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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Thanksgiving experiment: Brussels sprouts on the Big Green Egg

IMG_5937This year my wife bought me those brussels sprouts on the stalk for our Thanksgiving dinner. I think she was hoping this might prevent me from actually cooking them, choosing instead to offer them up as a table decoration.

No such luck.

Instead of cutting the brussels sprouts from the stalk and making my usual Turkey Day sprouts and chestnuts, I instead got the idea to grill them.

Out came the Big Green Egg and a quick marinade of olive oil, fresh garlic and some leftover barbecue rub.

After about 40 minutes of turning them and brushing them with marinade over indirect heat, they started to look really appealing.

They smelled very cabbage-y — something my wife doesn’t abide well. But luckily we were serving the meal buffet style, so she could keep them out of olfactory range.

I put a pair of kitchen shears on the plate and let people cut them off. They were soft in the center, almost creamy, with well blistered, crisp leaves. I really liked them, but I like any brussels …

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Shopping break: Places to eat near Atlanta malls

Chasing parking spaces, wading through crowds and waiting in checkout lines can only be done with the proper nourishment. Take a break and grab a bite to eat to boost your shopping stamina. (Our Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog has updates on shopping throughout the holidays.)

If you find yourself at or near one of these malls, here are a places to recharge and refuel.

Cumberland Mall

  • Taverna Fiorentina: This neighborhood Tuscan kitchen with a lengthy wine-by-the-glass menu is now open for both lunch and dinner. 3324 Cobb Pkwy S.E., Atlanta. 770-272-9825.
  • Muss & Turner’s: This full-service restaurant/deli offers soups, salads, sandwiches and heartier fare with an impressive beer list. 1675 Cumberland Pkwy S.E., Smyrna. 770-434-1114.

Lenox Square/Phipps Plaza

  • Buckhead Diner: Not your average diner, at this swanky spot perfect for celebrity spotting, you’ll find Southern touches to menu items like the white-truffle deviled eggs. 3073 Piedmont Road N.E., Atlanta. …

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Where do you take out of towners? Try these

Mary Mac's, always busy (photos by Becky Stein unless otherwise noted)

Mary Mac's, always busy (photos by Becky Stein unless otherwise noted)

When our Italian friends Alessandro and Rita came to spend their vacation with us, we wanted to regale them with food. We cooked grand dinners, we went out to our favorite restaurants, we drove them to Charleston to feast on shrimp and oysters.

AJC Chief Dining Critic John Kessler writes about all cuisines.

AJC Chief Dining Critic John Kessler writes about all cuisines.

Then, on their last morning in town before a late afternoon flight back to Europe, they conferred quietly in Italian before coming to me with a request.

“John,” Alessandro asked, “Do you think we might take our breakfast at the, uh — What do you call it? — Waffle House?”

Forget the triggerfish crudo and heirloom tomato salad. They wanted their Southern food vacation scattered, smothered and chunked.

It is easy to forget that out-of-town visitors aren’t always looking for the best food, but rather the truest sense of place.

Many of us will face this quandary during the holidays. Our friends …

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Top Chef Seattle recap, Episode 3: Thanksgiving in July

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

“If you fail during this challenge, you might as well go find another career.” – Josie

I wonder if Josie has ever watched this show before? If she had, as soon as those words left her lips she should have smacked herself in the face. That is just courting disaster.

Josie made that comment because Dana Cowin, editor of Food & Wine magazine and familiar face on Top Chef, is this week’s guest judge, which clearly sets all of the chefs on their toes.

For this week’s Quickfire, the chefs start with a mad dash to a map with 17 knives on it, each representing a different style of dumpling from the corners of the world. In this season’s first unabashed product placement, the chefs are given 5 minutes on an Amazon Kindle Fire to look up their style of dumpling if, for example, you were Micah and got stuck with manti, a dumpling native to Kazakhstan. Considering that he “didn’t know that Kazakhstan was real,” this internet access saved him.

And …

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Five fabulous new ways to cook your Thanksgiving turkey

credit: William Berry/staff

credit: William Berry/staff

All those fancy cooks at the New York Times are proposing exciting  ways to cook your Thanksgiving turkey. Why shove your bird into the oven on a roasting pan, they ask, when you know that’s just a one-way ticket to the ho hums?

According to the New York Times, you should STEAM your turkey.

But if that’s too much work, then you should BRAISE the bird or — better yet — SPATCHCOCK the sucker.

We will not be outdone by those commonplace techniques here at the AJC. If you really want to impress guests far beyond any way they might be momentarily wowed by a New York Times turkey, may we propose one of these five exciting new preparation methods:

  1. Tie it to your exhaust manifold: Nothing could be simpler. Wrap the turkey in sage leaves and then chicken wire and then heavy-duty aluminum foil. Drive to Whole Foods (the one in Birmingham) to pick up your sides and desserts, and you will have one beautiful bird by the time you roll back into Atlanta.
  2. Go …

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An Election-night tradition: making fudge

IMG_5880

Does your family have a food outlier? By that I mean the one person who enjoys food, thinks about food and handles food unlike everyone else.

In the family I grew up in, that was my father. While my siblings, mother and I were all instinctive cooks who could throw ingredients together with ease, he couldn’t fry a steak in a pan. While the rest of us all liked desserts well enough but would rather have seconds of spaghetti, he had a raging sweet tooth.

So my mom always had some perfunctory dessert or other after dinner. Pudding or Jell-O from a mix, tapioca with fruit cocktail or her infamous “yogurt pie” fashioned from Dannon coffee yogurt, Cool Whip and a pre-made graham cracker crust.

But once every four years, something strange happened. As we all watched the election returns on TV, he would disappear into the kitchen, pull out the tattered copy of “The Joy of Cooking” and set about making fudge.

It was the strangest sight in the world: The man who would heat up …

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A Thanksgiving dish you can’t live without?

AJC staff

AJC staff

Time to break out the hammer and nail and add a few notches to your belts, because the most face-stuffing season of the year is upon us once again.

Thanksgiving is, and has been, my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. And not because, as my Mom used to always say, it is one of the only holidays that centers around simply being with your family rather than buying “stuff” for them. No, it is because of the food.

While my wife probably isn’t looking forward to the annual 7-10 lbs. of base layer blubber that I usually pick up over the next 45 days, I sure am. And the opening ceremonies are less than a week away.

The Thanksgiving meal is one that is nearly always steeped in tradition, and it seems like everyone I know has some sort of Thanksgiving tradition that, when “messed with”, sets off a sometimes violent reaction. And this usually comes down to one or more of the dishes served each year.

I vividly remember the year that my brother-in-law …

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Atlanta restaurants do Thanksgiving

credit: William Berry/staff

credit: William Berry/staff

Atlanta restaurants are gearing up to help you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday whether you plan to dine out or at home. Here’s a sampling of options for a little holiday help.

Dining out:

  • Food 101 is planning a traditional Southern Thanksgiving meal for its patrons. A variety of appetizers like deviled eggs and pickled veggies will be provided for the table. Guests will have a choice between turkey, ham or leg of lamb for their entree and a slew of Southern sides served family-style. Holiday favorites like pumpkin and pecan pie will be among the dessert options. 11:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. 4969 Roswell Road, Atlanta. 404-497-9700. $45 adults, $20 ages 6-12, 5 and under free.
  • Marietta’s Chicken and the Egg will also offer a Southern Thanksgiving experience with a meal comprised of an entree, three sides and a dessert. Entree choices include roasted turkey with cornbread dressing or glazed ham. Select sides like sweet potato casserole, green bean …

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Additional options for hosting holiday events in Atlanta

The Pond Room at Spice Market

The Pond Room at Spice Market

Atlanta has many options available for private dining. If you’re planning a social or corporate function this holiday season, it’s time to make those reservations. See yesterday’s article on venues for private holiday dining. Here are a few additional restaurants accepting reservations for your festivities.

Modern Restaurant + Bar

  • This new restaurant serving American fare with an emphasis on seafood has several options for holiday gatherings. The glass encased Vista room will host groups of 30 while the Outlook room overlooking the bar and dining room will accommodate 12. Five- to seven-course tasting menus are available for your event.

Spice Market at W Atlanta Midtown

  • Spice Market offers two private dining rooms that will accommodate guests for both seated and cocktail-style events. The Trellis room is the smaller of the two, seating 35 guests or holding 45 for hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. The larger Pond room will host 75 seated or …

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Venues for private holiday parties

Although it may be difficult to believe, the holidays are quickly approaching. Restaurants are accepting reservations for holiday parties. If you’re considering hosting a soiree for an upcoming business or social event, now is the time to secure a date. Here are some private dining options to help you plan those festivities.Jenny-Turknett-Review

The formal affair

If you plan to host a formal business or social function that’s fit for foodies, Rathbun’s Restaurant has your bases covered. Menus start at $50 per person for three courses and range up to $80 for five. They include some of the restaurant’s signature dishes such as the mock turtle soup with Dry Sack sherry, Maine lobster and roasted green chile taco with Cascabel cream, and the ever-popular banana peanut butter cream pie.

Wine, beer and spirits are charged based on consumption. The restaurant will guide you through its formula for pricing estimates based on beverage selection.

Rathbun’s has several private spaces available. The …

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