Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Starbucks sucking; Octane opening in Grant Park

Posted by on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Just in case you missed it, check out this hilarious video by Christopher Cristwell, a (now former) barista at Starbucks in Chowchilla, Calif. He wears nothing but the familiar green apron while revealing all about the frustration of his job.

The song got him fired, which is no surprise. But now his "Starbucks Rant Song" is on iTunes and he may be on his way to fame and fortune.

And by the way, if the Ansley Starbucks doesn't fix its unbelievably slow wifi connection, I'm gonna have to find a new office. (I can hear the baristas playing violins.) People are already moving to other coffee shops. I heard a rumor a month or so ago that the chain was going to put a limit on use of Internet connections to cut back on the laptop squatting. Maybe it decided to wean us with a shitty connection.

I'm not sure I blame the company for its frustration with all the campers, despite my own use. I have twice visited San Francisco Coffee in Poncey-Highland recently and literally could not find a seat because every table was occupied by a laptopper. I'm waiting for Octane to open its new location down the street in Grant Park. They are shooting for a soft opening next week. The Little Tart Bakeshop is opening the new shop with Octane.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Best meal of the week

Posted by on Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Birthday chocolate soup
Last week was Inman Park Restaurant Week and participating restaurants booked up fast, at least on Friday night. That's the evening I dine with a group of friends and I wanted them to sample the food at Sotto Sotto. The restaurant is one of my favorites and its $25 and $35 tasting menus offered far more than other participants.

I couldn't get a reservation, so I booked one for neighboring Fritti instead. When we arrived, though, we were able to get a table at Sotto Sotto for six upstairs in the loft that actually overlooks Fritti. I've never eaten upstairs before and it was quite pleasant and comparatively quiet.

My friends ordered from the $25 menu and I selected the $35 because I was in the mood for the restaurant's always-fresh-from-Italy bufala mozzarella, served with roasted yellow and red peppers, anchovies, capers and a light dousing of olive oil. It would be impossible to put together five ingredients I like more.

I also ordered the $35 menu because I wasn't in the mood for pasta, which constituted all 13 second courses of the $25 menu. I ordered the crispy-skinned wood-roasted chicken, lemony and succulent, with fingerling potatoes and garlicky sauteed spinach. Best dish I ate last week. The consistency of owner-chef Riccardo Ullio's kitchen always amazes me.

My dessert was warm, white-chocolate bread pudding with brandied cherries, almonds and amaretto cream. Most of my friends swooned over the renowned chocolate soup with croutons and hazelnut whipped cream. One of us, Jay, ordered panna cotta with 12-year-aged balsamic vinegar. He disliked it intensely, insisting that each of the rest of us taste it. Every one of us thought it was delicious.

The most popular pasta entree seemed to be the the also-renowned tortelli di Michelangelo, which Jay did like with the same intensity he disliked the panna cotta. A popular starter was the roasted beets with radishes, hazelnuts, arugula, lemon and olive oil. Bobby, who organizes these dinners, complained that he would have cooked the beets longer. Actually, they were perfect to my taste. But these dinners repeatedly instruct me in the subjectivity of taste and the timidity of the palate.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Atlanta Food Events, Sept. 26- Oct. 2

Posted by on Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 11:06 AM

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The Iberian Pig Mon., Sept. 26, 5 p.m. Anniversary celebration. The Iberian Pig is celebrating its second anniversary. Residents and visitors are invited to join the party. The evening will include the unveiling of a new Hense mural, live music plus $3 Sherry Cañas, $6 glasses of sangria, cava and craft cocktails. Food specials will include “haute” dogs, paella, suckling pigs and Jamon Iberico de Bellota, aged 48 months. Details

The Cook's Warehouse, Brookhaven Mon., Sept. 26, 7-9 p.m. Cooking class. Atlanta's Table Presents: First of Fall. Support Hunger Action Month in September by participating in the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s Simple Abundance Cooking Class with Chef Chris Hall of Local Three as he showcases the abundance of the fall harvest. The class will feature ingredients coming into season with these dishes: Salad of Roasted Cauliflower and Butternut Squash with hazelnuts and sherry vinaigrette; and Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with pumpkin seed pesto. All proceeds are donated to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Details

World Trade Center Atlanta Tues., Sept. 27, 5:50-8 p.m. Taste of Italy. Guests will have the chance to sample different types of food and wine from Italy with opening remarks by Fabrizio Giustarini, Trade Commissioner at Italian Trade Commission. Sponsored by Wine Shoe Atlanta, High Road Craft Ice Cream & Sorbet, Antico Mercante, Bella Cuccina and Paolo's Gelato. Details

ONE. midtown kitchen Wed., Sept. 28, 7 p.m. Summer Chef Series. A 5 course dinner, made with local ingredients, paired with cocktails, wine and beer. ONE. midtown kitchen’s chef Drew Van Leuvan will prepare the 1st and 5th courses while the Guest Chef will prepare courses 2, 3 and 4! September 28: Ron Eyester, Rosebud. Details

Atlanta Botanical Garden Thu., Sept. 29, 6-10 p.m. No. 246 of downtown Decatur will provide appetizers. September's theme is "Skylines and Spirits." The view and DJ tunes are free with admission; spirits in a glass will cost you a little at the full cash bar. Details

Continue reading »

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Gravy Train: Georgia represents on 'Top Chef,' HD1 opens

Posted by on Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 10:46 AM

HD1
Two more chefs - both women - will represent Georgia on "Top Chef." Janine Falvo of Briza Restaurant in Atlanta and Whitney Otawka of Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island (yep, the rumors were true!) will appear on the upcoming season of "Top Chef," shot in Texas and premiering on November 2. You can check out their audition videos to see what they are all about. This season’s "Top Chef" will feature almost twice as many chefs as usual and also give eliminated contestants a second chance through a web series called "Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen."

HD1, the new hot dog concept from Richard Blais, opened last week, so go get your wiener on. Cliff made an early visit last week. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.

Guy Wong, owner of Miso Izakaya, is hinting on Facebook that he has a new project in the works, although he's keeping mum for now on the exact nature of the beast.

Kirkwood is getting a new upscale pub in the space that housed Ace's and the short-lived reincarnation, Jak’s All Inn. The new spot will be called Pullman and they are planning to open this fall.

Thrillist reports on Sack Lunch Co., a new to-go stand located downtown where you can pick up a nostalgic lunch — complete with a juice box and a note from “mom.” Really. Cute idea, but do adults really still want to eat Fruit Roll-Ups?

Continue reading »

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

WaPo visits Georgia's olive groves

Posted by on Sat, Sep 24, 2011 at 3:43 PM

The South Georgia olive oil business is growing big-time, according to the Washington Post, which ran a lengthy article on the subject by Bonnie S. Benwick a few days ago. Olives are not an altogether new crop:

"Table olives grew on Jekyll Island as late as the 1970s," says Gerard Krewer, a U-Ga. professor and horticulturist who has been tracking the progress of young olive trees planted in Lanier County.

Weather and good fortune permitting, Georgia's 2011 olives will be turned into liquid gold, not brined in jars. The statistics the Georgians like to recite hold a world of promise: The United States is the third-largest consumer of olive oil in the world. Consumption rose almost 8 percent from 2008 to 2009. And perhaps most important, 99 percent of the olive oil consumed by Americans comes from other countries: about 70 million liters in 2009 that cost us $700 million. (Most of it is labeled "extra-virgin.")

The video above is an interview with two olive growers. (H/T Lee Beasley)

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Richard Blais' gets his hot dog on

Posted by on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 4:42 PM

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You'll never guess where I ate last night. Yep, I hit HD1, Richard Blais' new hot-dog-centric restaurant in Poncey-Highland. It was opening day but I didn't encounter a crowd since I showed up a few minutes before 10 p.m. after a late workout. Servers told me, however, that they'd been slammed earlier in the day.

I was pleasantly surprised by the menu, which includes more sausage than the traditional ballpark-style hot dogs. And — yay — you won't pay $13 for one, like you will at Five Napkin Burger. Granted that these $4.50-$7 dogs aren't half-pounders like Five Napkin's, but one with an inexpensive app is all you need.

There are some weird toppings, like the "beef pastrami dog" with ox tongue and tripe hash. I went a bit less strange but certainly not conventional with a pork-fennel sausage with grilled radicchio, grated fontina and a judicious squirt of San Marzano ketchup on a lightly sweet bun. (Sorry for the flash-lit pic).

I also ordered a plate of "prawn dogs" — whole skewered shrimp fried in a coating of grits. You get a rich mayo for dipping. Also: some fat "half-sour" pickles and some deviled eggs. The latter were the only thing I didn't like. They are like a midnight-munchies experiment from a trailer park kitchen. The egg halves are stuffed with deviled ham, topped with the creamed egg yolks, crowned with a tiny piece of Thai pepper and set atop a bed of spicy-hot crushed potato chips that stick to the egg for the sake of crunchiness.

The most expensive thing you'll find on the menu is a $12 plate of wild striped bass with broccolini and Italian sausage. Fried chicken livers with mustard greens and Irish bangers with onion gravy were also listed last night.

I look forward to returning and, as someone who doesn't really like hot dogs, I am surprised to be saying so.

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Eclipse di Luna adds new dishes

Posted by on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 3:28 PM

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My favorite tapas joint in town is the Miami Circle location of Eclipse di Luna, where I frequently dine with friends on Friday. The restaurant has added quite a few new dishes, including a rosemary biscuit layered with ropa de vieja and crispy onions (above). Another standout is seared scallops with white anchovies, piquillo pepper salad and crispy serrano ham (right).

Today, I ordered a plate of cured meats and a plate of two Spanish cheeses — Manchego and Queso Ibores. Also on the table: fried oysters, fried green beans with sea salt, piquillos stuffed with goat cheese and ribs in balsamic vinegar.

We finished with cafe au lait but you should feel free to order flan.

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Weekend Food Events, Sept. 23-25

Posted by on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM

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East Andrews Fri., Sept. 23, 7-10 p.m. Atlanta Food Rave. Mix and mingle with an eclectic group of Atlanta-based chefs in an informal and fun atmosphere. Details

Terrapin Brewery, Athens Sat., Sept. 24, 4:30-8:30 p.m. Hop Harvest Festival. This year’s festival will feature 12 casks of ale each dry-hopped with a different variety of hops! There will also be educational guest speakers, great food and the harvesting of Terrapin’s very own hop garden. Details

Stone Mountain Memorial Park 32nd Annual Great Miller Lite Chili Cook-Off Sat., Sept. 24, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. More than 300 culinary teams will battle for chili bragging rights. Guests of all ages are invited to enjoy live music and games, and 100% of the proceeds will benefit Camp Twin Lakes. Details

5 Seasons Brewing: Westside Sat., Sept. 24, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Fermentation “revivalist” and best-selling author, Sandor Katz, will lead a fermentation workshop in Atlanta. Mr. Katz will be teaching participants how they can quickly and easily ferment delicious and healthy foods at home. Details

Garden Hills Park Sun., Sept. 25, 12 p.m. Ice Cream Social. This free event will offer offers plenty of family fun with proceeds raised via ticket sales for on-site children's activities. The activities will include classics such as pony rides, bounce house, dunk tank, an artists market and much more. Food will be provided by the Pup Truck and Tex's Tacos. Details

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Best of Atlanta Day in the A!

Posted by on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 1:24 PM

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Come and get it folks, CL's Best of ATL 2011 is hot off the press and ready for consumption. You can put all the he said/she said to bed, because we've got the city's best, well, everything compiled all neat and pretty-like for your viewing pleasure. Speaking of pleasure, see which restaurants, chefs, and bartenders made this year's cut in the Best of Atlanta: Oral Pleasures section.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You will meet a handsome stranger with a pot roast in his hands

Posted by on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 4:14 PM

The colander, a fool by any other name
  • The colander, a fool by any other name
Last Saturday, I slept until noon, when I was awakened by Lynne Rossetto Kasper's NPR show, "The Splendid Table." It is broadcast weekly on WABE 90.1 FM and is always worth listening to. Kasper has a voice that communicates the sensuous pleasure of good food like nobody I've ever heard.

On Saturday's program, she briefly interviewed well-known psychic Dennis Fairchild, author of the text accompanying The Kitchen Tarot. It's a 22-card deck that functions like the classic tarot but features culinary images by Susan Shie instead of the classic renderings of the empress, the fool, the lovers, the tower, etc. It might be difficult to imagine the colander standing in for the fool, but Fairchild explains all in the conversation embedded at the top of this post.

Even though the deck has a culinary theme it isn't about divining the outcome of your pot roast. It simply substitutes kitchen images for the classic ones. That said, the deck is nonetheless a clear reflection of the way cooking and dining have come to dominate American consciousness.

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