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Archive for January, 2012

World Dish: Oxtail Stew at Stir It Up, Atlanta

World Dish with Gene Lee

World Dish with Gene Lee

Caribbean restaurant Stir It Up takes its name from the mélange of cultures and food its chef/owner Christopher Williams grew up around in his hometown of Kingston, Jamaica.

Williams is Indian, and his father was adopted and raised by a Chinese family in Jamaica who are in the restaurant business. According to Williams, the family groomed his father into an “amazing chef” of Chinese cuisine, and then he subsequently passed on the cooking bug to his son.

The attractive Little Five Points restaurant showcases Williams’ pride for his island country. He and his wife, Vivian, who runs the front of the house, covered the dining room walls with photographs of famous Jamaican musicians and other pictures that educate diners about Jamaican culture.

Oxtail stew (photos by Gene Lee)

Oxtail stew (photos by Gene Lee)

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Williams takes the indigenous, European, Asian and African ingredients and techniques that comprise Jamaican cuisine and “stirs it up” into an alluring …

Continue reading World Dish: Oxtail Stew at Stir It Up, Atlanta »

Top Chef Texas recap, Episode 10: Restaurant Wars

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

Padma and Hughnibrow skip the pageantry of “Surprise, no Quickfire!” and dive straight into talking about the most ominous of Elimination Challenges: Restaurant Wars!

The producers take all of the guesswork out of team selection and make this one a battle of the sexes. Instead of dueling restaurants on opposite sides of the space, each team gets their own night and the opposing team will join them as diners. This obviously gives an advantage to the team that goes second. The girls win the coin toss and the boys are up first.

During menu planning, there is a noticeable synergy between each of the teams. The boys are all backslaps and high-fives, just a bunch of bros super pumped to be cooking some sick food together. The ladies are all unified in their distrust and dread of having Beverly on their team, none more so than Heather’s understudy, Sarah.

A scene from menu planning on the girls’ team:

Bev- “I could do braised lamb rib?”

Sarah- “Will they have lamb ribs …

Continue reading Top Chef Texas recap, Episode 10: Restaurant Wars »

What are your New Year’s eating traditions?

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Happy New Year to you all! I still remember all that Y2K buzz like it was yesterday, but here we all are 12 years later.

I never consistently participated in any New Year’s eating traditions but would take a curious friend to a Korean restaurant for tteok guk (rice cake soup) every now and then. Each sliver of rice cake in the hearty Korean stew represents an added year of life for the diner — so you can imagine that some restaurants overload this soup with rice cakes!

In the last couple of years, I’ve been keeping plugged into what other cultures eat at the beginning of a new year. Here in the South, some consume black eyed peas. In Japanese culture, there is a meal called osechi where each food item symbolizes different things for the upcoming year. (For example, bamboo shoots carved into turtle form are served because the reptiles are known to live long, which symbolizes the wish for people to have long, healthy lives.)

There are a gazillion others, but this past New …

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More on the Boner’s BBQ Facebook snafu from WSB TV

Continue reading More on the Boner’s BBQ Facebook snafu from WSB TV »

Antisocial media: Restaurant owner regrets flaming customer on Facebook

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According to Andrew Capron, the owner of Boners BBQ, a customer recently nitpicked her way through a meal, paid a discounted price with a coupon, stiffed the waitress with no tip at all, and then posted a critical assessment of the restaurant on Yelp.

How did Capron respond? With what some are calling one of the major social media blunders of the year.

Enraged, Capron posted the woman’s Yelp profile picture on his restaurant’s Facebook page with this caption:

NOT WANTED! (Stephanie S.) left waitress 0.00 tip on a $40 tab after she received a Scoutmob discount. If you see this woman in your restaurant tell her to go outside and play hide and go [expletive] yourself! Yelp that [expletive].

Not a lot of Facebookers agreed with Capron’s tactic. By day’s end, Capron had taken the post down, but the damage had already been done.

News of the incident spread through Twitter and onto sites and forums, such as Business Insider.

Capron admits his reaction was hotheaded and …

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Bobby Deen’s new show lightens mom Paula’s recipes

courtesy of The Cooking Channel

courtesy of The Cooking Channel

Paula Deen is known for her no-holds-barred approach to Southern cooking, using sometimes shocking amounts of butter, cream cheese and more.

Now, one of her sons, Bobby, will attempt to create new associations with the family name as he tries to lighten his mother’s recipes on his new show Not My Mama’s Meals.

Though Bobby learned to cook at his mother’s hip, he experienced a lifestyle change about ten years ago as he began lifting weights. He says, “I embraced exercise and it completely changed my relationship with food… I like to eat for the way I want to feel.” To that end, he’s revamping the family recipes in order to drastically reduce the fat and calorie content. His mom’s response? “Good luck to you, sonny boy.”

In one episode, Bobby remakes Paula’s Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding — a recipe that according to Paula is a “one serving per lifetime” recipe. Using whole wheat doughnuts, cutting the portion size and making other substitutions, …

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Restaurant Inspections, Queen of Sheba

Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant in Atlanta recently climbed to a C-level score after failing a routine food safety examination.

The eatery, located at 1594 Woodcliff Drive, Suite G, was cited for several repeat violations, which normally call for double-point deductions. Those citations were improper date-marking procedures, inadequate lighting in some areas and substandard cleaning of nonfood-contact surfaces, according to the report.

“Doors, handles, gaskets and bottom exterior of coolers [are] unclean to sight and touch,” the inspector noted.

After mostly B-level scores, Queen of Sheba dropped to a 62(U) in December. Its follow-up score was a 77 (C).

The poor score on its follow-up exam came because Queen of Sheba still faced food safety issues, such as failing to post its food safety certification in public view, storing raw chicken with condiments and other ready-to-eat foods and washing onions in a sink that’s used for washing wares, the report showed.

The person in …

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The Immersion Blender – worth breaking my no-gadget rule for

Several years ago, our Czech baby sitter, Jana, returned from a Christmas trip home with a very special gift for me. She had long been talking up this present she was planning to buy me and smiled with unbridled excitement as I unwrapped it.

It was … a garlic press?

“All the Czech people use one!” she told me. “You’re going to love it.”

Jana, who was just learning about American ways, had figured the garlic press hadn’t made its way across the Atlantic because of the way I chose to process garlic. As a cook with a decided disinterest in gadgets and extraneous kitchen equipment, I always smashed garlic with the side of a chef’s knife and then smeared it into a paste with a bit of salt.

But I had to admit the Czech garlic press kept both my hands and my cutting board from reeking of the stinking rose.

This personal intransigence has long kept me from purchasing an immersion blender – one of those stick-like contraptions with a whirring blade at one end and a cord to plug in the …

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Chef Hugh Acheson’s unibrow in jeopardy

credit: Bravo TV

credit: Bravo TV

We all know chef Hugh Acheson from his restaurants in Athens and Empire State South here in Atlanta. We’ve seen him compete on Top Chef Masters and as a judge on this season’s Top Chef.

And, of course, we all know his unibrow. In fact, anytime we post on this blog about Acheson, readers remark about his unibrow.

Acheson seems to take it all in stride. He punctuates his Twitter posts and signs his cookbooks now with his signature smiley face.  |:)

That unibrow will now be put to the test. Can it raise $100,000 for charity? We’ll find out. Wholesome Wave, which works to make locally grown produce more accessible and affordable to under-served communities, is hosting “Hugh’s $100,000 Eyebrow Challenge.”

Bravo TV’s website describes how it came to be:

It all began with a tweet. Well, several tweets. Tweets from Top Chef fans to judge, Hugh Acheson, lovingly referred to as “The Hughnibrow,” about… his unibrow, or “monobrow” as he calls it. It doesn’t bothers him, …

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A new taqueria, a new burger joint and more

Red Pepper Taqueria, www.eatredpepper.com

Red Pepper Taqueria, www.eatredpepper.com

There’s a new taqueria in town: Red Pepper Taqueria. The executive chef hails from Mexico City and brings over 14 years of culinary experience to the restaurant. The menu offers an array of Mexican favorites including quesadillas and enchiladas and, of course, tacos — all made with local and organic ingredients. Try the beef barbacoa or carne asada tacos or branch out with a grilled tofu and oyster mushroom or a blackened Georgia trout taco. Red Pepper offers over 100 tequilas and draft table taps where guests can pour their own beers. 11 a.m.- 11 p.m. daily, bar open until 12:30 a.m. daily. 2149 Briarcliff Road, Atlanta. 404-325-8151. $-$$.

In other news:

  • The wave of burger joints flooding the city continues with the recent opening of Burger Tap, a gourmet burger and beer joint, in Morningside. The restaurant uses a brisket, chuck and short rib blend in its four-ounce burgers, which come in four varieties. Those include your classic …

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