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Archive for November, 2010

Jon Watson: Burger hunt – Muss & Turner’s

Muss and Turner's buger

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not interested in the burger “craze”. I’m interested in burgers.

Honestly, every time that I write the word “burger”, I can feel the snark boiling up inside myself. Like many of you, I’ll be glad to see the craze die down so that this dish can lose the sense of cliché that it has developed as of late and return to what it has been for the last 100 years: Just plain awesome.

They’ve been popular for a long time – yes, even before there was a Shake Shack in New York – and once the bandwagon hopping fervor has calmed, they will remain one of our favorite dishes.

Some of you may remember that John Kessler began a burger search earlier this year that evolved into his “Burger of the week” segment. Thanks to over 200 comments from our readers, John was armed with more potential burgers to try than one man could hope to get through. However, duty called and John moved back to the head of the reviewing table, and now this …

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Jenny Turknett: What is Southern food?

credit: Mark Hill/CNN

credit: Mark Hill/CNN

What is Southern food? Is it about ingredients? Cooking methods? Traditions?

These are just a few of the questions discussed at a secret supper hosted by CNN’s Eatocracy last week. It was the first in a series of secret suppers across the country to discuss regional food.

Guests included John Kessler, (the AJC’s chief dining critic) Christiane Lauterbach, (recent winner of the Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Foodways Alliance), noted Southern chef Virginia Willis, and several prominent Atlanta food bloggers.

Chef Linton Hopkins and his staff at Restaurant Eugene prepared dinner using ingredients from Southern farms and artisans. Benton’s bacon, White Oak Pastures beef, and Anson Mills grits all made appearances on the menu. The dinner was certainly delicious. But was it Southern?

credit: Mark Hill/CNN

credit: Mark Hill/CNN

That question was the subject of a lively debate that ensued on the Eatocracy blog about the dinner – a debate I’m sure …

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Gene Lee: Mena, new Ethiopian restaurant off Buford Highway

Mena, dining room

Mena, dining room

A friend of mine recently took me to this new Ethiopian restaurant located off of Clairmont Road and Buford Highway, and in the back of a developing deli/market called Bethlehem Market Place. I say “developing” because dear Mother Hubbard, their cupboards are bare.

Regardless, the market was irrelevant to my cause this past weekend because I wanted to try the attached Ethiopian restaurant called Mena. It’s situated in the back of the deli, and is a vibrant dining room of colors complemented with high energy modern Eritrean music.

Injera bread

Injera bread

We struggled with our waitress a bit as her English was limited, but were helped by the very friendly owner of the deli and restaurant. His English was strong and he came by and explained his various dish ingredients, and the restaurant’s process for making injera – the spongy flat bread made of teff (grass grain known for its high iron content) traditionally used to eat Ethiopian food. The bread itself is flimsy …

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What’s new: Heirloom Market BBQ reopens after small fire

IMG_0001Heirloom Market BBQ: Where there is smoke….

Heirloom Market BBQ, Atlanta’s most promising new smokehouse of 2010, had to suddenly close their barely opened doors last week due to a minor fire. Thankfully, as reported by Mike over at BBQgeek, the fire kept to the outside of the restaurant and the only casualty was the outdoor walk in cooler. The cooler is being replaced and, according to the sign out front yesterday, Chef’s Cody Taylor and Jiyeon Lee are back at the smokers as of today.

Dynamic Dish: Say it ain’t so

Many details remain to be confirmed, but Atlanta’ Magazine’s Bill Addison dropped a Tweet-bomb on Atlanta’s foodies yesterday afternoon:MFt's Pics 156

“David Sweeney just wrote to tell me that @dynamicdish is up for sale and will probably close soon. I’m devastated. Nothing more to say.”

There is no official word on this from the folks at Dynamic Dish, so this only qualifies as a rumor. And that’s where I hope this one stays. I know that I won’t be the only …

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Jenny Turknett: Chicago Pizza

Gino's East Pizza

credit: Jenny Turknett

What would you have for your last supper — your very last meal?

I recently had this conversation with friends. While many were unable to answer immediately, one friend knew without question: pizza from Gino’s East in Chicago. Wow. That must be some good pizza.

She went on to tell us that she’s even had it sent overnight to her here in Atlanta. Wow. That must be some really good pizza.

Another friend, whose husband is from Chicago, chimed in on the discussion, also singing the praises of Gino’s East. It didn’t take long for the three of us to devise a plan to get together for some overnighted pizza from Chicago.

I can’t say I have a particular affinity for deep dish pizza. But, I was very interested in a pizza so good it would be someone’s last supper choice. I was just as interested in a pizza so good you could justify the overnight shipping charges.

Gino's East 2On pizza day, a package was delivered with dry ice and the precious frozen pizzas. Very …

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Harold McGee’s new book a useful gem

51L3+QRkB3L._SS500_Curious cooks in America know that the art and craft of fine cookery boil down to basic science, and that the foundation of science is a system of basic truths, and if you want to know what these truths are, there is one unassailable source: Harold McGee. Specifically, McGee’s classic 1984 book, “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen” — which he updated in 2004 — contains the answers to any food science questions you might ever think to ask.

“On Food and Cooking” — a 900-page tome fat with scholarly references — doesn’t mind reading like a textbook in parts, even as it tells stories to keep nonscientists enraptured.

McGee has followed up this definitive and now classic work with a much different kind of book. “Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Food and Recipes” ($35, The Penguin Press) reads more like a basic user’s guide for the modern home kitchen — a thoroughly categorized taxonomy of tips, techniques, common sense and food safety.

McGee …

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The McRib is back!!! So what’s the big fuss?

photo 1

I’m so excited! The sandwich of my dreams — that fickle, now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t McRib is back in area McDonald’s restaurants.

Must hurry! Quick, quick, quick. Have been deprived of the McRib for a full year. Who knows how long it will last this time. Must run to Mickey D’s and get my bag of Mcribbed goodness. I open the bag and here is what I find inside.

photo 3

It is just how I remember it from last year — an oblong box through which peeks a sausage patty cleverly formed to resemble an actual rib. I open the box and this is what I find inside.

photo-57

Yum. Who can resist this delicious looking sandwich?

Okay, kidding. This is what I actually found inside.

photo 2

Could some nice person please explain the cult of the McRib to me?

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Home Grown GA dining review, Atlanta

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In my family, we congregate in the kitchen. No matter whose house or what the occasion, we snack and we visit — always in the kitchen.

That’s how it feels when I’m at Home Grown GA, like I’m hanging out in the kitchen with family, visiting and eating down-to-earth Southern cooking. The real pine paneling, the scattering of eclectic potted plants and the kitchen’s screen door all make it feel like home — or at least your grandmother’s home, dated but timeless.

homegrownroomHome Grown GA dishes up value-priced traditional Southern dishes, some with a bit of a twist. The friendly wait staff will help you choose from the list of fresh local vegetables that typically include several types of simply prepared peas and beans — beans so good that my 3-year-old son wanted a second helping for “dessert.”

And just as grandma does, Home Grown GA serves a traditional breakfast with all the fixings. This is simple food without any bells and whistles. Also like grandma’s cooking, there are some …

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Vingenzo’s dining review, Woodstock

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“I’m in heaven,” said my friend, describing that special kind of uplift you can only achieve from long-distance running, true love or intensive carbo-loading.

Pizza with fig and proscuitto (Do these photos make your stomach rumble? Thank Becky Stein)

Pizza with fig and proscuitto (Do these photos make your stomach rumble? Thank Becky Stein)

I passed another of the four bowls of pasta on the table to her. “Try this one.”

My wife, friends and I have picked at our salads, devoured two thin-crust pizzas and are now floating on a pasta high as the bowls circle the table. One is rich with cream and cheese, another bright and saline with flecks of tomato and Manila clams. One you stab, another you twirl. We are giddy with the food at Vingenzo’s.

This two-year-old Woodstock restaurant has become a destination for Atlantans looking for ingredient-driven Italian food as well as a local treasure for those lucky enough to live nearby. To say this restaurant serves pizza and pasta doesn’t tell the whole story. The mozzarella is made in-house, the Neapolitan …

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Searching for the best fried green tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes To-Go from Mary Mac's

credit: Jenny Turknett

As the ‘Southerner,’ I was charged with giving the critic’s picks for the top five fried green tomatoes in Atlanta for the Best of the Big A. Upon hearing this assignment, the overachiever part of my brain kicked in. I decided that despite having tasted many fried green tomatoes over the years, I needed to compare the top contenders head-to-head. Road trip time.

I packed a little bag with napkins, plates, utensils — my mess kit — and a list of addresses. I drove from Buford to Kennesaw to Atlanta proper. When all was said and done, I’d eaten fried green tomatoes for lunch and/or dinner for five days at 14 different restaurants.

Now, to hit that many restaurants I couldn’t eat inside each one. But I also couldn’t just let them get soggy in their takeout boxes. So, the front seat of my car became Fried-Green-Tomato-Tasting-Central.

How did I decide? First, I checked to see that the breading was crispy, well seasoned, and not too thick to …

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