February 2011

It’s a tough market to crack, being kosher and serving meat. As my friend Sophia says, “The Orthodox community in Atlanta isn’t wealthy. The Jews that are, don’t keep kosher.” Nonetheless people try. And on a day when I wasn’t sure where to eat, I wandered in through the back door of Moshe’s Mediterranean Cuisine and took a look around.

I’m appreciative that we’ve had warm weather this late February. Otherwise I might not  have seen the open back doors of this eatery, peered inside and become curious. They’re new to Atlanta, as the most I could find on the Internet about them initially was a blurb about them receiving their kosher designation. Being new, in all honesty,  is perhaps the virtue that’s leading me to write about this place. Staff is still getting it all together, the place hasn’t built up a huge clientele yet. So, the staff will eat in their own place, and this staff is intelligent and talkative.

Turn into the strip mall with this sign.

Moshe’s is a little past the corner of Mount Vernon and  Jett Ferry Road. Head past the corner until you see  the CVS sign on the left. Then turn. Moshe’s is small, not easy to see. It’s a much longer restaurant than it is wide, so the sign and frontage is easy to miss. It’s there, trust me.

This day I had a salad and kabobs. They have a pretty extensive lunch menu, and prices at lunch are quite reasonable. They also offer schwarma, and they’re the closest restaurant to offer schwarma from where I work, along Peachtree Dunwoody. The bread for their sandwiches is cooked on site, and they have an oven, from Israel, in which they cook their pitas.

I regret not having had some of their bread. I suspect that pitas and the schwarma here are going to eventually decide how well this restaurant is received.

Just to note, staff routinely eat their own bread.

There is some spice in those ground carrots.

What I had was their pargiot kabobs and their cypress salad. Salads here are huge, and filling. Dressing is citrus flavored, tasty. The kabob was good, though dark chicken meat is hardly my favorite on a kabob. When I come back, I’ll probably be trying beef.

The best part of the meal was the engaging multicultural staff. They’re smart. They know food. I came in for a very late lunch and one of the chefs was out, eating, eating the bread they serve there. We shook hands and talked. Yeah, nice when you’re talking about food with a guy whose has forgotten more than you know, and introduces you to the rest of the staff. Right now, for a foodie, this kind of affability puts this place into the “off the charts” range for intangibles.

It’s too soon to place any kind of final verdict on this restaurant. Pretty good? Good? Superb? Crawl on your hands and knees from Sprayberry, GA to get here? Hard to know. It is, however, very promising, especially for lunch, and for those of you who think Tony Bourdain is a little lightweight on his food talk, this place is a must visit, if you can catch staff feeling relaxed and talkative.

Moshe’s Mediterranean Cuisine
2486-A Mt. Vernon Road
Dunwoody, GA 30338
(770) 393-2201

Moshe's Mediterranean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

One of  the more reliable restaurants near Snellville, I’m partial to Lavender Asian Bistro because of their efficient, responsive staff. This dish is pretty good – fine ingredients – though this day it had neither the richness of garlic flavor nor the spice I prefer.

Lavender Asian Bistro
1195 Scenic Hwy
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
(770) 982-3887

Lavender Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon

One of the tricks when transplanting tomatoes is to bury part of the stem each time you do it. It keeps the plant from getting spindly and helps insure a solid root system. One of the things I’ve been trying is growing the tomatoes in the pellet (Jiffy 7s) longer than first emergence of the true leaves, so that I could push out the point at which I can bury the stem.

The plants do not seem to have suffered from this treatment.

As I read my planting books, I get the impression that when the night time weather gets to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (or 4 degrees C) it’s safe to plant outside. For some days it’s been looking as if that day might end up being March 6.  But as of this morning, that hope seems to fade. This is what weather.com looked this morning for someone in my area code.

An interesting look at planting dates in a nearby region is here. Just note that Texas tends to be warmer than northwest Georgia, which is in the foothills of the Appalachians. Another look at planting dates is provided by the online Mother Earth site.

Hearth Pizza Tavern, like any respectable pizza vendor in this town, has a good nose for bread. So when I ordered their mussels appetizer recently, they added a big chunk of good crusty bread with the shellfish. They also toss a pretty decent salad as well.

The mussels come in a broth rich in garlic, onions, butter and white wine, perfect for dipping  that bread in.

Hearth Pizza Tavern
5992 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30328

Hearth Pizza Tavern on Urbanspoon

I stepped in because BuHi tweeted he would be there, and I wanted to be sure he was okay after his ligament issue. Two fingers are wrapped these days, but he can still handle a knife and a fork, and spin a yarn. I had La Casona’s lengua a la criolla. It was tomatoey, savory, and unbelievably soft. Too bad rice and starchy vegetables are too much for me  these days.

La Casona
3820 Stewart Road
Doraville, GA 30340
(770) 458-6657

La Casona Taqueria Y Billares on Urbanspoon

Two years ago today I started this blog, initially as a way to talk about cooking experiments. I had to find some kind of outlet. I also wanted to look at restaurants around Snellville, a few that my other fellow bloggers didn’t seem to have touched on. Now, over 730 days, over 320 reviews, two operations, one hospitalization later, and roughly 100 pounds lighter, I can look back over what has been written and say, “I did all this?”

Part of how this blog evolved was a product of what I could do. What I couldn’t do is out compete any professional in the depth of articles. I couldn’t go back to a restaurant multiple times, so the open source credo, “Publish early and often”, was the one thing I could do. As I obtained a better camera and started taking better photos, it became easier to get the good photo and let it carry more and more of the meaning in an article. My articles became shorter. My first sentences became more important, more crafted. I realized, finally, that consistent publication had a marked effect on my readership, about a 30% improvement when compared to publishing 1-2 times a week.

As diabetes took over, shock changed to a kind of wary attitude towards food. I lost interest in bakeries, ramen, donuts. Not that I don’t remember them fondly, but I’m not reviewing pizza any more unless I get a guest eater involved. Places that serve burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and kabobs have become a larger and larger focus of my interests. I managed to get my diabetes under control, but  the tools I used.. well, they’re on my side bar now.

I carry my camera always. It’s a discipline now, something I do. I feel naked unless I carry it. I tweet because I blog. I probably wouldn’t have tweeted otherwise.

I worry a lot more about lighting. Lighting is the difference between a mediocre and a really good  photo. I’ll sit with my eyes in the sun if that will get me the kinds of shadows that make for a good food photo.

Because my writing has become shorter, I look for ways to write effectively with few words. The people who are best at short evocative writing are poets. When I have time between all my other reading, I read this book:

I think more about the joys of life. When it snows these days, I stop and take pictures. I look at pots of water, as they slowly heat, and think of the analogies between a heating pot of water and weather, under the effects of global warming. The atmosphere is an open thermodynamic systems whose physics are modeled by the set of equations studied by Edward Lorenz. The turbulence, the chaos in the system is powered by the energy input into the system, which, when it gets warmer,  increases. This not only makes the average temperature warmer, it makes it more chaotic. The odds that the  temperature no longer follows any routine pattern increases. The odds that the once -60 degree arctic cold air mass (now a mere -58 degrees) ends up right atop Atlanta increases, because the system is more turbulent, more chaotic. It’s easy enough to model. Just heat that pot of water from below simmer to a rolling boil and watch.

You can learn a lot cooking, gardening, and watching others cook.

I read the Blissful Glutton these days looking at how she puts her opening sentences together.  She can start with some appealing leads (examples here and here). After two years of doing this, I can now appreciate the emotions that went behind this review by Cliff Bostock.

I’m proud of Gene, Jon, Jimmy and all those who have stepped out from blogs to more professional writing. I hope BuHi makes a fortune teaching people the cool places to eat in Inman Park. Foodie Buddha: don’t dare stop being the first to blog an opening. First Bite: get that degree! And the Ramen Girl: kinda cool, no?

Three up and coming blogs to watch for: The Constant Gobbler, Marie Let’s Eat and Atlanta Food Critic. Hopefully they’ll benefit as much as I have from their new found hobby.

Anyone I haven’t mentioned that I’ve spoken with, I hope you’ll understand.

In summary, I’d rather eat than fight. I’d  rather share a meal than argue politics. And whether you be Democrat, Republican, Socialist, Feudal Monarchist, or merely an anarcho-syndicalist being repressed by the system, if I’m at all lucky, perhaps I’ll share a meal with you some day.

The waiters at Iron Age are young, male, in uniforms, and in my daughter’s eyes, kinda cute. The look of Iron Age overall leans towards stone and metal, all wrapped in smallish cubes. The large screen in front features Korean dance videos. The synchronized groups of young girls in boots on screen make for a metaphor both modern and retro. You would expect Nancy Sinatra to step off screen and be totally at home here.

It’s a wait to get into Iron Age. We tried twice, dared the wait once. It’s a smallish place, smaller than the crowds wanting to come in. Largely Asian, with a few brave souls of other ethnicities, I haven’t decided yet whether they come for the food or the hipness, the atmosphere.

The food is good. If you get their $14.95 special, you’ll get your choice of meat (either pork belly or beef brisket) and rice (steamed or fried). The food will come with salad, banchan, some dipping sauces, and some wraps. Rather  than a skillet within which they cook meat, they use an angled metal plate. It’s another visual component that adds to the eye candy of the place.

This is another eatery where there is a button to call waiters. We used it liberally this day. It’s easy to run out of meat, or dipping sauce, or the lettuce. We preferred the hot dipping sauce generally, though my daughter heartily approved of the sesame oil sauce. Of the wraps, my daughter was trying the rice wrap. I was sticking with the slices of green vegetable.

Service was good this night. I thought staff tried hard to explain how to eat there, what the purpose of this mysterious liquid was, or that item not altogether familiar. Over time we all finally slowed down our eating, watched more video, or the two young men paired by us in our semi-enclosed space.  In the end, was it worth it, the food worth the wait? By the smiles on my wife and daughter’s face, I’d say yes.

Iron Age
2131 Pleasant Hill Road
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 334-5242

Iron Age on Urbanspoon

Two are visible in this picture. Looking through some older pellets, we found another that sprouted. Using Jiffy 7 pellets, a heating strip, and 2-3 seeds per pellet, every pellet produced this time.

Note: A recent thread on the hotpepper.com site made reference to the Food Near Snellville article, “The origin of the boonie pepper.” Nice to see people making use of what we’ve found.

Summits has the best selection of beer in Snellville, and generally any place east of the Brick Store Pub. It also has a fine collection of big screens and decent food as well. Witness their steak salad.

Summit’s Wayside Tavern
3334-A Stone Mountain Highway (Highway 78)
Snellville, GA 30078
(770) 736-1333

Summits Wayside Tavern on Urbanspoon

Note: reviews of Summits are here and here.

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