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food porn: atlanta food trucks

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Food trucks evoke memories of the state fair for me. Comfortably chilly weather, the loud hum of generator-powered everything, the smell of something savory in the air. On a lovely cool day this past fall, I took leave from my little office and went to sample some Atlanta food truck eats at 12th and Peachtree.

 


wow food truck menu

wow food truck menu

pulled pork arepa - wow food truck

pulled pork arepa - wow food truck

 

WOW food truck atlanta

WOW food truck atlanta

 

wonderlicious on wheels

wonderlicious on wheels

 

tamale queen food truck

tamale queen food truck

 

jus' loaf'n food truck

jus' loaf'n food truck

 

sweet auburn bbq food truck

sweet auburn bbq food truck

 

the mobile marlay

the mobile marlay

 

mobile marlay menu

mobile marlay menu

 

fish and chips from the mobile marlay

fish and chips from the mobile marlay

 

fish and chips - the mobile marlay

fish and chips - the mobile marlay

 

slider u  food truck

slider u food truck

 

buen provecho food truck

buen provecho food truck

 

just good food now

just good food now

 

ibiza bites

ibiza bites

 

Life is Food. Taste Life. Ibiza Bites

Life is Food. Taste Life. Ibiza Bites

 

ibiza bites menu

ibiza bites menu

 

signature bite - ibiza bites

signature bite - ibiza bites

 

cake pops - ibiza bites

cake pops - ibiza bites

 

honeysuckle food truck

honeysuckle food truck

 

yumbii truck

yumbii truck

 

cheers,

k

food porn: buford highway bingefest

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You know, you really have to be careful about the kind of people you hang with. The wrong crowd can get you caught up in all kinds of foolishness, and truly cause you to lose all sense of yourself.

Such was the case this past spring when a food-loving friend invited me to join some other food-loving friends for a little dim sum at Gu’s Bistro. What started as a simple weekend lunch gathering turned into a multi-hour, multi-stop foodie bender along Buford Highway.

The limits of decency (and my waistline) were definitely stretched.


gu's bistro

 

chengdu cold noodles - gu's

chengdu cold noodles @ gu's bistro

zhong dumplings

zhong dumplings @ gu's bistro

sticky rice w/pork filling

glutinous rice and ground peanuts

glutinous rice w/ ground peanuts @ gu's bistro

As we were departing Gu’s, I overhead some talk of going to a nearby ethnic market to check out the food court. I was game. Those with prior engagements and / or a semblance of sanity peeled off from the group. The rest of us pressed on to Assi Plaza, just up the road a piece on Buford Highway.

 

russian easter cake

russian easter cakes - lana's express

russian easter cake @ lana's express

 

Beautiful Russian Easter cakes from Lana’s Express. We placed an order for a smattering of items from the menu, and wandered around the market for a bit while waiting for the food. That’s right. Just before Easter, and instead of fasting, we’re gorging ourselves. Wanton heathens, the lot of us.

mexican desserts - panaderia @ assi plaza

mexican desserts - panaderia @ assi plaza

 

panaderia - assi plaza

 

ron's pair

My friend Ron shows me his bowls. Not sure if he notices that one is bigger than the other. He looks so happy, I can’t bring myself to tell him.

 

russian delights

Tastings from Lana’s Express include: pelmeni (meat-stuffed dumplings), roast chicken with rice and a ketchup-based sauce, and two pickled salads – one with cabbage and carrot, the other with cucumber, tomato, and dill.

 

pickled salads - lana's express

 

 

hot dog toppings

hot dog toppings @ america's top dog

 

Oh, what? You thought it was over? After we finish our second lunch, someone in this group of people I am now beginning to realize is a bunch of crazies, starts talking about a hot dog place nearby that has a ridiculous amount of toppings on tap, and at least 5 different types of hot dogs to choose from. When I hear my own voice answering yes to the question, “Wanna go?” I know I am one of them.

 

hot dog menu - america's top dog

 

Turns out there’s actually 7 different varieties of dog on the menu at America’s Top Dog in Chamblee.

 

ode to the hot dog

 

regional hot dog dress

regional hot dog dress

 

hot dog - naked

hot dog (naked) @ america's top dog

 

hot dog - dressed

hot dog (dressed) @ america's top dog

 

After all of this, we head to a Lebanese bakery in  the same plaza as America’s Top Dog. We don’t eat again, but a few of us take home some Middle Eastern treats for later. Ya know, just in case. No pics of the Lebanese bakery, ’cause I’m too full to lift a camera. All I can do is sit and giggle like a giddy schoolgirl.

 

We finally leave Buford Highway and retire to one of the crazies’ backyard deck, where we lounge about like stuffed ticks and listen to our host read excerpts aloud from his favorite Szechuan cookbook. Later on, he shows us this hilarious video he recently saw on YouTube. A little video about an animal known as… the honey badger.

 

 

After the day’s gluttony, I totally identify with this creature.

cheers,

k

food porn: lunch in atlanta

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I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve been holding out on you. I assure you however, there was no malicious intent. I’m just… lazy. You see, I’ve been having some pretty fabulous (and some just alright) dining experiences around Atlanta lately, and I’ve just been too lazy to write about them.

But the good news is, I haven’t slacked off on taking some pretty fabulous (and some just alright) pictures of these dining experiences. So here’s what I figured. Instead of stockpiling all these tasty little visual tidbits and pretending like I’m actually going to do each one justice with a proper review, I’ll just show you the goods.

Since when has porn been about dialogue, anwyay?

 


This week’s food porn features pics from some of  my favorite atlanta lunch spots.

 

stir fry @ urban pl8

stir fry @ urban pl8

Look at the separation on that brown rice. Yeah, you like that, dontcha?

beet salad @ urban pl8

beet salad @ urban pl8

lunch @ the orginal el taco

red chili steak & fried chicken tacos @ the orginal el taco

el burger @ the orginal el taco

el burger @ the orginal el taco

Only thing sad about this lunch is that El Taco only serves lunch on the weekends. Que lastima.

alligator egg rolls @ 5 seasons brewery, westside

alligator egg rolls @ 5 seasons brewery, westside

salt and pepper fish @ new paradise (buford highway)

salt and pepper fish @ new paradise (buford highway)

garlic green beans @ new paradise (buford highway)

garlic green beans @ new paradise (buford highway)

chicken koobideh wrap and salad @ sufi's

chicken koobideh wrap and salad @ sufi's

sabzi @ sufi's

sabzi @ sufi's

The sabzi is an assortment of greens, herbs, and other accompaniments to be enjoyed with flatbread. Sufi’s sabzi: mint leaves, basil leaves, cucumber slices, butter, feta, olives, and walnuts.

yogurt and beets @ sufi's

yogurt and beets @ sufi's

fried chicken sandwich @ bocado

fried chicken sandwich & fries @ bocado

burger stack @ bocado

burger stack & garlic herbed fries @ bocado

Bocado’s burger stack is what the Big Mac dreams about being when it grows up.

fish tacos & fried okra @ marlow's tavern

fish tacos & fried okra @ marlow's tavern, midtown

Seriously, is there ever a bad time for fried okra? Methinks not.

cheers,

k

Eat St. Filming Atlanta Food Trucks Nov. 11-15

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Hey Atlanta –

Want to come out and sample some of Atlanta’s best food truck fare AND get a chance to be on TV? 

Eat St. – the Food Network Canada show that profiles food trucks in North America – will be filming in Atlanta from Friday, November 11 through Tuesday, November 15. Five of Atlanta’s most loved food trucks will be profiled on the show, with a different food truck being filmed at a different Atlanta location each day.

Here’s the skinny:

 

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11th

Ibiza Bites – @Ibizabites

Where? 733 Lambert Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30324

12pm – 2pm

 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12TH

Tex’s Tacos – @Texstacos

Where? Howell Mill Food Park, 1927 Emery Street, Atlanta, GA 30318

12-2pm

 

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 13TH

Mobile Marlay – @Themobilemarlay

Where? Virginia Highlands

12 – 2pm

 

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14th

Wow! Food Truck – @wowfoodtruck

Where? Tower Place in Buckhead 3365 Piedmont Rd NE Atlanta, GA

12 – 2pm

 

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15th

Buen Provecho – @Buenprovechotrk

Where? King Plow: 887 West Marietta St. Atlanta GA 30318

12:30 – 2pm

 

For full details on the food trucks and filming dates, visit the Eat St. blog.

chicken and the egg – farm to table dining comes to Marietta

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chicken and the egg - chef marc taft

Executive Chef Marc Taft’s new farm-to-table concept is giving Marietta diners something to squawk about.

You may remember Marc Taft from another, decidedly different Atlanta-area restaurant – Pacci – the comfortably ritzy Italian restaurant that was located on the bottom floor of the former Hotel Palomar in midtown. Taft served as Pacci’s General Manager until the restaurant and the hotel shuttered their doors earlier this year due to foreclosure.

At Chicken and the Egg, Taft has traded his GM suit for a chef’s jacket, but his unassuming, businesslike demeanor hints at the fact that he’s still just as comfortable in the back office as he is in the kitchen. With a resume that includes several high-level management positions for some heavy hitters in hospitality, and a restaurant career that spans over 15 years, it’s no wonder.

Chicken and the Egg

Type of Cuisine: Southern, farm-to-table

Serves: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Menu Highlights: Fried Chicken, Butterbean Hummus, Grilled Peach Manhattan

I recently visited Chicken and the Egg just before Friday dinner rush, and had a chance to sit and chat with Chef Taft about his latest venture and his thoughts on restaurants in Atlanta.

 


Before we get started with the Q&A, Chef Taft suggests we try a couple of cocktails from the restaurant’s Southern-inspired menu.

I opt for the Grilled Peach Manhattan – a sultry concoction of peach and bacon infused whiskeys, bourbon and vermouth

My dining partner has the Dirty South – an interpretation of a dirty (gin) martini, subbing pickled okra instead of olive

 

On a scale of 1 to 10, how scary is it opening your own restaurant?

Well, I’ve opened over 30 restaurants. So it wasn’t really that scary for me. I made all my mistakes on someone else’s dime. Still, there’s a little anxiety. Before we opened, I had dreams like, “will people come?”

I eye the steadily filling tables in the restaurant.

 

Doesn’t look like you have a problem there, though.

People in Marietta have been very welcoming. There aren’t as many fine dining options as there are in Atlanta, so people in this area are appreciative. We served over 3,000 tables in August alone.

If you haven’t been running restaurants for a while you have no business opening one. It’s not glamorous.

 

What’s the best thing about being a chef / restaurateur in the Atlanta area?chef marc taft - chicken and the egg

Atlanta is still an up and coming food city. People are still learning. They’re willing to try food without being overly critical. The chef community here is a brotherhood and a sisterhood instead of a competition, no one undermines each other.

(Chef Taft briefly makes mention of two high-profile chefs – Tom Colicchio and Emeril Lagasse whose equally high profile restaurants had relatively short lifespans in Atlanta.)

It’s because they’re not here. Atlanta holds you accountable as a chef.

 

How would you describe your culinary style?

Well, I’m a trained Italian chef. You can’t compare Italian to anything. But the passion translates to modern farmstead fare. Anyone can take flour and spices and fry up some chicken… why is it different here? It’s because we’re very passionate about what we do and we want to do it the right way. This restaurant represents that as a whole. This is the kind of food I grew up with. I’m always fired up in a positive way.  I like being the best, really.

Soon, a sampling of appetizers begins to arrive at the table:

Butterbean “Hummus” and House Made Pimento Cheese – The hummus is a delightful way to enjoy a traditional Southern veggie. The delicate flavor of butterbean is complemented by a subtle punch of garlic. Unfortunately, pimento cheese has never been a favorite of mine, and Chef Taft’s version doesn’t change my mind any.

Buttermilk Fried Oysters  – crispy fried, and perfectly seasoned

Fried Green Tomatoes – expertly accented by a small sliver of country ham, and a tiny dollop of tomato jam. However, for previously mentioned reasons, I’m no fan of the puddle of pimento cheese fondue the tomato is floating on.

 

What is the one thing you think can ruin an otherwise great restaurant?

Inconsistent food. Consistency is probably the most important thing in a restaurant. Even if you have average food, be consistently average.

Also the reception and post-meal thank you is important. People forget about the middle of the meal. They remember the beginning and the end. In Atlanta, that post-meal experience actually extends out to the valet. When I worked at Pacci, we could sometimes have an otherwise stellar dining experience ruined by valet.

 

What words of wisdom would you give to other Atlanta chefs or culinary workers?

Focus on having integrity and doing the right thing. All the other stuff will come. Be a student of the trade every day. If you’re willing to expose your weakness and surround yourself with people who are stronger than you in that area, you’ll keep progressing. Once you think you’re too good, people will start to pass you by.

 

For our entrees, I order the evening’s special: sous vide duck breast served with a crab cake, fennel slaw and a brown mustard jus; and my mate orders a Southern classic: fried chicken with mac and cheese and braised greens. Both entrees are good, but the fried chicken and accompaniments are the clear winners. The chicken is delicious from crust to bone – the restaurant takes the time to brine the chicken before cooking. The mac and cheese includes 6 cheeses: 2 different cheddars, Parmigiano-Reggiano, cream cheese, smoked gouda, and Monterey jack. It’s so sumptuous, I briefly consider bathing in the stuff. The braised greens are a savory, slow-cooked mixture of kale and collards. While the duck breast has good flavor, I find the texture of the flesh a bit chewy and the skin a bit under- seared. As a result, the fennel slaw and crab cake receive most of my attention.

A trio of desserts rounds out the meal. First, fried peach handpie served with boiled peanut and sorghum ice cream. For me, the dessert conjures memories of childhood trips to the country which often included a stop to procure fried pies and boiled peanuts from some roadside shack. Definitely a creative interpretation of 2 off-road Southern favorites. A second dessert of banana pudding was solid version of the sweet treat, attractively served in a jelly jar with a thick slice of caramelized ‘nanner. My favorite dessert, however was the rhubarb streusel tart – chunks of brown-sugar-sweetened rhubarb peeking out of a flaky, buttery, pastry crust. Mmmm.

Before the meal ends, I ask Chef Taft one final question.

 

What do you want to be remembered for, what epitaph would you like to see on your headstone? 

My philosophy in life is that it’s not about work, money or the things we have, it’s how you live your life and what impact you have on people while you’re here.

 

cheers,

k

 

Chicken and the Egg

800 Whitlock Ave.; Suite 124

Marietta, GA 30064

http://www.chickandtheegg.com

 

Disclosure: My meal was comped by the restaurant.

feast noir – atlanta's first foodie flash mob is in the works

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feast-noir-picnic-atlanta

The creative mind behind the Atlanta Underground Market (AUM) just released the news of an event that will certainly have Atlanta foodies all in a tizzy.

Based on the wildly successful French foodie event, Diner en Blanc, Feast Noir aims to bring 1,000 foodies together in an as-yet-undisclosed location to enjoy dishes prepared by the participants themselves.

Feast Noir is scheduled for August 14, 2011 at 6pm.

Read all of the details about the event and register to attend at the Feast Noir website.

cheers,
k

wine dinners: a great way to find good wine

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When it comes to finding a wine you like, you’ve really only got a few methods to choose from.

  • you can take a recommendation from a friend or an expert,
  • you can take a wild guess based on the prettiness of the label and / or the floweriness  of the wording on the bottle as you stand scratching your head in the aisle
  • or… you can taste it.

Of those three methods, only tasting is foolproof. Friends and experts may have different palates, and we all know better than to judge a wine by its cover, don’t we? And even once you’ve chosen a wine, there’s the work of figuring out what wine goes with what.

Enter, the wine dinner. This growing trend helps experienced and budding wine connoisseurs make sense of it all. If you haven’t had the chance to go to a wine dinner yet, lemme ‘splain what you’re missing out on.

 

What is a Wine Dinner?

A wine dinner is multi-course meal, typically hosted by a restaurant, a winery or a combination of the two. Each course of the meal comes along with a wine that has been selected to complement the dish being served.

 

What’s So Great about Wine Dinners?

You get to relax – unlike wine tastings and tours where you’re sort of shuffled along between tastings, at a wine dinner you’re comfortably seated. You can even kick your shoes off if you want, I won’t tell.

You get a serious wine education – during the wine dinner, either the restaurant’s sommelier or a representative from the vineyard will provide notes on the wines you taste that you simply won’t get anywhere else. Plus, if you happen to attend a wine dinner with other ‘cork dorks’, you’ll learn even more from the conversation.

You get to eat some really great food – most of the restaurants hosting wine dinners are pretty top-notch. Often, they’ll feature special dishes for the wine dinner that aren’t on their regular menu.

You save money – during a wine dinner you’ll typically taste a minimum of four dishes, along with equal servings of wine for a much lower price than you would if you were to purchase them all at regular price.

Here’s a quick roundup of three wine dinners in Atlanta that I’ve attended recently, and how I fared at each.

 

Mirassou Wine Dinner

As part of a multi-city promotional tour coinciding with the 156th anniversary of Mirassou Winery, California winemaker David Mirassou hosted a series of wine dinners for local food and beverage writers, wine educators, and bloggers across the country. The Atlanta stop of the tour featured a 6-course tasting menu prepared by Chef Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill, and yours truly was invited to attend.  Each course was a perfect mouthful of local, seasonal ingredients that Chef Gillespie crafted to complement the accompanying wine. Throughout the meal, David entertained us with stories from his family’s winemaking past, and explained the unique characteristics of each wine we tasted. Needless to say, the food was amazing. The wines – a pleasant surprise.

My favorite wine of the evening: Mirassou Cabernet Sauvignon – I’m not usually a big fan of Cabs, most tend to be too tannic for my tastes. But Mirassou’s Cabernet was much more drinkable, while still retaining the tannic profile. I dubbed it, ‘the softer side of Cab’. Retails for around $10

 

 

Mother’s Day Brunch at Frogtown Cellars

Craving the experience of Napa, but lacking the time or the funds? Georgia’s wine country is a suitable alternative for us Atlantans. This past Mother’s Day I decided to treat Mom and myself to our first visit to a Georgia winery. We chose Frogtown Cellars in Dahlonega, and were treated to a delicious 4-course brunch with wine pairings in a truly beautiful setting.

My favorite wine of the day: Frogtown First Convergence – East-meets-West blend of Cabernet and Malbec grapes from Russian River (66%) and Cabernet Franc grapes from Frogtown vineyard (34%). Retails for $27.99

 

 

The Generous Pour Wine Event at The Capital Grille

Did you know that there are only 173 Master Sommeliers in the entire world? So it’s a real treat when one of these esteemed wine experts hand picks 9 of his personal favorites and invites you to taste them. That’s exactly what went down this week at The Capital Grille in Buckhead. The restaurant invited several local food writers to a special preview of their summer wine event, The Generous Pour. George Miliotes, Master Sommelier and resident wine expert at The Capital Grille, joined via telecast to explain the 9 wines he chose for the event, and then answered our questions via live Twitter feed. After George’s introduction, we sampled each of the wines along with complementary dishes prepared by Chef Brad Weiderman. The unparalleled white-glove level of service at the Capital Grille made this one a real treat.

My favorites of the evening:

Tarima Hill Monastrell, 2009 – A Spanish varietal that’s not available anywhere else in the US for the next couple of months. It’s a medium-bodied red that I can only describe as ‘seductive’.

Chateau St. Jean, Belle Terre, 2008 – arguably the best Chardonnay I’ve ever tasted. Described as ‘a rich, creamy wine… with toasted almond and vanilla oak’. From the Russian River region of California. $25.

 

 

The Capital Grille’s Generous Pour Wine Event continues through September 4, and is only $25 for ample servings of all 9 wines with dinner. Do this!

To see questions and answers from The Generous Pour preview event, search for #tcgpour11 on Twitter.

Want to get personalized wine recommendations from a Master Sommelier? Follow George Miliotes (@TheWineExpert) on Twitter.

But hey – don’t just settle for his (or my) recommendations. Go out and taste for yourself.

 

cheers,

k