Thursday, May 24, 2012

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
Since it was cold weather and we had plenty of time to get some curing and drying in, we decided on a salami dish and an offal dish. This was going to be our standard. We couldn't do just charcuterie on a plate like the other guy, so we would make charcuterie part of our dish. And since this event promoted unusual dishes as well, we'd offer up an offal dish each time as well.

The Sign

For our first menu we stuck to the plan. Since it was taking place pretty close to New Year 2012 we decided on an Italian tradition of cotechino with lentils. Cotechino is a fresh pork sausage made with pork shoulder and skin. A bit of pink salt is used to keep it a nice pink color inside. The lentils, I am told, serve as a symbol of coins to represent wealth in the new year. And for the other dish I had made a great pepperone as well as a cooked coppa (as made here). It was served on a local ciabatta roll from H&F Bread Co. with a homemade giardiniera, a fresh vegetable pickle.

The Details

It went off rather well and we learned a lot. Aside from the slicer I had ordered arriving broken, thus having to hand slice the dry charcuterie, all the food went as planned. We just about sold out of our 100 sandwiches. but we learned that the guests aren't as wild about the offal dishes as the organizer is. We sold a good amount of the skin sausage, but the clear winner was the sandwich. We received great compliments for both dishes. It seems that everyone loves all the food, we just need to get it into more peoples bellies! That was the goal for the next market. (And to take photos of the actual dishes!)

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