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.
What better way to start the New Year off than with a tasting? I mean it is only fitting that I would greet you guys with a new place to check out. I know everyone else is running around making New Year resolutions and stuff but let’s be honest. For most that list may have lasted a week, if that long. Me? I am a goal setter. So one of the goals I have set is to have more tastings, so that I may share them with you. Give you new places to go visit and make new memories. With that being said the latest tasting comes to us courtesy of Caren West PR and The Room at Twelve.
With the temperature drop that happened the day of our tasting, I was more than happy to leave Petty Betty with valet. God bless valet parking! With a short walk from my car to the lobby of Twelve, I met Rochelle at the bar. Dan Whitaker, the manager of Room, offered us cocktails to start our evening off. He suggested a cosmo for me since I like vodka with a little bit of sweet. Great choice! After a few sips and a little bit of chatting on our part, Dan whisked us off to our table. Once seated we met our server for the night, Taylor. He was fun and full of suggestions. We started our meal off with appetizers: a crab cake, acompanies by a very lovely cucumber and tomato salad, as well as fried calamari with sambal syrup and wasabi aioli. The crab cake was tasty and I loved the presentation. However, I felt like the crab meat was broken up too much and didn’t get a chance to show off the nice lumps of crab I was looking for. The calamari was perfectly cooked. We all know what overcooked calamari is like, nothing worse than seafood bubblegum. Even though the calamari was perfectly cooked, I was a little taken aback by how sweet the sambal syrup made the dish. I was expecting it to be spicy with a hint of sweet, but it cancelled out some of the spicy I had been anticipating. Other than that I thought the appetizers were very much on point.
For our entrees Rochelle had the Pan Fried Georgia Trout served with Cranberry & Apricot Couscous and Asparagus. Her fish was spiced with tumeric and had a nice crisp to it with a moist flaky inside. The simplicity of the fish paired so well with the couscous that a little more going on. I loved how the flavors of the butter and garlic stood out and was soften by the sweet of the dried fruit. I would order that the next time around. For my entree I ordered the Grilled Lamb with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus. My lamb was very tender and tasty, the chef paired a sauce that helped with the gameness often associated with lamb. Although Rochelle isn’t one for a sweet sauce, I thought it worked great with my meal. It even made the garlic mashed potatoes shine a little more along with the asparagus. Overall I’d recommend the lamb to anyone to try.
What meal would be complete without dessert? Chef Huerta out did himself with his presentation of our desserts. I almost didn’t want to eat my dessert. Almost. Believe you me I did eat dessert. I mean I ate what I could and boxed the rest up to enjoy the next day. Rochelle had the Apple Crumb Cake, which came out warm and moist. I wish the whole cake could have been the edge because that’s where the happiness lived in this dessert. It was nice and buttery and left you wanting more. Now, anyone that knows me knows I love a good chocolate cake. Hell I have a Pinterest board dedicated just to chocolate cake. A little obsessive? Maybe but when you love a thing you just love a thing. So I had to order the Flourless Chocolate Cake. I have had flourless chocolate cakes before that were too eggy and not enough chocolate. This cake, on the other hand, was neither. It was light with layers of cake and ganache sandwiched perfectly together. It was served with vanilla ice cream which made me dance in my seat a little. Both desserts were winners all around. Neither dessert was too sweet and the plating made you want to eat it even more. If you don’t believe me, the pictures will speak for themselves.
My time at Room at Twelve was very memorable. And you guys know how I feel about making good memories. When you are in the metro Atlanta area, make sure you check out Room. It’s a great place for memory making. Now get off my blog to go forward and make memories.
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls.
P.S. The interior of this restaurant is very hip an chic but my favorite room they have is the fish bowl. It seats up to 14 people and can be reserved with a call. It has an all glass wall with windows with a view of the busy Atlanta cityscape. If you plan to have a large group ask for this room, trust me you won’t be disappointed.
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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
It was 5:04pm when I received the text notifying me of the location for this year’s Diner en Blanc. We were to report to Gate 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Wait . . . the newly constructed Mercedes-Benz Stadium? Perfect!! I was less than 15 minutes away enjoying drinks with my blogging partner, Rochelle Wharton of Culinary Vegg Out. We would be part of the digital media covering Diner en Blanc. We left P.S. 404 to head to the festivities. As we drove up to the stadium, all I could see was a courtyard engulfed in a sea of white. As each bus allowed guests to disembark, it became wave after wave of white descending upon the stadium. Have you ever seen a sea of white created by people? It was a magnificent sight.
After parking we make our way to gate 2, where we obtained media passes for ourselves and our guests, Paris Coburn and Dionna Collins. From there we were guided in the direction of the media lounge. Walking through the gates there were people bustling to and fro claiming their space in the courtyard, setting up their tables and chairs. This view of the white sea resembled choppy waters before a storm. So much movement!! Some people pulled wagons while others toted bags. Some were very creative with the way they transported all their Diner en Blanc needs. In the midst of all this choppy water, I began to see where the vision was heading. During the setup there was music played by a live orchestra and cirque style performances throughout the venue. Once at the media lounge I got to finally meet the face behind the emails, Ms. Lisa Fisher. As one of the three hosts for Diner en Blanc Atlanta, it was great to be able to put a face to a name.
The media lounge was wonderful, decked out in all white sofas, white tables and white chairs. We had our own bar and a lovely spread for us to nosh on. We were able to network with other media outlets and reacquaint with others met at previous events. And then it was time to go to work. Time to share through my social media platforms all things Diner en Blanc. When I looked out into the courtyard again that once choppy sea of white had simmersed to a lull with light ripples caused by a few late comers. It was beautiful to see how the table settings came together with the people seated all around dressed in white. The sight was brilliant!
To signify the start of Diner en Blanc there is the traditional waving of the napkins. You can catch a glimpse of it here. The party was now under way. There was a live band and a male vocalist, not sure of their name. I somehow missed it amongst all of the fun being had. There was a guitarist who performed with some of the aerialists of Liquid Sky Entertainment on stage with him. It was great. Then DJ Grace Lamour took to rocking the crowd. People danced the night away. There were plenty of photo ops available for attendees. There were two beautiful white Mercedes-Benz cars, a photo booth with the Diner en Blanc backdrop, the stadium with the great Falcon Sculpture and let’s not forget the lighted letters of Diner en Blanc for people to choose from. The sea of white was taken a step further later in the night when another tradition took place, the lighting of sparklers. Here is a small glimpse of the stars above the sea, a grand sight to see. Let me stop rambling on and share some of the pictures from the night.
All told Diner en Blanc was a breathtaking event. I was sad to see it come to an end but I am super excited thinking about the 2018 edition. Diner en Blanc Atlanta was made possible by the diligent efforts of our gracious hosts Lisa Fisher, Tina DeRenzis and Helen Mitchell, who produced a memorable event. Thank you to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a wonderful location. Special thanks to Diner en Blanc sponsors Lanson Champagne and Evian-Bedoit who provided the drink options for the night. And let’s not forget all the people who attended. Without them how would I have been able to experience such a stunning sea of white. I look forward to what this team has to offer everyone for the 2018 Diner en Blanc Atlanta.
I made so many memories that night. So many that I wouldn’t know where to start or end. I hope this post makes you want to participate next year. Stay in the know for Diner en Blanc Atlanta 2018 at atlanta.dinerenblanc.com. Now go forward and make new memories.
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls
P.S. Here’s a video of inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium
P.S.S. Watermarked pictures were captured by Averi Washington for Diner en Blanc Atlanta all others are C.I.P owned
What’s the first rule of fight club? Yeah, if I hadn’t already shared that I had a birthday in July I would be telling my age with that reference. That question comes from a 1999 movie titled, you guessed it . . . Fight Club. What I’m talking about is different kind of fight club. Dare I share it? In the movie, the first rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club. Well since I’m all about breaking rules here and there, I think I will tell you all about Culinary Fight Club.
Culinary Fight Club is all about bragging rights. Who gets to say they won? Who gets to say they are the best amongst their peers. Wait . . . hold up: I have a confession to make. I didn’t actually go to Culinary Fight Club. What I attended was Culinary Fight Fest. A gathering that happens when you have 6-8 winners of previous Culinary Fight Club matchups and put them up against each other. In this arena the winners compete to see who will be the best of the best, top dog among champions The talent was strong in the room. There was a little bit of everything to try during the Tasters’ Choice round. Each contestant presented a dish that you were able to vote on. To cast your vote, you dropped one of the 4 tokens you received on entry into their voting box. There was no limit on how you cast your vote. If you liked them a lot you could drop all 4 in. After this initial tasting, the top four were chosen. From there the top 4 go on to compete in the final round. They are given 30 minutes and a mystery box. Brasstown Beef was the sponsor for the mystery boxes. So you guessed it . . . the boxes had beef in them. To keep the chefs on their toes they were unmarked cuts of beef, so you really had to know your stuff to compete.
The chefs came prepared to battle. They were provided with pantry items, kitchen equipment and any necessary tools to cook. However many chose to still bring things to help put them ahead of their competition. Things ranged from an old school pressure cooker all the way to river rocks. The top 4 presented wonderful dishes to be judged. But we all know the rule. There can only be one winner . . . one top dog . . . and that honor went to Josh Reeves of the River Club, located in Suwanee, GA. He walked away with a check, some cool knives and most importantly the right to brag as the winner of Culinary Fight Fest.
As always, I got to meet some pretty cool people, run into some of the usual suspects and of course make memories. Hey would you come out to support if The Chef In Pearls competed? Comment and let me know if you’d be a part of my cheering squad if I decided to join the Culinary Fight Club competition.
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls
I am blessed to have lived a childhood where I did not have to worry about hunger. That doesn’t mean there were no hard times in my family’s life. It just means my Mom had a nifty way of making sure as kids we never knew about it. I managed to raise 3 kids and none of them experienced hunger. However, that is not the case for so many children, 1 out of 6 kids do not have a decent breakfast before school. WIthout breakfast they are more likely to miss school, less likely to get better grades and less likely to graduate high school. It is said that 13 million children suffer from hunger. This is where No Kid Hungry comes into play. The goal is to raise awareness of this epidemic happening in one of the richest countries in the world. They also help to raise money to help fill the gap in areas where this is happening.
This past weekend I had the honor of serving as media coverage for the Give Me Five . . . No Kid Hungry Fundraiser. 5 featured chefs and 5 sommeliers crafted a 5 course meal all in the name of raising awareness and money. This was the 11th year for the fundraiser. Attending this event was an “extra happy” event for me. It’s was a chance for me to play dress up, eat good food and do my part to share all of the going ons during the event. It was a win-win situation all around for me. The atmosphere was totally different from the event I had gone to earlier that day. You can read about my time at Culinary Fight Club right here.
The event started off with a cocktail reception and passed appetizers, where entertainment was provided by a live harpist. All great events start with bubbly and this one did not disappoint. Within the next hour we were ushered into the ballroom that was so exquisite. There was a Jazz Trio playing wonderful music as we found our seats. The concept of the event had the chefs and the sommeliers to create wonderful pairings for each course. And they definitely achieved that goal. Now I could sit here and write about each course but I honestly feel like the pictures will speak volumes. Believe me when I say the only way you are not drawn in by the pictures would be because you are blind. One of the coolest thing was that they held a live auction during dinner. It was very exciting to hear the auctioneer roll those numbers off his tongue urging and pulling people into outbidding one another, all in the name of a good case.
Give Me Five was a wonderful event but if you are like me and were moved even the slightest by the statics I shared, you may want to make a donation. You have several ways you can help out. You can make a one time donation, make a monthly contribution or find a local restaurant or event that supports the cause and participate through them. Feel free to click here and check out the options yourself. Let’s work together to help make fond morning memories for some needy children.
Until next time
~The Chef In Pearls
Who isn’t drawn to a bit of mystery and intrigue? I cannot deny that I love a little mystery here and there. It makes life a little more interesting. So when given the chance to visit a speak easy located in downtown Atlanta, I was game. I was told to head to The Red Phone Booth. I don’t know if any of you have ever watched any old gangsta movies. You know, the ones where in order to get into the club you had to know the secret password. Well The Red Phone Booth is just like that. It’s open to the public. You just have to know someone who has gone before or has membership to give you the password. Thank God for knowing people! When you arrive you step inside a red phone booth, similar to the ones you used to see scattered throughout London. You dial in the secret code and voila the door opens for you.
Once the door opens, you enter into a dimly lit room with vignettes of leather clad sofas and chairs. There were large coffee tables nestled amongst them, giving the room a very manly feel. As you step a little further in, you see a full bar along the back of the room, where bartenders are busy crafting specialty drinks for the patrons. Then you notice the smell of smoke in the air, but not caused by trendy hookahs. This is the scent of cigars, slow burning being enjoyed by guests. Yes, this not your average bar or lounge. It’s more. It’s an experience.
During the visit, there was the chance to sample drinks while noshing on Beef Carpaccio and Oysters on the Half Shell. Can I make a confession? For all of the cooking and such I have done, I have never eaten an oyster on the half shell. I mean I’d eat Oysters Rockefeller all day long but an actual raw oyster . . . never. Well not until The Red Phone Booth. You know what? I actually liked it. Not bad for a first.
I would recommend The Red Phone Booth to anyone who doesn’t want to do the everyday bar scene. It’s full of history, great drinks, and a wonderful atmosphere. While you are there make sure to check out Amalfi’s located above the speak easy. The restaurant boasts two wood burning ovens that reach temperatures between 800 and 900 degrees. The heat allows them to bake pizza in less than a minute’s time. I really enjoyed their pizza crust. Let me know what you think about the pizza if you check them out.
Here are two places you can head out to and make memories. Do think you are up for a little mystery and intrigue?
Until next time.
~The Chef In Pearls
P.S. The images in the Red Phone Booth are dimly lit because I wanted you to get a feel for the atmosphere…Who am I kidding? I couldn’t find the flash on my camera. I now know where it is.
Have you ever gone to a conference and after just an hour wondered why you were there? I have. You were sold on the wealth of knowledge you would gain by attending and it just never happened. That was not the case at the WE (Women Entrepreneurs) Rock Conference. They set out for females to be able to look at themselves and their businesses differently. And they achieved that.
They provided a place were women in business could come together, learn from each other, network, aspire one another and gain the knowledge they need to take themselves & their businesses to the next level.
Their guest speakers included keynote speakers Jai Stone, of Jai Stone ULTD & Ronnie Tyler, of Tyler New Media LLC and a special inspirational message from Judge Lauren Lakes, of Paternity Court. Their panelists shared information about social media, finances, writing books, answering your calling, making profit on purpose and being able to live a limitless life. There was no way to leave their not motivated and charged up about yourself and your business.
This was the 4th year for WE Rock and they already have plans for a bigger & better event for 2015. They’re taking it on tour so look for them in your city. Visit their website www.WeRockNational.com to find out cities and dates and how you can be apart of the WERock Nation.
Special thanks to the co-founders Melisa Alaba and Edeline Dryden for having the foresight to create such and awesome event.