Thursday, June 25, 2009

Spongy, barely edible and greasy?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 11:34 PM

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Pizza Hut may be changing its name to....The Hut, according to Marketplace, American Public Radio's business program that airs on WABE (90.1 FM) weekdays at 6:30 p.m. You can read or listen to the piece about the change on their website. Here's a teaser:

Kai Ryssdal: Marketing is more important than ever in a down economy. We ran across the latest example in the trade magazine Brandweek this morning. Pizza Hut seems to think that's just one word too many to be really catchy. The Hut, they say, would be better. Marketplace's Rico Gagliano reports it's yet another fast-food chain trying to change with the times.

RICO GAGLIANO: Outside a pizza hut in downtown L.A. this morning, I asked passerby a pretty obvious question.

GAGLIANO: So when you think of Pizza Hut, what food item comes to mind?

GUY 1: I think of very spongy pizza, barely edible.

GUY 2: Um, greasy pizza.

Setting aside these guys' unsolicited editorializing, you'd think this would make the folks running Pizza Hut happy, because at least customers know what they sell, right? But problem is, more and more consumers aren't buying pizza from chains.

Meanwhile, however, Pizza Hut told Reuter's it's not changing its name and reported the same decision on its website a few days ago. So whatever. The important thing is that the chain's sales are down significantly.

(Photo courtesy of fabulous, battered Perez Hilton.)

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Number of hungry up 11 percent, according to U.N.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 7:04 PM

Last week, the United Nations' Food and Health Organization released a chilling statistic: More than one-sixth of the world's people will go hungry in 2009. What qualifies one as "going hungry?" Less than than 1,800 calories a day, according to the FHO. The agency attributes the 100 million increase over last year's figure to the global economic slowdown and consistently high food prices. Called a "silent crisis" by FHO Director-General Jacques Diouf, political instability and lack of infrastructure have compounded food shortages — shifting political boundaries and conflicts such as civil war keep much needed food from reaching people.

Want to help? Consider volunteering here in Atlanta. The Atlanta Community Foodbank accepts individual and group volunteers daily and for special events. Project Open Hand — a service organization that delivers meals to the chronically ill or elderly — needs help preparing and giving out food. The Hands On Atlanta website lists volunteer opportunities by date and interest so you can find a foodie way to be good to Atlanta.

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Free sushi followed by a sake tasting tonight at MF Buckhead

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 2:53 PM

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From the PR folks:

RAW: "The Untold Sake Stories" at MF Buckhead on Thursday, June 25th, 2009. Complimentary sushi appetizers from 8 to 9 p.m. followed by a sake tasting and presentation by world famous sake sommelier, Toshi Kojima. Beats by DJ Heather B and Japanese video montage by Bean Summer. RSVP to: raw@mfbuckhead.com.

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Dining well in the dark

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 1:59 PM

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We checked out La Tavola Trattoria a few nights ago, since they are celebrating their 10th anniversary and were offering a $29 prix-fixe menu. It's a three-course selection of the restaurant's all-time favorites. But ended up ordering my favorites from the regular menu -- this beet salad and seafood stew.

Wayne did order from the special menu -- carpaccio, fregola with Littleneck clams and bread pudding for dessert.

We sat in a corner of the restaurant so dark we couldn't read the menu or see what we were eating in detail, much less snap decent pics. But the meal was great.

The special lasts a couple days more, ending June 27. In fairness, you should do the math on the special menu because, unless you're dying for dessert, you'll likely spend less ordering a la carte.

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Eye candy: Introducing CL's new photos and video site

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 9:21 PM

RUFFLED FEATHERS: See more photos like this one at clatl.com/photos
  • RUFFLED FEATHERS: See more photos like this one at clatl.com/photos

We know you've been thinking to yourself, "CL should create a space for all the awesome photos they shoot." And if you weren't thinking that, then all the visual desires you never even knew you had have just been fulfilled.

We now have a spot where you can access all the latest galleries shot each week, a new Photo of the Day posted (you guessed it!) every day, and new videos going up every week. You can also check out the thousands of images uploaded by your fellow Atlantans to the CL Flickr feed or read up on what the deal was with each week's Time and Place photo.

There's international photo and video news, tidbits and gear updates, along with info on upcoming Atlanta photo community meet-ups and shoot-outs.

Missed the No Doubt concert? We've got the photos to make you feel just a little better about it.

Wondering how the hell they get all that sand out of the Decatur Square after the Decatur Beach Party? We've got the lowdown on that through video interviews.

Check it out at clatl.com/photos_video.

Of course, we want to hear your feedback. So give us your joys, your grievances, your Atlanta photo knowledge! Send it all our way to photos@cln.com.

(Photo by Joeff Davis)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stalking raw food, an Indigo Girl tells all, teens go wild in Johns Creek

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 9:10 PM

Have you driven all over Atlanta in a desperate attempt to find the raw foods you crave? Chef Jenya simplifies your search in the video above.

Do you cook? Then you'll like this new website, Good Bite.

Do you love the recession? Perhaps you need to open a pizzeria.

Didn't anyone tell Indigo Girl Emily Saliers that meat is murder? Check out her favorite Atlanta restaurant (after Watershed, of which she is part owner).

Popeyes' sales are up (even though I haven't eaten there in many months). But overall profits are down. Meanwhile, Arby's and and Wendy's are invading the Middle East.

Who's (finally) taking over the Clubhouse location at Lenox Square?

La Tavola is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a prix fixe menu of all-time favorites. Hurry. It's only available for a few more days.

Optimism is epidemic in Midtown!

Teens go wild in Johns Creek!

Do some yoga and eat something organic at the Go Green Expo this weekend.

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Cheap Eats: KoKai Thai Bistro

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 3:43 PM

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Well before the sushi craze, Atlantans were mad for Thai food. But our interest seemed to wane as Buford Highway grew to include an abundance of options from other countries. Sickly sweet options and a handful of fancier Thai eateries stuck around, but places serving authentically prepared dishes were harder to find. In recent years, however, Thai food has been slowly creeping back into our bellies, and restaurateurs are focusing on more authentic preparations. KoKai Thai Bistro (5495 Jimmy Carter Blvd., Norcross, 770-409-9219, www.kokaithaibistro.com) is one such restaurant that specializes in bringing “the streets of Bangkok to you.”

Continue reading Cheap Eats.

(Photo by Jennifer Zyman)

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Dining dispatch: Charleston, S.C.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 9:15 PM

My husband and I had our 2 day honeymoon in Charleston 4 years ago. We spent the whole time eating, and fell in love with the city's restaurants. Every year since, we've tried to get back there at least once, always in the heat of summer, and always with an appetite. This past Friday night we hit the town to see what the city's chefs are up to.

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We only made it to three places this year, but two of them have to be two of the coolest restaurants in the country right now. We started at Fig, who's chef Mike Lata just won the James Beard award for Best Chef in the Southeast. I have to admit that I was a little surprised at the award - I've eaten at Fig's bar many times, and have always loved it but never had anything much more memorable than a deftly executed chicken liver pate. But this visit put my surprise to rest - Lata is turning out some incredible food, including what may be my favorite dish of the year so far. It takes a leap of faith to order pig's trotters, but what a payoff - Lata takes the meat from the trotters and forms them into a cake, which is lightly pan-fried. The meat is so moist and flavorful, it's like the best barbecue you've ever had, but without needing any sauce at all. Pure piggy piggyness. The accompanying salad, a jumble of field peas, lima beans, fresh corn, frissee, chives, tarragon and smoky bacon lardons, was beautifully composed and balanced, with just the right acid tang.

We stopped by the Charleston Grill for a glass of wine and a sweetbread appetizer. What impressed me the most here was the wine list and the server's enthusiastic knowledge of it. On the glass pour list we were able to chose from incredibly cool wines such as a marsanne from Victoria, Australia and a 100% pinot noir vin gris. The server even let us do half glasses so we could taste more of the list.

We ended up at McCrady's, where chef Sean Brock has transformed the historic restaurant into a temple of amazingly creative food, and is re-defining the idea of farm-to-table (check out John Kessler's story about Brock in this month's issue of Food Arts). Brock and his cooks grow much of the produce and raise much of the meat used on McCrady's menu themselves, and the freshness of the product, as well as Brock's handling of it, makes for some of the most exciting food in the country. The standout had to be Brock's creamed kimchee, which appeared under a hugely fat scallop and a hunk of pork belly sourced from the restaurant's hog farm. The kimchee had whispers of chow chow in its nature, a cultural hybrid of Southern and Asian that would never work in a less deft chef's hands (say that three times fast). It's a dish I'll be thinking about for a long time. Other highlights included handmade ramp pasta (the most outrageous color green) with crab, chanterelles and nasturtium butter, and warm asparagus with a farm egg, Benton's bacon, and bonito. Best surf and turf EVER.

(photo by Besha Rodell's crappy cell phone)

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Corkscrew: Rose rising

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 7:47 PM

Despite a weakening economy, the Nielson Company revealed an almost 25 percent jump in U.S. rosé wine sales in 2008. Since I’ve harped on the greatness of pink for the past five years, I’ll take at least a sliver of that celebratory pie, thank you very much. I’m rejoicing that Americans have finally begun to embrace the beauty of rosé wines.

With the red fruit and tannin of red, and the cool, invigorating acidity of white, rosé is a perfect marriage. One of the best food wines in existence, it’s like drinking a white wine with bright, ripe berry flavor. It matches summer fare — grilled burgers and ribs — but also spicy eats. I used to complain of their lack of availability — many wineries make dry rosés though not enough for major distribution — but I’m seeing increasing variety on shelves and lists. Pink from pinot noir, syrah, grenache, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and everything in between can be had for less than $20 per bottle. Woohoo!

Continue reading Corkscrew: Rosé Rising

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Nonna Mia opens in Midtown

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 3:17 PM

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We visited the new Nonna Mia (960 Piedmont Ave., 404-532-2815) recently. This restaurant, part of a new chain started in New Orleans, is located in a building that has not had a good track record since the Big Red Tomato left it years ago.

Nonna Mia is something of a return to the Tomato's style with a menu that's heavy on New York-style Italian. By far the best thing we ordered was the appetizer, "Divine Portobello" (above), with grilled chicken breast, spinach and a red-pepper sauce complementing sliced portobellos.

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We also ordered this red pizza, topped with kalamata olives, sardine-sized slices of prosciutto and mozzarella. But, look, Ma! No char!

More in "Grazing" later this week.

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)

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