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Archive for July, 2009

Killer tomatoes attack JCT Kitchen on August 9

Chef-owner Ford Fry of JCT Kitchen will host the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes on Sunday, August 9 from 1 to 6 pm at the restaurant to benefit Georgia Organics.  The event will feature tomato dishes and tomato cocktails from 17 Atlanta area chefs and six mixologists, all paired with local farmers.

Live music from The Spazmatics will be on tap, as well as beer from Five Seasons Brewing. A contest for the best dish will be judged by restaurnat editors Andrew Knowlton of Bon Appetit and Kate Krader of Food & Wine.

The line up is like a Who’s Who of culinary talent in Atlanta. Here’s a small taste:

  • Fry of JCT Kitchen & Bar will prepare Crystal Organic Farm’s heirloom tomatoes with deep-fried bread, olive oil, mayo and pickled-egg relish.
  • Keira Moritz of Pacci Ristorante will be make heirloom cherry tomato & smoked Georgia shrimp summer panzanella with grilled corn, red onion, wild arugula, focaccia croutons and white balsamic vinegar.
  • Hugh Acheson of Athen’s Five & Ten will be …

Continue reading Killer tomatoes attack JCT Kitchen on August 9 »

A new Spanish restaurant comes to the West Side

When Cuerno closed earlier this year, my heart sank: It was the only authentic Spanish restaurant this city had (that’s the restaurant’s luscious fabada Asturiana, pictured).

But today Repeat Atlanta is reporting that a new Spanish restaurant called Bocado (which means “bite” in Spanish) is opening on Howell Mill Road near Octane.

My spirits are lifting — according to RA, the opening is scheduled for late August or early September. Me gusto.

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Top five for Friday: My favorite haunts

Even dining critics have their favorite haunts. Everyone needs that special spot where everybody doesn’t know their name — and that serves up a cold gin cocktail, the perfect cup of joe with conversation and pastry or just a nice quiet lunch.

Drinkshop not rated
45 Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, Atlanta, inside the W Downtown, 404-582-5800
Forget the retro vibe and uber modern construction: I come to New York bar man Sasha Petraske’s Drinkshop to sit at the bar and have a well-made drink. Cool, calming colors and a huge block of ice to my left, I simply spout out a liquor and the barkeep, dressed in second-hand clothes, brings a surprise, made seemingly just for me. Sure, there’s a vibe if you want it. Otherwise, you’ll be left to your own devices. My devices include gin.

Johnny Cakes not rated
323 Walker St., Atlanta, 678-705-9759
This neighborhood spot in Castleberry Hill is as friendly as a beachcomber’s enclave in the Caribbean. The name comes from the fried biscuit popular in …

Continue reading Top five for Friday: My favorite haunts »

H & F Bread Co. closes retail side of things

I was sad to see Besha Rodell of CL’s post about H & F Bread Co. closing the retail side of its business. I hadn’t been in the bakery since Spring, but the lack of foot traffic (and street parking) on that part of Peachtree Road couldn’t have helped. According to her post, the wholesale side of H & F will continue.

With few exceptions (Alon’s, Bread Garden, Highland Bakery and Magnolia Bakery come to mind), Atlanta is not a bakery town. New York and San Francisco are bakery towns. Paris is a bakery town. Southern cities in general are not big bread-baking havens.

There’s a very good reason for this: the wheat originally produced in the South is mostly soft wheat, with long growing seasons — soft wheats contain less gluten (the protein found in wheat flour), and subsequently are better for producing quick breads such as biscuits, muffins and sweet breads like banana nut bread and cranberry nut bread (and cakes). These breads require no fermentation, like a yeast-raised bread, …

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Takin’ it to the streets

Michelle Obama may have a garden on the White House lawn, but film makers Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney of Brooklyn have a garden in their truck.

These two are the film makers that brought us the documentary feature King Corn back in 2007, which basically documented their efforts to grow an acre of corn in Iowa, and what happened to their crop once it entered our food chain.

Now they’re growing arugula, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs in truck beds to show city-bound New Yorkers that anyone can have a garden, anywhere. And that gardens grow health benefits and “realistic opportunities.”

Preview their work in a video, and wait for the short film — the two friends plan to start production once the growing season has ended.

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Should food critics curb criticism during the recession?

My review of D.B.A. Barbecue in Virginia-Highland prompted a varied response from readers, some agree, and of course, others don’t.

But one reader from the neighborhood brought up a point I’ve been grappling with for most of this year. “I’m sorry to see that
you gave what amounts to be a fairly negative review for a great place
that we as Virginia-Highland residents would very much like to stick
around,” he wrote, adding, “please try to help these great spots thrive in a down economy rather than tack a two-star rating on them and drive off business. They deserve better.”

It’s a sticking point that has plagued me all year, actually: in this downward economy, and given that the restaurant business is one of the most difficult to start with, how do I continue to give what amounts to negative press for struggling or newly opened businesses? Do I lower my own standards of evaluation? Do I write with “padding,” not giving our readers what I feel to be the honest experience they …

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This chef takes things personally

It takes a certain kind of personality to be a person’s private chef. If the person is say, R and B artist Keyshia Cole, then the daily menu might be low carbs, high protein, and very little feedback other than “that was good.” Maybe that person is former MLB pitcher Kris Benson, and the Zone Diet becomes a way of life, and the way you cook.

Chef Barry Kraemer has that certain kind of personality, and he cooked, professionally and personally, for both celebrities.

“When you’re hired by a celebrity, or a family, to cook for them, you become a one-man show of housekeeper, dog walker, babysitter, chef, garbage man, grocer and go-to guy all in one,” says Kraemer of the 10 to 14 hour days he’s served making low-carb meals for Cole (and others), who was shooting a video during Kraemer’s tenure. His job, with the help of Cole’s trainer, was to “transform her body, and sculpt her like a body builder.”

“It’s challenging,” says Kraemer, “ and I love it. But if you’re looking for the …

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Pig N Chik: Alpharetta

Pig N Chik in Alpharetta opened just a year ago this August, but the sister-run franchise of the popular Roswell Road BBQ joint (with another location in Chamblee) offers up a little extra something: WANGS.

“We slow cook the wings in the smoker and then fry them for two minutes when served.  The smokey flavor is fabulous, really doesn’t need a wing sauce…but, we will toss them if the customer wants,” franchise owner Jacquoi Turner (who owns with sister Mary Martin — no Peter Pan jokes, please) told me via email.  I haven’t tried this location’s take on the wang thang. Have you?

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Happy Birthday to The Counter

Wanna free mini burger and some fries? Better brush up on your birthday tune. The Roswell location of The Counter — the burger bar where you choose your own ingredients — is celebrating its first birthday on Wednesday, and anyone who walks in (from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and wishes the restaurant a “happy birthday” gets a slider-sized burger and some fries.

They’ll be raffle tickets and other giveaways, too, plus live music on the patio.

The Counter is located at 859 Mansell Road, Roswell, 678-461-9661

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4th Annual Gwinnett Restaurant week lasts til July 30

Lots of discount dining this week: in addition to Downtown Restaurant Week, restaurants in Gwinnett, including Sperata on the Square, Sperata Buford (pictured), Picasso Cafe Wine Bar, Aqua Terra Bistro, Dominick’s Norcross, Paizano’s, Hi Life Kitchen and Cocktails, Carrabba’s Sugarloaf, The Melting Pot, Stoney River, Sugo, Park Cafe, Kurt’s featuring Vreny’s, the Thorn Tree, Dominick’s Lawrenceville and SAB (Sean’s American Bistro), are offering dining deals.

In Gwinnett, $21.21 will get you a three-course prix fixe dinner, not including alcohol, tax and gratuity, at participating restaurants. Check out the group’s Facebook page for more information. The event was created and produced by the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau. You also can call 770-814-6044 for more information.

Continue reading 4th Annual Gwinnett Restaurant week lasts til July 30 »