If you didn't hear, you can still stop and shed a tear for Robert Cade, who died at 80 on Nov. 27. Cade was the University of Florida researcher who invented Gatorade, an incomparable blend of water, sugar and salt with a heady Kool-Aid-like bouquet and a mouth-feel resembling diluted motor oil. But it will keep you hydrated at the gym or in the club while you're doing Ecstasy. ...
I find this strange. Jim Romenesko runs the newsiest journalism page on the Internet. If you want to dish the media dirt, it's the place to go. It turns out, he also runs a site called StarbucksGossip.com. Its role is "monitoring America's favorite drug dealer." Although unaffiliated with Starbucks, it includes plenty of insider gossip from baristas. The Seattle Times recently interviewed Romenesko about the site. Check it out here. ...
Ugh. USA Today recently reported the latest gourmet delight in Lima, Peru. It's deep-fried guinea pigs. The paper reports:
"It was delicious. Marinated whole overnight in orange juice and garlic and spit roasted over an open fire," Andrew Zimmern, host of the Travel Channel series "Bizarre Foods," said in an e-mail interview. He sampled the delicacy in neighboring Ecuador last year. "Cuy should be popular in the USA once we adopt a different attitude about alternative foods, especially ones that some people keep as pets."
This is nothing especially new, according to USA Today:
Guinea pigs are native to the high Andes, and have been an important source of protein for millenia. Today, they are common in rural Andean households as a sort of savings account â they are so easy and cheap to breed, that when a family needs money, they can sell a dozen or so.
I'm not eating guinea pigs. Would you?
The above is not what you find in your average school lunch box, but it is typical of the fare at Hanil Kwan (5458 Buford Highway, 770-457-3217). That's bulgogi pork â close to fiery-hot â with shrimp and vegetable tempura, along with some typical Korean snacks, served in a black lacquer box for very little money.
I visited the restaurant because I've had several reports that its quality exceeds that of the deteriorating but still popular Hae Woon Dae. The attraction at both restaurants are the various cuts of marinated meats grilled over charcoal at your table. I did not try that, but the kitchen-cooked bulgogi was delicious.
Service is great here. In fact, each table has a button to call your server. My impatient friend Gregg couldn't resist "mashing" it, causing a screen near the kitchen to start flashing our table number.
More in this week's paper.
Does appearance matter? Here are a couple of examples of dishes that don't look like much but are nonetheless yummy. Above is the ratatouille ravioli at Anis, where I had lunch last Friday. It was trendily served in an oversized bowl and the ravioli were submerged in a rather bizarrely brothy ratatouille. On the basis of appearance, I was immediately disappointed. But it worked, especially with a spoon. I liked the touch of some fried capers.
The other pic features my shameless addiction to the fried chicken from the Ansley Publix. Here it is with mac and cheese and that casserole of green beans and mushroom soup you used to eat at church suppers.
It looks so grim but it tastes so good. A better choice than the green beans, by the way, are turnips or collards if they are available.
The stuff is dirt-cheap and I'm not kidding: It's better-than-average soul food. My New Year's resolution is to eat less fried chicken, though.
According to Denver Post sports columnist John Henderson, Atlanta is the worst food town he's been to, at least this year. As evidence, he uses these three examples:
Worst breakfast: The Flying Biscuit Cafe, Atlanta (1655 McLendon Ave., 404-687-8888). According to the AOL City Guide, the pancakes here are rated the best in the U.S. I'm a pancake maven and they were the worst I've ever had in the U.S. They're an inch thick with the texture of leavened dough. I took four bites and was full and disgusted. Serving apple juice in a plastic Tropicana can and syrup in a cold plastic jug didn't help.
Worst sandwich: Gibney's Pub, Atlanta (231 Peachtree Center Ave. #A7, 404-688-0928). An Irish pub in Atlanta is not a wise choice for a chicken sandwich. It was a huge slab of overcooked chicken breast inside a bun the approximate size of an English muffin. The slice of what looked like Velveeta was a fitting touch.
Worst overpriced meal: Sun Dial Room, Atlanta (210 Peachtree St. NW, 404-589-7506). On the 72nd floor of the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel, the Sun Dial Room should be 72 miles below the earth's crust. The view is as good as the food is bad. My grilled tenderloin of beef tasted like something I cooked as a junior in college. As bland and nondescript as you can imagine. But I only paid $75 so I didn't feel too bad.
It's funny, because I spent a semester of high school in Denver, and it was unequivocally the worst six weeks of my adolescence. The kids there were horrible to me, the school was very segregated and beyond that cliquey, and the downtown was boring and deserted. Based on my limited experience of Denver, would I go calling it the worst city in America? No, I would not! I can't fathom how Henderson, who frequently writes about the food he eats on the road, feels he can judge a town from its overpriced downtown tourist traps. Next time, Mr. Henderson, take a look at the Loaf's Best of Atlanta issue for a guide and see if we're still the worst then.
You can read Henderson's full article here.
Several readers have asked the identity of the dude on my New Year's greeting below. He's Myles Estime, son of Gary and Kelly Funk-Estime.
Gary is a graphic artist and he's produced some hilarious images of Myles on his MySpace page. Here's Myles in a Che Guevara T-shirt, mixing up the political message with the headgear of royalty and a set of silvery teeth.
I know a few people whose birthdays fall close to Christmas, and they always feel they get shortchanged, attention- and gift-wise.
Not always. When we stopped by Grant Central for dinner the other night, there was a huge birthday party underway for this little guy, whose picture I'm putting here in lieu of the usual New Year's baby in a diaper. Happy New Year, y'all.
By the way, while the 2-year-old ate red velvet cake and sucked on his pacifier, I had a great dish of mussels and tiger shrimp over pasta.
I lunched last week at Soleil in Buckhead for the first time in a couple of years. The restaurant's quality took a dive after owner/chef Jacques Hourtal sold it. I received an e-mail last week that announced revision of the lunch and dinner menus.
So my friend Brad and I checked out lunch last Friday. Our first shock was the garish, orange-trimmed plastic that wrapped the patio. Our second shock was the food. The salade niÃ§oise featured foul-tasting green beans -- we're talking inedible, folks -- and a bad brand of canned tuna.
My own dish, ravioli stuffed with lamb, was much better-tasting, but its presentation was ... well, let's just say it was the color of the exterior plastic trim topped with supergreen broccoli.
Man, I'm tired of people in Mexican restaurants screaming, "No pictures!" at me. Do they think I'm an immigration detective?
Above is the only pic I could take at El Taco Veloz. As soon as the shutter clicked, the yelling started.
This is not the original restaurant on Buford Highway, but is located at 3245 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. That's the part of Chamblee-Dunwoody that is west of Buford Highway. The area is like a town in Mexico, and we were the only gringos in sight.
Unlike the original Taco Veloz, this one has an inside dining room, and the menu seems to be a bit more comprehensive.
My favorite remains the chile relleno burrito. There's nothing else like it in the city.
After dinner we walked across the parking lot to Martha's Bakery (PanderÃa Martha), where I scored a slice of tres leches cake layered with strawberries. There are zillions of pastries on display here in wood cases, too.
Atlanta's most migratory and eccentric chef, Richard Blais, has landed at Elevation Chophouse, presumably with his tank of liquid nitrogen, as a consultant or chef ... or something. I received this kind of haiku-esque e-mail recently:
Richard Blais offering tasting menu to celebrate the New Year.
Richard Blais is offering a 7-course tasting to ring in the new year.
Blais will introduce 7 new dishes for 2008...at Elevation as he unveils the "Kitchen Counter" menu
The counter seats 4-5 comfortably and available dates are December 28-31. Reservations must be made in advance and for the entire table only.
The cost is $175 per person without alcohol. Blais will be personally cooking and serving.
Please email reservation requests to trailblais.com
Elevation (770-485-7469) is at McCollum Field Airport in Cobb County. The folks on AtlantaCuisine.com are talking about the restaurant and Blais' special dinner here.
I've written frequently about my addiction to the Spanish cheese called "Drunken Goat."
"If you like Drunken Goat, you need to try this," Brad, one of the cheese people at Whole Foods, told me last week, handing me a sample of a new product from Cypress Grove, the goat-cheese company based in Arcata, Calif. The company won the "Outstanding Product Line, 2007" award at the International Fancy Food & Confection Show in July.
The company is best-known for its Humboldt Fog, a creamy chevre bisected by a line of edible ash. But the cheese Brad handed me -- and handed me again -- is a new product that drew raves at the IFFCS and has just made it to our city. It's called "Truffle Tremor" -- a goat-milk cheese with specks of black truffle. When fully ripe and brought to room temperature, the cheese is amazingly fragrant.
I found this description on the blog Christine Cooks, and I fully concur:
Truffle Tremor fills my senses with an almost barnyard-y perfume that dances on my tongue in a pas de deux with the creamy-then-crumbly-then-back-to-creamy, slightly tangy, black truffle-flecked chevre, all enrobed in a gently ripened exterior the texture of which is sublime in and of itself.
I'm not sure I want to call the fragrance "barnyard-y," but Christine assures her readers that a barnyard odor is a "good scent." I'd call it at once earthy and floral. But you can come up with your own adjective.
One word of caution: It's essential to let the cheese ripen. My first purchase of it had not fully ripened when I devoured it and the flavor and texture were not primo.
(Photo from Venissimo Cheese)
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