I suppose we all mellow with age, and it is no different for beer. While the value of aging wine and spirits has long been recognized, typical pale lagers are meant to be served fresh (as Budweiser will no doubt tell you), so most people never consider the possibilities of cellaring beer. However, with an increasing number of breweries producing high-alcohol beers, spiced seasonals and kitchen-sink anniversary ales, the opportunities are everywhere to sock some beers away for a year or two to mellow out the alcohol hotness, take some of the bite out of any harsh hop bitterness, and allow the complex flavors to comingle.
The co-founder of Moe's Southwest Grill is getting into the pizza business. The first Maddio's Pizza Joint opens here on Jan. 1:
Moe's Southwest Grill co-founder Matt Andrew, along with partner Tony Lewis, is opening a new made-to-order pizza concept called Maddio's Pizza Joint in Atlanta on January 1 at 3027 North Druid Hills Road.
Andrews is billing Maddio's Pizza Joint as "New Italian" pizza joint. Customers will be greeted by a pizza maker who offers a choice of dough, sauce, and more than 45 toppings.
There's no word yet whether the staff will shriek at you in Italian when you walk through the door.
We love lists - especially at the end of the year. And so, in no particular order, here are my top 10 picks for the best dishes I had in 2008.
The almond croissant at Parish.
Mussel and salami salad at Cakes and Ale.
The Proscuitto de Parma at La Pietra Cucina.
Fesenjan stew at Falafel Café.
The vegetable plate at the National in Athens
Buttermilk pancakes and foie gras at Home.
The burger at Holeman and Finch.
Apple and beet soup at Dynamic Dish.
Korean BBQ at Hanil Kwan.
Monkfish liver at Sushi House Hayakawa.
(Photo by James Camp)
Where did the year go? The end of 2008 snuck up so quickly and stealthily, it blindsided me. One thing that helps bring me back to a relatively reasonable pace, or at least not a speed-of-light pace, is to look back the year's restaurant openings. January might seem like yesterday when I think about the economy, but it feels like an actual year ago when I consider all the new restaurants that have opened since then. Many of those restaurants have contributed to making this otherwise sucky year a little easier to swallow. While the five on this list arent strictly the year's highest rated, they are the ones that made my year better.
Un-freaking-believable. The number of people who don't get enough to eat is on the verge of passing the 1-billion mark:
One billion people will go hungry around the globe next year for the first time in human history, as the international financial crisis deepens, the United Nations has told The Independent on Sunday.
The shocking landmark will be passed despite a second record worldwide harvest in a row because people are becoming too destitute to buy the food that is produced.
AUSTRALIAN BAKERY CAFE: When cereal just wont do, start your day off the right way with a hearty Aussie Meat Pie from this exceptional Australian bakeshop. There are numerous stylesincluding a steak & kidney piebut it's hard to resist the original made with USDA ground beef swimming in gravy and served in a flaky crust thats just as good when reheated back at home. 463 Flat Shoals Avenue and one other location. 404-653-0100. www.australianbakery.com.
BRAZILIAN BAKERY: The sweet items first catch your attention at this Brazilian carb haven, but the menu holds many treasuresespecially the savory pastéis (Brazilian pies). The pastéis are made with a paper-thin crust stuffed with filling, formed into a large rectangle and deep-fried until it is bubbly and brown. The best versions are the "Frango - shredded chicken in a special sauce that tastes like barbecue and the Palmito, a creamy hearts of palm mixture. 1260 Powers Ferry Road, Marietta. 770-818-0088.
THE ORIGINAL JAMAICAN RESTAURANT: This unassuming downtown restaurant serves some of the best Jamaican patties in the city. The crust is deep yellow from a healthy dose of turmeric, airy where it needs to be but still sturdy enough to hold the molten contents. The beef patty is the best of the bunch because its highly seasoned ground beef filling seems to reveal itself to you in layers and gets spicier with each bite. 166 Trinity Avenue. 404-525-8921.
(photo by Jennifer Zyman)
You may recognize Kristin Hard's name from her K Chocolat line of handcrafted artisanal chocolates with holistic claims. Until recently, the chocolates were only available at select locations, but her new Inman Park store, Cacao Laboratoire du Chocolat and Boutique (312-C North Highland Avenue. 404-221-2626. www.cacaoatlanta.com), grants fans more accessibility. The boutique is minimalist but luxurious thanks to feminine touches such as an opulent glass chandelier wrapped in a fabric shade and elegant packaging imprinted with silver wings.
Hard's products showcase a mash-up of her traditional French training, premium ingredientssustainable and local when possibleand creative flavor infusions. The chocolatier obviously favors dark chocolate (which is purportedly healthier), since every item is made with an intense rendition of the stuff. Truffle names such as "Protect" aren't cheap marketing tactics. Hard deeply believes in the health benefits of her wares - she suggests the chamomile in the "Inner Calm" to help a nasty cold ($2.25/piece). Peppermint patties are offered in a metallic wrapper ($3) or a chewier lollipop version dotted with 24-karat gold dust and silver leaf ($3). The Aztec Aphrodisia Sipping Chocolate is drawing praise for its depth of flavor and slight piquancy from the secret blend of chiles and spices. Hard tops it with a homemade marshmallow and serves it in a vintage silver cup on a silver tray. Fruit draped in chocolatesuch as frozen bananas encrusted with cacao nibs ($4.50) and dried pear slices ($6.50)show chocolate's ability to elevate the humblest of ingredients.
(photo by Jennifer Zyman)
We took Wayne's mom to Christmas dinner at Chateau de Saigon (4300 Buford Hwy., 404-929-0034) last night. I reviewed the restaurant a few months back and it was positively reviewed by Meridith Ford Goldman of the AJC recently.
The restaurant was doing a brisk business, with a large number of people apparently deciding against turkey in favor of banh trang cuon, the work-intensive dish that requires diners to make their own rice-paper wraps with a selection of ingredients. Wayne's mom and I demurred on the ordeal, but he ordered the version that includes lemongrass-flavored beef wrapped in wild betal leaves.
We started with the apple-green mango salad with grilled shrimp and roated peanuts (above), probably my favorite dish of the evening, and some fried shrimp with a lividly colored but better-than-average sweet sauce. I settled for a traditional bun dish with roasted pork, shrimp and tofu over vermicelli. Wayne's mom ordered the delicious shaken beef.
If you haven't made it here yet, visiting belongs on your list of New Year's culinary resolutions. Speaking of New Year's, Chateau de Saigon now has a beer and wine license.
Trends of the last year?
Slow-roasted meats. More tapas. Local produce. Organic meat. Fancy burgers. Gastropubs. Fixed-price menus. Chocolate. Mainstreaming of molecular cuisine. Yummy scrap meat. Gluten-free dining. Tea. Chef-driven steak houses.
And then, looking ahead: poverty and bad health. No, theyre not exactly dining trends but theyre certainly beginning to play a significant role in our food life.
This hit home with me recently, when Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food, appeared on the PBS program Bill Moyers Journal.
People with more money generally have healthier diets, he said, but affluent people who don't cook are not as healthy in their eating as poor people who still cook .If you don't have pots and pans, get them.
Pollan, whose research is first-rate, didnt cite a source for the statement, but, as someone who has eaten out most days of the week for over 20 years, the space where my gall bladder used to be certainly intuits the truth of his statement. Fast food like McDonalds is just about universally recognized as unhealthy. (See the film Super Size Me.) But we increasingly learn that what passes for fine dining may be anything but fine from our healths perspective, too.
I just filed my end-of-year Grazing rant, part of which was devoted to the rise in consumption of fast food because of the recession. In looking around the Internets, I came across this clip of Andy Warhol eating a hamburger in Jørgen Leth's 1982 film "66 scener fra Amerika," a Danish film whose title means "66 scenes from America."
The scene is reminiscent of Warhol's own early style of sitting cameras before people for hours and hours. As a teenager I used to go to a hidden-away art theater owned by George Ellis, who played the horror-show host Bestoink Dooley on local TV, to see Warhol's films. I'm talking the super-boring ones like 8-hours of the Empire State Building, just standing there, in "Empire." And there was the 3-plus hours of "The Chelsea Girls," actually six hours projected on a split screen.
At one point, Ellis owned a theater at Ansley Mall, where he screened Warhol's "Lonesome Cowboys,". I was there the night the theater was raided by the police and the projector shut down.
Eating a fast food burger -- Burger King, I think -- seems like a perfect performance piece for an artist who was obsessed with repetition, icons of pop culture and tedium. Have a look and imagine yourself in his place.
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