Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Heads up: Taste of Atlanta is this weekend!

The best foodie event of the year, Taste of Atlanta, is happening this weekend, October 19-21! Taking place inside the Historic Old Fourth WardPark, the three-day food and drink festival will showcase the best bites and beverages from more than 90 Atlanta restaurants for the 17th year in a row. 

New to Taste of Atlanta this year is the beer garden, which will not only highlight Atlanta’s best craft breweries, but also serve wine and cocktails to satisfy all taste buds.

Taste of Atlanta is pure foodie heaven: Noshing on culinary art from renowned Atlanta restaurants, mingling with top Atlanta chefs, learning new cooking tricks during chef demos, sipping on craft cocktails and local brews, all while enjoying beautiful fall weather. It doesn’t get much better than this for an Atlanta foodie!
One of my favorite dishes from Taste of Atlanta 2015: Seared scallop over succotash 

Here’s how to get in on the action and what to expect from Taste of Atlanta this year:

Friday night: All-inclusive kickoff party
WHAT: Honoring the theme of “World of Taste,” chefs will wow festivalgoers with global flavors from their internationally inspired Atlanta restaurants. The host chefs for the evening are Hector Santiago of El Super Pan, Eddie Hernandez of Taqueria del Sol, and Archna Becker of Bhojanic, but more than two dozen Atlanta chefs and restaurants are participating, including Porch Light Latin Kitchen, Tiny Lou’s, and Donetto.
WHEN: Friday, October 19, 6:30 – 11 pm
HOW MUCH: $85 perperson, which includes all food and drink, as well as live music

Saturday: Full festival day 1
WHAT: The first full day of the foodie festival will feature presentations such as “The Sexiest Dish in Atlanta,” “Grilling with Wine,” and “Eat Better One Morsel at a Time,” in addition to celebrating the expansive local restaurant scene.
WHEN: Saturday, October 20, 12 – 7 pm
HOW MUCH: Generaladmission tickets are $25 per person, VIP tickets are $75 per person

Sunday: Full festival day 2
WHAT: The second full day will also be full of tasting tents throughout the park, as well as presentations such as “Brunch-a-Holics,” “Sharpen Your Southern Cooking Skills,” and the tenth annual Barcraft Celebration.
WHEN: Sunday, October 21, 12 – 6 pm
HOW MUCH: Generaladmission tickets are $25 per person, VIP tickets are $75 per person

Quick note on tickets: General admission tickets include an RFID wristband preloaded with 10 tasting points, which you can spend on any of the bites at the festival. You can always add more tasting points to your wristband for $1 per tasting point.

VIP tickets come preloaded with 20 tasting points, which you can spend both inside the VIP tent and in the general festival areas.

In case you're curious, here's my recap of the 2016 Taste of Atlanta.

Details for getting down to Taste of Atlanta: Street parking is limited, but there is additional parking in Deck B of the Atlanta Medical Center. Ride sharing, taking MARTA, or riding an electric scooter down the Beltline are highly recommended instead of driving.

As an incentive to take alternative methods of transportation, Taste of Atlanta is offering promo codes for existing and new Lyft riders (TASTEATL and TASTEATLNEW), as well as a complimentary shuttle to the park from the Civic Center MARTA station.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Fall cocktails coming to the Marquee Club at the Fox Theatre

Now that fall is officially here, the Marquee Club at the fabulous Fox Theatre is celebrating Atlanta's best season with the addition of two new craft cocktails to their menu: The Atlanta old fashioned reborn, and the secret crush.

Both cocktails are made with Atlanta’s 18.21 tart cherry & saffron bitters and have just the right hint of cherry flavor. It’s not overwhelming and is so perfect for sipping on the Marquee Club’s rooftop patio during Atlanta’s fall season.

The Atlanta old fashioned reborn is made with ASW Fiddler bourbon and a mix of 18.21's coffee vanilla cacao, barrel old fashioned syrup, and the tart cherry & saffron bitters. 

The secret crush is crafted with prosecco, Jack Rudy small batch grenadine, and of course, 18.21's tart cherry & saffron bitters. 

If you haven’t been to the Marquee Club yet, here’s what you need to know:

  • The new, fully renovated space opens 90 minutes prior to the start of the show and is also open during intermission and after the show
  • Heavy hors d’oeuvres are served before the show, and coffee and dessert during intermission
  • Non-alcoholic beverages are included in the price of the ticket, but alcoholic ones cost extra
  • You have to have a ticket to a show at the Fox Theatre on the same day you want to visit the Marquee Club
  • The space has three distinct levels, and there are restrooms on each one (so no waiting in line for the bathroom during intermission!)
  • There are bars on the main and rooftop levels, so no waiting in line for a drink either
  • The rooftop alone is worth the price of admission! Instead of offering city skyline views, like other rooftops in Atlanta, the patio at the Marquee Club makes you feel like you’re in the heart of the city
I had the chance to check out the Marquee Club before seeing Aladdin at the Fox Theatre, which is in Atlanta through September 23, and I absolutely loved the entire experience! The admission is pricy, but worth it. The food was delicious and filling (so no need to scramble for a rushed dinner reservations before the show), the service impeccable, and the drinks delectable.

Speaking of drinks, the new fall additions to the menu will be available starting in October, so if you have tickets to any of the upcoming Fox Theatre shows – whether it’s a Broadway shows, like School of Rock, or a concert, like David Byrne's Atlanta stop on the American Utopia tour — be sure to grab your ticket to the Marquee Club and order one of the new beverages.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: Secreto in Brookhaven

Brunch in Atlanta is king, y’all, and Brookhavenites have a new go-to brunch place now that Secreto’s newest location is open.

You may remember that Secreto’s original location in in Alpharetta. But its new space is in Brookhaven, near Chamblee. And it is wonderful!

The menu features elevated southern staples, and the restaurant itself is absolutely beautiful. Secreto is a great place to simply grab a drink or to enjoy a full meal for a special occasion. It’s also an amazing place for brunch (especially right now, before it gets packed and goes on a super long wait!).

WHY GO: Because you want classic brunch items in an environment that’s more updated than your typical southern restaurant, at prices that are more reasonable than your typical stuffy southern eatery.

THE VIBE: Cool, modern, elegant. Dark wooden tables stand in contrast to white curtains and plenty of natural light for the perfect contemporary chic look. 

DRINK THIS: Since we're talking brunch, you could go the classic route and order a pitcher of mimosas for the table.

Or you could try the Law of Attraction from Secreto’s signature cocktails menu. Crafted with gin, aperitivo, rose, lemon and rhubarb bitters (yum!), it is such an inventive way to start your Sunday brunch.

EAT THIS: I absolutely loved the eggs Benedict! It’s made with prosciutto, poached eggs and traditional Hollandaise sauce, but served on flaky southern biscuits with a small tomato salad on the side . I ended up ordering a side salad as well, since I didn’t realize it comes with any kind of side, which ended up being a great decision -- that side salad was delicious!! It’s simple and clean and complemented by breakfast perfectly!

My husband ordered the salmon BLT, which is cooked to your preferred temperature (he ordered his salmon medium). This dish is served with your choice of fries, salad or soup, and the hubs went with soup -- a seafood gumbo with shrimp, chicken, sausage and lots of veggies.

We both also got the bang bang shrimp as a starter. They were amazing! Four jumbo shrimp are lightly battered and coated in a red chili glaze, served over a sesame ginger cucumber salad with red onions and roasted peanuts. Not necessarily an obvious choice for a brunch starter, but it didn’t disappoint.

THE LOGISTICS: Secreto’s new Brookhaven location is at 3575 Durden Drive NE, Suite 201. It’s next door to Burn Studios and in the same complex as Pure Taqueria and Marlow’s Tavern. It’s Secreto’s only location that serves brunch, so if you’re in the mood for a classic brunch menu with an elevated southern twist, do yourself a favor and check this place out.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: Irby’s Tavern in Buckhead

Football season is officially upon us, and if you’re looking for a new place to watch your favorite Dawgs / Falcons, I’ve found it for you: Irby’s Tavern in Buckhead.

Legend has it, the spot where this new sports bar is located is where Buckhead got its start, and Irby’s Tavern does a great job paying homage to the neighborhood’s beginnings, which are actually rooted in food.

The menu of Irby’s Tavern tells this story well, but I’ll sum it up for you: Henry Irby builds a tavern and grocery store on the corner of today’s Peachtree and Paces Ferry Roads. It quickly turns into a food mecca and a hunter hangs a buck’s head in front of the tavern as a landmark. The area became known as Buckhead, and to this day, it is considered a food and beverage destination of Atlanta. And the newly opened Irby’s Tavern is no exception.

WHY GO: Because you want to watch your favorite Atlanta/Georgia team play in the company of like-minded fans, in a bar that’s dedicated to your hometown/state. Oh, and you also want healthy and delicious food.  

THE VIBE: An elevated sports bar -- think large TVs everywhere, wrap-around bar in the middle, and large tables throughout, but there are also comfy couches, bookshelves and sports memorabilia to help warm up a sporty atmosphere.
Atlanta sports memorabilia inside Irby's Tavern (c) Henri Hollis

DRINK THIS: Do try one of the house cocktails! Irby’s Old Fashioned and The Southgate are both excellent choices. The former is made with Georgia-made bourbon and pinot noir-macerated cherries, and the latter is a floral take on gin and tonic that’s more tart than sweet.
Left to right: The Southgate, Irby's Old Fashioned (c) Anna Lanfreschi

EAT THIS: The food is what easily sets Irby’s Tavern apart from other sports bars. Do not expect typical bar food, where everything is fried and your tummy hurts for days afterwards.

Sure, you can still find sports bar staples on the menu, like wings and burgers, but everything is made with fresh ingredients and a delicious twist.
Irby's Tavern wings (get them with veggies instead of fries for a healthier dinner) (c) Henri Hollis

The sections of the menu that really shine are the appetizers, garbage bread, and entrees. They all have actually-healthy-for-you menu items that taste great. Try starting your meal with the tuna tartare or the charred octopus from the appetizers section. Unusual choices for kicking off a Dawgs game, sure, but both dishes are full of healthy fats and fiber and are incredibly satisfying.
Tuna Tartare from the appetizers section of the menu at Irby's Tavern (c) Anna Lanfreschi

At first glance, the garbage bread options look like the opposite of a healthy meal, but consider this: You can ask the chef to make any of the choices in this section on grilled portabella mushroom caps instead of bread, and just like that, you’re avoiding processed carbs without having to miss out on the outstanding flavor of these dishes. The last item in this section, Mike Tyson’s spinach dip, is also great if you’re lactose-intolerant/staying away from dairy, since it’s made with cashew cheese.
Mike Tyson's Spinach Dip Garbage Bread (in the middle) (c) Anna Lanfreschi

And now for your main course: The entrees section of the menu has so many great options to choose from! The pan seared salmon would be my go-to choice -- it is flavorful, perfectly cooked, and I could honestly eat it every day! Other great options include the shrimp and grit cake with sauteed wild mushrooms, and the fire roasted cauliflower.
Pan roasted salmon with roasted potatoes, asparagus and Brussels sprouts and a romesco remoulade (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Shrimp & grit cake with sauteed wild mushrooms (c) Anna Lanfreschi
Fire roasted cauliflower, served with green curry, chopped cashews and pickled red onions (c) Henri Hollis
The entire menu is highly customizable: Feel free to make an appetizer or garbage bread your main entree, or balance out your meal by ordering a salad and one of the scrumptious sides. Once again, so many choices and so many different combinations! No matter what you order, rest assured it will be delicious and you can make it as healthy as you want to.

LOGISTICS: Irby’s Tavern is located at 322 East Paces Ferry Road NE, near the intersection of East Paces Ferry and Grandview and next door to Cafe Agora. The restaurant has limited free parking available up front, but there is also plenty of paid street parking at The Shops Buckhead.

Starting Thursday, September 6, at 3 p.m., Irby’s Tavern is partnering with 680 The Fan to bring you Thursday Night Throwdown. In addition to broadcasting live from the restaurant, the Atlanta radio sports team will be giving away a variety of Atlanta sports team prizes, including tickets to a Falcons game!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Event Recap: Grant Park Summer Shade Festival

Is there a better way to say goodbye to summer than with a celebration full of music, food and drink in Atlanta’s oldest park? The correct answer is no, there really isn’t.

Grant Park welcomed Atlantans of all ages during the weekend of August 25 & 26 for the 16th annual Summer Shade Festival. Free to attend, the festival featured an impressive lineup of live musical guests, and expansive artist market, and a diverse selection of food truck fare, local beer and craft cocktails.
Live music on one of the stages at Summer Shade Festival

The crowds enjoying the live music

The two-day festival really had a little bit for everyone: A kid zone full of games and bouncy houses
for the little ones, a VIP lounge with an extensive selection of wine and delicious food for the 21+
crowd, and a dog competition for anyone who appreciates canine athletics. Or you could simply stroll
through the park with a drink in hand, perusing the works of local artists and enjoying live music.
Festival goers perusing the artist market

The variety of food was incredible this year!
The dog competition was impressive!

Presented by The Beacon Atlanta and benefiting the Grant Park Conservancy, the 2018 Summer Shade Festival raised more than $100,000 to help preserve the 120+ year old park. What a great note to wrap up summer on!

PS: All photos in this post were taken by Fabian Fernandez.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: Hobnob Brookhaven

When it comes to the makings of a great local eatery, you can’t go wrong with comfort food, great atmosphere, and craft cocktails. Lots of local taverns in Atlanta can do that, but only a few can also make those delicious dishes healthy (and yes, still delicious).

Hobnob Neighborhood Tavern’s Brookhaven location has a new chef, and he’s expertly mixing up your childhood favorites. The menu is full of items like mac and cheese (as an entree!) and fried chicken, but also features a range of fantastic salads and healthy small plates.

WHY GO: Because Hobnob is the perfect neighborhood spot, especially if your neighborhood is Brookhaven.

THE VIBE: Friendly, welcoming, easy-going. Great bar (with games you can play while you drink or wait for your table), and a great outdoor patio.

DRINK THIS: The blood orange gin and tonic. Such a fantastic drink, even if you don’t like gin and tonic. Not too sweet, but very flavorful, and crafted with house-made syrup.
The blood orange gin & tonic is a fantastic drink choice! (c) Anna Lanfreschi

EAT THIS: I’m a big fan of sampling several appetizers to really get to know the menu. Some of my favorites from Hobnob’s Start. Snack. Share. section are the seared scallops and the braised short rib tacos.
The seared scallops, served with avocado salsa and chips (c) Anna Lanfreschi

The scallops are are served with an avocado salsa that is to die for, and the tacos come in either a two or a three count, so you can share them with your table or keep them for yourself as your main entree.
The braised short rib tacos are super tasty! (c) Anna Lanfreschi

If you’re looking for a heartier meal, check out the drunken fish and chips, pot roast, or pecan crusted trout from the Tavern Specialties section.
The fish and chips does not disappoint (c) Anna Lanfreschi

And the roasted cauliflower is definitely not to be missed, whether you’re vegetarian or not. This spicy, savory dish is versatile and can be used as a side for the table to share (it’s a generous portion) or as your main meal (you can add protein, like chicken or fish, if you’d like to).
This cauliflower is some of the most flavorful I've ever had! (c) Anna Lanfreschi

LOGISTICS: Hobnob is located inside the Town Brookhaven shopping complex, and there is plenty of parking nearby. This neighborhood tavern is open for dinner seven nights a week, for lunch Monday through Friday, and for brunch on the weekend (which is amazing!).

The restaurant also has lots of weekly specials, like Monday night date night, where you can get a 3-course dinner for two for $25.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Heads up: Jeffrey Fashion Cares 2018!

Atlanta’s most anticipated fashion event is less than one week away! The 26th annual Jeffrey Fashion Cares takes place on Monday, August 27 at Phipps Plaza, and it is the best way to usher in this year’s fall trends.

We’re talking couture fashions, food from some of the best restaurants in Atlanta, and once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities waiting to be bid on during the live auction. Want to be part of the action? Tickets are still available online.
The piece de resistance: The Jeffrey fashion show (c) Ben Rose
Here are a few more details about this year’s fashionable fete. Taking over the main hallways of Phipps Plaza, this philanthropic event will start with a cocktail reception and light bites from some of Buckhead’s favorite eateries. A silent auction will be open while the guests mingle, and a live auction will follow suit, preceding the main event: An unforgettable runway show curated by the one and only Jeffrey Kalinsky.
Just a few of the couture looks from the 2017 Jeffrey Fashion Cares

All the looks styled by Kalinsky are stunning! You get to see the latest from Celine, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Dior, etc. It is truly a treat to witness these high-end designer artworks showcased in such a luxurious, yet intimate setting.
Jeffrey Kalinsky with event co-chairs Jeffrey McQuithy, Lila Hertz, and Louise Sams (left to right) (c) Ben Rose

The proceeds from the event will benefit Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta, the Atlanta AIDS Fund, and the Medical University of South Carolina.

If you’d like to attend the event, or simply support it, head to the Jeffrey Fashion Cares website to purchase tickets or donate to the causes. Hope to see you next Monday!