Tag Archives: chefs

Vikings Cooking School: cook your dinner and then eat it

Last night, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in a cooking class at the Viking Cooking School, located inside the Viking store in midtown. This event was a perk that’s associated with my daytime job and happened to tie into my nighttime job (hobby) quite perfectly.

*Updated*
Here’s the menu for the night labeled “Dinner Around the World”:
Tuscan Grilled Vegetable Platter
Thai Spring Rolls with sweet & sour sauce
Roasted Chicken (5 different varieties)
Cuban-style Rice Pilaf with black beans
Chocolate-covered strawberries stuffed with Amaretto cream cheese
And now it’s time for another story by photo segment:

we arrived to some snacks


and drinks


the clean kitchen prior to cooking


our chef gets the lesson started with a raw chicken


Chang and Kenny dove into the poultry preparation


stuffed with an onion, among other things


Brad gets excited by chicken (or knives?)


ready for roasting


Eli gets comfy in his chef whites


and with his knife


the crew preps the ingredients


while some of the guys drink and stand around


Josh gets veggies ready for the grill


and Kim mans the grill


and she grills


and grills


a post-grill rainbow


Don't forget us! Eli and I also grilled


Eli and Josh focus: they learn to make a spring roll


plop in some filling


Kenny demonstrates the roll


ready for the fryer


Kim shows the hollowed strawberries for dessert


tip of the day: use a glass to fill a piping bag


tip of the day demonstrated


berries filled with cream cheese, amaretto, confectioners sugar


chocolate to be melted


Kim and Jenna dip the berries, but the chocolate remains on their hands


taste trumps looks


Brad likes the spread of food


and shows off his personalized plate


spring rolls ready to eat!


chopped chicken


grilled veggies topped with parmigiano cheese


mmmmmmmm


extra desserts that we had nothing to do with

This event was super fun and I highly recommend it for a team-building outing, a girls'(guys’) night out, or just a change of pace activity shared among friends. We ate well, drank plenty, learned a few things, and most importantly – we didn’t clean up a thing!

Full menu will be updated shortly for those who are interested.

The Viking Store
1745 Peachtree Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309-2404
404.745.9064
http://www.thevikingstore.net

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Sushi House Hayakawa……Again?

It has become quite clear to me that my eating at, thinking about, photographing, and spending money at Sushi House Hayakawa has become a bit much. And, to add fuel to the fire, I’m heading back there tonight at a friends request (and because it is absolutely delicious, fresh, and reasonably priced). In order to refrain form repeating content on this infant of a blog, I will quickly highlight some of the new bites of Japanese food that have entered my belly.

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ikura, ikura, galora


Sushi rice topped with chopped seaweed and ikura (salmon eggs). Simple, but intensely flavored with the sweet (from a soy/wine marinade), briny egg goo. When this arrived, I asked for a plate upgrade and got a few plops of uni (sea urchin).
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oh how a lil uni can change a dish


It tastes as good as it looks – superb.

I’ve covered parts of my trio in the past (think Would You Eat This? and Dreaming About), so here is the big picture:

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salty ikura with creamy uni, sour umeboshi flavored jellyfish, spicy wasabi raw octopus


It’s my version of a well balanced combination platter.

Lauren ordered a couple of rolls and I helped eat them:

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spicy tuna


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I'm special tonight!


The special roll had shrimp tempura, crab, tobiko (flying fish roe), eel sauce, wasabi mayo – while the size of each roll made it difficult to tackle, the taste made up for it.

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blow torching


As always, the personable Chef Hayakawa, provided some entertainment with his blow torch act.

After tonight, I will most likely decrease my frequency of visits to Sushi House Hayakawa – if only to up the anticipation/appreciation ante.

Sushi House Hayakawa on Urbanspoon

Sushi House Hayakawa
5979 Buford Hwy. Red & Green Steakhouse Shopping Center A-10
Atlanta, GA 30340
http://www.atlantasushibar.com/

Flip Burger Boutique: Lunch on Howell Mill Road

It’s no wonder it took me many, many months to visit Flip Burger Boutique – I don’t eat burgers. But when a work friend suggested a lunch trip and showed me the milkshake menu, we headed right on out onto I-75 North to Howell Mill Road. Located in a hustly bustly part of Atlanta in west midtown, Flip is a loud scene (both visually and aurally). It almost seems like a constant party within the restaurant walls. It was crowded when we arrived and jumped at the chance to sit at the interactive chefs’ bar. We were on top of the action:

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working the busy lunch hour


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plates waiting for burgs

We decided to order different milkshakes for all the more tasting.

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impossible to choose

Inevitably, we went with the most popular shakes – nutella + burnt marshmellow & krispy kreme:

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follow the smoke signals


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You can still see the smoke coming off the krispy kreme milkshake from the liquid nitrogen – so very cool.
The creative director, Richard Blais (of Top Chef fame) definitely thought this one up all by his lonesome.
The nutella shake had a mostly chocolate flavor with only a hint of nutella/hazelnut. And the lightly scorched marshmellows added a dipping element to an otherwise ‘sipping only’ pleasure. Oh how I enjoyed eating this with a spoon rather than a straw – no complaints here!
The krispy kreme took a couple of sips to get the full donut-y flavor. It was tasty, as most iced cream mixed with donuts would be.

After the double milkshake action, I attempted to go the healthy route with my entree (which may have been my biggest failure at Flip):

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we don't look much like burgers


I nixed the bread for lettuce wraps and the mayo for nothing. On the left you see the tuna burger made with spicy yellow fin tuna, pickled ginger, vietnamese herb salad. On the right is a ‘po boyger’ which is a shrimp patty, shaved lettuce, tomato, fried lemon, tabasco.
I’m sorry to say the tuna burger was a disaster. It was completely overdone to the point of no return (which is weird because the waitress asked if I would be okay with a medium rare cook and I said “the rarer, the better”). Looking back, I should have sent it back and pointed out the mishap but I was on a lunch break and didn’t have the time for that. Plus, it was kinda fishy tasting – it went almost untouched 😦
The shrimp, on the other hand, was a plump, tender patty that fell apart with every bite (and I liked that – it made it messy). The tabasco was the shrimp’s best man in this wedding of flavors and fell hard for him. He lit up my mouth (read: heart).

My coworker was wise and went beefy. He ordered the philly and the rBQ:

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atta boy!


and here’s the detailed review (thanks, Andrew!)
“The philly had french onions, green peppers, American cheese whiz and ketchup and the rBQ had pulled brisket, coleslaw, rBQ sauce and smoked mayo. In hindsight I think I should have eaten the philly first because the cheese whiz had congealed into a semi…-solid state by the time I got to it. The rBQ was great! I was impressed that they actually cooked the burgers med-rare. With the assembly line of burgers and their smaller size I was not optimistic that they would be the correct temperature. Flip had a trendy feel which made me feel a bit out of place. Kinda like the time I wandered into Hot Topic looking for some khaki pants. I WILL go back, even if it is only to try another one of their decadent milk shakes!”

Sides:

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pillars of health


Hand cut french fries and vodka battered onion rings balanced out the rest of the meal. They were perfectly crisp, salty, and delicious.

I’m with Andrew- I am more interested in going back to Flip to taste out the rest of their interesting milkshake flavors, rather than the burgers. Or to sit at the chef’s bar and watch the hardworking guys use gadgets to create a tweaked version of classic American fare.

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squirting mayo from a cannister


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they love this technique


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eggs and BBQ sauce in an immersion circulator

FLIP Burger Boutique on Urbanspoon

Flip Burger Boutique
1587 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, GA 30318

Chateau de Saigon Take Two (Continued)

So…..let’s get back to the main act of my meal at Chateau de Saigon. Well, it wasn’t exactly my meal but I did get to take part in the awesome experience that was La Vong Sizzling Fish. On the menu, it’s stated as ‘sizzling marinated fish filet chunks with sauteed onion & fresh baby dill served with lettuce, fresh seasonal herbs, and our House dipping sauce along with rice paper for rolling wraps. Cooked at the table’. Get ready for the Disney World ride of Vietnamese food. It is, in fact, a small world after all.

Explained best via photographs:

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tableside cooker


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onions and dill join the party


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waiter brings over a pan of marinated fish and gets to work


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squeezing in fresh lime juice


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needs a lot of lime


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time for herbs and veggies


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stir it all around


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necessary elements to create the wraps


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dip the paper into water


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put lettuce, fresh herbs, cucumbers, apples onto rice paper


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throw on some noodles


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and the cooked fish

We also added peanuts and super spicy chilis.

Let’s get rolling:
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time to eat!

As you can see, this dish is uber interactive and a lot of fun with a group (or with people who are food nerds, i.e. ME!)

Chateau de Saigon
4300 Buford Hwy NE
Suite 218
Atlanta, GA 30345
ph: 404.929.0034
http://www.chateaudesaigon.com/

Chateau de Saigon on Urbanspoon

Antico Pizza Napoletana: Meet Giovanni di Palma

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front of the house


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back of the house


Oh, what a night – I spent the evening with Atlanta’s #1 pizza maker, Giovanni di Palma. He is quite a guy: gregarious, proud, generous, welcoming, but above all, utterly humbled by the mass amounts of positive buzz his small pizza joint has created. He mentioned interviews, photo shoots, magazines, and blogs, that have bombarded and overwhelmed the down to earth crew. Giovanni has but one word to say to the city of Atlanta, “Grazie.”

Giovanni happened to remember my anchovy-loving ways so he invited me to the back room to check out the scene.

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Then the fun began:

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don't drop it!


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the master is watching


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help me out, man!


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handing over the reigns

It was heavy!

Kind-hearted Giovanni also let me touch his beloved dough. Soft stuff.

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career change?


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wearing the opposite of the correct color for this activity


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trying to smuggle flour out on my pants

The boys were more than happy to oblige to my demands:

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blue + red = purple

As if it could get any better, we were treated to an espresso and cannolis while we read the framed Vince Lombardi quote on the wall:

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espresso


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side view cannolis


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frontal cannolis


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words from Mr. Lombardi

At this point, we all know that Antico serves up the best pizza Atlanta has to offer. In fact, for all I know they’ve got the best pizza in the south. We also know that when you go to Antico, you stuff yourself with the aforementioned pizza until you can barely breathe. Fair enough. But I urge you – try the cannoli, biscotti, and especially the sfogliatelle. You will not regret it; and you can do it! See how well I did:

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all gone


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it's not a struggle to get this down

Antico Pizza Napoletana on Urbanspoon

Abbatoir – skinny no moir

Following the advice of Eli, I grabbed a work friend and headed over to the newest Star Provisions restaurant, Abbatoir. The goal of the joint is to use ‘locally grown proteins to produce high-quality, affordable food.’ While the menu is chock full of meat and offal, there are many vegetarian offerings that look both interesting and promising.

Here’s what we dove into:

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The complimentary bread was off the hook – warm, yeasty, doughy. You can also see the paper menus in the photo which are part of the casual, low-cost experience.

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not purchased on a NYC street


Soft Pretzel with grain mustard was salty and had a great tear-factor. Another example of the excellent bread-like products Abbatoir creates, but I must admit it had a tinge of the dark, well-done-ness I don’t care for in pretzels. It would be a big hit for those who buy the extra dark pretzels.

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pommes frites, mayonnaise


Delicious – especially the seasoning

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soup in a jar


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From the food in a jar section of the menu, I selected a soup. Here we have a parsnip soup with apple garnish: when it came to the table, I was excited by the look of it. No one can argue that ‘food in a jar’ is a cool concept. So cool in fact, that I felt compelled to order something from this section just to get into the gimmick. But then I took a spoonful – and it was cold, very cold. It reminded me of when I’d taken a sip of Sprite to find out it was seltzer – or even worse, water to find out it’s vodka. Plainly stated, it was an unpleasant surprise.

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I believe this was muenster cheese accompanied by marcona almonds and a fig cake: good combination and a nice amount of cheese was given. I had fun eating all of the parts, separately and together, all with my hands.

surprise! i'm full of it
These little nuggets were filled with ham and cheese: I felt they were veering towards too full with the filling a bit overpowering.

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hop hop


My dining companion also ordered the beer braised rabbit with turnips & dandelions: I tried my first bite of rabbit, pushing down the thoughts of white, furry ears. It tasted like a luscious, deeply flavored version of juicy chicken. While I understand the appeal, I stuck with the one bite.

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they make me here, freshly, every day


This was not a single-serving dessert – the thing was huge. And the apple pie taste was a classic one, but the lemon-y ice cream was not wholly received by my companion, who wanted the expected vanilla pairing. I personally loved the tart flavored iced cream, but I’m also not excited by traditional apple pie.

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cookies and milk


Staying within the theme of my favorite dessert at Bacchanalia, I ordered the fall-inspired cookies and milk. The cookies were ginger flavored with a squash filling – they had a good bit of spice and not too much sweetness. The milk was malted and icy. The combination of the cookies with the milk was not superb, but when i ate/drank them separately they fared much better.

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we send you on your way


Along with dessert, Abbatoir gifted us a couple pieces of brittle. Crunchy, and not sticky with a sugar high.

I didn’t love everything, but appreciated the low price point from the Star Provisions group. I’ll have to go back and try out a few more menu items, most specifically from the food in a jar section.

Lesson learned from my meal: Ask if soup is hot or cold.

Lastly, I must share the post meal activity: my friend jumped into her getaway car and sped away.

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Star Provisions on Urbanspoon

ENO with Top Chef’s Eli

After a full day of eating at Taste of Atlanta, I thought it would be a good idea to try out ENO in Midtown. My foodie friend, Hilla, joined us to test out the food prepared by one of the still-standing Atlanta Top Chefs, Eli Kirshtein.

why hello sir

why hello sir


Real-life Eli is not different than Top Chef Eli: full of personality, talkative, and excited about food (especially locally grown food). He explained some of the behind the scenes cooking techniques applied to the menu and was genuinely interested in our dining experience.

Appetizer was an easy choice for me: Octopus! (with watermelon and lemon vinaigrette)

let's run away together

let's run away together


If I remember correctly, the octopus is cooked sous vide which resulted in a tender, meaty consistency without the chewiness octopus-lovers are used to. While it couldn’t have been cooked any better, I prefer my octopus in a more rustic preparation (i.e. hunky grilled tentacles).
not your average ensalada

not your average ensalada


The market green salad was the celebratory dish of the night, partly because of the naturally low expectations house salads possess. Based on the constantly changing leafy green and herb delivery from local farms, the salad changes daily. Ours contained a variety of greens (including my new favorite, sorrel), marcona almonds, beets, parmigiano cheese shavings, greek yogurt, and a light vinaigrette. It was complex and so interesting it compelled us to order another one.

Hilla went with the Garlic Pork Sausage, Blis Maple, Pretzel Strusel, Mustard: and she sincerely liked the combination of the pig with the pretzel and mustard.
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Entrees:
Yellowtail Tuna Nicoise, Tobiko Gremolata, Wild Lettuce, Egg Yolk

side view

side view


bird's eye view

bird's eye view


the back side

the back side


totally tuna

totally tuna


The tuna was cooked black and blue, which I always appreciate and fear won’t occur when ordering tuna. The rarer the better. The lean protein needed the fatty egg yolk sauce, as well as the salty tobiko. Flavors worked well together. I didn’t eat the ‘wild lettuce,’ or in this case, sorrel within the same bites as the tuna, but I did fall deeply and madly in love with the citrus-y green. I wish I could find it to stock my fridge.

Hilla’s Painted Hills Short Rib Ravioli, Leeks, Pickled Scapes, Wild Mushrooms:
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She loved the pasta, liked the sauce & mushrooms, but stated that the short rib filling was too simple tasting – merely shredded meat with mirepoix (carrots, onion, celery).

The only flop of the night was the dessert course, which we shared:

looks can be deceiving

looks can be deceiving


Pistachio Cake, Madeira, Pear Sabayon: the cake was tough and heavy, almost brick-like while the gelled ribbon tasted of bitter alcohol.

ENO uses a variety supremely fresh ingredients, applying the most interesting cooking techniques to an ever-changing inventory. Some of that pizzazz get lost, mostly because the secrets remain in the kitchen. Ask lots of questions and you will be privy to a slew of facts, standards, and operations that don’t shine through the food. At the end of the night, you will feel well-treated and satisfied (just stay away from the pistachio dessert).

Eno on Urbanspoon