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  string(8009) "I tried to go to a reopened restaurant last month. They made everyone wait in line six feet apart outside the door. They pointed temperature guns at everyone’s forehead. We had to sign a waiver promising not to sue them before we died in the ICU. Everyone passed. They administered IQ tests. Everyone failed. We were all sent home.

Kidding, but that’s honestly what I feel about dining inside a restaurant at this point in the pandemic. Granted, my decrepitude puts me at high risk, but I’m not clear how anyone would have a good time inside a restaurant during a time when COVID-19 continues to rise (at this writing) and experts predict a devastating second wave. An alarming number of reopened venues don’t follow guidelines, which are calculated to reduce risk but — let’s face it — tubs of hand sanitizer, facial masks, and tables in screaming-distance-only do not add up to a relaxing dinner. Fortunately, lots of normally full-service restaurants are offering take-out, including family-sized gourmet meals at great prices. Many are reopening safer patio dining only. But you go ahead and eat inside. Take a Xanax before you leave the house and have a cocktail when you get there.

In mid-June, the pandemic collided with what turned into an equally global protest against police brutality, specifically in the horrific murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In one protest, organized by Buckhead4BlackLives, an estimated 3,000 Atlantans marched up West Paces Ferry to the governor’s mansion. The march began in the parking lot where OK Café is located. In probably the most tone-deaf deed since Paula Deen explained that, yes indeed, she had used the N-word, Susan DeRose, co-owner of the restaurant, draped a banner outside with this message: “Lives that matter are made with positive purpose.” It was obvious mockery of “Black lives matter” and reeked of the thinking that also led her years ago to hang a huge carving of the old Georgia flag, which was basically a frame for the Confederate flag. The restaurant drew lots of negative attention for that, so DeRose moved it to a less conspicuous spot while installing a replica of the “Betsy Ross flag” in the original space. 

Some people defended the banner, saying it was not inherently racist. Which is true if you completely disregard the context, but that’s rationally impossible. In interviews, including a lengthy one with the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Chris Fuhrmeister, DeRose argued that she was protesting the violence that affected small business owners. I think it’s quite clear that Black Lives Matter is not an advocate of violent resistance even though some looters took advantage of the situation. DeRose’s banner reads like a recoded update of Ronald Reagan’s ranting about “welfare queens” in Cadillacs. Were there any doubt about what’s at play here, consider this excerpt from the Business Chronicle’s interview with DeRose: 

“We are not apologizing for being good. We don’t need to make any apologies. We didn’t do anything wrong. We have no white guilt. We have white pride. We just have pride in our country.”

At this writing, the drama of white lunacy is still underway. In another jaw-dropping move, DeRose announced she was going to put the offending flag up for auction and donate the proceeds to the Atlanta Police Department. Let me explain this. Black people are not the instigators of violence in this protest against murder. The police, the murderers, are the instigators. They are responsible for inciting the violence that followed. The police declined DeRose’s offer because even they are wise enough to deduce that accepting cash for the sale of an offensive flag honoring enslavement of black people — the people they have brutalized — would be really dumb.

Some people have advocated a boycott of OK Café and DeRose’s two other Buckhead restaurants, Blue Ridge Grill and Bones. All three of these are Atlanta icons. It’s been years since I’ve been in any of them, but they all have good reputations despite the ire that some of DeRose’s former employees expressed on Facebook about their experience working in them. Some long-time big-monied customers also expressed shock as the story emerged. This is Buckhead, after all.

Among the many sad things about this story is its revelation of how entrenched racism remains among white authorities. I remember when I was a kid opening the Atlanta Constitution on weekends to read “Pickrick Says,” an advertisement for fried chicken that also advocated segregation. It was so over-the-top, I enjoyed reading it for its surrealness. The author was Lester Maddox, owner of the Pickrick Restaurant, who ran repeatedly for public office and was finally elected governor in 1967. He was most infamous for literally brandishing axe handles at black people who attempted to integrate the Pickrick after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These axe handles, called “Pickrick drumsticks,” became popular souvenirs, even after Ole Lester closed his restaurant rather than comply with the Civil Rights Act. Understand: The axe handles were not merely symbols of violence against black people. They were literal tools of violence and, as such, resembled the batons with which protesters were beaten during the civil rights movement — and just last month, all across America.

In the South, we have long hidden much of our racism under our code of manners, creating a kinder, sweeter, genteel racism. I’ve told this story before, but nowhere was this more obvious than at Aunt Fanny’s Cabin, a restaurant to which my father dragged our family nearly every weekend when I was a teenager. Opened in 1941, it was located in Smyrna and its history was mythic. Aunt Fanny was a slave who was freed by her grateful owner. She became famous for her delicious Old South cooking that brought fried-chicken-lovin’ white and black folks to her door. She lived until she was 100.

The problem with this story is that it was a fiction concocted by the white owners who wanted to create a stage for the re-enactment of the good ole slavery days. Once you were seated there, a young black kid would come to the table with a large wooden menu with a hole at the top through which he poked his head. He’d sing-song the menu. Soon, one of the black servers — in a plaid dress and an Aunt Jemima-style do-rag — brought your feast to the table. The food really was good and us white folks sure did appreciate it. When the servers gathered ’round the piano to sing gospel music and “Dixie,” shaking Mason jars to collect money for their church, we loaded those things with nickels, dimes, and, yes, even quarters!

I couldn’t count the times my family went to this place, but I do recall the beginning of the end. My grandmother from Philadelphia came to visit and within 15 minutes she was horrified by the noise, the scene, and the food. God, I loved her. The servers at Aunt Fanny’s eventually refused to sing “Dixie,” and the restaurant finally closed in 1992. The city of Smyrna bought it and moved the faux slave cabin to use as a welcome center to host parties. That, perhaps, is the most brain-dead part of the story: A city appropriates a monument to racism to say howdy. 

The history of racism runs deep in the metro area. There were plenty of other restaurants in this city that romanticized the Confederacy and plantation life, like Johnny Reb’s and Mammy’s Shanty, and it still remains true that most people have no idea how much our Southern cooking owes to Africa. But how in the world does a white woman hang a Confederate flag, chastise a civil rights group, and then make this claim: “The OK Cafe opened its doors July 8, 1987, and so great was the longing for a true southern restaurant that by the end of the first week it had become an Atlanta phenomenon with crowds standing in line to get in”? Hey, lady! Southern food is black! -CL-"
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Kidding, but that’s honestly what I feel about dining inside a restaurant at this point in the pandemic. Granted, my decrepitude puts me at high risk, but I’m not clear how anyone would have a good time inside a restaurant during a time when COVID-19 continues to rise (at this writing) and experts predict a devastating second wave. An alarming number of reopened venues don’t follow guidelines, which are calculated to reduce risk but — let’s face it — tubs of hand sanitizer, facial masks, and tables in screaming-distance-only do not add up to a relaxing dinner. Fortunately, lots of normally full-service restaurants are offering take-out, including family-sized gourmet meals at great prices. Many are reopening safer patio dining only. But you go ahead and eat inside. Take a Xanax before you leave the house and have a cocktail when you get there.

In mid-June, the pandemic collided with what turned into an equally global protest against police brutality, specifically in the horrific murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In one protest, organized by Buckhead4BlackLives, an estimated 3,000 Atlantans marched up West Paces Ferry to the governor’s mansion. The march began in the parking lot where OK Café is located. In probably the most tone-deaf deed since Paula Deen explained that, yes indeed, she had used the N-word, Susan DeRose, co-owner of the restaurant, draped a banner outside with this message: “Lives that matter are made with positive purpose.” It was obvious mockery of “Black lives matter” and reeked of the thinking that also led her years ago to hang a huge carving of the old Georgia flag, which was basically a frame for the Confederate flag. The restaurant drew lots of negative attention for that, so DeRose moved it to a less conspicuous spot while installing a replica of the “Betsy Ross flag” in the original space. 

Some people defended the banner, saying it was not inherently racist. Which is true if you completely disregard the context, but that’s rationally impossible. In interviews, including a lengthy one with the ''Atlanta Business Chronicle''’s Chris Fuhrmeister, DeRose argued that she was protesting the violence that affected small business owners. I think it’s quite clear that Black Lives Matter is not an advocate of violent resistance even though some looters took advantage of the situation. DeRose’s banner reads like a recoded update of Ronald Reagan’s ranting about “welfare queens” in Cadillacs. Were there any doubt about what’s at play here, consider this excerpt from the ''Business Chronicle''’s interview with DeRose: 

“We are not apologizing for being good. We don’t need to make any apologies. We didn’t do anything wrong. We have no white guilt. We have white pride. We just have pride in our country.”

At this writing, the drama of white lunacy is still underway. In another jaw-dropping move, DeRose announced she was going to put the offending flag up for auction and donate the proceeds to the Atlanta Police Department. Let me explain this. Black people are not the instigators of violence in this protest against murder. The police, the murderers, are the instigators. They are responsible for inciting the violence that followed. The police declined DeRose’s offer because even they are wise enough to deduce that accepting cash for the sale of an offensive flag honoring enslavement of black people — the people they have brutalized — would be really dumb.

Some people have advocated a boycott of OK Café and DeRose’s two other Buckhead restaurants, Blue Ridge Grill and Bones. All three of these are Atlanta icons. It’s been years since I’ve been in any of them, but they all have good reputations despite the ire that some of DeRose’s former employees expressed on Facebook about their experience working in them. Some long-time big-monied customers also expressed shock as the story emerged. This is Buckhead, after all.

Among the many sad things about this story is its revelation of how entrenched racism remains among white authorities. I remember when I was a kid opening the ''Atlanta Constitution'' on weekends to read “Pickrick Says,” an advertisement for fried chicken that also advocated segregation. It was so over-the-top, I enjoyed reading it for its surrealness. The author was Lester Maddox, owner of the Pickrick Restaurant, who ran repeatedly for public office and was finally elected governor in 1967. He was most infamous for literally brandishing axe handles at black people who attempted to integrate the Pickrick after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These axe handles, called “Pickrick drumsticks,” became popular souvenirs, even after Ole Lester closed his restaurant rather than comply with the Civil Rights Act. Understand: The axe handles were not merely symbols of violence against black people. They were literal tools of violence and, as such, resembled the batons with which protesters were beaten during the civil rights movement — and just last month, all across America.

In the South, we have long hidden much of our racism under our code of manners, creating a kinder, sweeter, genteel racism. I’ve told this story before, but nowhere was this more obvious than at Aunt Fanny’s Cabin, a restaurant to which my father dragged our family nearly every weekend when I was a teenager. Opened in 1941, it was located in Smyrna and its history was mythic. Aunt Fanny was a slave who was freed by her grateful owner. She became famous for her delicious Old South cooking that brought fried-chicken-lovin’ white and black folks to her door. She lived until she was 100.

The problem with this story is that it was a fiction concocted by the white owners who wanted to create a stage for the re-enactment of the good ole slavery days. Once you were seated there, a young black kid would come to the table with a large wooden menu with a hole at the top through which he poked his head. He’d sing-song the menu. Soon, one of the black servers — in a plaid dress and an Aunt Jemima-style do-rag — brought your feast to the table. The food really was good and us white folks sure did appreciate it. When the servers gathered ’round the piano to sing gospel music and “Dixie,” shaking Mason jars to collect money for their church, we loaded those things with nickels, dimes, and, yes, even quarters!

I couldn’t count the times my family went to this place, but I do recall the beginning of the end. My grandmother from Philadelphia came to visit and within 15 minutes she was horrified by the noise, the scene, and the food. God, I loved her. The servers at Aunt Fanny’s eventually refused to sing “Dixie,” and the restaurant finally closed in 1992. The city of Smyrna bought it and moved the faux slave cabin to use as a welcome center to host parties. That, perhaps, is the most brain-dead part of the story: A city appropriates a monument to racism to say howdy. 

The history of racism runs deep in the metro area. There were plenty of other restaurants in this city that romanticized the Confederacy and plantation life, like Johnny Reb’s and Mammy’s Shanty, and it still remains true that most people have no idea how much our Southern cooking owes to Africa. But how in the world does a white woman hang a Confederate flag, chastise a civil rights group, and then make this claim: “The OK Cafe opened its doors July 8, 1987, and so great was the longing for a true southern restaurant that by the end of the first week it had become an Atlanta phenomenon with crowds standing in line to get in”? Hey, lady! Southern food is black! __-CL-__"
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  string(8498) " GRAZ 01 Web  2020-06-30T21:55:22+00:00 GRAZ_01_web.jpg    grazing blacklivesmatter Old times there must be forgotten 31914  2020-06-30T15:45:00+00:00 GRAZING: Go away, go away, Dixie Land jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris CLIFF BOSTOCK  2020-06-30T15:45:00+00:00  I tried to go to a reopened restaurant last month. They made everyone wait in line six feet apart outside the door. They pointed temperature guns at everyone’s forehead. We had to sign a waiver promising not to sue them before we died in the ICU. Everyone passed. They administered IQ tests. Everyone failed. We were all sent home.

Kidding, but that’s honestly what I feel about dining inside a restaurant at this point in the pandemic. Granted, my decrepitude puts me at high risk, but I’m not clear how anyone would have a good time inside a restaurant during a time when COVID-19 continues to rise (at this writing) and experts predict a devastating second wave. An alarming number of reopened venues don’t follow guidelines, which are calculated to reduce risk but — let’s face it — tubs of hand sanitizer, facial masks, and tables in screaming-distance-only do not add up to a relaxing dinner. Fortunately, lots of normally full-service restaurants are offering take-out, including family-sized gourmet meals at great prices. Many are reopening safer patio dining only. But you go ahead and eat inside. Take a Xanax before you leave the house and have a cocktail when you get there.

In mid-June, the pandemic collided with what turned into an equally global protest against police brutality, specifically in the horrific murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In one protest, organized by Buckhead4BlackLives, an estimated 3,000 Atlantans marched up West Paces Ferry to the governor’s mansion. The march began in the parking lot where OK Café is located. In probably the most tone-deaf deed since Paula Deen explained that, yes indeed, she had used the N-word, Susan DeRose, co-owner of the restaurant, draped a banner outside with this message: “Lives that matter are made with positive purpose.” It was obvious mockery of “Black lives matter” and reeked of the thinking that also led her years ago to hang a huge carving of the old Georgia flag, which was basically a frame for the Confederate flag. The restaurant drew lots of negative attention for that, so DeRose moved it to a less conspicuous spot while installing a replica of the “Betsy Ross flag” in the original space. 

Some people defended the banner, saying it was not inherently racist. Which is true if you completely disregard the context, but that’s rationally impossible. In interviews, including a lengthy one with the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Chris Fuhrmeister, DeRose argued that she was protesting the violence that affected small business owners. I think it’s quite clear that Black Lives Matter is not an advocate of violent resistance even though some looters took advantage of the situation. DeRose’s banner reads like a recoded update of Ronald Reagan’s ranting about “welfare queens” in Cadillacs. Were there any doubt about what’s at play here, consider this excerpt from the Business Chronicle’s interview with DeRose: 

“We are not apologizing for being good. We don’t need to make any apologies. We didn’t do anything wrong. We have no white guilt. We have white pride. We just have pride in our country.”

At this writing, the drama of white lunacy is still underway. In another jaw-dropping move, DeRose announced she was going to put the offending flag up for auction and donate the proceeds to the Atlanta Police Department. Let me explain this. Black people are not the instigators of violence in this protest against murder. The police, the murderers, are the instigators. They are responsible for inciting the violence that followed. The police declined DeRose’s offer because even they are wise enough to deduce that accepting cash for the sale of an offensive flag honoring enslavement of black people — the people they have brutalized — would be really dumb.

Some people have advocated a boycott of OK Café and DeRose’s two other Buckhead restaurants, Blue Ridge Grill and Bones. All three of these are Atlanta icons. It’s been years since I’ve been in any of them, but they all have good reputations despite the ire that some of DeRose’s former employees expressed on Facebook about their experience working in them. Some long-time big-monied customers also expressed shock as the story emerged. This is Buckhead, after all.

Among the many sad things about this story is its revelation of how entrenched racism remains among white authorities. I remember when I was a kid opening the Atlanta Constitution on weekends to read “Pickrick Says,” an advertisement for fried chicken that also advocated segregation. It was so over-the-top, I enjoyed reading it for its surrealness. The author was Lester Maddox, owner of the Pickrick Restaurant, who ran repeatedly for public office and was finally elected governor in 1967. He was most infamous for literally brandishing axe handles at black people who attempted to integrate the Pickrick after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These axe handles, called “Pickrick drumsticks,” became popular souvenirs, even after Ole Lester closed his restaurant rather than comply with the Civil Rights Act. Understand: The axe handles were not merely symbols of violence against black people. They were literal tools of violence and, as such, resembled the batons with which protesters were beaten during the civil rights movement — and just last month, all across America.

In the South, we have long hidden much of our racism under our code of manners, creating a kinder, sweeter, genteel racism. I’ve told this story before, but nowhere was this more obvious than at Aunt Fanny’s Cabin, a restaurant to which my father dragged our family nearly every weekend when I was a teenager. Opened in 1941, it was located in Smyrna and its history was mythic. Aunt Fanny was a slave who was freed by her grateful owner. She became famous for her delicious Old South cooking that brought fried-chicken-lovin’ white and black folks to her door. She lived until she was 100.

The problem with this story is that it was a fiction concocted by the white owners who wanted to create a stage for the re-enactment of the good ole slavery days. Once you were seated there, a young black kid would come to the table with a large wooden menu with a hole at the top through which he poked his head. He’d sing-song the menu. Soon, one of the black servers — in a plaid dress and an Aunt Jemima-style do-rag — brought your feast to the table. The food really was good and us white folks sure did appreciate it. When the servers gathered ’round the piano to sing gospel music and “Dixie,” shaking Mason jars to collect money for their church, we loaded those things with nickels, dimes, and, yes, even quarters!

I couldn’t count the times my family went to this place, but I do recall the beginning of the end. My grandmother from Philadelphia came to visit and within 15 minutes she was horrified by the noise, the scene, and the food. God, I loved her. The servers at Aunt Fanny’s eventually refused to sing “Dixie,” and the restaurant finally closed in 1992. The city of Smyrna bought it and moved the faux slave cabin to use as a welcome center to host parties. That, perhaps, is the most brain-dead part of the story: A city appropriates a monument to racism to say howdy. 

The history of racism runs deep in the metro area. There were plenty of other restaurants in this city that romanticized the Confederacy and plantation life, like Johnny Reb’s and Mammy’s Shanty, and it still remains true that most people have no idea how much our Southern cooking owes to Africa. But how in the world does a white woman hang a Confederate flag, chastise a civil rights group, and then make this claim: “The OK Cafe opened its doors July 8, 1987, and so great was the longing for a true southern restaurant that by the end of the first week it had become an Atlanta phenomenon with crowds standing in line to get in”? Hey, lady! Southern food is black! -CL-    Reader Submitted YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT: Be careful what you put in your mouth ­­— and from where it comes.  0,0,10    grazing blacklivesmatter                             GRAZING: Go away, go away, Dixie Land "
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Tuesday June 30, 2020 11:45 am EDT
Old times there must be forgotten | more...
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  string(8338) "I intentionally arrived 10 minutes early when I went to pick up my meal at the new Talat Market in Summerhill. I knew curb service was their modus operandi, but my sneaky plan was to go inside and at least get a look at the dining room, which was, of course, under coronavirus-shutdown. I leaned back in my car, opened the door, put my left foot out, and was startled by a scream. “Sir! Sir! Are you here to pick up an order? May I help you? Sir? What is your name, sir?”

I peeked outside and saw that the woman asking to see my papers was smiling, but holding her social distance at, oh, 30 feet. I identified myself. She paced into the restaurant and paced back out with a large paper bag that she held at arm’s length, reminding me of my second-grade friend Joel, who walked into class holding a dead squirrel at the same distance. I put the bag on the passenger’s seat, and, just as our second-grade teacher made Joel do, I furiously cleaned my hands with antibacterial soap before grabbing the steering wheel and nervously driving home.

Is it ever going to end? Unless you have a second-grader’s immune system, it’s still risky to dine with other humans. While a lot of restaurants have reopened — 40 in the Buford Highway corridor! — most have not. By the time you read this, the city’s bars and clubs will have been authorized to reopen, so maybe alcohol will help spread Eric Trump’s neurological disorder that causes the pandemic to seem like a Democratic hoax which will disappear after the November election. In other words, if you are a Republican, eat, drink and be merry now. I concur!

Atlanta’s foodies have anticipated the opening of Talat with the same fervor as Little Bear, which I wrote about last month. They have a similar history, having both gained enormous popularity as pop-ups at Gato in Ormewood Park. Chefs/co-owners Parnass Savang and Rod Lassiter spent two years there before exiting last August to begin working on their brick-and-mortar plan while still popping up at various locations around the city. This was after Talat was named one of Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants of 2018 and Savang had been named a James Beard semi-finalist, as was Jarrett Stieber, owner of Little Bear. The two restaurants also share the ill fate of opening in the same neighborhood during the pandemic and having to limit their service to takeout. They’ve also both done well enough — they sell out quickly — to retain their small staffs.

I dined at Talat’s Gato location at least four times and, like everyone else, was floored by the food. Savang’s story has been microscopically recounted (see Eater Atlanta). He grew up in his parents’ Americanized Thai restaurant, Danthai, in Lawrenceville, and planned to flee the restaurant business after high school. But it was in his blood and, after two years, he embarked on a career that sent him to the Culinary Institute of America and had him working with some of the city’s best chefs, like Hugh Acheson and Ryan Smith (who was a huge inspiration to Stieber). While working at Kimball House, he convinced co-worker Rod Lassiter to join him as sous chef and co-owner of Talat, which means “market” and pays homage to the Thai markets he visited with his mother as a kid. He credits “staging” gigs at restaurants in Bangkok and Portland with distilling his vision for authentically inspired Thai food, more like the kind his parents actually ate at home instead of the Americanized version their restaurant served.



The Portland restaurant where he staged, Pok Pok, is famous for adapting Thailand’s street food, which is highly seasonal and varies by region with the same kind of intense cultural and agricultural differences as, say, Mexico’s Oaxacan province. A region’s dishes — here or in Thailand — are an expression of its particular culture interacting with the ground to which it is attached. Thus, Savang’s cooking transforms Thai food by bringing specifically located, native technique into contact with Georgia dirt. While local sourcing sounds like the agenda of nearly every young chef, it requires special deftness to bring those ingredients smoothly into cooperation with a culture on the other side of the globe. That is why I’d call this unusually authentic but other-than-authentic Thai cooking. It’s not the clumsy fusion food of the ’80s. It is a new cuisine. This, at least, is my reading of Talat’s food.

That said, beyond the greater spiciness, it’s not so easy to detect specific subtleties even though it’s easy as pie to know you are eating something extraordinary. The takeout menu, like many others around town, features multiple dishes — seven during my meal — for two people and costs an absurdly cheap $50 total. Let me get the warning over with: Scoring a meal — 52 are available daily, Wednesday-Sunday — is frankly a nightmare. You order online, starting at noon, two days before your preferred pick-up day. Here’s what happened to me: I got online at noon, was surprised to see a slot available, filled out all my information, hit “submit” and was booted back a page. I wasn’t sure if I’d been charged. I was so confused, I called and left a message and sent an email, but I decided to try again. Whoa! I was informed a later time was available. I filled everything out and — boom! — the same thing happened. My fingers flew into a typing rage a third time, and I scored! In short, meals were selling out between the time I entered my credit card number and hit the submit button.

My meal was expectedly wonderful, with few disappointments. Takeout presentation is not especially attractive or convenient. When you’re serving soups and curries, I guess there are few alternatives for transport, but I came very close to spilling the pork-based broth from its large plastic container that was thin and slippery. The soup included pork and shrimp sausage, glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, daylilies, scallions, and cilantro. To serve, I suggest you pour the liquid first into two bowls and then divvy up the solids at the bottom of the container. The soup was a springtime wake-up to the palate by way of funky flavors pulled out of the ground by a hungry pig.

Next up was yum khao thawt — Savang’s signature crispy rice, stained with red chile jam, tossed with beets, peanuts, ginger, cilantro, shallots, and little gem lettuce. So red. I’m sure you see the Southern influence. Another plastic container contained more red, this time as a coconut-milk curry with asparagus, pineapple, spring onions, and Thai basil. The pineapple’s sweet notes were a bit much for me, even with the spicy zing, but I loved the fresh grilled asparagus, slightly bitter, replacing the green beans we usually see around town. You’ll want to serve this over the large portion of jasmine rice that comes with every meal.

Then there was the protein: crispy pork belly served with a garlic-pepper vinegar. This offered clean, clear, melting flavors, with the vinegar striking me, improbably, as an allusion to barbecue. Maybe my favorite dish was the luscious, stir-fried eggplant seasoned with garlic, fresh chiles, and Thai basil. It included an oyster sauce. I usually detest the heavy brown oyster sauces that obscure every other flavor on a plate, but this was light to the degree I didn’t even recognize it. Dessert was the menu’s explicitly Southern absurdity — your mama’s banana custard turned lividly green with pandan, an aromatic leaf common throughout Southeast Asia. Just in case the pudding and its vanilla wafers were too sweet, Savang threw some fried shallots on top. I have to say, the packaging of this gooey delight was a bit off-putting. Basically you have to scrape it off the bottom of its cardboard box … and you will scrape.

I did ride by the restaurant and peeked in the window of the sleek, gray building that was formerly a small market. You’ll enjoy the neon pineapple on the outside wall. The dining room seats about 30, includes a bar, and features a mural intended to complement a mid-century modern look. Check out the restaurant’s Instagram page, @talat_marketatl, for a view of everything. —CL—

(Talat Market, 112 Ormond St. S.E., 404-257-6255, talatmarketatl.com.)"
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I peeked outside and saw that the woman asking to see my papers was smiling, but holding her social distance at, oh, 30 feet. I identified myself. She paced into the restaurant and paced back out with a large paper bag that she held at arm’s length, reminding me of my second-grade friend Joel, who walked into class holding a dead squirrel at the same distance. I put the bag on the passenger’s seat, and, just as our second-grade teacher made Joel do, I furiously cleaned my hands with antibacterial soap before grabbing the steering wheel and nervously driving home.

Is it ever going to end? Unless you have a second-grader’s immune system, it’s still risky to dine with other humans. While a lot of restaurants have reopened — 40 in the Buford Highway corridor! — most have not. By the time you read this, the city’s bars and clubs will have been authorized to reopen, so maybe alcohol will help spread Eric Trump’s neurological disorder that causes the pandemic to seem like a Democratic hoax which will disappear after the November election. In other words, if you are a Republican, eat, drink and be merry ''now''. I concur!

Atlanta’s foodies have anticipated the opening of Talat with the same fervor as Little Bear, which I wrote about last month. They have a similar history, having both gained enormous popularity as pop-ups at Gato in Ormewood Park. Chefs/co-owners Parnass Savang and Rod Lassiter spent two years there before exiting last August to begin working on their brick-and-mortar plan while still popping up at various locations around the city. This was after Talat was named one of ''Bon Appetit''’s best new restaurants of 2018 and Savang had been named a James Beard semi-finalist, as was Jarrett Stieber, owner of Little Bear. The two restaurants also share the ill fate of opening in the same neighborhood during the pandemic and having to limit their service to takeout. They’ve also both done well enough — they sell out quickly — to retain their small staffs.

I dined at Talat’s Gato location at least four times and, like everyone else, was floored by the food. Savang’s story has been microscopically recounted (see Eater Atlanta). He grew up in his parents’ Americanized Thai restaurant, Danthai, in Lawrenceville, and planned to flee the restaurant business after high school. But it was in his blood and, after two years, he embarked on a career that sent him to the Culinary Institute of America and had him working with some of the city’s best chefs, like Hugh Acheson and Ryan Smith (who was a huge inspiration to Stieber). While working at Kimball House, he convinced co-worker Rod Lassiter to join him as sous chef and co-owner of Talat, which means “market” and pays homage to the Thai markets he visited with his mother as a kid. He credits “staging” gigs at restaurants in Bangkok and Portland with distilling his vision for authentically inspired Thai food, more like the kind his parents actually ate at home instead of the Americanized version their restaurant served.

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The Portland restaurant where he staged, Pok Pok, is famous for adapting Thailand’s street food, which is highly seasonal and varies by region with the same kind of intense cultural and agricultural differences as, say, Mexico’s Oaxacan province. A region’s dishes — here or in Thailand — are an expression of its particular culture interacting with the ground to which it is attached. Thus, Savang’s cooking transforms Thai food by bringing specifically located, native technique into contact with Georgia dirt. While local sourcing sounds like the agenda of nearly every young chef, it requires special deftness to bring those ingredients smoothly into cooperation with a culture on the other side of the globe. That is why I’d call this unusually authentic but other-than-authentic Thai cooking. It’s not the clumsy fusion food of the ’80s. It is a new cuisine. This, at least, is my reading of Talat’s food.

That said, beyond the greater spiciness, it’s not so easy to detect specific subtleties even though it’s easy as pie to know you are eating something extraordinary. The takeout menu, like many others around town, features multiple dishes — seven during my meal — for two people and costs an absurdly cheap $50 total. Let me get the warning over with: Scoring a meal — 52 are available daily, Wednesday-Sunday — is frankly a nightmare. You order online, starting at noon, two days before your preferred pick-up day. Here’s what happened to me: I got online at noon, was surprised to see a slot available, filled out all my information, hit “submit” and was booted back a page. I wasn’t sure if I’d been charged. I was so confused, I called and left a message and sent an email, but I decided to try again. Whoa! I was informed a later time was available. I filled everything out and — boom! — the same thing happened. My fingers flew into a typing rage a third time, and I scored! In short, meals were selling out between the time I entered my credit card number and hit the submit button.

My meal was expectedly wonderful, with few disappointments. Takeout presentation is not especially attractive or convenient. When you’re serving soups and curries, I guess there are few alternatives for transport, but I came very close to spilling the pork-based broth from its large plastic container that was thin and slippery. The soup included pork and shrimp sausage, glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, daylilies, scallions, and cilantro. To serve, I suggest you pour the liquid first into two bowls and then divvy up the solids at the bottom of the container. The soup was a springtime wake-up to the palate by way of funky flavors pulled out of the ground by a hungry pig.

Next up was yum khao thawt — Savang’s signature crispy rice, stained with red chile jam, tossed with beets, peanuts, ginger, cilantro, shallots, and little gem lettuce. So red. I’m sure you see the Southern influence. Another plastic container contained more red, this time as a coconut-milk curry with asparagus, pineapple, spring onions, and Thai basil. The pineapple’s sweet notes were a bit much for me, even with the spicy zing, but I loved the fresh grilled asparagus, slightly bitter, replacing the green beans we usually see around town. You’ll want to serve this over the large portion of jasmine rice that comes with every meal.

Then there was the protein: crispy pork belly served with a garlic-pepper vinegar. This offered clean, clear, melting flavors, with the vinegar striking me, improbably, as an allusion to barbecue. Maybe my favorite dish was the luscious, stir-fried eggplant seasoned with garlic, fresh chiles, and Thai basil. It included an oyster sauce. I usually detest the heavy brown oyster sauces that obscure every other flavor on a plate, but this was light to the degree I didn’t even recognize it. Dessert was the menu’s explicitly Southern absurdity — your mama’s banana custard turned lividly green with pandan, an aromatic leaf common throughout Southeast Asia. Just in case the pudding and its vanilla wafers were too sweet, Savang threw some fried shallots on top. I have to say, the packaging of this gooey delight was a bit off-putting. Basically you have to scrape it off the bottom of its cardboard box … and you will scrape.

I did ride by the restaurant and peeked in the window of the sleek, gray building that was formerly a small market. You’ll enjoy the neon pineapple on the outside wall. The dining room seats about 30, includes a bar, and features a mural intended to complement a mid-century modern look. Check out the restaurant’s Instagram page, @talat_marketatl, for a view of everything. __—CL—__

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  string(9123) " GRAZ JUN B2f Web CRISPY PORK BELLY: Chef Parnass Savang seizes Southern and Thai dishes and brings them into highly edible accord. PHOTO CREDIT: Cliff Bostock 2020-06-04T15:07:39+00:00 GRAZ_JUN_b2f_web.jpg    grazing But the reward is the same 31437  2020-06-04T15:14:59+00:00 GRAZING: Talat Market: Where scoring a takeout meal is harder than getting laid in a pandemic jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Cliff Bostock  2020-06-04T15:14:59+00:00  I intentionally arrived 10 minutes early when I went to pick up my meal at the new Talat Market in Summerhill. I knew curb service was their modus operandi, but my sneaky plan was to go inside and at least get a look at the dining room, which was, of course, under coronavirus-shutdown. I leaned back in my car, opened the door, put my left foot out, and was startled by a scream. “Sir! Sir! Are you here to pick up an order? May I help you? Sir? What is your name, sir?”

I peeked outside and saw that the woman asking to see my papers was smiling, but holding her social distance at, oh, 30 feet. I identified myself. She paced into the restaurant and paced back out with a large paper bag that she held at arm’s length, reminding me of my second-grade friend Joel, who walked into class holding a dead squirrel at the same distance. I put the bag on the passenger’s seat, and, just as our second-grade teacher made Joel do, I furiously cleaned my hands with antibacterial soap before grabbing the steering wheel and nervously driving home.

Is it ever going to end? Unless you have a second-grader’s immune system, it’s still risky to dine with other humans. While a lot of restaurants have reopened — 40 in the Buford Highway corridor! — most have not. By the time you read this, the city’s bars and clubs will have been authorized to reopen, so maybe alcohol will help spread Eric Trump’s neurological disorder that causes the pandemic to seem like a Democratic hoax which will disappear after the November election. In other words, if you are a Republican, eat, drink and be merry now. I concur!

Atlanta’s foodies have anticipated the opening of Talat with the same fervor as Little Bear, which I wrote about last month. They have a similar history, having both gained enormous popularity as pop-ups at Gato in Ormewood Park. Chefs/co-owners Parnass Savang and Rod Lassiter spent two years there before exiting last August to begin working on their brick-and-mortar plan while still popping up at various locations around the city. This was after Talat was named one of Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants of 2018 and Savang had been named a James Beard semi-finalist, as was Jarrett Stieber, owner of Little Bear. The two restaurants also share the ill fate of opening in the same neighborhood during the pandemic and having to limit their service to takeout. They’ve also both done well enough — they sell out quickly — to retain their small staffs.

I dined at Talat’s Gato location at least four times and, like everyone else, was floored by the food. Savang’s story has been microscopically recounted (see Eater Atlanta). He grew up in his parents’ Americanized Thai restaurant, Danthai, in Lawrenceville, and planned to flee the restaurant business after high school. But it was in his blood and, after two years, he embarked on a career that sent him to the Culinary Institute of America and had him working with some of the city’s best chefs, like Hugh Acheson and Ryan Smith (who was a huge inspiration to Stieber). While working at Kimball House, he convinced co-worker Rod Lassiter to join him as sous chef and co-owner of Talat, which means “market” and pays homage to the Thai markets he visited with his mother as a kid. He credits “staging” gigs at restaurants in Bangkok and Portland with distilling his vision for authentically inspired Thai food, more like the kind his parents actually ate at home instead of the Americanized version their restaurant served.



The Portland restaurant where he staged, Pok Pok, is famous for adapting Thailand’s street food, which is highly seasonal and varies by region with the same kind of intense cultural and agricultural differences as, say, Mexico’s Oaxacan province. A region’s dishes — here or in Thailand — are an expression of its particular culture interacting with the ground to which it is attached. Thus, Savang’s cooking transforms Thai food by bringing specifically located, native technique into contact with Georgia dirt. While local sourcing sounds like the agenda of nearly every young chef, it requires special deftness to bring those ingredients smoothly into cooperation with a culture on the other side of the globe. That is why I’d call this unusually authentic but other-than-authentic Thai cooking. It’s not the clumsy fusion food of the ’80s. It is a new cuisine. This, at least, is my reading of Talat’s food.

That said, beyond the greater spiciness, it’s not so easy to detect specific subtleties even though it’s easy as pie to know you are eating something extraordinary. The takeout menu, like many others around town, features multiple dishes — seven during my meal — for two people and costs an absurdly cheap $50 total. Let me get the warning over with: Scoring a meal — 52 are available daily, Wednesday-Sunday — is frankly a nightmare. You order online, starting at noon, two days before your preferred pick-up day. Here’s what happened to me: I got online at noon, was surprised to see a slot available, filled out all my information, hit “submit” and was booted back a page. I wasn’t sure if I’d been charged. I was so confused, I called and left a message and sent an email, but I decided to try again. Whoa! I was informed a later time was available. I filled everything out and — boom! — the same thing happened. My fingers flew into a typing rage a third time, and I scored! In short, meals were selling out between the time I entered my credit card number and hit the submit button.

My meal was expectedly wonderful, with few disappointments. Takeout presentation is not especially attractive or convenient. When you’re serving soups and curries, I guess there are few alternatives for transport, but I came very close to spilling the pork-based broth from its large plastic container that was thin and slippery. The soup included pork and shrimp sausage, glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, daylilies, scallions, and cilantro. To serve, I suggest you pour the liquid first into two bowls and then divvy up the solids at the bottom of the container. The soup was a springtime wake-up to the palate by way of funky flavors pulled out of the ground by a hungry pig.

Next up was yum khao thawt — Savang’s signature crispy rice, stained with red chile jam, tossed with beets, peanuts, ginger, cilantro, shallots, and little gem lettuce. So red. I’m sure you see the Southern influence. Another plastic container contained more red, this time as a coconut-milk curry with asparagus, pineapple, spring onions, and Thai basil. The pineapple’s sweet notes were a bit much for me, even with the spicy zing, but I loved the fresh grilled asparagus, slightly bitter, replacing the green beans we usually see around town. You’ll want to serve this over the large portion of jasmine rice that comes with every meal.

Then there was the protein: crispy pork belly served with a garlic-pepper vinegar. This offered clean, clear, melting flavors, with the vinegar striking me, improbably, as an allusion to barbecue. Maybe my favorite dish was the luscious, stir-fried eggplant seasoned with garlic, fresh chiles, and Thai basil. It included an oyster sauce. I usually detest the heavy brown oyster sauces that obscure every other flavor on a plate, but this was light to the degree I didn’t even recognize it. Dessert was the menu’s explicitly Southern absurdity — your mama’s banana custard turned lividly green with pandan, an aromatic leaf common throughout Southeast Asia. Just in case the pudding and its vanilla wafers were too sweet, Savang threw some fried shallots on top. I have to say, the packaging of this gooey delight was a bit off-putting. Basically you have to scrape it off the bottom of its cardboard box … and you will scrape.

I did ride by the restaurant and peeked in the window of the sleek, gray building that was formerly a small market. You’ll enjoy the neon pineapple on the outside wall. The dining room seats about 30, includes a bar, and features a mural intended to complement a mid-century modern look. Check out the restaurant’s Instagram page, @talat_marketatl, for a view of everything. —CL—

(Talat Market, 112 Ormond St. S.E., 404-257-6255, talatmarketatl.com.)    Cliff Bostock STUDY IN RED: Red chile jam colors crispy rice, and beets take it a shade deeper. PHOTO CREDIT: Cliff Bostock Peanuts challenge rice in a battle for crunchy superiority.  0,0,10    grazing                             GRAZING: Talat Market: Where scoring a takeout meal is harder than getting laid in a pandemic "
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  string(10409) "Every plague has its silver lining. For the first two weeks of March, I unsuccessfully tried to get a table at Jarrett Stieber’s greatly anticipated new restaurant, Little Bear, in Summerhill. Then the plague arrived and turned the restaurant — six years in the making — into a takeout joint. So, the silver lining is that you and I get to more easily score five or six courses of Stieber’s prix fixe menu. 

But that’s the only silver lining I’ve encountered lately. When I wrote my last column in March, the mayor had not yet locked down the city. Since then, the coronavirus has created a tsunami of misery, sweeping through all sectors of the economy. Layoffs, furloughs, cutbacks, closings, and firings have been especially difficult for restaurants. Most operate on a slim profit margin to begin with and — let’s be honest — most employees are poorly paid and living paycheck-to-paycheck. For many, it’s a transition or side job while they seek a more stable career opportunity. Since the crash, many forms of assistance, from free meals to fundraised cash, have become available to unemployed restaurant workers, but we are standing on the precipice of a second Great Recession, which caused reorganization of the entire economy. We’re likely destined again for a new “normal.”

As it happens, “normal” is not a word that would suit Jarrett Stieber, regardless of the economy. I, like most of Atlanta, have been intrigued by his cooking ever since he opened the pop-up, Eat Me Speak Me. He started out miserably unappreciated by the public at Candler Park Market and The General Muir in 2013. High points of that time included cooking blood sausage on a panini press and being overshadowed by matzoh balls. In 2014, he moved EMSM to Gato and it arguably become the city’s favorite pop-up. In 2017, he moved the operation to SOS Tiki Bar, which he vacated last year to get Little Bear rolling.

While many other restaurants have cut staff and turned to takeout, Stieber’s business is doing so well that he has not had to lay off any of his small crew or reduce pay. There are many reasons why. The food is of course the preeminent one. It’s often described as “whimsical.”  Stieber guesses that’s partly because of the menu’s humor. An example is the standing title of his shareable prix fixe menu: “Just fuck me up, fam’,” sarcastically referring to the true experience of family dining. The restaurant’s proprietor, by the way, is the greatly anthropomorphized Pyrenees mountain dog that Stieber and his wife Hallie own. His real name is Fernando but his nickname is, yes, Little Bear. (Please, no ABBA jokes.) Maybe the clearest example of linguistic whimsy is the front window’s announcement that the restaurant has won a rating of 2.5 tires from Michelin Tire Dining. It’s goofy but it all adds up to a pointedly satirical attitude toward the pretensions of fine dining.

The funny thing is that Stieber is a James Beard semifinalist and, on the surface, his food resembles contemporary fine dining: smallish plates of strictly local produce and proteins, unexpected flavor combinations, artful presentation. Consider the Spanish-inspired menu featured during the week I fetched a meal there. One dish was a rectangular portion of a Spanish-style tortilla made with baked eggs and mild turnips, covered with a “ropa vieja sauce” and “an egregious amount of olive oil.”  WTF is ropa vieja sauce? I’ve eaten a ton of ropa vieja, a favorite Cuban dish, but I don’t think of it as a Spanish dish or as a sauce. Stieber clarified in an email: “We thought it would be fun to include some flavors from places Spain forced their will on… Ropa vieja as more of a red-wine, braised meat gravy sauce to serve on another dish sounded fun to us.” So, there you have it: a classic tor-tilla that deliciously dishonors Spanish colonialism.


 

There were also the inevitable patatas bravas, but Stieber makes them with sweet potatoes, cooking them to addictive crispy-creamy perfection in a concoction of pork fat, coffee, and chili oil, then drizzled with aioli. The protein of the week was Catalan-style pork meatballs combined with a fetish of Catalonia — roasted green onions under salbitxada, a usually red sauce turned weirdly green by Stieber. The opening soup, caldo de Gallego, was absolutely the best version I’ve ever had. I opened the container and the odor of fennel blasted the room like the sins in Pandora’s box. It was made with red peas instead of white beans and was hellishly fiery. Stieber swears it wasn’t intentional, but the meal ended with a pastry, a pestiño — fried, honey-glazed dough flavored with benne and anise, which echoed the licorice flavor of the fennel that began the meal. It was apparently also coincidental that pestiños are only available during Christmas and Holy Week in Spain and were indeed served by Little Bear during Holy Week. The meal also included a stunning salad of gem lettuce, dill, radishes, and shavings of sharp idiazabal cheese, made from sheep’s milk. There was, finally, a second dessert of traditional almond cake, dusted with powdered sugar, allegedly flavored with strawberries.

 

So, what, besides the satirical approach, makes this food actually different from fine dining? For one significant thing, there’s the cost. The menu I’ve described was $55 for two. On the brink of recession, that may not sound inexpensive — and you better tip $15 minimum — but it’s as many as seven dishes of entirely local ingredients for two! Still, to me the truly notable thing is the artistry. Stieber, chef de cuisine Jacob Armando, and executive sous chef Trevor Vick work just the opposite of most kitchens. Instead of going shopping with a recipe, they go shopping and then dream up a recipe. Stieber describes the process: 

“The thought process for making a dish is pretty simple, actually. Unlike most restaurants, we order from the farms we buy from first, then use what we get to put together our menu instead of thinking of a dish then ordering whatever product we need to make it happen. So from there, we kind of use the ingredients like pieces in a puzzle so we can make dishes that have a balance of color, texture, and eye appeal. Usually the formula is basically to balance those elements, then make sure there’s something a little unusual or unique so that we can remain creative and stand out. That twist could be an unusual flavor combination, a different technique, or preparation for something which might be done a different way more often, etc. Another thing we like to do is layer condiments/sauces in our dishes so that every bite has the intended starting flavor of the dish, and you don’t have to struggle to get a solid bite, but, as you eat the dish and drag things around, elements mix together and create new flavors by the end.”

This is an impressive description of how creativity spurns originality, similar to the Greeks’ explanation. In their view creativity is not internally generated but arises outside of us. They personified that process as an encounter with the muse. In the same way, Stieber is saying that inspiration begins with the available ingredients. That’s often demonstrated as a game on the nightmare known as food TV, but the process is impossible to sustain in a high-volume restaurant, using ordinary ingredients. I don’t mean to suggest that Stieber is a complete savant. He’s been cooking half his life, having begun at 15 when he haunted Alon’s before getting a paid job there at 16. Also a musician, he enrolled at UNC-Asheville to study music recording but rapidly realized he wanted to continue playing and writing music, not engineering it. He came back to Atlanta, where his practical parents told him he was going to need a real job to back up his music making. So he landed at Le Cordon Bleu in Tucker. That was in 2007. While there, he got a job at Hector Santiago’s restaurant, Pura Vida, which was my favorite restaurant in the city during its few years of preternatural existence. It was there that Stieber learned how an uninhibited, inventive chef can radically transform the experience of dining.


 

After Stieber graduated, he migrated from kitchen to kitchen in Atlanta. Restaurants on his resume include Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch, and Empire State South, all of which employed Ryan Smith, now the chef/owner of Staplehouse. If you’re familiar with Smith’s brilliant work, you’ll instantly spot its influence in Stieber’s. The main difference, I think, is rigor. As I told a friend, Stieber’s cooking is what you would get if Hector Santiago fucked with Ryan Smith’s food. It’s a bit messier, compellingly so, but almost in a conversely studied way. Sort of like perfect “messy hair.” In fact, I jokingly accused Stieber of being OCD. He explained — elaborately — why he was not. 

 

Stieber doesn’t deny that his particular method — refined for seven years with Eat Me Speak Me — is risky, so that he’s constantly testing, tweaking, giving up, and restarting. But creativity always risks occasional failure and, even more painful, mediocrity. The only problem I had with my Little Bear experience was trivial — the effect of takeout itself. The crew arranges every dish in detail in its own sturdy black takeout box, so transferring anything to a plate is going to disrupt the beauty. I did find most of the food more tepid than I like, but we all know that hot food in a box ain’t pretty by the time you get it home. The restaurant also vends “Fernando’s Liver Stimulus Package” —  boutique wines, spritz kits, beer, and cider.

I suggest you order now, because when Donald Trump reopens the gates to Moneyland, you won’t get a table at Little Bear. —CL—

Little Bear, 71-A Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-500-5396, littlebearatl.com. Open for takeout only, Wednesday–Sunday. You can order by phone, 10:30 a.m-8 p.m., for pickup 5-8 p.m. Vegetarian and vegan options are available when ordered a day in advance. The menu and photos are posted weekly to Twitter and Instagram, @littlebearatl. Unemployed restaurant workers who need a meal may DM chef de cuisine Jacob Armando via Instagram, @fourtimespicy. He is preparing and delivering free meals on Tuesday nights."
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But that’s the only silver lining I’ve encountered lately. When I wrote my last column in March, the mayor had not yet locked down the city. Since then, the coronavirus has created a tsunami of misery, sweeping through all sectors of the economy. Layoffs, furloughs, cutbacks, closings, and firings have been especially difficult for restaurants. Most operate on a slim profit margin to begin with and — let’s be honest — most employees are poorly paid and living paycheck-to-paycheck. For many, it’s a transition or side job while they seek a more stable career opportunity. Since the crash, many forms of assistance, from free meals to fundraised cash, have become available to unemployed restaurant workers, but we are standing on the precipice of a second Great Recession, which caused reorganization of the entire economy. We’re likely destined again for a new “normal.”

As it happens, “normal” is not a word that would suit Jarrett Stieber, regardless of the economy. I, like most of Atlanta, have been intrigued by his cooking ever since he opened the pop-up, Eat Me Speak Me. He started out miserably unappreciated by the public at Candler Park Market and The General Muir in 2013. High points of that time included cooking blood sausage on a panini press and being overshadowed by matzoh balls. In 2014, he moved EMSM to Gato and it arguably become the city’s favorite pop-up. In 2017, he moved the operation to SOS Tiki Bar, which he vacated last year to get Little Bear rolling.

While many other restaurants have cut staff and turned to takeout, Stieber’s business is doing so well that he has not had to lay off any of his small crew or reduce pay. There are many reasons why. The food is of course the preeminent one. It’s often described as “whimsical.”  Stieber guesses that’s partly because of the menu’s humor. An example is the standing title of his shareable prix fixe menu: “Just fuck me up, fam’,” sarcastically referring to the true experience of family dining. The restaurant’s proprietor, by the way, is the greatly anthropomorphized Pyrenees mountain dog that Stieber and his wife Hallie own. His real name is Fernando but his nickname is, yes, Little Bear. (Please, no ABBA jokes.) Maybe the clearest example of linguistic whimsy is the front window’s announcement that the restaurant has won a rating of 2.5 tires from Michelin Tire Dining. It’s goofy but it all adds up to a pointedly satirical attitude toward the pretensions of fine dining.

The funny thing is that Stieber is a James Beard semifinalist and, on the surface, his food resembles contemporary fine dining: smallish plates of strictly local produce and proteins, unexpected flavor combinations, artful presentation. Consider the Spanish-inspired menu featured during the week I fetched a meal there. One dish was a rectangular portion of a Spanish-style tortilla made with baked eggs and mild turnips, covered with a “ropa vieja sauce” and “an egregious amount of olive oil.”  WTF is ropa vieja sauce? I’ve eaten a ton of ropa vieja, a favorite Cuban dish, but I don’t think of it as a Spanish dish or as a sauce. Stieber clarified in an email: “We thought it would be fun to include some flavors from places Spain forced their will on… Ropa vieja as more of a red-wine, braised meat gravy sauce to serve on another dish sounded fun to us.” So, there you have it: a classic tor-tilla that deliciously dishonors Spanish colonialism.

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There were also the inevitable patatas bravas, but Stieber makes them with sweet potatoes, cooking them to addictive crispy-creamy perfection in a concoction of pork fat, coffee, and chili oil, then drizzled with aioli. The protein of the week was Catalan-style pork meatballs combined with a fetish of Catalonia — roasted green onions under salbitxada, a usually red sauce turned weirdly green by Stieber. The opening soup, caldo de Gallego, was absolutely the best version I’ve ever had. I opened the container and the odor of fennel blasted the room like the sins in Pandora’s box. It was made with red peas instead of white beans and was hellishly fiery. Stieber swears it wasn’t intentional, but the meal ended with a pastry, a pestiño — fried, honey-glazed dough flavored with benne and anise, which echoed the licorice flavor of the fennel that began the meal. It was apparently also coincidental that pestiños are only available during Christmas and Holy Week in Spain and were indeed served by Little Bear during Holy Week. The meal also included a stunning salad of gem lettuce, dill, radishes, and shavings of sharp idiazabal cheese, made from sheep’s milk. There was, finally, a second dessert of traditional almond cake, dusted with powdered sugar, allegedly flavored with strawberries.

 

So, what, besides the satirical approach, makes this food actually different from fine dining? For one significant thing, there’s the cost. The menu I’ve described was $55 for two. On the brink of recession, that may not sound inexpensive — and you better tip $15 minimum — but it’s as many as seven dishes of entirely local ingredients for two! Still, to me the truly notable thing is the artistry. Stieber, chef de cuisine Jacob Armando, and executive sous chef Trevor Vick work just the opposite of most kitchens. Instead of going shopping with a recipe, they go shopping and then dream up a recipe. Stieber describes the process: 

“The thought process for making a dish is pretty simple, actually. Unlike most restaurants, we order from the farms we buy from first, then use what we get to put together our menu instead of thinking of a dish then ordering whatever product we need to make it happen. So from there, we kind of use the ingredients like pieces in a puzzle so we can make dishes that have a balance of color, texture, and eye appeal. Usually the formula is basically to balance those elements, then make sure there’s something a little unusual or unique so that we can remain creative and stand out. That twist could be an unusual flavor combination, a different technique, or preparation for something which might be done a different way more often, etc. Another thing we like to do is layer condiments/sauces in our dishes so that every bite has the intended starting flavor of the dish, and you don’t have to struggle to get a solid bite, but, as you eat the dish and drag things around, elements mix together and create new flavors by the end.”

This is an impressive description of how creativity spurns originality, similar to the Greeks’ explanation. In their view creativity is not internally generated but arises outside of us. They personified that process as an encounter with the muse. In the same way, Stieber is saying that inspiration begins with the available ingredients. That’s often demonstrated as a game on the nightmare known as food TV, but the process is impossible to sustain in a high-volume restaurant, using ordinary ingredients. I don’t mean to suggest that Stieber is a complete savant. He’s been cooking half his life, having begun at 15 when he haunted Alon’s before getting a paid job there at 16. Also a musician, he enrolled at UNC-Asheville to study music recording but rapidly realized he wanted to continue playing and writing music, not engineering it. He came back to Atlanta, where his practical parents told him he was going to need a real job to back up his music making. So he landed at Le Cordon Bleu in Tucker. That was in 2007. While there, he got a job at Hector Santiago’s restaurant, Pura Vida, which was my favorite restaurant in the city during its few years of preternatural existence. It was there that Stieber learned how an uninhibited, inventive chef can radically transform the experience of dining.

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After Stieber graduated, he migrated from kitchen to kitchen in Atlanta. Restaurants on his resume include Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch, and Empire State South, all of which employed Ryan Smith, now the chef/owner of Staplehouse. If you’re familiar with Smith’s brilliant work, you’ll instantly spot its influence in Stieber’s. The main difference, I think, is rigor. As I told a friend, Stieber’s cooking is what you would get if Hector Santiago fucked with Ryan Smith’s food. It’s a bit messier, compellingly so, but almost in a conversely studied way. Sort of like perfect “messy hair.” In fact, I jokingly accused Stieber of being OCD. He explained — elaborately — why he was not. 

 

Stieber doesn’t deny that his particular method — refined for seven years with Eat Me Speak Me — is risky, so that he’s constantly testing, tweaking, giving up, and restarting. But creativity always risks occasional failure and, even more painful, mediocrity. The only problem I had with my Little Bear experience was trivial — the effect of takeout itself. The crew arranges every dish in detail in its own sturdy black takeout box, so transferring anything to a plate is going to disrupt the beauty. I did find most of the food more tepid than I like, but we all know that hot food in a box ain’t pretty by the time you get it home. The restaurant also vends “Fernando’s Liver Stimulus Package” —  boutique wines, spritz kits, beer, and cider.

I suggest you order now, because when Donald Trump reopens the gates to Moneyland, you won’t get a table at Little Bear. __—CL—__

''Little Bear, 71-A Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-500-5396, littlebearatl.com. Open for takeout only, Wednesday–Sunday. You can order by phone, 10:30 a.m-8 p.m., for pickup 5-8 p.m. Vegetarian and vegan options are available when ordered a day in advance. The menu and photos are posted weekly to Twitter and Instagram, @littlebearatl. Unemployed restaurant workers who need a meal may DM chef de cuisine Jacob Armando via Instagram, @fourtimespicy. He is preparing and delivering free meals on Tuesday nights.''"
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  string(11385) " GRAZ B10 LITTLE BEAR: The nondescript exterior in Summerhill reflects the tamer side of Jarrett Stieber's carefully imperfect aesthetic. It's like the black takeout boxes that contain food fit for eating with your very best magic mushrooms. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock 2020-05-11T17:50:48+00:00 GRAZ__b10.jpg    grazing Jarrett Stieber ‘radically’ transforms the dining experience 31012  2020-05-01T04:09:00+00:00 GRAZING: Little Bear: In planning for six years, open two weeks, currently takeout only jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Cliff Bostock  2020-05-01T04:09:00+00:00  Every plague has its silver lining. For the first two weeks of March, I unsuccessfully tried to get a table at Jarrett Stieber’s greatly anticipated new restaurant, Little Bear, in Summerhill. Then the plague arrived and turned the restaurant — six years in the making — into a takeout joint. So, the silver lining is that you and I get to more easily score five or six courses of Stieber’s prix fixe menu. 

But that’s the only silver lining I’ve encountered lately. When I wrote my last column in March, the mayor had not yet locked down the city. Since then, the coronavirus has created a tsunami of misery, sweeping through all sectors of the economy. Layoffs, furloughs, cutbacks, closings, and firings have been especially difficult for restaurants. Most operate on a slim profit margin to begin with and — let’s be honest — most employees are poorly paid and living paycheck-to-paycheck. For many, it’s a transition or side job while they seek a more stable career opportunity. Since the crash, many forms of assistance, from free meals to fundraised cash, have become available to unemployed restaurant workers, but we are standing on the precipice of a second Great Recession, which caused reorganization of the entire economy. We’re likely destined again for a new “normal.”

As it happens, “normal” is not a word that would suit Jarrett Stieber, regardless of the economy. I, like most of Atlanta, have been intrigued by his cooking ever since he opened the pop-up, Eat Me Speak Me. He started out miserably unappreciated by the public at Candler Park Market and The General Muir in 2013. High points of that time included cooking blood sausage on a panini press and being overshadowed by matzoh balls. In 2014, he moved EMSM to Gato and it arguably become the city’s favorite pop-up. In 2017, he moved the operation to SOS Tiki Bar, which he vacated last year to get Little Bear rolling.

While many other restaurants have cut staff and turned to takeout, Stieber’s business is doing so well that he has not had to lay off any of his small crew or reduce pay. There are many reasons why. The food is of course the preeminent one. It’s often described as “whimsical.”  Stieber guesses that’s partly because of the menu’s humor. An example is the standing title of his shareable prix fixe menu: “Just fuck me up, fam’,” sarcastically referring to the true experience of family dining. The restaurant’s proprietor, by the way, is the greatly anthropomorphized Pyrenees mountain dog that Stieber and his wife Hallie own. His real name is Fernando but his nickname is, yes, Little Bear. (Please, no ABBA jokes.) Maybe the clearest example of linguistic whimsy is the front window’s announcement that the restaurant has won a rating of 2.5 tires from Michelin Tire Dining. It’s goofy but it all adds up to a pointedly satirical attitude toward the pretensions of fine dining.

The funny thing is that Stieber is a James Beard semifinalist and, on the surface, his food resembles contemporary fine dining: smallish plates of strictly local produce and proteins, unexpected flavor combinations, artful presentation. Consider the Spanish-inspired menu featured during the week I fetched a meal there. One dish was a rectangular portion of a Spanish-style tortilla made with baked eggs and mild turnips, covered with a “ropa vieja sauce” and “an egregious amount of olive oil.”  WTF is ropa vieja sauce? I’ve eaten a ton of ropa vieja, a favorite Cuban dish, but I don’t think of it as a Spanish dish or as a sauce. Stieber clarified in an email: “We thought it would be fun to include some flavors from places Spain forced their will on… Ropa vieja as more of a red-wine, braised meat gravy sauce to serve on another dish sounded fun to us.” So, there you have it: a classic tor-tilla that deliciously dishonors Spanish colonialism.


 

There were also the inevitable patatas bravas, but Stieber makes them with sweet potatoes, cooking them to addictive crispy-creamy perfection in a concoction of pork fat, coffee, and chili oil, then drizzled with aioli. The protein of the week was Catalan-style pork meatballs combined with a fetish of Catalonia — roasted green onions under salbitxada, a usually red sauce turned weirdly green by Stieber. The opening soup, caldo de Gallego, was absolutely the best version I’ve ever had. I opened the container and the odor of fennel blasted the room like the sins in Pandora’s box. It was made with red peas instead of white beans and was hellishly fiery. Stieber swears it wasn’t intentional, but the meal ended with a pastry, a pestiño — fried, honey-glazed dough flavored with benne and anise, which echoed the licorice flavor of the fennel that began the meal. It was apparently also coincidental that pestiños are only available during Christmas and Holy Week in Spain and were indeed served by Little Bear during Holy Week. The meal also included a stunning salad of gem lettuce, dill, radishes, and shavings of sharp idiazabal cheese, made from sheep’s milk. There was, finally, a second dessert of traditional almond cake, dusted with powdered sugar, allegedly flavored with strawberries.

 

So, what, besides the satirical approach, makes this food actually different from fine dining? For one significant thing, there’s the cost. The menu I’ve described was $55 for two. On the brink of recession, that may not sound inexpensive — and you better tip $15 minimum — but it’s as many as seven dishes of entirely local ingredients for two! Still, to me the truly notable thing is the artistry. Stieber, chef de cuisine Jacob Armando, and executive sous chef Trevor Vick work just the opposite of most kitchens. Instead of going shopping with a recipe, they go shopping and then dream up a recipe. Stieber describes the process: 

“The thought process for making a dish is pretty simple, actually. Unlike most restaurants, we order from the farms we buy from first, then use what we get to put together our menu instead of thinking of a dish then ordering whatever product we need to make it happen. So from there, we kind of use the ingredients like pieces in a puzzle so we can make dishes that have a balance of color, texture, and eye appeal. Usually the formula is basically to balance those elements, then make sure there’s something a little unusual or unique so that we can remain creative and stand out. That twist could be an unusual flavor combination, a different technique, or preparation for something which might be done a different way more often, etc. Another thing we like to do is layer condiments/sauces in our dishes so that every bite has the intended starting flavor of the dish, and you don’t have to struggle to get a solid bite, but, as you eat the dish and drag things around, elements mix together and create new flavors by the end.”

This is an impressive description of how creativity spurns originality, similar to the Greeks’ explanation. In their view creativity is not internally generated but arises outside of us. They personified that process as an encounter with the muse. In the same way, Stieber is saying that inspiration begins with the available ingredients. That’s often demonstrated as a game on the nightmare known as food TV, but the process is impossible to sustain in a high-volume restaurant, using ordinary ingredients. I don’t mean to suggest that Stieber is a complete savant. He’s been cooking half his life, having begun at 15 when he haunted Alon’s before getting a paid job there at 16. Also a musician, he enrolled at UNC-Asheville to study music recording but rapidly realized he wanted to continue playing and writing music, not engineering it. He came back to Atlanta, where his practical parents told him he was going to need a real job to back up his music making. So he landed at Le Cordon Bleu in Tucker. That was in 2007. While there, he got a job at Hector Santiago’s restaurant, Pura Vida, which was my favorite restaurant in the city during its few years of preternatural existence. It was there that Stieber learned how an uninhibited, inventive chef can radically transform the experience of dining.


 

After Stieber graduated, he migrated from kitchen to kitchen in Atlanta. Restaurants on his resume include Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch, and Empire State South, all of which employed Ryan Smith, now the chef/owner of Staplehouse. If you’re familiar with Smith’s brilliant work, you’ll instantly spot its influence in Stieber’s. The main difference, I think, is rigor. As I told a friend, Stieber’s cooking is what you would get if Hector Santiago fucked with Ryan Smith’s food. It’s a bit messier, compellingly so, but almost in a conversely studied way. Sort of like perfect “messy hair.” In fact, I jokingly accused Stieber of being OCD. He explained — elaborately — why he was not. 

 

Stieber doesn’t deny that his particular method — refined for seven years with Eat Me Speak Me — is risky, so that he’s constantly testing, tweaking, giving up, and restarting. But creativity always risks occasional failure and, even more painful, mediocrity. The only problem I had with my Little Bear experience was trivial — the effect of takeout itself. The crew arranges every dish in detail in its own sturdy black takeout box, so transferring anything to a plate is going to disrupt the beauty. I did find most of the food more tepid than I like, but we all know that hot food in a box ain’t pretty by the time you get it home. The restaurant also vends “Fernando’s Liver Stimulus Package” —  boutique wines, spritz kits, beer, and cider.

I suggest you order now, because when Donald Trump reopens the gates to Moneyland, you won’t get a table at Little Bear. —CL—

Little Bear, 71-A Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-500-5396, littlebearatl.com. Open for takeout only, Wednesday–Sunday. You can order by phone, 10:30 a.m-8 p.m., for pickup 5-8 p.m. Vegetarian and vegan options are available when ordered a day in advance. The menu and photos are posted weekly to Twitter and Instagram, @littlebearatl. Unemployed restaurant workers who need a meal may DM chef de cuisine Jacob Armando via Instagram, @fourtimespicy. He is preparing and delivering free meals on Tuesday nights.    Cliff Bostock LITTLE BEAR: The nondescript exterior in Summerhill reflects the tamer side of Jarrett Stieber's carefully imperfect aesthetic. It's like the black takeout boxes that contain food fit for eating with your very best magic mushrooms.  0,0,18    grazing                             GRAZING: Little Bear: In planning for six years, open two weeks, currently takeout only "
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Friday May 1, 2020 12:09 am EDT
Jarrett Stieber ‘radically’ transforms the dining experience | more...
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  string(211) " Writer Jim Auchmutey calls BBQ "the most truly American food." In this talk, he speaks about his book SMOKELORE, which takes a look at the history and culture of BBQ, particularly its relationship to politics."
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Sunday April 26, 2020 06:44 pm EDT
a Creative Loafing podcast | more...
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Wednesday April 8, 2020 03:40 pm EDT
Necessity is the mother of invention | more...
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Article

Sunday March 15, 2020 10:29 am EDT
a Creative Loafing podcast | more...
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  string(8324) "Almost 20 years ago, on September 12, 2001, I was sitting in my favorite café in Seville, feeling very lonely after the horrifying events of the preceding day. The chef came out of the kitchen with a plate of ham and a newspaper. He sat at the table, telling me how happy he was to see me and asked how I was feeling. I told him I was numb. He opened the newspaper to show me page after page of the devastation that had occurred the day before at the World Trade Center in New York City. I was completely unnerved. Soon, other customers gathered around the table, looking at the pictures. Five or six of them sat down, and for the next few hours we grazed and talked about America. 


I wanted more than anything to move to Spain. That’s where, as I’ve often put it, I felt more like myself than anywhere else. An avalanche of obligations — that plus the Euro — made moving impossible, but Spain remains the place where my imagination still roves. For that reason, it’s always a bit difficult for me to visit a restaurant here that features Spanish food. In the same way immigrants are never quite content with restaurant versions of the food their mothers cooked back home, nostalgia makes me hypercritical.

For many years, it was virtually impossible to find Spanish food in Atlanta. Now, it’s not so hard. The latest restaurant to open is Buena Vida Tapas & Sol. Most of the Spanish venues here seem to emphasize the cuisine of Barcelona and the Basque region. Buena Vida draws its inspiration from southern Spain — from Ibiza off the eastern coast and from the interior region, Andalusia, where Seville is located. It’s where flamenco originated; where Moors, Christians, and Jews coexisted, especially aesthetically; and where the poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca lived. It’s hot as hell most of the year and that, I assume, explains “the sol” — the sun — of the restaurant’s name. 

I could hardly wait to visit. After two foiled attempts, I finally made it on a Sunday afternoon when, alas, the extensive tapas menu is radically abbreviated for a brunch menu featuring fusion entrees like shrimp and grits. There are a couple of appealing dishes made with morcilla (blood sausage), such as the hash with piquillo peppers, sweet potatoes, mushroom confit, poached eggs, and Hollandaise. Tempting, but I was there for tapas and did manage to find some classics that are also on the dinner menu. My favorite was the croquetas — four crunchy-fried orbs filled with a luxuriously creamy béchamel in which diced Serrano and Iberico ham were suspended. They were dotted with a smoky, slightly tangy pimentón (paprika) aioli. You’re probably going to be a bit annoyed that the ham isn’t more substantial, but understand that this dish originated to make use of scraps of meat. In any case, believe me, the ham’s taste will come forward after a few bites. I’m not sure why two varieties of ham are used — Iberico is the more exotic and costly — but it reminded me of the many plates of ham I ate at that café in Seville. The owner/chef knew the pedigree of every pig — where it was raised, what it was fed, how long it had lived. If you want a more generous taste of a variety of hams, you can order a plate of it along with cheeses at Buena Vida.

Another tapa that is ubiquitous is the Spanish-style tortilla — a wedge of a thick, browned omelet usually packed with creamy potatoes. Here, the kitchen uses a changing variety of vegetables in addition to the potatoes — namely red peppers, zucchini, onions, and kale during my visit. The omelet was topped with a spoonful of intensely aromatic aioli that drizzled into a pool on the chive-scattered plate. Next up was a serving of three piquillos stuffed with Georgia goat cheese. You’re going to immediately notice a fruity taste. That’s because the kitchen uses Arbequina olive oil from Catalonia, complemented by an acidic shot of lemon. The piquillos are crazily scattered with fried chickpeas — a really ingenious foil for the creamy textures. The dinner menu includes many vegetarian and vegan choices, including Beyondigas — albondigas (meatballs) made with Beyond Meat. There are also seafood and meat tapas including a Sevilla-style hot chicken. I mean …. Basta with the hot chicken! There are three major items for the table — a roasted chicken, a gigantic rib eye, and a whole fish. 

The talent behind the food here is executive chef Landon Thompson, a James Beard semifinalist who was chef de cuisine at Iberian Pig and executive chef at Cooks & Soldiers, both owed by the Castellucci Hospitality Group. Those two restaurants are without argument the best Spanish venues in the city. While Cooks & Soldiers has a much fancier menu, Buena Vida has a friendlier price point — surprising, given its location in the North and Line apartment complex which, according to its website, is very “refined” and exists “at the crossroads of everything that matters.” That means, of course, that it’s on the BeltLine and, like its neighbors, mimics the residential architecture of Soviet Russia. Buena Vida’s owners — Adam Berlin and Juan Sebastian Calle — have remedied that to some degree with an obviously Ibiza-inspired, pastel-drenched interior. Pink is everywhere, backgrounding some cool murals and pottery. At the front entrance there’s a neon greeting, in memory of Calle’s younger sister, which says “Te quiero mucho.” It’s that sincerity in the face of inevitable darkness that made me fall in love with southern Spain, and, while Buena Vida is still a work in progress, I’m looking forward to returning despite my estrangement from the place I belong.  (Buena Vida Tapas & Sol, 385 N. Angier Ave., 404-948-2312, buenavidatapas.com)

A NEW VEGAN OPTION: The people who own Mamak, the Malaysian favorite on Buford Highway, have opened Mamak Vegan Kitchen nearby in Chamblee. It’s next to their other new venue, Chom Chom Vietnamese Kitchen, which I wrote about last month. I visited recently with two friends and we had a meal that lived up to the quality of the meat-eater’s Mamak. 

I really wish I had the depth of character and self-discipline to become a vegetarian, but I do not. Because I know I can get up in the middle of the night and eat fried chicken, I have no desire to eat faux meat when I go to a vegetarian restaurant. I just want inventive vegetable dishes. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to try the rendang made (à la Buena Vida) with Beyond Meat at Mamak since my two companions stuck to undisguised vegetables and tofu. The original Mamak makes a superb rendang, and everything about the vegan version was as good on my first bite. But as I continued to eat, I felt like I was chewing a tenderized sponge. It had springy, meaty texture but it was too uniform. Likewise, all of the flavor at first was from the sauce, with nothing behind it like the natural flavor of meat. I could cope, but then there emerged an increasingly strong taste of, um, nothingness. I used to hate tofu, but tofu doesn’t pretend to be something else, and it doesn’t really deviate from the flavor it absorbs.

My friends’ choices were awesome. My favorite was the kari sayur, a slightly piquant curry of creamy eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, chunks of tough tofu, and especially delicious crispy okra. My other friend ordered chow kway teow — flat rice noodles tossed in a wok with tofu, bean sprouts, snow peas, and a chili paste. My miniscule problem with it was the presence of a bit too much soy sauce for my taste but, honestly, I have a low tolerance for it. My friend thought I was an idiot, but, really, I’m not. The menu’s picture was barely tinted with the sauce. (Mamak Vegan Kitchen, 2390 Chamblee Tucker Road, 678-909-8188, mamakvegan.com)

BUENO AND CHEAP: I admit that while I was eating at Buena Vida, I kept thinking about Eclipse di Luna, where I’ve frequently eaten lunch over the years. Its menu offers inexpensive tapas — artful classics and novelties — along with specials. Recently I had an easily fetishized sandwich of pork belly, arugula, tomatoes, and roasted jalapeno aioli on ciabatta. Plus they got paella. (Eclipse di Luna, 764 Miami Circle, 404-846-0449, eclipsediluna.net)"
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I wanted more than anything to move to Spain. That’s where, as I’ve often put it, I felt more like myself than anywhere else. An avalanche of obligations — that plus the Euro — made moving impossible, but Spain remains the place where my imagination still roves. For that reason, it’s always a bit difficult for me to visit a restaurant here that features Spanish food. In the same way immigrants are never quite content with restaurant versions of the food their mothers cooked back home, nostalgia makes me hypercritical.

For many years, it was virtually impossible to find Spanish food in Atlanta. Now, it’s not so hard. The latest restaurant to open is Buena Vida Tapas & Sol. Most of the Spanish venues here seem to emphasize the cuisine of Barcelona and the Basque region. Buena Vida draws its inspiration from southern Spain — from Ibiza off the eastern coast and from the interior region, Andalusia, where Seville is located. It’s where flamenco originated; where Moors, Christians, and Jews coexisted, especially aesthetically; and where the poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca lived. It’s hot as hell most of the year and that, I assume, explains “the sol” — the sun — of the restaurant’s name. 

I could hardly wait to visit. After two foiled attempts, I finally made it on a Sunday afternoon when, alas, the extensive tapas menu is radically abbreviated for a brunch menu featuring fusion entrees like shrimp and grits. There are a couple of appealing dishes made with morcilla (blood sausage), such as the hash with piquillo peppers, sweet potatoes, mushroom confit, poached eggs, and Hollandaise. Tempting, but I was there for tapas and did manage to find some classics that are also on the dinner menu. My favorite was the croquetas — four crunchy-fried orbs filled with a luxuriously creamy béchamel in which diced Serrano and Iberico ham were suspended. They were dotted with a smoky, slightly tangy pimentón (paprika) aioli. You’re probably going to be a bit annoyed that the ham isn’t more substantial, but understand that this dish originated to make use of scraps of meat. In any case, believe me, the ham’s taste will come forward after a few bites. I’m not sure why two varieties of ham are used — Iberico is the more exotic and costly — but it reminded me of the many plates of ham I ate at that café in Seville. The owner/chef knew the pedigree of every pig — where it was raised, what it was fed, how long it had lived. If you want a more generous taste of a variety of hams, you can order a plate of it along with cheeses at Buena Vida.

Another tapa that is ubiquitous is the Spanish-style tortilla — a wedge of a thick, browned omelet usually packed with creamy potatoes. Here, the kitchen uses a changing variety of vegetables in addition to the potatoes — namely red peppers, zucchini, onions, and kale during my visit. The omelet was topped with a spoonful of intensely aromatic aioli that drizzled into a pool on the chive-scattered plate. Next up was a serving of three piquillos stuffed with Georgia goat cheese. You’re going to immediately notice a fruity taste. That’s because the kitchen uses Arbequina olive oil from Catalonia, complemented by an acidic shot of lemon. The piquillos are crazily scattered with fried chickpeas — a really ingenious foil for the creamy textures. The dinner menu includes many vegetarian and vegan choices, including Beyondigas — albondigas (meatballs) made with Beyond Meat. There are also seafood and meat tapas including a Sevilla-style hot chicken. I mean …. Basta with the hot chicken! There are three major items for the table — a roasted chicken, a gigantic rib eye, and a whole fish. 

The talent behind the food here is executive chef Landon Thompson, a James Beard semifinalist who was chef de cuisine at Iberian Pig and executive chef at Cooks & Soldiers, both owed by the Castellucci Hospitality Group. Those two restaurants are without argument the best Spanish venues in the city. While Cooks & Soldiers has a much fancier menu, Buena Vida has a friendlier price point — surprising, given its location in the North and Line apartment complex which, according to its website, is very “refined” and exists “at the crossroads of everything that matters.” That means, of course, that it’s on the BeltLine and, like its neighbors, mimics the residential architecture of Soviet Russia. Buena Vida’s owners — Adam Berlin and Juan Sebastian Calle — have remedied that to some degree with an obviously Ibiza-inspired, pastel-drenched interior. Pink is everywhere, backgrounding some cool murals and pottery. At the front entrance there’s a neon greeting, in memory of Calle’s younger sister, which says “Te quiero mucho.” It’s that sincerity in the face of inevitable darkness that made me fall in love with southern Spain, and, while Buena Vida is still a work in progress, I’m looking forward to returning despite my estrangement from the place I belong.  (Buena Vida Tapas & Sol, 385 N. Angier Ave., 404-948-2312, buenavidatapas.com)

A NEW VEGAN OPTION: The people who own Mamak, the Malaysian favorite on Buford Highway, have opened Mamak Vegan Kitchen nearby in Chamblee. It’s next to their other new venue, Chom Chom Vietnamese Kitchen, which I wrote about last month. I visited recently with two friends and we had a meal that lived up to the quality of the meat-eater’s Mamak. 

I really wish I had the depth of character and self-discipline to become a vegetarian, but I do not. Because I know I can get up in the middle of the night and eat fried chicken, I have no desire to eat faux meat when I go to a vegetarian restaurant. I just want inventive vegetable dishes. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to try the rendang made (à la Buena Vida) with Beyond Meat at Mamak since my two companions stuck to undisguised vegetables and tofu. The original Mamak makes a superb rendang, and everything about the vegan version was as good on my first bite. But as I continued to eat, I felt like I was chewing a tenderized sponge. It had springy, meaty texture but it was too uniform. Likewise, all of the flavor at first was from the sauce, with nothing behind it like the natural flavor of meat. I could cope, but then there emerged an increasingly strong taste of, um, nothingness. I used to hate tofu, but tofu doesn’t pretend to be something else, and it doesn’t really deviate from the flavor it absorbs.

My friends’ choices were awesome. My favorite was the kari sayur, a slightly piquant curry of creamy eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, chunks of tough tofu, and especially delicious crispy okra. My other friend ordered chow kway teow — flat rice noodles tossed in a wok with tofu, bean sprouts, snow peas, and a chili paste. My miniscule problem with it was the presence of a bit too much soy sauce for my taste but, honestly, I have a low tolerance for it. My friend thought I was an idiot, but, really, I’m not. The menu’s picture was barely tinted with the sauce. (Mamak Vegan Kitchen, 2390 Chamblee Tucker Road, 678-909-8188, mamakvegan.com)

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  string(8963) " GRAZ Mar 2020 3523 Hero  2020-03-02T21:10:18+00:00 GRAZ_Mar_2020_3523_hero.jpg    grazing The good life invades the BeltLine, Mamak offers vegan, the Harp spurts 40 intoxicants 29631  2020-03-02T21:08:27+00:00 GRAZING: Sketches of Spain jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Cliff Bostock  2020-03-02T21:08:27+00:00  Almost 20 years ago, on September 12, 2001, I was sitting in my favorite café in Seville, feeling very lonely after the horrifying events of the preceding day. The chef came out of the kitchen with a plate of ham and a newspaper. He sat at the table, telling me how happy he was to see me and asked how I was feeling. I told him I was numb. He opened the newspaper to show me page after page of the devastation that had occurred the day before at the World Trade Center in New York City. I was completely unnerved. Soon, other customers gathered around the table, looking at the pictures. Five or six of them sat down, and for the next few hours we grazed and talked about America. 


I wanted more than anything to move to Spain. That’s where, as I’ve often put it, I felt more like myself than anywhere else. An avalanche of obligations — that plus the Euro — made moving impossible, but Spain remains the place where my imagination still roves. For that reason, it’s always a bit difficult for me to visit a restaurant here that features Spanish food. In the same way immigrants are never quite content with restaurant versions of the food their mothers cooked back home, nostalgia makes me hypercritical.

For many years, it was virtually impossible to find Spanish food in Atlanta. Now, it’s not so hard. The latest restaurant to open is Buena Vida Tapas & Sol. Most of the Spanish venues here seem to emphasize the cuisine of Barcelona and the Basque region. Buena Vida draws its inspiration from southern Spain — from Ibiza off the eastern coast and from the interior region, Andalusia, where Seville is located. It’s where flamenco originated; where Moors, Christians, and Jews coexisted, especially aesthetically; and where the poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca lived. It’s hot as hell most of the year and that, I assume, explains “the sol” — the sun — of the restaurant’s name. 

I could hardly wait to visit. After two foiled attempts, I finally made it on a Sunday afternoon when, alas, the extensive tapas menu is radically abbreviated for a brunch menu featuring fusion entrees like shrimp and grits. There are a couple of appealing dishes made with morcilla (blood sausage), such as the hash with piquillo peppers, sweet potatoes, mushroom confit, poached eggs, and Hollandaise. Tempting, but I was there for tapas and did manage to find some classics that are also on the dinner menu. My favorite was the croquetas — four crunchy-fried orbs filled with a luxuriously creamy béchamel in which diced Serrano and Iberico ham were suspended. They were dotted with a smoky, slightly tangy pimentón (paprika) aioli. You’re probably going to be a bit annoyed that the ham isn’t more substantial, but understand that this dish originated to make use of scraps of meat. In any case, believe me, the ham’s taste will come forward after a few bites. I’m not sure why two varieties of ham are used — Iberico is the more exotic and costly — but it reminded me of the many plates of ham I ate at that café in Seville. The owner/chef knew the pedigree of every pig — where it was raised, what it was fed, how long it had lived. If you want a more generous taste of a variety of hams, you can order a plate of it along with cheeses at Buena Vida.

Another tapa that is ubiquitous is the Spanish-style tortilla — a wedge of a thick, browned omelet usually packed with creamy potatoes. Here, the kitchen uses a changing variety of vegetables in addition to the potatoes — namely red peppers, zucchini, onions, and kale during my visit. The omelet was topped with a spoonful of intensely aromatic aioli that drizzled into a pool on the chive-scattered plate. Next up was a serving of three piquillos stuffed with Georgia goat cheese. You’re going to immediately notice a fruity taste. That’s because the kitchen uses Arbequina olive oil from Catalonia, complemented by an acidic shot of lemon. The piquillos are crazily scattered with fried chickpeas — a really ingenious foil for the creamy textures. The dinner menu includes many vegetarian and vegan choices, including Beyondigas — albondigas (meatballs) made with Beyond Meat. There are also seafood and meat tapas including a Sevilla-style hot chicken. I mean …. Basta with the hot chicken! There are three major items for the table — a roasted chicken, a gigantic rib eye, and a whole fish. 

The talent behind the food here is executive chef Landon Thompson, a James Beard semifinalist who was chef de cuisine at Iberian Pig and executive chef at Cooks & Soldiers, both owed by the Castellucci Hospitality Group. Those two restaurants are without argument the best Spanish venues in the city. While Cooks & Soldiers has a much fancier menu, Buena Vida has a friendlier price point — surprising, given its location in the North and Line apartment complex which, according to its website, is very “refined” and exists “at the crossroads of everything that matters.” That means, of course, that it’s on the BeltLine and, like its neighbors, mimics the residential architecture of Soviet Russia. Buena Vida’s owners — Adam Berlin and Juan Sebastian Calle — have remedied that to some degree with an obviously Ibiza-inspired, pastel-drenched interior. Pink is everywhere, backgrounding some cool murals and pottery. At the front entrance there’s a neon greeting, in memory of Calle’s younger sister, which says “Te quiero mucho.” It’s that sincerity in the face of inevitable darkness that made me fall in love with southern Spain, and, while Buena Vida is still a work in progress, I’m looking forward to returning despite my estrangement from the place I belong.  (Buena Vida Tapas & Sol, 385 N. Angier Ave., 404-948-2312, buenavidatapas.com)

A NEW VEGAN OPTION: The people who own Mamak, the Malaysian favorite on Buford Highway, have opened Mamak Vegan Kitchen nearby in Chamblee. It’s next to their other new venue, Chom Chom Vietnamese Kitchen, which I wrote about last month. I visited recently with two friends and we had a meal that lived up to the quality of the meat-eater’s Mamak. 

I really wish I had the depth of character and self-discipline to become a vegetarian, but I do not. Because I know I can get up in the middle of the night and eat fried chicken, I have no desire to eat faux meat when I go to a vegetarian restaurant. I just want inventive vegetable dishes. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to try the rendang made (à la Buena Vida) with Beyond Meat at Mamak since my two companions stuck to undisguised vegetables and tofu. The original Mamak makes a superb rendang, and everything about the vegan version was as good on my first bite. But as I continued to eat, I felt like I was chewing a tenderized sponge. It had springy, meaty texture but it was too uniform. Likewise, all of the flavor at first was from the sauce, with nothing behind it like the natural flavor of meat. I could cope, but then there emerged an increasingly strong taste of, um, nothingness. I used to hate tofu, but tofu doesn’t pretend to be something else, and it doesn’t really deviate from the flavor it absorbs.

My friends’ choices were awesome. My favorite was the kari sayur, a slightly piquant curry of creamy eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, chunks of tough tofu, and especially delicious crispy okra. My other friend ordered chow kway teow — flat rice noodles tossed in a wok with tofu, bean sprouts, snow peas, and a chili paste. My miniscule problem with it was the presence of a bit too much soy sauce for my taste but, honestly, I have a low tolerance for it. My friend thought I was an idiot, but, really, I’m not. The menu’s picture was barely tinted with the sauce. (Mamak Vegan Kitchen, 2390 Chamblee Tucker Road, 678-909-8188, mamakvegan.com)

BUENO AND CHEAP: I admit that while I was eating at Buena Vida, I kept thinking about Eclipse di Luna, where I’ve frequently eaten lunch over the years. Its menu offers inexpensive tapas — artful classics and novelties — along with specials. Recently I had an easily fetishized sandwich of pork belly, arugula, tomatoes, and roasted jalapeno aioli on ciabatta. Plus they got paella. (Eclipse di Luna, 764 Miami Circle, 404-846-0449, eclipsediluna.net)    Cliff Bostock SWEET: Piquillos are sweet by nature and Buena Vida adds fruitiness with Arbequina olive oil from Catalonia, plus a tempering shot of lemon. The peppers are stuffed with herbed goat cheese and garnished with fried chickpeas.  0,0,10    grazing                             GRAZING: Sketches of Spain "
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Monday March 2, 2020 04:08 pm EST
The good life invades the BeltLine, Mamak offers vegan, the Harp spurts 40 intoxicants | more...
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  string(8353) "I’ve been everywhere in the last month, so what follows is a random sampling of my peripatetic palate. These are descriptions of first visits, but there are nonetheless clear winners, losers, and mystifyingly boring oddities.

MTH Pizza: I’ve been eating with the same bunch of friends every Friday night for years. One of them lives in Kennesaw and is constantly pulling us northward to exotic locales like Smyrna. Recently, we visited this newish pizzeria from the super-talented Muss & Turner deli guys. The restaurant is decorated with graffiti art, including a warning that pineapple is not permitted in the kitchen. I’m down with that! The first “Hawaiian” pizza I ate was in Germany 25 years ago and I’ve mainly avoided the monstrosity ever since.

The pizzas here are a bit difficult to classify. They are not squishy-thin Neapolitan pies. Nor are they as thick as New York pies. So they have heft, but not so much that you can’t fold the slices. All pies are 16 inches and will feed four people, especially with starters. We ordered two of the eight house-composed pies, including a margherita and one called “the hell boy.” The latter featured the usual mozzarella, provolone, and tomato sauce, plus some hot chilies, pepperoni, and nduja, which is a spicy pork pate that originated in the Calabria region of Italy before becoming an obsession with many American foodies a few years back. I much preferred this spicy pizza to the margherita, which, in its simplicity, is regarded as the test of a pizzaiolo. Unfortunately, MTH’s tomato sauce completely overwhelmed the basil and the rather stingy portion of fresh mozzarella. I’d definitely order something different. You can construct your own pie, if none of the six other house-composed pies attracts you.


We also tried two starters. First was the well-executed if rather retro roasted cauliflower and broccoli with chili flakes, bread crumbs, and sultana grapes. I insisted we also order the burrata di bufala, a usually decadent orb of mozzarella that is supposed to be firm on the outside and lusciously creamy inside. I’m sorry to say that the burrata here came to our table ice-cold – it should be room temperature – and the interior was barely spreadable on the accompanying flat bread. I won’t completely condemn it because it came with a fig spread and figs make everything better. During our meal, by the way, a toddler began screaming with a marinara-curdling intensity that reminded me I am human and that this is a family restaurant, not a fussy pizzeria. It’s quite enjoyable. (1675 Cumberland Parkway, Smyrna, 678-424-1333, mthpizza.com.)

Street Bistro: This weird venture replaces Hong Kong Harbour, the 40-year-old restaurant that introduced many Midtown diners to authentic Cantonese cooking. For years, it was the place many local chefs went for late-night dining. Now, it looks like a nearly empty, gigantic hangar with a concrete floor and a comparatively tiny bar for ordering inexpensive chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, fried seafood, and rice dishes. Some dishes have an Asian accent, like my Korean “burger” made with shaved slices of bulgogi. My friend ordered a straightforward plant-based burger. Honestly, both tasted okay, as did our sides of fries, but the restaurant needs focus, a coherent menu, and some kind of décor. Until then, you could smoke a ton of weed and go there around 11 p.m. to make selfies of yourself as a refugee inside a post-apocalyptic waystation on your way to a New World. (2184 Cheshire Bridge Rd., 404-325-7630, atlstreetbistro.com.)

Wonderkid: Speaking of post-apocalyptic refugees, this new diner in Reynoldstown could be an entry to a paradoxically retro New World. It is located in the 60-year-old, redeveloping Atlanta Dairies complex which inspires rosy memories of cheerful milkmen and cows with names like Bossy and Buttercup. (Could they be grazing along the nearby BeltLine?) Wonderkid itself recalls that same era’s crypto-fancy diners with plush pleather booths, moody lighting, and ice clinking in cocktails while Peggy Lee croons during evening hours. The place is the work of super-creative types like designer Smith Hanes, the owners of the Lawrence and Bonton, and the King of Pops bros.

Executive chef Justin Dixon’s menu is largely Waffle House on entheogens plucked from a garden on the BeltLine. There are two breakfast menus. One serves five dishes like avocado toast with smoked salmon, and eggs Benedict with biscuits and country ham, available 8-11 a.m. The other menu provides “breakfast all day,” including fried catfish and shrimp grits; poached eggs over braised, spicy tomatoes with a grilled-cheese sandwich; a pan-roasted sirloin steak with eggs and black-pepper gravy; omelettes; and a burger. We didn’t order any of these dishes but chose from the main menu of 11 heavier dishes. First up was a brilliant starter of three classic deviled eggs topped with razor-thin country ham and a long spike of pickled okra. Our entrees instantly reminded us of nachos. Mine included a falafel waffle (yes, that’s right) with capers, cheddar cheese, horseradish, and bone-marrow aioli. The second entree was steak tatare with hash browns, too much horseradish, capers, and odd bone-marrow aioli. Both were messy, without much form, but I also ordered a comical chicken pot pie full of root vegetables, black pepper gravy, and, of course, chicken. It was covered with a football-size balloon of puff pastry, which could cause more delight than a kid’s first birthday cake. Of the entrees, it was my favorite even though I doubt the pastry is house-made.

::::

There is also a bar inside that sells mad soft-serve ice cream treats from the King of Pops guys. We didn’t try that. We also missed the changing daily menu of specials. One such menu online was offering cassoulet, one of my favorite dishes on the planet. When you go, look for this menu which likely gives Chef Dixon extra room to riff on classics. (777 Memorial Dr., 404-331-0720, wonderkidatl.com.)

Chris’ Carribbean Bistro: I don’t get it. This Smyrna restaurant’s owner grew up in Jamaica, so you’d expect some spicy food. Au contraire. For the most part, the food here is unrelentingly bland, even though it’s mostly well prepared. I’m assuming this is a concession to the lame palates of Smyrna, but I don’t know. We had jerk wings, mango wings, eggrolls, and, my favorite of everything, crispy conch fritters. The restaurant is known for its jerk-chicken lasagna, which two of us ordered. It’s a deliriously seductive mess, and everything works – except for the tiny strands of shredded jerk chicken which were literally unrecognizable in both portions on our table. The best entrée was a rich seafood stew, while blackened snapper topped with shrimp and a butter sauce took second place. (4479 S Cobb Dr., Smyrna, 678-695-3133, chriscaribbean.com.)

Chom Chom Vietnamese Kitchen: It’s hard to believe yet another large Vietnamese restaurant has opened in Chamblee. This one is inside a towering white building with a big sign that says “Magnum” in gold letters, just like the condom maker’s logo. It’s a mystery. Chom Chom’s particular space was previously occupied by China Delight. It’s sparely decorated with heavily windowed green walls and a high ceiling with some quirky lighting. There are six varieties of spring and summer rolls to begin your meal, but I suggest you go for the fried soft-shell crab with tamarind sauce. We also liked the pork-filled fried wontons. I highly recommend the restaurant’s classic “shaking beef,” cubes of rare tenderloin served with the usual coarse salt and lime to amp up the already intense flavor. You’ll find plenty of bun (rice noodle) bowls, but I recommend you avoid the “Hanoi” one. It’s basically a deconstructed version with lemongrass pork sausage patties, pork belly, bean sprouts, garlic, noodles, and herbs plated separately with a shallow bowl of fish sauce. You mix and match, rather than toss it all together as you would the typical bowl. Too much work. The restaurant also has lunch specials and you will want to take home one of the splendid banh mi (sandwiches) for a 3 a.m. snack. (2390 Chamblee Tucker Rd., 470-375-3190, chomchomatl.com.) —CL­—"
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We also tried two starters. First was the well-executed if rather retro roasted cauliflower and broccoli with chili flakes, bread crumbs, and sultana grapes. I insisted we also order the burrata di bufala, a usually decadent orb of mozzarella that is supposed to be firm on the outside and lusciously creamy inside. I’m sorry to say that the burrata here came to our table ice-cold – it should be room temperature – and the interior was barely spreadable on the accompanying flat bread. I won’t completely condemn it because it came with a fig spread and figs make everything better. During our meal, by the way, a toddler began screaming with a marinara-curdling intensity that reminded me I am human and that this is a family restaurant, not a fussy pizzeria. It’s quite enjoyable. (1675 Cumberland Parkway, Smyrna, 678-424-1333, mthpizza.com.)

__Street Bistro:__ This weird venture replaces Hong Kong Harbour, the 40-year-old restaurant that introduced many Midtown diners to authentic Cantonese cooking. For years, it was the place many local chefs went for late-night dining. Now, it looks like a nearly empty, gigantic hangar with a concrete floor and a comparatively tiny bar for ordering inexpensive chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, fried seafood, and rice dishes. Some dishes have an Asian accent, like my Korean “burger” made with shaved slices of bulgogi. My friend ordered a straightforward plant-based burger. Honestly, both tasted okay, as did our sides of fries, but the restaurant needs focus, a coherent menu, and some kind of décor. Until then, you could smoke a ton of weed and go there around 11 p.m. to make selfies of yourself as a refugee inside a post-apocalyptic waystation on your way to a New World. (2184 Cheshire Bridge Rd., 404-325-7630, atlstreetbistro.com.)

__Wonderkid:__ Speaking of post-apocalyptic refugees, this new diner in Reynoldstown could be an entry to a paradoxically retro New World. It is located in the 60-year-old, redeveloping Atlanta Dairies complex which inspires rosy memories of cheerful milkmen and cows with names like Bossy and Buttercup. (Could they be grazing along the nearby BeltLine?) Wonderkid itself recalls that same era’s crypto-fancy diners with plush pleather booths, moody lighting, and ice clinking in cocktails while Peggy Lee croons during evening hours. The place is the work of super-creative types like designer Smith Hanes, the owners of the Lawrence and Bonton, and the King of Pops bros.

Executive chef Justin Dixon’s menu is largely Waffle House on entheogens plucked from a garden on the BeltLine. There are two breakfast menus. One serves five dishes like avocado toast with smoked salmon, and eggs Benedict with biscuits and country ham, available 8-11 a.m. The other menu provides “breakfast all day,” including fried catfish and shrimp grits; poached eggs over braised, spicy tomatoes with a grilled-cheese sandwich; a pan-roasted sirloin steak with eggs and black-pepper gravy; omelettes; and a burger. We didn’t order any of these dishes but chose from the main menu of 11 heavier dishes. First up was a brilliant starter of three classic deviled eggs topped with razor-thin country ham and a long spike of pickled okra. Our entrees instantly reminded us of nachos. Mine included a falafel waffle (yes, that’s right) with capers, cheddar cheese, horseradish, and bone-marrow aioli. The second entree was steak tatare with hash browns, too much horseradish, capers, and odd bone-marrow aioli. Both were messy, without much form, but I also ordered a comical chicken pot pie full of root vegetables, black pepper gravy, and, of course, chicken. It was covered with a football-size balloon of puff pastry, which could cause more delight than a kid’s first birthday cake. Of the entrees, it was my favorite even though I doubt the pastry is house-made.

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There is also a bar inside that sells mad soft-serve ice cream treats from the King of Pops guys. We didn’t try that. We also missed the changing daily menu of specials. One such menu online was offering cassoulet, one of my favorite dishes on the planet. When you go, look for this menu which likely gives Chef Dixon extra room to riff on classics. (777 Memorial Dr., 404-331-0720, wonderkidatl.com.)

__Chris’ Carribbean Bistro:__ I don’t get it. This Smyrna restaurant’s owner grew up in Jamaica, so you’d expect some spicy food. Au contraire. For the most part, the food here is unrelentingly bland, even though it’s mostly well prepared. I’m assuming this is a concession to the lame palates of Smyrna, but I don’t know. We had jerk wings, mango wings, eggrolls, and, my favorite of everything, crispy conch fritters. The restaurant is known for its jerk-chicken lasagna, which two of us ordered. It’s a deliriously seductive mess, and everything works – except for the tiny strands of shredded jerk chicken which were literally unrecognizable in both portions on our table. The best entrée was a rich seafood stew, while blackened snapper topped with shrimp and a butter sauce took second place. (4479 S Cobb Dr., Smyrna, 678-695-3133, chriscaribbean.com.)

__Chom Chom Vietnamese Kitchen:__ It’s hard to believe yet another large Vietnamese restaurant has opened in Chamblee. This one is inside a towering white building with a big sign that says “Magnum” in gold letters, just like the condom maker’s logo. It’s a mystery. Chom Chom’s particular space was previously occupied by China Delight. It’s sparely decorated with heavily windowed green walls and a high ceiling with some quirky lighting. There are six varieties of spring and summer rolls to begin your meal, but I suggest you go for the fried soft-shell crab with tamarind sauce. We also liked the pork-filled fried wontons. I highly recommend the restaurant’s classic “shaking beef,” cubes of rare tenderloin served with the usual coarse salt and lime to amp up the already intense flavor. You’ll find plenty of bun (rice noodle) bowls, but I recommend you avoid the “Hanoi” one. It’s basically a deconstructed version with lemongrass pork sausage patties, pork belly, bean sprouts, garlic, noodles, and herbs plated separately with a shallow bowl of fish sauce. You mix and match, rather than toss it all together as you would the typical bowl. Too much work. The restaurant also has lunch specials and you will want to take home one of the splendid banh mi (sandwiches) for a 3 a.m. snack. (2390 Chamblee Tucker Rd., 470-375-3190, chomchomatl.com.) —__CL__­—"
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  string(8843) " GRAZ 3209  2020-02-04T19:15:14+00:00 GRAZ_3209.jpg    grazing First visit, first impressions 28518  2020-02-04T18:45:54+00:00 GRAZING: Five restaurants to please, repulse, and bore you will.cardwell@gmail.com Will Cardwell CLIFF BOSTOCK  2020-02-04T18:45:54+00:00  I’ve been everywhere in the last month, so what follows is a random sampling of my peripatetic palate. These are descriptions of first visits, but there are nonetheless clear winners, losers, and mystifyingly boring oddities.

MTH Pizza: I’ve been eating with the same bunch of friends every Friday night for years. One of them lives in Kennesaw and is constantly pulling us northward to exotic locales like Smyrna. Recently, we visited this newish pizzeria from the super-talented Muss & Turner deli guys. The restaurant is decorated with graffiti art, including a warning that pineapple is not permitted in the kitchen. I’m down with that! The first “Hawaiian” pizza I ate was in Germany 25 years ago and I’ve mainly avoided the monstrosity ever since.

The pizzas here are a bit difficult to classify. They are not squishy-thin Neapolitan pies. Nor are they as thick as New York pies. So they have heft, but not so much that you can’t fold the slices. All pies are 16 inches and will feed four people, especially with starters. We ordered two of the eight house-composed pies, including a margherita and one called “the hell boy.” The latter featured the usual mozzarella, provolone, and tomato sauce, plus some hot chilies, pepperoni, and nduja, which is a spicy pork pate that originated in the Calabria region of Italy before becoming an obsession with many American foodies a few years back. I much preferred this spicy pizza to the margherita, which, in its simplicity, is regarded as the test of a pizzaiolo. Unfortunately, MTH’s tomato sauce completely overwhelmed the basil and the rather stingy portion of fresh mozzarella. I’d definitely order something different. You can construct your own pie, if none of the six other house-composed pies attracts you.


We also tried two starters. First was the well-executed if rather retro roasted cauliflower and broccoli with chili flakes, bread crumbs, and sultana grapes. I insisted we also order the burrata di bufala, a usually decadent orb of mozzarella that is supposed to be firm on the outside and lusciously creamy inside. I’m sorry to say that the burrata here came to our table ice-cold – it should be room temperature – and the interior was barely spreadable on the accompanying flat bread. I won’t completely condemn it because it came with a fig spread and figs make everything better. During our meal, by the way, a toddler began screaming with a marinara-curdling intensity that reminded me I am human and that this is a family restaurant, not a fussy pizzeria. It’s quite enjoyable. (1675 Cumberland Parkway, Smyrna, 678-424-1333, mthpizza.com.)

Street Bistro: This weird venture replaces Hong Kong Harbour, the 40-year-old restaurant that introduced many Midtown diners to authentic Cantonese cooking. For years, it was the place many local chefs went for late-night dining. Now, it looks like a nearly empty, gigantic hangar with a concrete floor and a comparatively tiny bar for ordering inexpensive chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, fried seafood, and rice dishes. Some dishes have an Asian accent, like my Korean “burger” made with shaved slices of bulgogi. My friend ordered a straightforward plant-based burger. Honestly, both tasted okay, as did our sides of fries, but the restaurant needs focus, a coherent menu, and some kind of décor. Until then, you could smoke a ton of weed and go there around 11 p.m. to make selfies of yourself as a refugee inside a post-apocalyptic waystation on your way to a New World. (2184 Cheshire Bridge Rd., 404-325-7630, atlstreetbistro.com.)

Wonderkid: Speaking of post-apocalyptic refugees, this new diner in Reynoldstown could be an entry to a paradoxically retro New World. It is located in the 60-year-old, redeveloping Atlanta Dairies complex which inspires rosy memories of cheerful milkmen and cows with names like Bossy and Buttercup. (Could they be grazing along the nearby BeltLine?) Wonderkid itself recalls that same era’s crypto-fancy diners with plush pleather booths, moody lighting, and ice clinking in cocktails while Peggy Lee croons during evening hours. The place is the work of super-creative types like designer Smith Hanes, the owners of the Lawrence and Bonton, and the King of Pops bros.

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::::

There is also a bar inside that sells mad soft-serve ice cream treats from the King of Pops guys. We didn’t try that. We also missed the changing daily menu of specials. One such menu online was offering cassoulet, one of my favorite dishes on the planet. When you go, look for this menu which likely gives Chef Dixon extra room to riff on classics. (777 Memorial Dr., 404-331-0720, wonderkidatl.com.)

Chris’ Carribbean Bistro: I don’t get it. This Smyrna restaurant’s owner grew up in Jamaica, so you’d expect some spicy food. Au contraire. For the most part, the food here is unrelentingly bland, even though it’s mostly well prepared. I’m assuming this is a concession to the lame palates of Smyrna, but I don’t know. We had jerk wings, mango wings, eggrolls, and, my favorite of everything, crispy conch fritters. The restaurant is known for its jerk-chicken lasagna, which two of us ordered. It’s a deliriously seductive mess, and everything works – except for the tiny strands of shredded jerk chicken which were literally unrecognizable in both portions on our table. The best entrée was a rich seafood stew, while blackened snapper topped with shrimp and a butter sauce took second place. (4479 S Cobb Dr., Smyrna, 678-695-3133, chriscaribbean.com.)

Chom Chom Vietnamese Kitchen: It’s hard to believe yet another large Vietnamese restaurant has opened in Chamblee. This one is inside a towering white building with a big sign that says “Magnum” in gold letters, just like the condom maker’s logo. It’s a mystery. Chom Chom’s particular space was previously occupied by China Delight. It’s sparely decorated with heavily windowed green walls and a high ceiling with some quirky lighting. There are six varieties of spring and summer rolls to begin your meal, but I suggest you go for the fried soft-shell crab with tamarind sauce. We also liked the pork-filled fried wontons. I highly recommend the restaurant’s classic “shaking beef,” cubes of rare tenderloin served with the usual coarse salt and lime to amp up the already intense flavor. You’ll find plenty of bun (rice noodle) bowls, but I recommend you avoid the “Hanoi” one. It’s basically a deconstructed version with lemongrass pork sausage patties, pork belly, bean sprouts, garlic, noodles, and herbs plated separately with a shallow bowl of fish sauce. You mix and match, rather than toss it all together as you would the typical bowl. Too much work. The restaurant also has lunch specials and you will want to take home one of the splendid banh mi (sandwiches) for a 3 a.m. snack. (2390 Chamblee Tucker Rd., 470-375-3190, chomchomatl.com.) —CL­—    Cliff Bostock HE’S NOT THE JERK: The totally delicious jerkless jerk chicken lasagna at Chris' Caribbean Bistro.  0,0,5    grazing                             GRAZING: Five restaurants to please, repulse, and bore you "
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Tuesday February 4, 2020 01:45 pm EST
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Host Jill Melancon sits down with Justin Ramirez of Arches Brewing in Hapeville to learn that they aren't as far outside the city as you might think."
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The original Food Terminal is a gigantic Malaysian restaurant whose opening two years ago in front of the City Farmers Market represented something of a tipping point for Buford Highway. Many who long avoided the countless mom-and-pop restaurants there swamped Food Terminal, arguably rejuvenating the entire area. Owners Amy Wong and Howard Ewe long ago proved their ability to bridge cultural differences without intimidation or vapid Americanization of the diverse flavors of Southeast Asia that are assimilated to varying extents in Malaysian cooking. Wong and Ewe honed their skills at their other restaurants, including Mamak, five Sweet Hut bakery-cafes, and three Top Spice locations.  

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My favorite on the table was a plate of watercress tossed with a black bean sauce. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at Food Terminal without ordering it. I also love the Thai eggplant, purple logs of the creamy vegetable topped with a chili sauce and ground chicken. We also ordered a plate of mildly spicy beef rendang with nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk). The rendang, to which I earlier became addicted at Mamak, also included an over-cooked egg, along with some pickled vegetables, slightly fishy crackers, and peanuts. 

Understand that it would take you forever just to count what’s available here. I intentionally ordered less exotic dishes in order to set a baseline, and the good news is that capitalism hasn’t ruined the quality of Food Terminal! The restaurant, by the way, is part of the Brickworks complex, so an entryway to free parking is immediately next door. You might have a wait. I went on a Monday night, and the restaurant was quite busy.

Food Terminal, 1000 Marietta St. N.W., 404-500-2695, foodterminal.com
 




B’s Redux

Yes, you really should go to the former Murder Kroger, now called the Beltline Kroger, and make a beeline for the new outpost of B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue. Brian Furman’s original Atlanta restaurant in Riverside burned to the ground in March 2019 after a few years in which it won just about every conceivable honor imaginable and not just in barbecue categories. Eater, for example, named it restaurant of the year and Furman was a James Beard semifinalist for best chef. I’m happy to say this is not the all-too-common foodie habit of fetishizing a quirky restaurant for the sake of in-the-know novelty. It deserves the accolades. 

The fire here weirdly duplicated the burning of Furman’s first restaurant in Savannah. It was re-opened and Furman promises to do the same here. Meanwhile, you can get the barbecue at the Kroger stall and eat on the premises, if you choose. (There’s also a stall at State Farm Arena). While the Kroger setting is a bit off-putting, the barbecue is certainly not. I’ve only been once and tried the ribs and the brisket. The brisket was absolutely perfect — fatty but not too fatty, smoky but not so much that the flavors of the rub and the meat were eclipsed. Ditto for the ribs, which you can eat without emerging from the area looking like a blood-doused zombie because of Georgia’s typically ketchupy sauces. Personally, I love B’s because its sauces are made with vinegar or mustard like the barbecue sauces I grew up eating in the Carolinas. In truth, you don’t even need a sauce with this meat. 

The chopped barbecue, by the way is “whole hog.” That means Furman smokes an entire, pedigreed pig, and the meat is pulled from different areas. It’s not all butt! I’ve also sampled the collards and pork and beans. Those aren’t particularly notable. (Do try the hash.) I asked for cracklin’ cornbread but received a super-sweet corn muffin. Probably my only complaint about B’s has been its failure to match my mother’s cracklin’-heavy cornbread. You really need that with the collards.

So, as with Food Terminal, capitalism has also failed to turn the multiple iterations of B’s into mediocrities. But I won’t be really happy until the full-service restaurant re-opens.

B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue, 725 Ponce de Leon Ave. Facebook: BsCracklinBBQATL  

HERE AND THERE: I recently dined at Nuevo Laredo, the restaurant that brought so-called “border cuisine” to Atlanta 20 years ago. I was a frequent customer early on, but the long waits and burgeoning Mexican/Tex-Mex scene caused me to drift away. A few weeks ago, four of us finally scored a table. The place has not changed. It still pays kitschy homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the walls are covered with photos of everybody. There is one dish here to which I became addicted from day one: the chicken mole. I still think Nuevo Laredo’s mole is the best I’ve tasted in the city. I also ordered my old favorite, the grilled green onions. Get the queso with chorizo, and, if you’re craving beef, the tampiqueña steak rules …. I have no idea why, but the mainly well-reviewed Kajun Crab on Buford Highway served the same four of us a really, really disappointing meal. The restaurant features the hard-to-define Vietnamese-Cajun cuisine that developed in Louisiana. (It’s also served at the nearby Crawfish Shack.) The menu we’d seen beforehand said the restaurant served pho. There was no pho on the current menu. I thought my friend was dumb to order the seafood boil made with frozen crawfish, and I was right. A bowl of spindly pasta with seafood was tasteless. My bowl of seafood and potatoes in a nondescript sauce included sausage that would give you nightmares if I could find the words to describe it. Gumbo? It was okay ….

Do you know what the real problem with rainy, cold weather is? It makes you sit inside at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack on Piedmont. That was the situation when I lunched there recently. The ribs and chicken were delicious, as always, but the live, ear-splitting performance by a solitary man made conversation impossible. You will be fine if you know American Sign Language or don’t mind getting barbecue sauce all over your phone while you text your tablemates ….

I feel honor-bound to admit that my last visit to Popeyes was dreadful. I got the five-piece combo special. The chicken was grossly over-cooked, and the biscuits were literally burned and stony. The red beans and rice were the usual tablespoonful. I learned long ago not to leave the restaurant without checking my order, but I failed to follow my own advice. I did call when I got home. Me: “You gave me burnt biscuits and chicken so overcooked that I can hardly pry the meat off the drumstick.” Her: “I don’t have time for this.” Me: “What should I do?” Her: “Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.” Meanwhile, like the sandwich it honors, the Popeyes ugly Christmas sweater sold out in 14 hours. There are no plans to restock it. I mean, come on people! — CL—
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The original Food Terminal is a gigantic Malaysian restaurant whose opening two years ago in front of the City Farmers Market represented something of a tipping point for Buford Highway. Many who long avoided the countless mom-and-pop restaurants there swamped Food Terminal, arguably rejuvenating the entire area. Owners Amy Wong and Howard Ewe long ago proved their ability to bridge cultural differences without intimidation or vapid Americanization of the diverse flavors of Southeast Asia that are assimilated to varying extents in Malaysian cooking. Wong and Ewe honed their skills at their other restaurants, including Mamak, five Sweet Hut bakery-cafes, and three Top Spice locations.  

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My favorite on the table was a plate of watercress tossed with a black bean sauce. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at Food Terminal without ordering it. I also love the Thai eggplant, purple logs of the creamy vegetable topped with a chili sauce and ground chicken. We also ordered a plate of mildly spicy beef rendang with nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk). The rendang, to which I earlier became addicted at Mamak, also included an over-cooked egg, along with some pickled vegetables, slightly fishy crackers, and peanuts. 

Understand that it would take you forever just to count what’s available here. I intentionally ordered less exotic dishes in order to set a baseline, and the good news is that capitalism hasn’t ruined the quality of Food Terminal! The restaurant, by the way, is part of the Brickworks complex, so an entryway to free parking is immediately next door. You might have a wait. I went on a Monday night, and the restaurant was quite busy.

''Food Terminal, 1000 Marietta St. N.W., 404-500-2695, foodterminal.com''
 

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__B’s Redux__

Yes, you really should go to the former Murder Kroger, now called the Beltline Kroger, and make a beeline for the new outpost of __B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue__. Brian Furman’s original Atlanta restaurant in Riverside burned to the ground in March 2019 after a few years in which it won just about every conceivable honor imaginable and not just in barbecue categories. Eater, for example, named it restaurant of the year and Furman was a James Beard semifinalist for best chef. I’m happy to say this is not the all-too-common foodie habit of fetishizing a quirky restaurant for the sake of in-the-know novelty. It deserves the accolades. 

The fire here weirdly duplicated the burning of Furman’s first restaurant in Savannah. It was re-opened and Furman promises to do the same here. Meanwhile, you can get the barbecue at the Kroger stall and eat on the premises, if you choose. (There’s also a stall at State Farm Arena). While the Kroger setting is a bit off-putting, the barbecue is certainly not. I’ve only been once and tried the ribs and the brisket. The brisket was absolutely perfect — fatty but not too fatty, smoky but not so much that the flavors of the rub and the meat were eclipsed. Ditto for the ribs, which you can eat without emerging from the area looking like a blood-doused zombie because of Georgia’s typically ketchupy sauces. Personally, I love B’s because its sauces are made with vinegar or mustard like the barbecue sauces I grew up eating in the Carolinas. In truth, you don’t even need a sauce with this meat. 

The chopped barbecue, by the way is “whole hog.” That means Furman smokes an entire, pedigreed pig, and the meat is pulled from different areas. It’s not all butt! I’ve also sampled the collards and pork and beans. Those aren’t particularly notable. (Do try the hash.) I asked for cracklin’ cornbread but received a super-sweet corn muffin. Probably my only complaint about B’s has been its failure to match my mother’s cracklin’-heavy cornbread. You really need that with the collards.

So, as with Food Terminal, capitalism has also failed to turn the multiple iterations of B’s into mediocrities. But I won’t be really happy until the full-service restaurant re-opens.

''B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue, 725 Ponce de Leon Ave. Facebook: BsCracklinBBQATL '' 

__HERE AND THERE:__ I recently dined at __Nuevo Laredo__, the restaurant that brought so-called “border cuisine” to Atlanta 20 years ago. I was a frequent customer early on, but the long waits and burgeoning Mexican/Tex-Mex scene caused me to drift away. A few weeks ago, four of us finally scored a table. The place has not changed. It still pays kitschy homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the walls are covered with photos of everybody. There is one dish here to which I became addicted from day one: the chicken mole. I still think Nuevo Laredo’s mole is the best I’ve tasted in the city. I also ordered my old favorite, the grilled green onions. Get the queso with chorizo, and, if you’re craving beef, the tampiqueña steak rules …. I have no idea why, but the mainly well-reviewed __Kajun Crab__ on Buford Highway served the same four of us a really, really disappointing meal. The restaurant features the hard-to-define Vietnamese-Cajun cuisine that developed in Louisiana. (It’s also served at the nearby Crawfish Shack.) The menu we’d seen beforehand said the restaurant served pho. There was no pho on the current menu. I thought my friend was dumb to order the seafood boil made with frozen crawfish, and I was right. A bowl of spindly pasta with seafood was tasteless. My bowl of seafood and potatoes in a nondescript sauce included sausage that would give you nightmares if I could find the words to describe it. Gumbo? It was okay ….

Do you know what the real problem with rainy, cold weather is? It makes you sit inside at __Fat Matt’s Rib Shack__ on Piedmont. That was the situation when I lunched there recently. The ribs and chicken were delicious, as always, but the live, ear-splitting performance by a solitary man made conversation impossible. You will be fine if you know American Sign Language or don’t mind getting barbecue sauce all over your phone while you text your tablemates ….

I feel honor-bound to admit that my last visit to __Popeyes__ was dreadful. I got the five-piece combo special. The chicken was grossly over-cooked, and the biscuits were literally burned and stony. The red beans and rice were the usual tablespoonful. I learned long ago not to leave the restaurant without checking my order, but I failed to follow my own advice. I did call when I got home. Me: “You gave me burnt biscuits and chicken so overcooked that I can hardly pry the meat off the drumstick.” Her: “I don’t have time for this.” Me: “What should I do?” Her: “Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.” Meanwhile, like the sandwich it honors, the Popeyes ugly Christmas sweater sold out in 14 hours. There are no plans to restock it. I mean, come on people! __— CL—__
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  string(9952) " GRAZ 3148 Web AFTER THE PURPLE RAIN: Food Terminal's creamy eggplant is topped with a spicy sauce. Photo by Cliff Bostock. 2020-01-03T16:35:44+00:00 GRAZ_3148_web.jpg    grazing Check out Food Terminal and B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue 27183  2020-01-03T16:48:18+00:00 GRAZING: Does capitalism taste bad? jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Cliff Bostock  2020-01-03T16:48:18+00:00  Here’s a question that often haunts you and me when we’re hungry: Does capitalism inevitably produce mediocrity? Specifically, we worry about what often happens when a really good restaurant produces so much money that the owners are required by the rules of the American Dream to open a second location, often followed by even more. Unfortunately, when the “it” restaurant becomes an “it’s everywhere” restaurant, quality and diners’ enthusiasm tend to diminish. We hate this, right? Sometimes it’s temporary. 

Two recent openings bring this to mind. One is B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue, which has opened a stall of sorts in the new Beltline Kroger. Second is Food Terminal, which now has a second location in West Midtown. Interestingly, they are both the offspring of restaurants that have been wildly popular in gentrifying locations. Food Terminal comes to Marietta Street from Buford Highway and B’s Cracklin’ to Ponce de Leon Avenue from Main Street in Riverside (following the burning of its full service restaurant there). 

The original Food Terminal is a gigantic Malaysian restaurant whose opening two years ago in front of the City Farmers Market represented something of a tipping point for Buford Highway. Many who long avoided the countless mom-and-pop restaurants there swamped Food Terminal, arguably rejuvenating the entire area. Owners Amy Wong and Howard Ewe long ago proved their ability to bridge cultural differences without intimidation or vapid Americanization of the diverse flavors of Southeast Asia that are assimilated to varying extents in Malaysian cooking. Wong and Ewe honed their skills at their other restaurants, including Mamak, five Sweet Hut bakery-cafes, and three Top Spice locations.  

The new Food Terminal is a comparatively small space with the same yellow-and-gray color scheme as the original. It features soaring windowed walls and acoustics that make conversation easy. The menu? Imagine one glossy page of food porn after another. By the time you get a few pages in, you are breathing rapidly and can’t remember which dish seduced you earlier. The easier way to explore what’s available is to look at the photo-free check list of dishes on which you’re going to indicate your choices. When something seems interesting on the list, then look up the full-color giant photo of it. 

I’ve probably eaten without complaint at the original Food Terminal a dozen times. I found nothing of note off-key at the newbie. I ordered everybody’s favorite — the mythically named  “Grandma Wonton BBQ T Noodle.” It’s a big bowl of noodles tossed (thus the T) in a light soy-based sauce, topped with some sweet slices of glazed pork with enough bark to add a tiny bit of crunch. There’s also mega-crunchy bok choy whose flavor keeps the pork’s sweetness from becoming cloying. You also get three twisted-up fried wontons filled with pork and shrimp. Their flavor explodes, but the exterior texture last week was a bit soggy. Finally, the noodles were topped with a fried egg. This one was way over-cooked for my taste. Isn’t the point for the yolk to add a velvety, rich component to the bowl? This egg barely yielded a drop of yolk. That’s my only complaint. 

My favorite on the table was a plate of watercress tossed with a black bean sauce. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at Food Terminal without ordering it. I also love the Thai eggplant, purple logs of the creamy vegetable topped with a chili sauce and ground chicken. We also ordered a plate of mildly spicy beef rendang with nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk). The rendang, to which I earlier became addicted at Mamak, also included an over-cooked egg, along with some pickled vegetables, slightly fishy crackers, and peanuts. 

Understand that it would take you forever just to count what’s available here. I intentionally ordered less exotic dishes in order to set a baseline, and the good news is that capitalism hasn’t ruined the quality of Food Terminal! The restaurant, by the way, is part of the Brickworks complex, so an entryway to free parking is immediately next door. You might have a wait. I went on a Monday night, and the restaurant was quite busy.

Food Terminal, 1000 Marietta St. N.W., 404-500-2695, foodterminal.com
 




B’s Redux

Yes, you really should go to the former Murder Kroger, now called the Beltline Kroger, and make a beeline for the new outpost of B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue. Brian Furman’s original Atlanta restaurant in Riverside burned to the ground in March 2019 after a few years in which it won just about every conceivable honor imaginable and not just in barbecue categories. Eater, for example, named it restaurant of the year and Furman was a James Beard semifinalist for best chef. I’m happy to say this is not the all-too-common foodie habit of fetishizing a quirky restaurant for the sake of in-the-know novelty. It deserves the accolades. 

The fire here weirdly duplicated the burning of Furman’s first restaurant in Savannah. It was re-opened and Furman promises to do the same here. Meanwhile, you can get the barbecue at the Kroger stall and eat on the premises, if you choose. (There’s also a stall at State Farm Arena). While the Kroger setting is a bit off-putting, the barbecue is certainly not. I’ve only been once and tried the ribs and the brisket. The brisket was absolutely perfect — fatty but not too fatty, smoky but not so much that the flavors of the rub and the meat were eclipsed. Ditto for the ribs, which you can eat without emerging from the area looking like a blood-doused zombie because of Georgia’s typically ketchupy sauces. Personally, I love B’s because its sauces are made with vinegar or mustard like the barbecue sauces I grew up eating in the Carolinas. In truth, you don’t even need a sauce with this meat. 

The chopped barbecue, by the way is “whole hog.” That means Furman smokes an entire, pedigreed pig, and the meat is pulled from different areas. It’s not all butt! I’ve also sampled the collards and pork and beans. Those aren’t particularly notable. (Do try the hash.) I asked for cracklin’ cornbread but received a super-sweet corn muffin. Probably my only complaint about B’s has been its failure to match my mother’s cracklin’-heavy cornbread. You really need that with the collards.

So, as with Food Terminal, capitalism has also failed to turn the multiple iterations of B’s into mediocrities. But I won’t be really happy until the full-service restaurant re-opens.

B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue, 725 Ponce de Leon Ave. Facebook: BsCracklinBBQATL  

HERE AND THERE: I recently dined at Nuevo Laredo, the restaurant that brought so-called “border cuisine” to Atlanta 20 years ago. I was a frequent customer early on, but the long waits and burgeoning Mexican/Tex-Mex scene caused me to drift away. A few weeks ago, four of us finally scored a table. The place has not changed. It still pays kitschy homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the walls are covered with photos of everybody. There is one dish here to which I became addicted from day one: the chicken mole. I still think Nuevo Laredo’s mole is the best I’ve tasted in the city. I also ordered my old favorite, the grilled green onions. Get the queso with chorizo, and, if you’re craving beef, the tampiqueña steak rules …. I have no idea why, but the mainly well-reviewed Kajun Crab on Buford Highway served the same four of us a really, really disappointing meal. The restaurant features the hard-to-define Vietnamese-Cajun cuisine that developed in Louisiana. (It’s also served at the nearby Crawfish Shack.) The menu we’d seen beforehand said the restaurant served pho. There was no pho on the current menu. I thought my friend was dumb to order the seafood boil made with frozen crawfish, and I was right. A bowl of spindly pasta with seafood was tasteless. My bowl of seafood and potatoes in a nondescript sauce included sausage that would give you nightmares if I could find the words to describe it. Gumbo? It was okay ….

Do you know what the real problem with rainy, cold weather is? It makes you sit inside at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack on Piedmont. That was the situation when I lunched there recently. The ribs and chicken were delicious, as always, but the live, ear-splitting performance by a solitary man made conversation impossible. You will be fine if you know American Sign Language or don’t mind getting barbecue sauce all over your phone while you text your tablemates ….

I feel honor-bound to admit that my last visit to Popeyes was dreadful. I got the five-piece combo special. The chicken was grossly over-cooked, and the biscuits were literally burned and stony. The red beans and rice were the usual tablespoonful. I learned long ago not to leave the restaurant without checking my order, but I failed to follow my own advice. I did call when I got home. Me: “You gave me burnt biscuits and chicken so overcooked that I can hardly pry the meat off the drumstick.” Her: “I don’t have time for this.” Me: “What should I do?” Her: “Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.” Meanwhile, like the sandwich it honors, the Popeyes ugly Christmas sweater sold out in 14 hours. There are no plans to restock it. I mean, come on people! — CL—
    Cliff Bostock GET YOUR VITAMINS: Order Food Terminal’s watercress in a black bean sauce.  0,0,10    grazing                             GRAZING: Does capitalism taste bad? "
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Friday January 3, 2020 11:48 am EST
Check out Food Terminal and B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue | more...

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Host Jill Melancon sits down with Jason Santamaria, co-owner and brewmaster of Second Self Beer Co in West Midtown to talk about what makes that Thai Wheat taste so good and about their foray into CBD infused sparkling water."
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Monday December 9, 2019 11:21 am EST
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  string(9608) "Why has a $3.99 fried-chicken sandwich from Popeyes launched something like a YouTube reality show, featuring murder, mayhem, and orally-induced orgasms?

The question is succinctly answered in a comment someone made on my Facebook post about visiting my favorite Popeyes at the corner of Boulevard and Ponce de Leon. “It’s always on the wrong side [[of] Ponce when I come out of Whole Foods and want to stop in,” he wrote. He meant that literally — the traffic snarls continually there — but it’s also a perfect metaphor to explain the mega-drama of what’s happening on the other side of the tracks — um, I mean road. Popeyes is to Whole Foods what unprivileged is to privileged. This drama is about increasingly overt classism and racism in America. 

Let me first reiterate my love affair. The sandwich is indeed delicious, but I’ve been singing the praises of Popeyes for at least 20 years in this column. Their spicy, buttermilk-brined chicken, loaded with salt and fat, is the juiciest, crunchiest path to arteriosclerosis I know, especially when combined with the honeyed-and-buttered cathead biscuits. And, hell yes, I thoroughly enjoyed offending foodie trolls for years with my praise of a brand that has been automatically dismissed because it’s cheap fast food. Never mind that I was first introduced to the chicken by Edna Lewis’s protégée, Scott Peacock, whose fried chicken and biscuits have received unending national acclaim. When I revealed that in my column, a few trolls became a bit more curious. By the time Antony Bourdain’s insatiable addiction to Popeyes was disclosed years later, the trolls were taking selfies at the drive-throughs.

When I first started visiting the Boulevard-Ponce Popeyes, the area was barely gentrified. There was no Whole Foods, no Ponce City Market, and the nearby blocks of Boulevard were full of slummy and subsidized housing. (That’s why I could afford to live nearby.) You could take a few turns off Boulevard and buy just about any drug you wanted. The Popeyes employees, surely 99.9 percent black, were ridiculously underpaid and still are. The company knows this, of course, so it kindly offers to pay the help in cash after their daily shift — like they used to do in mill towns and cotton fields. God save the oligarchy.

For years, I rarely saw another white customer at the Boulevard location. One of the few employees who lasted more than a couple of months used to excitedly announce my presence by shouting, “The white man, Bruce Willis, is here!” Honestly, I haven’t seen much change in color — until this sandwich drama. When I recently visited, there was a fast-moving line of maybe 15 people — four of us white, including three teenage boys who asked me to video them while they hilariously ranted between bites that their healthy parents wouldn’t pay for their “actually good” sandwiches. As I was leaving, two white men came in together, looking around nervously. Being as I am, I joked, “You’ll be safe.” They didn’t laugh.

A few more white people coming through the door of the Boulevard Popeyes demonstrates how entrenched segregation remains in this second Gilded Age. Please understand that Popeyes is not an African-American enterprise whose black founder overcame racial adversity and rose to billionaire status. It was started in 1972 by a NOLA white man and has long been owned by typically white corporatists. Remember, too, that the chain drew tons of criticism 10 years ago for TV ads that featured “Annie the Chicken Queen,” a latter-day mammy who apparently lost her kerchief. The fact is, these current, never-ending sandwich videos show black people actin’ the fool. Even if not explicitly scripted, the videos are explicitly selected for broadcast by the mindless “news” media. And Popeyes sure isn’t complaining about the millions in free advertising of this unplanned reality TV show. It was obvious that the five white guys I saw during my recent visit were there for a comedic adventure as much as a sandwich. They were joining the reality-show cast. Maybe we’re all engaged in racial performance art. And, yes, I’m retroactively wondering if my own years of stories have marketed a stereotype.

Whatever, I’ll never break my Popeyes habit, and I certainly won’t be comparing it to Chick-fil-A, a company whose sandwiches are slathered in Christian hypocrisy, including that of Kanye West, who praises the chain in a cut on his new album. Man up, rich white people. Take the long journey into the heart of darkness and stay there for more than a minute. You might get to know yourself. The horror!

THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES

You don’t have to eat at Popeyes. You could instead go to the remarkable new Zun Zún inside the We Suki Suki Global Grub Collective in East Atlanta Village. The stall has been opened by brothers Kevin and Terrance Allen, with help from their sister Myahh. The deal here is “Afro-Latino” cuisine, which grew out of Kevin’s culinary explorations while building sets in Cuba for the film industry a few years back. Zun Zún is the name of a type of hummingbird he constantly encountered at his hotel.

The go-to dish here is the Cuban sandwich. It’s made, as usual, with sliced ham, pork, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles. But the flavors are startling. The roasted pork is marinated in a wonderfully pungent house-made mojo. The pickles are also house-made, as is the mojo aioli, which is stronger than the mustard and gives the sandwich unusual creaminess as it meets the melting cheese. You can also get a chicken or vegetable version, and all three are available in bowl format without that poisonous gluten. 

The sandwiches are easily enough for two with a side. And you do want to try other dishes. I particularly love the crunchy okra fried in a breadcrumb batter and served with a house-made peri-peri sauce. (It’s much milder than you might expect.) The empanadas I’ve tried have been amazing, not just because the roomy interior is lusciously filled with chicken, pork, or veggies, but because the pastry is so fresh. Ditto for the tostones — yellow and brown mandalas dusted with sea salt and served with aioli.  During both my visits I’ve missed the more complex specials like mofongo — a Puerto Rican favorite — with shrimp and peri-peri sauce.  I haven’t tried it yet but the one dessert item during my visits has been an empanada that includes guava and cream cheese — something I totally burned out on after five years of marriage to a Cuban woman a century ago. An alternative is the Oaxacan-style, spicy hot chocolate topped with marshmallows that Kevin set on fire at my table. If ayahuasca tasted good, it would taste like this. 

Kevin describes himself as a “culinary school dropout” who left Atlanta Technical College when he got hired by the film industry to do construction work all over the world. He is returning to film work with the eventual plan of creating an Afro-Latino culinary empire with his brother. The man is smart, ambitious, and gifted, to say the least. Zun Zún is open 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and empanadas are half-price 5-7 p.m.

Seeing the words “Zun Zún” probably reminds you of Zunzi’s, right? I finally made it to this sandwich shop in South Buckhead. It is infamous on two counts. First, the sandwiches, inspired by South African cuisine, are delicious. Second, the restaurant’s motto — Shit Yeah! — caused an anxiety epidemic among parents who feel they must protect their children’s ears and eyes from a word they’ve likely heard since they wore their first diaper. The owners have toned down use of the phrase but have not eliminated it. After all, the ingredient that gives the sandwiches their unique flavor is the spicy Shit Yeah Sauce. So … no shit, no sauce, no special sandwich. Got it? 

Zunzi’s is based in Savannah. The restaurant there was cited by People magazine for having the best sandwich in Georgia — the Conquistador. I ordered half of one. It’s a French baguette split and filled with roasted chicken, Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and Shit Yeah Sauce. It was good. Really good. But not good enough to make me high-five a sixth-grader and scream “Shit Yeah!” I also took a bite of the Godfather, a baguette more complexly filled with chicken, cheese, sausages, and Shit Yeah Sauce. Most notably, it includes a hefty swipe of marinara which pays homage to South Africa’s many Italian immigrants. Merda, si!...

A more directly competitive alternative to the Popeye’s sandwich can be found at Ponko, a local chain. I recently visited the newest one on Roswell Road. The restaurant’s name refers to panko, the Japanese bread crumbs that add super crunch to fried foods. Ponko is all about chicken tenders in tacos, sandwiches, and salad bowls. I have to admit that chicken tenders, fingers, whatever, creep me out. They have the same general shape as fries! That’s gross! I want to see whole pieces of the bird.  Fortunately, Ponko does offer a sandwich made with a genuine chicken. You can have it with sweet, spicy, or barbecue sauces. I chose spicy. It was good, although as sweet as it was spicy and no match for the Popeye monster. -CL-
 



Popeyes, 683 Boulevard N.E., 404-492-5988, popeyes.com

Zun Zún, 479-B Flat Shoals Ave. S.E., 404-401-6691, zunzunatl.com

Zunzi’s, 1971 Howell Mill Road, 470-698-2351, www.zunzis.com

Ponko, 4279 Roswell Road, 404-996-6095, ponkochicken.com. (Locations also in Midtown and Chamblee.)"
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The question is succinctly answered in a comment someone made on my Facebook post about visiting my favorite __Popeyes__ at the corner of Boulevard and Ponce de Leon. “It’s always on the wrong side [[[[of] Ponce when I come out of Whole Foods and want to stop in,” he wrote. He meant that literally — the traffic snarls continually there — but it’s also a perfect metaphor to explain the mega-drama of what’s happening on the other side of the tracks — um, I mean road. Popeyes is to Whole Foods what unprivileged is to privileged. This drama is about increasingly overt classism and racism in America. 

Let me first reiterate my love affair. The sandwich is indeed delicious, but I’ve been singing the praises of Popeyes for at least 20 years in this column. Their spicy, buttermilk-brined chicken, loaded with salt and fat, is the juiciest, crunchiest path to arteriosclerosis I know, especially when combined with the honeyed-and-buttered cathead biscuits. And, hell yes, I thoroughly enjoyed offending foodie trolls for years with my praise of a brand that has been automatically dismissed because it’s cheap fast food. Never mind that I was first introduced to the chicken by Edna Lewis’s protégée, Scott Peacock, whose fried chicken and biscuits have received unending national acclaim. When I revealed that in my column, a few trolls became a bit more curious. By the time Antony Bourdain’s insatiable addiction to Popeyes was disclosed years later, the trolls were taking selfies at the drive-throughs.

When I first started visiting the Boulevard-Ponce Popeyes, the area was barely gentrified. There was no Whole Foods, no Ponce City Market, and the nearby blocks of Boulevard were full of slummy and subsidized housing. (That’s why I could afford to live nearby.) You could take a few turns off Boulevard and buy just about any drug you wanted. The Popeyes employees, surely 99.9 percent black, were ridiculously underpaid and still are. The company knows this, of course, so it kindly offers to pay the help in cash after their daily shift — like they used to do in mill towns and cotton fields. God save the oligarchy.

For years, I rarely saw another white customer at the Boulevard location. One of the few employees who lasted more than a couple of months used to excitedly announce my presence by shouting, “The white man, Bruce Willis, is here!” Honestly, I haven’t seen much change in color — until this sandwich drama. When I recently visited, there was a fast-moving line of maybe 15 people — four of us white, including three teenage boys who asked me to video them while they hilariously ranted between bites that their healthy parents wouldn’t pay for their “actually good” sandwiches. As I was leaving, two white men came in together, looking around nervously. Being as I am, I joked, “You’ll be safe.” They didn’t laugh.

A few more white people coming through the door of the Boulevard Popeyes demonstrates how entrenched segregation remains in this second Gilded Age. Please understand that Popeyes is not an African-American enterprise whose black founder overcame racial adversity and rose to billionaire status. It was started in 1972 by a NOLA white man and has long been owned by typically white corporatists. Remember, too, that the chain drew tons of criticism 10 years ago for TV ads that featured “Annie the Chicken Queen,” a latter-day mammy who apparently lost her kerchief. The fact is, these current, never-ending sandwich videos show black people actin’ the fool. Even if not explicitly scripted, the videos are explicitly selected for broadcast by the mindless “news” media. And Popeyes sure isn’t complaining about the millions in free advertising of this unplanned reality TV show. It was obvious that the five white guys I saw during my recent visit were there for a comedic adventure as much as a sandwich. They were joining the reality-show cast. Maybe we’re all engaged in racial performance art. And, yes, I’m retroactively wondering if my own years of stories have marketed a stereotype.

Whatever, I’ll never break my Popeyes habit, and I certainly won’t be comparing it to Chick-fil-A, a company whose sandwiches are slathered in Christian hypocrisy, including that of Kanye West, who praises the chain in a cut on his new album. Man up, rich white people. Take the long journey into the heart of darkness and stay there for more than a minute. You might get to know yourself. The horror!

__THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES__

You don’t have to eat at Popeyes. You could instead go to the remarkable new __Zun Zún__ inside the We Suki Suki Global Grub Collective in East Atlanta Village. The stall has been opened by brothers Kevin and Terrance Allen, with help from their sister Myahh. The deal here is “Afro-Latino” cuisine, which grew out of Kevin’s culinary explorations while building sets in Cuba for the film industry a few years back. Zun Zún is the name of a type of hummingbird he constantly encountered at his hotel.

The go-to dish here is the Cuban sandwich. It’s made, as usual, with sliced ham, pork, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles. But the flavors are startling. The roasted pork is marinated in a wonderfully pungent house-made mojo. The pickles are also house-made, as is the mojo aioli, which is stronger than the mustard and gives the sandwich unusual creaminess as it meets the melting cheese. You can also get a chicken or vegetable version, and all three are available in bowl format without that poisonous gluten. 

The sandwiches are easily enough for two with a side. And you do want to try other dishes. I particularly love the crunchy okra fried in a breadcrumb batter and served with a house-made peri-peri sauce. (It’s much milder than you might expect.) The empanadas I’ve tried have been amazing, not just because the roomy interior is lusciously filled with chicken, pork, or veggies, but because the pastry is so fresh. Ditto for the tostones — yellow and brown mandalas dusted with sea salt and served with aioli.  During both my visits I’ve missed the more complex specials like mofongo — a Puerto Rican favorite — with shrimp and peri-peri sauce.  I haven’t tried it yet but the one dessert item during my visits has been an empanada that includes guava and cream cheese — something I totally burned out on after five years of marriage to a Cuban woman a century ago. An alternative is the Oaxacan-style, spicy hot chocolate topped with marshmallows that Kevin set on fire at my table. If ayahuasca tasted good, it would taste like this. 

Kevin describes himself as a “culinary school dropout” who left Atlanta Technical College when he got hired by the film industry to do construction work all over the world. He is returning to film work with the eventual plan of creating an Afro-Latino culinary empire with his brother. The man is smart, ambitious, and gifted, to say the least. Zun Zún is open 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and empanadas are half-price 5-7 p.m.

Seeing the words “Zun Zún” probably reminds you of __Zunzi’s__, right? I finally made it to this sandwich shop in South Buckhead. It is infamous on two counts. First, the sandwiches, inspired by South African cuisine, are delicious. Second, the restaurant’s motto — Shit Yeah! — caused an anxiety epidemic among parents who feel they must protect their children’s ears and eyes from a word they’ve likely heard since they wore their first diaper. The owners have toned down use of the phrase but have not eliminated it. After all, the ingredient that gives the sandwiches their unique flavor is the spicy Shit Yeah Sauce. So … no shit, no sauce, no special sandwich. Got it? 

Zunzi’s is based in Savannah. The restaurant there was cited by ''People'' magazine for having the best sandwich in Georgia — the Conquistador. I ordered half of one. It’s a French baguette split and filled with roasted chicken, Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and Shit Yeah Sauce. It was good. Really good. But not good enough to make me high-five a sixth-grader and scream “Shit Yeah!” I also took a bite of the Godfather, a baguette more complexly filled with chicken, cheese, sausages, and Shit Yeah Sauce. Most notably, it includes a hefty swipe of marinara which pays homage to South Africa’s many Italian immigrants. Merda, si!...

A more directly competitive alternative to the Popeye’s sandwich can be found at __Ponko__, a local chain. I recently visited the newest one on Roswell Road. The restaurant’s name refers to panko, the Japanese bread crumbs that add super crunch to fried foods. Ponko is all about chicken tenders in tacos, sandwiches, and salad bowls. I have to admit that chicken tenders, fingers, whatever, creep me out. They have the same general shape as fries! That’s gross! I want to see whole pieces of the bird.  Fortunately, Ponko does offer a sandwich made with a genuine chicken. You can have it with sweet, spicy, or barbecue sauces. I chose spicy. It was good, although as sweet as it was spicy and no match for the Popeye monster. __-CL-__
 

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''Popeyes, 683 Boulevard N.E., 404-492-5988, popeyes.com''

''Zun Zún, 479-B Flat Shoals Ave. S.E., 404-401-6691, zunzunatl.com''

''Zunzi’s, 1971 Howell Mill Road, 470-698-2351, www.zunzis.com''

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  string(10603) " GRAZ 2987 Resized Web UNSOLICITED ADVICE: The new Popeyes chicken sandwich features a buttery brioche bun that is easily deflated if it remains in the foil wrapping too long. So eat it on the premises. Be further advised that the sandwich induces contemplation and hand-wringing related to race and class in America. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock 2019-12-04T23:12:20+00:00 GRAZ_2987_resized_web.jpg    grazing But there’s more that’s good in the ’hood 26591  2019-12-04T23:20:00+00:00 GRAZING: Popeyes. Yes. Really. jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Cliff Bostock  2019-12-04T23:20:00+00:00  Why has a $3.99 fried-chicken sandwich from Popeyes launched something like a YouTube reality show, featuring murder, mayhem, and orally-induced orgasms?

The question is succinctly answered in a comment someone made on my Facebook post about visiting my favorite Popeyes at the corner of Boulevard and Ponce de Leon. “It’s always on the wrong side [[of] Ponce when I come out of Whole Foods and want to stop in,” he wrote. He meant that literally — the traffic snarls continually there — but it’s also a perfect metaphor to explain the mega-drama of what’s happening on the other side of the tracks — um, I mean road. Popeyes is to Whole Foods what unprivileged is to privileged. This drama is about increasingly overt classism and racism in America. 

Let me first reiterate my love affair. The sandwich is indeed delicious, but I’ve been singing the praises of Popeyes for at least 20 years in this column. Their spicy, buttermilk-brined chicken, loaded with salt and fat, is the juiciest, crunchiest path to arteriosclerosis I know, especially when combined with the honeyed-and-buttered cathead biscuits. And, hell yes, I thoroughly enjoyed offending foodie trolls for years with my praise of a brand that has been automatically dismissed because it’s cheap fast food. Never mind that I was first introduced to the chicken by Edna Lewis’s protégée, Scott Peacock, whose fried chicken and biscuits have received unending national acclaim. When I revealed that in my column, a few trolls became a bit more curious. By the time Antony Bourdain’s insatiable addiction to Popeyes was disclosed years later, the trolls were taking selfies at the drive-throughs.

When I first started visiting the Boulevard-Ponce Popeyes, the area was barely gentrified. There was no Whole Foods, no Ponce City Market, and the nearby blocks of Boulevard were full of slummy and subsidized housing. (That’s why I could afford to live nearby.) You could take a few turns off Boulevard and buy just about any drug you wanted. The Popeyes employees, surely 99.9 percent black, were ridiculously underpaid and still are. The company knows this, of course, so it kindly offers to pay the help in cash after their daily shift — like they used to do in mill towns and cotton fields. God save the oligarchy.

For years, I rarely saw another white customer at the Boulevard location. One of the few employees who lasted more than a couple of months used to excitedly announce my presence by shouting, “The white man, Bruce Willis, is here!” Honestly, I haven’t seen much change in color — until this sandwich drama. When I recently visited, there was a fast-moving line of maybe 15 people — four of us white, including three teenage boys who asked me to video them while they hilariously ranted between bites that their healthy parents wouldn’t pay for their “actually good” sandwiches. As I was leaving, two white men came in together, looking around nervously. Being as I am, I joked, “You’ll be safe.” They didn’t laugh.

A few more white people coming through the door of the Boulevard Popeyes demonstrates how entrenched segregation remains in this second Gilded Age. Please understand that Popeyes is not an African-American enterprise whose black founder overcame racial adversity and rose to billionaire status. It was started in 1972 by a NOLA white man and has long been owned by typically white corporatists. Remember, too, that the chain drew tons of criticism 10 years ago for TV ads that featured “Annie the Chicken Queen,” a latter-day mammy who apparently lost her kerchief. The fact is, these current, never-ending sandwich videos show black people actin’ the fool. Even if not explicitly scripted, the videos are explicitly selected for broadcast by the mindless “news” media. And Popeyes sure isn’t complaining about the millions in free advertising of this unplanned reality TV show. It was obvious that the five white guys I saw during my recent visit were there for a comedic adventure as much as a sandwich. They were joining the reality-show cast. Maybe we’re all engaged in racial performance art. And, yes, I’m retroactively wondering if my own years of stories have marketed a stereotype.

Whatever, I’ll never break my Popeyes habit, and I certainly won’t be comparing it to Chick-fil-A, a company whose sandwiches are slathered in Christian hypocrisy, including that of Kanye West, who praises the chain in a cut on his new album. Man up, rich white people. Take the long journey into the heart of darkness and stay there for more than a minute. You might get to know yourself. The horror!

THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES

You don’t have to eat at Popeyes. You could instead go to the remarkable new Zun Zún inside the We Suki Suki Global Grub Collective in East Atlanta Village. The stall has been opened by brothers Kevin and Terrance Allen, with help from their sister Myahh. The deal here is “Afro-Latino” cuisine, which grew out of Kevin’s culinary explorations while building sets in Cuba for the film industry a few years back. Zun Zún is the name of a type of hummingbird he constantly encountered at his hotel.

The go-to dish here is the Cuban sandwich. It’s made, as usual, with sliced ham, pork, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles. But the flavors are startling. The roasted pork is marinated in a wonderfully pungent house-made mojo. The pickles are also house-made, as is the mojo aioli, which is stronger than the mustard and gives the sandwich unusual creaminess as it meets the melting cheese. You can also get a chicken or vegetable version, and all three are available in bowl format without that poisonous gluten. 

The sandwiches are easily enough for two with a side. And you do want to try other dishes. I particularly love the crunchy okra fried in a breadcrumb batter and served with a house-made peri-peri sauce. (It’s much milder than you might expect.) The empanadas I’ve tried have been amazing, not just because the roomy interior is lusciously filled with chicken, pork, or veggies, but because the pastry is so fresh. Ditto for the tostones — yellow and brown mandalas dusted with sea salt and served with aioli.  During both my visits I’ve missed the more complex specials like mofongo — a Puerto Rican favorite — with shrimp and peri-peri sauce.  I haven’t tried it yet but the one dessert item during my visits has been an empanada that includes guava and cream cheese — something I totally burned out on after five years of marriage to a Cuban woman a century ago. An alternative is the Oaxacan-style, spicy hot chocolate topped with marshmallows that Kevin set on fire at my table. If ayahuasca tasted good, it would taste like this. 

Kevin describes himself as a “culinary school dropout” who left Atlanta Technical College when he got hired by the film industry to do construction work all over the world. He is returning to film work with the eventual plan of creating an Afro-Latino culinary empire with his brother. The man is smart, ambitious, and gifted, to say the least. Zun Zún is open 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and empanadas are half-price 5-7 p.m.

Seeing the words “Zun Zún” probably reminds you of Zunzi’s, right? I finally made it to this sandwich shop in South Buckhead. It is infamous on two counts. First, the sandwiches, inspired by South African cuisine, are delicious. Second, the restaurant’s motto — Shit Yeah! — caused an anxiety epidemic among parents who feel they must protect their children’s ears and eyes from a word they’ve likely heard since they wore their first diaper. The owners have toned down use of the phrase but have not eliminated it. After all, the ingredient that gives the sandwiches their unique flavor is the spicy Shit Yeah Sauce. So … no shit, no sauce, no special sandwich. Got it? 

Zunzi’s is based in Savannah. The restaurant there was cited by People magazine for having the best sandwich in Georgia — the Conquistador. I ordered half of one. It’s a French baguette split and filled with roasted chicken, Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and Shit Yeah Sauce. It was good. Really good. But not good enough to make me high-five a sixth-grader and scream “Shit Yeah!” I also took a bite of the Godfather, a baguette more complexly filled with chicken, cheese, sausages, and Shit Yeah Sauce. Most notably, it includes a hefty swipe of marinara which pays homage to South Africa’s many Italian immigrants. Merda, si!...

A more directly competitive alternative to the Popeye’s sandwich can be found at Ponko, a local chain. I recently visited the newest one on Roswell Road. The restaurant’s name refers to panko, the Japanese bread crumbs that add super crunch to fried foods. Ponko is all about chicken tenders in tacos, sandwiches, and salad bowls. I have to admit that chicken tenders, fingers, whatever, creep me out. They have the same general shape as fries! That’s gross! I want to see whole pieces of the bird.  Fortunately, Ponko does offer a sandwich made with a genuine chicken. You can have it with sweet, spicy, or barbecue sauces. I chose spicy. It was good, although as sweet as it was spicy and no match for the Popeye monster. -CL-
 



Popeyes, 683 Boulevard N.E., 404-492-5988, popeyes.com

Zun Zún, 479-B Flat Shoals Ave. S.E., 404-401-6691, zunzunatl.com

Zunzi’s, 1971 Howell Mill Road, 470-698-2351, www.zunzis.com

Ponko, 4279 Roswell Road, 404-996-6095, ponkochicken.com. (Locations also in Midtown and Chamblee.)    Cliff Bostock UNSOLICITED ADVICE: The new Popeyes chicken sandwich features a buttery brioche bun that is easily deflated if it remains in the foil wrapping too long. So eat it on the premises. Be further advised that the sandwich induces contemplation and hand-wringing related to race and class in America.  0,0,5    grazing                             GRAZING: Popeyes. Yes. Really. "
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Article

Wednesday December 4, 2019 06:20 pm EST
But there’s more that’s good in the ’hood | more...
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  string(10154) "Twenty years ago during frequent visits to LA, I often visited a late-night taco stand on Santa Monica Boulevard, not far from Silver Lake. I stood at a counter outdoors and watched the nightlife while I ate perfect tacos. My usual impromptu dinner companions were two transgender hookers who called the taqueria their “safe space.” Yes, I frequently hummed Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” a tribute to the “superstars” of Andy Warhol’s Factory, including Candy Darling, the trans star and muse to the Velvet Underground. 

The new Supremo Taco in Grant Park is not that much a walk on the wild side in its ambiance. It adjoins Grindhouse Killer Burgers’ parking lot on the explosively redeveloping Memorial Drive. The customers are mainly young cis-gender residents of the area who have never heard of Lou Reed, but whose palates chefs Nhan Le and Duane Kulers are taking so far beyond Taco Bell that it might indeed feel like a trans, um, cultural crossover to the wild side.

This is a truly ramshackle taco stand. There is no indoor seating. You order at a doorway counter that puts you a step from the interior of the tiny, blindingly lit kitchen. You take your order home or you squat in the parking lot or you carry it to the stand-only patio, draped with fake ivy. There are odd stylistic notes — not surprising since Le and Kulers own the wonderfully twisted 8Arm and Octopus Bar. You’ll wonder why the building’s neon logo is a green portrait of an Hispanic woman shedding a blinking tear. Why is she so emotional? You note on the website that they sell t-shirts under the heading “SUPR/EMO GEAR.” What’s with the site’s huge photo of a mouth stretched by fingers into a smile, revealing a gold grill lettered with the restaurant’s name? I think I solved the emotional mystery, and I’ll get to that later.

There are only seven tacos, one tostada, and two quesadillas available here, all made with corn tortillas. They are inspired by the Chicano culture of Southern California. I urge you to read Supremo’s website. Le and Kulers have written an extremely insightful essay that deconstructs the notion of authenticity by relating Chicano culture to Mexican culture, to the dominant American culture, and, by extension, to global culture. Their argument against thoughtless deflection of the taco’s native roots embarrassed me a little, because last month I raved about Velvet Taco’s weird, way cross-cultural fare. There, a taco is arguably only a taco because of its form — a stuffed, folded tortilla. But, as I noted, the chain is not a place to explore the food of a culture most represented here along Buford Highway.

My favorite taco at Supremo is the barbacoa. It’s made with lamb — succulent, with the deep flavor of my favorite meat and a very slight sting of chile de arbol. The first word that came to mind when I bit into it was “birria,” the stew that I’d long forgotten since my years in Houston, where I ate it fairly often. My second favorite is the carnitas with chicharrones. The taco struck me as a clever variation of the classic carnitas I ate in Mexico, and I have no idea if Supremo’s is a copy of a Chicano version. To make “authentic” Mexican carnitas, you should braise pork until it’s tender, then slowly pan-fry chunks of it until crispy. The second step is labor-intensive and hardly anyone does it in Atlanta taquerias. Instead, you get just tender pulled pork. Le and Kulers dice chicharrones — deep-fried pork rinds — and mix them with the pulled pork. You get the usually missing, fatty crunch! My third favorite taco is the al pastor, marinated pork properly cooked on a trompo, a vertical rotisserie that Lebanese immigrants brought to Mexico to make shawarma. The trompo is topped with a pineapple that drips its juice throughout the meat’s cooking. Supremo adds little chunks of pineapple to the taco.

My next favorites were the two quesadillas, especially the fried one filled with oaxaqueña cheese — “no cheddar,” the website proclaims — and topped with a bit of red salsa. The grilled quesadilla filled with ground, spicy chorizo was magically not greasy. Just in case, a bracing salsa verde wards off any such sensation. Minor problems turned up in a few items. The chicken taco’s mole poblano was a bit sweeter than I like. The black bean taco with squash, pepitos, and crema was frankly a mess. If you order it, eat it first, so it doesn’t have time to soak the tortilla. Finally, I had mixed feelings about the tostada’s aguachile, which is typically a shrimp ceviche. The onions and cukes were there with the few fat shrimp, but the heavy pinkish sauce threw me off.

Back to that emotional logo and those emo T-shirts. I decided the emotion relates to the status of immigrants in America. My favorite words in the website’s essay ask this question: “How do we contextualize Mexican food in the paradoxical reality that the culture’s cuisine is more embraced than its own people?” Is the emotion about the hideous fact that 40 percent of Americans have rejected and demonized immigrant people who have already had an enormous, positive impact on us?

Chef Kulers told me, more explicitly, “You could say that’s part of it, but it’s really that ‘Smile now, cry later’ thing.” Go to Google and you’ll learn the advice has long been popular in the California Chicano community and is the subject of countless tattoo designs. It’s actually a fierce, not a weak, declaration, and you’ll notice that the word “banda” floats across the section of the website that contains the essay. I doubt it’s coincidence that the word means “gang.” I’ll leave it to you to decide if that and the photo of a mouth stretched into a smile to reveal the golden dental grill amount to stereotyping. I think it’s more about the way a minority culture sabotages bigotry by using humor and exaggerated signifiers.

I love the place. It’s open 5-11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5 p.m.-midnight. Friday and Saturday. Go late.



ON TO CABBAGETOWN

Less than a mile away, JenChan’s has opened in Cabbagetown on Carroll Street. Owners Jen and Emily Chan have taken a risk with a location of seemingly endless openings and closings, but they have a fighting chance. Young but long involved in the restaurant industry, including the Ford Fry empire, they have been operating the successful JenChan’s Delivery Supper Club for some time. The frozen meals — prepared with organic, pastured, and local ingredients — are also available in a market area of the restaurant. So, that’s multiple revenue streams. Go, Chans!


The restaurant has a great vibe, with community tables, a bar, paper lanterns and pops of red in a warmly lit room. During my two visits, nostalgia-inducing, classic soul music played. We had the best server ever, Jeremy. But there are problems with the food, which the Chans describe as “mostly Southern, mainly Asian” comfort food. That basically means it’s Chinese-American style and that comes with a lot of sweetener and extra-big doses of soy sauce that I don’t like. I should own that this is a personal taste; I avoid brown sauces everywhere. My companions didn’t share my reaction, and I don’t mean that I didn’t find plenty of likeable dishes.

The go-to here is The JenChan, a take on the classic Southern meat-and-three. You get your choice of chicken, pork tenderloin, flank steak, or salmon. I ordered the deliciously braised and fried chicken. One of the three sides is always rice. My second was green beans and mushrooms in a kung pao sauce, which historically includes sweet notes, but at JenChan’s those notes are overwhelming. My second side was an order of the house-made potato chips seasoned with garlic and ginger. They are wonderful but best ordered as a snack before the meal, because the very strong use of ginger in much of the food eclipses the lighter use with the chips.

After the chicken, my fave was the egg roll stuffed with pimento cheese and cabbage. I avoided the dipping sauce, which was a (too) sweet and spicy classic. Deep-fried pot stickers here are filled with pastured pork along with green onions, cilantro, garlic and ginger. They are tooth-shatteringly crunchy and tasty. Another great starter was the corn fritters containing green peas. They were actually a lot like hushpuppies and served with a mild, allegedly spicy mayo. The menu, incidentally, warns that the restaurant uses a lot of Sriracha and sambal, but I never encountered enough spiciness to produce a single drop of sweat.

Among entrees, after the fried chicken, I most liked a special of grilled salmon with big leaves of earthy “dinosaur kale.” I found the strips of flank steak in the pepper steak way too chewy. It included onions and red and green bell peppers, all over ginger rice, with a side of mixed greens anointed in a ginger-lime-honey dressing. The most disappointing dish I ordered was the “black bean ribs” whose dominant, funky flavor was derived from the fermented black beans in which they were braised. I did find that if I scraped away the black-bean concoction, the pastured pork ribs had wonderful flavor. Dessert here was a deconstructed ice cream sandwich made with two almond cookies layered with a big chunk of chocolate and a bigger scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Jen Chan’s is also open for lunch when much of the dinner menu is available, along with five sandwiches like a shrimp po’boy and Mongolian beef cheese steak. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday offers a completely different menu, including Danish Aebleskivers (pancake balls) “until sold out.” I really love the ambiance, enthusiasm and much of the food here. I even love the fortune cookies because the custom-ordered notes are quotes from Max Ehrmann’s “The Desiderata,” the famous prose poem that Emily Chan’s mother introduced her to. Give it a try.



Supremo Taco, 701 B. Memorial Dr. S.E., 404-965-1446, supremotaco.com

JenChan’s, 186 Carroll St. S.E., 404-549-9843, jenchans.com "
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The new Supremo Taco in Grant Park is not ''that'' much a walk on the wild side in its ambiance. It adjoins Grindhouse Killer Burgers’ parking lot on the explosively redeveloping Memorial Drive. The customers are mainly young cis-gender residents of the area who have never heard of Lou Reed, but whose palates chefs Nhan Le and Duane Kulers are taking so far beyond Taco Bell that it might indeed feel like a trans, um, cultural crossover to the wild side.

This is a truly ramshackle taco stand. There is no indoor seating. You order at a doorway counter that puts you a step from the interior of the tiny, blindingly lit kitchen. You take your order home or you squat in the parking lot or you carry it to the stand-only patio, draped with fake ivy. There are odd stylistic notes — not surprising since Le and Kulers own the wonderfully twisted 8Arm and Octopus Bar. You’ll wonder why the building’s neon logo is a green portrait of an Hispanic woman shedding a blinking tear. Why is she so emotional? You note on the website that they sell t-shirts under the heading “SUPR/EMO GEAR.” What’s with the site’s huge photo of a mouth stretched by fingers into a smile, revealing a gold grill lettered with the restaurant’s name? I think I solved the emotional mystery, and I’ll get to that later.

There are only seven tacos, one tostada, and two quesadillas available here, all made with corn tortillas. They are inspired by the Chicano culture of Southern California. I urge you to read Supremo’s website. Le and Kulers have written an extremely insightful essay that deconstructs the notion of authenticity by relating Chicano culture to Mexican culture, to the dominant American culture, and, by extension, to global culture. Their argument against thoughtless deflection of the taco’s native roots embarrassed me a little, because last month I raved about Velvet Taco’s weird, way cross-cultural fare. There, a taco is arguably only a taco because of its form — a stuffed, folded tortilla. But, as I noted, the chain is not a place to explore the food of a culture most represented here along Buford Highway.

My favorite taco at Supremo is the barbacoa. It’s made with lamb — succulent, with the deep flavor of my favorite meat and a very slight sting of chile de arbol. The first word that came to mind when I bit into it was “birria,” the stew that I’d long forgotten since my years in Houston, where I ate it fairly often. My second favorite is the carnitas with chicharrones. The taco struck me as a clever variation of the classic carnitas I ate in Mexico, and I have no idea if Supremo’s is a copy of a Chicano version. To make “authentic” Mexican carnitas, you should braise pork until it’s tender, then slowly pan-fry chunks of it until crispy. The second step is labor-intensive and hardly anyone does it in Atlanta taquerias. Instead, you get just tender pulled pork. Le and Kulers dice chicharrones — deep-fried pork rinds — and mix them with the pulled pork. You get the usually missing, fatty crunch! My third favorite taco is the al pastor, marinated pork properly cooked on a trompo, a vertical rotisserie that Lebanese immigrants brought to Mexico to make shawarma. The trompo is topped with a pineapple that drips its juice throughout the meat’s cooking. Supremo adds little chunks of pineapple to the taco.

My next favorites were the two quesadillas, especially the fried one filled with oaxaqueña cheese — “no cheddar,” the website proclaims — and topped with a bit of red salsa. The grilled quesadilla filled with ground, spicy chorizo was magically not greasy. Just in case, a bracing salsa verde wards off any such sensation. Minor problems turned up in a few items. The chicken taco’s mole poblano was a bit sweeter than I like. The black bean taco with squash, pepitos, and crema was frankly a mess. If you order it, eat it first, so it doesn’t have time to soak the tortilla. Finally, I had mixed feelings about the tostada’s aguachile, which is typically a shrimp ceviche. The onions and cukes were there with the few fat shrimp, but the heavy pinkish sauce threw me off.

Back to that emotional logo and those emo T-shirts. I decided the emotion relates to the status of immigrants in America. My favorite words in the website’s essay ask this question: “How do we contextualize Mexican food in the paradoxical reality that the culture’s cuisine is more embraced than its own people?” Is the emotion about the hideous fact that 40 percent of Americans have rejected and demonized immigrant people who have already had an enormous, positive impact on us?

Chef Kulers told me, more explicitly, “You could say that’s part of it, but it’s really that ‘Smile now, cry later’ thing.” Go to Google and you’ll learn the advice has long been popular in the California Chicano community and is the subject of countless tattoo designs. It’s actually a fierce, not a weak, declaration, and you’ll notice that the word “banda” floats across the section of the website that contains the essay. I doubt it’s coincidence that the word means “gang.” I’ll leave it to you to decide if that and the photo of a mouth stretched into a smile to reveal the golden dental grill amount to stereotyping. I think it’s more about the way a minority culture sabotages bigotry by using humor and exaggerated signifiers.

I love the place. It’s open 5-11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5 p.m.-midnight. Friday and Saturday. Go late.

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__ON TO CABBAGETOWN__

Less than a mile away, JenChan’s has opened in Cabbagetown on Carroll Street. Owners Jen and Emily Chan have taken a risk with a location of seemingly endless openings and closings, but they have a fighting chance. Young but long involved in the restaurant industry, including the Ford Fry empire, they have been operating the successful JenChan’s Delivery Supper Club for some time. The frozen meals — prepared with organic, pastured, and local ingredients — are also available in a market area of the restaurant. So, that’s multiple revenue streams. Go, Chans!

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The restaurant has a great vibe, with community tables, a bar, paper lanterns and pops of red in a warmly lit room. During my two visits, nostalgia-inducing, classic soul music played. We had the best server ever, Jeremy. But there are problems with the food, which the Chans describe as “mostly Southern, mainly Asian” comfort food. That basically means it’s Chinese-American style and that comes with a lot of sweetener and extra-big doses of soy sauce that I don’t like. I should own that this is a personal taste; I avoid brown sauces everywhere. My companions didn’t share my reaction, and I don’t mean that I didn’t find plenty of likeable dishes.

The go-to here is The JenChan, a take on the classic Southern meat-and-three. You get your choice of chicken, pork tenderloin, flank steak, or salmon. I ordered the deliciously braised and fried chicken. One of the three sides is always rice. My second was green beans and mushrooms in a kung pao sauce, which historically includes sweet notes, but at JenChan’s those notes are overwhelming. My second side was an order of the house-made potato chips seasoned with garlic and ginger. They are wonderful but best ordered as a snack before the meal, because the very strong use of ginger in much of the food eclipses the lighter use with the chips.

After the chicken, my fave was the egg roll stuffed with pimento cheese and cabbage. I avoided the dipping sauce, which was a (too) sweet and spicy classic. Deep-fried pot stickers here are filled with pastured pork along with green onions, cilantro, garlic and ginger. They are tooth-shatteringly crunchy and tasty. Another great starter was the corn fritters containing green peas. They were actually a lot like hushpuppies and served with a mild, allegedly spicy mayo. The menu, incidentally, warns that the restaurant uses a lot of Sriracha and sambal, but I never encountered enough spiciness to produce a single drop of sweat.

Among entrees, after the fried chicken, I most liked a special of grilled salmon with big leaves of earthy “dinosaur kale.” I found the strips of flank steak in the pepper steak way too chewy. It included onions and red and green bell peppers, all over ginger rice, with a side of mixed greens anointed in a ginger-lime-honey dressing. The most disappointing dish I ordered was the “black bean ribs” whose dominant, funky flavor was derived from the fermented black beans in which they were braised. I did find that if I scraped away the black-bean concoction, the pastured pork ribs had wonderful flavor. Dessert here was a deconstructed ice cream sandwich made with two almond cookies layered with a big chunk of chocolate and a bigger scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Jen Chan’s is also open for lunch when much of the dinner menu is available, along with five sandwiches like a shrimp po’boy and Mongolian beef cheese steak. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday offers a completely different menu, including Danish Aebleskivers (pancake balls) “until sold out.” I really love the ambiance, enthusiasm and much of the food here. I even love the fortune cookies because the custom-ordered notes are quotes from Max Ehrmann’s “The Desiderata,” the famous prose poem that Emily Chan’s mother introduced her to. Give it a try.

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''Supremo Taco, 701 B. Memorial Dr. S.E., 404-965-1446, supremotaco.com''

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  string(10756) " Supremo 2762 Web  2019-11-04T19:43:36+00:00 Supremo_2762_web.jpg    grazing  25643  2019-11-04T19:15:39+00:00 GRAZING: Smiling before crying at Supremo Taco, dining ‘mostly Southern, mainly Asian’ at JenChan’s jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Cliff Bostock  2019-11-04T19:15:39+00:00  Twenty years ago during frequent visits to LA, I often visited a late-night taco stand on Santa Monica Boulevard, not far from Silver Lake. I stood at a counter outdoors and watched the nightlife while I ate perfect tacos. My usual impromptu dinner companions were two transgender hookers who called the taqueria their “safe space.” Yes, I frequently hummed Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” a tribute to the “superstars” of Andy Warhol’s Factory, including Candy Darling, the trans star and muse to the Velvet Underground. 

The new Supremo Taco in Grant Park is not that much a walk on the wild side in its ambiance. It adjoins Grindhouse Killer Burgers’ parking lot on the explosively redeveloping Memorial Drive. The customers are mainly young cis-gender residents of the area who have never heard of Lou Reed, but whose palates chefs Nhan Le and Duane Kulers are taking so far beyond Taco Bell that it might indeed feel like a trans, um, cultural crossover to the wild side.

This is a truly ramshackle taco stand. There is no indoor seating. You order at a doorway counter that puts you a step from the interior of the tiny, blindingly lit kitchen. You take your order home or you squat in the parking lot or you carry it to the stand-only patio, draped with fake ivy. There are odd stylistic notes — not surprising since Le and Kulers own the wonderfully twisted 8Arm and Octopus Bar. You’ll wonder why the building’s neon logo is a green portrait of an Hispanic woman shedding a blinking tear. Why is she so emotional? You note on the website that they sell t-shirts under the heading “SUPR/EMO GEAR.” What’s with the site’s huge photo of a mouth stretched by fingers into a smile, revealing a gold grill lettered with the restaurant’s name? I think I solved the emotional mystery, and I’ll get to that later.

There are only seven tacos, one tostada, and two quesadillas available here, all made with corn tortillas. They are inspired by the Chicano culture of Southern California. I urge you to read Supremo’s website. Le and Kulers have written an extremely insightful essay that deconstructs the notion of authenticity by relating Chicano culture to Mexican culture, to the dominant American culture, and, by extension, to global culture. Their argument against thoughtless deflection of the taco’s native roots embarrassed me a little, because last month I raved about Velvet Taco’s weird, way cross-cultural fare. There, a taco is arguably only a taco because of its form — a stuffed, folded tortilla. But, as I noted, the chain is not a place to explore the food of a culture most represented here along Buford Highway.

My favorite taco at Supremo is the barbacoa. It’s made with lamb — succulent, with the deep flavor of my favorite meat and a very slight sting of chile de arbol. The first word that came to mind when I bit into it was “birria,” the stew that I’d long forgotten since my years in Houston, where I ate it fairly often. My second favorite is the carnitas with chicharrones. The taco struck me as a clever variation of the classic carnitas I ate in Mexico, and I have no idea if Supremo’s is a copy of a Chicano version. To make “authentic” Mexican carnitas, you should braise pork until it’s tender, then slowly pan-fry chunks of it until crispy. The second step is labor-intensive and hardly anyone does it in Atlanta taquerias. Instead, you get just tender pulled pork. Le and Kulers dice chicharrones — deep-fried pork rinds — and mix them with the pulled pork. You get the usually missing, fatty crunch! My third favorite taco is the al pastor, marinated pork properly cooked on a trompo, a vertical rotisserie that Lebanese immigrants brought to Mexico to make shawarma. The trompo is topped with a pineapple that drips its juice throughout the meat’s cooking. Supremo adds little chunks of pineapple to the taco.

My next favorites were the two quesadillas, especially the fried one filled with oaxaqueña cheese — “no cheddar,” the website proclaims — and topped with a bit of red salsa. The grilled quesadilla filled with ground, spicy chorizo was magically not greasy. Just in case, a bracing salsa verde wards off any such sensation. Minor problems turned up in a few items. The chicken taco’s mole poblano was a bit sweeter than I like. The black bean taco with squash, pepitos, and crema was frankly a mess. If you order it, eat it first, so it doesn’t have time to soak the tortilla. Finally, I had mixed feelings about the tostada’s aguachile, which is typically a shrimp ceviche. The onions and cukes were there with the few fat shrimp, but the heavy pinkish sauce threw me off.

Back to that emotional logo and those emo T-shirts. I decided the emotion relates to the status of immigrants in America. My favorite words in the website’s essay ask this question: “How do we contextualize Mexican food in the paradoxical reality that the culture’s cuisine is more embraced than its own people?” Is the emotion about the hideous fact that 40 percent of Americans have rejected and demonized immigrant people who have already had an enormous, positive impact on us?

Chef Kulers told me, more explicitly, “You could say that’s part of it, but it’s really that ‘Smile now, cry later’ thing.” Go to Google and you’ll learn the advice has long been popular in the California Chicano community and is the subject of countless tattoo designs. It’s actually a fierce, not a weak, declaration, and you’ll notice that the word “banda” floats across the section of the website that contains the essay. I doubt it’s coincidence that the word means “gang.” I’ll leave it to you to decide if that and the photo of a mouth stretched into a smile to reveal the golden dental grill amount to stereotyping. I think it’s more about the way a minority culture sabotages bigotry by using humor and exaggerated signifiers.

I love the place. It’s open 5-11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5 p.m.-midnight. Friday and Saturday. Go late.



ON TO CABBAGETOWN

Less than a mile away, JenChan’s has opened in Cabbagetown on Carroll Street. Owners Jen and Emily Chan have taken a risk with a location of seemingly endless openings and closings, but they have a fighting chance. Young but long involved in the restaurant industry, including the Ford Fry empire, they have been operating the successful JenChan’s Delivery Supper Club for some time. The frozen meals — prepared with organic, pastured, and local ingredients — are also available in a market area of the restaurant. So, that’s multiple revenue streams. Go, Chans!


The restaurant has a great vibe, with community tables, a bar, paper lanterns and pops of red in a warmly lit room. During my two visits, nostalgia-inducing, classic soul music played. We had the best server ever, Jeremy. But there are problems with the food, which the Chans describe as “mostly Southern, mainly Asian” comfort food. That basically means it’s Chinese-American style and that comes with a lot of sweetener and extra-big doses of soy sauce that I don’t like. I should own that this is a personal taste; I avoid brown sauces everywhere. My companions didn’t share my reaction, and I don’t mean that I didn’t find plenty of likeable dishes.

The go-to here is The JenChan, a take on the classic Southern meat-and-three. You get your choice of chicken, pork tenderloin, flank steak, or salmon. I ordered the deliciously braised and fried chicken. One of the three sides is always rice. My second was green beans and mushrooms in a kung pao sauce, which historically includes sweet notes, but at JenChan’s those notes are overwhelming. My second side was an order of the house-made potato chips seasoned with garlic and ginger. They are wonderful but best ordered as a snack before the meal, because the very strong use of ginger in much of the food eclipses the lighter use with the chips.

After the chicken, my fave was the egg roll stuffed with pimento cheese and cabbage. I avoided the dipping sauce, which was a (too) sweet and spicy classic. Deep-fried pot stickers here are filled with pastured pork along with green onions, cilantro, garlic and ginger. They are tooth-shatteringly crunchy and tasty. Another great starter was the corn fritters containing green peas. They were actually a lot like hushpuppies and served with a mild, allegedly spicy mayo. The menu, incidentally, warns that the restaurant uses a lot of Sriracha and sambal, but I never encountered enough spiciness to produce a single drop of sweat.

Among entrees, after the fried chicken, I most liked a special of grilled salmon with big leaves of earthy “dinosaur kale.” I found the strips of flank steak in the pepper steak way too chewy. It included onions and red and green bell peppers, all over ginger rice, with a side of mixed greens anointed in a ginger-lime-honey dressing. The most disappointing dish I ordered was the “black bean ribs” whose dominant, funky flavor was derived from the fermented black beans in which they were braised. I did find that if I scraped away the black-bean concoction, the pastured pork ribs had wonderful flavor. Dessert here was a deconstructed ice cream sandwich made with two almond cookies layered with a big chunk of chocolate and a bigger scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Jen Chan’s is also open for lunch when much of the dinner menu is available, along with five sandwiches like a shrimp po’boy and Mongolian beef cheese steak. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday offers a completely different menu, including Danish Aebleskivers (pancake balls) “until sold out.” I really love the ambiance, enthusiasm and much of the food here. I even love the fortune cookies because the custom-ordered notes are quotes from Max Ehrmann’s “The Desiderata,” the famous prose poem that Emily Chan’s mother introduced her to. Give it a try.



Supremo Taco, 701 B. Memorial Dr. S.E., 404-965-1446, supremotaco.com

JenChan’s, 186 Carroll St. S.E., 404-549-9843, jenchans.com     Cliff Bostock A TRIO OF FORMS: Supremo’s black bean taco at top, the chorizo quesadilla at right and the aguachile tostada in the foreground.  0,0,10    grazing                             GRAZING: Smiling before crying at Supremo Taco, dining ‘mostly Southern, mainly Asian’ at JenChan’s "
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Monday November 4, 2019 02:15 pm EST
Twenty years ago during frequent visits to LA, I often visited a late-night taco stand on Santa Monica Boulevard, not far from Silver Lake. I stood at a counter outdoors and watched the nightlife while I ate perfect tacos. My usual impromptu dinner companions were two transgender hookers who called the taqueria their “safe space.” Yes, I frequently hummed Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” a... | more...
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Nearly a decade ago, long-time friends Chris Day and Alan Makarewicz grew weary of corporate life and went into business together. They created the Pup Truck — a food truck that put hot dogs on the menu.

In October 2018, they opened the doors to Dog Towne Franks, a skateboard-themed spot in Decatur that now serves as the base of operations for their hot dog empire at 307 B. East College Ave., near Agnes Scott College.

They serve veggie dogs for vegetarians, pierogies made using an old family recipe, and a variety of dogs sporting names such the Kraut, El Hefe, and the Not So Chicago Dog.

There’s also the Peggy Oki-cado, an egg salad, avocado, and watercress sandwich named after Peggy Oki, the only woman to become a member of the original Zephyr skateboard competition team.

I stopped by the shop on a Wednesday afternoon to talk with Chris and Alan about skateboarding, hot dogs, and what the future holds in store for Dog Towne Franks.

Dog Towne Franks, 307 B East College Ave., Decatur. 678-856-717."
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Nearly a decade ago, long-time friends Chris Day and Alan Makarewicz grew weary of corporate life and went into business together. They created the Pup Truck — a food truck that put hot dogs on the menu.

In October 2018, they opened the doors to [https://www.dogtownefranks.com/|Dog Towne Franks], a skateboard-themed spot in Decatur that now serves as the base of operations for their hot dog empire at 307 B. East College Ave., near Agnes Scott College.

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I stopped by the shop on a Wednesday afternoon to talk with Chris and Alan about skateboarding, hot dogs, and what the future holds in store for Dog Towne Franks.

''[https://www.dogtownefranks.com/|Dog Towne Franks, 307 B East College Ave., Decatur. 678-856-717].''"
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Nearly a decade ago, long-time friends Chris Day and Alan Makarewicz grew weary of corporate life and went into business together. They created the Pup Truck — a food truck that put hot dogs on the menu.

In October 2018, they opened the doors to Dog Towne Franks, a skateboard-themed spot in Decatur that now serves as the base of operations for their hot dog empire at 307 B. East College Ave., near Agnes Scott College.

They serve veggie dogs for vegetarians, pierogies made using an old family recipe, and a variety of dogs sporting names such the Kraut, El Hefe, and the Not So Chicago Dog.

There’s also the Peggy Oki-cado, an egg salad, avocado, and watercress sandwich named after Peggy Oki, the only woman to become a member of the original Zephyr skateboard competition team.

I stopped by the shop on a Wednesday afternoon to talk with Chris and Alan about skateboarding, hot dogs, and what the future holds in store for Dog Towne Franks.

Dog Towne Franks, 307 B East College Ave., Decatur. 678-856-717.    Chad Radford LORDS OF DOG TOWNE: Restaurant co-owners Alan Makarewicz (left) and Chris Day.  -84.287714,33.772757,12    Atlanta "Dog Towne Franks" Decatur "Chris Day" "Alan Makarewicz" "hot dogs" "veggie dogs" "Pierogi"                             Podcast: Dog Towne Franks "
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Article

Wednesday October 16, 2019 04:30 pm EDT
Chris Day and Alan Makarewicz talk skateboarding and hot dogs | more...
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Friday October 4, 2019 12:00 pm EDT

Forget the wine pairings, Hi-Five Supper Club brings the weed pairings.

Ever wonder what it'd be like to eat fine dining, in an intimate setting, with cannabis-infused nourishments? Now you can, Atlanta, but it's still off the record. This episode interviews the duo behind Hi-Five Supper Club, an underground event company thoughtfully curating dinners and events using THC. Think Vice's "Bong...

| more...
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  string(9618) "I was in Buckhead, waiting for two tacos. For a moment I felt like a contestant on “The Price is Right.” The counter dude shouted on the mike: “Cliff, Come on down! Your tacos are ready! Come onnnn!” I didn’t know that I was about to eat one of the best tacos of my life. That’s saying a lot, because I have lived on tacos in Mexico, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, and Atlanta. This taco was so good but so unconventional, I think a lot of people are going to call it a faux taco. I’m a taco snob and I don’t care. You people eat greasy hamburger on crispy “tortillas” and call them authentic tacos, for god’s sake!


My magic moment occurred at the new Velvet Taco, which calls itself “the temple of the liberated taco.” It is a Dallas-based chain restaurant that recently opened on West Paces Ferry Road in the shopping center that houses Whole Foods. The particular taco I’m sanctifying was a one-week-only special described as “Hatch chile, pig & fig.” Those are three of my absolute favorite flavors — pulled pork, fresh figs, and the seasonal Hatch chile that is used here to spike the taco’s crema. The figs sat on a bed of arugula, my favorite green leaves, tossed with a few noninvasive threads of red onion.

While the fact that the ingredients filled a folded tortilla of course means it’s a taco, this is far from your typical street taco. Since all of Velvet’s tacos are chef-composed and a bit complicated, you don’t get to alter flavor by dumping ingredients fetched from a salsa bar. I did, however, find a bottle of hot sauce and put a drop of it on one bite of my other taco — brisket — and it was like knocking over a domino. It completely disrupted the flavor palate, seriously.

Velvet of course is far from the only restaurant toying with taco ingredients, but, compared to most, they’re way ahead. Take that brisket taco. Brisket, roasted barbacoa-style, is not an unusual meat to find on a taco anywhere in North or South America. But you don’t usually find these other ingredients in a taco: Angus brisket, red chile mayo, avocado relish, queso blanco, and micro cilantro inside a large flour tortilla encrusted with French comté cheese. My sample was flawless — or mainly so. The cheese was too gooey to be called a crust and corn had been added to the ingredients. Puzzling.

Velvet reaches to unexpected places. One of its most popular tacos is a take on India’s chicken tikka. The flour tortilla wraps crispy chicken tenders, a spicy tikka sauce, buttered cilantro, basmati rice, raita crema, and Thai basil. You can also go Middle Eastern and gluten-free with falafel patties wrapped in lettuce with tahini crema, arugula, tomato, pickled fresno chiles, avocado, pickled red onion, and pea tendrils. Velvet rescues other flavors from the cliché category in which they have fallen. You know you want a taco made with Nashville-hot tofu, shrimp and grits, or ahi poke. There are brunch ones featuring chicken and waffles or bacon and eggs.

Sides are limited and that’s okay. Generally, the tacos are huge and two is the most you’ll want, especially if you add a side. I’m ambivalent about the sides I did sample. Elote — Mexican grilled corn — is appearing everywhere, on and off the cob. Velvet’s is basically complicated creamed corn that had no flavor or visual evidence of grilling. I enjoyed my first few tastes of the restaurant’s “red curry coconut queso,” but found it watery and a little silly in its overreach. Skip the sides and order the one dessert — an inhumanly rich red velvet cake. We sat beside a large, campy painting of an 18th-century woman in an erotic frenzy, clutching two large cubes of the cake. I know how she feels. It is fantastic. Incredibly, four of us could not even finish the piece we ordered.

Velvet is open most days from 11 a.m. to well after midnight. (Call or check the site.) I have a few summary warnings. First, the tacos range in cost from about $4 to $6. They are worth every penny and are far bigger and tastier than those of the same cost at places I shall not name. Second, if you’re homesick for Mexico, no, these tacos really will not satisfy a craving for the al pastor, carne adovada, and carnitas you find on Buford Highway. Third, the parking sucks. If you don’t park in the underground lot, you can endlessly wander the main lot, looking for a space not reserved for Whole Foods customers. I’m guessing late-night parking is easier. Fourth, don’t fail to contemplate the oddity of once again seeing almost all people of color consigned to the kitchen. It’s true that Buckhead is trendy and sports some international flair but, oh, the apartheid!

Speaking of ethnic minorities in Buckhead, I’m happy to see that people of color are showing up at the Shops at Buckhead, often called our own little Beverly Hills. Even the development’s website, which at first literally featured almost exclusively white faces, has been integrated! Among the new transcultural restaurants there is Le Colonial, part of a New York City chain whose name, um, celebrates colonialism — specifically the 70 years Vietnam was colonized by the French, creating a somewhat hybridized cuisine that is actually my favorite food. Yay, colonialism! I haven’t been yet, but the expensive menu reminds me of New York’s Indochine, where I ate many years ago. Le Colonial, with indisputably master chefs, is really expensive, although a prix fixe lunch menu is now available for $25. You can contribute to my forthcoming GoFundMe Page, if you’d like for me to check out dinner (and the $165 menu at Lazy Betty in the O4W).

Le Colonial’s opening is part of a huge surge of Vietnamese cooking in our city. Among the inexpensive and mainstreamed newbies is Vietvana Pho Noodle House — a huge spot in Avondale Estates, located in the vacated Our Way Café space. The name contracts “Vietnam” and “nirvana,” and I’m happy to say that it offers far more than pho, the noodle soup that caused the surge of interest in broader Vietnamese cooking.

The restaurant’s owners are Vietnamese-born Chef Dinh Tran and his wife Khanh Dang, who. also own Khanh Vietnamese Pho & Sandwich in Duluth. Vietvana is almost 5,000 square feet, featuring an open kitchen, a small bar, and a main dining room full of glistening wood tables under a blue ceiling, bordered by an endless banquette. The room is divided by a long community table.

The pho menu is extensive. You can mix and match bowls full of house-made rice noodles in beef, chicken, or vegetable broths with a variety of meats and vegetables. There are also chef’s specialty bowls. We chose one of the latter — a light beef broth afloat with white and green onions, cilantro, and a huge, halved softshell crab. They did fail to bring the usual herbs to the table, so be sure you get those to ramp up the flavor even more. We left the bowl dry.

I have an obsession with Vietnamese bun dishes — slurpy noodles topped, like the pho, with ingredients of your choice. I chose my usual eggrolls, shrimp, and glazed pork. During my visit, the shrimp were quite undercooked but that has changed, according to a friend. Oddly, two of us had to request fish sauce, which should be on every table in a Vietnamese restaurant. I’m clueless.

The weirdest dish I tried was an appetizer of steamed rice cakes. A single order included seven tiny, chewy, pasty, flat blobs in separate, Barbie-playhouse-sized containers. Each was topped with dried shrimp, fried onion, croutons, and scallion oil. The flavor was too fishy for my taste, but my tablemate was in heaven, scooping out the goo, folding it into itty-bitty tacos, and chewing and chewing. I much preferred the classic, crispy papaya salad with pork and shrimp, doused with fish sauce and served with large shrimp crisps. I did want more mint in the mix.

There’s a hell of a lot more to try here, but if you want a ridiculously cheap and delicious meal, try the banh mi. These are the sandwiches that pull as many people to Buford Highway as pho does. They are stuffed, crunchy baguettes like the French brought to Vietnam but made with rice flour. Vietvana offers 15 different versions, most all of them under $6. We ordered two to go. One contained a paté, ham, roasted pork, and dried shredded pork with pickled veggies and fresh jalapeno slices. I’ve eaten the pate many times before, but Vietvana’s sandwich contained about twice what I like, overpowering the other flavors. So, I scraped about half of it out of my sandwich to make it perfect. The other banh mi, made with lemongrass chicken and the usual garnishes, was tangy-tasty. Please try the fried-egg and tofu versions, and let me know.

Vietvana, like Velvet Taco, is open late. It closes at midnight every day except Sunday, when the pho evaporates at 11 p.m.

EMERGENCY: You must drive to Kennesaw and visit Fire Stone Chinese Cuisine. It’s been open a year and features the cooking of Wen-Qiang Huang, a protégé of the infamous Peter Chang. The food is Sichuan and Hunan. It’s spicy but not that spicy. I’ll report more later. In the meantime, it’s important that you order the balloon-sized “pancakes” and the fried ribs under a mound of secret crunchy stuff. -CL-

Velvet Taco, 35 West Paces Ferry Road, 470-400-3900, velvettaco.com.

Vietvana Pho Noodle House, 2831 E. College Ave., Avondale Estates. 404-963-2757, vietvana.com

Fire Stone Chinese Cuisine, 840 Ernest Barrett Pkwy., Kennesaw, 678-324-0512, firestonechinese.com"
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My magic moment occurred at the new Velvet Taco, which calls itself “the temple of the liberated taco.” It is a Dallas-based chain restaurant that recently opened on West Paces Ferry Road in the shopping center that houses Whole Foods. The particular taco I’m sanctifying was a one-week-only special described as “Hatch chile, pig & fig.” Those are three of my absolute favorite flavors — pulled pork, fresh figs, and the seasonal Hatch chile that is used here to spike the taco’s crema. The figs sat on a bed of arugula, my favorite green leaves, tossed with a few noninvasive threads of red onion.

While the fact that the ingredients filled a folded tortilla of course means it’s a taco, this is far from your typical street taco. Since all of Velvet’s tacos are chef-composed and a bit complicated, you don’t get to alter flavor by dumping ingredients fetched from a salsa bar. I did, however, find a bottle of hot sauce and put a drop of it on one bite of my other taco — brisket — and it was like knocking over a domino. It completely disrupted the flavor palate, seriously.

Velvet of course is far from the only restaurant toying with taco ingredients, but, compared to most, they’re way ahead. Take that brisket taco. Brisket, roasted barbacoa-style, is not an unusual meat to find on a taco anywhere in North or South America. But you don’t usually find these other ingredients in a taco: Angus brisket, red chile mayo, avocado relish, queso blanco, and micro cilantro inside a large flour tortilla encrusted with French comté cheese. My sample was flawless — or mainly so. The cheese was too gooey to be called a crust and corn had been added to the ingredients. Puzzling.

Velvet reaches to unexpected places. One of its most popular tacos is a take on India’s chicken tikka. The flour tortilla wraps crispy chicken tenders, a spicy tikka sauce, buttered cilantro, basmati rice, raita crema, and Thai basil. You can also go Middle Eastern and gluten-free with falafel patties wrapped in lettuce with tahini crema, arugula, tomato, pickled fresno chiles, avocado, pickled red onion, and pea tendrils. Velvet rescues other flavors from the cliché category in which they have fallen. You know you want a taco made with Nashville-hot tofu, shrimp and grits, or ahi poke. There are brunch ones featuring chicken and waffles or bacon and eggs.

Sides are limited and that’s okay. Generally, the tacos are huge and two is the most you’ll want, especially if you add a side. I’m ambivalent about the sides I did sample. Elote — Mexican grilled corn — is appearing everywhere, on and off the cob. Velvet’s is basically complicated creamed corn that had no flavor or visual evidence of grilling. I enjoyed my first few tastes of the restaurant’s “red curry coconut queso,” but found it watery and a little silly in its overreach. Skip the sides and order the one dessert — an inhumanly rich red velvet cake. We sat beside a large, campy painting of an 18th-century woman in an erotic frenzy, clutching two large cubes of the cake. I know how she feels. It is fantastic. Incredibly, four of us could not even finish the piece we ordered.

Velvet is open most days from 11 a.m. to well after midnight. (Call or check the site.) I have a few summary warnings. First, the tacos range in cost from about $4 to $6. They are worth every penny and are far bigger and tastier than those of the same cost at places I shall not name. Second, if you’re homesick for Mexico, no, these tacos really will not satisfy a craving for the al pastor, carne adovada, and carnitas you find on Buford Highway. Third, the parking sucks. If you don’t park in the underground lot, you can endlessly wander the main lot, looking for a space not reserved for Whole Foods customers. I’m guessing late-night parking is easier. Fourth, don’t fail to contemplate the oddity of once again seeing almost all people of color consigned to the kitchen. It’s true that Buckhead is trendy and sports some international flair but, oh, the apartheid!

Speaking of ethnic minorities in Buckhead, I’m happy to see that people of color are showing up at the Shops at Buckhead, often called our own little Beverly Hills. Even the development’s website, which at first literally featured almost exclusively white faces, has been integrated! Among the new transcultural restaurants there is Le Colonial, part of a New York City chain whose name, um, celebrates colonialism — specifically the 70 years Vietnam was colonized by the French, creating a somewhat hybridized cuisine that is actually my favorite food. Yay, colonialism! I haven’t been yet, but the expensive menu reminds me of New York’s Indochine, where I ate many years ago. Le Colonial, with indisputably master chefs, is really expensive, although a prix fixe lunch menu is now available for $25. You can contribute to my forthcoming GoFundMe Page, if you’d like for me to check out dinner (and the $165 menu at Lazy Betty in the O4W).

Le Colonial’s opening is part of a huge surge of Vietnamese cooking in our city. Among the inexpensive and mainstreamed newbies is Vietvana Pho Noodle House — a huge spot in Avondale Estates, located in the vacated Our Way Café space. The name contracts “Vietnam” and “nirvana,” and I’m happy to say that it offers far more than pho, the noodle soup that caused the surge of interest in broader Vietnamese cooking.

The restaurant’s owners are Vietnamese-born Chef Dinh Tran and his wife Khanh Dang, who. also own Khanh Vietnamese Pho & Sandwich in Duluth. Vietvana is almost 5,000 square feet, featuring an open kitchen, a small bar, and a main dining room full of glistening wood tables under a blue ceiling, bordered by an endless banquette. The room is divided by a long community table.

The pho menu is extensive. You can mix and match bowls full of house-made rice noodles in beef, chicken, or vegetable broths with a variety of meats and vegetables. There are also chef’s specialty bowls. We chose one of the latter — a light beef broth afloat with white and green onions, cilantro, and a huge, halved softshell crab. They did fail to bring the usual herbs to the table, so be sure you get those to ramp up the flavor even more. We left the bowl dry.

I have an obsession with Vietnamese bun dishes — slurpy noodles topped, like the pho, with ingredients of your choice. I chose my usual eggrolls, shrimp, and glazed pork. During my visit, the shrimp were quite undercooked but that has changed, according to a friend. Oddly, two of us had to request fish sauce, which should be on every table in a Vietnamese restaurant. I’m clueless.

The weirdest dish I tried was an appetizer of steamed rice cakes. A single order included seven tiny, chewy, pasty, flat blobs in separate, Barbie-playhouse-sized containers. Each was topped with dried shrimp, fried onion, croutons, and scallion oil. The flavor was too fishy for my taste, but my tablemate was in heaven, scooping out the goo, folding it into itty-bitty tacos, and chewing and chewing. I much preferred the classic, crispy papaya salad with pork and shrimp, doused with fish sauce and served with large shrimp crisps. I did want more mint in the mix.

There’s a hell of a lot more to try here, but if you want a ridiculously cheap and delicious meal, try the banh mi. These are the sandwiches that pull as many people to Buford Highway as pho does. They are stuffed, crunchy baguettes like the French brought to Vietnam but made with rice flour. Vietvana offers 15 different versions, most all of them under $6. We ordered two to go. One contained a paté, ham, roasted pork, and dried shredded pork with pickled veggies and fresh jalapeno slices. I’ve eaten the pate many times before, but Vietvana’s sandwich contained about twice what I like, overpowering the other flavors. So, I scraped about half of it out of my sandwich to make it perfect. The other banh mi, made with lemongrass chicken and the usual garnishes, was tangy-tasty. Please try the fried-egg and tofu versions, and let me know.

Vietvana, like Velvet Taco, is open late. It closes at midnight every day except Sunday, when the pho evaporates at 11 p.m.

EMERGENCY: You must drive to Kennesaw and visit Fire Stone Chinese Cuisine. It’s been open a year and features the cooking of Wen-Qiang Huang, a protégé of the infamous Peter Chang. The food is Sichuan and Hunan. It’s spicy but not that spicy. I’ll report more later. In the meantime, it’s important that you order the balloon-sized “pancakes” and the fried ribs under a mound of secret crunchy stuff. __-CL-__

__''Velvet Taco''__'', 35 West Paces Ferry Road, 470-400-3900, velvettaco.com.''

__''Vietvana Pho Noodle House''__'', 2831 E. College Ave., Avondale Estates. 404-963-2757, vietvana.com''

__''Fire Stone Chinese Cuisine''__'', 840 Ernest Barrett Pkwy., Kennesaw, 678-324-0512,'' ''[http://firestonechinese.com|firestonechinese.com]''"
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  string(10670) " GRAZ Velvet Taco 585 Web  2019-10-03T17:40:27+00:00 GRAZ_Velvet_Taco_585_web.jpg   The bowl of pho you describe makes me think the restaurant was offering a northern style of pho, which is impossible to find in Atlanta and much the U.S. Pho in Hanoi is often a lighter brother with just onions, cilantro, and either chicken or beef. You don't add the herbs and bean sprouts like you would for southern pho; just a squeeze of a lime and maybe chili sauce. grazing cliff bostock dining food Velvet Taco and Vietvana stretch the limits 24198  2019-10-03T17:03:02+00:00 GRAZING: Perfect faux tacos and Barbie’s favorite steamed rice cakes jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris CLIFF BOSTOCK  2019-10-03T17:03:02+00:00  I was in Buckhead, waiting for two tacos. For a moment I felt like a contestant on “The Price is Right.” The counter dude shouted on the mike: “Cliff, Come on down! Your tacos are ready! Come onnnn!” I didn’t know that I was about to eat one of the best tacos of my life. That’s saying a lot, because I have lived on tacos in Mexico, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, and Atlanta. This taco was so good but so unconventional, I think a lot of people are going to call it a faux taco. I’m a taco snob and I don’t care. You people eat greasy hamburger on crispy “tortillas” and call them authentic tacos, for god’s sake!


My magic moment occurred at the new Velvet Taco, which calls itself “the temple of the liberated taco.” It is a Dallas-based chain restaurant that recently opened on West Paces Ferry Road in the shopping center that houses Whole Foods. The particular taco I’m sanctifying was a one-week-only special described as “Hatch chile, pig & fig.” Those are three of my absolute favorite flavors — pulled pork, fresh figs, and the seasonal Hatch chile that is used here to spike the taco’s crema. The figs sat on a bed of arugula, my favorite green leaves, tossed with a few noninvasive threads of red onion.

While the fact that the ingredients filled a folded tortilla of course means it’s a taco, this is far from your typical street taco. Since all of Velvet’s tacos are chef-composed and a bit complicated, you don’t get to alter flavor by dumping ingredients fetched from a salsa bar. I did, however, find a bottle of hot sauce and put a drop of it on one bite of my other taco — brisket — and it was like knocking over a domino. It completely disrupted the flavor palate, seriously.

Velvet of course is far from the only restaurant toying with taco ingredients, but, compared to most, they’re way ahead. Take that brisket taco. Brisket, roasted barbacoa-style, is not an unusual meat to find on a taco anywhere in North or South America. But you don’t usually find these other ingredients in a taco: Angus brisket, red chile mayo, avocado relish, queso blanco, and micro cilantro inside a large flour tortilla encrusted with French comté cheese. My sample was flawless — or mainly so. The cheese was too gooey to be called a crust and corn had been added to the ingredients. Puzzling.

Velvet reaches to unexpected places. One of its most popular tacos is a take on India’s chicken tikka. The flour tortilla wraps crispy chicken tenders, a spicy tikka sauce, buttered cilantro, basmati rice, raita crema, and Thai basil. You can also go Middle Eastern and gluten-free with falafel patties wrapped in lettuce with tahini crema, arugula, tomato, pickled fresno chiles, avocado, pickled red onion, and pea tendrils. Velvet rescues other flavors from the cliché category in which they have fallen. You know you want a taco made with Nashville-hot tofu, shrimp and grits, or ahi poke. There are brunch ones featuring chicken and waffles or bacon and eggs.

Sides are limited and that’s okay. Generally, the tacos are huge and two is the most you’ll want, especially if you add a side. I’m ambivalent about the sides I did sample. Elote — Mexican grilled corn — is appearing everywhere, on and off the cob. Velvet’s is basically complicated creamed corn that had no flavor or visual evidence of grilling. I enjoyed my first few tastes of the restaurant’s “red curry coconut queso,” but found it watery and a little silly in its overreach. Skip the sides and order the one dessert — an inhumanly rich red velvet cake. We sat beside a large, campy painting of an 18th-century woman in an erotic frenzy, clutching two large cubes of the cake. I know how she feels. It is fantastic. Incredibly, four of us could not even finish the piece we ordered.

Velvet is open most days from 11 a.m. to well after midnight. (Call or check the site.) I have a few summary warnings. First, the tacos range in cost from about $4 to $6. They are worth every penny and are far bigger and tastier than those of the same cost at places I shall not name. Second, if you’re homesick for Mexico, no, these tacos really will not satisfy a craving for the al pastor, carne adovada, and carnitas you find on Buford Highway. Third, the parking sucks. If you don’t park in the underground lot, you can endlessly wander the main lot, looking for a space not reserved for Whole Foods customers. I’m guessing late-night parking is easier. Fourth, don’t fail to contemplate the oddity of once again seeing almost all people of color consigned to the kitchen. It’s true that Buckhead is trendy and sports some international flair but, oh, the apartheid!

Speaking of ethnic minorities in Buckhead, I’m happy to see that people of color are showing up at the Shops at Buckhead, often called our own little Beverly Hills. Even the development’s website, which at first literally featured almost exclusively white faces, has been integrated! Among the new transcultural restaurants there is Le Colonial, part of a New York City chain whose name, um, celebrates colonialism — specifically the 70 years Vietnam was colonized by the French, creating a somewhat hybridized cuisine that is actually my favorite food. Yay, colonialism! I haven’t been yet, but the expensive menu reminds me of New York’s Indochine, where I ate many years ago. Le Colonial, with indisputably master chefs, is really expensive, although a prix fixe lunch menu is now available for $25. You can contribute to my forthcoming GoFundMe Page, if you’d like for me to check out dinner (and the $165 menu at Lazy Betty in the O4W).

Le Colonial’s opening is part of a huge surge of Vietnamese cooking in our city. Among the inexpensive and mainstreamed newbies is Vietvana Pho Noodle House — a huge spot in Avondale Estates, located in the vacated Our Way Café space. The name contracts “Vietnam” and “nirvana,” and I’m happy to say that it offers far more than pho, the noodle soup that caused the surge of interest in broader Vietnamese cooking.

The restaurant’s owners are Vietnamese-born Chef Dinh Tran and his wife Khanh Dang, who. also own Khanh Vietnamese Pho & Sandwich in Duluth. Vietvana is almost 5,000 square feet, featuring an open kitchen, a small bar, and a main dining room full of glistening wood tables under a blue ceiling, bordered by an endless banquette. The room is divided by a long community table.

The pho menu is extensive. You can mix and match bowls full of house-made rice noodles in beef, chicken, or vegetable broths with a variety of meats and vegetables. There are also chef’s specialty bowls. We chose one of the latter — a light beef broth afloat with white and green onions, cilantro, and a huge, halved softshell crab. They did fail to bring the usual herbs to the table, so be sure you get those to ramp up the flavor even more. We left the bowl dry.

I have an obsession with Vietnamese bun dishes — slurpy noodles topped, like the pho, with ingredients of your choice. I chose my usual eggrolls, shrimp, and glazed pork. During my visit, the shrimp were quite undercooked but that has changed, according to a friend. Oddly, two of us had to request fish sauce, which should be on every table in a Vietnamese restaurant. I’m clueless.

The weirdest dish I tried was an appetizer of steamed rice cakes. A single order included seven tiny, chewy, pasty, flat blobs in separate, Barbie-playhouse-sized containers. Each was topped with dried shrimp, fried onion, croutons, and scallion oil. The flavor was too fishy for my taste, but my tablemate was in heaven, scooping out the goo, folding it into itty-bitty tacos, and chewing and chewing. I much preferred the classic, crispy papaya salad with pork and shrimp, doused with fish sauce and served with large shrimp crisps. I did want more mint in the mix.

There’s a hell of a lot more to try here, but if you want a ridiculously cheap and delicious meal, try the banh mi. These are the sandwiches that pull as many people to Buford Highway as pho does. They are stuffed, crunchy baguettes like the French brought to Vietnam but made with rice flour. Vietvana offers 15 different versions, most all of them under $6. We ordered two to go. One contained a paté, ham, roasted pork, and dried shredded pork with pickled veggies and fresh jalapeno slices. I’ve eaten the pate many times before, but Vietvana’s sandwich contained about twice what I like, overpowering the other flavors. So, I scraped about half of it out of my sandwich to make it perfect. The other banh mi, made with lemongrass chicken and the usual garnishes, was tangy-tasty. Please try the fried-egg and tofu versions, and let me know.

Vietvana, like Velvet Taco, is open late. It closes at midnight every day except Sunday, when the pho evaporates at 11 p.m.

EMERGENCY: You must drive to Kennesaw and visit Fire Stone Chinese Cuisine. It’s been open a year and features the cooking of Wen-Qiang Huang, a protégé of the infamous Peter Chang. The food is Sichuan and Hunan. It’s spicy but not that spicy. I’ll report more later. In the meantime, it’s important that you order the balloon-sized “pancakes” and the fried ribs under a mound of secret crunchy stuff. -CL-

Velvet Taco, 35 West Paces Ferry Road, 470-400-3900, velvettaco.com.

Vietvana Pho Noodle House, 2831 E. College Ave., Avondale Estates. 404-963-2757, vietvana.com

Fire Stone Chinese Cuisine, 840 Ernest Barrett Pkwy., Kennesaw, 678-324-0512, firestonechinese.com    CLIFF BOSTOCK THE WAIT: The line at Velvet’s counter can get long but moves rapidly --- much more rapidly than the time you’ll spend looking for an above-ground parking space.  0,0,10    grazing "cliff bostock" dining food                             GRAZING: Perfect faux tacos and Barbie’s favorite steamed rice cakes "
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Article

Thursday October 3, 2019 01:03 pm EDT
Velvet Taco and Vietvana stretch the limits | more...
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  string(7804) "When you first walk into the global grub collective, We Suki Suki, in East Atlanta Village, it can be a bit overwhelming. The space is small and narrow. A number of food vendors are in their booths which line the left wall, the opposite wall a mural of abstract designs and pastel flowers. A bustle of people eating their meals at picnic tables fight for space where patrons wait in line to order; a mix of comforting aromas from the eclectic variety of foods being cooked fills the room.

The second booth down stands out within the busy scene, a line of people in front of its counter. The booth is Mushi Ni, a pop-up restaurant which serves “globally inspired and locally sourced street food,” according to the official Mushi Ni website. There is a sort of mesmerizing precision in the way that owners Michael Lee and Tanya Jimenez work together while preparing their food. Lee moves smoothly between ringing up orders and chopping produce, while Jimenez balances the rest: searing vegetables, frying dumplings, blending their signature “bang sauce” and more.

In a way, the scene is reminiscent of a painter at work in his studio or a novelist quietly typing up her next literary masterpiece. It is rigorous yet fluid, relaxing yet stimulating. Like traditional artists, Lee and Jimenez have found a way to bring beauty and self-expression into the world, but through a different medium of art than many might be used to. For them, that medium is food.

“I consider cooking as mainly a craft like woodworking, because there are certain steps and processes that you have to follow to achieve what you want,” Lee says. “The sprinkle of artistic element is part knowledge, part experience, part curiosity.”

Georgia, where Mushi Ni is based, has become a hotbed for artistic culture in recent years. Since 2015, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center has experienced an increase in visitors by a colossal 80 percent (Michelle Khouri, “The Unlikely Rise of Contemporary Art in Atlanta”). Time magazine recently published an article calling Georgia “the Hollywood of the South.”

Along with this influx of interest in traditional art forms, Atlanta has experienced a growth in restaurant openings.  This simple fact alone has encouraged competing restaurants to up their game with regards to the foods they serve and the creative ways in which they prepare them. This is why, at Mushi Ni, Jimenez says they seek to create interesting and unique dishes with flavors that stand out among their competitors. As Jimenez puts it, the dishes should be “weird” enough to attract the interest of customers, yet familiar enough to not scare them away.

“I think when people eat our food, it becomes a part of them forever,” Jimenez says. “It nourishes them, it gives them memories that will last forever, and it makes people happy.”

This notion is exemplified in Mushi Ni’s more original dishes, such as their cauliflower bang bang boa, a traditional Chinese steamed bun with a distinctive twist. Instead of completing the bun with the usual fillings of braised pork or seared chicken, the cauliflower bang bang bao is filled with tempura fried cauliflower topped with a spicy vegan sauce that is unique to Mushi Ni.

“We try to be different from other places,” Jimenez says.

She goes on to say that they do so by appealing to the senses.

“There is texture, there is always flavor,” she explains, which add up to memorable combinations that keep customers coming back for more.

In many ways, the foods that Jimenez and Lee create are direct reflections of who they are, not just as chefs, but as people. Jimenez has been vegan for the better part of five years, inspiring her and Lee to serve a wide variety of plant-based dishes in addition to the more traditional meat dishes which Lee enjoys. Also, Jimenez grew up watching her grandfather cook, and she says that learning from him is what first instilled in her a love for food.

As for Lee, he is a first-generation American whose family came to the U.S. as Vietnamese refugees after the 1975 Fall of Saigon. He feels especially connected to both Vietnam and his home state of Missouri, and it shows in Mushi Ni’s eclectic array of Asian American-inspired dishes. Lee also uses his sense of humor as inspiration for edgier menu ideas.

“Humor is a big part of how I express myself,” Lee says. “If I think of an idea and it makes me laugh, I usually will try and make it work. Heritage is another part — I want to share who I am and where I came from in a bite of food.”

Lee and Jimenez are not the first to see food as an art form. As it happens, this movement has its roots in the avant-garde Futurist movement, which began over 100 years ago in 1909. According to the Smithsonian Journeys Travel Quarterly, this movement was inspired by a championing of “the industrial age and all things mechanical,” and it shaped much of how society looks at food today. More specifically, the artist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti is considered by many to be the first of a number of modernists to acknowledge the role that art plays in the creation of food. But as with all art, food is often enjoyed in different ways by different people. The qualities of food that Marinetti once saw as art are likely to be enjoyed differently by many people today.

What truly makes food an art form, in Jimenez’ opinion, however, is how one chooses to interpret the raw ingredients they are given. This notion shines through in menu items like Mushi Ni’s build-your-own style bowls, for example. The Mushi Ni bowl is a classic presentation of simple ingredients combined to create an array of flavors and textures within a single dish. One customer might choose japchae noodles and shrimp tempura in their bowl rather than brown rice and beef bulgogi, creating a completely different flavor experience.

Jimenez adds that food should always be simple but good, and should feature great techniques with equally great ingredients. This is what so inspired her about her grandfather’s cooking as she grew up. She says that she loved to see the many different ways in which he took a table full of uncooked ingredients and turned them into a singular dish — the end result of a harmonious process.

“My grandpa had a big kitchen, and, you know, when you’re a kid you’re bored and so you just go in the kitchen,” Jimenez says. “So I’d just observe, and I think I loved how it was synchronized. It was all spread out, and then it became one dish.”

Like Jimenez, Lee’s passion for food was inspired by his family. He says that he used to spend his days gathering ingredients or washing dishes for the catering company that his grandmother ran out of her home.

“The love grew from there,” he says.

Lee encourages those with an honest desire to get good at their craft to stick it out, even through the hardest of times. “Early on you have to make the decision of how you are going to spend your time,” he says. “Am I here to get a paycheck to survive, or do I want to learn the right way and have a career for the future?”

Jimenez adds that up-and-coming chefs or business owners should be prepared for failure as “part of whatever you encounter.” She advises those with a dream of success to go for it, but with a solid plan in mind ahead of time.

“Make sure that you have a plan B or a plan C and a plan D,” Jimenez says. “Just make sure that you’re ready to face a lot of sacrifices, and, at the end of the day, if you’re happy doing it, just keep doing it."

Mushi Ni is in the We-Suki-Suki Food Hall, 477 Flat Shoals Avenue S.E., Atlanta, GA. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (404) 405-6005."
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The second booth down stands out within the busy scene, a line of people in front of its counter. The booth is Mushi Ni, a pop-up restaurant which serves “globally inspired and locally sourced street food,” according to the official Mushi Ni website. There is a sort of mesmerizing precision in the way that owners Michael Lee and Tanya Jimenez work together while preparing their food. Lee moves smoothly between ringing up orders and chopping produce, while Jimenez balances the rest: searing vegetables, frying dumplings, blending their signature “bang sauce” and more.

In a way, the scene is reminiscent of a painter at work in his studio or a novelist quietly typing up her next literary masterpiece. It is rigorous yet fluid, relaxing yet stimulating. Like traditional artists, Lee and Jimenez have found a way to bring beauty and self-expression into the world, but through a different medium of art than many might be used to. For them, that medium is food.

“I consider cooking as mainly a craft like woodworking, because there are certain steps and processes that you have to follow to achieve what you want,” Lee says. “The sprinkle of artistic element is part knowledge, part experience, part curiosity.”

Georgia, where Mushi Ni is based, has become a hotbed for artistic culture in recent years. Since 2015, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center has experienced an increase in visitors by a colossal 80 percent (Michelle Khouri, “The Unlikely Rise of Contemporary Art in Atlanta”). ''Time'' magazine recently published an article calling Georgia “the Hollywood of the South.”

Along with this influx of interest in traditional art forms, Atlanta has experienced a growth in restaurant openings.  This simple fact alone has encouraged competing restaurants to up their game with regards to the foods they serve and the creative ways in which they prepare them. This is why, at Mushi Ni, Jimenez says they seek to create interesting and unique dishes with flavors that stand out among their competitors. As Jimenez puts it, the dishes should be “weird” enough to attract the interest of customers, yet familiar enough to not scare them away.

“I think when people eat our food, it becomes a part of them forever,” Jimenez says. “It nourishes them, it gives them memories that will last forever, and it makes people happy.”

This notion is exemplified in Mushi Ni’s more original dishes, such as their cauliflower bang bang boa, a traditional Chinese steamed bun with a distinctive twist. Instead of completing the bun with the usual fillings of braised pork or seared chicken, the cauliflower bang bang bao is filled with tempura fried cauliflower topped with a spicy vegan sauce that is unique to Mushi Ni.

“We try to be different from other places,” Jimenez says.

She goes on to say that they do so by appealing to the senses.

“There is texture, there is always flavor,” she explains, which add up to memorable combinations that keep customers coming back for more.

In many ways, the foods that Jimenez and Lee create are direct reflections of who they are, not just as chefs, but as people. Jimenez has been vegan for the better part of five years, inspiring her and Lee to serve a wide variety of plant-based dishes in addition to the more traditional meat dishes which Lee enjoys. Also, Jimenez grew up watching her grandfather cook, and she says that learning from him is what first instilled in her a love for food.

As for Lee, he is a first-generation American whose family came to the U.S. as Vietnamese refugees after the 1975 Fall of Saigon. He feels especially connected to both Vietnam and his home state of Missouri, and it shows in Mushi Ni’s eclectic array of Asian American-inspired dishes. Lee also uses his sense of humor as inspiration for edgier menu ideas.

“Humor is a big part of how I express myself,” Lee says. “If I think of an idea and it makes me laugh, I usually will try and make it work. Heritage is another part — I want to share who I am and where I came from in a bite of food.”

Lee and Jimenez are not the first to see food as an art form. As it happens, this movement has its roots in the avant-garde Futurist movement, which began over 100 years ago in 1909. According to the ''Smithsonian Journeys Travel Quarterly'', this movement was inspired by a championing of “the industrial age and all things mechanical,” and it shaped much of how society looks at food today. More specifically, the artist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti is considered by many to be the first of a number of modernists to acknowledge the role that art plays in the creation of food. But as with all art, food is often enjoyed in different ways by different people. The qualities of food that Marinetti once saw as art are likely to be enjoyed differently by many people today.

What truly makes food an art form, in Jimenez’ opinion, however, is how one chooses to interpret the raw ingredients they are given. This notion shines through in menu items like Mushi Ni’s build-your-own style bowls, for example. The Mushi Ni bowl is a classic presentation of simple ingredients combined to create an array of flavors and textures within a single dish. One customer might choose japchae noodles and shrimp tempura in their bowl rather than brown rice and beef bulgogi, creating a completely different flavor experience.

Jimenez adds that food should always be simple but good, and should feature great techniques with equally great ingredients. This is what so inspired her about her grandfather’s cooking as she grew up. She says that she loved to see the many different ways in which he took a table full of uncooked ingredients and turned them into a singular dish — the end result of a harmonious process.

“My grandpa had a big kitchen, and, you know, when you’re a kid you’re bored and so you just go in the kitchen,” Jimenez says. “So I’d just observe, and I think I loved how it was synchronized. It was all spread out, and then it became one dish.”

Like Jimenez, Lee’s passion for food was inspired by his family. He says that he used to spend his days gathering ingredients or washing dishes for the catering company that his grandmother ran out of her home.

“The love grew from there,” he says.

Lee encourages those with an honest desire to get good at their craft to stick it out, even through the hardest of times. “Early on you have to make the decision of how you are going to spend your time,” he says. “Am I here to get a paycheck to survive, or do I want to learn the right way and have a career for the future?”

Jimenez adds that up-and-coming chefs or business owners should be prepared for failure as “part of whatever you encounter.” She advises those with a dream of success to go for it, but with a solid plan in mind ahead of time.

“Make sure that you have a plan B or a plan C and a plan D,” Jimenez says. “Just make sure that you’re ready to face a lot of sacrifices, and, at the end of the day, if you’re happy doing it, just keep doing it."

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  string(8281) " Mushi Ni Comp  2019-10-04T17:50:23+00:00 Mushi_Ni_comp.jpg     The two chefs of Mushi Ni 24237  2019-10-01T19:40:38+00:00 Inspired by heritage, history, and art tony.paris@creativeloafing.com Tony Paris Lily Merriman  2019-10-01T19:40:38+00:00  When you first walk into the global grub collective, We Suki Suki, in East Atlanta Village, it can be a bit overwhelming. The space is small and narrow. A number of food vendors are in their booths which line the left wall, the opposite wall a mural of abstract designs and pastel flowers. A bustle of people eating their meals at picnic tables fight for space where patrons wait in line to order; a mix of comforting aromas from the eclectic variety of foods being cooked fills the room.

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In a way, the scene is reminiscent of a painter at work in his studio or a novelist quietly typing up her next literary masterpiece. It is rigorous yet fluid, relaxing yet stimulating. Like traditional artists, Lee and Jimenez have found a way to bring beauty and self-expression into the world, but through a different medium of art than many might be used to. For them, that medium is food.

“I consider cooking as mainly a craft like woodworking, because there are certain steps and processes that you have to follow to achieve what you want,” Lee says. “The sprinkle of artistic element is part knowledge, part experience, part curiosity.”

Georgia, where Mushi Ni is based, has become a hotbed for artistic culture in recent years. Since 2015, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center has experienced an increase in visitors by a colossal 80 percent (Michelle Khouri, “The Unlikely Rise of Contemporary Art in Atlanta”). Time magazine recently published an article calling Georgia “the Hollywood of the South.”

Along with this influx of interest in traditional art forms, Atlanta has experienced a growth in restaurant openings.  This simple fact alone has encouraged competing restaurants to up their game with regards to the foods they serve and the creative ways in which they prepare them. This is why, at Mushi Ni, Jimenez says they seek to create interesting and unique dishes with flavors that stand out among their competitors. As Jimenez puts it, the dishes should be “weird” enough to attract the interest of customers, yet familiar enough to not scare them away.

“I think when people eat our food, it becomes a part of them forever,” Jimenez says. “It nourishes them, it gives them memories that will last forever, and it makes people happy.”

This notion is exemplified in Mushi Ni’s more original dishes, such as their cauliflower bang bang boa, a traditional Chinese steamed bun with a distinctive twist. Instead of completing the bun with the usual fillings of braised pork or seared chicken, the cauliflower bang bang bao is filled with tempura fried cauliflower topped with a spicy vegan sauce that is unique to Mushi Ni.

“We try to be different from other places,” Jimenez says.

She goes on to say that they do so by appealing to the senses.

“There is texture, there is always flavor,” she explains, which add up to memorable combinations that keep customers coming back for more.

In many ways, the foods that Jimenez and Lee create are direct reflections of who they are, not just as chefs, but as people. Jimenez has been vegan for the better part of five years, inspiring her and Lee to serve a wide variety of plant-based dishes in addition to the more traditional meat dishes which Lee enjoys. Also, Jimenez grew up watching her grandfather cook, and she says that learning from him is what first instilled in her a love for food.

As for Lee, he is a first-generation American whose family came to the U.S. as Vietnamese refugees after the 1975 Fall of Saigon. He feels especially connected to both Vietnam and his home state of Missouri, and it shows in Mushi Ni’s eclectic array of Asian American-inspired dishes. Lee also uses his sense of humor as inspiration for edgier menu ideas.

“Humor is a big part of how I express myself,” Lee says. “If I think of an idea and it makes me laugh, I usually will try and make it work. Heritage is another part — I want to share who I am and where I came from in a bite of food.”

Lee and Jimenez are not the first to see food as an art form. As it happens, this movement has its roots in the avant-garde Futurist movement, which began over 100 years ago in 1909. According to the Smithsonian Journeys Travel Quarterly, this movement was inspired by a championing of “the industrial age and all things mechanical,” and it shaped much of how society looks at food today. More specifically, the artist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti is considered by many to be the first of a number of modernists to acknowledge the role that art plays in the creation of food. But as with all art, food is often enjoyed in different ways by different people. The qualities of food that Marinetti once saw as art are likely to be enjoyed differently by many people today.

What truly makes food an art form, in Jimenez’ opinion, however, is how one chooses to interpret the raw ingredients they are given. This notion shines through in menu items like Mushi Ni’s build-your-own style bowls, for example. The Mushi Ni bowl is a classic presentation of simple ingredients combined to create an array of flavors and textures within a single dish. One customer might choose japchae noodles and shrimp tempura in their bowl rather than brown rice and beef bulgogi, creating a completely different flavor experience.

Jimenez adds that food should always be simple but good, and should feature great techniques with equally great ingredients. This is what so inspired her about her grandfather’s cooking as she grew up. She says that she loved to see the many different ways in which he took a table full of uncooked ingredients and turned them into a singular dish — the end result of a harmonious process.

“My grandpa had a big kitchen, and, you know, when you’re a kid you’re bored and so you just go in the kitchen,” Jimenez says. “So I’d just observe, and I think I loved how it was synchronized. It was all spread out, and then it became one dish.”

Like Jimenez, Lee’s passion for food was inspired by his family. He says that he used to spend his days gathering ingredients or washing dishes for the catering company that his grandmother ran out of her home.

“The love grew from there,” he says.

Lee encourages those with an honest desire to get good at their craft to stick it out, even through the hardest of times. “Early on you have to make the decision of how you are going to spend your time,” he says. “Am I here to get a paycheck to survive, or do I want to learn the right way and have a career for the future?”

Jimenez adds that up-and-coming chefs or business owners should be prepared for failure as “part of whatever you encounter.” She advises those with a dream of success to go for it, but with a solid plan in mind ahead of time.

“Make sure that you have a plan B or a plan C and a plan D,” Jimenez says. “Just make sure that you’re ready to face a lot of sacrifices, and, at the end of the day, if you’re happy doing it, just keep doing it."

Mushi Ni is in the We-Suki-Suki Food Hall, 477 Flat Shoals Avenue S.E., Atlanta, GA. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (404) 405-6005.    ALL PHOTOS: J. ALBURL INSIDE WE SUKI SUKI: Mushi Ni favorites, from left, the curry bowl, the cauliflower bang bang boa, and the mighty veggie bowl.  0,0,1                                 Inspired by heritage, history, and art "
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Article

Tuesday October 1, 2019 03:40 pm EDT
The two chefs of Mushi Ni | more...
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  string(9803) "Summerhill, the neighborhood around the former Turner Field, is the latest site of our city’s rabid gentrification. Originally home to freed slaves and Jewish immigrants after the Civil War, it had a thriving commercial district, mainly along Georgia Avenue. Eventually, most businesses vacated the buildings, leaving them empty for decades. Now, redevelopment — served in part by Georgia State University’s taking over the stadium — is turning it into a center for restaurants, which will eventually number as many as 12. I’ve visited three of the new eateries for barbecue, pizza, and soft-serve ice cream. 

The anchor restaurant is Wood’s Chapel BBQ, a 5,200-square-foot space that takes its name from a church that opened soon after the neighborhood’s creation in 1865. It is certainly a departure from the romanticized, disheveled barbecue shacks all over the South. Besides the enormous dining room, there’s a game room, a large patio, and a smokehouse whose fragrance fills the air as soon as you park your car in the unpaved lot full of loose, big stones, like ole-timey rural driveways for trucks. I should warn you that there’s often a long line at the counter to place an order. Feel free to chat with strangers. Make friends for life during the sometimes 30-minute wait.

I’ve tried just about everything on the menu except sandwiches in my three visits. Everything here is locally-sourced and intensely flavorful. My favorite has been the St. Louis-style ribs. They are perfect — smoked, glazed, and blackened with the requisite bark. I love that they aren’t sloppy. There’s this idea that rib meat should be falling off the bone, dripping sauce. These ribs, pink in the center, allow you to pick them up and take a bite without creating a greasy avalanche.



I’ve also tried the chopped “whole hog” from Riverview Farms. I found it on the dry side, and that brings up one significant complaint. Normally, you can compensate for dryness by adding sauce, but I did not find any of the available three sauces very palatable. Two are ketchupy and sugary; the third is vinegary, but also sweet. You must dispense the sauces from a gigantic contraption into tiny cups. You’ll find yourself walking back and forth to supply your table. It’s a long walk! Honestly, though, the meats don’t need the sauces for taste. They come from the smokehouse immensely flavorful as they are. The sugary sauces can obscure the primary flavor.

The beef brisket is sublimely juicy with streams of fat — sometimes too much fat, if there’s such a thing. I lived in Houston, where brisket is king, and this is as good as any I ever ate there. I’m not crazy about smoked fish, but I ordered the restaurant’s salmon. I ended up giving my serving to my tablemate, who loved it.  The only meat I didn’t try was the smoked turkey. 

All of the meats are served solo or in pairs, along with two sides. Here, the kitchen gets playful. I would be perfectly happy to order nothing but a big bowl of the greens with the cornbread. The greens — collards during my visits — were swimming in pot liquor lightly doused with vinegar and full of pork pieces. The cornbread was the sweet variety — they seem to love sugar here — but it’s nonetheless good dipped in the bowl of collards. The jalapeno-spiked coleslaw, turned pink by the inclusion of thin slices of beets, is maybe the best side. The creamed corn borders on the complicated, bringing nuevo-elote to mind. The pork and beans with burnt ends tastes like the usual at first. Then you realize the kitchen adds texture by using several types of beans while the burnt ends add extra richness. The potato salad is spiked with dill. (I prefer mustard in my potato salad.) The mac and cheese, although tasty and slightly spicy, was way too sticky-thick. The one mystifying fail for me was the intriguing fried rice with pork belly. It really tasted like a Chinese-American mid-century nightmare. The minced pork was flavorless. 

I’ve sampled two of the gorgeous pies exhibited on the counter. Both the lemon chess and especially the banana-pudding pie were nostalgic, creamy successes. (For another sweet adventure nearby, consider visiting Big Softie, described below.)

There is no way Wood’s Chapel won’t be an epic success. The owners are Todd Ginsberg, Shelley Sweet, Jennifer Johnson and Ben Johnson. They own five other venues, including The General Muir. Sweet and the Johnsons also operate West Egg Café. Pitmaster Brian Keenan was the owner of Meating Street Barbecue in Roswell, and chef Wilson Gourley last worked at 8ARM.

Junior’s Pizza has opened in the boxy-modern building next to Wood’s Chapel. Be prepared to marvel. The walls aren’t quite as inked as the skin of owners Alex and Jennifer Aton, but the huge, slice-munching unicorn and bug-eyed demon painted by tattoo artists will make you feel lost in the Krog Street Tunnel. Junior’s website logo takes the prize for best pizzeria blasphemy anywhere. It’s a traditional “sacred heart” with flames, wings, and thorns. But a slice of pizza takes the place of the heart itself. Jesus!

I’m not sure how to categorize the pizza. Alex worked for Fellini’s for 10 years, so the pies are unsurprisingly thicker than the Neapolitan versions so popular now. You might call them sort-of, kind-of New York style, but Alex has eschewed that description in the voluminous press the pizzeria has received. Whatever, the dough is the result of experiments he conducted at home, where the couple made pies and delivered them privately for two years.

People have their favorite styles of pizza, just as they do with barbecue. Mine is generally the Neapolitan but I usually, inappropriately, ask for it to be well done. I don’t like gooey pies. In fact, before Neapolitans became available around town, I loved the super-thin, crackery pizzas at Everybody’s (R.I.P.). I’ve tried four of the cheap slices at Junior’s, where the wait to order at the counter can be as lengthy as it is at Wood’s Chapel. I ate two slices at home (vegan and white) and two at the restaurant (regular tomato and Sicilian).

I can say at the outset that the outer crust on all the pies was problematic for my taste. I want it to require a bit of tugging by the teeth and I want some char, but I don’t want a dental wrestling match. I left the crust behind on all four of these slices. Otherwise, the dough was pretty conventional. My favorite slice was the regular, tomato-sauced one with pepperoni. I’d received suggestions to order it because it features very thin-sliced pepperoni that curls into tiny cups in the oven, getting charred and slightly crisp around the lip. This alone makes going to Junior’s worthwhile.

My second fave was the Sicilian, almost never my thing because of the thickness, but it tasted great topped with roasted chicken. Prepare to chew the thick dough a long time. My third-rating goes to the white. The cheeses were better than average, but I made the mistake of ordering it topped with basil and garlic. The basil was a miniscule portion, cooked until super-shriveled. I had asked the counter person if the garlic was roasted. She said yes. I was thinking slippery, sweet cloves here and there on the pizza, but it was minced and pervasive. I wouldn’t talk to anyone but myself after eating it. The award for fourth place goes to the vegan slice. Oy. I got it topped with some Kalamatas, but I found the virtually slimy, faux cheese repulsive. This was one of the slices I took home, so I don’t know if the brief trip in the box steamed it into something it’s usually not.

As I wrote above, people have their favorite styles of pizza, so don’t troll me for not being more enthusiastic. I absolutely recommend it. The prices are low, the vibe is terrific, the pizza’s merits depend on your wise selection of toppings. 

After your meal at Wood’s Chapel or Junior’s, please waddle across the street to Big Softie for ice cream you know is going to be fantastic because it adjoins a new location of Little Tart Bakeshop. Both are owned by Sarah O’Brien.

Of course, everything is made on the premises from sourced ingredients. You get a choice of soft-serve chocolate, vanilla, coffee, vegan (made with oat milk), and, sometimes, a specialty. I’ve only tried the vanilla and coffee in my two visits. Select a waffle cone. They are made at Little Tart. 

The glass case exhibits bowls of toppings that look like they’d be perfect for the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Several are in the form of sprinkles, including a festive “pink praline” and little chunks of “honey comb.” I had those two on cone #1 and toasted coconut and benne brittle on the second. The latter is just plain spectacular. Benne seeds are basically heirloom sesame seeds, native to sub-Saharan Africa, brought to South Carolina’s low country by slaves. I remember eating wafers made with them as a kid. I don’t know exactly what Big Softie does to make the brittle, but it is, of course, crunchy and just a little bitter — a perfect foil for the sweet and creamy ice cream.

The shop also makes beverages, such as a root beer float. There’s a patio behind Little Tart where you can lick a cone and rest your feet which may be exhausted by the long waits at the counter of all three of these venues. I haven’t actually stopped by Little Tart yet. I need to see how the ice cream might taste atop the city’s best croissant.

Wood’s Chapel BBQ, 85 Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-522-3000, www.woodschapelbbq.com.

Junior’s Pizza, 77 Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-549-7147, www.juniorspizzaatl.com. 

Big Softie, 68 Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-348-4797, www.bigsoftieatl.com."
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  string(9985) "Summerhill, the neighborhood around the former Turner Field, is the latest site of our city’s rabid gentrification. Originally home to freed slaves and Jewish immigrants after the Civil War, it had a thriving commercial district, mainly along Georgia Avenue. Eventually, most businesses vacated the buildings, leaving them empty for decades. Now, redevelopment — served in part by Georgia State University’s taking over the stadium — is turning it into a center for restaurants, which will eventually number as many as 12. I’ve visited three of the new eateries for barbecue, pizza, and soft-serve ice cream. 

The anchor restaurant is Wood’s Chapel BBQ, a 5,200-square-foot space that takes its name from a church that opened soon after the neighborhood’s creation in 1865. It is certainly a departure from the romanticized, disheveled barbecue shacks all over the South. Besides the enormous dining room, there’s a game room, a large patio, and a smokehouse whose fragrance fills the air as soon as you park your car in the unpaved lot full of loose, big stones, like ole-timey rural driveways for trucks. I should warn you that there’s often a long line at the counter to place an order. Feel free to chat with strangers. Make friends for life during the sometimes 30-minute wait.

I’ve tried just about everything on the menu except sandwiches in my three visits. Everything here is locally-sourced and intensely flavorful. My favorite has been the St. Louis-style ribs. They are perfect — smoked, glazed, and blackened with the requisite bark. I love that they aren’t sloppy. There’s this idea that rib meat should be falling off the bone, dripping sauce. These ribs, pink in the center, allow you to pick them up and take a bite without creating a greasy avalanche.

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I’ve also tried the chopped “whole hog” from Riverview Farms. I found it on the dry side, and that brings up one significant complaint. Normally, you can compensate for dryness by adding sauce, but I did not find any of the available three sauces very palatable. Two are ketchupy and sugary; the third is vinegary, but also sweet. You must dispense the sauces from a gigantic contraption into tiny cups. You’ll find yourself walking back and forth to supply your table. It’s a long walk! Honestly, though, the meats don’t need the sauces for taste. They come from the smokehouse immensely flavorful as they are. The sugary sauces can obscure the primary flavor.

The beef brisket is sublimely juicy with streams of fat — sometimes too much fat, if there’s such a thing. I lived in Houston, where brisket is king, and this is as good as any I ever ate there. I’m not crazy about smoked fish, but I ordered the restaurant’s salmon. I ended up giving my serving to my tablemate, who loved it.  The only meat I didn’t try was the smoked turkey. 

All of the meats are served solo or in pairs, along with two sides. Here, the kitchen gets playful. I would be perfectly happy to order nothing but a big bowl of the greens with the cornbread. The greens — collards during my visits — were swimming in pot liquor lightly doused with vinegar and full of pork pieces. The cornbread was the sweet variety — they seem to love sugar here — but it’s nonetheless good dipped in the bowl of collards. The jalapeno-spiked coleslaw, turned pink by the inclusion of thin slices of beets, is maybe the best side. The creamed corn borders on the complicated, bringing nuevo-elote to mind. The pork and beans with burnt ends tastes like the usual at first. Then you realize the kitchen adds texture by using several types of beans while the burnt ends add extra richness. The potato salad is spiked with dill. (I prefer mustard in my potato salad.) The mac and cheese, although tasty and slightly spicy, was way too sticky-thick. The one mystifying fail for me was the intriguing fried rice with pork belly. It really tasted like a Chinese-American mid-century nightmare. The minced pork was flavorless. 

I’ve sampled two of the gorgeous pies exhibited on the counter. Both the lemon chess and especially the banana-pudding pie were nostalgic, creamy successes. (For another sweet adventure nearby, consider visiting Big Softie, described below.)

There is no way Wood’s Chapel won’t be an epic success. The owners are Todd Ginsberg, Shelley Sweet, Jennifer Johnson and Ben Johnson. They own five other venues, including The General Muir. Sweet and the Johnsons also operate West Egg Café. Pitmaster Brian Keenan was the owner of Meating Street Barbecue in Roswell, and chef Wilson Gourley last worked at 8ARM.

Junior’s Pizza has opened in the boxy-modern building next to Wood’s Chapel. Be prepared to marvel. The walls aren’t quite as inked as the skin of owners Alex and Jennifer Aton, but the huge, slice-munching unicorn and bug-eyed demon painted by tattoo artists will make you feel lost in the Krog Street Tunnel. Junior’s website logo takes the prize for best pizzeria blasphemy anywhere. It’s a traditional “sacred heart” with flames, wings, and thorns. But a slice of pizza takes the place of the heart itself. Jesus!

I’m not sure how to categorize the pizza. Alex worked for Fellini’s for 10 years, so the pies are unsurprisingly thicker than the Neapolitan versions so popular now. You might call them sort-of, kind-of New York style, but Alex has eschewed that description in the voluminous press the pizzeria has received. Whatever, the dough is the result of experiments he conducted at home, where the couple made pies and delivered them privately for two years.

People have their favorite styles of pizza, just as they do with barbecue. Mine is generally the Neapolitan but I usually, inappropriately, ask for it to be well done. I don’t like gooey pies. In fact, before Neapolitans became available around town, I loved the super-thin, crackery pizzas at Everybody’s (R.I.P.). I’ve tried four of the cheap slices at Junior’s, where the wait to order at the counter can be as lengthy as it is at Wood’s Chapel. I ate two slices at home (vegan and white) and two at the restaurant (regular tomato and Sicilian).

I can say at the outset that the outer crust on all the pies was problematic for my taste. I want it to require a bit of tugging by the teeth and I want some char, but I don’t want a dental wrestling match. I left the crust behind on all four of these slices. Otherwise, the dough was pretty conventional. My favorite slice was the regular, tomato-sauced one with pepperoni. I’d received suggestions to order it because it features very thin-sliced pepperoni that curls into tiny cups in the oven, getting charred and slightly crisp around the lip. This alone makes going to Junior’s worthwhile.

My second fave was the Sicilian, almost never my thing because of the thickness, but it tasted great topped with roasted chicken. Prepare to chew the thick dough a long time. My third-rating goes to the white. The cheeses were better than average, but I made the mistake of ordering it topped with basil and garlic. The basil was a miniscule portion, cooked until super-shriveled. I had asked the counter person if the garlic was roasted. She said yes. I was thinking slippery, sweet cloves here and there on the pizza, but it was minced and pervasive. I wouldn’t talk to anyone but myself after eating it. The award for fourth place goes to the vegan slice. Oy. I got it topped with some Kalamatas, but I found the virtually slimy, faux cheese repulsive. This was one of the slices I took home, so I don’t know if the brief trip in the box steamed it into something it’s usually not.

As I wrote above, people have their favorite styles of pizza, so don’t troll me for not being more enthusiastic. I absolutely recommend it. The prices are low, the vibe is terrific, the pizza’s merits depend on your wise selection of toppings. 

After your meal at Wood’s Chapel or Junior’s, please waddle across the street to Big Softie for ice cream you know is going to be fantastic because it adjoins a new location of Little Tart Bakeshop. Both are owned by Sarah O’Brien.

Of course, everything is made on the premises from sourced ingredients. You get a choice of soft-serve chocolate, vanilla, coffee, vegan (made with oat milk), and, sometimes, a specialty. I’ve only tried the vanilla and coffee in my two visits. Select a waffle cone. They are made at Little Tart. 

The glass case exhibits bowls of toppings that look like they’d be perfect for the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Several are in the form of sprinkles, including a festive “pink praline” and little chunks of “honey comb.” I had those two on cone #1 and toasted coconut and benne brittle on the second. The latter is just plain spectacular. Benne seeds are basically heirloom sesame seeds, native to sub-Saharan Africa, brought to South Carolina’s low country by slaves. I remember eating wafers made with them as a kid. I don’t know exactly what Big Softie does to make the brittle, but it is, of course, crunchy and just a little bitter — a perfect foil for the sweet and creamy ice cream.

The shop also makes beverages, such as a root beer float. There’s a patio behind Little Tart where you can lick a cone and rest your feet which may be exhausted by the long waits at the counter of all three of these venues. I haven’t actually stopped by Little Tart yet. I need to see how the ice cream might taste atop the city’s best croissant.

__Wood’s Chapel BBQ__, ''85 Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-522-3000, www.woodschapelbbq.com.''

__Junior’s Pizza__, ''77 Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-549-7147, www.juniorspizzaatl.com.'' 

__Big Softie__, ''68 Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-348-4797, www.bigsoftieatl.com.''"
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  string(10282) " DBL MEAT 2347  2019-09-04T22:08:52+00:00 DBL_MEAT_2347.jpg     Religious barbecue, tattooed pizza, and bejeweled ice cream 22819  2019-09-04T22:04:44+00:00 GRAZING: Feasting in Summerhill jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Cliff Bostock  2019-09-04T22:04:44+00:00  Summerhill, the neighborhood around the former Turner Field, is the latest site of our city’s rabid gentrification. Originally home to freed slaves and Jewish immigrants after the Civil War, it had a thriving commercial district, mainly along Georgia Avenue. Eventually, most businesses vacated the buildings, leaving them empty for decades. Now, redevelopment — served in part by Georgia State University’s taking over the stadium — is turning it into a center for restaurants, which will eventually number as many as 12. I’ve visited three of the new eateries for barbecue, pizza, and soft-serve ice cream. 

The anchor restaurant is Wood’s Chapel BBQ, a 5,200-square-foot space that takes its name from a church that opened soon after the neighborhood’s creation in 1865. It is certainly a departure from the romanticized, disheveled barbecue shacks all over the South. Besides the enormous dining room, there’s a game room, a large patio, and a smokehouse whose fragrance fills the air as soon as you park your car in the unpaved lot full of loose, big stones, like ole-timey rural driveways for trucks. I should warn you that there’s often a long line at the counter to place an order. Feel free to chat with strangers. Make friends for life during the sometimes 30-minute wait.

I’ve tried just about everything on the menu except sandwiches in my three visits. Everything here is locally-sourced and intensely flavorful. My favorite has been the St. Louis-style ribs. They are perfect — smoked, glazed, and blackened with the requisite bark. I love that they aren’t sloppy. There’s this idea that rib meat should be falling off the bone, dripping sauce. These ribs, pink in the center, allow you to pick them up and take a bite without creating a greasy avalanche.



I’ve also tried the chopped “whole hog” from Riverview Farms. I found it on the dry side, and that brings up one significant complaint. Normally, you can compensate for dryness by adding sauce, but I did not find any of the available three sauces very palatable. Two are ketchupy and sugary; the third is vinegary, but also sweet. You must dispense the sauces from a gigantic contraption into tiny cups. You’ll find yourself walking back and forth to supply your table. It’s a long walk! Honestly, though, the meats don’t need the sauces for taste. They come from the smokehouse immensely flavorful as they are. The sugary sauces can obscure the primary flavor.

The beef brisket is sublimely juicy with streams of fat — sometimes too much fat, if there’s such a thing. I lived in Houston, where brisket is king, and this is as good as any I ever ate there. I’m not crazy about smoked fish, but I ordered the restaurant’s salmon. I ended up giving my serving to my tablemate, who loved it.  The only meat I didn’t try was the smoked turkey. 

All of the meats are served solo or in pairs, along with two sides. Here, the kitchen gets playful. I would be perfectly happy to order nothing but a big bowl of the greens with the cornbread. The greens — collards during my visits — were swimming in pot liquor lightly doused with vinegar and full of pork pieces. The cornbread was the sweet variety — they seem to love sugar here — but it’s nonetheless good dipped in the bowl of collards. The jalapeno-spiked coleslaw, turned pink by the inclusion of thin slices of beets, is maybe the best side. The creamed corn borders on the complicated, bringing nuevo-elote to mind. The pork and beans with burnt ends tastes like the usual at first. Then you realize the kitchen adds texture by using several types of beans while the burnt ends add extra richness. The potato salad is spiked with dill. (I prefer mustard in my potato salad.) The mac and cheese, although tasty and slightly spicy, was way too sticky-thick. The one mystifying fail for me was the intriguing fried rice with pork belly. It really tasted like a Chinese-American mid-century nightmare. The minced pork was flavorless. 

I’ve sampled two of the gorgeous pies exhibited on the counter. Both the lemon chess and especially the banana-pudding pie were nostalgic, creamy successes. (For another sweet adventure nearby, consider visiting Big Softie, described below.)

There is no way Wood’s Chapel won’t be an epic success. The owners are Todd Ginsberg, Shelley Sweet, Jennifer Johnson and Ben Johnson. They own five other venues, including The General Muir. Sweet and the Johnsons also operate West Egg Café. Pitmaster Brian Keenan was the owner of Meating Street Barbecue in Roswell, and chef Wilson Gourley last worked at 8ARM.

Junior’s Pizza has opened in the boxy-modern building next to Wood’s Chapel. Be prepared to marvel. The walls aren’t quite as inked as the skin of owners Alex and Jennifer Aton, but the huge, slice-munching unicorn and bug-eyed demon painted by tattoo artists will make you feel lost in the Krog Street Tunnel. Junior’s website logo takes the prize for best pizzeria blasphemy anywhere. It’s a traditional “sacred heart” with flames, wings, and thorns. But a slice of pizza takes the place of the heart itself. Jesus!

I’m not sure how to categorize the pizza. Alex worked for Fellini’s for 10 years, so the pies are unsurprisingly thicker than the Neapolitan versions so popular now. You might call them sort-of, kind-of New York style, but Alex has eschewed that description in the voluminous press the pizzeria has received. Whatever, the dough is the result of experiments he conducted at home, where the couple made pies and delivered them privately for two years.

People have their favorite styles of pizza, just as they do with barbecue. Mine is generally the Neapolitan but I usually, inappropriately, ask for it to be well done. I don’t like gooey pies. In fact, before Neapolitans became available around town, I loved the super-thin, crackery pizzas at Everybody’s (R.I.P.). I’ve tried four of the cheap slices at Junior’s, where the wait to order at the counter can be as lengthy as it is at Wood’s Chapel. I ate two slices at home (vegan and white) and two at the restaurant (regular tomato and Sicilian).

I can say at the outset that the outer crust on all the pies was problematic for my taste. I want it to require a bit of tugging by the teeth and I want some char, but I don’t want a dental wrestling match. I left the crust behind on all four of these slices. Otherwise, the dough was pretty conventional. My favorite slice was the regular, tomato-sauced one with pepperoni. I’d received suggestions to order it because it features very thin-sliced pepperoni that curls into tiny cups in the oven, getting charred and slightly crisp around the lip. This alone makes going to Junior’s worthwhile.

My second fave was the Sicilian, almost never my thing because of the thickness, but it tasted great topped with roasted chicken. Prepare to chew the thick dough a long time. My third-rating goes to the white. The cheeses were better than average, but I made the mistake of ordering it topped with basil and garlic. The basil was a miniscule portion, cooked until super-shriveled. I had asked the counter person if the garlic was roasted. She said yes. I was thinking slippery, sweet cloves here and there on the pizza, but it was minced and pervasive. I wouldn’t talk to anyone but myself after eating it. The award for fourth place goes to the vegan slice. Oy. I got it topped with some Kalamatas, but I found the virtually slimy, faux cheese repulsive. This was one of the slices I took home, so I don’t know if the brief trip in the box steamed it into something it’s usually not.

As I wrote above, people have their favorite styles of pizza, so don’t troll me for not being more enthusiastic. I absolutely recommend it. The prices are low, the vibe is terrific, the pizza’s merits depend on your wise selection of toppings. 

After your meal at Wood’s Chapel or Junior’s, please waddle across the street to Big Softie for ice cream you know is going to be fantastic because it adjoins a new location of Little Tart Bakeshop. Both are owned by Sarah O’Brien.

Of course, everything is made on the premises from sourced ingredients. You get a choice of soft-serve chocolate, vanilla, coffee, vegan (made with oat milk), and, sometimes, a specialty. I’ve only tried the vanilla and coffee in my two visits. Select a waffle cone. They are made at Little Tart. 

The glass case exhibits bowls of toppings that look like they’d be perfect for the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Several are in the form of sprinkles, including a festive “pink praline” and little chunks of “honey comb.” I had those two on cone #1 and toasted coconut and benne brittle on the second. The latter is just plain spectacular. Benne seeds are basically heirloom sesame seeds, native to sub-Saharan Africa, brought to South Carolina’s low country by slaves. I remember eating wafers made with them as a kid. I don’t know exactly what Big Softie does to make the brittle, but it is, of course, crunchy and just a little bitter — a perfect foil for the sweet and creamy ice cream.

The shop also makes beverages, such as a root beer float. There’s a patio behind Little Tart where you can lick a cone and rest your feet which may be exhausted by the long waits at the counter of all three of these venues. I haven’t actually stopped by Little Tart yet. I need to see how the ice cream might taste atop the city’s best croissant.

Wood’s Chapel BBQ, 85 Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-522-3000, www.woodschapelbbq.com.

Junior’s Pizza, 77 Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-549-7147, www.juniorspizzaatl.com. 

Big Softie, 68 Georgia Ave. S.E., 404-348-4797, www.bigsoftieatl.com.    Cliff Bostock DOUBLE MEAT PLATE: Brisket, chopped pork, pork and beans, and very odd fried rice with pork belly at Wood's Chapel.  0,0,10                                 GRAZING: Feasting in Summerhill "
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Article

Wednesday September 4, 2019 06:04 pm EDT
Religious barbecue, tattooed pizza, and bejeweled ice cream | more...
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  ["title"]=>
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  string(17211) "Back in the early 1970s, Jimbo Livaditis played youth baseball at Bagley Park (since renamed Frankie Allen Park) in the Garden Hills neighborhood in Buckhead. With some frequency, on the way home after a game or practice, the parents of Livaditis and his preteen teammates would take their Little Leaguers to the nearby Zesto for an ice cream treat or milkshake.

Cooling down in the summer, sipping chocolaty goodness through a straw or licking melted vanilla cream from the runnels of a crunchy sugar cone, a boy could easily slip into a daydream about hitting a grand slam to win the World Series or building a skyscraper in downtown Atlanta next to that new hotel with the blue-domed flying saucer on top. In Jimbo’s case, the idle musing took a different tack.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘One day, I hope this is mine,’” Livaditis says in a phone interview with CL. The young baseballer wearing the syrup-stained jersey had good reason to consider such an unusual prospect. His father, John Livaditis, owned the joint.

As a matter of fact, at the time, “Big John” Livaditis, a hard-working, entrepreneurial, first-generation son of Greek immigrants, owned multiple Zestos in Atlanta, including the city’s first — a walk-up, ice-cream-only stand — which opened in 1949. Later that same year, just a few years out of the Army, where he competed as a Golden Gloves boxer, Livaditis accepted a proposal from a tree grower and started selling Christmas trees in the parking lot on Peachtree Street at Brookwood Station. Thus was established Big John’s Christmas Trees, which helped fill the revenue gap during the holiday season when the demand for cold desserts tapered off.

“Dad always put in an incredible amount of hours,” Livaditis recalls. “A lot of times, we went to visit him after the game because he wasn’t able to attend, since he was working.”

By the mid-1980s, Big John was lording over a fiefdom of 10 metro Atlanta Zestos. In 1988, he retired, bequeathing the restaurant and Christmas tree businesses to sons Lee and (younger by eight years) Jimbo. Seven years later, Big John passed away. For the next three decades, the Livaditis brothers carried on, riding demographic tides and dallying with commercial developments by closing some Zestos, opening new stores and refurbishing others while tweaking the menu to accommodate the public’s trending palate.

In 2019, Zesto Atlanta President and CEO Jimbo Livaditis is presiding over a year-long celebration of a 70-year-old family enterprise. His wife, Leigh Ann, serves as company vice president and director of marketing and communications. The couple’s children work in one capacity or another for Big John’s Christmas Trees. Eldest son John is also involved with Zesto operations while finishing up college at Kennesaw State University. Lucas attends the University of South Carolina, and Anastasia is a senior at North Atlanta High School. Sadly, Lee is not around to raise a celebratory Nut Brown Crown with the family. Three years ago, he succumbed to lung cancer at age 66.

“It was a sudden, traumatizing and multilayered loss,” says Livaditis. “I no longer have my older brother’s advice to lean on or daily presence to cherish. I’ve had a crash course in wearing many more hats than I was used to. I’m still getting on my feet in some areas.”

Currently, the Livaditises operate four metro area Zestos: Buckhead, East Atlanta, Forest Park and Little Five Points (a fifth location, an independent franchise in Tyrone, is owned by a sister-in-law). Big John’s Christmas Trees, which peaked around the turn of the millennia at 22 locations, now stands at nine lots.

The family’s abiding commitment to the cause has been shared by a number of Zesto employees. Delores Slaughter, general manager of the Buckhead Zesto, has been with the company 41 years. East Atlanta GM Jimmy Koulouris has been clocking in for 45 years and counting. Two recently retired store managers, Pete Giannakopoulos and his brother Tommy, were Greek immigrants originally sponsored by Big John in the 1950s; their sister-in-law, Theoni Giannakopoulos, works at the Little Five Points Zesto.

“Our long-term employees know their customers and the customers know them, which adds to the authenticity of the Zesto experience,” says Leigh Ann. “You can’t easily create relationships and experiences like that in a branded business model.”

The original Zesto venture was spawned in 1945 by Rockford, Illinois-based Taylor Freezer Corporation, which manufactured a soft-serve ice cream machine called the Zest-O-Mat. Conceived as a competitor of Dairy Queen, the first Zesto stores were only equipped to serve ice cream. By the time Big John Livaditis opened his franchise in Atlanta, Zestos could be found in 46 states.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, America’s head-over-heels, pedal-to-the-metal love affair with automobiles, drive-ins, and fast food fueled the fortunes of Zesto and its rivals, which competed for customers by expanding their sweet and cool dessert menus with warm, savory fare. In 1959, Zesto introduced a double-patty hamburger originally named “Fat Boy,” which was renamed two years later when Shoney’s objected to the resemblance to the company’s signature “Big Boy” sandwich. Consequently, Big John held a contest, which was won by a Georgia Tech student who submitted Chubby Decker, with a nod to the contemporaneous rock ‘n’ roll star, as the two-tiered burger’s new moniker.

Then came the foot-long hot dog, which, based on innumerable unscientific surveys, is an incomplete construction without chili, if not slaw. “In the ’60s, my father had a Greek buddy in Pennsylvania named Gus,” says Livaditis. “He ran a chain called Coney Island, which offered a special chili dog. His success inspired my dad to perfect the chili recipe we still use today.”

Hand-cut onion rings, French fries, and fried chicken became staple menu items. Over the years, at various times and locations, Zesto customers could order a pizza burger, roast beef sandwich, grilled and toasted cheese sandwiches, and pork tenderloin. “There’s even a fish dog — two fish sticks on a foot-long bun with coleslaw and tartar sauce — which is on the ‘secret menu,’” Livaditis confides.

Recently, the influx of Hispanic and Latino residents across metro Atlanta neighborhoods spurred the addition of burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and nachos to the menu at several Zesto locations. For 2019, a Spicy 70th Steakburger with bacon and Palmetto Cheese was introduced. Currently, the kitchen lab is putting the final tweaks on a mango milkshake. “It’s been a labor of love,” Livaditis says. “We want to get it just right using nothing artificial, just pure ingredients, fresh mangos with the right color, texture, and bite.”

Then as now, in acknowledgement of the restaurant’s Southern roots, fried livers and gizzards can be ordered at select Zesto locations. “I’ve been known to stop in and sample the livers and gizzards to make sure they’re up to our standards,” Livaditis says, with a chuckle.

Celebrity sightings and associations are features of the Zesto Atlanta legacy. Pro basketball Hall of Famer Walt Frazier, who led the New York Knicks to two National Basketball Association championships (1970 and ’73), played high school sports at Atlanta’s David Tobias Howard High School. In a 2018 biography produced by MSG Networks, Frazier visits the Zesto on Ponce de Leon (now a Cook Out) where he did a stint as a “curb boy” when the restaurant only offered walk-up or dine-in-your-car service. During the segment Frazier reminisces with his former supervisors, the Giannakopoulos brothers.

Then there was the time (in 1979) a WSB-TV news reporter corralled Colonel Sanders at the defunct Zesto at Pershing Point after the goateed ambassador of Kentucky Fried Chicken was spotted enjoying one of his guilty pleasures, a Zesto milkshake.

More recently, people are still laughing at the “kids meal” scene from the first season (2016) of Donald Glover’s television series “Atlanta,” which was filmed at the East Atlanta Zesto. Cee Lo Green, Lil Yachty, and Shawn Reis (“Flash Gordon,” “Smallville”) have been spotted chilling at Zesto. One day, Livaditis and his three children were eating lunch at the Piedmont Road Zesto when they looked over and discovered they were dining with Carolina Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton (presumably during the off-season).

So, what’s the secret to Zesto's enduring allure and success?

“It’s hard to pin down, but part of it is a combination of nostalgia and relevance,” says Leigh Ann. “If you can maintain that nostalgic ‘Gee, this place is cool!’ factor, that’s great. But you also have to stay relevant by tapping into social media, updating the menu, and doing promotions that attract younger people.”

Livaditis adds: “We were laughing the other night. When Dad started Zesto, he wasn’t thinking, ‘I’m going to create something 1950s-ish because it’s trendy.’ He was just working with what was available. There is something compelling about the design of the drive-in and the feeling it generates, which has been glamorized by movies. But there is also an element of genuine authenticity, which you can’t force; it’s either present or it’s not.”

Seventy years down the road, thanks to a family’s work ethic and aspirational spirit, Zesto Atlanta stands as a worthy representative of the all-American drive-in food destination, as well as a cultural touchstone near and dear to the hearts, if not the digestive tracts, of the city’s inhabitants.

!!More than a place to eat
In researching this story, writer Doug DeLoach solicited memories of Zesto adventures from Atlanta stalwarts and friends. A selection of these recollections, mostly unedited follow. Others may be found on creativeloafing.com.

Patricia Doyle O’Connor
The day of my divorce, I was on my way home from signing papers and pretty broken. I walked into the Ponce (Zesto) location and had lunch. Looking up from my booth, I noticed a man running toward the front door, which faced the old Sears building, two Atlanta cops on his heels. When he hit the door, he jumped up on the first table to try to avoid the police who were getting their tear-gas canisters out. They chased him as he jumped from table to table in full run. I sorta ducked and covered my fries from the dirt flying. I couldn’t decide who to trip — them or him — so I just sheltered my food. When I did finally look up, nobody was left in the store, not a cook or waiter or customer — just me and a huge cloud of tear gas, which I didn’t feel until much later, in the shower for some reason. I continued eating alone.

Faylynn Owen
I was a regular at the Little Five Points location for a sweet tea after big nights. I loved their tea. I stumbled down there one morning/afternoon and got my tea. I made it out the door only to realize my magic elixir tasted like bad socks. I returned to the good-natured laughing of the staff, who knew exactly what happened. Someone new had made the tea. They then offered me my second choice, a cherry coke. Kudos to the staff.

Dave Chamberlain
One hot July day in 1979, my brother Tim and I were tooling along in his red VW bug on North Highland Avenue when we stopped at the red light at Ponce de Leon Avenue. The car in front of us had a sunroof, and we watched the driver make a valiant attempt to lob a bag through it and into a roadside garbage can. The shot, of course, was off by several feet and the bag landed rather close to our car. Feeling some ire at witnessing brazen littering, I leapt from the car to grab it and put it into the garbage receptacle when I noticed the telltale classic red-striped Zesto packaging. My brother hollered for me to just dump the damn bag and get the hell back in the car. I did, bag in hand. Peering inside, I exclaimed, “It’s a Zesto bag with a Chubby Decker! Uneaten!” Now, since Zesto makes the very finest of hangover recovery foods, and since the Chubby Decker is the apex hamburger invention on the planet, I was loathe to toss the bag and its tempting contents. I gazed adoringly at the burger as my brother intoned, “Dave, don’t do it.” Brushing off his plea, I devoured that perfect burger between Virginia Highlands and Midtown without concern for microbial attack. While my brother threatened to race to Grady Hospital as a precautionary measure, I enjoyed every bite. Such is the stuff of daft youth and my high regard for Zesto cuisine. Would I do it again? Never, ever, ever!

Katy Graves
I ran into Hosea Williams in the Zesto on Ponce way back in the day. He was in his trademark overalls, and he was really nice.

Gail Harris
I introduced myself to Hosea Williams at the Zesto on Moreland, had gone to high school with his son Andre.

Kahle Davis
I was walking to the Zesto in Little Five Points to get some soft-serve when I noticed a woman pooping on one of the walls. I turned around and went back to work.

Bill Nittler
Our new house had a very similar address to the Zesto on Ponce: same number, different Ponce (Ave. vs. Mnr.), and at one point UPS started delivering us all kinds of restaurant stuff. Coffee filters, straws, mop heads, adding-machine tape, etc. UPS eventually came and picked it all up after nagging from us and the restaurant. Sadder, when Cook Out moved in, they proceeded to put our address on their website, so we got a whole bunch more stuff, which they never came to get.

Ginger Shyrock
There was a certain female group in the ’80s whose initiation was to drink a bottle of Jägermeister and piss in the Little Five Points Zesto parking lot. They called themselves the Hellcats and, while the initiation was mostly a joke, a couple of them actually did it. I was an honorary member, as I didn’t do such things.

Spencer L. Kirkpatrick
Zesto at Confederate and Moreland avenues (East Atlanta location): I had a heated exchange with (the) cooks regarding long hair — lots of shit talk but no blows — a true standoff. Would have been 1966.

Mark Michaelson
Back in the mid-’60s, we would meet at the Zesto in Buckhead and get in our hopped-up cars and race down Roswell Road all the way to the river with radios loud. Lucky we’re all still standing. One of the cars was a ’62 Vette with a fuel-injected 327. Another one was one of my folks’ rides after we’d “fixed it up.”

Janet Smith and her sister, Priscilla Smith
Janet: Buying fried chicken livers back in the day.
Priscilla: Back in a month or so ago.
Janet: I had no idea they were still on the menu.
Priscilla: I always coveted the faded Brown Crown sign behind the counter in Little 5. Been gone a few years. In 1961 (?), all the kids on Clairmont Circle were excited because they were going to open one at North Decatur, across the street from the Colonial Store, and they had FOOT-LONG HOT DOGS!

Amy Linton
I was at the Little Five Points Zesto with my high school/college boyfriend. He was a musician/songwriter and when people would panhandle, he would see if he could get a song out of them instead of giving them any money. Occasionally, it put me in sketchy situations. One guy approached us in Zesto and started talking him up and then told me to put my hand out. My boyfriend insisted I do it and, not wanting to anger anyone, I put it out, palm up. “Not like you takin’ from me!” he yelled. I turned my hand over, and he tried to get my grandmother’s wedding band, which I always wore, off my hand. Hurt my hand and my boyfriend didn’t even try to defend me. I rarely go there now, but always think of that when I do!

Kent Worley
(The East Atlanta location) was my Zesto. We would stop there for pregame fulfillment before going to the Starlight Drive-In. I was a big fan of the foot-long chili slaw dog. The trick was getting a Nut Brown Crown home for my wife’s late-night munchies before it melted.

Steve Gorman
A large Fellini’s Special (Little Five Points) in 1987 was worth about six Zesto milkshakes, if memory serves. Not that we lowly employees would have bartered pizzas for shakes or anything.

Guy Goodman
Piedmont Road location at Lindbergh Drive, eight years old, throwing my paper route on a bicycle. Would get a Chubby Decker Basket for 50 cents. That came with fries, slaw, and a drink. My mum always wondered why I wasn’t hungry when I got home for dinner. Still friends with Crystal Sloan. Her dad owned all the Zestos in Atlanta: Big John Livaditis.

Mark Greenberg
Inman/Candler Park/Little Five Points: watching the sunset behind downtown through the picture window with my son Emmett, now 13. He’d get a kids’ cup and I’d get a chocolate-covered cone. Definitely, those were some great, quiet, midweek rituals! Let’s go, kiddo!

John Kelly
I melted down a ceiling tile with a mighty mole in 1992 and it stayed there all brown and bubbly until they sold out to the burger joint. -CL-"
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Cooling down in the summer, sipping chocolaty goodness through a straw or licking melted vanilla cream from the runnels of a crunchy sugar cone, a boy could easily slip into a daydream about hitting a grand slam to win the World Series or building a skyscraper in downtown Atlanta next to that new hotel with the blue-domed flying saucer on top. In Jimbo’s case, the idle musing took a different tack.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘One day, I hope this is mine,’” Livaditis says in a phone interview with CL. The young baseballer wearing the syrup-stained jersey had good reason to consider such an unusual prospect. His father, John Livaditis, owned the joint.

As a matter of fact, at the time, “Big John” Livaditis, a hard-working, entrepreneurial, first-generation son of Greek immigrants, owned multiple Zestos in Atlanta, including the city’s first — a walk-up, ice-cream-only stand — which opened in 1949. Later that same year, just a few years out of the Army, where he competed as a Golden Gloves boxer, Livaditis accepted a proposal from a tree grower and started selling Christmas trees in the parking lot on Peachtree Street at Brookwood Station. Thus was established Big John’s Christmas Trees, which helped fill the revenue gap during the holiday season when the demand for cold desserts tapered off.

“Dad always put in an incredible amount of hours,” Livaditis recalls. “A lot of times, we went to visit him after the game because he wasn’t able to attend, since he was working.”

By the mid-1980s, Big John was lording over a fiefdom of 10 metro Atlanta Zestos. In 1988, he retired, bequeathing the restaurant and Christmas tree businesses to sons Lee and (younger by eight years) Jimbo. Seven years later, Big John passed away. For the next three decades, the Livaditis brothers carried on, riding demographic tides and dallying with commercial developments by closing some Zestos, opening new stores and refurbishing others while tweaking the menu to accommodate the public’s trending palate.

In 2019, Zesto Atlanta President and CEO Jimbo Livaditis is presiding over a year-long celebration of a 70-year-old family enterprise. His wife, Leigh Ann, serves as company vice president and director of marketing and communications. The couple’s children work in one capacity or another for Big John’s Christmas Trees. Eldest son John is also involved with Zesto operations while finishing up college at Kennesaw State University. Lucas attends the University of South Carolina, and Anastasia is a senior at North Atlanta High School. Sadly, Lee is not around to raise a celebratory Nut Brown Crown with the family. Three years ago, he succumbed to lung cancer at age 66.

“It was a sudden, traumatizing and multilayered loss,” says Livaditis. “I no longer have my older brother’s advice to lean on or daily presence to cherish. I’ve had a crash course in wearing many more hats than I was used to. I’m still getting on my feet in some areas.”

Currently, the Livaditises operate four metro area Zestos: Buckhead, East Atlanta, Forest Park and Little Five Points (a fifth location, an independent franchise in Tyrone, is owned by a sister-in-law). Big John’s Christmas Trees, which peaked around the turn of the millennia at 22 locations, now stands at nine lots.

The family’s abiding commitment to the cause has been shared by a number of Zesto employees. Delores Slaughter, general manager of the Buckhead Zesto, has been with the company 41 years. East Atlanta GM Jimmy Koulouris has been clocking in for 45 years and counting. Two recently retired store managers, Pete Giannakopoulos and his brother Tommy, were Greek immigrants originally sponsored by Big John in the 1950s; their sister-in-law, Theoni Giannakopoulos, works at the Little Five Points Zesto.

“Our long-term employees know their customers and the customers know them, which adds to the authenticity of the Zesto experience,” says Leigh Ann. “You can’t easily create relationships and experiences like that in a branded business model.”

The original Zesto venture was spawned in 1945 by Rockford, Illinois-based Taylor Freezer Corporation, which manufactured a soft-serve ice cream machine called the Zest-O-Mat. Conceived as a competitor of Dairy Queen, the first Zesto stores were only equipped to serve ice cream. By the time Big John Livaditis opened his franchise in Atlanta, Zestos could be found in 46 states.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, America’s head-over-heels, pedal-to-the-metal love affair with automobiles, drive-ins, and fast food fueled the fortunes of Zesto and its rivals, which competed for customers by expanding their sweet and cool dessert menus with warm, savory fare. In 1959, Zesto introduced a double-patty hamburger originally named “Fat Boy,” which was renamed two years later when Shoney’s objected to the resemblance to the company’s signature “Big Boy” sandwich. Consequently, Big John held a contest, which was won by a Georgia Tech student who submitted Chubby Decker, with a nod to the contemporaneous rock ‘n’ roll star, as the two-tiered burger’s new moniker.

Then came the foot-long hot dog, which, based on innumerable unscientific surveys, is an incomplete construction without chili, if not slaw. “In the ’60s, my father had a Greek buddy in Pennsylvania named Gus,” says Livaditis. “He ran a chain called Coney Island, which offered a special chili dog. His success inspired my dad to perfect the chili recipe we still use today.”

Hand-cut onion rings, French fries, and fried chicken became staple menu items. Over the years, at various times and locations, Zesto customers could order a pizza burger, roast beef sandwich, grilled and toasted cheese sandwiches, and pork tenderloin. “There’s even a fish dog — two fish sticks on a foot-long bun with coleslaw and tartar sauce — which is on the ‘secret menu,’” Livaditis confides.

Recently, the influx of Hispanic and Latino residents across metro Atlanta neighborhoods spurred the addition of burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and nachos to the menu at several Zesto locations. For 2019, a Spicy 70th Steakburger with bacon and Palmetto Cheese was introduced. Currently, the kitchen lab is putting the final tweaks on a mango milkshake. “It’s been a labor of love,” Livaditis says. “We want to get it just right using nothing artificial, just pure ingredients, fresh mangos with the right color, texture, and bite.”

Then as now, in acknowledgement of the restaurant’s Southern roots, fried livers and gizzards can be ordered at select Zesto locations. “I’ve been known to stop in and sample the livers and gizzards to make sure they’re up to our standards,” Livaditis says, with a chuckle.

Celebrity sightings and associations are features of the Zesto Atlanta legacy. Pro basketball Hall of Famer Walt Frazier, who led the New York Knicks to two National Basketball Association championships (1970 and ’73), played high school sports at Atlanta’s David Tobias Howard High School. In a 2018 biography produced by MSG Networks, Frazier visits the Zesto on Ponce de Leon (now a Cook Out) where he did a stint as a “curb boy” when the restaurant only offered walk-up or dine-in-your-car service. During the segment Frazier reminisces with his former supervisors, the Giannakopoulos brothers.

Then there was the time (in 1979) a WSB-TV news reporter corralled Colonel Sanders at the defunct Zesto at Pershing Point after the goateed ambassador of Kentucky Fried Chicken was spotted enjoying one of his guilty pleasures, a Zesto milkshake.

More recently, people are still laughing at the “kids meal” scene from the first season (2016) of Donald Glover’s television series “Atlanta,” which was filmed at the East Atlanta Zesto. Cee Lo Green, Lil Yachty, and Shawn Reis (“Flash Gordon,” “Smallville”) have been spotted chilling at Zesto. One day, Livaditis and his three children were eating lunch at the Piedmont Road Zesto when they looked over and discovered they were dining with Carolina Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton (presumably during the off-season).

So, what’s the secret to Zesto's enduring allure and success?

“It’s hard to pin down, but part of it is a combination of nostalgia and relevance,” says Leigh Ann. “If you can maintain that nostalgic ‘Gee, this place is cool!’ factor, that’s great. But you also have to stay relevant by tapping into social media, updating the menu, and doing promotions that attract younger people.”

Livaditis adds: “We were laughing the other night. When Dad started Zesto, he wasn’t thinking, ‘I’m going to create something 1950s-ish because it’s trendy.’ He was just working with what was available. There is something compelling about the design of the drive-in and the feeling it generates, which has been glamorized by movies. But there is also an element of genuine authenticity, which you can’t force; it’s either present or it’s not.”

Seventy years down the road, thanks to a family’s work ethic and aspirational spirit, Zesto Atlanta stands as a worthy representative of the all-American drive-in food destination, as well as a cultural touchstone near and dear to the hearts, if not the digestive tracts, of the city’s inhabitants.

!!More than a place to eat
In researching this story, writer Doug DeLoach solicited memories of Zesto adventures from Atlanta stalwarts and friends. A selection of these recollections, mostly unedited follow. Others may be found on creativeloafing.com.

__Patricia Doyle O’Connor__
The day of my divorce, I was on my way home from signing papers and pretty broken. I walked into the Ponce (Zesto) location and had lunch. Looking up from my booth, I noticed a man running toward the front door, which faced the old Sears building, two Atlanta cops on his heels. When he hit the door, he jumped up on the first table to try to avoid the police who were getting their tear-gas canisters out. They chased him as he jumped from table to table in full run. I sorta ducked and covered my fries from the dirt flying. I couldn’t decide who to trip — them or him — so I just sheltered my food. When I did finally look up, nobody was left in the store, not a cook or waiter or customer — just me and a huge cloud of tear gas, which I didn’t feel until much later, in the shower for some reason. I continued eating alone.

__Faylynn Owen__
I was a regular at the Little Five Points location for a sweet tea after big nights. I loved their tea. I stumbled down there one morning/afternoon and got my tea. I made it out the door only to realize my magic elixir tasted like bad socks. I returned to the good-natured laughing of the staff, who knew exactly what happened. Someone new had made the tea. They then offered me my second choice, a cherry coke. Kudos to the staff.

__Dave Chamberlain__
One hot July day in 1979, my brother Tim and I were tooling along in his red VW bug on North Highland Avenue when we stopped at the red light at Ponce de Leon Avenue. The car in front of us had a sunroof, and we watched the driver make a valiant attempt to lob a bag through it and into a roadside garbage can. The shot, of course, was off by several feet and the bag landed rather close to our car. Feeling some ire at witnessing brazen littering, I leapt from the car to grab it and put it into the garbage receptacle when I noticed the telltale classic red-striped Zesto packaging. My brother hollered for me to just dump the damn bag and get the hell back in the car. I did, bag in hand. Peering inside, I exclaimed, “It’s a Zesto bag with a Chubby Decker! Uneaten!” Now, since Zesto makes the very finest of hangover recovery foods, and since the Chubby Decker is the apex hamburger invention on the planet, I was loathe to toss the bag and its tempting contents. I gazed adoringly at the burger as my brother intoned, “Dave, don’t do it.” Brushing off his plea, I devoured that perfect burger between Virginia Highlands and Midtown without concern for microbial attack. While my brother threatened to race to Grady Hospital as a precautionary measure, I enjoyed every bite. Such is the stuff of daft youth and my high regard for Zesto cuisine. Would I do it again? Never, ever, ever!

__Katy Graves__
I ran into Hosea Williams in the Zesto on Ponce way back in the day. He was in his trademark overalls, and he was really nice.

__Gail Harris__
I introduced myself to Hosea Williams at the Zesto on Moreland, had gone to high school with his son Andre.

__Kahle Davis__
I was walking to the Zesto in Little Five Points to get some soft-serve when I noticed a woman pooping on one of the walls. I turned around and went back to work.

__Bill Nittler__
Our new house had a very similar address to the Zesto on Ponce: same number, different Ponce (Ave. vs. Mnr.), and at one point UPS started delivering us all kinds of restaurant stuff. Coffee filters, straws, mop heads, adding-machine tape, etc. UPS eventually came and picked it all up after nagging from us and the restaurant. Sadder, when Cook Out moved in, they proceeded to put our address on their website, so we got a whole bunch more stuff, which they never came to get.

__Ginger Shyrock__
There was a certain female group in the ’80s whose initiation was to drink a bottle of Jägermeister and piss in the Little Five Points Zesto parking lot. They called themselves the Hellcats and, while the initiation was mostly a joke, a couple of them actually did it. I was an honorary member, as I didn’t do such things.

__Spencer L. Kirkpatrick__
Zesto at Confederate and Moreland avenues (East Atlanta location): I had a heated exchange with (the) cooks regarding long hair — lots of shit talk but no blows — a true standoff. Would have been 1966.

__Mark Michaelson__
Back in the mid-’60s, we would meet at the Zesto in Buckhead and get in our hopped-up cars and race down Roswell Road all the way to the river with radios loud. Lucky we’re all still standing. One of the cars was a ’62 Vette with a fuel-injected 327. Another one was one of my folks’ rides after we’d “fixed it up.”

__Janet Smith and her sister, Priscilla Smith__
Janet: Buying fried chicken livers back in the day.
Priscilla: Back in a month or so ago.
Janet: I had no idea they were still on the menu.
Priscilla: I always coveted the faded Brown Crown sign behind the counter in Little 5. Been gone a few years. In 1961 (?), all the kids on Clairmont Circle were excited because they were going to open one at North Decatur, across the street from the Colonial Store, and they had FOOT-LONG HOT DOGS!

__Amy Linton__
I was at the Little Five Points Zesto with my high school/college boyfriend. He was a musician/songwriter and when people would panhandle, he would see if he could get a song out of them instead of giving them any money. Occasionally, it put me in sketchy situations. One guy approached us in Zesto and started talking him up and then told me to put my hand out. My boyfriend insisted I do it and, not wanting to anger anyone, I put it out, palm up. “Not like you takin’ from me!” he yelled. I turned my hand over, and he tried to get my grandmother’s wedding band, which I always wore, off my hand. Hurt my hand and my boyfriend didn’t even try to defend me. I rarely go there now, but always think of that when I do!

__Kent Worley__
(The East Atlanta location) was my Zesto. We would stop there for pregame fulfillment before going to the Starlight Drive-In. I was a big fan of the foot-long chili slaw dog. The trick was getting a Nut Brown Crown home for my wife’s late-night munchies before it melted.

__Steve Gorman__
A large Fellini’s Special (Little Five Points) in 1987 was worth about six Zesto milkshakes, if memory serves. Not that we lowly employees would have bartered pizzas for shakes or anything.

__Guy Goodman__
Piedmont Road location at Lindbergh Drive, eight years old, throwing my paper route on a bicycle. Would get a Chubby Decker Basket for 50 cents. That came with fries, slaw, and a drink. My mum always wondered why I wasn’t hungry when I got home for dinner. Still friends with Crystal Sloan. Her dad owned all the Zestos in Atlanta: Big John Livaditis.

__Mark Greenberg__
Inman/Candler Park/Little Five Points: watching the sunset behind downtown through the picture window with my son Emmett, now 13. He’d get a kids’ cup and I’d get a chocolate-covered cone. Definitely, those were some great, quiet, midweek rituals! Let’s go, kiddo!

__John Kelly__
I melted down a ceiling tile with a mighty mole in 1992 and it stayed there all brown and bubbly until they sold out to the burger joint. -CL-"
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  string(17980) " Photo 5 Zesto Piedmont Ca 1962 Credit Zesto Atlanta Copy Vers 3  2019-09-03T19:56:46+00:00 Photo_5_Zesto_Piedmont_ca_1962_credit_Zesto_Atlanta_copy_vers_3.jpg   I worked at the Sears on Ponce De Leon in the '70s.........The Zesto on Ponce was a regular lunch spot for me......loved it atlanta little 5 points creative loafing zesto\'s Zesto Atlanta’s family affair marks a milestone of sweet and savory service 22725  2019-09-03T19:17:28+00:00 70 and Counting chad.radford@creativeloafing.com Chad Radford Doug DeLoach  2019-09-03T19:17:28+00:00  Back in the early 1970s, Jimbo Livaditis played youth baseball at Bagley Park (since renamed Frankie Allen Park) in the Garden Hills neighborhood in Buckhead. With some frequency, on the way home after a game or practice, the parents of Livaditis and his preteen teammates would take their Little Leaguers to the nearby Zesto for an ice cream treat or milkshake.

Cooling down in the summer, sipping chocolaty goodness through a straw or licking melted vanilla cream from the runnels of a crunchy sugar cone, a boy could easily slip into a daydream about hitting a grand slam to win the World Series or building a skyscraper in downtown Atlanta next to that new hotel with the blue-domed flying saucer on top. In Jimbo’s case, the idle musing took a different tack.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘One day, I hope this is mine,’” Livaditis says in a phone interview with CL. The young baseballer wearing the syrup-stained jersey had good reason to consider such an unusual prospect. His father, John Livaditis, owned the joint.

As a matter of fact, at the time, “Big John” Livaditis, a hard-working, entrepreneurial, first-generation son of Greek immigrants, owned multiple Zestos in Atlanta, including the city’s first — a walk-up, ice-cream-only stand — which opened in 1949. Later that same year, just a few years out of the Army, where he competed as a Golden Gloves boxer, Livaditis accepted a proposal from a tree grower and started selling Christmas trees in the parking lot on Peachtree Street at Brookwood Station. Thus was established Big John’s Christmas Trees, which helped fill the revenue gap during the holiday season when the demand for cold desserts tapered off.

“Dad always put in an incredible amount of hours,” Livaditis recalls. “A lot of times, we went to visit him after the game because he wasn’t able to attend, since he was working.”

By the mid-1980s, Big John was lording over a fiefdom of 10 metro Atlanta Zestos. In 1988, he retired, bequeathing the restaurant and Christmas tree businesses to sons Lee and (younger by eight years) Jimbo. Seven years later, Big John passed away. For the next three decades, the Livaditis brothers carried on, riding demographic tides and dallying with commercial developments by closing some Zestos, opening new stores and refurbishing others while tweaking the menu to accommodate the public’s trending palate.

In 2019, Zesto Atlanta President and CEO Jimbo Livaditis is presiding over a year-long celebration of a 70-year-old family enterprise. His wife, Leigh Ann, serves as company vice president and director of marketing and communications. The couple’s children work in one capacity or another for Big John’s Christmas Trees. Eldest son John is also involved with Zesto operations while finishing up college at Kennesaw State University. Lucas attends the University of South Carolina, and Anastasia is a senior at North Atlanta High School. Sadly, Lee is not around to raise a celebratory Nut Brown Crown with the family. Three years ago, he succumbed to lung cancer at age 66.

“It was a sudden, traumatizing and multilayered loss,” says Livaditis. “I no longer have my older brother’s advice to lean on or daily presence to cherish. I’ve had a crash course in wearing many more hats than I was used to. I’m still getting on my feet in some areas.”

Currently, the Livaditises operate four metro area Zestos: Buckhead, East Atlanta, Forest Park and Little Five Points (a fifth location, an independent franchise in Tyrone, is owned by a sister-in-law). Big John’s Christmas Trees, which peaked around the turn of the millennia at 22 locations, now stands at nine lots.

The family’s abiding commitment to the cause has been shared by a number of Zesto employees. Delores Slaughter, general manager of the Buckhead Zesto, has been with the company 41 years. East Atlanta GM Jimmy Koulouris has been clocking in for 45 years and counting. Two recently retired store managers, Pete Giannakopoulos and his brother Tommy, were Greek immigrants originally sponsored by Big John in the 1950s; their sister-in-law, Theoni Giannakopoulos, works at the Little Five Points Zesto.

“Our long-term employees know their customers and the customers know them, which adds to the authenticity of the Zesto experience,” says Leigh Ann. “You can’t easily create relationships and experiences like that in a branded business model.”

The original Zesto venture was spawned in 1945 by Rockford, Illinois-based Taylor Freezer Corporation, which manufactured a soft-serve ice cream machine called the Zest-O-Mat. Conceived as a competitor of Dairy Queen, the first Zesto stores were only equipped to serve ice cream. By the time Big John Livaditis opened his franchise in Atlanta, Zestos could be found in 46 states.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, America’s head-over-heels, pedal-to-the-metal love affair with automobiles, drive-ins, and fast food fueled the fortunes of Zesto and its rivals, which competed for customers by expanding their sweet and cool dessert menus with warm, savory fare. In 1959, Zesto introduced a double-patty hamburger originally named “Fat Boy,” which was renamed two years later when Shoney’s objected to the resemblance to the company’s signature “Big Boy” sandwich. Consequently, Big John held a contest, which was won by a Georgia Tech student who submitted Chubby Decker, with a nod to the contemporaneous rock ‘n’ roll star, as the two-tiered burger’s new moniker.

Then came the foot-long hot dog, which, based on innumerable unscientific surveys, is an incomplete construction without chili, if not slaw. “In the ’60s, my father had a Greek buddy in Pennsylvania named Gus,” says Livaditis. “He ran a chain called Coney Island, which offered a special chili dog. His success inspired my dad to perfect the chili recipe we still use today.”

Hand-cut onion rings, French fries, and fried chicken became staple menu items. Over the years, at various times and locations, Zesto customers could order a pizza burger, roast beef sandwich, grilled and toasted cheese sandwiches, and pork tenderloin. “There’s even a fish dog — two fish sticks on a foot-long bun with coleslaw and tartar sauce — which is on the ‘secret menu,’” Livaditis confides.

Recently, the influx of Hispanic and Latino residents across metro Atlanta neighborhoods spurred the addition of burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and nachos to the menu at several Zesto locations. For 2019, a Spicy 70th Steakburger with bacon and Palmetto Cheese was introduced. Currently, the kitchen lab is putting the final tweaks on a mango milkshake. “It’s been a labor of love,” Livaditis says. “We want to get it just right using nothing artificial, just pure ingredients, fresh mangos with the right color, texture, and bite.”

Then as now, in acknowledgement of the restaurant’s Southern roots, fried livers and gizzards can be ordered at select Zesto locations. “I’ve been known to stop in and sample the livers and gizzards to make sure they’re up to our standards,” Livaditis says, with a chuckle.

Celebrity sightings and associations are features of the Zesto Atlanta legacy. Pro basketball Hall of Famer Walt Frazier, who led the New York Knicks to two National Basketball Association championships (1970 and ’73), played high school sports at Atlanta’s David Tobias Howard High School. In a 2018 biography produced by MSG Networks, Frazier visits the Zesto on Ponce de Leon (now a Cook Out) where he did a stint as a “curb boy” when the restaurant only offered walk-up or dine-in-your-car service. During the segment Frazier reminisces with his former supervisors, the Giannakopoulos brothers.

Then there was the time (in 1979) a WSB-TV news reporter corralled Colonel Sanders at the defunct Zesto at Pershing Point after the goateed ambassador of Kentucky Fried Chicken was spotted enjoying one of his guilty pleasures, a Zesto milkshake.

More recently, people are still laughing at the “kids meal” scene from the first season (2016) of Donald Glover’s television series “Atlanta,” which was filmed at the East Atlanta Zesto. Cee Lo Green, Lil Yachty, and Shawn Reis (“Flash Gordon,” “Smallville”) have been spotted chilling at Zesto. One day, Livaditis and his three children were eating lunch at the Piedmont Road Zesto when they looked over and discovered they were dining with Carolina Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton (presumably during the off-season).

So, what’s the secret to Zesto's enduring allure and success?

“It’s hard to pin down, but part of it is a combination of nostalgia and relevance,” says Leigh Ann. “If you can maintain that nostalgic ‘Gee, this place is cool!’ factor, that’s great. But you also have to stay relevant by tapping into social media, updating the menu, and doing promotions that attract younger people.”

Livaditis adds: “We were laughing the other night. When Dad started Zesto, he wasn’t thinking, ‘I’m going to create something 1950s-ish because it’s trendy.’ He was just working with what was available. There is something compelling about the design of the drive-in and the feeling it generates, which has been glamorized by movies. But there is also an element of genuine authenticity, which you can’t force; it’s either present or it’s not.”

Seventy years down the road, thanks to a family’s work ethic and aspirational spirit, Zesto Atlanta stands as a worthy representative of the all-American drive-in food destination, as well as a cultural touchstone near and dear to the hearts, if not the digestive tracts, of the city’s inhabitants.

!!More than a place to eat
In researching this story, writer Doug DeLoach solicited memories of Zesto adventures from Atlanta stalwarts and friends. A selection of these recollections, mostly unedited follow. Others may be found on creativeloafing.com.

Patricia Doyle O’Connor
The day of my divorce, I was on my way home from signing papers and pretty broken. I walked into the Ponce (Zesto) location and had lunch. Looking up from my booth, I noticed a man running toward the front door, which faced the old Sears building, two Atlanta cops on his heels. When he hit the door, he jumped up on the first table to try to avoid the police who were getting their tear-gas canisters out. They chased him as he jumped from table to table in full run. I sorta ducked and covered my fries from the dirt flying. I couldn’t decide who to trip — them or him — so I just sheltered my food. When I did finally look up, nobody was left in the store, not a cook or waiter or customer — just me and a huge cloud of tear gas, which I didn’t feel until much later, in the shower for some reason. I continued eating alone.

Faylynn Owen
I was a regular at the Little Five Points location for a sweet tea after big nights. I loved their tea. I stumbled down there one morning/afternoon and got my tea. I made it out the door only to realize my magic elixir tasted like bad socks. I returned to the good-natured laughing of the staff, who knew exactly what happened. Someone new had made the tea. They then offered me my second choice, a cherry coke. Kudos to the staff.

Dave Chamberlain
One hot July day in 1979, my brother Tim and I were tooling along in his red VW bug on North Highland Avenue when we stopped at the red light at Ponce de Leon Avenue. The car in front of us had a sunroof, and we watched the driver make a valiant attempt to lob a bag through it and into a roadside garbage can. The shot, of course, was off by several feet and the bag landed rather close to our car. Feeling some ire at witnessing brazen littering, I leapt from the car to grab it and put it into the garbage receptacle when I noticed the telltale classic red-striped Zesto packaging. My brother hollered for me to just dump the damn bag and get the hell back in the car. I did, bag in hand. Peering inside, I exclaimed, “It’s a Zesto bag with a Chubby Decker! Uneaten!” Now, since Zesto makes the very finest of hangover recovery foods, and since the Chubby Decker is the apex hamburger invention on the planet, I was loathe to toss the bag and its tempting contents. I gazed adoringly at the burger as my brother intoned, “Dave, don’t do it.” Brushing off his plea, I devoured that perfect burger between Virginia Highlands and Midtown without concern for microbial attack. While my brother threatened to race to Grady Hospital as a precautionary measure, I enjoyed every bite. Such is the stuff of daft youth and my high regard for Zesto cuisine. Would I do it again? Never, ever, ever!

Katy Graves
I ran into Hosea Williams in the Zesto on Ponce way back in the day. He was in his trademark overalls, and he was really nice.

Gail Harris
I introduced myself to Hosea Williams at the Zesto on Moreland, had gone to high school with his son Andre.

Kahle Davis
I was walking to the Zesto in Little Five Points to get some soft-serve when I noticed a woman pooping on one of the walls. I turned around and went back to work.

Bill Nittler
Our new house had a very similar address to the Zesto on Ponce: same number, different Ponce (Ave. vs. Mnr.), and at one point UPS started delivering us all kinds of restaurant stuff. Coffee filters, straws, mop heads, adding-machine tape, etc. UPS eventually came and picked it all up after nagging from us and the restaurant. Sadder, when Cook Out moved in, they proceeded to put our address on their website, so we got a whole bunch more stuff, which they never came to get.

Ginger Shyrock
There was a certain female group in the ’80s whose initiation was to drink a bottle of Jägermeister and piss in the Little Five Points Zesto parking lot. They called themselves the Hellcats and, while the initiation was mostly a joke, a couple of them actually did it. I was an honorary member, as I didn’t do such things.

Spencer L. Kirkpatrick
Zesto at Confederate and Moreland avenues (East Atlanta location): I had a heated exchange with (the) cooks regarding long hair — lots of shit talk but no blows — a true standoff. Would have been 1966.

Mark Michaelson
Back in the mid-’60s, we would meet at the Zesto in Buckhead and get in our hopped-up cars and race down Roswell Road all the way to the river with radios loud. Lucky we’re all still standing. One of the cars was a ’62 Vette with a fuel-injected 327. Another one was one of my folks’ rides after we’d “fixed it up.”

Janet Smith and her sister, Priscilla Smith
Janet: Buying fried chicken livers back in the day.
Priscilla: Back in a month or so ago.
Janet: I had no idea they were still on the menu.
Priscilla: I always coveted the faded Brown Crown sign behind the counter in Little 5. Been gone a few years. In 1961 (?), all the kids on Clairmont Circle were excited because they were going to open one at North Decatur, across the street from the Colonial Store, and they had FOOT-LONG HOT DOGS!

Amy Linton
I was at the Little Five Points Zesto with my high school/college boyfriend. He was a musician/songwriter and when people would panhandle, he would see if he could get a song out of them instead of giving them any money. Occasionally, it put me in sketchy situations. One guy approached us in Zesto and started talking him up and then told me to put my hand out. My boyfriend insisted I do it and, not wanting to anger anyone, I put it out, palm up. “Not like you takin’ from me!” he yelled. I turned my hand over, and he tried to get my grandmother’s wedding band, which I always wore, off my hand. Hurt my hand and my boyfriend didn’t even try to defend me. I rarely go there now, but always think of that when I do!

Kent Worley
(The East Atlanta location) was my Zesto. We would stop there for pregame fulfillment before going to the Starlight Drive-In. I was a big fan of the foot-long chili slaw dog. The trick was getting a Nut Brown Crown home for my wife’s late-night munchies before it melted.

Steve Gorman
A large Fellini’s Special (Little Five Points) in 1987 was worth about six Zesto milkshakes, if memory serves. Not that we lowly employees would have bartered pizzas for shakes or anything.

Guy Goodman
Piedmont Road location at Lindbergh Drive, eight years old, throwing my paper route on a bicycle. Would get a Chubby Decker Basket for 50 cents. That came with fries, slaw, and a drink. My mum always wondered why I wasn’t hungry when I got home for dinner. Still friends with Crystal Sloan. Her dad owned all the Zestos in Atlanta: Big John Livaditis.

Mark Greenberg
Inman/Candler Park/Little Five Points: watching the sunset behind downtown through the picture window with my son Emmett, now 13. He’d get a kids’ cup and I’d get a chocolate-covered cone. Definitely, those were some great, quiet, midweek rituals! Let’s go, kiddo!

John Kelly
I melted down a ceiling tile with a mighty mole in 1992 and it stayed there all brown and bubbly until they sold out to the burger joint. -CL-    Zesto Atlanta Zesto parking lot at 2439 Piedmont Road (ca. 1962) prior to its relocation down the street.  0,0,15    Zesto's Atlanta "Little 5 Points" "Creative Loafing"                              70 and Counting "
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Article

Tuesday September 3, 2019 03:17 pm EDT
Zesto Atlanta’s family affair marks a milestone of sweet and savory service | more...
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  string(9068) "It’s early evening on a weekday and I am parking in front of Mediterranea, a restaurant in Grant Park — my own neighborhood — and I am totally mystified. Nestled in a renovated brick building from the 1920s, it has been open two years, but I’ve never noticed it. I get out of my car. A man on a bicycle races up and down the street behind a frantic chihuahua. A couple comes out of the restaurant. “Is it any good?” I ask. “It’s great, especially if you are gluten-intolerant,” one of them says. I knew this, but I seriously have second thoughts about going in. I don’t want to revive controversy about the formerly trendy disorder of gluten intolerance, but I swallow my gluten-saturated ignorance and proceed inside, pausing briefly by a display case full of — you guessed it — gluten-free pastries.

Gluten or not, Mediterranea is immediately magical. It’s one big dining room and a messy bar with lots of glowing natural wood and long, sleek swaths of blue, un-upholstered banquettes punctuated by slender red columns. Everything whispers “handmade.” Large, extremely effective acoustic panels, a rarity in Atlanta, partially cover painted plaster walls that vaguely remind me of the modernist style of Jackson Pollock and friends. There’s an upstairs patio where I wanted to dine but it had rained on and off all day. The vibe, in short, is just about the opposite of all the mixed-use beehives that are uglifying Memorial Drive.

I later learn that the restaurant belongs to a couple, Gerard Nudo and Gary McElroy, fugitives from New York City who have impressive educational and career backgrounds in the arts. They both were working at Rizzoli, the famous bookstore and publisher, when they moved to Atlanta. McElroy is a bonafide celiac. He manages business while Nudo oversees the kitchen and does all the baking. The restaurant is truly 100 percent gluten-free. It also features many vegan and vegetarian options and, as the name suggests, the menu is inspired by the famously healthy Mediterranean diet that Nudo, born in Italy, grew up eating. Eat here regularly and you will happily outlive the entire Trump family, despite the rumored immortality granted them by Satan.

The dinner menu, prepared by talented chef Ian Anderson, definitely tilts toward the expensive, although lunch and weekend brunch are modestly priced (the restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday). That is not to say the food isn’t worth the cost. I’ve visited for dinner and brunch and enjoyed just about everything I’ve sampled. But let’s be clear. The Mediterranean diet is all about main ingredients. Flavor doesn’t depend on buttery fats, complicated sauces, and lots of salt. So, while the diet is simple, its preparation is conversely demanding. Vegetables predominate. If they’re not super fresh, the flavor falls flat. If you want to season the food to, say, augment weak flavor, you’re going to depend on herbs and olive oil and that requires really deft skill. All of that said, you and I don’t live on the Mediterranean next to a seaside olive orchard, so variations are inevitable. And hey, the Italians can get messy.


At dinner, my tablemate and I started with a colorful quartet of spreads served with crudites and strips of focaccia. The rectangular plate contained hummus, labneh, olive tapenade, and eggplant. It looked small but turned out to be so filling we decided not to order a second starter. Everything rang true. If you do want another starter, consider the Greek dolmas — grape leaves wrapped around rice and walnuts with a yogurt sauce. This is a dish I have studiously avoided most of my life, since it is usually a gut bomb that has marinated too long in too much olive oil. Mediterranea’s freshly made dolmas actually have an al-dente outer texture that becomes creamy with a few bites. There are other appetizers and salads constructed with greens, fruits, and nuts — all that healthy stuff Mediterraneans allegedly eat.

Entrees are heavy on those same ingredients but may include fish or chicken. I was surprised to see demonized red meat on the menu in the form of steak-frites with a chimichurri sauce. (Those frites are actually roasted fingerling potatoes.) Nudo confirmed that the steak is a concession to those whose happiness depends on ruining their health, but insisted that the plate is dominated by vegetables. I ordered the pan-roasted, juicy chicken breast, which my server said was the menu’s most popular choice. Its harissa glaze was decidedly mild — I like it hotter — but it went deliciously well with the plate’s tart apple salad seasoned with za’atar, the ubiquitous Middle Eastern spice blend. I also got a few forkfuls of what turned out to be my favorite dish — four gigantic shrimp tossed Calabrese-style with ricelike orzo pasta, escarole, golden raisins, pine nuts, and feta cheese.

I hit the restaurant for Sunday brunch too. The menu naturally features lots of eggs — tantalizingly soft-baked in red chili made with pork and smoked sausage, for example. There are sweet choices like “risotto porridge” made with almond milk, a fig-cherry compote, pistachios, and berries, depending on what’s available. Naturally, I was immediately attracted to the menu’s most expensive dish ($16) of salmon croquettes served on a crowded plate of dried fruits, olives, a dolma, labneh, apple relish, and a sliced hard-boiled egg. The salmon croquettes were a disappointment — two tiny, seemingly undercooked patties with practically no crunch or much flavor, for that matter. The other problem for me was the house-made labneh — the super-thick strained Greek yogurt that’s become super popular with healthy peeps. It is seasoned at Mediterranea in a way I find weirdly pungent. I suspect this is a purely personal reaction, and it’s a trivial complaint in the greater scheme of things, anyway. When I return for lunch, I’m going to try the berbere-spiced lamb patties or one of the grain bowls. For dinner, I’ll order a vegetarian meal like involtini or the eggplant stack. I know that the daily fish special is a major hit with many people.

I’ve tried only two of the gluten-free pastries at the restaurant. First was a thick cheddar-chive biscuit that was served mysteriously tepid. Second was a scone that looked more like a square of very dense cake — so delicious I’ve been constantly craving more. There are different varieties but mine was flooded with the flavors of cherries and pecans and topped with a glaze of pure sugar — a perfect reward for going gluten-free and eating my vegetables. Honestly, you won’t miss gluten at Mediterranea, and that’s a plus for just about everyone.

Go ahead and eat a pizza

Speaking of healthy food, you might want to visit the vegan, explicitly named Plant Based Pizzeria in Virginia-Highland. Open since January, it’s take-out only and wait ’til you see the cool, circular boxes embossed with this notice: “Certified compostable plant fiber turns to soil in 90 days when commercially composted.” That’s so neo-Soylent Green!

The pizzas here are made with spelt flour, which is nutritionally superior to white flour, but not gluten-free. For $5 extra, you can lose the gluten. Most of the composed pizzas are $20. So, here, like everywhere, healthy eating’s going to cost you more. I ordered the “Georgia Peach.” The toppings include the vegan Beyond Sausage, vegan mozzarella, roasted basil sauce, and tiny cubes of roasted peaches.

How was it? This is one of those cases where I thought the food was okay, but not convincingly “real” in the way the Impossible Burger is. The sausage had more crumbly texture than taste, so I found it simply annoying. (I rarely want meat on my pizza, anyway, but I felt I should try it for you, my readers.) The vegan mozzarella was likewise meh — there but not there. The peach cubes were okay but way too small and too scarce. And all of this was atop a spelt crust that was thick and without a crisping char. It’s not that I don’t like nutty-tasting spelt, but it really overwhelmed any flavors the toppings might offer.

I don’t like describing the pizza as I have, because the operators of the place, which also sells vegan burgers, are super nice and obviously passionate about their work. The words “vegan lifestyle” are painted on one wall, and I think that’s key. If your life is built around a vegan diet, comparing the food’s flavor to its conventional, less healthy forms is probably meaningless. When I eat plants, I want straight-up vegetables, not impersonators of meat. Were I to attempt converting to an entirely vegan lifestyle, I know I’d crave meat now and then, and maybe staunching that craving is a central function of the impersonators. So take my whining with a large pinch of that killer called salt.

Mediterranea, 332 Ormond St. S.E., 404-748-4219, mediterraneaatl.com.

Plant Based Pizzeria, 730 Barnett St. N.E., 404-835-2739, plantbasedpizzeria.net."
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Gluten or not, Mediterranea is immediately magical. It’s one big dining room and a messy bar with lots of glowing natural wood and long, sleek swaths of blue, un-upholstered banquettes punctuated by slender red columns. Everything whispers “handmade.” Large, extremely effective acoustic panels, a rarity in Atlanta, partially cover painted plaster walls that vaguely remind me of the modernist style of Jackson Pollock and friends. There’s an upstairs patio where I wanted to dine but it had rained on and off all day. The vibe, in short, is just about the opposite of all the mixed-use beehives that are uglifying Memorial Drive.

I later learn that the restaurant belongs to a couple, Gerard Nudo and Gary McElroy, fugitives from New York City who have impressive educational and career backgrounds in the arts. They both were working at Rizzoli, the famous bookstore and publisher, when they moved to Atlanta. McElroy is a bonafide celiac. He manages business while Nudo oversees the kitchen and does all the baking. The restaurant is truly 100 percent gluten-free. It also features many vegan and vegetarian options and, as the name suggests, the menu is inspired by the famously healthy Mediterranean diet that Nudo, born in Italy, grew up eating. Eat here regularly and you will happily outlive the entire Trump family, despite the rumored immortality granted them by Satan.

The dinner menu, prepared by talented chef Ian Anderson, definitely tilts toward the expensive, although lunch and weekend brunch are modestly priced (the restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday). That is not to say the food isn’t worth the cost. I’ve visited for dinner and brunch and enjoyed just about everything I’ve sampled. But let’s be clear. The Mediterranean diet is all about main ingredients. Flavor doesn’t depend on buttery fats, complicated sauces, and lots of salt. So, while the diet is simple, its preparation is conversely demanding. Vegetables predominate. If they’re not super fresh, the flavor falls flat. If you want to season the food to, say, augment weak flavor, you’re going to depend on herbs and olive oil and that requires really deft skill. All of that said, you and I don’t live on the Mediterranean next to a seaside olive orchard, so variations are inevitable. And hey, the Italians can get messy.

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At dinner, my tablemate and I started with a colorful quartet of spreads served with crudites and strips of focaccia. The rectangular plate contained hummus, labneh, olive tapenade, and eggplant. It looked small but turned out to be so filling we decided not to order a second starter. Everything rang true. If you do want another starter, consider the Greek dolmas — grape leaves wrapped around rice and walnuts with a yogurt sauce. This is a dish I have studiously avoided most of my life, since it is usually a gut bomb that has marinated too long in too much olive oil. Mediterranea’s freshly made dolmas actually have an al-dente outer texture that becomes creamy with a few bites. There are other appetizers and salads constructed with greens, fruits, and nuts — all that healthy stuff Mediterraneans allegedly eat.

Entrees are heavy on those same ingredients but may include fish or chicken. I was surprised to see demonized red meat on the menu in the form of steak-frites with a chimichurri sauce. (Those frites are actually roasted fingerling potatoes.) Nudo confirmed that the steak is a concession to those whose happiness depends on ruining their health, but insisted that the plate is dominated by vegetables. I ordered the pan-roasted, juicy chicken breast, which my server said was the menu’s most popular choice. Its harissa glaze was decidedly mild — I like it hotter — but it went deliciously well with the plate’s tart apple salad seasoned with za’atar, the ubiquitous Middle Eastern spice blend. I also got a few forkfuls of what turned out to be my favorite dish — four gigantic shrimp tossed Calabrese-style with ricelike orzo pasta, escarole, golden raisins, pine nuts, and feta cheese.

I hit the restaurant for Sunday brunch too. The menu naturally features lots of eggs — tantalizingly soft-baked in red chili made with pork and smoked sausage, for example. There are sweet choices like “risotto porridge” made with almond milk, a fig-cherry compote, pistachios, and berries, depending on what’s available. Naturally, I was immediately attracted to the menu’s most expensive dish ($16) of salmon croquettes served on a crowded plate of dried fruits, olives, a dolma, labneh, apple relish, and a sliced hard-boiled egg. The salmon croquettes were a disappointment — two tiny, seemingly undercooked patties with practically no crunch or much flavor, for that matter. The other problem for me was the house-made labneh — the super-thick strained Greek yogurt that’s become super popular with healthy peeps. It is seasoned at Mediterranea in a way I find weirdly pungent. I suspect this is a purely personal reaction, and it’s a trivial complaint in the greater scheme of things, anyway. When I return for lunch, I’m going to try the berbere-spiced lamb patties or one of the grain bowls. For dinner, I’ll order a vegetarian meal like involtini or the eggplant stack. I know that the daily fish special is a major hit with many people.

I’ve tried only two of the gluten-free pastries at the restaurant. First was a thick cheddar-chive biscuit that was served mysteriously tepid. Second was a scone that looked more like a square of very dense cake — so delicious I’ve been constantly craving more. There are different varieties but mine was flooded with the flavors of cherries and pecans and topped with a glaze of pure sugar — a perfect reward for going gluten-free and eating my vegetables. Honestly, you won’t miss gluten at Mediterranea, and that’s a plus for just about everyone.

__Go ahead and eat a pizza__

Speaking of healthy food, you might want to visit the vegan, explicitly named Plant Based Pizzeria in Virginia-Highland. Open since January, it’s take-out only and wait ’til you see the cool, circular boxes embossed with this notice: “Certified compostable plant fiber turns to soil in 90 days when commercially composted.” That’s so neo-Soylent Green!

The pizzas here are made with spelt flour, which is nutritionally superior to white flour, but not gluten-free. For $5 extra, you can lose the gluten. Most of the composed pizzas are $20. So, here, like everywhere, healthy eating’s going to cost you more. I ordered the “Georgia Peach.” The toppings include the vegan Beyond Sausage, vegan mozzarella, roasted basil sauce, and tiny cubes of roasted peaches.

How was it? This is one of those cases where I thought the food was okay, but not convincingly “real” in the way the Impossible Burger is. The sausage had more crumbly texture than taste, so I found it simply annoying. (I rarely want meat on my pizza, anyway, but I felt I should try it for you, my readers.) The vegan mozzarella was likewise meh — there but not there. The peach cubes were okay but way too small and too scarce. And all of this was atop a spelt crust that was thick and without a crisping char. It’s not that I don’t like nutty-tasting spelt, but it really overwhelmed any flavors the toppings might offer.

I don’t like describing the pizza as I have, because the operators of the place, which also sells vegan burgers, are super nice and obviously passionate about their work. The words “vegan lifestyle” are painted on one wall, and I think that’s key. If your life is built around a vegan diet, comparing the food’s flavor to its conventional, less healthy forms is probably meaningless. When I eat plants, I want straight-up vegetables, not impersonators of meat. Were I to attempt converting to an entirely vegan lifestyle, I know I’d crave meat now and then, and maybe staunching that craving is a central function of the impersonators. So take my whining with a large pinch of that killer called salt.

Mediterranea, 332 Ormond St. S.E., 404-748-4219, mediterraneaatl.com.

Plant Based Pizzeria, 730 Barnett St. N.E., 404-835-2739, plantbasedpizzeria.net."
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  string(9712) " MEDIT Salmon Croquette Plate 2271 Web  2019-08-06T19:20:59+00:00 MEDIT_salmon_croquette_plate_2271_web.jpg   Started out as what seemed to be a great article and then you brought politics into it.  I stopped reading immediately.  You just can't help yourself, can you - dumbass grazing Healthy and happy and gluten-free 21682  2019-08-06T18:54:51+00:00 GRAZING: Craving more at Mediterranea jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Cliff Bostock  2019-08-06T18:54:51+00:00  It’s early evening on a weekday and I am parking in front of Mediterranea, a restaurant in Grant Park — my own neighborhood — and I am totally mystified. Nestled in a renovated brick building from the 1920s, it has been open two years, but I’ve never noticed it. I get out of my car. A man on a bicycle races up and down the street behind a frantic chihuahua. A couple comes out of the restaurant. “Is it any good?” I ask. “It’s great, especially if you are gluten-intolerant,” one of them says. I knew this, but I seriously have second thoughts about going in. I don’t want to revive controversy about the formerly trendy disorder of gluten intolerance, but I swallow my gluten-saturated ignorance and proceed inside, pausing briefly by a display case full of — you guessed it — gluten-free pastries.

Gluten or not, Mediterranea is immediately magical. It’s one big dining room and a messy bar with lots of glowing natural wood and long, sleek swaths of blue, un-upholstered banquettes punctuated by slender red columns. Everything whispers “handmade.” Large, extremely effective acoustic panels, a rarity in Atlanta, partially cover painted plaster walls that vaguely remind me of the modernist style of Jackson Pollock and friends. There’s an upstairs patio where I wanted to dine but it had rained on and off all day. The vibe, in short, is just about the opposite of all the mixed-use beehives that are uglifying Memorial Drive.

I later learn that the restaurant belongs to a couple, Gerard Nudo and Gary McElroy, fugitives from New York City who have impressive educational and career backgrounds in the arts. They both were working at Rizzoli, the famous bookstore and publisher, when they moved to Atlanta. McElroy is a bonafide celiac. He manages business while Nudo oversees the kitchen and does all the baking. The restaurant is truly 100 percent gluten-free. It also features many vegan and vegetarian options and, as the name suggests, the menu is inspired by the famously healthy Mediterranean diet that Nudo, born in Italy, grew up eating. Eat here regularly and you will happily outlive the entire Trump family, despite the rumored immortality granted them by Satan.

The dinner menu, prepared by talented chef Ian Anderson, definitely tilts toward the expensive, although lunch and weekend brunch are modestly priced (the restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday). That is not to say the food isn’t worth the cost. I’ve visited for dinner and brunch and enjoyed just about everything I’ve sampled. But let’s be clear. The Mediterranean diet is all about main ingredients. Flavor doesn’t depend on buttery fats, complicated sauces, and lots of salt. So, while the diet is simple, its preparation is conversely demanding. Vegetables predominate. If they’re not super fresh, the flavor falls flat. If you want to season the food to, say, augment weak flavor, you’re going to depend on herbs and olive oil and that requires really deft skill. All of that said, you and I don’t live on the Mediterranean next to a seaside olive orchard, so variations are inevitable. And hey, the Italians can get messy.


At dinner, my tablemate and I started with a colorful quartet of spreads served with crudites and strips of focaccia. The rectangular plate contained hummus, labneh, olive tapenade, and eggplant. It looked small but turned out to be so filling we decided not to order a second starter. Everything rang true. If you do want another starter, consider the Greek dolmas — grape leaves wrapped around rice and walnuts with a yogurt sauce. This is a dish I have studiously avoided most of my life, since it is usually a gut bomb that has marinated too long in too much olive oil. Mediterranea’s freshly made dolmas actually have an al-dente outer texture that becomes creamy with a few bites. There are other appetizers and salads constructed with greens, fruits, and nuts — all that healthy stuff Mediterraneans allegedly eat.

Entrees are heavy on those same ingredients but may include fish or chicken. I was surprised to see demonized red meat on the menu in the form of steak-frites with a chimichurri sauce. (Those frites are actually roasted fingerling potatoes.) Nudo confirmed that the steak is a concession to those whose happiness depends on ruining their health, but insisted that the plate is dominated by vegetables. I ordered the pan-roasted, juicy chicken breast, which my server said was the menu’s most popular choice. Its harissa glaze was decidedly mild — I like it hotter — but it went deliciously well with the plate’s tart apple salad seasoned with za’atar, the ubiquitous Middle Eastern spice blend. I also got a few forkfuls of what turned out to be my favorite dish — four gigantic shrimp tossed Calabrese-style with ricelike orzo pasta, escarole, golden raisins, pine nuts, and feta cheese.

I hit the restaurant for Sunday brunch too. The menu naturally features lots of eggs — tantalizingly soft-baked in red chili made with pork and smoked sausage, for example. There are sweet choices like “risotto porridge” made with almond milk, a fig-cherry compote, pistachios, and berries, depending on what’s available. Naturally, I was immediately attracted to the menu’s most expensive dish ($16) of salmon croquettes served on a crowded plate of dried fruits, olives, a dolma, labneh, apple relish, and a sliced hard-boiled egg. The salmon croquettes were a disappointment — two tiny, seemingly undercooked patties with practically no crunch or much flavor, for that matter. The other problem for me was the house-made labneh — the super-thick strained Greek yogurt that’s become super popular with healthy peeps. It is seasoned at Mediterranea in a way I find weirdly pungent. I suspect this is a purely personal reaction, and it’s a trivial complaint in the greater scheme of things, anyway. When I return for lunch, I’m going to try the berbere-spiced lamb patties or one of the grain bowls. For dinner, I’ll order a vegetarian meal like involtini or the eggplant stack. I know that the daily fish special is a major hit with many people.

I’ve tried only two of the gluten-free pastries at the restaurant. First was a thick cheddar-chive biscuit that was served mysteriously tepid. Second was a scone that looked more like a square of very dense cake — so delicious I’ve been constantly craving more. There are different varieties but mine was flooded with the flavors of cherries and pecans and topped with a glaze of pure sugar — a perfect reward for going gluten-free and eating my vegetables. Honestly, you won’t miss gluten at Mediterranea, and that’s a plus for just about everyone.

Go ahead and eat a pizza

Speaking of healthy food, you might want to visit the vegan, explicitly named Plant Based Pizzeria in Virginia-Highland. Open since January, it’s take-out only and wait ’til you see the cool, circular boxes embossed with this notice: “Certified compostable plant fiber turns to soil in 90 days when commercially composted.” That’s so neo-Soylent Green!

The pizzas here are made with spelt flour, which is nutritionally superior to white flour, but not gluten-free. For $5 extra, you can lose the gluten. Most of the composed pizzas are $20. So, here, like everywhere, healthy eating’s going to cost you more. I ordered the “Georgia Peach.” The toppings include the vegan Beyond Sausage, vegan mozzarella, roasted basil sauce, and tiny cubes of roasted peaches.

How was it? This is one of those cases where I thought the food was okay, but not convincingly “real” in the way the Impossible Burger is. The sausage had more crumbly texture than taste, so I found it simply annoying. (I rarely want meat on my pizza, anyway, but I felt I should try it for you, my readers.) The vegan mozzarella was likewise meh — there but not there. The peach cubes were okay but way too small and too scarce. And all of this was atop a spelt crust that was thick and without a crisping char. It’s not that I don’t like nutty-tasting spelt, but it really overwhelmed any flavors the toppings might offer.

I don’t like describing the pizza as I have, because the operators of the place, which also sells vegan burgers, are super nice and obviously passionate about their work. The words “vegan lifestyle” are painted on one wall, and I think that’s key. If your life is built around a vegan diet, comparing the food’s flavor to its conventional, less healthy forms is probably meaningless. When I eat plants, I want straight-up vegetables, not impersonators of meat. Were I to attempt converting to an entirely vegan lifestyle, I know I’d crave meat now and then, and maybe staunching that craving is a central function of the impersonators. So take my whining with a large pinch of that killer called salt.

Mediterranea, 332 Ormond St. S.E., 404-748-4219, mediterraneaatl.com.

Plant Based Pizzeria, 730 Barnett St. N.E., 404-835-2739, plantbasedpizzeria.net.    Cliff Bostock AT MEDITERRANEA: The salmon croquette plate, available at brunch.  0,0,4    Grazing                             GRAZING: Craving more at Mediterranea "
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Article

Tuesday August 6, 2019 02:54 pm EDT
Healthy and happy and gluten-free | more...
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  ["title"]=>
  string(27) "GRAZING: Vive el Little Rey"
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  string(41) "Tex-Mex at Ford Fry’s latest restaurant"
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  string(8556) "I could name names, but I’m too nice to do that. I’m talking about the way some great chefs become overwhelmed by entrepreneurial zeal (aka “greed”). They open one new restaurant after another, claiming they need the creative challenge. Inevitably, though, they turn genius into a stale brand. They become human cartoons, plaguing food TV and runways of charity fundraisers with other formerly fashionable chefs … and food journalists. It’s a sad, sad thing to watch. Give me a moment to take a breath.
Now, I can identify one chef who has gone the expansionist route but seems to have so far remained immune to staleness. I’m talking about Ford Fry, who opened the Southern-style JCT Kitchen here in 2007, followed by about a dozen more restaurants, including duplicates in other cities. His big game-changer was the Optimist, which gained tons of national publicity for its brilliant seafood dishes. It and subsequent venues like St. Cecilia, King + Duke, and Marcel remind me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s claim that “the rich are very different from you and me.” These restaurants are well out of the price range of average Americans, but any accusations of pricey snobbery are quickly sabotaged by Fry’s true, far more affordable passion: Tex-Mex cooking. He grew up in Houston and at this point has seven Tex-Mex restaurants. There are four locations of Superica, two of the El Felix, and one of the brand-new Little Rey. 
I have long confessed that I have no affection for Tex-Mex cooking. Growing up in the South, I never heard anyone even delineate a difference between Tex-Mex and Mexican cooking. It was all about Taco Bell and canned Old El Paso grub, both literally inedible to me because of my oh-so-delicate digestive system. When I moved to Houston in the ’80s to become editor of a large “society” magazine, I was subjected to lots of Tex-Mex fare, including Frito pie — a bag of Fritos torn open and ladled with extra-greasy chili and raw onions. I could see hurling bags of that shit at alt-right Nazis, but who knew people voluntarily ate it? While I was being schooled in such horrors, I did discover sublime Texas barbecue and, even better, actual Mexican cooking in Houston taquerias and a few gourmet restaurants in Dallas and Austin. There’s more to the story, but when I got back to Atlanta to edit Creative Loafing for a second time, I became a messianic advocate for the emerging taqueria scene on Buford Highway. 
It think it’s also fair to claim that I did end up learning to enjoy well prepared Tex-Mex food in places like Houston’s legendary Ninfa’s, whose mesquite-smoked and grilled chicken “al carbon” certainly influenced Fry. Still, for years, I regarded Tex-Mex as a bastardized cuisine, in the same way some people view Italian-America cooking. But I admit: It’s a real magic trick for people like me to brand what exists nonexistent because it doesn’t jibe with my notions of authentic existence. Crazy. I apologize. But I’ll always prefer carnitas over fajitas.

So, I have been anxiously waiting for Fry to open Little Rey with his business partner, Kevin Maxey, another expatriated Texan. Little Rey operates at the corner of Piedmont Avenue, Cheshire Bridge Road, and Piedmont Circle. Entering the parking lot, negotiating it, and then leaving is an automotive Rubik’s Cube. But you’ll manage. Little Rey requires you to wait in line to order and pay at a counter up front. Sometimes we are talking very long lines at the counter followed by lengthy waits for your food. Meanwhile you can swill margaritas. You have to fetch your own meal, plastic utensils, water, and napkins. There are no servers, just very charming clean-up people who will answer any question you have, such as “What’s this brown thang on my taco?” Some will argue that small, $4.50 tacos merit more personal attention.
I love the whimsical interior where a goofy chicken lectures a goofy Felix the Cat (an allusion to Fry’s the El Felix, I suppose). The building has been a bank, a real estate office, a tattoo parlor, and a very popular late-night bar with naked go-go dancers. It’s a huge windowed dining room with some but not all community tables. There’s a large patio offering a dramatic view of the pinkly fluorescent Tokyo Valentino. Really, the place is so large that it’s wrong to conclude that a full parking lot also means a full restaurant. The problem has not been space. It’s been slow ordering.
My first visit was kind of a disaster. I only ordered two tacos. First was one made with chopped chicken al carbon. Second was the Oaxaca, featuring a tortilla that was bathed in melted cheese and then turned kind of crispy before getting its filling of poblanos, mushrooms and salsa verde. I asked that there be no onions on the chicken al carbon taco. There were onions. I took the tray back to the counter and they cheerfully agreed to remake the taco. I went back to my seat and waited a good 10 minutes to hear my name called. Yes, the chicken taco’s onions had been removed, but my Oaxaca taco was replaced with a second chicken taco … with onions. I took the tray back and explained the new problem. They added another Oaxaca to the plate. Then I noticed there were no poblanos on the Oaxaca. I took it back again. They remedied it … I think. They put tiny little diced green things on the taco. I assumed I’d be eating rajas — strips of roasted poblano chiles, but whatever. The Oaxaca did have large chunks of mushrooms and in the end it was delicious. On a subsequent visit, another Oaxaca came to the table. This one had nothing but oily chopped mushrooms and green speckles. Took it back. Got a somewhat better one.
Some will argue such bumbling is to be expected in the first few weeks of a new restaurant, especially when throngs are stampeding the doors. But this reached the level of self-parody (and my meal was comped). Still, I forged on. At my next meal, I ordered the signature dish, the pollo al carbon. You can get a whole chicken, a half, or a quarter. I opted for the half. The chicken was unexpectedly juicy and deeply flavored by the oak and mesquite smoke. To me, though, the flavors were so strong and relentless that I wanted to mix them up. I plucked meat and rolled it into corn tortillas with ingredients served in shot-glasses: smoked onions and jalapenos, ranch beans, and cilantro rice. There was a mild green sauce and a piquant red on the table, but that was it. I think a salsa bar would provide needed distractions from the overwhelming taste of mesquite. I suggest you get a quarter of a chicken and order something with a different flavor profile to accompany it.
After all this meh, I was blown away on my last two visits. I ordered Little Rey’s red pozole. It’s not the giant bowls you find on Buford Highway. Instead, you get maybe two cups of an intensely flavored guajillo chile broth containing hominy and chopped chicken. On the side were the traditional garnishes — radishes, pickled onions, and cabbage. On my way out, I noticed an employee eating something like a Mexican version of poutine. I asked him what his menu favorite was. He quickly replied that it was the torta — a sandwich that encases a fried chicken breast. I winced. Everybody in the city is producing one of those now, thanks to the invasion of Nashville hot chicken. But so be it. I ordered it. It was by far the best thing I’ve eaten there. It’s a brioche bun filled with mile-high spicy slaw, a substantial smear of avocado, fresh jalapeño slices, and a perfect, crispy chicken breast, all held together by a extra-long toothpick. I should note that the chicken is neither smoked nor drenched in hot chili oil.

There are only two desserts — soft-serve ice cream and fried plantains. I ordered the latter. They are gooey, virtually caramelized, and heavily dusted with powdered sugar and salt. The salt makes sense if you like, say, salted caramel ice cream, but the kitchen goes overboard for my taste. Little Rey is also open daily for breakfast. The menu includes tacos and some more complicated dishes like huevos rancheros. Take-out is an option if you want to wait forever at home instead of with sighing customers.
Finally, I remind you that Fry has recently published a cookbook — Tex-Mex: Traditions, Innovations, and Comfort Foods from Both Sides of the Border. I don’t think he’s in danger yet of becoming a parody of himself!
Little Rey, 1878 Piedmont Ave., 770-796-0207, littlerey.com."
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Now, I can identify one chef who has gone the expansionist route but seems to have so far remained immune to staleness. I’m talking about Ford Fry, who opened the Southern-style JCT Kitchen here in 2007, followed by about a dozen more restaurants, including duplicates in other cities. His big game-changer was the Optimist, which gained tons of national publicity for its brilliant seafood dishes. It and subsequent venues like St. Cecilia, King + Duke, and Marcel remind me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s claim that “the rich are very different from you and me.” These restaurants are well out of the price range of average Americans, but any accusations of pricey snobbery are quickly sabotaged by Fry’s true, far more affordable passion: Tex-Mex cooking. He grew up in Houston and at this point has seven Tex-Mex restaurants. There are four locations of Superica, two of the El Felix, and one of the brand-new Little Rey. 
I have long confessed that I have no affection for Tex-Mex cooking. Growing up in the South, I never heard anyone even delineate a difference between Tex-Mex and Mexican cooking. It was all about Taco Bell and canned Old El Paso grub, both literally inedible to me because of my oh-so-delicate digestive system. When I moved to Houston in the ’80s to become editor of a large “society” magazine, I was subjected to lots of Tex-Mex fare, including Frito pie — a bag of Fritos torn open and ladled with extra-greasy chili and raw onions. I could see hurling bags of that shit at alt-right Nazis, but who knew people voluntarily ate it? While I was being schooled in such horrors, I did discover sublime Texas barbecue and, even better, actual Mexican cooking in Houston taquerias and a few gourmet restaurants in Dallas and Austin. There’s more to the story, but when I got back to Atlanta to edit Creative Loafing for a second time, I became a messianic advocate for the emerging taqueria scene on Buford Highway. 
It think it’s also fair to claim that I did end up learning to enjoy well prepared Tex-Mex food in places like Houston’s legendary Ninfa’s, whose mesquite-smoked and grilled chicken “al carbon” certainly influenced Fry. Still, for years, I regarded Tex-Mex as a bastardized cuisine, in the same way some people view Italian-America cooking. But I admit: It’s a real magic trick for people like me to brand what exists nonexistent because it doesn’t jibe with my notions of authentic existence. Crazy. I apologize. But I’ll always prefer carnitas over fajitas.
{img fileId="20108" stylebox="float:left; margin-right:25px;" desc="SIGNATURE DISH: The pollo al carbo, surprisingly juicy and deeply flavored. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock." max="600px"}
So, I have been anxiously waiting for Fry to open Little Rey with his business partner, Kevin Maxey, another expatriated Texan. Little Rey operates at the corner of Piedmont Avenue, Cheshire Bridge Road, and Piedmont Circle. Entering the parking lot, negotiating it, and then leaving is an automotive Rubik’s Cube. But you’ll manage. Little Rey requires you to wait in line to order and pay at a counter up front. Sometimes we are talking very long lines at the counter followed by lengthy waits for your food. Meanwhile you can swill margaritas. You have to fetch your own meal, plastic utensils, water, and napkins. There are no servers, just very charming clean-up people who will answer any question you have, such as “What’s this brown thang on my taco?” Some will argue that small, $4.50 tacos merit more personal attention.
I love the whimsical interior where a goofy chicken lectures a goofy Felix the Cat (an allusion to Fry’s the El Felix, I suppose). The building has been a bank, a real estate office, a tattoo parlor, and a very popular late-night bar with naked go-go dancers. It’s a huge windowed dining room with some but not all community tables. There’s a large patio offering a dramatic view of the pinkly fluorescent Tokyo Valentino. Really, the place is so large that it’s wrong to conclude that a full parking lot also means a full restaurant. The problem has not been space. It’s been slow ordering.
My first visit was kind of a disaster. I only ordered two tacos. First was one made with chopped chicken al carbon. Second was the Oaxaca, featuring a tortilla that was bathed in melted cheese and then turned kind of crispy before getting its filling of poblanos, mushrooms and salsa verde. I asked that there be no onions on the chicken al carbon taco. There were onions. I took the tray back to the counter and they cheerfully agreed to remake the taco. I went back to my seat and waited a good 10 minutes to hear my name called. Yes, the chicken taco’s onions had been removed, but my Oaxaca taco was replaced with a second chicken taco … with onions. I took the tray back and explained the new problem. They added another Oaxaca to the plate. Then I noticed there were no poblanos on the Oaxaca. I took it back again. They remedied it … I think. They put tiny little diced green things on the taco. I assumed I’d be eating rajas — strips of roasted poblano chiles, but whatever. The Oaxaca did have large chunks of mushrooms and in the end it was delicious. On a subsequent visit, another Oaxaca came to the table. This one had nothing but oily chopped mushrooms and green speckles. Took it back. Got a somewhat better one.
Some will argue such bumbling is to be expected in the first few weeks of a new restaurant, especially when throngs are stampeding the doors. But this reached the level of self-parody (and my meal was comped). Still, I forged on. At my next meal, I ordered the signature dish, the pollo al carbon. You can get a whole chicken, a half, or a quarter. I opted for the half. The chicken was unexpectedly juicy and deeply flavored by the oak and mesquite smoke. To me, though, the flavors were so strong and relentless that I wanted to mix them up. I plucked meat and rolled it into corn tortillas with ingredients served in shot-glasses: smoked onions and jalapenos, ranch beans, and cilantro rice. There was a mild green sauce and a piquant red on the table, but that was it. I think a salsa bar would provide needed distractions from the overwhelming taste of mesquite. I suggest you get a quarter of a chicken and order something with a different flavor profile to accompany it.
After all this meh, I was blown away on my last two visits. I ordered Little Rey’s red pozole. It’s not the giant bowls you find on Buford Highway. Instead, you get maybe two cups of an intensely flavored guajillo chile broth containing hominy and chopped chicken. On the side were the traditional garnishes — radishes, pickled onions, and cabbage. On my way out, I noticed an employee eating something like a Mexican version of poutine. I asked him what his menu favorite was. He quickly replied that it was the torta — a sandwich that encases a fried chicken breast. I winced. Everybody in the city is producing one of those now, thanks to the invasion of Nashville hot chicken. But so be it. I ordered it. It was by far the best thing I’ve eaten there. It’s a brioche bun filled with mile-high spicy slaw, a substantial smear of avocado, fresh jalapeño slices, and a perfect, crispy chicken breast, all held together by a extra-long toothpick. I should note that the chicken is neither smoked nor drenched in hot chili oil.
{img fileId="20109" stylebox="float:right; margin-left:25px;" desc="PLANTAINS AND POZOLE: Caramelized and dusted with powder or intensely flavored guajillo chile broth. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock." max="600px"}
There are only two desserts — soft-serve ice cream and fried plantains. I ordered the latter. They are gooey, virtually caramelized, and heavily dusted with powdered sugar and salt. The salt makes sense if you like, say, salted caramel ice cream, but the kitchen goes overboard for my taste. Little Rey is also open daily for breakfast. The menu includes tacos and some more complicated dishes like huevos rancheros. Take-out is an option if you want to wait forever at home instead of with sighing customers.
Finally, I remind you that Fry has recently published a cookbook — Tex-Mex: Traditions, Innovations, and Comfort Foods from Both Sides of the Border. I don’t think he’s in danger yet of becoming a parody of himself!
Little Rey, 1878 Piedmont Ave., 770-796-0207, littlerey.com."
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  string(8957) " GRZ REY 2104  2019-07-05T19:18:56+00:00 GRZ_REY_2104.jpeg     Tex-Mex at Ford Fry’s latest restaurant 20107  2019-07-05T19:13:43+00:00 GRAZING: Vive el Little Rey jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris CLIFF BOSTOCK  2019-07-05T19:13:43+00:00  I could name names, but I’m too nice to do that. I’m talking about the way some great chefs become overwhelmed by entrepreneurial zeal (aka “greed”). They open one new restaurant after another, claiming they need the creative challenge. Inevitably, though, they turn genius into a stale brand. They become human cartoons, plaguing food TV and runways of charity fundraisers with other formerly fashionable chefs … and food journalists. It’s a sad, sad thing to watch. Give me a moment to take a breath.
Now, I can identify one chef who has gone the expansionist route but seems to have so far remained immune to staleness. I’m talking about Ford Fry, who opened the Southern-style JCT Kitchen here in 2007, followed by about a dozen more restaurants, including duplicates in other cities. His big game-changer was the Optimist, which gained tons of national publicity for its brilliant seafood dishes. It and subsequent venues like St. Cecilia, King + Duke, and Marcel remind me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s claim that “the rich are very different from you and me.” These restaurants are well out of the price range of average Americans, but any accusations of pricey snobbery are quickly sabotaged by Fry’s true, far more affordable passion: Tex-Mex cooking. He grew up in Houston and at this point has seven Tex-Mex restaurants. There are four locations of Superica, two of the El Felix, and one of the brand-new Little Rey. 
I have long confessed that I have no affection for Tex-Mex cooking. Growing up in the South, I never heard anyone even delineate a difference between Tex-Mex and Mexican cooking. It was all about Taco Bell and canned Old El Paso grub, both literally inedible to me because of my oh-so-delicate digestive system. When I moved to Houston in the ’80s to become editor of a large “society” magazine, I was subjected to lots of Tex-Mex fare, including Frito pie — a bag of Fritos torn open and ladled with extra-greasy chili and raw onions. I could see hurling bags of that shit at alt-right Nazis, but who knew people voluntarily ate it? While I was being schooled in such horrors, I did discover sublime Texas barbecue and, even better, actual Mexican cooking in Houston taquerias and a few gourmet restaurants in Dallas and Austin. There’s more to the story, but when I got back to Atlanta to edit Creative Loafing for a second time, I became a messianic advocate for the emerging taqueria scene on Buford Highway. 
It think it’s also fair to claim that I did end up learning to enjoy well prepared Tex-Mex food in places like Houston’s legendary Ninfa’s, whose mesquite-smoked and grilled chicken “al carbon” certainly influenced Fry. Still, for years, I regarded Tex-Mex as a bastardized cuisine, in the same way some people view Italian-America cooking. But I admit: It’s a real magic trick for people like me to brand what exists nonexistent because it doesn’t jibe with my notions of authentic existence. Crazy. I apologize. But I’ll always prefer carnitas over fajitas.

So, I have been anxiously waiting for Fry to open Little Rey with his business partner, Kevin Maxey, another expatriated Texan. Little Rey operates at the corner of Piedmont Avenue, Cheshire Bridge Road, and Piedmont Circle. Entering the parking lot, negotiating it, and then leaving is an automotive Rubik’s Cube. But you’ll manage. Little Rey requires you to wait in line to order and pay at a counter up front. Sometimes we are talking very long lines at the counter followed by lengthy waits for your food. Meanwhile you can swill margaritas. You have to fetch your own meal, plastic utensils, water, and napkins. There are no servers, just very charming clean-up people who will answer any question you have, such as “What’s this brown thang on my taco?” Some will argue that small, $4.50 tacos merit more personal attention.
I love the whimsical interior where a goofy chicken lectures a goofy Felix the Cat (an allusion to Fry’s the El Felix, I suppose). The building has been a bank, a real estate office, a tattoo parlor, and a very popular late-night bar with naked go-go dancers. It’s a huge windowed dining room with some but not all community tables. There’s a large patio offering a dramatic view of the pinkly fluorescent Tokyo Valentino. Really, the place is so large that it’s wrong to conclude that a full parking lot also means a full restaurant. The problem has not been space. It’s been slow ordering.
My first visit was kind of a disaster. I only ordered two tacos. First was one made with chopped chicken al carbon. Second was the Oaxaca, featuring a tortilla that was bathed in melted cheese and then turned kind of crispy before getting its filling of poblanos, mushrooms and salsa verde. I asked that there be no onions on the chicken al carbon taco. There were onions. I took the tray back to the counter and they cheerfully agreed to remake the taco. I went back to my seat and waited a good 10 minutes to hear my name called. Yes, the chicken taco’s onions had been removed, but my Oaxaca taco was replaced with a second chicken taco … with onions. I took the tray back and explained the new problem. They added another Oaxaca to the plate. Then I noticed there were no poblanos on the Oaxaca. I took it back again. They remedied it … I think. They put tiny little diced green things on the taco. I assumed I’d be eating rajas — strips of roasted poblano chiles, but whatever. The Oaxaca did have large chunks of mushrooms and in the end it was delicious. On a subsequent visit, another Oaxaca came to the table. This one had nothing but oily chopped mushrooms and green speckles. Took it back. Got a somewhat better one.
Some will argue such bumbling is to be expected in the first few weeks of a new restaurant, especially when throngs are stampeding the doors. But this reached the level of self-parody (and my meal was comped). Still, I forged on. At my next meal, I ordered the signature dish, the pollo al carbon. You can get a whole chicken, a half, or a quarter. I opted for the half. The chicken was unexpectedly juicy and deeply flavored by the oak and mesquite smoke. To me, though, the flavors were so strong and relentless that I wanted to mix them up. I plucked meat and rolled it into corn tortillas with ingredients served in shot-glasses: smoked onions and jalapenos, ranch beans, and cilantro rice. There was a mild green sauce and a piquant red on the table, but that was it. I think a salsa bar would provide needed distractions from the overwhelming taste of mesquite. I suggest you get a quarter of a chicken and order something with a different flavor profile to accompany it.
After all this meh, I was blown away on my last two visits. I ordered Little Rey’s red pozole. It’s not the giant bowls you find on Buford Highway. Instead, you get maybe two cups of an intensely flavored guajillo chile broth containing hominy and chopped chicken. On the side were the traditional garnishes — radishes, pickled onions, and cabbage. On my way out, I noticed an employee eating something like a Mexican version of poutine. I asked him what his menu favorite was. He quickly replied that it was the torta — a sandwich that encases a fried chicken breast. I winced. Everybody in the city is producing one of those now, thanks to the invasion of Nashville hot chicken. But so be it. I ordered it. It was by far the best thing I’ve eaten there. It’s a brioche bun filled with mile-high spicy slaw, a substantial smear of avocado, fresh jalapeño slices, and a perfect, crispy chicken breast, all held together by a extra-long toothpick. I should note that the chicken is neither smoked nor drenched in hot chili oil.

There are only two desserts — soft-serve ice cream and fried plantains. I ordered the latter. They are gooey, virtually caramelized, and heavily dusted with powdered sugar and salt. The salt makes sense if you like, say, salted caramel ice cream, but the kitchen goes overboard for my taste. Little Rey is also open daily for breakfast. The menu includes tacos and some more complicated dishes like huevos rancheros. Take-out is an option if you want to wait forever at home instead of with sighing customers.
Finally, I remind you that Fry has recently published a cookbook — Tex-Mex: Traditions, Innovations, and Comfort Foods from Both Sides of the Border. I don’t think he’s in danger yet of becoming a parody of himself!
Little Rey, 1878 Piedmont Ave., 770-796-0207, littlerey.com.    Cliff Bostock PASSIONATE TEX-MEX: Some of the many tacos served at Little Rey.  0,0,11                                 GRAZING: Vive el Little Rey "
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Article

Friday July 5, 2019 03:13 pm EDT
Tex-Mex at Ford Fry’s latest restaurant | more...

Omnivore

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  string(3924) "When 1,000 paper cranes are folded as a group, they are known as a senbazuru. According to Japanese legend, the folder is granted one wish upon completion.

Today, the origami cranes are seen as a powerful symbol because of the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who developed leukemia following the bombing of Hiroshima. She tried to fold 1,000 birds before her death, with a selfless wish of world peace. 

“Her story stands as an inspiration to all, and a testament to the continued power of the paper crane as a compelling symbol for hope, love, honor, and peace,” says Jen Hidinger-Kendrick, co-founder of Staplehouse and the Giving Kitchen.

But Sasaki’s tale is only part of the inspiration behind the newly opened Paper Crane Lounge, which rests atop Edgewood Avenue’s award-winning restaurant Staplehouse. Dreamed up by Hidinger-Kendrick and her late husband Ryan Hidinger before his death in 2014, Staplehouse is a subsidiary of nonprofit the Giving Kitchen, which helps restaurant workers in times of unexpected crisis. 

A beloved member of Atlanta’s restaurant community, Ryan received gifts of a thousand cranes twice during his year-long battle with cancer. Twenty-four hours after he died, a crane landed on top of the Hidingers’ home chimney and perched there for a while before flying off. The bird left the family with a hopeful sign that Ryan was OK. “That’s the crane image I have on my right arm,” says Hidinger-Kendrick, pointing to a delicate tattoo that stretches from elbow to shoulder. It’s from “a photo that Kara Ryan’s sister took of the actual crane sitting on our chimney.”

Upstairs at the Paper Crane Lounge, bartender Kate Flowe, who honed her skills at Octopus Bar and Kimball House, serves cocktails alongside beverage director/assistant general manager Melissa Davis. It’s a cozy retreat, with exposed brick walls, a fireplace in the far corner, a small bar station, a few tables, plush sofas. It feels kind of like an extension of somebody’s very hip living room.

“It’s an intimate space where people can enjoy a drink with friends at a leisurely pace, kind of circling back to Staplehouse’s early days as a supper club in the Hidinger’s home,” says Flowe. But perhaps the lounge’s best feature is its accessibility. Unlike at Staplehouse, you don’t need to vie for a reservation months in advance; this lounge is made for walk-ins. 

The short and sweet menu invites conversation, listing cocktails with a few descriptive words in lieu of their ingredients. Flowe’s Night Vision is “earthy, smoky, mysterious,” the result of an abundance of prickly pears in the kitchen and her “what grows together goes together” philosophy. She added lime for zing, mezcal for earthiness, Cappelletti for depth, and made a tincture from the buds of shiso leaves for a mysteriously purplish hue. Flowe and Davis are happy to take the time to fully explain their creations while guests sip.

“Having a cocktail should never be anything but a relaxing or stimulating experience,” says Flowe. “Jen and Kara created this beautiful warm space, and so many of the little touches people appreciate are Melissa’s. I like to think of Melissa and I being your personal drink shoppers.” 

Looking ahead, there are plans to showcase Ryan’s gifted cranes as an installation in the stairwell and in the rafters of the lounge. They’ll stand as symbols of peace and hope for guests and yet another gift to the community that means so much to this team.

Davis is smitten with Paper Crane’s warm and intimate ambiance. “The environment isn’t stuffy or pressuring. We just want to give people insanely good cocktails, and a few esoteric wines and beers. To help guests explore the possibilities of the ever-changing beverage world.”

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Today, the origami cranes are seen as a powerful symbol because of the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who developed leukemia following the bombing of Hiroshima. She tried to fold 1,000 birds before her death, with a selfless wish of world peace. 

“Her story stands as an inspiration to all, and a testament to the continued power of the paper crane as a compelling symbol for hope, love, honor, and peace,” says Jen Hidinger-Kendrick, co-founder of Staplehouse and the Giving Kitchen.

But Sasaki’s tale is only part of the inspiration behind the newly opened Paper Crane Lounge, which rests atop Edgewood Avenue’s award-winning restaurant Staplehouse. Dreamed up by Hidinger-Kendrick and her late husband Ryan Hidinger before his death in 2014, Staplehouse is a subsidiary of nonprofit the Giving Kitchen, which helps restaurant workers in times of unexpected crisis. 

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Upstairs at the Paper Crane Lounge, bartender Kate Flowe, who honed her skills at Octopus Bar and Kimball House, serves cocktails alongside beverage director/assistant general manager Melissa Davis. It’s a cozy retreat, with exposed brick walls, a fireplace in the far corner, a small bar station, a few tables, plush sofas. It feels kind of like an extension of somebody’s very hip living room.

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“Having a cocktail should never be anything but a relaxing or stimulating experience,” says Flowe. “Jen and Kara created this beautiful warm space, and so many of the little touches people appreciate are Melissa’s. I like to think of Melissa and I being your personal drink shoppers.” 

Looking ahead, there are plans to showcase Ryan’s gifted cranes as an installation in the stairwell and in the rafters of the lounge. They’ll stand as symbols of peace and hope for guests and yet another gift to the community that means so much to this team.

Davis is smitten with Paper Crane’s warm and intimate ambiance. “The environment isn’t stuffy or pressuring. We just want to give people insanely good cocktails, and a few esoteric wines and beers. To help guests explore the possibilities of the ever-changing beverage world.”

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Today, the origami cranes are seen as a powerful symbol because of the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who developed leukemia following the bombing of Hiroshima. She tried to fold 1,000 birds before her death, with a selfless wish of world peace. 

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But Sasaki’s tale is only part of the inspiration behind the newly opened Paper Crane Lounge, which rests atop Edgewood Avenue’s award-winning restaurant Staplehouse. Dreamed up by Hidinger-Kendrick and her late husband Ryan Hidinger before his death in 2014, Staplehouse is a subsidiary of nonprofit the Giving Kitchen, which helps restaurant workers in times of unexpected crisis. 

A beloved member of Atlanta’s restaurant community, Ryan received gifts of a thousand cranes twice during his year-long battle with cancer. Twenty-four hours after he died, a crane landed on top of the Hidingers’ home chimney and perched there for a while before flying off. The bird left the family with a hopeful sign that Ryan was OK. “That’s the crane image I have on my right arm,” says Hidinger-Kendrick, pointing to a delicate tattoo that stretches from elbow to shoulder. It’s from “a photo that Kara Ryan’s sister took of the actual crane sitting on our chimney.”

Upstairs at the Paper Crane Lounge, bartender Kate Flowe, who honed her skills at Octopus Bar and Kimball House, serves cocktails alongside beverage director/assistant general manager Melissa Davis. It’s a cozy retreat, with exposed brick walls, a fireplace in the far corner, a small bar station, a few tables, plush sofas. It feels kind of like an extension of somebody’s very hip living room.

“It’s an intimate space where people can enjoy a drink with friends at a leisurely pace, kind of circling back to Staplehouse’s early days as a supper club in the Hidinger’s home,” says Flowe. But perhaps the lounge’s best feature is its accessibility. Unlike at Staplehouse, you don’t need to vie for a reservation months in advance; this lounge is made for walk-ins. 

The short and sweet menu invites conversation, listing cocktails with a few descriptive words in lieu of their ingredients. Flowe’s Night Vision is “earthy, smoky, mysterious,” the result of an abundance of prickly pears in the kitchen and her “what grows together goes together” philosophy. She added lime for zing, mezcal for earthiness, Cappelletti for depth, and made a tincture from the buds of shiso leaves for a mysteriously purplish hue. Flowe and Davis are happy to take the time to fully explain their creations while guests sip.

“Having a cocktail should never be anything but a relaxing or stimulating experience,” says Flowe. “Jen and Kara created this beautiful warm space, and so many of the little touches people appreciate are Melissa’s. I like to think of Melissa and I being your personal drink shoppers.” 

Looking ahead, there are plans to showcase Ryan’s gifted cranes as an installation in the stairwell and in the rafters of the lounge. They’ll stand as symbols of peace and hope for guests and yet another gift to the community that means so much to this team.

Davis is smitten with Paper Crane’s warm and intimate ambiance. “The environment isn’t stuffy or pressuring. We just want to give people insanely good cocktails, and a few esoteric wines and beers. To help guests explore the possibilities of the ever-changing beverage world.”

Paper Crane Lounge, 541 Edgewood Ave. S.E. 404-524-5005. www.staplehouse.com.     Andrew Thomas Lee SHAKE IT UP: Bartender Kate Flowe whips up cocktails at the intimate Paper Crane Lounge.        20990332                           Bird's the word "
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Sunday February 4, 2018 10:10 pm EST
Paper Crane Lounge offers a cozy retreat atop award-winning Staplehouse | more...
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  string(7505) "{HTML()}At a recent food conference in Savannah, chef Deborah VanTrece had an all too familiar encounter. “A white male chef told me I didn’t belong there, and to go back to Atlanta,” she recalls. The incident was just the latest on an endless list of silent stares, overt comments, and outright dismissals that she’s experienced throughout her career as a black female chef. All convey the same myth: Women don’t belong in professional kitchens, and the opportunities available to marquee chefs belong mostly to white guys.

VanTrece’s experience is not unique. Personal chef and cookbook author Jennifer Hill Booker and mixologist Tiffanie Barriere recount similar instances throughout their careers. The three women connected after being jointly featured in an NBC News article that highlighted their participation at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival in 2017 (and all three sit on the festival’s recently announced all-female advisory council for 2018). In the months that followed, mutual frustrations and a desire to move the needle led them to launch the collaborative dining series, Cast Iron Chronicles, late last year.

The series began with two local events over the past several months that challenged stereotypes about soul food and encouraged timely conversations about racial and gender inequality in professional kitchens and the food industry at large. It’s a big conversation — so big that the group is taking its act to the James Beard Foundation’s famed Beard House in New York City on Feb. 21, where they’ll conclude the three-part series. The dinner is a long-held dream come true.

Six courses with cocktail pairings are inspired by Southern tradition and bounty and the ensemble’s African-American heritage: think fried chicken liver with peach confiture on crostini, black pepper biscuits with pimento cheese spoonbread, catfish goujonnettes with buttermilk hominy grits and red-eye gravy, and oxtail rillettes with foie gras mousse, pickled Vidalia onions, and muscadine gelée. Barriere’s drinks include the Green-Eyed Bandit (freshly juiced collard greens, gin, and aloe liqueur), and with dessert, the apropos Black Girl Magic — an all-black cocktail featuring Cathead Hoodoo chicory liqueur, Cynar, and ruby port, marked with edible gold pieces.

Collectively, the three women boast more than 55 years in the industry. VanTrece is the owner and head chef at Twisted Soul Cookhouse and & Pours; Barriere is a freelance bartender known for her creative beverage development (Southern National in Mobile, Alabama; the launch of One Flew South’s bar program); Hill Booker has gained a reputation for her globally-minded takes on Southern cuisine, as detailed in her cookbook, ''Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent.'' That mastery will be on display for Beard House diners — the bar, as they say, is set high.

The James Beard Foundation represents the preeminent honor in American culinary arts; to host a dinner in the Greenwich Village dining room is to reach a pinnacle moment. For one, a chef doesn’t just book a Beard House event; she must be invited by a selection committee that considers noted chefs throughout the U.S. She receives this invitation only after review of her skill, reputation, and expertise, among other criteria. Current and former Atlanta-based chefs who’ve made the trek include Mihoko Obunai and Joseph Truex, Matthew Basford, Todd Richards, Drew Belline, Adam Evans, Jonathan Fox, Duane Nutter, and Todd Ginsberg.
 
On a recent phone call, VanTrece expressed gratitude. “It means the world,” she began, pausing to acknowledge that she was still deeply moved. For years, she recalls watching as contemporaries received invitations — often those peers were male. She began to wonder if such an honor was available to her as a black woman chef, an underrepresented group in fine dining. Hill Booker could relate. A Georgia Grown executive chef, she says she was devastated to not represent at the Beard House with the group in 2015. Their journey to the Beard House is meaningful not just because of the professional honor, but because they’re doing it together.

VanTrece, Hill Booker, and Barriere all wish to be judged by the quality of their offerings — they are in service to food, drink, and people. But achievements of this nature are important to observe because doing so recognizes that part of the culinary conversation has been sorely missing. That’s why Cast Iron Chronicles aims to “debunk myths about soul food,” Hill Booker says. “It’s not all cafeteria-style meat-and-threes, fried, and covered in gravy. We’re talking about a cuisine that was created by enslaved Africans, who incorporated their West African cooking traditions and those of their French, German, and Spanish owners.”

Hill Booker studied and cooked professionally in Germany and France in the late ’90s, and notes: “People don’t like to talk about where this food comes from, but we are cooking the food of our ancestors.” The need for this dialogue is crucial, the trio says, especially when women and people of color have to overcome unfairness in funding and investments for restaurants, gaps in competitive pay, poor recruitment efforts at festivals and conferences, lack of mentorship, and sometimes open hostility.

“It’s been interesting to see how ‘soul food’ was appropriated as ‘Southern food,’ where I look up and people are talking about an ‘elevated’ cuisine,” VanTrece says. It’s language that can be heard from restaurant cooking lines to “Top Chef''.” ''The underlying logic, whether intended or not, can convey that a bowl of chitterlings bears less culinary value than pâté en croûte. Cast Iron Chronicles provides a space to question what that assumption means, especially when black chefs are systematically left out of the conversation, despite having originated so much of the history.

It’s true that much of the soul food lexicon derived from people who didn’t have much — collard green potlikker and cornmeal, innovating with meat cuts rejected by white landowners. But what often gets dropped from the narrative is the cooking expertise that Africans brought with them and adapted throughout slavery, Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, and the Great Migration — from plantation kitchens to segregated hotels and train cars, and so on. These were touted professionals before they were credited as such, and their skills weren’t confined to their jobs; they came home with them, too. Haricot verts in béchamel sauce were just as easily served at a black family’s Sunday dinner as the cook’s white employer’s soirée. Adrian Miller’s latest book, ''The President's Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas'','' ''explores how this history showed up in the country’s highest office. This is all part of the soul food story.

Cast Iron Chronicles’ invitation to the Beard House is a hallmark that bestows the type of respect chefs want most — the kind they get from heroes and peers. “We’ve always been here,” Barriere says, both of crafting classic drinks and feeling some ownership of Southern food and hospitality. “To go to the Beard House like this, it means they see us for who we are.”{HTML} " ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_creation_date"]=> string(25) "2018-02-05T01:02:45+00:00" ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_modification_date"]=> string(25) "2018-02-05T14:59:48+00:00" ["tracker_field_photos"]=> string(4) "2499" ["tracker_field_contentPhotoCredit"]=> string(12) "Shelby Light" ["tracker_field_contentPhotoTitle"]=> string(165) "WOMEN ON TOP: The Cast Iron Chronicles team is made up of long-time industry professionals (from left) Jennifer Hill Booker, Deborah VanTrece, and Tiffanie Barriere." ["tracker_field_contentCategory"]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(3) "706" [1]=> string(3) "536" } ["tracker_field_contentCategory_text"]=> string(7) "706 536" ["tracker_field_contentControlCategory"]=> array(0) { } ["tracker_field_scene"]=> array(0) { } ["tracker_field_contentNeighborhood"]=> array(0) { } ["tracker_field_contentRelations_multi"]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(0) "" } ["tracker_field_contentRelatedContent_multi"]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(0) "" } ["tracker_field_contentRelatedWikiPages_multi"]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(0) "" } ["tracker_field_contentBASEContentID"]=> string(8) "20990356" ["tracker_field_contentBASEAuthorID"]=> int(0) ["tracker_field_section"]=> array(0) { } ["language"]=> string(7) "unknown" ["attachments"]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(4) "2499" } ["comment_count"]=> int(0) ["categories"]=> array(2) { [0]=> int(536) [1]=> int(706) } ["deep_categories"]=> array(4) { [0]=> int(242) [1]=> int(536) [2]=> int(245) [3]=> int(706) } ["categories_under_28"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_28"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_1"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_1"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_177"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_177"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_209"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_209"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_163"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_163"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_171"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_171"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_153"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_153"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_242"]=> array(1) { [0]=> int(536) } ["deep_categories_under_242"]=> array(3) { [0]=> int(536) [1]=> int(245) [2]=> int(706) } ["categories_under_564"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_564"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_1182"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_1182"]=> array(0) { } ["freetags"]=> array(0) { } ["geo_located"]=> string(1) "n" ["allowed_groups"]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(6) "Admins" [1]=> string(9) "Anonymous" } ["allowed_users"]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(29) "ben.eason@creativeloafing.com" } ["relations"]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(26) "tiki.file.attach:file:2499" [1]=> string(60) "tiki.wiki.linkeditem.invert:wiki page:Content:_:Iron maidens" } ["relation_objects"]=> array(0) { } ["relation_types"]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(16) "tiki.file.attach" [1]=> string(27) "tiki.wiki.linkeditem.invert" } ["relation_count"]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(18) "tiki.file.attach:1" [1]=> string(29) "tiki.wiki.linkeditem.invert:1" } ["title_initial"]=> string(1) "I" ["title_firstword"]=> string(4) "Iron" ["searchable"]=> string(1) "y" ["url"]=> string(10) "item270391" ["object_type"]=> string(11) "trackeritem" ["object_id"]=> string(6) "270391" ["contents"]=> string(651) " Cast Iron Chronicles 1 Photos By Shelby Light 1 .5a6b861aacce8 2018-02-05T02:21:59+00:00 Cast_Iron_Chronicles_1_Photos_by_Shelby_Light__1_.5a6b861aacce8.jpg Cast Iron Chronicles heads to the Beard House, challenging myths around soul food, gender, and race in the food industry 2499 2018-02-05T00:59:28+00:00 Iron maidens ben.eason@creativeloafing.com Ben Eason Osayi Endolyn 2018-02-05T00:59:28+00:00   Shelby Light WOMEN ON TOP: The Cast Iron Chronicles team is made up of long-time industry professionals (from left) Jennifer Hill Booker, Deborah VanTrece, and Tiffanie Barriere. 20990356 Iron maidens " ["score"]=> float(0) ["_index"]=> string(21) "atlantawiki_tiki_main" ["objectlink"]=> string(36) "No value for 'contentTitle'" ["photos"]=> string(183) "Cast Iron Chronicles 1 Photos By Shelby Light 1 .5a6b861aacce8 " ["desc"]=> string(129) "Cast Iron Chronicles heads to the Beard House, challenging myths around soul food, gender, and race in the food industry" ["chit_category"]=> string(11) "88" }

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Sunday February 4, 2018 07:59 pm EST
Cast Iron Chronicles heads to the Beard House, challenging myths around soul food, gender, and race in the food industry | more...
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  string(6115) "Alexis Edwards calls herself the “Lettuce Lady.” She and her husband Colby have grown Bibb lettuce in a hydroponic greenhouse for over a decade, selling their produce to farmers’ markets in middle Georgia and upscale Macon restaurants. It’s tough for small family farms like the Edwards’ to distribute their produce in the Atlanta food system, but a new CSA is trying to change that.

Atlanta’s newest food distributor, the Common Market Georgia, is an ideal partner for farm-to-institution endeavors. The nonprofit picks up fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meats from farms and delivers their goods to hospitals, universities, and schools around the metro Atlanta area. All of these farms are within a 250-mile radius of the new Common Market warehouse and distribution facility in East Point. 

“Food touches every part of our lives,” says Georgia director Lily Rolader. “It’s reaching you at the hospital down the road or where you drop your kids off at school. We want to create the infrastructure to make it possible for farmers to move food and make it easy for our customers to get good food.”

The Common Market has been distributing food for nearly 10 years and has moved more than $18 million in food from 150 small family farms between New York, Virginia, and the mid-Atlantic. They’re now continuing down south in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Local food systems champion Susan Pavlin founded the Common Market Georgia in 2016 and ran the CSA out of Sweet Auburn Market. Now, Rolader has stepped up to the role of director to oversee the new Atlanta warehouse and draw in more farmers like Edwards.

TRUCKIN': The Common Market Georgia picks up produce from local farms and delivers them to hospitals, universities, and schools around the metro Atlanta area.Corryn LytleTen years ago, inspired by a friend who grew tomatoes, Alexis Edwards decide to try her own thumb at hydroponic farming. She contacted Crop King, a greenhouse manufacturer, who suggested she and her family start off with lettuce. Next thing they knew, an 18-wheeler full of the ingredients needed for a commercial sized hydroponic greenhouse was delivered to their Dublin, Georgia, home.

Edwards named the farm R&G, after her two children, Riley and Grace. She and her family got started by simply inviting members of the community to stop into the greenhouse and select their own organic lettuce, sold at just $2 a head. “They will just walk in, pick their lettuce, and leave money in the sink,” Edwards says. “It’s on the honor system.”

A rustic sink serving as a cash register may be charming, but the truth is small and midscale family farms often struggle to make ends meet. In a food system that has evolved to favor low prices and convenience, Edwards said partnering with a CSA like the Common Market is crucial to reaching a wider Atlanta market. “It has been a huge confidence builder to be able to start something from the ground up and watch it grow,” she continues. “It's hard to do that nowadays.” 

Thanks to better distribution partnerships forged through the Common Market, R&G Farms currently supplies Emory Hospital with leafy greens. As an independent farm, Edwards says they normally wouldn’t have even been on the hospital’s radar. “The Common Market opened doors for us that we were not able to and other companies just haven't been able to do. They’re big on fresh. They don't hold it in their cooler, they get produce from us and they are pretty much delivering it the next day.” Other big wholesale produce companies in Atlanta let veggies sit in coolers up to a week — allowing nutrients to break down before even reaching consumers.

WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Employees celebrate the grand opening of The Common Market Georgia in East Point.Corryn LytleThe Common Market’s new warehouse in East Point is over 60,000 square feet. As soon as the distributor purchased the warehouse in December 2016, they got to work building out their cooler space, upgrading from their three-cooler rental agreement at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Today, they have 6,500 square feet of cold storage with zones to separate foods that naturally produce ethylene, the gas emitted during ripening, and products that are sensitive to ethylene. Refrigerated shipping containers have allowed them to distribute more frozen products.

Most of the produce is boxed up and driven to large institutions including Morrison Healthcare and the 11 hospitals in their network, including Grady and Emory. Sage Dining represents many private schools and even more Atlanta public schools; early childcare providers and community organizations are included in the Common Market partnerships. Services are not limited to large groups, though. Farm share members can also be individuals and families who can pick up pre-selected, seasonal items at participating spaces such as workplaces, schools, and community centers.

The Common Market Georgia’s procurement manager, Katie Chatham, spends most of her day donning and shedding layers of clothing as she steps inside the cooler to take detailed inventory. But she also thinks big picture for the farmers. Her job is to run reports of cases of food sold month by month, identify new areas of growth, and estimate projected amounts for products for the upcoming season. Chatham personally drives to each farm to chat with growers face-to-face about the needs of the upcoming season and to plot where they should distribute next.

At this month’s vision meeting, Edwards said she hopes to sell R&G Farms greens to Grady Hospital. Regardless, she knows the Common Market will find her a good fit in Atlanta. “They are an incredible company full of the most wonderful, honest, and organized people we have ever dealt with in produce,” she says. “They have reached out and have done so much more than we could have ever possibly done on our own.”



The Common Market Georgia, 1050 Oakleigh Drive, East Point. 678-343-9525 ext. 21. www.thecommonmarket.org"
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  string(6412) "Alexis Edwards calls herself the “Lettuce Lady.” She and her husband Colby have grown Bibb lettuce in a hydroponic greenhouse for over a decade, selling their produce to farmers’ markets in middle Georgia and upscale Macon restaurants. It’s tough for small family farms like the Edwards’ to distribute their produce in the Atlanta food system, but a new CSA is trying to change that.

Atlanta’s newest food distributor, the Common Market Georgia, is an ideal partner for farm-to-institution endeavors. The nonprofit picks up fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meats from farms and delivers their goods to hospitals, universities, and schools around the metro Atlanta area. All of these farms are within a 250-mile radius of the new Common Market warehouse and distribution facility in East Point. 

“Food touches every part of our lives,” says Georgia director Lily Rolader. “It’s reaching you at the hospital down the road or where you drop your kids off at school. We want to create the infrastructure to make it possible for farmers to move food and make it easy for our customers to get good food.”

The Common Market has been distributing food for nearly 10 years and has moved more than $18 million in food from 150 small family farms between New York, Virginia, and the mid-Atlantic. They’re now continuing down south in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Local food systems champion Susan Pavlin founded the Common Market Georgia in 2016 and ran the CSA out of Sweet Auburn Market. Now, Rolader has stepped up to the role of director to oversee the new Atlanta warehouse and draw in more farmers like Edwards.

{img src="https://cdn.creativeloafing.com/files/base/scomm/clatl/image/2018/01/640w/CommonMarket_GrandOpening_1975.5a67a16eaa781.jpg"}TRUCKIN': The Common Market Georgia picks up produce from local farms and delivers them to hospitals, universities, and schools around the metro Atlanta area.Corryn LytleTen years ago, inspired by a friend who grew tomatoes, Alexis Edwards decide to try her own thumb at hydroponic farming. She contacted Crop King, a greenhouse manufacturer, who suggested she and her family start off with lettuce. Next thing they knew, an 18-wheeler full of the ingredients needed for a commercial sized hydroponic greenhouse was delivered to their Dublin, Georgia, home.

Edwards named the farm R&G, after her two children, Riley and Grace. She and her family got started by simply inviting members of the community to stop into the greenhouse and select their own organic lettuce, sold at just $2 a head. “They will just walk in, pick their lettuce, and leave money in the sink,” Edwards says. “It’s on the honor system.”

A rustic sink serving as a cash register may be charming, but the truth is small and midscale family farms often struggle to make ends meet. In a food system that has evolved to favor low prices and convenience, Edwards said partnering with a CSA like the Common Market is crucial to reaching a wider Atlanta market. “It has been a huge confidence builder to be able to start something from the ground up and watch it grow,” she continues. “It's hard to do that nowadays.” 

Thanks to better distribution partnerships forged through the Common Market, R&G Farms currently supplies Emory Hospital with leafy greens. As an independent farm, Edwards says they normally wouldn’t have even been on the hospital’s radar. “The Common Market opened doors for us that we were not able to and other companies just haven't been able to do. They’re big on fresh. They don't hold it in their cooler, they get [produce] from us and they are pretty much delivering it the next day.” Other big wholesale produce companies in Atlanta let veggies sit in coolers up to a week — allowing nutrients to break down before even reaching consumers.

{img src="https://cdn.creativeloafing.com/files/base/scomm/clatl/image/2018/01/640w/CommonMarket_GrandOpening_2535.5a67a2f796113.jpg"}WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Employees celebrate the grand opening of The Common Market Georgia in East Point.Corryn LytleThe Common Market’s new warehouse in East Point is over 60,000 square feet. As soon as the distributor purchased the warehouse in December 2016, they got to work building out their cooler space, upgrading from their three-cooler rental agreement at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Today, they have 6,500 square feet of cold storage with zones to separate foods that naturally produce ethylene, the gas emitted during ripening, and products that are sensitive to ethylene. Refrigerated shipping containers have allowed them to distribute more frozen products.

Most of the produce is boxed up and driven to large institutions including Morrison Healthcare and the 11 hospitals in their network, including Grady and Emory. Sage Dining represents many private schools and even more Atlanta public schools; early childcare providers and community organizations are included in the Common Market partnerships. Services are not limited to large groups, though. Farm share members can also be individuals and families who can pick up pre-selected, seasonal items at participating spaces such as workplaces, schools, and community centers.

The Common Market Georgia’s procurement manager, Katie Chatham, spends most of her day donning and shedding layers of clothing as she steps inside the cooler to take detailed inventory. But she also thinks big picture for the farmers. Her job is to run reports of cases of food sold month by month, identify new areas of growth, and estimate projected amounts for products for the upcoming season. Chatham personally drives to each farm to chat with growers face-to-face about the needs of the upcoming season and to plot where they should distribute next.

At this month’s vision meeting, Edwards said she hopes to sell R&G Farms greens to Grady Hospital. Regardless, she knows the Common Market will find her a good fit in Atlanta. “They are an incredible company full of the most wonderful, honest, and organized people we have ever dealt with in produce,” she says. “They have reached out and have done so much more than we could have ever possibly done on our own.”



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Atlanta’s newest food distributor, the Common Market Georgia, is an ideal partner for farm-to-institution endeavors. The nonprofit picks up fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meats from farms and delivers their goods to hospitals, universities, and schools around the metro Atlanta area. All of these farms are within a 250-mile radius of the new Common Market warehouse and distribution facility in East Point. 

“Food touches every part of our lives,” says Georgia director Lily Rolader. “It’s reaching you at the hospital down the road or where you drop your kids off at school. We want to create the infrastructure to make it possible for farmers to move food and make it easy for our customers to get good food.”

The Common Market has been distributing food for nearly 10 years and has moved more than $18 million in food from 150 small family farms between New York, Virginia, and the mid-Atlantic. They’re now continuing down south in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Local food systems champion Susan Pavlin founded the Common Market Georgia in 2016 and ran the CSA out of Sweet Auburn Market. Now, Rolader has stepped up to the role of director to oversee the new Atlanta warehouse and draw in more farmers like Edwards.

TRUCKIN': The Common Market Georgia picks up produce from local farms and delivers them to hospitals, universities, and schools around the metro Atlanta area.Corryn LytleTen years ago, inspired by a friend who grew tomatoes, Alexis Edwards decide to try her own thumb at hydroponic farming. She contacted Crop King, a greenhouse manufacturer, who suggested she and her family start off with lettuce. Next thing they knew, an 18-wheeler full of the ingredients needed for a commercial sized hydroponic greenhouse was delivered to their Dublin, Georgia, home.

Edwards named the farm R&G, after her two children, Riley and Grace. She and her family got started by simply inviting members of the community to stop into the greenhouse and select their own organic lettuce, sold at just $2 a head. “They will just walk in, pick their lettuce, and leave money in the sink,” Edwards says. “It’s on the honor system.”

A rustic sink serving as a cash register may be charming, but the truth is small and midscale family farms often struggle to make ends meet. In a food system that has evolved to favor low prices and convenience, Edwards said partnering with a CSA like the Common Market is crucial to reaching a wider Atlanta market. “It has been a huge confidence builder to be able to start something from the ground up and watch it grow,” she continues. “It's hard to do that nowadays.” 

Thanks to better distribution partnerships forged through the Common Market, R&G Farms currently supplies Emory Hospital with leafy greens. As an independent farm, Edwards says they normally wouldn’t have even been on the hospital’s radar. “The Common Market opened doors for us that we were not able to and other companies just haven't been able to do. They’re big on fresh. They don't hold it in their cooler, they get produce from us and they are pretty much delivering it the next day.” Other big wholesale produce companies in Atlanta let veggies sit in coolers up to a week — allowing nutrients to break down before even reaching consumers.

WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Employees celebrate the grand opening of The Common Market Georgia in East Point.Corryn LytleThe Common Market’s new warehouse in East Point is over 60,000 square feet. As soon as the distributor purchased the warehouse in December 2016, they got to work building out their cooler space, upgrading from their three-cooler rental agreement at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Today, they have 6,500 square feet of cold storage with zones to separate foods that naturally produce ethylene, the gas emitted during ripening, and products that are sensitive to ethylene. Refrigerated shipping containers have allowed them to distribute more frozen products.

Most of the produce is boxed up and driven to large institutions including Morrison Healthcare and the 11 hospitals in their network, including Grady and Emory. Sage Dining represents many private schools and even more Atlanta public schools; early childcare providers and community organizations are included in the Common Market partnerships. Services are not limited to large groups, though. Farm share members can also be individuals and families who can pick up pre-selected, seasonal items at participating spaces such as workplaces, schools, and community centers.

The Common Market Georgia’s procurement manager, Katie Chatham, spends most of her day donning and shedding layers of clothing as she steps inside the cooler to take detailed inventory. But she also thinks big picture for the farmers. Her job is to run reports of cases of food sold month by month, identify new areas of growth, and estimate projected amounts for products for the upcoming season. Chatham personally drives to each farm to chat with growers face-to-face about the needs of the upcoming season and to plot where they should distribute next.

At this month’s vision meeting, Edwards said she hopes to sell R&G Farms greens to Grady Hospital. Regardless, she knows the Common Market will find her a good fit in Atlanta. “They are an incredible company full of the most wonderful, honest, and organized people we have ever dealt with in produce,” she says. “They have reached out and have done so much more than we could have ever possibly done on our own.”



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Friday January 26, 2018 10:06 pm EST
The Common Market Georgia helps small-scale farmers into large-scale kitchens | more...

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Friday January 26, 2018 02:56 pm EST
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Emerald City Bagels, the mother-daughter owned pop-up turned brick-and-mortar bagel shop, is now opened in East Atlanta Village at 1257 Glenwood Ave. Get there early to guarantee a bagel! Reports say supplies were sold out by 11 a.m. on the first day.

The collaborative dining series Analog is back for the first seating of the New Year. On Feb. 11, chefs Todd Richards and Guy Wong will prepare 15 courses showcasing their love of duck and seafood while Krista and Jerry Slater pair beverages. Reservations can be made via Tock for two seatings at Miso Izakaya.

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Cheers! Garden & Gun plans to open a “cocktail and social club” at the Battery sometime this spring. No membership is required for the Southern hospitality, which will include lunch, dinner, coffee, and cocktails.

Marietta’s Il Giallo Osteria and Bar (5290 Roswell Rd.) has named Brendan Keenan as excutive chef. Keenan was most recently top toque at Drift and Seed & Stem and previously worked at Woodfire Grill, the Sound Table, and Bluepointe.

Jefe’s Tacos and Tequila in Brookhaven closed this past Sunday. On their Facebook page, they shared “how difficult it was to make this decision but we are comfortable in the knowledge that we are leaving the restaurant in the very capable hands of Red Pepper Taqueria.”  

Chef/owner Nick Leahy is starting a new dinner series at Saltyard where he partners with local farmers for a seasonal ingredient dinner the first Thursday of every month. The inaugural dinner is on Feb. 3 with Moore Farms and friends. Reservations can be made by phone at 404-382-8088.

KFC is launching a new Southern-inspired flavor just for us! Smoky Mountain BBQ Chicken will be available for dipping on Mon., Jan. 29. In a press release, KFC noted, “after all, Georgians do love their BBQ.”

There are new top toques at the Shops at Buckhead Atlanta. Gary Finzer is leading the kitchen as executive chef at Gypsy Kitchen and Q. Matisse’ Myers has moved up to executive chef at The Southern Gentleman.

Have a drink and provide food for a hungry Atlantan. Raise a glass against hunger on Mon., Jan. 29 from 6 to 9 pm at Bulla Gastrobar (60 11 St. NE). $10 at the door includes a glass of sangria and light bites and all proceeds benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Before Nashville’s Hattie B’s Hot Chicken opens its first Atlanta location this spring, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q will pop up with them. On Sat., Feb. 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Hattie B’s executive Chef John Lasater joins Jonathan and Justin Fox at Fox Bros. for dishes of hot chicken paired with the bros' famous sides.

Nearly one in six American children suffer from hunger, including more than 529,000 right here in Georgia. Atlanta’s Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry holds its 30 anniversary gala to help. On Thurs., May 3, 75 of the city’s premier restaurants join forces for the fundraiser at Cobb Galleria Centre, a new venue for TOTN.

Wanna sip on some Oyster Hot Tub Stout? Duluth’s new Good Word Brewing is throwing a release shindig on Thurs., Feb. 1 for the new beer. The folks from Noona will be shucking oysters from Oyster South and Kimball House to go along with the 5.5 percent brew."
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  string(4612) " Bbd6f Food Q A2 1 42.5a6a0c6216806  2018-02-05T01:22:30+00:00 bbd6f_food_q_a2_1_42.5a6a0c6216806.jpg     Food news roundup 2495  2018-01-25T17:00:00+00:00 Quick Bites: Chai Yo Modern Thai and Emerald City Bagels now open, Mission + Market coming to Buckhead, Analog returns, and more ben.eason@creativeloafing.com Ben Eason Angela Hansberger  2018-01-25T17:00:00+00:00  A new concept is coming to the Three Alliance Center Building in Buckhead this spring. Restaurateur Jonathan Akly is partnering with chef Ian Winslade on Mission + Market. "I had an incredible tenure at Murphy's and enjoyed being part of an Atlanta staple these last six and half years,” said Winslade in a press release. “My vision for Mission + Market is to bring something a little different and hopefully unexpected to the growing city of Atlanta while being able to showcase my own style.” 

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The collaborative dining series Analog is back for the first seating of the New Year. On Feb. 11, chefs Todd Richards and Guy Wong will prepare 15 courses showcasing their love of duck and seafood while Krista and Jerry Slater pair beverages. Reservations can be made via Tock for two seatings at Miso Izakaya.

Speaking of Guy Wong, Westside’s Le Fat resumes lunch service on Jan. 29 with a concise menu of banh mi, bowls of pho, spring rolls, and rice dishes. 

Cheers! Garden & Gun plans to open a “cocktail and social club” at the Battery sometime this spring. No membership is required for the Southern hospitality, which will include lunch, dinner, coffee, and cocktails.

Marietta’s Il Giallo Osteria and Bar (5290 Roswell Rd.) has named Brendan Keenan as excutive chef. Keenan was most recently top toque at Drift and Seed & Stem and previously worked at Woodfire Grill, the Sound Table, and Bluepointe.

Jefe’s Tacos and Tequila in Brookhaven closed this past Sunday. On their Facebook page, they shared “how difficult it was to make this decision but we are comfortable in the knowledge that we are leaving the restaurant in the very capable hands of Red Pepper Taqueria.”  

Chef/owner Nick Leahy is starting a new dinner series at Saltyard where he partners with local farmers for a seasonal ingredient dinner the first Thursday of every month. The inaugural dinner is on Feb. 3 with Moore Farms and friends. Reservations can be made by phone at 404-382-8088.

KFC is launching a new Southern-inspired flavor just for us! Smoky Mountain BBQ Chicken will be available for dipping on Mon., Jan. 29. In a press release, KFC noted, “after all, Georgians do love their BBQ.”

There are new top toques at the Shops at Buckhead Atlanta. Gary Finzer is leading the kitchen as executive chef at Gypsy Kitchen and Q. Matisse’ Myers has moved up to executive chef at The Southern Gentleman.

Have a drink and provide food for a hungry Atlantan. Raise a glass against hunger on Mon., Jan. 29 from 6 to 9 pm at Bulla Gastrobar (60 11 St. NE). $10 at the door includes a glass of sangria and light bites and all proceeds benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Before Nashville’s Hattie B’s Hot Chicken opens its first Atlanta location this spring, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q will pop up with them. On Sat., Feb. 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Hattie B’s executive Chef John Lasater joins Jonathan and Justin Fox at Fox Bros. for dishes of hot chicken paired with the bros' famous sides.

Nearly one in six American children suffer from hunger, including more than 529,000 right here in Georgia. Atlanta’s Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry holds its 30 anniversary gala to help. On Thurs., May 3, 75 of the city’s premier restaurants join forces for the fundraiser at Cobb Galleria Centre, a new venue for TOTN.

Wanna sip on some Oyster Hot Tub Stout? Duluth’s new Good Word Brewing is throwing a release shindig on Thurs., Feb. 1 for the new beer. The folks from Noona will be shucking oysters from Oyster South and Kimball House to go along with the 5.5 percent brew.    Matthew Smith/CL File BAGEL WIZARD: Deanna Halcrow and her daughter Jackie have opened a brick-and-mortar version of their popular pop-up, Emerald City Bagels, in East Atlanta Village.        20990031                           Quick Bites: Chai Yo Modern Thai and Emerald City Bagels now open, Mission + Market coming to Buckhead, Analog returns, and more "
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  string(2121) "It may be an itch you didn’t know needed scratching, but Atlanta now has an upscale Korean takeout shop that also offers cooking classes, and it is all kinds of delightful. From the airy design to the pristine cases filled with kimchi and other banchan, JS Kitchen is packed with small pleasures. The shop offers a wide selection of items to go, but you can choose to sit down at a shared table if you must pop open the daily mixed lunch box, filled with a variety of the shop’s Korean delicacies, right away.JS Kitchen is the brainchild of Shelly Lee, owner of Jang Su Jang restaurant down the street in Duluth. Jang Su Jang has been drawing crowds seeking traditional Korean fare for 14 years now, but it has long been Lee’s dream to open a market and cooking studio. She now handles most of the cooking at JS Kitchen personally, and her kimchi in particular is worth seeking out.Seung Hee Lee, co-author of the recently released Everyday Korean cookbook, will be putting together a slate of cooking and wine pairing classes for JS Kitchen to take advantage of the open kitchen classroom that sits next to the shop’s counters. She was hooked on Lee’s cooking from the get-go. “When I tasted their kimchi, I knew I could retire from making my own kimchi from scratch,” she says with a laugh. “It’s definitely better than my mom's, and comes very close to my grandma's.” (Sorry, mom and grandma.) Part of the magic is that JS Kitchen skimps neither on time nor technique, employing ingredients like raw oysters or marrow broth to amp up the depth of flavor in various types of kimchi. And, no, not all of them are what you would call spicy or funky — JS Kitchen offers a wide variety, including less common specialties like sesame leaf.Don’t miss the marinated bulgogi (thinly sliced and marinated beef or pork), which, like the kimchi, far exceeds the quality found in typical Asian markets. JS Kitchen will cook it for you on the spot, but all it takes is a few minutes on a hot grill or skillet to prepare top-notch bulgogi at home. JS Kitchen, 3492 Satellite Blvd. #130, Duluth. 470-268-8435."
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  string(2121) "It may be an itch you didn’t know needed scratching, but Atlanta now has an upscale Korean takeout shop that also offers cooking classes, and it is all kinds of delightful. From the airy design to the pristine cases filled with kimchi and other banchan, JS Kitchen is packed with small pleasures. The shop offers a wide selection of items to go, but you can choose to sit down at a shared table if you must pop open the daily mixed lunch box, filled with a variety of the shop’s Korean delicacies, right away.JS Kitchen is the brainchild of Shelly Lee, owner of Jang Su Jang restaurant down the street in Duluth. Jang Su Jang has been drawing crowds seeking traditional Korean fare for 14 years now, but it has long been Lee’s dream to open a market and cooking studio. She now handles most of the cooking at JS Kitchen personally, and her kimchi in particular is worth seeking out.Seung Hee Lee, co-author of the recently released Everyday Korean cookbook, will be putting together a slate of cooking and wine pairing classes for JS Kitchen to take advantage of the open kitchen classroom that sits next to the shop’s counters. She was hooked on Lee’s cooking from the get-go. “When I tasted their kimchi, I knew I could retire from making my own kimchi from scratch,” she says with a laugh. “It’s definitely better than my mom's, and comes very close to my grandma's.” (Sorry, mom and grandma.) Part of the magic is that JS Kitchen skimps neither on time nor technique, employing ingredients like raw oysters or marrow broth to amp up the depth of flavor in various types of kimchi. And, no, not all of them are what you would call spicy or funky — JS Kitchen offers a wide variety, including less common specialties like sesame leaf.Don’t miss the marinated bulgogi (thinly sliced and marinated beef or pork), which, like the kimchi, far exceeds the quality found in typical Asian markets. JS Kitchen will cook it for you on the spot, but all it takes is a few minutes on a hot grill or skillet to prepare top-notch bulgogi at home. JS Kitchen, 3492 Satellite Blvd. #130, Duluth. 470-268-8435."
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  string(2613) " IMG 3488.5a4d1abf348a3  2018-02-05T04:47:44+00:00 IMG_3488.5a4d1abf348a3.jpg     It's the Korean take-out shop you never knew you needed 2516  2018-01-03T23:00:00+00:00 Meet JS Kitchen ben.eason@creativeloafing.com Ben Eason Brad Kaplan  2018-01-03T23:00:00+00:00  It may be an itch you didn’t know needed scratching, but Atlanta now has an upscale Korean takeout shop that also offers cooking classes, and it is all kinds of delightful. From the airy design to the pristine cases filled with kimchi and other banchan, JS Kitchen is packed with small pleasures. The shop offers a wide selection of items to go, but you can choose to sit down at a shared table if you must pop open the daily mixed lunch box, filled with a variety of the shop’s Korean delicacies, right away.JS Kitchen is the brainchild of Shelly Lee, owner of Jang Su Jang restaurant down the street in Duluth. Jang Su Jang has been drawing crowds seeking traditional Korean fare for 14 years now, but it has long been Lee’s dream to open a market and cooking studio. She now handles most of the cooking at JS Kitchen personally, and her kimchi in particular is worth seeking out.Seung Hee Lee, co-author of the recently released Everyday Korean cookbook, will be putting together a slate of cooking and wine pairing classes for JS Kitchen to take advantage of the open kitchen classroom that sits next to the shop’s counters. She was hooked on Lee’s cooking from the get-go. “When I tasted their kimchi, I knew I could retire from making my own kimchi from scratch,” she says with a laugh. “It’s definitely better than my mom's, and comes very close to my grandma's.” (Sorry, mom and grandma.) Part of the magic is that JS Kitchen skimps neither on time nor technique, employing ingredients like raw oysters or marrow broth to amp up the depth of flavor in various types of kimchi. And, no, not all of them are what you would call spicy or funky — JS Kitchen offers a wide variety, including less common specialties like sesame leaf.Don’t miss the marinated bulgogi (thinly sliced and marinated beef or pork), which, like the kimchi, far exceeds the quality found in typical Asian markets. JS Kitchen will cook it for you on the spot, but all it takes is a few minutes on a hot grill or skillet to prepare top-notch bulgogi at home. JS Kitchen, 3492 Satellite Blvd. #130, Duluth. 470-268-8435.    Brad Kaplan CLEAN AND SIMPLE: Duluth's JS Kitchen offers Korean takeout and cooking classes.        20987440         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2018/01/IMG_3488.5a4d1abf348a3.png                  Meet JS Kitchen "
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Article

Wednesday January 3, 2018 06:00 pm EST
It's the Korean take-out shop you never knew you needed | more...
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  string(7394) "Nuri’s activist roots trace back to the early days of the Black Power Movement. “In order to build a nation, you have to be able to feed and clothe your people,” he says. While managing Georgia’s Nation of Islam farm in the 1970s, he was doing just that, working toward black liberation with a medium he knew well: farming.

Back in the 1960s, Nuri gained a bachelor’s degree in political science from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in plant and soil science from the University of Massachusetts. From there, he traveled to Ghana and Nigeria to build gardens and became the deputy administrator in the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Clinton administration. His goal is and always has been black self-sufficiency, but he recognizes that it’s not easy for African-Americans to become farmers. In addition to lack of land access and capital, there are the vocation’s deep-seated connotations. As Nuri says, “It reminds black people of slavery.”

Whitney Jaye, a network organizer for the Southeastern African-American Farmers’s Organics Network (SAAFON) and a board member of Southwest Atlanta Growers Cooperative, agrees that farming carries “historical trauma” for black people. However, in rural Georgia, there are black farmers who have owned land for generations and are fighting to keep it. “Our network farmers need farm help, business help, and an organization that can provide opportunities for them to connect to each other,” says Jaye.



LEAFY GREENS: SAAFON member Hilton Graham of Oak Tree Farm in Jacksonville, Georgia tends to a crop of kale.

Terry Hayes

Though they’ve typically focused on rural areas, SAAFON is now starting to build infrastructure in support of urban farming, opening up the vocation to city dwellers. But with this goal comes new challenges. Land in urban areas is expensive, so if someone doesn’t have the privilege of generational wealth or access to initial funds for equipment, they are already behind. Then, says Jaye, black farmers have to “build the social capital to be able to sell to restaurants and chefs who, more times than not, buy from folks in their social circle.” With Atlanta’s restaurants dominated mostly by white men, building those relationships is a process within itself.

After returning to Georgia in 2004, Nuri became Georgia Organics’ only black board member at the time. Knowing this lack of representation didn’t mean a lack of existence, he immediately began seeking out other young black farmers in the area. Once they showed up, he says, “I put a shovel or hose in their hand and tell them to get to work.”

By 2006, Nuri had founded Truly Living Well Farm (TLW) in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward. His goal? To provide fresh food to the community while also educating and demonstrating how farming could be profitable and sustainable in metropolitan areas. Although TLW had to relocate to the West End because of development, TLW continues to mentor young people and their communities. Nuri’s hope is to build a bridge across “diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.”

Chris Edwards of Mayflor Farms in Stockbridge is a former mentee of Nuri’s. He grew up in a family of farmers, and after completing a degree in ethnobotany (the study of how people and different cultures use indigenous plants) in Ghana, he moved back to Georgia to find a job. When he stumbled upon TLW, he says, he was embraced by Nuri and his staff. Working there not only improved Edwards’ urban farming skills, but also taught him about nonprofit functionality, as well as how to maneuver around the government. Nuri is proud of how far his mentee has come since going out on his own with Mayflor Farms. "Chris is more than adequately implementing the plan that I gave him,” he says.

Recently, Atlanta’s Community Farmers Market (CFM), where Nuri now serves as a board member, made a conscious effort to diversify by eliminating financial barriers for minorities, waiving the $125 vendor fee for farmers of color, women, and first-year registrants. But Edwards says that while this is a move in the right direction, he can still count all of the black farmers he knows on one hand. “I knew I was the token black farmer,” he says. “I’m not dumb.” Jaye adds that it takes radical actions to confront this disparity: “It is not just about letting black farmers in the markets. We have to ask ourselves, how can we create more?”

PLANTING SEEDS: Chris Edwards of Mayflor Farms in Stockbridge, Georgia, is one of Nuri's mentees.

Joeff Davis

Andrea Blanton, the educational chef for CFM, has drawn from her own experiences as a black woman to help make the markets more comfortable spaces for black farmers. “I make sure their location preferences are given and I help them with their displays,” she says, explaining that a better produce display means better visibility. Yet Blanton recalls moments over the years when her blackness didn’t seem welcome in the farming community, and one morning in particular when she held a chef demo at one of Atlanta’s whiter, more affluent markets. Upon arrival, she was met with hostility from the market’s manager, a white man. “He was being very rude to me, like he had no idea who I was or why I was there.” These feelings of unwelcomeness are a common theme among Blanton’s fellow black farmers, and prevent some of them from approaching Atlanta markets at all. But still, she says, “Most of the time, it’s worth it.”

Encouraging black people to farm and sell their products at very white markets is one hurdle, but getting black communities to appreciate locally-grown food is another, Edwards adds. Like any industry, people tend to buy from those they know, which often translates to those who look like them. “Buying black” has been a motto for the black community since before Nuri’s days as a Black Panther, and Edwards wishes Mayflor Farms could survive on black business alone, but that’s never proven to be feasible. Most of the folks shopping around the West End Farmers Market are black, but foot traffic remains relatively slow, even despite CFM’s doubling of S.N.A.P. benefits. “I don’t sell there because that’s not a viable market,” says Edwards. “There’s not enough money.” 

Fifty years into his career, getting black people to embrace farming and the fresh, local produce that comes from it remains Nuri’s biggest goal. “I am on a laser-pointed mission, and I am undeterred in my work,” he says. “I see the community already. It just needs to grow. I will always be in the food business. It’s my career, and it’s my life.”

Of course, it’s not just up to black people to make black farmers feel welcome in Atlanta. It’s up to everyone, and that means making a concerted effort. At Grant Park Farmers Market, Jaye suggests buying from black vendors like Urban Sprout Farms, Mena’s Garden, and Mayflor Farms. Strolling through Freedom Farmers Market on a Saturday, stop at Truly Living Well and Grow Where You Are. “You can even reach out to farmers and buy directly from them,” she says. For example, Gilliam’s Community Garden sells turkeys and other custom-order meats, and Southwest Atlanta Growers Cooperative (SWAG) can connect consumers directly to a number of black-owned farms and gardens."
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Back in the 1960s, Nuri gained a bachelor’s degree in political science from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in plant and soil science from the University of Massachusetts. From there, he traveled to Ghana and Nigeria to build gardens and became the deputy administrator in the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Clinton administration. His goal is and always has been black self-sufficiency, but he recognizes that it’s not easy for African-Americans to become farmers. In addition to lack of land access and capital, there are the vocation’s deep-seated connotations. As Nuri says, “It reminds black people of slavery.”

Whitney Jaye, a network organizer for the Southeastern African-American Farmers’s Organics Network (SAAFON) and a board member of Southwest Atlanta Growers Cooperative, agrees that farming carries “historical trauma” for black people. However, in rural Georgia, there are black farmers who have owned land for generations and are fighting to keep it. “Our network farmers need farm help, business help, and an organization that can provide opportunities for them to connect to each other,” says Jaye.

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LEAFY GREENS: SAAFON member Hilton Graham of Oak Tree Farm in Jacksonville, Georgia tends to a crop of kale.

Terry Hayes

Though they’ve typically focused on rural areas, SAAFON is now starting to build infrastructure in support of urban farming, opening up the vocation to city dwellers. But with this goal comes new challenges. Land in urban areas is expensive, so if someone doesn’t have the privilege of generational wealth or access to initial funds for equipment, they are already behind. Then, says Jaye, black farmers have to “build the social capital to be able to sell to restaurants and chefs who, more times than not, buy from folks in their social circle.” With Atlanta’s restaurants dominated mostly by white men, building those relationships is a process within itself.

After returning to Georgia in 2004, Nuri became Georgia Organics’ only black board member at the time. Knowing this lack of representation didn’t mean a lack of existence, he immediately began seeking out other young black farmers in the area. Once they showed up, he says, “I put a shovel or hose in their hand and tell them to get to work.”

By 2006, Nuri had founded Truly Living Well Farm (TLW) in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward. His goal? To provide fresh food to the community while also educating and demonstrating how farming could be profitable and sustainable in metropolitan areas. Although TLW had to relocate to the West End because of development, TLW continues to mentor young people and their communities. __Nuri’s hope is to build a bridge across “diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.”__

Chris Edwards of Mayflor Farms in Stockbridge is a former mentee of Nuri’s. He grew up in a family of farmers, and after completing a degree in ethnobotany (the study of how people and different cultures use indigenous plants) in Ghana, he moved back to Georgia to find a job. When he stumbled upon TLW, he says, he was embraced by Nuri and his staff. Working there not only improved Edwards’ urban farming skills, but also taught him about nonprofit functionality, as well as how to maneuver around the government. Nuri is proud of how far his mentee has come since going out on his own with Mayflor Farms. "Chris is more than adequately implementing the plan that I gave him,” he says.

Recently, Atlanta’s Community Farmers Market (CFM), where Nuri now serves as a board member, made a conscious effort to diversify by eliminating financial barriers for minorities, waiving the $125 vendor fee for farmers of color, women, and first-year registrants. But Edwards says that while this is a move in the right direction, he can still count all of the black farmers he knows on one hand. __“I knew I was the token black farmer,” he says. “I’m not dumb.” __Jaye adds that it takes radical actions to confront this disparity: “It is not just about letting black farmers in the markets. We have to ask ourselves, how can we create more?”

{img src="https://cdn.creativeloafing.com/files/base/scomm/clatl/image/2017/12/640w/Chris_Edwards_048.5a3c4aa7c479c.jpg"}PLANTING SEEDS: Chris Edwards of Mayflor Farms in Stockbridge, Georgia, is one of Nuri's mentees.

Joeff Davis

Andrea Blanton, the educational chef for CFM, has drawn from her own experiences as a black woman to help make the markets more comfortable spaces for black farmers. “I make sure their [location] preferences are given and I help them with their displays,” she says, explaining that a better produce display means better visibility. Yet Blanton recalls moments over the years when her blackness didn’t seem welcome in the farming community, and one morning in particular when she held a chef demo at one of Atlanta’s whiter, more affluent markets. Upon arrival, she was met with hostility from the market’s manager, a white man. “He was being very rude to me, like he had no idea who I was or why I was there.” These feelings of unwelcomeness are a common theme among Blanton’s fellow black farmers, and prevent some of them from approaching Atlanta markets at all. But still, she says, “Most of the time, it’s worth it.”

Encouraging black people to farm and sell their products at very white markets is one hurdle, but getting black communities to appreciate locally-grown food is another, Edwards adds. Like any industry, people tend to buy from those they know, which often translates to those who look like them. __“Buying black” has been a motto for the black community since before Nuri’s days as a Black Panther, and Edwards wishes Mayflor Farms could survive on black business alone, but that’s never proven to be feasible.__ Most of the folks shopping around the West End Farmers Market are black, but foot traffic remains relatively slow, even despite CFM’s doubling of S.N.A.P. benefits. __“I don’t sell there because that’s not a viable market,” says Edwards. “There’s not enough money.” __

__Fifty years into his career, getting black people to embrace farming and the fresh, local produce that comes from it remains Nuri’s biggest goal. “I am on a laser-pointed mission, and I am undeterred in my work,” he says. “I see [the community] already. It just needs to grow. I will always be in the food business. It’s my career, and it’s my life.”__

Of course, it’s not just up to black people to make black farmers feel welcome in Atlanta. __It’s up to everyone, and that means making a concerted effort.__ At Grant Park Farmers Market, Jaye suggests buying from black vendors like Urban Sprout Farms, Mena’s Garden, and Mayflor Farms. Strolling through Freedom Farmers Market on a Saturday, stop at Truly Living Well and Grow Where You Are. “You can even reach out to farmers and buy directly from them,” she says. For example, Gilliam’s Community Garden sells turkeys and other custom-order meats, and Southwest Atlanta Growers Cooperative (SWAG) can connect consumers directly to a number of black-owned farms and gardens."
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Back in the 1960s, Nuri gained a bachelor’s degree in political science from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in plant and soil science from the University of Massachusetts. From there, he traveled to Ghana and Nigeria to build gardens and became the deputy administrator in the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Clinton administration. His goal is and always has been black self-sufficiency, but he recognizes that it’s not easy for African-Americans to become farmers. In addition to lack of land access and capital, there are the vocation’s deep-seated connotations. As Nuri says, “It reminds black people of slavery.”

Whitney Jaye, a network organizer for the Southeastern African-American Farmers’s Organics Network (SAAFON) and a board member of Southwest Atlanta Growers Cooperative, agrees that farming carries “historical trauma” for black people. However, in rural Georgia, there are black farmers who have owned land for generations and are fighting to keep it. “Our network farmers need farm help, business help, and an organization that can provide opportunities for them to connect to each other,” says Jaye.



LEAFY GREENS: SAAFON member Hilton Graham of Oak Tree Farm in Jacksonville, Georgia tends to a crop of kale.

Terry Hayes

Though they’ve typically focused on rural areas, SAAFON is now starting to build infrastructure in support of urban farming, opening up the vocation to city dwellers. But with this goal comes new challenges. Land in urban areas is expensive, so if someone doesn’t have the privilege of generational wealth or access to initial funds for equipment, they are already behind. Then, says Jaye, black farmers have to “build the social capital to be able to sell to restaurants and chefs who, more times than not, buy from folks in their social circle.” With Atlanta’s restaurants dominated mostly by white men, building those relationships is a process within itself.

After returning to Georgia in 2004, Nuri became Georgia Organics’ only black board member at the time. Knowing this lack of representation didn’t mean a lack of existence, he immediately began seeking out other young black farmers in the area. Once they showed up, he says, “I put a shovel or hose in their hand and tell them to get to work.”

By 2006, Nuri had founded Truly Living Well Farm (TLW) in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward. His goal? To provide fresh food to the community while also educating and demonstrating how farming could be profitable and sustainable in metropolitan areas. Although TLW had to relocate to the West End because of development, TLW continues to mentor young people and their communities. Nuri’s hope is to build a bridge across “diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.”

Chris Edwards of Mayflor Farms in Stockbridge is a former mentee of Nuri’s. He grew up in a family of farmers, and after completing a degree in ethnobotany (the study of how people and different cultures use indigenous plants) in Ghana, he moved back to Georgia to find a job. When he stumbled upon TLW, he says, he was embraced by Nuri and his staff. Working there not only improved Edwards’ urban farming skills, but also taught him about nonprofit functionality, as well as how to maneuver around the government. Nuri is proud of how far his mentee has come since going out on his own with Mayflor Farms. "Chris is more than adequately implementing the plan that I gave him,” he says.

Recently, Atlanta’s Community Farmers Market (CFM), where Nuri now serves as a board member, made a conscious effort to diversify by eliminating financial barriers for minorities, waiving the $125 vendor fee for farmers of color, women, and first-year registrants. But Edwards says that while this is a move in the right direction, he can still count all of the black farmers he knows on one hand. “I knew I was the token black farmer,” he says. “I’m not dumb.” Jaye adds that it takes radical actions to confront this disparity: “It is not just about letting black farmers in the markets. We have to ask ourselves, how can we create more?”

PLANTING SEEDS: Chris Edwards of Mayflor Farms in Stockbridge, Georgia, is one of Nuri's mentees.

Joeff Davis

Andrea Blanton, the educational chef for CFM, has drawn from her own experiences as a black woman to help make the markets more comfortable spaces for black farmers. “I make sure their location preferences are given and I help them with their displays,” she says, explaining that a better produce display means better visibility. Yet Blanton recalls moments over the years when her blackness didn’t seem welcome in the farming community, and one morning in particular when she held a chef demo at one of Atlanta’s whiter, more affluent markets. Upon arrival, she was met with hostility from the market’s manager, a white man. “He was being very rude to me, like he had no idea who I was or why I was there.” These feelings of unwelcomeness are a common theme among Blanton’s fellow black farmers, and prevent some of them from approaching Atlanta markets at all. But still, she says, “Most of the time, it’s worth it.”

Encouraging black people to farm and sell their products at very white markets is one hurdle, but getting black communities to appreciate locally-grown food is another, Edwards adds. Like any industry, people tend to buy from those they know, which often translates to those who look like them. “Buying black” has been a motto for the black community since before Nuri’s days as a Black Panther, and Edwards wishes Mayflor Farms could survive on black business alone, but that’s never proven to be feasible. Most of the folks shopping around the West End Farmers Market are black, but foot traffic remains relatively slow, even despite CFM’s doubling of S.N.A.P. benefits. “I don’t sell there because that’s not a viable market,” says Edwards. “There’s not enough money.” 

Fifty years into his career, getting black people to embrace farming and the fresh, local produce that comes from it remains Nuri’s biggest goal. “I am on a laser-pointed mission, and I am undeterred in my work,” he says. “I see the community already. It just needs to grow. I will always be in the food business. It’s my career, and it’s my life.”

Of course, it’s not just up to black people to make black farmers feel welcome in Atlanta. It’s up to everyone, and that means making a concerted effort. At Grant Park Farmers Market, Jaye suggests buying from black vendors like Urban Sprout Farms, Mena’s Garden, and Mayflor Farms. Strolling through Freedom Farmers Market on a Saturday, stop at Truly Living Well and Grow Where You Are. “You can even reach out to farmers and buy directly from them,” she says. For example, Gilliam’s Community Garden sells turkeys and other custom-order meats, and Southwest Atlanta Growers Cooperative (SWAG) can connect consumers directly to a number of black-owned farms and gardens.    Erik Meadows/CL File FIVE DECADES STRONG: Atlanta's OG of black farming, K. Rashid Nuri, at Truly Living Well's Old Fourth Ward farm.        20986853         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/12/Rashid_Nuri_Erik_Meadows_4.5a3c4aa966de6.png                  Farming while black "
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Article

Thursday December 21, 2017 11:54 pm EST
How a small but mighty community is working to support and empower Georgia's black farmers | more...
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  ["title"]=>
  string(19) "What the chefs want"
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  string(91) "Need some last-minute gift ideas for the foodie in your life? Atlanta chefs got you covered"
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  string(91) "Need some last-minute gift ideas for the foodie in your life? Atlanta chefs got you covered"
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  string(29) "Content:_:What the chefs want"
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  string(10685) "Last minute shopper? Me too. But fear not. Whether you've got an aspiring home chef on your holiday gift list or just want to impress the foodies at your annual White Elephant, we've rounded up a list of some of the top kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, and specialty ingredients Atlanta chefs want now. Apparently centrifuges are hot at the moment.

Chad Clevenger, executive chef at Alma Cocina: “So what I’d like the Jolly Old Fat Man to bring me would be: more tattoos just because, a Houston Edge Works custom knife to add to my collection, a new driver to add to my golf bag (technology wins), an awesome week in Denver with my wife and family, and last but not least, every chef’s wish, cooks and dishwashers who don’t call out!”

Deborah VanTrece, owner/executive chef at Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours: "At the top of my gadget wish list is a knuckle pounder meat tenderizer. It's such a barbaric tool! It feeds into my inner warrior princess and my gangsta, all at the same time." 

Jason Simpson, executive chef at Muchacho and Golden Eagle: “An electric tortilla press for Muchacho, and an Anova sous vide precision cooker and a well-seasoned cast iron skillet for Golden Eagle.”

Edwin Molina, executive chef at Double Zero: “I am always welcoming new cookbooks to add to my collection. I think most chefs would say that! The number one thing on my list this year will have to be pasta tools. I need to grow my tool set for the pasta room at Double Zero. My wife just got me a mattarello (a four-foot-long rolling pin) for our anniversary, so now I've got my eye on a couple of things, like a corzetti stamp, or even a cavarola board!”

Zach Meloy, chef at Better Half: “I would really like to get my hands on a Spinzall, a small culinary centrifuge used to clarify juices, make flavored oils, butter, quick cold-brew coffee, meld fruits with spirits, and separate fats. Effectively, it's the worlds fastest salad spinner and we want one!”

Woolery “Woody” Back, head chef at Table & Main: "All this chef wants this year is for his farmers to have a perfect growing season. I want A.J. Stonehaven, Levity Farms, Martin's Gardens, Buckeye Creek, and Lionheart Schools to get the perfect amount of sunshine and rain to make their harvest plentiful and abundant. This makes our jobs at Table & Main so much fun. So Santa, please bring a good harvest next year.”  

Parnass Savang, chef/owner at Talat Market: “I'd love to get a coconut milk hydraulic press machine so I can enjoy fresh coconut milk and cream everyday without working so hard.”

Mike Manley, executive chef at Lure: “I have a few cookbooks that have been on my wish list for quite some time now. First editions of: The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery by A. Escoffier, Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child (signed copy), and La Cuisiniere Bourgeoise by Menon.”

Savannah Sasser, executive chef at Hampton + Hudson: “A Spinzall!”

John Fogleman, managing beverage director at Bar Crema: "I've been getting more into tea over the past couple years, so I'd love to get my hands on a vintage pu-erh tea cake, a good matcha bowl and a whisk (with some nice matcha, of course). As far as kitchen gadgets, I think copper ice sphere makers are pretty cool. I'm a nerd about surface area and good ice — everyone feels better with quality ice in a drink."

Matty Hutchins, senior kitchen scholar at Barleygarden: "A Griswold #8 cast-iron frying pan. The Griswold is a perfect all-purpose kitchen pan with a classic old-timey feel. It is equally at home frying eggs as it is searing upside-down peach polenta cakes. My kitchen skills turn up to 11 when this pan is on my stove."

John Castellucci, executive chef at Bar Mercado: “Etxebarri, the first cookbook from famous Spanish chef Victor Arguinzoniz. Although I never had the chance to eat at Etxebarri (number six in the world according to the San Pellegrino list) during my time in Spain, I have always been so intrigued by his use of fire and his philosophy on cooking. The book is only printed in Spanish for the moment so I will have to brush up on my vocabulary before reading it. Also, Takeda Knives. I have two knives from Takeda, a Japanese knife brand. They are my favorite knives I have ever used.  They are all made by third-generation master blacksmith Shosui Takeda. They hold their edge well and not as crazy expensive as some other Japanese brands.”

Mel Toledo, executive chef/owner at Foundation Social Eatery: “All I want for Christmas is a smoking gun — to be able to add a little smoke flavor to a dish without over-smoking it or having the long process of using an actual smoker. Also because someone broke my old smoking gun.” 

Jamie Adams, chef/owner at il Giallo Osteria & Bar: "I recently took a trip to New York, and several of the great Italian restaurants there had Cavatelli makers that made beautiful Cavatelli from fresh pasta dough very fast. Although we make beautiful handmade Cavatelli at il Giallo (great with brown pistachio pesto and sausage), I would definitely love a Cavatelli maker for Christmas so we could create them a lot faster.”  

Sepsenahki “Chef Ahki” Aahkhu, chef/CEO at Delicious Indigenous: “This Christmas, I plan to be in Mexico, but I still want an amazing plate of greens, stuffing, macaroni, and cranberry sauce. I also would love the perfect New Year's party with a slamming playlist to match my sexy dress! Watch out, 2018!”

Brandon Frohne, culinary director at Holler & Dash Biscuit House: "Here are the items at the top of my Santa Wish List! I sure hope Santa can get down the chimney with these! I would love a Click & Grow Indoor Wall Farm; it uses NASA-inspired nano-tech growing materials that supply just the right amount of oxygen, water, and other nutrients a plant needs, which allows produce to grow 30 percent faster than traditional methods. These indoor wall farms are space efficient to fit into any kitchen for sustainable herbs, micro greens, and lettuce year round. It's pretty incredible. A Breville/PolyScience Control Freak would also be amazing. It's an induction cooktop that holds any cooking temperature from 86 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, with precise temperature accuracy. It would come in super handy when searing fish or meat so you can achieve the perfect crust across the surface of the protein for ultimate flavor development. Santa, come through!" 

Jonathan McDowell, executive chef at Nine Mile Station: “I want an 18-1/2-inch Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package. Meat hangs vertically; the surface crisps/crusts more evenly and interior meat heats more evenly as there are no hot conduction points caused by meat lying on a grate. Meat is basted by juices that are sweat out of the meat. Because the meat is vertical, the juice has more distance to travel before dropping off the meat, and hence, vertical does a better job of basting. The juices that drop off of the meat and onto the coals provide smoke and flavor ... a LOT of smoke and flavor.” 

Daniel Peach, chef de cuisine at Chai Pani: “I would love a kilo of zereshk — the Persian barberry — to make the berry pulao from Cafe Britannia Boman in Mumbai. Boman Kohinoor, the 95-year-old proprietor of the legendary Parsi restaurant, imports the small sour berries from Iran every month." 

Taylor Neary, executive chef at the forthcoming Restaurant Holmes: “A Finex 10in cast iron skillet , the Gjelina, Cooking from Venice California cookbook, and a plate set from Wynne Noble.”

Matthew Ridgway, executive chef at Cooks & Soldiers: “Artichoke by Bjorn Shen. This is a book I have been looking at for a hot second. A Middle Eastern chef in Singapore, with a bent of Asian food. A neat pivot to see the stories of a kitchen and restaurants around the world, plus a great take on dinning culture in Singapore. And a Deba knife from Blood Root Blades. I would like to have a knife forged by a local company. This has a wait until 2022. That is insane.” 

Brent Hesse, general manager at the Deep End: "At the very top of my wish list is an industrial centrifuge. I'd be able to clarify citrus, milk wash spirits, and all sorts of other cool and practical tricks that would easily elevate a bar program. " 

Ricardo Soto, executive chef at [Sugo: “Ingredient-wise, I want this beautiful wagyu from Japan that I came across a couple weeks ago. It’s from Miyazaki and the marbling and flavor of it is awesome. Obviously truffles and caviar will be included, so I would say: Dear Santa, I don’t want too many things, only a small present, a small box with that beautiful piece of wagyu inside, you have no idea how much fun I’m going to have with it, I already have several plans for it. As far as a gadget, I would say a new EGGniter; it looks like a blow dryer but it’s an igniter for the Big Green Egg. It blows up to 1,200 degrees and it gets your coal hot and ready under five minutes, effortless. And it works with electricity; that way I can spend more time with my Big Green Egg. And if Santa is feeling generous, a new Big Green Egg would be nice, too.” 

Julian Goglia, owner/beverage director at Bar Americano: "I asked my parents for the new Meehan’s Bartender Manual. Since you’re asking, I’d absolutely love a BSA B44 Shooting Star. Outside of a new motorcycle, I’ll settle for a bottle of Campari to share with friends and family." 

Jonathan Fox, chef/co-owner at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: “Everyone says I am a tough person to buy a gift for. I have smokers and grills, and plenty of kitchen gadgets, so it is hard to think about anything else I might want there. An 80-inch TV would be great, but unlikely. So, when it comes down to it, what is the one thing I would really want for Christmas? A couple of really great bottles of wine, some great bourbon, and a good group of close folks to enjoy it with over the holidays. That would mean the most to me. Well, that and a Christmas Eve win over the Saints.” 



Justin Fox, chef/co-owner at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: “What do I want for Christmas? Hmmm, it may not seem exciting to most but it is to me: I really want some shelving and storage in my kitchen. It always seems like there just isn’t enough for all the cookware I seem to collect (maybe hoard, too). Pots and pans take up space and it would be amazing to have it better organized that it currently is. I've been good; feel free to drop it down my chimney, Santa Claus!”"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(13700) "Last minute shopper? Me too. But fear not. Whether you've got an aspiring home chef on your holiday gift list or just want to impress the foodies at your annual White Elephant, we've rounded up a list of some of the top kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, and specialty ingredients Atlanta chefs want now. Apparently centrifuges are hot at the moment.

__Chad Clevenger, executive chef at __[http://alma-atlanta.com/|__Alma Cocina__]__:__ “So what I’d like the Jolly Old Fat Man to bring me would be: more tattoos just because, a [https://www.houstonedgeworks.com/|Houston Edge Works custom knife] to add to my collection, a new driver to add to my golf bag (technology wins), an awesome week in Denver with my wife and family, and last but not least, every chef’s wish, cooks and dishwashers who don’t call out!”

__Deborah VanTrece, owner/executive chef at __[https://www.twistedsoulcookhouseandpours.com/|__Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours__]__:__ "At the top of my gadget wish list is a [https://www.foodiggityshop.com/products/knuckle-pounder-meat-tenderizer|knuckle pounder meat tenderizer]. It's such a barbaric tool! It feeds into my inner warrior princess and my gangsta, all at the same time." 

__Jason Simpson, executive chef at __[http://muchachoatl.com/|__Muchacho__]__ and __[http://www.goldeneagleatl.com/|__Golden Eagle__]__: “__An electric tortilla press for Muchacho, and an [https://anovaculinary.com/anova-precision-cooker/|Anova sous vide precision cooker] and a well-seasoned cast iron skillet for Golden Eagle.”

__Edwin Molina, executive chef at __[http://doublezeroatl.com/|__Double Zero__]__: __“I am always welcoming new cookbooks to add to my collection. I think most chefs would say that! The number one thing on my list this year will have to be pasta tools. I need to grow my tool set for the pasta room at Double Zero. My wife just got me a mattarello (a four-foot-long rolling pin) for our anniversary, so now I've got my eye on a couple of things, like a [http://www.artisanalpastatools.com/classic.shtml|corzetti stamp], or even a [http://www.artisanalpastatools.com/cavarola.shtml|cavarola board]!”

__Zach Meloy, chef at __[https://www.betterhalfatl.com/|__Better Half__]__: __“I would really like to get my hands on a [https://www.modernistpantry.com/spinzall.html|Spinzall], a small culinary centrifuge used to clarify juices, make flavored oils, butter, quick cold-brew coffee, meld fruits with spirits, and separate fats. Effectively, it's the worlds fastest salad spinner and we want one!”

__Woolery “Woody” Back, head chef at __[http://www.tableandmain.com/|__Table & Main__]__:__ "All this chef wants this year is for his farmers to have a perfect growing season. I want A.J. Stonehaven, Levity Farms, Martin's Gardens, Buckeye Creek, and Lionheart Schools to get the perfect amount of sunshine and rain to make their harvest plentiful and abundant. This makes our jobs at Table & Main so much fun. So Santa, please bring a good harvest next year.”  

__Parnass Savang, chef/owner at __[https://www.instagram.com/talat_marketatl/|__Talat Market__]__:__ “I'd love to get a [https://www.thaitrade.com/store/sakaya_automated_co__ltd_/product-detail/coconut-milk-hydraulic-press-machine-17117|coconut milk hydraulic press machine] so I can enjoy fresh coconut milk and cream everyday without working so hard.”

__Mike Manley, executive chef at __[http://lure-atlanta.com/|__Lure__]: “I have a few cookbooks that have been on my wish list for quite some time now. First editions of: [https://www.amazon.com/Escoffier-Complete-Guide-Modern-Cookery/dp/0471290165|''The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery''] by A. Escoffier, [https://www.amazon.com/Joy-of-Cooking/dp/0743246268|''Joy of Cooking''] by Irma S. Rombauer, [https://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Art-French-Cooking-Vol/dp/0375413405/|''Mastering the Art of French Cooking''] by Julia Child (signed copy), and [https://www.amazon.com/Cuisiniere-Bourgeoise-LOffice-Depenses-Maisons/dp/1104646951|''La Cuisiniere Bourgeoise''] by Menon.”

__Savannah Sasser, executive chef at __[http://www.hamptonandhudson.com/|__Hampton + Hudson__]__: “__A [https://www.modernistpantry.com/spinzall.html|Spinzall]!”

__John Fogleman, managing beverage director at __[http://10apart.com/bar-americano/|__Bar Crema__]: "I've been getting more into tea over the past couple years, so I'd love to get my hands on a vintage pu-erh tea cake, a good matcha bowl and a whisk (with some nice matcha, of course). As far as kitchen gadgets, I think [https://www.hammacher.com/Product/12914?cm_cat=ProductSEM&cm_pla=AdWordsPLA&source=PRODSEM&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIqoG25LOZ2AIVgbfACh1oMQ9bEAYYASABEgKPoPD_BwE|copper ice sphere makers] are pretty cool. I'm a nerd about surface area and good ice — everyone feels better with quality ice in a drink."

__Matty Hutchins, senior kitchen scholar at __[https://www.barleygardenkitchen.com/|__Barleygarden__]: "A [http://www.griswoldcookware.com/|Griswold #8 cast-iron frying pan]. The Griswold is a perfect all-purpose kitchen pan with a classic old-timey feel. It is equally at home frying eggs as it is searing upside-down peach polenta cakes. My kitchen skills turn up to 11 when this pan is on my stove."

__John Castellucci, executive chef at__ [https://www.barmercadoatl.com/|__Bar Mercado__]: “''Etxebarri'', the first cookbook from famous Spanish chef Victor Arguinzoniz. Although I never had the chance to eat at Etxebarri (number six in the world according to the San Pellegrino list) during my time in Spain, I have always been so intrigued by his use of fire and his philosophy on cooking. The book is only printed in Spanish for the moment so I will have to brush up on my vocabulary before reading it. Also, Takeda Knives. I have two knives from Takeda, a Japanese knife brand. They are my favorite knives I have ever used.  They are all made by third-generation master blacksmith Shosui Takeda. They hold their edge well and not as crazy expensive as some other Japanese brands.”

__Mel Toledo, executive chef/owner at __[http://foundationatl.com/|__Foundation Social Eatery__]: “All I want for Christmas is a [https://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/breville-smoking-gun/|smoking gun] — to be able to add a little smoke flavor to a dish without over-smoking it or having the long process of using an actual smoker. Also because someone broke my old smoking gun.” 

__Jamie Adams, chef/owner at __[https://ilgialloatl.com/|__il Giallo Osteria & Bar__]__: __"I recently took a trip to New York, and several of the great Italian restaurants there had [http://us.consiglioskitchenware.com/cavatelli-dumpling-makers?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8N7B_LSZ2AIVWLXACh2saQF7EAAYAiAAEgIgOPD_BwE|Cavatelli makers] that made beautiful Cavatelli from fresh pasta dough very fast. Although we make beautiful handmade Cavatelli at il Giallo (great with brown pistachio pesto and sausage), I would definitely love a Cavatelli maker for Christmas so we could create them a lot faster.”  

__Sepsenahki “Chef Ahki” Aahkhu, chef/CEO at __[http://gochefahki.com/|__Delicious Indigenous__]__:__ “This Christmas, I plan to be in Mexico, but I still want an amazing plate of greens, stuffing, macaroni, and cranberry sauce. I also would love the perfect New Year's party with a slamming playlist to match my sexy dress! Watch out, 2018!”

__Brandon Frohne, culinary director at __[https://holleranddash.com/|__Holler & Dash Biscuit House__]: "Here are the items at the top of my Santa Wish List! I sure hope Santa can get down the chimney with these! I would love a [https://www.clickandgrow.com/collections/smart-farms|Click & Grow Indoor Wall Farm]; it uses NASA-inspired nano-tech growing materials that supply just the right amount of oxygen, water, and other nutrients a plant needs, which allows produce to grow 30 percent faster than traditional methods. These indoor wall farms are space efficient to fit into any kitchen for sustainable herbs, micro greens, and lettuce year round. It's pretty incredible. A [https://polyscienceculinary.com/products/the-control-freak|Breville/PolyScience Control Freak] would also be amazing. It's an induction cooktop that holds any cooking temperature from 86 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, with precise temperature accuracy. It would come in super handy when searing fish or meat so you can achieve the perfect crust across the surface of the protein for ultimate flavor development. Santa, come through!" 

__Jonathan McDowell, executive chef at __[http://www.9milestation.com/|__Nine Mile Station__]__:__ “I want an 18-1/2-inch Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package. Meat hangs vertically; the surface crisps/crusts more evenly and interior meat heats more evenly as there are no hot conduction points caused by meat lying on a grate. Meat is basted by juices that are sweat out of the meat. Because the meat is vertical, the juice has more distance to travel before dropping off the meat, and hence, vertical does a better job of basting. The juices that drop off of the meat and onto the coals provide smoke and flavor ... a LOT of smoke and flavor.” 

__Daniel Peach, chef de cuisine at __[http://www.chaipanidecatur.com/|__Chai Pani__]__:__ “I would love a kilo of zereshk — the Persian barberry — to make the berry pulao from Cafe Britannia Boman in Mumbai. Boman Kohinoor, the 95-year-old proprietor of the legendary Parsi restaurant, imports the small sour berries from Iran every month." 

__Taylor Neary, executive chef at the forthcoming __[https://www.facebook.com/restaurantholmes/|__Restaurant Holmes__]__:__ “A [https://finexusa.com/product/cast-iron-skillet/|Finex 10in cast iron skillet__ __], the [https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gjelina-travis-lett/1122689114#/|''Gjelina, Cooking from Venice California'' cookbook], and a [http://www.nobleplateware.com/|plate set from Wynne Noble].”

__Matthew Ridgway, executive chef at__ [http://cooksandsoldiers.com/|__Cooks & Soldiers__]: “[http://www.artichoke.com.sg/|''Artichoke'']'' ''by Bjorn Shen. This is a book I have been looking at for a hot second. A Middle Eastern chef in Singapore, with a bent of Asian food. A neat pivot to see the stories of a kitchen and restaurants around the world, plus a great take on dinning culture in Singapore. And a [http://www.bloodrootblades.com/shop/|Deba knife from Blood Root Blades]. I would like to have a knife forged by a local company. This has a wait until 2022. That is insane.” 

__Brent Hesse, general manager at __[https://www.facebook.com/thedeependatl/|__the Deep End__]__:__ "At the very top of my wish list is an [http://www.russellfinex.com/en/separation-equipment/liquid-solid-separation/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6drWrrSZ2AIVm7jACh0t4wu5EAAYAyAAEgKyGvD_BwE|industrial centrifuge]. I'd be able to clarify citrus, milk wash spirits, and all sorts of other cool and practical tricks that would easily elevate a bar program. "__ __

__Ricardo Soto, executive chef at__ [__Sugo__: “Ingredient-wise, I want this beautiful wagyu from Japan that I came across a couple weeks ago. It’s from Miyazaki and the marbling and flavor of it is awesome. Obviously truffles and caviar will be included, so I would say: Dear Santa, I don’t want too many things, only a small present, a small box with that beautiful piece of wagyu inside, you have no idea how much fun I’m going to have with it, I already have several plans for it. As far as a gadget, I would say a new [http://biggreenegg.com/product/eggniter/|EGGniter]; it looks like a blow dryer but it’s an igniter for the Big Green Egg. It blows up to 1,200 degrees and it gets your coal hot and ready under five minutes, effortless. And it works with electricity; that way I can spend more time with my Big Green Egg. And if Santa is feeling generous, a new Big Green Egg would be nice, too.” 

__Julian Goglia, owner/beverage director at __[http://10apart.com/bar-americano/|__Bar Americano__]__:__ "I asked my parents for the new [https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/249859/meehans-bartender-manual-by-jim-meehan/9781607748625/|''Meehan’s Bartender Manual'']''.'' Since you’re asking, I’d absolutely love a [https://www.motorcycleclassics.com/classic-british-motorcycles/bsa-441-shooting-star|BSA B44 Shooting Star]. Outside of a new motorcycle, I’ll settle for a bottle of Campari to share with friends and family." 

__Jonathan Fox, chef/co-owner at __[http://www.foxbrosbbq.com/|__Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q__]__: “__Everyone says I am a tough person to buy a gift for. I have smokers and grills, and plenty of kitchen gadgets, so it is hard to think about anything else I might want there. An 80-inch TV would be great, but unlikely. So, when it comes down to it, what is the one thing I would really want for Christmas? A couple of really great bottles of wine, some great bourbon, and a good group of close folks to enjoy it with over the holidays. That would mean the most to me. Well, that and a Christmas Eve win over the Saints.” 



__Justin Fox, chef/co-owner at __[http://www.foxbrosbbq.com/|__Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q__]__:__ “What do I want for Christmas? Hmmm, it may not seem exciting to most but it is to me: I really want some shelving and storage in my kitchen. It always seems like there just isn’t enough for all the cookware I seem to collect (maybe hoard, too). Pots and pans take up space and it would be amazing to have it better organized that it currently is. I've been good; feel free to drop it down my chimney, Santa Claus!”"
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  string(11302) " ThinkstockPhotos 874492950.5a3d1e795a6a4  2018-02-05T05:18:08+00:00 ThinkstockPhotos_874492950.5a3d1e795a6a4.jpg     Need some last-minute gift ideas for the foodie in your life? Atlanta chefs got you covered 2521  2017-12-21T01:34:00+00:00 What the chefs want ben.eason@creativeloafing.com Ben Eason Hilary Cadigan  2017-12-21T01:34:00+00:00  Last minute shopper? Me too. But fear not. Whether you've got an aspiring home chef on your holiday gift list or just want to impress the foodies at your annual White Elephant, we've rounded up a list of some of the top kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, and specialty ingredients Atlanta chefs want now. Apparently centrifuges are hot at the moment.

Chad Clevenger, executive chef at Alma Cocina: “So what I’d like the Jolly Old Fat Man to bring me would be: more tattoos just because, a Houston Edge Works custom knife to add to my collection, a new driver to add to my golf bag (technology wins), an awesome week in Denver with my wife and family, and last but not least, every chef’s wish, cooks and dishwashers who don’t call out!”

Deborah VanTrece, owner/executive chef at Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours: "At the top of my gadget wish list is a knuckle pounder meat tenderizer. It's such a barbaric tool! It feeds into my inner warrior princess and my gangsta, all at the same time." 

Jason Simpson, executive chef at Muchacho and Golden Eagle: “An electric tortilla press for Muchacho, and an Anova sous vide precision cooker and a well-seasoned cast iron skillet for Golden Eagle.”

Edwin Molina, executive chef at Double Zero: “I am always welcoming new cookbooks to add to my collection. I think most chefs would say that! The number one thing on my list this year will have to be pasta tools. I need to grow my tool set for the pasta room at Double Zero. My wife just got me a mattarello (a four-foot-long rolling pin) for our anniversary, so now I've got my eye on a couple of things, like a corzetti stamp, or even a cavarola board!”

Zach Meloy, chef at Better Half: “I would really like to get my hands on a Spinzall, a small culinary centrifuge used to clarify juices, make flavored oils, butter, quick cold-brew coffee, meld fruits with spirits, and separate fats. Effectively, it's the worlds fastest salad spinner and we want one!”

Woolery “Woody” Back, head chef at Table & Main: "All this chef wants this year is for his farmers to have a perfect growing season. I want A.J. Stonehaven, Levity Farms, Martin's Gardens, Buckeye Creek, and Lionheart Schools to get the perfect amount of sunshine and rain to make their harvest plentiful and abundant. This makes our jobs at Table & Main so much fun. So Santa, please bring a good harvest next year.”  

Parnass Savang, chef/owner at Talat Market: “I'd love to get a coconut milk hydraulic press machine so I can enjoy fresh coconut milk and cream everyday without working so hard.”

Mike Manley, executive chef at Lure: “I have a few cookbooks that have been on my wish list for quite some time now. First editions of: The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery by A. Escoffier, Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child (signed copy), and La Cuisiniere Bourgeoise by Menon.”

Savannah Sasser, executive chef at Hampton + Hudson: “A Spinzall!”

John Fogleman, managing beverage director at Bar Crema: "I've been getting more into tea over the past couple years, so I'd love to get my hands on a vintage pu-erh tea cake, a good matcha bowl and a whisk (with some nice matcha, of course). As far as kitchen gadgets, I think copper ice sphere makers are pretty cool. I'm a nerd about surface area and good ice — everyone feels better with quality ice in a drink."

Matty Hutchins, senior kitchen scholar at Barleygarden: "A Griswold #8 cast-iron frying pan. The Griswold is a perfect all-purpose kitchen pan with a classic old-timey feel. It is equally at home frying eggs as it is searing upside-down peach polenta cakes. My kitchen skills turn up to 11 when this pan is on my stove."

John Castellucci, executive chef at Bar Mercado: “Etxebarri, the first cookbook from famous Spanish chef Victor Arguinzoniz. Although I never had the chance to eat at Etxebarri (number six in the world according to the San Pellegrino list) during my time in Spain, I have always been so intrigued by his use of fire and his philosophy on cooking. The book is only printed in Spanish for the moment so I will have to brush up on my vocabulary before reading it. Also, Takeda Knives. I have two knives from Takeda, a Japanese knife brand. They are my favorite knives I have ever used.  They are all made by third-generation master blacksmith Shosui Takeda. They hold their edge well and not as crazy expensive as some other Japanese brands.”

Mel Toledo, executive chef/owner at Foundation Social Eatery: “All I want for Christmas is a smoking gun — to be able to add a little smoke flavor to a dish without over-smoking it or having the long process of using an actual smoker. Also because someone broke my old smoking gun.” 

Jamie Adams, chef/owner at il Giallo Osteria & Bar: "I recently took a trip to New York, and several of the great Italian restaurants there had Cavatelli makers that made beautiful Cavatelli from fresh pasta dough very fast. Although we make beautiful handmade Cavatelli at il Giallo (great with brown pistachio pesto and sausage), I would definitely love a Cavatelli maker for Christmas so we could create them a lot faster.”  

Sepsenahki “Chef Ahki” Aahkhu, chef/CEO at Delicious Indigenous: “This Christmas, I plan to be in Mexico, but I still want an amazing plate of greens, stuffing, macaroni, and cranberry sauce. I also would love the perfect New Year's party with a slamming playlist to match my sexy dress! Watch out, 2018!”

Brandon Frohne, culinary director at Holler & Dash Biscuit House: "Here are the items at the top of my Santa Wish List! I sure hope Santa can get down the chimney with these! I would love a Click & Grow Indoor Wall Farm; it uses NASA-inspired nano-tech growing materials that supply just the right amount of oxygen, water, and other nutrients a plant needs, which allows produce to grow 30 percent faster than traditional methods. These indoor wall farms are space efficient to fit into any kitchen for sustainable herbs, micro greens, and lettuce year round. It's pretty incredible. A Breville/PolyScience Control Freak would also be amazing. It's an induction cooktop that holds any cooking temperature from 86 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, with precise temperature accuracy. It would come in super handy when searing fish or meat so you can achieve the perfect crust across the surface of the protein for ultimate flavor development. Santa, come through!" 

Jonathan McDowell, executive chef at Nine Mile Station: “I want an 18-1/2-inch Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package. Meat hangs vertically; the surface crisps/crusts more evenly and interior meat heats more evenly as there are no hot conduction points caused by meat lying on a grate. Meat is basted by juices that are sweat out of the meat. Because the meat is vertical, the juice has more distance to travel before dropping off the meat, and hence, vertical does a better job of basting. The juices that drop off of the meat and onto the coals provide smoke and flavor ... a LOT of smoke and flavor.” 

Daniel Peach, chef de cuisine at Chai Pani: “I would love a kilo of zereshk — the Persian barberry — to make the berry pulao from Cafe Britannia Boman in Mumbai. Boman Kohinoor, the 95-year-old proprietor of the legendary Parsi restaurant, imports the small sour berries from Iran every month." 

Taylor Neary, executive chef at the forthcoming Restaurant Holmes: “A Finex 10in cast iron skillet , the Gjelina, Cooking from Venice California cookbook, and a plate set from Wynne Noble.”

Matthew Ridgway, executive chef at Cooks & Soldiers: “Artichoke by Bjorn Shen. This is a book I have been looking at for a hot second. A Middle Eastern chef in Singapore, with a bent of Asian food. A neat pivot to see the stories of a kitchen and restaurants around the world, plus a great take on dinning culture in Singapore. And a Deba knife from Blood Root Blades. I would like to have a knife forged by a local company. This has a wait until 2022. That is insane.” 

Brent Hesse, general manager at the Deep End: "At the very top of my wish list is an industrial centrifuge. I'd be able to clarify citrus, milk wash spirits, and all sorts of other cool and practical tricks that would easily elevate a bar program. " 

Ricardo Soto, executive chef at [Sugo: “Ingredient-wise, I want this beautiful wagyu from Japan that I came across a couple weeks ago. It’s from Miyazaki and the marbling and flavor of it is awesome. Obviously truffles and caviar will be included, so I would say: Dear Santa, I don’t want too many things, only a small present, a small box with that beautiful piece of wagyu inside, you have no idea how much fun I’m going to have with it, I already have several plans for it. As far as a gadget, I would say a new EGGniter; it looks like a blow dryer but it’s an igniter for the Big Green Egg. It blows up to 1,200 degrees and it gets your coal hot and ready under five minutes, effortless. And it works with electricity; that way I can spend more time with my Big Green Egg. And if Santa is feeling generous, a new Big Green Egg would be nice, too.” 

Julian Goglia, owner/beverage director at Bar Americano: "I asked my parents for the new Meehan’s Bartender Manual. Since you’re asking, I’d absolutely love a BSA B44 Shooting Star. Outside of a new motorcycle, I’ll settle for a bottle of Campari to share with friends and family." 

Jonathan Fox, chef/co-owner at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: “Everyone says I am a tough person to buy a gift for. I have smokers and grills, and plenty of kitchen gadgets, so it is hard to think about anything else I might want there. An 80-inch TV would be great, but unlikely. So, when it comes down to it, what is the one thing I would really want for Christmas? A couple of really great bottles of wine, some great bourbon, and a good group of close folks to enjoy it with over the holidays. That would mean the most to me. Well, that and a Christmas Eve win over the Saints.” 



Justin Fox, chef/co-owner at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: “What do I want for Christmas? Hmmm, it may not seem exciting to most but it is to me: I really want some shelving and storage in my kitchen. It always seems like there just isn’t enough for all the cookware I seem to collect (maybe hoard, too). Pots and pans take up space and it would be amazing to have it better organized that it currently is. I've been good; feel free to drop it down my chimney, Santa Claus!”    Thinkstock/Lacheev SANTA'S WORKSHOP: Impress the foodies in your life with one of these chef-approved holiday gifts.        20986684         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/12/ThinkstockPhotos_874492950.5a3d1e795a6a4.png                  What the chefs want "
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Article

Wednesday December 20, 2017 08:34 pm EST
Need some last-minute gift ideas for the foodie in your life? Atlanta chefs got you covered | more...
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  string(84) "Downtown Decatur's newest salad, poké, and juice bar offers more than meets the eye"
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  string(4610) "Tae “TK” Woo Kim is a slave to his craft. As the owner of JuicyDrop, which opened in Decatur this past August, he’s determined to get Atlantans to fall in love with his combination juice bar, salad bar, and poke shop — and that means separating himself from a confluence of similar concepts throughout the city.

Kim says his mission began with a sense of frustration. Too many poke businesses are number-obsessed without focusing on the product’s quality. But JuicyDrop is different, he says. “We cook like chefs, not like business owners.”

Having grown up in Korea, Kim says he feels restaurants there are on a different playing field when it comes to customer service and quality. Atlanta restaurants, he asserts, don’t experience the same level of competition that Korean ones do, thanks to Georgia having a smaller population and therefore, fewer restaurants. “In Korea it always feels like someone’s watching you and it makes for a more positive customer service experience. I’m a lucky guy because there’s not strong competition here.” The poke place around the corner, he says, has nothing on JuicyDrop.

Kim settled on his location in downtown Decatur after months of location scouting and research. He liked the potential for foot traffic and its close proximity to Your Dekalb Farmers Market, where he buys his produce fresh every morning. After being turned away by Alpharetta’s Avalon development (they weren’t impressed by his unknown brand), he had to persuade his current landlord, who was reluctant to convert the former hair salon space into a restaurant. “I showed him my 60-page business plan and he was convinced,” says Kim. It also helped that the landlord is a foodie; his building includes other restaurant concepts, like Ford Fry and Drew Belline’s No. 246.

SWEET BUT HEALTHY: Juicy Drop's acai bowl with red bananaJoeff DavisJuicyDrop’s aesthetic is a blend of industrial and earthy. Kim didn’t like that most poke restaurant interiors are stark white with a harsh pop of lime green or orange, reminding him of ice cream shops (or those eerily similar frozen yogurt spots of yore). Here, you’ll find exposed ducts and gray epoxy floors, but with wood, navy, and brass accents that add warmth. The wooden shelf over the product display case, built by Kim himself, adds eye candy, and the result is inviting, allowing guests to eat without feeling the need to rush out the door.

Kim’s hands-on approach extends to the food, of which he single-handedly does most of the cooking and preparing. JuicyDrop’s menu features juices that he cold-presses daily, and poke options that seem pretty standard as far protein and topping choices go. But there’s more to the bowls than meets the eye. “One day I was wondering, ‘how can I make the sushi rice without sugar?’” Kim recalls. Then it occurred to him that every morning, he was left with about half a gallon of his kale and apple juice blend. So he began adding it to the sushi rice along with rice vinegar, thereby allowing him to completely omit refined sugar. As a result, the rice takes on a soft green hue and subtle sweetness, while being far healthier for consumers.

Salads and poke bowls are topped with house-made dressings that come in vibrant flavors like ginger-tomato and cilantro-lime. Kim takes pride in the sesame dressing, which requires slowly roasting sesame seeds for a robust, toasted flavor and blending them with Japanese mayo and gluten-free soy sauce. You can order a PokeDrop/JuicyDrop combo for $15, which tacks on an unce juice to your poke order.

CHOICES, CHOICES: Juicy Drop serves poke bowls, salads, and a variety of juices pressed and blended in-house.Joeff DavisKim's smoothies are called “smoothie juices” because they’re each made with a juice base, giving them a less viscous texture than the typical smoothie. Mango Colada has a base of Sweet Love juice — apple, pineapple, and mint — blended with apple, coconut milk, and lemon. Paradise On Earth is like a milkshake sans ice cream, with banana, raw almond butter, brown rice protein powder, and Milky Way juice (banana, almonds, and agave nectar).

Although JuicyDrop is still a fledgling business, Kim hopes to eventually expand the brand. He doesn’t think the poke trend will last more than a couple years, so he plans on placing more emphasis on his fresh salads. How determined is he to make his business baby succeed? “I haven’t seen my actual kids in a month.” 

JuicyDrop, 119 E. Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur. 404-205-5535. www.myjuicydrop.com. "
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  string(4886) "Tae “TK” Woo Kim is a slave to his craft. As the owner of JuicyDrop, which opened in Decatur this past August, he’s determined to get Atlantans to fall in love with his combination juice bar, salad bar, and poke shop — and that means separating himself from a confluence of similar concepts throughout the city.

Kim says his mission began with a sense of frustration. Too many poke businesses are number-obsessed without focusing on the product’s quality. But JuicyDrop is different, he says. “We cook like chefs, not like business owners.”

Having grown up in Korea, Kim says he feels restaurants there are on a different playing field when it comes to customer service and quality. Atlanta restaurants, he asserts, don’t experience the same level of competition that Korean ones do, thanks to Georgia having a smaller population and therefore, fewer restaurants. “In Korea it always feels like someone’s watching you and it makes for a more positive customer service experience. I’m a lucky guy because there’s not strong competition here.” The poke place around the corner, he says, has nothing on JuicyDrop.

Kim settled on his location in downtown Decatur after months of location scouting and research. He liked the potential for foot traffic and its close proximity to Your Dekalb Farmers Market, where he buys his produce fresh every morning. After being turned away by Alpharetta’s Avalon development (they weren’t impressed by his unknown brand), he had to persuade his current landlord, who was reluctant to convert the former hair salon space into a restaurant. “I showed him my 60-page business plan and he was convinced,” says Kim. It also helped that the landlord is a foodie; his building includes other restaurant concepts, like Ford Fry and Drew Belline’s No. 246.

{img src="https://cdn.creativeloafing.com/files/base/scomm/clatl/image/2017/12/640w/Juicy_Drop_090.5a32d3bba0c4c.jpg"}SWEET BUT HEALTHY: Juicy Drop's acai bowl with red bananaJoeff DavisJuicyDrop’s aesthetic is a blend of industrial and earthy. Kim didn’t like that most poke restaurant interiors are stark white with a harsh pop of lime green or orange, reminding him of ice cream shops (or those eerily similar frozen yogurt spots of yore). Here, you’ll find exposed ducts and gray epoxy floors, but with wood, navy, and brass accents that add warmth. The wooden shelf over the product display case, built by Kim himself, adds eye candy, and the result is inviting, allowing guests to eat without feeling the need to rush out the door.

Kim’s hands-on approach extends to the food, of which he single-handedly does most of the cooking and preparing. JuicyDrop’s menu features juices that he cold-presses daily, and poke options that seem pretty standard as far protein and topping choices go. But there’s more to the bowls than meets the eye. “One day I was wondering, ‘how can I make the sushi rice without sugar?’” Kim recalls. Then it occurred to him that every morning, he was left with about half a gallon of his kale and apple juice blend. So he began adding it to the sushi rice along with rice vinegar, thereby allowing him to completely omit refined sugar. As a result, the rice takes on a soft green hue and subtle sweetness, while being far healthier for consumers.

Salads and poke bowls are topped with house-made dressings that come in vibrant flavors like ginger-tomato and cilantro-lime. Kim takes pride in the sesame dressing, which requires slowly roasting sesame seeds for a robust, toasted flavor and blending them with Japanese mayo and gluten-free soy sauce. You can order a PokeDrop/JuicyDrop combo for $15, which tacks on an (:eek:)unce juice to your poke order.

{img src="https://cdn.creativeloafing.com/files/base/scomm/clatl/image/2017/12/640w/Juicy_Drop_093.5a32d3b9636ac.jpg"}CHOICES, CHOICES: Juicy Drop serves poke bowls, salads, and a variety of juices pressed and blended in-house.Joeff DavisKim's smoothies are called “smoothie juices” because they’re each made with a juice base, giving them a less viscous texture than the typical smoothie. Mango Colada has a base of Sweet Love juice — apple, pineapple, and mint — blended with apple, coconut milk, and lemon. Paradise On Earth is like a milkshake sans ice cream, with banana, raw almond butter, brown rice protein powder, and Milky Way juice (banana, almonds, and agave nectar).

Although JuicyDrop is still a fledgling business, Kim hopes to eventually expand the brand. He doesn’t think the poke trend will last more than a couple years, so he plans on placing more emphasis on his fresh salads. How determined is he to make his business baby succeed? “I haven’t seen my actual kids in a month.” 

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  string(5230) " Juicy Drop 091.5a32d3b3821c0  2018-02-05T05:31:11+00:00 Juicy_Drop_091.5a32d3b3821c0.jpg     Downtown Decatur's newest salad, poké, and juice bar offers more than meets the eye 2524  2017-12-15T00:36:00+00:00 JuicyDrop hopes to transcend trends ben.eason@creativeloafing.com Ben Eason Lia Picard  2017-12-15T00:36:00+00:00  Tae “TK” Woo Kim is a slave to his craft. As the owner of JuicyDrop, which opened in Decatur this past August, he’s determined to get Atlantans to fall in love with his combination juice bar, salad bar, and poke shop — and that means separating himself from a confluence of similar concepts throughout the city.

Kim says his mission began with a sense of frustration. Too many poke businesses are number-obsessed without focusing on the product’s quality. But JuicyDrop is different, he says. “We cook like chefs, not like business owners.”

Having grown up in Korea, Kim says he feels restaurants there are on a different playing field when it comes to customer service and quality. Atlanta restaurants, he asserts, don’t experience the same level of competition that Korean ones do, thanks to Georgia having a smaller population and therefore, fewer restaurants. “In Korea it always feels like someone’s watching you and it makes for a more positive customer service experience. I’m a lucky guy because there’s not strong competition here.” The poke place around the corner, he says, has nothing on JuicyDrop.

Kim settled on his location in downtown Decatur after months of location scouting and research. He liked the potential for foot traffic and its close proximity to Your Dekalb Farmers Market, where he buys his produce fresh every morning. After being turned away by Alpharetta’s Avalon development (they weren’t impressed by his unknown brand), he had to persuade his current landlord, who was reluctant to convert the former hair salon space into a restaurant. “I showed him my 60-page business plan and he was convinced,” says Kim. It also helped that the landlord is a foodie; his building includes other restaurant concepts, like Ford Fry and Drew Belline’s No. 246.

SWEET BUT HEALTHY: Juicy Drop's acai bowl with red bananaJoeff DavisJuicyDrop’s aesthetic is a blend of industrial and earthy. Kim didn’t like that most poke restaurant interiors are stark white with a harsh pop of lime green or orange, reminding him of ice cream shops (or those eerily similar frozen yogurt spots of yore). Here, you’ll find exposed ducts and gray epoxy floors, but with wood, navy, and brass accents that add warmth. The wooden shelf over the product display case, built by Kim himself, adds eye candy, and the result is inviting, allowing guests to eat without feeling the need to rush out the door.

Kim’s hands-on approach extends to the food, of which he single-handedly does most of the cooking and preparing. JuicyDrop’s menu features juices that he cold-presses daily, and poke options that seem pretty standard as far protein and topping choices go. But there’s more to the bowls than meets the eye. “One day I was wondering, ‘how can I make the sushi rice without sugar?’” Kim recalls. Then it occurred to him that every morning, he was left with about half a gallon of his kale and apple juice blend. So he began adding it to the sushi rice along with rice vinegar, thereby allowing him to completely omit refined sugar. As a result, the rice takes on a soft green hue and subtle sweetness, while being far healthier for consumers.

Salads and poke bowls are topped with house-made dressings that come in vibrant flavors like ginger-tomato and cilantro-lime. Kim takes pride in the sesame dressing, which requires slowly roasting sesame seeds for a robust, toasted flavor and blending them with Japanese mayo and gluten-free soy sauce. You can order a PokeDrop/JuicyDrop combo for $15, which tacks on an unce juice to your poke order.

CHOICES, CHOICES: Juicy Drop serves poke bowls, salads, and a variety of juices pressed and blended in-house.Joeff DavisKim's smoothies are called “smoothie juices” because they’re each made with a juice base, giving them a less viscous texture than the typical smoothie. Mango Colada has a base of Sweet Love juice — apple, pineapple, and mint — blended with apple, coconut milk, and lemon. Paradise On Earth is like a milkshake sans ice cream, with banana, raw almond butter, brown rice protein powder, and Milky Way juice (banana, almonds, and agave nectar).

Although JuicyDrop is still a fledgling business, Kim hopes to eventually expand the brand. He doesn’t think the poke trend will last more than a couple years, so he plans on placing more emphasis on his fresh salads. How determined is he to make his business baby succeed? “I haven’t seen my actual kids in a month.” 

JuicyDrop, 119 E. Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur. 404-205-5535. www.myjuicydrop.com.     Joeff Davis Juicy Drop093CHOICES, CHOICES: Juicy Drop serves poke bowls, salads, and a variety of juices pressed and blended in-house.        20986063         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/12/Juicy_Drop_091.5a32d3b3821c0.png                  JuicyDrop hopes to transcend trends "
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Article

Thursday December 14, 2017 07:36 pm EST
Downtown Decatur's newest salad, poké, and juice bar offers more than meets the eye | more...
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  string(110) "Once needed for times of scarcity, canning and pickling are now some of the hottest ways to prepare fresh food"
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  string(110) "Once needed for times of scarcity, canning and pickling are now some of the hottest ways to prepare fresh food"
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  string(6246) "Attitudes about food preservation have changed. Once a seasonal necessity to prepare for times of scarcity, then mostly forgotten at the midcentury outset of industrialized food production, chefs today are returning to canning and pickling as creative ways to prepare fresh food.
Chef Zeb Stevenson of Watershed on Peachtree is one such canning aficionado. “I do it, and I do it a lot, because it’s responsible and smart, but also because I just plain love the work,” he says. “You are serving something that has been transformed. It's texturally different, the flavor is different, and it’s a different eating experience. For the Watershed, it’s taking the best things and making sure we have them for as long as we possibly can.” (No pun intended.)

Stevenson has been fermenting vinegars for over six years and is USDA certified in canning. Over the past few years, he’s watched his once niche hobby spread across the city’s dining scene. Call it inspiration, or competition; Atlanta chefs tend to do the same things around the same times. “It means we live in a community where people are inspired by each other and that drives quality upwards,” says Stevenson, who welcomes the trend. “The quality of pickled and canned goods that chefs in Atlanta are offering now is far greater than what it was three or four years ago because we are all learning together and sharing techniques.”

There are key scientific differences between the most popular processes of preservation. In pickling, high acid is used to render food shelf-stable, while canning uses high heat and pressure to do the same thing. The two are only similar in the fact that they both get sealed in a glass jar. Preserving usually takes 30 minutes prep time, 20 minutes of pressure canning, and then as much as two hours to cool properly. It’s a serious commitment, but for canners like Stevenson it’s often paired with other prep work or turned into a soothing Sunday evening activity.

If canning is pure preservation, pickling is its playful cousin. Each time he pickles, Stevenson says he feels like he’s conducting a little science experiment, or creating in a way that reminds him of his days as an art student at Cornell. In the spring, he jumps at the short bamboo season (10 days this year!) and goes into hyperactive pickling mode. This season he bought 200 pounds of fresh bamboo and spent two weeks cleaning, prepping, and pickling it in half-gallon glass jars. “I've somehow become Atlanta's bamboo whisperer and ambassador,” he laughs, “because I buy more of it than any other chef in the city.”

YES WE CAN: Zeb Stevenson of Watershed pickles more bamboo than any other chef in the city.Courtesy WatershedOf course, Stevenson is by no means the only master pickler in town. Once a chef understands the mechanics, he or she can add in an array of flavors and ingredients to personalize the process. South City Kitchen chef Jason Starnes makes jumbo lump crab cake with pickled cherry; Ecco’s Brent Banda tops foie gras torchon with saffron-pickled fennel; Chris Edwards of Restaurant Eugene cans a “winter picnic” featuring spring and summer preserves with strawberries, blackberries, and more.

Lyn Deardorff of Preserving Now has made a twilight career out of preserving the very process of food preservation. A home canner for more than four decades, she retired from her corporate career in 2010 and spent the summer canning, eventually teaching friends how to do it once she realized how few resources there were for learning the “lost art.” Courses in food preservation from Cornell University and UGA led to more official classes and workshops, and recently she found a home at Sweet Auburn Curb Market’s the Learning Kitchen, where she and several other instructions offer crash courses in canning and other classic culinary arts. Workshops such as Canning 101 Immersion teach the basics of preserving fruits, pickling, and canning tomatoes. 

“A lot of chefs have no background in canning — and it scares me,” Deardorff says. “Culinary schools don't necessarily train anything in canning, and it's never been curriculum that's popular enough.” But she hopes the tide is turning. “There are some good restaurants in town that are doing preserved foods, and I think they have gone the extra mile to learn.”

Drew Van Leuven, co-owner and executive chef of Seven Lamps, is one chef who has educated himself on the world of pickling. His restaurant in Buckhead not only pops a pickle on just about every plate, but has also replaced traditional bread service at the start of the dining experience with a charcuterie board, packed with pickled veggies and crème fraiche. It’s a lighter way to begin dinner, rather than filling up on carbs, says Van Leuven. “It's served as a way to wake up your palate, get your taste buds moving and ready your mouth for dinner.”

There's no doubt summer is the strongest season for canning, but fall and winter keep things going with seasonal produce like cranberries, apples, pears, squash, and root vegetables. In October, Seven Lamps pickled its last batch of tomatoes for the season, 100 or so pounds that Van Leuven hopes will last throughout the winter. “Our process is essentially canning, but we will put in a ginger and thyme pickle. It's not to overly flavor the tomatoes, but give them a little hint,” he says. “Pickles have the potential to add so much flavor that food calls out for, in many ways more than salt.”

If a restaurant is lucky enough to keep jars on the shelves, canned food tends to only get better with age. Watershed plans the year ahead in relation to the preserved foods Stevenson expects to have on hand. It's hard to lay down a hard rule for how long foods should be canned, but on average a softer vegetable usually requires a week to reach peak flavor, while firmer vegetables, such as carrots, could take months for the brine to fully penetrate.
“It’s a lot of trial and error, but the beauty of it is that there is no real error,” Stevenson says. “You still get to enjoy something delicious, and you are taking some knowledge away from what you would do different next time.”"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(6396) "Attitudes about food preservation have changed. Once a seasonal necessity to prepare for times of scarcity, then mostly forgotten at the midcentury outset of industrialized food production, chefs today are returning to canning and pickling as creative ways to prepare fresh food.
Chef Zeb Stevenson of Watershed on Peachtree is one such canning aficionado. “I do it, and I do it a lot, because it’s responsible and smart, but also because I just plain love the work,” he says. “You are serving something that has been transformed. It's texturally different, the flavor is different, and it’s a different eating experience. For the Watershed, it’s taking the best things and making sure we have them for as long as we possibly can.” (No pun intended.)

Stevenson has been fermenting vinegars for over six years and is USDA certified in canning. Over the past few years, he’s watched his once niche hobby spread across the city’s dining scene. Call it inspiration, or competition; Atlanta chefs tend to do the same things around the same times. “It means we live in a community where people are inspired by each other and that drives quality upwards,” says Stevenson, who welcomes the trend. “The quality of pickled and canned goods that chefs in Atlanta are offering now is far greater than what it was three or four years ago because we are all learning together and sharing techniques.”

There are key scientific differences between the most popular processes of preservation. In pickling, high acid is used to render food shelf-stable, while canning uses high heat and pressure to do the same thing. The two are only similar in the fact that they both get sealed in a glass jar. Preserving usually takes 30 minutes prep time, 20 minutes of pressure canning, and then as much as two hours to cool properly. It’s a serious commitment, but for canners like Stevenson it’s often paired with other prep work or turned into a soothing Sunday evening activity.

If canning is pure preservation, pickling is its playful cousin. Each time he pickles, Stevenson says he feels like he’s conducting a little science experiment, or creating in a way that reminds him of his days as an art student at Cornell. In the spring, he jumps at the short bamboo season (10 days this year!) and goes into hyperactive pickling mode. This season he bought 200 pounds of fresh bamboo and spent two weeks cleaning, prepping, and pickling it in half-gallon glass jars. “I've somehow become Atlanta's bamboo whisperer and ambassador,” he laughs, “because I buy more of it than any other chef in the city.”

{img src="https://cdn.creativeloafing.com/files/base/scomm/clatl/image/2017/12/640w/ChefZebStevenson_Headshot___Copy.58474a08aa2f8.5a32cc6a62b8f.jpg"}YES WE CAN: Zeb Stevenson of Watershed pickles more bamboo than any other chef in the city.Courtesy WatershedOf course, Stevenson is by no means the only master pickler in town. Once a chef understands the mechanics, he or she can add in an array of flavors and ingredients to personalize the process. South City Kitchen chef Jason Starnes makes jumbo lump crab cake with pickled cherry; Ecco’s Brent Banda tops foie gras torchon with saffron-pickled fennel; Chris Edwards of Restaurant Eugene cans a “winter picnic” featuring spring and summer preserves with strawberries, blackberries, and more.

Lyn Deardorff of Preserving Now has made a twilight career out of preserving the very process of food preservation. A home canner for more than four decades, she retired from her corporate career in 2010 and spent the summer canning, eventually teaching friends how to do it once she realized how few resources there were for learning the “lost art.” Courses in food preservation from Cornell University and UGA led to more official classes and workshops, and recently she found a home at Sweet Auburn Curb Market’s the Learning Kitchen, where she and several other instructions offer crash courses in canning and other classic culinary arts. Workshops such as Canning 101 Immersion teach the basics of preserving fruits, pickling, and canning tomatoes. 

“A lot of chefs have no background in canning — and it scares me,” Deardorff says. “Culinary schools don't necessarily train anything in canning, and it's never been curriculum that's popular enough.” But she hopes the tide is turning. “There are some good restaurants in town that are doing preserved foods, and I think they have gone the extra mile to learn.”

Drew Van Leuven, co-owner and executive chef of Seven Lamps, is one chef who has educated himself on the world of pickling. His restaurant in Buckhead not only pops a pickle on just about every plate, but has also replaced traditional bread service at the start of the dining experience with a charcuterie board, packed with pickled veggies and crème fraiche. It’s a lighter way to begin dinner, rather than filling up on carbs, says Van Leuven. “It's served as a way to wake up your palate, get your taste buds moving and ready your mouth for dinner.”

There's no doubt summer is the strongest season for canning, but fall and winter keep things going with seasonal produce like cranberries, apples, pears, squash, and root vegetables. In October, Seven Lamps pickled its last batch of tomatoes for the season, 100 or so pounds that Van Leuven hopes will last throughout the winter. “Our process is essentially canning, but we will put in a ginger and thyme pickle. It's not to overly flavor the tomatoes, but give them a little hint,” he says. “Pickles have the potential to add so much flavor that food calls out for, in many ways more than salt.”

If a restaurant is lucky enough to keep jars on the shelves, canned food tends to only get better with age. Watershed plans the year ahead in relation to the preserved foods Stevenson expects to have on hand. It's hard to lay down a hard rule for how long foods should be canned, but on average a softer vegetable usually requires a week to reach peak flavor, while firmer vegetables, such as carrots, could take months for the brine to fully penetrate.
“It’s a lot of trial and error, but the beauty of it is that there is no real error,” Stevenson says. “You still get to enjoy something delicious, and you are taking some knowledge away from what you would do different next time.”"
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  string(6922) " Lyn Deardorff 042 Low Res.5a32cb7f6350c  2018-02-05T01:32:16+00:00 Lyn_Deardorff_042_Low_Res.5a32cb7f6350c.jpg     Once needed for times of scarcity, canning and pickling are now some of the hottest ways to prepare fresh food 2496  2017-12-14T23:50:00+00:00 The art of preservation ben.eason@creativeloafing.com Ben Eason Grace Huseth  2017-12-14T23:50:00+00:00  Attitudes about food preservation have changed. Once a seasonal necessity to prepare for times of scarcity, then mostly forgotten at the midcentury outset of industrialized food production, chefs today are returning to canning and pickling as creative ways to prepare fresh food.
Chef Zeb Stevenson of Watershed on Peachtree is one such canning aficionado. “I do it, and I do it a lot, because it’s responsible and smart, but also because I just plain love the work,” he says. “You are serving something that has been transformed. It's texturally different, the flavor is different, and it’s a different eating experience. For the Watershed, it’s taking the best things and making sure we have them for as long as we possibly can.” (No pun intended.)

Stevenson has been fermenting vinegars for over six years and is USDA certified in canning. Over the past few years, he’s watched his once niche hobby spread across the city’s dining scene. Call it inspiration, or competition; Atlanta chefs tend to do the same things around the same times. “It means we live in a community where people are inspired by each other and that drives quality upwards,” says Stevenson, who welcomes the trend. “The quality of pickled and canned goods that chefs in Atlanta are offering now is far greater than what it was three or four years ago because we are all learning together and sharing techniques.”

There are key scientific differences between the most popular processes of preservation. In pickling, high acid is used to render food shelf-stable, while canning uses high heat and pressure to do the same thing. The two are only similar in the fact that they both get sealed in a glass jar. Preserving usually takes 30 minutes prep time, 20 minutes of pressure canning, and then as much as two hours to cool properly. It’s a serious commitment, but for canners like Stevenson it’s often paired with other prep work or turned into a soothing Sunday evening activity.

If canning is pure preservation, pickling is its playful cousin. Each time he pickles, Stevenson says he feels like he’s conducting a little science experiment, or creating in a way that reminds him of his days as an art student at Cornell. In the spring, he jumps at the short bamboo season (10 days this year!) and goes into hyperactive pickling mode. This season he bought 200 pounds of fresh bamboo and spent two weeks cleaning, prepping, and pickling it in half-gallon glass jars. “I've somehow become Atlanta's bamboo whisperer and ambassador,” he laughs, “because I buy more of it than any other chef in the city.”

YES WE CAN: Zeb Stevenson of Watershed pickles more bamboo than any other chef in the city.Courtesy WatershedOf course, Stevenson is by no means the only master pickler in town. Once a chef understands the mechanics, he or she can add in an array of flavors and ingredients to personalize the process. South City Kitchen chef Jason Starnes makes jumbo lump crab cake with pickled cherry; Ecco’s Brent Banda tops foie gras torchon with saffron-pickled fennel; Chris Edwards of Restaurant Eugene cans a “winter picnic” featuring spring and summer preserves with strawberries, blackberries, and more.

Lyn Deardorff of Preserving Now has made a twilight career out of preserving the very process of food preservation. A home canner for more than four decades, she retired from her corporate career in 2010 and spent the summer canning, eventually teaching friends how to do it once she realized how few resources there were for learning the “lost art.” Courses in food preservation from Cornell University and UGA led to more official classes and workshops, and recently she found a home at Sweet Auburn Curb Market’s the Learning Kitchen, where she and several other instructions offer crash courses in canning and other classic culinary arts. Workshops such as Canning 101 Immersion teach the basics of preserving fruits, pickling, and canning tomatoes. 

“A lot of chefs have no background in canning — and it scares me,” Deardorff says. “Culinary schools don't necessarily train anything in canning, and it's never been curriculum that's popular enough.” But she hopes the tide is turning. “There are some good restaurants in town that are doing preserved foods, and I think they have gone the extra mile to learn.”

Drew Van Leuven, co-owner and executive chef of Seven Lamps, is one chef who has educated himself on the world of pickling. His restaurant in Buckhead not only pops a pickle on just about every plate, but has also replaced traditional bread service at the start of the dining experience with a charcuterie board, packed with pickled veggies and crème fraiche. It’s a lighter way to begin dinner, rather than filling up on carbs, says Van Leuven. “It's served as a way to wake up your palate, get your taste buds moving and ready your mouth for dinner.”

There's no doubt summer is the strongest season for canning, but fall and winter keep things going with seasonal produce like cranberries, apples, pears, squash, and root vegetables. In October, Seven Lamps pickled its last batch of tomatoes for the season, 100 or so pounds that Van Leuven hopes will last throughout the winter. “Our process is essentially canning, but we will put in a ginger and thyme pickle. It's not to overly flavor the tomatoes, but give them a little hint,” he says. “Pickles have the potential to add so much flavor that food calls out for, in many ways more than salt.”

If a restaurant is lucky enough to keep jars on the shelves, canned food tends to only get better with age. Watershed plans the year ahead in relation to the preserved foods Stevenson expects to have on hand. It's hard to lay down a hard rule for how long foods should be canned, but on average a softer vegetable usually requires a week to reach peak flavor, while firmer vegetables, such as carrots, could take months for the brine to fully penetrate.
“It’s a lot of trial and error, but the beauty of it is that there is no real error,” Stevenson says. “You still get to enjoy something delicious, and you are taking some knowledge away from what you would do different next time.”    Joeff Davis THE PRESERVATIONIST: Lyn Deardorff of Preserving Now teaches canning and pickling classes at Sweet Auburn Curb Market's the Learning Kitchen.        20986054         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/12/Lyn_Deardorff_042_Low_Res.5a32cb7f6350c.png                  The art of preservation "
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Thursday December 14, 2017 06:50 pm EST
Once needed for times of scarcity, canning and pickling are now some of the hottest ways to prepare fresh food | more...
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  string(7248) "Eduardo Porto Carreiro. It's a damn good name for a sommelier, isn't it? Exotic, complex with a touch of mystery? The man himself, like his actual title he was just promoted to beverage director for all Ford Fry Restaurants is more down to earth. After establishing a notable wine career in Los Angeles and New York, Porto Carreiro moved to Atlanta in March, along with his "very pregnant wife" who grew up in Morningside. She was thrilled to give their daughter, now five months old, the chance to be closer to Atlanta family. He was thrilled to find such a good fit with the Ford Fry group.

Porto Carreiro is not new to moving around. Born in Rio to a Brazilian father and Uruguayan mother, he was raised in Vienna, Austria, and then the suburbs of D.C. Half a year into his life in Atlanta, the somm reflects on the path that led him from L.A. to New York, then on to Georgia.

What was the spark for getting into wine?

I had always loved wine. My family always had wine on the dinner table, and I remember sneaking little sips from my parents' glasses as early as the age of six. After college, I was faced with a choice of sticking with what I had studied (applied economics and business management at Cornell University) or pursuing a passion. I decided to be a little adventurous. I had been an actor and a singer through high school and college and figured I might as well give it a go. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue that dream. One thing led to another and, as most young actors quickly find out, it's important to have a solid "survival job."

So I became a clerk at a great little wine store in Los Angeles called Greenblatt's. It was also a deli ... probably the only deli on Earth where you can eat a great Reuben while drinking a bottle of Chateau Petrus. But I quickly moved to the restaurant side of things on the opening team of chef Neal Fraser's Grace restaurant. I worked my way up from a food runner position to waiter, and then sommelier and wine director at a rather fast clip (I took over the wine program at 23) because of a confluence of circumstances and the kind trust that the owners placed in me.

You also worked in New York, with some top restaurateurs ...

I moved to New York in 2012 and joined the sommelier team at Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud. I was there for about a year until I moved to Daniel Boulud's DBGB to run the beverage program there for almost two years. I joined Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group to open Untitled with chef Michael Anthony in 2015.

How did that shape your path?

My time with Daniel Boulud, having arrived from Los Angeles, it was essentially going back to basics, and waking up and realizing I had spent 10 years studying my bum off and thinking I had learned something about wine only to realize I really didn't know much at all. It was like going from college to post grad, seeing the depth of knowledge that my colleagues had. All of the sommeliers at the Boulud restaurants had incredible palates, and I learned so much especially from Michael Madrigale, who ran the program at Boulud and Boulud Sud ... spending time with him on the floor, sensing and feeling how to interact with guests. It's pretty visceral, the wine culture there.

Each fork in the road for my career was decided by trusting my gut and ... surrounding myself with people from whom I could learn and who shared my passion. I moved to NYC because I had fallen in love with a girl who lived there. We ended up getting married and as we began to think about our next chapter, a move to Atlanta became more of a conversation because that's where she had grown up. We were expecting a baby and didn't want to raise the child in Brooklyn. When exploring the hospitality opportunities in Atlanta before the moves, my biggest concern had been finding like-minded folks who shared my goals and passions when it came to the guest experience. The team at Ford Fry Restaurants was completely aligned with my philosophy of hospitality.

Now in Atlanta, what are you trying to do with the wine menus you're working on?

At the end of the day, I want everybody who comes in to be drinking something delicious. The most important aspect of putting a wine list together for me is that all of the selections are of integrity and come from farmers and winemakers that have an honest connection to their vines. That mindfulness in winemaking translates to the glass in a very soulful way. Any new wine that I've added to the programs over these last few months has followed that line of thinking.

For the Optimist, we like to remind our guests that this is a coastal spot so there is respect for regions that are coastal. More importantly, though, it's about what tastes good with the food, what appeals to the guests, and understanding how the seasons change. I try to be extremely in tune with what the guest is feeling when they walk in for three or four straight months, there's a lot of heat and sweating, so I want to have ros̩s, bubblies, extremely crisp fun stuff, but that shifts when it gets cooler. Just last week we started getting in bolder, richer wines which pair well with what guests are feeling a sense of season. It goes back to the food and the markets.

We're also having so much fun with the Marcel list, trying to tap into the concept of being a French-inspired throwback, shifting wines you might find at a brasserie in Paris front and center. The focus is on the great regions of France, but including regions you might not think of immediately we have a whole page dedicated to the South of France, and we're probably the only restaurant in Georgia with four Bandol Rouge on the list and people are buying them every night. We still have great Napa Cabernet, but we also like showcasing a lot of northern Rhone, because the way Marcel prepares its steaks is like Syrah heaven - so Cornas, C̫te-R̫tie, producers that make beautiful wine but don't often get a lot of love. We have several selections of Saint-Joseph which I think are extraordinary values. For more medium-bodied wines, we're going straight to the Loire Valley with Cabernet Franc, even for folks who might be thinking about Napa Cab or Bordeaux, because those really hit the spot.

Outside of work, how has Atlanta been?

My wife and I have had a lot of fun exploring the farmers markets around town. We love to cook and have become regulars at the Grant Park and Freedom Farmers Markets. I think the croissant at Little Tart Bakeshop is one of the best this side of the Atlantic. Drinking beers at the Brick Store in Decatur has got to be one of my favorite things to do in Atlanta. Also, if I had my druthers, I'd be exploring Buford Highway every weekend. Frankly, I've only just scratched the surface of what the city has to offer ... lots of deliciousness around town!

I'm just really excited about the Atlanta scene. I never thought that I'd live anywhere but L.A. or New York, but in the last five or six years of visiting Atlanta with my wife ... my in-laws are the biggest fans of Atlanta and very quickly started pitching us. Every time I would visit, my father-in-law would try to show off the restaurants. I feel as if I've landed in a good place and the sky's the limit."
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Porto Carreiro is not new to moving around. Born in Rio to a Brazilian father and Uruguayan mother, he was raised in Vienna, Austria, and then the suburbs of D.C. Half a year into his life in Atlanta, the somm reflects on the path that led him from L.A. to New York, then on to Georgia.

__What was the spark for getting into wine?__

I had always loved wine. My family always had wine on the dinner table, and I remember sneaking little sips from my parents' glasses as early as the age of six. After college, I was faced with a choice of sticking with what I had studied (applied economics and business management at Cornell University) or pursuing a passion. I decided to be a little adventurous. I had been an actor and a singer through high school and college and figured I might as well give it a go. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue that dream. One thing led to another and, as most young actors quickly find out, it's important to have a solid "survival job."

[So I became] a clerk at a great little wine store in Los Angeles called Greenblatt's. It was also a deli ... probably the only deli on Earth where you can eat a great Reuben while drinking a bottle of Chateau Petrus. But I quickly moved to the restaurant side of things on the opening team of chef Neal Fraser's Grace restaurant. I worked my way up from a food runner position to waiter, and then sommelier and wine director at a rather fast clip (I took over the wine program at 23) because of a confluence of circumstances and the kind trust that the owners placed in me.

__You also worked in New York, with some top restaurateurs ...__

I moved to New York in 2012 and joined the sommelier team at Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud. I was there for about a year until I moved to [Daniel Boulud's] DBGB to run the beverage program there for almost two years. I joined Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group to open Untitled with chef Michael Anthony in 2015.

__How did that shape your path?__

My time with Daniel Boulud, having arrived from Los Angeles, it was essentially going back to basics, and waking up and realizing I had spent 10 years studying my bum off and thinking I had learned something about wine only to realize I really didn't know much at all. It was like going from college to post grad, seeing the depth of knowledge that my colleagues had. All of the sommeliers [at the Boulud restaurants] had incredible palates, and I learned so much especially from Michael Madrigale, who ran the program at Boulud and Boulud Sud ... spending time with him on the floor, sensing and feeling how to interact with guests. It's pretty visceral, the wine culture there.

Each fork in the road for my career was decided by trusting my gut and ... surrounding myself with people from whom I could learn and who shared my passion. I moved to NYC because I had fallen in love with a girl who lived there. We ended up getting married and as we began to think about our next chapter, a move to Atlanta became more of a conversation because that's where she had grown up. We were expecting a baby and didn't want to raise the child in Brooklyn. When exploring the hospitality opportunities in Atlanta before the moves, my biggest concern had been finding like-minded folks who shared my goals and passions when it came to the guest experience. The team at Ford Fry Restaurants was completely aligned with my philosophy of hospitality.

__Now in Atlanta, what are you trying to do with the wine menus you're working on?__

At the end of the day, I want everybody who comes in to be drinking something delicious. The most important aspect of putting a wine list together for me is that all of the selections are of integrity and come from farmers and winemakers that have an honest connection to their vines. That mindfulness in winemaking translates to the glass in a very soulful way. Any new wine that I've added to the programs over these last few months has followed that line of thinking.

For the Optimist, we like to remind our guests that this is a coastal spot so there is respect for regions that are coastal. More importantly, though, it's about what tastes good with the food, what appeals to the guests, and understanding how the seasons change. I try to be extremely in tune with what the guest is feeling when they walk in for three or four straight months, there's a lot of heat and sweating, so I want to have ros̩s, bubblies, extremely crisp fun stuff, but that shifts when it gets cooler. Just last week we started getting in bolder, richer wines which pair well with what guests are feeling a sense of season. It goes back to the food and the markets.

We're also having so much fun with the Marcel list, trying to tap into the concept of being a French-inspired throwback, shifting wines you might find at a brasserie in Paris front and center. The focus is on the great regions of France, but including regions you might not think of immediately we have a whole page dedicated to the South of France, and we're probably the only restaurant in Georgia with four Bandol Rouge on the list and people are buying them every night. We still have great Napa Cabernet, but we also like showcasing a lot of northern Rhone, because the way Marcel prepares its steaks is like Syrah heaven - so Cornas, C̫te-R̫tie, producers that make beautiful wine but don't often get a lot of love. We have several selections of Saint-Joseph which I think are extraordinary values. For more medium-bodied wines, we're going straight to the Loire Valley with Cabernet Franc, even for folks who might be thinking about Napa Cab or Bordeaux, because those really hit the spot.

__Outside of work, how has Atlanta been?__

My wife and I have had a lot of fun exploring the farmers markets around town. We love to cook and have become regulars at the Grant Park and Freedom Farmers Markets. I think the croissant at Little Tart Bakeshop is one of the best this side of the Atlantic. Drinking beers at the Brick Store in Decatur has got to be one of my favorite things to do in Atlanta. Also, if I had my druthers, I'd be exploring Buford Highway every weekend. Frankly, I've only just scratched the surface of what the city has to offer ... lots of deliciousness around town!

I'm just really excited about the Atlanta scene. I never thought that I'd live anywhere but L.A. or New York, but in the last five or six years of visiting Atlanta with my wife ... my in-laws are the biggest fans of Atlanta and very quickly started pitching us. Every time I would visit, my father-in-law would try to show off the restaurants. I feel as if I've landed in a good place and the sky's the limit."
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  string(7656) " Eduardo Porto Carreiro.5a26ba27753a6  2018-03-20T18:32:15+00:00 Eduardo_Porto_Carreiro.5a26ba27753a6.jpg      3781  2017-11-30T06:54:00+00:00 Somm Talk with Eduardo Porto Carreiro clint@thenetworkedplanet.com Clint Bergst Brad Kaplan  2017-11-30T06:54:00+00:00  Eduardo Porto Carreiro. It's a damn good name for a sommelier, isn't it? Exotic, complex with a touch of mystery? The man himself, like his actual title he was just promoted to beverage director for all Ford Fry Restaurants is more down to earth. After establishing a notable wine career in Los Angeles and New York, Porto Carreiro moved to Atlanta in March, along with his "very pregnant wife" who grew up in Morningside. She was thrilled to give their daughter, now five months old, the chance to be closer to Atlanta family. He was thrilled to find such a good fit with the Ford Fry group.

Porto Carreiro is not new to moving around. Born in Rio to a Brazilian father and Uruguayan mother, he was raised in Vienna, Austria, and then the suburbs of D.C. Half a year into his life in Atlanta, the somm reflects on the path that led him from L.A. to New York, then on to Georgia.

What was the spark for getting into wine?

I had always loved wine. My family always had wine on the dinner table, and I remember sneaking little sips from my parents' glasses as early as the age of six. After college, I was faced with a choice of sticking with what I had studied (applied economics and business management at Cornell University) or pursuing a passion. I decided to be a little adventurous. I had been an actor and a singer through high school and college and figured I might as well give it a go. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue that dream. One thing led to another and, as most young actors quickly find out, it's important to have a solid "survival job."

So I became a clerk at a great little wine store in Los Angeles called Greenblatt's. It was also a deli ... probably the only deli on Earth where you can eat a great Reuben while drinking a bottle of Chateau Petrus. But I quickly moved to the restaurant side of things on the opening team of chef Neal Fraser's Grace restaurant. I worked my way up from a food runner position to waiter, and then sommelier and wine director at a rather fast clip (I took over the wine program at 23) because of a confluence of circumstances and the kind trust that the owners placed in me.

You also worked in New York, with some top restaurateurs ...

I moved to New York in 2012 and joined the sommelier team at Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud. I was there for about a year until I moved to Daniel Boulud's DBGB to run the beverage program there for almost two years. I joined Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group to open Untitled with chef Michael Anthony in 2015.

How did that shape your path?

My time with Daniel Boulud, having arrived from Los Angeles, it was essentially going back to basics, and waking up and realizing I had spent 10 years studying my bum off and thinking I had learned something about wine only to realize I really didn't know much at all. It was like going from college to post grad, seeing the depth of knowledge that my colleagues had. All of the sommeliers at the Boulud restaurants had incredible palates, and I learned so much especially from Michael Madrigale, who ran the program at Boulud and Boulud Sud ... spending time with him on the floor, sensing and feeling how to interact with guests. It's pretty visceral, the wine culture there.

Each fork in the road for my career was decided by trusting my gut and ... surrounding myself with people from whom I could learn and who shared my passion. I moved to NYC because I had fallen in love with a girl who lived there. We ended up getting married and as we began to think about our next chapter, a move to Atlanta became more of a conversation because that's where she had grown up. We were expecting a baby and didn't want to raise the child in Brooklyn. When exploring the hospitality opportunities in Atlanta before the moves, my biggest concern had been finding like-minded folks who shared my goals and passions when it came to the guest experience. The team at Ford Fry Restaurants was completely aligned with my philosophy of hospitality.

Now in Atlanta, what are you trying to do with the wine menus you're working on?

At the end of the day, I want everybody who comes in to be drinking something delicious. The most important aspect of putting a wine list together for me is that all of the selections are of integrity and come from farmers and winemakers that have an honest connection to their vines. That mindfulness in winemaking translates to the glass in a very soulful way. Any new wine that I've added to the programs over these last few months has followed that line of thinking.

For the Optimist, we like to remind our guests that this is a coastal spot so there is respect for regions that are coastal. More importantly, though, it's about what tastes good with the food, what appeals to the guests, and understanding how the seasons change. I try to be extremely in tune with what the guest is feeling when they walk in for three or four straight months, there's a lot of heat and sweating, so I want to have ros̩s, bubblies, extremely crisp fun stuff, but that shifts when it gets cooler. Just last week we started getting in bolder, richer wines which pair well with what guests are feeling a sense of season. It goes back to the food and the markets.

We're also having so much fun with the Marcel list, trying to tap into the concept of being a French-inspired throwback, shifting wines you might find at a brasserie in Paris front and center. The focus is on the great regions of France, but including regions you might not think of immediately we have a whole page dedicated to the South of France, and we're probably the only restaurant in Georgia with four Bandol Rouge on the list and people are buying them every night. We still have great Napa Cabernet, but we also like showcasing a lot of northern Rhone, because the way Marcel prepares its steaks is like Syrah heaven - so Cornas, C̫te-R̫tie, producers that make beautiful wine but don't often get a lot of love. We have several selections of Saint-Joseph which I think are extraordinary values. For more medium-bodied wines, we're going straight to the Loire Valley with Cabernet Franc, even for folks who might be thinking about Napa Cab or Bordeaux, because those really hit the spot.

Outside of work, how has Atlanta been?

My wife and I have had a lot of fun exploring the farmers markets around town. We love to cook and have become regulars at the Grant Park and Freedom Farmers Markets. I think the croissant at Little Tart Bakeshop is one of the best this side of the Atlantic. Drinking beers at the Brick Store in Decatur has got to be one of my favorite things to do in Atlanta. Also, if I had my druthers, I'd be exploring Buford Highway every weekend. Frankly, I've only just scratched the surface of what the city has to offer ... lots of deliciousness around town!

I'm just really excited about the Atlanta scene. I never thought that I'd live anywhere but L.A. or New York, but in the last five or six years of visiting Atlanta with my wife ... my in-laws are the biggest fans of Atlanta and very quickly started pitching us. Every time I would visit, my father-in-law would try to show off the restaurants. I feel as if I've landed in a good place and the sky's the limit.    Joeff Davis MASTER OF WINE: Eduardo Porto Carreiro at Marcel        20984289                           Somm Talk with Eduardo Porto Carreiro "
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Thursday November 30, 2017 01:54 am EST
Eduardo Porto Carreiro. It's a damn good name for a sommelier, isn't it? Exotic, complex with a touch of mystery? The man himself, like his actual title he was just promoted to beverage director for all Ford Fry Restaurants is more down to earth. After establishing a notable wine career in Los Angeles and New York, Porto Carreiro moved to Atlanta in March, along with his "very pregnant wife"... | more...
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  string(1195) "Nick Stinson's no-frills Candler Park breakfast spot, Gato, has been quietly hosting some of the city's best pop-up dining concepts for five years now. It all began with chef Allen Suh's ramen phenomenon, Gato Arigato, back in 2012. Next came James Beard semifinalist Jarrett Stieber's comedy-laden Eat Me Speak Me, which has since moved to S.O.S. Tiki Bar in Decatur. Now, the crowds line up every weekend for Parnass Savang (CL's Best New Chef 2017) and Rod Lassiter's Georgian-Thai pop-up, Talat Market.

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Seating will be staggered throughout the evening, and tickets are available [https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gato-silver-anniversary-tickets-40090297158?aff=es2|here].


''$79.99 for food, $20 for cocktail pairings. 5:30-9:30 p.m. Mon., Dec. 18. Gato, 1660 McLendon Ave. 404-371-0889. ''[http://www.gatoatl.com./|''www.gatoatl.com.'']'' ''"
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Article

Tuesday November 28, 2017 06:49 pm EST
Nick Stinson's no-frills Candler Park breakfast spot, Gato, has been quietly hosting some of the city's best pop-up dining concepts for five years now. It all began with chef Allen Suh's ramen phenomenon, Gato Arigato, back in 2012. Next came James Beard semifinalist Jarrett Stieber's comedy-laden Eat Me Speak Me, which has since moved to S.O.S. Tiki Bar in Decatur. Now, the crowds line up... | more...

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  string(2693) "Headed to Thanksgiving dinner and no time to cook? No problem. Every potluck needs that lazy friend who just brings wine. And we've called upon two local vino experts to help us be that friend, without shame.

Advance sommelier Eric Crane is director of training at Empire Distributors, a wholesale beverage distributor home covering three states across the Southeast. Certified sommelier Kacey Jane Ivey works with Atlanta-based Quality Wine and Spirits. Here, they share their top T-giving picks: a couple of readily available, reasonably priced bottles to pair with this year's cornucopia.

Elk Cove Pinot Gris 

Average retail price: $19-$21

This is a user-friendly wine from Willamette Valley, Oregon with subdued flavors of tart apple and pear and a really clean acidity to work through most dishes. While this is great with fried, smoked, or roasted turkey, it will also slide right through mashed potatoes or cornbread stuffing. And it won't clash with most vegetables or gravies, either.

Banfi Chianti Classico 

Average retail price: $13-$16

Don't let a well-known name scare you! Few countries take food and wine pairing as seriously as the Italians do. If you're looking for something to serve next to your heartier dishes without overpowering them, this Chianti Classico from Tuscany is a total go-to. With flavors of ripe cherry and sour plums, this wine can pair with game and hams as well as sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. This Sangiovese is just tannic enough for those in the mood for a powerful dry wine and has killer acidity to take the edge off all of that wonderful cream and butter.

Dr. Loosen "Dr. L" Dry Riesling 

Average retail price: $12-$15

Riesling is a crowd pleaser and such a phenomenal food wine. The Mosel region, known for its slate soils, gives way to shining acidity that plays so well with the aromatic nose. The touch of sweetness, touch of spice, and floral characteristics accompany savory casseroles and souffl̩s with perfection. Plus, Riesling as a grape varietal is lighter in alcohol exactly what we need with heavy meals and extended hours of enjoyment.

Educated Guess Pinot Noir 

Average retail price: $19-$22

This is precisely what you expect and want from California pinot noirs, gorgeous and balanced. The nose has the usual suspects fruit notes of cranberry, raspberry, and cherry with vanilla and leather essence while the palate is luscious and almost creamy with medium tannins and acidity to accompany the meal without overpowering it. California is a bit warmer than Oregon and France, so this pinot noir is bit "bigger" and great for spanning the gap between light and heavier wine preferences."
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  string(2725) "Headed to Thanksgiving dinner and no time to cook? No problem. Every potluck needs that lazy friend who just brings wine. And we've called upon two local vino experts to help us be that friend, without shame.

Advance sommelier Eric Crane is director of training at Empire Distributors, a wholesale beverage distributor home covering three states across the Southeast. Certified sommelier Kacey Jane Ivey works with Atlanta-based Quality Wine and Spirits. Here, they share their top T-giving picks: a couple of readily available, reasonably priced bottles to pair with this year's cornucopia.

__Elk Cove Pinot Gris __

''Average retail price: $19-$21''

This is a user-friendly wine from Willamette Valley, Oregon with subdued flavors of tart apple and pear and a really clean acidity to work through most dishes. While this is great with fried, smoked, or roasted turkey, it will also slide right through mashed potatoes or cornbread stuffing. And it won't clash with most vegetables or gravies, either.

__Banfi Chianti Classico __

''Average retail price: $13-$16''

Don't let a well-known name scare you! Few countries take food and wine pairing as seriously as the Italians do. If you're looking for something to serve next to your heartier dishes without overpowering them, this Chianti Classico from Tuscany is a total go-to. With flavors of ripe cherry and sour plums, this wine can pair with game and hams as well as sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. This Sangiovese is just tannic enough for those in the mood for a powerful dry wine and has killer acidity to take the edge off all of that wonderful cream and butter.

__Dr. Loosen "Dr. L" Dry Riesling __

''Average retail price: $12-$15''

Riesling is a crowd pleaser and such a phenomenal food wine. The Mosel region, known for its slate soils, gives way to shining acidity that plays so well with the aromatic nose. The touch of sweetness, touch of spice, and floral characteristics accompany savory casseroles and souffl̩s with perfection. Plus, Riesling as a grape varietal is lighter in alcohol exactly what we need with heavy meals and extended hours of enjoyment.

__Educated Guess Pinot Noir __

''Average retail price: $19-$22''

This is precisely what you expect and want from California pinot noirs, gorgeous and balanced. The nose has the usual suspects fruit notes of cranberry, raspberry, and cherry with vanilla and leather essence while the palate is luscious and almost creamy with medium tannins and acidity to accompany the meal without overpowering it. California is a bit warmer than Oregon and France, so this pinot noir is bit "bigger" and great for spanning the gap between light and heavier wine preferences."
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  string(3165) " ThinkstockPhotos 612417614.5a13190b6371f  2018-03-19T21:33:14+00:00 ThinkstockPhotos_612417614.5a13190b6371f.jpg      3742  2017-11-20T22:52:00+00:00 Best Bets: Thanksgiving wine pairings clint@thenetworkedplanet.com Clint Bergst Angela Hansberger  2017-11-20T22:52:00+00:00  Headed to Thanksgiving dinner and no time to cook? No problem. Every potluck needs that lazy friend who just brings wine. And we've called upon two local vino experts to help us be that friend, without shame.

Advance sommelier Eric Crane is director of training at Empire Distributors, a wholesale beverage distributor home covering three states across the Southeast. Certified sommelier Kacey Jane Ivey works with Atlanta-based Quality Wine and Spirits. Here, they share their top T-giving picks: a couple of readily available, reasonably priced bottles to pair with this year's cornucopia.

Elk Cove Pinot Gris 

Average retail price: $19-$21

This is a user-friendly wine from Willamette Valley, Oregon with subdued flavors of tart apple and pear and a really clean acidity to work through most dishes. While this is great with fried, smoked, or roasted turkey, it will also slide right through mashed potatoes or cornbread stuffing. And it won't clash with most vegetables or gravies, either.

Banfi Chianti Classico 

Average retail price: $13-$16

Don't let a well-known name scare you! Few countries take food and wine pairing as seriously as the Italians do. If you're looking for something to serve next to your heartier dishes without overpowering them, this Chianti Classico from Tuscany is a total go-to. With flavors of ripe cherry and sour plums, this wine can pair with game and hams as well as sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. This Sangiovese is just tannic enough for those in the mood for a powerful dry wine and has killer acidity to take the edge off all of that wonderful cream and butter.

Dr. Loosen "Dr. L" Dry Riesling 

Average retail price: $12-$15

Riesling is a crowd pleaser and such a phenomenal food wine. The Mosel region, known for its slate soils, gives way to shining acidity that plays so well with the aromatic nose. The touch of sweetness, touch of spice, and floral characteristics accompany savory casseroles and souffl̩s with perfection. Plus, Riesling as a grape varietal is lighter in alcohol exactly what we need with heavy meals and extended hours of enjoyment.

Educated Guess Pinot Noir 

Average retail price: $19-$22

This is precisely what you expect and want from California pinot noirs, gorgeous and balanced. The nose has the usual suspects fruit notes of cranberry, raspberry, and cherry with vanilla and leather essence while the palate is luscious and almost creamy with medium tannins and acidity to accompany the meal without overpowering it. California is a bit warmer than Oregon and France, so this pinot noir is bit "bigger" and great for spanning the gap between light and heavier wine preferences.    shironosov / Thinkstock CHEERS: Get your wine on this Thanksgiving with these top picks from local sommeliers.        20983472                           Best Bets: Thanksgiving wine pairings "
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Article

Monday November 20, 2017 05:52 pm EST

Headed to Thanksgiving dinner and no time to cook? No problem. Every potluck needs that lazy friend who just brings wine. And we've called upon two local vino experts to help us be that friend, without shame.

Advance sommelier Eric Crane is director of training at Empire Distributors, a wholesale beverage distributor home covering three states across the Southeast. Certified sommelier Kacey...

| more...
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  string(4922) "The invitation hits your inbox: colorful leaves in shades gold, crimson, umber swirl around a cornucopia spilling with root vegetables. Yay, Friendsgiving! But wait, it says "potluck." The host is cooking the bird, but you need to bring a side. For the host, this means a lot less pressure than a typical dinner party. For you, it means the pressure's on.

No sweet potato marshmallow casserole here, folks. We asked a few of Atlanta's best chefs for their yummiest holiday recipes that will leave everyone thankful.

Roasted butternut squash with prosciutto and Parmesan

"I like to keep Thanksgiving simple but still delicious and iconic. My favorite dish to make is roasted butternut squash with prosciutto and Parmesan it's so easy to prepare, serves many, and incorporates local, fresh produce with the seasonal flavors." - Ryan Burke, executive chef at Twain's Brewpub

Ingredients:

2 pounds butternut squash

6 tablespoon butter

1 pinch ground nutmeg

1 pinch ground allspice

2 sage leaves

1 pinch of red pepper flake

2 tsp fresh minced thyme

1/4 pound prosciutto, torn into strips

1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

Salt and white pepper to taste

Instructions:

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

- Peel, seed, and slice squash.

- Butter a casserole dish and arrange the butternut squash in the dish no more than two layers deep. Sprinkle salt and pepper on squash.

-Melt butter along with nutmeg, allspice, sage leaves, thyme, and red pepper flakes and pour over squash.

-Cover dish with foil and roast for 35 minutes or until squash is tender.

-Remove from oven and remove foil. Remove sage leaves.

-Place prosciutto on top of the squash then sprinkle Parmesan over the top. Place uncovered pan back in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

---
Grandma Lue's spinach rice

"Thanksgiving was the big holiday in my family, and we have a menu built on transitions that don't necessarily align with those you normally see. We do the turkey, but we always have to have my grandfather's gumbo and my grandmother's spinach rice. The spinach rice was a little fancier than the rice we had from day-to-day, and it's a lighter alternative for people who like the flavor of mac and cheese but don't want to be weighted down." - Deborah VanTrece, chef/owner at Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours

Ingredients:

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup red pepper, diced

1 cup red onion, diced

4 ounces unsalted butter

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

1 cup marinated artichokes, chopped

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

2 minced garlic cloves

3 cups cooked white rice, cold

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 13x9 casserole or baking pan.

- In a saute pan, melt butter. Add celery, peppers, onions, and spinach. Saut̩, stirring occasionally until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and place cooked vegetables in a large bowl. Combine all remaining ingredients and mix well.

- Pour combined ingredients in greased pan and bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Goes well with everything or just alone.

---
Acorn squash dessert casserole 

"I love preparing this dish to exploit the versatility of squash. People are always stunned by the velvety texture of acorn squash. Omit the streusel for a gluten-free version." - Daniel Chance, executive chef at W.H. Stiles Fish Camp

Ingredients:

4-5 acorn squash

1 pound butter, softened

2 cups brown sugar

2 teaspoon cinnamon

2-3 tablespoon flour

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 gallon cool whip or vanilla ice cream

1 cup candied nuts (pecan, almonds, peanuts)

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

- Cut squash in half and scoop seeds out. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes.

- Place soft butter into stand mixer or in bowl with hand mixer and add brown sugar, cinnamon and mix until smooth. Reserve 1 stick and place in separate bowl. Add flour for "streusel." Mix with hands just until it comes together. (Add more flour if needed.) Remove squash from oven and fill squash cups with remaining butter mix and continue baking until flesh is very tender and has absorbed most of the butter and sugar.

- Bake the streusel on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes. When squash is done, remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Cut lengthwise into wedges and transfer to serving dish of medium casserole pan (8-10 slices). Be sure to top squash with all remaining roasting juices and butter. Last, top with Cool Whip or ice cream, candied nuts, brown sugar streusel and serve!"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(4998) "The invitation hits your inbox: colorful leaves in shades gold, crimson, umber swirl around a cornucopia spilling with root vegetables. Yay, Friendsgiving! But wait, it says "potluck." The host is cooking the bird, but you need to bring a side. For the host, this means a lot less pressure than a typical dinner party. For you, it means the pressure's on.

No sweet potato marshmallow casserole here, folks. We asked a few of Atlanta's best chefs for their yummiest holiday recipes that will leave everyone thankful.

__Roasted butternut squash with prosciutto and Parmesan__

''"I like to keep Thanksgiving simple but still delicious and iconic. My favorite dish to make is roasted butternut squash with prosciutto and Parmesan it's so easy to prepare, serves many, and incorporates local, fresh produce with the seasonal flavors." - __Ryan Burke, executive chef at Twain's Brewpub__''

===Ingredients:===

2 pounds butternut squash

6 tablespoon butter

1 pinch ground nutmeg

1 pinch ground allspice

2 sage leaves

1 pinch of red pepper flake

2 tsp fresh minced thyme

1/4 pound prosciutto, torn into strips

1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

Salt and white pepper to taste

===Instructions:===

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

- Peel, seed, and slice squash.

- Butter a casserole dish and arrange the butternut squash in the dish no more than two layers deep. Sprinkle salt and pepper on squash.

-Melt butter along with nutmeg, allspice, sage leaves, thyme, and red pepper flakes and pour over squash.

-Cover dish with foil and roast for 35 minutes or until squash is tender.

-Remove from oven and remove foil. Remove sage leaves.

-Place prosciutto on top of the squash then sprinkle Parmesan over the top. Place uncovered pan back in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

---
__Grandma Lue's spinach rice__

''"Thanksgiving was the big holiday in my family, and we have a menu built on transitions that don't necessarily align with those you normally see. We do the turkey, but we always have to have my grandfather's gumbo and my grandmother's spinach rice. The spinach rice was a little fancier than the rice we had from day-to-day, and it's a lighter alternative for people who like the flavor of mac and cheese but don't want to be weighted down." - __Deborah VanTrece, chef/owner at Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours__''

===Ingredients:===

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup red pepper, diced

1 cup red onion, diced

4 ounces unsalted butter

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

1 cup marinated artichokes, chopped

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

2 minced garlic cloves

3 cups cooked white rice, cold

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

===Instructions:===

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 13x9 casserole or baking pan.

- In a saute pan, melt butter. Add celery, peppers, onions, and spinach. Saut̩, stirring occasionally until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and place cooked vegetables in a large bowl. Combine all remaining ingredients and mix well.

- Pour combined ingredients in greased pan and bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Goes well with everything or just alone.

---
__Acorn squash dessert casserole____ __

''"I love preparing this dish to exploit the versatility of squash. People are always stunned by the velvety texture of acorn squash. Omit the streusel for a gluten-free version." - __Daniel Chance, executive chef at W.H. Stiles Fish Camp__''

===Ingredients:===

4-5 acorn squash

1 pound butter, softened

2 cups brown sugar

2 teaspoon cinnamon

2-3 tablespoon flour

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 gallon cool whip or vanilla ice cream

1 cup candied nuts (pecan, almonds, peanuts)

Salt and pepper to taste

===Instructions:===

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

- Cut squash in half and scoop seeds out. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes.

- Place soft butter into stand mixer or in bowl with hand mixer and add brown sugar, cinnamon and mix until smooth. Reserve 1 stick and place in separate bowl. Add flour for "streusel." Mix with hands just until it comes together. (Add more flour if needed.) Remove squash from oven and fill squash cups with remaining butter mix and continue baking until flesh is very tender and has absorbed most of the butter and sugar.

- Bake the streusel on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes. When squash is done, remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Cut lengthwise into wedges and transfer to serving dish of medium casserole pan (8-10 slices). Be sure to top squash with all remaining roasting juices and butter. Last, top with Cool Whip or ice cream, candied nuts, brown sugar streusel and serve!"
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  string(5610) " Twain S Brewpub Billiards Thanksgiving Photo By Tori Allen PR.5a1314cf53bf1  2018-03-19T00:18:15+00:00 Twain_s_Brewpub___Billiards___Thanksgi...oto_by_Tori_Allen_PR.5a1314cf53bf1.jpg      3714  2017-11-20T22:38:00+00:00 Tried and true Thanksgiving recipes clint@thenetworkedplanet.com Clint Bergst Angela Hansberger  2017-11-20T22:38:00+00:00  The invitation hits your inbox: colorful leaves in shades gold, crimson, umber swirl around a cornucopia spilling with root vegetables. Yay, Friendsgiving! But wait, it says "potluck." The host is cooking the bird, but you need to bring a side. For the host, this means a lot less pressure than a typical dinner party. For you, it means the pressure's on.

No sweet potato marshmallow casserole here, folks. We asked a few of Atlanta's best chefs for their yummiest holiday recipes that will leave everyone thankful.

Roasted butternut squash with prosciutto and Parmesan

"I like to keep Thanksgiving simple but still delicious and iconic. My favorite dish to make is roasted butternut squash with prosciutto and Parmesan it's so easy to prepare, serves many, and incorporates local, fresh produce with the seasonal flavors." - Ryan Burke, executive chef at Twain's Brewpub

Ingredients:

2 pounds butternut squash

6 tablespoon butter

1 pinch ground nutmeg

1 pinch ground allspice

2 sage leaves

1 pinch of red pepper flake

2 tsp fresh minced thyme

1/4 pound prosciutto, torn into strips

1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

Salt and white pepper to taste

Instructions:

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

- Peel, seed, and slice squash.

- Butter a casserole dish and arrange the butternut squash in the dish no more than two layers deep. Sprinkle salt and pepper on squash.

-Melt butter along with nutmeg, allspice, sage leaves, thyme, and red pepper flakes and pour over squash.

-Cover dish with foil and roast for 35 minutes or until squash is tender.

-Remove from oven and remove foil. Remove sage leaves.

-Place prosciutto on top of the squash then sprinkle Parmesan over the top. Place uncovered pan back in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

---
Grandma Lue's spinach rice

"Thanksgiving was the big holiday in my family, and we have a menu built on transitions that don't necessarily align with those you normally see. We do the turkey, but we always have to have my grandfather's gumbo and my grandmother's spinach rice. The spinach rice was a little fancier than the rice we had from day-to-day, and it's a lighter alternative for people who like the flavor of mac and cheese but don't want to be weighted down." - Deborah VanTrece, chef/owner at Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours

Ingredients:

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup red pepper, diced

1 cup red onion, diced

4 ounces unsalted butter

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

1 cup marinated artichokes, chopped

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

2 minced garlic cloves

3 cups cooked white rice, cold

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 13x9 casserole or baking pan.

- In a saute pan, melt butter. Add celery, peppers, onions, and spinach. Saut̩, stirring occasionally until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and place cooked vegetables in a large bowl. Combine all remaining ingredients and mix well.

- Pour combined ingredients in greased pan and bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Goes well with everything or just alone.

---
Acorn squash dessert casserole 

"I love preparing this dish to exploit the versatility of squash. People are always stunned by the velvety texture of acorn squash. Omit the streusel for a gluten-free version." - Daniel Chance, executive chef at W.H. Stiles Fish Camp

Ingredients:

4-5 acorn squash

1 pound butter, softened

2 cups brown sugar

2 teaspoon cinnamon

2-3 tablespoon flour

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 gallon cool whip or vanilla ice cream

1 cup candied nuts (pecan, almonds, peanuts)

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

- Cut squash in half and scoop seeds out. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes.

- Place soft butter into stand mixer or in bowl with hand mixer and add brown sugar, cinnamon and mix until smooth. Reserve 1 stick and place in separate bowl. Add flour for "streusel." Mix with hands just until it comes together. (Add more flour if needed.) Remove squash from oven and fill squash cups with remaining butter mix and continue baking until flesh is very tender and has absorbed most of the butter and sugar.

- Bake the streusel on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes. When squash is done, remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Cut lengthwise into wedges and transfer to serving dish of medium casserole pan (8-10 slices). Be sure to top squash with all remaining roasting juices and butter. Last, top with Cool Whip or ice cream, candied nuts, brown sugar streusel and serve!    Tori Allen PR SEASON'S EATINGS: Chef Ryan Burke's roasted butternut squash with prosciutto and parmesan is a simple crowd pleaser.        20983466         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/11/Twain_s_Brewpub___Billiards___Thanksgiving___Photo_by_Tori_Allen_PR.5a1314cf53bf1.png                  Tried and true Thanksgiving recipes "
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Article

Monday November 20, 2017 05:38 pm EST

The invitation hits your inbox: colorful leaves in shades gold, crimson, umber swirl around a cornucopia spilling with root vegetables. Yay, Friendsgiving! But wait, it says "potluck." The host is cooking the bird, but you need to bring a side. For the host, this means a lot less pressure than a typical dinner party. For you, it means the pressure's on.

No sweet potato marshmallow casserole...

| more...
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One day, a regular at Ébrik Coffee Room walked in and slapped a magnet onto the pastry case. It read, “Syrians Welcome Here.”

“What do you think?” he asked co-owner Abbas Arman. “Sorry, am I putting you in hot water?” At the time, the Syrian refugee crisis was making headlines domestically and internationally. Abbas hesitated for only a moment. Two years later, the magnet remains.

Ébrik (or ibrik, pronounced ay-BREEK) is the Arabic word for a traditional Turkish coffee pot — small with a long handle, often made of copper. Since Abbas and his two business partners opened on Park Place in February 2014, their Downtown coffee shop has become known for its social consciousness, sense of community, and all-around comfortable vibes. I fell in love with Ébrik during my first semester as a Georgia State grad student and instantly felt welcomed. Later, as an editor at Creative Loafing, I was grateful it remained just a short walk away. 

The shop is one of the few places that illustrates how closely connected GSU and Downtown are. At Ébrik, students stand in line with university staff, police officers, construction crews, local office workers, and people who just need a place to hang out for a bit. “We didn't understand that we would become part of a community,” Abbas says, “and even create our own kind of community.”

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A SCAD graduate designed the original Ébrik’s cozy interior. Deep navy coated the walls. Reclaimed wood from West End’s LifeCycle covered the bar. Abbas says a Yelp reviewer described the space as “like your cousin’s loft.” He thinks the description is accurate. “It's trendy and industrial and whatnot,” he says, “but it's your cousin's. Like, you're home.”

Abbas and his brother, Ibrahim, also a member of the Ébrik team, grew up in Chicago with Palestinian parents. Abbas studied biology at Northeastern University but says he never did anything with his degree; instead, an entrepreneurial spirit led him to gigs like refurbishing electronics. After his family relocated to Atlanta, he moved here to be closer to them. The idea for Ébrik came when his sister, a student at GSU, mentioned that Downtown lacked independent coffee shops. Abbas asked around but says investors told him no one in the neighborhood would be interested in $4.50 cups of coffee or healthy food options. “They would try to patch it up with nice words: ‘Oh, the demographics are kind of different,’” Abbas says. “You know exactly what they're talking about.” In this way, Ébrik’s very existence is an act of defiance.

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The shop’s signature chalkboard changes regularly and has featured the words of artists and activists like Linda Sarsour, Rumi, Robin Williams, and Dick Gregory. An adjacent bulletin board holds signs that read, “Stop profiling Muslims” and “Palestinian Human Rights” alongside thank you cards from loyal customers and flyers for local social movements. Over the past year, Ébrik has become a safe haven for those on the fringes of Trump’s America. Everyone is welcome join in on the fellowship, sipping craft brews, traditional Turkish coffee, Cuban espresso, and Persian tea. Air-roasted beans come from Land of A Thousand Hills and sandwiches and hummus are boxed in-house. Decatur’s Ratio Bakeshop provides cinnamon rolls, croissants, and other baked goods. 

Many Ébrik employees began as customers. When hiring, Abbas looks for people who will maintain the shop’s warm and welcoming atmosphere. A second language is a plus; employees speak Arabic, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Somali, respectively. “I think we've all kind of lived in different spaces,” says Abbas. “When you speak another language, you have an another culture in your life … and that's what helps us connect with each other and with others.”

Manager Julie Tran, a third-year journalism student at Georgia State, joined the Ébrik family the summer after she graduated from high school. It was her first real job, and she didn’t know anything about coffee. During the interview, Abbas asked her about a negative experience that she turned into a positive. Tran told him about evacuating New Orleans at 8 years old because of Hurricane Katrina, and how writing about it inspired her to pursue journalism. 

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The value of that experience came back in an unexpected way one night in September, when a woman fleeing Hurricane Irma made her way into Ébrik. She stayed for hours until closing. “You could tell in her eyes that she was scared,” Tran recalls. “She didn't know what to do.” So Tran and another employee lent the woman a charger for her dying phone, gave her their remaining pastries for free, and helped her look for an Airbnb. 

That human connection, and her ability pay it forward in someone's time of need, touched Tran. When she told friends about the experience, one suggested she create a storytelling platform on social media, similar to Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York. So Tran began posting portraits of Ébrik's baristas and customers on the new @peopleofebrik Instagram account, sharing bits of info about who they are in the captions, from favorite beverages to personal mottos. “The photos are great, but it's more [about] knowing people on a personal level,” she says. 

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The team’s passion for human connection is paying off. This past spring, Ébrik opened a second location on East College Avenue in Decatur, beside Agnes Scott’s campus. Next, they’ll debut a third in Sandy Springs. Abbas is mum on a potential opening date, but he's confident that he and his team can continue to replicate the vibe that sets them apart.

In October, the original Ébrik moved two doors down into a spacious corner spot that once housed a beauty school. The new Downtown space, at 22 Park Place S.E., adds a serious amount of square footage — and even a second story — but it’s still the same old Ébrik.

“Hello! How you doin'?” Ibrahim calls from behind the wood-paneled bar as I walk in for the first time. The magnet is still there. So is the chalkboard; it simply reads, “grateful.” Hip-hop tunes mingle with the whir of the espresso machine. I make my way past chattering students to a seat upstairs. It feels like home.

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Article

Friday November 17, 2017 11:00 pm EST
Downtown's Ébrik Coffee Room started as a business but became a community | more...
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Article

Friday November 17, 2017 06:57 pm EST

Our favorite hometown honky bitch, author Hollis Gillespie, came up with "The 5 Absolute Worst Thanksgiving Day Dishes" for her Shocking Real Life Writing Academy newsletter. Now we all have our own weird little food quirks, but very few sound as unappetizing as Thanksgiving sushi. Thanksgiving sushi? Really? That's just gross.

1. Bacon Mug: This is a giant mug made of fried bacon and filled...

| more...
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Well, there are two reasons gravy is not particularly healthy, and it is rather time consuming to make. That's a combination that can banish any recipe to the "don't bother" list, at least any recipe that does not include chocolate. Or caramel. Or large amounts of bacon. But, really, homemade gravy is not that bad for you - a bit of butter, yes, a bit more poultry fat, sure. But a lot of that fat gets skimmed away, leaving just a wee bit of fatty deliciousness. At least that's what I like to think.

As for the time consuming part, it's true. To make a good gravy, there are several steps that, while fairly easy, take time and patience. There are variations on a good gravy recipe, of course, but the tack I took this year (and last) had three major stages first, heavily browning some turkey wings and legs in butter along with some mirepoix (that's French for carrots, celery and onion); second, deglazing with a bunch of stock (I admit to taking a shortcut here and using store-bought); and third, combining the rich stock and drippings from the cooked turkey with some fresh herbs and a quick roux (that's French for butter and flour whisked together I just realized there's a third possible reason not to make gravy it may involve usage of French words that end in X like roux and mirepoix!). The result though is well worth the time just thick enough to have body, rich and deep from the marriage of butter and turkey and high heat, packed with flavor thanks to the herbs. You could do it just as easy with chicken, and the time it takes to roast a chicken at home is perfect to accommodate the gravy making.

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P.S. If ever there was a worthy name for a vessel, it is that of the "gravy boat." A boat of gravy. Fit for the high seas. I'd like to see a regatta of gravy boats and sushi boats racing towards victory. Oh buoy."
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Well, there are two reasons gravy is not particularly healthy, and it is rather time consuming to make. That's a combination that can banish any recipe to the "don't bother" list, at least any recipe that does not include chocolate. Or caramel. Or large amounts of bacon. But, really, homemade gravy is not that bad for you - a bit of butter, yes, a bit more poultry fat, sure. But a lot of that fat gets skimmed away, leaving just a wee bit of fatty deliciousness. At least that's what I like to think.

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P.S. If ever there was a worthy name for a vessel, it is that of the "gravy boat." A boat of gravy. Fit for the high seas. I'd like to see a regatta of gravy boats and sushi boats racing towards victory. Oh buoy."
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As for the time consuming part, it's true. To make a good gravy, there are several steps that, while fairly easy, take time and patience. There are variations on a good gravy recipe, of course, but the tack I took this year (and last) had three major stages first, heavily browning some turkey wings and legs in butter along with some mirepoix (that's French for carrots, celery and onion); second, deglazing with a bunch of stock (I admit to taking a shortcut here and using store-bought); and third, combining the rich stock and drippings from the cooked turkey with some fresh herbs and a quick roux (that's French for butter and flour whisked together I just realized there's a third possible reason not to make gravy it may involve usage of French words that end in X like roux and mirepoix!). The result though is well worth the time just thick enough to have body, rich and deep from the marriage of butter and turkey and high heat, packed with flavor thanks to the herbs. You could do it just as easy with chicken, and the time it takes to roast a chicken at home is perfect to accommodate the gravy making.

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P.S. If ever there was a worthy name for a vessel, it is that of the "gravy boat." A boat of gravy. Fit for the high seas. I'd like to see a regatta of gravy boats and sushi boats racing towards victory. Oh buoy.    Brad Kaplan         20983285                           ENCORE: Good gravy "
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Article

Friday November 17, 2017 06:49 pm EST
Our family Thanksgiving meal was fabulous, but it wasn't the turkey or the cranberries or the dressing that really distinguished it from other meals it was the gravy. Gravy is the glue (forgive the unappetizing term) that brings the Thanksgiving meal together. It bridges the turkey to the dressing to the cranberries to the rolls. It magically works with just about everything. I could (almost)... | more...
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  string(5398) "Thanksgiving champions a lot of great ideas, namely stretchy pants and testing said stretchy pants' stretching abilities. (Let's focus less on the holiday's troubling origin.) It's a whole lot of nutmeg, socially acceptable day-drinking with family members, going to bed at 8 p.m., etc. I don't even hate the influx of decorative gourds. It's a secular holiday so wonderful it might as well be holy. And as a secular holiday favoring food above all else, Thanksgiving proves one of the easiest to inspire an off-shoot, related celebration.

Enter Friendsgiving. For the uninitiated, Friendsgiving is a friends-only, potluck-style treatment of the original holiday. Typically, it's celebrated just before or just after actual Thanksgiving. In the flurry of social media-spurred pseudo-holidays like friendaversaries and International Mens Day, it seems easy to scoff something as ridiculous-sounding as Friendsgiving right out of its very real existence; a desperate hunt for elusive, validating "likes." But there may be some meat at Friendsgiving's root.

Chris Brotzman mused in the McSweeney's essay "The First Friendsgiving" that Friendsgiving first became A Thing in 2008, born out of necessity from underpaid L.A. transplants unable to afford traveling home for normal Thanksgiving. That theory likely isn't far from the truth. Many large cities attracting non-locals have a rich history of celebrating traditionally family-centered holidays with just friends and other folks stranded thanks to the wrath of surge-priced airfare. That's one practical theory, but I'd argue its application to Atlanta.

Part of the popularity of Friendsgivings in Atlanta stems from our city's adoration of community. Atlanta is a place filled with many semi-locals (and some faraway transplants) who seem to love nothing more than to gather and eat food in each other's presence. A weekend sans festival beer-, zine-, cycling-, tattoo-, lit-, golden retriever owner-based are among a few that have happened in real life, at least once is a laughable idea. The strong sense of community and frequent impulse to gather lay at the city's very core, so it's no surprise such a number of Friendsgiving event pages surface each November.

In another, more grim vein, Friendsgiving presents the only realistic alternative to the original for some. Thanksgiving falls with a heavy family-centric focus that equates to that of Mother's and Father's Day combined, but on steroids. A quick Instagram scroll reveals scores of selfies with grandparents. Twitter gets stuffed harder than the turkey with authentic dad joke retweets. It's enough to make someone with a remotely shaky family life feel dizzy. Friendsgiving may offer a tryptophan I.V. drip without the painful family element.

However, Friendsgiving reigns most popular among the mid-20s to early-30s crowd. It's the cusp of when many people embark on creating their own nuclear family traditions (perhaps polishing a menagerie of their own dad jokes); a last gasp of extended adolescence in which it's common to favor friendships over family. More than anything, though, it feels like a dress rehearsal for this adulthood thing we're taught to fear early on. Despite the fact by this age many of us grasp 401Ks, "cohabitate" with a romantic partner, and have been doing a lot of responsible heavy lifting for a while, we forget to turn if a stranger addresses us by "ma'am" or "sir." That's our parents not us. Not yet.

So we practice. We gather in hoards along a Pinterest-perfect table, carefully but casually placing a glass dish on an unsuspecting corner of woodgrain real estate. All food items contain more than three ingredients even the cranberry sauce (somehow, presumably). The cocktail cart carries nary a bottle of Three Buck Chuck or tallboys. The host may or may not be ladling out a special, complex cocktail brewed up specifically for the occasion. Conversation balances a careful line between cultured and earnest. No one breaks out a bong or invites contestants to a bonus round of keg stands. Usually. You know, we do as adults do civilized and shit.

The parameters alone for adult consideration keep pushing up as we, ourselves, age. At 11, 30 sounded like a faraway concept synonymous with adulthood a starched figure with perfect posture, an understanding of foreign affairs, and a pristine pecan pie prowess. At 27, 30 sounds a lot more realistic: hard to define in blanket terms, ranging wildly from slouching, blas̩ bartender subsisting on oatmeal to the CEO with high blood pressure and Julia Child memorized. The real "adult" definition is more likely a muddled mixture of the two with one unifying quality: the hunch that we're all pretending that 30 or any other age doesn't grant us sagacious clarity or precision.

Because more often than not, the cranberry sauce originated in cylindrical form. Sometimes, that sauce is owning itself in presentation; sliced in thick, rounded hunks, crimped ridges glinting in IKEA candles' glow.

At 58, at least when I asked my dad, 30 is nothing. Adulthood, too, is a nebulous, unspoken guise we all slip into. "When do you finally feel adult?" I asked my grandmother last Thanksgiving. "When do you get it?" She laughed, scooping a forkful of buttery mashed potatoes. "When you figure that out," she said, "you let me know."

Maybe we'll all have to keep practicing."
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Enter Friendsgiving. For the uninitiated, Friendsgiving is a friends-only, potluck-style treatment of the original holiday. Typically, it's celebrated just before or just after actual Thanksgiving. In the flurry of social media-spurred pseudo-holidays like friendaversaries and International Mens Day, it seems easy to scoff something as ridiculous-sounding as Friendsgiving right out of its very real existence; a desperate hunt for elusive, validating "likes." But there may be some meat at Friendsgiving's root.

Chris Brotzman mused in the McSweeney's essay "The First Friendsgiving" that Friendsgiving first became A Thing in 2008, born out of necessity from underpaid L.A. transplants unable to afford traveling home for normal Thanksgiving. That theory likely isn't far from the truth. Many large cities attracting non-locals have a rich history of celebrating traditionally family-centered holidays with just friends and other folks stranded thanks to the wrath of surge-priced airfare. That's one practical theory, but I'd argue its application to Atlanta.

Part of the popularity of Friendsgivings in Atlanta stems from our city's adoration of community. Atlanta is a place filled with many semi-locals (and some faraway transplants) who seem to love nothing more than to gather and eat food in each other's presence. A weekend sans festival beer-, zine-, cycling-, tattoo-, lit-, golden retriever owner-based are among a few that have happened in real life, at least once is a laughable idea. The strong sense of community and frequent impulse to gather lay at the city's very core, so it's no surprise such a number of Friendsgiving event pages surface each November.

In another, more grim vein, Friendsgiving presents the only realistic alternative to the original for some. Thanksgiving falls with a heavy family-centric focus that equates to that of Mother's and Father's Day combined, but on steroids. A quick Instagram scroll reveals scores of selfies with grandparents. Twitter gets stuffed harder than the turkey with authentic dad joke retweets. It's enough to make someone with a remotely shaky family life feel dizzy. Friendsgiving may offer a tryptophan I.V. drip without the painful family element.

However, Friendsgiving reigns most popular among the mid-20s to early-30s crowd. It's the cusp of when many people embark on creating their own nuclear family traditions (perhaps polishing a menagerie of their own dad jokes); a last gasp of extended adolescence in which it's common to favor friendships over family. More than anything, though, it feels like a dress rehearsal for this adulthood thing we're taught to fear early on. Despite the fact by this age many of us grasp 401Ks, "cohabitate" with a romantic partner, and have been doing a lot of responsible heavy lifting for a while, we forget to turn if a stranger addresses us by "ma'am" or "sir." That's our parents not us. Not yet.

So we practice. We gather in hoards along a Pinterest-perfect table, carefully but casually placing a glass dish on an unsuspecting corner of woodgrain real estate. All food items contain more than three ingredients even the cranberry sauce (somehow, presumably). The cocktail cart carries nary a bottle of Three Buck Chuck or tallboys. The host may or may not be ladling out a special, complex cocktail brewed up specifically for the occasion. Conversation balances a careful line between cultured and earnest. No one breaks out a bong or invites contestants to a bonus round of keg stands. Usually. You know, we do as adults do civilized and shit.

The parameters alone for adult consideration keep pushing up as we, ourselves, age. At 11, 30 sounded like a faraway concept synonymous with adulthood a starched figure with perfect posture, an understanding of foreign affairs, and a pristine pecan pie prowess. At 27, 30 sounds a lot more realistic: hard to define in blanket terms, ranging wildly from slouching, blas̩ bartender subsisting on oatmeal to the CEO with high blood pressure and Julia Child memorized. The real "adult" definition is more likely a muddled mixture of the two with one unifying quality: the hunch that we're all pretending that 30 or any other age doesn't grant us sagacious clarity or precision.

Because more often than not, the cranberry sauce originated in cylindrical form. Sometimes, that sauce is owning itself in presentation; sliced in thick, rounded hunks, crimped ridges glinting in IKEA candles' glow.

At 58, at least when I asked my dad, 30 is nothing. Adulthood, too, is a nebulous, unspoken guise we all slip into. "When do you finally feel adult?" I asked my grandmother last Thanksgiving. "When do you get it?" She laughed, scooping a forkful of buttery mashed potatoes. "When you figure that out," she said, "you let me know."

Maybe we'll all have to keep practicing."
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  string(5858) " 83987 News Opinion1 1 31 Horz.5a0f2eabf00b7  2018-03-18T22:59:01+00:00 83987_news_opinion1_1_31_horz.5a0f2eabf00b7.jpg      3702  2017-11-17T23:45:00+00:00 ENCORE: Friendsgiving is more than hashtags clint@thenetworkedplanet.com Clint Bergst Beca Grimm  2017-11-17T23:45:00+00:00  Thanksgiving champions a lot of great ideas, namely stretchy pants and testing said stretchy pants' stretching abilities. (Let's focus less on the holiday's troubling origin.) It's a whole lot of nutmeg, socially acceptable day-drinking with family members, going to bed at 8 p.m., etc. I don't even hate the influx of decorative gourds. It's a secular holiday so wonderful it might as well be holy. And as a secular holiday favoring food above all else, Thanksgiving proves one of the easiest to inspire an off-shoot, related celebration.

Enter Friendsgiving. For the uninitiated, Friendsgiving is a friends-only, potluck-style treatment of the original holiday. Typically, it's celebrated just before or just after actual Thanksgiving. In the flurry of social media-spurred pseudo-holidays like friendaversaries and International Mens Day, it seems easy to scoff something as ridiculous-sounding as Friendsgiving right out of its very real existence; a desperate hunt for elusive, validating "likes." But there may be some meat at Friendsgiving's root.

Chris Brotzman mused in the McSweeney's essay "The First Friendsgiving" that Friendsgiving first became A Thing in 2008, born out of necessity from underpaid L.A. transplants unable to afford traveling home for normal Thanksgiving. That theory likely isn't far from the truth. Many large cities attracting non-locals have a rich history of celebrating traditionally family-centered holidays with just friends and other folks stranded thanks to the wrath of surge-priced airfare. That's one practical theory, but I'd argue its application to Atlanta.

Part of the popularity of Friendsgivings in Atlanta stems from our city's adoration of community. Atlanta is a place filled with many semi-locals (and some faraway transplants) who seem to love nothing more than to gather and eat food in each other's presence. A weekend sans festival beer-, zine-, cycling-, tattoo-, lit-, golden retriever owner-based are among a few that have happened in real life, at least once is a laughable idea. The strong sense of community and frequent impulse to gather lay at the city's very core, so it's no surprise such a number of Friendsgiving event pages surface each November.

In another, more grim vein, Friendsgiving presents the only realistic alternative to the original for some. Thanksgiving falls with a heavy family-centric focus that equates to that of Mother's and Father's Day combined, but on steroids. A quick Instagram scroll reveals scores of selfies with grandparents. Twitter gets stuffed harder than the turkey with authentic dad joke retweets. It's enough to make someone with a remotely shaky family life feel dizzy. Friendsgiving may offer a tryptophan I.V. drip without the painful family element.

However, Friendsgiving reigns most popular among the mid-20s to early-30s crowd. It's the cusp of when many people embark on creating their own nuclear family traditions (perhaps polishing a menagerie of their own dad jokes); a last gasp of extended adolescence in which it's common to favor friendships over family. More than anything, though, it feels like a dress rehearsal for this adulthood thing we're taught to fear early on. Despite the fact by this age many of us grasp 401Ks, "cohabitate" with a romantic partner, and have been doing a lot of responsible heavy lifting for a while, we forget to turn if a stranger addresses us by "ma'am" or "sir." That's our parents not us. Not yet.

So we practice. We gather in hoards along a Pinterest-perfect table, carefully but casually placing a glass dish on an unsuspecting corner of woodgrain real estate. All food items contain more than three ingredients even the cranberry sauce (somehow, presumably). The cocktail cart carries nary a bottle of Three Buck Chuck or tallboys. The host may or may not be ladling out a special, complex cocktail brewed up specifically for the occasion. Conversation balances a careful line between cultured and earnest. No one breaks out a bong or invites contestants to a bonus round of keg stands. Usually. You know, we do as adults do civilized and shit.

The parameters alone for adult consideration keep pushing up as we, ourselves, age. At 11, 30 sounded like a faraway concept synonymous with adulthood a starched figure with perfect posture, an understanding of foreign affairs, and a pristine pecan pie prowess. At 27, 30 sounds a lot more realistic: hard to define in blanket terms, ranging wildly from slouching, blas̩ bartender subsisting on oatmeal to the CEO with high blood pressure and Julia Child memorized. The real "adult" definition is more likely a muddled mixture of the two with one unifying quality: the hunch that we're all pretending that 30 or any other age doesn't grant us sagacious clarity or precision.

Because more often than not, the cranberry sauce originated in cylindrical form. Sometimes, that sauce is owning itself in presentation; sliced in thick, rounded hunks, crimped ridges glinting in IKEA candles' glow.

At 58, at least when I asked my dad, 30 is nothing. Adulthood, too, is a nebulous, unspoken guise we all slip into. "When do you finally feel adult?" I asked my grandmother last Thanksgiving. "When do you get it?" She laughed, scooping a forkful of buttery mashed potatoes. "When you figure that out," she said, "you let me know."

Maybe we'll all have to keep practicing.    Chad Baker/Thinkstock TRYPTOPHANICS: Friendsgiving has value surpassing Instagram cred.        20983282                           ENCORE: Friendsgiving is more than hashtags "
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