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Archive for February, 2012

A simple Asian-inspired vegetable dish in five minutes


If you cook a lot of Asian dishes and wonder what else you can quickly throw together that would go well with everything — try quickly stir-frying some raw pea sprouts.

These sprouts are widely available at local Super H-Mart stores, Assi Markets and at the Buford Highway Farmers Market (packaged in containers in the produce section).

I also have been tossing a small clump of these in bowls of soups, or drizzling with a little low sodium soy sauce and eating as-is.

Here is a quick recipe for stir-frying:

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp of peanut oil, or vegetable oil

2 large handfuls of pea sprouts

1 Tbsp of soy sauce

1/2 tsp of Asian chile oil/sauce (optional)

Finish with ground black pepper

1. Heat a wok (or wide frying pan) on high heat

2. Add a tsp of peanut oil, or any other kind of vegetable oil

3. Add the minced garlic

4. After the garlic turns a light golden color in the oil, add the pea sprouts

5. Using tongs or a wooden spoon, quickly stir the sprouts around in …

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A weekend in Washington, D.C.


It has been ten years since I last visited Washington, D.C., and to me it felt a lot different back then. The city seemed vastly more residential with small, concentrated pockets of hip commercial activity in neighborhoods like Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, etc. Simply put, it just seemed real chill for a major metropolitan city. After spending this past weekend there, I no longer have that impression.

Commercial activity has seemed to really taken off in D.C., giving it an energetic pulse reminiscent of Lower Manhattan’s East Village. I also discovered that the hoopla over the city’s restaurant renaissance is certainly merited.

On my first evening, my friend and I participated in the prix fixe experience at Palena located in the Cleveland Park neighborhood. In hindsight, choosing to start off our weekend in Palena’s formal dining room, as opposed to its more casual cafe, was probably a stuffy choice for two beer-loving dudes who haven’t seen each other in a while. Regardless, …

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A new cookie shop, corner store and more

Ali's submits building permits on a (what else?) giant cookie cake.

Ali's submits building plans for permits on a (what else?) giant cookie cake.

After the explosion of cupcake shops over the past few years, cookies may try for a comeback.

Ali’s Cookies, with a retail location in East Cobb for 30 years, just filed for a building permit to open a new store at Perimeter Place in Dunwoody.

The cookies here are hand-scooped, contain no preservatives and are certified kosher (under the supervision of the Atlanta Kosher Commission). Ali’s offers over 20 varieties of cookies, including a line of lactose-free treats, cookie cakes, cupcakes, cakes and more. Both shipping and local delivery are available.

East Cobb location: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Fridays, closed Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sundays. 1255 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta. 800-220-7644.

In other news:

  • Istanblue, serving Turkish cuisine, recently opened in Buckhead. The restaurant and bar prepares a variety of wood-fired pide (pita-type bread stuffed or …

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Restaurant Inspections, Sugar Island Jerk

Sugar Island Jerk in Dacula rebounded to a satisfactory score, an 85 (B), recently after venturing away from hits high-level record.

The restaurant at 2300 Liam Road, Suite 101, received a 68 (U) in January, when it was cited for a host of violations – most of which were corrected on site. Some of the temperature-control infractions were related to a refrigerator that was in need of repair, owner and manager Kevin Watt said.

Watt said the refrigerator has since been replaced.

The inspector also wrote that the food service permit must be prominently posted at all times, an infraction that was also noted on Sugar Island’s follow-up inspection.

The manager said a new permit has been ordered and will be posted when received. Watt said he expects that it will arrive before Sugar Island’s next food safety inspection that is scheduled within the next 60 days, according to the report.

Here are other recent inspection scores from restaurants across the area.

Cherokee …

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Marketing spin spills over to blog comments

As the AJC’s chief dining critic, it isn’t often I bestow a “Fair” rating on a restaurant. But if I feel I can’t even recommend a place to its target audience, then I’ll write the review the restaurant deserves. After spending nearly $550 on two lackluster visits at a new Buckhead restaurant called Ocean Prime, I couldn’t make the case for assigning it a star.

After the review published online on our Food and More blog (, I expected to hear an earful in the comments section. As things turned out, more people agreed with my assessment than not. But one from someone calling herself FoodieATL stood out from the others with this comment (lightly edited for keystroke error):

“I have been to Ocean Prime quite a few times and have always had great food and great service. The prices are very similar to most other Buckhead restaurants of this type, and the experiences I have had are worth the money. It’s also fun to just go sit at the bar and …

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Restaurant Inspections, Koji Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

Koji Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar in Locust Grove climbed to a satisfactory food safety level almost two months after opening, according its Feb. 1 inspection report.

Koji stumbled twice in January, receiving a 45 (U) on its routine exam and scoring a 49 (U) on its first follow-up. Its second follow-up inspection resulted in an 82 (B).

During the two failing exams, the inspector noted that Koji showed “a pattern of non-compliance and obvious failure by the person in charge to ensure employees are complying with the duties listed in the Georgia food code.” The manager declined to comment on retraining or corrective actions.

The restaurant at 4938 Bill Gardner Parkway was also cited for a host of other violations, including “an unsealed opening around the back door,” which falls under good retail practices’ pest and animal control category.

While Koji received a higher grade, it was still cited for several risk factors. According to the report, three of the …

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Two Atlantans compete for Food & Wine’s ‘Best New Pastry Chef’

best-new-pastry-chefFor the first time, Food & Wine magazine will crown a “Best New Pastry Chef” this year. Two of Atlanta’s pastry chefs appear on the list of top talent: Pamela Moxley (Miller Union) and Cynthia Wong (Empire State South).

Food & Wine has named a “Best New Chef” every year for the last 24 years. Last year, it introduced a people’s choice component to the competition. And now, pastry gets its due with both a title and a people’s choice award. In an interview with Eater, Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin acknowledged that the pastry competition may not be an annual event, but potentially a biennial one.

Food & Wine compiled a list of 50 nominees divided into three regions: East, Central and West. Each of the pastry chefs included have been in charge of a kitchen for less than five years.

Atlanta’s two contenders, Moxley and Wong, will compete against pastry chefs who have experience in the kitchens of el Bulli, Eleven Madison Park, wd~50, Daniel and other well-known …

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Peter Cheng on the move again?

Peter ChangCreative Loafing’s Besha Rodell reported that Peter Cheng is on the move again.

Read her story here.

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Cafe Restaurant Dominicano, Norcross



Several Christmases ago, my mother-in-law went all out and rented a beautiful house on the north coast of the Dominican Republic for our family holiday. This house not only had a swimming pool and enough bedrooms for the extended brood, it came with a chef.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

For the first couple of days he served us the kind of perfectly OK American and Continental meals most guests want — oatmeal for breakfast, gazpacho and beef tenderloin with mushrooms for dinner.

“Could you make some Dominican food for us to try?” I asked him one night after dinner. He was more than happy to oblige.

The next day we feasted on mangú — mashed plantains — with pickled onions, fried eggs and sausage at breakfast. For the evening meal we sat down to sancocho, a soup thick with different cuts of meat and cubed root vegetables.

Chicharron de pollo with plantains and salad

Chicharron de pollo with plantains and salad (all photos by Becky Stein)

I developed a serious crush on this honest, hearty food at the house and at …

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Buckhead Diner restaurant review, Buckhead



“Is that Jane Fonda at the next table?”

We steal surreptitious glances at the neighboring group, examining the woman in the black hat pulled low over a pair of glasses. It wouldn’t be unusual to spot celebrities at Buckhead Diner — a place where the walls are lined with framed photos of visiting stars like Steve Martin, Henry Winkler and Kathy Bates.

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

This is not your typical greasy spoon. I learned this when my boyfriend (now husband) and I first ate at Buckhead Diner many years ago, with only wads of leftover gas money from our parents stuffed in our pockets. After seeing the non-diner prices, we quickly altered our plans and ordered an appetizer and a couple of drinks. We may have been fooled by the cool polished steel exterior, but the luxurious interior modeled after an Orient Express rail car clued us in.

The food, pricing and guest list set this diner apart from its counterparts, as does the level of service, which is customary for the …

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