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Archive for September, 2012

Chef Todd Immel takes helm at Floataway Cafe

Chef Todd Immel was named one of Atlanta’s Rising Star Chefs by StarChefs.com this year. He’s also been named new executive chef of Floataway Cafe, part of the family of restaurants owned by chefs Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison.

Immel has been with Star Provisions for four years as the salumiere, head of the charcuterie program. He will continue to mentor the meat department there while in his role at Floataway Cafe.

In a press release Immel said, “My enthusiasm lies in European-inspired cuisine…” making him well suited to the Mediterranean flavors showcased at Floataway Cafe.

Immel graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and spent four years in the kitchen with chef Guenter Seeger, at Restaurant Daniel and at Table 1280.

1123 Zonolite Road, Atlanta. 404-892-1414.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

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Restaurant inspections, Lee Garden

A family-run Chinese restaurant in Alpharetta had only a few health code violations during a recent routine inspection, but it was enough to lower their perfect score to a failing one.

Lee Garden, 11770 Haynes Bridge Road, was given a 65 because the certified food safety manager couldn’t answer basic food safety questions, there was no employee health policy and no soap or paper towels at the hand washing sink.

These code violations carry stiffer penalties because they’re considered essential in preventing food borne illnesses, according to the report.

For Lee Garden, the main issues involved a walk-in cooler that needed reorganizing and appliances and other equipment that needed cleaning.

Points were taken off because raw animal food was not properly separated from ready-to-eat food.

“We didn’t know that eggs weren’t supposed to be that close to the cooked food,” said David Lee, the owner’s son.

“We also had some minor cleaning issues,” he added.

The …

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Three Sheets restaurant review, Sandy Springs

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In a sprawling city, sometimes there are voids in dining and nightlife that need filling. Staring down an hour round trip on a Friday night just for some good food, drink and dancing can be daunting.

Brothers Jonathan and Ryan Akly opened Three Sheets to fill one such void in Sandy Springs. Part cocktail and cigar bar, part restaurant, part ultra lounge, the Aklys turned the space into a slice of Midtown in the suburbs. There is little question that during its design the words “sexy” and “luxurious” came up a few times.

Crimson and gold fabrics drape the walls, sofa-encircled tables line the floor, and a piano topped with dripping candelabras overlooks the scene. On weekends and late nights, Three Sheets goes full-on cocktail lounge, complete with a DJ spinning (mostly) house music and crowds of attractive people mingling with martinis.

Overall, the lounge aspect of the Three Sheets experience comes together very well and draws some of the largest crowds. If that …

Continue reading Three Sheets restaurant review, Sandy Springs »

Atlanta’s own Anthony Gray to compete on upcoming season of ‘Top Chef’

credit: Bravo TV

credit: Bravo TV

Nothing makes watching Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” more fun than having a local chef to root for. And in Season 10, starting Nov. 7, we’ve got one.

Anthony Gray, executive chef at Southern Art & Bourbon Bar, will represent Atlanta in the upcoming season. The 35-year old chef hails from Macon and has spent time in the Charleston kitchens of High Cotton and Slightly North of Broad. Gray follows in the footsteps of Southern Art’s owner Art Smith by appearing on the competitive cooking show. Smith has competed on “Top Chef Masters” twice and also recently appeared on ABC’s “Time Machine Chefs.”

In a preview video of the upcoming season, Padma Lakshmi describes what to expect, “This season, I think, is back to basics. It’s back to the rudimentary fundamentals of cooking.”

This time around, the show was filmed in Seattle, confirming rumors that surfaced some months back about the new season’s location. Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Hugh Acheson …

Continue reading Atlanta’s own Anthony Gray to compete on upcoming season of ‘Top Chef’ »

Fall food events

Sunday Supper South, one of this fall's food events

Sunday Supper South, one of this fall's food events

Time to break out the calendar. Saturday marks the official arrival of fall and with it comes a number of food-centric events. Here’s a sampling of those. Which will you attend?

SEPT. 23:

Backyard Apple Festival at No. 246

This weekend No. 246, along with Leon’s Full Service and Brick Store Pub, will host an apple-themed celebration. The menu will include items like whole roasted pig, apple slaw, apple hot dogs, caramel apples, apple-powdered kettle corn and more. Wash it all down with Lara Creasy’s cider punch containing Italian brandy and vermouth di Torino and other apple-based cocktails.

During the event, of-age guests can sample six cider selections, chat with Georgia farmers about apple varieties and bob for apples. Face painting and balloon animals will be available for children.

2-7 p.m. Sept. 23. Reservations recommended: 678-399-8246. $35 adults, $10 children 12 and under.

SEPT. 29:

Miller Lite chili cook-off …

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Munich on Marietta St. Oktoberfest celebration begins this weekend

biergartenDer Biergarten, the German-themed restaurant/beer garden in downtown’s Luckie Marietta district, kicks off their Oktoberfest celebration, Munich on Marietta Street, this weekend.

Taking place over the next 16 days, the festival will feature an array of beer drinkin’ and sausage eatin’ debauchery, starting with a ceremonial tapping of a Warsteiner Oktoberfest keg at noon on Saturday. The party will extend into the wee hours, including multiple bands as well as football on all day. And lots of beer.

The festival runs from September 22- October 7th, and includes other events such as:

- Music Midtown Hangover Party on Sunday, Sept. 23rd

- Brat eating contest hosted by local blogger/restaurateur/competitive eater Grace Lee

- Dog friendly Barks and Beers event, benefitting Georgia SPCA

- The Oktoberfest Olympics featuring beer belly, stein holding, and mustache contests

- A weekend-long Munich on Marietta Finale party Oct. 7th-9th

So, if you can’t make the flight over to the …

Continue reading Munich on Marietta St. Oktoberfest celebration begins this weekend »

Lunch at Nam Phuong: Different soup, different rolls

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My quang soup (left) and bo bia rolls

Years ago I used to work as a chef for a wonderful Vietnamese woman at a Southwestern-style cafe. She also had a Vietnamese restaurant, and sometimes we’d go there for treats that weren’t on the regular menu.

Among my favorites were the fresh rolls called bo bia. Like the more familiar goi cuon, they were wrapped in soft rice paper and contained a lot of crispy vegetables. But the principal ingredients were different. Bo bia contain the sweet Chinese sausage called lap cheung, strips of raw jicama and small dried shrimp.

I was jazzed to discover bo bia at the Buford Highway branch of Nam Phuong (here’s my review of the original in Norcross). They did not disappoint. The dull crunch of the jicama, the oils of the sausage and the umami funk of the dried shrimp combine into something quite memorable with each bite.

I also tried the soup called my quang – a turmeric-yellow chicken broth holding wide rice noodles, chewy pieces of stewing hen, …

Continue reading Lunch at Nam Phuong: Different soup, different rolls »

Cake baking: practice makes perfect

Practicing to avoid cake disasters like this one.

Practicing to avoid cake disasters like this one.

I’m elbow deep in a cake project right now, practicing for my son’s birthday party.

I’m one of those moms. I love planning birthday parties for my children. Let’s just say I go the extra mile. Nothing worthy of a TLC show, but I try to consider the details. Handmade invitations are a must. And then there’s the cake.

I insist on making the cake. I avoid party packages including them and have negotiated special permission to bring my own cake to parties in places (like the Atlanta Botanical Garden) that require the use of a caterer.

It’s a daunting task. Admittedly, I tend to design cakes beyond my ability, which is why I practice. I make every cake twice. This allows me to assess structure and modify the design before it’s too late.

Earlier this summer when I interviewed pastry chef Heather Hurlbert about her new shop HH Desserts, we strategized about the cake I’m working on now. She was surprised to learn that I …

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Restaurant inspections, Vallarta Mexican Grill

A Gwinnett County health inspector found live and dead roaches in a Norcross restaurant during a recent routine inspection. Also, there was no hot water in the restrooms.

Vallarta Mexican Grill, 5510 Spalding Drive, was given a failing score of 59, told to hire a pest control service and fix the water problem.

Live roaches were crawling on the wall by the dishwasher and back door, and dead roaches were at the hand sink in the kitchen, the inspector noted.

The restaurant was also flagged for having its own insecticide and storing it on the same shelf as bottled drinks. The can of Hot Shot was removed.

There was no hot water in the restroom sinks, and the hand sinks for employees had no soap or paper towels, according to the report.

Vallarta employee Jorge Mtons said the restaurant has since installed a new hot water line for the kitchen and restrooms.

Among other code violations, multiple containers of food were uncovered in the walk-in cooler. Raw beef and raw seafood were …

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Bell Street Burritos celebrates new location and more news

curbmarket.1217Bell Street Burritos has much to celebrate this week. It took top spots for best burrito in both the reader and critic’s pick categories in the Best of the Big A and it is having a grand opening celebration for its new location today and tomorrow.

Bell Street lost its Howell Mill location to Advance Auto Parts, who purchased the property it occupied. Bell Street has moved this location to a new one in the Old Fourth Ward area next to Jake’s Ice Cream.

11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. 660 Irwin Street, Atlanta.

In other news:

  • Taqueria El Vecino has been closed for renovations and hopes to reopen next week. The Taqueria and its sister bakery next door, Carolyn’s Cupcakes, took down the wall separating the two spots, enabling them to expand both the kitchen and dining areas. The new space will feature an additional 40 seats and an expanded bar offering three draught beers, additional bottled beers and small batch bourbon and tequila …

Continue reading Bell Street Burritos celebrates new location and more news »