Being alone, I didn't get to taste much of the menu, but I enjoyed my meal. I ordered a starter plate of buttermilk-fried chicken necks with kimchi. I think you could call that "Buffalo chicken necks, Korean style." All of the ingredients were sourced.
Warning: Don't order this for one person. It's enough for four. It arrived with the necks stacked in a towering heap. Someone at a nearby table blurted, "What the hell is that?"
I liked the dish, although I found the crispy exterior a bit thick. By the time I gnawed through that, scraping the meat from the neck with my teeth seemed almost superfluous. The kimchi added a novel kick compared to the usual bottled stuff poured over chicken wings. I took a third of the dish home.
As an entree, I ordered a plate of whole grilled sardines. Oh my god. I mean, really. Chef Robert Phalen stuffed the sardines with a mixture of chopped arugula and black garlic. Meyer lemon was also in the mix. The black garlic and lemon provided the characteristic sweet notes you don't ordinarily expect in their plainer versions. Young caper berries and large arugula leaves were also on the plate. You're gonna weep that you're not dining in Malaga.
I couldn't resist the only dessert available, a version of pain au chocolat — toasted, crunchy bread topped with Nutella and lightly preserved strawberries. It was also enough for two — for people at another table. Just right for one in my own case.
The restaurant is now open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Yesterday's menu ranged all over the place, from grilled veal heart with chimichurri and beef tongue with pesto to fried rabbit and soft shell crabs with field pea salad.
The show is a test of creativity and skill, and when Burdett heard about the opportunity to compete, he submitted a video of himself, describing his passion for using local ingredients to create homemade Southern cuisine. The producers liked it and invited him onto the show.
If you've never seen it, Chopped pits four chefs against one another to create three courses: appetizer, entree and dessert. For each course, the contestants are given baskets filled with four ingredients that, together, make the least sense possible (for instance: blueberries, bread & butter pickles, saffron, and fruit loops. Gross.) They have 30 minutes to use all the ingredients in their dish, and then are critiqued and, one by one, eliminated by a panel of judges.
It might seem like Burdett is a little out of his element - his cooking at Miller Union, where he's worked since the restaurant opened in 2009, is far more traditional than weird. But he's actually had some experience with unconventional cuisine. He appeared on a 2009 episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, sharing dishes made with Appalachian-native mushrooms. That can't hurt his chances.
Burdett joins two other Atlanta chefs who have competed on Chopped: Sean Telo in January 2011 and Jeffrey Gardner in February. Neither have escaped the "chopping block' to win the $10,000 prize. Let's hope Burdett can be the first!
The southern United States has a rich culinary history. Cheese making, however, is not a chapter in the encyclopedia of Southern cuisine. But in the last 14 to 20 years, the cheesy story is finally being written: Artisan cheese-making industry in the South is taking root. Sweetgrass Dairy in Thomasville and Sweet Home Farm in Elberta, Ala., are a couple of the forefathers of the Southern cheese-making business. Dairies and creameries are starting to pop up all over the Southeast.
One of the more recent additions is Sequatchie Cove Creamery in Sequatchie, Tenn., at Sequatchie Cove Farm. There's nothing new about Sequatchie Farm, where beef, pork and produce have been raised for many years. In the last year it's added cheese making to its repertoire. March marked its one-year anniversary as a licensed cheese-making facility.
The farm is a short drive out I-24 West from Chattanooga and is surrounded by the Cumberland Plateau, the Little Sequatchie River and endless acres of Tennessee forest. Cheese maker Nathan Arnold, a longtime Sequatchie Cove employee and native, took a couple of short cheese-making courses at the University of Vermont and in Guelph, Ontario. Then Arnold began a tour of cheese-making regions and visited people that he felt could guide him on his path to cheesy nirvana. Arnold spent time cutting the curd with some of America's top cheese makers as well.
Creative Loafing Drink Week Thurs.-Wed., May 19-25. You’ll find drink specials high and low, including a $15 Avenue Q performance at Horizon Theatre, a boozy Sunday brunch at Republic, and a royal send-off at MJQ. Details
(UPDATE ON DUMBNESS BELOW)
Mike Darnold made this YouTube Video about the invasion of 800 Peachtree St. by the creature that gives its name to Escorpion, a new tequila bar and cantina from Riccardo Ullio. As I reported earlier, Escorpion will open some indefinite time next week. Call before you visit and beware! The number is 678-666-1468. Yes, that's right: 666.
Oh, and speaking of confusing openings. I called One Eared Stag Saturday to find out if they were serving lunch. They were. In fact, they said they would be offering an abbreviated menu until 11 p.m.
Cool! So three of us decided to stop there on our way to see The Judas Kiss at Actor's Express. We got to the restaurant at about 6:15....and it wasn't open. Ugh.
So we headed to Victory Sandwich Bar and had a quick meal of their killer "tapas-sized" sandwiches, $4 each. Two are adequate for most people.
UPDATE: Doh! I called One Eared Stag today and was once again told it was open....only to find it closed. I've solved the mystery. The phone number posted on the new restaurant's Facebook page is actually the phone number for Holy Taco. You'd think I would have heard them say "Holy Taco" when I called, but I did not.
As with yesterday, Laura Horton and I have been on the scene since morning. Here are the notable quotes from the day:
Charleston chef and all around badass Sean Brock, during a whole animal demonstration with Linton Hopkins and Tyler Brown from Nashville (in which they actually broke down a whole pig): "We're out there preaching the gospel of country ham, cornbread and bourbon."
Hugh Acheson, during a fantastic discussion titled "chefs talk wine," in which Hugh, Ben Barker from Durham's Magnolia Grill and Birmingham's Frank Stitt talked about how their respective wine programs (some of the best in the south) have evolved: "I'm stubborn. I put things on my list that I want to drink." I've said for years that the restaurants that do the best are the ones that serve what their chefs want to eat and drink...
Julian Van Winkle, the legendary bourbon maker, answering a woman's question about the most important thing his dad ever said to him: "Don't fuck it up."
Sean Brock again: "Pork belly has become the gateway drug to offal."
Best tastes of the day: My favorite was a fried chicken thigh on a biscuit with honey from Raleigh's Ashley Christensen. The fat and meat and skin was so perfectly rendered. Yummo - especially with a hangover.
Laura enjoyed a Trappist combo at the Beer and Cheese pairing - Flat Creek Lodge's Georgia Red with Terrapin's Monk's Revenge.
Street cart pavilion late night party tonight! Come out and say hi - CL has a couch for you to sit on at the party.
Best drink: Laura chose the dessert wine Sigalas Vinsanto 2003 from her "Escape To Greece" session with Pano Karatassos (of Buckhead Life fame). The session focused on the political and economic unrest that's prevented Greek wine from being exposed to the rest of the world until recently.
I chose the Dry Dock, a Manhattan-esque cocktail made during Greg Best's Coke-tails session, in which he described unusual ways to use the ubiquitous soda, including gastriques, vermouths made with the stuff, and other fun drinky thingies.
Most interesting thing we learned: Laura learned that if you wear two pairs of gloves, you can stand more heat! She also tried to find out (from her session with Delia Champion) why on earth you would ever made breakfast on the grill. Um...less dishes? OK.
I learned that chefs are magical beasts who are able to be suave and showmanlike even with bad hangovers and no sleep. It's true!
Laura went to the "Where are all the African American Chefs?" session and got some cool questions/thinking points out of it , i.e.: The business side of running a restaurant doesn't add up to good taste. Also: It's irresponsible for culinary schools to charge $40K per year to turn out folks who will probably make $10/hour to start.
We're having fun though! Follow us on @cl_atlantafood and @besharodell to keep up throughout the week.
This week's episode is a must-listen for foodies. Entitled "Driven by Flavor," it's an interview with visionary chef Dan Barber. Tippett begins her interview this way:
Dan Barber is a celebrated young chef, thinker, and social visionary. Pleasure — maximizing flavor — is his way in to what he calls the greatest social movement of our time. And his two award-winning New York restaurants — Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Pocantico Hills — are rooted in a working farm and educational center, the Stone Barns Center.
Dan Barber is one of those voices who stays with you and changes the way you move through ordinary time — the vast ordinary time, that is, that we all spend thinking about what we will eat, buying food, storing it, preparing it. His knowledge is as infectious as his passion. He wants us to enjoy our food. And if we become "greedy" for flavor, he says, we will also reform our agricultural ecologies and economies.
It has long fascinated me that puritanical bias against pleasure remains strong in our culture. In my work in psychology, I often ask clients how they would feel about living a life devoted to pleasure. They almost always balk at the idea, listing everything from religious to humanitarian objections. "That would be selfish," they usually say.
But, as Barber points out in the case of food, if we devote ourselves to pleasure in meaningful ways, lots of other things fall into place. The challenge of course is embodied in those words "meaningful ways." A critical self-examination of what is meaningful and pleasurable is essential to this process. Food, as essential to existence, is certainly meaningful.
As I've written before, it's also true, interestingly enough, that broadening taste by experimenting with flavors, tends to make people more generally curious about the diversity of existence. The French recognized this when they began making education in taste part of the public school curriculum a few years back.
I've discussed with several taste-obsessed chefs over the years about conducting classes or workshops in the psychology of taste. Dan Barber is an inspiration in that regard.
You can listen to Krista Tippett's On Being at 4 p.m. Sundays on WABE-FM or via the link above.
One Eared Stag is now open for lunch. The Inman Park restaurant plans to start dinner service early next week.
On stage at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival this morning, Delia Champion and Molly Gunn of Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand said they hope to have retail geared up in store by next month. They'll offer items like their vegan chili, grinder meatballs and - of course - chicken sausages. Also be on the look out for undies stamped with cheeky phrases like "small batch sausage."
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