Athens Eats: The Empty Bowls Project Event!

Words by Sam Stephens. Photos by Paige French.

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A friend of mine has always had these beautiful handmade bowls, mugs, and plates. They were simple, but you could feel their weight. They felt like someone put their heart into the grooves and divots. None were perfect, but they made every meal feel warmer, more filling. They made dinner more of an experience.

The Empty Bowls Project, a movement created by potters with the intention of eliminating hunger, aims to share that feeling by hosting events that marry the skill of potters with local Athens chefs and farmers to provide attendees a beautiful handmade bowl with a fantastic meal inside. More importantly, they aim to raise as much money as possible for organizations fighting to end hunger and support the rights of women, minority groups, refugees, undocumented immigrants, protestors and the environment. 

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On January 16th, Martin Luther King Day and the week of Inauguration, there’s going to be a regional Empty Bowls event at The Old Pal. All proceeds will benefit the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union. They’re still accepting bowl donations from potters, provided that they are shipped to Athens by January 10th.

If you’re interested in more information, or you’d like to donate a bowl, please contact Erin at erin@theseedandplate.com! More information and links to purchase tickets are coming soon.

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Athens Ate 2016

This is exactly what it looks like: awesome pictures of food we’ve written about this year. If something tickles your fancy, check out the wonderful photographers who took these stellar pictures through the articles they’re sourced from… and maybe grab some dinner after you’ve been lured into our delicious food trap!

How could you not love this table full of delicious from our article "No-Wait Breakfast Spots" in March, 2016.
How could you not love this table full of delicious from our article “No-Wait Breakfast Spots” in March, 2016.
Southern Brewing Company Wild Azalea
Southern Brewing Company has been joining the ranks of the incredible local breweries in Athens and we can’t get enough of them.  (Southern Brewing Company Redefines “Local” Beer)
The folks over at Panadería Tacuari have a beautiful selection!
The folks over at Panadería Tacuari have a beautiful selection! (From: Panderia Tacuari)
Panadería Tacuari's alfajores cannot be missed.
Panadería Tacuari’s alfajores cannot be missed. (From: Panderia Tacuari)
home.made expanded this year and continues to make us wish our stomaches were at least three times bigger.
home.made expanded this year and continues to make us wish our stomaches were at least three times bigger. (From: home.made from Scratch is Growing)
home.made... Brownies... Need I say more? It doesn't get much more perfect than these.
home.made… Brownies… Need I say more? It doesn’t get much more perfect than these. (From: home.made from Scratch is Growing)
From March's blog, "A Tale of Two Roasters," the coffee beans pictured have already been ground up, sipped down, and done their job or brightening many Athenian mornings.
From March’s blog, “A Tale of Two Roasters,” the coffee beans pictured have already been ground up, sipped down, and done their job of brightening many Athenian mornings.
Will we ever recover from the carrots of Collective Harvest? Root vegetables rock, y'all.
Will we ever recover from the carrots of Collective Harvest? Root vegetables rock, y’all. (From: Collective Harvest)
This year Zombie Donuts made their mark on Athens! We have tighter belts and bigger smiles thanks to their plentiful and diverse selection of donuts.
This year Zombie Donuts made their mark on Athens! We have tighter belts and bigger smiles thanks to their plentiful and diverse selection of donuts. (From: Zombie Coffee and Donuts)
The most beautiful little kisses we've ever seen, Sweet Beijos is a new favorite for us at My Athens.
The most beautiful little kisses we’ve ever seen, Sweet Beijos is a new favorite for us at My Athens. (From: Sweet Beijos Treats)
Vibrant and vegetarian, our article on "Vegetarian Meals and Beer Combos" took a fresh look at some killer Athens restaurants and their best veggie offerings.
Vibrant and vegetarian, our article on “Vegetarian Meals and Beer Combos” took a fresh look at some killer Athens restaurants and their best veggie offerings.
Seriously, "Vegetarian Meals and Beer Combos" also reminded us that Creature Comforts' Athena is not only vegetarian, but probiotic. It's practically a health drink!
Seriously, “Vegetarian Meals and Beer Combos” also reminded us that Creature Comforts’ Athena is not only vegetarian, but probiotic. It’s practically a health drink!
Oh, Athens Farmers Market... you're the weekly apple of our eye. You may be over, but you'll come back in spring. We can't wait!
Oh, Athens Farmers Market… you’re the weekly apple of our eye. You may be over, but you’ll come back in spring. We can’t wait! (From: A Farmers Market Friend Date)
Last but not least, Donna Chang's opened up in Five Points this fall, and we were not disappointed! Great people, great atmosphere, and amazing food! Honestly, what more could you ask for?
Last but not least, Donna Chang’s opened up in Five Points this fall, and we were not disappointed! Great people, great atmosphere, and amazing food! Honestly, what more could you ask for? (From: Donna Chang’s)

 

Athens Eats: Specialty Cakes

Cake Art

Editor’s Note: It’s finally time to take a crack at making your holiday desserts, or sneak off to the store for one. As we all know, cakes are fundamental in all celebrations, and we at My Athens love remembering how much talent is behind Athens’ locally made treats. This story from this past spring is a great place to start taking notes before family starts knocking on your door!

Words and Photos by Christy Rogers.

Before you bite into a giant slab of cake, take a minute to stop salivating and pay to its presentation. From pies topped with latticework to artful swirls of frosting, pastry perhaps has the strongest tradition of combining visual art with sugar crash-inducing deliciousness. And with the use of natural ingredients, seasonal garnishes and an eye for beauty, Athens bakers are redefining what it means to make a specialty cake. 

Cake Art
(Photo/ Austin Steele)

One of the major players in Athens’ specialty cake game is 5 & 10’s Mike Sutton. Starting as a busboy for the restaurant in college, Sutton moved his way into the kitchen, wholeheartedly embracing the chaotic world of pastries in relation with the restaurant’s seasonal menu. Continue reading “Athens Eats: Specialty Cakes”

Athens Eats: Franchises that Make a Difference

Editor’s Note: This rerun from last year is a perfect one for the week after Thanksgiving! We have a lot of fantastic businesses in this town, local and otherwise, that are helping our community. Let’s give them some love. 

Athens thrives as a town known for having strong local roots. While our local business owners are always looking for ways to team up, get involved and benefit others, a number of small franchises are also giving back to the community. Dane Henderson of FIVE and Whit Richardson of Taziki’s Mediterannean Cafe have sought opportunities serving nonprofit organizations in the community with food, funds and even some fun.

five Continue reading “Athens Eats: Franchises that Make a Difference”

Athens Eats: Sweet Beijos Treats

Words by Whitney Watkins, photos by Shayon Keating

In our fast-paced, on-demand society, food is often regarded as something that needs to be readily available for consumption. Craig Page eagerly challenges our fast food obsession with his business, Sweet Beijos Treats.

Beijos (pronounced “bay-zhoues) is the Portuguese word for ‘kisses,’” writes Page. Sweet Beijos is a home-based and licensed Cottage Food business. Page’s main products are brigadeiros. According to Page’s fiance, Lucas Vasconcelos (and Brazilian history), the traditional chocolate brigadeiro has a history reflecting the resistance during the dictatorship period in Brazil. In fact, the literal translation of brigadeiro is “brigadier.” These treats are bite-sized and shaped like truffles. Their texture is the perfect mix of creamy and fudge-y, and Page offers them in an ever-growing variety of flavors.

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Continue reading “Athens Eats: Sweet Beijos Treats”

Athens Eats: Donna Chang’s

Words and Photos by Emily Llamazales.

Athens’ newest must-eat Asian restaurant is right in the center of Five Points. Donna Chang’s is the perfect place to go all-in for a family-style meal with friends or to get to know each other on a classy, but casual date. The atmosphere is brilliant and lovely with a white marbled bar and eye catching patterned plates. I sat down for a wonderful meal and chatted with Ryan Sims about his and Shae Sims’ new restaurant.

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When you first enter Donna Chang’s you are greeted by a lovey waitstaff and cannot help but notice the craftsmanship that went into the design. Ryan tells me, “it looks a lot like our home in many ways. The tabletops (made by Gus Darnell) are meant to mimic the table Shae’s grandpa made that sits in our dining room. The glassware and cocktail gear have been collected over the past five years.” (That cocktail gear lines the bar and had me longing for every piece.) They have also drawn design inspiration from the many restaurants they have admired together over the years.

The design is only one element that’s complimented by their great atmosphere, partially due to some killer tunes on a great sound system. Ryan informed me that, “Etienne DeRocher helped us pick out an amazing vintage sound system. On it, we try to keep things different and fun. We find ourselves using the word ‘festive’ a lot.  Usually we start the night with some garage or surf-rock, early Beatles or Stones, and 60’s french pop and then make our way towards some hip-hop a little later in the evening.” 

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Now for the menu! Since the restaurant itself is a small space with a small crew, Ryan says, “they aim to have as much focus and control over all aspects, especially the food. Keeping the menu tighter helps with these goals.” You won’t struggle over a five page menu or spend thirty minutes reading it, because no one enjoys that arduous process anyways. Instead, the menu features diverse items all with a unique flavor that won’t leave you wanting for more. You honestly cannot go wrong here. I had the Kale and Brussels Salad, an amazing, crispy salad tossed in lime juice and fish sauce making it light and wonderful. You will not want to stop eating this and can easily down a whole bowl despite its large portion. Next up was the Chickpea “tofu,” a non-traditional tofu. Instead of your normal soy tofu, it was the most creamy and silky thing you will have ever put in your mouth. This is not something you’ll find anywhere else. The texture was incredible and addicting. It was paired with vegan dashi and beautiful, fresh veggies. To top things off was dessert. I’m an avid ice cream consumer and it was quite hard to choose just one from the menu but I ended up with the five spice ice cream. “Shae has been making ice creams for many years and it is one of her passions. I realize the bias, but the five spice is the greatest flavor I’ve ever had,” as Ryan tells me. I must agree. As far as I could detect, it was a wondrous blend of star anise, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. The topping was a tangy and crisp apple ginger compote that blended perfectly. You can count on Ryan and Shae to bring quality ingredients into their dishes, with a market section of the menu meant to highlight the produce they get from local farms. They also use local and organic produce throughout the rest of the menu when possible, routinely ordering from Collective Harvest, Woodland Gardens, Sparta Mushrooms, and others.

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Donna Chang’s is a perfect addition to the Five Points neighborhood and a much-needed dining experience. I’d like to leave off with a bit of their backstory and how Donna Chang’s came to be as told to me by Ryan: “When Shae and I first started dating many years ago, Asian-inspired food was something we both enjoyed cooking and eating together. We would drive to Buford Highway for ramen or Chinese, or we would cook something from the Momofuku cookbook. We are always on the hunt for different and exciting things. When we lived in NYC, we dined out a lot. Mission Chinese was in the regular rotation. We got to know the chef there a good bit, and we were awestruck by his creativity, but also his generosity and sense of hospitality. When we moved back to Athens in 2014, we knew we wanted to build a restaurant. One day we were cooking Chinese food for the millionth time at home and it dawned on us that this is the type of place we should open.”

Athens Eats: Our Halloween Favorites

Happy Halloween! While most have already celebrated, we can’t ignore the candy-filled holiday in spite of its Monday status. Everyone in the killer My Athens editorial staff has shared their favorite Halloween treats, and why, below. Come get to know us here, and be safe this Halloween!

Rachel Bailey, Executive Director:

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“Reese’s Sticks are the TRUF for many reasons, first among them being they are the second coming of Nutty Bars. Reese’s has perfected the chocolate-wafer-peanut butter ratio, so biting into one is met first with a little give as the wafer sinks into the PB; then a satisfying crack as it crunches. That’s why any Reese’s Sticks pro knows King Size is the ONLY way to go.”

Nina Guzman, Managing Editor: 

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“While the term ‘choco-holic’ doesn’t make much grammatical sense, that is ABSOLUTELY what I am. When it comes to Halloween candy I can’t choose between one chocolate treat. 3 Musketers, M&Ms, Milky Way, Twixt. I love them all! I will trade any Nerds or juice flavored candy for chocolate. However the second you add nuts or peanut butter to chocolate, I’m out.”

Kayla Renie, Director of Photography:

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“Hello there! M&M’s are my favorite candy because I love chocolate, and they just go great with everything: cookies, ice cream, and my personal favorite, popcorn. They also remind me of my mom because they are her favorite candy as well, and my sister Emily because when she was little we liked to call her Em&Em. I don’t think the colors make a difference, but nevertheless the blue ones are my favorite.”

Shayon Keating, Social Media Coordinator: 

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“Well, hey there! My favorite candy bar is Snickers because you aren’t you when you’re hungry (or trying to hit all the houses in your neighborhood for a pillowcase full of candy).”

Eva Claire Schwartz, Arts Editor:

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Hi gang! I take candy very seriously. While I never feel I need an excuse to eat chocolate (and you shouldn’t either!), Symphony bars are my favorite. What’s a Symphony bar, you ask? Glad to take one for the team and answer. It’s a milk chocolate bar with toffee and almonds. Heavenly doesn’t even begin to cover it. I resonate with this chocolate bar; it’s discerning. Not a lot of retailers have them, so it takes the dedicated chocolate connoisseur to track one down. My grandmother used to keep them in her cabinet just for me. They usually come in a very large size, making them perfect to share or to snack on for a while. 10/10 eating experience. I almost had a square with my breakfast.”

Aspen Fairchild, Fashion Editor:

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“My favorite candy is 100 Grand because I know that that $1 candy bar is the closest thing I will ever get to actually holding $100,000. Eat chocolate and feel rich at the same time, what more could anyone want?”

Sam Stephens, Food Editor: 

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Well, we’ve come back around to me! I can honestly say that there was nothing I loved more as a kid than a candy that both tasted delicious and complimented me! Why, thank you, Mr. Smarties! I AM a smarty– at least until I licked the powder out of the wrapper to collect as much remaining Smarties dust as I possibly could.

Athens Eat: Meet the Dogs of The Farmers Market!

Photos by Kayla Renie.

We love the friendly atmosphere the Athens Farmers Market provides; all are welcome, including pups! This week, Kayla wanted to get to know the dogs that frequent the Athens Farmers Market! This meant finding their favorite activities and foods. (Their humans provided the info. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet found talking dogs yet.)

Hello, my name is Bucky and I am one year old. Some of my favorite things include smelling monkey grass and meeting new people. My favorite food is the mashed potatoes and meat I had for my birthday this past July. I wish I could eat it every day!
Hello, my name is Bucky and I am one year old. Some of my favorite things include smelling monkey grass and meeting new people. My favorite food is the mashed potatoes and meat I had for my birthday this past July. I wish I could eat it every day!

 

My name is Penny, and I am five years old. I love sleeping and being around people. My favorite thing to eat is coconut oil; I eat it by the spoonful! My human likes to put coconut oil on as lotion, and I lick it off her.
My name is Penny, and I am five years old. I love sleeping and being around people. My favorite thing to eat is coconut oil; I eat it by the spoonful! My human likes to put coconut oil on as lotion, and I lick it off her.

 

I'm Willie Mae, but you can call me Willie for short. I am five years old.
I’m Willie Mae, but you can call me Willie for short. I am five years old.
 I love squirrels and sleeping in patches of sunlight. My favorite thing to eat is eggs, sunny-side-up -- the yolks first, of course.
I love squirrels and sleeping in patches of sunlight. My favorite thing to eat is eggs, sunny-side-up — the yolks first, of course.

 

I'm Belle, and I am four years old.
I’m Belle, and I am four years old.
I love rolling around in the grass of Herty Field and taking well-deserved naps. My favorite thing to eat is frozen broccoli!
I love rolling around in the grass of Herty Field and taking well-deserved naps. My favorite thing to eat is frozen broccoli!

 

Hey! I'm Frankie, and I am three months old.
Hey! I’m Frankie, and I am three months old.
I love bones, socks, and going on adventures in the woods. Apples are my favorite thing to eat!
I love bones, socks, and going on adventures in the woods. Apples are my favorite thing to eat!

 

We're Tudy and Brewster.
We’re Tudy and Brewster.
We are five years old and four months old, respectively.
We are five years old and four months old, respectively.
Some of our favorite things include our elephant stuffed animal, running, and sleeping. Our favorite things to eat are table scraps.
Some of our favorite things include our elephant stuffed animal, running, and sleeping. Our favorite things to eat are table scraps.

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Hello! My name is Indie, and I am five and a half months old.
Hello! My name is Indie, and I am five and a half months old.
My favorite things to do are run and meet other dogs. My favorite things to eat are my human’s books!
My favorite things to do are run and meet other dogs. My favorite things to eat are my human’s books!

Athens Eats: A Farmers Market Friend Date

Words by Jose Peña. Photos by Emily Llamazales.

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The Athens Farmers Market allows the community to enjoy all of the rad local vendors selling their fresh produce, intricate art pieces and the most delectable pastries that just melt in your mouth! Whether you’re in the mood for an early day with crisp, cool breezes on Saturday mornings or late afternoon strolls on Wednesdays right by Creature Comforts, the farmer’s market is best to rendezvous when accompanied with someone special: whether friends, family, pets, significant others, co-workers, anyone!

For those of you who are early risers, visiting the farmer’s market at Bishop Park is perfect for you. The best part about it is that the options are endless for you and a friend to share a memorable date together. Enjoy sipping on nectar from the gods, a.k.a. 1000 Faces coffee, and enjoying Sanvi’s Sweet and Savories pastries that bring tears to your eyes from their indulging aroma.

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If you aren’t intrigued yet, just wait. Not only can you grab some breakfast with your special person, you can also surprise them with beautiful locally grown flowers from 3 Porch Farm. Distract them with the salivating jams or eccentric pottery and art vendors and sneak over to the plethora of colors scattered across the flower booth. From purples, yellows, red and blues, you are sure to find the perfect bundle for that perfect friend and maybe suck on one of their famous Honeypops while doing so—not to mention that the vendors are incredibly welcoming and willing to help!

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If you and your posse aren’t particularly big fans of early mornings, don’t fret. From 4-7 p.m. on Wednesdays, you can still get the farmer’s market experience that is best suited for you. After a long day of class or work, hit the vendors up in downtown Athens right in the Creature Comforts courtyard and enjoy the live music and delicious craft beer. Taking a browse of the different brews offered by Creature Comforts is fun and very insightful.

Whether you’re wanting to get an early start on your day or relax mid-afternoon with a cold one, grab some friends and take them to Athens Farmers Market. The commitment within the market to support local businesses emanates a strong sense of community you wouldn’t get from shopping at a large chain. It’s fun, a great experience for friends and family, and most importantly—doesn’t break the bank!

 

For more info about the Athens Farmers Market visit athensfarmersmarket.net