I was honored to be able to take part in the Chef’s Table at Kennesaw State University’s Continuing Education Culinary Program. Yeah that’s a mouth full. It had taken me back 20+ years ago to when I was in my culinary program back in New York. There’s nothing better than being around that kind of excitement awaiting what’s to come. The students were excited to share what they learned. I was looking forward to tasting their creations.
Prior to the start of dinner, we were given the chance to view the kitchen and the students at work. I was immediately brought back to the quantity kitchen in my school. This was where as students we cooked for the school. We learned front end and back end stuff. It could make or break you from attitude to abilities. So I know first hand some of what they may have been experiencing that night. You definitely learn how to become a team player when you work in a commercial kitchen. Communication is key! You have to be able to convey a great deal from dishes being ready, time constraints, missing items, and more. Every single thing so that service moves without a hitch or at least not letting clients know there was one.
While in the kitchen, I ran into one of the instructors, Chef Robert Gerstenecker. He remembered having met me before, as my face was familiar to him. I wouldn’t say I have a very common look, so he must have met me somewhere. Well once officially introduced, we realized that we met at The Four Seasons in Atlanta. He used to be the executive chef there. I attended an event there on behalf of breast cancer awareness, The Atlanta Food and Lifestyle Bloggers’ Society and MSquared PR Firm. You can read all about my time at the Four Seasons here
The students worked in teams of two, each team preparing a specific dish for the meal. Before I get to the meal, I must mention the special invited guests were asked to speak. Now I never turn down an opportunity to talk to people, but this time I didn’t have any idea what I should talk about. When it was my turn, I shared the fact that I graduated from school during a time when celebrity chefs weren’t a real thing. There weren’t any social media apps to share all things you. Well fast forward 25 years and welcome to this new era. I told the graduates and their family that building their brand and creating a space in this fast-moving world of the internet was key to standing out amongst all the other chefs of the world. It was a way to be seen and also to see what others are doing. These were some of the things I learned and wanted to share with them. I am always representing my brand. There isn’t a time I walk out of my home without at least one pearl on. People often check me when out in public just to see if that’s true. After our time in the limelight, the students started our meal service of four courses.
We started with our salad course. It was a Mushroom Carpaccio with seared Day Boat Scallops and Truffle Vinaigrette. It was very light, the scallop was perfectly seared and not over cooked. I did wish that the remoulade was lighter because it made the dish a little heavy. Next was our seafood course. It was Oven Roasted Halibut served alongside Spring Vegetable Ragout with a Lemongrass Beurre Blanc. I enjoyed this course very much! I especially loved the fact that the fish was not overcooked. I have a thing about overcooked fish, well actually I have a thing about overcooked everything. The lemongrass beurre blanc made me want to recreate my own version.
Our third course was Braised Beef Short Rib Bali Maki, English Pea Whipped Potatoes, Ginger BBQ Reduction and topped with Herb Salad. The dish presented very well. I loved the colors. The toppings were a bit much because you lost sight that there was beef under it all. The beef was wonderfully cooked, nice and tender. I did learn about the Bali Maki style of cooking, as one is never too old to learn something new. Our final course was dessert, of course. We had a Buttermilk Panna Cotta with a Fresh Rhubarb Coulis. The Panna Cotta was smooth and velvety. I loved the inclusion of the Meyer lemons in the rhubarb sauce. Overall the students did a wonderful job . I know they will be culinary rock stars when they graduate and enter into the cooking world.
I had a wonderful night at Kennesaw State University’s Continuing Education Chef’s Table. It’s always fun to be around my fellow bloggers. As always I made some wonderful memories. If you ever get a chance to do a Chef’s Table please do it. You can read about one I had last year at Cobb Galleria Center here in Atlanta The memories you create will be unforgettable. So go forth and make new memories.
Until next time….
~ The Chef In Pearls
May 5, 2018 . . . What a busy Saturday for The Chef In Pearls! I had so many things on my plate. I just prayed I would be able to pull it all off. I was chosen to be a judge for Taste of Conyers. How cool was that? Tré cool, if you ask me. I would get a second chance to find out more about my small town. Excited I was (in my Yoda voice). Then there was the event that was very close to me. My family, along with One Heart Ministries, hosts a community event to bring awareness to cancer in memory of my bonus Dad, Raymond Brown. I was the unofficial official chef for the event. Anything my family does know that there will be food involved.
Game plan. Adorn one of my black aprons and get the food done. Shower, get dressed and head to Olde Town Conyers for Taste of Conyers. Meet up with other bloggers/judges. Meet and judge participants for Taste of Conyers. Discuss and tally vores with fellow bloggers/judges. Leave Taste of Conyers and head to family event. Be present. Participate in games and activities. Go home and rest.
What actually happened. Adorned apron. With the help of a few friends, we were able to knock out over a hundred burgers, 25 lbs. of potato salad, 2 full trays of coleslaw and get 21 whole chickens portioned and cooked. Very tired and rather slowly I got showered, dressed and headed to Olde Town Conyers. Problem. Can’t find any parking. Miss meeting fellow bloggers/judges. Finally find parking. Fellow bloggers/judges are three-quarters of the way thru meeting and judging participants. Teri Haler to the rescue. She provides me judge’s badge and clip board. I look official. After just 5 booths I run into my fellow bloggers/judges. They have judged and tallied their votes. So . . .?
No, Taste of Conyers I am not judging you. How could I? But from what I did see of you I look forward to next year’s invite to judge. The fact that it took me forever to find parking tells me it was well received. And the booths I did get to visit showed that they were in it for the win. The crowds that I passed through tells me that small town Conyers ain’t so small anymore. Everyone is going to want to be in the place to be next year . . . Taste of Conyers.
As for the rest of my day, I had a good time at my family’s community event. I was present and accounted for! I even tried my hand at a game of trying to get an Oreo cookie in my mouth by using my facial muscles. So much harder than you think, Know that the tired chef didn’t win. Afterwards, I didn’t go home and rest. I ended up at a Cinco de Mayo party. I would find rest on another day.
I still managed to make it a day of memories. Food, Family and friends. How could I not? I hope you’ll consider attending next year’s Taste of Conyers so you can make some wonderful memories of your own. If you don’t know anything about Conyers, check out my post about the tour I took of my new hometown here.
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls
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
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Lies I say. Pure unadulterated lies. I went to cooking school over 20 years ago and I am still learning things everyday. I learned a thing or two while at Crave Pie Studio with owner/baker Breana Carson. I feel that as long as you are open to learning there will be growth in all that you do. I definitely grew while at Crave Pie Studio, which helps to make me a better chef.
When Atlanta Food & Lifestyle Bloggers’ Society presented the opportunity to take a pie making class, I hopped at the chance. It was a chance to create food and I am always game for that. Crave Pie Studio is located in downtown Duluth, GA, almost an hour’s drive from my neck of the woods. Upon arrival I knew it would be well worth the drive. It is the cutest shop with hutches stocked with pie related trinkets. Too cute! Her employees were preparing for closing; cleaning and putting away the few unsold pies for the day. What I saw of those pies made it evident why there were only a handful or so left. They looked so yummy! Being a gracious host Breana offered us a choice of savory pies for our dinner. Why thank you! I’ll have the roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Quiche. All I can say was, “Good Choice Cass!” I immediately fell in love with the crust, so flavorful and crisp. It was bound to be a good night.
Breana welcomed us into her kitchen. That in itself was an honor. When someone invites you into the space where they create, you should hold that dear to your heart. They are sharing a part of themself with you. A part that took time for them to feel comfortable enough in themself and their ability to open up and let you in. I took that privilege to heart. It’s like when I share pictures and videos (keep on look out I am about to get back to video creating for my YouTube channel) I am letting you into some of the most intimate parts of my mind, my creativity.
Once in the kitchen, Breana walked us through her recipe for Apple Crumb Pie. As I am not a fan of streusel, I asked if I could do a double crust Apple pie. And as gracious as she, she allowed me. I have to say I was so truly impressed with her recipe. It wasn’t too sweet and the crust was so tasty. I enjoyed the crust so much I have incorporated it into my repertoire. She was a patient teacher as well, which can make a huge difference in learning. While our pies were baking and becoming wonderful, Breana shared samples of the deliciousness she creates at Crave Pie Studio. My favorite? The Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie because who doesn’t like chocolate and bourbon? Number 2 on my list is the Lemon Cream Pie. It was light, airy, refreshing and tasted like a slice of Spring or Summer just waiting to be eate up.
I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the pies created at Crave Pie. They have a choice of sweet and savory pies available to select from and you can check out their menu on their site. Breana incorporates two ideals that I love. She bakes seasonally using only what is fresh and locally available. The other ideal is she doesn’t allow her bakers to bake pies if they are not in a good mood. Like me she believes happy people make happy food. There is a transfer of energies when you make food for others. I just love it!
When you get that deep down need for pie, please go visit Crave Pie Studio in Duluth. Make sure you tell them the Chef In Pearls sent you. I have great memories being there, baking with my fellow bloggers and eating ammazing pie! It will be great place to make awesome memories!
Until next time,
~The Chef In Pearls
I was introduced to White Oaks Pastures a few years ago. A friend asked me to make some finger foods with products from local gardens for a showing of “Food For Thought”. It was after the film, during a panel discussion, that I heard all about White Oaks Pastures. I learned about their sustainable farming practices and became intrigued. You see prior to the film and discussion I was pretty oblivious on farming practices. I knew there were good farm practices and bad farm practices, I just didn’t understand or know what they really were.
Fast forward to today and I can say I have become wiser and smarter. I had the pleasure of being invited to the award ceremony of Flavor of Georgia. Flavor of Georgia is a food product competition put on by the University of Georgia. It “showcases market-ready prototypes or commercially ready food products”. The contest was for producers that used products and flavors that best represented Georgia. There were several categories from beverages, sauces, snacks, meats, seafood and so much more. Who should I see as a finalist in the meat and seafood category? The fine people of White Oaks Pastures. Can I say stoked? I would get an opportunity to taste why they have won so many awards. To see first hand why they were finalist in this competition.
White Oaks Pasture entered their Grassfed Beecon Grind. Grassfed Beecon Grind? Some brilliant mind at the pasture decided to combine their grassfed beef with their naturally smoked Iberico bacon. Yes you read that right. Did they create the ultimate burger blend? If you are anything like me, you get excited when you to see a lit grill with beautiful burgers being cooked. I watched as Ban Stewart cooked up the samples. And sitting on the side table a toasted bun with a smear of mayo, topped with lettuce and tomato slice waiting patiently for the burgers to be done. I saw how my summer grilling would look. Then I got the chance to taste the Beecon Grind. No salt, no pepper added but yet it was pure deliciousness. A burger couldn’t get any better than that. I knew they would surely win in their category.
It was time for the ceremony to begin. You know this contest was a big deal because, Governor Nathan Deal came out to speak with the finalists and attendees. He spoke proudly of the representation these products bring to Georgia. After his speech it was time for the announcement of the winners in each category. I was on pins and needles when the announcement was to be made for the meat and seafood category. The winner is… Pine Street Market with their Applewood Smoked Bacon. Okay maybe I am a little biased but I felt like White Oaks Pastures should have won. They created burger heaven. All you needed to do, besides cook it, was add a slice of your favorite cheese. And BOOM….Perfect Burger! If you don’t believe me you can order some straight to your doorsteps right here .Then let me know what your thoughts are.
I did eat other things besides White Oaks Beecon Grind. I got to taste quite a few samples from the other finalists including Georgia Fried Peanuts Company Fried Peanuts, Pine Street Market Applewood Smoked Bacon, Pouch Pies The Georgia Pie, Emily G’s Datil Peach Marmalade, Two Fat Chile Cats Jamaica Me Sweat Soppin’ Sauce and so many more. I want to thank the University of Georgia and Atlanta Food and Lifestyle Bloggers Society for inviting me to attend. I had a wonderful time and look forward to next year’s event.
If you know of someone with a great product that represents Georgia send them over to the Flavor of Georgia site to see if they have what it takes to enter the competition. It could be a great way to make new memories. So go forward and make some new memories.
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls
It was a cold and windy day in Atlanta. Somehow I managed to forget my coat and ended up in just a shawl. Go figure. Rochelle goes ahead to meet up with our host while I paid the on street parking fees. As I hurry to make it inside, I have a quiet moment to take in the approach to today’s spot. It’s hard to miss Ocean Market. It has huge red doors to greet you. As you walk in, the atmosphere is warm and inviting and not just from the heat. It became very apparent where that warmth generates from once I got to meet Chef Shane McIntosh. He was so joyful! I am a firm believer that happy people make happy food.
We sat with him to conduct an informal interview to find out more about the chef and the establishment. Chef Shane got his start in the kitchen washing dishes like so many chefs before him. He was fortunate to have a mentor who took him under her wing. She encouraged him and gave him a job in the back of house. When she saw he needed more, she turned him over to a French chef where he gained his French training. After leaving restaurant life, Chef Shane started Ocean Catering, where he was able to capture Delta Airlines as a client. The contract allowed him the opportunity to take his family to Paris. There he fell in love with the Parisian lifestyle as it pertains to food, and wanted to bring it back to Atlanta. Hence, the birth of Ocean Market.
It wasn’t an easy birth for Ocean Market. Chef Shane had to fight with the city, drug dealers and the growing homeless population occupying the shelter around the corner from his store front. It seemed no matter what he did, it was a constant battle until finally he had to close the doors. At that time, he was losing customers which meant he was losing money. Once the shelter was closed, it brought about a big change in the area that held his store front. He took this as opportunity to re-open Ocean Market. On March 9, 2018, the doors to Ocean Market was once again open for business. He shared with us plans he has for the space include opening up for lunch meetings, visual artist showings and possibly serving wine in the near future.
Now I couldn’t very well write about Chef Shane and Ocean Market without telling you about his food. He was gracious enough to provide us lunch. Let’s just say that I will be back. I had the Smoked Turkey Club sandwich: in-house smoked turkey, thick cut country ham, applewood bacon, roasted red pepper aioli and a side of hand cut chips. This is no deli meat sandwich! It’s all fresh everything, including the chips. Visit them for your next lunch break. Can’t make it to them? They are gearing up to offer lunch delivery right to your office soon. They have options so visit their Facebook page to keep up-to date on all things Ocean Market.
God willing I will have figured out how to upload the audio for this interview. Then you can listen to all he shared with us. Until then I want you to make your way over to Ocean Market so you can make some new memories. I know I have many I made while there.
Until next time,
~The Chef In Pearls
P.S. Thank God for my techie kids. If you want to hear our interview with Chef Shane listen below:
Jeesh that thing is long.
It’s the weekend and you know what that means? Brunch time! Yep, that’s right. There are tons of places Inside The Perimeter of Atlanta (ITP), but to find something worth traveling Outside The Perimeter of Atlanta (OTP) for is always a gem. Hoyles Kitchen and Bar is such a place. Hoyles is a restaurant steeped in not only family history but also Atlanta history. It is named for George Hoyle Ivey, Jr., the founder of a farm to retail chain known as “Milk Jugs” and also the great-grandfather of the current owners.
So what is Hoyle’s Kitchen and Bar? Well it’s a restaurant/sports bar that’s family friendly (they have a shelf full of children’s games), a section just for the grown-ups to play pool, watch a game (too many televisions to count) and a second bar. But we are here to talk about the brunch menu. Brunch at Hoyles is definitely worth the drive OTP. We started brunch off the way every brunch should be started, with mimosas. $2 mimosas at that! No way you can go wrong with that, especially since they weren’t orange juice with a splash of sparkling wine. At this point brunch was already a winner. Then the goodies started to arrive to our table. There were hot cinnamon rolls and giant biscuits the size of your plate. And when was the last time you had in-house made granola? They make granola for an amazing yogurt parfait. A must have when you visit. They had lattice weaved bacon strips. It looked so cool laying up next to the waffles, which is another dish I highly recommend.
I must interject here by saying that everything thing on the Hoyles menu is huge. I think it has something to do with the fact that the executive chef, Zach Starr, went to culinary school in Texas. I say all that because the pancakes that come 3 to a stack can feed 2 adults with leftovers. The veggie omelette was made with fresh vegetables and perfectly cooked. You knew the chef took pride in his work just from the taste of the food. This was confirmed when he sat and chatted with us after our meal. Nothing like being able to talk and understand why and how things make it to the menu. Chef Zach Starr is my kind of chef, having the desire to produce good food using good food. He doesn’t take things lightly. I mean he told us how many different corned beefs he sampled before finding the right one for his loaded corned beef hash. Did I forget to mention that? A mix of red eye gravy with potatoes, diced corned beef, onions, bell peppers all smothered in sausage gravy. Yeah just like that. I must say the corned beef is my favorite of the dish. I believe he made a great choice on the company that makes his corned beef. Try it out and let me know what you think.
Looking for a new brunch place? Hit up Hoyles Kitchen & Bar and let them know I sent you. It will be a great place to make some new memories whether for brunch, lunch or dinner. Maybe go watch an NCAA game or an Atlanta United match on one of their many televisions. It’s bound to be worth the trip. Now get off this blog and go forward to make new memories.
Until next time…
~The Chef In pearls
This past Saturday I did a little time travel. I was taken back to being a little school girl. I was dressed in my uniform, sitting in our school’s auditorium waiting anxiously for the lights to dim and the curtains to open. We were in for a treat. The dancers of Alvin Ailey were coming to perform for us. They would travel from Manhattan to our little Catholic school in Queens. It wasn’t our first time seeing them and I hoped it wouldn’t be my las. I was always excited to see them. They were brown men and woman, who had come to share their talents with me, with us. They made me want to be an Alvin Ailey dancer. I knew all too young that little black girls could never be prima ballerinas (thank you Misty Copeland for changing that narrative for young girls today) but I knew I could strive to be apart of the Alvin Ailey dance troupe, a group created for African-American dancers.
Fast forward to present day Cassandra. I still have a love of dance but I am far from being the dancer I thought I wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong, if you throw on the right music I will still put down some moves on the dance floor. Rochelle worked hard on getting us an interview with a couple of the dancers but unfortunately their tight schedule did not allow us that opportunity . . . this time. There is always next year! However, we still were given the chance to see them perform.
Once again I sat anxiously waiting for the curtains to open. We had arrived 15 minutes late due to life and unexpected events, so we had to wait to be admitted for the second act. We were seated less than 20 rows from the stage. The curtains opened and there he stood, stage left with his back to us, facing the back of the stage. I felt myself holding my breathwaiting for him to move. Then I heard Nina Simone fill the theater and he moved. He danced like Nina herself commissioned him to express her words to the world. I was moved. Cliche, I know but I was. I watched, all the while anticipating the dances that were performed at my little Catholic school in Queens. Then the final scene, Revelation started. The little girl that lives in me was clapping with joy. The dances I watched as a child were being performed. Wade in the Water and Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham were the dances that always stood out in my memory. At this age the songs and performances took on new meaning for me. I was watching old memories with a new understanding. Alvin Ailey has taken on a new understanding as well. They are no longer just an African-American Dance Theater, they are now an American Dance Theater. Diversity. I still know that if I were a dancing chef I’d have a chance at Alvin Ailey. Some things will not change.
Thank you Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Dawn Parker and The Fox Theater for a wonderful night of memories. The next time they come to town I suggest you grab tickets early. The show will leave you wanting more. Maybe you’ll have a childhood memory come full circle. Or maybe create a new one for yourself. So go forward and make some new ones.
Until next time….
~The Chef In Pearls
P.S. All pictures of dancers and performances are courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
The Atlanta Hawks Enterprise along with the Philips Arena are working to change the way people experience basketball games and arena events. How you may ask? Through food of course! This past week the Atlanta food influencing community was invited out to experience what was to come. As always you know it was the Dynamic Duo in the house. To be honest, I was Rochelle’s plus one for this event and I was glad I attended. Welcome to the Courtside Club!!
There is something about seeing the arena empty. Sort of like the calm before the storm. A group of us arrived early to the arena and walked in through the seats down towards the court. I took it all in as I knew the view I had would change as the other guests arrived. We were escorted to check-in to get the dreaded or sometime life saving name tag. Lines always lead to you running into those you know in the community. Hellos, hugs and much needed greetings. Knowing you’re amongst friends always seems to make events a lot easier and fun to handle.
We were then lead to the entrance of the Courtside Club. The first thing that greets you is the sound of the DJ doing his thing followed by a view of what we learned was the Hawks’ Bar. Photo op! Thanks to Jalani for helping to capture that image for us. Actually he captured quite a few shots for us, including us in front of the step and repeat for the Hawks and Emory. We were greeted by 2 lovely ladies at the doorway to the Courtside Club. And behind them was one of the most impressive looking bars I’d seen in a while. It was one that cold draw even the non-alcohol drinker to order something. Once inside, it was also inevitable that you’d be drawn into the food stations. There was everything from a Charcuterie station, Pizza station with a pizza oven and all the trimmings, gourmet food including lamb chops, duck confit, salads and much more. And let’s not forget the dessert station. This was truly next level entertaining. There were large screen televisions throughout the club so you never miss a beat from your game or concert. I want to believe they thought of everything.
There is no way you can go wrong within the Courtside Club. Actually as told by the Hawks CEO, Steven Koonin, this is just one of three new clubs opening within the arena. We also had a chance to hear from the executive chef, Joseph Schafer, who I’ve heard was swiped from Bacchanalia, a local restaurant here in Atlanta. Chef Schafer spoke of how he intends to bring newness to the arena through food, along with his hand selected staff and menu creations. Philips Arena is becoming every foodies dream come true and I am all for it. Well since I’m spilling some beans, I’ll share that starting with the Bon Jovi concert in April, concert attendees will be able to purchase an upgrade to their ticket with access to Courtside Club. Can concert going get any better than this? Can it?
I want to send a special thank you to Janet Smith and her staff for putting on such a memorable event. I look forward to seeing what they do next. The next time you plan to attend a game or a concert or even Disney on Ice, look into getting a chance to live it up in the Courtside Club. It will make for wonderful memories. I know I made some great ones there. Now go forward and make new memories.
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls
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