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Archive for November, 2013

Behind the Scenes: Stella Dillard of Holeman & Finch Public House

Starting today, Alexa Lampasona joins the Food & More team as a features blogger. She is a writer whose previous work can be found on her website or her blog  (Life with Lampnsofa). She will report here on home cooking, national trends, Atlanta restaurants and interesting personalities behind the scenes.

– John Kessler

When one thinks of a butcher, its hard to imagine a female, but Stella Dillard shines in the role of butcher and A.M. sous chef at Holeman & Finch Public House. We put her on the chopping block to find out more about carving up whole pigs, curing sausages and the pastime that keeps her on top of her game.

This 278 pound pig is from Moore Farms in South Carolina.

This 278 pound pig is from Moore Farms in South Carolina. Photo credit: Stella Dillard.

How much meat are you handling on a weekly basis?

Every day I arrive at 7 A.M. and leave by 5:30 P.M. but Tuesday and Thursday are the heavy production days. Generally I’ll produce one dry sausage, two to three fresh sausages, three bellies for pancetta and about 36 …

Continue reading Behind the Scenes: Stella Dillard of Holeman & Finch Public House »

Beloved chef and restaurateur Ria Pell has died

 Ria Pell (cq), owner of Ria's Bluebird, and her infectious laugh during the lunch hour at her restaurant in 2007. (BITA HONARVAR / AJC STAFF)

Ria Pell (cq), owner of Ria's Bluebird, and her infectious laugh during the lunch hour at her restaurant in 2007. (BITA HONARVAR / AJC STAFF)

[Please read our appreciation of Ria Pell here.]

Ria Pell, the welcoming owner of Ria’s Bluebird on Memorial Drive, has died suddenly according to various friends who’ve posted the news on Facebook.

The cause of death has not yet been determined.

Pell was a well loved personality in Atlanta’s intown restaurant community. Local fans cheered earlier this year when she won the television cooking competition “Chopped.”

GA Voice is following the story, as are we.

Our condolences go out to her family and her many, many friends and admirers.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

Continue reading Beloved chef and restaurateur Ria Pell has died »

Time to Shop and Talk Turkey

APTOPIX Thanksgiving DinnerThe weekend before Thanksgiving brings on a rush of shoppers, crowding markets in search of turkeys with all the trimmings.

According to the Turkey Sector page on the USDA Economic Research Service website, “Turkey meat production in the United States over the first nine months of 2013 has totaled 4.4 billion pounds, down 1 percent from the same period in 2012.  Total production for the year is forecast at 5.9 billion pounds, also slightly lower than the previous year.”

Any way you slice it, that’s a whole lot of turkey. And the website breaks down all sorts of turkey facts and figures, including answers to questions like, what is the No. 1 turkey producing state (Minnesota), and what is U.S. turkey per capita consumption (16 pounds is the 2013 projection).

And then there’s the news that Butterball, the nation’s largest turkey processor, is reporting a shortage of “large, fresh” (16 pounds and over) Thanksgiving turkeys.

For those concerned with industrial farming practices, …

Continue reading Time to Shop and Talk Turkey »

Folk Art restaurant review, Inman Park

Patty melt with flat-top mac & cheese (credit: Becky Stein)

Patty melt with flat-top mac & cheese (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Folk Art, the new Inman Park breakfast-all-day spot from Wisteria chef/owner Jason Hill. I gave it 1 star.

Folk Art masters some of the criteria for a great cafe, but not all. The prices are reasonable and the kitschy license-plate-laden decor comes together in a laid-back but energetic kind of way. Where it falters is in unpredictable service and a menu boasting big comfort food that quickly becomes monotonous and lacks the oomph that makes it worth the splurge. This is not Wisteria.

Get your dose of food therapy with a heaping serving of the flat-top mac & cheese, casserole style mac griddled with extra cheese for a toasty, crackling crust on top of the gooey goodness. Get your cheese on with the craft grilled cheese ($7.99), a melty mess of yum with layers of cheddar, provolone, gruyere, swiss and creme brie.

Folk Art doesn’t have the same execution, finesse or level of …

Continue reading Folk Art restaurant review, Inman Park »

Reader Mark color corrects my nasty iPhone picture

Better looking, not better tasting, One Midtown Kitchen calamari

Better looking, not better tasting, One Midtown Kitchen calamari

I’ve got the best readers. Thanks, Mark!

The issue of food writers sharing lousy pictures has been in the news lately. Recently there’s been a tempest in a T-Mobile account brewing over Martha Stewart’s habit of uploading questionable food art shots to her Twitter account.

Recently, Buzzfeed took the doyenne of domesticity to task for posting a picture of this wedge salad. It is so ugly that walkers would take one look at and grunt, “No eat! Bad brains! Make sick!”

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Are you guilty of Bad Food Porn? If so, please post a picture to Twitter with the hashtag #badfoodporn and let us know about it in the comments below. We’re thinking of building a gallery. I’ve got plenty of nauseating shots to share.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

Continue reading Reader Mark color corrects my nasty iPhone picture »

One Midtown Kitchen: Yes, but is it calamari?

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Hi, I'm a lousy iPhone photo shot in poor light!

When we visited One Midtown Kitchen (first time in years) we had a waitress in training. You know the scenario: The serving in training conducts the order, while the trainer hovers nearby, hands clasped behind her back, ready to respond to any situation that might arise.

Our trainee did well — showed her personality, made us feel welcome, and got the money line delivered for a clean sell.

“I like to start each table with an order of our calamari, which comes in a wonderful sweet and spicy glaze.”

“I want the calamari,” responded my 16-year-old dining companion, who was had at hello. Sweet, spicy, fried: done deal.

She looked crestfallen when the dish arrived. “That’s not calamari,” she said, eyeing the strips of breaded cuttlefish steak with contempt. Kids these days! They want tentacles. I ended up eating most of it — innocuous stuff, like strips of sweet-and-spicy foam mattress.

I recognized this dish for what it was — the …

Continue reading One Midtown Kitchen: Yes, but is it calamari? »

Parish Re-branding In Early 2014

Parish

In response to our post about chef Zeb Stevenson’s move to Parish, Concentrics sent out the following press release:

New Chef, Mixologist, Concept and More To Come

Parish Foods and Goods is getting a facelift in the New Year. News broke today that Chef Zeb Stevenson has been spotted at Parish. To clarify, Chef Stevenson is currently training for the 2014 re-launch. Chef Stevenson, a previous winner of The Food Network’s “Chopped”, hails from Atlanta’s Livingston and Proof & Provision and is planning a menu overhaul that is sure to wow.

Re-launch details, including Chef Zeb Stevenson’s menu, a new uber-talented mixologist and more to come in January 2014.

So stay tuned for more news in 2014….

— By Bob Townsend, AJC Food and More blog.

Continue reading Parish Re-branding In Early 2014 »

Try foods from Burma, Bhutan and Burundi

invite_culture_2_bigThis may possibly be the coolest cocktail party ever.

Tomorrow night the Global Growers Network will host a fundraiser for the refugee families that operate a network of collective farms throughout Dekalb County. Many of the farmers will be on hand to offer tastes of food from their native countries, and Decatur barkeeps will create craft cocktails to quaff alongside.

Fresh, local, organic, exotic. Plus drinks.

Chef Asha Gomez of Cardamom Hill will be on hand to discuss the flavors of the various East African, Himalayan and Southeast Asian dishes on hand, and all the farmers will share their stories.

The suggested donation of $40 will go to pay for MARTA passes for the farmers, who use public transportation to get to the farms.

If you are unaware of Global Growers, it’s a wonderful non-profit program that gives refugees training, education and the use of arable land to grow food for their communities, farmers market stands and CSAs.

I’ll be at the event, acting like a …

Continue reading Try foods from Burma, Bhutan and Burundi »

Zagat adding blog and video coverage for Atlanta

zagat_logo_03

A while back, we thought maybe Zagat had forgotten about Atlanta in its latest online coverage.

But starting today, Zagat.com will feature Atlanta news and curated lists from Zagat local editors, as well as search and map-based browsing capabilities. And maybe the biggest news is the site’s “Best of the Best” picks.

Here’s a peek at some of the current Atlanta picks:

Best Food: Bacchanalia
Best Decor: Nan Thai Fine Dining
Best Service: Bone’s Restaurant
Best Buys: Antico Pizza
Best Southern: Wisteria
Best Italian: Valenza
Best Steakhouse: Bone’s Restaurant
Best Brunches: Canoe

Are you a Zagat user? What do you think of the new Atlanta coverage and current picks?

— By Bob Townsend, AJC Food and More blog

Continue reading Zagat adding blog and video coverage for Atlanta »

Zeb Stevenson at Parish and More Chef Shuffles

Zeb

Zeb Stevenson

Zeb Stevenson, the former executive chef at Livingston confirmed today that he’s taken over the kitchen at Parish, and there are plans for more big changes at the Old Fourth Ward restaurant that’s part of the Concentrics group.

In other news, it seems that Matt Basford is the replacement chef for Carvel Grant Gould at Canoe in Vinings. Cyrille Holota has left BLT to take a job in Bora Bora, of all places. And according to her Facebook page Karen Portaleo (called by some “the most amazing cake decorator the world has ever seen”) is  leaving Highland Bakery.

While we’re on the subject of changes, it looks as though bartender Arianne Fielder may be leaving Article 14 for a job with an Atlanta restaurant group.

That’s a lot of chef, cake decorator and bartender shuffles, with more details to come.

What do think or know about all the changes in the Atlanta dining scene?

— Bob Townsend, AJC Food and More blog.

Continue reading Zeb Stevenson at Parish and More Chef Shuffles »