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Archive for March, 2010

Wine-friendly turnip greens

photo 2Today I participated in one of the many events around town tied to the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. It was a fundraiser for the Oxford American and featured a menu that paired the wines of Palmaz Vineyards in Napa County with the Southern-inflected cooking of Duane Nutter and Todd Richards — the duo responsible for the menu at One Flew South in Hartsfield Jackson Airport. (I profiled Richards and Nutter in the Oxford American’s recently released food issue.)

The dish that really struck me were these turnip greens tossed with pork shoulder in a sweet-acidic potlikker. “Wow, this is going to kill the wine,” I thought to myself as soon as the creamy Palmaz chardonnay (which had gone though 100% malolactic fermentation) hit the table. Surprise. Not at all. The wine had a clean focus and good length, and that potlikker did a kind of double-helix dance with it. The flavors twirled around each other in the mouth. It was an astonishing pairing, and it got me thinking how little …

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Atlanta’s Urban Picnic today

ASFC

The Atlanta Street Food Coalition will hold its version of a debutante ball today.

Atlanta’s Urban Picnic promises to be a food festival like no other. Spilling over the sidewalks surrounding the Sweet Auburn Curb Market downtown, it will offer a movable smorgasbord food-truck yummies. Banish all thoughts of funnel cakes and greasy fries and consider instead biscuit sandwiches, Korean BBQ tacos, Caribbean food, vegetarian samosas, locally made hot dogs and wood-fired pizza.

Vendors begin slinging deliciousness at 11 a.m. All the details are on the event’s Facebook page.

I spoke recently with one of the Street Food Coalition’s founders, local attorney Greg Smith. Since the summer of 2009, this group has been busy gathering supporters for its petition and trying to make sense of the permitting laws and regulations.

“In my opinion the biggest obstacle is the state public health department,” says Smith. “It’s a result of policy,  not a legislative thing.”

Among the rules that …

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Back to Kusum Foods

78692051I had another really satisfying vegetarian Gujarati lunch at Kusum Foods today. Order the daily Thali ($7.49, tax inclusive) and they serve you whatever they have prepared that day. Your only choice is between khichdi (rice and yellow lentil pilaf) with warm yogurt curry or white rice with dal.

Today we had, starting at 1 o’clock, potatoes and lentils in a tomato gravy; squares of steamed gram (chickpea) flour cake with blanched jalapeño; a cardamom-scented dessert that looks like corn O’Brien; mini pappads; mango pickle; julienned okra and potato with tiny dots of black ajowan seeds that pop with the flavor of thyme; stewed chickpeas in spicy gravy; warm yogurt curry that was to be spooned over the khichdi in the center. We also each got four buttery roti breads. This is my idea of a carb feast.

I like this little Decatur spot more with each visit.

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Speaking of hamburgers…

Courtesy of Serious Eats

Courtesy of Serious Eats

These 10 tips on how to cook better hamburgers at home should be required reading for everyone who owns a grill.

They come from Serious EatsA Hamburger Today blog.

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Burger of the Week: Rosebud

photoThis meaty monster ($13) is consistent with all of chef Ron Eyester’s food at Rosebud restaurant in Morningside — brawny, generous, fresh tasting, indulgent. But I will say it’s probably my least favorite of the several dishes I’ve tried here. Let’s take a look.

The burger: A not-too-thick, not-too-thin patty of ground Kobe beef, grilled to a gushingly juicy medium but not flavored with any grill char. The loosely formed texture is a pleasure.

The bun: Grilled, soft, flavorful and destined to its fate as a blanket of pink, soppy juices.

The standard add-ons: Grilled onions (nice! Sweet and a still a little crisp.) and Marco Polo cheddar studded with tingly peppercorns. The honking slice of cheese drapes over the bun, so you get to experience it both melted and unmelted. (Double nice!)

photo 3The condiments: Standard-issue ketchup and the Worcestershire-zingy house steak sauce.

The fries: Good Lord, no. Dry, mealy, leathery. Reminds me of the days of Olestra.

The gestalt: I really …

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Front Burner: Cakes & Ale moves, Cozy Burger Town opens

Phatty Cakes at Cakes & Ale

Phatty Cakes at Cakes & Ale

Billy and Kristin Allin plan to move their popular Decatur eatery, Cakes & Ale, from its current location on W. Ponce de Leon Ave. to three storefronts on the Church St. side of Decatur Square. The move will allow the restaurant’s talented pastry chef, Cynthia Wong, to fulfill a longtime dream of opening a standalone pastry shop next to the restaurant. She plans to serve pastries and light meals throughout the day and then turn it into a dessert bar at night. Gumshoe blogger Decatur Metro has the scoop.

In other news:

  • Cozy Burger Town has opened  at 2641 N. Decatur Road in Decatur. It takes over the defunct One Love Cafe Jamaican restaurant in a once-upon-a-time Pizza Hut. We love the name, right?
  • Speaking of Jamaican food and fantastic names, The Village Jerk Cafe will serve Caribbean food from My Sister’s Room, a bar in East Atlanta Village at 1271 Glenwood Ave. What Now Atlanta has this story.
  • Go tell Bill Addison where to eat barbecue, …

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First Look: Young Augustine’s

young1A couple of Sundays ago, after working up a bit of an appetite on the Hunger Walk/Run 2010 to benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank, we stopped in at Young Augustine’s the gastropub-re-do of the Standard on Memorial Drive. (For the record, we ran most of the way, but only to catch up to our group after arriving 30 minutes late.)

I had never been to the Standard, so I can’t comment on the renovation. But this is a cozy spot, with high, step-up booths, a great community table and an inviting bar. The front darts room looks like a good place for a hang.

The food we tried was pretty good — not on par with the Porter Beer Bar or Leon’s Full Service, but along those lines.

young2The beer list, however, is quite extensive. Any neighborhood is a better one when you can get a glass of Saison Dupont on draft.

young3This hanger steak came out a pretty bloody medium rare, with the connective tissue that runs through the center of this cut of meat intact. Some from-the-bag fries and a handful of …

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Linton Hopkins and Hugh Acheson among James Beard Award Finalists

james_beardThe finalists are being announced (of course) on Twitter. So forgive me if I miss some salient Southerners. But of most interest to us’n’s:

  • Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Hugh Acheson of Five and Ten in Athens are once again finalists for Best Chef Southeast. They go up against Andrea Reusing (Lantern, Chapel Hill, NC), Bill Smith (Crook’s Corner, Chapel Hill) and Sean Brock (McCrady’s, Charleston, SC). Folks tend to work their way up the ladder, so I’m predicting a win for Hopkins or Acheson this year. Though Brock, a young chef, is getting a huge national reputation and may pull off the upset.
  • Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn., gets a nod for Outstanding Wine Service.
  • “The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern: Knockout Dishes with Down-Home Flavor” (Clarkson Potter, $35) gets a nomination in the American Cooking category in the cookbook awards for authors Matt Lee and Ted Lee.
  • John T. Edge is a finalist for the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing award for his work on …

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Cafe Agora: Turkish delight

agora1Do you have children? If so, have you ever experienced one of those Friday nights when you suddenly realize that every one of them has a sleepover, and not at your house? In other words, you and your spouse are free, free, free like birds.

Spontaneous date night!

My wife and I found ourselves in this situation last week as we were both in our cars, driving kids around to various social engagements. We called each other and went, “Oh. It’s just us tonight.” So we decided to meet in Buckhead and plan a meal from there.

Standing in front of the new, intriguing, but definitely not spontaneous-date-night-worthy Kind Pie (an organic-minded pizza place with no seating), we considered a couple of nearby restaurants I wanted to try.

One was Cafe Agora. Turkish food I had heard was good. Small, edge-of-scuzz storefornt. Harsh overhead neon lights. Large deli case in front. Backlit menu board with pictures of food on it. It seemed like a gyro shop in New York’s Theater District — not a …

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Road Food: Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama

Mayflower Cafe, Jackson MS

Mayflower Cafe, Jackson MS

I’ve just returned from spending a few days in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, where I had the  pleasure of meeting Alice Waters — the great chef, cookbook author and inspiration for the good food movement. Waters was in central Louisiana to celebrate the first harvest from the Avoyelles Charter Public School “Edible Schoolyard” — one of many such school vegetable gardens that have opened around the country since Waters first developed the program for the Berkeley, California, school system.

Waters shared top billing at this event with the Parish’s best known native-son chef –  Joe Truex of Repast Restaurant, whom I accompanied. (Joe and his wife/co-chef Mihoko Obunai are my neighbors and good friends, which is why I have never shared any opinion about their restaurant in this blog and always disclose the relationship when his name comes up in a news story).

I’ll write a piece about this event next week, but in the meantime I wanted to share some  …

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