The Atlanta Burrito Review: Chipotle

Tonight began a bold new endeavor in the land of the Amateur Gourmet: a comprehensive tour of Atlanta’s burritos. Since Moe’s and Willy’s are pretty standard fare, Lauren and I decided to try the newly built, newly popular Chipotle in Toco Hills. For the sake of keeping this review short, I will dispense of narrative structure, dialogue and characterization and simply say that this burrito was a superior Atlanta burrito. Here is a picture:

And now for my evaluation:

TASTE: B+. The chicken is grilled and fresh, the salsa is fresh too. The beans are fine (as beans usually are) and the guacamole is thick but good. Chips don’t come free, but even so they are superior: hefty without being dense, light without being weak. Unlike the Moe’s chips, these don’t break when scooping up stray pieces of chicken.

VALUE: B. Moe’s gives you chips with your burrito, so Chipotle loses points for charging for theirs. However, Chipolte gave us free drinks because we were students (with student IDs). “Do you always do this?” I asked. “Always for now,” the woman answered.

OVERALL: B+. I’m keeping my grade in the B-range because surely there are better burritos in Atlanta. But in terms of cheap, easy to get to Atlanta burritos, this is among the best.

Atlanta Farmer’s Market

“I can’t believe you’ve never been to the Farmer’s Market,” says Katy. “You’re the Amateur Gourmet!”

Her husband, Josh, agrees. “It’s really embarssing for you,” he says. “It’s like this horrible secret that no one knows about.”

Chris expressed similar sentiments last night. “It’s like you’re living this big lie.”

So today I finally broke and called up Josh and Katy and said: “Fine! Fine! I’ll go with you to the Farmer’s Market!”

Granted, I said this while the phone was still ringing. When I finally got through I casually mentioned a possible Farmer’s Market visitation, and Katy immmediately jumped.

“So you’re saying you want to go to the Farmer’s Market?” she asked enthusiastically.

“I guess that’s what I’m saying,” I replied.

“Well well well,” she said proudly. “Our little boy’s all grown up.”

So I made my way–ah, let’s do this in present tense–I make my way over to Josh and Katy’s and they are outside waiting.

“He’s here!” they sing in unison.

“I’ll follow you guys there,” I say. “I want to go to Border’s afterward.”

“Ok! Ok!” They get into their car. I get into mine.

We begin driving. The weather is rainy. I begin to wonder if today is a good Farmer’s Market day and then I remember that, according to Chris, the Farmer’s Market is indoors.

Here’s a picture of the drive:

Finally, we get there. Josh and Katy point the way:


“It’s over there!” they inform me.

“Can you guys stop talking in unison?”

They nod together.

We make our way over. Here is the last picture I’m officially allowed to take:


After that, there is a sign that says “NO PHOTOGRAPHS! NO VIDEO RECORDING!” I find this rather odd for a Farmer’s Market, but I don’t say anything.

So we begin walking the aisles. Josh and Katy have an agenda: groceries to buy, things to plan. I am just there to watch.

“Aren’t you going to buy anything?” asks Josh.

“Nah,” I say. “I’m just here to look.”

“Ohh, come now,” says Katy. “Surely there must be something you want to buy.”

They lead me over to the spices.

“Look at these spices!” they say. “Look how cheap they are! And look how much you get!”

“Yes, they are cheap,” I say. “And you do get a lot.”

They lead me down the produce aisles.

“Look at all this produce!” they cheer.

It is true: there is a lot of produce. And the value is great. There are many people there scooping up produce by the armful.

“Ahh!” says Josh. “I know!’

He scampers off and returns with a yellowish ball with five fingers coming out of its head.

“What is it?” I ask.

“It’s a hand of Buddha! For your website! A strange fruit!”

I accept the Hand of Buddha, despite my Jewish upbringing, and begin to have fun.

“Whoah!” I say. “Look over there! Fish!”

Josh, Katy and I run over to the fish section. There are live crabs snapping at children, lobster tanks, and giant glass aquariums with huge fish floating sadly in limbo.

“Oh my God!” I say. “Look how big that fish is!”

“You see!” says Josh.

“You see!” says Katy.

“The Farmer’s Market is great!” they say in unison.

“I know!” I say.

“Hey!” I add. “Let me take a picture!”

“But…” says Katy.

“I’ll do it covertly,” I promise.

I sneak the camera out of my pocket and snap this shot as Katy and Josh scout out for the fuzz.


“Quick, run!” they say, and scurry off with their wagon.

I watch them scurry into the parking lot, tying the wagon to their car with rope and hopping in like Bonnie and Clyde. The speed off as the Farmer’s Market police chase them, sirens blaring and bullets spraying.

I sigh with gladness. I have been to the Farmer’s Market.

The Chocolate Chronicles: Chapter Two, Chocolates Eight and Nine

Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark.

Last we spoke there were two chocolates eaten. Careful observation will reveal that there are seven chocolates missing. Seven minus two leaves five. Who ate these five? What slovenly creature would sink to such depths as to ingest five high quality chocolates, given as a gift to a boy with an Oedipal complex?


She looks so smug doesn’t she? Lauren the dastardly roommate. Body language experts agree that her stance is saying: “Yes, I ate your chocolate. And I’m about to eat another one. What are you going to do about it?”

I whip out my camera and proudly declare: “I shall document your thievery and broadcast it to the world!”

“Whatever floats your boat,” she says and takes a bite. Suddenly she is transformed.


“Mmmm,” she sings. “Mommy likes chocolate! My chocolate has yummy insides!”

She scampers off into her bedroom and I am left alone with the box.

“Very well,” I say and select the chocolate wrapped in red foil.


“Here goes nothing,” I say and pop it into my mouth.

“Oops.” I spit it back out and take the foil off.

I take a bite.


It is a delicious with a cherry-filled center. “Delicious!” I declare.

And then I dribble some on my shirt.*


I run to the sink.

“Out damn spot! Out I say!”

* This last portion of “The Chocolate Chronicles: Chapter Two, Chocolates Eight and Nine” is a fiction devised to create a symmetry by opening and closing with quotes from “Macbeth.” This devise works marvellously to frame a piece and since there are very few “Macbeth” quotes that describe the finer qualities of chocolate, a fake spillage allows for aesthetic unity.**

** It just occurred to me that “Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark” is a quote from Hamlet. Therefore, my piece has been sabotaged by inadquate Shakespeare quoting. Perhaps it would be appropriate to follow Cole Porter’s advise and brush up a little:

Brush up your Shakespeare

Start quoting him now

Brush up your Shakespeare

And the women you will wow

Just declaim a few lines from Othella

And they’ll think you’re a heck of a fella

If your blonde won’t respond when you flatter ‘er

Tell her what Tony told Cleopatterer

And if still to be shocked she pretends, well

Just tell her that All’s Well That Ends Well

Brush up your Shakespeare

And they’ll all kow-tow

Brush up your Shakespeare…

If your goil is a Washington Heights dream

Treat the kid to a Midsummer Nights dream

With the wife of the British embessida

Try a crack out of Troilus and Cressida

If she says she won’t buy it or like it

Make her tike it, what’s more As You Like It

Brush up your Shakespeare

And they’ll all kow-tow

Brush up your Shakespeare…

If you can’t be a ham and do Hamlet

They will not give a damn or a damnlet

Just recite an occasional sonnet

And your lap’ll have Honey upon it

When your baby is pleading for pleasure

Let her sample your Measure for Measure

Brush up your Shakespeare

And they’ll all kow-tow – Forsooth

And they’ll all kow-tow – Odd’s bodkins

And they’ll all kow-tow

Taqueria Del Sol & Star Provisions

If there is one area of conversation, one facet of communication that I would extract from all future interactions it would be politics. My friends might find this strange because I am often puffing heatedly about affirmative action, gay parenting and abortion (I often play the devil’s advocate, rousing great venomous passions over dinner) but I never do so gladly. If I could, I would be done with it: leave the politics to the pros, and let me worry about food.

That was my mindset today as I made my way down 14th Street. (Cue Rufus Wainwright’s “14th Street” from his new album, which is such a good song). “Ahhh,” I said to myself. “What a lovely day. I shall go to Taqueria Del Sol and Star Provisions and record my experience for my site readers.”

And then I saw a vision out my window:

I found this vision disconcerting because after my journalistic endeavor, I planned to kill my baby.

“Oh well, baby,” I said. “I guess you’ll live after all.”

Then I parked my car at Taqueria Del Sol.


Did I think about the exploitation of Mexican iconography and food in maintaining the sustinence of rich white people? No, reader I didn’t. I ordered three cheaply priced tacos ($1.49 each): a fried chicken taco, a brisket taco, and a fried fish taco.

I sat at a table and read a New Yorker article about John Kerry. Damn politics!

Then my food was brought out:


Did I see in my tacos metaphors for capitalism (brisket = beef industry), religion (fish = sticker on Christian cars) and cultural hegemony (fried chicken = mainstreamed version of the real deal). No! I just ate them and they were delicious.

Then I made my way over to Star Provisions, which–after severe protests from the S society and R-wingers–is now simply TA Provisions:


In all seriousness, Ta Provisions is probably the most respected, most accomplished and most expensive “supermarket” to be found in Atlanta. It is housed right in front of Bacchanalia, often cited as Atlanta’s best restaurant. Inside you will find:

A bakery:


Today they were selling these amazing look S’Mores:


But I didn’t buy one because I’m a Democrat.

There’s also a kitchen equipment section:


A meat section:


And a candy section:


Finally, after a trip through the wine section


I made my way home. In the car, I noticed a mini-van in front of me with a large fish labelled “TRUTH” eating a smaller fish labelled “DARWIN.” The license plate said: “Support Our Teachers!”

The baby said: “Kill me now.”

Thursday Night Dinner Song: “Women Outside The Bakery”

What is happening? Has the world come to an end? How can the Amateur Gourmet possibly have a Thursday Night Dinner Song when it’s only Wednesday? HELP ME, I’M SO CONFUSED!

Settle down, dear reader. The Amateur Gourmet understands your plight and is here to explain. As mentioned in a previous post, The Amateur Gourmet (who will stop referring to himself in the third person now) is involved with a Valentine’s Day show this weekend called “The VD Show” performed by Out of Hand Theater Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at CJ’s Landing in Buckhead. (For you non-Georgians, that’s in Atlanta).

The show is a really fun, really dirty, really wild tribute to life, love and the pursuit of sex with hookers. I contributed two pieces: a musical, “The Boy Who Went Blind,” which ends the show; and “Women Outside The Bakery” which comes halfway through the second act. In it, three women sit in their cars eating pastries, mourning their lots in life with song. And since it’s about food, tonight I thought: “Hey! I’ll bring a recorder to rehearsal and capture the song for the website! That way my readers will be inspired to purchase tickets and accost me after the show!”

So without further adieu, here are Maia, Ariel and Catherine with “Women Outside The Bakery”!

Download file

The Chocolate Chronicles: Chapter One, Chocolate Two

The Oedipus myth, according to Freud, is one that echoes in our psyche like a glass breaking on a marble floor in the Bank of America. We are victims of an early infatuation–“the greatest love affair of our lives,” according to many psychoanalysts–and though Sophocles’ intentions may have been simply to entertain the masses, the byproduct of his play is a troubling theory of parent-child relations.

It is with great trepidation, then, that I inform you that my mother sent me a box of Godiva chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

“Vewwy intewesting,” says Dr. Freud over my shoulder.

“You sound like Elmer Fudd,” I retort.

Psychoanalytically, these chocolates represent an unconscious longing; each truffle a sugar-filled serum of temptation, urging me to kill my father, marry my mother and poke my eyes out. Instead, though, I take a picture of the box:

As you can see, I already ate one last night. This was after Tyresias warned me that chocolates will make me fat.

“Oh hush, old man!” I chortled. “Chocolates will do no such thing! Off with his head!”

Today, I decided to document my selection. Perusing the box once more, my eyes glided past the white chocolate star, the red-foil wrapped ball and the guilded dark chocolate three from the lower left. I chose one shaped like a leaf thinking it would be filled with a delicious raspberry cream.


“I warn you!” screamed Tyresias, pre-beheading, “There will be no cream in that chocolate!”

“Quiet old man,” I hissed and took a bite.


“Alas! Alas!” I shrieked. “Woe for my misery! Where are my steps taking me? My random voice is lost in the air. Oh God! How hast thou crushed me!”

The leaf was a bad choice.

The Corner Bakery: Model Fast Food?

Today I rode the laurels of my celebrity away from school and on to the mall, where I could revel in my splendor—absorbing the awe-struck gazes of passers-by who whispered to one another: “Is that the guy from TV?” “He’s so much cuter in person!”

I made my way up the escalator and turned left towards the warm, welcoming glow of The Corner Bakery.

The Corner Bakery is nothing new. I remember my first few years in Atlanta, mustering up my friends and saying gleefully: “Let us journey off to the Corner Bakery!” “There’s a bakery on the corner?” “No you fools!” I’d admonish them. “The Corner Bakery! It’s a novel, fast-food concept located in the mall!”

And then this summer I worked at a law firm in Los Angeles. Our first day there, the interns decided to go for lunch to the Corner Bakery. “There’s a bakery on the corner?” I asked. “No you fool!” they admonished. I hung my head in shame.

Here’s why I think the Corner Bakery is a good thing. First of all, it is fast food. “Fast food” is a tainted concept. We think of greasy fries, bitter countergirls, and ketchup that you pump energetically into little paper cups. And yet the Corner Bakery conjures forth notions of authenticity, of fresh ingredients served in a charming atmosphere. No rank smell of grease; the Corner Bakery is clean, efficient, and impressively consistent. Their glass case offers interesting sandwich options—ham on a pretzel roll, chicken pesto, tuna on olive ciabatta—and the salads (ginger chicken, D.C. chicken salad) and soups (roasted tomato basil) are equally compelling.

Today, for example, I had the lunch soup / sandwich combo with a half a chicken pesto and a small cup of the tomato basil soup. Here’s a picture:


Not only do you get the sandwich and the soup, but you get a generous portion of chips and a pickle. With a drink, the total came to $8. So I acknowledge that that’s expensive for fast food. But maybe there’s a happy medium between the dreck they serve you at McDonald’s and the quality food they serve you at The Corner Bakery. I suppose one answer is Panera bread; or Cafe Au Bon Pain. I’m not a big fan of the former, and I haven’t been to the latter enough to judge.

Surely, though, all these establishments are from the same school of thought: quality ingredients served quickly. I think that this is a good school (despite the principal’s drinking problem) and suggest that it serve as model for the future of fast food. With my vision fulfilled, there will be a Corner Bakery on every corner. I dream of a future where you can say “Let’s go to the Corner Bakery!” and your companions will respond in unison “Let’s!” as you frolic there hand in hand.

Unless your companions have no limbs.

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