I noticed that Fred Brown left a comment on a post here a couple of days ago. For those of you who don't know, Fred is the longtime publisher of Brown's Guide to Georgia, an engaging monthly that began publication in the early '70s and, as I recall, underwent several deaths and resurrections, the latest being as an internet resource.
Among the magazine's highlights was its employment of Bill Cutler, who was in most people's judgment the first serious dining critic in our city. Bill, who founded Knife and Fork with Christiane Lauterbach before his death in the '80s, brought a strong voice and narrative style to reviewing.
The reviewing spun out of his other passion: bicycling. Bill wrote incredibly engaging accounts of his bicycle tours of rural Georgia and these included stories of his meals, interwoven with his descriptions of a world in extreme transition. I became a fan very early on because Brown's Guide began publication when I was working for newspapers in rural Georgia myself. I felt, those years, like I was living in a Flannery O'Connor short story whose characters were being forced into modernity.
Bill also wrote occasional pieces for the Atlanta Gazette, Creative Loafing's competitor, when I was editor there, although these were not about food. More often, he wrote about race, politics and the changing South.
He was also a friend (and inspiration) of Elliott Mackle, who wrote the original Grazing column for Creative Loafing (while I was editor here) and later became dining critic at the AJC.
It is hard to overstate how important Bill was in moving dining criticism out of the dark ages in our city. Fred Brown cultivated the same kind of critical eye and narrative style in other writers he employed (like Tom Patterson). While the Internet doesn't accommodate the luxurious narrative of storytelling that characterized the original magazine's feature stories, it is a good fit for the (colorfully written) listings that also filled its pages.
Indeed, I enjoyed this first sentence from the magazine's listing of Omnivore:
OMNIVORE ATLANTA is the food blog of the weekly, free, at-one-time alternative newspaper, Creative Loafing.
Can you spot the snark?
Every Monday through Thursday from noon to 3 p.m., Morelli's Gourmet Ice Cream has begun offering a free scoop to anyone who's unemployed and struggling to find a job. You can also use their free Wi-Fi to look for said job.
Though usually known for flavors like Jalapeno Coconut and Ginger Lavender, the current economic crisis has encouraged new, hilariously named flavors like Life's Lemons, The Pink Slip and Unemployment Bana-fits. Sometimes you've got to laugh to keep from crying.
Its been about five years since Linton Hopkins opened Restaurant Eugene (2277 Peachtree Road, 404-355-0321). During my first visit before the restaurant had received much press I showed up dressed in my usual slothful way, direct from the gym, as I recall. Wayne was similarly attired.
As soon as we walked through the door of the restaurant, we felt out of place. Nearly every man in the dining room was in a coat and tie. We were jetted to a table in the bar area, where we would not spoil the view for the crowd of old-line Buckhead residents. (OK, actually, we didnt have a reservation and the hospitable Gina Hopkins, Lintons wife, fit us in.)
Ive only returned to the restaurant a few times since then, switching my allegiance to the wonderfully zany Holeman and Finch, the gastro-pub that Hopkins opened next door for drinking and snacking. Not the least of my motivations, too, was price. The menu at H&F is mainly small plates of Southern-inspired comfort food while Eugenes pricey menu offered more traditional meals made with brilliant, wallet-draining attention to detail
"I would give you 50 cents toward purchase of a Krystal but I fear that you would simply blow the money on booze. Therefore I am instead giving the 50 cents to an organization that will help break the cycle of your addiction and help you lead a productive, happier life during these miserable economic times."
Tarek Tay, one of the owners of Zaya, is featured in an MSNBC article about stress among small business owners who are struggling to stay afloat these days:
In the economic tailspin of the late 2000s, loss is part of life. Workers are losing their jobs, employers are losing their businesses, and as credit becomes more and more scarce, everyone is losing confidence. What's more, entrepreneurs are grappling with a sense that they've lost control of critical factors that could determine their futures. Those psychological hurdles are perhaps the biggest challenges facing today's business owners; after all, it was probably that shining confidence and ability to innovate that got you started in the first place, right?
"So much of it has nothing to do with you," says Tarek Tay, 36, co-owner and managing partner of Atlanta's Zaya Restaurant, which launched strong in February 2008, boomed through the summer--and then saw business drop 30 percent in September. Although well-reviewed, it has operated in the red since, even with $1.2 million in 2008 sales. "If your food isn't good, you can improve the quality," he says. "If service is the problem, you can train your staff. But if the problem is that no one's going out to eat because of the economy, what can you do?"
The article is a good read for any small business owner trying to stay afloat.
Terrapin Beer Company
Terrapin brewer Spike Buckowski has jumped into the Belgian ale wave with both feet with Volume 5 of the Side Project Series. Monk's Revenge is described as having the hop profile of a double IPA, with the malt and yeast of a Belgian tripel. Six kinds of malt and six hop varieties, dextrose to replicate the Belgian candi sugar, and a yeast copped from one of the 7 Trappist breweries (Spike is mysteriously vague about which brewery) all contribute to a wonderful complexity in both aroma and flavor.
Floral and spicy hops greet the nose, along with a faint resiny note that clues you to the beer's American heritage. Sweet, biscuity malt and the unmistakable ripe fruit of Belgian yeast are also evident. The taste starts with the smooth, mild tropical fruit sweetness of pineapple and banana, followed quickly by a tingly hop bite of grapefruit, white pepper, pine, orange, and mint. The sugary base carries warm buzz of kirsch and amaretto into the strong, drying finish. The banana and clove esters of the Belgian yeast become stronger as it warms, as does some solventy alcohol.
The balance here is fantastic, with all of the malty, fruity, hoppy, and tangy notes getting their chance to shine, but the overall effect seems a bit raw. The bottle-conditioned beer has a dullish carbonation that might lively up itself with a bit more time, and the hot alcohol suggest that this would be a good candidate for cellaring, although the hopheads might object that the fresh hop aromas and flavors would suffer. I'd have a couple fresh, then put a couple away; that way, you get the best of both worlds.
The incomparable Broderick was on hand to photograph tonight's opening of Varasano's. Check out his pictures.
Can you spot the image of the Virgin Mary amid the tomato sauce?
This sounds great. Rosa Mexicano is serving "Mexican Passover" dinner April 5-15. The New York restaurant has done this as part of its "Flavors of Mexico" series for six years.
The restaurant will host a cooking demonstration and luncheon on April 11. Call Edgar Zapata at 404-347-4090 for more information and to make a (required) reservation.
Meanwhile, check out the special menu's dishes:
Caldo de Pollo con Bolitas (Mexican Matzoh Ball Soup)
Roasted jalapeño chicken broth with cilantro matzoh balls, carrots and black garbanzo beans.
Lunch & Dinner, $7.50
Higadito de Pollo para Tacos
Chipotle chopped liver with egg, tempura scallions, chicken chicharrones and tomatillo-avocado sauce, served with warm corn tortillas to make your own tacos.
Lunch & Dinner, $8.50
Lengua de Res a la Veracruzana
Traditional beef tongue simmered in a Veracruz sauce of tomatoes, olives and roasted peppers, served with matzo-potato-chive fritters
Tacos de Lengua
Seared beef tongue served with chile de arbol salsa and pickled jalapeño cabbage
Chile Ancho Relleno con Ternera Barbacoa
Ancho chile stuffed with slow cooked veal shoulder, braised cabbage, tomatillos and jalapenos, served with mole verde
Baked stuffed sea bass with zucchinis and roasted pecans, served with pureed pumpkin and prunes and spinach-potato kugel izmir style
Pastel de Dátil
Warm pecan, date and bittersweet chocolate flourless cake, served with piloncillo butter sauce and orange whipped crème fraîche
Lunch & Dinner, $7.50
I wondered recently if Pot and Pan, the popular Midtown breakfast joint on Piedmont near Cheshire Bridge, plans to relocate, close or what. It is located in a strip of shops, most of which have moved out in anticipation of ground-breaking for a new development there. I received this email from a long-time reader today:
We've been eating at Pot N Pan regularly since you mentioned it 15
As far as they can tell me, the developer is out of funding right
now, so they are open "indefinitely." That was the word this past
weekend. They were originally supposed to be out in October, then
November, then December, etc. I don't know how actively they are
looking for a new location, but it doesn't seem like they are.
We'll be sad if they end up closing. We've been seeing the same
people there for years. They even bought a high chair when our baby
was born, and a booster as she got bigger.
Every Great Depression has its silver lining.
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