Saturday, November 29, 2008

You are not a chef

Posted By on Sat, Nov 29, 2008 at 4:55 PM

Marcella Hazan reflects on the growing use of the word, as well as the value of home cooking.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

A traditional Thanksgiving

Posted By on Fri, Nov 28, 2008 at 9:33 PM

Wayne and I had our traditional Thanksgiving this week. In other words, we basically ignored it.

The tradition, which has often extended to Christmas, established itself when we were both writing doctoral dissertations. I finished mine over three years ago, but he's still at it -- in the final throes, thank God. Unless you have been through this nightmare, you probably won't understand why it makes every holiday an occasion of guilt that can only be assuaged by pretending to write.

Usually, we do go to a Chinese restaurant and enjoy being amid other people trying to hide from the conventional rituals. This year, though, we went to Panahar (3375 Buford Hwy., 404-633-6655), a Bangladeshi restaurant we've visited a few times before.

The restaurant was serving a Thanksgiving buffet and I was surprised to see that the great majority of tables had been reserved. Buffets are not my favorite style of dining, to say the least, but the food was great.

Among the 10 dishes offered, was turkey tikka,  chunks of the bird in a sauce of tomatoes, herbs and yogurt that the kitchen makes itself. My favorite, though, was lamb naar-kaylee kola, featuring a sauce made of cream with ground cashews, raisins and bananas.

An interesting starter I'd never had before was browned patties made of tuna fish and chopped mint leaves. I couldn't stop eating them, drenched in a milky mint sauce. Dessert -- a custardy Bangladeshi yogurt mixed with honey -- was also notable.

Cost was $20 with all the champagne or beer you could drink. Wayne drank two small bottles of champagne, plus all I couldn't drink.

If you do visit the restaurant, be sure to try the mango lassi, the best in the city by far.

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Shaun's hosts CHEESE dinner

Posted By on Fri, Nov 28, 2008 at 6:37 PM

Sounds odd, yet, fantastic. Cheese is awesome. So why not have 4-courses of it?

Shaun Doty agrees, so on Sunday, Dec. 7th, he's throwing a Sweet Grass Dairy dinner for the masses at Shaun's. Well, not for everyone (reservations guys, come on!).

Cost is $55-$75.

Menu includes:

Soft polenta with pulled pork, SGD Green Hill fonduta, wild mushrooms

Beer cheese soup, SGD Thomasville Tomme, Well Bombadier beer, rye croutons

Maple-marinated duck breast, SGD goat cheese and onion tart

SGD lumiere goat cheese with fresh chestnuts and chestnut honey

Um. Yay.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cupcake Charm in Marietta

Posted By on Thu, Nov 27, 2008 at 4:28 PM

Our friend the Blissful Glutton has a report on yet another new cupcake spot.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Remember Zima?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 6:30 PM

Apparently it died. Who would have noticed?

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Why couscous rules

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 2:50 PM

1. If you are making instant couscous (and I always do because I am a lazy cook) all you do is microwave water and dump in the grains. After that, leave the work to science and couscous magic. The granules are fast absorbing and in less than three minutes a tasty, fulfilling dish appears right before your eyes! I make couscous almost everyday and the instant absorption never ceases to amaze me. Like, I don't have to do ANYTHING.

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2. It is better than rice. Hands down. Someone should invent sushi wrapped in couscous because it would become more successful and taste one hundred billion times better.

3. Couscous is not thrown at weddings and stepped on. Why? Because it is AWESOME and deserves respect...bitches.

4. The texture: moist, fluffy, rough, ridiculous esophageal fun.

5. You can pair it with most anything; gravies, stews, meat, birds, broth, cinnamon and sugar, and steamed veggies. Scarf it down for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or a midnight snack!

6. There's a nightclub named after it in Manchester, UK and it is a hit French film.

7. The Egyptians ate couscous. And they built the pyramids.

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8. When used instead of beans in beanbags, it produces a softer, safer toy for children to throw at each other, making eye, ear, and groin injuries less frequent.

9. It basically inherits any flavor it's mixed with, but maintains its individuality with grace.

10. Couscous is universal. Everyone loves it. Moroccans, Africans, Europeans, slacker college students, Democrats, Republicans, the Olsen twins, koala bears, and Thor God of Thunder.

11. I ate it for breakfast this morning and that is why I'm writing this.

(Photos from Wikimedia Commons)

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who made those tapas?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 7:37 PM

I wrote not long ago about encountering some excellent new dishes on Eclipse di Luna's menu. It turns out they are the work of Ben McPherson, who became executive chef recently, after two years as sous chef at the restaurant owned by James Ehrlich and Eric Kline.

The restaurant sent me his bio:

Ben McPherson serves as the executive chef at Eclipse di Luna, where he oversees all operations of the kitchen and creates new dishes that follow the restaurant’s style of Spanish and Latin cuisine using modern techniques.  He sought out Eclipse di Luna for a culinary environment that cultivates creativity, first serving as the restaurant’s sous chef for two years.

“My goal in this position is to work with local farmers and purveyors in order to source the best quality products to enhance the restaurant’s menu and make Eclipse di Luna one of the best tapas restaurants in the country,” says McPherson.

A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, McPherson began his career at Magnolia’s in Charleston, South Carolina, where he worked under James Beard Award-winning Chef Donald Barickman, but his worldly culinary perspective originally comes from the time he spent growing up in Germany and Italy as a teenager.

Upon moving to Atlanta in 1999, he served as sous chef and chef tournant at Buckhead Life Restaurant Group’s Pricci and Corner Café for three years.  McPherson then moved on to work for Fifth Group Restaurants at La Tavola Trattoria in Virginia-Highland where he contributed to both the regular menu and daily specials as the restaurant’s chef tournant for two years.  Following La Tavola Trattoria, he worked as the sous chef at Portofino in Buckhead, where he utilized his extensive knowledge of Italian cuisine to produce monthly regional menus, daily specials and regular menu items.

McPherson’s creations at Eclipse di Luna include spiced venison Carpaccio with Mutsu apples and Valdion espuma; salmon ceviche with mint, lime avocado and crispy yucca; lavender scented lamb with barley salad and saffron aioli; chorizo with bacon and white bean stew; and a roasted chicken and poblano pepper empanada with Manchego cheese and tomato marmalade.

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Hurry and get your boudin noir

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 7:24 PM

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It's not the prettiest thing in the world, but Anis has added a thoroughly authentic boudin to its lunch menu (along with some other items). Not to be confused with the popular white Cajun sausage that goes by the same name, this is a boudin noir, blood sausage.

I admit I don't have much of an appetite for blood sausage normally, although I've eaten plenty of it in France. I asked the server if it was typical blood sausage, slightly gamy tasting and "crumbly, weirdly dissolving in the mouth."

"No," she replied succinctly.

Wrong. But a few dots of mustard and the mashed potatoes took the edge off the flavor.

During lunch with Brad Lapin there last Friday, I ran into Jean-Frederick Peferttini, one of the owners, whom I haven't seen in years. Jean-Fre managed Pastis in Roswell, another restaurant he and partner Arnaud Michel owned and sold. They still own Django downtown.

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)

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FLIP to open next week

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 6:53 PM

I ran into Richard Blais outside the Ansley Starbucks today and he said his new burger joint, FLIP, will be opening next Thursday, Dec. 4, in West Atlanta.

He had just been playing in the kitchen of the restaurant at 1157 Howell Mill Rd. and has added descriptions of a few menu items on his blog. I don't know about you, but I've gone too long without a $28, Wagyu and foie gras burger with shaved truffles.

Read Carly's earlier post for more information about FLIP.

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Beer pick of the week: Our Special Ale

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 5:24 PM

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Our Special Ale

Anchor Brewing Company

San Francisco, CA

Anchor’s Christmas ale is one I look forward to every year. Although the recipe changes each year, the evergreen hops and winter spices always evoke the best holiday memories. The dark walnut color with garnet highlights and sparkling clarity are typical hallmarks, as is the one-of-a-kind aroma of spruce, allspice, nutmeg and clove. A brown sugar, cola-like base props up the spices. A balanced palate of rich, earthy spices, toffee, chocolate, cherry, spruce tips, juniper, molasses, and a hint of vanilla cascade from beginning to end. The body seems a bit lighter than in years past, with a spicy tingle and a dry, crisp mouthfeel. There’s some orange zest and a piney bitterness in the finish, along with some drying alcohol. This is an iconic holiday beer and is perfect with any kind of meal or with dessert afterward. Aromatic, warming and clean, with just enough sweetness to complement the herbal potpourri.

(Photo by Jeff Holland)

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