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Archive for January, 2012

Top Chef Texas recap, Episode 11: Snow White and the seven chefs

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

After restaurant wars last week, Sarah and Lindsay are still stewing over Beverly’s win, despite their concerted effort to blame her for everything that did or could have gone wrong. Things were so awkward on their road trip back to San Antonio, the ladies didn’t even comment on how many cup holders are in their Toyota something-or-the-other.


Eric Ripert awaits the chefs along with Padma as they enter the kitchen. Immediately, Ed points out this week’s Quickfire gimmick: the conveyor belt of doom. As soon as the 30-minute time begins, an array of ingredients will begin rolling out from behind the curtain and the chefs must snag and use three of them in their dish. Theoretically, the longer they wait, the better the ingredients will get. The winner takes home immunity, and with only seven chefs left in the game, that is more important than ever.

Sarah decides to stand around for 15 minutes waiting on the ideal ingredient to appear, while most of …

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A trip down the international memory lane

These days, every time I drive up and down Buford Highway I can’t help but think about the restaurant industry and those who have come and gone. It’s been over four years since the Great Recession began rearing its ugly head, and you don’t even have to be on Buford Highway to see its overall effect on the industry.

Even though I’ve been in and out of metro Atlanta going on 20+ years now, I’m beginning to lose sight of places that used to be around.

Do you remember:

Mirror of Korea? This sat in the plaza off the intersection of Ponce De Leon and North Highland and was run by a friendly Korean couple who outfitted the front window with a huge water wheel. I believe a Fedex delivery office is now in its place.

Toyotaya off Buford Highway? Oh my Lord, the thought of sushi buffet is not appealing as it was in the early 1990s when I was a college student and on a slim budget. But this all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant was a favorite with my peers and had an amusing sign at every …

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Falcons’ food service inspires homeless

credit: Karyn Kotler, Levy Restaurants

credit: Karyn Kotler, Levy Restaurants

The Falcons’ season may be over but they’ve left a lasting impression on one group of men — or rather, their food service has.

It all began when employees of Levy Restaurants volunteered to serve soup.

In a community outreach effort, this food service company, which operates at the Georgia Dome, Georgia World Congress Center and Phillips Arena, sent volunteers to Atlanta Mission. Here, homeless men participate in a personal development program designed to teach skills and expose them to possibilities that could help them transition to independent living.

One of Levy’s volunteers sent to serve soup was Executive Chef Frank Abbinanti. He was inspired to do more to help and hoped to teach the men on the kitchen staff how to better utilize the food that is donated.

Chef Frank, as he’s known to the men at Atlanta Mission, developed a training program to give the guys on the kitchen staff “a good understanding of what it takes to work …

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Restaurant inspections, Koji Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

About one month ago, Koji Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar opened in Locust Grove. Now, it’s awaiting a follow-up inspection after receiving a 45 (U) on a routine food safety evaluation.

Koji’s manager, Ricky Liu, said all of the violations cited Jan. 5 have been corrected. He said that the staff has been retrained and will receive regularly training sessions, so employees will consistently adhere to food safety standards.

The corrective actions for the restaurant at 4938 Bill Gardner Parkway come after the inspector wrote, “there is a pattern of noncompliance,” noting that the person in charge must ensure that employees are following the guidelines of the Georgia food safety regulations.

While some items, such as those related to temperature controls, were corrected on site, others were repeat offenses, according to the report. Repeat violations are noted as double-point deductions.

According to the report, other items that Koji was cited for include:

– An employee …

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A look at the new airport concessions

Rendering of Varasano's in Concourse A (credit: Hojeij Branded Foods)

Rendering of Varasano's in Concourse A (credit: Hojeij Branded Foods)

We’ve all had to juggle the airport food options when our flights are delayed by some combination of inclement weather in Newark, faulty deicing machinery and poltergeist. So the hunt begins. Do we have time to sit down for a burger and beer at T.G.I. Fridays or should we just hit Popeyes at the food court for a box of chicken? Isn’t there a sushi kiosk nearby? Could we make it to One Flew South on Concourse E for a cocktail that doesn’t involve a soda gun?

Now imagine the choices include your favorite Atlanta restaurants and the dishes you love. You might nosh on a plate of fried goat cheese fritters with honey and cracked pepper from Ecco, some oysters on the half shell from Twist or a Nucci pizza from Varasano’s Pizzeria, with its blanket of shaved capicola and arugula over a crisp, airy crust.

All of this will be a reality once the new lineup of airport concessions rolls out. The first wave will debut …

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Southern Living shows Atlanta some love: 3 top bakeries and a recipe from Hugh Acheson

courtesy of Southern Living

courtesy of Southern Living

Atlanta fares well in the January issue of Southern Living magazine. Decatur was named among the top ten “tastiest towns” in the South and it doesn’t stop there. The magazine also features three Atlanta bakeries in a round-up of best ones in the South and a recipe from Empire State South’s Hugh Acheson.

To find the best bakeries in the region, Southern Living sent Bill Addison from Atlanta Magazine all across the Southern states to find the best cakes, cookies, breads, pastries and pies. While Atlanta didn’t have any mentions in the cookie category, our shops made the top five in the other three.

Alpine Bakery & Trattoria in Alpharetta earns recognition for its stellar cakes, “Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but Alpine’s ginormous masterpieces deliver on quality.” The article puts money on the Million Dollar cake. Mine is on the red velvet cake here, the one that ranked number one of my list of best red velvet cakes in Atlanta …

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Around the web: Food photography and Sam Sifton recreates Momofuku’s bo ssam

If this sort of thing interests you, follow this link to view some stylized and sometimes avant-garde food photography. There are definitely some interesting pictures such as one titled “Discodip broccoli.” (It’s a large head of broccoli covered with candy sprinkles.)

If you LOVE pork and are looking for a fun home dining option, The New York Times Sam Sifton wrote about making Momofuku’s Korean pork shoulder dish called bo ssam. And yes, it contains Sifton’s adapted recipe.

Creative Loafing’s Cliff Bostock takes a sneak peek at Asha Gomez’s new culinary ode to Kerala. Gomez dishes about Indian cooking techniques such as applying the right amount of cardamom and the conception of spice. It sounds amazing.

by Gene Lee, Food and More blog

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Chefs fighting back online?

090731_Angry_Twitter_BirdEarlier this week, Andrew Capron, owner of Boner’s BBQ in Atlanta caused quite a ruckus on the internet and in local and national media when he lashed out at a customer on Facebook. The customer, who supposedly stiffed the waitress with $0 tip, posted a negative Yelp review after paying for her meal with a Scoutmob. Capron then fired back with a scathing post on the Boner’s Facebook page, which he has taken down and apologized for.

I’m not here to re-hash the Boner’s fiasco, or to point out that it is weirdly coincidental that Stephanie S.’s Yelp account didn’t exist until she wrote that review that sparked that whole thing.

Ok, maybe I did want to point out that last part.

But what I’m more interested in is the phenomenon of business owners taking the fight back to the customers via the internet.

Sites like Yelp, which I’ve written about before, give diners an open forum to praise or bash restaurants on a whim. No amount of automatic filtering could stop …

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Twinkie talk: Are they just for kids?

twinkieWho loves a good Twinkie? Golden sponge cake filled with fluffy cream filling. The paragon of decadence… right?

If you’re a fan of the Twinkie, then you’ve probably heard the news. Hostess Brands, Twinkies maker, filed for bankruptcy again –  the second time since 2004. Does that mean we’ll soon be without the lauded cream-filled golden finger? The dessert which is the subject of nearly 27,000 YouTube videos?

I can’t recall if I actually liked Twinkies as a child, but I remember thinking of them as the Holy Grail of desserts. They were a very rare indulgence, elevating their status in my six-year-old mind. After reading the news of the bankruptcy yesterday, I longed to taste a Twinkie again. It’s probably been 25 years or more since I’ve eaten one.

After the first whiff — even before I indulged in a single bite — my rose-colored memories of the filled cakes faded. Like Kraft macaroni and cheese, Fanta soft drinks and Hamburger Helper, Twinkies are one of …

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Seed Kitchen & Bar restaurant review, East Cobb



If you score one of the tables or booths that cluster around the kitchen pass at Seed Kitchen & Bar, you get a front-row seat to observe owner/chef Doug Turbush as he tends to all the dishes that leave the kitchen. He works by a gleaming expanse of counter under domed pendant lights with a cloth in his hand, buffing every plate to a high gloss.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

You will also welcome the olfactory benefits afforded by this vantage point: blasts of grilled rib-eye steak, pan-roasted flounder fillets, breaded chicken fresh from hot oil and — pow! — a heady melange of garlic, chili and fish sauce and suddenly you’re in a Thai restaurant.

These smells herald the arrival of an intriguing restaurant.

Seed figures among the cohort of exciting new spots that have goosed the northern perimeter food scene. Like Marietta’s Chicken and the Egg and Roswell’s Table & Main, Seed offers a contemporary dining experience for a neighborhood — here, East Cobb — that has …

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