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Archive for November, 2010

Fantasy Top Chef

TopChef logo

Credit: Bravo TV

As many of you know, the season premiere of “Top Chef All-Stars” airs this Wednesday on Bravo TV, and I’m champing at the bit. Not only because I’ve followed every season so far and I’m pumped to see so many familiar and talented chefs return, but also because I’m taking over the role of Top Chef re-capper here at Food and More.

Though the future Mrs. Watson indulges me on many of my food related pre-occupations, after a few years of making her watch TC with me every week we decided to make it interesting.

I mean, why just watch TV when you can also gamble on it, right?

Thus, Fantasy Top Chef was born. At the beginning of the season, each player drafts a team of cheftestants and every week your players earn points according to how they perform.  All that is left to do after that is to set your wager. Both seasons that we have played, the loser owed the winner a nice dinner out.

Obviously, that didn’t bother the person that lost both times too much …

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Jenny Turknett: Fish sticks

Fish Sticks

credit: Jenny Turknett

Favorite Movie: Cinderella

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Food: Fish Sticks


When my daughter was three, I attended the parent night at her preschool. There were many lovely examples of the kids’ work displayed around the room, including interviews with the children about their favorite things. I happily scanned my daughter’s interview. Yes, she loved Cinderella and her favorite color was blue. But then I almost dropped her laminated apple tree to the floor when I came to her favorite food.

Fish sticks? Those frozen fingers of unidentifiable seafood? The ones responsible for that smell — the one that hung in school hallways on fish stick days? My daughter had never eaten fish sticks. Fish sticks were not on the menu at our house.

I secretly prided myself on the fact that she was the only three-year-old who requested scones for the snack rotation. My daughter was the one who ate grilled cheese sandwiches made with brie and requested crème …

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Vickery’s Midtown to close

Vicvickery's logokery’s Bar & Grill – a Midtown mainstay for more than 27 years — will close its doors after New Year’s Eve, according to a press release from its owners, the NightCap Food & Spirits restaurant group.

“Serving a simple menu and strong drinks, Vickery’s quickly became a favorite among Atlantans young and old, gay and straight, blue blooded and blue collared. Starving artists rubbed elbows with Atlanta’s powerful elite,” the release read in part.

Other restaurants in the group include Fontaine’s Oyster House, Steamhouse Lounge and the Vickery’s in Glenwood Park, which will remain open.

I used to enjoy Vickery’s for a burger and a beer once in a while but haven’t been in years. Still, it feels like another small chapter in Atlanta restaurant history closing — the last vestige of Midtown’s boho past.

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Floataway Cafe chef to helm new Decatur spot

Drew Belline (credit: StarChefs)

Drew Belline (credit: StarChefs)

Publicist Melissa Libby confirmed today that Drew Belline (left), the longtime chef at Floataway Cafe, will be the chef at the as-yet-unnamed new Decatur restaurant from JCT Kitchen & Bar’s Ford Fry. The restaurant, which will take over the Eurasia Bistro space on E. Ponce de Leon Ave., will be casual and contemporary, with Italian overtones to the cooking. Fry cites San Francisco’s A16 as inspiration.

“Drew is an amazing chef and will be a great partner in our new Italian-inspired restaurant,” said Fry. “We share a passion for local sourced, simple yet not simplistic, wood-fired cooking. And he lives in Decatur!”

No word yet on a time line.

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Do you ever cook shellfish at home?

photo-58One morning of the weekend before last I braved the human maelstrom of Your DeKalb Farmers Market to stock up on Thanksgiving food and noticed some beautiful shellfish in the display case. The Prince Edward Island mussels were not only small, uniform and tightly closed, they were beardless. These mussels had been cultured without the hairy filaments — known as the “beard” — they use to cling to rocks. So they required no cleaning. Right next to them were some equally gorgeous littleneck clams.

Suddenly, I saw lunch.

I picked up two pounds of each, washed them well in a colander, and steamed open with white wine, butter, shallots and garlic with a small pinch of red pepper flake. My wife, kids and I feasted for only about $15. Unfortunately, I forgot to pick up some crusty bread, so we had to make do with toasted whole wheat sandwich bread to sop up the juices. There are worse fates.

If you haven’t tried cooking shellfish at home, it couldn’t be easier. Unlike finfish, it …

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Behind the Review: Lunch splurge for one

Atlantic Station

Atlantic Station

One of my favorite meals is the stolen lunch. Not “stolen” in that I run out without paying the check, but rather a stolen moment to sit by myself and indulge in a special treat. It might be a great crab cake, or a steak or a dozen oysters. It might include a glass of wine or a dessert.

I don’t do this very often, but when I do it’s usually combined with a shopping expedition. You usually don’t have to go far in any direction from a shopping mall to find a nice steakhouse or raw bar.

Does anyone else enjoy the solo lunch splurge once in a while? If so, where do you go?

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Tofu Village dining review, Marietta



Drive to Buford Highway or farther north to the Duluth-Suwanee corridor, and you’ll find a world of Korean restaurants. But along the eastern corridor of Cobb County, just off I-75, there sits Tofu Village, a lonely little outpost of Korean dining sharing space with a liquor and cigar store in a drab strip mall.

Review by Gene Lee

Review by Gene Lee

But inside, the setting resembles a restaurant one might find in rural South Korea. On the fringes are shiny metallic barbecue tables, and a flat-screen television is positioned front and center, broadcasting KBS, a Korean channel. With no alternative Korean restaurant nearby, it seems that Tofu Village could easily rest on its laurels. But it is pumping out some of the most consistent Korean food in metro Atlanta.

Just as the name suggests, stripped down orders of house-made tofu steamed (yang nyum tofu, $7.99) or lightly seared (tofu gue ee, $7.99) can be ordered as appetizers served with nothing but a low-sodium soy dipping sauce on the …

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Lunch for one near shopping malls — a roundup

Today marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. If everything goes according to tradition, my wife and daughters will leave the house early this morning to take advantage of Black Friday shopping sales, and I will stay home, happily snuggling with the turkey carcass.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

Alas, I know the day will soon come when I will have to broach the unfamiliar territory of shopping malls and meander through various perfume, clothing and jewelry departments in search of their Christmas gifts. The shopping season is upon us — all of us.

As much as I hate malls, I always remember I have the consolation prize of lunch: not just any old lunch, but a splurge that somehow seems justified in context. Maybe a dozen oysters, or a steak and a martini, or one of those crab cakes the size of a softball. If I have to look at pashmina shawls, I deserve it, right?


Salad bar at Fogo de Chao (all photos by AJC Staff)

Salad bar at Fogo de Chao (all photos by AJC Staff)

The Lenox Square/Phipps Plaza area offers the …

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Top Chef All-Stars to start Dec. 1

Courtesy Bravo Media LLP

Courtesy Bravo Media LLC

People are talking about former Top Chef competitor Richard Blais with the announcement of his newest concept: hot dogs. Next week, even more people will be talking about him.

On December 1st, Bravo TV releases the premiere episode of Top Chef All-Stars. Our own local Top Chef hero Richard Blais joins 17 other former chef’testants in New York city to compete for the biggest prize in Top Chef history: $200,000.

All narrowly missing out on the title, these culinary hopefuls will have stiff competition and will face an even tougher judging panel. This season, chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain joins Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and Padma Lakshmi at the judging table.

Having won more challenges than any of the other All-Stars, Richard Blais is singled out as a serious contender from the start. In considering his strategy for his second run at the title, Blais says, “My new train of thought coming back into the game this time is to …

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Jon Watson: What to do with all of these leftovers?!


AJC Staff

By the time that most of you read this, your Thanksgiving feast will have already concluded. Your belts are loosened, naps taken, and you’re looking forward to the second best part of this holiday of feasts: leftovers!

Though I enjoy reheating duplicates of my Thanksgiving plates for the following few days, a little variety is always a good thing. Why just reheat slices of turkey and dressing when you can be a little more creative?

One family favorite, and probably the easiest use of your leftovers, is the leftover casserole. Simply layer your leftovers in a casserole dish and reheat in the oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Obviously, everyone’s leftover casserole is going to look a little different depending on what kinds of dishes your family makes. Not everyone makes turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Make it your own. Feel free to throw some extra spices or cheese between the layers.

A personal favorite of mine is also the Thanksgiving …

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