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.
Forty-five years ago, in a hospital in Brooklyn, NY my mother gave birth to who you have all come to know as The Chef In Pearls. I’ve shared that I am a born and bred New Yorker, who transplanted to Atlanta, Georgia. Here is a new factoid for you the readers: you need to know is that I LOVE a good birthday. They are a big deal to me as I look forward to them the way a shopaholic looks forward to a good sale. I mean, I just turned 45 and I’m already planning for my 50th birthday. As if I don’t have other birthdays between now and then. Don’t get me wrong I do plan on celebrating each and everyone until my 50th but I am extra excited about reaching that milestone age.
With that being said I had wonderful plans for my birthday. I wanted to celebrate for a week straight, something to do everyday. I thought about going to a local spa with several salt pools, doing a movie night, or even doing a 5k for charity. Yet as my birthday grew closer, I realized I really didn’t want to do those things anymore. I just wanted to have good vibes for my birthday. I wanted to be around people who would not only celebrate with me but would celebrate me. I knew my best friends of nearly 30 years wouldn’t be able to make it. We had already made plans to celebrate together later in the month. So I pulled out my trusty phone and crafted a text message that I sent out to a handful of friends. The response was want I wanted…yes I’ll be there.
What happened next brought me pure joy and happiness. Let’s start with the fact that my sous chef and friend, Linda Adamswithe, drove in from South Carolina to make me queen for the day. She said with that crown I could have anything my heart desired. What I desired was a menu of appetizing food. She helped me to craft and create a wonderful menu for what would become my birthday gathering. We made crackers from scratch, my recipe for marinated feta cheese crumbles, hummus, and marinated tortellinis — all in the name of a wonderful appetizer board. It was also filled with fruits, nuts, cheeses, dips, veggie and assorted sausages …it was just a beautiful site to see. Then Linda pulled out her bartender’s cap and created a Sangria that left everyone wanting more. But the piece de resistance were the grilled oysters that she pulled off so lovely. Not over cooked and served on a platter of kosher salt with lemon wedges and sriracha for those that needed a bit of spice in their life. Yeah I’d have to say…we did that!
Honestly, as much as I enjoyed the food we created I enjoyed having friends and family around even more. Turning 45 to some may be a thing they want to avoid. Not me, every chance I get to live a little more life I embrace it. I want to grow old and be able to look back through my memory files and smile a big smile. Birthdays are blessings from God and as long as She gives me breath I will continue to celebrate them.
What are somethings you like about celebrating birthdays? Do you have a tradition? Or do you wing it every year? Tell me your fondest birthday memories.
Until next time
~The Chef In Pearls