I recently attended the opening of Two Boutique. What is Two Boutique, you ask? Well it’s a woman’s clothing store located in downtown Lithonia, GA. They carry designer pieces alongside their own custom brand, Two. I didn’t even have to get on my plus size soapbox because they carry all the way up to a size 3X. Yes, something for everyone. Why two as a name? Well there are two owners, Monica Parrot and Pam Dixon. Aside from just offering a nice clothing experience Two also offers a wide range of other services. You can make an appointment for a personal shopping or styling session, a make-up session or maybe plan an event for you and your girlfriends ( a collaboration maybe in the works between Two and The Chef In Pearls. Keep an eye out). Don’t forget to check out the Two website for everything they offer. If you make it down to Lithonia and visit let Monica or Pam know The Chef In Pearls said Hi. Go ahead and make some shopping memories with Two.
~The Chef In Pearls
May. What can I say about the month of May except that it’s been one helluva ride. May came complete with a roller coaster ride of up and downs. I wanted to bask in the sun of Springtime but that seemed to get interrupted with life. I am blessed to still be able to enjoy my mother on Mother’s Day. My Children did the one thing most people fear to do for me, they cooked me a lovely dinner. All the while trying to keep the sun on me I was still preparing for the one year anniversary of my other Dad’s death (Yes Cancer Sucks!). We planned a community outreach to help make people aware of their health and bring a little fun to the neighborhood. As if that was not hard enough, in the midst of all of the planning we got news that would break my mother’s heart once again. A close family friend, correction a son to my mother and a brother to me, was murdered. I tried to find solace in cooking but it hadn’t helped. The clouds were covering up my little sunshine. It’s kind of hard to have all these beautiful memories of these great & wonderful men, knowing I wouldn’t be able to make new ones with them. I pushed those clouds to the side as I laughed and recalled the good times I had with the 2 of them. Then life showed up once more as I try to bring closure to my marriage. Remembering the good times with my soon to be ex-husband made it hard but life must continue on. I try to find the silver lining in it all. The memories are what helps to pull you through the rough times. Life continued on. I got some sunshine pushing hard through those clouds. It’s graduation season here in Atlanta and I knew quite a few graduates. I was more than happy for them and their families. Seeing the potential in all of them from the kindergarten graduate to my daughter-in-law who just presented her dissertation for her doctorates. Proud moments and some sun to bask in again. It’s the closing of the month. It’s a celebration of our fallen soldiers , which always marks the start of grilling season and the wearing of white. If ever there was a time when having wonderful memories to recall was most important the month of May was it. I beg you to please go forward and make wonderful memories…tomorrow is promised to no one.
~The Chef In Pearls
Okay if you didn’t know now you do. I am a born and breed New Yorker. Known here in Georgia as a transplant. Yea so there are somethings that just cannot be replicated here in Atlanta no matter what they do. Pizza is one of those things. Now I am not talking Papa John’s, Domino’s or even Pizza Hut they can’t come close to a New York slice. If you have never had a New York slice then you just won’t understand. Now don’t get New York style confused with Chicago deep dish style two different beasts and I have a place in my heart for both. New York style being my first love of course until last Saturday afternoon.
On one of our many mother/daughter dates, me & the mini me had the pleasure of enjoying my new favorite pizza spots in Atlanta, Antico. On arrival you really wouldn’t give the place much thought. Pretty typical of ordering, a couple of cashiers, a menu board (which happened to have the pricing in euros and dollars) , some drink options which included a wine selection. Not too bad for a pizza spot. Then they directed us to the dining area. That’s where the magic began for me. It was family style eating. You sit and eat where there is space for you and your crew. Beyond the tables lay the wood burning ovens with piles of wood waiting their turn to be used. You could see how the pizza makers worked in a rhythmic pattern that had them churning out pies of perfection without any real effort being exerted. It made the kid chef in me clap with glee. We ordered their most popular pizza, San Gennaro. To most its Italian sausage, peppers and onions actually to be more exact it’s buffalo mozzarella, salsiccia sausage, cipolline onions, dolce piccante peppers. The toppings were good but the real star of this pizza is the dough. The texture and taste are so hard for me to really describe to you. All I can say is I ate 3 slices and I never eat more than 2 slices of pizza, doesn’t matter who makes the pizza. I was beyond stuffed. When you get a chance go check out Antico Napoletana Pizza, it will be more than worth the trip.
Go order a pie and make some memories.
~ The Chef In Pearls
April is high tailing it out of here and May is patiently waiting her turn. How did the time fly away from me so fast? I have been really busy this month. So busy that I haven’t written about not one thing I have done. I hang my head in shame…bad Chef In Pearls. I have been naughty and I kindly ask for your forgiveness.
Thank you for so graciously forgiving me. So since you have forgiven me I will provide you with a roundup of all I did this month.
Iris van Herpen
Let’s start with my first visit to the High Museum in Atlanta. It was a mother/daughter outing to take in all the wonders of fashion Iris had to offer us. Iris van Herpen is a fashion designer like no other. I want you to think couture that is outside of the box now multiple that thought by…I don’t know…infinity. There you have Iris van Herpen. She doesn’t just make dresses out of traditional fabric. She created clothing from things most would not even conceive of making clothing from. She collaborates with engineers, architects and so many more to create fabrics made of metal threads to dresses created through 3-D printing to everyday leather sculpted. Even when they told her it couldn’t be done she told them it could. What an inspiration!
Back at The High
As if one day at the museum wasn’t enough I went back two days later to check out the rest of the exhibits. Thanks to the Atlanta Haitian Consulate for sponsoring this day with free admission to the public. We got to view all the exhibits with special attention to Basquiat because he was Haitian. His work cut short by an early death but still well received by most. We got to experience a little Haitian culture while on the museum plaza. There was food to sample, dancing, music and so much culture. On the other side of the Basquiat exhibit was the Vik Muniz exhibit. I really enjoyed his works because a lot of the mediums he worked in were food. He worked in sugar, chocolate, peanut butter and jelly and so much more. I love people who can see things in new perspectives. His work reflected that
Music In Focus
I was able to attend the Music in Focus exhibit by Carolyn Grady at the Southwest Atlanta Arts Center. It was a trip down memory lane as I saw pictures of musicians I grew up with. It was such a delight see art from another angle. She presented her photo work in a way that almost made them seem to pop of their canvas. All the work was black and white and printed on metal. It was like having each artist standing right their with you. I really love how she did that.
C.I.P. Ladies Lunch
Last but not least,The C.I.P. Ladies Lunch. It was the second meal of the year…Faux N.Y Strip(grilled Salmon, check out the Youtube video on how to create this dish right here), Indian Inspired Grilled Chicken Strips, Tri-Colored couscous with Sweet Peas & Mushrooms, Roasted Squash, Carrots and Asparagus and Tossed Salad. For dessert I taught the ladies how to make a Strawberry/Blackberry Compote that was served over Frozen Yogurt and Birthday cake. You read right we had another birthday celebration at this lunch. Only difference was that it was three different birthdays being celebrated and I had to allow Publix to make this birthday cake. They got an opportunity to be the first ones to purchase the new spice boxes I plan to roll out on the site. It included the major spices and the recipe card to use them. Be on the look out for them…coming soon. As always I want to thank the gift bag sponsors T.S.P, Naughty Goddess, Fab 222 and Botanical Bliss for the gifts they provided for the ladies. Don’t miss out on the next meal in September…From Dusk to Dark. It will be outdoors with a full tapas menu, wine and a few surprises for the evening. You can purchase your early bird tickets now right here
Life got a little carried away with me this month. I did make time for some memories though. I plan to to do better with posting…scout’s honor. May here we come even better than ever. Now get ready to go make new memories of your own in May.
~The Chef In Pearls
So Target has pulled off another designer collaboration. Guess what? They actually made pieces for the plus size woman. The line drops in less than 30 minutes online and in store. As I perused the lookbook I came across what I hope to make apart of my swimsuit collection.
It’s a bikini top with are you ready for it?? ….swim leggings. Yep not that I am afraid of showing my legs but I thought it was a cute option if I chose. Anyway go check out the Marimekko line at Target. I hope you plan to make some swim suit memories with TargetStyle.
~The Chef In Pearls
Just in case you didn’t know I want to be the one to tell you. The Chef In Pearls is at it again. We will be hosting our second meal of the year on Sunday April 17, from 1-4 pm. The Chef In Pearls has long hosted a quarterly luncheon dedicated to women looking to connect, relax and enjoy a good meal. This year I officially opened it up to the public this year. With proper ID and a ticket purchase you can join in the festivities. To help keep things moving in the right direction I have joined forces with Kym Edwards, owner & founder of the Naughty Goddess, to be my co-host. While I throw it down in the kitchen she comes and facilitates the discussions with the ladies. Our goal is to talk about health and wellness not just from the physical but mental and business aspects, too.We have discussions to help you make moves to the next step in your life, help you to see things from a different point of view. Everyone is encouraged to kick back and relax because it’s a judge free zone.
There’s still time to get your ticket for this event. Just click here and you’ll be a part of the fun. Everyone who attends gets a full more, networking opportunities and a gift bag from our sponsors. You can view pics from our first meal of the year here.
Come on out so we can make new memories together.
~The Chef In Pearls
Gift Bag Sponsors
It was supposed to be a party of four. Some how it ended up being a party of two but we still had fun. A night of live Brazilian Jazz music at Atlanta’s High Museum. Chinese food for dinner along with very interesting conversations. It was a good night. We missed having out other friends there but we had fun nonetheless.
C.I.P. Jumper: Lane Bryant
Earrings: Gems and Baubles
Go find out what’s happening at your local museum after hours and make some new memories.
~The Chef In Pearls
When it comes to eating out it can really be a gamble. Sometimes you roll 7 and other times it a crap shoot. That’s the way it seems to me. It’s not all about the classiness of an establishment because some places can seem on the up and up. Then the food isn’t up to par or even worse their kitchen doesn’t meet your standards let alone the industry’s standards.
I recently had brunch, well attempted to have brunch with my girlfriends at Cafe Circa. What a disappointment. I should have known that it wasn’t going to be good because when we stepped in the restaurant I got a whiff of dirty mop water..eww. I still decided to give it a chance. Since this is supposed to be a quickie I’ll keep the run down short and sweet. I didn’t care for the apples in the parfait, the chicken and waffles I ordered managed to come with a side of feathers, the french toast was mushy, slightly burnt with a bitter flavor having been soaked in rum…oh and the biscuits were hard due to them re-heating them in the microwave. Need I really say more? I would have to give Cafe Circa 2 thumbs down in a zero formation…a definite loss.
Later in the week I was invited to a celebratory dinner for my friend’s birthday. It was at a little place called, Papi’s. Apparently it was so little I kept driving past it, even though my GPS kept telling me I had arrived. From the outside it was not screaming extravagance, not even when you step inside did it change. Where the change became apparent was in the food and the service. So the drinks are strong, the tostones are like most but the accompanying sauce amazing, the ropa vieja was seasoned well and tender and the black beans were on point. Papi’s would get my money time and time again. I give them 2 thumbs up in a rub my belly formation.
Until my next meal out. I hope you find your way to somewhere new to try. And while your there make tons of memories. Now get off the blog and go make memories already.
~The Chef In Pearls
February actually got an extra day because we’re in a leap year. How cool is that? It’s still the shortest month of the year but it was a good month to me. Let’s start with my feature on the blog site She Just Writes. They wanted to know all about me and my writing ways. Did I mention to you guys that I am working on a ecookbook? Well I am. Check out the interview right here.
Then The Chef In Pearls turned 2 years old. I know to most that may not be a big deal. For me it is. So many things can crash and burn and never see 2 years. I feel pretty awesome to have been at this for 2 years with intentions of going further. I celebrated this milestone with a private tea party. I invited just a handful of friends and family to attend. We had a good time, which you can see by the pictures. If you missed the post on that you can check it out here.
I was so very proud to be able to bring to life the #Hungry Entrepreneur t-shirt. It’s available in our shop section. So please go check it out. Order one for the entrepreneur in your life so they can show the world that they are hard at work. Check it out here.
And to round this lovely short month out. I was invited to be a part of the 4evaeva.com podcast. It was fun to sit in and participate in their conversation. It was even more fun when I got a chance to talk about my passion…cooking. Listen to me on the podcast here.
February may have been a short month but it was packed to the brim. Looking forward to what March has in store for me and The Chef In Pearls. I can’t wait to make more memories to share with you all. If you’ve enjoyed what I have been up to please let me know by leaving a comment.
~ The Chef In Pearls
So you’ve seen them on television. You may have even attended one at a swanky hotel in town. And now you want to throw your very own tea party. Most people tend to throw tea parties for special occasions like a bridal shower, or a baby shower or even a birthday. Why not throw one just to have friends over to chat? It isn’t very hard to do.
Here is a list of 8 things you’ll need to pull this off.
- The Usual Party Arrangements. Like any other get together you have to have a location, time and invitation. With modern technology you can do invitations through Facebook, a text message or so many other online invite systems like Evite. I still like a good old fashion printed invite sent by snail mail.
- Tea Pots & Tea Cups. Your china does not have to match. Let me repeat: they DO NOT have to match. Check out what you have in your china cabinet. Or visit your local thrift store and see what goodies you may come across. You can make it part of the theme for each guest to bring her favorite tea-cup. Same thing goes for the tea pots. See what pieces your Mom or if you’re lucky your grandmother may have in her china cabinet and have at it. For my last tea party, I was blessed with a plethora to choose from because my Mom collects tea pots.
- Tea. Can you actually throw a tea party without tea? I think not. I grew up with fresh peppermint growing in my backyard so I know what it’s like to enjoy freshly made tea straight from the garden. There is also the debate loose tea vs. tea bags. I say loose but tea bags aren’t bad if you get them from a reputable company. Some days you really can’t be sure what manufacturers are giving you. With that being said you can make your own tea bags with just a couple of items. (See below)
- Tea Sandwiches I know we have all seen the infamous cucumber tea sandwich. Please do not think that is your only option for sandwiches at your tea party. It’s all up to your imagination. Think it up and shrink it down in size. They should not be larger than a 2 bite sandwich. I made a caprese styled sandwich with fresh mozzarella, basil, yellow grape tomatoes, spicy sliced turkey from the deli all on a toasted square of bread. If you really aren’t interested in making any small sandwiches find your favorite local restaurant and see what they can do for you.
- Scones. Now we all know it’s not really a tea party if there aren’t any scones. What exactly is a scone? I think the best description I have heard is that “a scone ain’t nothing but a glorified biscuit.” If you’ve been to a Starbuck’s you may have seen one or even eaten one. I made cranberry/orange scones and chocolate chip scones for my tea. Once again the choices are limited only by your imagination. Oh and don’t forget the lemon curd…it takes scone eating to a whole other level.
- Pastries. Tea loaves, cookies, savory mini tarts, fruit tartlets: any of your favorite pastries in mini form. Remember they are meant to be eaten in 2 bites. Put them on a plate with a doilie (remember to use what you have as dishes or borrow from Mom) and set it on the table.
- Photos. Pictures are important to immortalize the event. You can hire a photographer to capture all your hard work and the fun you and your guests will be having. This will give everyone the chance to sit back a really enjoy. Your other option would be to make everyone the paparazzi for the night. With the digital age we live in now everyone has a smart phone, so picture-taking is inevitable. Create a hashtag just for your event so when attendees post pictures you can have access to them all in one place. Consider printing a photo book as a keepsake afterwards.
- Gift Bags. I always like for my guest t walk away with some sort of keepsake from whatever event I create. It doesn’t have to be super elaborate but it does have to show you put some thought into it. For my tea party I made tea bags for everyone, some lemon melt away cookies and placed a teaspoon in a goodie bag tied up with ribbon. I wanted them to continue the tea party for themselves when they got home. I am including how to create your own tea bags below.
How to make tea bags
You will need loose tea, old school white coffee filters, a stapler, and baker’s twine. Take one filter and flatten it out. Depending on if you plan to make bags for an individual cup or for a pot place 1 teaspoon to a tablespoon of loose tea along the center of filter. Do not come past 2 inches from either ends of the filter and forming a straight line done the middle. Fold either sides of the filter of the line of tea, making a rectangle with rounded ends. Starting with the end closest to you make 2 folds, one over the other. Then do the same with the other end. Now fold the filter in half, bring both folded ends together. Take a 5-6 inch piece of baker’s twine and attach it to the filter using the stapler. I like to leave a ½ of an inch of twine on the other end so that I can tie a knot and secure the twine on the staple. Viola you just made your very first tea bag and probably not your last.
I hope this has helped you in feeling like this is something yo can pull off because you know what? You can. Is there something you think should be added to this list. Drop me a comment below and let me know. Then take some time out and visit my It’s Tea Time board on Pinterest.
Now go forward and make some memories.
~Cassandra, The Chef In Pearls
Photo credit: Tonesha Smith Photography