published Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Side Orders: Bea's gets A's in anniversary promotion

Bea's is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year by rolling back prices to when it first opened in 1950. All day Thursday, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., the restaurant at 4500 Dodds Ave. will serve an all-you-can-eat spectacular for $1. That includes its famous meats -- my mouth is always watering for the fried chicken -- and side dishes. And, of course, the sweet tea and yeast rolls. It's one of the most memorable dining experiences in town. And what a tasty thing for the Bradshaw family to do -- give us a present for their birthday.

Don't forget the Bare Bones Barkacue at Miller Plaza Thursday evening. It's a tasty fundraiser for McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center happening from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. There'll be barbecue from Sugar's Ribs, beer from New Belgium Brewery, a great silent auction with art, jewelry, clothing and gift certificates to area eateries, plus a howling good time. Tickets are $50 per person. Call 305-6500 for more information.

Several weeks ago, I wrote a story on international markets in town. I'd never gone into any of them before, so it was a real eye-opener when I saw the huge selection of products and the incredible prices. At Euro Food, on Lee Highway at Shallowford Road, I found large jar of capers for $2.99. I pay that for a small jar at mainstream markets. And I got a huge tub of wonderful cherry preserves for around $6 there, too. I couldn't get over all the different foods. My mouth watered at the sausages. And the cheese was out of this world. (See today's On the Menu.)

At Family Food Mart, also on Lee Highway, I sampled delicious stuffed eggplant and discovered that olives aren't so bad. In fact, there's a huge container of big green olives marinating in olive oil and lemons that are incredible. Here, too, cheeses are much better priced than in grocery stores.

Visiting one of these groceries is like a walk through the Old World. Don't deny yourself the chance to expand your culinary repertoire and have an adventurous experience.

Here's a recipe from Bruce Mitchell of Dalton, Ga., for Gumbo Z'Herbes. I typically relegate dishes like this to my fall and winter menus. But gumbo is really good year-round. He doesn't say to, but I might add some shrimp right near the end of cooking. It's a recipe he used to make all the time before a stroke rendered him unable to do much cooking. This is the kind of recipe that needs no ingredient amounts. It's up to you. I'd definitely follow Mr. Mitchell's advice by adding lots of onion and garlic.

Gumbo Z'Herbes

Chopped onions (a lot of them)

Meats (such as smoked sausage, tasso, ham, ham hocks, chicken)

A mixture of greens (such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, collards, beet tops, watercress)

Bay leaf and thyme

Chicken or vegetable stock

Chopped garlic, to taste

Cooked rice

Caramelize onions in olive or vegetable oil (some bacon fat may be added). Add meats, and cook till a good, tasty potlikker is achieved. Add greens slowly, cooking down. Add bay leaf and thyme. Gradually add stock and cover. Cook down slowly for 5-6 hours. You want a rich, tasty potlikker and lots of it. Late in process, add as much chopped garlic as you like, then season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. When greens are tender, remove a cup or so and process them in a blender or food processor (without the meat), then return them to the pot. Cook a bit longer. Serve over rice.

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