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Archive for December, 2010

Dining in the Dark

Chef Gerry Klaskala prepares shrimp at Dining in the Dark (credit: Dialog in the Dark)

Chef Gerry Klaskala prepares shrimp at Dining in the Dark (credit: Dialog in the Dark)

I sunk my spoon into the dessert, scooped deeply and pulled up a mouthful of whipped cream. Hmm. Abandoning the spoon, I gingerly touched the surface of the dessert with my fingers and felt a wedge of warm cake, a sticky puddle of sauce that would turn out to be caramel, and a hazelnut. As none of my tablemates could possibly see me, I proceeded to eat the dessert with my fingers.

Every month through June, Atlantic Station’s “Dialog in the Dark” exhibition stages “Dining in the Dark” — a full evening meal, served and eaten in pitch darkness. Blind and visually impaired guides serve food prepared by a noted Atlanta chef to a maximum 16 guests who have gathered for the experience. With everything factored in, it’s a good deal for a memorable meal. The $102.60 admission fee ($183.60 for a couple) includes a tour of the exhibit (a $25.92 value), a three- or four-course meal with tip, and all the …

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Mirch Masala review, Decatur

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Decatur’s Mirch Masala Indian restaurant can be a mixed experience, depending on when you go. Sunday evenings seem to be the unspoken family nights, when the restaurant becomes a living breathing monster. Grains of basmati rice pellet the dining room floors, thrown by tornadoes of shrieking children. Orders of additional beverages are lost in communication, and the eek factor of the bathroom (men’s at least) is on par with some of Atlanta’s dingiest watering holes.

Review by Gene Lee

Review by Gene Lee

But on other nights I have visited, the restaurant service churns along smoothly, and the sound hums at a level fit for date night.

Atmospheric changes aside, the restaurant’s North Indian cuisine is crave-worthy, if a bit too rich in some dishes due to the kitchen’s liberal use of oil.

Lamb curry ($12.95) is an example of deeply melded flavors consistent with dishes here. Chunks of tender lamb sit in a brown curry gravy aromatic of a little clove, and spicy from ground pepper. I really enjoy …

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Deckard’s American Tavern review, Midtown

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Do you want food with your spirits or spirits with your food? There’s no shame either way, but you will be happiest with your dining choice if you square up to this question first.

For me it comes down to the difference between Saturday and Friday nights. On Saturday, I like to go to restaurants that serve the food I’m craving and have a good glass of wine to wash it down. It’s simple.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

But let’s backtrack a day to Friday. To that final push of the work week, to that drive home, to that feeling that I want nothing as much as a cocktail. Or a beer. Or, perhaps, two. No more than that, mind you, because I’m not looking to get ’faced. Plus, I do want to eat — preferably some sort of hand-held tastiness that doesn’t require anything as fancy or labor-intensive as a fork. A burger. A nut-brown hunk of fried fish with some fries and a shake of malt vinegar. A wedge of warm pita dragged through a tasty smear of hummus. TGIF: Thank God It’s Food. If it’s …

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{three} sheets to serve gourmet grilled cheese & wine dinner

{three sheets}

courtesy of {three sheets}

I love grilled cheese sandwiches. Unlike most people, I didn’t develop my fondness for grilled cheese until adulthood. This may have been due to the way they were prepared in my childhood home: Sunbeam white bread topped with Kraft singles and baked in the oven (sorry mom and dad). But now, having tasted a “real” grilled cheese, I adore them.

If you have a fondness for grilled cheese, you will love the new Grilled Cheese & Winner dinners at {three} sheets in Sandy Springs. On the third Tuesday of each month, they are presenting a five-course meal of assorted grilled-cheese sandwiches paired with wine for $30 per person. Below is the January menu:

  • Smoked gouda and chipotle cheddar on Holeman & Finch bacon-and-onion bread. Paired with Jacob’s Creek, Australia, Reserve Shiraz 2006
  • Manchego, compound butter of charred Bradford pear with Savannah Bee Company honey, and sliced Asian pears on Holeman & Finch sourdough. Paired with Little Chica, Spain, …

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Restaurants open on Christmas

christmastreeLooking to go out on Christmas day? You’ll generally have good luck in both hotels and Asian restaurants.

Also check out these places:

Molly Gunn, one of the owners of The Porter Beer Bar in Little Five Points says she plans to open with a limited menu.

The Virginia-Highland location of Atkins Park Tavern will serve its traditional Christmas dinner, starting at $20 for adults and going down in price with age.

Au Pied de Cochon will serve French brasserie fare all day.

The three area Benihana restaurants will be open. Chop, chop!

Here are a few more places that will be open with their words about what they’ll be serving:

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Four Atlanta Locations – Buckhead, Centennial Park, Sandy Springs, Kennesaw

Ruth’s Chris Steak House invites Atlantans to enjoy a delicious steak lunch or dinner from the restaurant’s award-winning menu on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Instead of slaving in the kitchen, relax and enjoy Ruth’s Chris’ signature sizzling steaks, …

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Southern foodie gift basket

Southern Foodie Gift Basket

credit: Jenny Turknett

This year, I collected some of my favorite Southern food items to create a gift baskets for friends and family. It’s a great way to give someone a taste of the South. Here’s what is included:

My Southern Pantry Pecan Smoked Sea Salt by Virginia Willis

Y’all. (As Virginia Willis would say). This salt smells and tastes incredible. I have to confess that I’m addicted to the smell of this salt — almost like a campfire. But if you can stop smelling it, try seasoning your meat with it and you will receive high praise. Virginia Willis also has a recipe on her website for collard greens with the pecan smoked salt. If you plan to order it, don’t delay. My Southern Pantry closes next week or if you’re lucky, you might still find it at The Cook’s Warehouse. ($7.95)

Riverstead Provisions Yellow Grit Sandies

Made with yellow corn grits from Anson Mills, these cookies give a taste of the South. Buttery and rich, they are made fresh to order and contain no …

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Top Chef Recap: Please pack your ties and go

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Credit: Bravo TV

On the heels of the Jen’s meltdown last week, our 16 remaining cheftestants are noticeably rattled. Sure, it was a surprise to see Elia go home. But Jen C.? Even soon to be ex-Atlanta restaurant owner Tom C. had her making it to the finals.

I’m still not sure if it is due to the aftermath of Jen’s departure or trimming the show back down to 60 minutes from the inflated 75 of the previous weeks, but something felt off tonight. The entire show, from the interviews with the chefs to the judge’s table banter seemed bland. Either the editors skipped a lot of the good parts, or there weren’t many to be had.

The producers knew that they had their work cut out for them finding a culinary powerhouse that could top last week’s guest celeb, Joe Jonas. Enter “the man.”

Quickfire

David Chang, owner of the Momofuku restaurants and all around badass, informs the chefs that their Quickfire this week is the dreaded mise en place race. Each team of four will get the same …

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Making gingerbread houses in Atlanta

courtesy Young Chef's Academy, Sandy Springs

courtesy Young Chef's Academy, Sandy Springs

We have a tradition in our family: making gingerbread houses. Since my daughter was two, we have made gingerbread houses each year during the holidays. It’s not only a fun family-bonding activity, it satisfies my need to be “crafty.” I enjoy attempting different structures each year and am getting more and more adventuresome in the houses I tackle.

There is one gingerbread house I’ll likely never attempt: the life-sized cottage at the St. Regis Atlanta. I am fascinated by this gingerbread house and can’t wait to take my children to see it as inspiration before we begin constructing our own.

The gingerbread house at the St. Regis starts with a wooden frame, which is

courtesy St. Regis Atlanta

courtesy St. Regis Atlanta

paneled with gingerbread, icing, and candy. It took over 500 hours to build this house. Twelve hours were spent on a Jelly Belly bear portrait and it took four hours to make an M&M St. Regis logo. Pictures don’t do this house justice!

Here’s …

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Coming Soon: Chick-fil-A spicy chicken biscuit

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Credit: Bravo TV

I love the taste of cayenne in the morning.

As some of you may remember, Chick-fil-A rolled out their long awaited chicken sandwich earlier this year. Regardless of what you thought of the sandwich, there is no denying that the marketing campaign- including online reservations for a free sandwich the week before the release – got people talking.

Among the most common reactions that I heard – right after that person told me how they thought it compared to Wendy’s – was to express confusion/frustration over the whereabouts of the spicy nuggets and/or biscuit. Of course, why would Cathy and Co. just have one new product release when they could have three? As John K. reported during his visit to the company headquarters, the popular chicken biscuit was already on deck for the next spicy makeover.

Well, phase II is about to begin.

Starting Dec 27th, customers can log onto their website and make a reservation at their local Chick-fil-A to pick up a complimentary …

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Peter Chang the enigmatic chef

Chef Peter Chang posing by accolades

Chef Peter Chang posing by accolades

Some of you demanded to know what was going on with the elusive chef Peter Chang ever since we posted this weekend’s event notification of his new restaurant venture, Peter Chang’s. Currently working out the kinks at the new digs, Chang and company are finally slated to open his namesake eatery off Powers Ferry Road. But some of you are skeptical about this restaurant actually being his place (at least for the long term), and naturally I don’t blame you.

Chef Chang is a slippery sucker isn’t he? Several years ago he landed at Marietta’s Tasty China’s kitchen and seduced your senses like Jake Ryan did to Samantha Baker’s libido in Sixteen Candles. But then in the morning, chef Chang was gone; he didn’t even leave a note on the bedside table. Wandering habits persisted and Chang-smitten towns from Virginia to Tennessee were left in a fury like scorned lovers. His propensity to swoop in, swoon over legions of devotees and then leave town is …

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