Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christiane digs Barcelona; Southern Art, not so much

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Waiting for the crowds at Barcelona
The latest issue of Knife & Fork, Christiane Lauterbach's monthly dining newsletter, is out and it's a particularly good issue.

The cover is a 2.5-star review of Barcelona on North Highland. Christiane spends a good bit of time every year in Barcelona, so she knows that city's food well. That makes it all the more remarkable that she has very little critical to say about the restaurant's food. She does, however, note that "the noise level and pounding music suit a carousing younger crowd."

The issue also includes a great roundup of roti restaurants and a two-star review of CariSoul Cuisine, an Afro-Carribbean restaurant inside the Darlington Apartments. Cafe Dominican and The Marlay House also earn two stars, while Octopus Bar, the after-hours operation at So Ba in East Atlanta Village, earns 2.5 stars. Finally, there's a guide to finding good fejoada, the Brazilian stew, and an unflattering first look at Southern Art in the Intercontinental Buckhead, plus a ton of gossip.

To subscribe to the newsletter, call 404-378-2775. You get 12 issues for $26.

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Pearson's Wine in Buckhead throws in the bar towel

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 2:57 PM

When the new Sunday Sales law goes into effect on New Year's Day, there will still be one place in Atlanta where you won't be able to buy Scotch on the Sabbath.

According to an e-mail that went out to customers this morning, Pearson's Wine shop in Buckhead will be closing its doors at the last chime of 2011 after 41 years in business:

The last week of this year between Christmas and New Years will be for us clean house of as much inventory as possible with prices discounted as much as 50% or more. Please come by to look for bargains and give us a chance to say goodbye to each and every one of you.

Actually, the notice went out a day too early, explained a woman who answered the phone when I called the store to confirm the news. The sale doesn't actually begin until Wednesday, but "people have been piling into the store all day" looking for bargain booze, she said.

So, is Pearson's going out of business because of increased competition? No, she said, it's because owners Walter and Dorthy Eisenberg have finally decided to retire. The economic downturn clearly didn't help, however, as a 2010 article in the Business Chronicle indicates.

Now you know where to stock up for New Year's Eve.

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Gravy Train: A new chef at Abattoir, Decatur is tasty

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Farm Burger
  • Farm Burger helps earn Decatur a tasty title
Tyler Williams has been named the new Executive Chef at Abattoir. Williams has worked at Bacchanalia since 2010. In the official release, chef-owner Anne Quatrano said “[Williams] is extremely dedicated to creating a one-of-a-kind culinary experience for our guests while sharing our passion for fresh ingredients.”

Southern Living included Decatur on their list of Top Ten Tastiest Towns in the South. The article gives shout outs to Cakes & Ale, No. 246 and Farm Burger. Voting is now open to pick the tastiest town of them all, so head on over and support Decatur. As of this posting, we’re lagging way behind other foodie cities like Charleston and New Orleans.

Kevin Gillespie was included in the food and wine section of Forbes 30 Under 30, a who’s who of up-and-comers around the country.

What Now Atlanta has details on East Paces Tavern, a new California and Mexican spot replacing a former Abbadabba's location in Buckhead.

Starting January 2, Chick-fil-A is adding Tortilla Soup to their menu - available through the end of March. The soup has shredded chicken and navy, northern, and black beans, topped off with with seasoned tortilla strips. According to Chick-fil-A, seasonal soups may become a regular thing - much like their popular special edition milkshakes. The soup was field tested at Atlanta-area Dwarf House and Truett's Grill locations.

Continue reading »

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Atlanta Food Events, Dec. 26- Jan. 1, 2012:

Posted By on Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 8:44 AM

The Shed
  • James Camp
  • The Shed

New Year's Eve is on Saturday. If you procrastinated and still don't have plans, you can check out this year's NYE restaurant events here. Otherwise here are a couple non-champagne and noisemaker related events happening this week.

St. Regis Atlanta Wed., Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m. Tasting Notes-Wine Paired with Music. Sommelier Harry Constantinescu hosts “Tasting Notes” where wine flights are presented with four wines for $20 per guest. Details

Max Lager's Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery Sun., Jan. 1. Beer Dinner. The dinner will feature three courses with beer pairings. Wine pairings also available for an additional cost. Details

The Shed at Glenwood Sun., Jan. 1, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. New Year's Day pajama brunch buffet. Brunch buffet with $9 bottomless mimosas and $13 bottomless bloody marys. Details

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Friday, December 23, 2011

When men were men and dogs were tasty

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 11:34 PM

Lewis & Clark: adventurous eaters
  • Lewis & Clark: adventurous eaters
My friend Andrew Sutter, the former server, has turned into a prolific blogger. He's been writing about Native American culture on his Amicus Curiositatis blog. His most recent post is "a short history of dog eating in North America."

Native Americans, he writes, taught members of the Lewis and Clark expedition the joy of cooking dog meat. Andrew wraps up his post with this story from Clark's journal:

Apparently as the expedition made its way homeward with its newly adopted appetite for the dog, some of the tribes they encountered - while often accommodating in the commercial sense -were not entirely impressed in the cultural sense. Writes Clark on May 5th, 1806:

While at dinner an indian fellow very impertinently threw a half starved puppy into the plate of Capt. Lewis by way of derision for our eating dogs and laughed very hartily at his own impertinence; Capt. L. — was so provoked at the insolence that he cought the puppy and threw it with great violence at him and struck him in the breast and face, seazed his tomahawk, and shewed him by sign that if he repeated his insolence that he would tomahawk him, the fellow withdrew apparently mortified and we continued our Dinner without further molestation

The post reminded me when, years ago, I took a friend to his first Korean meal at a restaurant on Buford Highway. He made nervous anticipatory comments about eating dogs and cats. I laughed and told him he had no reason to worry.

However, as soon as we sat down, a server sped to our table and blurted: "You like cat?"

My friend and I looked at one another in horror.

"Um, no, " I said. "We aren't here to eat cat. Or dogs."

"Eat cat?" she repeated. "I have cat that needs new home!"

We laughed but my friend scrutinized every forkful of food for feline evidence and, as far as I know, has never returned to a Korean restaurant.

Anyway, check out Andrew's blog. (He has another entitled "The Social Design.")

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Does Michelle got back?

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Doubtless, you aleady know that Michelle Obama's butt rocked the world this week. The idiotic Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) apologized after remarking twice that Michelle displays a "big butt" despite her support of healthy food initiatives.

It's been little reported in the media that a big butt is not typically an indication of overeating. It's a genetic thing and a recent Harvard study concludes that a bigger butt actually reduces the risk of diabetes. Nor, of course, is a big ass a liability appearance-wise, except, perhaps, among chubby legislators. Evidence: the Sir Mix-a Lot video above.

Further evidence: Check out the list of big-bootied celebrities compiled by TheRichest.org. Jennifer Lopez leads the list, with Kim Kardashian and Beyonce in second and third place.

So it may be rude to talk about the first lady's callipygian asset, but Sensenbrenner had no idea that he was paying Michelle a superb compliment.

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Paula clucks all the way to the bank

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 12:06 AM


I'm use to encountering occasional horrors on plates in restaurants. But, now that I'm cooking most of my meals at home, a visit to the grocery store is sometimes like stumbling through a nightmare. For example, I ran into Paula Deen in the meat case at Kroger today. I knew she planned to be there. I'd just never run into her before.

I have to admit she looks smashing on the plastic wrap that encases Springer Mountain Farms chickens. Perhaps her endorsement of the humanely raised (and delicious) chickens will help us forgive the shit storm that arose when she started peddling Smithfield Hams a few years back. (Remember her karmic payback?)

She also hustles pies at evil Walmart and over-feeds you at casino restaurants.

I need a new mattress but have yet to check out Paula's "soy-infused poly-foam" Serta. Actually, I'm considering thematizing my entire life with the mind-boggling number of things to which Paula has attached her name. (Check out my favorite antidote to the Food Network for a list of craptastic stuff Paula shills.)

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blue Willow Inn closes briefly after apparant food taint

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 6:07 PM

File this one under meat and aaiiieeee!

The much-loved Southern food destination Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle temporarily closed this week after several customers reported getting sick after eating there, reports the Rockdale Citizen.

Lou Kudon, program manager of the Northeast Georgia Health District, which has jurisdiction over restaurants in Walton County, said his office was advised of the reports of illness on Monday.

"We believe the food or maybe some of the serving utensils, something in the environment, was contaminated with a food-borne causing illness," Kudon said.

He said the Blue Willow was closed on Tuesday while the Blue Willow's staff sterilized the restaurant and threw out all the premade food items. Kudon said the Blue Willow was then reinspected before it was permitted to open again for business.

Kudon also said a full-scale investigation was under way, but didn't indicate when it would be complete.

It would be a shame if a problem like this damaged the Blue Willow's rep. Although I must confess I haven't eaten there in years, the place has received much national press over the years, probably less for the quality of the cooking, which is respectable but fairly standard, than for the antebellum setting and a series of grand dining rooms that seek to transport the diner to a more genteel, bygone era. There are only a handful of spots in Georgia serving rustic, all-you can eat Southern fare to the masses — the Smith House and Dillard House are the first that come to mind — but the Blue Willow has the most fancy-pants decor and manners. And it's the closest to Atlanta, making it a perfect place to take grandparents from out of town.

I could go for a corn muffin about now.

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Wine, cookies and margaritas

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 3:17 PM

Some friends met Elizabeth Schneider, a relatively new super-oenophile in town, at Starbucks last week and raved about her, especially her humor. I'm joking when I call her an oenophile because she writes a blog entitled "Wine for Normal People," in which she repeatedly slams wine snobs.

Schneider has a resume like few, if anyone, in this city. She's a consultant, educator and sommelier, with a solid professional background. Her business site describes her approach this way:


I don't drink but I've long been fascinated with the florid descriptions of taste and smell of wines (and now coffee gets the same treatment). I have an infamously hypersensitive nose and can pick up a medley of scents and tastes, but I have never been able to accurately specify the whiff of this, the hint of that, the undertone of this, the haunting aftertaste of that. Schneider does an especially convincing job naming such varieties on her blog. Maybe she'll conduct a smell-sampling class for nondrinkers.

COOKIES!: I've raved about the ginger cookies that Little Tart Bakeshop has been making at the new Octane in Grant Park. I'd feel remiss not mentioning that I've discovered another good ginger cookie just down the street at Grant Park Coffeehouse. They are made by Julia Knox, special events coordinator at the Atlanta Zoo, across the street....

LAS MARGARITAS: Yesterday, I ran into Oscar Valdivieso, co-owner (with his mother) of the popular Las Margaritas on Cheshire Bridge. Valdivieso said he was shocked when he heard that Tierra is closing. Like Tierra, his restaurant features a broad South American menu. He noted that Las Margaritas is doing well, in part because he is constantly dreaming up events and specials. "You have to work like crazy," he said.

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Sugar-glazed blast from the past

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 3:14 PM

It's been years since I set foot in Rhodes Bakery, but, feeling a very Christmassy craving for something to send my blood sugar through the roof, I stopped there Tuesday afternoon.

Whatever else you can say about the place, it's a true blast from the past. There's not a single drop of cozy ambiance unless you find fluorescent lighting pleasant. And the pastry cases are filled with the kinds of stuff associated with "old school" bakeries.

That's not "old school" in the sense that it's a pâtisserie on the banks of the Seine. It's more like a bakery from the days when Betty Crocker ruled the ovens of America.

Rhodes is 30 years old and has been famous from the start for its cheese straws, once an omnipresent snack anywhere people gathered in the South. Just in case you have no intention to buy any when you visit the bakery, there's always a tray on the counter for sampling. You'll be instantly hooked.

I also bought a cinnamon roll and a couple of other pastries. The cinnamon roll in particular sent me careening back to the past. It was drenched in that white, sugar glaze that is almost crispy on first bite and then melts into tooth-tingling, cloying sweetness. I hated that kind of glaze or icing when I was a kid and I still find it obnoxious.

But Rhodes is an intensely nostalgic icon for many native Atlantans — just like the long-gone Rich's bakeries were.

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