Cooks & Soldiers

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I recently took a short trip to Atlanta, first time, and wasn’t 100% sure what to expect in terms of the food scene. I mean, I’m quite familiar with Waffle House, but wanted to, you know, go beyond the land of late night waffles. I got a tip on a few places, and had to check them out. First, I was off to Cooks & Soldiers.

First off, the aesthetic here is wonderful. The space is open, a little industrial, but structured, with fantastic light fixtures. The menu is mainly driven by Spanish cuisine, with some other Mediterranean influence. Everything on the menu sounded incredible, and luckily, the focus is mainly on sharing plates, so, you get to try a number of things.

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First, I had the Hongos Y Setas (coal roasted mushrooms, goat cheese crème fraiche, black truffle). Are you there, God? It’s me, Sprung, and I would like to eat this everyday. Thanks. This was so incredibly delicious. The toast is crisp around the edges, and softened in the middle, soaking up the rich truffle flavor and smear of crème fraiche to cut a bit of that richness. The mushrooms are tender and flavorful, and all together perfection.

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Next, I had the Tortilla Espanola (classic Basque omelette, onion and potato, garlic allioli). Another total slam dunk here. The layers of potato are savory and tender, and the garlic allioli on top adds a creamy richness that compliments it so nicely. It was completely delicious.

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After that, I had the Ratatouille (Piperade, wood grilled squash and eggplant, one hour egg, guindilla). This was a very nice dish, but not my favorite of the bunch. The vegetables were absolutely fresh and delicious, but I would have preferred them to be a bit more stewed, since they were a little al dente to me. The flavors were really nice, but I’m also not a runny yolk type of person, so the egg kind of threw me off.

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Next, I had the Azalorea Erreta (charred cauliflower steak, cauliflower cous cous, capers, carrot chicharron). This was pretty fabulous. The cauliflower’s natural flavors maintained their integrity, and when paired with the creamy and rich sauce that they were laid on top of, it really balanced nicely. I loved the capers with this, adding a bit of saltiness to the more neutral flavor of the cauliflower, and the carrot chicharron was just brilliant.

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Finally, the winner of the evening might have to go to the Pulpo (grilled Mediterranean octopus, guanciale, roasted new potato, fennel, squid ink). To start, visually this was gorgeous. The squid ink here was in more of a substantial sort of puree than I’ve had before, and I loved it. It was savory and spicy and amazing. The charred fennel went really well with the spice of the squid ink, balancing out the bitterness. The octopus was perhaps the most tender octopus that I’ve had, completely melting in your mouth. On top was probably the most interesting element, not noted on the menu, I believe that I was told is might have been a paper-thin taro crisp? It was basically like rice paper, but salty and seemed to have the flavor of a taro root. It was fantastic. 

The Shorts:
Name: Cooks & Soldiers
Location: 691 14th Street NW, Atlanta, GA
The Long and Short: Would I go back? 100%. This menu is amazing, the service is phenomenal. I’m only bummed that I was too full to try their fantastic sounding desserts.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. Try as many items as you can, I’m sure you’ll be delighted by all of it.

Spices and Tease

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Food can be totally delicious. But, think about going to a restaurant or food vendor and eating unseasoned, completely bare food. I’m pretty sure that all of those places would be out of business. If you’re looking for the hub of spices and teas, look no further than Spices and Tease from my Grand Central Tour

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This business spans four generations back of trading spices, providing 30 varieties of homemade spice blends, 18 different peppers, 13 types of gourmet salt, over 70 original spices and seeds, 25 herbs and botanical plants, and 180 exotic imported teas. Phew! So, yeah, they have what you need. Spices are pictured above.

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And here are some of the teas. 

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I picked up some Hawaiian Black Lava Salt because, a) I’ve never tried it before, and b) It looked really cool (duh). The salt gets its color by mixing it with activated charcoal which is said to give it a distinctive nutty flavor.

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And then, because I can never pass up some candy, I got some Fennel Candy. It’s one of my favorite parts about dining out at an Indian restaurant, and now I don’t have to leave home to enjoy it. 

The Shorts:
Name: Spices and Tease
Location: 78 Grand Central Terminal, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Yes. Now, it’s not the least expensive place you might get spices, but, everything is quality and you’ll never not be able to find something.
Would I recommend it? Yes, they also have great gift packages for your favorite foodie.