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Archive for October, 2013

Atlanta’s best dining neighborhoods: Reader picks

kessler.0325_3We asked metro Atlantans to tell us about their favorite dining neighborhoods and to tell us a little bit about the places where they love to grab a bite or to have beverage.

Our readers shared their favorite restaurants and why those places — whether it was the lush patio or the friendly service — helped to make their neighborhoods great.

The 2013 Fall Dining Guide drops Friday. Here’s a taste of the neighborhoods and restaurants where Atlantans like to eat:

Join the conversation: Have a favorite dish at a neighborhood spot? Share your thoughts and your pictures on any of our social media platforms using the hashtag #ajcwheretoeat.

Continue reading Atlanta’s best dining neighborhoods: Reader picks »

Tricks for Treats: Desserts you can make from Halloween candy

FDcandy 1Here’s a story I wrote 13 years ago when my kids were little trick-or-treaters. Note the atavistic “Powerpuff Girls” reference.

Nothing else inspires a home cook to curious kitchen feats as much as a bountiful harvest. When the branches of the mulberry tree in the back yard are bowed with purple fruit, we get out our Ball jars and pectin, suddenly morphing into the kind of people who make jam. When the summer zucchini come in as big as salamis, we spend an afternoon scraping them across a box grater, and for what? For sweet bread that doesn’t taste remotely of zucchini.

Tomorrow, we’ll find ourselves facing down an unnatural bounty, but a bounty all the same — of individually wrapped candy bars, candy corn, M&M’s and all those other treats our Powerpuff Girls lug home. And perhaps there will still be a bowlful or two of candy in the living room, waiting for a glut of trick-or-treaters that never came.

The crazier home cooks among us will take one look at all this sweet …

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Pallookaville Opening On Halloween


Jim Stacy deep fries.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a feature on Jim Stacy, the six-six tattoo-covered Atlanta artist, musician, cook, clown and “Deep Fried Masters” TV personality, who is opening Pallookaville Fine Foods in Avondale Estates. The soda fountain and deli is a brick-and-mortar spin-off of Stacy’s carnival food truck.

I was intrigued by a recent appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” where Stacy used a drill fitted with a drywall mud mixer to stir up a bucket of funnel cake batter spiked with Jameson. Through the magic of TV, it became deep-fried bananas with bacon whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Later, Leno and actor Jason Sudeikis delighted in deep-fried pickles, washed down with multiple swigs straight from the whiskey bottle. “Not bad,” Leno quipped, and clutched his chest to feign a heart attack.

You can see the whole story here:

Stacy just announced on Facebook that Pallookaville will be opening for a party on Halloween, with music by …

Continue reading Pallookaville Opening On Halloween »

Fall 2013 Dining Guide: Questions for the Dining Team?


Hello, good people –

Our Fall 2013 Dining Guide will drop this Friday with our picks for the best dining neighborhoods around metro Atlanta. On that day at 12:30 p.m., we’ll be answering questions live online about the dishes we’ve tried and the restaurants we’ve discovered or rediscovered.

If you have any questions for us before then, please fire away below. We’ll try and incorporate them into our chat.


- John Kessler for the Food & More blog

Continue reading Fall 2013 Dining Guide: Questions for the Dining Team? »

Halloween Candy: Still on our first bag!

300px-CandyCornI’m so proud of my family because we resisted the temptation this year.

You know it, right? You buy the Halloween candy early, break into the bag just to steal one Twix, and the next thing you know you’re popping “fun size” 3 Musketeers like Tic Tacs? Then, the day before Halloween you have to run to CVS to buy yet more Halloween candy.

I’m happy to report that candy didn’t make an appearance in our house until yesterday, and so far my consumption has been limited to one Tootsie Pop.

Anyone else doing better this year?

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

Continue reading Halloween Candy: Still on our first bag! »

Fall 2013 Dining Guide: What’s your favorite dining neighborhood?

Westside dining options (photo by Becky Stein)

Westside dining options (photo by Becky Stein)

Sometimes dinner begins with a hard-earned reservation. Or a drive across town to a specific address plugged into your GPS. Or a 90-minute wait in a crowded reception area waiting to hear your name over a loudspeaker.

But sometimes dinner begins with a stroll. Your destination isn’t the specific restaurant, but rather a neighborhood filled with options.

In recent years, many of the metro area’s town squares, thoroughfares, shopping malls and planned communities have developed into full-on dining neighborhoods. Drinks, dinner and dessert don’t all have to be in the same place. Discoveries abound, waiting to be made.

What are your favorite dining neighborhoods? Please let us know here. If you’re feeling fancy, please upload a photo to Instagram or Twitter and tag it #ajcwheretoeat.

We’ll tell you ours on Friday, when our Fall Dining Guide drops. Thanks!

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

Continue reading Fall 2013 Dining Guide: What’s your favorite dining neighborhood? »

Bell Street Burritos news

Beel StreetAccording to multiple reports, including EATER Atlanta, Bell Street Burritos Irwin Street Market location has closed and will soon be replaced by new fast casual restaurant, called Bob, from Jake Rothschild of Jake’s Ice Cream, serving kebabs and other skewered items.

In the meantime, Bell Street has opened a new location in South Buckhead in the former Huey’s space at 1816 Peachtree Road. And the original Sweet Auburn Curb Market location on Edgewood Ave. remains.

For updates, check the Bell Street Facebook page here:

— Bob Townsend, for the AJC Food and More blog.

Continue reading Bell Street Burritos news »

Fall wheat berry salad recipe from Hugh Acheson and Cooking Light

Hugh Acheson's wheat berry salad (courtesy of Cooking Light)

Hugh Acheson's wheat berry salad (courtesy of Cooking Light)

Cooking Light recently kicked off its nationwide “Light Up the Night” dinner series here in Atlanta at Empire State South. Partnering with chef Hugh Acheson, the magazine hosted a full-flavored (but light on calories!) five-course meal with cocktails and wine pairings.

My favorite dish of the evening was the fall wheatberry salad. Acheson and Cooking Light generously shared the recipe, which you’ll find below.


  • 1 Tbs chopped shallot
  • 1/2 Tbs chopped ginger
  • 1/2 Tbs chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbs chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbs minced rosemary
  • I tsp mustard seed
  • 2 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp chili flake
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Georgia olive oil

Toasted seeds:

  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds (you can substitute sunflower or other seeds)
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Toss the seeds, spices, salt and enough olive oil to lightly coat and bake at 300° until light golden brown. Transfer to a …

Continue reading Fall wheat berry salad recipe from Hugh Acheson and Cooking Light »

Cacio e pepe: creamy, peppery sheep cheese pasta

IMG_8535If you find yourself in a good pasta restaurant and see cacio e pepe among the offerings, do your mouth a favor and your waistline a grave disservice, and order it.

You might be tempted to pass it over because the recipe lists only noodles, pecorino cheese and black pepper, while the next pasta in the list features 10 expensive-sounding ingredients. But this quintessential Roman preparation has the ability to grab your soul by the lapels and shake it.

I hadn’t had it in years, until luck brought it to my attention — first at KR Steakbar, where chef Chris McDade makes terrific pastas, and then at a restaurant in Chicago. Now, I’m frankly obsessed.

Cacio e pepe is essentially pasta saturated with ewe’s milk cheese and flecked with black pepper — rich like carbonara, but far more elemental. It tastes sheepy and milky from the cheese, prickly and fruity from the pepper. The bare sheen of sauce is creamy rather than oily.

“It’s easy to make, but a difficult dish to master, ” said …

Continue reading Cacio e pepe: creamy, peppery sheep cheese pasta »

Kitchen fire closes The Optimist

070612kesslerA grease fire that started in the kitchen ventilation hood last Wednesday has closed The Optimist — the highly successful Westside restaurant owned by Ford Fry.

The fire has caused serious damage to the kitchen and to the building’s exhaust system. The restaurant will remain closed until repairs are completed and the restaurant passes city inspection.

Fry says he hopes to reopen the restaurant sometime next week. In the interim, reservations are being redirected to Fry’s other restaurants, which include JCT. Kitchen & Bar as well as King + Duke.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

Continue reading Kitchen fire closes The Optimist »