Today's New York Times website includes a video about patrons of a food bank in California. The reporter, Monica Almeida, spent a year tracking people who use the facility, a faith-based organization. Click here and look for the video piece entitled "A Year of Struggle at a Food Bank"....
Richard Blais is featured in a Businessweek article about the hamburger renaissance:
A finalist on Bravo's Top Chef last season, Blais is a student of molecular gastronomy, cooking with nitrogen and the like. One of his beef burgers is cooked sous-vide, which is French for "under vacuum," and describes food that is cooked inside an airtight plastic bag over a long period at low temperatures. What Blaise brokers in is not so much hamburgers as proteins of any ilk stuck between two buns....
Joel Antunes is cooking in Bali.
I got some great news today. Dan Krinsky, who co-owns Tierra with wife Ticha, will undergo kidney transplant surgery on Aug. 28 at Piedmont Hospital. Dan found a suitable live donor a few months ago, after seven disappointments. He has been on dialysis three times weekly since last December.
Tierra will be closed for a week following his surgery.
Dan says the donor turned up after reading mention of his need in my "Grazing" column. Many thanks to that reader and others who contacted him offering help.
(Photo by Cliff Bostock)
The Southern Foodways Alliance, a food society that studies, documents and celebrates food from the American South, is holding their Potlikker Film Fest in Athens on August 22nd. The 6 to 9 p.m. evening of movies, mingling and performance will be held at Cine Athens and kicks of with "potlikker shots" for guests as they walk in the door. There will be bite-sized samples of old and new southern cuisine, mingling and live music and poetry by Coleman Barks. The event also includes an hour-long set of four short films on food in the South directed and produced by the SFA. The 21 and over event is $45. Beer will be provided by Athens' Terrapin Beer Company. Register here.
(Photo by Southern Foodways Alliance)
A few upcoming Atlanta food events:
5 Seasons Westside Farm 2 Beer dinner, tonight. This 5 Seasons Westside prix-fixe dinner includes five farms, five courses and five handcrafted beers for $55. The food comes from local, organic farms and the menu includes lobster stuffed squash, braised short ribs and whole hog. Each course comes paired with the farmer's favorite 5 Seasons beer. This afternoon there were 14 seats still open for the event. $55. 7 p.m.-10 p.m. 1000 Marietta St. 404-875-3232. www.5seasonsbrewing.com.
Eno Alaskan Salmon Dinner with Louis Roederer Champagnes, Aug. 6th. This two-part evening is the work of Chef Eli Kirshtein and Owner-Wine Director Doug Strickland. The night starts at 6:30 p.m. with a $20 Louis Roederer Champagne tasting featuring four California sparkling wines. Dinner will begin at 8 p.m. and includes four courses showcasing different species of Alaskan Salmon. Each course is paired with a new Louis Roederer Champagne, so those who participate in the entire event will sample eight different varieties of bubbly. Reservations are required. $20 for tasting, $75 for dinner with pairings. 6:30 p.m., 8 p.m. 800 Peachtree St. 404-685-3191. www.enorestaurant.com.
The Cheesecake Factory Any Slice Is Half Price, July 30th. All cheesecake slices will be 50 percent off tomorrow for those who dine in at The Cheesecake Factory in celebration of National Cheesecake Day. The restaurant is also debuting their new Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velved Cake Cheesecake. For every slice of the red velvet cheesecake sold over the next year, The Cheesecake Factory will donate 25 cents to Feeding America, a hunger-relief organization. Price varies. All day. 310-453-2539. www.thecheesecakefactory.com.
(Photo: With permission via 5seasonsbrewing.com)
Salon has published a fascinating interview with Richard Wrangham, author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Wrangham, a Harvard anthropologist, argues that the signal event in the evolution of apes into men was learning to use fire to cook -- not the development of tools, as is usually said.
Wrangham observes that cooked food is more efficiently digestible and nutritious than raw food (and he thus criticizes the so-called "raw food movement"). He also argues that cooking shaped our households and notions about gender.
It's a great read, but I was surprised that neither the author of the interview or Wrangham himself credited Claude Lévi-Strauss for his seminal book, The Raw and the Cooked (1964), which argues (by looking at mythological themes) that the axis of the raw and the cooked signifies the binary opposition of nature and culture. It's arguably a rather small step from Lévi-Strauss' argument to Wrangham's.
Maybe Wrangham takes up Lévi-Strauss in the book's text....
Economy got you down? Home in foreclosure? Don't worry. Bake cakes....
Atlanta did not make Huffington Post's list of the 10 Best US Cities for Local Food. But you can still nominate us....
Hollywood organizes to help save the sushi favorite, bluefin tuna, from extinction.
This morning on the Village Voice's Fork in the Road blog, Voice critic Robert Sietsema asks whether "Top Chef" is ruining cooking in America. His post suggests that flashy cooking is what's rewarded on the show - and the photo chosen to run alongside the post is one of Richard Blais. Sietsema doesn't call Blais' cooking out in the text, but the context would have us believe that the kind of "garish" cooking he's talking about is represented by Blais.
I'm not sure I agree with the basic premise of Sietsema's post - inventiveness has certainly been rewarded on the show, but so has straightforward, unpretentious presentations. Both styles represent major movements in American cooking. Last season's Stephan nearly won with totally straightforward European cooking. And Hosea...what did he cook again? I can't remember. Not tofu marinated in beef fat, that's for sure. So, yeah, maybe Blais-ian nuttiness is what we remember from the show. But it's not always what wins.
As to Sietsema's point, that we can't actually taste what's on the plate, well yes, that is the major flaw of all food TV. But we watch for the same reason we read great food writing. Good food TV should be evocative, descriptive. Can we trust the judges? As much as we decide we can or can't trust a critic like Robert Seitsema (or me, for that matter).
And in Atlanta this season, we are in the very lucky position of being able to go out and taste three of the contestant's cooking, if we want to.
H&F Bread Company, the outstanding bakery from the Restaurant Eugene/Holeman and Finch folks, has closed its doors to the public. According to part-owner Regan Smith, the bakery just wasn't generating enough foot traffic to justify keeping the retail operation open. The bakery will continue to function as a wholesale operation, and Smith says that in the future they hope to offer call-ahead bread ordering for individual customers.
How did we go from two-martini business lunches to harried fast-food excursions, sandwiches and nuked leftovers while toiling at our desks? Some would argue it's a budgetary concern. But you deserve the occasional pause, even if it is on the cheap. And there happens to be just the place smack dab in the middle of downtown Atlanta. It offers not only a major deal at $10.95 per person, but also a civilized sit-down meal on an enclosed terrace set inside the bustling grand lobby of Peachtree Tower.
You may have heard about Il Mulino (191 Peachtree St., 404-524-5777, www.ilmulino.com/visit_us2.html), the extremely overpriced Italian restaurant from New York, when it opened. The original location in New York is spectacular, but Ive found that the offshoots such as the Miami location just dont live up to the coziness or immense personality of the smaller Manhattan home base. My curiosity about the Atlanta location was quashed by my reluctance to drop a stack of bills on something I knew didnt travel well. And I really need a good excuse to switch out my flats for a pair of heels. But rumors of a shockingly cheap lunch buffet enticed me no torturous footwear required.
(Photo by Jennifer Zyman)
On a balmy Monday evening in a cozy neighborhood not far from the industrial-sized tanks of the Atlanta Brewing Company, three intrepid entrepreneurs are cooking a 10-gallon batch of Belgian Pale Ale using a pot atop a propane burner. Juggling hoses, fittings and timers, they trade barbs, avert crises and entertain guests, who mill about casually, asking questions and sipping previous nights' brewings.
This is Monday Night Brewery, and it wouldn't be all that different from any other homebrewing party, except that Jeff Heck, Joel Iverson, and Jonathan Baker have bigger ambitions that brewing backyard suds for their friends. The three partners are actually working toward brewing commercially, and the weekly brewing parties are just part of their master marketing plan. They have a striking logo, a slogan inspired by their brewing and beer-drinking philosophy ("Weekends Are Overrated"), and an honest-to-God business plan that has them on track to start selling their beer in 2010.
"I think every homebrewer thinks at some point, 'What if I could do this commercially?'" says Baker, who serves as the company's Marketing Guy and Director of Mind Control. "We were throwing the idea around, not taking it that seriously, but we figured, at least let's explore it, so we started a blog, kind of put a stake in the ground. I think it became more real for us as time went on, and we started improving our beers and getting positive feedback from people. And we've gained a lot of experience brewing every week. Not many homebrewers brew that often."
We had a terrific meal at Atkins Park Tavern in Virginia-Highland recently. Chef Andrew Smith offers a mainly Southern menu with a heavy accent on seasonal produce, like this dish of sliced heirloom tomatoes, roasted Vidalia onions, fried eggplant, pickled okra and succotash of Silver Queen corn and field peas.
I also liked an entree special (right) of Virginia striped bass over creamed corn with zipper-pea pancakes.
Look for more in "Grazing" later this week.
(Photos by Cliff Bostock)
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