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Archive for June, 2011

Double Zero Napoletana restaurant review, Sandy Springs

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The waiter has come to the table, and we both stare intently as I poke a knife through the many unusual things on top of my pizza ($16). Shredded goat meat, blue cheese, papery slivers of potato.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

“A ha, here’s one,” I say, pulling out a reddish-brown nubbin. “I know it’s a cranberry.”

The waiter tries to convince me that I’m eating sweet onion, if not suffering from a slight bout of Craisin brain. (It’s been known to happen to parents who spend their best years packing school lunches.) But I persist. So he consults the kitchen and soon doubles back with the news that, yes, unannounced cranberries adorn the goat pizza. “Do you like it?” he asks worriedly.

Actually, I kind of do. After a couple of meals at Double Zero Napoletana, I find that cranberries on pizza seem no stranger than Parmesan on pasta.

This Sandy Springs restaurant is the latest venture from the Castellucci family, who run two branches of Sugo in Roswell and …

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Sonny’s Place restaurant review, Atlanta

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You might remember Sonny Azani from another time. From 1985 to 2003, he ran Sonny’s on Ponce and Sonny’s Delicatessen off Roswell Road, serving Middle Eastern food to metro Atlanta. He’s a boisterous, tan fellow and has a wobbly gait for a man who has been shuffling back and forth in restaurants for, well, 18 years. Sonny will engage you in lively banter from the outset, and at some point during a meal most male customers will receive a hearty back slap from him after he makes you laugh. And he will make you laugh.

Review by Gene Lee

Review by Gene Lee

Sonny’s latest venture —an expanded deli with plenty of space for in-house dining — opened earlier this year. Sonny’s Place is a clean, vibrant place filled with natural light. Pictures of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem flank the walls, and large platters of prepared Mediterranean salads and dips sit on display in refrigerated cases. When asked about his alcohol selection, he responded: “Ehh, you know, nothing fancy,” and points to a …

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Kitchen Nightmares now casting in Atlanta

Credit: Fox TV

Credit: Fox TV

Fans of the Fox show Kitchen Nightmares may soon see an Atlanta restaurant getting a makeover by Gordan Ramsay. Currently, the show is casting for candidates in the Atlanta area.

So, attention to all of the chefs/owners out there that think you may need some help to get your operation back on track – here is your opportunity for 15 minutes of fame and some advice by Ramsay. The show is also taking customer suggestions, so if you want to nominate a restaurant that could use some guidance, check out the information below and send in their info.

NOW CASTING!

FOX’s hit show “KITCHEN NIGHTMARES” wants to hear from Atlanta!

Has your favorite restaurant gone bad? Have you tried a new eatery only to discover it doesn’t cut the mustard? If so, we need your nomination! FOX’s hit show, Kitchen Nightmares is currently searching for new restaurants to be featured in the upcoming season. If you know of a restaurant that desperately needs expert guidance, we want to know …

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Planning your food-centric vacation

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Have you been taking any trips this summer? I know that I have. And when I do go on trips, I like to put together a list of specific restaurants and food-related spots to visit while at the vacation destination. I usually leave museum and other cultural points of interest planning to my wife.

I start by browsing a city’s online newspaper and city related magazines to gauge the pulse on where to go. The city forums at Chowhound are also notable for finding low key, specialty and off-the-radar international joints. Searches on these forums like “best deep dish pizza in Chicago” tend to have more reliable foodie-friendly input rather than a general web search. Once places are scribbled down, I’m ready to go.

Enter Google Maps. I use the application to pinpoint destinations with my own customized icons. You can download the icons here, but you will have to host them elsewhere with attribution. It will also take a little web savvy to do this, but the site’s FAQ section explains …

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Stroopwafel

stroopwafel-1The waffle-like Dutch cookie pictured here is sold at my neighborhood market. These 99 cent snacks are strategically placed by checkout and always prompts my inner Dutch to question “vvat is dat?”

They are called stroopwafels (pronounced strope-waffles or this way if you are a stickler) and are thin wafer cookies with caramel centers customarily eaten with hot tea or coffee.

stroopwafel-2On its own the cookie is sweet, dense and chewy. Eat it like it is recommended — placed on top of a hot beverage for a few minutes — then the caramel filling turns gooey due to beverage steam. I don’t generally go ga-ga over sweets and these cookies certainly aren’t changing that. However, I do appreciate the small culture of stroopwafel fanatics who I found on the web-o-sphere. They also get bonus points for not taking themselves too seriously.

There is a stroopwafel Wikimedia page dubbed the Association of Stroopwafel Addicts (ASA) for individuals that have eaten the cookie “at least once and like it …

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Spice Route Supper Club founder to open restaurant

Asha Gomez, courtesy Melissa Libby & Associates

Asha Gomez, courtesy Melissa Libby & Associates

You may have read Gene Lee’s interview with Chef Asha Gomez, founder of Spice Route Supper Club, back in February when the event “An Evening in Kerala” was announced. Now Gomez has announced plans to open her first restaurant this September. The restaurant, Cardamom Hill, will be located on Northside Drive and will serve the Indian home cooking for which Gomez is known.

Excerpts from the press release:

Spice Route Supper Club Creator and Chef Asha Gomez is excited to announce she has signed the lease for her first restaurant location in the former My Girlfriend’s Kitchen space on Northside Drive.

Gomez chose to name her restaurant after the well-known mountainous terrain located in the southeast region of her native land of Kerala, India. The Cardamom Hills are named after the cardamom spice grown in much of the hill’s cool elevation.

The lunch menu will be a limited offering of vegetarian or meat Thali plates, as well …

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Wine shopping 101 at ‘Atlanta’s best kept secret’

Elizabeth Schneider, Wine for Normal People

Elizabeth Schneider, Wine for Normal People

Are you intimidated by the prospect of selecting a bottle of vino amidst the rows upon rows of fancy-labeled bottles surrounding you in a wine shop? Do you purchase the same exact wine each and every time? Unsure where to shop? Stop sweating — there’s help.

I recently attended a wine-tasting event that led to a wine shopping expedition — one designed to provide help for those who feel crushingly overwhelmed in a wine shop. Elizabeth Schneider, Certified Sommelier and owner of Wine for Normal People, led the tasting and guided participants in sampling wines that typified common wine descriptors. During the presentation, Elizabeth casually mentioned that she purchased the evening’s wine at “Atlanta’s best kept secret.”

My ears perked up. Secret? Clue me in!

Where should you shop?

At the conclusion of the tasting, I snagged Elizabeth to prod her for information. Not only did she reveal the location, she offered to take me …

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Do your kids like spicy foods?

Chicken heart tacos at Holy Taco with spicy arbol chile (Photo by Becky Stein)

Chicken heart tacos at Holy Taco with spicy arbol chile (Photo by Becky Stein)

“This is spicy!” my youngest daughter cried, as she took a bite of the evening meal — a kind of burrito that I fashioned from naan bread and boneless chunks of spiced chicken I bought from a nearby Indian restaurant, and then rolled up with plain yogurt and salad veggies. “I can’t eat it.”

I extracted a chunk of the chicken from my own burrito and chewed it, feeling maybe a pinprick or two of heat on my tongue. “I don’t think it’s that spicy, ” I suggested.

“It’s not spicy at all, ” said her sister, mouth full.

“It’s a little spicy, ” countered my wife, doing that thing that moms do. That “you’re both right” thing.

My daughter did manage to eat most of her sandwich that evening, with extra yogurt and iced tea to wash it down. But this kid perplexes me. How did she emerge from our household so spice intolerant?

For years she’s grown up in a household where Mexican, Indian and Korean dishes abound. …

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Ginger microwave cake

While shopping at a small Asian market I came across this:

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Minute Ginger Cake! There was also Minute Vanilla cake, but I went with the ginger. It promised to cook in two minutes in the microwave. When I turned the package over, I saw that it was manufactured in Thailand. I also saw this:

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Hmm. It expired in March 2009. Risk food poisoning or make a two minute ginger cake? Best check the ingredients:

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I’d bet a couple of years in a Thai warehouse wouldn’t matter to any of this stuff, right? Why, after two years on the shelf those “edible fatty acids” might become “not just edible but actually delicious fatty acids,” like a steak after a good dry age.

So I brought the minute cake mix home and unwrapped it. Inside was a bag of hopefully edible powder and a sturdy plastic cup with fill lines written in every language of the developed world. Seriously, this plastic cup could give the Hartsfield-Jackson airport train a run for its dinero. See that language with all the umlauts? I’m …

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A chip off the snarky block

x2_6c3ad74In these everything-but-the-oink culinary times, fresh chicharrones — i.e., fried pork skins — have become a popular snack at all kinds of restaurants.

I just noticed them on the menu at Abattoir the other night when I was dining with my youngest daughter. She’s the serious meat lover in the family, so I figured she’d go bananas for this crunchy, fatty snack.

And…?

She took a couple of bites, chewed thoughtfully, and commented, “I feel like I’m eating dog treats.”

We brought the rest of the chicharrones home and everyone, including the dog, enjoyed them as a late-night snack.

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