CIParoundtown Archives - The Chef In Pearls

A Lesson In Pie…Crave Pie Studio

A Lesson In Pie…Crave Pie Studio

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

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#DanceDestinations…Alvin Ailey

#DanceDestinations…Alvin Ailey

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.

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Courtside Club…#HawksTasting

Courtside Club…#HawksTasting

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.

Courtside Club


 

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

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New Year…New Tasting

New Year…New Tasting

 

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.

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Not Too Late…Five Restaurants to Try before 2018

Not Too Late…Five Restaurants to Try before 2018

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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.

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Atlanta Foodies Meetup…Sandy Springs

Atlanta Foodies Meetup…Sandy Springs

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

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The Chef In Pearls

Cassandra Mason is a Lifestyle Chef and Gourmet Cooking Instructor who enjoys demystifying the art of cooking for One. You can catch her live demonstrations across major social media as @TheChefInPearls.

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