I have to admit, I'm in no place to actually pick a "cookbook of the year." Of the hundreds (thousands?) of new cookbooks this year, I've only actually read and cooked from a few. There were some with strong Atlanta ties worth pointing out - Kevin Gillespie's Fire in My Belly was well received, and Adam Roberts' Secrets of the Best Chefs leaned heavily on Atlanta chefs for inspiration. But Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, is as worthy of singling out as its namesake city.
I'm not alone in praising Jerusalem. Eater.com compiled a mega-list of the various "best of 2012" lists out there, and Jerusalem came out on top. It's a book that, yes, has intriguing recipes. And mouth watering photos. But, most of all, it has a great story to tell.
Yum Bunz, the quick-serve dim sum restaurant from Chow Baby creator Mike Blum and chef Guy Wong of Miso Izakaya will open on the Westside in February at 935 Marietta St.
Eastside Lounge will soon close its doors, following its recent sale to a new owner.
The IHOP, located in the heart of Buckhead at 3122 Peachtree Road , closed on Christmas Eve after 19 years of operation.
The Optimist Mon., Dec. 31, 5 p.m. New Year's Eve at The Optimist A four-course prix fixe menu with items such as shrimp pop tarts, baked Virginia oysters, and grouper with white wine steamed clams. 914 Howell Mill Road. 404-477-6260. Details
JCT Kitchen Mon., Dec. 31, 5 p.m. New Year's Eve at JCT. Kitchen & Bar JCT. Kitchen & Bar is serving a Southern dinner this New Year's Eve. For $65 per person, the restaurant is offering a taste plus a three-course meal. 1198 Howell Mill Road. 404-355-2252. Details
The Pinewood Tippling Room Mon., Dec. 31, 7 p.m. New Year's Eve Celebration A five-course prix fixe dinner and a New Year's Eve bash. Entrance includes access to the open bar, passed hors d'oeuvres, and a champagne toast at midnight. A live DJ will play music. Limited availability. 254 W. Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-373-5507. Details
Master Sommelier David Glancy shares tips on how to safely saber a bottle of Champagne:
NPR explores how to find cheap bubbly.
How did Atlanta restaurant experts describe 2012 in one word? "pigfest," "slow," "offal," and more via Eater.
Early this year, I wrote a post about Grant Central Pizza's menu request that customers "tend to their crying tots outside." The rule was instated because of customer complaints - many on Yelp - about unruly young 'uns.
My two-paragraph post quite literally prompted an international debate. It seems there's a highly organized global network of young jihadists sworn to disrupt restaurant dining rooms in America. They carry toys under their clothes and, without notice, hurl them at defenseless adults while screaming, "Death to your fuckin' manners!" Sometimes they storm tables, laying their hands on them, staring at the startled diners.
Now there is hope, according to a piece in the New York Times, "Eat, Drink, Be Nice," by Matt Richtel. The article starts with a description of an upscale restaurant, Chenery Park, which hosts "family night" every Tuesday. The objective in part is to help parents teach their children proper dining etiquette. The owner patrols the dining room for inappropriate behavior, apparently playing lion tamer.
Of course, this is voluntary. I doubt the parents at Grant Central - or anywhere else in our city - would patronize such an event. Well, maybe members of the 1 percent would.
The article goes on to describe a network of etiquette and manners teachers across the country. Most of the instruction involves dining at some point. Believe it or not, the new "charm schools" employ "ecological psychology," a specialty of criminologists. (I told you those kids are terrorists.) Their idea is that "when an environment is dilapidated, it gives permission to people to misbehave." Thus a fancy restaurant supposedly inspires better behavior automatically - including parents. (Disclaimer: Grant Central, where I eat frequently, is not delapidated!)
I thought this especially interesting:
[One teacher] believes that teaching manners to children has grown more challenging, and necessary, in part because of technology.
"Kids have stopped making eye contact at one another," Ms. Neitlich said. "They bring their technology to the table. She added that it is true of parents, too: "Everyone is in a hurry. Things are clipped, clipped, clipped."
Interesting. At - where else? - Grant Central the other night, I watched a family with two kids dining quietly. One of the kids, maybe 7, was playing chess on an iPad. Another was scrolling on an iPhone. A brief argument broke out. Then the kids exchanged devices and things calmed down.
Is this different from handing a kid a coloring book at the table?
Read the article, for real.
Everyman fast food reviewer Daym Drops drops his McThoughts on the McRib.
EAV's Eastside Lounge will soon close its doors and reopen in February under new management. Max Blau has the scoop over on Crib Notes.
This weekend is your last chance to visit Hudson North, the pop-up restaurant in Atlantic Station.
Well, as of this writing, the end of the world - supposedly predicted by the Mayan calendar - has not occurred. Restaurants around the country cashed in on the Christmastime apocalyptic holiday. And, on the chance that some might survive, merchants of fear have done a brisk business.
Although it might have been nice to spend Xmas in heaven, we were left with the same-old-same-old. If only we could have a selective food apocalypse that would clean up our dining scene. Some things I'd like to see happen:
All white truffle oil poured into sewage systems (excepting the fried mushrooms at Fritti). This fake ingredient is reviled everywhere, but chefs keep on using it.
Stop treating people like dumbasses by offering appetizers and tapas that cost as much as entrées.
The extinction of broccoli, every kitchen's plate filler year after year.
An end to the gentrification of nose-to-tail dining. I've eaten pickled lamb tongues, pigs' feet and ears, and various internal organs most of my life. So, I don't get why eating this stuff is now "cool" and frequently expensive.
Spoon Westside, located at 768 Marietta St., will close after service on Sun., Dec. 30 according to a message posted on the restaurant's front door. Spoon Eastside will remain open at 749 Moreland Ave.
Gourmet thieves beware: Black truffle producers in France have enlisted the help of paramilitary forces to protect their "black diamonds," currently worth more than $1,200 a pound. CL's Cliff Bostock recently found some black truffles in an Atlanta restaurant, so you can bypass the armed guards and roadblocks, for now.
Love pork belly.
Some food just doesn't photograph well, even if it is tasty.
Nothing wrong with grease on the walls if the burger is tasty.
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