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Archive for February, 2014

Taking the Riedel Coke glass for a spin

KESSLERCOKE-1Georg Riedel, an Austrian glassware manufacturer, shook up the wine world with his line of crystal stemware dedicated to specific grape varietals. He asserted that a pinot noir-based wine from Burgundy needed a vastly different glass than a Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, which in turn needed a different glass than an American zinfandel. If you didn’t believe him, he would sit down with you, pour wine, and watch as your eyes went wide.

Riedel and I did just that about 20 years ago, sampling wines in two side-by-side glasses. The differences weren’t subtle, they were breathtaking — the smells that came out of the glass, the place on your tongue where the taste connected, the acidity, the tannins, the length of time the flavor remained in your mouth after you swallowed. It was all different.

And now Riedel has turned his attention to Dixie champagne. The Coca-Cola + Riedel glass has recently debuted, and you can get yourself a set of two for about $20. These …

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Pick 5: Eat for a Cause

It is always nice to treat yourself to a night out for dinner, but it is even better when  you can support a good cause in the process. We picked out five dining events that benefit local and national charities. Some are finishing up this month, so be sure to eat and drink to your heart’s content and support a special cause.


“Lucky Pints”
Meehan’s Public House Atlantic Station
232 19th Street NW, Atlanta
On February 22 drink a beer to support of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity funding research to find cures for childhood cancers. Order a pint of Guinness and if it is marked with a shamrock, you win a prize.

“Kula Project”
Ri Ra Irish Pub
1080 Peachtree Street, Atlanta
Kula Project has gained traction with The Optimist and King + Duke, and Wednesday February 26 from 7-9 p.m. Ri Ra is sponsoring “cocktails and culture” for Rwanda. Kula Project doubles …

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The Georgia Pine restaurant review, Lawrenceville

Dijon-pistachio rack of lamb. Credit: Becky Stein

The Georgia Pine's dijon-pistachio rack of lamb. Credit: Becky Stein

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of The Georgia Pine, sister restaurant to Local Republic. I gave it a grade of 1 star.

The Georgia Pine is among the first to offer Lawrenceville a taste of chef-driven fare made with mindfully sourced ingredients, as well as craft beer, in a sleek, current space.

Yet, it has struggled to earn the trust of area residents with unfamiliar dishes like octopus with pickled ginger and rabbit with raisin jus.

The process is further complicated by awkward servers who don’t quite have restaurant rhythm, and the kitchen’s consistency issues as it tries to push the envelope with varying degrees of success.

The restaurant should shift its focus to what it does best — preparing approachable sandwiches and small plates for customers to pair with craft beer.

Your best option will be the honey pork and greens sandwich ($9). Take a Cuban roll, stuff it to bursting with honey-laced, …

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Blackberry Farm Brewery Beers Debut in Atlanta


Located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, Southern culinary mecca Blackberry Farm may be best known for its “Foothills Cuisine,” which has been described as blurring the line between “refined and rugged.”

That’s a pretty good description of Belgian-style farmhouse ales, too. So it’s not surprising that the small-scale Blackberry Farm Brewery is producing a trio of very limited craft beers rooted in the Belgian farmhouse tradition.

There’s a new brewery in the works, along with plans for distributing more beer beyond the Blackberry Farm property. Right now, though, it’s rare to find any for sale anywhere.

Here’s a hot tip: H&F Bottle Shop has acquired 12 cases, available today at 2 p.m. at $16 per 750/ml bottle, including “Classic Saison,” “Farm Ale” Belgian-style pale ale, and “Screaming Cock” Belgian-stlye dubbel.

I haven’t tried any of the beers, yet. And very few reviews have surfaced on beer geeks sites. But …

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Report from South India

Chaat vendor on the beach, Pondicherry

Chaat vendor on the beach, Pondicherry

Question: What’s India’s fourth largest city?

You might guess the top three pretty quickly and then give up. I would have — that is, until I spent the better part of a week in India’s fourth largest city, Chennai. Formerly known as Madras, it is the capital of Tamil Nadu — the Southern state that is home to Tamil culture. Its population of 72 million is greater than that of the United Kingdom, France or Italy. The Tamil language has one of the world’s oldest literary traditions, as if Latin or Ancient Hebrew were more or less unchanged into modern times.

My wife and I took a ridiculously quick trip to Chennai last week to visit our daughter, who is spending the year teaching in a school there. We mostly stayed in town, with a quick overnight visit to the lovely seaside town of Pondicherry (now called Puducherry, the former French colony that is familiar to readers of the novel “Life of Pi.”)

I made no attempt to document our South Indian …

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2014 James Beard Award Semifinalists Announced


The James Beard Foundation announced its 2014 list of Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists today. The finalists will be announced live on March 18.

Among the Atlanta semifinalists:

* Anne Quatrano of Bacchanalia for Outsanding Chef.

* Bacchanalia also made the list for Outstanding Service, along with One Flew South.

* Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale and Todd Ginsberg of The General Muir and Steven Satterfield of Miller Union for Best Chef Southeast.

* Ford Fry of The Optimist, JCT Kitchen, No. 246, King & Duke and St. Cecilia and Mike Klank and Eddie Hernandez of Taqueria del Sol for Outstanding Restaurateur.

* Kimball House and the Porter Beer Bar for Outstanding Bar Program.

* 5&10 in Athens for Outstanding Wine Program.

Who or what is missing from the 2014 semifinalists list?

— By Bob Townsend, AJC Food and More.

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Cornbread contest this weekend in Roswell: enter or taste

(credit: Will Kirk Photography, National Cornbread Festival)

(credit: Will Kirk Photography, National Cornbread Festival)

Time to get your cornbread on. If you think you make the best skillet of this Southern staple or just want to get in on the sampling, mark your calendars for this weekend’s Cornbread Cook-Off Contest in Roswell.

This third annual contest is being held in conjunction with the city’s Roswell Roots Black History Month celebration. Enter your best from-scratch cornbread recipe in either the amateur or professional category and plan to serve 200 samples to discriminating attendees who will select a People’s Choice winner. I’ll be on hand to help out with the judging panel. Join me?

Last year’s professional and People’s Choice Award went to Oak Street Café for Joe’s Pioneer Cornbread with Tomato Bacon Jam.

The event is family-friendly, free and open to the public.

Saturday, February 22, 1:00-3:00pm

Child Development Association – West Hall

89 Grove Way, Roswell


For more information and to …

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Big Sky Open in Buckhead Today


Abattoir chef Hector Santiago and the team from his former Latin sandwich shop, Super Pan,  created the menu for Big Sky Buckhead, open for fast casual lunch today 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Santiago, who came to fame as a Top Chef contestant, landed at Abattoir after making the decision to close his main Poncey-Highland tapas restaurant, Pura Vida, last year.

Santiago also closed the adjacent Super Pan lunch spot, which was famous for the likes of pork buns and media noche Cuban sandwiches. Look for that good stuff plus burgers, wings and more.

Big Sky, from the Cains Hill Group, is located in Cains Hill Place in the heart of the Buckhead Village nightlife district. The bar grand opening is Saturday and full sit-down dinner service begins Monday.

Check Facebook for more updates and details: BigSkyBuckhead.

— By Bob Townsend, AJC Food and More.

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Behind the Scenes: Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Competition

students working on their dishes in the kitchen

students working on their dishes in the kitchen

On Tuesday three students at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts competed for a chance to serve their own dish at tonight’s Atlanta Hawks game at RED, the full-service restaurant inside the Phillips Arena. Boiled down from a pool of 30 entries, the three finalists had one hour to prepare their dishes from start to finish and serve it for a panel of judges, including Sr. Sous Chef of RED William Cowley IV, and Chef Kyle Reynolds and other Le Cordon Bleu chefs. The winner, Paul Thai, created a salmon dish with beurre blanc, roasted asparagus and fingerling potatoes. Here we talked with the chefs about how they chose the winner, and Thai shared his thoughts.

You selected the final three students for this competition. What went into the decision?
Chef Kyle Reynolds: They go through a lot of emotions, and the most challenging part was the students being able to distinguish who the recipe is going to be used. They had to analyze …

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Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Announces Two New Flavors

If coffee and doughnuts had a love child, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts would be the one to announce it first. The North Carolina-based company introduces two new limited time flavors: Mocha Krème and Caramel Coffee Kreme.

Mocha Kreme doughnut

Mocha Kreme doughnut

Mocha Kreme is described as a “moist, yeasty doughnut filled with chocolate and coffee krème, topped with a mocha icing and milk chocolate icing swirl.”

Caramel Kreme doughnut

Caramel Kreme doughnut

Caramel Coffee Kreme looks like a doughnut cupcake. The glazed doughnut is “drizzled with coffee and caramel icing and topped with a dollop of coffee kreme.”

No longer do you need to get coffee AND a doughnut. As part of the #LottaLatte line, both of these flavors will only be offered for a limited time. However, if you do need coffee, Krispy Kreme competes with Starbucks with their own version of the Cinnamon Dolce Latte. The question is, which is better?

There are a few Krispy Kreme’s around town to get your fix:

295 Ponce De Leon …

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