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Archive for July, 2012

California Foie Gras ban to change ways for a generation of food lovers

foie-gras-300x225The blackboard menu at Joe Beef restaurant in Montreal was written almost entirely in French. But our most pressing question for our waitress was about one of the few (partially) English language items listed.

“What on earth is a foie gras Double Down?” we wondered.

She laughed. “It’s like the Double Down at KFC. We take two lobes of deep-fried foie gras and sandwich it between melted cheddar cheese, bacon, maple syrup and sriracha mayonnaise. It’s really intense.”

We passed, but the young tourists from New York at the next table couldn’t resist. “Oh my God! Oh my God!” they muttered between mouthfuls.

Things are looking a little different on the other side of this great continent. Earlier this month California enacted a ban that made it illegal to raise, sell or serve foie gras, made by force-feeding ducks and geese through a tube to enlarge their livers. The procedure, called by its French name, gavage, is considered cruel by California lawmakers, …

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What are your Atlanta Classics?

Yesterday was the first of a new series that I’ll be writing periodically that we are calling the Atlanta Classics. The focus will be feature stories on classic Atlanta restaurants, institutions that have been around for decades that the media may take for granted, but have a story that deserves to be revisited.

These pieces will not be starred reviews, but rather a spotlight on a story worth telling. That could be anything from the general history on a classic restaurant, a story about an employee that has worked there for a lifetime, or an in depth discussion about a single dish. To qualify, the restaurants should have been around for roughly at least twenty years or so, and have an interesting story to tell. They may not get all of the buzz of the newer, trendier spots around town, but they probably have a loyal following that has kept them in business this long.

So, I’d love to hear from the readers on some stories that you’d like to see get told. What is your …

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$666 burger at New York food truck

Credit: Mackenzie Keegan

Credit: Mackenzie Keegan

Are you sick of how ridiculous some of the burgers out there have become? Does the idea of a $200 burger made with Kobe beef and an array of stupidly expensive toppings make your blood boil?

If so, you aren’t alone. Enter New York’s 666 Burger’s “Douche Burger”.

For a mere $666, the NYC food truck will prepare a burger with the following fixins:

- Foie gras stuffed Kobe beef patty wrapped in gold leaf

- Gruyere cheese melted in champagne steam

- Lobster

- Truffles

- Caviar

- BBQ sauce made with Kopi Luwak coffee beans, which have been ingested and defacated back out by an Asian palm civet, a small cat like mammal native to Southeast Asia

-  Pentagram branded bun served in a wrapper of three $100 bills that you keep when you are done

Of course, this burger is more of a joke than anything else. Owner Franz Aliquo created the monstrosity as a satirical jab at all of the other totally unnecessary “status” burgers out there, like the $295 …

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Restaurant inspections, Wasabi Grill

Wasabi Grill, an Atlanta restaurant known for its Japanese and Korean cuisine, recently rebounded to its normal high-level food safety level, according to reports.

The family owned eatery located at 398 14th St. received an 85 (B) on a second follow-up exam. It’s first follow-up score of 51 (U) resulted from repeat violations that included non-food and food related issues, the report showed. Repeat violations weigh more heavily on scores because double-point deductions are made, pulling down results.

Owner Justin Ahn explained that the restaurant works to go beyond the standards, noting that it has since corrected the short list of infractions that settled it in the B-range. Tougher standards began to be implemented last year – during a time when Wasabi scored a 95 (A). The regulations, however, were a test to many restaurants – even upscale ones – and forced them to be more detailed about food safety procedures.Across metro Atlanta

Here are other recent inspection …

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Sabores del Plata restaurant review, Norcross

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Behold the Parrillada del Plata, otherwise known as the Great Mountain of Meat. Do you dare to scale it? Start at base camp, where tira de asado (short rib) and vacio (flank steak) await. Climb up a steep face of pechuga de pollo (chicken breast) and molleja (sweetbreads). By the time you reach the chorizo (juicy link sausages) and morcilla (sweetly spiced blood sausages), you are nearly to the summit. There you will find curving ropes of chinchulines, their grill-seared crackly skins contrasting nicely against the soft, livery meat within. These are small intestines.

John Kessler is the chief dining critic for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

John Kessler is the chief dining critic for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

But if that’s not a stop on the old digestive tract you care to make, then know this: There’s a really terrific $10 dish of steak and french fries.

Also: Towering sandwiches on house-baked bread. Memorable pastas. Layer cakes so massive you worry the waitress won’t have the strength to lift them from their display case in …

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Atlanta Classic: Hal’s on Old Ivy, Buckhead

Note: The members of the dining team at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution are always chasing down new and unheralded restaurants to bring you the best and most comprehensive dining coverage in the metro area. But sometimes we worry we give short shrift to those restaurants that are more old friends than new acquaintances. So this week we’re debuting the first of two new dining features. Jon Watson will periodically write “Atlanta Classic” – a descriptive but not star-rated look at a beloved institution – the kind of place where the story behind the restaurant is as interesting as the food. Jenny Turknett will occasionally write “Atlanta Revisited,” a starred review designed to update our listings with the most current information and a fresh opinion. We hope you enjoy both of these features.

— Thanks for reading, John Kessler

Review by Jon Watson

Feature by Jon Watson

To run a great steakhouse, the list of requirements is relatively short: A solid wine selection, a few exceptional …

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JCT. Kitchen’s Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival this weekend

Killer TomatoTime is running short to purchase tickets to the JCT.Kitchen Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival, which takes place this Sunday. At the event, nearly 40 chefs and  a slew of mixologists will craft dishes and signature cocktails to feature tomatoes provided by more than 30 farmers.

Festival-goers will be able to sample each of these dishes and pick up a few new ideas for using summer’s bounty. My favorite dish from last year’s event was the luxuriously buttery olive oil and basil ice cream with sweet tomato compote made by Morelli’s Ice Cream.

Participants will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite tomato creations. Additionally, a team of judges, including Garden & Gun Deputy Editor Dave Mezz, Esquire restaurant features writer John Mariani and actor David Miller, who played Mason Dixon in the original “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” movie, will name the event’s best dish, best beverage and best table decorations.

During the event, The Spazmatics and …

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Restaurant inspections, Thaicoon & Sushi Bar

After years of maintaining high-level food safety standards, Thaicoon & Sushi Bar in Marietta recently suffered a drop into the failing range, according to reports. It was asked to voluntarily close until the kitchen was thoroughly cleaned.

Two days later, the report showed, Thaicoon scored an 85 (B) on the follow-up exam.

During the routine inspection Thaicoon was cited for temperature control, storage and sanitary infractions. The inspector noted that the wiping cloths were stored in sanitation solution that was well above the concentration standards.

According to the routine inspection report, several types of food items held at improper temperatures were discarded. Some of those items included meats on the sushi bar.

The inspector also observed rodent droppings in several areas of the kitchen and on canned goods. Meanwhile, the restaurant was advised to step up pest-control treatment, the report showed. In reference to corrective actions that were implemented, the manager …

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Deviled eggs five ways

Cumin-mustard eggs with pickled red onion, avocado and roasted pumpkin seeds

Cumin-mustard eggs with pickled red onion, avocado and roasted pumpkin seeds

It’s that time of year — reunion time. Family gatherings, whether every Sunday or once a year, seem to place particular emphasis on the food. In my family, reunion fare could include a catfish fry or the roasting of a whole hog. But whatever else was served, you could be sure that one dish would find its way to the lengthy buffet table: deviled eggs. And what a mystery those little orbs were to my seven- (or eight- or twelve-) year-old self.

As I grew older and attended fewer family reunions, I encountered deviled eggs on fewer occasions. That was until a few years ago, when they began popping up in restaurants around town. Any upscale eatery claiming a link to Southern fare added them to their menus, often made with a pimento cheese mixture.

I’ve played around with my deviled eggs, which seem to be the perfect blank canvas for many flavorings. I’ve been thinking of serving deviled egg bar at an …

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Frozen libations for adults

Coke and Jack Slushies (credit: AJC Staff)

Coke and Jack Slushies (credit: AJC Staff)

I sure could use a pina colada right about now. Or even a frozen daiquiri. This summer has been hot.

But that’s not going to happen because I don’t do blender drinks anymore. I never buy white rum or Coco Lopez. The last time I actually sat down to one of those pina coladas in a foot-high punch glass with a maraschino cherry and pineapple wedge on the side was, oh, I’m going to say 1982.

I drink much more serious beverages now, like rye Manhattans and Sazeracs. I like my spirits brown and my flavors bitter.

During the past few years I’ve figured out ways to make frozen cocktails that appeal more to my palate today. For starters, I put away the blender because I don’t want anything that remotely resembles a smoothie.

A few years ago when I was writing a story about cooking with Coke in honor of the New World of Coca-Cola, I discovered churning Coke and limeade concentrate in my ice cream maker resulted in something …

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