Thursday, February 18, 2010

Field Trip!

Last week on Tuesday we finally got to go to Nori Nori in Atlanta. This trip had been cancelled several times but we were finally going. Bus leaves at 8:30. And at 8:30 there were six of us. Out of eighteen. We were picking up the Sushi Boys and Mouth along the way at Ingle's. We should have picked up RK too but Chef said RK had told him he was not going because he had an interview. Yeah right. New Girl and Pizza Girl were going to meet us there because they live closer to Atlanta than they do here. We were five miles out from school and Chef's phone rang. It was Slo Mo asking where were we. Chef let him off the hook and said he could meet us at Ingle's where we were picking up the Sushi Boys. Of course that meant we were going to have to wait for him since he was now 10 minutes behind us. What an ass. And why does Chef keep coddling him! He's never going to learn.

Mouth was a no show, as to be expected. Slo Mo had Chico with him. Now the Three Amigos were complete since Igor was already sitting in the back of the van. I told him it was his lucky day since both of his girlfriends showed up, he might get laid today. Thank God I remembered my earphones this trip. I covered my head and slept most of the way.

We arrived an hour early. Nori Nori doesn't open until 11:45AM. With time to kill, Chef took us to a bakery a "friend" of his owns, Alon's Bakery and Market. Alon was impressive as soon as he walked into the room. Towering. Alon came over from Israel and opened this place up. His store is HUGE and MY kind of place. I loved every square inch it. The fresh breads, the gelati bar, the meat counter, the deli, the confections and pastries, the wine and cheese. It was all incredible. It's the reason you leave a small town like ours.

Bar Code bought a beautiful focaccia loaf. I bought some Gruyere and walnut crisps after I had tried one of the crackers in the store and nearly fainted they were so good. I also cried though when I got home and opened the bag to find them all crushed into crumbs. The idiots Larry, Darryl and Darryl made one pass through the store and spent the rest of the time smoking outside. What a waste. Their small town brains could have learned so much inside. I don't get why they are in this program.

Finally it was time to go to Nori Nori. New Girl and Pizza Girl were there waiting for us. Bar Code led his posse of lap dogs, The Kid, Tweedledee, Tweedledum, and Tweedledumber next door to the Italian restaurant. Remember, Bar Code doesn't do Chinese food. That pissed me off. If you go on a field trip you don't get to do your own side trips. I can't believe Chef allowed that. It further cemented to me that these are not team players. I don't want them on my team, even if I like Bar Code.

I was the only one who had been to Nori Nori before. I had been bragging about the place and you should have seen everyone's eyes bug out when they walked inside. It was even more impressive than all of my hype. The restaurant is a buffet and is the size of (though not quality of) a Golden Corral. MILF was the last one to finish and everyone at her table made a big deal about how much she ate. But then Hottie #2 said they never saw what I ate. She just ate slow. I had finally called it quits and MILF was still up at the buffet. I told Chef that we needed to leave soon or I was going to be hungry again in a few minutes.

Here is my first trip to the buffet. I pretty much stuck to only sushi with meat (fish) in it. I try to avoid the ones with cream cheese as I have a texture issue with those. I probably passed over an equal number of rolls as what I had on my plate, there are that many to choose from, all made fresh right there behind the buffet line. The soup is crab soup. You have the option of adding items to the soup like tempura fried shrimp, sea weed, noodles and I forget what else. I took mine straight up. The skewer in the middle is rib eye. The skewer in the back is barbecued octopus that was unreal.

For my second plate I began to move away from the rolls and into what I believe is called gunkan and ended with nigirisushi. The third piece clockwise from twelve o'clock with the silvery sliver falling off was pickled mackerel and was out of this world. And I LOVE anything with roe in or on it. Right or wrong, I don't use any sauces or condiments with my sushi. The ring in the center of the plate is for a small bowl for your shrimp sauce, soy sauce, wasabi, or what have you. If I have say six of the same kind I will eat a few with wasabi or a few with soy sauce but in general I don't like to mask the natural flavor of my food. Since I was only eating one piece of each style/kind, I didn't use any sauces. I'm the same way with steak, just give me some salt and keep your A1.

For my third trip, I snagged another rib eye skewer, they were soooo good, and then moved onto the salad bar. This is a sampling of maybe a third of what they offer. I have no idea what I was eating but they were all good. The funky looking black one at four o'clock was the best and I have no clue what it was. Started with an 'H,' I think.

For my fourth trip to the buffet I left the salads behind and hit the hot bar. On the scallop shell is something like a crab cake that was called Seafood Dynamite. It made my eyes roll back it was that good, better than any crab cake. The shrimp skewer has a cream cheese like filling that I didn't know about when I picked it up. The head was tasty but the filling was so so. I can't remember which of those piles is the beef teriyaki, but it was out of this world. Enough to inspire me to marinate some steaks at home this past weekend. Again this is about a third of what they had up on the buffet. I skipped all of the fish dishes. My understanding is that for the dinner buffet they also have crab legs, a carving station and a few other big dishes that they don't have on the lunch buffet.

Finally, dessert. I did get most of all the desserts but still left maybe a quarter behind. I like the fact that all of the desserts are bite sized allowing you to sample so many. The little cup was some type of berry yogurt. The napoleon/fruit tart at the bottom of the plate was the best of the bunch. They also have green tea soft serve ice cream which I did not get but every one else raved about.

All that for...drum roll please.... sixteen bucks! (I drank water). I think dinner is $24. It's more on the weekends but I think the buffet is bigger on the weekends. The under 12 kids' prices are clever. Pricing is by height, less than 3 feet is free, under 4 feet is 1/5 price, and under 5 feet is half price.

After lunch there was so much nagging to go to the oft talked about Asian Market that Chef finally conceded, even though we were only going to have about ten minutes. The Asian Market is in Chamblee which is locally known as Chambodia because of the high Asian population density there. The area used to have a high Hispanic population density which is still evident in the demographics at the market. I guess the market used to be called Hong Kong Supermarket but now is called Atlanta Farmers Market. I wish I had taken some pictures and they don't have a website.

The market was about a third the size of the Dekalb Farmers Market which is my gold standard and Nirvana for me. This market was great though. Unfortunately it would take me ten minutes to enjoy just one side of each aisle so I just made a circle around the whole market. Produce was unreal both in quality and selection. And prices were half of what we pay here at the grocery. The meats were neat. They had packages of fish heads. Sounds strange but all I could think of was how cool it would be to be able to buy one package and be able to go home and make a fresh fish stock. Not something I can do at Ingle's.

I have never seen offal from any animal other than chicken and cows. I saw packages of pork hearts and livers. Duck livers. Man I wanted to try everyone I saw. There were different "cuts" of pigs' feet. I've seen chicken feet before in markets but I had never seen boneless chicken and duck feet before. Don't know how they are used, but I want too.

And there was goat. I love goat. Ever since I had it at Taste of Chicago from an African stand selling a dish called zil zil made with goat instead of beef. Live bullfrogs were $5.99/pound. I really don't know what you do with those. There was so much to see and learn here, unless of course you were Igor, Chico and Slo Mo who preferred to stand in a circle outside smoking.

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