By Jennifer Bradley Franklin

Since we’ve launched Flavors NOW, I’ve shied away from infusing the posts with any hint of my own personality, preferring instead to include words from other bloggers, food writers and chefs, moving behind the scenes, and certainly not writing in first person. But, as I’ve cast a critical eye to the online content I love and look forward to reading, one thing stands out: what’s most compelling tends to be personal.

So, while I won’t regale you with my personal resolutions (dance more, worry less, eat more veggies, etc...), I want to share some of my culinary resolutions for 2012, hoping that they might inspire you to set some food-related goals for yourself. I’d love to know what yours are in the comments below. And, if you have specific culinary questions, post them here or send me an email (jennifer at flavorsmagazine dot com), and we’ll see if we can help you on your way to growth in the kitchen in 2012.

Let It Rise
I’ve made bread in one of those clunky automatic bread makers into which you dump a bunch of ingredients, push a button and your hunk of baked dough emerges an hour or so later. While the product is passable as homemade bread (sort of), this isn’t the sort of “auto” experience I’m after. In 2012, I want to learn the finer points of making really great, crusty-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside bread. I want to learn how to judge how the Georgia humidity will effect a baguette, how to knead the dough, proof it and bake it into something wonderful.

Bake Biscuits... from Scratch
I mentioned the desire to bake some biscuits to my husband, to which he replied, “Bisquick.” Again, that’s not the kind of semi-homemade experience I’m looking for. I’m talking about the kind of made-from-scratch biscuits that culinary chemist Shirley Corriher shares in her BakeWise cookbook and demonstrates how to make here, with tried and true tips such as “Low-protein flour like White Lily helps make tender, moist biscuits,” and “a very wet dough makes more steam in a hot oven and creates lighter biscuits.” My mouth is watering just thinking about her aptly named "Touch of Grace Biscuits." 

A Family History... of Food
Close your eyes and think of the family recipes that evoke heart-warming memories from your growing up years. For me it’s sugary pecan pralines, my great-grandmother’s recipe for walnut apple cake, my mom’s favorite lemon chess pie, a surprisingly delicious lentil-nut roast that passed as Thanksgiving dinner during my feeble teenage attempt at becoming a vegetarian and my paternal grandmother’s “heavenly hash,” a dish that seems to simply be an excuse to eat dessert in the middle of the savory part of a meal. 

The food we eat is part of our history, part of what completes our memories and teaches us that good food is best enjoyed with the ones we love. This year, I aim to compile those recipes into a family cookbook (a rather daunting undertaking of typing up the mountain of recipes from the giant manila folder my mother has kept since she was a teenager) and print it with a company like Blurb, so that my grandmother, my mom and I will have copies of the recipes that have meant so much to our family. I'll award bonus points if I make the recipes and photograph the finished dishes as illustrations, but I will settle for just the text.   

Try New Things
Once a week or so, I want to try a new recipe. Now, this shouldn’t be difficult, with all of the great recipes Flavors showcases (in our quarterly, printed version, our cookbook and the original recipes on Flavors NOW), but for me personally, it’s easy to get into a rut, making things over and over, for which I need no recipe. I’m determined to use 2012 to broaden my horizons and expand my repertoire in the kitchen. Perhaps I'll even add the very best recipes I discover to the family cookbook. 

Easy as Pie
One of the only desserts my husband really loves is apple pie (I sort of envy his absence of a sweet tooth; that indifference toward sweets would make my personal resolution of healthier eating so much easier!), so I try to make it regularly for family functions and special dinners throughout the year. My favorite recipe is from the Food Network’s Ina Garten with spices and citrus zest and juice. I’ve tweaked it some to make it my own (adding lime and ginger), but I always chicken out of making the crust from scratch, choosing instead to use the oh-so-convenient and always reliable refrigerated store-bought variety. This year, all of that changes, and I will conquer pie crust!

So now you know my 2012 culinary resolutions. What are yours? Happy New Year!

By Rachel Quartarone

I love being a Southerner. We are a superstitious lot, and one thing that I always have to have on New Year’s Day is beans and greens.  I think the year would just seem off kilter if I didn’t have a plate of steamy collard greens and black eyed peas, flavored with copious amounts of bacon, of course. Growing up, I always heard that greens represent greenbacks and black eyed peas represent coins. The more you eat, the richer you’ll be in the coming year.  

Last year my whole family was stricken with strep throat, and despite barely being able to swallow, I still felt compelled to eat beans and greens on New Year’s Day. I pulled myself out of bed to boil a big pot of collards and cook some dried peas. My need to fulfill this tradition that I didn’t really understand inspired me to start a blog about Southern foodways and family memories, called Time for Good Food.
I found out that the tradition goes way back – even further back than I thought. In fact, eating black-eyed peas is a Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) tradition that can be traced back to 500 C.E.  Meanwhile, some Southerners claim that the practice of eating black-eyed peas and greens became a New Year’s tradition just after the Civil War as humble field peas and greens were all that was left behind after Union troops plundered the land. For the South, these foods came to represent resilience and renewal. (For more on my findings, see this post:

Given the great melting pot of American culture, I wouldn’t be surprised if the tradition was born from several ethnic traditions. Wherever it comes from, if you’re like me and have to get your fix of beans and greens on New Year’s Day (and beyond), there are several Atlanta restaurants that will be happy to oblige. 

The Colonnade
Serving Southern-style comfort food since 1927, The Colonnade is always hopping on New Year’s Day. Of course, collard greens and black-eyed peas are regularly on the menu here, but not always as lucky. 

1879 Cheshire Bridge Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30324

Mary Mac’s Tea Room
Another old favorite, Mary Mac’s is already legendary for its collard greens. Insiders know that the restaurant will gladly provide you with a complementary bowl of pot liquor if you ask. While pork is a traditional accompaniment to beans and greens, fried chicken is also perfectly acceptable!

224 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE
Atlanta, GA 30308-1938

Atlanta Grill – Ritz Carlton Downtown
Black eyed peas for brunch? You bet! If you want to start off the new year in style, the Ritz Carlton’s famous brunch buffet will feature peas and collard greens along with their traditional brunch standards. And there’s a Bloody Mary bar!

181 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

South City Kitchen 
For updated Southern classics, South City Kitchen does it right. While garlic sautéed collard greens are always on the menu, they’ll also be offering black eyed peas to complete the traditional Southern meal. Open for brunch and dinner. 

(Midtown Location)
1144 Crescent Ave 
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Rachel Quartarone's blog is

Chuck the Resolution—Bring on the Ham!
(…and the mochi, cornbread, and maybe some lentil soup)

By: Rachelle Hicks

It’s New Year’s Eve and you may be reeling over the good and the bad of 2011: all those surprises that made your year, as well as those moments that don't bring joy (…perhaps due to a broken resolution?). With all of the ups and downs, you’ve probably considered a resolution for 2012. But, really, what more should be expected from the New Year besides it simply being a good one?

Let’s take a look at some foods from around the world that different cultures eat to welcome a good New Year and how each is considered to bring good luck and fortune. And since all these dishes can be found here in Atlanta, you could even venture to make a marathon feast of it by trying them all! Imagine how lucky that could make your 2012.

The South: Black Eyed Peas, Kale and Cornbread. 
Getting you to eat your veggies wasn’t grandpa’s only motivation on New Year’s Day. As he sets down a plate of folded, steamy kale, slippery black eyed peas, and a golden square of cornbread, he might just be your good luck charm in the New Year. Cornbread and steamed kale are considered lucky because they resemble gold and folded dollar bills, while the significance of black eyed peas dates back to the Civil War when Sherman overlooked a few black eyed pea crops during his havoc-wreaking march. This lucky bean was then considered heaven-sent by surviving Confederates as it became their main source of food. These three lucky Southern comforts can be found at Mary Mac’s Tea Room.  

Mary Mac’s Tea Room
224 Ponce de Leon Avenue
Atlanta 30308

Holland: Olie Bollen. 
These lovely buttered puff pastries have been eaten during "yule" (December 26-January 6) since the period of ancient Germanic tribes in Holland. The tradition began as a way to guard against the Germanic goddess Perchta who would cut the bellies of those who did not offer enough food to her for the New Year. Bellies stuffed with Olie Bollen would not allow her sword to penetrate the stomach, leaving the tribesman unharmed. Today Olie Bollen are still loved for their buttery goodness, but have been made even more divine with a dusting of powdered sugar. A boxed mix can be found at IKEA.

441 16th Street NW  
Atlanta 30363

Mexico, Spain and Cuba: 12 Grapes. 
At the stroke of midnight, it is considered good luck to eat a grape for each chime of the clock. Grapes must be green and the taste of each determines how the according month will go. For instance, if grape number 4 is sour, April of the following year may be difficult; if grape number 7 is sweet, then July of the following year will be good. And thanks to standard clock chime time (say that 3 times really fast!), which is 3 seconds between each chime, you don’t have to worry about stuffing 12 grapes within 12 seconds. This tradition originated during the Spanish region of Alicante’s 1909 grape surplus when farmers convinced their buyers that it was good luck to eat grapes during the midnight chimes in order to sell the overstock. Grapes can be found at most all supermarkets, but an organic bunch at Dekalb Farmers Market is quite delicious.

Dekalb Farmers Market
3000 East Ponce De Leon Avenue 
Decatur 30033

Germany: Pork or Pig-shaped Marzipan. 
Since the time of ancient Germanic tribesmen, the Teutons, pigs and boars have been a symbol of agricultural abundance and luck. According to Teutonic myth, the boar taught early Germanic people how to produce food through agriculture by demonstrating the “plow” mechanism with his tusks. During today’s New Year’s celebrations, Germans will feast on juicy pork bratwurst, or eat marzipan candies shaped like pigs. Savory bratwurst meals can be had at midtown’s Der Biergaten and sweet marzipan piglets can be found at Buckhead’s World Market.

Der Biergarten
300 Marietta Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30313

Cost Plus World Market
3330 Piedmont Rd NE #17  
Atlanta 30305
(404) 814-0801

Italy: Lentil Soup. 
You know what they say about lentils… Well, not much, except that they’re good for you and Italians eat them for good luck on New Year's Day. In Italy, lentils are known to bring good fortune to those who eat them New Year’s Eve. The disk-like shape of a lentil is said to resemble a coin, so eating a bowl of lentils is like eating hundreds of small, mushy doubloons. These little medallions are most commonly prepared to eat in lentil soup. To find one of these lucky stews in Atlanta, visit Gilbert’s Mediterranean Café for their Brothers’ Mother’s Lentil Soup.

Gilbert’s Mediterranean Cafe
219 10th Street
Atlanta 30309

Japan: Mochi. 
This traditional Japanese treat is a type of rice cake that is pounded to a moldable paste and made into a variety of treats and edible decorations. Traditionally families will gather to make mochi during an end of the year ceremony called Mochitsuki. The mochi is then used for making confectionary, ornamental cake, soup, and ice cream. The practice of making decorative mochi stems from Shinto traditions which regard rice, mochi’s main ingredient, as a strength-giving food. When eating mochi, a knife is never used because of the superstition that it would sever family ties. At Trader Joe’s you can find mochi-covered ice cream balls in strawberry, chocolate, mango and green tea flavors.

Trader Joe’s Midtown
931 Monroe Drive NE
Atlanta 30308

Flavors NOW wishes you a fortunate and happy New Year!
New Year’s Eve is a time of reflecting on the year coming to a close and looking forward to the adventures 2012 will bring. Here are some offerings from our trusted partners that will satisfy your culinary cravings and finish 2011 on a delicious note!

Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse

Ring in the New Year at Davio’s with festive live music by Bria Kam from 8:30 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. and a prix fixe menu sure to start your 2012 off right. Enjoy Executive Chef Bennett Hollberg’s 5-course menu, featuring Roasted Beet Salad, Chestnut Soup with Brioche Crouton, Butter Poached Maine Lobster with Organic Polenta, Seared Endive and Coconut Broth, Grilled Beef with Yukon Gold-Celery Root Puree and Red Wine Blackberry Reduction. For a sweet finish, guests will enjoy Champagne Sabayon Parfait with Fresh Raspberries and Frosted Almonds. Cost is $75 per person (wine pairings may be added for $35). Regular menu also available all day. Call for reservations. 

Firefly Restaurant

Celebrate in at Firefly in Alpharetta with a New Year's Eve "Grand Masquerade" featuring live music from Fifth Element, a DJ, dancing, cocktails, wine and draft beer, chef-selected hors d'oeuvres and a Champagne toast at midnight. Doors will be open from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. Cost is $100.00 per person, inclusive. Call for more information or to reserve.

Kurt's Bistro

Kurt’s Bistro is festive all on its own, and for will open for New Year's Eve celebrating 
starting at 4:30 p.m.. The restaurant will offer an exquisite 5 course limited menu, including a traditional glüwein reception, for $75 per person. Add an optional wine flight plus a premium Champagne toast for an additional $30. Visit the website to view the full menu and to make reservations (required). 

Market at the W Hotel, Buckhead

Market is celebrating an end to 2011 and toasting to the beginning of 2012 with a decadent six course tasting menu, featuring creative house specialties such as Chilled Oysters and Caviar, Steamed Maine Lobster, Grilled Beef Tenderloin and much more, all in addition to the regular dinner menu offerings. Cost for prix-fixe menu is $75 per guest.

Toast the new year on January 1 at Market at the W Buckhead. Offering Chef David Gross’ delicious brunch menu and $14 bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys from 12:30 to 6:00 p.m., it will be a stylish start to 2012.

Call to make reservations for either event (strongly recommended).

Celebrate the New Year with Ray’s Restaurants

With several locations around the city, Ray’s Restaurants offer a variety of options to keep your New Year’s Eve both delicious and festive. 

Ray's at Killer Creek will be open from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m., and the bar will be open for late night revelers until 1 a.m. Make reservations by calling 770.649.0064.

Ray's in the City will be open, serving their regular menu, from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m. and the bar will stay open until midnight. Make reservations by calling 404.524.9224.

Ray's on the River’s main dining room will serve their regular dinner menu from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. and the bar will remain open until 1 a.m. Make reservations by calling 770.955.1187.

Ray's on the River Event Pavilion will offer a New Year's Eve celebration with dinner and dancing. The celebration will run from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m., with dinner service beginning at 8:45 p.m. The cost is $95 per guest or $850 per table of 10 guests. Call for reservations (required) at 770.955.1187. 

Sage Woodfire Tavern
770.569.9199 (Alpharetta)
770.804.8880 (Perimeter)

Visit either of Sage Woodfire Tavern’s locations - Perimeter or Alpharetta - and enjoy a festive night of dining and dancing. Live samba music and dancing begins at 6 p.m. and a live DJ will be spinning upbeat tunes from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. A complimentary midnight Champagne toast and party favors will ensure the New Year is welcomed in style, and both a special menu and the regular menu will be offered for guests’ enjoyment. Call for reservations. 

Southern Art Restaurant & Bourbon Bar

One of Buckhead’s newest restaurants (the space re-purposed from its former incarnation as Au Pied de Cochon at the Intercontinental Hotel) is making a splash. From 5 to 7 p.m., the kitchen will present a 3-course menu for $65 (wine pairing for $25) and then from 7 until 11 p.m., a 5-course menu for $85 (wine pairing for $35). Southern-inspired menu selections include Tennessee Duck Leg, Oysters on the Halfshell, White Oak Farms Beef Tartare, Cornmeal Crusted Black Grouper, Blue Crab Bisque with Lump Crab Dumplings and sweet finishes such as Bourbon Pecan Pie or Buttermilk Chocolate Cake. Call for reservations. 

Sedgwick Restaurant Group

To celebrate the advent of 2012, Vinny’s on Windward, bistro VG and Aspens Signature Steaks will all be open and offering their regular, delicious menus. Make your reservation online.

The Taco Stand, Alpharetta

The Alpharetta outpost of The Taco Stand is celebrating the end of 2011 with a full-on party. Join local band Tye Dyed for live tunes perfect for dancing, a special menu, cash bar with drink specials, festive decor and balloons, midnight Champagne toast, party favors and more, all beginning at 8 p.m. $20 admission fee, beginning at 8 pm. Call 678.662.4600 for reservations.

Tantra, Buckhead

For a bit of extra excitement, Tantra in Buckhead will present their second annual “Midnight Sabrage” and New Year’s Eve Dinner Party! The $55 three course menu includes Mediterranean-inspired choices for each course and a glass of bubbly. A DJ begins spinning tunes at 10 p.m. and the big finish of the evening will happen promptly at midnight when a bottle of Champagne will be opened with razor-sharp saber. Call for reservations. 

Stay Safe This Holiday Season

It’s easy to celebrate a little too much, but it’s important to be safe. This holiday season, the Safe Holiday Campaign is offering services to ensure you and your fellow revelers get home safely:
  • Free Ride Home from Checker Cab. Call 404.351.1111
  • Free "Tow to Go": Budweiser and AAA will take a guest and their vehicle home safely. Call 800.AAA.HELP.
  • SafeRide America: Call 404.888.0887