Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Resurrection of Atlanta Underground Market

If you have been following us much since we've relocated to the Atlanta area, you surely know that we've been able to expand our meaty horizons since we've been down here. We expanded from blog only to markets and blog about a year ago. The market that made this possible was an "underground" market that didn't require any licensing or legal kitchen requirements. After only a few markets (of our participation) the organizer felt it was getting too big for its britches. She went on to switch up the format and requirements to getting it a step closer to a standard market. But with the changes of frequency, organization and permanent location it began to lose attendees. These changes combined with bizarre conflicts between the organizer and the vendors and attendees it became clear that the momentum was being lost. The difficulties proved to be too much for the organizer when one day it was announced that it was all over.

We were quite excited when we learned that someone had worked out the chance to carry on the Atlanta underground Market with the blessing (and mailing list and name) of the one-time successful original organizer and market. With the new opportunity there was one thing that was uncertain: the new organizer. I had heard her name before but honestly didn't know her or anything about her. After the first market we knew things were going to be even better than before. A more personable face of the market had emerged from someone who was willing to listen to those whose success could be helped or hindered by her decisions and choices. She shows that she cares and wants everyone to succeed by the small things that reflect her passion.

So it has been with great happiness that our opportunity to bring you not only instruction and inspiration via this blog, but also a chance to try some of our tasty creations in a continuing collaboration of talented and hopeful culinary dreamers. We have continued to see so many new faces that appreciate and support the vendors who put so much time into their food, marketing and presence! I am now hoping that everyone who may have been jaded or unimpressed by any previous incarnation (AUM v.1 or Atlanta NOSH) comes back out and gives v.2 a run. If you aren't already a member, or if you are and haven't been keeping up, be sure to check out the website and get involved. Your tastebuds will thank you and so will all of us!

Monday, August 13, 2012

August News and Updates

Things seem to have been quiet around here since the cancelation of Atlanta Underground Market and Atlanta NOSH market. I was quite busy at work with some big events and I am still trying to find an ideal meat supplier. But things are definitely about to turn around for Low on the Hog.

Over a month ago Rebecca and I learned that we were going to have to move when our landlord received an unexpected offer on the house that he couldn't refuse. Immediately we were upset, saddened and frustrated. But as we tend to do we turned those frustrations into a chance for improvements in areas we thought we already had it all worked out. We found a new place in Atlanta with even more to offer than our current digs. It's larger in size, has a more usable landscape and is even closer to our friends and jobs. But what does this mean for Low on the Hog and our friends?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Atlanta Nosh - May 2012

Atlanta Underground Market outgrew itself. Over 1000 attendees becoming the average, combined with more and more vendors wanting a piece of the action and the organizer's desire to bring more to the masses eventually led to a change. AUM was ended and Atlanta Nosh was born. Changes were many. It was to become a weekly market. It would be held outdoors. Take-home vendors were to be included. Licensing was to be required. And it was going to have a permanent home. Admission was still to be charged and the methods of operation other than those just listed were also to stay the same.

After a couple weeks of markets not going as planned, the organizer saw something needed to be changed. It was about this same time that we had met the licensing and vending requirements. I contacted Michaela and told her we were ready to start the new leg of the journey! She asked me to wait a couple days and she would fill us all in on the changes. As she said, a couple days later she let us all know about the changes. Nosh was moving from a secured parking lot to an on-street location in Atlantic Station and there would no longer be an entrance fee. Most of the other details went unchanged. At this point we were even more excited about being involved with more exposure and higher attendance!

The Set-up.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Atlanta Underground Market 03/04/12

So it turned out that Atlanta Underground Market was becoming so popular that it had to surface. So we immediately signed up when the date for the last market was announced. We had been doing well, selling most of our goods, and having many repeat customers. All that being said, it almost didn't happen. Rebecca's cousin ad recently become engaged and was having their engagement party, in the next state over. I asked a couple co-workers to help out and ask Rebecca to make my apologies for me. Heck, I even had a back-up helper in case the first one backed out. We had learned a better way to operate from each market and this was surely going to be the easiest one yet. The menu had been decided upon and shopped for. All advanced prep had been done and everything was set.

The only photo of the night, the pork belly pastrami sandwich.
The menu was again three things, two of which we repeated from the previous market. The Scotch egg had sold out lickety-split so it was back. The Pork-rinds are always a hit. And I had a great sandwich up my sleeve to knock all their socks off. The organizer said that there was another event being held next door, so we should be ready for a big turnout!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Atlanta Underground Market 01/29/12

Towards the end of January we had another opportunity to participate in the Atlanta Underground Market. Unlike all the previous markets, including the one that we had done, this was going to take place on a Sunday at Brunch time. All the others had been Saturday evenings. We felt like whatever we may have learned about the diners' habits last time might be thrown out the window with such a change!

Piccalilli and Henderson's Relish

This next market took place in a Midtown location even more centralized than the previous. For this market we kept with the original charcuterie+offal plan and we upped the ante by one more dish for variety. Our charcuterie dish requirement could technically be met by any of the three dishes we did that night. The last job I had before leaving Chicago was at Pleasant House Bakery, an English themed savory pie shop on the Southside. So I chose a couple dishes I had done there. First was a sandwich of English Rashers (back-bacon) served on H&F BreadCo. ciabatta with a piccalilli, another saucy pickled vegetable topping that is popular across the pond. This sandwich is traditionally called a Bacon Butty. I was first exposed to it as such when I staged at St. John Bread & Wine in London (served there with ketchup, the piccalilli came on something different).

Atlanta Underground Market 01/07/12

In my research into Atlanta when Rebecca and I started considering a move to The South I came across a monthly event meant to bring home cooks to a common area to share their goodies. The Atlanta Underground Market was a place where non-licensed cooks could go and sell/share their treats with those who were willing to look past legal requirements and rules for selling food to the public. To do so, attendees had to sign a waiver agreeing that they knew what they were getting themselves in to. They couldn't hold anyone responsible for anything that might have gone wrong, and in exchange they got to try foods that might not have been available from regular restaurants around town. Organizer Michaela Graham was big on unusual foods (bugs, offal, etc) and was really pushing for those foods. But she seemed to find a plethora of baking goddesses instead!

We went to our first AUM in November. It was held in a church gymnasium in a near-south suburb of ATL. There was a good deal of everything available from the approximately 30 vendors there that night. A couple were already legal local restaurants and caterers, others were immigrants cooking their comfort foods and some were actually cooking up some offal dishes. I loved what I saw and enjoy (almost) everything we ate that night. We wanted in! After contacting Michaela and ironing out some details (she didn't want direct competition with her charcuterie guy though there were 3 cupcake-esque joints there that night) we were welcomed into the next event. Since we were going to be out of state for the next event, we signed up for the January date.

The Booth

Argentine Chorizo with a Chilean

Rebecca and I are, for the most-part, American mutts. I can trace my Gaelic heritage somewhat easily with a name like Darrin Patrick McCowan, but I also know of French, German and Crow Indian roots. Rebecca's bloodline includes Polish, French and English (of Anne Hathaway fame even). But our good friends back in Chicago, Monica and Christian are much closer to their foreign roots. Monica is a first-generation American born to Polish parents while Christian was born in Washington DC to Chilean parents. So I will admit I was caught a little off-guard when Christian asked me to make an Argentine Chorizo for him. I imagine it was mostly because the differences between this and a Chilean version were minimal and there aren't any recipes floating around for a more specific version from Chile.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Espana 2012

About this time two years ago, Rebecca and I were finishing up planning our honeymoon, set to take place right after our late May wedding. But as any of my regular readers know, those plans were cut short when I was in a pretty bad motorcycle accident exactly four weeks before the wedding. Besides many changes that have followed that accident, we also had to cancel our honeymoon. It was to be two weeks spent in the Northern half of Spain. I couldn't fly. Neither my tending physician nor my overall comfort would allow the 8+ hour flight. Plus driving, walking and general mobility were an issue, since I was on crutches. Did I mention heavy drugs and a major loss of appetite yet? Well, anyway, almost 2 years later, most of those problems have been remedied.

We flew into Barcelona on a Saturday morning. I hadn't slept a wink, and Rebecca got some shut-eye, but I don't think it could be called good sleep. We gathered our baggage and took a bus into town and found the apartment we rented. We spent the next 48 hours there eating tapas, drinking large cups of cafe con leche and small glasses of cerveza, touring the mercados and trying to communicate as well as we could since neither of us speak español.

One of many walls of ham in a Barcelona ham shop

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spanish Food/Pork Tour 2012

A few days ago we returned from a tasty tour of Northern Spain. I have several posts lined up describing the items that we saw, we ate and we eventually conquered! Arriving in Barcelona, heading north through the cured/dried sausage region, making a left along the Pyrenees to Basque Country, a side trip to Leon, a hunt for Pata Negras on the Dehesa along the ham trail and finally ending in Madrid, we felt like we ate it all! Now we're home, each 5# heavier but not a regret for a thing. Check back regularly to read about the food, charcuterie, scenery and our plans to try our hand at some of our favorites. The first post will be up in a couple days. See you then!