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A platter full of food integrity

Food integrity is food that is just damned solid and authentic. Think hand rolled tamales, a perfect poached egg – or a whole fried fish.

While Smoke Station BBQ, 6724 Waters Ave., has attracted ‘cue nuts for a while, a little known fact is that locally caught and fresh fish are prepared there – especially on Friday nights. Owner Matt Stallings mans the fryer and puts his heart and soul into these beauties – species vary from week to week.

On my visit, I landed a whole trout (seen here smiling for the camera) and Ms. T.J. reeled in a side of flounder big enough to feed a family. Put squeamishness about head–and tail–on fish to the back burner and carefully pop out the scored “diamonds” of tender, white flesh. You’ll never again cave to a fish stick craving. Once picked clean, flip ‘er (or him) over and pull out the lower jaw for a stupidly sweet, delectable piece of white meat. It’s the dessert to accompany this filling meal.

Sides are potatoes and green beans, or choose from the restaurant’s other side dishes.

FORM in fast form

Grab and go lunch spots need three things: Plenty of free parking, call-ahead ordering from a predictable menu and awesome food.

Rejoice Midtowners, FORM, that little wine, cheese and gourmet food shop at 1801 Habersham St., now offers lunch to go.

The menus vary on an every other week basis and will evolve as the season change. These aren’t burgers of ubiquitous cold cuts either. Set your taste buds on edge with dishes like Roast Lamb with Red Onion Confit and Dill–Cucumber Yogurt Sauce, Hunter Beef Cattle Meatloaf with Rosemary Gravy, or choose from the Grilled Cheese of the Week – no doubt a nod to an artisan cheese from the cold case.

Call for a faxed or e–mailed menu, 236–7642.

Wine School

Not really, but your inner oenophile will appreciate the attention it receives at the 10th Annual Savannah International Food & Wine Festival.

Veteran wine industry leader Diane Rousakis coordinates this charity event to benefit St Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church on Sept. 8, 4 p.m., St. Paul’s Hellenic Center (21 and over only. $30 in advance, $35 at the door).

The tasting event features several dozen wines to sample and food from Savannah’s leading restaurants. For the first time, the event also offers a silent auction. This is a very limited admission event and usually sells out. Buy tickets online by clicking into

Spanish gold

Great treasures from Spain are no longer doubloons but value–priced wines with character and mass appeal.

I bumped into one of my old Spanish friends this week at the grocery store. Faustino VII 2009 is mostly (95 percent) Tempranillo.

If you have puzzled about wines being called “dusty,” then this is the juice for you. First smell and taste are exceptionally dusty and give way to juicy red fruit and a balanced backbone of fruit and tannins; toasty and peppery on the finish. American oak gives it strength; the Rioja region gives it character.

Chill this wine to about 60 degrees before drinking, then savor the great experience an under–$10 wine can bring.