City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Archive for April, 2010

Mac and cheese? Try macaroni gratin

photo 3Sunday was one of those evenings when we were teetering between packing up the kids and walking into town for dinner or scrounging a pretty bare pantry for edibles. When the children started moaning loudly that didn’t want to get cleaned up for public viewing, I decided to scour the kitchen for food. I flung open the freezer (chicken tenderloins…done), the fridge (one head of romaine…done) and the pantry (15 boxes of penne because you never know when Barilla might go out of business.)

So I started thinking chicken pasta. But as the chicken took shape in the skillet with bacon, onions, thyme and a splash of vermouth, it seemed like a dish that would be happier without pasta.

The next logical step for the noodles? Mac and cheese, of course. Or, rather, penne and cheese. It was a fine idea, except the cheese drawer offered only a fossilized rind of some expensive gouda I bought months ago.

At that point I recalled a meal I ate about 10 years ago in Lyon, France. It was a piece of …

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Veg out at Miller Union

photo-13Miller Union was hopping today at lunch. How nice to see a cool new restaurant go after Atlanta’s fickle lunch crowd.

The menu is trim: starters, salads, a few sandwiches and four entrees. I ordered this vegetable plate ($13, left), which manages to look virtuous while delivering satisfying doses of butter and salt. Beets, creamy white beans, fantastic collards and roasted carrot coins made for a nice, soppy plateful of flora.

photo-14I also really loved our starter — a “radish and feta snack” ($4, right) with icy cold veggies and a creamy feta dip.

Other items at our table included a super-squishy and super-delicious oyster po’ boy ($10) that you’ll want to inhale, and a pair of homemade fennel sausages ($13) nicely paired with more of those white beans and parsley pistou. These sausages were like other homemade versions I’ve tried around town — tasty but too dry and crumbly. (I’m getting the feeling that Atlanta’s meat mavens are starting to turn their attention from cold salami to …

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New favorite: Bocado


Avocado and roasted carrot salad with cumin vinaigrette

A few days ago someone turned to me and began, “I bet you get asked this all the time….”

I knew exactly what was coming next.

“So, what’s your favorite restaurant?”

I do get asked this question often, and I never have a great answer. I love Bacchanalia, but that’s more a birthday and anniversary kind of restaurant. Kyma is great, but it has a certain high-gloss ambiance that doesn’t necessarily match my standard wardrobe or attitude. I have a bunch of Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese joints I really like. When I impetuously spend more money than I should on dinner, that usually means sushi.

Usually, though, I will say Cakes & Ale or Pura Vida Tapas — the two restaurants that my wife and I like to steal away to when we can go out for a nice dinner that won’t necessarily mean a three-digit bill. They are both small, personable, chef-run and have menus that change often. We know that we can walk into either place, peruse the …

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Burger of the Week: Market Buckhead

photo 3Following the advice of several readers of this blog, I trekked to Market Buckhead to try the burger. This W Hotel restaurant from Jean-Georges Vongerichten is not the first place I would think to look for a burger, but here it is: a big, bodacious $15 one.

You know what? It’s a really good burger. A nothing-too-fancy-but-everything-just-kind-of-tweaked-right burger.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • photo 4The Burger: Angus beef that is not ground in house. But it has a beefy flavor and good seasoning on the grill-crisped surface. The patty hits that Goldilocks sweet spot — not a grey, greasy wisp, not a sufferer of meatball envy.
  • The Bun: A grilled Alon’s bun that compresses nicely between your fingers and holds the patty in place. The bun:burger ratio is ideal.
  • The Garnishes: Now, we’re talking. Unblemished Bibb lettuce, a thick, best-possible-for-the-season tomato slice, two onion rings, fantastic pickles house cured with yuzu and Thai green pepper, and a bare smear of Russian dressing. …

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Cupcakes and lots of pig

FB_BakeSale_BadgeGet your foodie freak on this weekend in Atlanta. In addition to all the other doings around town, there are two very cool food events to consider:

  1. The National Food Bloggers Bake Sale will take place on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cabbagetown Market. Many of your favorite area food bloggers will sell treats, with all proceeds going to Share Our Strength — the national group that fights childhood hunger. Organizer Tami Hardeman says she’s got a good lineup. You can park in the lot at Agave and, if so motivated, eat at that restaurant afterward and get $10 off your bill with a proof of bake-sale purchase.
  2. On Sunday, Cochon 555 rolls into town. This national touring pork-o-rama was conceived by Atlanta event promoters Brady Lowe and Carolina Uribe, and has picked up speed as it has attracted swine faithful in the Napa Valley, New York and spots in between. Five chefs will each cook a 140-pound heritage breed pig, snout to tail, and serve the resulting creations to a panel …

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Decatur dining doings

Downtown Decatur

Downtown Decatur

In yesterday’s today’s Wednesday column I looked at how Decatur is starting to move past its kid-friendly restaurant scene and into a livelier scene. What are your favorite Decatur restaurants?

Some unseen switch on the zeitgeist machine has been quietly flicked on in Decatur, and this little not-quite-suburb inside the Perimeter is poised to emerge as one of the metro area’s liveliest dining neighborhoods.

It has been a decade-long process that I’ve observed from my home near the town center. Soon after we moved here in the late 1990s, word began circulating that a new restaurant had opened up on the moribund and borderline-sketchy square. Called the Food Business, this spot distinguished itself from the handful of nearby cafes with an explicitly child-friendly policy. The brightly colored, three-level restaurant served a thoughtful kids’ menu along with its casual contemporary bill of fare, and stocked highchairs aplenty.

Others followed suit. Taqueria del …

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Tangerine-basil ice pops will make you happy

Tangerine-basil and blood orange-pineapple ice pops

Tangerine-basil and blood orange-pineapple ice pops

Over the past few years, gourmet versions of Mexican paletas — i.e., ice pops — have been delighting the sweaty set in other Southern towns such as Nashville and Raleigh, North Carolina.

We’ve been a little slow on the uptake — until now. The King of Pops has kinda-sorta set up shop at the corner of N. Highland Ave. and North Avenue in Poncey-Highland. While the king — a.k.a. one Steven Carse — waits for the build out of his shop, he sells the pops from a pushcart at the street corner. His hours are irregular, so it’s best to check his Twitter feed for schedules and information.

But in the meantime, you can buy his frozen treats at Jake’s Ice Cream in the Irwin Street Market and also at Souper Jenny in Buckhead.

I picked up these two from Jake’s — choosing from a daily list that included chocolate with sea salt, cinnamon cream with banana and pineapple habanero.

Two bites in...

Two bites in…

The tangerine-basil pop was great — the flavor …

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Getting down with the Double Down: a pictoral essay

I decided I had to buy a Double Down — the new KFC sandwich made of fried chicken breasts holding a center of bacony, cheesy, Colonel’s-secret-saucy goo. Here is how it went.

I started at the KFC at the corner of MLK and JEL (Joseph E. Lowery Blvd.):

double6I got my hot, greasy, Double Down-fragrant bag:

double7I drove back to the office, all the while thinking, “Double Down, Double Down, Double Down! Dr. Atkins, I’m doing this for you!”

I opened the bag at my desk and found this. Could it be the sandwich miracle I was hoping for?

double5I opened it and, to my great surprise, I found this!


Okay, kidding. I found this:


I examined it from all angles:

double4I gingerly peeked inside:

double2Not so gingerly:

double3Sauce, cheese, baconish strips — all melding into chicken crust. Double Down, dudes!

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Tabbouleh season

photo-12This is a picture of a bowl of (if I do say so myself) delicious tabbouleh. That spot of greenery at 12 o’clock above the bowl is the parsley patch from whence its main ingredient came.

The parsley — both curly and Italian — did winter over nicely and madly filled out over the past couple of weeks. So it looked like my first crop from this year’s garden would be 4 cups of these lively, bittersweet herbs. Tabbouleh time!

I love making tabbouleh because chopped parsley smells nice, and then once you start seasoning the balance of flavors announces itself as soon as it comes into focus. You tinker and add and…aha!..there it is.

I like a more salad-y version that bulgur-y version. I think the parsley should still be lively and recognizable as leaves, not chopped into green flecks. I always like to add some chopped romaine hearts to underscore the attractive, juicy bitterness of the parsley. I’m fine with chopped mint, but don’t require it. (Also, other garden herbs such as …

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Double Down, anyone?



What is the biggest food story this year? Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden?

Sigh, no.

It looks to be the invention of the sandwich-less sandwich — a.k.a. KFC’s new Double Down, which goes on sale today.

This bacon-and-cheese sandwich comes with two deep-fried chicken breasts in lieu of bread.

Have you tried it yet? I’m very curious to hear your reactions.

Me, I’m holding out for the Chick-fil-a spicy chicken sandwich…

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