Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cheap Eats: Cafe Mims

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2009 at 1:00 PM

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The gourmet sandwich concept is nothing new, but Atlanta has seen an explosion of such establishments in the past year. Are gourmet sandwich shops this year’s cupcake or fancy hamburger? Trend or not, there's a need for this type of dining — especially in areas saturated with office workers — and it’s easy enough to conceptualize the menus. Just throw on a few sandwiches, a salad or two, some fancy chips and pricey beverages.

Cafe Mims (659 Peachtree St., 404-897-5000, www.livingstonatlanta.com) is the latest spot to capitalize on the need for speedy lunchtime fare. The food, overseen by Livingston’s executive chef Gary Mennie, is made fresh daily and pre-packaged so you can grab and go. The cafe opens early so you can pop in for some coffee and one of the homemade baked goods, such as the trio of mini bear claws filled with blueberries, cheese and almond paste. Sandwiches are the best thing the cafe has to offer at lunchtime. Each sandwich — with the exception of the grilled cheese — is made with a personal-sized baguette and wrapped in brown paper affixed with a branded sticker. The crusty bread has just the right amount of chew. And the fillings have been uniformly excellent.

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(Photo by Jennifer Zyman)

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Beer pick of the week: Feuer Wehrmann Schwartzbier

Posted By on Mon, Jul 6, 2009 at 9:39 PM

Black as soot: Pennichuck Feuer Wehrmann
  • Black as soot: Pennichuck Feuer Wehrmann

Pennichuck Brewing Company

Milford, NH

5.0% ABV

One of several Pennichuck beers that pays tribute to firefighters (the name means "firefighter"), this one taking the form of a traditional German schwartzbier. Schwartzbier ("black beer") is a dark, malty lager made with roasted malts. Although similar to British porters and stouts, schwartzbier is a bottom-fermented lager, making it cleaner and less bitter than its Anglican cousins. If someone tells you they don't like dark beer, try this one on them.

Feuer Wehrmann pours nearly black, with a hint of light around the edges. The aroma is slightly smoky and sweet with some nice toffee notes. The taste is rich and roasty, with a nutty bite. Burnt caramel, chickory, carob, and herbal hops round out the flavor profile. Bitterness is low to moderate, both from the malt and hops. Smooth, almost creamy, mouthfeel, with a solid presence front to back. The dry, roasty finish holds the malty tastes well, with a bit more bitterness building over the session.

Beer like this makes it easy to see why Germans have such high per capita beer consumption. Great structure and drinkability make it perfect for pairing with rich foods, where it can contribute plenty of complementary flavor without leaving the palate oversaturated.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mouthful: Pies

Posted By on Sat, Jul 4, 2009 at 1:00 PM

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ALPINE BAKERY: Alpine’s pies resemble those you find at any worthy New York (or Jersey) diner and the varieties are endless. Like everything in the shop, the pies — available in virtually any style you can imagine — are made on site daily and rise just as high as the cakes. Each pie except the apple is offered in both small (serves 6-8) and large (serves 16-20).  The chocolate cream pie is especially delectable. 295 Rucker Road, Suite 140, Alpharetta. 770-410-9883. www.alpinebakery.net.

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(Photo by Jennifer Zyman)

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Rolling Bones among 10 best

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 7:33 PM

Bon Appétit magazine has named Rolling Bones on Edgewood Avenue one of the 10 best barbecue restaurants in America.

Of course, this was on the basis of the former menu. The restaurant was recently sold and I was told a new, more diverese menu was said on the way when I visited a few weeks ago. I presume the meats will remain the same.

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RA Sushi opens in Midtown

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 7:00 PM

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We visited three-week-old RA Sushi (1080 Peachtree St., 404-267-0114) last week. The instantly popular spot is part of a chain out of Arizona. It serves some Asian specialties, like the pork gyoza above, besides sushi. In fact, these dumplings were better than most of the sushi we sampled.

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I have to say that the salmon skin in this hand roll was much better prepared than you find at most sushi bars, probably because it was made to order.  It was exceedingly crispy and flavorful. Personally, I like this dish made with some Japanese mayo, but only soy sauce was offered to moisten the roll.

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The decor of the two-level RA is kind of kitschy, but mainly pleasing. This painting of a naked woman using a dangerously pointy phallic symbol to scratch her back is in the private dining room.

I'll have a full report in Grazing later this week.

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)

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Sign of the times

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Enraged man calls 911 after being allegedly short-changed by McDonald's.

(Hat tip, Michael Saunders)

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Chicks in the city

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 1:00 PM

The Decatur backyard playground-turned-chicken-coop belonging to Amy and Jason Cattanach

By Wyatt Williams

Last December, Amy and Jason Cattanach arrived at their local post office for a special delivery. It was a Friday afternoon, one that they had been planning from the comfort of their Decatur home for months. Though they were thrilled that this day had come, the post office hardly noticed. “They handed [the package] over like a box of shoes,” Amy laughs. Inside the cardboard box were 26 newborn chicks, mail-ordered through the Internet, bunched together in a noisy bedlam of chirping and fluffy activity. After splitting the chicks with a neighbor and relative, their family of five now keeps a flock of seven hens in the back yard.

Humans started domesticating chickens in Southeast Asia, somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 years ago. With respect to that history, Amy and Jason aren’t doing anything new, though it is something of a fresh approach. Keeping a flock in the back yard means that eggs travel a short walk to the kitchen table, often the same week they’re laid. Compared with our disastrous infrastructure of factory farms and semi-trucks that writers such as Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser have been critiquing in recent years, the urban hen trend makes perfect sense for folks who are trying to eat more local and seasonal food. It is, though, a bit more commitment than putting a couple of tomato plants in the ground.

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(Photo by Joeff Davis)

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Forgery, burritos and nuclear nachos

Posted By on Sun, Jun 28, 2009 at 3:06 PM

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Oh look, it's a big painting by Vincent Van Gogh. Or is it by Elmyr de Hory, the famous forger of the last century whose story was famously told in Clifford Irving's book, Fake? Whatever, Elmyr (1091 Euclid Ave., 404-588-0250) is a burrito joint with a clever theme.

We ate here recently and had a pretty good meal. I suggest you pass on the nachos with several varieties of chili peppers, including countless jalapenos (right), unless you have a cast-iron stomach. They taste good going down and then....

Wayne ordered a burrito stuffed with grilled fish. I got one that wrapped fajitas -- steak and more peppers -- and red pinto beans. If you have choice, go for the pintos rather than the alternative black beans. The beans made me nostalgic for the old Tortillas.

Prices are low here and the vibe is very alternative-20s. I'm sure you won't mind being twice the age of the rest of the customers. If you do mind, remember that it's a restaurant that celebrates a forger. Go ahead and pretend you're 22.

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Talking Head: The road goes on forever and the party never ends

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 3:23 PM

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Although it's less than a week after the start of summer, it seems like we're deep into the heart of it now. No need to take off the party hats, except to wipe the sweat from your brow.

Taco Mac continues celebrating its 30th anniversary, as well as the beginning of summer, with the release last week of Red Brick Solstice Roggenbock from Atlanta Brewing Company. According to Taco Mac beverage manager Fred Crudder, it's similar to the Helles Bock but with the addition of rye malt, which should add some spiciness and a grainy bite. Check your local outlet to see if it has Solstice on tap.

The Brick Store Pub's 12th anniversary celebration continues this week, with special kegs each night, leading up to Saturday's shindig featuring a new beer every hour and probably some silly behavior in the final hours. Be sure to ask your server for tap list updates if you go this week, since there are a number of excellent choices beyond the featured beer, including New Belgium La Folie and De Ranke Noir.

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Grazing: First Look at Nonna Mia

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 1:00 PM

The latest entry in the city’s pizza war is Nonna Mia (980 Piedmont Ave., 404-532-2815), a Sicilian-inspired café that's part of a new chain out of New Orleans.

The restaurant has taken over the space last occupied by Sweet Devil Moon and many others before that. In the 1970s, when I lived a few blocks from there, it was the original location of Proof of the Pudding, now a huge catering company, which at the time also served unique sandwiches and salads.

In my recollection, the longest-lived restaurant here after Proof moved was the Big Red Tomato, a New York-style Italian café with an entertaining vibe and fairly good food. Nobody has succeeded with the location since.

I might as well say at the outset that the pizza here simply does not measure up to the standard prevailing in the city now, thanks to Varasano’s and Fritti. We ordered one of the signature pies, the Siciliana, which is topped with roasted red peppers, prosciutto, kalamata olives, mozzarella and tomato sauce. Sounds great, eh?

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(Photo by James Camp)

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