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Archive for January, 2011

Meet the Fry Guy

Jeff Long, aka the Fry Guy

Andy Long, aka the Fry Guy

The Yumbii taco truck makes you think of Los Angeles-style street food: if you crave it, they will come. The “street” is a multi-directional vector.

The Fry Guy brings to mind Portland, Oregon, and its street-food scene. While this guy and his portable fryer may show up at an event or a festival, what you really need to know about him is that he has a corner — N. Highland and Blue Ridge Ave. — where you can reliably find him on weekend afternoons, dispensing cones of Belgian-style frites.

The “street” for this street food is a place marker, a thoroughfare that defines a neighborhood.

The neighborhood in question, Poncey-Highland, appears to be taking its first baby steps toward establishing itself as Atlanta’s street food ‘hood.

Across the street, Hector Santiago of Pura Vida Tapas also sets up a mobile kitchen on the weekends, and turns out fantastic chicken and tofu burritos (as well as a few other goodies) from his Burro-Pollo Burrito Stand. Just …

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Varieties of Korean rice and recipes

riceIn today’s Atkins/carb-averse times, rice is a food item that often gets cast aside as if it were poison. This practice of aversion is everywhere. Look around, how many times have you witnessed fellow diners shun full servings at a restaurant or dinner party?

I admit, sometimes I’m guilty as charged. Some places just serve too large of a rice portion. But I do have vast respect for it. It has a lot to do with the way I was raised. My mom hated when my siblings and I left rice uneaten. Times were tough for my parents growing up in Korea as well as for the majority of other Koreans. If you were able to continually eat rice (bap as it is called in Korean), you were lucky. Incidentally, this is not a unique story for just Koreans. Ask your parents or even your grandparents; they’ll be thrilled to share with you one of those “in my age, we didn’t…” stories.

Growing up, I ate rice every day – usually twice a day. I didn’t respect it as much as my parents because I was …

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Remembering the Easy-Bake Oven

Easy-Bake Oven

credit: Jenny Turknett

Raise your hand if you had an Easy-Bake Oven.

Yep, me too. Okay, well not technically. My sister would dispute that point. She had one, though I considered it my own.

I remember when she first got it. I was enamored with the set of tiny pans and dishes — replicas of those my mom used in the kitchen. I remember watching as my sister baked her first cakes, desperately wanting to join in the fun. I have a flood of happy memories swirled with the sweet-warm smells of cakes and cookies when I think about those Easy-Bake Oven days.

So, naturally, my own daughter has to have an Easy-Bake Oven. What a perfect Christmas gift — almost a gift to myself. She receives it with excitement and is ready to bake one of the numerous “products” for which we have mixes.

With a mixture of nostalgia and anticipation, I open the box to set up the oven for our first baking experience. I try to shove aside the disappointment with what I find. I try not to think “That’s …

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Restaurant Eugene in Gayot’s top 40 restaurants of 2011

Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene

Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene

Restaurant Eugene located off Peachtree Road has been selected as one of the top 40 restaurants in the U.S. by Gayot.  It was the only restaurant in the state of Georgia to be selected.  Nationally, it sits among esteemed company such as Alinea in Chicago, Per Se and Masa in New York, and The French Laundry in California.

Per Gayot’s criteria:

“Culinary genius is not the only attribute a restaurant needs to make it to our Top 40 list. Destination dining needs to be exciting, intelligent and offer an exceptional experience that truly makes it heads and tails above the rest. Passion is essential because that is at the heart of a chef or restaurateur who can offer us a meal we will never forget.”

Chef/owner Linton Hopkins and his wife Gina also operate the highly lauded Holeman & Finch Public House. And coming soon to the family is the H & F Bottle Shop, a boutique spirits shop set to open this year.

Here is Gayot’s full review on …

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A great chef considers the Old Fashioned

Sean Brock

Sean Brock

CHARLESTON, S.C. — “You sure you don’t want a cocktail?”
Sean Brock, the executive chef at Husk Restaurant, proposed the question for the third time, and so it seemed I should finally accept.
Brock, who was named the best chef in the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation last year for his work at McCrady’s restaurant (where he continues to serve as executive chef), recently opened Husk in a renovated house in downtown Charleston. He uses only Southern products in the kitchen — some local, some from as far away as Texas and Virginia, but none from across the Mason-Dixon line or the Pond.
But one of the best features of Husk has nothing at all to do with food. It is the Bar at Husk, set in the adjacent stacked-stone carriage house. Of specific interest here: the incredibly comprehensive lineup of bourbon whiskeys. Of specific specific interest: the nonpareil collection of bottles from the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery.
These Kentucky …

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Behind the review, Local Three: Boiled peanuts?

Photo by Becky Stein

Photo by Becky Stein

In my review today of Local Three, I mentioned that chef Chris Hall prepares an excellent rendition of boiled peanuts — cooked just to that creamy-bursty point and deeply flavored with chile, garlic and bay leaf.

I’ve also noticed boiled peanuts show up on the menu at Sprig — the new neighborhood joint in Oak Grove.

Could boiled peanuts be this year’s pimento cheese — the simple Southern snack rethought and gussied up for gourmet-minded menus?

I’m going to have to duck to avoid flying objects after saying this, but I have to admit, as a non-Southerner, I’ve never really enjoyed boiled peanuts until I tried this version. I’ve dutifully picked up bags on road trips just for “when in Rome” ’s sake, but I’m the only one in the family who can even stomach them.

Are there any fellow non-Southerners out there who’ve developed a taste for boiled peanuts? And is anyone noticing them showing up on other menus around …

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Wong Kee BBQ and Peking Duck review, Norcross



In 2008 husband and wife Tony On and Van Do opened a small mom-and-pop restaurant in the Hong Kong Supermarket shopping center in Norcross.

On was born in Vietnam but is of Cantonese heritage. Do, whom On met five years ago while living in Atlantic City, is from Saigon, Vietnam. They are proud parents of a 4-year-old daughter who will steal glances your way while watching the restaurant’s television.

Review by Gene Lee

Review by Gene Lee

Wong Kee BBQ and Peking Duck, typical of most Cantonese barbecue joints, features a front window case where On displays his roasted birds and slabs of pork. You can order a quick box of meat to go.

But you might stay for an affordable dish of barbecue plated on rice or one of the many other dishes on a menu worth exploring. Some are better than others, but none disappointed.

Husband and wife shuttle back and forth from the kitchen, alternating between cooking, serving and chatting with diners.

During one visit On disappeared into the kitchen to prepare our …

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Local Three dining review, Buckhead



The arched doorways and grand expanses of marble flooring of the Piazza at Paces — an Atlanta office park that fancies itself a Tuscan villa — once led diners to the swank, Euro-smart Joël Brasserie.

Now the serene, moneyed space takes you to a new restaurant — one that thrums with audible excitement behind a rustic, wide-planked wooden door. You crack it open to raucous chatter and country music, to walls of bourbon and heaping bowls of boiled peanuts, to velvet Elvises and grand images of pig butchery from local artist Tracy Hartley. It’s like “The Beverly Hillbillies” have moved in.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

The new tenants are, in fact, the Local Three: Todd Mussman and Ryan Turner from Vinings’ terrifically overachieving deli, Muss & Turner’s, and their new partner, chef Chris Hall, the former chef de cuisine from Old Fourth Ward bistro 4th & Swift.

After speaking with Hall, I don’t think he’d mind the comparison to Jed Clampett at all. In fact, he …

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Restaurant news: tango & tapas, vampire-inspired package

courtesy of

courtesy of

Looking for something different? Try a Tango and Tapas night or a Cena Latina (Sunday Supper) at Pura Vida.

Tango and Tapas

On the second and fourth Thursday of every month hosts a Tango and Tapas night. Argentinean dancers, evoking the spirit of Buenos Aires, take to the dance floor to perform this traditional Latin dance. Guests may watch or join in the dancing. During the performance, enjoy one of Pura Vida’s Spain and Latin-American inspired tapas.

Cena Latina

On Sunday evenings, Pura Vida offers a prix-frixe menu ($19) featuring Chef Hector Santiago’s selection of Latin rice dishes. Rice dishes include selections such as the Moros y Cristianos (pan-fried black beans and white rice with cumin-oregano lamb and pork belly). Guests will also share side dishes for the table such as the tostones mayas (twice-fried plantains). The meal will conclude with a traditional Latino dessert.

656 North Highland Avenue, Atlanta. 404-870-9797. $-$$.

In …

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Top Chef All-Stars recap, episode 7: Restaurant wars!

IMG_0427You want some SPOILERS?!? You got ‘em!

The episode begins rather uneventfully, though after last weeks’ opening scene with Marcel’s drunken gangsta-peacocking at Dale, pretty much anything would seem mundane. The best that Bravo could come up with is a recap of all of the chefs to fall victim to Antonia, AKA “The black hammer.”

In the business, that is what we would call a “slow news day.”

Fortunately, we jump straight into the Quickfire, which has the chefs walking into Le Bernardin, Eric Ripert’s legendary, three-Michelin-star-carrying seafood restaurant. You remember Eric, right? He was the French judge last season, but then he was replaced this season by his BFF, Antho…

Holy Crap! It’s Bourdain! Thanks for showing up Tony! This is almost feels like all of that pre-season marketing wasn’t just smoke and mirrors!

As soon as we see a solo Bourdain waiting for the chefs inside Le Bernardin, it is obvious that this entire Quickfire has his fingerprints all …

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