Friday, September 30, 2011

Food journalism at its absolute finest

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 7:38 PM

John Quinlan, its yours for the taking.
  • John Quinlan, it's yours for the taking.
I was sent this story by Gwynedd Stuart, who prefaced it with this:

"I imagine John Quinlan finished this article, closed his laptop and walked out into traffic. After this, his masterpiece, there was no where to go but down."

Prepare yourself. Then pick up what Sioux City's finest are putting down.

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Young Republicans malign pastries

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Pity the pastries. They're called all kinds of crazy names. Some will kill you quickly. Others make you blow up slowly and explode — or get you fired if you say so.

But the worst humiliation of all occurred this week at the Berkeley campus of the University of California. Members of the virtually oxymoronic Berkeley College Republicans held a bake sale at which pastries were used, satirically, to express opposition to a somewhat pro-affirmative action bill awaiting signature by Gov. Jerry Brown. The New York Times reported in advance of the event:

Last week, the Berkeley College Republicans announced its “Increase Diversity Bake Sale,” scheduled for Tuesday. On Facebook, the group listed the price for a pastry at $2 for white students, $1.50 for Asian students, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for African-Americans and 25 cents for Native Americans. Women of all races were promised a 25-cent discount.

The Republican event, dubiously satirical, provoked a counter-demonstration, "Conscious Cupcakes Giveaway."

In photos I've seen of the Republican event, cupcakes were also the predominant pastry. Maybe their new political symbolization will terminate the fad that has turned the nostalgic icon, the cupcake, into a cliche.

By the way, as is so often true, the Republican kids' representation of the bill under scrutiny is grossly exaggerated. And, yes, Republican students have maligned pastries in the same ways at other schools throughout the last decade.

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Gravy Train: Flirt Dessert Bar opens, James Joyce Pub gets revamped

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Flirt Dessert Bar
A new dessert bar called Flirt is opening tonight. Located on Howell Mill, Flirt is the latest project from Chef Sammy Davis. Chef Davis has appeared on Chopped twice and locally he’s known for his restaurant Milk and Honey, which was located in West Midtown before West Midtown was hip. If you’re interested in reading about the downfall of Milk and Honey, Davis tells the whole story on his blog - dedicating more than a dozen posts to the subject. Now, Davis returns to Atlanta with Flirt, which is being billed as a “trendy, upscale dessert bar and lounge” and looks to have taken over the London Bistro location.

Atlanta’s second Yogurtland will open this October, located in The Forum at Norcross. Another location is coming to Peachtree City in December. Local owner Rick Evans plans to open a total of 5 - 7 Atlanta area shops in the next two years. Yogurtland is a self-serve yogurt shop with 16 flavors and loads of toppings.

Patch reports that Decatur’s James Joyce Pub will re-open as The Hail Mary, a family friendly sports bar. The restaurant will begin operating as the new concept next week. The Hail Mary is modeled after a spot of the same name in Grayson, GA. Fun fact: the owner of James Joyce also owns Brewhouse in Little Five Points, and it sounds like The Hail Mary will be a bit more like that. If successful, they plan to eventually franchise The Hail Mary brand.

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Atlanta weekend food events, Sept. 30- Oct. 2

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 9:27 AM


The Cook's Warehouse: Ansley Mall Fri., Sept. 30, 7-9 p.m. Virginia Willis' Cookbook Release Party. An official "hootenanny" kicks off a 10-city book tour for the Atlanta-based chef. The event is a fundraiser for the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Details

Battle of the Burgers Sat., Oct. 1, 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. A day of burgers, beer and fun benefiting Embraced. 25 restaurants will be coming together to support Embraced, as they show off their burger making skills in hopes of winning the title of “Best Burger” in Atlanta. Details

Ponce City Market Sat., Oct. 1, 7-11 p.m. Party at Ponce. Green Street Properties will celebrate the redevelopment of City Hall East at the newly re-named Ponce City Market. Party at Ponce will be headlined by the Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins and Francine Reed. There will be food from chefs including Kevin Rathbun of Rathbun’s, Anne Quatrano of Bacchanalia, Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and more. Event tickets include an optional tour of Ponce City Market. Details

Fadó Irish Pub Sat., Oct. 1, 6 p.m. Fadóktoberfest. Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant is hosting its sixth annual Fadóktoberfest street festival. Live music kicks off at 6 p.m. with the Astral Freaks and continues at 9:15 p.m. with the U2 cover band, Desire. Attendees will have the chance to test their strength in a Strongman Stein Holding contest and a bratwurst eating contest will also be held. Details

Vinings Jubilee Sat., Oct. 1, 6-10:30 p.m. 25th Anniversary Celebration. On the evening of October 1st, come enjoy a free celebration of the center’s 25th Anniversary with the popular cover band, Yacht Rock Loggins. All of the Vinings restaurants will have outdoor stands with select food items for purchase. Beer and wine will also be available to purchase, and guests can make their way inside several participating restaurants for full menu and bar service. Details

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Prayer of the week

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 12:00 AM

What would Jesus do?
  • What would Jesus really do?
Dear Jesus:

Wayne and I dined tonight, as we often do on Thursdays, at Spoon in East Atlanta. The restaurant has added some new dishes. One features two giant prawns and the other is radna, the popular Thai street food of wide rice noodles in a slightly sweet-sour soy gravy, topped at Spoon with crab and shrimp, plus some veggies.

We didn't order either because we were reluctant to pay their cost of just under $30. I stuck to my usual Masaman curry with seafood, and Wayne ordered his favorite of seared ahi tuna.

Thank you, Jesus for the good food at Spoon. And thanks, too, for the heavenly ice cream across the parking lot at Morelli's. I was overjoyed tonight to see that, after a long absence, the ginger-lavender was back, which I planned to combine with the blueberry-rose water.

But, Jesus, my joy was short-lived. Tonight, I was filled with murderous rage while an asshole stood at the window in front of me for (literally) 10 minutes, sampling this and that, laughing hysterically with his companion, then shouting, "Hell, we can just sample the stuff until we're full!" Ultimately, throwing the last sample spoon onto the counter with theatrical flair, he announced his decision: a fucking brownie with some slightly weird chocolate ice cream. All this time for that?

Jesus, I could ask you to grant me more patience or to make it easier for me to walk directly to my car from Spoon without taking a detour to Morelli's.

But I would prefer that you strike this asshole and all members of his tribe dead. Then put them in that corner of hell once reserved only for Tantalus. Let them reach for a sample of ice cream but never get their hands on it for eternity.

Amen. Thank you so much, Jesus.

(EDIT: Yikes, I swear I had no idea Brad Kaplan's Cheap Eats column this week was about Morelli's when I wrote this. I think it's a divinely-inspired coincidence.)

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rathbun's cooking class countdown

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Registration for Rathbun's 2012 Cooking Class will begin Sat., Oct. 1, at midnight. (That's Friday night for all the numerically challenged out there.) Which means in exactly [see above], you can secure your spot by purchasing your tickets here. P.S. Tickets will only be sold online this year, and the price was changed to $400.

If you're unfamiliar with the gig, here's the play-by-play: Four teams of three people create their dishes from scratch, and then return at the end with their guest for a complete dinner with wine pairings. Classes begin at 1:30 and go to 4:30. At 4:30, your guest arrives and you begin serving them appetizers and wine pairings. Dinner then begins at 5:00 p.m. and ends at about 7:00 p.m.

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Attention, servers without benefits

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Although this group, Serving Benefits, is headquartered in Boston, it looks like a terrific resource for servers everywhere. Apparently, it is not in full operation yet, but check out their Facebook page, which includes this description:

Serving Benefits was founded in 2012 as a professional group providing benefits and solutions for employees of the hospitality industry. We provide access to the benefits that a more traditional career normally has to employees of restaurants. We are currently working out health care solutions, disability insurance, IRAs and investment plans, small business incubation and assistance. We are staffed by people who currently work in the industry and understand the wants and needs of servers and bartenders. Our official roll-out is slated for February 2013. We are established by restaurant employees for restaurant employees.

The dates are confusing; I've tried in vain to verify them.

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Send in the pears; there have to be pears

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 10:04 AM

Here are a few recent emails that have something worthwhile to say. It's no exaggeration to say that I receive about 200 emails a day. Not all of them are about food, of course, but it takes me more than an hour to go through them all every day. If you are a reader and don't receive a response from me within a few days, please feel free to send your email again. And, of course, you may always assume a screen name and leave a vitriolic comment on this blog.

CORRECTION: Chef David Larkworthy of 5 Seasons Brewing Company writes to inform me that, contrary to a recent post, Dennis Lange was never in the kitchen at the restaurant in Sandy Springs. Larkworthy, who opened 5 Seasons in 2001, was among the first in Atlanta to stress local, organic ingredients.

5 Seasons expanded to two other locations, the Westside and Alpharetta, where Larkworthy also retains the title of executive chef. Sorry for the error. Lange's role was strictly front-of-the-house....

DESPERATE READER: Attention, Einstein's. Darcey West wants a recipe:

Hi, Cliff! I love the food critics in Creative Loafing, and the Omnivore Blog is one of my favorites. Another one of my favorites is the quinoa risotto at Einstein's in Midtown. How do they do that? It's creamy and amazing. Not sure if it's possible to get a recipe for that, but I would love it if you could! Keep up the good work - the blog is great! I especially enjoyed the post this week about "restaurant jihad" - people are crazy!

IT'S NOT JUST OFFAL: Molly McFerran writes about Abattoir:

Abattoir was the only Atlanta restaurant named to OpenTable’s 50 restaurants most “fit for foodies” across the country. Abattoir joined other acclaimed restaurants Graham Elliot, French Laundry, Girl & the Goat and wd-50.

Molly also reports that chef/partner Josh Hopkins has expanded his menu to include more fresh vegetables and fish, some with Asian accents. He's also offering "paleo menus" most Mondays, accenting "hunter-gatherer" dishes.

I still miss lunching at Abattoir...

IT'S PEAR TIME: Another reader writes to remind me that the peak o' the pear season is upon us. She mentions an invitation-only "pear-centric" dinner at Ecco. Here's chef Craig Richards' menu for that: Pear and fall lettuce salad, walnut vinaigrette, gorgonzola dolce; pear and bufala mozzarella ravioli, black pepper, pecorino Romano; braised veal breast, roasted chanterelle mushrooms and pears, taragna; pear crostata with mascarpone gelato.

I wonder if anyone in town is featuring pears on their specials menu....

DISASTER: Daniel Klein writes to share the Perennial Plate's video on hurricane Irene's devastation of New York farmland.

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My day as an ice cream escort

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 9:21 AM

High Road Roy
  • High Road Roy

It’s a Monday morning in Atlanta, and like most delivery people, Roy Lantz (a.k.a. High Road Roy) of High Road Craft Ice Cream, is getting ready to hit the road. Sporting a formal tuxedo, white gloves and distinctive top hat, Lantz admits that his uniform is a bit unusual for delivering ice cream. But then again, Roy Lantz is not your typical deliveryman. As a matter of fact, High Road Roy is not a deliveryman at all. He is a published author, a public speaker and possibly the world’s first, real life ice cream escort since the Good Humor Man himself. As Keith Schroder, CEO of High Road, puts it, “ Roy is the real deal. He is our Executive Ice Cream Escort and all-American ice cream man. Like the Marlboro Man, only much better-smelling.”

It all began eight months ago, after Lantz’s first day of delivering for High Road. The close family friend (and High Road investor) returned to the plant amazed by the enthusiasm of Atlanta's chef community. To match their passion, Lantz threw on his tux and top hat and proclaimed, “This ice cream can’t be delivered, it has to be escorted.” High Road Roy was born.

As a child, Lantz spent his summers like most of the other neighborhood kids, waiting in quiet desperation, hoping to hear the tantalizing ting-a-ling of an approaching Good Humor truck. While the others licked away, young Roy would stand back and contemplate the Good Humor Man’s role in all of their lives. “The purpose of ice cream is to make people happy,” says Lantz. Even then he says he understood that the crisp white uniform, the bowtie, the peaked cap and shiny shoes all had the power to transform the simple act of eating a Good Humor bar into a special occasion.

On this particular Monday, Roy invited me into High Road’s delivery truck, "Ol' Bessie.” While on the road, Roy tells me about his life as a public speaker and about the books he’s written on customer service. He tells me that meeting Keith and Nicki Schroder was an act of fate, and that he’s always wanted to be an ice cream man. " But unfortunately," Roy says, "life happened." Instead of pursuing the frozen dessert industry, the former Marine became a motivational speaker. I believe him when he explains that for the past 30 years, he's made made a living out of preaching positivity.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Is Harvard's plate better than MyPlate?

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 4:21 PM

If you became a conscious food consumer after 1992, you're probably familiar with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid. You know, the diagram recommending 6-11 servings of breads, rice and pasta, and the painfully obvious yet conveniently ambiguous 'USE SPARINGLY' next to fats, sugars and oils. Well in case you missed it, the USDA retired the pyramid scheme earlier this year, after telling us what constitutes a well-balanced diet for nearly two decades. And before we even had time to shed a tear for our fallen dietary icon, we were introduced to the Pyramid's replacement, MyPlate.

Unveiled in June 2011, MyPlate is an updated version of the Food Guide Pyramid repackaged as a colorful, clickable dinner plate. But despite the USDA's rennovations, MyPlate's reception was riddled with controversy.

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