic frozen fruit, and hemp powder. Sometimes I will get down on a waffle or a fried egg with bacon, or both. I go to Savi Urban Market (287 Elizabeth St., 404-523-3131) a good bit because it means that I can walk. It's about three blocks from my house and they have a great wine/beer selection as well as some really good gourmet staples like local cheese, cured meats, and this stuff I love called Chuice — a non-pasteurized vegetable and fruit juice blend with chunks of vegetables, seeds, and nuts in it. I haven't seen it anywhere else. It's a real health bomb, which helps balance out the french fries and burger that I might eat at MU when I cycle to work and arrive hungry again.
Shopping has always been somewhat limited based upon availability due to my schedule. Kara (my fiancé) and I always try to go to the Grant Park Farmers Market on Saturday. We were also a part of a CSA that would arrive every Wednesday. To fill in the gaps we shop at Whole Foods on Ponce and an occasional trip to Buford Highway Farmers Market.
Ever since my brother-in-law's cancer diagnosis, my views on food have completely changed and I take great care of what is put into my body. Local organic food is the first and foremost thing that I search for. It's so important for so many reasons. I have always been a huge supporter of local produce, but I have recently gained a much stronger connection with the food people grow. It's more than just a face or an email, or a phone call to a farmer — really understanding how long that leek took to grow and its life and journey to get to your home. It's exciting and refreshing. I've been learning a lot more about nutrition and the best way to maximize that. We cook a lot at home and that is becoming more abundant since we are taking time off. So now my goal is to shop at more farmers markets and eliminate trips to Buford Highway. I love what they have there, but I love the connection with the people who raise and grow my food a lot better. At home we have a lot of different projects — kombucha, vinegars, kimchi, kefir, yogurt. It's fun and keeps me busy.