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Best four bottle collection for sipping neat on a budget?

I'm not a big fan of Woodford- think it's kind of thin and reminiscent of Jack Daniels black label. I'd go for Buffalo Trace or Evan Williams Single Barrel (still a screaming bargain in the same price range you list). I like Rittenhouse a lot, but it's more of a mixer for me.

I hate Smirnoff in all its iterations- always has been like rubbing alcohol to me. Tito's is fine but, like some of your other selections, I think of it more as a mixer. Still love plain old Stoli.

I'm not sure I'd get a whole bottle of St Germain. We don't use much of it, and I've seen miniatures in stores here. That'd probably be a better use of cash for a budget selection.

Don't think I've had the Zaya (not much rum lately) but love the El Dorado 12yr and think it's a great value.

I also like amari a lot, though I lean toward the Luxardo and Nonino ones rather than Fernet Branca. If you get a bottle of amaro, you can make Southern Colas (though I wouldn't with the more expensive ones).

Don't have strong opinions on gin in your range. Sapphire is good. The wife is the primary gin consumer and she likes Hendricks and definitely Aviation, but Sapphire works in a pinch.

Good luck.

about 13 hours ago
ted in Spirits

A "burning" question for charcoal aficionados.

I generally don't worry about the airflow. The charcoal seems to light for me just fine with the old stuff in the bottom of the chimney.

That said, I usually light the chimney on the ground (or a big hunk of cement) next to the grill. I've had small coals fall out when lifting up the chimney to dump it. Not much fun when that happens and bounces just right while you're wearing sandals. Ouch. I also bump the chimney before dumping so that those coals fall out into the grill instead of on the wood shelf in front of the grill.

Aug 17, 2015
ted in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

what can i make?

There are plenty of open pits used for cooking Q in the South. Either with a big chimney above the pit that retains some heat and/or with some sort of cover that goes over the meat itself.

You could approximate this with the open grill and something like a big hotel pan over the top of the meat. Or steal the lid to the neighbor's Weber. Then you're probably going to need a separate burn barrel or place to get coals going from wood or charcoal to feed the fire.

You could try to take this the whole way, or smoke for say 4 hours then finish in the oven. I go for the foil crutch and maybe a little added liquid between 170F internal and 195F internal. Then make sure you have a lot of time for a long rest before serving.

If that doesn't sound too high stakes for you, go for it. An alternative might be to grill flank or skirt steak. With a hot fire, it cooks quickly (I do 2 min per side for skirt on our gas grill) and would be less of a project. You could also get a whole strip or ribeye and do caveman-size steaks that then get sliced to serve.

Jul 31, 2015
ted in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

Neighbor Compains to Cops About Smoke From Barbecue

The lead line could be "A Florida man..." so that just goes with the territory.

Jul 31, 2015
ted in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

Gin and tonic Info please

The other thing is that there may be drama when you whip out your warm bottle of Schweppes from your purse. Even cold, they seem to go kablooey when you open them. I could imagine a warm/jostled one would be extra exciting.

Jul 24, 2015
ted in Spirits

Gin and tonic Info please

I get that the gun tonic doesn't compare. I feel the same way about gun sodas in general- when I have a bourbon with Coke at the house (when I'm about to go do something fun and need to keep my old butt awake), I go for the Mexican Cokes.

But if I'm out I just go with it. I don't live in a half-caff, half-soy half-2% extra decaf shot latte universe that bends to my will.

You can be that person who shows up with their own tonic. Or drink something else. Or go places that mix it like you want.

Personally, I'd also check out the Whole Foods 365 tonic or Fever Tree if I was going to be that fussy about it. Not as sweet as the Schweppes or Seagram's.

Jul 23, 2015
ted in Spirits

The Café at Linton's reviews?

We went on Mother's Day with 6 of us and really enjoyed it for brunch.

Not related, except via Linton, but I went to H&F a week or so ago and was generally underwhelmed. Seemed like the menu had shrunk (my guess is they sell a lot of burgers now) and the carpaccio I ordered since the tartare wasn't on the menu was poorly put together.

My recent high water mark for gastropub is Edmund's Oast in Charleston. They could wipe the floor with H&F based on my last visit.

Jul 23, 2015
ted in Atlanta

Buy a used Wolf or not ??

I had to read this a couple times. I think I get the conclusion now- save the money and buy the Wolf. If that's not what you meant, correct me.

My point would be that the Wolf is a "brand name" that might have a tiny impact on if/when OP sells their house/apartment. The internet has changed that somewhat but I think lots of folks would say "what's a NXR?"

If OP had any opportunity to get the Wolf hooked up temporarily to confirm that everything works, I'd do that.

Of course, I'm also curious to hear who the previous owner was.

Jul 09, 2015
ted in Cookware

Pork Shoulder cooking questions

If your brisket was done (say ~195F), losing 25 degrees over an hour to 170F is no big deal. The magic number for food safety is 140F.

Same rule applies to the cooler as to cooking- if you're looking (i.e. checking temperature), you're losing heat.

Other ideas- better cooler or closer in size to meat to be rested, add more thermal mass (foil-wrapped bricks at 140F or so); some folks use newspaper or towels to help insulate/fill the cooler, but I haven't done this.

I have put too many things in the cooler right off the smoker and had the heat continue to cook the meat to the point of mushy-ness.

Jun 25, 2015
ted in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

The Best Burgers in Atlanta??? via

Feel free to enlighten us more on where "real blue collar" people eat. I don't see a huge difference between what I'd spend at Grindhouse, Yeahburger, or Farm Burger. I don't think Grindhouse is particularly blue collar. Maybe hipster with its alco-shakes and anime/cartoons. I'm mostly looking for good food, and since I don't eat burgers out that much, any of those fit the bill. Getting one at more of a sit-down (fine) dining place, say Rosebud or General Muir, has a price premium.

My guess is that real blue collar people are eating at the fast food chains and not worrying about ingredients or needing to be seen with a PBR tallboy in hand.

Jun 25, 2015
ted in Atlanta

Need help locating the best Chinese food in Atlanta!

We were there on Sunday. Notes:
-BBQ place ran out of food by 6-ish. don't know if that's a common occurrence

-Fred's no longer has the (amazing) porchetta sandwich. Apparently it's been off the menu for a couple months. Killing me. My wife thought they might have slid a bit from when chef was on hand early on, based on the veggie banh mi being kinda sloppy

-The kids tried Jeni's again, despite the recent close/open/close/open. The ice cream was bad the first time (grainy) but got rave reviews this time.

-Hop City bar isn't open on Sunday, I think b/c they don't sell food (I'm supposed to know these things but I forgot). We did get a six from the store and enjoyed it, but all the taps would've been better.

-Gu's still good (eggplant and dumplings again).

Jun 23, 2015
ted in Atlanta

About to pull the trigger on a Shun Nakiri Premier. Why shouldn't I?

I like the Tojiro DPs for the money. I'm bad with maintenance, so I like the stainless knives. Plus I've generally not been cooking lately much.

I thought I'd point out that there are a couple of Watanabe's on Ebay right now, including a nakiri. I didn't look close enough to see whether it's the blue steel kurouchi with the stainless cladding, but that's what I have. Trying to compromise between sharp and low-maintenance. Thought I'd mention since the ones up for auction are reasonably well-priced.

Jun 08, 2015
ted in Cookware

Atlanta - Emory area - extended visit

General Muir
Bagel Palace
Community Q
Nam Phuong
Lee's Bakery
Pita Palace
Thai Chilli or Top Spice (no idea if either still any good)
Chai Pani
Little Bangkok (typ parking is a challenge)
Hong Kong Harbour

There also are all the Indian places closer to Decatur. I'm not sure which are the best, since the places I used to go to have all closed or changed hands. Chai Pani and Bhojanic are our standards.

There's a world of Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean food on Buford Hwy. The couple of Viet suggestions are just the closest to Emory (heading up Clairmont).

Sorry about the reason for your trip, but hope you get to eat well.

May 27, 2015
ted in Atlanta

Big Batch Margarita Help - selecting tequila (Cazadores vs Hornitos vs Kirkland)

I'm not super fussy, so I think you'd be fine with either of the less-expensive options. I haven't had the Kirkland tequila, but a buddy has gotten some of their other house liquors (bourbon and scotch) and I thought they were fine for everyday drinking/mixing.

Our short-cut-ier version would be to avoid juicing all those limes by getting Simply Limeade, using less Cointreau (or triple sec), and then adding back a squeezed wedge or two of lime to balance the sweetness. That's for a rocks margarita. FWIW.

May 23, 2015
ted in Spirits

Best type of pan for caramelizing mushrooms?

I tend to let them stay on one side long enough to brown. If you're stirring lots, more of that water is getting released that generally makes it hard to get them to brown until they're all drier. Downside is then you have to be fussier about getting them all flipped to finish on the other side.

May 23, 2015
ted in Cookware

Country Style Ribs Help (need to cook tomorrow or they will go bad)

Not sure about the rest of the universe, but we sometimes see pork loin country-style ribs. Those would turn out better if cooked quickly, as opposed to the typical shoulder country-style ribs that need to be cooked low and slow.

Seafood in Buckhead

Going Coastal, e.g.

In Buckhead, St. Cecelia for the high end. Kyma for the Greek-end of the high end. The Big Ketch for more accessible.

May 22, 2015
ted in Atlanta

ATL to NOLA Road Food Advice

Sorry for the late post on a resurrected thread.

We made a side trip to the Capitol City Oyster Bar in Montgomery on a return leg to ATL from Mobile and had a great time. It's a joint.

May 17, 2015
ted in Central South

Two Days in Birmingham, AL

A bar in Atlanta (Smith's Olde Bar) had a copy of Milo's sauce and an homage burger for a while. Not sure if they still make it. Unfortunately, my wife never took a liking to Milo's, so I have to get it on the side when we're in town.

The grits, greens, and pulled pork plate at Saw's Soul Kitchen is genius.

May 17, 2015
ted in Central South

Group camping dinner

I assume you posted here b/c you're planning to cook over a fire?

We often do chili as a one-pot meal for camping trips with other families. You could do two pots, one veggie and one with meat. Then you have various fixins folks can add or not as they choose (rice, cheese, sour cream, scallions, etc). We tend to keep it simple for rice and do parboiled (boil in bag, e.g.) usually brown rice.

You can't beat tacos, either. Beans and cheese for the kids (and maybe just beans for the vegans), grill some skirt steak or chicken for the adults. Ground beef in a pinch (cause the kids seem to like it too). Grill some free range tofu (where you don't have to worry about the tiny, tiny screams during the slaughter of the beans; think of it as the "silence of the beans").

I'd go with something where folks can mix and match to taste rather than potluck. Potluck's fine, but you may have too many cooks crowding limited cooking space.

Don't forget the banana boats* for dessert!

*our neighbor's version is a banana, peel slit up the side; stuffed with chocolate and marshmallows, then foiled and tossed in campfire to bake.

May 17, 2015
ted in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

High temperature oven gloves

That's the ticket. You can pick up a pair of welder's gloves at Home Depot or Lowe's. I have a cleaner pair for the oven and an older, more beat up pair for the grills.

May 17, 2015
ted in Cookware

Where to have lunch driving through?

I pretty much align with everyone else on the suggestions. I couldn't tell which direction you'd be heading (up 75 or up 85). If to the NE, you could wait a bit for ramen at Umaido in Suwannee. Thought the warmer weather is quickly dissuading me from thinking it's ramen season.

One place with good food and a great view is the rooftop patio at Six Feet Under on 11th. I might do that if you went for Antico pizza and found the line to be daunting.

May 09, 2015
ted in Atlanta

Need help locating the best Chinese food in Atlanta!

The stall at Krog St is open. We had eggplant and dumplings from there the other night before the Sleater-Kinney show at the Tabernacle.

And, no, I don't have a blog I'm promoting.

May 07, 2015
ted in Atlanta

unique Gin recs?

We actually brought bottles of Junipero back from various places before it was available in GA. One of our favorites.

My wife is a big fan of Aviation, which is more citrusy than junipery. We also picked up a bottle of Bombay Sapphire East while on vacation recently- I'm not sure but I think it may be a Total Wine exclusive (at least that's the place I've seen it). It has lemongrass and peppercorn but subtle.

St George does have a 3-pack sampler of 375mL bottles of their gins.

For something rare-ish, there's Cadenhead Old Raj. There also are several barrel-aged gins out there now (Ransom Old Tom, e.g.), which I haven't tried (wife is the primary household G&T consumer lately).

Don't forget the tonic. Fever Tree, Q, or even a bottle of Jack Rudy syrup might be nice. We tend to stick to the Whole Foods 365 just because it's inexpensive and not too sweet.

May 05, 2015
ted in Spirits

Fresh Rice Noodles in ATL?

I was thinking that some of the stores have them vacuum packed in a refrigerated section. I may be wrong. That could just be the pearl noodles that are worm shaped (we've had them at Penang, for example).

We've always used dried (Elephant brand if I can find it). My suspicion is that's the case for most restaurants in town.

With the rice stick, soaking them in warm water before cooking seems to be all it takes. The wider noodles (same brands but ~1/2" wide) take a hot water soak and then a little extra liquid than the recipe calls for (stir frying) to not come out super dente. Usually I am a little sloppy draining them (on purpose) and add liquid later in the recipe so it doesn't reduce first. We use these for spicy basil chicken noodles when we have Thai basil in the yard.

Apr 21, 2015
ted in Atlanta

Need suggestions for fun, festive birthday dinner for 4--maybe Korean BBQ?

I think that one is So Kong Dong. This may sound kinda goofball, but OP could also do the food court at the Chinatown mall. Good vendors there, and you could get a bunch of kinda different stuff and put it all together. Or somewhere that does hot pots. Or ramen at Umaido (I'm kinda mad at myself for not going back one last time while the weather was still cold).

Apr 20, 2015
ted in Atlanta

Mr. & Mrs. cocktails for wedding reception

The drink guide has changed, but it's fun every year. I really liked the cherry caipirissima a few years ago, but alcohol plus fresh cherries equals medicine to my wife.

I also like the annual F&W cocktail books, though they have tended to lena on obscure ingredients in some of them.

One other random thought- I had an eastern NC vodka a few years ago that was made with sweet potatoes. You could tell, kind of like when I've had different varieties of soju. Maybe not for your drinks, but I'd look for some.

Mar 26, 2015
ted in Spirits

Mr. & Mrs. cocktails for wedding reception

The cocktailians will continue to recoil in horror, but...

If you have someone who can make the base for the caterer to use, my bulk mojito approach has worked well in the past (and it came from a F&W version of John Currence's City Grocery recipe). We've used a similar approach for gin gin mules too.

And for something bourbon based, our house lemonade is good.

My current approach is bourbon, Canton, barrel aged bitters (Fee Bros old fashioned in a pinch), and store-bought Simply Lemonade. Squeeze in a lemon wedge or two to balance out the sweetness.

In looking back at old threads, it also reminded me that the Times' annual summer drink compendium is usually good. There have been really good and really simple ideas there over the years.

Mar 24, 2015
ted in Spirits

lump charcoal

I'm a big fan of Royal Oak lump also. My understanding is that the BGE branded charcoal is Royal Oak. I have had trash in Royal Oak lump, but its been many years since that happened.

If you don't find lump, I wouldn't hesitate to use Stubb's or Trader Joe's briquettes as an alternative. Haven't tried the Kingsford competition, but I've read good things.

Mar 23, 2015
ted in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

Lost Prophet?

I ended up finding a liquor store in Miami over this past weekend that had a decent selection of bourbons that are long gone in Atlanta. They were a bit overpriced but I'm guessing it's also due to different tastes there (had some awful "BBQ," where no wood was harmed in cooking the meat).

They had 3 of the Orphan Barrels (Lost Prophet, Barterhouse, Rhetoric), Stagg Jr, multiple EH Taylors, multiple Jeffersons, etc.

I ended up getting an EH Taylor barrel proof and a Sazerac 6-yr. The latter probably will be back in stock here at some point, but the Taylor came and went (if it even made it to the shelf here).

I'm looking forward to breaking them open.

Mar 16, 2015
ted in Spirits