Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Isn't he just calling us food snobs?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 10:46 AM

The New York Times published an essay, "A matter of taste," Friday that should annoy lots of foodies, but I think it's so on target in many ways. It's by Wiliam Deresiewicz. A sample:

Foodism has taken on the sociological characteristics of what used to be known — in the days of the rising postwar middle class, when Mortimer Adler was peddling the Great Books and Leonard Bernstein was on television — as culture. It is costly. It requires knowledge and connoisseurship, which are themselves costly to develop. It is a badge of membership in the higher classes, an ideal example of what Thorstein Veblen, the great social critic of the Gilded Age, called conspicuous consumption. It is a vehicle of status aspiration and competition, an ever-present occasion for snobbery, one-upmanship and social aggression. (My farmers’ market has bigger, better, fresher tomatoes than yours.) Nobody cares if you know about Mozart or Leonardo anymore, but you had better be able to discuss the difference between ganache and couverture.

Another: not art. Both begin by addressing the senses, but that is where food stops. It is not narrative or representational, does not organize and express emotion. An apple is not a story, even if we can tell a story about it. A curry is not an idea, even if its creation is the result of one. Meals can evoke emotions, but only very roughly and generally, and only within a very limited range — comfort, delight, perhaps nostalgia, but not anger, say, or sorrow, or a thousand other things. Food is highly developed as a system of sensations, extremely crude as a system of symbols. Proust on the madeleine is art; the madeleine itself is not art.

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FBI nabs alleged cannibal cop

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Authorities have arrested a smiley-faced New York policeman after locating emails and documents in which he allegedly “discusses plans to kidnap, rape, torture, kill, cook and eat body parts of a number of women," according to a complaint quoted in the New York Times.

No taboo is as revolting — and fascinating — as cannibalism. The obvious example of that is the film "Silence of the Lambs" (1991). Hannibal Lecter's own smiling face is burned into the American psyche as a symbol of evil as potent as any religious one.

But cannibalism is not as uncommon a crime as one would like to presume and has occurred among civilized societies for centuries. (It has also had a role in rituals.)

The psychology behind modern cannibalism is vague, but practitioners usually say it provides sexual gratification. Some argue that the desire to consume flesh is inherent in human beings:

It’s unlikely that any consensus will ever be achieved concerning the underlying motivations and causes of cannibalistic behavior. Nevertheless, somewhere in the convoluted swirls of human thought there is a distinct connection between the motivations of a tribesman in New Guinea, who consumes the flesh of a departed loved one with solemnity and deep respect, and those of a deranged criminal who seeks some bizarre rush through the unspeakable crime of murdering and cannibalizing an innocent person.

Anyway, watch your back.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lunch at the new Bantam + Biddy at Ansley Mall

Posted By on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 1:31 PM

I hit the new Bantam +Biddy at Ansley Mall for lunch Monday. Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere, co-owners-chefs, were both working in the kitchen. I ate late, as usual, around 3 p.m., and the restaurant was not crowded.

The interior is another design from the Johnson Studio and looks sleek with a bar in front of the kitchen and enough total inside seating for 50. There's also a patio, which will be enclosed during the winter months.

I ordered the signature rotisserie chicken (with peri peri sauce on the side) and daily-special sides of vanilla-bean apple sauce and fried green tomatoes with goat cheese. Most everything here is made with local ingredients, and the flavors are a hundred percent better than you'll find at the usual meat-and-three (or two).

My lunch was on opening day, so there were the usual glitches you find at newbies. A friend sent back his meatloaf because he found it over-cooked. Others complained that their vegetables were served tepid. My own lunch was flawless.

Some friends also griped about the cost. I thought $10 for my lunch was quite reasonable.

"It's nowhere near as cheap as Moe's," one said.

"Duh," I said.

Did I mention that gay men are the most critical, stingy people on the planet?

More worrisome to me was the complaint that the chicken was undercooked. It is no such thing, but, as a fellow food writer remarked, Atlantans seem to demand their chicken overcooked. You may have noticed that rotisserie chicken from Publix and Kroger is often too dry to swallow without a gulp of water. That's not an accident, apparently.

There is much here to explore besides rotisserie chicken. I think the menu of real food is going to be a great addition to the Ansley neighborhood.

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First Draft: Bob Townsend

Posted By on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Veteran writer Bob Townsend moved to Atlanta in 1986, shortly after graduating from Florida State University. After working at a pair of record stores and a music-distribution center, he took his rock 'n' roll interests to the pages of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But it was hardly the first time he'd put word to page, about music or otherwise. "I wrote crazy sci-fi and adventure stories when I was a kid," Townsend remembers. "I was a staff writer for my high school paper and worked on the yearbook. At Florida State, I worked for the indie daily, the Florida Flambeau, and covered bands like the Replacements, R.E.M., Hüsker Dü, and the Minutemen. During that time, I was drinking quarts of cheap American lager in brown paper bags."

Eventually, he'd come to love craft beer, and writing about it, too — the latter of which he started doing for the AJC in the early 2000s. Since then, he's penned countless articles and blog posts, both for the paper and regional bi-monthly publication Southern Brew News, of which he's served as editor since 2006. As the city's preeminent beer scribe, he's seen a lot of change over the past dozen or so years, but like a lot of craft beer obsessives in the Atlanta metro area, he gets most amped thinking about the future. "More," Townsend replies, when asked what he looks forward to in Atlanta's beer scene. "More brick-and-mortar breweries. More styles. More fine-dining restaurants that feature craft beer in a serious way. More events exploring serious food and beer. More of everything."

Read the full interview by Austin L. Ray here.

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Krystal turns 80 and sells 25-cent burgers for two hours

Posted By on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Residents of Chattanooga aren't happy that Krystal has moved its headquarters to Atlanta. Apparently the chain sells more of its burgerettes in Georgia than anywhere else.

The company kicked off its 80th birthday celebration earlier this week by offering 25-cent burgers 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday. The company's CEO grilled and served burgers at the Buckhead location. Humility is a great thing.


The Lobster Lord at Nicky's Seafood

Posted By on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Jumbo lobster roll from the Lobster Lord
  • Brad Kaplan
  • Jumbo lobster roll from the Lobster Lord

I was craving a lobster roll. While lobster rolls are not quite ubiquitous in Atlanta, they are much more common today than they were even a year or two ago. The brand new joint in midtown called Olmsted has one on their lunch menu. There's a version from the BEST NEW RESTAURANT IN THE COUNTRY ACCORDING TO JOHN MARIANI (AKA The Optimist). JCT has them on Fridays and Saturdays at lunchtime. Bocado sometimes offers them as a special, as does Yeah! Burger. Octopus Bar usually has them (and is my favorite in town), but "usually" at Octopus Bar means a late night trip down to EAV, which is not usual for me at all. And then there's always Legal Sea Foods, if you're in a "feel like a tourist in downtown Atlanta" mood.

For some reason, when this craving hit, I disregarded all of those options (and others) and headed down to Nicky's Seafood, on the southern edge of Castleberry Hill. Well, I shouldn't say, "some reason." I've heard a few people rave about the lobster rolls whipped up every Friday through Monday at Nicky's Seafood by one "Lobster Lord" - an appropriately salty old ex-Navy cook named Fred Lord. So I was hoping for something good.

Continue reading »

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Quick Bites: Ford Fry names new restaurant, reports on Salt Yard, Paper Plate, and more

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2012 at 2:09 PM

TRUE NORTH: Hudson North pop-up opens in Atlantic Station

Ford Fry has settled on a name for his new restaurant, King + Duke, which is set to open March 2013 on the ground floor of One Buckhead Plaza.

A new gastropub by the name of Salt Yard will be opening in early 2013 next door to Watershed on Peachtree. The gastropub will offer tapas, craft cocktails, and local beers.

Paper Plane, a new collaboration between local barkeep Paul Calvert and Victory Sandwich Bar , is planned to open in Decatur.

In case you missed it, Bocado announced the departure of chef Todd Ginsberg, confirming rumors that the former kitchen head had plans to open a Jewish deli with West Egg owners Ben and Jennifer Johnson. The new venture, General Muir, is set to open in Emory Point by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, General Muir also welcomed pastry chef Lauren Raymond to its ranks. Raymond has previously worked at Miller Union and Empire State South.

Gladys Knight's Chicken and Waffles is scheduled for remodeling and expansion. The restaurant submitted a building permit application with City of Atlanta at the beginning of October for its expansion and remodeling plans, totaling an estimated $100,000.

MetroFresh, located in the Midtown Promenade Shopping Center, will soon absorb the neighboring Jersey Mike’s Sub space for its planned expansion, reports Midtown Patch.

Atlanta Wine School's serve-yourself wine bar and restaurant, Vino Venue is now open in Roswell. Vino Venue serves up a menu of small plates and lends itself to those who are interested in learning about the art of wine.

Hudson North, a "farm to tavern" pop-up restaurant located in Atlantic Station, will be open for lunch and dinner through Dec. 31, 2012. Hudson North co-owners Billy and Jenn Streck are also the team behind Cypress Street Pint and Plate.

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WATCH: CL presents 'Atlanta Chefs and Their Knives'

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2012 at 12:51 PM

As a follow-up to Brad Kaplan's excellent story in the Food Issue (Atlanta chefs and their knives), we went out and spoke face-to-face with chefs Chad Clevenger of Alma Cocina, Mihoko Obunai of Miso Izakaya, Kevin Rathbun of Rathbun's, Duane Nutter of One Flew South, and Zeb Stevenson of Livingston, about their love for their knives and asked them to demonstrate some of their knife skills.

Learn more about Atlanta's food fetishes and check out CL's 2012 Food issue here.

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Two lunches: Saigon Basil and The Sheik

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Saigon Basil on Piedmont Road continues to be a favorite lunch destination for me. I almost always order a bun dish with marinated pork, shrimp and a spring roll. But recently I decided to try the "shaky beef" or "shaken beef," as it's usually called. It's made of chunks of filet mignon shaken in a pan with onions and served with rice.

It was one of my favorite dishes at Nam (R.I.P.), where, as I recall it was served with a lime, salt and pepper sauce. Saigon Basil goes a bit heavy on the soy sauce for my taste, but it's a bargain at just under $10.

I also lunched recently across the street from Saigon Basil at Sheik Burritos and Kabobs. Owner Jahan Ostad continues to produce his weirdly wonderful fusion of Persian and Southwestern food. You can build your own burrito from sourced meats and veggies or order the ingredients in a bowl without that awful, high-carb tortilla.

Jahan, who has assumed his annual bearded (and long-hair) Jesus look, told me that he is looking for a new location. The shopping center at the corner of Piedmont and Cheshire Bridge in which he is located is (again) scheduled for demolition. When the demolition actually occurs, it will also take out the neighboring Taco Cabana.

You can make a half-priced visit to the restaurant, thanks to Scoutmob.

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Varsity now serving hot dogs made of brains

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2012 at 11:23 AM

The second annual Marietta Zombie Walk was Saturday night, Oct. 27. I ran into this Varsity zombie online. His name is Michael Lyvers, a hair colorist at Three 13 Salon in Marietta.

Michael was not alone in depicting fast food. He said he spotted a Chick-fil-A zombie cow, along with representatives of In and Out Burger and Waffle House.

Whatever, this zombie pretty accurately expresses the feeling of my GI tract after eating a hot dog at the Varsity. I'd rather eat brains myself.

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