Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ziba's offers communal dining date night

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 5:39 PM

Ziba's Restaurant & Wine Bar in Grant Park plans to start "Dinner Party Roulette" on Saturdays in June, in which outgoing couples can opt for communal dining to take an ordinary date into a potentially extraordinary, definitely randomized experience.

When manager Jeannine Doerfler saw quiet couples scattered across her dining room, she thought, "Wouldn’t they all be having so much more fun if they were seated together at that beautiful family style table in the middle of the room, getting to know each other?"

Once four couples have reserved 8 p.m. roulette reservations, Ziba's will seat them together and provide the table with two bottles of wine and after-dinner hookah on the house. Diners must bring their own chemistry.

Cliff Bostock recently discovered a great vegetarian find at Ziba's, which serves Mediterranean cuisine in a mix of small bites and big plates.

But will the dinner party work?  Free wine will probably get some couples in the door, but gamblers know that roulette is a game of luck. Communal dining can be daunting, but Ziba's may find a fresh spin on date night.

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Chick-fil-A spicy chicken sandwich tastes like chicken. And spicy.

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 4:21 PM


Chick-fil-A dropped a bunch of their new spicy chicken sandwiches at the CL offices this morning in advance of the June 7 unveiling on Chick-fil-A menus. I'm not much of a fast food eater - in fact, this is the first time I've ever eaten Chick-fil-A. (I know, I know. I'm a bad Atlantan.) But my one fast food soft spot comes in the form of a spicy chicken sandwich. Usually you'd never find me within 100 feet of a Burger King, but remember when they had that monstrosity of a spicy chicken sandwich? It was basically a regular fried chicken sandwich slathered in this pornographic glop, a mixture of a mayo-like substance and hot sauce. In some states, the sandwich also came with an option to add sliced jalapenos - the canned kind. I wasn't feeding these atrocities to my family or anything, but when stranded on the interstate of South Carolina, hungry and in a hurry? I looked forward to road trips so I could indulge in the grossness.

But when BK stopped selling their chicken sandwich I was back to starving on the highway. I tried Wendy's spicy sandwich, which my sister swears by, but then she also drinks Lite beer and worries if her armpits are tanned or not (love you Grace!). I find the Wendy's sandwich to be mainly salt, not spice. I couldn't get into it.

Enter Chick-fil-A. Their spicy sandwich is much like their much-loved regular chicken sandwich. It is unadorned apart from a smattering of pickles. As you can see from the excellent photography above, it is a little...flat. But flavor-wise, it has more actual chicken taste than other fast food sandwiches I've had before. I know that's a common cry from Chick-fil-A supporters. But what of the spice?

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Cheap Eats: Le Triskell French Creperie

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 1:30 PM

NICE NIÇOISE: Le Triskell French Crêperie offers salads to go, including classic niçoise.
  • NICE NIÇOISE: Le Triskell French Crêperie offers salads to go, including classic niçoise.

FOOD GROUP: A charming petite crêperie, sandwicherie and more.

MEAL PLAN: Before settling in Atlanta, French natives Michel and Rose-Marie Knopfler had three award-winning French restaurants in Hong Kong. However, the 1998 financial crisis and resulting business closures prompted the Knopflers to let their leases end and sell their interest in the restaurants. Rose-Marie often visited Atlanta for seminars and met friends who urged her to move her family here and open a French restaurant. The Knopflers started small with catering and deliveries, but soon decided to branch out into a little storefront selling crêpes and other French specialties.

OUTTA SIGHT: Le Triskell is the epitome of a hidden restaurant. It's tucked inside the Tuxedo Atrium, a small building housing a mishmash of businesses, including a dentist, a salon and a tiny health club. If you have time on your hands, enjoy a meal at one of the bistro tables inside the sunlit atrium and amuse yourself with the steady stream of people that filters in. It's theater of the living at its best.

Continue Reading "Cheap Eats: Le Triskell French Creperie"

(Photo by Jennifer Zyman)

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Knife's Edge: Questions, comments, concerns

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 1:15 PM


Thanks to everyone who sent in questions for this week's column. Some questions inspired me enough to focus entire columns on the subjects that arose, so look for those in the coming weeks. We'll probably do more Q&A columns in the future, so if you have a question, send it to with "Blais question" in the subject line.

What or who inspired you to become a chef? What cookbook would you recommend for a newbie wanting to learn about molecular gastronomy? And when can we expect a cookbook from you? -Amanda Snyder

Actually, my own lack of having a traditional family unit, and my desire to have authority and leadership in my life  led me to the kitchen. The camaraderie of the kitchen inspired me to become a chef. The teamwork that goes into orchestrating a successful service, as well as the ability to express yourself and receive instant gratification, drove me into the culinary arts. The kitchen quickly became a home to me, and the brigade, my family.

For molecular gastronomy, I'd suggest Heston Blumenthal’s  Big Fat Duck Cookbook and Larousse Gastronomique. Larousse is an old classic, but it's a vital step in understanding the molecular applications in your cuisine.

As for my cookbook, I'm currently shopping a proposal so you'll see something sooner than later I'm sure! Stay tuned!

Since the title of the posts are 'Knife's Edge', I was curious if you had a particular brand of knife you favor?  Are there any knives that are special to you for any reason?  Are you a knife enthusiast?

Thanks in advance,

Val M.

I respect those who are knife enthusiasts, but I'm not one. I have a Misono slicer and an Inox sushi knife as my main weapons of choice.  But, I do have a few special knives, like a fish fillet knife that's been whittled to a thin razor-sharp skewer, and a cleaver that was the first knife I ever received. They hang around for sentimental value and get a little work now and again.

A taste or food you can't stand? For me, beets and mayo. Anon.

Well, I love beets and mayo, so I'm assuming we’re not splitting lunch anytime soon. But seriously, there aren’t too many foods I can't stand. I'm not a hardcore offal guy. Actually, chicken livers, can't stand them. And insects, yuck.

Hey there Richard!

You travel around so much, and I know that's what it takes to make it as a restaurateur, but do you have any plans to "settle down" and just be a chef again?

Julie M

“Just be a chef again”… in it's sheer nicety, stated so simply, without the snarkiness that populates my comments first, it caught me off guard. But I found this question inspiring and an opportunity to glimpse a real predicament.

First, it's important to note that the modern chef, can't be just a chef anymore. Those who are just chefs, unfortunately, toil in obscurity. Perhaps in service to their own desires and wishes, but most likely not.

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Tuesday food links

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Butter queen Paula Deen to oversee culinary program for children: First of all, there's a school called the Paula Deen Academy of Culinary Arts? (It's in Savannah. Who knew?) They've called on the school's namesake to help shape the curriculum, which also follows state and American Culinary Federation standards. Perhaps we'll see a new batch of young chefs who simply add two sticks of butter to every recipe.

BP cake looks delicious: Exactly what it says on the tin. In a New Orleans grocery store, the pastry department is protesting the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in a delicious way.

Related--"Drill, Baby, Drill" cake apology: The director of the Minerals Management Service recently had a meeting and brought a cake (great way to increase attendance). The cake, which is not pictured in this article, said "Drill, Baby, Drill." 10 points off for untimeliness. He had to apologize.

Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post tries the KFC Double Down. Needless to say, he's not a fan. Note: the video begins to load and play automatically.

Bon Appetit recently compiled a list of top 10 recipes that are good for the munchies. They look delicious, if a bit too complex for an, er, addled mind to really process.

Hamburger Heaven is a "taxonomy of the different species of hamburger," including steakhouse burgers, store burgers and deep fried burgers. Enjoy the detailed photos, too.

Grub Street tackles the question of why we don't pay attention to women in the kitchen. This article has a few theories as to why, including lack of media attention and few women winning the prestigious James Beard awards. The lack of attention then hurts other female chefs who need investors to help jumpstart their dreams. It's almost cyclical. On a related note, Cliff Bostock explored this question back in March, but it deserves as much media attention as it can get.

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What's keeping low-income people from farmers markets?

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 12:48 PM

The American Prospect site featured an essay yesterday entitled "Better Farmers Markets." It notes, describing the scene in Washington, D.C.:

The open-air markets have become a familiar part of the summer landscape, but the shoppers most often browsing the stalls reflect just a tiny, wealthy segment of the city. Why isn't everyone shopping here?

That's a pretty fair assessment of the markets just about everywhere, even when they go out of their way to accommodate the poor.  The essay's author, Latoya Peterson, describes the problem:

In 2005, researchers posed a simple question to  low-income families using food stamps: What kept them from fully utilizing farmers markets? The response came back loud and clear: awareness, price, and convenience. Farmers markets have been touted as the next great hope in stemming the obesity epidemic by providing fresh fruits and vegetables to those neighborhoods that are underserved by grocery stores but often full of fast-food restaurants. However, with all the pushes to make farmers markets more accessible -- like allowing food stamps and partnering with Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs -- the core issue has still not been addressed: Healthy foods need to be convenient and accessible as well as affordable.

Since a sense of community is almost always described as a positive aspect of these markets, anyone who shops at them should give this essay a read. It proposes a solution to the accessibility problem.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Free chikin. Watch your back, Popeyes!

Posted By on Mon, May 24, 2010 at 10:07 PM


Have you heard? Chick-Fil-A is introducing its first new sandwich in 20 years on June 7. It's the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and its flavor is very thermostatic, according to a company spokesman:

"One of the delicate aspects of developing this recipe was finding the right spice level to suit the majority of our customers. While we believe we found the happy medium as far as the 'kick level' is concerned, there are ways to cool down or even heat up the sandwich. Adding ranch dressing or lettuce and tomato help lower the temperature, but we also offer Pepper Jack cheese or Buffalo sauce for those who can't get enough spicy flavor."

If you can't wait until June 7 and want a freebie, you can reserve one on the Get Spicy Chicken website. The freebies will be available May 31 to June 5.

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Atlanta food events, May 24-31

Posted By on Mon, May 24, 2010 at 7:11 PM

atlanta food events

Memorial Day is next Monday, May 31. The unofficial beginning of summer always means the opening of swimming pools and lots of barbecue. Check out some 'cue-related events and other tastings, and special dinners  going on this week in Atlanta.

Antica Posta, Tues., May 25: Three-course meal featuring paired Chianti wines from the estate of San Felice in Italy. Paolo Boselli will be on hand representing the estate. Reservations required. 7 p.m. $115. 519 East Paces Ferry Road. 404-816-4071.

Marietta Wine Market Wed., May 26: Tasting featuring four wines from the Madrigal family vineyards. Madrigal wines are some of the best-sellers at Marietta Wine Market. 5-7 p.m. Free; charity donation encouraged. 18 Powder Springs St., Marietta. 770-919-1574.

Whole Foods Ponce de Leon, Wed., May 26: 5% Day, where 5% of all net sales will be donated to BeltLine Partnership, Inc. 8 a.m.-10 p.m. 650 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-853-1681.

One Midtown Kitchen, Thurs., May 27: Mangia! Mangia! Meatballs Thursdays begins with a three-course family-style meal featuring a weekly meatball selection, salad and dessert. This week: Caesar salad, veal and ricotta meatballs and tiramisu. Reservations required. $14.50 or $19.50 with bottle of wine. 559 Dutch Valley Road. 404-892-4111. (Music plays automatically on load)

(The followingMay 27 events are a few specials that happen weekly with Atlantic Station's summer free movie series. This week: A Hard Day's Night. Note that the movies are weather permitting, check Facebook for more details and a full list.)

Lobby Bar and Bistro, Thurs., May 27: All you can eat pizza night. $10 for pizza, $15 for pizza and beer or wine. 361 17th St. 404-961-7370. (Music plays automatically on load)

Geisha House, Thurs. May 27: Special dinner for two featuring one shared appetizer, two entrees and a shared dessert. $35. 1380 Atlantic Drive. 404-872-3903. (Music plays automatically on load.)

Cafe Nineteen, Thurs., May 27: Two for one drink specials. 6-9 p.m. 232 19th St. 404-300-3613.

Dolce Enoteca, Thurs., May 27: Special dinner for two featuring one shared appetizer, two entrees and a shared dessert. $35. 261 19th St. 404-872-3902. (Music plays automatically on load.)

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Lupe and Beleza closed

Posted By on Mon, May 24, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Tomorrow's News Today is reporting that both Lupe and Beleza closed over the weekend.

I had heard a rumor last week that the restaurants would close by the end of the month, but owner Riccardo Ullio asked me not to report on the situation, saying he was in the midst of "some very sensitive negotiations." I guess the negotiations didn't go so well.

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Sampling the Sound Table

Posted By on Mon, May 24, 2010 at 3:09 PM

sound table burger

sound table lamb
The Sound Table, the new restaurant-club from the Top Flr folks, has opened at the corner of Edgewood and Boulevard in the Old Fourth Ward. It's strictly dining upstairs while there's a DJ booth and a bar downstairs, where you can also dine while listening to some amazing music.

We had a mainly good meal of dishes meant to be shared, including this pair of chorizo burgers (above). I hesitate to call them sliders, because they were fatter than the usual.

Among other dishes we tried was a lamb pot pie in an iron pot topped with this oddly draped pastry dusted with cinnamon (right).

The new restaurant calls its menu "street food." I'm not exactly getting that, but I like that a variety of cultures is represented. The look here, by the way, is all about natural wood but it's sleek and sophisticated.

Look for more in "Grazing" later this week.

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)

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