Red Velvet Confections

4 Things to do in Atlanta to Celebrate National Wine Day

By May 25, 2016 Events


Today is a my kind of day. If you’re a wine lover, let’s band together and celebrate. If you’re in the Atlanta area, here is a quick list of things you might want to do:

1.  Visit Andretti Indoor Karting & Games for a ladies night or gathering with friends and family. They’re offering specials of their new wine collection, Villa Andretti. Choose from their specialty red and whites and, as an added bonus, you can look forward to half-off glasses of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

2.  Purchase tickets to the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. It’s happening June 2-5, 2016.

3.  Stop by Symposium Wines from 6pm to 8pm for an Old World Wine Tasting.

4.  Sample affordable small batch wines at Savor Wine Boutique from 5:30pm to 7:30pm during their Wine Wednesday: BBQ & Picnic Wines event.

Happy Wednesday “Winesday”!!

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Princi Italia: Media Blogger Brunch

By May 23, 2016 Brunch, Dining Out

Doing brunch on a Saturday morning is pure love. It works because you’re allowed to wake up at a non-hurried pace, get yourself together, then show up at a lovely brunch destination like Princi Italia for casual dining and conversation with friends. That’s how it felt for me this past weekend.

I was invited to a Media Blogger Brunch by our hostess Linda Carmical who has a new Food the Fire brand launching soon. Around the table were several other talents from Atlanta’s social and blogger scene, all of whom have some pretty impressive projects in the works. I feel like I was in the right place to be inspired. Being in an environment like this can spark new ideas and even provide the motivation needed to see them through fruition. It doesn’t hurt that this type of stimulation happened around good food and Bellinis.

During brunch, Princi Italia offers Bottomless Mimosas & Bellinis for $10 which is an awesome deal. I opted for the Peach Bellini and loved it.

We tried several items from the menu which were served to us family style. That is not typical of their regular service but if you’re dining with your friends, I think it would be fun for everyone to order different entrées, then pass them around so you can enjoy several tastes.

From the appetizer menu, we shared Honey Goat Cheese Beignets with a fresh berry compote, Strawberry Cinnamon Flatbread with honey mascarpone & mint and Nutella & White Chocolate Flatbread with raspberry sauce, powdered sugar & mint.

5 honey goat cheese beignet

When I pierced the beignets with my fork, the softened goat cheese oozed out and seemed to call my name. It was delicious with the berries. The Strawberry Cinnamon Flatbread was the type of pie I would want to snack away on, slice after slice. It was simple but flavorful.

Other shared plates for the Table were Artisanal Breads including Apple Pecan, Peach and Zucchini, Fried Chicken & Pancetta Waffles, Apple Cinnamon French Toast, Eggs Benedict, Eggs Milanese and Princi Scramble.

The scramble was my favorite of these and was full of the kind of savory I crave in an egg entree. There were artichokes, shiitake mushrooms, spinach and basil asiago cheese. It thoroughly satisfied my expectations.

7 eggs milanese

This meal was a bit of an indulgence with so many rich dishes but it was nice discovering all of the delicious options available at Princi Italia. While there, I also noticed a few more savory brunch options that I’d like to try. Perhaps Steeler Fan and I can schedule a casual day and stop in for a bite.

9 gift bag

Before we parted ways for the day, we received gift bags with goodies from Seven Sisters Scones, Astor Chocolate and our restaurant host, Princi Italia. There was also a special gift from Village Tavern for one blessed attendee. Thank you to all of the sponsors and to Linda of Food the Fire for your generosity. Thank you Tara, Princi Italia’s Event Coordinator, for being thoughtful and accommodating.

To learn more about Princi Italia

Visit their Website  |  Follow on Twitter

Disclosure:  The meal and gift bag I received at this Networking Media Blogger Brunch were complimentary. I received no monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are based on my own personal experience. You can view my full Disclosure Policy here

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[chez] Montier Spring Media Dinner

By May 10, 2016 Dining Out

9 collage

Let’s pretend that I’m a fabulous storyteller with the ability to draw crowds in with over-the-top tales of grandeur and fabulousness. Or, we can pretend I’m ordinary and simply blessed to have been in the company of those who have absorbed the zest of life through their travels and personal encounters, then generously dispersed the best parts of these experiences through thoughtfully crafted dining events. Let’s go with the latter.

10 wine plates menu

I’ve had the opportunity to participate in some notable dining experiences but the most recent one was more fun and energizing than I would have expected. The event was a media dinner hosted at Leaning Ladder in Woodstock, GA by Chef Juan Montier. He’s the force behind the words dripping from my fingers. I didn’t want to just write a post and say I ate this or that, although I fully intend to later. What I want is to convey is my appreciation for having had the opportunity to sit across from an energetic, personable and family oriented lover of family, food and life.

The anticipation started with a hand addressed envelope that I found waiting in my mailbox after a long day at work. Inside was an invitation describing the event with one word standing out among all the others. Spectacular.

3 Chef Juan and Chef Melissa

From the moment I walked through Leaning Ladders’ doors, I knew the night would be special. Chef Juan Montier was behind a sprawling counter prepping with his wife Judith and son Austin assisting in the way family members do. I’m a softie for family support. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Another planning force behind the event was fellow food blogger, Chef Melissa Pelkey-Hass. She’s a southern gem and blogs at The Front Porch Gourmet.

7 saketini


With members of the Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society and friends in the media, we started the evening with Curried Shrimp with Golden Raisins and a cocktail offered most enthusiastically by Chef Montier. He’s a genuine party starter. The cocktail was a “Saketini” garnished with Lychee Fruit and Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar, proceeded a short time later by a teaser of Crab “Fingers” with Wasabi Roumalade and a Tuscan Herb Olive Oil drizzle. They were so good I had to try them ALL a second time. Don’t judge.

4 salad

The salad that followed was a wonder. One might think greens on a plate is boring but these greens were far from drab. Our plates were topped with Arugula, Asparagus, whole Bamboo Shoots and a moment having Sesame Olive Oil, Ginger Dressing. You know salad is good when you want to take your finger and run it around the rim to get Every. Single. Drop of flavor. No, I didn’t do that but it was that kind of good.

8 balsamic vinegar

Between courses, Chef Melissa took the opportunity to share some interesting facts about Leaning Ladder Olive Oil & Vinegar and walked us through a tasting of some of their blends. It was such an enlightening experience. The flavors were rich and inspiring. I could see using them at home to elevate a recipe we already consider a favorite.

5 main course

While our group mingled and sampled oils throughout the store, Chef Montier worked his magic in the kitchen. His main course read like the synopsis of a good book. It grabbed our attention but the first paragraph bite drew us in. When it was time to plate, he, his wife and son assembled the climax of the night’s story: Yucca and Potato Encrusted Chilean Sea Bass with Wild Mushroom Wontons in a Miso Broth with Seared Sea Scallops, Turned Carrots and Sesame Sauteed Field Greens flanked by a Whole Roasted Crawfish, finished with a drizzle of Garlic Olive Oil. See what I mean?

The warmth and many layers of flavor in this dish were pure comfort as was the entire evening. The event was relaxed yet the presentation of each dish demonstrated the refinement and elegance that the upscale Chez Montier brand exudes. This Food, Decor and Lifestyle Boutique is backed by Chef Montier’s 20+ years of experience in architectural training, interior design and gourmet cooking. His undeniable talent has been featured on “The View”, “Atlanta & Co”, “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” and “V-103 Morning Show” and has been enjoyed by high profile friends and clients like Diana Ross, Ce Ce Winans, Steve Harvey and Usher. As you can imagine, I feel pretty lucky to have luxuriated in Chef Juan’s culinary talents.

6 granita

The finale to our Spring Media Dinner was a beautiful Honey Sweetened, Ginger and Lemon Granita bathed with Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar. What a perfect ending.

To learn more about Chez Montier or attend an upcoming event:

Visit their Website | Follow on Twitter | Follow on Instagram

Thank you to Chef Juan Montier, Judith, Austin, Chef Melissa Pelkey-Hass and to all the generous sponsors (Leaning Ladder Olive Oil & Vinegar, TKGourmet, Sprouts Farmer’s Market, Astor Chocolate, Gimmee Jimmy’s Cookies and Southern Vines Distribution) who made this event so memorable.

Disclosure:  The meal, drinks and samples enjoyed at The Spring Media Dinner were complimentary. I received no monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are based on my own personal experience. You can view my full Disclosure Policy here

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Squeeze Play Lemonade

By April 30, 2016 Beverages, Cocktails

1 turner field

I remember the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium from back in the day. I worked there for a little while in concessions. I’m telling my age but this was during the time when Dale Murphy, Bob Horner, Terry Harper, Glenn Hubbard, Rick Mahler, Ken Oberkfell, Rafael Ramirez, Ozzie Virgil and Claudell Washington were on the Roster. As with all things in life, time brought about change. New names and new digs.

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was demolished. Turner Field erected. Above is a panoramic shot of Turner Field I took before the Braves vs. Mets game last Friday. It’s likely the last time I’ll see another Braves game in-person at this venue as the team is making a big move to Cobb County next year. This house was a good one but it sounds like their new home at SunTrust Park is going to be pretty phenomenal.

2 tickets whiskey lemonade

In honor of this bittersweet occasion, I’ve crafted a cocktail with the help of a bottle of Templeton Rye Whiskey, some aromatic bitters and a rich simple syrup. I wanted this drink to be something classic and that would effortlessly pair with all sorts of ballpark food. I couldn’t think of anything better than Lemonade. It’s highly versatile and just like southern sweet tea, porch swings and baseball, it’s an iconic Summertime favorite.

3 lemongrass ginger syrup

In order to make the Lemonade we need simple syrup. I make jars of this at home all the time. On occasion, I keep it classic with just sugar and water but most often, I make it with ginger. This time I added lemongrass and a a few cardamom pods. Here’s the recipe.

Lemongrass Ginger Rich Simple Syrup

1 cup water
2 cups pure cane sugar
1 cup fresh ginger, sliced
1 stalk lemongrass – bottom part, chopped
4 cardamom pods, smashed

Combine all ingredients in a small non-reactive heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 – 45 minutes depending on the strength you want from the final product. Strain through a sieve into a glass jar and allow to cool to room temperature.

Make candy with the ginger slices or save for another use.

4 lemonade ingredients

The Lemonade is very easy to make. You’ll only need a large glass in which you’ll combine water, lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters and Templeton Rye Whiskey.  Top it with ice and you’re ready to go.

Templeton Rye Whiskey leans toward spicy and can be enjoyed straight or on the rocks but it is highly complimentary in cocktails. What I was hoping to achieve with this recipe was a balance between the tartness of the lemons, the subtle hint of bitter, the sweet syrup and the noticeable presence of spice of which I’m a huge fan. I think this lemonade gets it done. The only thing left to do is to give this bittersweet cocktail a name.

Hmm… let’s call it Squeeze Play.

5 lemonade

Squeeze Play Lemonade

6 oz water
2 small lemons
2 oz Lemongrass Ginger Rich Simple Syrup
8 to 10 drops 18.21 Bitters Prohibition Aromatic Bitters
2 oz Templeton Rye Whiskey

Combine all ingredients in a 16 oz glass. Stir. Fill glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon slice. Toast the team. Drink.

Feel free to adjust the amount of syrup and whiskey to suit your tastes. Enjoy it as-is or make it sweeter and boozier.

For more information about The Good Stuff

Visit their Website  |  Follow on Instagram

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary bottle of Templeton Rye Whiskey and stipend for recipe ingredients. I received no monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are based on my own personal experience. You can view my full Disclosure Policy here

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For the Love of Basketball, Wine & Astor Chocolate

By April 20, 2016 Atlanta & Beyond, Candy, Events, Wine

1 Atl Hawks

When the Atlanta Hawks played the Phoenix Suns, I was perched atop a stool in the Astor Chocolate Suite with a fantastic view of the game and a lovely spread of Wine and delicious Chocolates. I was there with several members of the Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society as well as a select group of creative Hawks fans for a true VIP experience.

2 wine and scoreboard

The spirit of the night was obviously about the love of Hawks Basketball but the game was enhanced by this uniquely styled wine and chocolate tasting event. Before we stepped into the chocolate arena, we tamed our hunger with some savory snacks. Our hosts made sure we were well fed with goodies ranging from fresh cut veggies & dip to sandwiches, wings, chips and popcorn.

3 Astor Chocolate

I admit, it’s been a while since I’ve been inside Philips Arena for a Hawks game. Most sporting events I see are from the seat of my couch in our living room or while hanging out in a sports bar. The setting in the suite was a perfect diversion from the norm.

4 Astor Chocolate

Our hosts for the evening were Rich Ezra, Chief Disruption Officer at Creative Chemistry and Jacklyn Robertori, resident Sommelier-in-Training and Marketing Manager at Astor Chocolate. From them, I learned some interesting facts about the company and indulged very responsibly in some of their rich confections and the wines chosen to pair with each.

5 Astor moodicons

I learned that Astor Chocolate has been around for over 60 years which is interesting because I’ve never heard of them. Not that I know all chocolatiers or anything but they’ve sort of been front and center all this time. We just didn’t know it. Have you ever stayed at a hotel where they offered turn down service with a little chocolate treat left on the pillow? Astor. Have you ever wondered where some gourmet retailers get their gourmet chocolates?

Astor Chocolate offers private label service and they also work with all the major sports teams. They’re a really big deal and I’m so happy to have finally officially “met” them.

6 Astor Programs

Besides arranging fun wine tastings, Astor Chocolate has been showing other Public Displays of Confection to consumers. They’re coming up with some pretty cool packaging designs like their “Breaking Bad” and periodic table inspired label for their line of {in}gredients bars featuring “ingredients infused into a broad spectrum of flavor profiles.” There are Moodibars (see cute pic above), Coffee Break and Sweet Beatz with wrappers that mimic cassette tapes. It sounds like their marketing team has a lot of fun at work right?

The company has two locations, one in Lakewood, NJ; the other in Napa Valley, CA. The candy we tasted came from their Napa Valley Facility which contains ingredients found in that region. We sampled Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles paired with a Louis M. Martin Cabernet Sauvignon and a Dark Chocolate Fig Truffle paired with a Mark West Pinot Noir. One of the things Rich mentioned early on is that when it comes to pairing, choose what you love. I am more of white wine drinker, but with these chocolates, I wouldn’t hesitate to pour red. It was absolutely worth trying.

7 Astor Chocolate

Our white wine pairings were accompanied by a Passion Fruit Truffle and a White Chocolate with Strawberry Jam filled Truffle. Yes they were as rich as they sound. My favorite was the Passion Fruit. These go well with Prosecco and Riesling. We were encouraged to first drink a bit of the wine, take a bite of the truffle and then take a second drink of the wine. Let me just say that doing the wine-truffle-wine dance is awesome! You must try it.

If you’re totally distracted from the fact that this experience happened at an Atlanta Hawks Game, I understand. Imagine the tug of war I had to deal with. Watch the game or eat chocolate. See them score or sip wine. {Sigh}. It was a tough job, but I was glad to do it. And, just so you know, our guys won!

Phoenix: 90  Hawks: 103

To learn more about Astor Chocolate

Visit their Website  |  Follow on Twitter

photos of chocolates were provided by: Astor Chocolate

Disclosure:  Tickets to the Hawks Basketball Game, refreshments, chocolates and wine were provided by Astor Chocolate. I received no monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are based on my own personal experience. You can view my full Disclosure Policy here

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