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Archive for August, 2009

Farmers’ markets are at their peak

Local farmers’ markets are peaking with Georgia produce in late August through September. I ran across a post from Serious Eats that gives six rules of a good farmers’ market.

One tip that’s not given that a few of our best local markets heed (particularly Morningside and Peachtree Road markets) is using local chefs as a drawing attraction — chef demos and tastings are a great way for people to get a taste test of the produce on hand, and they also offer lots of fun and a little farm theater.

And speaking of local: Georgia muscadines and scuppernongs are on grocer’s shelves now. Don’t peel that thick skin: Eat it! Research is showing that the skins are high in polyphenols, a group of chemical substances naturally found in some plants that have antioxidant qualities. The skins are full of fiber, too.

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Lose weight while dining out

See that matchbox in the photo iluustration? That’s about the amount of salad dressing you should be tossing on to your salad when you’re dining out.

Even if you ask for your dressing on the side, restaurants will often send far more out than the two-tablespoon serving you should be eating, because, let’s face it, two tablespoons looks pretty skimpy.

Fitness magazine has tips in the September issue on how not to blow your diet when dining.

Well hellloooo. Been doing this for close to eleven years now, so I thought I’d weigh in on their tips, and add a few of my own.

First, cocktails can really add to your calorie count (and the bill). Save money and calories by ordering a glass of red wine (those antioxidants will keep you looking and feeling younger, too). If you’ve really just got to have that mojito — and sometimes you do, I know — limit it to one. If you’re really trying to lose weight and are sticking to a plan like glue, order virgin cocktails and stay away from the …

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Richard Blais and Jamie Deen

Is it me, or do these two look like they might have been separated at birth?

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Atlanta’s Biggest Picnic

This Labor Day there’s a whole new type of sit-in going on: People in communities across the nation will participate in a national “eat‐in” to support better school lunch programs across the United States.

Atlanta’s local picnic is sponsored by Slow Food Atlanta and Georgia Organics, and takes place September 7 from noon to 3 p.m. at Piedmont Park’s grass field near the corner of 10th Street and Monroe Drive.

Here are some notes on what to bring from Georgia Organics’ website:

What should I bring?
• A picnic lunch for you and your family with delicious, nutritious
food that you’d like to see in school lunch.

• A poster or banner with a message about school lunch that identifies your school, district or neighborhood. There’s a contest for best banner. Extra points if you can name the farmer that grew it!

• A blanket to relax on.

• Frisbees, jump ropes, and games to enjoy with friends.

• Guitars, drums, or other musical instruments that you like to play.

What …

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Top Five for Friday: Restaurant pet peeves

Contrary to popular opinion, not everything about covering restaurants and dining out is perfect. In fact, sometimes it’s far from it. Here’s a list of things that  get me riled up when I’m dining out.

The my-waiter-is-my-friend school of hospitality
I’m not saying waiters shouldn’t be friendly. Cordial even. Manners are a complete, total necessity no matter the job title, but particularly when you’re dealing with the two things that seem to matter most to the general public — food and the money spent on it. But puhlease! Don’t kneel at my table to generate some sense of familiarity. Don’t sit next to me in my booth to tell me the daily specials. If I wanted you to come to dinner, I would have invited you.

The “grand opening” that has no ending
My daughter and I actually have a game we return to every now and then when driving around Atlanta. We check on “grand openings” of restaurants. We count the big, bold banners spewing a restaurant’s newly …

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A whole new meaning to berries and twigs

Serenbe Farms is giving a new meaning to sustainability and the farm-to-table initiative: the Brigadoonish haven in Palmetto has partnered with Sweetwater Brewery to create “Big Ol Belgian Blue Balls,” or BOBBB, a Belgian wheat-and-rye brew made with local, organic blueberries from Serenbe Farms, that’s part of the local brewery’s “Dank Tank” beers — small batch and experimental.

Calling it a “farm-to-bottle” initiative, the partners plan for this to be just the beginning of a very beautiful friendship. “We expect this to be the first of several creative brews using farm-fresh ingredients,” Steve Farace, Minister of Propaganda for SweetWater, said in a press release. The beer will be available for retail sale in the area the first week of September at Taco Mac, Cypress Street, Tower, Green’s, Mac’s and Sherlock’s (with possible additions to the list).

Is fruit the new black in beer making? Last night at 5 Seasons Brewing on the Westside, a tasting revealed a …

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This is not the Pink Pig

The Iberian Pig, a new Spanish tapas restaurant opening on the square in Decatur, has its website up for you to check out, as reported by Decatur Metro.

The restaurant is owned by the Castellucci family, which has had much success with their Sugo Italian restaurants. With the closing of Cuerno, this restaurant’s concept and menu will be the only Spanish tapas restaurant in the area — save for Bocado, scheduled to open on Howell Mill Road this fall.

The menu reads like a dream, from the owners and chef Chad Crete: pan con tomate (rustic bread toasted with a schmear of fresh tomato) and topped with Garroxta cheese, a ripened goat cheese from Catalan; a full list of Spanish cheeses, from Manchego to Valdeon; Jamon Iberico — the delicate pata negra ham so difficult to obtain in the U.S. — plus huevos con trufa — rustic bread, slow roasted pork, poached egg, black truffles. All are tapas and most everything is under $10.

The Iberian Pig will be located at 121 Sycamore …

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Free sushi at MF Buckhead on Thursday

A Few of My Favorite Things is reporting that MF Buckhead will have free sushi on hand tomorrow, August 27, from 8 to 9 p.m., along with $5 Japanese cocktail specials.

Since reviewing the restaurant last year (it earned five stars) the biggest complaint I received from readers is that this superior fish emporium is just “too expensive.”

Well, here’s your chance to try the best, freshest sushi in the city, with no purse strings attached. MF Buckhead is located on the ground floor of the Terminus Building in Buckhead.

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September is mushroom month

OMG! Shrooms! I’m not sure who gets to pick the months of the year as “pork month” (October) or “catfish month” (August), but September is a good choice for mushrooms, when foraging begins.

Mushrooms exist in a class by themselves, providing that umami kick in cooking that can send a dish over the edge, into the realm of super-hero flavor.

There are several dishes in Atlanta that get my vote for the best use of ’shrooms — Sotto Sotto’s mushroom risotto, made with canoroli rice, tops the list. Fritti, next door, has fried mushrooms that are the perfect pill to pop into your mouth with a wonderful glass of red wine.

Gimza’s crispy, rolled pancakes filled with pork, onions, mushrooms and sauerkraut in a creamy mushroom sauce is the best way I can think of to blow your carb and fat load for the day. And though the menu at Holeman & Finch changes often, when the hen of the woods mushrooms with Parmesan and Anson Mills polenta is available, it’s a dish that ends up as one of the …

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Inman Park Restaurant Week

Sotto Sotto (pictured) is one of 12 restaurants participating in the first-annual Inman Park Restaurant Week, September 21 – 27.

Unlike other “restaurant week” packages, IPRW is offering tiered prices, depending on the restaurant: Pure Taqueria (which isn’t scheduled to open until October?) Sauced (Ria Pell’s new joint) and The Albert are offering three-course prix fixes for $15; Fritti,  Parish, Park’s Edge, Rathbun’s, Shaun’s, Sotto Sotto, Wisteria and Zaya for $25;  and Kevin Rathbun Steak for $35.  The prices do not include alcohol, tax and gratuity.  No tickets are needed, but reservations are strongly suggested.

“It’s not only a good deal,” said chef-owner Shaun Doty of Shaun’s, “it’s a great way for new customers to introduce themselves to a restaurant.”

Inman Park Restaurant Week is sponsored by the Inman Park Restaurant Association.  View the menus online and make reservations now.

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