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Archive for January, 2013

What was your favorite dish of 2012?

Head-suckin goodness/ Credit: Becky Stein

Head-suckin goodness/ Credit: Becky Stein

Earlier this week, Shane over at Best of The Big A published the annual round up of the top dishes of 2012, including the top five as voted on by the BotBA readers, as well as the top dishes selected by the Food & More team. For my favorite dish, I picked one that I’ve gushed about to friends and in print alike, the Salt and Pepper shrimp at Octopus Bar in East Atlanta. Jenny picked the Cherry Ginger Explosion cookie at The Cookie Studio in Decatur, and John crowned the goujonettes of catfish at Watershed on Peachtree his favorite dish of last year.

Among the reader favorites, the resurrected fried chicken at Watershed took top honors, with the Brisket at Grand Champion BBQ, the Lewis Grizzard Special at Spraberry’s, pork belly tacos at Iberian Pig, and the roasted mushrooms over polenta at Local Three rounding out the rest of the top 5.

But, I know that there are more dishes that deserve a mention than made our lists, so I’d …

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Restaurant inspections, Contigo Peru Sports Bar and Grill

A Peruvian sports bar in Norcross had its food permit suspended last week for failing its second consecutive routine health inspection, and not keeping potentially hazardous foods at safe temperatures.

Contigo Peru Sports Bar and Grill, 1241 Indian Trail Road, had been warned during two previous inspections about its food temperatures, the inspector said.

During this inspection, multiple items in the prep coolers were thrown away because temperatures were above the 41-degree limit. In addition, some soup left out on the stove was at 88 degrees and was also discarded.

The restaurant also had multiple items in the walk-in cooler that were not marked with preparation or disposal dates.

Contigo Peru scored a 68/U. It had a 33/U on its previous routine inspection in September.

The sports bar re-opened Friday afternoon after earning a follow-up score of 81/B, according to the restaurant’s manager.

Another recently featured restaurant, Dalia’s Grill, 6135 Peachtree Parkway, …

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How to make the most of high-end chains

Porterhouse steak at The Capital Grille (Becky Stein)

Porterhouse steak at The Capital Grille (Becky Stein)

Because of complicated travel plans, my family and I ended up spending Christmas Day staying near a high-end suburban mall in a faraway city. The holiday morning greeted us with a light dusting of snow and a view of a vast, empty parking lot through our hotel window. There were no cars near the entrances to the department stores, none near the big-box restaurant bunkers lining the lot and none sidling up to any of the satellite shopping strips across the street.

AJC Chief Dining Critic John Kessler writes about all cuisines.

AJC Chief Dining Critic John Kessler writes about all cuisines.

We could go downstairs to the hotel restaurant, where the staffers wore red felt stocking caps and smiled bravely through double shifts away from their families. But it seemed to me that some research would turn a few restaurants nearby that were open on Christmas Day.

So I turned to Santa’s little helper app, Opentable. I promptly discovered we were but two miles down the road from another cluster of …

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Lazaro’s Cuban Cuisine restaurant review, Roswell



My college dormitory in upstate New York had two large communal kitchens on each floor. It also had the International House, a wing set aside for students to celebrate and share differing cultural heritages. The International House used its communal kitchen to prepare large potluck dinners that attracted students from across campus.

But the magic in those kitchens happened on the weekends, when large groups of students, often hailing from South Florida or Latin American countries, came together for informal cooking sessions. And while the smells of garlic, onions and cumin permeating the hallways were quite different from my home, they made me pine for the Sunday suppers happening at my grandmother’s house a thousand miles away.Jenny-Turknett-Review

Cuban-born Lazaro Tenreiro, owner of Lazaro’s Cuban Cuisine in Roswell, grew up in a South Florida home where the kitchen was the largest room and such family cooking gatherings were the norm. After years of praise for his cooking skills, but …

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Top Chef Seattle recap, Episode 11: What just happened?

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

I really hate being right sometimes.

I have some conspiracy theories about this week’s elimination, but more on that later.

We pick up with part 2 of Restaurant Wars, and the teams are ramping up to create Sheldon and Kristen’s winning concepts from last week. Team Kristen (Josie, Brooke, and Lizzie) will do Atelier Kwan, her semi-fancy, mostly French concept, while Team Sheldon (Josh and Stefan) start setting up his Filipino restaurant, Urbano.

In addition to having lopsided teams due to Micah’s elimination last week, this year has yet another twist. In addition to having to buy all of the table setting and set up the dining area, the teams must also construct their own outdoor kitchens. As if they didn’t have enough to do already.

From early on, no one wants Josie involved in anything they are doing. Kristen can’t wait to kick her out of the kitchen, so she sends her off with Brooke to pick the decorations. Brooke knows that …

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Food trends: cauliflower

cauliflowerCauliflower has long been the red-headed step child of the vegetable family. It gained popularity with the advent of low-carb diets that used cauliflower as a stand-in for mashed potatoes. It’s now being used to make other low-carb dishes including pizza crust, hash browns and even popcorn.

As we move into 2013, we may see even more of a cauliflower presence on restaurant menus. I’ve seen it in many spots recently, often in soup form. One Midtown Kitchen serves a cauliflower soup with chorizo oil, bits of garlicky broccolini and brown butter pine nuts. At One Eared Stag, the soup is made with fenugreek and raisin chutney while JCT.Kitchen prepares its roasted cauliflower soup with garlic chips and herb olive oil.

Home cooks are also using the vegetable, frequently roasting whole heads of cauliflower salted and drizzled with olive oil. One of my family members makes it this way served with a side of goat cheese. I’ve prepared a similar version, tucking whole heads of …

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The Best Pizza in Atlanta is…

Andrew Connell and John Hayes set a goal four years ago to try every pizzeria in Atlanta.  Their quest, which you can read about here came out of their once-a-week meeting for guy time.

Of the 99 pizzerias they have tried,  here are their top three:

Westside Pizzeria “The kind of place you sort of hate to tell people about — a hidden gem. Think Cheers, plus pizza.”

Nancy’s Pizza (the Buckhead location), “While the “Chicago style” deep dish is more casserole than slice of pie, there’s nothing that can truly compare to what you get there.”

Vintage Pizzeria (the Chamblee location): “Service: attentive and friendly. The pizza: thin, crisp, cheesy, delicious. Classy joint.”

Connell and Hayes say their choices don’t necessarily align with what the foodies think is good pizza.

Do you agree with their choices? What restaurant has the best pizza in Atlanta?

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Lemon cake recipe and a contest

Cathy Hedges, last year's amateur category winner. Courtesy of Share Our Strength and The Reynolds Group

Cathy Hedges, last year's amateur category winner. Courtesy of Share Our Strength and The Reynolds Group

If you like to bake and have developed a recipe or two of your own, you can enter Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Baking Contest.

This year’s sixth annual contest will take place on Mar. 5 at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Tucker. Culinary professionals, students, amateurs and children are invited to submit entry forms from now until Feb. 15.

Prizes include $500 for first place in the professional category and $250 for first place in the remaining categories.

Or, if you aren’t a baker, you can purchase a ticket to attend the wine reception and sample all of the entries and vote on your favorite. 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Mar. 5

Last year’s winner in the amateur category, which I judged, was Cathy Hedges. Her Lemon Slice of Heaven cake was a bright spot in a sea of rich and heavy desserts.

Cathy was kind enough to share the recipe for this delight. Enjoy!

Lemon …

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Restaurant inspections, Dalia’s Grill

A Mediterranean grill in Peachtree Corners had its food permit suspended after receiving a second failing inspection score because management did not document how long food items had been left out on the buffet.

At Dalia’s Grill, 6135 Peachtree Parkway, items at the cold bar and steam table are kept under time control to ensure food safety. However, management did not have any written procedures or time documentation showing how long the prepared food had been left out.

It was Dalia’s third consecutive violation of time control health codes. The restaurant was given a 53/U, its second failing routine inspection score in the past six months.

Some cold foods were left out and the proper temperatures were not maintained.

Manager Salah Naser said he had pulled fresh ingredients out of the cooler to prepare salads and the food temperatures rose above the 41-degree limit.

“Some salads take half an hour to prepare and you can’t control the temperature,” said Naser, a 52-year …

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Sneak peek at Doug Turbush’s upcoming East Cobb wine bar Stem

Rendering of Stem, courtesy of EDENS and ai3

Rendering of Stem, courtesy of EDENS and ai3

Come April, those of us who live in the vicinity of East Cobb will have cause for celebration. Next month Chef Doug Turbush, owner of Seed Kitchen & Bar in Merchant’s Walk, will break ground on his newest venture. The new spot, a wine bar called Stem, will be located next door to Seed.

Turbush opened Seed in late 2010. Living in East Cobb, Turbush noticed “It was a wasteland for restaurants.” He’s remedied that situation with Seed. Reflecting on its success, he said “We had an incredible first year.”

The idea for Stem developed soon after Turbush opened Seed as the restaurant began turning away 75-80 people each evening. He said he thought a wine bar could be “a great way to have a place for people to wait or to go for another experience.”

Sommelier and General Manager Jason Raymond will lead the wine program. Turbush said that while the wine list will be domestic heavy, a wide range of European wines will also be …

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