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Archive for February, 2010

911 Reservations: Scalping Valentine’s Day [updated]

394px-Broken_Heart_symbol.svgYesterday saw a whirlwind of coordinated effort among area restaurateurs as they discovered that a Web site called 911 Reservations was selling hundreds of  Valentine’s Day reservations online.

Administrators of the site had surreptitiously made the reservations under scores of different names several months ago and then began selling them online within the past two weeks, according to area restaurateurs. Though the Web site focused on the Atlanta area, it also sold reservations in Miami, New York, San Francisco and the California Wine Country.

The reservations — valued anywhere between $25 and $100 for top draws like Woodfire Grill and Quinones at Bacchanalia — could be purchased with a remittance to a PayPal account. The reservations cut a broad swath through the city’s top destinations, including Repast, Rathbun’s, Bacchanalia, Chops and Craft.

The initial Web site went down some time around 10 p.m. on Wednesday night, though a clone has surfaced under a related URL. This …

Continue reading 911 Reservations: Scalping Valentine’s Day [updated] »

Edible Cellophane? That’ll cut down on packaging



How to keep landfills from piling high with discarded food packaging? Eat it.

The Atlantic Food Channel has a fascinating story about new developments in nanotechnology that is making possible the development of thin, perfectly edible starch-based sheets that can wrap food.

Of course, this has its own set of complications:

“The most promising answer to this problem is one that’s sure to provoke a range of reactions: edible packaging. This idea has been around since the 1960s, but only recently have companies begun testing the commercial waters. The gist of edible packaging is to wrap food—in most cases, produce—in a starch-based film that can be eaten, which helps food last longer while obviating bulky packaging. The potential downside, however, is that this opens the industrial food system to what many see as the dubious promise of nanotechnology.”

You can read the story here.

Continue reading Edible Cellophane? That’ll cut down on packaging »

Barbecue Times Two: Harold’s and Han Il Kwan open branches

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Two venerable barbecue restaurants — one Southern, one Korean — have decided to expand to the suburbs.

Harold’s Barbecue, a Southside Atlanta fixture that has long been a favorite with local politicians, will open a branch next week at 2054 Highway 42 N in McDonough. Owner Harold Hembree, Jr., passed away in 2008, but the restaurant continues to be a local draw. The new location will duplicate the menu, down to the cracklin’ cornbread.

Han Il Kwan, one of the best Korean barbecue restaurants on Buford Highway and in the city, has opened its second location in the former Seoul Garden at 3040 Steve Reynolds Boulevard in Duluth. More and more, Duluth is the place to be for Korean dining.

Continue reading Barbecue Times Two: Harold’s and Han Il Kwan open branches »

My life as an honorary Canadian: Red River Cereal

photo-1Being the plus-one in my wife’s Canadian family has its advantages:

  • I know what curling is and can speak with authority when the Winter Olympics start.
  • I get butter tarts at Christmas.
  • Exciting new North Country foods come to my attention.

To wit: My brother- and sister-in-law were waxing nostalgic over the holidays about Red River Cereal — a hot breakfast they both love and my wife dismisses as vile, mushy porridge that she was happy to leave behind, along with Ontario winters.

Well, not only has winter followed her to Georgia this year, but we also got a box of Red River mailed to us, courtesy of our relatives.

LOVED it. Seriously — this nut-brown cereal cooks up quickly and contains nothing but cracked wheat, rye and flax seed. It cooks up like oatmeal, but naturally sweeter and more interesting. Add a little milk and brown sugar or maple syrup, and it’s a fantastic and healthy breakfast.

Does anyone know where to get this in Atlanta, or do I have to write away

Continue reading My life as an honorary Canadian: Red River Cereal »

Buckhead Beef Addendum: Ryan Aiken surfaces

Ryan Aiken and steak galore

Ryan Aiken and steak galore

In my haste to post yesterday’s item about the alternative cuts of steak at Buckhead Beef, I neglected to mention that the visiting chefs stayed for a tasting of all these hangers, Spinalises and rib eye filets, along with both grass-fed and milk-fed veal chops. The in-house chef is none other than Ryan Aiken, whom some of you may remember from his East Atlanta Village spot, Burrito Art, as well as Misto in Collier Hills and Saba in Emory Village.

photo 5The steaks look good, no?

I wasn’t able to stay for the tasting, but i can attest they smelled awfully appetizing.

Continue reading Buckhead Beef Addendum: Ryan Aiken surfaces »

Chefs look into cheaper beef cuts

photo 3This morning chef Brett McKee and his business partner Steve Palmer led a group from their Charleston restaurant group to their Atlanta-based meat supplier, Buckhead Beef, to check out alternative beef cuts.

McKee and Palmer made their names at the grand, successful Oak Steakhouse on Broad Street in central Charleston and then opened the more casual and inexpensive farm-to-table concept, 17 North Roadside Kitchen, on the city’s outskirts.

McKee and Palmer were mainly interested in finding tasty but value-priced beef cuts to serve at their second restaurant. I came along to observe and got lessons in both restaurant economics and butchery.

As Buckhead Beef’s Chad Stine walked them through the possibilities in the 30-degree meat-cutting room, a butcher tore into vacuum-packed sub-primal cuts and went to work with a ferociously sharp knife to demonstrate the possibilities.

First off, the butcher cut thick New York strips — trimming away the fat cap, the uneven edges and the side …

Continue reading Chefs look into cheaper beef cuts »

Where am I?

The answer comes later today with pictures of the non-pork area.

Continue reading Where am I? »

Eating at the Bar

When I’m alone, I really love dining at the bar. This may sound kind of dorky, but when I’m at the bar I always find it easier to eat less and savor my food more. Usually I can get away with one or two small plates and a very carefully sipped glass of wine, and I feel like I got to experience a restaurant without the caloric overload so often associated with a full meal out.

Here are three bar meals I’ve really enjoyed lately:

photoAt Zen on Ten Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar I ate this really tasty plate of hamachi serrano ($10) — a riff on Nobu Matsuhisa’s recipe. The sauce on the bottom is a blend of soy, yuzu (Japanese citron) and olive oil. I got a bowl of wonderfully chewy brown rice still in its mahogany husks and a small house salad. After the fish was gone, I surreptitiously poured the sauce over the rice. (Hat tip to Jonathan Baker at Citysearch for the recommendation.)

This restaurant has a pretty typical Thai/sushi bar thing going on, but it’s a lot less busy than other …

Continue reading Eating at the Bar »

Top Super Bowl Food Ad: The Denny’s Screaming Chickens?

The folks at Slashfood have spoken, and they give the animatronic chickens hawking breakfast at Denny’s the top spot on their list.

Writes Michael Thomas Hastings:

“They squawk. They bulge their eyes. They move their little beaks as if controlled by puppeteers. They probably were. It doesn’t matter — like a bizarre Conan O’Brien skit, the inept special effects just make it funnier. Bravo, Denny’s!”

You can read the full comments and see the list here.

Do you agree, or were you more a fan of the Betty White Snickers commercial?

Continue reading Top Super Bowl Food Ad: The Denny’s Screaming Chickens? »

Alternate Popcorn Reality

Left: Korean "big popcorn;" right: Peruvian chulpe

Left: Korean "big popcorn;" right: Peruvian chulpe

On last week’s visit to the Buford Highway Farmers Market I found two interesting kinds of popcorn that Orville Redenbacher wouldn’t recognize if they bit him on his bowtie.

On the left we have Korean-style popcorn — one of many puffed grain snacks collectively called pung twi gi. I remember trying similar puffed rice and corn snacks being sold as street food in Japan when I lived there.

photo 3It is very lightly sweetened, which I find appealing. This 6-ounce bag contains 5 recommended servings, which seems generous. I’d estimate each serving at about 2 cups, with a calorie count of 121. I find it a satisfying snack, and my kids like it in their lunchboxes.

On the right is  chulpe, which Peruvian restaurants often serve with beverages before the meal. I had no idea it was a popcorn, and the bag doesn’t give you any indication. It simply instructs you to toast the corn kernels in oil in a skillet until they begin to brown and smell …

Continue reading Alternate Popcorn Reality »