When Ligaya Figueras started as the AJC's food editor in September 2015, she had to get to know both a new city and a new job. Take a look back to see what she's learned in the past few months, from navigating the city by bike and deciding what to do with her chicken.
Sept. 20, Getting to know Atlanta, fork in hand: "My tummy is rumbling, and it doesn’t help that I can’t get my mind off collard greens seasoned with fatback and the magical elixir that is potlikker. There’s creamy grits and sauce-slathered ribs and other seemingly typical Southern staples that I envision heaped on my plate as soon as I arrive in Atlanta."
Sept. 27, Mark Bittman's departure from Times puts food writing in perspective: "Bittman noted that “other people can and will carry the torch in the food world.” When I read that line, I paused to consider my place as a food journalist. Was Bittman only talking about up-and-coming watchdogs and food advocates, the next gen Michael Pollans and Marion Nestles? Would it be presumptuous to include myself in this collective of torchbearers? No and no."
Oct. 4, Exploring Atlanta's food scene by bike: "The Beltline seems to be everyone’s first answer to cycling-eating bliss, so I jumped on the trail at Piedmont Park and rode a mile south to Central Food Hall at Ponce City Market. I remembered my bike lock, but it wasn’t even necessary."
Oct. 11, Memorable dishes you want to recreate at home: "During my first week in Atlanta, I ventured to a lot of restaurants and ordered a lot of food. Many dishes were worthy of a repeat order, yet one connected with me more personally than the others: long bean “carbonara” at the Cockentrice."
Oct. 18, The great chicken debate: "In a nutshell: Francois is a beautiful Rhode Island Red who no longer lays eggs. Chickens are lucky to make it to their first birthday, let alone reach five candles. Our Atlanta apartment accepts pets, but not that sort. Since we can’t bring her down South, the options are to slaughter her or find her a good home."
Oct. 25, Give strip malls a chance, Atlanta: "Until now, that attitude has seen me snub pretty much any restaurant that occupies space in a strip mall. That won’t work in Atlanta, city of strip malls. However, those malls are filled with some high-quality food offerings, which I was reminded of recently when I ate at Il Bacio, located in Lindbergh Plaza in lower Buckhead."
Nov. 1, Talking trash: Farm to table has arrived, but where is garbage going?: "All that got me thinking that, if I — someone who’s barely cooking for one these days — was having issues with biodegradable trash on a residential level, how are area restaurants dealing with such waste on a massive scale?"
Nov. 15, One last bite before longtime Decatur restaurant Evans Fine Foods closes forever: "It’s like an episode of “Cheers” but with aqua blue vinyl booths replacing bar stools and a cup of coffee or sweet tea standing in for a pint of beer. It’s good people just trying to make their way in the world today. That takes everything they’ve got. And right now, it is Evans that doesn’t got it."
Nov. 22, A case of biscuit fever: "What is the one food you cannot live without? For me, it is bread, the staff of life. I need a French baguette or Spanish pan del día to sop up sauce. I need thick chunks of rustic Italian farmhouse bread to slather on real, full-fat butter and homemade jam. I need freshly pressed tortillas to assemble fajitas. I need cornbread to clean a messy plate of barbecue and beans. And, now that I’m in the South, I need biscuits."
Nov. 29, 5 cookbooks that offer a taste of Atlanta: "Cookbooks are near and dear to me because they heavily influenced my path into the food world, much earlier than I entered any sort of dining scene. In fact, there was a time when I put up a stink if my husband and kids wanted to eat out, because I considered my dinners to be pretty darn healthy but also pretty darn tasty. Credit the cookbooks."
Dec. 6, When a table for one isn't big enough: "When I first arrived in Atlanta, I was eager to write a story on dining for one, since I’d be living solo for a number of months. You know what? I have been hard-pressed to dine alone at a restaurant these many weeks. Some people thoroughly enjoy eating out by themselves. I’m not there yet."