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Archive for December, 2012

A visit to Tantra (finally!)

What do you desire? The dining room at Tantra (photos: Becky Stein)

What do you desire? The dining room at Tantra (photos: Becky Stein)

I know “tantra” is not the medieval Sanskrit translation for “baby got back.” It is a set of spiritual practices designed to awaken and enlighten the soul, much more than the cult of ecstasy portrayed in Western culture.

But if you’re going to name your establishment Tantra, it suggests a booty call, right? Or, at the very least, an expensive session with a specialist.

Such has been the identity challenge faced by Tantra, an ambitious restaurant that opened in late 2010 in a prime location on Peachtree Road, only to be roundly ignored by nearly everyone in the food community.

At that time a certain dining critic gave its website a cursory glance and decided the expensive Middle Eastern/Mediterranean/Indian-accented menu — as intriguing as it sounded — was a mere adjunct to a bar and lounge. Tantra, the critic surmised, would appear to be more in the business of dim lighting than dining.

But then, after the …

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Buttermilk Kitchen restaurant review, Buckhead

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Buttermilk purchased in supermarkets bears little resemblance to traditional buttermilk, the thin liquid byproduct of butter-churning. Commercially available (or cultured) buttermilk is created by fermenting milk with bacteria.

The concept of traditional buttermilk, of leaving nothing to waste, inspired both the name and philosophy for Buckhead’s newest breakfast and lunch eatery, Buttermilk Kitchen.Jenny-Turknett-Review

Even the design of the space, a 1930s home formerly occupied by Cafe at Pharr, was driven by this mind-set with liberal “upcycling” of materials. The decor includes original hardwood floors, a bar made from reclaimed wood, corrugated metal accents and a ceiling made entirely of old shutters. Yet it has an unfinished, somewhat discordant Pottery Barn-meets-Pinterest-project vibe.

Buttermilk Kitchen translates this philosophy into making its own lard, butter, mayonnaise and more. The restaurant buys local products when possible and organic when not. It sources goods from …

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Top Chef Seattle recap, Episode 5: “But I didn’t say anything”

credit: Bravo

credit: Bravo

Wow. This is a first in all of the seasons if Top Chef that I can remember. The entire group does so poorly that they have to get scolded like a bunch of kids being told that Christmas is getting canceled.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The chefs are up bright and early at 3:45 AM to head down to Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market (For those that don’t know, it is the outdoor market where the guys throw giant fish at each other and tourists go and oohhhhh and ahhhh.) There, clown pants Padma and Daisley Gordon, local chef and no slouch in the inappropriately loud fashion sense department either, are waiting to hand over the early morning Quickfire and the chance for immunity.

But before the details of the challenge come out, Padma asks the chefs to divide themselves up into pairs. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, but this is where we see people’s decision making skills start going to crap, none more so than the single biggest head-butting relationship …

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Competitive cooking show casting in Atlanta

CastingcallCompetitive cooking shows seem to be on the rise. Now there’s a new one in the works and it’s currently casting in Atlanta. It will focus on American regional cooking.

So, if you’re an executive chef, sous chef or caterer with a competitive spirit and outgoing personality, they are looking for you!

To apply, you’ll need to send the following information to this email:

  • Name, location, phone number
  • Current position
  • A short bio with information about your culinary background and how your food represents Atlanta
  • Current photo
  • Resume

Good luck! If you make it on the show, we’ll be rooting for you.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

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Santa visits Atlanta restaurants

PHIL SKINNER, PSKINNER@AJC.COM

PHIL SKINNER, PSKINNER@AJC.COM

This month, Santa will leave his elves to the toy-making as he breaks bread with families all around Atlanta at these events hosted by area restaurants.

Buckhead Diner

The Coca-Cola polar bear, Atlanta Ballet ballerinas in Nutcracker costumes, Rudolph and the elves will be on hand to welcome Santa as he arrives by fire truck to attend this breakfast. After visiting with Santa, families will dine on chocolate chip waffles, ham steak and eggs Benedict, and hot chocolate. 8:30-11 a.m. Dec. 8 and 9. 3073 Piedmont Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-262-3336. $39, 2 and under free.

One Midtown Kitchen

At this holiday event, the kiddos can take photos with Santa and parents can feast on the breakfast buffet. The menu will include french toast bites, ham and cheese croissants, chicken Waldorf salad and other breakfast favorites. Four seatings from 9 a.m. – noon, Dec. 8. 559 Dutch Valley Road, Atlanta. 404-892-4111. $20 adults, $10 children.

Village Tavern

This …

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Restaurant inspections, Coco’s Chinese Restaurant

Coco’s Chinese Restaurant in Chamblee was forced to close last week after failing a routine health inspection with a score of 35/U.

The restaurant at 4897 Buford Highway had no certified food safety manager on staff, and no employee health policy, the inspector said.

Upon arrival, the inspector said she saw an employee smoking a cigarette while handling food, then not washing their hands with soap afterwards.

Foods were not protected from contamination. Raw duck was stored in the same container as cooked meat. Raw chicken was stored next to cooked foods.

Frozen foods were being thawed at room temperature. Some raw fish was being rinsed at the vegetable sink.

Surfaces were not sanitized properly. An employee rinsed a cutting board with only water after cutting raw meat, the inspector said.

Chemicals were not stored properly. Gel chafing fuel was stored in a reach-in cooler beside customer foods. Several chemical spray bottles were not labeled.

Coco’s management met with DeKalb …

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One fish, two fish: Seven Fishes for Christmas

Holiday Seafood Stew (photos by Johnny Crawford)

Holiday Seafood Stew (photos by Johnny Crawford)

The first time Ian Cox’s family attempted the Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes — a beloved Italian holiday tradition — they prepared seven full-sized entrees and attempted to consume them one after the other.

“We couldn’t eat them all, we got so full,” said Cox, a manager at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub in Little Five Points. “So over the years we fine-tuned it. Now it’s more like seven tapas dishes spanning the globe. We always do raw oysters, and there’s usually a tuna tartare in there.”

Beth Hamilton, a stay-at-home mom in Atlanta, gets around the seafood surfeit by constructing her annual Feast of the Seven Fishes out of seven varieties of seafood rather than seven distinct dishes. “So if we have a seafood gumbo or soup with several different kinds of fish in it, then we count them all. Someone even suggested we do cupcakes decorated with Swedish Fish for dessert.”

Hamilton’s family began preparing the feast with good …

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