Thursday, July 31, 2008

They put what on what??

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 7:25 PM

I received this email from Elisa Gambino, our city's pasta goddess, who owns Via Elisa. The email pertains to my review this week of Neo:

Regarding your visit to Neo: Why put balsamic vinegar on mozzarella? This is a travesty one never sees in Italy. Why put even more acid on something so wonderfully milky when the tomatoes in the salad create the perfect low level of acidity? Caprese salad has five ingredients: mozzarella, tomato, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and salt. Balsamic vinegar adds nothing and will change the flavor of even the best mozzarella. Balsamic is often used to hide bad ingredients and I think your “caprese” at Neo might have been a victim of this tactic.

I recently saw a restaurant offering “local San Marzano” tomatoes. Very simply, “local San Marzano tomatoes” do not exist. San Marzano tomatoes are like Parmigiano Reggiano, Champagne and Vidalia onions. They are all geographically specific and cannot be produced outside of their region. The consortium of Parmigiano Reggiano producers has spent millions educating the masses on the difference between Parmigiano Reggiano and all other parmesans but the San Marzano growers do not have the money it takes to create a marketing campaign on this scale.

Buyers beware: If the tomato is grown domestically, it is NOT San Marzano and you should not pay San Marzano prices for it. Is it a good tomato? Maybe, but it is not San Marzano. San Marzanos arrive in the US in cans and they are the best canned tomatoes for making sauce. I’ll write to you about why they are so perfect in another e-mail but for now the pasta machines are calling.

I suppose the restaurant could argue that because it doesn't call the salad "Caprese," it can do what it wants. I should also clarify that the balsamic was not on the mozzarella but was a swipe on the plate. I'm nit-picking before anyone else has the chance to.


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Fast food ban in L.A.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 6:47 PM

The L.A. Times reports that the Los Angeles City Council has passed an ordinance prohibiting construction of fast food restaurants in a 32-square-mile area inhabited by 500,000 low-income people.

Read Slate's take on the issue here.

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A menu preview

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 12:04 AM


The Porter, a new gastro-pub coming to 1156 Euclid Ave. in Little Five Points, has posted its menus on a new website. The restaurant's owners, two former employees of the defunct Seeger's, are hoping for a September opening.

The menu looks very tantalizing. Take a look here.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beer pick of the week: Albino Python Lager

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 2:33 PM


Albino Python Lager

Shmaltz Brewing Company

Saratoga Springs, NY

6.0% ABV

Appropriate for the freak show theme, this beer is modeled after a Belgian witbier, but brewed with lager yeast rather than the traditional Belgian ale yeast. The characteristic coriander and orange peel are added, along with some more unusual spices like ginger and fennel. The result is a sweet, mildly spicy brew, with a slick mouthfeel and a clean, refreshing finish. The unfiltered yeast in the bottle contributes to its cloudy, pale-yellow color and almost blue-gray tint. The lively carbonation yields a perfectly big frothy head when poured into a weizen glass. There’s a hint of honey in the pale malt sweetness, along with a bit of citrus twang. The spices meld nicely, with nothing overwhelming the palate. Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing the spices cranked up a notch. The fennel, ginger, and a lemongrass character suggest a pairing with Asian food. The body is pleasantly light but not watery. Overall, a satisfying experiment and definitely ahead of most American pale wheat ales.

(photo courtesy Shmaltz Brewing Co.)

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Good-bye to the original fern bar

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 2:59 AM

The company that owns Bennigan's and Steak & Ale restaurants has filed for bankruptcy. All 150 company-owned restaurants are closing, while 138 franchise operations will remain open.

Bennigan's was actually started in Atlanta in the mid-'70s. It was the prototypical fern bar, the kind of place favored by Ron Hudspeth, a popular nightlife columnist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in that era.

Read the full story here.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cafe Lapin in the Peachtree Battle shopping center

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2008 at 7:04 PM

Got this question from Sarah about Cafe Lapin:

Can anyone find out more information on Cafe Lapin that is going to open in the Peachtree Battle shopping center? It seems to have an outpost at ADAC, but there's not a lot of info on the place on the web. It's going in where Great Wraps used to be - seems like it's going to be a "ladies who lunch" kind of place.

I found this on Micropundit's blog on Egullet:

Mattie Hines, owner of LA LAPIN in the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, will open his second restaurant, CAFÉ LAPIN, a neighborhood bistro, in the Peachtree Battle shopping center this summer.

Anyone out there know anything else?

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Closed: Slice pizza on Howell Mill

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2008 at 6:38 PM

I noticed today Slice pizza on Howell Mill is boarded-up and for sale. A quick Googling indicates the place has been closed for over a month.

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Here, there and everywhere

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2008 at 4:28 PM

They're taking over America's palate! Go, Bob!

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Somali cooking in Decatur

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2008 at 4:13 PM


Taking a tip from Operation ABECEDarian Eateries, written by a trumpet player and an ecologist, we had one of our most interesting dining expeditions in months when we visited Daru Ssalam Halal Restaurant this weekend.

This is a no-frills operation serving Somali cooking by owner Mohamed S. Ali, a longtime banquet chef for Marriott Hotels.

Closely related to Ethiopian food — Mr. Ali is Ethiopian himself — Somali cuisine also has an Italian influence, owing to a period of occupation. There are dishes literally featuring spaghetti, along with keke which includes chicken and broad "noodles" made of wheat tortilla flour in a savory sauce.

The most unfamiliar dish we ordered was ugali (left), white cubes that tasted like grits, served with kidney beans and spinach.

Half the menu, oddly, is American dishes.

Look for a review in an upcoming Grazing column.

Meanwhile, if you want to visit the restaurant, which is open for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, it is at 4746 Memorial Dr., Decatur, in a small strip center next to a Dunkin' Donuts. Phone: 404-298-3440.

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)

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Guest blogger: Good food in unexpected places

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2008 at 4:04 PM

The Gourmet-ification of everywhere

By Lindsey Zuckerman

It used to be that you could only find great food at home or in a restaurant. Lately, though, good food is popping up in all sorts of unexpected places.

Whether you’re enjoying BBQ Pork Ribs at Turner Field, sushi at Seattle’s Safeco Field or clam chowder at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, you’ll know this isn’t the baseball grub you remember from childhood. More and more, stadiums are upgrading their food in an attempt to lure casual baseball fans to the game. The idea makes sense — I am far more likely to brave the blazing Atlanta afternoon heat if delicious food is involved.

Turner Field still seems a bit behind the curve on upscale baseball dining. There’s nothing coming out of its concessions to compete with San Francisco’s fresh crab sandwich or Seattle’s Pad Thai. What Turner lacks in quality, though, is made up for in volume, and you can now purchase an all-you-can eat ticket. Whether your waistline can handle a pulled pork sandwich, 50-chicken wing and 3-beer calorie bomb is another issue.

Continue reading »

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