Friday, June 15, 2018

GIVEAWAY: Tickets to “Freaky Friday” at Piedmont Park

No summer in Atlanta is complete without watching a live show while picnicking with your family! It is quintessential family fun in my opinion, which is why I’m giving away four free tickets to a live performance of “Freaky Friday” at Piedmont Park!

The hit musical will be playing at the Promenade at Piedmont Park June 20 – 23, and this set of tickets is for the Thursday, June 21, performance. You can enter the giveaway by heading to my Instagram post and making sure you are following both me and Horizon Theatre, as well as tagging your squad in the comments, since each tag counts as an entry.
A shot from Horizon Theatre's production of "Freaky Friday" (c) Greg Mooney
“Freaky Friday” is based on the book and movie of the same title and tells the story of a mom and her teenage daughter accidentally swapping bodies. It is scored by a Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning creative team and directed by the award-winning Heidi Cline McKerley, so you know this show will be good!
(c) Greg Mooney
The set of four tickets in the giveaway is for the reserved seating section, which guarantees you a spot close to the stage so you have a great view. That means you don’t have to arrive super early to claim your spot on the lawn: You can arrive just before the show starts, bypass the crowds, and still get a great view of the stage.

Feel free to bring some blankets or low beach chairs (with backs no taller than 24 inches), your favorite food and drinks, and enjoy a picnic with your family as you watch the live performance. The only thing to keep in mind is that you cannot bring glass or alcohol to this event; however, wine and beer will be available for sale inside the park.
Last year's performance in Piedmont Park (c) Horizon Theatre

If you forego bringing your own food, there will be food trucks inside the park, in addition to a concessions bar. But, if you do choose to bring your own picnic, here are five places where you can stock up on the best handheld bites:

Ocean Market: This downtown cafe is known for their crepes, both sweet and savory, so they'd be perfect to enjoy at a picnic. If you prefer a healthier option, pick up some of their entrée salads -- their variety will impress you (and make it difficult to choose).

Bellina Alimentari: This Ponce City Market store has your Italian basics covered! They have a great selection of cured meats and cheese, an impressive selection of to-go foods in addition to their regular menu, as well as awesome desserts.

Lee’s Bakery: Located on Buford Highway, this Vietnamese restaurant is known for its bahn mi sandwiches! Pick up enough for your whole crew and throw in some drinks, like boba smoothies, Thai tea, and Vietnamese coffee – noms!

Caravaca Market: The new European café and market in midtown has a variety of items to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. We’re talking pizza, sandwiches, prepared cold foods, and lots of beverages, including alcoholic ones.

Chicken Salad Chick: Pimento and chicken salad sandwiches are must-have picnic items, and this eatery has a huge variety of flavors to choose from. Another nice perk? It has locations all around Atlanta, including Buckhead, Vinings, Marietta, Kennesaw, Roswell, Alpharetta, and Cumming.

So, stock up on your picnic supplies and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for the four free tickets to see “Freaky Friday” on Thursday, June 21 on my Instagram! Good luck to everyone who enters!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Event recap: Cinco de Mayo with Chevy Equinox

My Cinco de Mayo was hectic this year. Three different foodie events, all scattered across non-adjacent Atlanta neighborhoods. Don’t get me wrong: It was a lot of fun, but it required a lot of pre-planning and quite a bit of traveling.

I am so grateful that Chevrolet was kind enough to help me out with the traveling part. They provided me with a 2018 Equinox, a crossover that is perfect for driving around both people and things. It was roomy, it kept me connected throughout the day, and most importantly, it kept me safe because it is very hands-free friendly.
The 2018 Chevy Equinox (c) Anna Lanfreschi / AnnaFeasts
The day started out with me making some homemade food to bring to our first Cinco event, a lunchtime gathering at a friend’s house in Decatur. I made my famous from-scratch guacamole, as well as a Mexican street corn salad, inspired by my favorite side item at Bartaco.
Left: Mexican street corn salad; right: homemade guacamole by yours truly (c) Anna Lanfreschi / AnnaFeasts

My husband and I loaded all our prepared food into the Equinox – the trunk had plenty of room for everything we were transporting – and headed out for our long day of adventures. 
The spacious trunk of the Chevy Equinox (c) Anna Lanfreschi / AnnaFeasts

One of the first things we did after turning on the car was connect to its 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, which was super easy. Just push the OnStar button and enter the provided login information into your phone. This came in super handy for getting fast directions to our destinations, for not randomly losing coverage on the drive, and for not going over our data limits!
The MyLink display that helps you stay connected (c) Anna Lanfreschi / AnnaFeasts

My husband also immediately connected his phone to the car’s Bluetooth for streaming music and getting driving directions through the Equinox’ audio system. Again, it was super easy to set up, and I love that there’s a dedicated spot for your phone inside the car. It’s placed just far enough away so you’re not tempted to reach for it while you’re driving, and it serves as a wireless phone charger!
The wireless charging pad is just under the MyLink display (c) Anna Lanfreschi / AnnaFeasts

The only caveat here is that the charging pad doesn’t fit larger phones, like my Samsung Galaxy S8+ (there are multiple conveniently placed corded charging ports though).

With everything set up, we set out to Decatur. The guac and the corn I made were both a hit with everyone at the party. It was a potluck situation, and all the food was excellent! After a couple of hours of grazing on homemade queso, barbacoa, and grilled veggies on our friends’ beautiful patio, we had to move on to our second destination of the day in Sandy Springs.
The impressive potluck spread at the first Cinco de Mayo event of the day (c) Anna Lanfreschi / AnnaFeasts

This leg of our trip was during the hottest part of the day, so we tested out the cooling seats that are available in the new Equinox. I fell in love instantly! The crossover came with both heated and cooling seats, which is ideal for Atlanta weather, since it’s always either too cold or too hot.
Left: cooled seats; right: heated seats (c) Anna Lanfreschi / AnnaFeasts
Our second party featured an impressive make-your-own taco bar, as well as a taquito roller grill! Yes, you read that right. And yes, it was just as amazing as you would imagine it to be! My friend Lauren of PrettySouthern and her husband outdid themselves with their annual Cinco party this year!
The taquito roller grill made for an epic Cinco de Mayo party! (c) Anna Lanfreschi / AnnaFeasts

Our last event of the day was a Cinco-themed AWWA festival in midtown Atlanta. It featured plenty of delicious Mexican food (third helping of queso for the day? Yes please!), live music, and raffle prizes. Proceeds from the event benefited Water for People and Rivers Alive.
Arriving at our last Cinco de Mayo event of the day (c) Anna Lanfreschi / AnnaFeasts

At this point, it was getting pretty late, and we decided to call it a day. Backing out of my parking spot was a breeze with the Equinox’ 360-degree view of the vehicle. Seriously, when you put the car in reverse, the MyLink display not only shows you the backup camera view, but also a birds-eye view of the car and its position in relation to its surroundings. When you put the car in drive, the display briefly shows the forward-facing camera view before switching back to its regular settings.
The interior of the 2018 Chevy Equinox (c) Chevrolet

Oh, and did you know that the new Chevy Equinox is compatible with both Apple Carplay and Android Auto? This way, the MyLink display can mirror your phone so you never have to touch your actual device throughout the drive. The car is also fully equipped with voice commands, so you can ask it to get you directions, change your music, or even read your text messages. No more texting and driving, and all your phone calls are hands-free. Absolutely love this feature!  

My husband and I got home safely, tired, and happy that we got to see so many friends on Cinco de Mayo. How did you spend your Cinco this year?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: Babalu Tapas & Tacos

Babalu Tapas & Tacos is a fairly new addition to the Midtown Atlanta dining scene, with a beautiful patio and an extensive menu of delicious small plates. Yes, I said small plates -- don't let that scare you. 

Tapas get a bad rap: The prices are lower than usual, but portions tend to be tiny, so you end up spending more than at a regular restaurant if you want to leave feeling full. 

That's not the case at Babalu. Their portions are almost appetizer-size, with most tapas still priced around $10. Plus, they have pretty great specials daily -- keep reading to learn more about them, and about why this place rocks in general. 

WHY GO: Because it’s #TacoTuesday, duh!

THE VIBE: Cool and slightly retro. Think metal tables and counters, garage doors that open when the weather is nice, and “I Love Lucy” projecting on the back wall.
Can you pick up on the slightly retro vibe? (c) Anna Lanfreschi

DRINK THIS: The Baba-Rita. It’s Babalu’s take on the classic margarita, with the addition of tart pomegranate juice. It’s not too sweet and perfectly delicious.

If you’re a fan of tequila, you can also get a vertical or a horizontal flight: One gives you three different types of tequila from the same brand (say, Patron), the other gives you a taste of three different brands but of the same type (say, reposado).
The Baba-Rita--super tasty! In the back, you can see the remnants of the tequila flight (c) Anna Lanfreschi
EAT THIS: Seafood tapas, and all the tacos! My absolute favorite dish was the pan-seared crab cakes. They’re served with chipotle chili sauce and fresno pepper slaw, and they’re made of jumbo lump crab. And the portions are generous! I will definitely be back for this dish again (and again and again).
These crab cakes were amazing! (c) Anna Lanfreschi 

My husband and I got the chance to sit at the chef’s counter, which is an amazing experience where you see how all the food is prepared and get to interact with the chef himself. 
Chef's counter -- highly recommend this dining experience! (c) Anna Lanfreschi

After chatting a bit, he recommended his favorite dish on the menu: pan roasted redfish. An excellent recommendation! Served over roasted potatoes and corn pico de gallo, it tasted fresh and delicious, and I, too, would recommend it. 
Redfish -- the chef's favorite dish on the menu (c) Anna Lanfreschi

This blog post wouldn't be complete without mentioning the table-side guacamole. It is a must! Made with fresh ingredients right in front of your eyes, it is super satisfying. And Babalu uses a secret ingredient to give their guac a little extra flavor! 
Start your meal off right with this guacamole, prepared table-side (c) Anna Lanfreschi

And then there are all the tacos… no seriously, alllll the tacos. We asked the chef which was his favorite, and he said you can’t go wrong with any of them!
ALLLL the tacos! (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Oh, and between 3-6 pm on weekdays and 10 pm-close daily, all tacos on the bar bites menu are only $3 each! The bar bites menu also includes drink specials, like $4 sangria and draft beer, $5 house wine and well drinks, and $6 house margaritas!
Do save room for dessert, especially when you can get a little sampler like this one (c) Anna Lanfreschi

LOGISTICS: BabaluTapas & Tacos is located at 33 Peachtree Place, at the intersection of West Peachtree Street and Peachtree Place. There is public parking in the adjacent garage on Peachtree Place, which Babalu validates. The restaurant is open 11:30 am until 9 pm on Sundays, 10 pm Monday through Wednesday, midnight on Thursdays, and until 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Fave Five: Restaurants that march to the beat of their own drum

Sometimes, you just want something a little different when going out to eat. Sure, delicious food, cool ambiance, and great service can always be part of your decision-making process when picking out a restaurant, but every once in awhile, you may be looking for something unique.

That’s where the five eateries below come into play. As the name of this blog post suggests, they all definitely march to the beat of their own drum: No matter the food industry trends, these restaurants stay true to their original visions. And a lot of them have been around for years, if not decades, so you know what they’re doing is working.

And speaking of drums, did you know STOMP is coming to Atlanta? The international percussion group is only in town for a limited time – April 6 and 7 – so definitely grab your tickets for their performance soon.
Not sure what STOMP is all about? The award-winning show boasts amazing drumming routines using everyday objects, like brooms, lighters, and car parts. You won’t see any conventional percussion equipment throughout the show, but you’ll be captivated the entire time! You can read more about theshow here, watch a preview here, and get your tickets here.

5 restaurants that march to the beat of their own drum:

Unique doesn’t even begin to describe this Atlanta institution. We’re talking super colorful interior, live exotic birds outside, and a lengthy menu full of inventive, health-conscious items. The entire space is reminiscent of a tropical island. If you don’t have a selfie with one Mr. Thomas’ birds (or a pic of the food), can you even call yourself an Atlantan?

What do you get when you combine burgers and sushi? Burgushi! That’s actually the name of this restaurant’s signature dish, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: Burger ingredients in the form of a sushi roll. The rolls vary, from one with cheddar cheese, bacon and ketchup, to another one topped with seared filet.

This restaurant has such a cool concept: Half their menu remains constant throughout the year, but the other half rotates every quarter to a different global cuisine. So one quarter it may be Thai, followed by Russian the next quarter and Cuban the next. And the décor here is super eclectic and worldly, in the best way possible.  

Decorated with upside-down umbrellas and serving high tea with all the proper accoutrements, this place is one of the most unique ones in Atlanta. And the ATL ladies love it! From a simple catch up to a lovely baby or wedding shower, this is such a fun way to connect with your girlfriends.

If you come here for an early dinner, you may not see what makes this place unique. But if you stay for the dancing after dinner, you’ll understand what I mean. Starting at 10 pm, a DJ starts spinning, Ouzo starts pouring, and dancing is only interrupted with shouts of “Opa!” and throwing of napkins up in the air to celebrate… whatever you want to celebrate!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: New Realm Brewing

New Realm Brewing is finally open in Atlanta! Located right off the Beltline, this spot boasts great views of the city from its rooftop patio, a well-designed dining room, tasty food that pairs well with cold brews, and, of course, delicious craft beer.

WHY GO: Because you want to try some new beer, but you’re also hungry, and you only want to go to one place.

THE VIBE: Chill and slightly California-esque. The inside dining room has tall ceilings flanked by brewing tanks, and outside – both down and upstairs – the patios offer sweeping views of the Atlanta skyline.

Check out my Instagram for more on what New Realm looks like inside and out!
Rooftop patio with a view

DRINK THIS: Get a taster flight so you can try a variety of New Realm’s delicious brews.

I tried the Euphoria (pilsner), Perun (pale ale), Acca Dacca (Australian sparkling ale), Doomsday Hound (Russian imperial stout), and Pilotlight (coffee porter). I liked the coffee porter the best, which surprised me, as I usually gravitate toward lighter beers. But honestly, all the beers I tasted were great.
Flight of Euphoria, Perun, Acca Dacca, and Doomsday Hound

You may have noticed IPAs are missing from my tasting, and that’s because I’m not a huge fan of them; but I’m told New Realm knows what they’re doing when it comes to IPAs. They have Mitch Steele at the helm, the award-winning brewmaster of Stone Brewing Company and author of “IPA: BrewingTechniques, Recipes and the Evolution of the India Pale Ale.” So yeah, you can count on a delicious IPA from New Realm.

The Radegast is the brewery’s flagship beer and is described as “wonderfully aromatic and massive in fruity hop flavor.” There’s also the Hoplandia (American IPA) and Kikimora (imperial IPA), so if you’re a fan of hops, New Realm’s got you covered.

EAT THIS: Go for the Radegast burger. The combination of burger and beer just can’t be beat, and this one comes on a brioche bun and with the best secret sauce ever!
The Radegast burger with Caesar salad (although you can get fries as your side)

If you’re looking for something to snack on, try the crispy corned beef rolls or the Georgia peanut hummus. Both are tasty, and the latter is super Instagram-friendly! I hear the wood-fired salted pretzel is also delish, and it’s served with beer-queso for dipping.
Georgia peanut hummus
Crispy corned beef rolls

New Realm’s food menu also has a selection of greens, soups, sandwiches and pizzas. Oh, and do save room for dessert! The campfire s’mores are absolutely worth the calories: They come deconstructed, with graham crackers and already toasted marshmallow and chocolate mousse for easy assembly.
Campfire s'mores

PRO TIP: If you’re not a fan of crowds, come to New Realm early in the day. Try to get here right as they open (5 pm Monday-Wednesday, or 11 am Thursday-Sunday); otherwise, expect to wait in line for your brew and to drink it standing up. Lunch may be your best bet for avoiding crowds, which is served Thursday through Sunday.

LOGISTICS: New Realm Brewing is located at 550 Somerset Terrace NE, right next to Two Urban Licks and near Ponce City Market. If you’re driving, you can find street parking on Somerset. If you’re walking in from the Beltline, turn by the giant installation of what looks like rusted upright beams and walk in through the parking lot. 

P.S.: Credit for the very first photo in this blog goes to S.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: The Local Pizzaiolo

Atlanta’s Neapolitan-style pizza scene is crushing it! And there’s one newcomer you should know about: The Local Pizzaiolo. The flavors are authentic, the sizes are smaller than usual (aka, perfect for one person), and I love that. Read on to see what else makes this place worth visiting.

WHY GO: Because the brains behind this pizza place, Giulio Adriani, is BFFs with the brains behind the best pizza place in the world (Gino Sorbillo, of Sorbillo pizza in Naples & NYC). Clearly, he knows how to make great pizza. 

THE VIBE: Casual but with fancy cocktails.
How adorable is this mural inside the restaurant? (c) The Local Pizzaiolo
DRINK THIS: Speaking of cocktails, grab any one that’s on tap. Yep, I said on tap. Your choices include negroni (such a classic Italian cocktail!), Aperol spritz (talk about another classic!), Neapolitan storm (an Italian take on the dark & stormy), and espresso martini.
The Neapolitan Storm cocktail -- super pretty and delicious!

EAT THIS: Pizza, duh! My favorite pies include When Pigs Fly (with prosciutto and arugula) and The Farmer’s Market from Giulio’s pizza menu, as well as the Puttanesca from the gluten-free menu. Yep, I said gluten free. And no, you can’t tell it’s GF.
The Farmer's Market pizza, with Brussels sprouts, goat cheese and bacon bits (c) The Local Pizzaiolo
The Gypsy pizza, with roasted wild mushrooms, bechamel, and truffle oil
The Local Pizzaiolo menu also features a great selection of salads, as well as a little something called Pizza Al Metro. It’s not a pie, but rather a sandwich made of pizza dough and stuffed with pizza ingredients of the day, like Italian cured meats, cheeses and veggies. Giulio dreams up a new flavor each day, and it depends on the ingredients available that day.
All the gelato please!

There’s also dessert. Your choices are authentic Italian gelato in a multitude of flavors (hazelnut is delicious!) and Nutella bites: Fried strips of pizza dough served with whipped cream, powdered sugar and Nutella. Yum!

LOGISTICS: The Local Pizzaiolo’s first Atlanta location is now open in West Midtown, near 5 Seasons and Hop City. And they’re opening up a few other locations around the city, including at Toco Hills, Madison Yards and Sandy Springs. 

PS: The first photo in this blog post is courtesy of The Local Pizzaiolo, via the restaurant's Facebook page.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Event recap: Uncorked Atlanta Wine Festival in Piedmont Park

Unlimited tastings of wines and craft beer, live music, and tasty food, all on a covered patio on a sunny Atlanta day. Doesn’t this sound like the best way to spend a weekend afternoon?

That’s precisely how I spent last Saturday, February 3, at Uncorked Atlanta Wine Festival at Park Tavern. And it. Was. Glorious.

The sixths annual event had more than 50 varieties of vino from some of the best wine producers in the country: We’re talking Robert Mondavi, Chateau Ste. Michelle, and Joel Gott. For one-and-done wine drinkers, the festival also had a nice selection of craft beers and branded adult beverages.

Spending the afternoon drinking wine is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon, in my humble opinion, and the Park Tavern patio is one of the best places in Atlanta to do so. It’s covered (aka, temperature controlled), but still offers gorgeous views of the city.
Basically, what I’m saying is that the Uncorked Atlanta Wine Festival was awesome, and I’m already looking forward to its seventh annual installment. Want to check out even more pics from the event? Check out their Facebook page