Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hotlanta, Day One

I just arrived back home from my weekend in Atlanta for their first VegFest, and boy is my driving foot tired. But the six-and-a-half hour drive from Memphis was totally worth it. I have loads and loads of pictures from the fest and my cooking demo there. But I'm going to break this up into three posts. Tonight, I'm posting pics of our Friday night eats.

My mama and I left for the road trip from Memphis (well, she picked me up after driving an hour here from her home in Jonesboro, Arkansas) on Friday at 7 a.m. But we stopped for potty breaks, Taco Bell Cantina Bowls, and a little shopping in a random Harley-Davidson store in Alabama (my parents are bikers). So after the time change (we lost an hour), we arrived in Atlanta around 4 p.m., right in time for the busiest rush hour I've ever seen.

After sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for well over an hour, both on the interstate and through town,  we checked into our hotel in Buckhead/Lenox Park. And then we braved the traffic again to get to Cafe Sunflower in Buckhead for dinner. It took us 45 minutes to drive four miles in crazy traffic from the hotel to the restaurant!!

But once we arrived and met our dinner dates, Andrew and Liz from the Book Publishing Company, the wait was totally worth it. Cafe Sunflower is an upscale vegetarian restaurant with mostly vegan selections. They do use cheese in a couple of dishes, but it looks like that's about it. The inside is decorated with these playful red Chinese lanterns, which cast a sophisticated glow on everything.

We started with these crispy Spring Rolls, which were filled with veggies and glass noodles:

I had a really hard time choosing my entree because everything sounded so good! The selections ranged from American comfort food to Thai to Italian. After much deliberation, I finally settled on Homemade Ravioli filled with tofu-spinach ricotta and topped with spinach, green beans, mushrooms, and a kabocha squash sauce:

Wow! I've never had pasta with a squash-based sauce, but I'm gonna have to work on making my own version of this recipe. I know from experience that ravioli-making is a pain in the ass, but it's so worth it.

My mom had an even harder time choosing what to eat from the massive menu. She finally settled on two items from the appetizer section. One was Pan-Fried Dumplings, which I somehow failed to photograph. But the other were these beautifully presented Fried Green Tomatoes topped with hummus and drizzled with a balsamic reduction:

Liz, who handles the marketing for Book Pub Co, went with a special-of-the-day, Wild Mushroom Risotto. It looked so very creamy, and it was topped cute little enoki mushrooms:

And Andrew, a photographer at Book Pub Bo (the guy who shot the pics in my book), chose what was, perhaps, the most creatively presented dish — the Garden Loaf:

That's a generous slice of veggie meatloaf, mashed herb potatoes with miso gravy, and asparagus shaped into a triangle! Here's another angle:

The meal was delicious, and though I'd hoped to save room for dessert (they had gluten-free Georgia peach cobbler!), I just couldn't eat another bite after polishing off the ravioli. Amazing!

Tune in tomorrow for pictures from VegFest!


JL said...

I love Cafe Sunflower! And I ran into that same crazy traffic when I was there. Worth it! :)

lysette said...

I think 'loaf' is one of the funniest words in the english lexicon.

urban vegan said...

What a great on-the-road meal -- to fortify you for your fest!

Allysia said...

Good call on getting the ravioli - when I'm at awesome restaurants like that, I figure there's something to be said for getting something that you don't really make at home. And like you said, making ravioli is a pain in the ass, which makes eating it more of a treat!

Seth said...

Elena and I love that place, it's where she always wants to go on her birthday.

Walker said...

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you missed what's quite possibly the best cake I've ever tasted: a Chocolate Raspberry Mousse. They source it from Southern Sweets (also in Atlanta) and it's just...indescribable. I would kill for the recipe. Save room next time :-)

tamara said...

They also use whey in some of their veggie chicken. I was really into Cafe Sunflower when I used to visit ATL and when I first moved there, but it got too pricey for me to continue to visit. I'm excited to see where else you went! Hope you made it to Revolution Doughnuts for their amaazing vegan doughnuts.

Rachel said...

Cafe Sunflower is one of my absolute favorites! Sorry about the traffic, I heard last weekend was particularly crowded.

Lesley Eats said...

I want all of that right now. It has been so long since I've been to Cafe Sunflower, so I'm glad to see they're still going strong and still making some amazing food.

tender b. said...

Yum on those fried green tomatoes!