Check out this essay by new online intern Lianna Shen about the romantic difficulties of a vegetarian girl and a meat and potatoes boy.
We hit Kasan Red (517 Flat Shoals Ave., 404-549-9630), an odd little cafe in East Atlanta Village, last week. The oddity begins with the restaurant's name, which is the color of the owner's 1973 VW Beetle. And the cuisine is just as odd -- a bit retro and plainly presented.
A filet of salmon (shown here) was seriously overcooked, as was a chicken breast, though both actually tasted good. The restaurant is using organic produce whenever possible, and sides of spaghetti squash timbale and a caprese salad were good.
The Aussie owner and the servers here are amiable, but the entrees' quality needs serious improvement. I haven't tried breakfast or lunch yet, but I'm betting they are better done.
Cuerno (905 Juniper St.), Riccardo Ullio's long-awaited Spanish restaurant, is finally open. We dropped by for a first look Sunday and found the food mainly quite good -- especially the Valencia-style paella (above) with multiple ingredients, including rabbit, clams, shrimp, squid and chicken.
A few years ago, Wayne and I spent a week in Monte Frio, a mountain town north of Granada. It was winter and every evening, we walked down the hill from our apartment to a restaurant for the evening's paella, usually one made with saffron rice. Cuerno's is the nearest to that I've ever tasted in our city.
We also tried a bunch of tapas, including mussels, grilled shrimp, fried potatoes, onion soup (with raisin chutney) and squid stuffed with sofrito (above, right) The restaurant has a grill that reaches astronomical temperatures and leaves seafood juicy and unusually flavorful.
The restaurant itself is quite a looker, featuring a gigantic bull sculpture (with large testicles you may rub for good luck), Alhambra-like mosaic tile, glittering chandeliers and lots of red. Like Spain itself, the restaurant's decor is a blend of the pagan and the Christian, including an image of the Virgin (above, left) opposite the bull.
Not to quibble, but to clarify (I do love the opportunity to clarify), I wanted to explain our process in light of a comment made on my recent MF Buckhead review. A reader commented, in response to my complaints about some service issues, "You also forget to mention that this restaurant has only been open a couple of months and I have no doubt that your review was done in its very early days."
We do have a policy regarding how long we wait before a review can be done. Often, my colleague Cliff Bostock will do a first look at a restaurant right after it opens, but we always make sure to say that it is a first look, not a formal review. For the formal review, I wait a month before I even set foot in the place. I visit multiple times, spread out over the course of a couple of weeks. It is not a perfect system, but we strive to find a balance between fairness to the new restaurant and getting our review out there in a timely manner. However, I would never write a review based on experiences had in the first few weeks of operation.
Healthy pizza: Jeff Melnick writes, "I am bringing Pizza Fusion to Atlanta. Pizza Fusion is an organic fast casual pizza restaurant that serves organic pizza, sandwiches, salads, beer and wine, and we deliver pizzas in hybrid cars. Our first location (5 in total) will be located at 2233 Peachtree Rd. in the Aramore building. Unfortunately we do not open until July of this year. In addition, we will be the 1st LEED-certified restaurant in Atlanta." Check out the website here. ...
Celebrate: David Sweeney writes to say he is opening his mainly organic cafe, Dynamic Dish, this Monday, Jan. 21, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day: "Come in on Monday. Take time to sit, reflect and share your thoughts. Enjoy a slice of cake and a cup of coffee. Be a part of the Sweet Auburn and Old Fourth Ward celebration -- the true heart and spirit of downtown Atlanta." Dynamic Dish is a one-of-a-kind jewel at 427 Edgewood Ave. (404-688-4344). It is normally closed on Mondays. ...
Gimme the skinny one with some hyperbole: "Just in time for the New Year, Starbucks helps customers keep their resolutions without sacrificing flavor with the introduction of the 'Skinny' platform, a nonfat latte made with sugar-free syrup. Bringing the sugar-free syrups to the forefront of the menu, Starbucks is adding a new flavor â mocha â to the already sweet selection of vanilla, hazelnut, caramel and cinnamon-dolce," a press release says.
In case you've never heard of Starbucks, the same press release sums it up with some grand hyperbole: "Starbucks Coffee Company provides an uplifting experience that enriches peopleâs lives one moment, one human being, one extraordinary cup of coffee at a time. To share in the experience, visit www.starbucks.com."
Be sure to check the foam on your skinny latte. You just might make out the face of the Virgin Mary or Jesus himself. ...
Arf Arf: Emily Carmon writes, "I am writing in hopes to have you come visit us at 2 Dog....We are located in historic downtown Gainesville and our unique menu includes locally grown produce and almost everything thing made in-house (breads, sauces, desserts, etc.)." Check out its website here, where you'll find the restaurant's cuisine described as "rustic Euro soul food." The dinner menu seems to be mainly mix-and-match sauces and pasta, but there are daily specials, too. ...
You are a happy person who must reserve ahead: Pyng Ho has announced the dates for its popular Chinese New Year menu, Feb. 7-11. The menu itself has not been announced, but the restaurant encourages diners to make reservations now. Call 404-634-4477. Find its website here. ... Silk in Midtown is also planning a special five-course menu Feb. 9. Reservations and a credit-card deposit are required. Call 678-705-8888. Browse its website here.
Where??: The 11th annual Georgia Organics Conference and Trade Show will be held Feb. 28-March 1 in Dalton. Last year over 600 people attended -- everyone from chefs and farmers to foodies. Check out the website for more information here. ...
Chef change at Shout: Chef Julio Castillo, formerly of Noche, is now executive chef of Shout. His new menu offers a large selection of tapas, pizza, sushi, including a lobster taco, BBQ chicken pizza and beer-braised lamb shank. ...
I screwed up: Carl writes to tell me Zyka is Pakistani, not Indian. Craig writes to chastise me for my weirdly dyslexic rewriting of Spanish chef Ferran Adria's name in my Grazing column this week.
Bummer: Village Pizza has closed, as reported in the comments section of an earlier post. The owner of Ria's Bluebird, the popular diner on Memorial Drive, is taking the restaurant over.
I bet I get asked once a week what's going to happen to the building on Juniper Street that used to house Spice, the kind of sexy, L.A.-ish restaurant that seemed to hire and fire chefs faster than you can say, "I'd rather eat at Popeyes."
Sherry Telford of Liz Lapidus Public Relations has the answer:
Chef/Owner Chris Yeo in partnership with Grammy-award-winning artist and actor Chris âLudacrisâ Bridges will deliver the exotic flavors and spices of modern Singaporean cuisine with the opening of Straits Restaurant this April in the former Midtown location of Spice at 793 Juniper Street.
Yeo opened the original Straits in San Francisco in 1987 while continuing to work as a hair stylist. He has since opened several others.
Sherry has this to say about the new restaurant's cuisine:
Singaporean cooking is influenced by the many countries surrounding it and combines the bright flavors and cooking styles of Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Nonya cuisines. In coming to Atlanta, Yeo plans to incorporate Southern ingredients into the menu as well.
Uh, Singapore-style fried chicken? Sherry goes on:
The name comes from the Straits of Malacca, a waterway which flows between Malaysia and Singapore. It is where the lifeline of the two countries flows together, exchanging their cultures. When the Chinese men came to Singapore, there were no Chinese women, so they married the local Malaysian women. Their children became known as âStraits Chinese,â because they all settled along the Straits Waterway. Yeoâs cuisine is born from the same process of melding cultures together, hence the adaptation of the name.
The menu will feature an authentic yet modernized interpretation of Singaporean cuisine, with traditional ingredients and innovative preparations and combinations. The extensive array of small and large plates is a reflection of Yeoâs philosophy that âfood should be a communal experience between friends and family.â The vivid and spicy flavors of the cuisine are well matched with the distinctive and exotic cocktails.
I bet you can't guess who's doing the 215-seat restaurant's interior design. The Johnson Studio, of course.
We're seeing a significant trend in our city back to Asian fusion cuisine. The original Pacific Rim fusion style that became popular here in the late '80s featured Asian cuisine fused with California-style cooking. My impression is that Singapore cuisine is fusion by definition and, despite the promise of some Southern notes, Yeo's cooking is probably not as off-the-wall as much of the (bad) fusion cooking of the '80s and '90s. But we'll have to wait to see.
(Photo of Chef Chris Yeo from newasiancuisine.com.)
Christiane Lauterbach reviews the Silver Midtown Grill in the latest issue of her newsletter, Knife and Fork. The restaurant is the reincarnation of the popular Silver Grill, which closed after 58 years about a year ago.
Christiane rates the new incarnation with one of her rare empty circles, for "acceptable," meaning that the most she can promise is that the restaurant won't kill you. Only the black circle, "unacceptable," is worse.
"Nothing got ruined and, with the exception of fresher fixtures, nothing got improved either," Christiane writes.
Mainly she attacks the "horrible vegetables and depressing decor." It's absolutely true that the vegetables there have never been especially good. One taste and you can hear electric can openers whirring inside your head. But, of course, those of us who loved the experience of the original Silver Grill are glad to see this reincarnation. We are washing down the bad veggies with an iced-tea glass full of syrupy-sweet nostalgia.
Typical of Christiane's wicked pen:
Many of the customers can be seen dumping a lot of salt on anything from a BLT to a chicken-fried steak. As in the old days, most of the vegetables are canned or frozen and, with the exception of a chicken breast fried to a turn and some mashed potatoes we loaded with ground pepper, there isn't much for us to eat in a place where waterlogged carrots, slimy pickled beets, and institutional black-eyed peas still turn our stomach.
There's also a funny description of an encounter with Peggy Hubbard, the 74-year-old server who worked in the original restaurant for 50 years and is back on the job with the new owners. But you'll have to get your hands on a copy of Knife and Fork to read that.
Seriously, a subscription to Knife and Fork is essential for any serious foodie. Unfortunately, you can't e-mail the publication. You'll have to call Ms. Lauterbach on the telephone: 404-378-2775.
Sorry to bring more politics to food blogging, but Politco.com features an amusing culinary report today. It seems that the new Democratic majority has upgraded the food choices in the House of Representatives:
The processed cheese has been replaced with brie. The Jell-O has made way for raspberry kiwi tarts and mini-lemon blueberry trifles. Meatloaf has moved over for mahi mahi and buns have been shunted aside in favor of baguettes.
A revolution is afoot at the deli counters, grills and salad bars of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Newly ascendant Democrats may have hit roadblocks on Iraq and fiscal issues, but they have revamped congressional menus, replacing fatty, pre-made foods with healthier, gourmet alternatives. The once dreary congressional cafeterias now abound with haute cuisine.
The menu transformation is part of Speaker Nancy Pelosiâs âGreening the Capitolâ plan to make the House campus more environmentally friendly and socially progressive.
Naturally, it's turned into a political dispute:
One House Republican aide lobbed attacks at the Democrats over e-mail.
âI really donât like Nanny Nancy telling me what I can and cannot eat for lunch. If I want to eat unhealthy, I should have that choice!â the aide fumed.
Republican aides have raised questions about why the cafeterias now stock Stonyfield Farm yogurt, speculating that the move would line the pockets of the companyâs CEO, Gary Hirshberg, a significant player in Democratic politics.
That assertion is nonsense, said Jeff Ventura, a spokesman for the chief administrative officer, the House official who oversees the cafeterias. He said the new food vendor, Restaurant Associates, selected the yogurt producer based on price, quality and consumer satisfaction.
So I guess Nancy Pelosi can now add "special-interest food snob" to her other titles.
Check out the complete, funny story here.
(Photo of Nancy Pelosi in a corn field from the Minnesota Corn Growers' website.)
The Starbucks on North Highland Avenue in Virginia-Highland is scheduled to close soon.
Fat Louie's on Marietta Street has closed.
The Prince of Wales, on Piedmont across from Piedmont Park, has closed after many years in business.
Parish Foods and Goods, the latest restaurant from Bob Amick, will open in the early spring on North Highland Avenue, in Inman Park's Terminal Building. The three-level restaurant will feature New Orleans-style cooking, along with a specialty market.
Cakes and Ale is scheduled to open soon in Decatur in the space last occupied by Viet Chateau. Taking its name from a line in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, the restaurant provides this description on its website:
Cakes & Ale diners can expect an eclectic, seasonal menu featuring only the freshest organic ingredients, non-endangered fish and the highest quality meats. For those diners who recognize that fresh, unfussy food must take center stage and be enjoyed in a casual, unpretentious atmosphere...
The building that once housed Harvest on North Highland Avenue has become a bridal shop, according to reports on Atlanta Cuisine.
Still undecided on who to vote for in the upcoming primaries and presidential election? Never fear â I've got the information to help you make up your mind: where the candidates stand on ... food! That's right, health care, education and security might be kinda important, I guess, but where the candidates stand on issues of food is the real test.
OK, maybe not. But I did think it would be interesting to take a look at what different candidates had to say about our food supply and our farm communities, as well as food safety. Anyone who has followed the politics of food in the past few years, or read Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dilemma, knows that government legislation is directly affecting what we eat, what is available to us and at what prices, and contributing to the obesity epidemic in America. So where do this crop of presidential candidates stand on these issues? I decided to check it out.
What follows is everything I could find on the top three Democratic and Republican candidate's websites, as well as some searching on their voting records and press about their activities relating to these issues. It's not the most appetizing stuff in the world, but I think it gives an interesting insight into how deeply some of them are thinking about an issue that probably won't get a ton of attention in the upcoming elections.
Obama is the only candidate I could find who specifically mentions supporting local and organic food on his website. Under the "Issues" tab in the section devoted to the steps Obama will take on issues related to agriculture, it reads:
Encourage Organic and Local Agriculture: Obama will help organic farmers afford to certify their crops and reform crop insurance to not penalize organic farmers. He also will promote regional food systems.
Obama also supports country-of-origin labeling, so consumers will know how far food has traveled to get to our shelves, and so shoppers have the option to consciously buy American.
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