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Archive for February, 2011

Who has the best pulled pork in Atlanta?

Credit: Jon Watson

Credit: Jon Watson

I can already feel the bullseye on my forehead.

Once again, Shane from the Best of the Big A has asked for my help in providing the “critics pick” for one of his posts, and I want to get some help from the Food & More readers on this one. Now we are looking for the best pulled pork in Atlanta, and I know that this one is going to be controversial.

As of right now, Shane’s post asking for suggestions already has over 380 comments on it and many of them have the tone of “if you don’t agree with me, you should be dragged into the street and shot.” People get passionate about BBQ, no question about it. Oddly enough, many of those same people also gave terrible suggestions. Go figure.

I’m sure that some of you have already seen and possibly commented on Shane’s post, but I also know that many of you probably have not. I realize that we are all on the same team here at the AJC, but I’m inclined to think that the hardcore food fans probably …

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World’s Longest Taco Lineup at Emory

photo 2Students and staff from Emory University Dining’s Green Team today tried to set the record for building the longest line of tacos in the world. Over 66 feet long, the tacos were made with tortillas, sustainable cod supplied by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, cabbage salad and salsa cruda. The recipe was developed by campus executive chef Michael Wetli.

photo 1Tacopalooza began shortly after noon, with tortillas donated by local producer Los Amigos overlapping on a U-shaped grouping tables big enough to seat the royal wedding party.

photo-70Record-making is serious business, so the tacos were counted and recounted. Here, Mollie Walsh, the executive chef for sustainability at Emory makes a pass through. Walsh said that fully 38% of all food served at Emory now is from sustainable sources. The goal is 75%.

photo 3“Hot fish!” chef Michael Lyle cried, as he placed the filleted cod — which had been dusted with chili, cumin, salt and pepper — onto the tortillas. Kitchen helper Galen Berry kept …

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The Pita Palace experience


“My friend, how are you?” says the man behind the counter. “What can I get you today?”

“Well, errmm. Let’s see…” I respond. “I’ll go with the shawarma plate.”

“Ok my friend, thank you have a seat.”

I am at Pita Palace, where until recently I was a virgin to the experience that I’ve been hearing about for a while now. The place is tiny and a bit run down in appearance, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. On my first visit the whole restaurant, which is about the size of a PODS storage unit, wafted of musky lamb meat emanating from a beguiling shawarma rotisserie that resides behind the counter. About every two minutes, an electric knife whirs and buzzes across the surface of the shawarma slicing off little meat shavings.

pp4It’s two o’clock in the afternoon, past peak time for lunch, but people are still piling in Pita Palace. Customers are stepping on each others feet to place orders with the man behind the counter who is dictating the whole tempo. This same man, Roy I’m …

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In the news: Victory Sandwich Bar in Inman Park and Sonny’s Place in Decatur now open

Victory Sandwich Bar, a new Inman Park sandwich spot, has recently opened in the space that formerly housed Johnny’s Pizza. The menu offers creative sandwiches all for only $4. Try the “Turk” – a turkey sandwich that comes with arugula, avocado spread and, ahem, baconnaise.

11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Sundays, 280 Elizabeth Street, Atlanta, 770-676-7287, $.

Sonny’s Place Mediterranean and Vegetarian Cuisine opens daily at 8 a.m. and offers a diverse menu of Mediterranean and American food. If you are craving something different for breakfast, try their shakshouka – a spicy tomato, pepper, onion and garlic concoction served with eggs sunny side up or omelet style.

8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Sundays, 2168 Briarcliff Road, Atlanta, 404-982-0666, $.

Duluth’s Royal Indian Cuisine now runs “dosa night” on Thursday evenings. Customers can choose from 10 varieties of the Indian lentil crepes filled with potatoes, cheese or spinach. The dosas are also served with sambar (vegetable soup) and …

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Five Atlanta chefs among 100 People’s Best New Chef candidates


For the past decade-plus, the editors of Food and Wine magazine have traveled the country each year to find the 10 best new chefs in America. They define “new” as a chef who has run a kitchen for five years or fewer. Past Atlanta recipients include Sotohiro Kosugi, Linton Hopkins and the duo of Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison.

Now they’re turning part of the selection process over to the chewing and clicking public. Working in conjunction with CNN’s Eatocracy blog, the Food and Wine editors have singled out 100 chefs in 10 regions throughout the country for readers to vote on. Five of these chefs (half of the Southeast regional contenders) are Atlantans:

  • Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill
  • Joshua Hopkins of Abattoir
  • Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale
  • Ryan Smith of Empire State South
  • Steven Satterfield of Miller Union

Here’s the announcement from today’s Eatocracy:

Since 1998, the editors of Food & Wine have feasted their way from coast to coast, seeking out 10 innovative chefs, …

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Salt & pepper shakers on tables

credit: Jenny Turknett

credit: Jenny Turknett

How do you feel about salt and pepper shakers being on the table? When you go to a restaurant do you expect them to be there?

In response to John Kessler’s recent open letter to Atlanta chefs, many commenters wrote about seasoning levels:

Malika: I would add that chefs need to go easy on the salt.That is my biggest complaint about restaurants overall. So, many dishes are ruined because they taste like they had a box of salt poured on top of them.

Wendy: Salt seems to be the go-to ingredient lately to mask lesser quality and freshness.

itpdude: Though a lot of these guys could learn a thing or two about salt. If we want more salt, we can add it.

These comments refer to over seasoning. I’ve also had several recent experiences where dishes were under seasoned. It seems like more and more often I reach for the shakers only to discover their absence. My first thought is “Wow. This chef is confident. The food will be seasoned properly.”

But what if you …

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Can Southern greens be vegetarian?

from kitchen taqueria 2

Eddie Hernandez with his turnip greens in 2004 (AJC Staff)

The collard greens at Heirloom Market BBQ in northwest Atlanta have their fans, as well they should. Cooked to soppy submission, dripping with flavor, and thick with chunks of long-cooked meat, these are the gold standard of barbecue-joint greens.

I like them just fine but, well, I’m not from around these parts and have developed a heretical approach to Southern greens.

Do I dare say it? I like to make mine vegetarian.

I’ll admit this because — I promise! — I put in my smoked meat dues. After moving to the South, I immediately started playing around with recipes for collard greens. I bought smoked ham hocks, and neck bones, turkey wings and everything else I saw my friends and neighbors using and read about in recipe books. My greens were never as good as theirs, but I think they were on the right track.

Then came the day I bought a 2-foot-long bunch of collards on a whim. I had no ham bone, not one slice of bacon, …

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Of mangosteens and Korean cucumbers

photo-69Yesterday I went into full-on “throw it into the cart” mode at the Buford Highway Farmers Market. I went up and down the aisles, and got the most random assortment of appealing food items including:

  • Huacatay paste: An inimitable Peruvian herb also called “black mint.” It tastes like mintbasilantro, and was fantastic on the cauliflower I roasted for dinner.
  • Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate tablets.
  • Russian smoked fish assortment (the sea bass is amazing) with hard rye bread and pickles. Great Sunday dinner
  • Hoo Roo Rook ramen noodles (the best instant noodles out there, IMO)
  • Camaronazo spicy shrimp-flavored tomato juice. It’s usually used for Mexican shrimp cocktails but, per the label, it makes a mighty tasty michelada when mixed with beer. (I honestly got this as a joke, but we all loved it and the bottle is now nearly empty.)

My two favorite finds, however, came from the produce aisle.

Fresh mangosteens (pictured above) thrill me to no end. I remember eating bags upon bags of …

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In the news: baking contest and new Southern restaurant

courtesy of

courtesy of

Calling all bakers!

Share Our Strength ®, a nonprofit organization working to end childhood hunger in America, is hosting its eighth annual baking contest at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta on Mar. 2. Bakers may enter in one of four categories: professional pastry chef, amateur baker, culinary student or child baker to win the title of “Atlanta’s Best Dessert.”

Entries are being accepted until Feb. 23 and cost $95 for professionals and $25 for the other three categories. All entry fees are tax deductible. Winners will receive $500 in the professional category and $250 in the amateur, student, and child categories. Additionally, the winner of the child category will have the opportunity to hold a demo at the Family Food Zone Stage at the Taste of Atlanta this fall. Entries will be judged on originality, taste, and presentation. Contest rules and entry information can be found online.

Even if you aren’t a baker, you can still …

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Behind the Review: What’s in a name?

Chef Peter Cheng. Or is it Chang?

Chef Peter Cheng. Or is it Chang?

Before writing today’s review of Peter Cheng Cuisine, I sat down with a restaurant manager to go over many details that confused me about the liquor license, the hours of operation and the composition of several dishes I tried.

I double checked all the information, and just before leaving asked if the restaurant was named Peter Chang Cuisine or Peter Chang Chinese Cuisine, as I had seen it written both ways.

“Neither,” she said, taking a to-go menu and clearly writing out “Peter Cheng Cuisine.” Cheng with an “e,” not Chang with an “a.”

But both the menu and the sign by the road had it spelled “Chang.” The chef, who is well known, has always been called Peter Chang.

But then I recalled: no, he hasn’t. When he first came to town several years ago to cook at Tasty China, I wrote a small story about him. I asked for the spelling of his name and was told to write it “Zhang.” We switched to “Chang” soon thereafter.

I actually tried to argue the case …

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