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
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.
Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. It was a day to sit and make memories with our family and friends. We ate turkey with all the expected, loved and tasty trimmings. For some families that includes a decadent pumpkin pie.Thanksgiving’s arrival and departure means more to me than just the closure of a wonderful gathering. It means we can say goodbye to the almighty pumpkin. Yes you read that right. We no longer with pumpkin flavored anything. No more PSL.. you know…Pumpkin Spice Latte. No more pumpkin bread or pumpkin flavored ice cream It comes to a screeching halt. And I do a dance of glee.
While the rest of America was going crazy over the pumpkin , I was paying homage to the apple. Yes, apple. I’m sure the first thing that pops into your mind is the great American Apple Pie. A favorite for sure but the apple helps to create tons of memories. I have made apples cooked in a caramel sauce eaten with pancakes, apple butter used to make a glasze for pork belly sliders, apple stuffed baked french toast, apple dumplings served a la mode, a grown up version of an ice cream float made with hard cider (you can watch the video here). There is NO end to what can be done with the great apple. Sweet or savory the apple stands up to a variety of uses.
Since the weather is getting colder I wanted to share a recipe that would be great for family gatherings or spiked for an adult get together, Hot Apple Cider. Now this is more than just warmed up apple juice. When done right it is a mug of warmth filled with just the right amount of spice to make your whole body yield to relaxation. The power of the mug is amazing. And with the adult additions….well you can only imagine how mellow it can become.
Hot Apple Cider
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1 apple, cut into slices
- 1 orange, cut into slices
- 4 cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 2 slices fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
Add cider along with apple and orange slices to a large pot. Add the rest of ingredients into a large tea ball (making sure to break cinnamon sticks in half to fit in ball). Add to tea ball to pot and bring to a simmer for at least 30 minutes on the stove top. Then serve with fresh apple slices or maybe a few pieces of clove in a mug. If you want to make it an adult version add a shot of your favorite spiced rum or maybe a shot of caramel vodka for caramel apple hot cider to each mug.
Now that you have this recipe I want you to go forward and make plenty of memories with it.
Until next time,
~The Chef In Pearls
I know it’s getting cold but who doesn’t like a good Ice Cream Float? Especially if we can make it a little grown up. Follow the video so you can create you own version of caramel apple fun in your tummy. Now go forward and make some ice cream float memories.
~The Chef In Pearls
1 1/2 cups cut corn
1 small red onion diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (I use flat leaf parsley)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 of a fresh lime
2 1/2 -3 cups shredded colby jack cheese (shred your own)
10-12 flour tortillas (taco size)
1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce
In a fine mesh strainer rinse quinoa with water and allow to drain. Bring vegetable stock to boil then add quinoa. Bring back up to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes then fluff grans with a fork.
Pre-heat oven to In a bowl add black beans, corn, diced onions, cilantro, quinoa and spices. Mix through. Taste mixture and adjust seasonings if needed. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish. Lay 2-3 tortillas to cover bottom of dish, overlapping is fine. Spoon enchilada sauce over the tortillas then layer on black bean mixture. Then top with some shredded cheese. Repeat layering two more times. Tortillas, sauce, black bean mixture and cheese ending with tortillas. Finish with enchiladas sauce and top with cheese. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until center is heated through and cheese is bubbly. Let cool for 5-10 minutes then cut into squares.
You can serve with rice and a salad. Or just a salad. Sour cream and guacamole are excellent accompaniments.
Now go forward and make new memories.
~ The Chef In Pearls
Lately I haven’t really enjoyed doing the whole mall thing. The other day while out with the mini me I ended up at the mall. More importantly I ended up in JC Penney. That’s where I saw the cutest pink outfit. It seemed so fun and flirty. I already figured out so many ways to wear the two piece ensemble in less than 5 minutes of initially seeing it. I needed it in my closet but first a dressing room, please.
I tried on what used to be my size only to realize I needed a smaller size. YAY ME! Down 14 pounds but that’s not what this post is about. This little number that ended up in my closet ( a certain un-named person gifted it to me) was to be my ode to Breast Cancer awareness. A dear friend/neighbor of mine survived breast cancer only to later lose her life to cancer of the spine. I think about her often…missing her. I laugh about how I hated how perfect her home always looked. At that time she had no children and I had 3 so a clean house was hard to keep. She even had the nerve enough to have a white sofa. I secretly hated on her about that. Then she was blessed with a child of her own. And everything changed. The struggle became real and apparent, yet she only had one child. We became kindred spirits. I love the memories we were able to create. Laughing over tea in her kitchen about my oldest one running away from home to her house. Or the time she called my house because the wasband was playing his music too loud and way too late into the night. She threatened to bring her infant child over if he didn’t shut it down. Hell, I pulled the plug myself. I miss her. I wear this pink in her memory and for all the memories we shared. Sandra Hutchinson you are loved.
Go forward and make memories.
~The Chef In Pearls
Cannot access this app. That’s what my phone notified me of when I tried to visit my picture gallery. I needed to delete some stuff in order to continue on my merry picture ways. That’s when I realized I had some forgotten files I had not shared of a few other places I visited last month. I may have forgotten to share the pics but the places made a mark on me. The first place being Kefenio. It’s this wonderful Greek cafe located in College Park. A couple of months prior I helped with an event and Kefenio was what we had for lunch. So when I got back to College Park, I had to make it to the restaurant. It was well worth the visit. I was even lucky enough to meet the Chef and owner, John. I decided on the lamb burger, which was moist and flavorful, with their french fries that came seasoned with garlic, oregano and salt. YUM. Make sure to get a side of tzatziki sauce to eat your fries with, well worth the extra cents. It will make you dance in your seat as you eat the fries. I promise, scouts honor.
While still scrolling through my pics I came across another one of my forgotten files I visited. Have you heard of Shake Shack? Well I have. It’s supposed to be a “Hip, counter-serve chain for gourmet takes on fast-food classics like burgers & frozen custard”. So you know I was super stocked when the YP Insiders got an opportunity to visit and dine at its location here in Georgia? It’s located in the Shops of Buckhead, Atlanta’s version of Rodeo Drive. I was ready to be blown away. Unfortunately I wasn’t. It’s not that the burgers are bad it’s just that they are average. It didn’t leave me wanting to make a trip back to Buckhead to partake again. I always feel when a restaurant as a specific food in their name I should be compelled to drive 45 minutes to have it every chance I get. With that being said the milkshakes were pretty average as well. I felt like I could’ve gotten the cookies and cream milkshake from a CookOut or Steak & Shake location. Nothing to write home about. But don’t let me dampen your parade. You check it out for yourself.
The final place located in my forgotten files was True Foods Kitchen. This restaurant is located in Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta, GA. This restaurant is dedicated to healthy eating style. They have menu items for vegans, vegetarians and those who eat gluten-free. There is something for everybody. The foods are all locally sourced and prepared fresh daily. I was taken to lunch as a birthday treat by one of my friends and “students” Katrina Parker. I got to sample their sustainable sea bass, the pizza with the house made chicken sausage and for dessert the flourless chocolate cake. I love good food especially when it’s good to you(body). I’d definitely tell a friend, as a matter of fact I’m going to text one right now.
Have you ever taken pictures of memorable places and forgotten to share them with others? Or is it just me? Here are three new places for you to go and try out. Let me know in the comments where you have gone and what you think. Until next time, go forward and make memories.
~The Chef In Pearls
I was heading to my first Atlanta Foodies Meetup. I hit traffic not once but twice but I was determined to make it to my first Atlanta Foodies restaurant crawl. I am what’s known in Atlanta as an OTP-er. It means I live outside the perimeter of 285. The city lays ITP, Inside The Perimeter. Generally speaking I live about 45 minutes outside the city of Atlanta. I know if I plan to make it anywhere in the city I need at least an hour and fifteen minutes so I am not late. On this particular day that was not enough time. I ended up spending about two hours trying to make it to my Atlanta Foodies meetup. I made it, late and a little frazzled but I made it. I do not let where I live affect me meeting new people and trying out new restaurants to share with you guys.
I finally arrived at Tupelo Honey Cafe . Our group organizer, Audrica of Napping on Mondays, was so gracious in helping me not feel bad about being late. I quickly got a seat and was introduced to the small group of attendees. I was a little late so food had already been brought to the table. What a spread it was. I think the pictures will do better than the words I could ever type. Between our waitress and the manager, we were made to feel like we would never want to leave and truly we didn’t want to. But there were more restaurants to visit and good eats wait for no one. Make sure you check them out in the Gateway Plaza in Sandy Springs.
The second stop on our restaurant crawl was Urban Cookhouse. All I can say is that I didn’t know I liked broccoli salad until UC. It was sweet and crunchy and just downright yummy. UC is a family friendly restaurant. It even has a drive thru for those days when you just can’t manage to get out of the car or don’t want to fuss with the kids inside a restaurant. The must have item on the menu is the Half Baked Cookie……MY GAWD! Seriously it’s not something you want to share with anyone else. So make sure everyone gets their own. Check them out the next time you’re in Sandy Springs.
Our finally stop on this restaurant crawl was Buttermilk Sky. Now technically we had dessert over at Urban Cookhouse but…Who can say no to pie? I sure couldn’t, so off to Buttermilk Sky we walked. At this point in the crawl the ethnic fatigue was starting to kick in. I knew I would still need to make it back to Conyers, you know OTP almost an hour away. I still pushed forward because my readers need to know what the Gateway Plaza in Sandy Springs has to offer them. I did it for you : )…LOL! Buttermilk Sky is a quaint little bakery that offers what I came to realize was some damned good pie. Kimmie ,the owner, took time out to chat with us about her bakery and what it offers. (Check out my Facebook page for the videos) She then presented us with goodie bags with what else? … PIE. We got to take home her I-40 pie, which has fresh grated coconut, pecans and chocolate. Now anyone that knows me knows that I am not a fan of coconut but that pie was really good. We also got the All-American favorite…apple pie. I sampled it cold and then reheated it the next morning for breakfast (I know it wasn’t the healthiest breakfast but it sure did taste good. The green tea helped to balance it out some…LOL). The crust on the pies were so buttery and flaky. And the fillings weren’t too sweet. They seemed almost perfect. I can’t wait to go back. Make sure to give Kimmie a visit and let her know you read about her on The Chef In Pearls.
I look forward to the next Atlanta Foodies Meetup. I got to meet some wonderful new bloggers including Shana of Technotini, Loren of Dating with Passports, Sharonda of Pay or Wait and our organizer Audrica of Napping on Mondays. I can’t wait to make more memories with Atlanta Foodies Meetup. Now you have 3 new restaurants to check out. Go forward and make new memories. Until next time.
~The Chef In Pearls
Yep, you read that right. I am one of the newest YP Insider member. What is that you ask? Well, we are a group of individuals (mostly bloggers) hand selected to do reviews on businesses in the local Atlanta area. We get to have first hand experiences brought to us by the Yellow Pages and share our views on them. We write about everything from the local car detailing services to even the best place to have plastic surgery done. We have you covered in the review department on whatever you may be interested in.
Last night as apart of the YP Insiders, I got to attend an event at The Watershed. It’s a local Atlanta restaurant that serves “Local, seasonal, soulful dishes inspired by Southern tradition and prepared with present day artistry.” You can find out more about them here. We had an opportunity to take part in small bites, wines and beer; all while networking. We even got a chance to meet Chef Zeb Stevens, the man behind the food.. Nothing better than getting to meet the person creating what you’re eating. He’s been with The Watershed family for a little over 18 months. He prides himself on bringing local and seasonal foods to the tables at The Watershed, while trying to keep within the southern feel of the menu. I love that he chose to do fried boneless, skinless thighs as opposed to the chicken breasts. We all know there’s more flavor in those thighs.
I look forward to other great events as a YP Insider. Being able to meeting other Insiders and saying my piece about businesses in and around the metro Atlanta area. So check out the reviews on the YP app or visit the site, you just might read one I’ve written. And when you find a moment go make some memories over at The Watershed. Let me know what you think.
~The Chef In Pearls
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