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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Archive for May, 2011

American cheese: Burger boon or bane?

photo 5So a couple of weeks ago I tried this almost awesome burger at White Tiger Gourmet — a terrific, hip-without-trying-too-hard joint in Athens.

More on White Tiger in a sec.

First the burger: I say “almost awesome” because I loved nearly everything about it, specifically the juicy/crusty patty, the great bun, the grilled onions, the crisp greens.

I hated the American cheese, however. I always hate American cheese. It’s like eating melted plastic bags. It coats your tongue with its petroleum-product texture and its processed flavor.

And yet the kind of people who bake their own buns, and cure their own pickles, and grind their own cows (you know who I’m talking about) use American cheese because of the way it melts.

Sorry, I can’t deal with the American cheese on the Bocado burger, either. Deal breaker.

I just noticed that the kids over at Eatocracy got into this discussion recently once the comments started rolling in.

You know what’s good cheese on a hamburger? Good …

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Patbingsu – a fruitylicious dessert

Patbingsu

Patbingsu

One thing I like to do after scarfing down salty food somewhere on Buford Highway is to pop into White Windmill Bakery and Cafe and purchase a refreshing, fruity dish of patbingsu ($6.99).

Pronounced “paht-beeng-soo,” the Korean-influenced dessert is also referred to as red bean sherbet. First-timers could be intimidated by its sheer size, but that’s why sharing it with a small group makes the whole experience fun. Don’t be shy, grab a handful of spoons and dig in.

You can’t really tell from the picture, but a soft mound of shaved ice sits behind all that fruit. It is then covered with Corn Flakes cereal, red beans, a selection of tropical fruit, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and then finished with a drizzling of sweet condensed milk and fruit syrup. The ingredients all work well together even though the description makes the dessert sound like a dorm room experience gone wrong

For more patbinsu reading, blog Seoul Eats recently published an interesting post about …

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New Emeril show visits Mary Mac’s, Busy Bee and Horseradish Grill

Emeril with Chef Alterman, Horseradish Grill, courtesy of The Cooking Channel

Emeril with Chef Alterman, Horseradish Grill, courtesy of The Cooking Channel

Remember when I said that Atlanta’s culinary talent has been increasingly recognized by network cooking shows? This week, Atlanta’s own Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Busy Bee Cafe and Horseradish Grill get their share of the spotlight.

Emeril Lagasse’s newest show, “The Originals with Emeril,” stops in Atlanta during this week’s episode (Thursday, June 2 at 10:30 p.m.). The show examines iconic restaurants in 13 cities across the country that have withstood the test of time.

Emeril explains that there are restaurants that have been “doing the same thing for 50-75-100 years and are still doing it right,” which often means they’re neglected in popular food culture where the focus tends to be on the trendy and new. The idea for show originated with a team of writers who thought it important to capture these authentic establishments. Emeril says, “I realized after getting into it that there was a lot of guts to …

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Morelli’s ice cream adds location, Bad Dog Taqueria opens and more

courtesy of Morelli's

courtesy of Morelli's

The second Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream and Desserts opens soon in the Edgewood Shopping District. The store will be giving away free ice cream from 12-2 p.m. on opening day in celebration of its opening. Note: opening day was originally scheduled for June 4, now it is TBA.

Woodfire Grill’s Kevin Gillespie is a partner in this new store, located in a former Coldstone Creamery space. Gillespie will create seasonal selections for the milkshake and sundae bar the new location features. Rotating ice cream, gelato and sorbet flavors will be available daily along with three to four signature shakes, ice cream cakes, smoothies and frappes.

12 p.m.- 10 p.m. daily. 1220 Caroline St., Atlanta. 404-584-2500.

In other news:

ATLANTA

The internationally-inspired Bad Dog Taqueria opened in Emory Village this week. The nine mainstay tacos, made with fresh and local ingredients, include options such as Korean barbecue pork belly with kimchee slaw and salsa verde or the …

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Bluepointe pastry chef Lisa Smith earns ‘Best Dessert’ title and shares a recipe

Yuzu chibouste, courtesy Lisa Smith

Yuzu chibouste, courtesy Lisa Smith

What’s your perfect dessert? Until a few years ago, I was a total chocoholic. More recently, however, I’m finding myself more attracted to lighter desserts with more nuances in flavor.

At a recent dessert competition, I sampled some gems but my favorite — and the winner — was a yuzu (Asian citrus) chibouste (pastry cream). Hidden inside was a passion fruit center and it was dressed with candied-citrus zest, passion fruit caramel, baby gingersnaps and a single blackberry.

The description doesn’t do this little delight justice. The pastry cream was so smooth, light and refreshing — perfect for this time of year. The yuzu provided a touch of tartness, the candied lemon zest a nice pop and the miniature-sugared gingersnaps brought balance. From bite one I was already mentally developing my own version of this brilliant concoction so I could taste it again someday!

At the competition, this recipe earned Bluepointe’s pastry chef, Lisa Smith, the …

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Three Blind Mice restaurant review, Lilburn

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For one of our first dates 20-some years ago, my wife took me out to eat in the suburb where she lived. A friend had told her it was the fanciest French restaurant in town, which I’m sure it was. An oleaginous maitre d’ who spoke with a (most likely fake) accent and upsold us at every turn served our food.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

But of course, we had to order the house specialty steak Diane, more expensive than any other item. He finished it with greasy flourish tableside — flaming a skillet with brandy, then adding fat glugs of cream. “For madame and for monsieur,” he said, lavishing the peppercorn-crusted, cream-soaked, bloody meat onto plates. It was, of course, delicious and the right meal for a very fine date.

I hadn’t seen steak Diane on a menu until I dined at Three Blind Mice in Lilburn. Here it comes with much less flourish. Plated in the kitchen with an artful swipe of brandy cream, a hillock of roasted potato and onion, and a pepper-dusted New York strip …

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Mama’s Pizza restaurant review, Alpharetta

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As you approach the small shop at the end of the shopping center, nothing about Mama’s Pizza seems old. The storefront’s heavy wood rafters supported by stacked stone columns look much like the surrounding Alpharetta area, a product of the booming construction of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson

However, as soon as you step inside and see the mosaic of regulars adorning the walls, you realize that these guys have been doing this for a long time.

Owner Peter Vavaroutsos, at 23, immigrated to New York City from Greece in 1958 and started making pies. In 1979, he moved his family to Atlanta and opened Mama’s Pizza in Roswell. After multiple moves searching for the perfect locale, Vavaroutsos, who runs the business with his son Jimmy, finally settled in the current location in 2003.

Vavaroutsos built his business around getting to know his customers, greeting regulars like family and gently reminding them when they forget to order one of their favorite …

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Restaurant Inspections, Happy Sumo II

Happy Sumo II, a long-standing Japanese restaurant at 1155-A Mount Vernon Highway, had its string of excellent inspection scores broken with a failing grade.

Fulton County gave it 56 out of 100 during a recent routine inspection. It was the lowest score the teppanyaki grill and sushi bar has had in its nine-year history, said manager Dae Choung.

Points were taken off because containers of food, which had been taken out of the freezer and cooler, were placed directly on the floor to thaw or be prepped for cooking.

An ice bath of broccoli was on the floor near the ice machine drain. A container of frozen chicken was on top of frozen shrimp, and both were thawing on the floor near the walk-in freezer. Sesame seeds were stored on the floor at the sushi bar. Food also was stacked on the floor in and around the walk-in cooler.

Lemons were inside the ice bin, and the ice was also being used for customer drinks. Raw seafood and vegetables were on the prep table ready to be cooked, but …

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Antico Pizza announces expansion plans

Antico's Margherita Pizza

Antico's Margherita Pizza

Antico Pizza Napoletana, recently named Atlanta’s best Italian-style pizza by AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson, released news of an expansion today.

Where are they expanding? Worldwide. Major markets both in the U.S. and abroad have been targeted for the expansion. Now, this artisan pizza using all-natural products imported from Italy will be available in places such as Beijing, Charlotte, Sao Paolo and Miami.

Bill Addison of Atlanta Magazine reported on Twitter that there would only be the one Antico location in Atlanta but that owner Di Palma plans to convert the property across the street into a piazza.

More from the press release:

Giovanni Di Palma has officially embarked on a plan to bring his nationally acclaimed pizza and unrivaled kitchen experience to major U.S. Markets and key overseas major cities.

Giovanni explains, “I most certainly did not sell my business or merge with a chain company. I partnered with a “Dream Team” of proven …

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USDA approves of pink pork. Do you?

porkpuckYesterday the USDA updated its recommendations for cooking pork. Most notably, it lowered the recommended lowest  safe internal temperature from 160 degrees to 145 degrees.

According to the new guidelines, it is now considered safe to cook whole (i.e., not ground) pork to 145 degrees and let it rest for three minutes after cooking. Ground pork, like hamburger, should still be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

This will result in pork chops and roasts that are still pink in the center.

I know that the parasite Trichinella spiralis has long been eradicated from the commercial pork supply, so I’ve had no qualms about cooking or serving pink pork. I have, maybe twice in my life, seen a couple of guests turn a little green in the gills when I’ve served pinkish pork tenderloin. (Then again, it might have been our housekeeping.)

The folks at the Pork Information Bureau must have been downing Bakon Vodka shots as soon as the news hit. They took no time in overnighting …

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