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Archive for August, 2011

Sapori Di Napoli now open in Decatur

Credit: Holly Florio

Credit: Holly Florio

After multiple delays, Sapori Di Napoli opened for business earlier this week. When I first reported on the pending opening back in June, the owners hoped to open their doors within a few weeks. As is often the case with any new restaurant, it seems that a few weeks turned into a few months, but they are finally up and running.

I’m going to give them some more time to get their feet under them before venturing over myself, but has anyone made it by this week? I’m interested to see if we have another real contender for solid Neapolitan pizza in town, especially one firing up their pies in another ACUNTO oven.

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

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How do you process garlic?


I’ve been cooking with garlic my whole life and chances are, you have too. Initially, I used to just purchase garlic fully encased in its papery husks and smush them out with the flat side of my knife. But now a lot of stores carry cheap containers of the peeled varieties, so I can’t think of a convincing reason to go back to the rudimentary version.

So then the question is how do I process garlic? Perhaps finely slicing it similar to this scene in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas is a good method, and writer Anthony Bourdain certainly backed it (at least for pasta dishes) in his book Kitchen Confidential. But seriously, raise your hands if you really do this.

I tried this mafia technique a few times and found it to be an inefficient pain. And my translucent paper thin slices most certainly did not “liquify in the pan with just a little oil” like I hoped it would.

Starting out, I tried many varieties of garlic presses, which are designed to hold a few cloves and all that is …

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Postcard to summer


Dear Summer:

I won’t lie to you. You were a brutal beast this year. You put a beat down on all of us here in Georgia for three straight relentless months. My energy bill has never been higher, clothes have never felt stickier and the air has been some of the heaviest in memory.

I appreciate the delicious, consumable bounty you throw our way; e.g. tomatoes, watermelon and cucumbers. And I am certainly grateful for you warming the ocean waters so we can take breaks from our daily grinds and enjoy long, lazy days filled with sandy beaches and umbrella drinks.

But I hope you don’t mind when I say that I’m not sad to see you leaving us (hopefully) in the next month or so. I will certainly miss your lukewarm nights and snacking al fresco to a cicada soundtrack while watching your flame slowly fade into the magic hour. But I think most of us are ready for the cooling.

I’m ready to throw on some layers and feel soft, brushed wool against my skin. And I am ready to eat …

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Sardines or liverwurst?

Crispbread with brisling sardines, onions and mustard

Crispbread with brisling sardines, onions and mustard

Such was the choice of sandwiches when I was a very small kid. Liverwurst with onions and mustard on rye bread or sardines with onions and mustard on rye bread. These were the specialties of the place I grew up, which was called “Hell.”

Actually, I did love both when I was very small and didn’t know better. But once I discovered peanut butter and jelly or bologna and cheese, that was that. After Welch’s grape jelly and Kraft Singles passed my lips, I refused to touch any of the scary, stinky Old World foods my mother preferred. (I won’t even get into creamed herring, which seemed an abomination on too many levels to count.)

My mother went from buying whole tubes of liverwurst to just a few slices from the deli counter, to none at all. Once in a while, she’d purchase just enough for her own sandwich, or maybe a tin of sardines to eat with Triscuits and mustard.

I rediscovered the latter combination at the New York …

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Brew coffee like the pros

Batdorf & Bronson's Jason Dominy brewing coffee with the Clever Dripper

Batdorf & Bronson's Jason Dominy brewing coffee with the Clever Dripper

Have you ever hoped to brew a perfectly balanced, full-bodied cup of coffee — one like you can only get in a coffeehouse? You can. But first, you’ll need a little insider information and a gadget or two.

I was recently exposed to the world of coffee and brewing gadgets after taking a tour of the Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roastery with Atlanta Culinary Tours. The tour was led by Batdorf & Bronson’s Jason Dominy, a man fondly referred to as Atlanta’s “coffee evangelist.” Jason is also the chair of the Barista Guild of America and writes industry standards for manual-brewing techniques.

After a lesson on coffee growing, drying and roasting, our tour ended in the “brewing lab.” This is where Jason spends entire days brewing coffees to test for flavor and consistency as he evaluates the best roast for teasing out the subtle flavors of each bean.

This brewing lab houses the gadget museum, Jason’s impressive …

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Appear on Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ in Atlanta

Ramsay_s_Kitchen_Nightmares_003Next week Gordon Ramsay brings his show “Kitchen Nightmares” to Atlanta. The show, known for “fixing” restaurants with culinary catastrophes, will target two Atlanta restaurants and you have a chance to be there when it all goes down.

The first episode will be taped at Michon’s in College Park on Sept.5-8th. If you are interested in dining at the restaurant during taping, email for a reservation. All reservations during this time period will be handled by the show’s producers. Reservation emails will receive an automated response with a short survey to help the “Kitchen Nightmares” staff understand the restaurant’s community and customer base. The producers encourage first-time diners to attend.

The second episode will film at a soon-to-be-announced Inman Park location on Sept. 9-12. If you are interested in dining at this restaurant, email for a reservation.

Diners will be responsible for the cost of their own meals and …

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F.A.B. debuts lower-priced menu

FABDINNER8.26.11French American Brasserie owner Fabrice Vergez has quietly unveiled a new, lower-priced menu and an updated look for his downtown eatery.

The new menu (right, and enlargeable with a click) features a new line-up of small plates called “brasserie bites,” including a frog leg and bean salad, and stuffed mussels and clams. Most entrees are now under $20.

“So many tourists on their way to the [Georgia] Aquarium would poke their heads in the door but not stop because the menu was too expensive,” he said. “This economy isn’t going to change, so we’ve got to adjust.”

Minor adjustments to the decor include an expanded bar area and removal of some of the brass railings to give the room a more casual look.

The last fine-dining chef to work at F.A.B., Cyrille Holota, has decamped to BLT Steak across the street, where he’s picked up a good review from Besha Rodell at Creative Loafing.

Vergez plans to open an upscale French restaurant called F&B in the Ritz-Carlton Residences in …

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Restaurant inspections, Sazon Mexican Grill

In an effort to optimize his investment, owner Wilder Rosales said he decided to change over his restaurant from Peruvian and Cuban cuisine to Mexican-style foods. Before the transformation to Sazon Mexican Grill was entirely complete, Rosales received a visit from the environmental health inspector.

During the visit to Sazon, 1700 Winder Highway, Suite 113, in Dacula, the inspector noted all new violations. Although most were corrected on site and some were mainly equipment related, the citations brought the food inspection score down to a 55 (unsatisfactory) score from a 99 (A), which was noted in June.

Violations corrected during the inspection include food stored in the cooler at improper temperatures, sanitizer solution mixed at substandard levels and foods cut with bare hands. All items were thrown out, according to the inspection report, and the inspector noted the requirements.

“We recently hired new employees,” Rosales said, noting the new employees are being training …

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How Atlanta’s hotel restaurants fare

Posh interior of Paces 88 at the St. Regis, photo: Becky Stein/special

Posh interior of Paces 88 at the St. Regis, photo: Becky Stein/special

In late September, Art Smith, a Chicago restaurateur who made his name as the personal chef to Oprah Winfrey, will open Southern Art restaurant in Buckhead’s Intercontinental Hotel. It will replace the elaborately decorated but underperforming Au Pied de Cochon, a spinoff of a famed Parisian brasserie. Smith, a native Southerner, plans to ply customers with plenty of country ham, bourbon and updated takes on down-home cooking in a dining room filled with original artwork.

It sounds quite cool, but will regular Atlantans treat this restaurant as a new hot spot, worthy of a night on the town? Or will they leave it to hotel guests, too complacent to go anywhere else?

Only time will tell. In recent years this town has had a much better track record of building hotel restaurants than actually supporting them.

Go back to 2008 and early 2009, when the city was supposedly embarking on a new age of hotel dining. …

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USDA and Wholesome Tummies working to improve school lunches

CafeteriaLineConsider this statistic: according to the USDA, one in three kids in the U.S. is either obese or overweight.

Because children consume 40% of their daily calories during school hours, school meals have become a primary target for improvement.

A private company called Wholesome Tummies entered the school lunch market in 2007 and can now be found in Atlanta. Two moms in Orlando, who were dissatisfied with traditional lunch programs, were inspired to tackle the challenge of preparing healthier meals for school children.

Wholesome Tummies provides lunches made with locally-sourced organic fruits and vegetables. The food contains no high-fructose corn syrup, additives, preservatives or trans fats. Wholesome Tummies offers healthier versions of kid favorites such as baked hormone-free chicken nuggets. And, don’t tell the kids, but even the chocolate chip cookies have beans in them for added fiber.

Now, Atlanta resident, Judy Gordon, has brought Wholesome Tummies to our area. As the …

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