Six Super Satisfying Soul Foods to Celebrate Soul Food Month

Though the term ‘soul food’ wasn’t introduced until the 1960’s, this heritage cuisine has roots extending back to African slaves in the 14th century. Its original dishes were forged out of the off-cuts and leftovers they were given by their owners, supplemented with whatever produce they could grow or forage and the wild game they hunted. Over time, it evolved to include a broader variety of ingredients and has become the backbone of what most people consider Southern cuisine. Traditionally, this comforting cooking was served mainly below the Mason-Dixon line, though now you can easily find it to the north in New York City and beyond. To honor Soul Food month, we’ve assembled six super satisfying soul foods that will stick to your belly and give you a little taste of history.

Blujeen, Harlem, New York
Chef-owner Lance Knowling is a master of elevating rootsy cuisines to new heights. A perfect example is his smothered pork tenderloin, which comes spangled with sweet potato succotash and a dappling of pan drippings. No wonder Chelsea Clinton hired him to cater her wedding.

Blujeen pork blog copy

Café B, New Orleans, Louisiana
Mac ‘n’ cheese may well be the ultimate comfort food. This winning rendition is made with Irish white cheddar, Gruyere, and Parmigiano-Reggiano – plus a Parmesan topping. Gloriously gooey and über-rich, it’s the perfect kickoff to a meal or a satisfying side.

Cafe B MacNCheese blog copy

Macon Bistro & Larder, Washington, D.C. 
There are few more satisfying sides than a basketful of warm biscuits. These butter-rich rounds are flaky, fluffy, and filling. Split one open to spread on your choice of sweet honey butter or piquant pepper jelly.

Paschal’s Restaurant, Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, and Aretha Franklin have all made pilgrimages to this soul food mecca. They came for the restaurant’s blue ribbon fried chicken, which has been made with the same recipe since 1947. Each order comes with a breast, leg, and wing, plus your choice of a side (go for the collard greens or black-eyed peas).Continue Reading

Calling All Chefs: Top Chef Season 12 Auditions in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles + NYC

TCNOLASeason 11 of Top Chef just wrapped (Congrats, Nicholas Elmi!), but we’re already looking forward to the next mouthwatering competition. If you’ve always aspired to compete on the show that has helped usher in the next generation of America’s best chefs, come on down! Casting calls for season 12 of Top Chef are being held in cities across the U.S. This is the ideal opportunity to get in front of the folks who have had a hand in furthering the cooking careers of dozens of Top Chef winners and cheftestants.

Auditions begin TODAY in Atlanta and Dallas and head to other cities in the coming weeks. The current schedule is:

* ATLANTA: February 18 10AM-1PM, at The Spence, 75 Fifth Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia.

* CHICAGO: February 24, 10AM-1PM, at Spiaggia, 980 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

* DALLAS: February 18, 10AM-1PM, at Hotel Palomar Dallas, 5300 East Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas.

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On Our Plate: Top Tables with a View; Boston + Washington, DC Restaurant Week Reservations; Snap Better Foodspotting Pics + More

DCRWHappenings on and around OpenTable…

* Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 Diners’ Choice Awards for Top 100 Scenic View Restaurants. Find out which restaurants have heart-stopping views and mouthwatering dishes.

* Are you a Foodspotter? Use these insider tips from Luke McKinley of Ravish to make your pics look even more delish!

* New York City Restaurant Week continues. Three-course $25 lunches and $38 dinners through August 16.

* Downtown Cincinnati Restaurant Week is on like Tron. Take advantage of $35 dinners for one or two through August 25.

* Dining out in the Big Easy is even easier with COOLINARY New Orleans. Enjoy 2 or 3-course lunches for $20 or less and 3-course dinners for $35 or less through August 31.

* Houston Restaurant Weeks continue! Enjoy $20 + $35 brunches, $20 lunches, and $35 + $45 dinners through September 2.

* Spice up your summer with Miami Spice. Order up special $19 or $23 lunches and $33 or $39 dinners through September 30.

* Baltimore County Restaurant Week starts TOMORROW! Get charmed by $15.13-$30.13 lunches and $15.13-$35.13 dinners through August 25.

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Trending on OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Tartare

tartareThe very best steak tartare I ever ate almost had too much of everything — spice, salt, lemon. Almost. And, yet, it was perfection, coming right up to the line without crossing it. Indeed, if you like your beef wriggling and raw, as Gollum would say, and well seasoned, then tartare is the perfect dish for you. Most aficionados understand that it is a dish that can go very, very right — or very, er, not so right. Fortunately, OpenTable diners are encountering absolutely sublime versions of this raw delight. While versions of steak tartare date back to the beginning of the 20th century, my copy of Larousse Gastronomique from 1961 has a recipe for a very contemporary take on tartare. Find out what your fellow eaters are saying about this fresh meat treat. 

Auberge du Pommier, Toronto, Ontario: “The most memorable and tasty meal I have enjoyed in a while…foie gras, frogs’ legs, steak tartare, squab…all were terrific.”

* Belly and Trumpet, Dallas, Texas: “The antelope heart tartare was very good.”

Central 214, Dallas, Texas: “We sampled several appetizers/small plates to start, including steak tartare, melon salad, and scotch egg. But the tartare was perfect; I’d have been happy with an entree sized portion.”

Crush, Seattle, Washington: “All of our courses were delicious and inventive, although I’d say my carrot soup was the best and my husband would say his beef tartare was the best.”

Eleven Madison Park, New York, New York: “Especially liked the tableside take on steak tartare that was made with carrots and the duck.”

Fig & Olive-Melrose Place, West Hollywood, California: “Our favorite dish was the beef tartare, unique with its delicious olives blended with the meat. We both said we’d be back for that dish again.”

Gentleman Farmer, New York, New York: “Every dish we had was a culinary slay. I highly recommend the bison tartare and the filet mignon with foie gras. ”

Gordon Ramsay Steak, Las Vegas, Nevada: “The steak tartare was delicious with a great smoke flavor smoked right under a glass dome at the table.”

Le Patriarche, Quebec, Quebec: “Many aspects of our meal were outstanding, but the trilogy of young buffalo (tartare, carpaccio, and terrine) narrowly beat out the lamb as the best dish of the night.”

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