Sunday, July 31, 2011

Watershed restaurant to close next Saturday

Posted By on Sun, Jul 31, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Staff members at Watershed have just been informed that the restaurant will close at the end of service next Saturday night. Owners plan to reopen in a location "outside of Decatur." Joe Truex, who took over as chef last year after the departure of Scott Peacock, will remain at the kitchen's helm when Watershed reopens.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Fat Friday: Lunch at Tuk Tuk

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 3:43 PM

My Fat Friday started today with lunch at Tuk Tuk. The restaurant's menu features Thai street food prepared by Dee Dee Niyomkul, daughter of the couple that owns Nan's Thai and Tamarind Seed.

Dishes that you don't find elsewhere often turn up on the menu here. An example is this plate of "old fashioned spinach leaf wraps," crunchy with a slight sting, thanks to ginger, lime, roasted peanuts and coconut in caramelized palm sugar. I also ordered a plate of steamed chicken and shrimp dumplings with mushrooms, galangal and, for dipping, a chili-spiked soy sauce.

The standout of my friends' orders was a heap of grilled spare ribs seasoned with garlic and pepper.

These were all ordered from the small-plates menu, whose prices range from $7 to $11. There are also salads, noodle dishes and "big plates" like whole fried snapper and roasted duck breast. Our meal was quite tasty, but — at $20 each before tip — it was a bit more expensive than our usual.

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Gravy Train: Inman Food Park debuts, Tomo Vinings closes

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 3:36 PM

  • James Camp
  • Tomo shutters Vinings restaurant, will open soon in Buckhead
Another food truck park has sprung up, this time taking place on Saturday nights in Inman Park. Trucks will roll in each Saturday night from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. in the gravel lot across from Inman Perk. The first Inman Food Park - which will include Tex's Tacos, Westside Creamery, Boner's, Fry Guy, Hail Caesar and more - is this Saturday. This is a family and pet-friendly event.

Atlanta Magazine reports on the closing of Tomo’s Vinings location. The move was made so that energies can be focused on the new Buckhead location at the Ritz Carlton Residences. Chef/owner Tomohiro Naito said he made an effort to find enough quality staff members to keep both locations running, but was unable to find the talent he needed.

Richard Blais tweeted this week about house hunting in San Francisco. Is our Top Chef master looking to leave Atlanta in the dust? Seems unlikely on the heels of the news that Blais will be opening a new Midtown restaurant, but perhaps he’s planning on taking the fauxhawk bi-coastal?

Continue reading »

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PR email of the week

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 10:15 AM

I received this mail from Christie Stewart of Murphy O'Brien Public Relations:

Hi Cliff-

Saturday, July 30, is National Cheesecake Day and The Cheesecake Factory is celebrating with the introduction of a new cheesecake flavor and special offer for dine-in guests.

Dine-in guests on July 30 can enjoy “Any Slice at Half Price,” and choose from more than 30 flavors or be among the first to try the new Hershey’s Chocolate Bar Cheesecake. This flavor features silky smooth Hershey’s Chocolate Cheesecake between layers of moist chocolate cake and ganache, finished with creamy chocolate frosting and chocolate chips.

Are you interested in writing about "Any Slice at Half Price" and the new cheesecake flavor? I’m happy to share a high-res image (right).

I'm really not interested in writing about this at all. My meal at The Cheesecake Factory almost 20 years ago remains one of my scariest restaurant memories. If you want a small taste of how weird this place can be, check out their home page, which stars a human being cursed, apparently, to smile until she is stabbed in the face, if not longer.

But seriously, I don't like cheesecake pretending to be something else. And National Cheesecake Day is apparently something the restaurant created itself, because nobody seems to be able to document its origins.

But any publicity is good publicity, right?

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Weekend food events, July 29 - 31

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 10:00 AM

La Tavola celebrates tomatoes
  • La Tavola celebrates tomatoes

La Tavola Now - Aug. 6, 5:30 p.m. Tomatofeast at La Tavola. La Tavola is offering a tomato-filled menu through August 6 as part of its ninth annual Tomatofeast. Details

Fleming's Fri, July 29, 6 - 8 p.m. Fleming's Summer of Giving. Enjoy wine and hors d'oeuvres at Fleming's and help benefit the ATL Pink Foundation. Details

Market Sat., July 30, 12 - 4 p.m. Party Brunch at Market. Market is throwing a party complete with music by DJ Hakim, $14 bottomless mimosas and an a la carte brunch menu. Details

Midtown Tavern Sat., July 30, 2 p.m. Christmas in July. Bring a can to Midtown Tavern on Saturday, and they'll donate the can to the Atlanta Community Food Bank and give you a free drink ticket. Details

Fado Irish Pub Sat., July 30, 10:30 p.m. '80s Party. Fado is throwing an '80-themed party to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Details

The Inn at Serenbe Sun., July 31, 3 - 6 p.m. Southern Chefs Potluck. Well-known Southern chefs will contribute dishes in this potluck benefiting Wholesome Wave Georgia. Details

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The war over peaches

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 5:36 PM

Millions of peaches
  • Millions of peaches

Peaches made the front page of the New York Times’ website today. The article is about Georiga’s battle with South Carolina over which state really deserves the title of “Peach State,” something Georgia has claimed for more than 100 years. Georgians have debated whether our state's peaches are really the best-tasting peaches in the U.S. for a while, but the article takes some more quantifiable information into account.

"But by the 1950s, South Carolina had taken over as the biggest peach-producing state. Now, although quantities have dropped, it ships 90,000 tons a year compared with Georgia’s 40,000 tons, according to United States Department of Agriculture statistics. (New Jersey follows with 32,000 tons.)"

According to the article, peaches became South Carolina's state fruit in 1984 - 11 years before they became Georgia's in 1995. South Carolina has one certified organic peach grower - pretty sad, but not as sad as Georgia's zero. And that's not all:

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Taking the Spice Route at YDFM

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 2:35 PM


My haul of new spices from YDFM
  • My haul of new spices from YDFM
It's both a trek and an adventure to go to the international food emporium that is Your Dekalb Farmers Market. I try to avoid going there often due to the time it takes to get there, and the maddening experience I tend to have each time I go (what? what do you mean you're out of mint??). When I do go, I try to stock up on a few particular things they offer at great prices - duck fat is one (a secret ingredient for deliciousness in many a restaurant), and dry herbs and spices are another. I won't claim that YDFM has the best quality spices in the world. (Penzey's is probably a better source if you insist on the highest quality, and their first shop in Georgia is set to open tomorrow in Sandy Springs at 6235-A Roswell Road NE.)

What YDFM offers is a wide assortment, incredible prices, and the knowledge that their spices are relatively fresh since they have such high turnover. I decided to replace most of my spices as many of them were getting old, and picked up 30 different herbs and spices for an average of less than $1 each - wow. And every single one of those 30 spices were packed in the last 10 days. When I got home, I actually compared some of my new spices with my older ones, and noticed a substantial difference in both aroma and flavor among many of them. Some old dry basil smelled more like tea and was clearly a browner shade of green than the new stuff. Old cayenne was a dull orange next to the deep rust of the new cayenne, and definitely did not pack as much of a punch in the flavor department.

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Atlanta food truck schedule

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Food trucks at Underground Atlanta
  • Michelle Lawrence
  • Food trucks at Underground Atlanta

With Underground Atlanta jumping on the food truck craze and the recent New York Times commentary on the roadside vendors (complete with a photo of Virginia Highland!), it seems like this food truck thing’s got no brakes in sight. We thought it might be helpful to put together a schedule of weekly Atlanta food truck events, so all of you food truck followers can feed your obsession in an organized manner. Of course, be sure to check out the different trucks’ websites and follow them on Twitter too. They often post their schedules online and update followers on where they’ll be each day - they do lots of festivals and events that vary from week to week. And since they tend to travel in packs, if you get to know one truck’s schedule, you might get to know a few others’ too.

Mondays: Monday Lunches at the Woodruff Arts Center, 11 a.m. — 2 p.m.

Tuesdays: Galleria Gardens at the Galleria Office Park (a small gathering of three trucks) 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.; Howell Mill Food Park, 6 — 10 p.m., behind Willy’s at Howell Mill and Collier Road.

Wednesdays: Underground Atlanta, 11 a.m. — 2 p.m.; Stove Works in Inman Park, 11 a.m. — 2 p.m.; and Virginia Highland, (841 North Highland Avenue across from Osteria restaurant) 6 — 10 p.m.

Thursdays: The Woodruff Arts Center, 11 a.m. — 2 p.m.; the Buckhead Theatre, 6 — 10 p.m.

Fridays: Atlantic Station, 11 a.m. — 2 p.m.

Not weekly, but still awesome:
Every second Saturday and last Friday of the month, Sweet Auburn Curb Market hosts Urban Picnic. Food trucks, artisans and vendors set up shop at the plaza in front of the market from 12 — 3 p.m.

If you know of other food truck events around town, send 'em our way:

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Linton Hopkins explains good food

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 12:26 PM

I love this video of Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch. It's a brief talk for entitled "Creativity vs. Chaos." Among other things, it provides one explanation for the obsession with "seasonality" that I questioned in the post below.

Hopkins argues that framing cooking within a season's ingredients compels creativity. Interestingly, he says that may mean the subtraction of classic ingredients as, for example, holding off the olive oil in a caprese salad.

He also discusses the way language affects our perspective on food. He jokes that a dish of pork belly and vegetables that might cost $4 in the South would cost $75 if prepared in France and given a fancy name. He also talks about the consumption of offal.

Continue reading »

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Secret fig cook and more

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Giant among figs
  • Lance Gummere
  • Giant among figs
Guess whose fig preserves I'm eating. Lance Gummere, chef of the Shed at Glenwood, handed me a jar of them last night (yeah, he recognizes me) with the explanation that he'd made them with Meridith Ford Goldman, former dining critic at the AJC.

It seems Gummere ordered 20 lbs. of figs that, thanks to the rain, split open, making them unsuitable for dinnerplate presentation, but fine for preserves. Goldman offered her help and labored in the kitchen until midnight. She did a good job.

In related news, Gummere sent me the accompanying photo of the giant fig that entered his kitchen....

About a zillion people have asked me what's going on with the old San Francisco Coffee location on North Highland south of Ponce. It's Richard Blais' Haute Doggery, of course. Alas, the bistro de les hot dogs is not opening in August, after all.

James Oxendine has an interview in Atlanta Magazine's "Covered Dish" blog with Marc Taft, owner of the new Chicken and the Egg in Marietta. Taft was formerly manager of Pacci and has hired several former fellow employees, including executive chef Joseph Ramaglia.

The new restaurant's promotional material promises "modern farmstead fare." I wish Oxendine had asked Taft about his inspiration to do that. I know it's a fad and I think it's commendable that chefs have turned to organic, sustainable, local, transcendentally gustatory ingredients, but, as Jason Hill of Wisteria told me recently, there's so much pressure to subscribe to the movement that it's not unusual for restaurants to lie about their sourcing....

Popeyes is moving its headquarters to Dunwoody, reports the twittering AJC. That means Popeyes will be the AJC's neighbor, since our "city newspaper" moved there itself last year. Meow.

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