Archive - January, 2012

Soup Du Jour

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

This past Tuesday was like most days at work. I walked out of the office at about 11:30 while contemplating which Alpharetta restaurant to patronize. Then it hit me – an unexpected blast of freezing air. It’s not something I’m accustomed to during my lunch break. It made me crave a hot bowl of soup and also inspired this week’s Foodie Friday article.

No soup for you!

Most restaurants have a soup on the menu or maybe a soup du jour. Here are a few that stand out in my mind or have otherwise gained a reputation. If you have a favorite soup at an Alpharetta-area restaurant I’d love to hear about it.

Chili at Never Enough Thyme

I’m not a huge fan of this hoity toity sandwich shop. I seem to be the wrong gender each time I walk into their shop for lunch. But when I do eat here I almost always order the chili. It is the best, most authentic bowl of Texas-style chili you’ll find in Alpharetta. No beans about it! The meat is sirloin cut into cubes. The gravy is rich with deep beef flavor. This chili will stick to your ribs on a cold day. It’s by far the most manly thing on the menu at NET.

Carrot Jalapeno Soup at Boga Taqueria

Yeah, I just reviewed these guys, but I didn’t talk about the soup. Boga’s got a few soups on the menu but you really should try their carrot jalapeno soup. Don’t let the jalapeno in the name fool you as this isn’t a spicy soup. It’s creamy much like a butternut squash soup. I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the base of the soup. The carrot flavor doesn’t jump out a lot to me, perhaps it’s more for color. But the jalapeno is subtle and delicate. It’s just enough spice to contrast the creaminess.

Matzo Ball Soup at The Corner Deli

I’m writing about matzo. Oy vey!

Let’s be honest – I wouldn’t know a good matzo ball if the traditional Jewish dumpling smacked me across the face. So take what I say with a grain of salt (and make it Kosher).

There’s something I enjoy about the simplicity of Corner Deli’s matzo ball soup. Sure, it’s just chicken in broth, some carrots and a dense matzo ball. They say chicken soup is good for the soul and I’m not going to disagree.

Coconut Soup at Satay House

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Satay House so I hope they haven’t changed things around. But their coconut soup is far and away the best in town. It’s rich and intense with a solid core of coconut flavor. Satay makes it with a few pieces of chicken, some mushrooms and no lemongrass.

Honorable Mentions

I’ve not tried every soup in town. Here’s a few more that receive consistently positive reviews…

Beer Cheese Soup at Norman’s Landing - It’s not available everyday. I know some loyal fans who’ll call ahead to see if it’s on the specials board.
Tomato Basil Soup at Wildflour - A popular soup and salad choice. I regret that I’ve not tried it but I never want just half a sandwich here!
Never Enough Thyme on Urbanspoon

Photo credit: Americasroof (creative commons)

Fulton Science Academy – A game of chicken

This is the first of two articles about the charter renewal of the Fulton Science Academy.

It’s been difficult for me to get my hands around the issue of the Fulton Science Academy’s charter renewal. Most issues like this involving children or faith are pretty easy to grasp. Start with something like land use then combine some NIMBY sentiments and a pinch of xenophobia. But FSA’s situation is entirely different with a lot of influencing factors coming into play. Those on both sides of the issue are not afraid of employing emotional appeals or hyperbole to make a point. And in issues like this the truth usually is found somewhere in the middle. So after spending many hours of my Christmas break reading up on this fiasco, I’ve come to the conclusion that FSA’s charter renewal is really just…

A game of chicken

Yep, both sides were plowing ahead at full speed, waiting to see who would swerve first. Unfortunately those along for the ride include several hundred children, their families, taxpayers and a few bond holders. And all of these groups stand to lose big because of it.

“Increasingly volatile and combative relationship”

That’s how the credit rating agency Fitch described things between the FSA and the Fulton County School Board. They made this comment as they were downgrading FSA’s credit rating on their $19 million building bond. The relationship was volatile because each side had a big club to bring to the fight. FSA’s club was their recent Blue Ribbon Award from the Department of Education. Surely the school board would not deny a request from a school with such a high distinction. Armed with this, they asked for a ten year renewal on their charter, the maximum allowed. Additionally they requested a full waiver of Title 20 rules.

FCSB’s big club was a Georgia Supreme Court decision in 2011 that found that the state could not approve charter schools. That authority, according to the court, rests only with county school boards. It makes FSA’s appeal process more difficult. This is the FCSB’s chance to flex its muscle under the new ruling. As such, the Title 20 blanket waiver was off the table and they would only consider a three year charter renewal.

Neither side moved much after months of discussion. The FSA reduced their proposal to eight years but the FCSB made it clear that they would only consider three. Nevertheless, only the eight year proposal was brought before the school board. And at the end of this game of chicken, the FCSB didn’t swerve. Crash! They unanimously voted down FSA’s eight year request.

Both sides have acted poorly. Supporters of the FSA have been out in force claiming that the FCSB wants to shut down an award-winning school. It’s hyperbole pure and simple. It’s clear to me that the FSA wanted to force the school board into making such a vote even though another offer was on the table. Nobody desires to shut down this school.

On the flip side, the FCSB has not acted in good faith since the vote. FSA has relented (finally), agreeing to the three year term. However, the FCSB now will not consider it, saying the matter is closed. I don’t understand why they cannot move to amend or reconsider a matter that was before them. Most deliberative bodies easily have this option available under their rules. It would be best for all parties involved to approve the three year charter renewal and move on.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about why the FCSB is justified in wanting a shorter charter term for the Fulton Science Academy. And as always, there’s an elephant in the room that needs to be discussed. Stay tuned.

Alternative media in Alpharetta

Today marks the second anniversary of Roots in Alpharetta. It’s been a fun two years and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the conversations and friendships that have resulted from writing. While most blog readers probably don’t care much for anniversaries like this, I’d beg your indulgence a bit today. It’s this occasion coupled with the new year that makes me a bit reflective.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing in 2011 it is this – there is a role for alternative local media in Alpharetta. You’d think citizens would be covered for most newsworthy events that might happen. Atlanta is home to several TV stations and the AJC. We’ve got weekly newspapers such at the Revue & News, the Alpharetta Neighbor and Forsyth News. And don’t forget hyper-local online media such as The Patch that run lean and nimble news gathering operations.

Yet even with dozens of news rooms covering our area, some stories simply don’t get reported on. What stories are these local media outlets missing? Sometimes it is community buzz. Perhaps it’s a new restaurant that opened featuring a talented young chef. It might be about crime or violence that disrupt the peace in an otherwise safe suburb. Maybe it’s a question not being asked of candidates running for public office. Or it could be the back-story, the narrative behind the news that uncovers details or motives not clearly visible from the surface.

Why are journalists missing these stories? I don’t think it is deliberate although that could be a possibility. Some editors and publishers are not willing print the entire story for one reason or another. It could be that they are not using technology to listen to community chatter. Or it might be because of gaps in news cycles.

Roots in Alpharetta is certainly not exclusive when it comes to local alternative media. Other local blogs (many are in my blog roll) do outstanding work in their own respective ways. Bob Strader did a tremendous job on his blog last year reporting on school redistricting in north Fulton and Forsyth. He took a deep-dive into the issue, reporting on how redistricting effected families at the neighborhood and even street level. No other news source came close to his level of detail.

Whatever the story might be or the reason behind not reporting it, hyper-local bloggers have a role to play. It isn’t my desire to be a journalist. However, I’m more than willing to report on a story that isn’t being told for one reason or another. Sometimes it takes a local blogger to scoop a story before a news room will run with it. That’s a role I’ll gladly fill if that’s what it takes to get stories told in our community.

Thanks for reading Roots in Alpharetta in 2011 and happy New Year!

Photo Credit: RogueSun Media (creative commons)

Number of the Month – Home Invasion Arrests

Around the first of the month I publish the number of the month, a random bit of local trivia.

Eight

The number of arrests made in connection to a home invasion in Roswell targeting an Indian family. Police in Cobb County believe the same suspects were behind a similar home invasion in Mableton.

Both crimes were similar to Alpharetta’s home invasions in September and November. It is my sincere hope that authorities can link the cases and bring these criminals to justice. It would be nice to start the new year knowing that this crime wave is behind us.

Continued kudos to Mike Petchenik at WSB-TV for offering the most timely news on home invasions in north Fulton. I suggest you follow Mike on Twitter at @PetchenikWSB.

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