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Archive for July, 2012

Top pastry chef opens HH Desserts in Midtown

HH desserts2

It’s too bad I’m already married. If I had a wedding in my future, I’d head to HH Desserts, a new boutique pastry shop in town.

Owner Heather Hurlbert, who you may remember as a contestant from the highly competitive first season of “Top Chef: Just Desserts,” recently left her position at Cherokee Town and Country Club to open up shop on her own. In addition to her appearance on “Top Chef,” Hurlbert has a string of accolades including a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, a gold medal in the 2004 IKA Culinary Olympics and the title of “Best National Pastry Chef of the Year” from the American Culinary Federation.

HH Desserts offers a full line of custom pastries for weddings and events. The boutique’s website features a gallery with scores of wedding cakes, grooms’ cakes, entremets, sugar show pieces, chocolates, plated desserts and more. Hurlbert also provides professional consultation and retail desserts.

If, like me, you aren’t in the …

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Restaurant inspections, Nuevo Laredo Cantina

Nuevo Laredo Cantina in Atlanta recently received its follow-up exam after waiting about seven months for a new inspection, according to food safety reports.

The Mexican cafe, located at 1495 Chattahoochee Ave. NW, received a 72 (C) after slipping below its normal B-level standards as tighter regulations were still being implemented in Fulton County. The manager declined an on-record comment as the restaurant implements changes to rebound to its higher levels.

Fulton County’s offices of Environmental Health noted that the lengthy delay came after an unfortunate glitch.

“There was a changeover in territories early in the year, and apparently there was a lack of adequate communication between the old and new inspectors, which caused this follow-up to slip through the cracks and not be conducted,” the food safety officials wrote in an email.

During the delay, the restaurant’s score stayed listed below the mark, when restaurants normally get a chance to review citations, …

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Last-minute tickets to London? Here’s an opinionated guide

(AP Photo/LOCOG,Yui Mok)

(AP Photo/LOCOG,Yui Mok)

Did the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games get you daydreaming? Wouldn’t it be fun to clear your schedule for a few days, send the pooch off to a petsitter and join in the festivities.

Then you should know this: The last-minute airline fares aren’t horrible. In fact, they’re far more reasonable than they were earlier this summer.

So…go! London is a flat-out great city, and I’m here to tell you how to make the most of your spontaneous sojourn.

Last summer my family and I took a good, long vacation — almost a sabbatical — and spent a solid five weeks in the English capital. We were like extended-stay-motel Londoners, not exactly residents but more than tourists.

Because of this experience I feel like I have the right to offer you this incredibly opinionated guide to what you should skip, and what you should see instead.

Skip Camden Market, go to Spitalfields

On a non-Olympic weekend, the northern London street market draws more …

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Atlanta restaurants celebrate the Olympics

nbc-olympics-2012Finally. The Olympics are here once more. And many area restaurants are gearing up to celebrate the festivities with viewing parties, specials and Olympic-themed menus. Where will you watch?

Places to watch:

  • Rosebud will host a Taste of the UK tonight in honor of the opening ceremonies. The menu includes rice fritters, fish & chips and curried Springer Mountain chicken legs. The event is being held in conjunction with 11 Alive, who will set up flat-screen televisions for guests to watch the opening ceremony. Rosebud parking lot, 6:30 p.m. $34 ticket includes food and two drink tickets.
  • All four locations of Meehan’s Public House will be televising the games over the two week period.


  • Cypress Street Pint and Plate will offer $4 pints of Fullers London Pride on draft during the opening ceremonies tonight.
  • Get $1 off your purchase at Cowlicks Yogurt and Floats when you mention the secret word (Olympics) at the register. Promotion runs Monday July 30- Friday Aug. 3. …

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Restaurant inspections, Tutti Frutti

Known to provide a cool treat during the hot summer days, Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt restaurant in Fayetteville recently dipped to the C level for food safety scores, according to reports.

Previous scores for the location at 834 Glynn St. S were 93 (A) on Feb. 16 and an 83 (B) on Jan. 11. Its latest score is a 77 (C), resulting mostly from non-food related issues.

The inspector noted that the eatery has to have a certified food safety manager and the certificate must be posted in public view. Other infractions that the inspector noted were hand towels not present at all hand sinks, damaged or missing towel dispensers, substandard temperature controls, a broken self-closing mechanism for the front door and improper storage of equipment.

The manager was not reached for comment as repeated calls to the restaurant’s listed number were unanswered. A follow-up inspection has been scheduled.

Here are more recent inspections scores from across the metro area.

Cobb County

  • All Star …

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Atlanta Revisited: Ray’s on the River



Sometimes you go for the atmosphere, and sometimes you go for the food. Last week we introduced “Atlanta Classics” — a new feature in which Jon Watson takes a non-critical look at beloved institutions. This week marks the debut of “Atlanta Revisited,” where Jenny Turknett offers  assessments of longstanding restaurants to let you know if they still merit a visit.

Thanks for reading — John Kessler

A Google search suggests that the average life span of a restaurant is five to 10 years.

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

If that’s true, a 28-year-old restaurant must have a formula for success. Ray’s on the River opened in 1984 and has aged gracefully over that time. The restaurant, a seafood and chophouse, is known for its long stretch of frontage on the Chattahoochee River, with steppingstone paths meandering through a landscaped paradise and benches offering picturesque views.

In 2007, on its 23rd birthday, Ray’s on the River received a major face-lift. The result was a …

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‘Top Chef Masters’ to start tonight

Chef Curtis Stone at a recent cooking demonstration at The Cook's Warehouse, courtesy The Cook's Warehouse

Chef Curtis Stone at a recent cooking demonstration at The Cook's Warehouse, courtesy The Cook's Warehouse

If you’ve been missing the “Top Chef” series, it returns tonight with “Top Chef Masters: Season 4,” set in Las Vegas. Twelve award-winning chefs will compete in this competitive culinary reality show to earn $100,000 for the charity of their choice.

Curtis Stone will return as judge and host this season just after wrapping up his hosting duties on the show “Around the World in 80 Plates.” James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur, and Ruth Reichl, Editorial Advisor to Gilt Taste, also both return as judges this season. New to the judging panel are Francis Lam, an award-winning food writer and features editor for Gilt Taste, and Krista Simmons, food editor for the LAist.

This season, Atlanta will be represented by contestant Art Smith, of Southern Art & Bourbon Bar and by The Indigo Girls, who will join an episode as guest judges. Other guest judges this …

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3rd Annual Chef’s Potluck at Inn at Serenbe

123338-250Call it an Atlanta foodie’s ultimate Sunday supper.

An Sunday, August 5th, the Inn at Serenbe will host the 3rd annual Chef’s Potluck, which brings together many of Atlanta’s top culinary talent for a family-style potluck meal to benefit Wholesome Wave Georgia. Presented by Serenbe’s Marie Nygren, as well as Linton and Gina Hopkins, and Judith Winfrey, the event includes live music, a live auction and raffle, and a whole mess o’ drool-worthy Sunday sides.

The main dishes will be White Oak Pastures meats prepared by Jim N’ Nicks Bar-B-Q and fried chicken legs from The Farmhouse at Serenbe. To accompany those, here is a preview of just some of the sides the chefs will be serving up:

Tomato pie and Cherokee Corn India Pickle (Linton Hopkins)

Salad of Watermelon and sungold tomatoes (Todd Ginsberg)

Butter poached radishes and peach chutney (Jay Switft)

Frankly, the list of dishes is too extensive to detail here, but the big names include those above as well as Steven …

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P’cheen owners take over Pizzeria Vesuvius (and more news)

Pizzeria VesuviusAlex Friedman, Keiran Neely and Mike LaSage, owners of P’cheen International Bistro & Pub, recently took over and reopened the Pizzeria Vesuvius on Edgewood Ave. after being approached by the pizza joint’s former owners.

The menu retains the most popular pies from the original menu, but also features many new items designed by chef Friedman. Neely says that classic Italian ingredients are used with more contemporary preparations. Both New York- and Neapolitan-style pizzas are offered along with calzones, subs and salads. Pizza toppings include house-made sausage and house-cured cold cuts. Craft beer and seasonal wines are among the new additions to the menu.

The new owners kept only the upper level portion of the original two-story space and redecorated it with volcano-themed murals. The upstairs room has been divided that right down the middle, forming two rooms. One remains the Pizzeria Vesuvius. The second, with no windows and only a hidden entry off of the pizzeria, …

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Restaurant inspections, Dragon Garden

Dragon Garden in Stockbridge recently raised its score above failing during follow-up exam – its second time since last year, according to food safety inspection reports.

Although the restaurant, located at 877 Ga. 138 West, rebounded to 84 (B), it still was cited for repeat violations related to temperature controls and cleanliness, the report showed.

The inspector noted that “potentially hazardous foods are not maintained at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above” and “non-food contact surfaces are not clean: walk-in cooler shelves, handles and exterior of bulk containers.” The temperature-related citation was corrected at the time of the inspection,however.

Another infraction that the inspector noted was corrected on site was “hot water is not readily available at the vegetable and three compartment sink.” Some requirements, such as running hot water, must be available for a restaurant to operate, according to regulations. The restaurant has declined any …

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