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Diner en Blanc Atlanta . . . Another one in the Books

Diner en Blanc Atlanta . . . Another one in the Books

30 years since created + 5 years of Atlanta participating + 3,500 people all dressed in white + 1 location = Diner en Blanc Atlanta. This was the year Diner en Blanc turned the big three O and if that wasn’t enough Atlanta celebrated 5 years of being on board. I had goals set for this year’s Diner en Blanc. I wanted to cover 3 different Diner en Blanc and each location I chose held a special place in my heart. Jamaica, New York and Atlanta. My heritage, my past and my present. It would have been an homage to myself of sorts.  Like all good plans sometimes they just don’t work out they way you want. I reached out to the planning committee for Jamaica and have yet to hear from them. I guess I was not persistent enough. I started to be a little smarter with my approach. I reached out to a friend who worked with the planning committee in New York. She helped to connect me with the right people. I was in for New York! Plane ticket purchased, dress ordered, restaurant connection made, itinerary created. The only thing left for me to do was to pack. Then life hit me with a big blow. My Dad’s wife, my bonus Mom, passed away.  I talked a big game to myself and others. I was still going to New York. I was still going to cover at least 2 of the three locations for Diner en Blanc. Yeah I was a tad delusional. Death can do that to you. I had to cancel my trip to New York, I missed my Mom more than I realized.  As if wanting to add insult to injury, it seemed as if there would be no Diner en Blanc Atlanta. My 30 year Diner en Blanc blog post was dying right before my very eyes.  Ugghhh!

Just when I thought I would have to try again next year. I sent one more email to Diner en Blanc Atlanta. I didn’t get an email reply. Instead I received a phone call from Carla Griffin letting me know my name had been added to the media list. Whew. I guess one-third of an original idea is better than none. While I may not have been able to do Jamaica or New York, I enjoyed covering Diner en Blanc Atlanta. Which says so much as Atlanta is the location of my present life. What better way to pay homage to myself than with living in the present. Thank you to the planning committee of Diner en Blanc Atlanta. It was great meeting new people and having the Diner en Blanc experience! Since a picture speaks a thousand words, I am gonna let the below clip say all that I can’t.

Some of you may remember that I atended Diner en Blanc last year, if not then check out last year’s memories here.  If you wold like to create some Diner en Blanc memories of your own,  visit Atlanta.dinerenblanc.com to see how you can be down for next year. Hey maybe we will run into each other and make some memories together! Now go forward and make some memories.

Until next time. . .

~The Chef In Pearls

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Birthdays and Reflectons

Birthdays and Reflectons

Unofficially I took the month of July off. I needed some time to reflect on life and all I have going on in it. I felt like I wasn’t present. I was living my life through pictures and video clips. I felt like my switch was always flipped to  “ON”. I am dealing with sick elderly parents, pushing my blog and it’s notoriety, two kids in college, striving to be a better chef and blogger. The list could go on and on but why? These are the things I had to sort out for myself. Not here to unload but to share where my mind was during this hiatus. Reflection is KEY! I needed to step back and take a look at who and where I want to be and how I want to get there.  Nobody is promised tomorrow, so we have to enjoy each day as if it is our last. And for the month of July I did just that! I lived in the moment, savoring each day like a fine wine.

I started my month off with a cupping at Gilly’s Brew Bar in Stone Mountain Village. What’s a cupping you ask? Think of a wine tasting but with coffee. I learned so much, like coffee smells and tastes different from bean to brew. Yeah, roasted beans smell different when freshly ground to when you actually add hot water to it. I would not consider myself a coffee aficionado but I do have a better understanding and appreciation of the beverage. Check out Gilly’s Brew Bar for their next cupping and don’t forget to try one of their Summer Elixirs. My favorites currently are the Bey and the Gilly. When you visit, tell Daniel I sent you over.

My birthday is July 6 and it fell on a Friday. I consider that a birthday win. Birthdays that fall on a Friday or a Saturday means no need to worry about your friends not being able to celebrate with you because they have work in the morning. My first stop on this leg of my birthday month took me to STK and their Happy Hour. I had envisioned my friends gathering and toasting to another year for me.  In life “the best laid plans of men and mice often go awry”. It rained . . . and HARD. My 12 expected guests whittled down to four brave women who came out to celebrate me and with me. Shout outs to Stacey Taylor, The Sistah Chick , Yalanda Lattimore of Dryer Buzz, Miss Kisha Of Course, Fellow Cancerian and Paris Corburn of PT Design. Thanks for braving the weather to have drinks and apps with me and the STK crew. I chose STK as the first stop because I know they always provide a wonderful atmosphere and the staff is like no other. And the food and cocktails are well worth the drive. I’m sure you’ve read how I feel about them, if not read up here and here. Then when you’re done go check out their happy hour week days 4-6:30pm.  Claire was the best bartender/server. She kept the rounds of shots coming and made me feel good. Thank you to Caren West PR firm for helping to arrange this for me. You guys rock!

The second leg of the evening took us to BarTaco. Guess what? The rain stopped. Guess what else? More folks showed up. I went from 4 to 10 guests. I had a whirlwind of an evening. Drinks, secret tacos, birthday cake and folks to enjoy it all with. Pretty awesome memory for me. I realize as I type this that I do not have any pics from that night. I will need to hit up my guests for whatever pics they may have taken. *Shrugs shoulders* This is all apart of living in the moment. I know Yalanda did a few FB Live posts so there is evidence of the fun that was had.

To continue with the birthday month madness I planned a Sip and Paint. I always wanted to paint something so why not now? With almost a dozen women we took over the Sketching Pad in Olde Town Conyers. I provided yummy eats of ground beef arayes, spinach arayes served with a tomato and cucumber salad and a tahini sauce, salad platters with honey smoked salmon and another with ahi tuna and raspberry vinaigrette. We drank lambusco and moscato from Corks and Cuvee, a B.O.B. located just across the street from the Sketching Pad. I learned about these places when I took a tour of Conyers through Visit Conyers GA. Funny how I have lived here for 2 years and didn’t know that all these great places existed just up the road for me. You can learn more about them in my post about Conyers.

I know for most that would have been enough but not me. I always seem to take things next level. The following weekend I met up with one of my BFF’s. We actually celebrate 30 years of friendship this year. What better way to celebrate each other than to take in a concert with one of our favorite reggae artists, Beres Hammond. We spent some time in Charlotte, NC enjoying restaurants, the concert and each others company. Before the concert we had dinner at Que Onda Tacos. We loved the tacos but the churros were a miss. (It made us sad since it was National Ice Cream Day and the dessert came with ice cream). Then it was off to enjoy some ole school lovers rock with Beres at Neighborhood Theatre. The DJs were playing tunes, bringing us through the years with 90’s reggae. The crowd just singing and dancing along like one big happy family. Then Leon came out as our emcee for the night, you may remember him from Madonna’s music video Like A Prayer. (I understand he did a couple of movies but whenever I mention that I have never watched any of them my friends give me strange looks). I did manage to get a pic with him but forgot to turn on the flash . . . Duh. Rookie mistake.  The next day after check out, we headed over to Cava.  It is a fast casual restaurant with a Mediterranean flare my Godson (who’s also her son) recommended we try out while in Charlotte. Let’s just say my Godson deserves a special Auntie gift for this suggestion. Good all the way around. So much so that I wish every day since that there was a location here in Atlanta. Check out their menu and if your mouth isn’t watering something is wrong.

As much as I wanted the month of July to be all about me, I knew it was unrealistic. I took time to visit my Dad and bonus Mom in Winston-Salem, NC; a 45 minute drive from Charlotte. My bonus Mom is doing rehab at a nursing home which keeps her separated from my Dad. Sad. I managed to catch a quick video of them loving on each other in the sweetest of ways,  a simple kiss. After taking care of them, I headed back to Atlanta to help celebrate my friend Keisha of High Hog Farm. The farm is one of my home away from home locations in Grayson, GA. You can’t want for a better farm experience. They literally open up their home to you, teaching and embracing people through food and diversification. For her birthday, we hit up Krog Bar for some amazing tapas and wine.  And a few day

 

s later, we did dinner at Sweet Georgia Juke Joint. Good food and great music. I forgot to mention that my middle child came to visit me from Savannah. It was supposed to be a surprise but his Dad let it slip. He and I headed to Kennesaw to visit his sister at school. It felt good to have my kids around even if for a short time. I did manage to squeeze in two more events before getting sick. I took in the VIP section at Old School Saturday. It’s a monthly event that showcases R&B and Hip-Hop from the 90’s. It brought me back to high school and college. I don’t know how you couldn’t have fun there. In wanting to have some me time I went to Communion at Gallery 992 in historic West End. It’s a brunch series curated by the United Artists Movement that showcases different chefs from Atlanta. I got to meet Pam of Pam’s Magic Cauldron. She specializes in smoking. That had me so geeked to meet a female chef that was into smoking foods. Brunch was so yummy and not as typical as you would expect.

I think me getting sick was the time I needed to really reflect. The things I learned about myself and my journey during this month has me refocused. You will see many changes in me as a person and even changes to my blog and business model. I have allowed people and events to take me away from what my goals are for me and this blog. I will still write about events but they will be fewer. I need to get back to showcasing my talents, which aren’t just cooking and baking. I pray that everyone will be able to appreciate things I want to bring to life in the months to come. Birthdays are what everyone needs to help remind them where they are and where they want to be. I thank God for another year and look forward to the greatness that will come along with it. I made some wonderful memories during July. Consider checking out some of the places I took in so you can make memories of your own.

Until next time go forward and make memories.

~ The Chef In Pearls

P.S. When you decide to write one giant post about a month long celebration of your birthday it ends up being longer than usual. Forgive me.

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Small Town Love…Conyers, Georgia

Small Town Love…Conyers, Georgia

For the past 2 years, I lived in a town 40 minutes outside of Atlanta.  Conyers is a place most people know of or have least heard of but most can’t say they have been. Until recently, I fit into the live here but do not know of category. Yes I created my own category!  I mean, I would drive down what I considered the main street of Conyers, Highway 138, and wish for more. I often complained that the only way for me to get what I wanted in food and entertainment was to drive into Atlanta. How wrong I was! I signed up to take a tour of Conyers courtesy of the Conyers Tourism Board. And now Conyers is so more to me than the place where Vampire Diaries was filmed.

Before I get started, I want to take time to thank a couple of people. Thank you to Teri Haler of Conyers Convention and Visitors Bureau. Your tour helped to change my mind about the where I now call home. Also thanks to Toby Bloomberg, President of Atlanta Food and Lifestyle Bloggers’ Society, for organizing this wonderful tour. Now to share some of what helped me fall in love with my small town

Have you ever been to a Monastery? Me either! The first stop of our tour took us to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Sitting on 2,300 acres of land it is nature at it’s best. There are trails for running, walking and biking, a beautiful church with stained glass created by one of their very own monks, a museum where you can learn all about the monastery and all things relating to monasticism. Monasticism or monk hood is a religious way of life in which one renounces worldly pursuits to devote oneself fully to spiritual work. You’re welcome. The property also boasts an all natural burial ground, no chemicals of any sort are used in body preparation and caskets must be of all natural materials. Pretty cool, huh? You can still care for Mother Earth even in death.

The last two places I want to mention are the bakery and the gift shop. They kind of go together. Well at least in my mind. The monks at this monastery make some great treats; fudge, fruitcake and my favorite biscotti. I forgot to mention when we first arrived, we were blessed with coffee and a tray full of biscotti. This was not your ordinary biscotti, the dry, extra crisp kind that you soak in your coffee or tea. This was a moist dense cake filled with nuts and fruits and was very hard to stop eating. It definitely gets #CIPapproved. The important thing is that all of their goods can be purchased in the gift shop. See why they go hand in hand now? You can purchase all their yummy goodness as well as other spiritual and religious items in the gift shop. Check out their website to find out how you can visit them and enjoy all things Monastery of the Holy Spirit.

The second leg of tour took us into Olde Towne Conyers. It’s like the downtown of Conyers. You can find the court and many of the municipalities you need for a small, thriving city. There are even some really cute store fronts, some of which we got to visit during our tour. After a full morning at the monastery we were good and ready for lunch. Our first stop The Tin Plate. This place has become my saving grace. There have been many nights on my way back from Atlanta that I wanted something to eat but would not do fast food. The Tin Plate has come to the rescue because their kitchen doesn’t close until 10pm. Wait I skipped some stuff. The Tin Plate is what I have been hoping for in Conyers. A non chain restaurant offering locally sourced foods with a farm-to-table concept. The food gods answered my prayers.  They source the beef for their burgers from White Oaks Pastures. That name should be familiar to you because I recently wrote a post about them. If it’s not, check them out here.  So we know the burgers are good but did I mention the hand cut fries made on site with the unheard of flavor combinations? Flavors like the Thai Coconut Fries or the “PB&J” (pimento cheese, bacon and pickled jalapeños) and so many more. They even make some pretty amazing salads. You just can’t go wrong with choosing to eat at the Tin Plate. Make sure you visit their website here to read all about them and their menu.

We continued on our tour by taking a stroll across the street to the E-Station. It’s Conyers answer to the ideal work space. You no longer have to fight the noise and bustle of the local Starbucks or Panera Bread to have a meeting or get some work done. You can utilize their open space desks or opt for a private office space with door so you can look really official for your twelve o’clock meeting. There is full A/V equipment as well as printing & copying services too. You can have all this with daily drop in fees or do a monthly membership. After viewing a presentation on Conyers at the E-Station we proceeded to walk around the corner to Beasley’s Pharmacy. This pharmacy is pure nostalgia, like you walked back in time. They have a soda fountain counter. You can get a hand crafted milkshake or ice cream float to name a few of the things offered. Let’s not forget that it is a pharmacy so you can fill your prescriptions there as well. And just like any other drugstore there are knickknacks you can purchase including nostalgic games like pick up sticks and my favorite jacks. Some of you may have to google those games because they are not something you play on a screen. LOL! The best thing about Beasley’s Pharmacy is that it has been family owned for 85 years. You can’t beat that.

From Beasley’s we headed to one of the newer businesses in Olde Town Conyers, Corks and Cuvee. Conyers has it’s very own wine shop. Not a package store but an actual place dedicated to wine, wine lovers and learning about wine. The space is beautiful and inviting. The owner, Regina Jackson, has crafted a place where you aren’t afraid to ask questions about all things wine. She offers daily wine flights, private tastings, wine and wine accoutrements; everything for the wine enthusiast. Check out her site here to learn about all she offers.

Teri was the hostess with the mostess and represented Conyers to the utmost.  As any fine hostess would do, she ended our night with appetizers and cocktails at Las Flores, a Mexican restaurant located in Olde Town Conyers. We had margaritas, on the rocks of course, fresh made salsa with chips, a platter of street tacos and yucca fries. We were a group of happy bloggers. Visit their website to see if they have your favorite Mexican dish here.

This tour helped me to appreciate where I now call home. I got to meet some wonderful new people while hanging out with some old friends. Memories made. So when you get an opportunity, come on out to Conyers so you can make some memories of your own.

Until next time…

~The Chef In Pearls

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Season’s 52…A Tasting

Season’s 52…A Tasting

Yay we are already on to tasting number two of the new year. If you hadn’t gotten a chance to read about our first tasting, check it out right here. Our newest tasting took place at Season’s 52 and on a FRIDAY.  Let’s just say we really appreciate them accommodating us on such a busy night. By now you guys should already know who’s dining with me. The other half of the Dynamic Duo, Rochelle Wharton of Culinary Vegg Out & Lifestyle. We also brought along a guest. Let me introduce to you Shana of the blog, Technotini. It was a pleasure having her join us. Now onto our scheduled tasting.

We knew it would be a little rough doing a tasting on a Friday night. Everyone had been locked away earlier in the week due to the snow and ice that took over our city of Atlanta. That Friday would be the first night everyone was able to safely take to the street. I feel like a good portion of them ended up at Season’s 52. Even with all the added people, the staff was pleasant and welcoming. Once seated we got to meet our server for the night, Brittany. She was awesome, fun-loving, and knowledgeable.

We started our dinner off with . . . you guessed it cocktails! I know you thought I was going to say appetizers. We ordered appetizers as well, but first, cocktails. I had the the Hawaiian Cosmos, Shana the Basil Smash and Rochelle had the New Old Fashion. Can I tell you that I think that this is my new favorite cocktail? I knew that i would return here, if for nothing else, for this drink. Our appetizer selections started with the Roasted Roma Tomato Flat Bread. Great for those looking for a vegetarian appetizer. Their menu carries a few things that are vegetarian friendly. We also ordered the Buffalo, Spinach & Brussel Sprouts dip that came with Sesame Crackers. I loved the concept of the dish, but the gorgonzola cheese over-powered the taste of everything else in it.  Our final appetizer was the Stuffed Mushroom – filled with lump crab meat, roasted shrimp and spinach. I liked it for those possibly looking for a pescatarian option.

We had so many options for our entree choices, either something from the”Sea” or the “Pasture”. It took a minute to arrive at our decisions.  Rochelle chose the Boneless Grilled Rainbow Trout with Crushed Potatoes and Heritage Carrots and a side of Roasted Brussels Sprouts (minus the applewood bacon). The trout was moist and tasty; not dry which can easily happen when being grilled. Having brussels sprouts prepared with the balsamic glaze gave me a new preparation idea I could add to my arsenal.  Shana had the Caramelized Scallops with Butternut Risotto, Broccolini and Lemon Butter. I enjoyed the smokiness they achieved with grilling the scallops and the risotto wasn’t too al dente which I greatly appreciated. The risotto made me think about Chef Ramsey’s show “Hell’s Kitchen”. I wondered if anyone was sent home from the kitchen for not getting it right before this properly executed dish was presented to our table. Go figure the things that go through my mind sometimes, LOL!  I decided to order the Boneless Short Rib with Stone Ground Grits and Heritage Carrots. The beef was so tender and the grits ever so tasty. I didn’t even attempt to finish my entree because I knew that dessert was next. I wanted to be able to sample something, even if I had to box it up to finish the next day with a cup of tea.

JUST before dessert we got to meet Austin, one of the bartender’s that works at the Buckhead location of Season’s 52. He was a wealth of knowledge, not just about drinks, but food and drink pairings, and some of the ins and outs of Season’s 52. He arrived at our table not empty handed, but came with cocktails for us to sample. I had a wonderful video of him pouring and schooling us about the drinks but my smartphone sent them along with my pictures to some unknown place (please know that I am still getting over this). All the pictures seen here are courtesy of Rochelle, solidifying that it’s a good thing to have a blogging partner. They come in handy during times like these.

Brittany, our server, arrived at the table with the perfect dessert for us. It was an assortment of dessert shooters with something for everyone.  There was key lime, pecan pie, chocolate s’more, mocha macchiato, chocolate peanut butter torte and carrot cake shooters. I mean if we couldn’t find something we liked something was definitely wrong with us. Unanimously the pecan pie won prizes with us. The mocha macchiato and the chocolate s’more (minus the meringue) followed for me. The best thing about their desserts is their size. You can never over do it because it comes as a shooter . . . unless you order more than one.

My time at Season’s 52 was good. Being able to hang with a new blogger added to my memories. When you get a chance hit Season’s 52 up and let me know what you had and how you liked it. Now go forward and make memories.

Until next time,

~The Chef In Pearls

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December…Tis The Season of Giving

December…Tis The Season of Giving

Everyone looks forward to December. It’s a month full of gift exchanges, holiday parties, secret santas and more. We give until our wallets go “pop”. Sometimes, in the midst of all that giving, we lose sight of those who may not be able to give and may miss out on receiving. This December we did our part remembering that it is the season of giving. The Dynamic Duo worked to give back to the less fortunate with the help of some really great friends. We also got the chance to meet the the creator and founder of ReSupply.

On December 10, 2017, The Chef In Pearls alongside Rochelle, of Culinary Vegg Out & Lifestyle, hosted our very first Friendsgiving to help raise funds for No Kid Hungry. With the help of friends and collegues, we were able to exceed our goal of $500.  For every $10 that we raised, up 100 meals could be provided to those in need. Are you as surprised as we were? Through our efforts we provided over 6,000 meals. We extend a huge Thank You to all who contributed. We couldn’t have done it with out the support of so many. Thanks to Bar Margot, Atlanta Touch Therapy, Richards’ Southern Fried, Chef LaSheeda Perry, Red Velvet Confections, Safi Spirits, LGE Boutique and our baby Patience & Thyme. ALL of these companies, coupled with donations and auction bids from our friends and family, helped us to feed some less fortunate children.

 

To keep the season of giving going we attended Oh! Nikka’s Tis The Season Brunch at BuckHead Pizza Co. Nikka asked for each attendee to bring an unwrapped toy for a less fortunate child. In true form I couldn’t decide if I wanted to get a gift for a boy or a girl. So I got both gifts. I hope it made some little boy and girl happy this past Christmas. While at the Tis The Season Brunch we were introduced to Paul Tocci of ReSupply. It’s a wonderful app created to help make donating to your local charity easy as pie. The hardest part of the whole process might just be downloading the app. Once downloaded you find a charity that you like, take pictures of the items you want to donate, schedule a date and time for pick up and then you receive your digital tax credit. How simple is that? And it’s not too late to make donations before the new year. Just in time to be used for your 2017 tax season. Here’s a video of me and Paul talking about the app. Once your done watching go to the Google app store and download ReSupply. It’s your chance to help others while helping yourself. What is one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

 

 

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Not Too Late…Five Restaurants to Try before 2018

Not Too Late…Five Restaurants to Try before 2018

Okay Christmas is out of the way. Now to focus on the the start of the New Year – 2018. Hold on, we have a whole week, actually less than 7 days until the new year.  Why not put those days to use by trying out one of my fave five restaurants in the Atlanta area? Eating at one of these five restaurants will give you a chance to connect with family and/or friends you may not have seen for Christmas. It’s  holiday magic waiting to happen! Good eats with good folks is sure to equal good times.

My five choices, in no particular order, are:

  1. Bar Margot – located in the Four Seasons Hotel on 14th Street. From the moment you arrive it is impeccable service. The valets are gracious and everyone you meet as you move to your seat is divine. It only gets better the longer you stay. The food is great and the staff extremely knowledgeable. If you think I’m joking try them. They can suggest substitutions on so many things, if there is something you may not eat or isn’t a part of your dietary needs. And as luck would have it, they are hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration. Click the link to find out more about it www.BarMargotAtl.com Hey make sure you try the huckleberry cheesecake while there. And tell the executive pastry chef, LaSheeda Perry, I sent you over.
  2. Agave – located in Cabbagetown on Boulevard. This restaurant is one you could easily drive by, as I had done so for years!! DO NOT pass this one up. It offers an eclectic Southwestern menu that is sure to tickle your tastebuds. I highly recommend you try the Stuffed Mountain Trout Tomatillo: fresh Georgia mountain trout stuffed with crawfish, mushrooms and onions; served over Spanish rice with a roasted tomatillo sauce. YES! Check them out, www.agaverestaurant.com 
  3. STK – Can I tell you a joke? I never understood why they named the restaurant STK, until I actually visited their website. Duh! STK is a steakhouse. Yeah, I get it now. You know what else? They are good at more than just steak. They make some mean seafood too. You can read my review on the restaurant right here. If you haven’t made plans for NYE they have something going on that night. Check it out www.togrp.com
  4. P.S. 404 – One of my favorite concepts for a restaurant, the place reminds you of a classroom. There is everything from microscopes, menus made to look like composition notebooks, giant sized jenga and they have Recess that lasts more than the usual 1 hour we were has as kids.(Happy Hour from 3-6pm Monday-Friday). The menu item that I enjoyed the most was their Fried Chicken and Green Chili Cornbread Waffles with Red Eye Gravy . . . heavenly. Which leads me to their weekend brunch menu. Along with my favorite, they offer a great menu. I mean who can go wrong at brunch with your favorite people? Check out their site www.psontap.com
  5. Tacos & Tequilas- Everyone loves Mexican food, right? The food here tastes as if they have an abuela cooking in the back. The food is always nicely seasoned and the margaritas are good. On certain nights they have live entertainment. You can’t go wrong with the Chimi Rita, a meat stuffed flour tortilla deep fried and served with beans, rice and the usual trimmings. If you don’t have a good time there then you’re just an unhappy person. Visit their site at www.tandtatlanta.com 

I hope you decide to use the last few days of 12017 as a time to create some wonderful memories. It is the one thing I have always encouraged you to do throughout the year. I plan to visit more restaurants and share my experiences on them in the coming New Year. Together with sharing my life as the Chef in Pearls, I look forward to 2018 and the new memories it will bring. As always, go forth and continue to make new memories.

Until next time…

~ The Chef In Pearls.

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Bar Margot Atlanta…Blush Angel

It’s the month of October. So many things come to mind leaves falling, apple picking, pumpkin patches and one dear to my heart Breast Cancer Awareness. Last year around this time I shared a brief story of my neighbor and friend, Sandra. I have lost a few good folks to cancer, so whenever I can show support I do. Until the end of October, Bar Margot will donate a portion of the proceeds made when you purchase their specially crafted drink, Blush Angel.

When you visit Bar Margot, located on the second floor of the Four Seasons, know that you’ll be in for a treat. From the moment you’re greeted by the valet, to the welcoming by the hostess and the service by the wait staff your experience is nothing but pleasurable. I was accompanied the other half of the Dynamic Duo, Rochelle Wharton of Culinary Vegg Out. Our party included two other members of the Atlanta Food and Lifestyle Bloggers’ Society: Jennifer Harris of Gluten Free Go To Guide  and President of the group, Linda Carmical of Food the Fire. Bar Margot and M-Squared PR had some great treats in store for us but first our Blush Angels.

 

Our waiter Esou, who was beyond great and definitely above amazing, started us off with Deviled Eggs, the filling light and lush. Next he followed up with a Charcuterie Board. He managed to find gluten free bread so Jennifer could enjoy some with her cheeses. Before long came the next course, oysters on the half shell all the way from Connecticut. Esou assured us that they were the best to have, only the finest. He kept things going with the seafood bringing us steamed mussels. I have never been much of a mussels girl, although I love every other shellfish. However this dish straight won me over. The bold flavors combined with the tender mussels made a great tasting dish. And what night would be complete without dessert. Their pastry chef out did herself with these.  There was a Huckleberry Cheesecake, Dolce de Leche Lava Cake with pretzel infused Ice Cream and a Deconstructed Sweet Potato Whoopie Pie. That’s the same thing I was saying. The dessert god had delivered big time on this day. With full bellies and happy hearts we had to depart from Bar Margot. But it will not be the last time they see us.

 

 

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STK Atlanta…It’s More Than Just Steak

STK Atlanta…It’s More Than Just Steak

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.*

 

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Diner en Blanc…Are You In?

Diner en Blanc…Are You In?

Are you in?  I’m in! Into where you are wondering? Only into the ultimate and most exclusive all white party that has ever taken place…Le Diner en Blanc. I mean all white everything. All white clothes, all white table linens, all white dinnerware, all white decorations, if it isn’t white then it has no place at Diner en Blanc.

Some of you may not know what Diner en Blanc actually is. Well let me give you a little history on it. Le Diner en Blanc is the gathering of friends to enjoy a gourmet meal set at a private location against the backdrop of a beautiful city space. Le Diner en Blanc started in 1988 in Paris, France. Almost 30 years later, it has become an international event celebrated on six continents, in over 3o countries and more than 70 cities. Talk about growth! Atlanta is now celebrating it’s 4th year as a part of this international celebration. It is a glorious sight to see waves of people arrive in all white; to take over a small portion of our city and celebrate life. Then they disappear into the night as if they were never there. Take a look at last year’s event here. Exactly! If last year looked that good, then this year can only be better.

To be able to pull off something so grand requires a team.  Atlanta has a new set of hosts: Helen Mitchell, Lisa Fisher, Tina DeRenzis, all key players in event planning. I am sure they are going to make this an unforgettable event for all involved. This is all done with the help of volunteers and sponsors. This year’s local sponsor is Champagne Lanson and the National sponsor is Evian Badoit. With a team like this, I can’t wait to see what they have in store for everyone.

So how can you be in?  “Participation to this unique event happens in three stages: Phase 1 is for members who attended the previous year; Phase 2 is for new members who are referred by Phase I attendees; and Phase 3 is for people who signed up on the waiting list.” Unfortunately, the Atlanta edition of Le Diner en Blanc is SOLD OUT! But you can stay in the know of things for 2018 by visiting https://atlanta.dinerenblanc.com/

Diner en Blanc Atlanta takes place this weekend, October 7, 2017. I have everything I’ll need. White dress…check. Stand out pearl neck piece…check. Portable charger…check. Desire to share all that makes Le Diner en Blanc Atlanta the place to be seen on all my social media…CHECK! Make sure you’re following me on all social media @TheChefInPearls so you can stay up to date on all things Chef in Pearls and Diner en Blanc Atlanta.

I plan to make some serious memories this weekend. I hope you plan to do the same. So go forward and make new memories.

Until next time

~The Chef In Pearls

 

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How Do You Blaze?…Blaze Pizza In GA

How Do You Blaze?…Blaze Pizza In GA

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

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The Chef In Pearls

Cassandra Mason is a Lifestyle Chef and Gourmet Cooking Instructor who enjoys demystifying the art of cooking for One. You can catch her live demonstrations across major social media as @TheChefInPearls.

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