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.
I have a general rule of thumb when ordering in restaurants. You don’t go to a steakhouse and order fish. I mean it’s a steakhouse. Which means they have mastered the art of cooking a great steak. I wouldn’t go to Nathan’s and order fried chicken. Nathan’s is known for their beef hot dogs. Which illustrates my point. STK Atlanta has become the exception to that rule in my book. In my opinion, their chef has mastered the art of cooking and boy did it show!
This past Monday my blogging partner, Rochelle Wharton, and I were invited to STK Atlanta to enjoy their newly launched Malbec Mondays. Customers can enjoy the paring of a half price bottle of Terrazas de los Andes Malbec when they order a steak. It available at their other U.S. locations as well including Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Orlando.
STK Atlanta screams S.E.X.Y. From the moment you walk in the door, you are greeted by a lovely hostess. As you step in a little further there is a lounge that has a beautifully curved sofa with its back against the large floor to ceiling windows. Through the windows you get a peek of the busy Atlanta street outside the restaurant. As I sat waiting on the sofa, the view was of the extensive bar with the wildest art seeming to protrude from the wall. It all works so well together. Once Rochelle arrived we were seated. The ambiance of the dining area was perfect for a date night with low lighting and a lit votive on the table. I’m going to keep this place in mind whenever I am asked out on a date.
Enough about the look of the restaurant. Let’s get to why I feel like STK Atlanta is the exception to one of my restaurant ordering rules. As we were guests of the restaurant, our menu was pre-selected by our wonderful server Adam. SN: When you make your reservation with STK Atlanta make sure to ask for Adam as your server. He is knowledgeable about the menu and happy to make suggestions or explain why he prefers one item over another.
Adam started us off with the bottle of Terrazas de los Andes Malbec. Now I am not much of a red wine drinker, but once Rochelle gave me an impromptu red wine drinking lesson, I not only liked but actually enjoyed drinking it. Our next arrival was the obligatory bread plate. The difference between STK and the average eatery bread was we indulged in a pull-apart bread brushed with bleu cheese butter and served with a chive dipping oil. Yes, imagine that in your mouth! Exactly! Your taste buds waking up from its unknown slumber. While we drank wine and noshed on bread, Adam began to bring out our starters, including a Baby Gem Lettuce Caesar with herb croutons and grated parmesan reggiano. The salad was great especially if you’re a cheese lover because it was loaded with parm.The dressing was authentic caesar as you could taste the hint of anchovy in it. That was followed by the Bigeye Tuna Tartare with Hass avocado, soy-honey emulsion and taro root chips. The combination of fresh fish and the soy-honey emulsion made my taste buds sway from side to side as it took notice of all the flavors. Last but most definitely not least was the Lil’ Brgs made of wagyu beef topped with a special sauce encased in sesame seed buns. In my experience, most places mess up the sliders they carry because they end up being over cooked but not in this case. The beef was tender and flavorful and cooked to mini perfection. At this point STK Atlanta had won me over but I knew there was more to come. Anything could happen between now and the end of the meal.
What did happen next helped to put a dent in my theory of not ordering fish in a steakhouse. Adam brought us our entrees. Rochelle had the King Salmon presented with fregola, succotash, corn puree and red endive jam. What made this dish for me was the fact that the salmon was perfectly cooked. It was flaky, moist and most importantly expertly presented. Now don’t get me wrong, all the other components of the dish went well with the salmon which made it all the more enjoyable. After sampling this dish I had no doubt in my mind that my steak would be up to par. I received a little surf and turf action, the filet with 2 seared scallops and an au poivre sauce. It was spot on!! Cooked to the right temperature for me (medium) and oh so tasty.
All told STK more than killed my little personal restaurant rule of thumb. They managed to not only present seafood on three different levels and get it right, but they still showed me that they are truly a steak house. If you’re looking for an upscale restaurant with great service, wonderful food all served with a dash of sexy, STK Atlanta is the place for you. If you aren’t in the Atlanta area check out one their many other locations. They have a few international spots too for my world traveler readers.
This was my experience at STK Atlanta and my opinion about the food. You may go and have a different experience (I can’t imagine that happening but hey anything is possible). I like to share things from my point of view and because we are all different and like different things they may not always aline. However one will never find out what you like if you don’t give it a try. I made many memories there and I hope that you will give it a try. Now go forward and make memories.
Until next time
~The Chef In Pearls
*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a meal for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*