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Archive for April, 2009

Five fantastic things about Indian mangoes

Spending $35 for a case of mangoes seems extreme. That is, until you try them. Ever since the United States began allowing the importation of irradiated Indian mangoes two years ago, a lot of Indian-Americans have been attuned to their short season, pouncing as soon as the first shipments show up in local markets.

Two years ago, Patel Brothers in Decatur got its inaugural shipment of the Kesar variety of mango. I managed to snag a case and loved what I tried. These mangoes were sweet, fragrant, heavy with juice.

“Wait until you try a fresh Alphonso mango,” my Indian friends said.

Last Saturday, as I was driving by Patel Brothers, I decided to stop in on a whim and — score! — a fresh stack of cases of Alphonso mangoes. Gulping, I shelled out the $35 bucks for 10 mangoes.

It turned out to be money well spent. My fruit-crazed family and I made it through the first five mangoes, gnawing the pits to the quick, murmuring, “Omigod, omigod.” The next four were doled out deliberately. …

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Indian mango alert

Fresh and wickedly expensive Alphonso mangoes direct from India at Patel Brothers, 1711 Church St., Decatur. While supplies last.
Best. Mangoes. Ever.

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Downtown lunch find: Dolsot bi bim bap

Georgia’s Best Bento (B.B.Q.) — and, yes, that’s the name — has long been one of those anodyne downtown Asian cafeterias that serves a mixture of ersatz Japanese food and ersatz Chinese food for office workers who exchange $6 for 1,000 calories or so. 

But lately the owners have been featuring more and more of their native Korean cooking — perhaps a bid for the Korean-American students at Georgia State. 

I decided to give the bi bim bap a try and was glad I did. The owner offered a choice of the regular version in a porcelain bowl or the “hot” in a superheated volcanic stone bowl called a dolsot (pictured). It came out in five minutes, its bed of rice sizzling loudly and topped with a colorful array of fresh and marinated veggies and beef bulgogi (chicken is also available). 

How was? Good, if lacking the all-important fried egg on top. The iceberg lettuce at 4 o’clock in the picture seemed a funny budget stretcher. But with a healthy squirt of spicy gochujang and a good stir, …

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Black pasta makes me happy

 

Is this dish scary?

Squid-ink pasta with crab

I think it would would do every home cook well to eat with Italians once in a while. More than anyone on the planet, Italians seem to understand the prime directives of food wisdom.

Here they are: Find good ingredients. Present them simply. Don’t screw them up with extraneous seasoning. 

Over spring break last week, we got a visit from our friends Rita, who comes from the Friuli region of northeastern Italy, and her grown son, Alessandro. While Rita is the accomplished cook of the family, Ale (as everyone calls him) was bouncing from a second wind after the flight from Europe and asked if he could cook dinner. He had one great bachelor dish, a Friulian specialty, and he wanted to make it. 

“Do you have spider crabs here? Do you have black squid-ink pasta?” he asked. Um…wow. How some shrimp and macaroni? 

Still, we went to Your DeKalb Farmers Market in search of the ingredients. I assumed we wouldn’t find spider crab — i.e., the granseola native to …

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Vacation Postcard: Dining in Savannah and Charleston

 

Baked oysters at Local 1110

Baked oysters at Local 1110

I’m back at work after a blessed week off. My family and I had some friends from Italy come for a visit, and so we took them on a brief but food-packed tour of Savannah and Charleston. Eating in tourist towns can always be challenging. I didn’t want to subject my friends to umpteen versions of shrimp and grits and she crab soup. In Savannah, we toyed with the idea of eating in Paula Deen’s restaurant, Lady & Sons. But after arriving in the morning to make reservations and finding a line snaking around the block, we decided instead to look at the life-sized cardboard cutout of Lady Paula and call it a day. 

“She’s very popular on the Food Network,” I explained. “She loves butter.”

“Oh,” our friends said, nodding their heads. “You have a network that shows nothing but food?”

So we mostly avoided tourist and kitsch dining and zeroed in on these three highly rated restaurants:

 

  • Local 11 Ten: I’ve been eager to try this two-year-old restaurant, which …

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Linton Hopkins among the “Best New Chefs 2009″ in Food & Wine (UPDATED)

Linton Hopkins, the chef/owner at Restaurant Eugene, was one of 11 chefs chosen a by Food & Wine magazine in its annual feature on America’s best new chefs. While some Atlantans may not think of Hopkins — an established leader in the local restaurant scene — as a “new chef,” he does fit the magazine’s main criterion: he has been in charge of a kitchen for fewer than 5 years. Food & Wine editors select the chefs after an intensive national search and a whole lot of anonymous dining. 

On Tuesday Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin (left) started dropping clues as to the identities of the 11 chefs the magazine selected on her Twitter feed — a day prior to the Wednesday 7 p.m. announcement.

It became apparent from this clue that Hopkins was among them:

“Minnesota McCarthy’s restaurant in Atlanta.”

 Let’s see. There was a certain Senator from Minnesota named Eugene McCarthy…

 

Previous local winners of this prestigious honor are Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison (Bacchanalia), Sotohiro …

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Atlanta Food News: Joël downscales, juke joint comes to downtown, Food 101 starts evening brunch, new chef at Parish, Whole Foods sells organic air

 

Courtesy Whole Foods

Courtesy Whole Foods

Get ready for Joël Brasserie. That’s the new, slightly tweaked working name for the soon-to-be-formerly upscale French restaurant where Joël Antunes once cooked.

Chef Cyrille Holota will debut a slightly revised menu within the next week with fewer big-ticket items and more casual (i.e., inexpensive) choices. Burger? Burger.

The bistro lunch menu — with all items under $10 — will continue. A new logo will stress the restaurant’s partial rebranding. 

In other food news:

  • The former Macy’s building at 180 Peachtree will house two new restaurants. The first, tentatively called Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint, will feature live music and the comfort-food stylings of Todd Richards (One Flew South). The second will be a new branch of Meehan’s Ale House — the Irish-ish pub from 101 Concepts. 
  • Speaking of 101 Concepts, the restaurant management company has sold the Morningside location of Food 101 to its chef, Ron Eyester, who has made his first executive decision. …

Continue reading Atlanta Food News: Joël downscales, juke joint comes to downtown, Food 101 starts evening brunch, new chef at Parish, Whole Foods sells organic air »