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Archive for January, 2011

Pine Street Market wins Good Food Award

sslogo_pine-street-market-logo_126Score one for the home team.

This past weekend in San Francisco, the 1st annual Good Food Awards recognized American food producers and the farmers that provide their ingredients. Organized by Seedling Projects, an organization dedicated to supporting the sustainable food movement, the Good Food Awards selected winners in seven categories: Beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles and preserves.

Pine Street Market, the only Georgia entry selected as a finalist, earned one of the 71 awards given for their PSM Coppa in the charcuterie category. Owner Rusty Bowers opened Pine Street Market in March of ’09, and began making some fantastic charcuterie and sausages. I’ve always known Pine Street as a source for some of the best cured meats in the city, but it seems I should expand that to include the rest of the country as well.

Bowers’ winning Coppa, made with Berkshire pork from Gum Creek Farms in Roopville, Ga, is a favorite of mine, but I think Rusty himself …

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Searching for yak and other Tibetan offerings at Shangrila Bistro

Shangrila Bistro - Canton Road, Marietta

Shangrila Bistro – Canton Road, Marietta

In the spirit of chef Nick Oltarsh’s suggestion #1, I trekked it out to Shangrila Bistro in East Cobb last night hoping to sample some authentic Tibetan dishes – specifically anything made with yak and a serving of butter tea. A little bird recently told me that they now offer both items on its menu when a previous AJC write up indicated that they did not serve either.

If you’re already getting a little squeamish about the thought of eating yak, you shouldn’t because they belong to the same biological subfamily as buffalo and domestic cattle. My waitress last night told me that it’s like beef but generally leaner than meat consumed in America. Butter tea, or po cha as it’s known in Tibet, is a tea made with butter derived from yak milk. I have never had it, but from online descriptions the experience can purportedly range from “rancid” to “creamy” to something “resembling buttermilk.” Alas, I confirmed the restaurant serves these now …

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Letter from an Atlanta chef

Nick Oltarsh

Nick Oltarsh

Yesterday I published my open letter to Atlanta chefs, asking them to up their game. While there are some amazing chefs here making memorable food, I wrote this letter because I feel that the overall standards in the city have slipped in recent years. I love dining in this town, and I want it to be as good as I know it can.

Now a chef has written back with a letter to Atlanta diners. Nick Oltarsh oversees the kitchens at two restaurants — Lobby Bar and Bistro and Room at Twelve.

By the way, I’m thrilled to see he mentioned the spinalis steak he serves at Room. It’s one of my favorite steaks in town.

Here’s what Oltarsh has to say:

Open letter to Atlanta diners

Mr. Kessler and all the Atlanta dining folks:

In response to your open letter to chefs, as a local Atlanta Chef the message has been heard and truth be told, I concur.  I think we chefs and restaurateurs have acquiesced to the challenges of the Atlanta dining scene and have done so without much fight.  …

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In the news: Gekko Sushi now open, Greek Gyros and Pizza in Sweet Auburn closing

In the space that formerly housed Repast restaurant, Gekko Sushi is now open for business. Creative Loafing is reporting that they are open for both lunch and dinner, and parking is available in the Ponce Springs Loft deck off Glen Iris. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Lunch) Mondays-Fridays, 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. (Dinner) Mondays-Thursdays, 5:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Fridays, 5 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Saturdays, 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Sundays. 620 Glen Iris Drive NE, Atlanta. 404-249-4300.

Sweet Auburn Curb Market - Atlanta

Sweet Auburn Curb Market – Atlanta

Creative Loafing is also reporting that The Greek Gyros and Pizza located in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market will be closing at the end of February. Owner Johnny Gianoulidis will be relocating to Christo’s Pizza in Marietta to work with his brother.

In other news:

Down the road from The Sweet Auburn Curb Market was Harlem Bar, a lounge that closed last summer. Early reports are indicating that a Spanish themed restaurant/lounge called Spanish Harlem will be opening in its place. …

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Perfect date: Atlanta Culinary Tours

Jorge Pacheco at Park's Edge

Jorge Pacheco at Park's Edge, credit: Jenny Turknett

Looking for a perfect date idea? Valentine gift? Got it.

Try an Atlanta Culinary Tour, as I did. Tours are essentially progressive dinner parties that include a little face-time with chefs and some history to boot.

First stop: Savi Urban Market

The tour of Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward begins with a stop at Savi. There, we sample wines from the wine tasting machine — a popular first date stop we’re told. Savi serves us roast beef sandwiches with spicy aoili and tuna casserole

Wine tasting at Savi Urban Market

Wine tasting at Savi Urban Market, credit: Jenny Turknett

with farfalle, peas and feta. We end with samples of custardy-tart-key-lime pie (yum) and chocolate-overload cake. While we munch, we hear about products the market offers, including the new sous-vide-entrees-to-go.

Second stop: Parish Foods and Goods

At Parish, we sit at the large rustic table in the downstairs market. Chef Joe Schafer brings out plates of house-made smoked andouille with …

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An open letter to Atlanta chefs

quillDear Atlanta chefs,

I write this letter with respect and admiration and, in some instances, love for all the hard work you do. But I have to deliver a tough message, and it is this: You need to up your game.

Four months ago I started dining out again as a restaurant critic for this newspaper after a five-year hiatus. I haven’t hit every major restaurant yet but have been to enough to witness a real change from my last go-round at this job. The standards aren’t what they used to be.

The economy hasn’t been nice to the restaurant community. In particular, the decimation of the top tier — the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, Seeger’s, Joel — means fewer young chefs get the kind of exacting, old-school European training they need to run their own kitchens.

This May, thousands of visitors are going to descend on our city for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, and they will be eager to see the vibrant, exciting contemporary Southern cooking that we’re known for. Let’s show …

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In the news: Noon Midtown closes, Mellow Mushroom founder opens new pizza restaurant

Noon logoNoon Midtown closes

The rumors have been circulating for the past week (Here and here), but owner Katie Birmingham has confirmed, via email, the unfortunate news: After nearly two years in business, Noon Midtown on Crescent Ave. closed their doors on Jan. 7th. Known for serving breakfast and lunch, owner Katie Birmingham briefly added extended dinner hours in April of ’10, but the dinner service was short lived. There is no news on what will take the restaurants place.

In Other News…

Mellow Mushroom founder opens new pizza place

Rock Back Pizza and The Morning Glory Café, a new rockabilly themed pizza parlor in Newnan, opened Jan. 3rd. Started by Biff Farmer and Rocky Reeves, – one of the original founders of the popular pizza franchise Mellow Mushroom- Rock Back offers pizza, calzones, and sandwiches. Some of the unique pizza choices include a BBQ pulled pork pizza, and the Pesty-Billy pizza, topped with pesto sauce, shrimp, bacon, and onions. 5 p.m-10 p.m. …

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Park Cafe dining review, Duluth

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Tick … tick … tick.

I glance at my watch and then glance around the room to see others glancing at their watches. Everyone is wondering “Where is the food?” I feel as if I’m at a dinner party – a party where an overambitious host has trouble getting the meal on the table. But I’m not at a dinner party. I’m at Park Cafe in Duluth.

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

Set in the historic Knox House in downtown Duluth, you feel as if you’re in someone’s home – warm and comfortable. And just as at a dinner party, the experience at Park Cafe is unpredictable.

Our appetizer, a trio tasting of dips ($11), could have been made by the home-party host. The spinach-artichoke dip, thick and mayonnaise-y, boasts large pieces of onion and lacks both artichokes and seasoning. The Vidalia onion bake, topped with bread crumbs, contains undercooked onions and reminds you of the thin, chunky casserole Aunt Sally brings to every gathering. The beer-cheddar fondue tastes only of cheese – …

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Heirloom Market BBQ dining review, Atlanta

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Take a bite of the spicy pork sandwich ($6.50) – a lunch special at Heirloom Market BBQ – and you are tasting the future. The Berkshire pork from Georgia’s Riverview Farms first takes a dip in a marinade of Korean gochujang chile paste, then is slathered with a sugary rub and smokes for hours over hickory and fruitwood. It arrives chopped – a heap of crusty, black-pink porkiness on a toasted potato bun with kimchi coleslaw. How do you say “oink” in Korean?

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

The young couple behind Heirloom Market BBQ combine their divergent backgrounds with remarkable ease. Jiyeon Lee was a former teenage pop star in her native Korea (you can find a video on YouTube) before she came to America to study cooking at Tucker’s Le Cordon Bleu. Cody Taylor is a self-proclaimed “hillbilly” from eastern Tennessee whose culinary career landed him in the kitchen of Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. The two, who met while working at Repast restaurant, opened this slip of a spot nine …

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Conquering cabin fever – foodie style

The snowmen are made.  Now it's time to get out of the house.

The snowmen are made. Now it's time to get out of the house. credit: Jenny Turknett

Whether you’ll remember it as Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon, or any of the other nicknames given to our recent “snow event,” chances are you’ll remember being home-bound for the better part of five days. You’ve made the snowman, read by the fire and played the board games. And if you have stir-crazy kids who are on their fifth snow day (or even if you don’t), you’re likely craving an outing — preferably one involving food.

With the assumption that we will all be able to emerge from our forced hibernation this weekend, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions for conquering cabin fever in true foodie style.

The sitter has been scheduled and reservations have been made. I’m ready. What will you do this weekend? Use the comments section to add other ideas or restaurant specials for the long weekend.

Take a Tour:

Atlanta Culinary Tours – Inman Park/Old 4th Ward

While braving the …

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