Skate Park of Athens is Breaking Rocks, and We Need Your Help!

Words and Photos: Jeremy Olson and Alexa Rivera

Edited: Nina K. Guzman

Skate Park of Athens has been the stomping grounds for those who prefer to glide over the pavement or show off newly learned stunts along with their newly formed bruises. It has become the bedrock of the close knit skateboarding community open to Athenians and visitors alike. Initially started as a grassroots movement to create a safe and inviting park, has grown into an Athens staple. Over the years,  local business owners, community members along with Tony Hawk grants, SPLOST, and Athens Clarke County Leisure Services, the park has evolved into an iconic design—a world renowned park that is not duplicated anywhere else. These plans always included a street course however, and this is where you step in.

Corwin Weik, Jeff Hannan, and Alex Blankenship are leading this project, and they want the input of the community. Branding ideas, logo ideas, and all other ideas are welcome in this ongoing development so that this project has your voice. The rocks that are being broken right now as you read this are for the development of a street course. This addition is to allow skateboarders of all skill levels to develop and master their talents. The park already has a welcoming environment, but to stress a specific characteristic of the Skate Park of Athens, the healthy competition creatively inspires all to be the best that they can. This park has produced signed skateboarders in the past, some of whom consider this park to be a huge factor in those achievements. This addition for the park is to allow those who are just starting off a flat surface that will be a great jumping off point. The possibilities of this safe environment away from public roads can be the location where someone learns their first Ollie or kick flip. This full circle mentality is what the culture encompasses at the park and we hope this is where the cycle of continued great talent grows. The street course will also add new obstacles through the creation of urban style structures. These additions will push everyone to conquer a new environment and express themselves through their talents. We want to see this community grow and foster more friendships in the pursuit of excellent skateboarding.

To accomplish this, the Skate Park needs  donations to fulfill our promise to grow our welcoming community. The goal is to raise $80,000 dollars for construction and renovations so that the immediate ongoing renovations are fulfilled to their highest ability. This is not a park just for the individuals who are running this program, but for every Athenian, every Georgian, and every person who comes across this park who wants a quality skating experience. Everyone can be themselves here, emotions are let loose and friendships are made.

Donate to help support this park and create a loving environment that we can all say we had a hand in building. By donating, you will help that new eight-year-old skateboarder to have a safe place to begin their passion alongside the avid skateboarder to push others and themselves to new levels of skill. Your donation will help broaden the skating experience at the Skate Park of Athens.

To donate stop by their Go Fund Me page

Help Wanted! Seeking Spring Interns

My Athens is growing fast, and we need our team to grow with us! We’re seeking some new contributors for the spring, from video to commercial photography to writers. Check out the descriptions below!

Want to get involved but don’t quite fit within any of the descriptions below? Reach out to us anyway! Who knows — you could be the piece we didn’t even know we were missing. Contact Executive Director Rachel Bailey at Rachel@myathensis.com and tell us about yourself!

Video Intern
Commercial Photography Intern
Graphic Design
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Athens Eats: The Art of Pouring

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**Editors Note**: The editor’s team decided to rerun this piece in celebration of the Shakedown: Coffee Cocktail Competition. Taking place Thursday, October 20th, the Old Pal will play host to a cocktail competition that will feature 1000 Faces cold brew in cocktails. The competition will feature barkeeps from Athens’ favorites such as Hi-Lo, The World Famous, and The Old Pal. 

Words by Eva Claire Schwartz. Photos by Taylor Canerday.

In a world where Starbucks is consistently getting the spelling of our names wrong, it’s gratifying to be handed a mug of coffee and shown we matter.

Specialty coffee shops around the country are allowing people to make connections with their baristas and look down at the mouth of their mugs to see a work of art: latte art. Recently, latte art has gained a whole new level of momentum. With coffee brewing quality at the highest level it has ever been, baristas are able to focus primarily on the value and the experience.

Mike Young, a coffee manager for Two Story Coffee, is no stranger to this mindset. After starting work in April 2014, Mike learned tips and tricks from older baristas around the bar to pick up free pouring, a form of latte art in which the design is made in the process of filling up the mug with your drink.

Don’t get us wrong, taste is the most important part, but the art makes the experience special.

“Honoring the coffee by brewing it in a way it shines is most important,” says Young. “Art is the cherry on top.”

Let’s talk mechanics of pouring here. Milk is steamed so that the lipids separate (whole milk is best). Then the barista, when pouring, is basically folding the resulting microfoam into the espresso crema (those tiny brown bubbles you see on top of an espresso shot). Now, both the crema and the microfoam want to battle it out to rise to the top. When pouring, the barista is actually tricking the crema into sharing some of that top space with the microfoam. When the barista physically pours, envision he is pushing the microfoam, which pushes the crema into different patterns.

When folding the crema and microfoam, you start with a dot in the very center. From here, the barista can pull through at the end and make a heart. If wanted, they can make either a tulip or a rosetta design out of this heart.

While these frequently top the mugs you’ve probably received in the past, latte art has come a long way from it’s onset of popularity in 1980s Seattle. Now, baristas get together from all over the globe to compete in throwdowns, competitions where the most creative and most consistent barista wins.

Ben Helfen, of Counter Culture, is no stranger to throwdowns. Having won the Millrock Latte Art competition in 2008 and proceeding to compete at all levels, Helfen felt invigorated to give those involved in the local coffee community a chance to get together. Along with M’lissa Muckerman they created the first reoccurring throwdown event in a particular city: Atlanta, Georgia. “Thursday Night Throwdown” is a tradition that is still going strong since 2008, popping up all over the country and even other parts of the world.
Having worked in numerous specialty shops over the years, Helfen has noticed that coffee sales, even during the recession, never dropped.

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“Because people drink coffee no matter what,” Helfen explains, “people are willing to splurge on it even when times are tough.”

Helfen also remarks on the significance of good service in specialty shops. If you’ve had a good experience, your brain is already in the mindset that you’re about to encounter something really special – that you’re going to enjoy this time and sit down for a moment or two.

“The best thing is when I give someone their drink and I turn my back and hear them remark on their latte art,” says Young. “It’s just awesome. There aren’t a lot of jobs like that.”

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Athens Eats: Tailgate Essentials

Words by Mobley Brandenburg and Sam Stephens. Photos by Mobley Brandenburg.

There is no better time than fall in Athens. The air gets crisp, the trees change colors, and our city swells with people. Our town virtually revolves around football this season and chances are if it’s a Saturday in Athens, you’ll find yourself invited to a tailgate. There’s an art to it all, even if you don’t like football. It’s about the perfect mix of friends, food, and fun. We want to help you find that perfect blend with some tasty options that will help you pull together the perfect day spent tailgating in the Classic City.

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DIPS.

Create-Your-Own Hummus

Everyone loves hummus, but not everyone wants to brave the traffic on game days to buy it. If you have your own food processor, or even a good blender (has to be built tough!), you can make your very own—with just a couple cans of chickpeas (3-4 cups), tahini (scant ¼ cup), olive oil (scant ¼ cup), garlic (2 tsp), and lemon juice, salt, and cumin or coriander to taste! Beyond this basic recipe that’s flexible to your taste preferences, you can add red bell peppers, sundried tomatoes, basil, sriracha—the options are endless!

Beer Cheese Dip

Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a pan on low heat. Whisk in about 3 and a half tablespoons of flour and cook for a few minutes—hint: this is a roux, which is also how you make amazing homemade mac and cheese! Add a splash of milk and a squeeze of Dijon mustard. Pour in beer until you’re satisfied (your choice of ale or lager; My Athens recommends your favorite local IPA for a deep beer flavor, but no one will hunt you down if you use High Life). Sprinkle in a dash of cayenne pepper, minced garlic, and salt. Stir over heat until thick and bubbly. Shred and mix in some sharp cheddar and pepper jack by the handful(s). Another hint: smoked gouda is great if you want a softer, smokier flavor. Apart from the roux, this recipe is built off of your taste, so make sure to have fun with it! Serve with soft pretzel sticks, a crispy baguette, or broccoli and cauliflower.

Chunky, Sweet Guacamole

For a fresh new take on an old favorite, make guacamole with a little pineapple in there! It’ll surprise your friends and offer a sweet break from all the salty snacks at most tailgates.

Mash 4-6 ripe avocados. Add chopped tomato, pineapple, red onion, and minced garlic. Squeeze in lots of lime juice. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, and maybe a little cayenne, to taste.

DRINKS.

Sangria Popsicles

1 cup pomegranate juice, 1 cup fresh raspberries & strawberries, and dash of sugar or agave nectar. Add ¾ cup of freshly squeezed OJ. A glass and a half of your favorite red wine. Freeze overnight and serve just as things are warming up.

New Creation’s The Pilgrim

Keep an eye out this season for the release of New Creation’s craft soda, The Pilgrim. Flavored with hints of plum and apricot make it the perfect autumn blend. Pair it with Bourbon to spice things up a bit.

DETAILS.

Everyone knows it’s the details that make the difference, so set the scene! Grab some flowers from the Athens Farmers Market that add a pop of color. Then, stream your favorite playlist, start a game of corn hole, and you’ll be well on your way to the perfect fall day with friends. Oh, and don’t forget to represent the Dawgs with all your red and black! Happy Tailgating & Go Dawgs!

Athens Eats: Sweetie Pie by Savie

Love in the Time of Boxed Brownies

Words by Sarra Sedghi. Photos by David Choe.

For Savie Arnold, proprietor and mastermind behind Sweetie Pie by Savie, embracing her passion meant moving to the other side of the world. Arnold grew up without an oven in her house – in Thailand, kitchens are typically outdoors, and bread is seldom eaten. She learned stovetop basics and prep work from her mother, who ran a restaurant, but discovered baking via television. Unfortunately, as a scholarship student, Arnold had neither the means nor the time to bake until 2005, when she came to the University of Georgia to develop her thesis.

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How to View Art

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Words and Pictures by Shayon Keating

1) Look the part.

If you’re going to view art and possibly critique it, you have to look the part. That means no oversized t-shirts, no nike norts, and absolutely no sweatpants. Okay we’ll make an exception for sweatpants if they are Kanye West fashionable, but other than that NO sweatpants. We’re talking about real true clothing here: expensively tailored t-shirts, flamboyant bow ties, trousers (no not pants, TROUSERS cause we are classy), oxfords that look like they’re from the thrift store but you spent $410 dollars for them, and yes button down shirts (gasp)! You have to look like a person who can stand in front of an artwork piece for hours on end scratching their chin, and saying “mhmmm”…”MHMMMMM”..”Picassco, you’re alright”.

2) Buy an art book, then look up big words in it.

Go out to your favorite book store (may we suggest some local Athens favorites like Avid?), find an art book written by some big shot New York City art publicist that never leaves the MET and read it. Don’t just read it, absorb it, get it tattooed on your arm even. Or even better (if you’re a student) take an art appreciation course (if you’re not a student, still take the course), then become friends with the teacher. The only goal here is to find those big artsy describing words that’ll leave all your friends in awe at how pompous you are. These words are the ones that if you toss around in any normal day conversation the person across the bar would give you a weird look and think you’re either a know-it-all or a philosophy major (do me a favor and don’t show philosophy majors this article, they may get angry and send me an irate email about why Immanuel Kant should give me a lecture about morality). ANYWAY, learn big words, then use them to impress all your friends, and that philosophy major at the bar.

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3) Go to a bunch of random Facebook art events.

Facebook nowadays is brimming with events that local artists put on. Heck, that weird kid that you saw once freshman year of high school is throwing some weird, silent artsy party with a DJ that only plays country-techno-pop-Asian-fusion.

Make sure you go to these and discover who is a big name in your local community. You could even find one guy who you actually really enjoy their artwork and want to hire him out to do a piece for you (or give you that tattoo you’ve always wanted ~shoutout to David Hale~). But if you really want to get into the art scene then find what is around you, go to it, make friends (even that kid from freshman year), and use the words that you learned beforehand to show just how smart and cultured you are (make the philosophy kids jealous).

4) Study abroad in some European city (or for added culture benefits, some East Asian or Latin American city).

We all know how cultured we become when we travel. That is why it is a cornerstone of college and university to travel to different parts of the world to gain different perspectives. You’ll leave the states in your bro-shirt and 7-inch shorts then come back wearing a scarf and a European shoulder bag (not a murse or a man-purse you uncultured, insensit…). The fact of the matter is, traveling to different places in the world changes you. Walking into the Sistine Chapel or climbing the road to Machu Picchu (side note: doesn’t Machu Picchu sound like a supercilious place to go to?), even going to the MET in New York will make you change your view on art and the world. It may even make you into a better person able to understand the complex socio-economic problems surrounding our digitally modern age (I’m pretty sure that’s the goal).

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5) Stare at it.

Pretty simple: you’ll look weird, but you’ll probably feel weirder. The person on the other side of the room might get uncomfortable. But the longer you stare at art the more it makes sense (at least that’s the goal here). 95% of the time this will work, then the other 5% of the time the artwork is so far out there that you’ll leave questioning your own life decisions and wondering where you went wrong in life. This is proven (from personal experience). There are some art pieces that confuse you and won’t make sense unless the artist spoon-feeds it to you like an airplane. You need to squint, stare, literally watch globs of acrylic paint dry (yes, stare at paint drying). THIS is what art critics like to call the process. The process of trying to make sense of what a person is saying to you with paint and food particles smeared all over a beer can.

6) Have fun.

Art is about experience. That means you don’t need to be awkward; standing in the corner, staring at the ceiling (exceptions for the sistine chapel though). Go and drag your roommate to an art event despite them having a test the next day; or even take your mom to that weird, silent art party and have her question how she raised you. Get to know your favorite local artist, then proceed to to become inebriated with them and have long talks of why artists these days suck. Shave a side of your head cause you got bored at 3 AM. Go to home depot, buy a can of paint, and paint your bed. Then lie in it and throw your body against a wall and call it ‘artistic self-expression’ (only until your landlord shows up and fines you). Even write an article about art trying to act all groovy, sophisticated, and witty but in reality you googled ‘synonyms to cool’ cause you just wish you were that cool. But real talk here, art is pretty awesome and will make you into a total badass to have a conversation with. Support your art guys. #RIPharmabe

Athens Eats: La Michoacana

Words by Chloe Drescher. Photos by Cole Christiansen.

Staying cool during the summer in Athens is no joke. My favorite way to beat the heat? A cold, dripping ice cream cone. Nothing says summer quite like a giant scoop of mint chocolate chip in a waffle cone that takes fifty napkins to clean up. La Michoacana, an ice cream shop (found at 1635 Glenn Carrie Rd, in Hull, GA, if you’re curious!) offers up everyone’s favorite refreshing cold treat with its own authentic Mexican twist.

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When we first walked into La Michoacana, my first thought was, “Wow.” Bright green splashed the walls and the counters were bubble gum pink. The atmosphere was perfect for an ice cream store. It’s inviting and fun, and reflects the tropical vibes of south Mexico. We learned that La Michoacana is actually a large ice cream shop franchise in Mexico, with the same kind of popularity that Ben and Jerry’s has here in America.

Jessica Martinez and her husband wanted to bring La Michoacana to Georgia seven years ago but ran into problems. “It was hard to get the equipment to the United States,” says Martinez. “All of our equipment comes from Mexico.” They opened up a Mexican restaurant called Los Reyes instead, but still held onto their dream of bringing all-natural, authentic Mexican ice cream to Athens. What really sets La Michoacana apart is that all of their ice cream is made in-house. “All ingredients are local and natural,” Martinez told us. “There are no preservatives, the fruit is all fresh, and there is no artificial coloring.”

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As I spoke to Martinez, I couldn’t resist trying almost every flavor she talked about. They offer the classic flavors, such as chocolate chip cookie dough and vanilla. But it was the quirky flavors that caught my eye. There was pine-nut, rum raisin, dulce de leche with almonds, etc. The most unusual flavor? Tequila. Martinez noted that there was no actual alcohol in the ice cream, but it was just the flavors tequila resonates. Even without the alcohol, I couldn’t help but want salt and a lime.

I saw another label for “cheese queso” and needed to know if this was cheese-dip flavored ice cream (which wouldn’t be a bad thing!). In Mexico, cheese queso is actually a cheesecake flavor. Martinez mixes it with strawberries and blackberries to create different combinations of fruity cheesecake ice creams. The strawberry cheese queso was better than Cheesecake Factory, and that’s saying something! In keeping with their tropical roots, La Michoacana has an abundant amount of fruit flavors. Their flavor of the season is mamay, a fruit found in south Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, and warmer Spanish countries. It resembles mango, but tastes unlike any fruit I’ve ever had. Embarrassingly, I threw away almost 10 spoons… I have no regrets.

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La Michoacana offers more than just ice cream. In a freezer just to the right there are stacks and stacks of popsicles, some beautifully crafted with fruits inside. They offer blackberry cheesecake, kiwi and yogurt, a refreshing lime flavor, along side classic favorites. Martinez showed us a popsicle with cucumbers, lime, and chili; a flavor combination I wouldn’t have put together myself but somehow seems to work.

In the end, I left La Michoacana with a giant cone of key lime pie and a smile on my face that only comes from eating too much ice cream. Their refreshing flavors are a great addition to any ice cream lover’s collection!

Community Spotlight: Bob Sleppy of Nuci’s Space

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Written by Zelda Speight and photos by Ella Ferguson, we are revamping this piece to shine a light on the incredible Nuçi’s Space. Originally written in May or 2014, Nuçi’s Space still has the coolest things going on.  Check out the calendar on their webiste here and get involved!

Nuçi’s Space was founded on love. Many don’t know the story of Nuçi’s Space or the extent to which it benefits our community. The non-profit began in 2000 by Linda Phillips—the mother of Nuçi.

Nuçi was diagnosed with clinical depression as a teenager. He came from a supportive family but struggled with the complications that mental illness often creates. He was a student in Athens and a locally recognized guitarist. Music was his gift, his outlet, and a coping mechanism. As he felt the negative symptoms of depression worsen, he sought help but was told he would have to wait for one month before seeing a doctor. Within that month, he took his own life—November 26, 1996.

An incredible tragedy as this shakes families, friends, and entire communities. Unfortunately, mental illness and other related issues commonly go unrecognized and often lack sympathy from individuals. It is a difficult realm of health to understand and even more difficult for the victim to live with. After Nuçi’s passing, his family sought to create an organization in honor of him and his devotion to music, while reaching others in a timely manner who are challenged with similar diagnoses.

DSC_0045I met with Bob Sleppy, the Executive Director of Nuçi’s Space, to learn more about the non-profit because I, like so many others, have a limited knowledge of the organization and mental illness. My time with Bob was not only educational but evoked compassion, a sense of humanity, and empathy. Ella (our photographer) and I both felt ourselves emotionally connected to Nuçi’s Space’s cause once we left. Bob was involved from the beginning. He was a student in Athens and also a musician. He attended one of the beginning fundraisers for Nuçi’s Space and he found himself with a desire to help. He had connections in the Athens music scene and also received his MBA—both very helpful to a non-profit. Eventually they were up and running and as he says, “I volunteered myself into a position”. They were creating an organization “for musicians by musicians” that would meet the needs of creative expression as well as mental health.

Today Nuçi’s Space is a resource center for counseling and doctors, a practice space, and hangout spot—essentially it’s a support center and much more. Their staff act as liaison to the appropriate resources, assist with payments, provide affordable practice rooms, and people who will listen—because don’t we all need someone who will just listen? They work with several small practices in Athens — the Athens Nurses Clinic, Family Counseling Services, and many other equipped individuals. When speaking with Bob, he spoke of the importance of investing in somebody and “letting them know that you are present”. I agree when he says that too often we forget the importance of relationships, and Nuçi’s Space strives to provide that. And from the looks of it, they’re succeeding.DSC_0012Since their beginning, Nuçi’s Space has increased their funding and the individuals that they reach. Whether you’re looking for a practice space, for a counselor or doctor, or a friend, the folks at Nuçi’s Space will “be present”. Practice spaces are always available and if you’re in need of services related to mental or physical health, you are always welcome to pop in, email, or call. As for upcoming events, they host a summer camp for teens ranging from eleven to seventeen years old. At camp, they expand their music knowledge and talents, while increasing self-development, coping skills, and addressing issues that come with being a teenager and a musician. For example, Bob mentioned an exercise that they do at camp called “Survival Skills for Creative Minds”. Each day they address topics that may come up in the life of a creative and a teen. Topics range from embarrassing moments that could happen on stage to addressing drugs and alcohol. This is a two-week camp in the summer time where at the end of the second week, the kids get to perform on stage in front of their peers. Personally, this would terrify me to no end but Bob explained it as not only a time for the kids to gain experience but also a time to be “surrounded by encouragement so that there’s room to fail. It’s powerful”. When said like that, it does sound powerful and influential in not only the musicians’ creativity but also their self-image and confidence.

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My experience at Nuçi’s Space and the feeling that I walked away with cannot be fully expressed in this article. The impact that this organization has made on so many individual lives in astounding and joyful. It’s an incredible feeling to see people who genuinely love what they do and are dedicated to the relationships built. Bob reflected on the Athens community for a moment mentioning that in Athens, “when someone needed help, we bind together”. The Athens community takes care of its own and Nuçi’s Space is essentially a center for that. So if you’ve never been to Nuçi’s Space or you’re curious about what they offer, drop by, grab some coffee, maybe play piano for a minute, and get to know some really kind folks. Check out their website (linked above) to learn more about their cause and how you can help.

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Athens Eats: Vegetarian Meals & Beer Combos

Words by Whitney Watkins. Photos by Whitney Watkins and Emily Llamazales.

I hail from the swampy farm lands of Valdosta, Georgia where we only experienced two seasons. I’m sweating just thinking about it. Moving to Athens was like a breath of fresh air for my boyfriend, Clay, and me. There are so many vegetarian-friendly restaurants, and there is an excellent beer selection. From IPAs to Goses, from pizza and burgers to creamy bisques, the plant-eaters and beer drinkers of Athens have it made. Of course, I do not intend to suggest that meat-lovers are unable to enjoy these meat-free dishes. In fact, I dare you to indulge in the delectable entrees that I have joyfully put together with Clay’s help.

Automatic Pizza & Creature Comforts’s Athena

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Photo by Emily Llamazales (@emily_llama)

Nestled in the heart of Normal Town, adjacent to Ike and Jane’s, is my favorite pizza joint in all of Athens. Clay and I happily look forward to our weekly pizza night because it always means a small (eight slice) cheese pizza with extra marinara sauce from Automatic Pizza. The service at Automatic is always quick and friendly, and the hand-tossed pizza is always delicious. Once you pay for your pizza, the cashier hands you one of many rubber animals that are used as table markers. Yes. They use rubber animals as table markers. Aside from the pizza, this quirky practice really just makes my night. It’s truly the little things that make Athens restaurants special. Accompanied by our orca whale, I ate four slices (including the crust!) without feeling like I needed to change into some more forgiving stretchy pants. What I actually mean to say is that the pizza is not heavy and greasy, so it is easy to indulge without feeling guilty. I chose to pair a Creature Comforts Athena with the cheese pizza. The sourness of the Athena, a crisp Berliner Wiesse beer with an ABV of 4.5%, accentuated the sweetness of the pizza’s tomato sauce.

Grindhouse Burgers & Red Brick’s Brother Leo

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Photo by Whitney Watkins (@emily_llama)

Grindhouse is a classic American burger joint that offers amazing black bean burgers as a meat substitute. It has an industrial aesthetic, and it usually has some interesting movies playing on a few of the flat screens. Every time I go to Grindhouse, there is a Miyazaki film on the downstairs TV and a grindhouse film playing upstairs. Overlooking Lumpkin St. at their upstairs, open-air bar, Clay chose Red Brick’s Brother Leo – a bitter, thin, citrusy IPA – to accompany his burger. Red Brick Brewing Company is based out of Atlanta, Georgia, and it is one of the larger breweries in the state. Once he received his beer, he ordered his “usual”: a junior (a.k.a. a single patty) black bean burger with pepper jack and Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and diablo sauce (a spicy house sauce) with some sweet potato fries. The burgers are served on a potato bun (or wrapped in lettuce if one prefers to skimp on the bread). Grindhouse burgers are indeed “killer.” This burger was divine, the sweet potato fries were crisp and sweet, and the Red Brick IPA really helped to wash it all down.

The Grit & Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale

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Photo by Emily Llamazales (@emily_llama)

The Grit is the vegetarian mecca of Athens. This restaurant only serves vegetarian and vegan entrees. There is no way that I could write this article without paying homage to this meat-free haven. The relaxed atmosphere is for people of all palettes. There is a plethora of food choices ranging from sandwiches and wraps to nachos to hearty bowls of beans and rice and cheese. On this particular evening, Clay chose the pairing: Loaded Nachos with extra cheese (no onions) paired with Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale. Bell’s is a craft brewery that is based out of Missouri. This particular ale is a high gravity IPA with a full hop flavor and a nice crisp, floral finish. The loaded nachos – a tantalizing mountain of tortilla chips, house-made fresh salsa, cheese, black bean chili, sour cream, and fresh greens – paired very well, accentuating the hoppy, floral notes of the beer.

Trappeze & Southbound’s Shakedown Street

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Photo by Whitney Watkins (@hjort_ulv)

Located in downtown Athens, Trappeze is an excellent spot to camp out and experience different wines and beer. They boast a simple, yet thoughtful, menu with plenty of vegetarian as well as some vegan options. When we have a little extra money to spend, we like to treat ourselves here. The bartenders and wait staff are well-versed in everything on the menu, as well as all of the wines and beer that they stock. We seated ourselves at the bar and were immediately offered drink and food menus. I ordered Southbound’s Shakedown Street, a tart Saison from Savannah, Georgia, to drink. For my meal, I ordered the IPA tomato bisque (with pesto drizzle) and a grilled cheese sandwich. I tend to like my beer either floral or sour, or both. The Southbound Shakedown Street was both floral and sour, and it boasted a refreshing, yet bitter, finish. The bisque was creamy and bittersweet. The grilled cheese sandwich was cooked to perfection: the sourdough bread was crispy, not greasy and the swiss and cheddar cheeses were, to my delight, perfectly melted. The fresh and thoughtful ingredients coupled with the tart Saison offered a great twist to the classic tomato soup and grilled cheese combo.

Cali N Tito’s & Red Hare Brewing Co.’s Long Day Lager

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Photo by Whitney Watkins (@hjort_ulv)

When we first moved to Athens, Clay and I had no idea that Cali N Tito’s would become one of our favorite restaurants. We initially though that it was a seafood restaurant. (I don’t know why.) Needless to say, we were thrilled to find out that it is actually a Latin American restaurant that offers vegetarian options on its menu. Cali N Tito’s is unique in that it has a B.Y.O.B. policy. For a nominal fee, one can bring in outside beer (any kind, any amount) with a valid I.D. I would also like to save you the trouble and warn you that the Cali N Tito’s on Lumpkin St. has a very strict cash only policy. They do not accept any plastic. (Also, fun fact, this Cali N Tito’s is a Pokemon GO gym! The reigning team of the week gets a 20% discount.)  I chose to bring in the Long Day Lager by Red Hare Brewing Company. Red Hare brews out of Marietta, Georgia, and this particular bohemian style lager actually uses Pilsner yeast. It is light, crisp, and quaffable. Shortly after taking our seats, all of our food was delivered to the table. I ordered a side of chips and salsa to go with a vegetarian cubano sandwich. The cubano sandwich was stuffed with zucchini, jalapenos, red and green bell peppers, cilantro, cheese, avocado, and salsa verde. (I asked them to leave off the onions, mayonnaise, and mushrooms that would typically come with the sandwich.) The ingredients were fresh, the bread soft, and the chips crispy. The salsa was flavorful and mild. If you go to Cali N Tito’s, be ready to grub, and make sure that you grab plenty of napkins. This restaurant is all about chowing down and stuffing your face full of delicious food.

There you have it, folks! Eat good food. Drink good beer. Tip your servers.

Elemental Beauty: An Interview with Forged & Found’s Regina Mandell

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Words by Nina Guzman, photos by Amanda Nolan Booker

Tucked behind train tracks and colorfully refurbished buildings, a small blue cottage sits. The light peeking through the glass windows spotlights blazing kilns, wooden tables scattered with metal tools, red and gray clay drying on shelves. It’s a space used to commotion, pottery wheels spinning, kilns producing controlled infernos, the sound of clay being beaten, molded, scrapped, broken.

But the morning I went to visit all was still at Southern Star Studio, except for one room. Regina Mandell’s studio space, like her beautiful ceramics line Forged & Found, holds no pretensions. A banner with the name Forged & Found hangs from an off white wall sprinkled with photos, ceramic jewelry, postcards — little pieces of inspiration. Otherwise, the space is sparsely decorated. Here, beauty is in the elemental. Worktables and shelves are filled with pieces all sharing Forged & Found’s signature aesthetic; white glaze contrasted with earth tones, sometimes the natural clay showing through on sleek and simple, handmade designs. This kind of warmth and care can’t be found on the shelves of department stores.

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