There are so many places I have not gotten a chance to share with you. I’m sure if you are keeping up with my social media platforms you have seen pictures of me here, there and what seems to be everywhere. Instead of making a few blog posts, I have decided to do a round up. Not trying to flood anyone’s inbox. So where do I start on this round-up?
Agave. I have driven past this restaurant for way too many years. Always saying one day I will try it out. Well that one day finally happened. And boy was I more than happy with that choice! Agave is self described as “an eclectic southwestern eatery and tequila bar” located in the Cabbagetown area of Atlanta. Taken straight from what it says on their website. Let me tell what Agave is to me. It is Honey, Cider, Smoked Bacon Collard Greens that makes you wish the chef was your Abuela, even though it’s a guy. It is Southwestern Mac & Cheese that will have you thinking that the Western part of the United States could hangout with you in rural Georgia and not be condemned for being a different kind of mac & cheese. The Barbacoa & Chorizo Chile Taco makes you want to write a letter to Taco Bell and ask them why not strive harder. The Stuffed Mountain Trout Tomatillo makes you want to grab your fishing pole, go fishing in the Georgia mountains, and grow your own tomatillos. What I had that night made me rave to every person I came in contact with. I just want to go back again and again.
Taste of Atlanta. I have always wanted to attend food festivals but never have. Go figure. Taste of Atlanta is just what it sounds like. It’s a chance to sample (via purchased tickets) dishes from some really great restaurants from the metro Atlanta area. There are also chances to meet and taste samples from large food companies like Goya and Smithfield. There were even demos and cooking classes by some of the best chefs in the city. My two favorite things from this event was getting to meet, talk with and take a picture with one of my new favorite chefs in Atlanta: Chef Richards of Richards Southern Fried. The other one was getting to taste Revolution Gelato. Why was that such a big deal for me? Well this was non-dairy ice cream made from coconut milk and cashews. Had I been blindfolded I would not have been able to tell the difference. It was so good I had to rejoin the line for a second go round.
Twelve Eighty. This restaurant is adjacent to The Woodruff Arts Center and across from The High Museum. It is quite a good spot to be for those of us that like to spend the afternoon strolling among the art or taking in a play. The atmosphere pulls you in but the food makes you want to come back again. My bloggers group was invited to the restaurant’s Fall menu tasting. I mean who doesn’t like a chance to sample food and spirits. I was there with bells on. Since I had a plus one I invited my friend, Kenya Freeman, now of Project Runway fame. It was such fun for us to hangout a little, since we both have busy schedules. They offered everything from apps to salads to sandwiches and unforgettable entrees. There is something for everyone. The staff is memorable. We got to meet and interact with the general manager, the maitre’d, executive chef, pastry chef and the wonderful waitstaff. You couldn’t ask for more. Please check out Twelve Eighty the next time you find yourself in midtown Atlanta, whether you ar taking in the art scene or not.
There are a few more places I have been honored to visit in the last month or so. However, they require more room to share than in a round-up. As always I made some great memories. Now go forward and make some new memories of your own.
Until next time.
~The Chef In Pearls
I have a general rule of thumb when ordering in restaurants. You don’t go to a steakhouse and order fish. I mean it’s a steakhouse. Which means they have mastered the art of cooking a great steak. I wouldn’t go to Nathan’s and order fried chicken. Nathan’s is known for their beef hot dogs. Which illustrates my point. STK Atlanta has become the exception to that rule in my book. In my opinion, their chef has mastered the art of cooking and boy did it show!
This past Monday my blogging partner, Rochelle Wharton, and I were invited to STK Atlanta to enjoy their newly launched Malbec Mondays. Customers can enjoy the paring of a half price bottle of Terrazas de los Andes Malbec when they order a steak. It available at their other U.S. locations as well including Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Orlando.
STK Atlanta screams S.E.X.Y. From the moment you walk in the door, you are greeted by a lovely hostess. As you step in a little further there is a lounge that has a beautifully curved sofa with its back against the large floor to ceiling windows. Through the windows you get a peek of the busy Atlanta street outside the restaurant. As I sat waiting on the sofa, the view was of the extensive bar with the wildest art seeming to protrude from the wall. It all works so well together. Once Rochelle arrived we were seated. The ambiance of the dining area was perfect for a date night with low lighting and a lit votive on the table. I’m going to keep this place in mind whenever I am asked out on a date.
Enough about the look of the restaurant. Let’s get to why I feel like STK Atlanta is the exception to one of my restaurant ordering rules. As we were guests of the restaurant, our menu was pre-selected by our wonderful server Adam. SN: When you make your reservation with STK Atlanta make sure to ask for Adam as your server. He is knowledgeable about the menu and happy to make suggestions or explain why he prefers one item over another.
Adam started us off with the bottle of Terrazas de los Andes Malbec. Now I am not much of a red wine drinker, but once Rochelle gave me an impromptu red wine drinking lesson, I not only liked but actually enjoyed drinking it. Our next arrival was the obligatory bread plate. The difference between STK and the average eatery bread was we indulged in a pull-apart bread brushed with bleu cheese butter and served with a chive dipping oil. Yes, imagine that in your mouth! Exactly! Your taste buds waking up from its unknown slumber. While we drank wine and noshed on bread, Adam began to bring out our starters, including a Baby Gem Lettuce Caesar with herb croutons and grated parmesan reggiano. The salad was great especially if you’re a cheese lover because it was loaded with parm.The dressing was authentic caesar as you could taste the hint of anchovy in it. That was followed by the Bigeye Tuna Tartare with Hass avocado, soy-honey emulsion and taro root chips. The combination of fresh fish and the soy-honey emulsion made my taste buds sway from side to side as it took notice of all the flavors. Last but most definitely not least was the Lil’ Brgs made of wagyu beef topped with a special sauce encased in sesame seed buns. In my experience, most places mess up the sliders they carry because they end up being over cooked but not in this case. The beef was tender and flavorful and cooked to mini perfection. At this point STK Atlanta had won me over but I knew there was more to come. Anything could happen between now and the end of the meal.
What did happen next helped to put a dent in my theory of not ordering fish in a steakhouse. Adam brought us our entrees. Rochelle had the King Salmon presented with fregola, succotash, corn puree and red endive jam. What made this dish for me was the fact that the salmon was perfectly cooked. It was flaky, moist and most importantly expertly presented. Now don’t get me wrong, all the other components of the dish went well with the salmon which made it all the more enjoyable. After sampling this dish I had no doubt in my mind that my steak would be up to par. I received a little surf and turf action, the filet with 2 seared scallops and an au poivre sauce. It was spot on!! Cooked to the right temperature for me (medium) and oh so tasty.
All told STK more than killed my little personal restaurant rule of thumb. They managed to not only present seafood on three different levels and get it right, but they still showed me that they are truly a steak house. If you’re looking for an upscale restaurant with great service, wonderful food all served with a dash of sexy, STK Atlanta is the place for you. If you aren’t in the Atlanta area check out one their many other locations. They have a few international spots too for my world traveler readers.
This was my experience at STK Atlanta and my opinion about the food. You may go and have a different experience (I can’t imagine that happening but hey anything is possible). I like to share things from my point of view and because we are all different and like different things they may not always aline. However one will never find out what you like if you don’t give it a try. I made many memories there and I hope that you will give it a try. Now go forward and make memories.
Until next time
~The Chef In Pearls
*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a meal for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*
My two best friends of nearly 30 years have both Blazed. They have taken great pleasure in rubbing in the fact that they Blaze and Blaze often. How is it that in my big city living I have yet to Blaze? Easy, there was no Blaze Pizza to be found in Atlanta. That was until a few weeks ago. Yep that’s right, we finally got a Blaze pizza, located in the Downtown Decatur/Emory Village Area. So as any true food blogger would do, I went to get my Blaze on.
When the invitation was posted to my bloggers’ group Facebook page, I wasted no time in RSVP’ing. As always, when I am allowed, it would be myself plus one. My foodie partner for the evening would be Paris, my friend/little sister. She’s always game to try a new eating place with me. So I was ready, an invite and a date, so to speak. Now to see what the fuss was all about. I mean truth be told if I were to tell you how I Blaze I’d have to say with fire but I am a bit of a smartass.
When we get there, I already know that if this pizza is anything like my besties say I won’t Blaze on the weekends. It was built in a plaza that already has a very popular supermarket and few other eateries. Parking will become an issue. I have left frustrated from many a location or not even bother to go if I know parking will be a problem. Thank God that was not an issue for us the evening we traveled to Blaze Pizza.
We are greeted with a lovely building with a great outdoor patio. I go inside and am met by Rachelle, their PR person. She was sweet and very happy to talk all about Blaze and what makes their pizza place different from all other pizza places. After going through the line and creating my very own Blaze experience, these are the things I’d like to share with you.
Let’s start with 1. You can start by ordering one of their specialty pizzas or customize one of your own with any amount of toppings and the price stays the same. You read correctly. If you wanted every topping they have in store there will be no upcharge. Just get it. 2. Once you have created your pizza it takes all of 180 seconds or 3 minutes for your pizza to be baked. Could you want it any faster? 3. If you are watching your carbs, (who goes to a pizza place if that’s what they’re doing but I digress), they have salad options. I don’t mean your typical tossed salads but instead salads like Kale & Quinoa or Arugula & Fresh Fruit plus two others on the menu. 4. They even offer daiya cheese for your vegan options. So far they are racking up points with me and my vegan friends. 5. Then let’s not forget to round out your order with your choice of bottle drinks, their custom lemonades and aqua frescas or other fountain drinks. They also have dessert: s’mores pie, sea salt cookies and olive oil brownies. Could you really want anything more from a pizza place?
So if you want to know how I Blaze check out my video right here and check out the pictures down below.
How would you Blaze? Or have you already Blazed? Let me know all about in the comments. Now go forward and make some new Blazing memories .
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls
What’s the first rule of fight club? Yeah, if I hadn’t already shared that I had a birthday in July I would be telling my age with that reference. That question comes from a 1999 movie titled, you guessed it . . . Fight Club. What I’m talking about is different kind of fight club. Dare I share it? In the movie, the first rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club. Well since I’m all about breaking rules here and there, I think I will tell you all about Culinary Fight Club.
Culinary Fight Club is all about bragging rights. Who gets to say they won? Who gets to say they are the best amongst their peers. Wait . . . hold up: I have a confession to make. I didn’t actually go to Culinary Fight Club. What I attended was Culinary Fight Fest. A gathering that happens when you have 6-8 winners of previous Culinary Fight Club matchups and put them up against each other. In this arena the winners compete to see who will be the best of the best, top dog among champions The talent was strong in the room. There was a little bit of everything to try during the Tasters’ Choice round. Each contestant presented a dish that you were able to vote on. To cast your vote, you dropped one of the 4 tokens you received on entry into their voting box. There was no limit on how you cast your vote. If you liked them a lot you could drop all 4 in. After this initial tasting, the top four were chosen. From there the top 4 go on to compete in the final round. They are given 30 minutes and a mystery box. Brasstown Beef was the sponsor for the mystery boxes. So you guessed it . . . the boxes had beef in them. To keep the chefs on their toes they were unmarked cuts of beef, so you really had to know your stuff to compete.
The chefs came prepared to battle. They were provided with pantry items, kitchen equipment and any necessary tools to cook. However many chose to still bring things to help put them ahead of their competition. Things ranged from an old school pressure cooker all the way to river rocks. The top 4 presented wonderful dishes to be judged. But we all know the rule. There can only be one winner . . . one top dog . . . and that honor went to Josh Reeves of the River Club, located in Suwanee, GA. He walked away with a check, some cool knives and most importantly the right to brag as the winner of Culinary Fight Fest.
As always, I got to meet some pretty cool people, run into some of the usual suspects and of course make memories. Hey would you come out to support if The Chef In Pearls competed? Comment and let me know if you’d be a part of my cheering squad if I decided to join the Culinary Fight Club competition.
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls
I am blessed to have lived a childhood where I did not have to worry about hunger. That doesn’t mean there were no hard times in my family’s life. It just means my Mom had a nifty way of making sure as kids we never knew about it. I managed to raise 3 kids and none of them experienced hunger. However, that is not the case for so many children, 1 out of 6 kids do not have a decent breakfast before school. WIthout breakfast they are more likely to miss school, less likely to get better grades and less likely to graduate high school. It is said that 13 million children suffer from hunger. This is where No Kid Hungry comes into play. The goal is to raise awareness of this epidemic happening in one of the richest countries in the world. They also help to raise money to help fill the gap in areas where this is happening.
This past weekend I had the honor of serving as media coverage for the Give Me Five . . . No Kid Hungry Fundraiser. 5 featured chefs and 5 sommeliers crafted a 5 course meal all in the name of raising awareness and money. This was the 11th year for the fundraiser. Attending this event was an “extra happy” event for me. It’s was a chance for me to play dress up, eat good food and do my part to share all of the going ons during the event. It was a win-win situation all around for me. The atmosphere was totally different from the event I had gone to earlier that day. You can read about my time at Culinary Fight Club right here.
The event started off with a cocktail reception and passed appetizers, where entertainment was provided by a live harpist. All great events start with bubbly and this one did not disappoint. Within the next hour we were ushered into the ballroom that was so exquisite. There was a Jazz Trio playing wonderful music as we found our seats. The concept of the event had the chefs and the sommeliers to create wonderful pairings for each course. And they definitely achieved that goal. Now I could sit here and write about each course but I honestly feel like the pictures will speak volumes. Believe me when I say the only way you are not drawn in by the pictures would be because you are blind. One of the coolest thing was that they held a live auction during dinner. It was very exciting to hear the auctioneer roll those numbers off his tongue urging and pulling people into outbidding one another, all in the name of a good case.
Give Me Five was a wonderful event but if you are like me and were moved even the slightest by the statics I shared, you may want to make a donation. You have several ways you can help out. You can make a one time donation, make a monthly contribution or find a local restaurant or event that supports the cause and participate through them. Feel free to click here and check out the options yourself. Let’s work together to help make fond morning memories for some needy children.
Until next time
~The Chef In Pearls
It’s Summer time. Besides the warmer weather it means, at least to me, fresh fruits and vegetables. One of the major summer harvest items is zucchini. You can find them in so many varieties. The most common variety seen in the markets are the green zucchini. Those are the ones I used for this recipe but you can mix and match them if you want. Please be aware that zucchini is one of the top 10 Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) produce in the U.S. It’s important that you #KnowYourSource, so please support your local farmers and farmers’ markets.
In my last blog post I said i would share the zucchini fritters recipe I did at The Monroe Farmers Market. And as a woman of my word here we go. There are some very important things to note. It is CRUCIAL that you squeeze out as much liquid from the shredded zucchini as possible. If you don’t your fritters won’t come together properly as there is too much liquid in ratio to the amount of flour. Also don’t be afraid to add other things to your mixture. Some ideas are grated carrots or bacon bits, fresh herbs or try a different cheese. The options are limited to your imagination.
I don’t know if I have ever told you guys this but recipes are just guidelines. You can take away or add whatever you like to make the dish work the best for you.The only recipes that you have to follow a bit more exact are baking recipes. There is a science involved with baking recipes so those shouldn’t be fudged with much. Other than that have fun making changes and trying new things in a recipe
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced
You just got home from work. It’s been a long day and a longer day in traffic. No energy to hit the supermarket yet you know that you still have to eat. You open the fridge only to realize there isn’t very much there. White rice leftover from the Chinese food you ordered earlier in the week. There are a few eggs, half of an onion, carrot matchsticks for the salads you never made for lunch, a partially used head of broccoli and the doggy bag of shrimp from the blind date you went on last night( we won’t even talk about the disaster that was). Back to the problem at hand–you are tired, hungry and over your eating out budget (remember you never made those salads for lunch this week). You pull all your ingredients out and place them on the counter. You start to wonder what it is you can make with all these bits and pieces. And then you have an AHA moment…Fried Rice.
It’s an easy fix to your problem. It’s a matter of prep work and using a hot pan. Below is an easy Fried Rice recipe that you can tweak to include anything you want or can find in your fridge. If you want more vegetables, add more vegetables. Maybe you want chicken and shrimp, bok choy and water chestnuts. Remember that recipes are just guidelines. Use it to create your very own special fried rice.
2 TBSP canola oil
1 egg beaten
½ small onion diced
¼ cup carrots cut up
¼ cup broccoli cut up and blanched*
¼ -½ cup of your chosen protein
½ cup leftover cooked rice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
½ – 1 TBSP soy sauce
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp sesame oil
Heat 1 TBSP oil in nonstick frying pan. Add pinch of salt and sesame oil to beaten egg. Add egg mixture to hot pan. Allow to cook without disturbing, 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and cut into strips. Add 1 TBSP oil to pan. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add carrots, broccoli and your protein and cook for 1-2 minutes. Gently move the vegetables and protein to the edge of pan. Add the rice to the center of pan followed by the ginger, soy sauce (this well give the rice that nice brown color you are used to seeing as well as sodium for taste). Combine all the ingredients in the pan, adding the egg strips in. Finish the rice off with a drizzle of sesame oil for more flavor. Remove from heat and plate.
Viola! Dinner is done in less than 30 minutes and you didn’t have to leave the house or further damage your food budget. This calls for a celebration. Pour yourself a glass of wine, get cozy in the sofa and enjoy your fried rice. This is definitely an #ExclusivePartyOfOne.
*The word blanch refers to a cooking technique in which food is briefly immersed in boiling water or fat.
Blanching vegetables softens them just enough so that they can then be quickly cooked over high heat, such as in a stir fry, where a short time in the pan wouldn’t be enough to soften them, but cooking them longer would tend to overcook the other items in the pan.
Definition from http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/glossary/g/blanch.htm
Here’s a tip for you. The best way to store ginger is to freeze it. It lasts longer and is easier to grate on your microplane.
I was recently invited to eat at The Chef’s Table by the lovely members of The Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society. Yeah I felt kind of special. I mean it’s not everyday you get invited to partake of a Chef’s Table and at The Cobb Galleria Center, nonetheless. Well at least I know I don’t. Chef Nick Walker was inspired by the beers at Monday Night Brewing, a local craft brewery here in Atlanta. What we were presented with was nothing less than amazing. Chef Nick Walker makes me want to create an event at Cobb Galleria Center just to see what fabulousness (yes that is an actually word) he would create for me & my guests.
A little background on Chef Nick Walker so you understand a little bit about his ability. He graduated from Art Institute of Atlanta, magna cum laude at that with a BS. He went on to cook in many different kitchens across Georgia. He has even worked with the infamous Food Network. Looks like he may know a thing or two about food if they hired him. In addition to working for the Cobb Galleria Center he teaches at Kennesaw State University. I guess we can say he has his food credentials in order.
Enough about him. Let’s get to what this post is really all about….FOOD! Not any food. Well thought out and very creative food. I walked away not only completely stuffed from this meal but also inspired. He made me want to go home and create on levels I hadn’t before. I have a new appreciation for beer ( still not my favorite drink but at least I’m learning what I do and do not like). I present to you The Chef’s Table at The Cobb Galleria Center…
Please bear with me because I managed to end up with no picture of our first course. First Course – Amuse Bouche Ginger Crab Fritter with Spicy Banana Puree paired with Fu Manbrew_Belgian Style Wit. As a consolation there is a cute picture of me eating it. I hope that makes up for that missing picture of that dish.
The rest of these pictures will be plentiful and decadent looking. Be forewarned …you may want to lick your screen but please refrain from doing anything of that nature. If you click the pictures there are descriptions of each dish attached.
What would the night be without people. They helped to make the night fun and enjoyable, from staff to my fellow bloggers.
This was a wonderful experience that left me with beautiful memories. These are not experiences you can have of your own. Many restaurants offer the option of a Chef’s Table, check out their websites or call and find out. It’s a chance to try things not on the menu that the chef has crafted to show their talents and creativity. It will be something memories are made from. Click here to check out The Cobb Galleria Center for all your event needs from board meetings to large conventions. And click here to check out all the beers Monday Night Brewing has going on. Have you ever eaten at a Chef’s Table before? If so share in the comments below. Now go forth and make memories.
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls
Who isn’t drawn to a bit of mystery and intrigue? I cannot deny that I love a little mystery here and there. It makes life a little more interesting. So when given the chance to visit a speak easy located in downtown Atlanta, I was game. I was told to head to The Red Phone Booth. I don’t know if any of you have ever watched any old gangsta movies. You know, the ones where in order to get into the club you had to know the secret password. Well The Red Phone Booth is just like that. It’s open to the public. You just have to know someone who has gone before or has membership to give you the password. Thank God for knowing people! When you arrive you step inside a red phone booth, similar to the ones you used to see scattered throughout London. You dial in the secret code and voila the door opens for you.
Once the door opens, you enter into a dimly lit room with vignettes of leather clad sofas and chairs. There were large coffee tables nestled amongst them, giving the room a very manly feel. As you step a little further in, you see a full bar along the back of the room, where bartenders are busy crafting specialty drinks for the patrons. Then you notice the smell of smoke in the air, but not caused by trendy hookahs. This is the scent of cigars, slow burning being enjoyed by guests. Yes, this not your average bar or lounge. It’s more. It’s an experience.
During the visit, there was the chance to sample drinks while noshing on Beef Carpaccio and Oysters on the Half Shell. Can I make a confession? For all of the cooking and such I have done, I have never eaten an oyster on the half shell. I mean I’d eat Oysters Rockefeller all day long but an actual raw oyster . . . never. Well not until The Red Phone Booth. You know what? I actually liked it. Not bad for a first.
I would recommend The Red Phone Booth to anyone who doesn’t want to do the everyday bar scene. It’s full of history, great drinks, and a wonderful atmosphere. While you are there make sure to check out Amalfi’s located above the speak easy. The restaurant boasts two wood burning ovens that reach temperatures between 800 and 900 degrees. The heat allows them to bake pizza in less than a minute’s time. I really enjoyed their pizza crust. Let me know what you think about the pizza if you check them out.
Here are two places you can head out to and make memories. Do think you are up for a little mystery and intrigue?
Until next time.
~The Chef In Pearls
P.S. The images in the Red Phone Booth are dimly lit because I wanted you to get a feel for the atmosphere…Who am I kidding? I couldn’t find the flash on my camera. I now know where it is.
With the New Year comes new thoughts, needs and demands. I was pretty quiet for the month of January because I was busy getting things in order for my return to the kitchen. That’s right The Chef In Pearls will be available for private cooking events. You can now have me in your personal kitchen whipping up your every heart’s desires. I’ve got another announcement that is sure to make your Valentine’s Day even better.
To help spread the word of my return to the kitchen I have joined forces with a few good people I have come to know to do a Valentine’s Day Giveaway. Miss Loren Browne, of Dating with Passports , has the Valentine’s Day low down on dating in the states and abroad. Then there is Miss Kym Edwards, of Naughty Goddess, that brings out that alter ego in all of us with her lingerie and adult novelties. Finally we have Miss KaSundra Anderson, of Nail Spa Haven, providing all your nail pampering needs. The prizes for the giveaway includes an E-Gift card from Naughty Goddess, a manicure from Nail Spa Haven and Chef services in your kitchen for you and your special some one from The Chef In Pearls. My services to the winner will include a phone consultation to create a menu, a grocery list of items to create menu and then come over to cook for you and your special someone. Can it get any better than this? I don’t think so. All you have to do is enter thru the below Rafflecopter. A winner will be chosen randomly and notified at the end of the contest. So hurry up and enter and don’t forget to tell a friend.
Now you can have me be a part of your memory making. Until next time.
~The Chef In Pearls