Friday, January 25, 2008

New Yorkers eat poison with chopsticks

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 9:27 PM

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The New York Times reported the results of its own study of mercury levels in sushi tuna a few days ago. The results were pretty shocking:

Recent laboratory tests found so much mercury in tuna sushi from 20 Manhattan stores and restaurants that at most of them, a regular diet of six pieces a week would exceed the levels considered acceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sushi from 5 of the 20 places had mercury levels so high that the Food and Drug Administration could take legal action to remove the fish from the market. The sushi was bought by The New York Times in October.

No one should eat a meal of tuna with mercury levels like those found in the restaurant samples more than about once every three weeks," said Dr. Michael Gochfeld, professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J.

And how have sushi-eating New Yorkers reacted? Yawn.

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Lunch at Tin Drum

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 9:25 PM

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I lunched today with my friend Brad at the new location of Tin Drum in Lindbergh Plaza. I ordered pad thai and one of the restaurant's sandwich wraps with fried shrimp. Brad ordered masala curry with tofu, much better than my pad thai, which featured relentlessly gooey noodles and bits of chicken. I thought I'd never say tofu tastes better than chicken, but it certainly did today.

It's hard to complain much about a place that's dirt cheap, features huge portions and is somewhat exotic. It's ideal student food.

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Paper or plastic?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 4:12 PM

Whole Foods will not be giving you that choice as of April 22, Earth Day. The Atlanta Business Chronicle explains why:

In a statement, Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFMI) said disposable plastic bags can linger in the environment for more than 1,000 years and are the major debris item found on the seabed -- especially near coastlines.

During the next three months, Whole Foods stores will reduce their plastic grocery bag stock while increasing availability of reusable bags for purchase.

The company has encouraged shoppers to BYOB -- bring your own bags -- for years, with a refund of a nickel or dime, varying by store, at checkouts. It sells reusable bags for 99 cents each.

Whole Foods said it tested the bags program in San Francisco, Toronto and Austin before deciding to implement it chain-wide. The company will continue offering recycled paper grocery bags.

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Please don't eat the pet turtles

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 4:09 PM

In fact, don't even touch 'em. You could get salmonella poisoning, according to the CDC.

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Scott Peacock debunks Anthony Bourdain's claim

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 3:46 PM

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Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on a recent dinner prepared by Watershed chef Scott Peacock (pictured) at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Bauer describes the dinner as a retort to Anthony Bourdain, who called Alice Waters' restaurant "overrated." Bauer agrees with Bourdain that the daily menu at the restaurant isn't particularly inventive but argues that the quality of ingredients always creates an "aha moment" for him -- whether the cooking is by Waters or a guest chef such as Peacock.

Here's Bauer's description of Peacock's dinner:

The dinner started with heirloom boiled black peanuts that tasted kind of like fresh shelling beans, and a mint julep-like cocktail made with Prosecco.

For the first course, he created an oyster stew with salsify and half-dollar-size biscuits with country ham; in one bite, I knew why this product is so beloved in the South.

His simple butter leaf lettuce salad was accompanied by a deviled egg; again, so simple but so satisfying.

I saw the cooks around the open fireplace, pulling off pots that contained the main course: Laughing Stock pork shoulder braised in Port wine and served with Miss Lewis' greens with house-made hot pepper vinegar. Anyone who hasn't discovered the allure of long-cooked greens only needed to taste these. The plate was rounded out with a scattering of black-eyed peas and whipped sweet potatoes with an almost souffle texture. Crunchy, fried hot water corn bread completed the main course.

Dessert consisted of sherbets of buttermilk and page mandarin, and each plate also included the kishu mandarin that tasted better than any other variety of tangerine I can remember.

So when do we get this meal at Watershed?

Read Bauer's column here.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Richard Blais and one other Atlanta chef to appear on 'Top Chef'

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2008 at 10:10 PM

Laurah was kind enough to alert us to this. It seems the rumors were true, and Blais will in fact appear on the new season of "Top Chef," ice cream hair and all.

Well, we all knew that was the case. More interesting to me was the other Atlanta contestant, a woman named Nimma, who is listed on the "Top Chef" website as "chef at Repast." That's funny, I thought, seeing as Joe Truex and his wife Mihoko Obunai are the chef/owners of Repast. I called Truex, and sure enough, he wasn't aware that he had competition for title as chef at his restaurant. In fact, Nimma no longer works at Repast, and when she did, she worked the salad station.

Now I'm not one of those purists that believes a person needs formal culinary training to warrant the title of "chef," but surely the word should not be thrown around this lightly?

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Looks like a chain but tastes pretty good

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2008 at 5:23 PM

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I hit Il Bacio (Lindberg Center, 2571 Piedmont Road, 404-467-0333) recently for dinner. I'm usually scared of places like this that resemble chain restaurants. But Il Bacio turned out not to be half-bad.

I had a good manicotti and Wayne ordered the moon-size pizza (pictured above) with avocados, fresh mozzarella, olives and arugula. The mozzarella was the typical rubbery stuff, but the pizza was otherwise surprisingly good.

We tried the restaurant's tiramisu (shown here), which was better than expected.

You'll also find antipasti, chicken, veal, pasta, fish and focaccia on the menu here.

The restaurant, according to our server, was opened by a couple who operated a restaurant of the same name in New York.

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Do not get off your lazy ass

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2008 at 5:14 PM

Hip, hip, hurrah! Another reason not to exercise. Check it out here.

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Get your chocolate and marzipan here

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2008 at 5:14 PM

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Valentine's Day is galloping toward us. That means you need chocolate to seduce your honey. The best chocolate is still the perfect stuff from Maison Robert (3708 N. Peachtree Road, 770-454-6442). Check it out here and make sure you see the page that features Valentine's chocolate. The shop also sells a few pastries and totally cute marzipan animals like this frog.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

National Pie Day

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2008 at 8:23 PM

Jan. 23 is National Pie Day.

According to the American Pie Council, NPD is the perfect time to pass on the love and enjoyment of pie making and pie eating.

And in celebration of this wonderful day of pastry, here is a whirlwind history lesson of the pie.

Cleopatra ate pie — it’s been around since the ancient Egyptians. According to the Pie Council, the first pie recipe was published by the Romans and was for a "rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie."

Pyes (pies) appeared in England as early as the 12th century. Sadly, back then there was actually more crust than filling, so pies were probably pretty dry. Often these pies were made using fresh fowl and "the legs were left to hang over the side of the dish and used as handles." Fruit pies thankfully came around in the 1500s. Queen Elizabeth I is given credit for the first cherry pie.

The first English settlers brought pie to America. At first, the Americans ate only the filling and left the piecrusts for the birds, but soon they discovered what heaven a mouthful could be when pastry and sweetness were combined.

The pie has come a long way since its days of goat cheese and fowl. The council calls it "the most traditional American dessert." Pie is so popular that its name has become a cultural icon in songs, movies, and similes (these days, anything sweet, hot or sexy is like apple pie).

If you are stuck on ways to celebrate NPD, the Pie Council has a whole list of things to do with pie (Ex: Hand out pie slices to strangers and encourage them to do the same for others to spread the peace on earth and goodwill to mankind that we all hope for). We recommend eating one of these locally made pies in celebration:

The Australian Bakery Cafe in East Atlanta Village makes a fantastic selection of Australian meat pies.

The Blue Eyed Daisy at Serenbe makes some great traditional Southern pies.

Southern Sweets Bakery makes apple, coconut cream, cherry and key lime pies.

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