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Archive for December, 2009

On the Menu: Acorn-fed Pork at Parish

This man's got some fancy pig

This man's got some fancy pig

I just got off the phone with Nick Melvin (left) — chef at Parish Food & Goods — and he’s all excited about the pig shoulder that he’s serving as a special this weekend.

“It’s in the immersion circulator right now,” said Melvin. “I’m starting it sous vide, then I’m going to roast it to get the skin all crackly.”

This particular Eden Farms Berkshire Pork was finished for 90 days (i.e., fed before slaughter) on acorns — just like the pigs raised for Spain’s famous jamón ibérico de bellota.

Eden Farms Pork

Eden Farms Pork

The flavor, Melvin says, is “sweet and nutty” and the meat is extremely well marbled (right). He plans to serve it with a Hakurei turnip and chestnut gratin, garlic-braised mustard greens from Noring Farms and a sherry reduction for $29.

Pork in the immersion circulator at Parish

Pork in the immersion circulator at Parish

Melvin believes that he and Kevin Gillespie at Woodfire Grill are the only two chefs in Atlanta who got the limited allotment of this specialty pork.

[update: a …

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Bo Bo Garden: Cantonese cooking on Buford Highway

photoCantonese Chinese is in some ways the most familiar of Asian cuisines and the most foreign. I certainly learned to appreciate new, unexpected flavors and textures in the Cantonese Chinese restaurants my parents took me to when I was growing up. (True, we’re talking about canned water chestnuts and Sterno-singed beef skewers, but still…)

As a young adult I found that the boisterous Cantonese restaurants in the cities where I lived were the easiest to get a handle on. It’s hard not to fall in love with dim sum, hard not to fall in love with barbecued ducks and pork, hard not to fall in love with wonton noodle soups. If you’re a fan of messy bone food, it’s hard not to fall in love with Cantonese seafood — whole fish in black bean sauce, hacked-up crabs in ginger-scallion sauce, and big dishes of steamed clams.

But then you dig a little deeper and find out that Cantonese cooking is infinitely varied, infinitely weird to outsiders, based on a huge repertoire of dishes that make …

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“Top Chef” Reunion: the cast looks back on the season

kevin2The “Top Chef” cast — both chefs and judges — sat down with moderator Andy Cohen for a reunion episode last night. They looked at clips and outtakes, answer questions from viewers and hashed out some issues that arose during the filming.

My favorite bits were:

  • Kevin admitting that he would have rather cooked for a passel of French culinary luminaries — Joël Robuchon, Daniel Boulud — than sat down to dine with them, as he did in an early episode. “Sitting at that table was one of the most intimidating experiences of my life,” he said of the dinner at which everyone was speaking French. The scene was replayed with amusing “what Kevin was thinking” subtitles to the conversation.
  • Tom remarking that this season’s A-list roster of guest judges (the aforementioned and Thomas Keller) indicates the “show has been embraced by our industry.”
  • Michael sharing the childhood story about being sent to his room without watching “A.L.F.” because he was harassing Bryan.
  • The Voltaggios’ …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: The Wrap Map

30mapFor those of you who followed this blog’s “30 Restaurants in 30 Days” project last month, we now offer a Google Maps mashup that shows where all the reviewed restaurants can be found. And because my editor asked me to make a few concluding remarks on the project to go with this very handy map, I offer these:

The best laid plans:

  • failed when I announced I was planning to visit 30 restaurants in November on the first of that month and then had only have 29 days left. Um…oops? I made up for it by reviewing two ramen noodle restaurants — Blue Fin Sushi and Umaido – in a special twofer.
  • also failed when I decided to visit the Busy Bee Cafe (a restaurant I’ve always liked a lot) on the day after Thanksgiving. I figured it would make a nice bookend to my somewhat critical look at Mary Mac’s Tea Room early in the series. It turned out the Busy Bee was closed on that day, so I drove around until I found a restaurant that was open. West Egg Cafe: perfect!

I was hoping, but never got …

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Front Burner: Serpas named one of America’s 10 Best New Restaurants in GQ


Flash-fried oysters with pickled chiles and mirliton from Serpas

GQ Magazine restaurant critic Alan Richman traveled the country looking for America’s best new restaurants and found a place on the list for Serpas True Food — chef Scott Serpas’ buzzy eatery in the Old Fourth Ward’s Studioplex building. Richman calls the Louisiana-born chef’s cooking  “raucous—a little messy and a touch out of control,” but full of “passion and sense of place.” You can see a slideshow of all 10 winners — including New York’s Marea and Los Angeles’ The Bazaar — here.

In other news:

  • Korean behemoth Red Mango has plans to blanket the metro area with 20 units of its frozen yogurt chain. It will enter a market already saturated with both multi-unit yogurt shops  (Juicy Green, Yoforia) and local faves (Decatur’s The Yogurt Tap, Buckhead’s Yogurberry). By the way, I’ve tried Red Mango and I think it’s great — the plain flavor is the creamiest in texture and the most tart in flavor that I’ve …

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Dish: Shrimp po’ boy at Crawfish Shack Seafood

crawfishpoboyI’m happy to report that the menu at Crawfish Shack Seafood has expanded in a most delicious way. Since early December owner Hieu Pham has been serving a full roster of po’ boy sandwiches at this tiny, spic-and-span seafood market and restaurant on Buford Highway. The list ranges from American cheese ($5.25) and french fry ($5.50) varieties, but most come filled with fried seafood. I was tempted by grouper ($8.99) and crawfish ($9.99) but decided to go with the classic shrimp ($8.99).

I don’t claim to be an expert on the intricacies of density, crunch and squish in a properly prepared po’ boy — I’ve probably eaten no more than a couple dozen in my life — but I will say this is a seriously kickin’ sandwich.

Why? Details, details:

  • The shrimp: Sweet, tender, crunchy and so carefully shelled that the tapering wisps of meat once in the tail are intact and fried to a crunch.
  • The bread: From Amoroso’s Baking in Philadelphia, these crackly rolls are sturdy in all the right ways.
  • The …

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Sun Dial to reopen in January but won’t spin right away



The Sun Dial Restaurant — which perches 723 feet above downtown Atlanta on the top floors of the  Westin Peachtree Plaza — will reopen with new windows in late January after a four-month hiatus.

But it won’t rotate — not just yet.

The tri-level restaurant still needs more work before it can sends its diners on a revolving, 360-degree tour of the downtown skyline. Sources at the hotel hope to crank up the human Habitrail in time for Valentine’s Day, when Atlantans of every stripe hope to propose to their spinning sweethearts, high above the city.

Spiffing up the Sun Dial has been a top priority for the 30-plus-year-old hotel since it was damaged in the March 2008 tornado that ripped through the city’s center. The restaurant needed to close to expedite the hotel’s massive renovation project. In total, 6,350 windows will be replaced.

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Coke rewards site cusses out U.K. customer

Screen capture (The Sun)

Screen capture (The Sun)

You know those randomly generated security codes that allow you to submit Web pages? Well, it seems they sometimes have a mind of their own.

The Sun newspaper is reporting that a British Web user logged onto the Coke Zone online rewards program and the site hurled the F bomb at him. Not only that, the “shocked” warehouse manager had to type it back if he wanted to confirm his registration.

A Coke spokesman apologized.

Read all about it here. (Via Slashfood)

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First Look: Miller Union

credit: David Naugle (courtesy of Miller Union)

credit: David Naugle (courtesy of Miller Union)


What it is: A restaurant that takes the farm-to-table credo as seriously as any in town. Produce and meats come largely from local farms, seafood from nearby coastal waters. The menu changes weekly, and it is built entirely around the harvest.

Where it is: In a new mixed-use development in West Midtown, on the site of the former Miller Union stock yards. It’s a block off Howell Mill road on a street that you likely never knew existed.

Why it’s interesting: The intown food crowd is all over this restaurant, and it isn’t just for the “Miller thyme” cocktails (a lemony, herbal martini). Chef Steven Satterfield long ran the kitchen at Watershed under Scott Peacock, while his partner, Neal McCarthy, was the general manager at Sotto Sotto. These two are so well liked that they’ve already gathered more than a thousand names for Miller Union’s Facebook fan page. You know what that means: make a reservation.

What it …

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Dish: Truffled Hash Browns at the Porter Beer Bar

porterhashbrownHere’s one of those dishes that you want to remember for those times when you’re drunk, fixing to get drunk or recovering from drinking too much.

These truffled hash browns ($5.50) — currently on the specials list at the Porter Beer Bar in Little Five Points — consist of a crisp, football-shaped cake of shredded potatoes blanketed with well-cooked mushrooms, white cheddar cheese and truffle oil.

Normally I’m not a fan of the chemical stench of truffle oil, but when it combines with all that tasty grease, and the melty topping, and those meaty bursts of mushroom flavor then…well…it’s guilty pleasure time. My daughter and I ate about three quarters of this glorious gut bomb before it coagulated enough to stop us.

My friend Besha Rodell — who is Creative Loafing’s food editor and restaurant critic — has a great term for this kind of skeezy deliciousness. One time when we were talking, she referred to “slutty Chinese food,” and I knew exactly what she meant. Those deep-fried …

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