Which makes sense, because when do you need food trucks more than when you've been drinking 'till 4 a.m.? Check out Thomas Wheatley's report over on Fresh Loaf.
A $3 dish the other night at Grant Central Pizza keeps haunting me. It was sliced fresh peaches under some whipped, sweetened ricotta. I could eat a tub of the stuff....
I've never eaten at Panera Bread , but have visited the new one at Ansley Mall a couple of times. It's near my gym, LA Fitness, and my Starbucks "office." God, I'm being overtaken by the chain mentality.
I've had a couple of sandwiches. I like the Cuban panino. No, it's not altogether "authentic," but it's a tasty sandwich nonetheless. I also tried the panino with mozzarella, basil and fresh tomatoes. The tomatoes were grimly mealy. I actually prefer the same sandwich made with roasted tomatoes next door at Starbucks.
I've had few decent cookies and an outrageous "cinnamon-crunch bagel," which is basically a bagel pretending to be a cinnamon bun without icing....
John Kessler posted on Access Atlanta last week about visiting Fritti to try out pizza cooked in owner Riccardo Ullio's super-duper new oven. I've been trying to do the same thing.
John reports that the pizza lacks crispy crust to contrast with the slightly gooey center. Ullio argues with him about this when John calls him and writes in the comment section.
This texture issue has been debated continually with Ullio over the years — long before he bought the new oven. I can't wait to try it myself.
When people think of cheese, one of the first things that come to mind other than its undeniable sinful goodness, is the smell. When customers ask me for something funky and stinky, the first thing I reach for is a member of the washed rind family. A soft ripened cheese similar in texture to the Bloomy rinds that I talked about in April, washed rind cheeses are the boldest and stinkiest.
Most of the washed rinds were developed in monasteries hundreds of years ago. Some theories suggest that the bold, meaty cheeses were developed to provide a substitute for meat when meat was either forbidden or scarce. As many of you know, monasteries are also famous for making beer. I believe that washed rinds were developed, like so many things, out of people using what they had on hand.
Like the bloomy cheeses, washed rinds are not cooked or pressed. The curd are ladled directly into the form and allowed to drain under their own weight. Then the cheese maker or Affineur (one that ages cheese) begins the washing process. This can be done with a simple salt brine, beer, wine, spirits or a combination. This process causes bacteria to develop on the exterior of the cheese. The bacteria causes the cheese to develop a thin, pinkish/red rind that's somewhat sticky and omits a pungent odor, which I've heard described as the smell of God's feet.
The latest issue (dated March 2011 of Knife & Fork is out and, as usual, it's filled with some great finds by Christiane Lauterbach.
The three-starred cover review is of Viande Rouge (770-623-4959): "If you have beautiful suits and little black dresses galore languishing in your closet between special occasions, you may want to air them out and slip them on to dine at this brand-new French-inspired steakhouse in posh suburbia." The posh suburbia is Johns Creek.
She also updates Valenza on Dresden Drive with a three-star review and gives El Señor Taco on Buford Highway 2.5 stars. The rest of the issue is devoted to roundups, including one on hot dogs around town and another on the so-called "underground markets." An ardent supporter of the street-food movement, she also pays a visit to the food trucks that park in front of the Woodruff Arts Center and elsewhere in Midtown every Thursday at lunchtime.
To subscribe to Knife & Fork, an indispensable monthly newsletter for foodies, call 404-378-2775.
Bhojanic, which is family-run, serves north Indian cuisine. My personal preference tends to be for the spicier, more heavily vegetarian food of south India. I love to wrap curried vegetables in the gigantic rice-flour dosas.
But, when my friends asked me to choose an Indian restaurant for us to visit, they specified that they wanted meat, so Bhojanic, which serves meat in yogurt based sauces, was the natural choice. (I wrote Bill Addison, critic at Atlanta Magazine, and he cited Bhojanic too.)
We dined outside, starting with pani puri — a plate full of crispy globes that you break and fill with curried vegetables, tamarind chutney and mint water. I wasn't leaving without a plate of the roasted eggplant, onions and tomatoes that you scoop onto flatbread.
For entrees, we all chose thalis, the "blue plate specials" of India served on what look like metal school-cafeteria trays. Goat and two chicken dishes were available the night of our visit, along with a number of vegetables. I chose the curried chicken with sauteed okra and onion dumplings in yogurt sauce. The latter were new to me — dense and mainly serving as a sop for the sauce.
Only one of us, Ryan, went for the goat, which cost an extra $2.50. It was served on the bone in a yogurt-based curry sauce seasoned with ginger and garlic. I have childhood memories of goats. One used to chase me, knowing it scared the hell out of me, then nuzzled me. I can't eat them most of the time.
Everyone agreed dinner was good but Bobby, the ringleader of our dining group, insisted he likes Desi Spice at Midtown Promenade more.
Bhojanic is also open for lunch and frequently features live music evenings.
Chef Bruce Logue says he does indeed have a business plan to open his own restaurant and has been scouting locations, including the one I mentioned at Atlantic Station. However, he has not settled on one yet and is in no hurry to leave La Pietra, having a new baby at home.
So, you don't have to worry about La Pietra Cucina losing Logue immediately. But change is coming.
Friday's lunch was spectacular. Our first course was a plate of whipped burrata mozzarella topped with arugula and Thai basil, scattered with the best grape tomatoes I've tasted so far this year. That was followed by pasta dumplings stuffed with garlicky ricotta cheese. Sliced green beans added crunch and intense flavor.
We all ordered the same entree — a grilled, sliced chicken breast seasoned with Calabrian peppers. Interestingly, the heat of the peppers was not consistent. My order was not even remotely hot, while another at the table was pointedly spicy and a third was somewhere in between. I suspect this has more to do with the sensitivity of our palates than anything else.
No. 246, the new Decatur project for Ford Fry and Drew Belline, has announced a new opening date of July 11. The restaurant was originally slated to open back in May. Their website is up and, interestingly, is hosted on tumblr.
Farm Burger blogged an update on their Buckhead location, which is tied up in permitting. They also gave us a sneak peak at at the new Buckhead-ified logo. Another exciting tidbit about the new location: there will be milkshakes!
Morelli’s Edgewood location has set a new opening date for this Saturday, June 18, with free ice cream for the first two hours (they open at noon).
OK, here's some serious gossip. I haven't managed to confirm it entirely, so I'm not going to name names at this point. However...
I have learned through the magical web of restaurant real estate gossip that one of our city's very best chefs is leaving his current job to open his own place in Atlantic Station, apparently in the space vacated by American Eagle.
One hint: He cooks Italian. Another hint: I'll kick his ass if he leaves town.
Today is also my birthday and it's put me in a memoir mood. I was reading about the recent failed effort by healthcare activists to convince McDonald's to fire Ronald McDonald, which is a lot like asking Jesus to fire Santa Claus.
I've had two personal encounters with Ronald McDonald in my lifetime. I've written about the first one on my personal website, rather than here since it has some sexual content. I remember a year or so ago that a reader asked CL to fire me because I linked to a Salon piece about healthy pooping, so God knows what this might prompt a puritanical lover of McDonald's to do.
It's entitled, "Remembering Ronald McDonald, a wannabe porn star."
I'll be catching up with posts during the next few days.
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