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Archive for March, 2011

Top Chef All-Stars recap, Episode 14: Zonk out with your conch out

Credit: Bravo TV

Credit: Bravo TV

Did you guys miss me?

I’m back in the swing of things, and I want to send a shout out to everyone that helped cover for me last week. Thankfully, I didn’t miss the “Padma in a bikini” episode.

We are finally down to where we should have been last week – the final four – and everyone is bummed about Carla’s departure. It is noteworthy that no one makes that “Oh my God, she was so good, I can’t believe she is gone” reaction, but more like “I’m going to miss my caring and endearingly insane aunt.” I wonder if anyone is going to miss the cats?

Sleepy Mike is so high off last week’s win – or the last of Dale’s stash – that he is still rolling in bed while a bright eyed and bushy bearded Blais is dressed and ready. Blais: “Is the winter bear here?”

Come on Richard. There is only one bear on Top Chef, and that’s Tom.


The chefs walk into the kitchen of the Bahamian Club at the Atlantis to find a still-not-in-a-bikini …

Continue reading Top Chef All-Stars recap, Episode 14: Zonk out with your conch out »

Restaurant Inspections: Friends House

Friends House, a take-out Chinese restaurant in the Hamilton Mill area in Gwinnett County, has had problems lately keeping a passing health inspection score.

After receiving a 47 on two consecutive routine inspections, East Metro Public Health earlier this month suspended the food permit and required the facility to close until conditions improved.

The restaurant at 3300 Hamilton Mill Road re-opened the next day, following staff training and a follow-up inspection score of 100.

Prior to this, Friends House had multiple violations of not separating raw meats from other foods, and leaving food out that should have been refrigerated.

During an inspection March 7,  raw eggs were left out on the prep table at 49 degrees, instead of being refrigerated at 41 degrees. Cooked egg rolls and chicken were also left out on the prep table for three hours. Raw beef and raw shrimp were being stored over ready to eat foods in the freezer.

The restaurant had some of the same code violations …

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First impressions: Toh Dam, the tofu restaurant under the stairs

Toh Dam Tofu - Suwanee

Toh Dam Tofu – Suwanee

I recently wrote a brief post about Suwanee’s Toh Dam Tofu Korean restaurant. From what I understand, the restaurant briefly closed and reopened under new ownership late last year. I don’t know what it was like before the change in ownership, but I’m enjoying it so far.

The exact location of the restaurant is puzzling because it sits out of view in Suwanee’s Assi Plaza. The front entrance – located at the front-leftmost area of the shopping center – is obscured by a large stairwell leading up to the plaza’s second level of shops. The inside of the restaurant is sparkly clean with large back-lit images of old rural Korean houses flanking down the entire right wall.

Dakgomtang - chicken soup

Dakgomtang – chicken soup

In that previous post, I mentioned that I gorged on Toh Dam’s chicken soup (dakgomtang) after being bedridden with a fever for several days. The broth is relatively neutral but there is an undercurrent of revitalizing chicken stock; the soup is served alongside …

Continue reading First impressions: Toh Dam, the tofu restaurant under the stairs »

Sunday alcohol sales update – SB 10 passes Rules Committee

Credit: Becky Stein

Credit: Becky Stein

Here is an update for the Food & More readers on our post last week on the state of the Sunday alcohol sales bill:

Earlier this week, the Senate Republican caucus re-voted on SB 10 and elected to allow the bill to go up for a vote in the Senate Rules Committee. This morning, the Rules Committee passed the bill, pushing the legislation onto the Senate floor tomorrow. Wednesday, March 16th – also known as Crossover day – is the final day for a bill to reach the floor for consideration during this legislative session.

Though both sides of the State Senate will now decide on the fate of the bill, supporters and opponents still expect a close, bi-partisan vote. If the Senate passes SB 10, the bill will move on to the House with enough time for final passage.

UPDATE: 3/16 @ 2:15 PM -  SB 10 passed through the Senate this morning, with a vote of 33-22. Next stop: The House. Full details available here.

For more details on today’s development with SB 10, …

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A Japanese friend

(Image from Wikipedia)

(Image from Wikipedia)

I can’t remember the guy’s name. Mr. Shinobu? Mr. Shinagawa? Mr. Shi……

Nope, can’t get it. Back in the mid-1980’s he was my student. I worked for a school in Osaka, Japan, as an English teacher to Japanese businessmen. I spent my days traveling to companies throughout the region — Kobe Steel, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, etc. — to teach “English conversation” classes. My students were mostly young “salarymen” in their late 20’s or early 30’s, all dressed in drab gray or blue suits, and tired and fidgety and really not in the mood for English conversation after a full day at the office. (Most classes started at 6 p.m.)

Mr. S. wasn’t like the others. He was much older, probably around 50, and spoke English not begrudgingly but with real pleasure. He was a top manager at Ciba Geigy, a multi-national pharmaceutical company, and had traveled a good bit around the world. He wasn’t the best English speaker in the class, but he was the most fluid, unafraid to …

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In the news: Restaurant no. 246 coming to Decatur, dine at Genki Noodles and Sushi for the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami relief efforts

Chef Ford Fry (owner/executive chef of JCT Kitchen and Bar) and chef Drew Belline (formerly of Floataway Cafe) are opening an Italian-inspired, locally-sourced restaurant in Decatur this May. The name of the restaurant will be no. 246, which reflects the original plot number (dating back to the early 1900’s) where the restaurant resides.

Below is the press release (shortened):

“Drew and I share a passion for locally sourced ingredients, simple preparations and wood-fired cooking and are both really excited to bring Italian-inspired dishes with Californian influences to Decatur,” says Fry. “I think Decatur is the perfect neighborhood for us to create this cool yet comfortable dining establishment that we both envision,” he adds.

“Lately the culinary trends in the Southeast have been very meat-centric, but we’re trying to make the food at no. 246 more about vegetables and dishes that guests can eat every day,” says Belline. “The menu will be driven by what local …

Continue reading In the news: Restaurant no. 246 coming to Decatur, dine at Genki Noodles and Sushi for the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami relief efforts »

Two events with Chef Tracey Bloom

credit: John Haigwood

credit: John Haigwood

Chef Tracey Bloom, contestant on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef DC,” is back in the news this month with two upcoming events. I chatted with her about these appearances, her move to Ray’s Killer Creek and other projects she has in the works.

This Saturday, in her first foray into the Farm-to-school movement, she will be doing cooking demonstrations at an indoor farmers market hosted by High Meadows School in Roswell. Tracey will be teaching families how to use the seasonal produce found at the market to develop inexpensive, healthy and quick recipes.

In light of her work helping families to develop healthier recipes at this event, I asked Tracey about the pact she made on “Top Chef” to serve healthier meals to her partner’s son. She says, “We have made a huge conscious effort. We have dropped down from having fast food three times a week to probably once a month.”

Tracey’s second event this month will appeal to “Top Chef” fans. On Sunday, …

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Restaurant Inspections: The Diner at Sugar Hill

The Diner at Sugar Hill was forced to close this week after a health inspection revealed excessive risk of food borne illness.

The restaurant at 4500 Nelson Brogdon Blvd. received a failing score of 38 out of 100 March 9 during a routine inspection by East Metro Public Health.

Afterward, the Gwinnett County Health Department suspended its food permit because it had 9 or more violations of the 27 risk factors known to cause food borne illnesses.

Most code violations involved hand washing procedures and proper use of gloves by the food prep staff. There were also problems with separating and protecting food.

Employees were not changing gloves when moving from one activity to the next. One employee used the same gloves to work with raw fish, raw hamburger then prepare a pineapple from the grill, according to the report.

An employee picked up dirty dishes then proceeded to pick up clean dishes and finished plates for serving without first washing his hands.

In another incident, an …

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Restaurant Inspections feature to debut this week

This week, the Food & More blog will start reprinting the restaurant inspection reports that appear twice weekly in the print edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. We offer this as a service for readers to see how their favorite places fared recently and also to see what kinds of violations cause restaurants to fail.

These posts, which will go up on the blog every Monday and Thursday afternoon, will be closed to commenting.

If you do want to look up the most recent inspection score of a Georgia restaurant, you can go here:

Georgia Department of Community Health restaurant inspection search

- by John Kessler, Food and More blog

Continue reading Restaurant Inspections feature to debut this week »

Barbecue? Try semi-cue

photo 1

The recent spell of warm weather persuaded me it was finally time to turn my attention back to that Big Green Egg that has been sitting unused under an eave on my back deck. I shoveled out last season’s ash and scrubbed off last season’s grime, and it was somehow looking better than new.

The Tucker-based Big Green Egg Co. makes the country’s best known kamado-style grill/smoker, based on a traditional Japanese design. This ovoid contraption looks quite like a seasick Humpty Dumpty sitting upside down. As the hardwood charcoal fire burns (or, rather, glows) inside, it sucks air in through an opening on the bottom, heats the food sitting on a grill over the flame, and sends the smoke billowing out through a chimney on top. The beauty of the kamado’s design – and the reason it has so caught on in the South – is that you can regulate the airflow easily and thus regulate the temperature. You can grill a steak at a blazing-hot 700 degrees or smoke ribs at 225 degrees for many …

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