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Aug/Sept 2004

Dining Out While Dining In
Recipes from Atlanta's Premier Restaurants
by Emily Horton
photos by Nathan Lenz

Savoring a restaurant dish that epitomizes your tastes can be bittersweet. You'd donate your Viking range to know how to make it at home, but getting a chef to share his/her secrets is usually impossible. Thanks to Newcomer's close contacts with Atlanta's culinary gurus, you can now dish up choice taste sensations in your own kitchen. The following recipes, house specialties from some of Atlanta's favorite restaurants, are available here courtesy of the generous chefs who created them. Even though you'll be stuck with some dirty dishes and probably have to fill your own wine glass, dare to give these dishes a try at home. Where else could you tuck into a coveted gourmet dish while wearing fur-lined bedroom slippers?

Roy's Coconut Crusted Tiger Shrimp
Coconut Crusted Shrimp from Roy's
Masterfully blending elegance and electricity in both atmosphere and culinary execution, Roy's has introduced diners across the country to the infectious tastes of Hawaiian fusion cuisine. Calling heavily on Asian and a bit of European techniques and ingredients, dishes are both exciting and comforting. Not to be upstaged by the kitchen, Roy's extensive wine list has attracted accolades, and island-idyllic service is a corporate point of pride. Chef Wade Lowe's coconut crusted shrimp appetizer with a Thai dipping sauce (hint: don't leave out the lime leaves) is simple enough for weeknight food, but begs for tiki torches, a few good friends and a great bottle of Pinot Gris.

Coconut Crusted Tiger Shrimp with Thai Mango Nam Pla Mignonette
Serves 4

Ingredients for Coconut Shrimp
16 large shrimp (16/21 count)
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)*
1 cup flour
3 eggs
6-inch bamboo skewers

Mix together Panko and coconut flakes, and spread out on tray. Crack eggs into bowl and add a touch of water; mix lightly. Skewer shrimp from tail end up to head; place in flour. Take completely flour-dusted shrimp and add to egg wash to fully soak. Place shrimp in coconut crust and fully coat. Allow crusted shrimp to rest in refrigerator for one hour. To cook, fry in 350 degrees F oil-using a candy or deep fry thermometer to measure the oil's temperature--until golden brown.

Ingredients for Thai Mango Nam Pla Mignonette
1/2 fresh mango
1 shallot
3 cloves garlic
juice of 2 limes
juice of 3 oranges
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
5 Kaffir lime leaves (minced finely)*
1 teaspoon sambal oelek*

*Can be found in Asian or specialty markets and some supermarkets

Blend first seven ingredients--mango through sugar--until pureed. If too thick, add extra orange juice. Add cilantro, lime leaves and sambal. Mix well. Place sauce in corner of plate, and using the skewers, stack coconut crusted shrimp upright against each other. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.

Portofino's dates and toasted pecans over field greens
Portofino's Sunny Salad Sensation
Tucked inside a cozy, patio-bedecked Buckhead cottage, Portofino gives rustic Italian an eclectic lift while keeping faithful to the classics. Influences hail from all manner of Mediterranean cuisine, and a few dishes even smack a bit of Asia and North Africa. The thoughtfully composed wine list is a pleasant surprise, with a far-reaching expanse of less-than-typical bottlings, a number of niche It'lian wines grouped both by region and varietal, along with interesting wines by the glass. Chef Dewitt Rush's sunny salad of mesclun greens, dates and toasted pecans is a versatile and beyond-the-basics starter for any evening.

Dates and Toasted Pecans over Field Greens with Blue Cheese Dressing
Serves 4

8 ounces field greens
4 ounces pecans, toasted and chopped
8 Medjool dates, pitted and quartered
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
6 ounces blue cheese dressing

Toss greens in dressing, coating well, and arrange them evenly among four plates. Top each salad with equal parts pecans, dates and blue cheese evenly and attractively. Serve.

Paella a la Ali-Oli
Italian-born chef Mauro Pradella brings Spanish, Greek and Provencal inflections into his largely Italian-grounded menu. Simplicity takes center stage here, though Pradella takes a healthy stab at innovating the classics, as well. Wines are an adventure in globally culled, food-friendly bottlings and, with interesting selections drawn from Greece, Spain, Germany, Austria and France, they clearly gel with this homey spot's culinary aims. In a virtually unheard of gesture, each wine is available by the glass. Your table would be wise to try a few.

Reflecting the kitchen's Mediterranean soul, Spanish-born paella proudly tops the entree list, a harmonious dish of golden rice, shellfish and spunky chorizo sausage. Traditionally cooked in a wide-bottomed cooking vessel with gently sloping sides of the same name, paella's warm fragrance, courtesy of the heady scent of saffron, is bested only by its seductive yet powerful flavors and gorgeous presentation.

Paella a la Valenciana at Ali Oli.
Paella a la Valenciana
Serves 4

Ingredients 1/2 cup diced bell pepper: red, yellow and green mixed, lightly sauteed
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 ounces cooked chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch strips
16 Manila clams
20 mussels
8-12 medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
6 ounces chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
6 ounces calamari, cut into rings
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic

For the saffron rice: 2 cups Valencia rice
4 cups chicken stock
? cup Spanish onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon saffron threads
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat; add olive oil, onion, garlic and rice. Cook for one minute. Add chicken stock, saffron, salt and pepper. Stir, cover and cook over low heat 20 minutes or until rice is cooked.

In a large flat saute pan, saute garlic and chorizo in olive oil briefly. Add clams and 1/2 cup white wine. Cook covered until clams have opened. Remove clams from pan. Add mussels to the pan cover and cook until the mussels open. Remove mussels from the pan. Discard any clams or mussels that do not open.

To the pan add shrimp, peppers, tomatoes, chicken, calamari, 1/2 cup white wine and chicken stock. Cook for two to three minutes or until shrimp is cooked. Add the saffron rice to the pan, mixing well. Add mussels and clams; heat two to three minutes. Serve on warmed plates.

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