City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Archive for April, 2010

Million-dollar recipe controversy

Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups (Pillsbury)

Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups (Pillsbury)

Oh no! News organizations everywhere are reporting a backlash against the winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups earned a cool $1 million and guest appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show for their creator, Sue Compton. The New Jersey mom combined refrigerated sugar cookie dough baked in muffin tins with chocolate, jam and ice cream for the kind of treat that, well, any 6-year-old could make.

And there’s the problem. Dissenters are arguing the face that these sugar balls don’t involve any actual cooking.

The San Jose Mercury News has a particularly amusing recounting of the kerfuffle.

I’m thinking: People. Get a life. It’s the Pillsbury Bake-Off.

I’m also thinking: Mmmm….mini ice cream cookie cups….

What are you thinking?


Prep Time: 20 Min

Total Time: 45 Min

Makes: 24 tartlets


1 package (16 oz) refrigerated sugar cookies (24 cookies)

4 teaspoons sugar

1/3 cup walnuts, finely …

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A winner, plus quiz answers

greystone_frontWe have a winner for tomorrow night’s Dinner Party in Piedmont Park. Thanks to everyone who entered the contest.

Here are the answers to the questions. Query: Would you all like to see more food quizzes on this blog even if they don’t come with a prize?

What is the difference between nuoc cham and nuoc mam?

Nuoc cham is a condiment that combines nuoc mam (fish sauce) with sugar, lime juice, chilies and garlic.

Which now-shuttered restaurant was famous for its fried lobster tails?

Pano’s & Paul’s, though one reader says Papa Pirozki’s also served them.

What is a “glorified steak” at the Varsity?

A hamburger with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.

Name the last four restaurants at 111 West Paces Ferry Road.

Seeger’s, Posh, Home, Coast Seafood & Raw Bar.

Define umami. Name three foods associated with it.

It is the fifth primary taste after sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Sometimes called “savoriness,” it is all foods high in natural glutamates, such as vine-ripe tomatoes, …

Continue reading A winner, plus quiz answers »

Front Burner: Shake Shack clone headed downtown?

Credit: Wikimedia

Credit: Wikimedia

The perfunctory FountainSide Cafe in Centennial Olympic Park will be replaced by a new 175-seat restaurant modeled after New York’s redoubtable Shake Shack in Madison Square Park and elsewhere, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. If it’s anything like Shake Shack, expect lines. Serious lines.

In other news:

  • John T. Edge steers his New York Times “United Tastes” cruiser to Atlanta to visit my favorite Crawfish Shack Seafood on Buford Highway. He tells the story of why and how Southeast Asian Americans carry on the traditions of preparing coastal Louisiana seafood. Check it.
  • Speaking of the New York Times, its star food reporter Kim Severson will be in town Wednesday, May 5, to read from her new memoir “Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life” (Riverhead Books, $25.95). One of those eight cooks was Edna Lewis, and Severson devotes a chapter to her relationship with Lewis and former Watershed chef Scott Peacock. The reading, sponsored by the Georgia Center …

Continue reading Front Burner: Shake Shack clone headed downtown? »

First Look: Farm Burger

photo 5Chef Terry Koval stands by my table, points to my half-eaten burger and says, “That was a good cow.”

I suddenly have an image of Bessie being led by the ring in her nose right into a meat grinder.

Koval continues. “This one is so juicy and has such a good flavor. Much better than that first cow we had.” He sighs. “Of course, I never thought we’d already be onto our second cow by now. But we’ve been so busy.”

You want farm to table? We got you some farm to table right here. Call it cow to bun.

The process of sourcing meat at Decatur’s new and phenomenally busy Farm Burger goes something like this:

The kitchen sources a grass-fed cow from one of several local farms. Koval mentioned a North Carolina farm for this one and says he works with Charlotte and Wes Swancy of Riverview Farms in Ranger to build a network of suppliers. The marked beast is sent to Happy Valley Processing in Dearing to be humanely killed (whatever that means), and the trimmed meat ages up to three weeks …

Continue reading First Look: Farm Burger »

Where to go on date night?

Date-Night-Poster-1It’s Saturday night. The $12-an-hour babysitter has arrived and she might actually wash the dishes and not spend all evening on the Internet. The minivan has at least a half tank of gas. A dress has been picked out. A husband has been told to change his shirt with food stains on it.

Date night!

Time for the parents to dine in a restaurant. Drink a bottle of wine. Order a $23 fish entree. Share a chocolate dessert. Spend, oh, $175 for an evening that involves only sitting, eating and conversation as normal. But this time it will be  — not that we don’t love them — without kids.

The AJC’s Momania blogger Theresa Walsh Giarrusso set this conversation in motion when she asked me and restaurant reviewer Meridith Ford Goldman about our favorite no-fail, always-reliable, babysitter-worthy restaurants. Theresa was concerned with finding places that offered good value for the money, and where the staff would make minivan-driving suburbanites feel welcome rather than not cool …

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Win two tickets to Dinner Party in Piedmont Park this Saturday

greystone_frontEvery other Friday, the guys from Top Flr host Dinner Party — a gathering of strangers around a dinner table in locations announced just prior to the event. It might take place in a private home, a warehouse, a high-rise condo or a park.

The one happening this Saturday, May 1,  is special, and I’ve got two tickets to give away. This benefit for the Piedmont Park Conservancy will host 200 people somewhere in the park (though I’m assuming not the dog run). Top Flr chef Shane Devereux has asked some of his colleagues (Hector Santiago from Pura Vida Tapas and Craig Richards from La Tavola, among others) to join him in preparing the food, which will largely come from local farms. Also on hand: five of the town’s top bartenders, including Greg Best from Holeman & Finch and Miles MacQuarrie from Leon’s Full Service, will mix the drinks. Michael McNeill, the former Ritz-Carlton Buckhead wine steward and the city’s only certified Master Sommelier, will oversee the wine selection.

So …

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Interview with Mario Batali

media_marioMario Batali — the chef who has done more to change the look and feel of Italian cooking in this country than anyone in 20 years — will be coming to Atlanta this weekend. Not to scout out a place to open a restaurant, alas, but to demonstrate recipes from his new cookbook, “Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking” (Ecco, $29.99), at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show at the Cobb Galleria Centre. Batali and his partners run 14 restaurants in New York (his home base), Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and are gearing up to open two more in a Singapore casino. He has authored several cookbooks and is a regular performer on the Food Network program “Iron Chef America.”

We spoke on the phone briefly:

Q: What are you planning to demonstrate?

A: Really this book is all about the simple and predominantly vegetable-based foods of the Italian daily table. So I’m planning to make a dish of cavolo nero (Tuscan kale) with ricotta thinned with olive oil and water — it’s like a thin soup. And …

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770px-ChocolateResearchers at the University of California San Diego have discovered a link between chocolate consumption and depression. According to their findings, which were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, either people suffering from depression tend to reach for chocolate more, or something in the chocolate triggers the depression. You can read about it here.

Continue reading Bummer! »

Where are the good fruit desserts?

Market1Some dessert menus skew toward chocolate — a basic flavor pole around which the ancillary flavors of nuts, butterscotch and marshmallow revolve. If there is a fruit dessert, it will likely be something heavier, such as pear-caramel cake, or a chocolate and banana confab.

I find these kinds of desserts easy to pass on after dinner. I love them, but really think such dense sweets taste better in the afternoon with a cup of coffee than following a big meal.

But I am a sucker for fruit-based desserts. When I went to Market Buckhead recently to write up a burger of the week, I couldn’t resist this concoction. It’s a coconut flan with candied kumquats, lime whipped cream and toasted coconut. What an amazing combination of flavors! I particularly loved the way the barely sweetened cream flecked with lime zest added such a sparkly top note.

True, it was pretty rich. I either resisted eating it all or thought about resisting it all, but this was one of the better desserts I’ve …

Continue reading Where are the good fruit desserts? »

Was ‘Taste of Decatur’ a scam?

Downtown Decatur

Downtown Decatur

Organizers of this past weekend’s great non-event claim that it was canceled due to the accurate forecast of nonstop rain. But the word never got out, and a number of ticket holders showed up, walked around the drenched burg and didn’t get any food. The inDecatur blog has the story.

Did anyone reading this try to go to Taste of Decatur and have a similar experience?

Continue reading Was ‘Taste of Decatur’ a scam? »