Food & Life

Monday, March 24, 2014

Notes: Nostalgia at McKinnon's, sadomasochism and Sriracha, McDonald's and humilation

Posted By on Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 2:00 PM

I experienced a strong blast from the distant past Saturday night, when I had dinner at McKinnon''s Louisiane in Buckhead. Billy McKinnon, who died about four years ago, opened this restaurant in 1972 and sold it to his manager in 2002. It's been going strong ever since its opening.

I dined in the lounge where longtime patrons take turns singing old standards. Think "Send in the Clowns" and crawfish.

I'll have more to say in a forthcoming Grazing column....

A LONG LIST: Eater Atlanta has posted a comprehensive list of the amazing number of restaurants scheduled to open in the next year, many of them this spring....

BARF: A Fox News affiliate has once again distinguished itself for hard-hitting, investigative reporting. They dispatched a reporter to a McDonald's in Culpepper, Va., where the manager told an elderly couple they had to leave after 30 minutes. Shockingly, the Fox reporter could find no sign announcing the 30-minute limit. And she made a thorough search.

Carl and Barbara Becker told the reporter that they have been going to McDonald's several times a week for decades to indulge in what they call "scrunch," a meal between lunch and dinner. Despite that, they have survived into their 80s!

Becker wrote a letter to McDonald's management in which he outlined his military career and said the eviction was the worst experience of his life. McDonald's has apologized and offered the couple two free cups of coffee....

WHY THERE ARE FIRE EATERS: We're all in a panic over the possible shuttering of the Sriracha factory in Irwindale, California. The owners have been giving constant tours of the factory in order to survey smell-sensitivity. So far, no sudden deaths have been reported. In fact, out of 61 bad-smell complaints, inspectors have traced only four to the Sriracha factory. It should all be resolved next month.

Organic Authority recently grabbed the controversy as an opportunity to explain what makes hot sauce so appealing to so many people:

The response to that scalding sensation is a release of endorphins, our body's way of allowing us to deal with pain. This is similar to what your body does on a long run. And what do runner's always talk about? A runner's high. In a sense, thanks to the release of endorphins, the runner's high and the Sriracha high are one in the same. Our body feels good after eating hot sauce.

In other words, it's kinda like sadomasochism - conflation of pleasure and pain, a bit of jouissance. Be a dominatrix, tie up your mate, and force him to eat Sriracha.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Looking for Girl Scout cookies in Atlanta?

Posted By and on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Girl Scouts (from left) Ansley, Madison, Frida, Sage, and Erica, hype the cookies.
  • Joeff Davis
  • Girl Scouts (from left) Ansley, Madison, Frida, Sage, and Erica, hype the cookies.

Earlier this month, the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta hosted a girl-led presser to commemorate the launch of the 2014 Girl Scout cookie season, which extends through mid-March. Good news for cookie fans: Figuring out where to find them is super easy these days ...

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Thaw out with this year's Lust List

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Alphonzo, Co-owner, Boxcar Grocer

It might still be cold out there, but according to CL's 2014 Lust List, it's burning up inside Atlanta's food and drink industry. Check out the print issue on stands now or view the entire gallery of local hotties here. If the pics are too much of a tease, drop by our Lust List party this Sat., Feb. 15 at Whiskey Park and rub elbows with the beautiful people IRL. RSVP here for free entry before 11 p.m.

In the meantime, check out some of Atlanta's sexiest industry folks right now:

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pre-ice pics from an Atlanta grocery store

Posted By on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 10:11 PM

No, really. Got milk?

Between President Obama's decision to declare a state of emergency in Georgia on Tuesday and local government urging us to stay off the roads for days now, it's OK to be a little nervous. And, just two weeks after those pesky three inches of snow temporarily ruined our lives, a little annoyed.

In fact, many Atlantans are going bananas as they brace for possible power outages brought on by a potentially "catastrophic", "crippling" ice storm of "historical proportions."

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Friday, January 31, 2014

One bag of Cheetos equals three big salads at Panera

Posted By on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 1:38 PM

So, I was at the Kroger the other day, picking up a few things (including 15 protein bars) before I hit the gym. Uh-oh. Flamin' Hot Cheetos on sale for $1.70. I admit it. I love the things, but it's been several years since I bought any.

The rationale of impulse took over. "I'll eat some of these before the gym, instead of a protein bar," I thought (not bothering to observe that was like substituting chocolate mousse for tofu). I ripped open the bag on my way to the car and started eating. If Ronald McDonald's lips were orange, he'd look like me as I walked in the gym. A friend noticed and laughed as I entered the locker room. I wiped my lips and hands on my white gym towel. Ronald just removed his makeup.

About 90 minutes later, I was back in my car. I grabbed the bag. By the time I was home, it was empty. I felt kinda queasy. I remembered that Flamin' Hot Cheetos made the news a year or two ago because they sent children to hospital emergency rooms - because their stomachs burned and their parents were stupid.

I took the bag inside, and looked at the nutrition label for kicks. I had, in the course of a few hours, consumed 1600 calories. A snack of 1600 calories! I decided not to eat dinner. I felt bloated and still queasy. I shook the empty bag to make sure no more were inside. I woke up in the middle of the night. I was starving. I ate two protein bars.

I vowed to eat light the next day.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Chasing bacon and hot dogs for charity

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 11:17 AM

  • Courtesy

Ah, the riches that come to those who open their hearts to the suffering of others! Bacon, for example. If you love cardiovascular exercise and bacon, you won't want to miss the March 22 Bacon Chase, benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The gimmick:

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Help a former chef find escargot, Oysters Rockefeller, and chicken fried right

Posted By on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Thomas Nasts 1877 depiction of the snail-paced Congress of that year. Some things never change.
  • Wikimedia Commons/Thomas Nast
  • Thomas Nast's 1877 depiction of the snail-paced Congress of that year. (Some things never change.)
A longtime, now retired Atlanta chef wrote me yesterday asking for a few "bests" in the city. She's headed for extensive oral surgery and wants to eat a few of her favorite classic dishes beforehand - preferably cheap.

She's looking for Oysters Rockefeller. I'm clueless on this one. It's a dish I totally OD'd on in my 20s. My constantly-absinthe-hunting first partner made the dish at least once a week. (I used to call him Isak, after Isak Dinesen, whose weight-loss diet consisted of oysters and champagne.)

She's also looking for a good classic escargot en croute. I've only eaten escargot a couple of times in recent years - at Atmosphere and at Kevin Rathbun Steak. (Both were good, even though the dish always reminds me of a scary childhood neighbor who used to raise snails in her garden.)

Finally, she wants the best fried chicken in town. She specifies that it be "juicy but with skin that is chicken, not all crunchy batter." I'm not sure about that, either, but I do love the fried chicken at Cardamom Hill, the Colonnade, Carver's, and Busy Bee. I'd include Popeyes, but it's super-battered. (She's already hit Mary Mac's, where the chicken was "dry but the skin was right.")

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Root City Market Faces #2: Jessamine Starr, Xanna Kidd, Laura Curtis, Paris Renata,

Posted By on Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Last week's Root City Market turned out 1,000 shoppers in a few hours. I went mainly for the food, but I was tempted by a table of three poets. You gave them a topic, and they wrote you a poem. There was a line - they wrote 60 poems total - so I decided to forgo the adventure. I stuck to the food.

Xanna Kidd, owner of XK Macarons, sold 700 of her addictive meringue cookies. I looked for one of her lavender-flavored regulars but couldn't find one. So I settled on the tangy-sweet gingerbread. The macaron, of course, has recently reached if not exceeded the faddish proportions of the still-but-not-quite-so-fashionable cupcake. The macaron is to the cupcake as airiness is to density, as spirit is to soul, as insatiability is to satiety, as calories are to mega-calories. You can find Laura's macarons at Mae's Bakery in Buckhead.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Palm-sized pralines from Ratio Bakeshop

Posted By on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 7:24 AM

The Grant Park Farmers Market finishes up for the year this Sunday, Dec. 22. It will resume in April. I hit the market, almost directly across from my home, last week and ran into Chris Flores (above) of Ratio Bakeshop. I interviewed him last summer when he first went into business.

I got a praline as big as the palm of my hand, a croissant filled with goat cheese, and an over-sized regular croissant. The two croissants - buttery, crispy, and chewy - were state-of-the-art. The praline, lumpy with pecan halves, was an exercise in total excess. I can't get it out of my mind.

I also bought my usual container of green sauce from Zocalo and some radishes, collards, and apples from other vendors. I pan-fried a pork tenderloin, deglazed the pan with the green sauce and scattered radish slices atop the sliced meat. I used more of the radishes in a dish of tofu with kimchi amd a few collards.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Food and academia: Full converstion with Daryl White

Posted By on Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 10:10 AM

My last Grazing column took on the subject of food studies in academia. It was inspired by my friend Daryl White. He is a professor of anthropology at Spelman and chair of the department of sociology and anthropology. He and his colleague Kimberly Jackson have created a new minor in food studies at Spelman. Following are Daryl's responses to questions I emailed him. Warning: much of this is in academic lingo.

What will the new minor be called and what will the course work look like?

It will be called "Interdisciplinary Minor in Food Studies." It will have a required intro: (1) my Food & Culture course; (2) five electives from a growing list of either new food courses or extant courses across campus with food modules; and (3) a final research, internship, or social service "capstone." We will present the minor to Spelman's curriculum committee after which it will be official; but some students are already taking food courses in anticipation.

And why do this? What's the motivation?

A confluence of things: First, across academia there is a push for "interdisciplinarity," approaching the status of mandate. Second is Spelman's focus on recreating some topic-based, interdisciplinary seminar courses that center on black women's lives. Third, there's food's growing popularity in academia.

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