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Going Global in Atlanta

Where to Discover Persian Food and Culture

Table   Photo By Samira Bregeth
Photo credit: Table. Photo By Samira Bregeth



“Get yourself a Persian friend. Just show interest in their culture, and the next thing you know, they will invite you over to their house,” says Samira Shakib Bregeth, an Iranian-American English teacher at Roswell High School and advisor for news and opinion website VOX. She and others I spoke with assured me that Persian people in Atlanta love to interact with people from other countries and welcome them to learn about Persian culture. 

Bregeth has seen the Persian Festival in Atlanta grow from a few hundred to over 13,000 attendees, transitioning from Red Top mountain to Piedmont Park as its new venue. There are tents made to look like a bazaar with food, vendors, music, and dance, and it is always held on the first day of spring, which also marks Nowruz or Persian New Year. Festivities are held for 13 days at the Persian Cultural Center - Kanoon. These include a shopping festival that offers things Bregeth says are hard to make at home. “This is where you can buy things to put on your haftseen (ceremonial table) ),” she explains, “such as fruit, puddings, coins, candles, painted eggs — each symbolizing spring or renewal.” 

Because their new year symbolizes the rebirth of nature, Persian families and friends spend a lot of time outdoors during this time. “You will see us at the Chattahoochee River enjoying picnics eating kotlets made with meat and potatoes; Persian sandwiches made with French bread, mint, and feta cheese; and lots of watermelon,” Bregeth says. They also make a bonfire and jump over it to get rid of sickness and to “burn away” the past year’s bad energy and welcome the new. 

Leila Safay was homesick when she first moved to Atlanta in 2010. She, too, saw Kanoon as an opportunity to meet people from her community, and she enrolled her kids at the center for Farsi language and piano lessons. “We celebrate winter solstice, called Shab-e Yalda, by getting together with family and friends, eating watermelon, seeds and nuts, and predicting our fortunes from the poetry of Divan-e Hafez (a book of divination),” she explains. “Here people postpone the celebration to the weekend and host Yalda parties at their homes.”

Both Safay and Bregeth are happy to go out of their way for the Persian products found at the Super Global International market, a Persian grocery store that started in a strip mall and has expanded to three locations over the years. It carries imported products that are found in most Persian kitchens — saffron, cardamom, turmeric, loose-leaf teas, Persian rice, lavash bread, traditional cheese, pickled cucumbers, sweets, and more. Safay,  who left the country to be an independent woman and is now a successful realtor, says the spices and foods “just taste different, and make you nostalgic for growing up in Iran.”

When not cooking at home, both women like to go to Rumi’s Kitchen for a meal. “Everyone loves it, Persian or not!” says Bregeth. “It’s consistently delicious.” The establishment has grown into a hip restaurant that the Persian community is proud of, known for its quiet, intimate meals featuring favorites such as Zafron’s koobideh kabobs and ghormeh sabzi (an Iranian herb stew) 

Leila’s 12-year-old daughter Jasmine, who was born in the U.S., gives me some tips on Persian etiquette: “We allow elders to talk first, eat first, and we show them utmost respect. We don’t address men and women by their first names, but call them ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncle.’ Also, when you meet someone for the first time, you may shake hands and bow, but close friends air-kiss on both cheeks (mostly not to spoil one’s makeup),” she adds with humor. It is also customary to take sweets and flowers when invited to a home, and to call to thank your guests on the following day. 

Making friends in the Persian community is easy. It starts with a passing conversation, a slight compliment, and ends in a dinner invite and long-lasting friendships.

Where to Experience Persian Culture in Atlanta

Grocery Stores:

Super Global International Food Market
11235 Alpharetta Hwy., Ste. 109, Roswell. 770-619-2966.
The go-to grocery store for Persian ingredients such as loose-leaf tea, flatbreads, and baklava, at reasonable prices. 

Shahrzad 
6435-A Roswell Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-257-9045.
http://shahrzad.com
One of the oldest Persian grocery stores in Atlanta, founded in 1985. They moved from Doraville to Sandy Springs and sell herbs, spices, pastries, cold cuts, etc. 

Restaurants:

Rumi’s Kitchen
Sandy Springs: 6112 Roswell Road, Atlanta. 404-477-2100.
Avalon: 7105 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 678-534-8855.
www.rumiskitchen.com
Modern Persian restaurant popular with locals and out-of-towners. It has an open kitchen and an impressive wine list. 

Zafron
236 Johnson Ferry Road N.E., Sandy Springs. 404-255-7402.
www.persianrestaurantsandysprings.com
Most popular restaurant among the Persian community, serving traditional cuisine in an elegant setting.

Sufi’s 
1814 Peachtree St. N.W. Atlanta. 404-888-9699.
http://sufisatlanta.com
Good option for in-towners craving kabobs, Cornish hen, and aromatic rice. 

Divan Restaurant and Hookah Lounge 
3125 Piedmont Road, Atlanta. 404-467-4297.
https://www.divanatlanta.com
In 2017, Iranian chef Peyman Rostami returned the restaurant to its traditional roots, adding a modern twist. He formerly cooked for the King of Oman and has a culinary show on Persian TV Channel 7. 

Culture and Festivals:

Persian Cultural Center of Atlanta - Kanoon
3146 Reps Miller Road N.W., Norcross. 404-303-3030.
https://www.atlantapcc.org
To learn Persian language, celebrate Persian holidays such as Mehregan, Yalda and Nowruz, as well as special Province, Poetry, and Music nights.

Atlanta Persian Festival 
Piedmont Park, 1320 Monroe Dr. N.E., Atlanta.
http://atlantapersianfestival.com
Annual cultural event held in spring at Piedmont Park showcasing music, ethnic food, crafts, and kids’ activities. Free to public.  

Nowruz Party
Various locations.
https://www.eventbrite.com/o/bavard-entertainment-inc-15703065356
Ballroom-style ticketed event that brings together Persians, Afgans, Kurds, Turks, and whoever celebrates Nowruz. Parties organized by the Persian Cultural Center of Atlanta feature folklore dances, live performances, food, drinks, and more. 

Services:

Joseph & Friends (hair salon and spa)
Five locations. www.josephandfriends.com
Started by Iranian immigrant Joseph Golshani, this multicultural, full-service salon has been around since 1989.



More By This Writer

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Before I moved to Atlanta in 1997, I had a picture-postcard image of Thanksgiving — a Caucasian family wearing plaid shirts gathered around a big table covered with a dozen delectable dishes. There was always a whole pumpkin and orange tones to signify autumn. I knew there was a cooked turkey at the center of the festive spread (though I had never seen or tasted turkey growing up in India), but that was all I knew about Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t until I was a college freshman, when an elderly couple invited me to their home on Howell Mill Road for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, that I got the full picture. They roasted a whole stuffed turkey and served creamy mashed potatoes, green beans with mushrooms, whipped sweet potatoes, tart cranberry dressing, and pumpkin pie. Then they told me the story of Thanksgiving — in the 1600s, the Wampanoag Indians taught the Pilgrims, who had sailed to the eastern coast of United States on the Mayflower, how to cultivate the land, and in appreciation, the Pilgrims cooked a “thank you” dinner. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared “Thanksgiving” a national holiday, and ever since, Americans have celebrated Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November each year, when families and friends gather for dinner. What we ate at my first Thanksgiving dinner in Atlanta are some of the dishes typically prepared (most of which I had never tasted before). My hosts asked me to say aloud what I was thankful for, and the three of us dived into my first Thanksgiving meal.

Over the next few years, I discovered a group of international orphans (that’s what we called ourselves, those who were transplants from other countries) who had a potluck dinner party on Thanksgiving Day. Most of us were single students and young professionals. Each one would bring a dish representing their country. We had a globally-inspired feast! 

Once I started working a corporate job, I discovered Thanksgiving was also a long weekend and a great time to travel (except you must deal with the crowds). My friends who had moved to Atlanta from elsewhere in the U.S. were always planning a trip home over the Thanksgiving holidays. Since my husband and I had no other home in the states, we started using this opportunity to take vacations. This is when I also realized you could get a Thanksgiving turkey dinner practically anywhere in the U.S., even if you were unable to cook it yourself. I remember having “turkey and fixings” at the Universal Studios cafeteria, at a diner in Gatlinburg, even 30,000 feet in the air onboard a Delta flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta. 

I also discovered people would get up very early in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving to stand in line at Walmart, Best Buy, and shopping malls for “Black Friday” deals on electronics and clothing. I didn’t see the point in waking up at 5 a.m. to go shopping, but my friends informed me they got very good deals! I didn’t quite get the concept at first. You have just finished being grateful for everything you have but feel the urgent need to go buy more stuff. The only time I indulged in this custom was when Nordstrom gave out free pumpkin pies with every purchase (and you didn’t need to come early for that, or spend a lot).

Now that I have spent more of my life in the U.S., Thanksgiving has become an important part of my American life. I have hosted dinners at my home, cooking turkeys and dozens of sides myself, and invited international students and friends who find themselves alone. The holiday is more of a reminder to be grateful, than to overindulge in food or retail therapy.

Commemorating a bountiful harvest is not a concept unique to the Pilgrims, as some version of it can be found in other parts of the world. People across Germany, Grenada, Korea, Japan, Liberia, and Norfolk Island have been known to celebrate some version of a day of remembrance — of giving gratitude for a good harvest, of counting one’s blessings or thanking the labor force — by enjoying a feast with family and friends. Many cultures have parades, carnivals, music, and dancing to celebrate abundant food with appreciation. 

Other transplanted Atlantans have brought their own perspective to this holiday of giving thanks. 

An English Canadian who grew up in Toronto, Fairyal Halim was accustomed to celebrating Thanksgiving as a day to give gratitude, rather than in the context of a historical event. Our northern neighbor has been celebrating the holiday long before us and has similar cooking traditions, though they celebrate it in on the second Monday in October. A U.S. resident for almost three decades, Halim now celebrates two Thanksgivings with her family — a Canadian one in October, and an American version in November. 

Says Halim, “To this day, Thanksgiving remains grounded in the recognition of our immense blessings of family, friends, and gratitude for it all. It is really a time to focus on all that we are blessed with and to not take it for granted. I make a point of reaching out to family and/or friends who may find themselves alone on Thanksgiving.” She remembers hosting turkey dinners for her son’s college friends who were unable to make it home for Thanksgiving. The turkey came from a halal (slaughtered according to the principals of Islam) butcher, as Halim’s family is Muslim.

For Halim, Thanksgiving emphasizes the coming together of different people and being aware of the abundance in one’s life. “As a Muslim, I find great resonance of values that are important to me in the celebration of Thanksgiving. It is the perfect synthesis of our North American culture and religion. The concept of gratitude and thankfulness to God is foremost for Muslims. They are to be ever mindful of their blessings, to not take anything for granted, and to give thanks by saying ‘Alhamdulillah,’ meaning ‘all praise is for God.’ Thanksgiving is not limited to just one day for Muslims,” she says. “It’s is an attitude of gratitude.” 

Cali, Colombia, native Cesar Restrepo came to Cleveland, Georgia, to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music. “I knew that my brothers and family living in Miami celebrated Thanksgiving, but I thought it was just a break they had before Christmas. I also knew about the special prices on pretty much everything. For me it was just a mere shopping holiday,” he recalls of his first brush with the holiday.


For his first turkey dinner, Restrepo was invited by a Colombian family who served him a typical American Thanksgiving dinner along with tamales, a customary dish at every Colombian holiday. He remembers taking a moment before the meal to express what each of them was thankful for, especially for the blessings this country had given them. Twenty years later, Restrepo continues the tradition with his wife and kids, cooking all day, inviting friends over, and reflecting on the good fortune they have in their lives.


“For me, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to gather with other immigrants and make them feel welcome in a country that is not ours but is kind enough to host us. It’s also an act of kindness and peace,” says Restrepo. Having grown up in a relatively poor country, he doesn’t like the extravagant feasts where a lot of food is wasted. 

Content writer and blogger Lakshmi Devi Jagad moved from Mumbai to Atlanta in 2003. She, too, had no knowledge of the historic significance of Thanksgiving before arriving in the U.S., but she had heard about the incredible sales the holiday brought with it. “I believe Thanksgiving has been monetized for many years now!” she observes.

Over the years, it has become a day when she and her husband catch up with friends over a good meal and conversation, a quiet and peaceful time, Jagad says, for “a social gathering, a fun get-together, an opportunity to relax.”

Being vegetarian, Jagad must forgo the indispensable turkey and opt for an elaborate vegetable biryani, a layered Indian rice dish with saffron and nuts that is served with a side of cucumber and yogurt raita. “We prepare a huge pot of it as our version of the turkey,” she says. 

Father George Mahklouf, an Orthodox priest from the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank, has also integrated Thanksgiving into his annual rituals. “Whether Palestinians, Arabs, or other immigrants from overseas coming to America, many try to follow the traditions of the country they choose to live in. I lived in Yonkers, NY, then Long Island, and finally Atlanta. Wherever I went, Arabs celebrated Thanksgiving. Why? I don’t know, though most probably see it as a gathering of family and friends.” 

Mahklouf says the story of the Native Americans and the Pilgrims is familiar to him. “It reminds me of our similar Palestinian story as native indigenous people of the land of Canaan who were displaced by Ashkenazi Jews coming from Poland, Russia, and other places in the world to live in our own homes and take over our businesses and orchards.” Mahklouf, who breaks his own Nativity Fast “in order to please people (at Thanksgiving)” for a feast he never celebrated in Palestine, says his thankfulness, like Halim’s, is not limited to the holiday. “We thank God and all who do us favors, without having a special day to thank God and others.”

Thanksgiving in the U.S. has traditionally been a historic celebration, with religious overtones for many, but today it is celebrated by immigrants from around the world, regardless of their religious or cultural beliefs or ethnic backgrounds, who have chosen to make the United States their home. The holiday may have evolved from a day of giving thanks around the dinner table to include watching afternoon football games and starting the holiday shopping season, but its essence — celebrating an abundance of food after a fall harvest, breaking bread together with others, and appreciating one’s blessings — has endured over time. — CL —"
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Before I moved to Atlanta in 1997, I had a picture-postcard image of Thanksgiving — a Caucasian family wearing plaid shirts gathered around a big table covered with a dozen delectable dishes. There was always a whole pumpkin and orange tones to signify autumn. I knew there was a cooked turkey at the center of the festive spread (though I had never seen or tasted turkey growing up in India), but that was all I knew about Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t until I was a college freshman, when an elderly couple invited me to their home on Howell Mill Road for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, that I got the full picture. They roasted a whole stuffed turkey and served creamy mashed potatoes, green beans with mushrooms, whipped sweet potatoes, tart cranberry dressing, and pumpkin pie. Then they told me the story of Thanksgiving — in the 1600s, the Wampanoag Indians taught the Pilgrims, who had sailed to the eastern coast of United States on the Mayflower, how to cultivate the land, and in appreciation, the Pilgrims cooked a “thank you” dinner. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared “Thanksgiving” a national holiday, and ever since, Americans have celebrated Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November each year, when families and friends gather for dinner. What we ate at my first Thanksgiving dinner in Atlanta are some of the dishes typically prepared (most of which I had never tasted before). My hosts asked me to say aloud what I was thankful for, and the three of us dived into my first Thanksgiving meal.

Over the next few years, I discovered a group of international orphans (that’s what we called ourselves, those who were transplants from other countries) who had a potluck dinner party on Thanksgiving Day. Most of us were single students and young professionals. Each one would bring a dish representing their country. We had a globally-inspired feast! 

Once I started working a corporate job, I discovered Thanksgiving was also a long weekend and a great time to travel (except you must deal with the crowds). My friends who had moved to Atlanta from elsewhere in the U.S. were always planning a trip home over the Thanksgiving holidays. Since my husband and I had no other home in the states, we started using this opportunity to take vacations. This is when I also realized you could get a Thanksgiving turkey dinner practically anywhere in the U.S., even if you were unable to cook it yourself. I remember having “turkey and fixings” at the Universal Studios cafeteria, at a diner in Gatlinburg, even 30,000 feet in the air onboard a Delta flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta. 

I also discovered people would get up very early in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving to stand in line at Walmart, Best Buy, and shopping malls for “Black Friday” deals on electronics and clothing. I didn’t see the point in waking up at 5 a.m. to go shopping, but my friends informed me they got very good deals! I didn’t quite get the concept at first. You have just finished being grateful for everything you have but feel the urgent need to go buy more stuff. The only time I indulged in this custom was when Nordstrom gave out free pumpkin pies with every purchase (and you didn’t need to come early for that, or spend a lot).

Now that I have spent more of my life in the U.S., Thanksgiving has become an important part of my American life. I have hosted dinners at my home, cooking turkeys and dozens of sides myself, and invited international students and friends who find themselves alone. The holiday is more of a reminder to be grateful, than to overindulge in food or retail therapy.

Commemorating a bountiful harvest is not a concept unique to the Pilgrims, as some version of it can be found in other parts of the world. People across Germany, Grenada, Korea, Japan, Liberia, and Norfolk Island have been known to celebrate some version of a day of remembrance — of giving gratitude for a good harvest, of counting one’s blessings or thanking the labor force — by enjoying a feast with family and friends. Many cultures have parades, carnivals, music, and dancing to celebrate abundant food with appreciation. 

Other transplanted Atlantans have brought their own perspective to this holiday of giving thanks. 

An English Canadian who grew up in Toronto, Fairyal Halim was accustomed to celebrating Thanksgiving as a day to give gratitude, rather than in the context of a historical event. Our northern neighbor has been celebrating the holiday long before us and has similar cooking traditions, though they celebrate it in on the second Monday in October. A U.S. resident for almost three decades, Halim now celebrates two Thanksgivings with her family — a Canadian one in October, and an American version in November. 

Says Halim, “To this day, Thanksgiving remains grounded in the recognition of our immense blessings of family, friends, and gratitude for it all. It is really a time to focus on all that we are blessed with and to not take it for granted. I make a point of reaching out to family and/or friends who may find themselves alone on Thanksgiving.” She remembers hosting turkey dinners for her son’s college friends who were unable to make it home for Thanksgiving. The turkey came from a halal (slaughtered according to the principals of Islam) butcher, as Halim’s family is Muslim.

For Halim, Thanksgiving emphasizes the coming together of different people and being aware of the abundance in one’s life. “As a Muslim, I find great resonance of values that are important to me in the celebration of Thanksgiving. It is the perfect synthesis of our North American culture and religion. The concept of gratitude and thankfulness to God is foremost for Muslims. They are to be ever mindful of their blessings, to not take anything for granted, and to give thanks by saying ‘Alhamdulillah,’ meaning ‘all praise is for God.’ Thanksgiving is not limited to just one day for Muslims,” she says. “It’s is an attitude of gratitude.” 

Cali, Colombia, native Cesar Restrepo came to Cleveland, Georgia, to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music. “I knew that my brothers and family living in Miami celebrated Thanksgiving, but I thought it was just a break they had before Christmas. I also knew about the special prices on pretty much everything. For me it was just a mere shopping holiday,” he recalls of his first brush with the holiday.

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For his first turkey dinner, Restrepo was invited by a Colombian family who served him a typical American Thanksgiving dinner along with tamales, a customary dish at every Colombian holiday. He remembers taking a moment before the meal to express what each of them was thankful for, especially for the blessings this country had given them. Twenty years later, Restrepo continues the tradition with his wife and kids, cooking all day, inviting friends over, and reflecting on the good fortune they have in their lives.


“For me, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to gather with other immigrants and make them feel welcome in a country that is not ours but is kind enough to host us. It’s also an act of kindness and peace,” says Restrepo. Having grown up in a relatively poor country, he doesn’t like the extravagant feasts where a lot of food is wasted. 

Content writer and blogger Lakshmi Devi Jagad moved from Mumbai to Atlanta in 2003. She, too, had no knowledge of the historic significance of Thanksgiving before arriving in the U.S., but she had heard about the incredible sales the holiday brought with it. “I believe Thanksgiving has been monetized for many years now!” she observes.

Over the years, it has become a day when she and her husband catch up with friends over a good meal and conversation, a quiet and peaceful time, Jagad says, for “a social gathering, a fun get-together, an opportunity to relax.”

Being vegetarian, Jagad must forgo the indispensable turkey and opt for an elaborate vegetable biryani, a layered Indian rice dish with saffron and nuts that is served with a side of cucumber and yogurt raita. “We prepare a huge pot of it as our version of the turkey,” she says. 

Father George Mahklouf, an Orthodox priest from the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank, has also integrated Thanksgiving into his annual rituals. “Whether Palestinians, Arabs, or other immigrants from overseas coming to America, many try to follow the traditions of the country they choose to live in. I lived in Yonkers, NY, then Long Island, and finally Atlanta. Wherever I went, Arabs celebrated Thanksgiving. Why? I don’t know, though most probably see it as a gathering of family and friends.” 

Mahklouf says the story of the Native Americans and the Pilgrims is familiar to him. “It reminds me of our similar Palestinian story as native indigenous people of the land of Canaan who were displaced by Ashkenazi Jews coming from Poland, Russia, and other places in the world to live in our own homes and take over our businesses and orchards.” Mahklouf, who breaks his own Nativity Fast “in order to please people (at Thanksgiving)” for a feast he never celebrated in Palestine, says his thankfulness, like Halim’s, is not limited to the holiday. “We thank God and all who do us favors, without having a special day to thank God and others.”

Thanksgiving in the U.S. has traditionally been a historic celebration, with religious overtones for many, but today it is celebrated by immigrants from around the world, regardless of their religious or cultural beliefs or ethnic backgrounds, who have chosen to make the United States their home. The holiday may have evolved from a day of giving thanks around the dinner table to include watching afternoon football games and starting the holiday shopping season, but its essence — celebrating an abundance of food after a fall harvest, breaking bread together with others, and appreciating one’s blessings — has endured over time. __— CL —__"
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Before I moved to Atlanta in 1997, I had a picture-postcard image of Thanksgiving — a Caucasian family wearing plaid shirts gathered around a big table covered with a dozen delectable dishes. There was always a whole pumpkin and orange tones to signify autumn. I knew there was a cooked turkey at the center of the festive spread (though I had never seen or tasted turkey growing up in India), but that was all I knew about Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t until I was a college freshman, when an elderly couple invited me to their home on Howell Mill Road for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, that I got the full picture. They roasted a whole stuffed turkey and served creamy mashed potatoes, green beans with mushrooms, whipped sweet potatoes, tart cranberry dressing, and pumpkin pie. Then they told me the story of Thanksgiving — in the 1600s, the Wampanoag Indians taught the Pilgrims, who had sailed to the eastern coast of United States on the Mayflower, how to cultivate the land, and in appreciation, the Pilgrims cooked a “thank you” dinner. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared “Thanksgiving” a national holiday, and ever since, Americans have celebrated Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November each year, when families and friends gather for dinner. What we ate at my first Thanksgiving dinner in Atlanta are some of the dishes typically prepared (most of which I had never tasted before). My hosts asked me to say aloud what I was thankful for, and the three of us dived into my first Thanksgiving meal.

Over the next few years, I discovered a group of international orphans (that’s what we called ourselves, those who were transplants from other countries) who had a potluck dinner party on Thanksgiving Day. Most of us were single students and young professionals. Each one would bring a dish representing their country. We had a globally-inspired feast! 

Once I started working a corporate job, I discovered Thanksgiving was also a long weekend and a great time to travel (except you must deal with the crowds). My friends who had moved to Atlanta from elsewhere in the U.S. were always planning a trip home over the Thanksgiving holidays. Since my husband and I had no other home in the states, we started using this opportunity to take vacations. This is when I also realized you could get a Thanksgiving turkey dinner practically anywhere in the U.S., even if you were unable to cook it yourself. I remember having “turkey and fixings” at the Universal Studios cafeteria, at a diner in Gatlinburg, even 30,000 feet in the air onboard a Delta flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta. 

I also discovered people would get up very early in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving to stand in line at Walmart, Best Buy, and shopping malls for “Black Friday” deals on electronics and clothing. I didn’t see the point in waking up at 5 a.m. to go shopping, but my friends informed me they got very good deals! I didn’t quite get the concept at first. You have just finished being grateful for everything you have but feel the urgent need to go buy more stuff. The only time I indulged in this custom was when Nordstrom gave out free pumpkin pies with every purchase (and you didn’t need to come early for that, or spend a lot).

Now that I have spent more of my life in the U.S., Thanksgiving has become an important part of my American life. I have hosted dinners at my home, cooking turkeys and dozens of sides myself, and invited international students and friends who find themselves alone. The holiday is more of a reminder to be grateful, than to overindulge in food or retail therapy.

Commemorating a bountiful harvest is not a concept unique to the Pilgrims, as some version of it can be found in other parts of the world. People across Germany, Grenada, Korea, Japan, Liberia, and Norfolk Island have been known to celebrate some version of a day of remembrance — of giving gratitude for a good harvest, of counting one’s blessings or thanking the labor force — by enjoying a feast with family and friends. Many cultures have parades, carnivals, music, and dancing to celebrate abundant food with appreciation. 

Other transplanted Atlantans have brought their own perspective to this holiday of giving thanks. 

An English Canadian who grew up in Toronto, Fairyal Halim was accustomed to celebrating Thanksgiving as a day to give gratitude, rather than in the context of a historical event. Our northern neighbor has been celebrating the holiday long before us and has similar cooking traditions, though they celebrate it in on the second Monday in October. A U.S. resident for almost three decades, Halim now celebrates two Thanksgivings with her family — a Canadian one in October, and an American version in November. 

Says Halim, “To this day, Thanksgiving remains grounded in the recognition of our immense blessings of family, friends, and gratitude for it all. It is really a time to focus on all that we are blessed with and to not take it for granted. I make a point of reaching out to family and/or friends who may find themselves alone on Thanksgiving.” She remembers hosting turkey dinners for her son’s college friends who were unable to make it home for Thanksgiving. The turkey came from a halal (slaughtered according to the principals of Islam) butcher, as Halim’s family is Muslim.

For Halim, Thanksgiving emphasizes the coming together of different people and being aware of the abundance in one’s life. “As a Muslim, I find great resonance of values that are important to me in the celebration of Thanksgiving. It is the perfect synthesis of our North American culture and religion. The concept of gratitude and thankfulness to God is foremost for Muslims. They are to be ever mindful of their blessings, to not take anything for granted, and to give thanks by saying ‘Alhamdulillah,’ meaning ‘all praise is for God.’ Thanksgiving is not limited to just one day for Muslims,” she says. “It’s is an attitude of gratitude.” 

Cali, Colombia, native Cesar Restrepo came to Cleveland, Georgia, to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music. “I knew that my brothers and family living in Miami celebrated Thanksgiving, but I thought it was just a break they had before Christmas. I also knew about the special prices on pretty much everything. For me it was just a mere shopping holiday,” he recalls of his first brush with the holiday.


For his first turkey dinner, Restrepo was invited by a Colombian family who served him a typical American Thanksgiving dinner along with tamales, a customary dish at every Colombian holiday. He remembers taking a moment before the meal to express what each of them was thankful for, especially for the blessings this country had given them. Twenty years later, Restrepo continues the tradition with his wife and kids, cooking all day, inviting friends over, and reflecting on the good fortune they have in their lives.


“For me, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to gather with other immigrants and make them feel welcome in a country that is not ours but is kind enough to host us. It’s also an act of kindness and peace,” says Restrepo. Having grown up in a relatively poor country, he doesn’t like the extravagant feasts where a lot of food is wasted. 

Content writer and blogger Lakshmi Devi Jagad moved from Mumbai to Atlanta in 2003. She, too, had no knowledge of the historic significance of Thanksgiving before arriving in the U.S., but she had heard about the incredible sales the holiday brought with it. “I believe Thanksgiving has been monetized for many years now!” she observes.

Over the years, it has become a day when she and her husband catch up with friends over a good meal and conversation, a quiet and peaceful time, Jagad says, for “a social gathering, a fun get-together, an opportunity to relax.”

Being vegetarian, Jagad must forgo the indispensable turkey and opt for an elaborate vegetable biryani, a layered Indian rice dish with saffron and nuts that is served with a side of cucumber and yogurt raita. “We prepare a huge pot of it as our version of the turkey,” she says. 

Father George Mahklouf, an Orthodox priest from the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank, has also integrated Thanksgiving into his annual rituals. “Whether Palestinians, Arabs, or other immigrants from overseas coming to America, many try to follow the traditions of the country they choose to live in. I lived in Yonkers, NY, then Long Island, and finally Atlanta. Wherever I went, Arabs celebrated Thanksgiving. Why? I don’t know, though most probably see it as a gathering of family and friends.” 

Mahklouf says the story of the Native Americans and the Pilgrims is familiar to him. “It reminds me of our similar Palestinian story as native indigenous people of the land of Canaan who were displaced by Ashkenazi Jews coming from Poland, Russia, and other places in the world to live in our own homes and take over our businesses and orchards.” Mahklouf, who breaks his own Nativity Fast “in order to please people (at Thanksgiving)” for a feast he never celebrated in Palestine, says his thankfulness, like Halim’s, is not limited to the holiday. “We thank God and all who do us favors, without having a special day to thank God and others.”

Thanksgiving in the U.S. has traditionally been a historic celebration, with religious overtones for many, but today it is celebrated by immigrants from around the world, regardless of their religious or cultural beliefs or ethnic backgrounds, who have chosen to make the United States their home. The holiday may have evolved from a day of giving thanks around the dinner table to include watching afternoon football games and starting the holiday shopping season, but its essence — celebrating an abundance of food after a fall harvest, breaking bread together with others, and appreciating one’s blessings — has endured over time. — CL —    Courtesy of Cesar Restreppo COLUMBIAN -STYLE: A paella-stuffed turkey.      Thanksgiving 2019                             A day of thanks "
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Article

Thursday November 1, 2018 02:07 pm EDT
Gratitude is the attitude wherever you’re from | more...
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  string(83) "Globe-trotting chef Lotfi Chabaane educates Duluth seniors on international cuisine"
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  string(5636) "Chef Lotfi Chabaane spends each day at a retirement community called Parc at Duluth. At 60, he’s the place’s de facto spring chicken, telling stories, dancing, and cooking for the seniors who live there. What he’s cooking are Tunisian, Indian, French, Malaysian, and German dishes, but his patrons often don’t know that. Chabaane disguises so-called “ethnic” foods with familiar descriptions, and serves them to people who may never have eaten international food before. That’s his mission: to expose retired folks to brand new cuisines in the most accessible way possible. And thus, to share a bit of his own life. 

Born in the small coastal town of Menzel Temime, Tunisia, located on Africa’s northernmost tip, Chabaane began working from a young age in order to help support his family. He lost his father at just five years old, and, as the eldest son, had to step up and hustle his way through busy markets selling his mother’s lemonade and brik, a traditional stuffed pastry wrapped in phyllo dough and deep-fried. 

“I would work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and bring home 50 cents every day,” Chabaane recalls. His other chores included fetching water from a hand pump and buying food at the markets for his mom to cook. “She would send me back if I did not get the right cut of meat, which is why I came to know so much about food.” 

Growing up in a house full of women, Chabaane learned to cook by watching them. He would dry pasta, tomatoes, and olives; cure meats; preserve lemons. He also made some money shelling peanuts, seeding peppers, and plucking chickens for the neighboring farmers. Life was not easy, but it laid the foundation for his future career. 

After attending a presidential sponsored high school in Tunisia, Chabaane went on to earn a degree in engineering but could not find a job in his field due to the country’s unstable economy. Instead, he worked at a resort doing anything he was asked — busing tables, serving drinks, folding chairs. Then one day, he met an English couple who invited him to work at their hotel in the seaside town of Devon. Starting as a bartender, Chabaane trained at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay as a waiter, and then a maître d’. He enjoyed entertaining people with food, and became particularly fond of tableside cooking — flambéing steak Diane and crêpes Suzette, carving lamb, tossing Caesar salads. “That’s when I realized I could cook!” he says, with a laugh. He also realized that his new skill set could act as his ticket around the world. 

Leaving Tunisia and moving to the UK had already been a culture shock of sorts. Chabaane didn’t speak English fluently and eating fish and chips didn’t satisfy his Northern African palate. But the cooking skills he’d developed, coupled with a strong ambition to learn about the world’s cuisines, got him a job on the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship. As an onboard sommelier and maître d’, he sailed around the world three times. “I tasted caviar, foie gras, and smoked salmon for the first time,” he recalls. “I was the happiest person in the world!” 

While Chabaane worked hard on the ship and was often seasick, he looked forward to tasting the cuisine at each port city along the ship’s route. “I would go to small local restaurants and eat the best paella in Spain, grilled octopus in Lisbon, tamales in Acapulco, and tandoori chicken in Mumbai,” he says. “I was building my knowledge of food and realized I wanted to open my own restaurant someday.”

Chabaane finally got a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in 1992. From there, he snagged gigs at the Department of Defense in Germany, then a French restaurant in Florida. He catered alongside Oprah’s former chef Art Smith in Tallahassee, and headed the dining room at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta. Eventually, he’d made a big enough name for himself to open two Atlanta restaurants: Couscous, a Tunisian bistro in Morningside, and Perla Taqueria, a Mexican taco joint on Piedmont Road. But after five years of running the two restaurants, Chabaane decided to close down both. There was a revolution going on in Tunisia, one that would eventually mark the start of the Arab Spring, and he needed to go back there to be with his family. 


But eventually, Chabaane returned to Atlanta, a city that’s become his second home. As dining director and executive chef for Parc at Duluth, he spends his days conversing in multiple languages with the retirees, creating eclectic menus using fresh and often unfamiliar ingredients, and telling stories of his world travels over platters of chicken satay, French ratatouille, chicken curry, and black truffle risotto. “I am no longer a chef,” he tells me as he prepares to give the residents a spirited lecture on legumes. “I am an educator and an entertainer.” 

In February 2018, Chabaane hosted a fundraiser for my Atlanta-based nonprofit, Go Eat Give, where he cooked homestyle Tunisian dishes such as spicy carrot salad, chicken tagine stew in a traditional clay pot, and vegetable couscous. In this way, the chef was able to recreate his childhood memories of eating big weekend lunches, sharing stories, and surrounding himself with people. Though some of the attendees were generally familiar with the region, none had ever tasted  traditional Tunisian food before, which stands apart for its European influences. Chabaane was proud to serve it to them.

“I have been cooking for over half a century,” he says. “Now I want to share what I have learned.”"
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  string(5859) "Chef Lotfi Chabaane spends each day at a retirement community called Parc at Duluth. At 60, he’s the place’s de facto spring chicken, telling stories, dancing, and cooking for the seniors who live there. What he’s cooking are Tunisian, Indian, French, Malaysian, and German dishes, but his patrons often don’t know that. Chabaane disguises so-called “ethnic” foods with familiar descriptions, and serves them to people who may never have eaten international food before. That’s his mission: to expose retired folks to brand new cuisines in the most accessible way possible. And thus, to share a bit of his own life. 

Born in the small coastal town of Menzel Temime, Tunisia, located on Africa’s northernmost tip, Chabaane began working from a young age in order to help support his family. He lost his father at just five years old, and, as the eldest son, had to step up and hustle his way through busy markets selling his mother’s lemonade and brik, a traditional stuffed pastry wrapped in phyllo dough and deep-fried. 

“I would work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and bring home 50 cents every day,” Chabaane recalls. His other chores included fetching water from a hand pump and buying food at the markets for his mom to cook. “She would send me back if I did not get the right cut of meat, which is why I came to know so much about food.” 

Growing up in a house full of women, Chabaane learned to cook by watching them. He would dry pasta, tomatoes, and olives; cure meats; preserve lemons. He also made some money shelling peanuts, seeding peppers, and plucking chickens for the neighboring farmers. Life was not easy, but it laid the foundation for his future career. 

After attending a presidential sponsored high school in Tunisia, Chabaane went on to earn a degree in engineering but could not find a job in his field due to the country’s unstable economy. Instead, he worked at a resort doing anything he was asked — busing tables, serving drinks, folding chairs. Then one day, he met an English couple who invited him to work at their hotel in the seaside town of Devon. Starting as a bartender, Chabaane trained at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay as a waiter, and then a ''maître d’''. He enjoyed entertaining people with food, and became particularly fond of tableside cooking — flambéing steak Diane and crêpes Suzette, carving lamb, tossing Caesar salads. “That’s when I realized I could cook!” he says, with a laugh. He also realized that his new skill set could act as his ticket around the world. 

Leaving Tunisia and moving to the UK had already been a culture shock of sorts. Chabaane didn’t speak English fluently and eating fish and chips didn’t satisfy his Northern African palate. But the cooking skills he’d developed, coupled with a strong ambition to learn about the world’s cuisines, got him a job on the ''Queen Elizabeth II'' cruise ship. As an onboard sommelier and ''maître d’'', he sailed around the world three times. “I tasted caviar, foie gras, and smoked salmon for the first time,” he recalls. “I was the happiest person in the world!” 

While Chabaane worked hard on the ship and was often seasick, he looked forward to tasting the cuisine at each port city along the ship’s route. “I would go to small local restaurants and eat the best paella in Spain, grilled octopus in Lisbon, tamales in Acapulco, and tandoori chicken in Mumbai,” he says. “I was building my knowledge of food and realized I wanted to open my own restaurant someday.”

Chabaane finally got a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in 1992. From there, he snagged gigs at the Department of Defense in Germany, then a French restaurant in Florida. He catered alongside Oprah’s former chef Art Smith in Tallahassee, and headed the dining room at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta. Eventually, he’d made a big enough name for himself to open two Atlanta restaurants: Couscous, a Tunisian bistro in Morningside, and Perla Taqueria, a Mexican taco joint on Piedmont Road. But after five years of running the two restaurants, Chabaane decided to close down both. There was a revolution going on in Tunisia, one that would eventually mark the start of the Arab Spring, and he needed to go back there to be with his family. 

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But eventually, Chabaane returned to Atlanta, a city that’s become his second home. As dining director and executive chef for Parc at Duluth, he spends his days conversing in multiple languages with the retirees, creating eclectic menus using fresh and often unfamiliar ingredients, and telling stories of his world travels over platters of chicken satay, French ratatouille, chicken curry, and black truffle risotto. “I am no longer a chef,” he tells me as he prepares to give the residents a spirited lecture on legumes. “I am an educator and an entertainer.” 

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“I have been cooking for over half a century,” he says. “Now I want to share what I have learned.”"
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  string(6146) " Chef Lotfi Chabaane Of Parc Duluth Erik Meadows 1 Web  2018-04-05T18:36:36+00:00 Chef-Lotfi-Chabaane-of-Parc-Duluth-Erik-Meadows-1_web.jpg     Globe-trotting chef Lotfi Chabaane educates Duluth seniors on international cuisine 4430  2018-04-09T15:43:00+00:00 From Tunisia, with love jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Sucheta Rawal  2018-04-09T15:43:00+00:00  Chef Lotfi Chabaane spends each day at a retirement community called Parc at Duluth. At 60, he’s the place’s de facto spring chicken, telling stories, dancing, and cooking for the seniors who live there. What he’s cooking are Tunisian, Indian, French, Malaysian, and German dishes, but his patrons often don’t know that. Chabaane disguises so-called “ethnic” foods with familiar descriptions, and serves them to people who may never have eaten international food before. That’s his mission: to expose retired folks to brand new cuisines in the most accessible way possible. And thus, to share a bit of his own life. 

Born in the small coastal town of Menzel Temime, Tunisia, located on Africa’s northernmost tip, Chabaane began working from a young age in order to help support his family. He lost his father at just five years old, and, as the eldest son, had to step up and hustle his way through busy markets selling his mother’s lemonade and brik, a traditional stuffed pastry wrapped in phyllo dough and deep-fried. 

“I would work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and bring home 50 cents every day,” Chabaane recalls. His other chores included fetching water from a hand pump and buying food at the markets for his mom to cook. “She would send me back if I did not get the right cut of meat, which is why I came to know so much about food.” 

Growing up in a house full of women, Chabaane learned to cook by watching them. He would dry pasta, tomatoes, and olives; cure meats; preserve lemons. He also made some money shelling peanuts, seeding peppers, and plucking chickens for the neighboring farmers. Life was not easy, but it laid the foundation for his future career. 

After attending a presidential sponsored high school in Tunisia, Chabaane went on to earn a degree in engineering but could not find a job in his field due to the country’s unstable economy. Instead, he worked at a resort doing anything he was asked — busing tables, serving drinks, folding chairs. Then one day, he met an English couple who invited him to work at their hotel in the seaside town of Devon. Starting as a bartender, Chabaane trained at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay as a waiter, and then a maître d’. He enjoyed entertaining people with food, and became particularly fond of tableside cooking — flambéing steak Diane and crêpes Suzette, carving lamb, tossing Caesar salads. “That’s when I realized I could cook!” he says, with a laugh. He also realized that his new skill set could act as his ticket around the world. 

Leaving Tunisia and moving to the UK had already been a culture shock of sorts. Chabaane didn’t speak English fluently and eating fish and chips didn’t satisfy his Northern African palate. But the cooking skills he’d developed, coupled with a strong ambition to learn about the world’s cuisines, got him a job on the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship. As an onboard sommelier and maître d’, he sailed around the world three times. “I tasted caviar, foie gras, and smoked salmon for the first time,” he recalls. “I was the happiest person in the world!” 

While Chabaane worked hard on the ship and was often seasick, he looked forward to tasting the cuisine at each port city along the ship’s route. “I would go to small local restaurants and eat the best paella in Spain, grilled octopus in Lisbon, tamales in Acapulco, and tandoori chicken in Mumbai,” he says. “I was building my knowledge of food and realized I wanted to open my own restaurant someday.”

Chabaane finally got a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in 1992. From there, he snagged gigs at the Department of Defense in Germany, then a French restaurant in Florida. He catered alongside Oprah’s former chef Art Smith in Tallahassee, and headed the dining room at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta. Eventually, he’d made a big enough name for himself to open two Atlanta restaurants: Couscous, a Tunisian bistro in Morningside, and Perla Taqueria, a Mexican taco joint on Piedmont Road. But after five years of running the two restaurants, Chabaane decided to close down both. There was a revolution going on in Tunisia, one that would eventually mark the start of the Arab Spring, and he needed to go back there to be with his family. 


But eventually, Chabaane returned to Atlanta, a city that’s become his second home. As dining director and executive chef for Parc at Duluth, he spends his days conversing in multiple languages with the retirees, creating eclectic menus using fresh and often unfamiliar ingredients, and telling stories of his world travels over platters of chicken satay, French ratatouille, chicken curry, and black truffle risotto. “I am no longer a chef,” he tells me as he prepares to give the residents a spirited lecture on legumes. “I am an educator and an entertainer.” 

In February 2018, Chabaane hosted a fundraiser for my Atlanta-based nonprofit, Go Eat Give, where he cooked homestyle Tunisian dishes such as spicy carrot salad, chicken tagine stew in a traditional clay pot, and vegetable couscous. In this way, the chef was able to recreate his childhood memories of eating big weekend lunches, sharing stories, and surrounding himself with people. Though some of the attendees were generally familiar with the region, none had ever tasted  traditional Tunisian food before, which stands apart for its European influences. Chabaane was proud to serve it to them.

“I have been cooking for over half a century,” he says. “Now I want to share what I have learned.”    Erik Meadows HELPING HAND: Chef Lotfi Chabaane serves seniors at Parc at Duluth                                   From Tunisia, with love "
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Monday April 9, 2018 11:43 am EDT
Globe-trotting chef Lotfi Chabaane educates Duluth seniors on international cuisine | more...
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Seewai Sayavong welcomes me into a 12,000-square-foot Victorian mansion overlooking 15 street. "Tennessee Williams has lived here!" she says. Upon further research, I find that no one is quite sure whether this factoid is true or not, but the building, often referred to as "the castle," was indeed a residence for many Atlanta artists back in the day. Sayavong, who hails from Laos and was once general manager for Thai fine dining concepts Nan and Tuk Tuk, gives me a cheerful tour of the newly renovated space. It's clear she enjoys her new gig as assistant manager for Rose + Rye quite a lot.

For owner Thaddeus Keefe, who also owns the atmospheric 1KEPT Kitchen + Bar, the national historic site was an obvious choice for his new restaurant. "There's always an artistic overtone to the concepts we create," says Keefe, a writer and painter himself. "This is more about the painter and the muse which plays intricately to the history of the building."

The space spans four stories, each with original hardwood floors, dramatic stone walls, and contemporary white and dark merlot contrasting furniture. The ground level, known as "the Grotto," serves as a bar and lounge area where Keefe plans to showcase Atlanta artists and project classic black and white movies, keeping true to the building's origins. One can totally picture a bunch of aficionados standing on the large patio overlooking Woodruff Arts Center, drinking wine and talking about the latest exhibits. On our tour, Sayavong also shows me the bedrooms upstairs; each is marked by a state emblem and all are now open for private parties of various sizes.


Rose + Rye boasts a vibrant cocktail menu with select wines and cocktails named after the works of Ernest Hemingway: Garden of Eden, Men Without Women, A Farewell to Arms. "We wanted to open with drink names that referenced Hemingway out of respect for the great one," Keefe says. "As our drink list changes and evolves, you'll see additional authors' names and pieces of work involved."

My server, Kat, recommends True at First Light ($14), a vodka mojito with champagne bubbles. She tells me that the staff gets a free drink at the end of each shift and this one, both solid and refreshing, is a popular choice. If you are not a whiskey drinker, the signature Rose + RYE ($13) may convert you. Delicate rose water, spicy star anise, and bitter orange peel balance off the edginess of the rye.

Despite its male ownership, Rose + Rye is run by an all-women culinary team, from its executive chef to its general manager. "It happened naturally," says Keefe, noting that he saw a unique opportunity to showcase feminine talent and diversity in an industry often ruled by men.



The seasonal menu pulls from the culinary team's various backgrounds. Executive chef Lindsay Owens has been in the restaurant industry since the age of 15 and recently moved to Atlanta from Minneapolis, where she cooked at the Lynhall, Tilia, Unideli, and Creamery Caf̩. Her French toast entr̩e ($14) is a play on a breakfast classic made with pickled chanterelle mushrooms, Parmesan cream, and tarragon on slices of country bread pan-fried with cream, garlic, black pepper, and vinegar. "I love to try new techniques and flavor combinations," Owens says. "I play with food until it tastes great.

Sous chef Anu Adebara draws on a Nigerian upbringing to bring her own spin to classic dishes. For her chicken mole ($22), she uses corn tortillas, a nice balance of fresh and dried spices, and tomatoes to make a rich chocolaty sauce, which she serves on a bed of crispy rice cakes. "I grew up eating West African cuisine, but I didn't want to scare people off with the strong spices," she says. "So, I created dishes that are approachable yet still stay true to the integrity of the dish."



The braised duck ($14) appetizer is an upscale take on typical barbecue, marinated in sherry vinegar and three kinds of peppers (pasilla, guajillo, and ancho chili) and served atop crisp polenta cakes and pickled red onions. The combination of spicy, sour, and sweet illustrates Keefe's "yin and yang rose and rye, get it?" theme well. Glazed pork belly ($14) is tenderized with soy sauce for four hours and complements the accompanying Parisian gnocchi. Together, the pork fat and velvety dumplings melt in my mouth like savory profiteroles.

Seared snapper ($26) is a bit overcooked and has little flavor, but the rehydrated cherries add a pleasantly sweet touch. Seared tuna ($28) offers the unusual flavor combinations of olive paste and yogurt.



Desserts, made in house by pastry chef Charity Everett (formerly of 1KEPT and Revel Pastry Company), also buck tradition. Buttermilk panna cotta ($9) is a bit runny but has surprise fig jam on the bottom that you can sop up with house-made rosemary cookies. A dark chocolate tart ($13) with bacon fat popcorn is bold and bitter with a nice crunch.

While Rose + Rye's menu is still coming into its own, the restaurant's concept inspires.

"It's extremely empowering to have people that understand food in a way a woman understands it," says Adebara. "It's like a sisterhood where we take each other's' opinion seriously and thrive in a creative environment." Adds chef Owens, "We're a take-no-crap team and get things done. I love everything about it!


Rose + Rye, 87 15 St. N.E. 404-500-5980. www.roserye.com. "
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Seewai Sayavong welcomes me into a 12,000-square-foot Victorian mansion overlooking 15{SUP()}th{SUP} street. "Tennessee Williams has lived here!" she says. Upon further research, I find that no one is quite sure whether this factoid is true or not, but the building, often referred to as "the castle," was indeed a residence for many Atlanta artists back in the day. Sayavong, who hails from Laos and was once general manager for Thai fine dining concepts Nan and Tuk Tuk, gives me a cheerful tour of the newly renovated space. It's clear she enjoys her new gig as assistant manager for Rose + Rye quite a lot.

For owner Thaddeus Keefe, who also owns the atmospheric 1KEPT Kitchen + Bar, the national historic site was an obvious choice for his new restaurant. "There's always an artistic overtone to the concepts we create," says Keefe, a writer and painter himself. "This is more about the painter and the muse which plays intricately to the history of the building."

The space spans four stories, each with original hardwood floors, dramatic stone walls, and contemporary white and dark merlot contrasting furniture. The ground level, known as "the Grotto," serves as a bar and lounge area where Keefe plans to showcase Atlanta artists and project classic black and white movies, keeping true to the building's origins. One can totally picture a bunch of aficionados standing on the large patio overlooking Woodruff Arts Center, drinking wine and talking about the latest exhibits. On our tour, Sayavong also shows me the bedrooms upstairs; each is marked by a state emblem and all are now open for private parties of various sizes.
{HTML()}DSC3414REMADE CLASSIC: Chicken mole with braised chicken thigh, crispy rice cake, and wilted kale.Joeff DavisDSC3592DRAMATIC ENTRY: Midtown's "castle" was built by Ferdinand McMillan the early 1900s.Joeff Davis{HTML}

The seasonal menu pulls from the culinary team's various backgrounds. Executive chef Lindsay Owens has been in the restaurant industry since the age of 15 and recently moved to Atlanta from Minneapolis, where she cooked at the Lynhall, Tilia, Unideli, and Creamery Caf̩. Her French toast entr̩e ($14) is a play on a breakfast classic made with pickled chanterelle mushrooms, Parmesan cream, and tarragon on slices of country bread pan-fried with cream, garlic, black pepper, and vinegar. "I love to try new techniques and flavor combinations," Owens says. "I play with food until it tastes great.

Sous chef Anu Adebara draws on a Nigerian upbringing to bring her own spin to classic dishes. For her chicken mole ($22), she uses corn tortillas, a nice balance of fresh and dried spices, and tomatoes to make a rich chocolaty sauce, which she serves on a bed of crispy rice cakes. "I grew up eating West African cuisine, but I didn't want to scare people off with the strong spices," she says. "So, I created dishes that are approachable yet still stay true to the integrity of the dish."

{HTML()}DSC3434FROM THE SEA: Seared yellowfin tuna, haricot vert, cured olive puree, and smoked yogurt. Joeff Davis {HTML}

The braised duck ($14) appetizer is an upscale take on typical barbecue, marinated in sherry vinegar and three kinds of peppers (pasilla, guajillo, and ancho chili) and served atop crisp polenta cakes and pickled red onions. The combination of spicy, sour, and sweet illustrates Keefe's "yin and yang rose and rye, get it?" theme well. Glazed pork belly ($14) is tenderized with soy sauce for four hours and complements the accompanying Parisian gnocchi. Together, the pork fat and velvety dumplings melt in my mouth like savory profiteroles.

Seared snapper ($26) is a bit overcooked and has little flavor, but the rehydrated cherries add a pleasantly sweet touch. Seared tuna ($28) offers the unusual flavor combinations of olive paste and yogurt.

{HTML()}DSC3364WOOD AND STONE: The Rose + Rye team recently renovated the historic Midtown building, creating a series of bars and dining areas.Joeff Davis{HTML}

Desserts, made in house by pastry chef Charity Everett (formerly of 1KEPT and Revel Pastry Company), also buck tradition. Buttermilk panna cotta ($9) is a bit runny but has surprise fig jam on the bottom that you can sop up with house-made rosemary cookies. A dark chocolate tart ($13) with bacon fat popcorn is bold and bitter with a nice crunch.

While Rose + Rye's menu is still coming into its own, the restaurant's concept inspires.

"It's extremely empowering to have people that understand food in a way a woman understands it," says Adebara. "It's like a sisterhood where we take each other's' opinion seriously and thrive in a creative environment." Adds chef Owens, "We're a take-no-crap team and get things done. I love everything about it!


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Seewai Sayavong welcomes me into a 12,000-square-foot Victorian mansion overlooking 15 street. "Tennessee Williams has lived here!" she says. Upon further research, I find that no one is quite sure whether this factoid is true or not, but the building, often referred to as "the castle," was indeed a residence for many Atlanta artists back in the day. Sayavong, who hails from Laos and was once general manager for Thai fine dining concepts Nan and Tuk Tuk, gives me a cheerful tour of the newly renovated space. It's clear she enjoys her new gig as assistant manager for Rose + Rye quite a lot.

For owner Thaddeus Keefe, who also owns the atmospheric 1KEPT Kitchen + Bar, the national historic site was an obvious choice for his new restaurant. "There's always an artistic overtone to the concepts we create," says Keefe, a writer and painter himself. "This is more about the painter and the muse which plays intricately to the history of the building."

The space spans four stories, each with original hardwood floors, dramatic stone walls, and contemporary white and dark merlot contrasting furniture. The ground level, known as "the Grotto," serves as a bar and lounge area where Keefe plans to showcase Atlanta artists and project classic black and white movies, keeping true to the building's origins. One can totally picture a bunch of aficionados standing on the large patio overlooking Woodruff Arts Center, drinking wine and talking about the latest exhibits. On our tour, Sayavong also shows me the bedrooms upstairs; each is marked by a state emblem and all are now open for private parties of various sizes.


Rose + Rye boasts a vibrant cocktail menu with select wines and cocktails named after the works of Ernest Hemingway: Garden of Eden, Men Without Women, A Farewell to Arms. "We wanted to open with drink names that referenced Hemingway out of respect for the great one," Keefe says. "As our drink list changes and evolves, you'll see additional authors' names and pieces of work involved."

My server, Kat, recommends True at First Light ($14), a vodka mojito with champagne bubbles. She tells me that the staff gets a free drink at the end of each shift and this one, both solid and refreshing, is a popular choice. If you are not a whiskey drinker, the signature Rose + RYE ($13) may convert you. Delicate rose water, spicy star anise, and bitter orange peel balance off the edginess of the rye.

Despite its male ownership, Rose + Rye is run by an all-women culinary team, from its executive chef to its general manager. "It happened naturally," says Keefe, noting that he saw a unique opportunity to showcase feminine talent and diversity in an industry often ruled by men.



The seasonal menu pulls from the culinary team's various backgrounds. Executive chef Lindsay Owens has been in the restaurant industry since the age of 15 and recently moved to Atlanta from Minneapolis, where she cooked at the Lynhall, Tilia, Unideli, and Creamery Caf̩. Her French toast entr̩e ($14) is a play on a breakfast classic made with pickled chanterelle mushrooms, Parmesan cream, and tarragon on slices of country bread pan-fried with cream, garlic, black pepper, and vinegar. "I love to try new techniques and flavor combinations," Owens says. "I play with food until it tastes great.

Sous chef Anu Adebara draws on a Nigerian upbringing to bring her own spin to classic dishes. For her chicken mole ($22), she uses corn tortillas, a nice balance of fresh and dried spices, and tomatoes to make a rich chocolaty sauce, which she serves on a bed of crispy rice cakes. "I grew up eating West African cuisine, but I didn't want to scare people off with the strong spices," she says. "So, I created dishes that are approachable yet still stay true to the integrity of the dish."



The braised duck ($14) appetizer is an upscale take on typical barbecue, marinated in sherry vinegar and three kinds of peppers (pasilla, guajillo, and ancho chili) and served atop crisp polenta cakes and pickled red onions. The combination of spicy, sour, and sweet illustrates Keefe's "yin and yang rose and rye, get it?" theme well. Glazed pork belly ($14) is tenderized with soy sauce for four hours and complements the accompanying Parisian gnocchi. Together, the pork fat and velvety dumplings melt in my mouth like savory profiteroles.

Seared snapper ($26) is a bit overcooked and has little flavor, but the rehydrated cherries add a pleasantly sweet touch. Seared tuna ($28) offers the unusual flavor combinations of olive paste and yogurt.



Desserts, made in house by pastry chef Charity Everett (formerly of 1KEPT and Revel Pastry Company), also buck tradition. Buttermilk panna cotta ($9) is a bit runny but has surprise fig jam on the bottom that you can sop up with house-made rosemary cookies. A dark chocolate tart ($13) with bacon fat popcorn is bold and bitter with a nice crunch.

While Rose + Rye's menu is still coming into its own, the restaurant's concept inspires.

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  string(5612) ""Refugee cookies!" a 10-year old Syrian boy screamed from the front porch of an Oakhurst home. The shortbread style cookies, known in the Middle East as mamool and flavored with orange blossom, dates and pistachios, were an instant hit. In less than three hours, the entire batch sold: 45 dozen cookies in all. That was last fall.

Khaled and Ruwaida (last names withheld for safety reasons) are refugees from Syria. Along with their two young kids, Mohamad and Zainab, they lived in Jordan for four years, before coming to Georgia in July of 2016, sponsored by New American Pathways and co-sponsored by Holy Trinity Church. Back in Damascus, they owned two apartments and two electronics shops. Now, they live in a small rented apartment in Decatur. Khaled works a minimum wage job and the family scrapes by.

I meet Ruwaida, now 29, at the home of Amanda Avutu, a friend and advisor to the family. When a mutual acquaintance posted on Decatur's Neighborhood Facebook page that he was looking for help to clean up an apartment for an incoming refugee family, Avutu and her kids volunteered. She offered to help stock their kitchen and drop off hot meals. Having no connection to Syria before, she began her job with a Google search: 'What do Syrians eat?' Then she purchased random items she wasn't sure they would use. "I bought pomegranate molasses, orange blossom water, sesame, cooking oil, dried legumes and rice,' she recalls. "Later I discovered, there's no way I can shop rice for Ruwaida!' She laughs at how particular Syrians are about their rice.

 




We sit in Avutu's living room sipping cardamom-spiced black coffee and munching on a plate of homemade mamool cookies. Wearing a head scarf and long dress, Ruwaida mostly smiles, shy to respond in her limited English, but Amanda translates key words to Arabic and encourages Ruwaida to express herself. "Cookies!' she exclaims, making hand gestures when I ask her about her new business, Sweet, Sweet Syria. She tells me she has been making these traditional Middle Eastern cookies at home since childhood and has sweet memories attached to them, hence the name. But until recently, she never thought anyone would actually pay for them.

Sweet, Sweet Syria's humble beginnings took place in a similar setting. When Ruwaida's family moved to Decatur, neighbors and community members came to welcome her, bringing food, toys, books and helping to set up her new apartment. Ruwaida would often offer homemade cookies and coffee to her new friends as a gesture of thanks. Her mother's wooden cookie molds were one of just a small handful of things that she could bring from Syria when she fled, and serve as a bittersweet reminder of home.

"Wow! You need to sell these at the Oakhurst Porchfest,' one of the visitors remarked, encouraging Ruwaida to set up a table at the upcoming neighborhood music festival, where neighbors play music on their porches. As a traditional Syrian woman, Ruwaida has never worked outside her home or earned her own salary before. It was hard at first, she says, to grasp the concept of selling her food for money. But friends and family convinced her to take a chance. And when her cookies sold out before the music even started, she realized she just might have something: an opportunity to make money and help support her family as they acclimate to their new home.

 



Over the next few months, Avutu played an instrumental role in helping Ruwaida get her business off the ground, along with a team of volunteer advisors. They applied for a 14-week small business training program called Start:Me, run by Emory's Goizueta Business School. Avutu accompanied Ruwaida to every class. They made a business plan, applied for various licenses and studied for the ServSafe exam. In the beginning, they would communicate through Google translator. Now, Avutu takes Arabic classes on Fridays and Ruwaida takes English classes on Tuesdays.

A recent GoFundMe campaign has allowed Ruwaida to rent a commercial kitchen, where she bakes her family recipes and supplies to local coffee shops and farmers markets. Ultimately, she'd like to have her own small restaurant where she and her family can cook together. Until then, she's learning how to take orders, handle money and interact socially. Delicate shortbreads with coconut, chewy sesame rolled dates and strawberry pressed cookies are some of her most popular offerings. Sweet, Sweet Syria trio ($2.50) and half dozen ($5) samplers are available for purchase at Oakhurst's Kavarna, Ebrik Coffee Room and Emory Farmers Market on Tuesdays. Orders by the dozen ($10) are also available at the Emory Farmer's Market and can be placed online.
 



The family also hosts invitation-only gatherings at private homes to share a traditional Syrian meal. Here, they are forced to practice English, meet new people, and further understand the American lifestyle, including seeing how things work in other kitchens. "It is important to make a human connection and understand who they are,' Avutu says. Over the last few months, her kids have become friends with Ruwaida's children as they get together for homework, sports and celebrations.

Near the end of our conversation, I ask Ruwaida what she likes most about being here in Georgia. She giggles and rattles off the names of several people who have come forward to welcome her and her family, and helped her get her business off the ground. Most of them were just strangers a few months ago. Now, they are friends.

For more information or to place a cookie order, visit sweetsweetsyria.com."
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  string(7087) ""Refugee cookies!" a 10-year old Syrian boy screamed from the front porch of an Oakhurst home. The shortbread style cookies, known in the Middle East as mamool and flavored with orange blossom, dates and pistachios, were an instant hit. In less than three hours, the entire batch sold: 45 dozen cookies in all. That was last fall.

Khaled and Ruwaida (last names withheld for safety reasons) are refugees from Syria. Along with their two young kids, Mohamad and Zainab, they lived in Jordan for four years, before coming to Georgia in July of 2016, sponsored by New American Pathways and co-sponsored by Holy Trinity Church. Back in Damascus, they owned two apartments and two electronics shops. Now, they live in a small rented apartment in Decatur. Khaled works a minimum wage job and the family scrapes by.

I meet Ruwaida, now 29, at the home of Amanda Avutu, a friend and advisor to the family. When a mutual acquaintance posted on Decatur's Neighborhood Facebook page that he was looking for help to clean up an apartment for an incoming refugee family, Avutu and her kids volunteered. She offered to help stock their kitchen and drop off hot meals. Having no connection to Syria before, she began her job with a Google search: 'What do Syrians eat?' Then she purchased random items she wasn't sure they would use. "I bought pomegranate molasses, orange blossom water, sesame, cooking oil, dried legumes and rice,' she recalls. "Later I discovered, there's no way I can shop rice for [[Ruwaida]!' She laughs at how particular Syrians are about their rice.

 

{HTML()}DSC0060

FAR FROM HOME: Ruwaida points out the Syrian city of Damascus, where she is from, on a map.
| Joeff Davis
{HTML} We sit in Avutu's living room sipping cardamom-spiced black coffee and munching on a plate of homemade mamool cookies. Wearing a head scarf and long dress, Ruwaida mostly smiles, shy to respond in her limited English, but Amanda translates key words to Arabic and encourages Ruwaida to express herself. "Cookies!' she exclaims, making hand gestures when I ask her about her new business, Sweet, Sweet Syria. She tells me she has been making these traditional Middle Eastern cookies at home since childhood and has sweet memories attached to them, hence the name. But until recently, she never thought anyone would actually pay for them. Sweet, Sweet Syria's humble beginnings took place in a similar setting. When Ruwaida's family moved to Decatur, neighbors and community members came to welcome her, bringing food, toys, books and helping to set up her new apartment. Ruwaida would often offer homemade cookies and coffee to her new friends as a gesture of thanks. Her mother's wooden cookie molds were one of just a small handful of things that she could bring from Syria when she fled, and serve as a bittersweet reminder of home. "Wow! You need to sell these at the Oakhurst Porchfest,' one of the visitors remarked, encouraging Ruwaida to set up a table at the upcoming neighborhood music festival, where neighbors play music on their porches. As a traditional Syrian woman, Ruwaida has never worked outside her home or earned her own salary before. It was hard at first, she says, to grasp the concept of selling her food for money. But friends and family convinced her to take a chance. And when her cookies sold out before the music even started, she realized she just might have something: an opportunity to make money and help support her family as they acclimate to their new home.   {HTML()}DSC0193

EAT ME: Sweet, Sweet Syria offers samples of mamool cookies at their Emory Farmers Market booth every Tuesday.
| Joeff Davis
{HTML} Over the next few months, Avutu played an instrumental role in helping Ruwaida get her business off the ground, along with a team of volunteer advisors. They applied for a 14-week small business training program called Start:Me, run by Emory's Goizueta Business School. Avutu accompanied Ruwaida to every class. They made a business plan, applied for various licenses and studied for the ServSafe exam. In the beginning, they would communicate through Google translator. Now, Avutu takes Arabic classes on Fridays and Ruwaida takes English classes on Tuesdays. A recent GoFundMe campaign has allowed Ruwaida to rent a commercial kitchen, where she bakes her family recipes and supplies to local coffee shops and farmers markets. Ultimately, she'd like to have her own small restaurant where she and her family can cook together. Until then, she's learning how to take orders, handle money and interact socially. Delicate shortbreads with coconut, chewy sesame rolled dates and strawberry pressed cookies are some of her most popular offerings. Sweet, Sweet Syria trio ($2.50) and half dozen ($5) samplers are available for purchase at Oakhurst's Kavarna, Ebrik Coffee Room and Emory Farmers Market on Tuesdays. Orders by the dozen ($10) are also available at the Emory Farmer's Market and can be placed online.   {HTML()}DSC0222

TASTE AND SEE: An Emory student samples a cookie at the Sweet, Sweet Syria booth.
| Joeff Davis
{HTML} The family also hosts invitation-only gatherings at private homes to share a traditional Syrian meal. Here, they are forced to practice English, meet new people, and further understand the American lifestyle, including seeing how things work in other kitchens. "It is important to make a human connection and understand who they are,' Avutu says. Over the last few months, her kids have become friends with Ruwaida's children as they get together for homework, sports and celebrations. Near the end of our conversation, I ask Ruwaida what she likes most about being here in Georgia. She giggles and rattles off the names of several people who have come forward to welcome her and her family, and helped her get her business off the ground. Most of them were just strangers a few months ago. Now, they are friends. ''For more information or to place a cookie order, visit [https://sweetsweetsyria.com/|sweetsweetsyria.com].''" 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The shortbread style cookies, known in the Middle East as mamool and flavored with orange blossom, dates and pistachios, were an instant hit. In less than three hours, the entire batch sold: 45 dozen cookies in all. That was last fall. Khaled and Ruwaida (last names withheld for safety reasons) are refugees from Syria. Along with their two young kids, Mohamad and Zainab, they lived in Jordan for four years, before coming to Georgia in July of 2016, sponsored by New American Pathways and co-sponsored by Holy Trinity Church. Back in Damascus, they owned two apartments and two electronics shops. Now, they live in a small rented apartment in Decatur. Khaled works a minimum wage job and the family scrapes by. I meet Ruwaida, now 29, at the home of Amanda Avutu, a friend and advisor to the family. When a mutual acquaintance posted on Decatur's Neighborhood Facebook page that he was looking for help to clean up an apartment for an incoming refugee family, Avutu and her kids volunteered. She offered to help stock their kitchen and drop off hot meals. Having no connection to Syria before, she began her job with a Google search: 'What do Syrians eat?' Then she purchased random items she wasn't sure they would use. "I bought pomegranate molasses, orange blossom water, sesame, cooking oil, dried legumes and rice,' she recalls. "Later I discovered, there's no way I can shop rice for Ruwaida!' She laughs at how particular Syrians are about their rice.   We sit in Avutu's living room sipping cardamom-spiced black coffee and munching on a plate of homemade mamool cookies. Wearing a head scarf and long dress, Ruwaida mostly smiles, shy to respond in her limited English, but Amanda translates key words to Arabic and encourages Ruwaida to express herself. "Cookies!' she exclaims, making hand gestures when I ask her about her new business, Sweet, Sweet Syria. She tells me she has been making these traditional Middle Eastern cookies at home since childhood and has sweet memories attached to them, hence the name. But until recently, she never thought anyone would actually pay for them. Sweet, Sweet Syria's humble beginnings took place in a similar setting. When Ruwaida's family moved to Decatur, neighbors and community members came to welcome her, bringing food, toys, books and helping to set up her new apartment. Ruwaida would often offer homemade cookies and coffee to her new friends as a gesture of thanks. Her mother's wooden cookie molds were one of just a small handful of things that she could bring from Syria when she fled, and serve as a bittersweet reminder of home. "Wow! You need to sell these at the Oakhurst Porchfest,' one of the visitors remarked, encouraging Ruwaida to set up a table at the upcoming neighborhood music festival, where neighbors play music on their porches. As a traditional Syrian woman, Ruwaida has never worked outside her home or earned her own salary before. It was hard at first, she says, to grasp the concept of selling her food for money. But friends and family convinced her to take a chance. And when her cookies sold out before the music even started, she realized she just might have something: an opportunity to make money and help support her family as they acclimate to their new home.   Over the next few months, Avutu played an instrumental role in helping Ruwaida get her business off the ground, along with a team of volunteer advisors. They applied for a 14-week small business training program called Start:Me, run by Emory's Goizueta Business School. Avutu accompanied Ruwaida to every class. They made a business plan, applied for various licenses and studied for the ServSafe exam. In the beginning, they would communicate through Google translator. Now, Avutu takes Arabic classes on Fridays and Ruwaida takes English classes on Tuesdays. A recent GoFundMe campaign has allowed Ruwaida to rent a commercial kitchen, where she bakes her family recipes and supplies to local coffee shops and farmers markets. Ultimately, she'd like to have her own small restaurant where she and her family can cook together. Until then, she's learning how to take orders, handle money and interact socially. Delicate shortbreads with coconut, chewy sesame rolled dates and strawberry pressed cookies are some of her most popular offerings. Sweet, Sweet Syria trio ($2.50) and half dozen ($5) samplers are available for purchase at Oakhurst's Kavarna, Ebrik Coffee Room and Emory Farmers Market on Tuesdays. Orders by the dozen ($10) are also available at the Emory Farmer's Market and can be placed online.   The family also hosts invitation-only gatherings at private homes to share a traditional Syrian meal. Here, they are forced to practice English, meet new people, and further understand the American lifestyle, including seeing how things work in other kitchens. "It is important to make a human connection and understand who they are,' Avutu says. Over the last few months, her kids have become friends with Ruwaida's children as they get together for homework, sports and celebrations. Near the end of our conversation, I ask Ruwaida what she likes most about being here in Georgia. She giggles and rattles off the names of several people who have come forward to welcome her and her family, and helped her get her business off the ground. Most of them were just strangers a few months ago. Now, they are friends. For more information or to place a cookie order, visit sweetsweetsyria.com. Joeff Davis FAMILY TIES: Ruwaida (far right) wraps arms around her children Mohamad and Zainab at their Sweet, Sweet Syria booth at the Emory Farmers Market. 20979591 http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/10/DSC_0099.59e650f9ccc57.png From Syria, with love " ["score"]=> float(0) ["_index"]=> string(21) "atlantawiki_tiki_main" ["objectlink"]=> string(203) "From Syria, with love" ["photos"]=> string(143) "DSC 0099.59e650f9ccc57 " ["desc"]=> string(92) "Syrian refugee Ruwaida celebrates her homeland and supports her family with cookies" ["eventDate"]=> string(92) "Syrian refugee Ruwaida celebrates her homeland and supports her family with cookies" ["noads"]=> string(10) "y" }

Article

Tuesday October 17, 2017 06:46 pm EDT
Syrian refugee Ruwaida celebrates her homeland and supports her family with cookies | more...
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  string(14) "First Look: CO"
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  string(87) "Poncey-Highland's sleek new eatery offers pan-Asian crowd-pleasers for the whole family"
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  string(5355) "%{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%225956825138ab46cd24a1edaf%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%Floor-to-ceiling glass windows wrap around a sleek interior of red and black. Waves of natural wood cover the entire ceiling. A lone painting of Atlanta's skyline adorns one of the walls. Designed under the Japanese minimalist principal of Ma, the space is uncluttered, the lines clean. This is CO, meaning "feast" in Vietnamese, the latest modern pan-Asian restaurant to arrive in Atlanta. 

Located on the ground level of the new Poncey-Highland mixed-use apartment complex near the corner of Highland and Ponce, CO mirrors many of its new neighbors (like Rize Artisan Pizza + Salad, which opened late last year) in that it's designed to multiply. The owner, Gregory Bauer, is a German-born U.S. Marine Corps veteran. While stationed in Southeast Asia on and off for three years, he says, he fell in love with the local flavors. After returning to the states, he got his MBA, then took a few months off to snowboard and do yoga, contemplating his next career move.

In the end, Bauer decided what he most wanted to do was share the flavors and cultures he encountered during his travels. He opened the first CO restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina in 2012 and has organically grown the business ever since, tapping into the same discipline and dedication that got him through his military service.

No value assignedThe plan has worked. Atlanta is Bauer's fifth CO location and two more are scheduled to open this year. "I was ready to take my concept to the big city," he says about launching the newest restaurant in Virginia-Highland, where he appreciates the fact that people can walk up for a casual meal.

Like Bauer's travels, the menu spans the Asian continent. Original recipes were developed with the help of Vietnamese caterers in South Carolina. Later, Masatoshi Tsujimura, a Japanese sushi chef and restaurant owner in Raleigh, came onboard as executive chef. Today, "Chef Masa?۝, as he is known, oversees all CO restaurants.

The CO team hopes to provide an easy entry point to Asian flavors, one that won't overwhelm the typical American palate (or your picky kids). You won't find bean curd puffs or tripe here; instead, strong flavors and unfamiliar textures are replaced by approachable ingredients like chicken and tofu.

LUNCH WITH A VIEW: Two customers enjoy a meal in CO's airy dining room.Joeff DavisAppetizers include edamame gyoza ($5)  a vegan-friendly blend of crunchy mashed edamame stuffed into fluffy steamed and pan-fried dumplings, and served with sweet ginger soy sauce for dipping. The salmon carpaccio ($13) is sliced a bit thick, but the fish is fresh, dressed in lemongrass zest and micro greens for a lovely summer flavor. Tuna tacos ($8) offer two soft flour tacos packed with diced tuna and avocado. Garlic, jalape̱os and cilantro add balanced kick to the dish. There's also bahn mi! Try the marinated and grilled lemongrass tofu ($8) served on a crisp rice flour baguette.
Wok dishes offer Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese-inspired combinations. Thai green curry ($14) resembles what you'll find at most Atlanta Thai restaurants, but here there's white wine in the sauce, making it thinner than most coconut-based curries. Those who appreciate a bit of heat should opt for spicy udon ($14), a colorful medley of veggies stir-fried with thick Japanese wheat noodles, spicy black pepper sauce and the protein of your choice. Or, to kick up any dish, add some of the restaurant's signature hot sauce, made in-house by deep frying red peppers and grinding them with onions, garlic, shallots and lime juice. 

Curry laksa ($15), a coconut-based soup, is inspired by Bauer's frequent visits to Malaysia while he lived in Singapore. "When I first served it in Charleston, no one knew what it was," he says, "but now it is one of our popular dishes.?۝

While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Bauer developed a fondness for oshizushi (pressed sushi), and CO is one of the few places in Atlanta that makes it. Sliced salmon ($13) is pressed onto rice in a wooden box, resulting in rectangular cuts of sushi, then topped with ripe avocado and a creamy lemon aioli. Each piece is enormous, so go ahead, forgo the chopsticks and use your fingers to pick it up  nobody's at CO to judge. The spring geisha roll with seared salmon ($14.5) and kobe jalape̱o ($15) are other fun, fusion-y creations for those who prefer their proteins cooked. 

PRESS PLAY: Salmon and avocado pressed sushiJoeff Davis

At the newly opened bar, you'll find a traditional sake selection as well as fruit and herb infusions made in-house. There's also an array of signature cocktails (blackberry bourbon fizz, anyone?) and a whole menu section for boba tea, with toppings that range from lychee jelly to bursting passion fruit pearls.

While CO may not impress die-hard foodies (as in, those who will gladly trek to Buford Highway in search of the best pho or dumplings), it's a pleasant and accessible spot to take the whole family and expose picky eaters to new flavors. Add in the convenient location, sleek ambiance and []well-stocked bar, and you just might have your favorite new neighborhood noodle and sushi joint.

CO, 675 North Highland Ave., 404-474-0262, www.eatatco.com."
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  string(5811) "%{[ data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="5956825138ab46cd24a1edaf" data-embed-element="span" data-embed-size="640w" contenteditable="false" ]}%Floor-to-ceiling glass windows wrap around a sleek interior of red and black. Waves of natural wood cover the entire ceiling. A lone painting of Atlanta's skyline adorns one of the walls. Designed under the Japanese minimalist principal of Ma, the space is uncluttered, the lines clean. This is CO, meaning "feast" in Vietnamese, the latest modern pan-Asian restaurant to arrive in Atlanta. 

Located on the ground level of the new Poncey-Highland mixed-use apartment complex near the corner of Highland and Ponce, CO mirrors many of its new neighbors (like [http://www.creativeloafing.com/food-drink/article/20845870/first-look-rize-artisan-pizza-salads|Rize Artisan Pizza + Salad], which opened late last year) in that it's designed to multiply. The owner, Gregory Bauer, is a German-born U.S. Marine Corps veteran. While stationed in Southeast Asia on and off for three years, he says, he fell in love with the local flavors. After returning to the states, he got his MBA, then took a few months off to snowboard and do yoga, contemplating his next career move.

In the end, Bauer decided what he most wanted to do was share the flavors and cultures he encountered during his travels. He opened the first CO restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina in 2012 and has organically grown the business ever since, tapping into the same discipline and dedication that got him through his military service.

%{[ data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="5956825157ab46d064b6971b" data-embed-element="span" data-embed-size="640w" contenteditable="false" ]}%The plan has worked. Atlanta is Bauer's fifth CO location and two more are scheduled to open this year. "I was ready to take my concept to the big city," he says about launching the newest restaurant in Virginia-Highland, where he appreciates the fact that people can walk up for a casual meal.

Like Bauer's travels, the menu spans the Asian continent. Original recipes were developed with the help of Vietnamese caterers in South Carolina. Later, Masatoshi Tsujimura, a Japanese sushi chef and restaurant owner in Raleigh, came onboard as executive chef. Today, "Chef Masa?۝, as he is known, oversees all CO restaurants.

The CO team hopes to provide an easy entry point to Asian flavors, one that won't overwhelm the typical American palate (or your picky kids). You won't find bean curd puffs or tripe here; instead, strong flavors and unfamiliar textures are replaced by approachable ingredients like chicken and tofu.

{img src="http://media.baseplatform.io/files/base/scomm/clatl/image/2017/06/640w/food_firstlook1_7_11.5956823842071.png"}LUNCH WITH A VIEW: Two customers enjoy a meal in CO's airy dining room.Joeff DavisAppetizers include edamame gyoza ($5)  a vegan-friendly blend of crunchy mashed edamame stuffed into fluffy steamed and pan-fried dumplings, and served with sweet ginger soy sauce for dipping. The salmon carpaccio ($13) is sliced a bit thick, but the fish is fresh, dressed in lemongrass zest and micro greens for a lovely summer flavor. Tuna tacos ($8) offer two soft flour tacos packed with diced tuna and avocado. Garlic, jalape̱os and cilantro add balanced kick to the dish. There's also bahn mi! Try the marinated and grilled lemongrass tofu ($8) served on a crisp rice flour baguette.
Wok dishes offer Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese-inspired combinations. Thai green curry ($14) resembles what you'll find at most Atlanta Thai restaurants, but here there's white wine in the sauce, making it thinner than most coconut-based curries. Those who appreciate a bit of heat should opt for spicy udon ($14), a colorful medley of veggies stir-fried with thick Japanese wheat noodles, spicy black pepper sauce and the protein of your choice. Or, to kick up any dish, add some of the restaurant's signature hot sauce, made in-house by deep frying red peppers and grinding them with onions, garlic, shallots and lime juice. 

Curry laksa ($15), a coconut-based soup, is inspired by Bauer's frequent visits to Malaysia while he lived in Singapore. "When I first served it in Charleston, no one knew what it was," he says, "but now it is one of our popular dishes.?۝

While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Bauer developed a fondness for oshizushi (pressed sushi), and CO is one of the few places in Atlanta that makes it. Sliced salmon ($13) is pressed onto rice in a wooden box, resulting in rectangular cuts of sushi, then topped with ripe avocado and a creamy lemon aioli. Each piece is enormous, so go ahead, forgo the chopsticks and use your fingers to pick it up  nobody's at CO to judge. The spring geisha roll with seared salmon ($14.5) and kobe jalape̱o ($15) are other fun, fusion-y creations for those who prefer their proteins cooked. 

{img src="http://media.baseplatform.io/files/base/scomm/clatl/image/2017/06/640w/food_firstlook1_4_11.59568243a41aa.png"}PRESS PLAY: Salmon and avocado pressed sushiJoeff Davis

At the newly opened bar, you'll find a traditional sake selection as well as fruit and herb infusions made in-house. There's also an array of signature cocktails (blackberry bourbon fizz, anyone?) and a whole menu section for boba tea, with toppings that range from lychee jelly to bursting passion fruit pearls.

While CO may not impress die-hard foodies (as in, those who will gladly trek to Buford Highway in search of the best pho or dumplings), it's a pleasant and accessible spot to take the whole family and expose picky eaters to new flavors. Add in the convenient location, sleek ambiance and []well-stocked bar, and you just might have your favorite new neighborhood noodle and sushi joint.

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  string(5680) "    Poncey-Highland's sleek new eatery offers pan-Asian crowd-pleasers for the whole family   2017-06-30T02:26:00+00:00 First Look: CO   Sucheta Rawal  2017-06-30T02:26:00+00:00  %{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%225956825138ab46cd24a1edaf%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%Floor-to-ceiling glass windows wrap around a sleek interior of red and black. Waves of natural wood cover the entire ceiling. A lone painting of Atlanta's skyline adorns one of the walls. Designed under the Japanese minimalist principal of Ma, the space is uncluttered, the lines clean. This is CO, meaning "feast" in Vietnamese, the latest modern pan-Asian restaurant to arrive in Atlanta. 

Located on the ground level of the new Poncey-Highland mixed-use apartment complex near the corner of Highland and Ponce, CO mirrors many of its new neighbors (like Rize Artisan Pizza + Salad, which opened late last year) in that it's designed to multiply. The owner, Gregory Bauer, is a German-born U.S. Marine Corps veteran. While stationed in Southeast Asia on and off for three years, he says, he fell in love with the local flavors. After returning to the states, he got his MBA, then took a few months off to snowboard and do yoga, contemplating his next career move.

In the end, Bauer decided what he most wanted to do was share the flavors and cultures he encountered during his travels. He opened the first CO restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina in 2012 and has organically grown the business ever since, tapping into the same discipline and dedication that got him through his military service.

No value assignedThe plan has worked. Atlanta is Bauer's fifth CO location and two more are scheduled to open this year. "I was ready to take my concept to the big city," he says about launching the newest restaurant in Virginia-Highland, where he appreciates the fact that people can walk up for a casual meal.

Like Bauer's travels, the menu spans the Asian continent. Original recipes were developed with the help of Vietnamese caterers in South Carolina. Later, Masatoshi Tsujimura, a Japanese sushi chef and restaurant owner in Raleigh, came onboard as executive chef. Today, "Chef Masa?۝, as he is known, oversees all CO restaurants.

The CO team hopes to provide an easy entry point to Asian flavors, one that won't overwhelm the typical American palate (or your picky kids). You won't find bean curd puffs or tripe here; instead, strong flavors and unfamiliar textures are replaced by approachable ingredients like chicken and tofu.

LUNCH WITH A VIEW: Two customers enjoy a meal in CO's airy dining room.Joeff DavisAppetizers include edamame gyoza ($5)  a vegan-friendly blend of crunchy mashed edamame stuffed into fluffy steamed and pan-fried dumplings, and served with sweet ginger soy sauce for dipping. The salmon carpaccio ($13) is sliced a bit thick, but the fish is fresh, dressed in lemongrass zest and micro greens for a lovely summer flavor. Tuna tacos ($8) offer two soft flour tacos packed with diced tuna and avocado. Garlic, jalape̱os and cilantro add balanced kick to the dish. There's also bahn mi! Try the marinated and grilled lemongrass tofu ($8) served on a crisp rice flour baguette.
Wok dishes offer Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese-inspired combinations. Thai green curry ($14) resembles what you'll find at most Atlanta Thai restaurants, but here there's white wine in the sauce, making it thinner than most coconut-based curries. Those who appreciate a bit of heat should opt for spicy udon ($14), a colorful medley of veggies stir-fried with thick Japanese wheat noodles, spicy black pepper sauce and the protein of your choice. Or, to kick up any dish, add some of the restaurant's signature hot sauce, made in-house by deep frying red peppers and grinding them with onions, garlic, shallots and lime juice. 

Curry laksa ($15), a coconut-based soup, is inspired by Bauer's frequent visits to Malaysia while he lived in Singapore. "When I first served it in Charleston, no one knew what it was," he says, "but now it is one of our popular dishes.?۝

While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Bauer developed a fondness for oshizushi (pressed sushi), and CO is one of the few places in Atlanta that makes it. Sliced salmon ($13) is pressed onto rice in a wooden box, resulting in rectangular cuts of sushi, then topped with ripe avocado and a creamy lemon aioli. Each piece is enormous, so go ahead, forgo the chopsticks and use your fingers to pick it up  nobody's at CO to judge. The spring geisha roll with seared salmon ($14.5) and kobe jalape̱o ($15) are other fun, fusion-y creations for those who prefer their proteins cooked. 

PRESS PLAY: Salmon and avocado pressed sushiJoeff Davis

At the newly opened bar, you'll find a traditional sake selection as well as fruit and herb infusions made in-house. There's also an array of signature cocktails (blackberry bourbon fizz, anyone?) and a whole menu section for boba tea, with toppings that range from lychee jelly to bursting passion fruit pearls.

While CO may not impress die-hard foodies (as in, those who will gladly trek to Buford Highway in search of the best pho or dumplings), it's a pleasant and accessible spot to take the whole family and expose picky eaters to new flavors. Add in the convenient location, sleek ambiance and []well-stocked bar, and you just might have your favorite new neighborhood noodle and sushi joint.

CO, 675 North Highland Ave., 404-474-0262, www.eatatco.com.             20866399         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/06/food_firstlook1_2_11.5956824d30479.png                  First Look: CO "
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Thursday June 29, 2017 10:26 pm EDT
Poncey-Highland's sleek new eatery offers pan-Asian crowd-pleasers for the whole family | more...
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