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Archive for March, 2010

Should dogs be allowed in restaurants?

Courtesy Paw House Inn

Courtesy Paw House Inn

Many years ago my parents took me and my sister on vacation in France. I remember being absolutely blown away when we were in a restaurant one night and the woman sitting at the table next to us opened her purse and pulled out….a dog!

For the rest of the meal it sat in her lap, waiting patiently as she fed it smidgens off her plate. I can’t imagine she had the most enjoyable time because my sister and I kept giggling throughout the meal.

I noticed a little back and forth on the subject of dogs in restaurants yesterday on this blog in the post about the new Thirsty Dog Tavern, which will be dog friendly.

As a sometimes travel writer, I hear all the time about hotels and restaurants that are dog friendly. The Paw House Inn in Vermont bills itself as a resort for dogs and their owners.

I will admit to being a dyed-in-the-fur cat person and really don’t like dogs who want to slobber all over me, no matter how noble their intentions. That said, I have no …

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What is this? Where is this?

photo-11There’s a $10 Denny’s gift card for the person who can answer both questions. (Former gift card recipients: please give it a couple of hours before jumping in. Thanks.)

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“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” can be hard to digest


“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” which airs Fridays on ABC, is the oddest of mash-ups — part celebrity-chef hagiography, part reality TV straining with hackneyed tension, part underreported documentary, and 100 percent agitprop.

It also makes you gape, cry and consider the ugliness and horrors of our broken food supply system.

Repeating the work he has done with the British school lunch system, Oliver has chosen to film his six-week series in the town of Huntington, W.Va., a city that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has singled out as one of the most obese in the nation.

Oliver blows into town dressed like a giant, tragically hair-moussed pea and talking of “revolution.” Children giggle, adults take umbrage.

Oliver’s mission, after two episodes, appears to be threefold. The first, most dramatically rich, involves his attempts to remake the school breakfast and lunch programs at Central City Elementary School. Here we get pure reality TV boilerplate: the …

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Front Burner: Dog-friendly Italian pub, anyone?

Thirsty Dog LogoThirsty Dog Tavern – a reboot of the Vita space on Peachtree Road in South Buckhead — has opened. Dave Heany,  formerly of Star Community Bar in Little Five Points and Vita’s Tony LaRocco have combined their points of view into this hybrid entity.

Think: Games, flat screens galore, great beers out the wazoo.

Now think: Veal marsala, eggplant parmesan, linguine with sausage and peppers.

And dogs! The pet-friendly lower level has a “kibble menu” and a “Milk Bone Happy Hour.”

Tessa, my yellow lab mix, and I might just have to check it out.

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Foolproof matzo balls

AJC Staff

AJC Staff

If anyone is planning to a Passover Seder for tonight and still needs a matzo ball recipe that promises on a stack of Torahs to produce fluffy, light orbs of unleavened yumminess, look no further.

This recipe, which uses stiffly whipped egg white to leaven, has never let me down. No oil, no seltzer, no panicked injunction to never lift the lid or face matzo ball failure.

The accompanying story is here.

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Chef’s Night Out with Tom Colicchio

Kevin Gillespie, Tom Colicchio and Richard Blais at Hong Kong Harbour (Curtis Compton, AJC)

Kevin Gillespie, Tom Colicchio and Richard Blais at Hong Kong Harbour (Curtis Compton, AJC)

The diners at Craft — loosened with glass after glass of pinot noir, sated with roasted duck and sausage-wrapped lamb loin — broke into uproarious applause. They were as happy as pigs in pokes when Tom Colicchio, the chef and owner of the Craft family of restaurants, strolled out on the floor, mic in hand.

Colicchio, whose role as head judge on the television series “Top Chef” has made him a national celebrity, shushes the crowd. He discusses the menu and makes gracious comments about the winemaker in attendance at this sold-out dinner. Then, guests rush forward, arms outstretched, including one woman in a floor-length black gown with a maelstrom of ruffles churning about her shoulders.

“Who made your dress?” Colicchio asks.

“Chanel,” the woman answers, flattered.

As Colicchio poses for pictures, a small posse begins forming by his side. In comes Kevin Maxey, who runs Craft Atlanta, and …

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First Look: Brunch House

brunchhouse4Usually when a restaurant has only been open for a month or so and doesn’t — shall we say? — have all its spaghetti in the pot, I’ll be the first to say, “Give it some time.”

“Let them work out the kinks.”

“They just need to oil the machinery.”

“They should get their ducks in a row.”

I’m afraid there isn’t a suitable cliche to excuse the meal I had at the Brunch House. If the nice owners  want to retain any of the customers who have espied this cheery corner spot in a new development adjacent to Nuevo Laredo Cantina and wandered in, they need a warning.

Here it is.

Let’s put aside any subjective comments and let the facts and numbers speak for themselves.

brunchhouse3The food: Hmm. At right we see my breakfast. What is it? According to the menu card:

Three mushrooms egg white omelette: shiitake, portabella (sic), and baby bella cello mushrooms with melting variety of cheeses, hash browns and toast.

According to empirical evidence:

Button mushrooms squidgies and semi-softened cheddar …

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What kind of Easter treat is this?

SEARTCan anyone guess what iconic Easter treat this is, and what was done to it?

Want a clue? Ready the defibrillator and click here.

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Sunday Column: Poetry in 140 characters or fewer

Ruth Reichl in 1999 (AJC archive)

Ruth Reichl in 1999 (AJC archive)

In this week’s Sunday Column I consider the singular Tweeting style of former Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl.

Tweets Show Poetic Taste

Over the past few weeks, the food Twitterati have been paying rapt attention to a new voice belonging to one “Ruth Bourdain” (@ruthbourdain). This is not a real person but a mash-up of Ruth Reichl — the former New York Times restaurant critic and editor of now-shuttered Gourmet magazine — and Anthony Bourdain, the book author and “No Reservations” host. Even the freaky avatar frames Bourdain’s perma-scowl in Reichl’s flowing dark hair.

Essentially this poster takes Reichl’s spare, evocative, upbeat snippets of yumminess (posted as @ruthreichl) and frames them in Bourdain’s profane sarcasm. Reichl tweets, “Good night. Hot kimchi, slicked with chiles. Smoky, sweet grilled beef in crisp lettuce. Sake. Slow stroll home down electric streets.”

“Ruth Bourdain” counters: “Bad night. Hot kimchi slicked w/chiles = …

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An Edible Schoolyard and an Empire Sofa

Joe Truex cooking at Avoyelles Public Charter School

Joe Truex cooking at Avoyelles Public Charter School

This story appeared in today’s print edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It is about a trip I took with my friend, the chef Joe Truex, to his home in Louisiana.

Mansura, Louisiana — Joe Truex parks his Subaru station wagon in front of my house before dawn. An orange U-Haul trailer, glowing in the street lights, tilts oddly behind it. “It’s not sitting right,” Joe worries, squatting by the hitch and giving it a tug. “I guess we’ll find out if it holds,” he adds, laughing.

Joe and his wife, Mihoko Obunai, own the prominent Atlanta restaurant Repast. Because they are near neighbors and have become good friends, I stay clear of appraising or recommending their food. But that morning I pack both hats — writer and friend — for our road trip. We take off on a voyage to his boyhood home in central Louisiana, where his past and future would await. There, Joe will headline the kind of gig that every chef …

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