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.

We had bought our canopy, our propane grill, our fire extinguisher and received our licenses. The first menu was planned; ingredients bought, ordered or prepped; sign constructed and media socialized. But about that menu... The AUM approach seemed less likely to work for the next type of market. First of all, we were going to be outside in a warm Southern climate during late Spring through Autumn. Upon our first visit to the market, before our involvement, we realized that our charcuterie + offal approach might not be the best plan. At least not as we had been going about it. We felt that it had a more "family cookout" feel to it. So we saw this as a chance to give one of our other ideas a run for our money. As regular readers you might now how much we love sausages, both making and eating them. And if you follow us on Facebook or twitter you know how much we enjoy places such as Hot Doug's in Chicago, HD1 here in Atlanta and everywhere else that is creating great sausages with or without flavorful topping combinations. So the decision was final, sausages it was.

The Stars of the show.
Our first sausage offering was named The Sunday Brunch. Since this was a brunch-time market I immediately knew I wanted to do something that brought together some common familiar ingredients to quench that desire for Brunchers. We found a great chicken sausage and topped it with (natural, cage-free) scrambled eggs, bacon lardon, maple drizzle and some chives (straight from our garden). It was clear the first market that this was going to be our biggest seller! The next combination is one of my all-time favorites in most forms, based on a Greek-inspired food popular in so many Chicago quick-service restaurants, the Gyro. We topped of a very tasty halal lamb sausage with tzatziki sauce, diced tomato, feta cheese and some crunchy olives and named it The Greek Toga. This one quickly became our erosional favorite and would secretly devour one when no one was looking. The first week it was our number two seller, followed closely by The Italian Job. Another popular food found in Chicago is the Italian Sausage sandwich. We took a juicy italian seasoned pork sausage and stuck in a piece of mozzarella and covered in our marinara sauce. On top of that went some sautéed onion, red and green bell peppers.

Our Menu-board, a handmade easel.

Our side item was something I have fallen in love with since down here, boiled peanuts. I used a bit of Southwestern spices in the boil. While it didn't come across as an obvious flavor profile, it definitely added that little something extra. The first week they sold alright, but the second market with its heat, they didn't fare as well. They will be replaced with a different something by next market. We're still working on that! Since we knew it would be hot and everyone likes a cold drink with their hot foods, we decided to do a drink as well. I took inspiration from a drink that Art did at Pleasant House Bakery and created a Hibiscus Tea Soda. We made it with Natural full-leaf tea, hibiscus flower, turbinado sugar and soda-water. We received nothing but compliments about everything, with a few people coming back for more of various items!

Manning the station.

In my search for shared kitchen space I quickly learned that things weren't going to be as easy as I had hoped. With recent law changes in the area most of the available shared kitchens were being snatched up. And most of the ones still available were either too far from us living in Midtown, not equipped for meat preparations or just too limited. Add to that the different licenses and facilities needed to prepare ready to eat foods and to prepare meat products for sale.  Then add in all the food-truck dreamers, conflicting state and local laws and all the other things that make even thinking about foodservice in Atlanta a headache, and well, you get a headache.

What all this lead to was a compromise. For now we decided to put off the production of meaty products until some of these other kinks work themselves out. We have made a (difficult) decision to source the sausages for Nosh from a local source that uses all-natural meats. But in the meantime I continue to search for that Department of Agriculture approved kitchen within reach and budget. as of writing this post there is one soon to be inspected and surprisingly close compared to so many others I've looked into. Once that step is complete not only will we use our own sausages in our market dogs, but we'll offer them to take home as well. This will also allow a much greater variety in what we can do market wise!

***update 06/12/2012***

It seems that just as we fully get into the swing of something it up and changes on us. Just as we got the system down for AUM it was stopped and changed to Nosh. And just as we had a great system and had been getting our name out there further with Nosh, Michaela, the organizer ups and gives up on it canceling it all together. So Nosh is no longer, and thus, Low on the Hog does not know when we will be back to appeal to your encased meat cravings again. We know that there is a Dept. of Ag. shared kitchen about to open in a couple weeks and as I have been, we're keeping close to that ticker tape. It seems our next step will be to legally produce fresh and hopefully cured meats as you've been watching me do for years now on this blog (previously without licensing or sales). Now you just might be able to buy them and actually try them out yourself. What I can't tell you yet is how. Maybe at local markets, maybe online as well. Perhaps even at select retail shops. Keep checking back, you know how to find out more, visit often!


  1. I would like a Sunday Brunch, but I'm 3,000 miles away. Looking forward to your product in my local store.

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