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Archive for September, 2011

Fall 2011 Dining Guide: Master of Surprise — Robert Phalen, One Eared Stag

Robert Phalen (credit all photos: Becky Stein)

Robert Phalen (credit all photos: Becky Stein)

Here’s what I had to say in the original letter:

Surprise us: I recently went to a restaurant I really like and have to say my heart sank a bit when the waitress said the soup special was butternut squash. What’s special about that? Everyone makes it. Is anyone trying a cream of turnip, or kohlrabi, or escarole, or carrot with cumin, or Sea Island red pea with country ham, or wild lamb’s quarters with black cardamom and ginger, or …

Here’s why I think Phalen exemplifies this quality:

The food that comes from the kitchen at One Eared Stag is not the most finessed or consistent. You can’t be guaranteed that a dish you loved on one visit will taste the same two weeks later. And those intriguing dares — hello, fried chicken necks — may best be appreciated as such. But this I promise: You will smile from ear to ear. Have a braised, then deep-fried, rabbit leg and delight in the way its succulent meat and keeeeee-runchy crust plays …

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Fall 2011 Dining Guide: Supreme Saucier — Marc Sublette, Viande Rouge Steakhouse

Marc Sublette (Credit: Viande Rouge)

Marc Sublette (Credit: Viande Rouge)

Here’s what I had to say in the original letter:

Don’t be afraid of sauce: I don’t miss the days of sticky and overly salty reduction sauces with meat and wading pools of butter with fish. But I do long for dishes with a small pool of sauce bridging the flavors of protein and garnish — those bites of food that register on the palate as three-part harmony. These days I see many dishes that are damp and greasy with butter, but none have that one perfect spoonful of beurre blanc that clings to a perfectly warmed plate and resonates with the flavors of shallot and wine.

Here’s why I think Sublette exemplifies this quality:

In the 1980’s, the great French cookbook author and authority Madeleine Kamman used to run a kind of post-graduate training program for American chefs in the Napa Valley. Established chefs (including Scott Peacock) went to learn her rules for pairing food and wine. Among them: The sauce on a plate acts as a “bridge” that …

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Fall 2011 Dining Guide: Casual Style — Paul Luna, Lunacy Black Market

Paul Luna (credit: Becky Stein)

Paul Luna (credit all photos: Becky Stein)

Here’s what I had to say in the original letter:

Be casual in the right way: I’ve eaten a lot of simple down-home food from gorgeous plates in design meccas of urban rusticity in this city. Now I’d like to eat an amazing plate of thoughtful food in a crappy little room with mismatched chairs and plates. Don’t set the stage for casual; just be casual and cook like there’s no tomorrow.

Here’s why I think Luna exemplifies this quality:

You will find Lunacy Black Market tucked into this streetscape among Mariama Hair Braiding, Buddy’s Snack Bar and the Excellent Shoe Care Center, and chances are you will find it packed. The room is filled with mismatched tables and chairs, with comfy sofas and earnest art-student paintings, with one table groaning under the contents of the restaurant’s entire wine cellar and another stacked with international newspapers. Presiding over it all stands Paul Luna, the chef with the long, grey ponytail who …

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Fall 2011 Dining Guide: New POV — Billy Allin, Cakes & Ale

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Billy Allin (credit all photos: Becky Stein)

(Note: a longer version of this profile ran in Sunday’s Arts & Books section and on this blog.)

Here’s what I had to say in the original letter:

[S]how us your unique POV: I know many of your customers want a burger, or a steak, or the same sorry dish you’ve been making for 10 years and, well, sure: The customer’s always right. But you went into this line of work to show us who you are as a chef. Show me something that you, personally, in your most uncompromising state of mind, want to eat. Try and advance the agenda. This city needs you more than ever.

Here’s why I think Allin exemplifies this quality:

Name the chefs whose distinctive points of view have influenced and changed the focus of dining in Atlanta, and you come up with a short list. I’d nominate Guenter Seeger, Anne Quatrano, Linton Hopkins and Paul Albrecht, among a few others. Lately, I’ve begun to suspect that Cakes & Ale’s Billy Allin belongs on this list. He isn’t …

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Two Georgians to compete on upcoming season of ‘Top Chef’

TopChef logo“Top Chef” fans take note. The show’s upcoming season, set in Texas, will premiere on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 10 p.m. on Bravo TV. And because everything is bigger in Texas, this season begins with a record 29 chef’testants, two of whom are Georgians.

Janine Falvo of Briza Restaurant will join the likes of Richard Blais, Kevin Gillespie and Hector Santiago in representing Atlanta on the show. In her casting video, Falvo says, “No one will ever work as hard as I do in any kitchen I’m in.” Falvo also describes her style as “molocular” — a blend of molecular gastronomy and the use of local ingredients. Like Blais, she professes a fondness for liquid nitrogen.

Georgia will also be represented by Whitney Otawka, chef at Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island. In her casting video, Whitney admits that she is a “hidden gem” because “no one even knows where Cumberland Island is most of the time.” Whitney has worked with Hugh Acheson at 5 &10 and at both Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & …

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Atlanta Bar-B-Q Festival returns to Atlantic Station

Credit: AtlBBQfest.com

Credit: AtlBBQfest.com

Thousands of hungry ‘cue lovers will descend on Atlantic Station on Sept 30th-October 1st as the Atlanta Bar-B-Q Festival returns for its 3rd year.

The 2-day festival includes live music, the “Market Village” where attendees can purchase a wide range of barbecue merchandise, a barbecue competition featuring 50+ professional and “backyard teams”, as well as stands from some of Atlanta’s barbecue restaurants. At this point, participating restaurants include Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, Jim ‘N Nicks, Williamson Bros., and JD’s Bar-B-Que.

If you think you have what it takes to take a swing at the “Backyard” competition, TODAY is the final day to turn in your registration. Though the website claims that 50+ teams will compete for over $10,000 in prizes, as of today only 20+ appear listed, so there should still be room on the roster. The basic registration fee for a Backyard team is $200, and events include Chicken and Ribs, with the optional categories of sauce and …

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Ramen demonstration with Sun Noodle at Buford Highway Farmers Market

Last Friday, I attended a cooking demo featuring Japanese-style ramen at Buford Highway Farmers Market (BHFM). Representatives from Sun Noodle, a Japanese noodle and food product manufacturer, were on hand with renowned ramen chef Shigetoshi Nakamura to demonstrate three styles popular in different regions throughout Japan.

Three types of ramen noodles

Three types of ramen noodles

While Nakamura-san was preparing the first ramen, Sun Noodle passed around noodle samples that can also be purchased at BHFM (aisle 12 in the cooler if I recall correctly). The noodles are made with wheat flour, water, salt and potassium bicarbonate, and had a lively smell to them.

Chicken, vegetable, seafood and pork bone (tonkotsu) stock act as the foundation for Japanese-style ramen broth (can also be a combination thereof). For chicken stock, a slew of chicken bones, vegetables and the chicken carcass are boiled in water for at least eight hours. To achieve the creamy and richer tonkotsu broth, pork shank and/or rib bones …

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West African Yam Harvest at Emory’s Michael C. Carlos Museum

michaelcarlos

(image courtesy of Michael C. Carlos Museum)

Next month, Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum is hosting a week-long festival celebrating the yam in the daily lives of West Africans. The event will be held from Tuesday, October 4 through Sunday, October 9, and more details can be found here.

The event will kick off with a talk from Dr. Jessica Stephenson, the museum’s curator of African art, about yam festivals in Nigeria and Ghana and its dietary importance in the daily lives of West Africans, followed by a dance and drumming procession to the Emory Farmers Market.

Noted local chefs such as Miller Union’s Steven Satterfield, Cakes & Ale’s Billy Allin and former Watershed chef Scott Peacock will be on hand throughout the festival week to demonstrate dishes using yams and sweet potatoes, commonly associated to yams.

See the following press release below for more details:

ATLANTA, GA (September 19, 2011)—This fall, as part of the special exhibition programming for Divine …

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Fall 2011 Dining Guide: Chef Kevin Clark

Chef Kevin Clark with wife Lisa Spooner

Chef Kevin Clark with wife Lisa Spooner

“I get up at 3:00 a.m. and I’m excited. I absolutely look forward to every day.”

How many people can say that they’re excited to hop out of bed at 3 a.m. to start the work day? There is one chef who can: Kevin Clark, chef and owner of Home Grown. Kevin brings a contagious enthusiasm to both his food and restaurant.

Home Grown serves Southern fare in a casual spot that just might have been your grandmother’s house. Judging by this meat-and-three, you’d never guess that Kevin Clark began his career in fine dining. But Kevin’s roots are in Southern food.

Growing up in Tucker, Kevin says “I always had food smells around me.” His mom made dinner every night and a roast on Sundays. The food was all fresh and simple — nothing boxed. Kevin also spent a great deal of time in the kitchens of the Southern landmark, Matthews Cafeteria, which is owned by his buddy Mike’s family.

Despite this early exposure to food, cooking was not originally in …

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Restaurant Inspections, Beef Grill

The Beef Grill restaurant, which touts itself as a Brazilian steakhouse, recently dropped another level during a routine food safety examination.

For a required follow-up inspection, it rebounded from a 70 (C) to a 95 (A). On both visits, the inspector cited the eatery at 8599 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs for not having a certified food safety manager (CFSM), according to the reports.

Fulton County’s deputy director of Environmental Health Services said establishments have a 90-day timeframe to rectify the issue.

Kevin Jones said the allotment for employing another certified food safety manager begins “from the date of initial permit issuance, change of ownership permit issuance, or termination of employment of its CFSM.”

During its February inspection, when it received an 83 (B), Beef Grill had a certified food safety manager. The restaurant manager didn’t take time to discuss the inspection reports, its plan for getting a certified food safety manager in the required time …

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