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

Author of a Singaporean food memoir to speak at Decatur Book Festival

Author Cheryl Tan and her book jacket (photos courtesy of Cheryl Tan)

Author Cheryl Tan and her book jacket (photos courtesy of Cheryl Tan)

Next Saturday, September 3, writer/journalist Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan will be at the Decatur Book Festival to speak about her recently published book, A Tiger in the Kitchen. The vibrant story details a year in Tan’s life when — after being laid off from The Wall Street Journal where she covered the fashion beat — she decided to “slow her life down” and embark on an anthropological culinary journey back to her native country of Singapore to learn traditional recipes she grew up eating. (Some of these recipes appear at the end of the book.)

Whether recounting the many fabulous meals had in the country’s famed hawker centers (food courts) or through home-cooked repasts patiently prepared by female family members, Tan had a yearning to reconnect with the Singaporean culinary culture that she overlooked in her formative years while pursuing journalistic ambitions.

Shortly after she arrived in America to attend …

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Sending food back

AJC Staff

AJC Staff

Choose Your Own Adventure: Dinner With Friends

By Jon Watson

It’s Friday night, and all week long, you have looked forward to this dinner out with your friends. Drinks and conversation flow, a few well-received shared apps shared. Service is friendly and attentive. You all comment on how this restaurant was an excellent choice.

Right on cue, the entrees arrive and you watch as your friends’ eyes roll back at their first bites, and they gush, “Oh my GOSH, you have to try this!” But you aren’t listening. You are too distracted by the well-done slab of meat on your plate as you attempt to relive the moment you ordered to be certain that, yes, you totally asked for medium rare.

Just then, as you cock your head to the side to get a better look at the cross-section of your first cut you hear, “How is everything folks?”

If you bite your tongue and smile, saying “Good, thanks”, turn to page 17.

If you inform the server of the error and send the food back, turn to page 28.

If …

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Buckhead Barbecue Co. to open soon in Smyrna

Buckhead BBQ coA new barbecue restaurant, the Buckhead Barbecue Company, will soon open its doors in Smyrna.

With only a handful of inspections left to go, Partner Jay Bess says that they hope to open by the end of next week. I spoke with Jay to get an idea of what diners can expect to find.

The menu will adhere strongly to traditional Southern BBQ, but they want to appeal to a slightly up-market crowd. Don’t expect the dingy, hole-in-the-wall feel that many barbecue restaurants are known for.

In addition to the staple barbecue options, Buckhead Barbecue will feature BBQ inspired twists on other dishes, including a selection of BBQ tacos and sandwiches like the Thank You Very Much sandwich, a twist on Elvis’ favorite with peanut butter, banana, and bacon, pan fried on Texas toast. They plan to offer your choice of eight different barbecue sauces, all made in-house, such as a Kansas City sweet cause, South Carolina mustard sauce, Alabama white sauce, and a brown Texas molasses sauce.

Manning …

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Restaurant Inspections, Sushi Joy

Sushi Joy eatery, located inside the Korean superstore Mega Mart in Duluth, faced a list of new violations during a recent food inspection.

Most of the citations were corrected at the time of the inspection, but they still resulted in an unsatisfactory grade of 59 (U), which was well below the 99 (A) it received about a month ago.

Violations related to raw fish included the absence of a parasite destruction letter for the fish that is served raw and the person in charge not being aware of answers to food safety questions. The inspector also observed an employee handling ready-to-eat food with bare hands and employee drinking out of an open glass, the report said. Workers’ drink cups must have a lid and straw, the inspector wrote.

Other violations include improper temperatures in the cooler display, an insufficient time control plan and inadequate sanitizing solution in the dish machine. The manager was not available for comment.

The inspector advised that the restaurant must …

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Seasons 52 restaurant review, Dunwoody



If you’ve ever been charged with the mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, then you know the evil trick. Wait until no one is looking, dump a whole stick of butter into the pot and then mash away. It’s easy, it’s delicious, and if anyone asks you the secret to your amazing potatoes, just respond, “I use Yukon golds. They’re so buttery.”

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

Such is the temptation faced by chefs every night. Every soup, every sauce, every salad can get a major flavor boost from fat, salt and all the other delicious hazards that some of us try to limit in our diets.

I can think of no local restaurant beyond the two locations of Seasons 52 that makes an explicit (and most welcome) promise to keep the diner’s health in mind. This small chain (owned by Darden Restaurants, the group responsible for Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse) came onto the scene five years ago with the opening of its Dunwoody location. Buckhead soon followed, and both locations have been …

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The Beignet Connection restaurant review, Atlanta



Remember the good old days of stopping in Huey’s for an order of beignets and a cafe au lait? Ever wish you could round up its entire staff and implore it to open a new beignet dive just to indulge your sweet tooth?

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

If you weren’t around in those days and missed the beignets, don’t lament. The Beignet Connection, which opened in March, aims to re-create the Huey’s experience.

Tony Morgan, co-owner of the Beignet Connection, managed the Huey’s in Savannah before moving here to save the Atlanta location from its impending decline. Although Morgan didn’t prevent the beignet joint from closing, he did maintain contact with its sous chef and kitchen staffers as they scattered to kitchens across the city. He recruited many of them to join his new team.

When it came to creating his restaurant, Morgan chose to stick with the New Orleans theme because he says, “It seems popular.” Though N’awlins is known for big personality, the Beignet Connection’s …

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Umami in a tube

umami1Umami is the “savory” basic taste alongside bitter, salty, sour and sweet. It is a taste concept that most all cultures have always embraced and was labeled/identified in the early 1900’s by Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda. (Purportedly a German scientist actually discovered glutamic acid in food many years before Ikeda.)

Ikeda discovered that glutamate or glutamic acid — in the form of crystals left over from evaporated kombu (seaweed) broth — was responsible for the broth’s essence. Shortly thereafter, he synthesized glutamic acid and patented it as the flavor enhancer we all know as monosodium glutamate or MSG. Many food and some of its fermented derivatives contain naturally occurring glutamate; cheese, soy sauce, tomatoes, meat and mushrooms are some commonly known ones.

Recently, a chef in England (with Italian roots) created a product called Taste No. 5 Umami Paste. It’s a processed paste containing ingredients that reads like a who’s who of umami — tomato paste, …

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‘Top Chef Just Desserts’ starts tomorrow and more ‘Top Chef’ news

TopChef logoCalling all “Top Chef Just Desserts” fans! Get set for the first episode of Season 2 tomorrow night on Bravo TV.

Gail Simmons returns as host this season, which pits 14 pastry chefs against one another to compete for the $100,000 prize. Johnny Iuzzini, Hubert Keller and Dannielle Kyrillos will serve as judges. Previews also include a shot of Atlanta’s own Hugh Acheson as a guest judge.

This season’s challenges will have contestants cooking for Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz, pastry chef Francois Payard and chef Cat Cora.

Sadly there won’t be any hometown favorites like Cherokee Town and Country Club’s Heather Hurlbert to root for like last season. But, I’ll be watching nonetheless.

Who’ll be watching with me?

In other top chef news…

  • It looks like Hugh Acheson did more than just make a guest judge appearance on “Top Chef Just Desserts.” Bravo TV announced that he will join Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi as a regular judge on the upcoming season of “Top Chef,” which was filmed in …

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Chef Steven Hartman leaves Montaluce’s Le Vigne to open Buttermilk Fried Chicken

I'll miss Hartman's dishes at Le Vigne such as this sweet corn soup with buttered croutons and powdered arugula.

I'll miss Hartman's dishes at Le Vigne such as this sweet corn soup with buttered croutons and powdered arugula.

Montaluce Winery announced today that Chef Steven Hartman and General Manager Brad Egnor have left the winery’s restaurant, Le Vigne, to open their own restaurant called Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Montaluce said, “It is a terrible loss.”

Located in Dahlonega, Buttermilk Fried Chicken opened earlier this month and is co-owned by Hartman and Egnor. Though his original intention was to remain at Le Vigne despite his new venture, Hartman’s last day there was Friday.

The inspiration for Buttermilk grew out of the staff meals at Le Vigne. According to Hartman, “We were going through a lot of chicken with the weddings at Montaluce. That left lots of wings and thighs around.” Those leftover chicken parts were cooked sous vide (slow cooking “under vacuum” in plastic bags in a water bath) and served for staff meals. Hartman says, “We discovered the best fried chicken …

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Composed salads

Composed salad platter at Imane Moroccan Restaurant

Composed salad platter at Imane Moroccan Restaurant

The French term “salade composée” translates awkwardly into English as “composed salad.” Look it up on Google, and you will alight on a couple of “what the heck is composed salad” posts on food reference blogs and a 20-year-old article by Jacques Pépin — presumably the last food writer who tried to promote the term.

It isn’t as fussy as the word “composed” would lead you to believe. A composed salad brings piles of veggies and whatnot arranged on a plate. Think of our most famous example — the Cobb salad — and you’ve got the idea. Crumbled bacon, cubed chicken, blue cheese crumbles, chopped tomato and avocado chunks line up on a bed of greenery. Diners help themselves to some of each along with some dressing and let the ingredients commingle on the plate.

Frenchies, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the distinction between what you call a “simple salad” and a “composed salad” goes something like this: A simple salad is …

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