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Monday, January 21, 2013

Atlanta's Best Quesadilla

Warning:  The following may not be suitable for children under the age of 13 or people that consider "Chinese Democracy" a legitimate Guns n' Roses Album

I’ve been pestered to do a “best of list.”  Haven’t they all been done?  Best BBQ, Burgers, Chinese, Mexican, Steak lists have all been done.  Why replicate the same monotony?  (Hypocritically, I still plan on doing a “Burger Week")  

We at “The Dry Rub” would rather feature great places with great (or not so great) food with some mild humor in the middle.  Not unlike Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover” which just aired for Atlanta.  Kudo’s to my favorite restaurant Miller Union for getting the most airtime outside of the Clermont Lounge.

So I’m going to give my best of list for one of the one of the more underutilized of Mexican Foods, the Quesadilla.  Hopefully this will quench the thirst of those who want my "Best of List."  The reason there may not be a Quesadilla list is that nobody gives a shit.  So if you don’t care, please go about your day.

The quesadilla always gets second billing on the menu, but every member of the team is just as important as the next, right? 

Would “The Usual Suspects” have completely flopped without Gabrielle Byrne?  I think so.   Would Gun’s n’ Roses would just have been Hanoi Rocks without Slash?  Oh wait, I’m still trying to pretend Chinese Democracy doesn’t exist.  Much like every Police Academy after #2 or any American Pie after American Pie or any Highlander Movie or TV Show after the original.

Now would the Highlander movie been any good without Sean Connery?  I think not considering.  But the Kurgan may be one of my favorite characters ever as well.  So this move had ALOT going for it though Christopher Lambert may be the most god awful actor this side of Nicolas Cage or Keanu Reeves.
The Kurgan, the best villain since Darth Vader.  If you haven't seen the ORIGINAL Highlander, please do it.
Here's a Lambert clip, just embarrassing:
I present Keanu Reeves, James Liptons worst nightmare:
And the Grandaddy of them all.  Ladies and Gentlemen, Nicolas Cage:

My favorite Quesadilla?  The Adobo Quesadilla at Bone Garden Cantina in Atlanta’s Westside (and very off the beaten path).  It’s grilled adobo steak, with cheese, sautéed onions and peppers, with sour cream and tomatillo guac on the side.  It’s not even my favorite thing on the menu, but it’s absolutely delicious.  If you haven’t been to Bone Garden, you need to go.  It has one of the most unique interiors of any restaurant you will ever go to and EVERYTHING on the menu is good. 

A close 2nd?  Pretty much any Quesadilla at Nuevo Laredo.  But for arguments purpose, their Shrimp Quesadilla is there best.  The sauté it in their Chipotle “Crack” sauce with cheese, onions and peppers.  It’s truly delicious.  But again, everything here is.  But, unlike Bone Garden, you may have to wait 45 minutes to get in. 

Another Quesadilla I love is Verde’s Black &  Blue.  Grilled steak with bleu cheese, caramelized onions and chihuahua cheese.  There is a reason Verde gets tons of great press, their food is delicious and always fresh and original.  Also try the Calamari taco, my personal favorite. Well maybe the Buffalo Shrimp is.  So get both!

Honorable Mention?  La Fonda’s Con Espinaca Y Camrones with cheese, fresh spinach, red onions and fresh sautéed shrimp.  Also, La Fonda is one of the few places in Atlanta to get good Paella. 

If you are craving Quesadilla’s, have at it!

Today’s Very Important Footnote:  I have finally found good pizza in Buckhead!  It’s only been 13 friggin’ years people. 
Tartufo Pizza isn’t Antico, but dammit it’s by far the best pie I’ve had in Buckhead.  The Parma, Tartufo and Calabrase pizza's were all delicious.  Truffles on a pizza?  Who the hell knew?  The key is the brick oven which gives the thin pizza that unique taste you don’t get at other pizza joints.  They are also on Scoutmob.  You’re welcome.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dim Sum at the Canton House

Warning:  The following may be inappropriate for Children under the age of 13 and those who don’t appreciate the genius of Bruce Lee

The Perfect Fall Sunday:  Get up in the morning, have a cup of coffee, get the kids up for a very light breakfast.  Then head to the Canton House on Buford at 10a and return home for the 1p NFL Kickoff.  Then of course a Redskins win.
Bruce Lee was the Hands Down Greatest Badass of All Time.  The dude was Sugar Ray Leonard and Roy Jones combined, but faster and bolder. 

These are some great fight scenes, you just have to get over the fact Chuck Norris has some serious shoulder hair.

The brilliance of Dim Sum is everyone wins.  There is no menu to bellyache over.  There are dozens of small dishes to choose from. 
You can eat the second you sit down since the carts are rolling around you like sharks stalking Roy Scheider in Jaws.  Except this time YOU eat the Sharks!  
Har Gow is one of my Dim Sum staples, it’s a steamed shrimp dumpling, topped with Soy Sauce and some hot peppers, its magic in rice paper.  Another great variation is the Shark Dumplings, which if you like the Har Gow, you must try.

Shaomai is another dumpling with pork AND shrimp usually topped with a mushroom, in this case three is not a crowd.  Meat lovers have to try the steamed meatballs.  It’s a unique twist to any beef ball (insert your own joke here) you have ever tried and it has a sweet after taste.  Sticky Rice is wrapped in a lotus leaf where it is steamed and boiled.  There is usually some delicious beef and Chinese cured pork inside as well.  But the true genius is the rice, which truly “sticks” and gives the dish some true texture.
My boy Blake LOVES to house down some Dim Sum

The Char Siu Baau is Cantonese BBQ Pork in a fluffy steamed bun.  Yum Buns is supposed to Master these when they open this spring on the Westside.  I can’t wait.  Rice Noodles with Shrimp is a must have.  And I LOVE the Raddish cakes made with pork and shrimp and then pan fried for a both unique and delicious combination.
The brilliance of Dim Sum is the fluidity of the meal.  Hungry?  Attack the carts.  Want to spend some time with friends over a leisurely brunch?  Take your time and spread your meal out over two hours.  Regardless of your intentions, go have an adventure on Buford Highway and experience a great, fun and HEALTHY Meal.
As I am writing this, I just heard the Lance Armstrongs team had untraceable “burner” phones to keep their doping and drug use under wraps?  
Did these guys get this idea from the Barksdale Crew on “The Wire?”  The GREATEST show ever on television?  If you don’t believe me as my friend Moe!  So if you don’t get anything out of this blog, please go and watch “The Wire.”  You’re welcome, again.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nuevo Laredo- Atlanta's Best Mexican

Warning:  The following may be unsuitable for children under 13 and people don’t appreciate the genius that is Sly Stallone
People say you can’t f*ck up Mexican Food.  They also used to say Sly Stallone couldn’t make a bad movie in the 80’s, but then “Rhinestone” and “Over the Top” came out and blew that theory out of the water.  Then the rest of his career unfolded ("Stop or My Mom Will Shoot," "Oscar) and the wheels came completely off until the new Rocky and Rambo movies came out only to be followed up by “The Expendables” and guess what?  Sly’s back baby! 
Stallone:  “Hey Yo, Trucks and Arm Wrestling?  I don’t see how this can’t work?!?!?”
Did anybody ever notice that in Rambo III, he actually teams up with the Taliban to defeat the Evil Russians?  I bet those Producers wish they could take that one back.  The other “cinematic mulligan” that comes to mind is OJ Simpson as Officer Nordberg in the “Naked Gun.”  I'm still not sure if either of these are worse than Sofia Coppola in the Godfather III.
A pic of OJ’s relentless pursuit of the true killer.  Oh wait…..
Nuevo Laredo is the best Mexican in the City.  Thursday thru Saturday, the line’s not out the door, people are tailgating to wait for a table.  Personally, I’ve been there way too many times since it’s close to where I live.  They are famous for their Chicken Mole sauce which is delicious, but not my favorite.  The apps are good, but they don’t differentiate themselves from other restaurants.
In the era of “Taqueria’s,” they may actually have my favorite tacos.  With all due respect to Hankook and Taqueria Del Sol.  Their Tacos de Carne Asada are real meat cooked medium in a delicious chipotle sauce that packs a nice punch.  But I LOVE their Tacos de Cameron, the Shrimp is almost blackened which provides a great smoky taste.  If you’re not too hungry, this is what I’d recommend. 
Their Barbacoa Brisket is delicious too and has a great smoky taste, but I don’t think the mashed potatoes is the best companion for these.  Now the Steak Diablo is to die for.  It’s lean strips of steak in their homemade red chili sauce.  This is the definition of flavor.  But fair warning, your stomach will be burning for hours.  But it’s worth it.  The same goes for their Shrimp Diablo as well.
They also have my favorite Chili Relleno’s in the ATL as well.  The Poblano pepper dish is one of the more generous portions of this dish you would ever see as well.  Prior to meeting my friend Dan Martinez, I had never had a “true” tamale until I came here.  This is actually how they are supposed to be made.  And their red tamale sauce is the perfect compliment (kind of like Carl Weathers in Rocky 1 and 2).
Their Shrimp Tampico is another delicious and generously portioned dish as well.  But, I will digress and say I do not care for their “Cadillac Crab Cakes” or “Lobster Taco’s.”  I think they are reaching a little here.  By the way, I have a new favorite Atlanta Lobster Roll.  Check out the Big Ketch on Roswell Road in Buckhead.  You’re welcome.
And if you make it on a Saturday morning, check out the Huevos Mexicano and Huevos Con Chorizo.  One of the best twists to breakfast since “Kegs and Eggs.”
I do love the irony of when they say “Mexican Food Prepared by Mexican Cooks.”  Um, yea that’s unique.
The point is not all Mexican is created equally.  If you don’t know, now you know.