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Archive for December, 2010

“Top Chef” host Tom Colicchio to close Craft Atlanta and Craftbar [UPDATED]

Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio plans to close his two Atlanta restaurants, Craft Atlanta and the more casual Craftbar, in early 2011, according to a written statement issued by his restaurant group’s publicists. Both restaurants are located in the same freestanding structure that faces the Mansion on Peachtree hotel in Buckhead, and has been a part of the hotel complex since the hotel opened under different ownership. but they’ve been unable to reach an agreement with the new owners, according to the press release:

“The restaurant’s agreement with the original owners of The Mansion on Peachtree, Mansion Centre Development LLC, was not assigned to the property’s new owners, 3376 Peachtree Rd – Atlanta LLC, when they took possession of the property in February 2010.

While efforts have been made by both parties to negotiate a new agreement, unfortunately, Craft and 3376 Peachtree Rd – Atlanta LLC could not agree on terms. The restaurant’s chef/owner Tom Colicchio is disappointed to …

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Documentary on Korean cuisine coming to PBS

I’m excited to hear a 13-part documentary series on Korean cuisine is coming next year to PBS. I can’t seem to find the exact date that it will air but early January seems to be the consensus in the internet rumor mill. The New York Times are hosting a promotional video, and it looks like it will be a good if not informational series.

The show is hosted by Marja Vongerichten (pictured to the far right above), wife of Michelin-awarded chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.  Marja is half Korean and the series will focus on her culinary related travels around South Korea, and interweave her story of being born there to a Korean mother and American father. From what I understand, Marja was eventually placed in an orphanage, adopted by American parents who moved her stateside, and then eventually reunited with her natural mother who relocated to Brooklyn, NY.

From time to time, the show will have a few surprises in the form of celebrities such as actress Heather Graham, actor Hugh …

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Red velvet cake tasting

photo courtesy of Southern Living

courtesy of Southern Living

Three tasting panels, one result.

The results are in. Best of the Big A announces Atlanta’s best red velvet cake this week. Red velvet cake is experiencing a revival of sorts. It’s back on the trendy list. Not only is it popping up on more menus, many chefs are putting a modern spin on the cake, creating new desserts such as the red velvet cheesecake. The December issue of Southern Living Magazine echos this trend by remaking red velvet cake into red velvet soufflés and red velvet brownies.

To provide the critic’s picks for the Best of the Big A’s red velvet contest, I sampled red velvet cakes and cupcakes from near and far. I also convened three tasting panels to weigh-in on their favorites. The tasting panels were:

  • My children
  • My husband and I
  • A group of friends

All three panels chose the same red velvet cake as the winner: Alpine Bakery in

photo courtesy of Alpine Bakery

courtesy of Alpine Bakery

Alpharetta. This cake is stacked four layers high and dusted with red …

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My new kitchen is (95%) completed


Several months ago, as a fine group of men were taking hammers and crowbars to our grubby green counters and fake terra cotta tile floors, ripping out laminated pine cabinets and disposing of a certain dishwasher that made a lot of noise without actually washing dishes, I wrote about how excited I was to be getting a new kitchen. For 13 long years we resigned ourselves to not only poor fittings but also the worst spatial design imaginable. As much as we like to entertain, we never could with any ease as guests insisted on planting themselves between me and the stove or me and the 4 square feet of usable counter space.

Now our new kitchen is up and running in its state of 95 percent completion. We still don’t have knobs or handles on any of the drawers, wires twist out from under cabinets where lights may one day go, and a wine-cooler-shaped hole in the cabinetry is now functioning as the recycling pit. But, all things told, we’re very happy.

IMG_1869We have completely reoriented the …

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Holiday teas for adults and children

Maddi Davenport enjoys tea at the Ritz Carlton, Buckhead

Maddi Davenport enjoys tea at the Ritz Carlton, Buckhead (courtesy of the Ritz Carlton)

Some of us look for any excuse to have afternoon tea. The holidays provide us with just that. As your December calendar fills, be sure to carve out time to enjoy one of the many holiday teas around town. After reading about these fabulous offerings for both adults and children, you may find yourself looking for an excuse to attend them all.

Christmas High Tea at Bulloch Hall

Take your tea with a bit of history at Roswell’s Bulloch Hall, the childhood home to Theodore Roosevelt’s mother, Mittie Bulloch. After tea, tour the home by candlelight, where each room is uniquely styled to represent the symbols and traditions of Christmas. 4 p.m. Dec. 14 &16, 180 Bulloch Avenue, Roswell, 770-992-1731, $35.

Swan Coach House Holiday Tea

The Swan Coach House, adorned for the season, once again offers its full-service holiday tea. Expect Swan Coach House favorites on the menu including the cheese ring …

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Ormsby’s review, west Midtown



With no signs, save for the iron “O” adorning the nearly hidden door on the ground floor of the Westside’s White Provision complex, Ormsby’s can be easy to miss. But as you step through the cave-like entrance, it opens up into a cozy, wood-paneled, two-story playground for grown-ups.

The brainchild of Warren Bruno, of Atkins Park, and partner Michael Goot, Ormsby’s merges a remarkable craft beer selection, a dizzying array of bar games, and updated tavern fare into one of 2010’s most popular watering holes.


Review by Jon Watson

The menu succeeds in its takes on classic pub grub, especially all things deep-fried. Hand-cut fries or oversized beer-battered onion rings ($5) quickly disappear into any of the 12 dipping sauces, including the lemon aioli and pot roast gravy. Though the batter on the corn dogs ($5) is more akin to what you’d expect on fish and chips, when dipped into the sriracha mayonnaise, the crunchy Angus beef dogs-on-a-stick are not to be missed.

The …

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Imane Moroccan Restaurant dining review, Duluth



What is a Moroccan tagine? Two things, really.

One is a cooking vessel — a round plate of glazed clay with a fitted conical dome. Steam swirls under the dome, condenses and then trickles down the lid’s sides to the circumference of the plate and rejoins the simmering juices. Yet a tagine is also the preparation — the name you give the melded braise beneath the lid. It is both the container and the tasty business it contains.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

The best tagine you can find in the metro area is at Imane Moroccan Restaurant in Duluth. Named for the coastal city of Rabat, this tagine ($9.99 at lunch) comes to the table with wicker trivet and a warning not to touch. The waitress lifts the 2-foot-high lid to reveal a fragrant, bubbling plateful of small meatballs and fast-setting eggs in tomatoey sharmoula sauce. You’ll never finish it, you think, and then you can’t stop, spearing one beefy meatball after another, swiping house-made semolina bread through the sauce, …

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Flying Biscuit Cafe owner to open new concept

Delias Chicken Sausage Stand

courtesy of Delia's

Delia Champion, creator of The Flying Biscuit Cafe and Molly Gunn, owner of The Porter Beer Bar, have teamed up to introduce a new concept: Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand. They plan to open in the former Supreme Fish Delight space on Moreland Avenue in late January.

Delia’s will have a small menu — about 15 items — featuring many variations of chicken sausage on Holeman & Finch hoagie rolls. Diners will select from items such as the “Italian Stallion,” which is Delia’s signature chicken sausage cooked in marinara sauce and topped with buffalo mozzarella, sautéed onions and peppers and the “Gunn Slinger,” topped with chili and cheddar cheese.

Breakfast will also be served until closing, with items such as the “Egg Slinger,” sporting baked beans and cheddar. Vegetarians may substitute vegetarian sausage in any of the hoagies offered.

And while you can’t get alcohol (at least initially), you can satisfy your sweet tooth. Delia’s will serve “cake shakes” …

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Top Chef Recap, Episode 2: If it wasn’t for you meddling kids…

SPOILER ALERT! If you want this episode to be a surprise, you should know better by now. This is a recap.

Our second episode opens with the immediate reflections of our cheftestants on the Elia’s recent departure, contemplating their own mortality. The judges are not messing around. They are realizing that just because you made the finals of your season, it doesn’t mean you are making it this time around.

Though we had a taste of it last episode, I think that we are really starting to see the sparks that are destined to come from the collision of so many “strong personalities” (See also: egomaniacs, control freaks, and backstabbers.) Did you REALLY think that two guys as smug and awkwardly elitist as Marcel and Angelo were actually going to be friends in real life? Don’t hold your breath.

Our perceptions of the chefs are also challenged. The consummate professional, Jen C. – who works with Eric F’ing RIPERT, in case you didn’t hear it the first 10 times – acts like a pissed …

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Behind the scenes with Southern Living Magazine

photo courtesy of Southern Living Magazine

photo courtesy of Southern Living Magazine

“It’s always Christmas at Southern Living.”

This past summer, my friend, a stylist for Southern Living Magazine, mentioned that they were looking for a seasonal prop to be used in a photo shoot that would appear in the holiday issue. Really? In the summer?

Because my curiosity was piqued, I contacted Editor M. Lindsay Bierman and Test Kitchen Director Rebecca Gordon for a behind-the-scenes look at the Southern Living holiday issue. I learned that the October, November, and December issues are the best-selling issues as readers begin preparing for the holidays. Bierman tells me for the holiday issue, “The planning process is 365 days a year. It’s always Christmas at Southern Living.”

Do they have any tips for making the staff feel festive? Any Christmas music in July? Nope. Bierman says, “It’s our job to feel festive. We love what we do and our passion will translate into the pages.” And passion they have. Both M. Lindsay Bierman and …

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