Monday, July 20, 2015

Atlanta Summer Festivals, Food and Fun

Summers in the 'ATL' can represent many things to many people.  Despite the characteristic heat and humidity that blankets the city this time of the year, life doesn't slow down in hopes of cooler weather, but thrives as actively as ever in spite of it.

I relish taking in as much of the food scene as possible during the season, and in case you're looking to do the same, here's a starter list to get you out, about, exploring and enjoying what this fabulous city has to offer.

Downtown Restaurant Week
Going on now through Sunday, July 26, 2015, Downtown Restaurant Week features several of Atlanta's premier restaurants located in and near the heart of downtown.  With prix fixe menus ranging from $15 for lunch to $25-$35 for dinner, it's a great way to enjoy premium dining for a literal fraction of the cost. 

Ice Cream Festival ~
With July being National Ice Cream Month, there's no better way to close it out than with an Ice Cream Festival! The fun happens on Saturday, July 25, 2015 at beautiful Piedmont Park and will feature ice cream for sale, vendors, entertainment and fitness events.  Entry is free.

Garden Chef Demos ~
Enjoy lively chef demos showcasing the season's bounty every weekend, now through September, amidst the gorgeous Atlanta Botanical Garden in the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen.  Free with Garden admission. 

Atlanta Bar-B-Q Festival ~
Music, competitions, and scrumptious food and drink, mark the scene at the Atlanta Bar-B-Q Festival at Atlantic Station.  Mark your calendars for August 14th and 15th and get ready to indulge!

Beyond this list of favorites, there's so much more to explore as Summer continues to unfold.  Eventbrite, a global marketplace for events, is one of my go-to sources for featuring--and discovering--all that's happening in my area around my interests. Be sure to check out it out for more foodie happenings, or to plan your own special soiree with their event management software, and make the remaining days of Summer the most deliciously fun yet!

Happy Eating!

Photo Credit: Atlanta Botanical Garden
 










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Friday, July 17, 2015

Toast With This!: 21 Mocktails For Your Sipping Pleasure


I know this statement may be greeted with a bit of a *side eye* by some, but it. is. possible. to enjoy a refreshing and wonderful non-alcoholic cocktail, affectionately known as a mocktail.  Whether you're looking to lighten up your usual sipping repertoire, or mocktails are your normal routine, here are 21 to indulge your sipping pleasure (courtesy of BuzzFeed).

And if you're still longing for more, check out the recipes page and my Sips board on Pinterest for more toast-worthy inspiration!

Happy Sipping!

Photo Credit: 40aprons.com
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Friday, July 3, 2015

Strawberry-Basil Sorbet

There has to be a special place in heaven for the person who discovered the incomparable sweet treat known as ice cream.  And let's not overlook  the genius who decided to dubb July as National Ice Cream Month.  Heroes/Heroines in my book, without question.

Now to say that I love frozen, icy, creamy (or not so creamy) treats doesn't do justice to my lifelong obsession.  Truly, if I could savor them everyday, without consequence, I absolutely would. (I've done it for spells, like while traveling in Italy.  The effects of my daily gelato fix remained with me--or should I say my waistline--as a not-so-welcome reminder of my indulgent ways.  There's something about 'holidays' that make you feel calories are a figment of the imagination--or you simply just don't care.) 

More than cake, cookies, brownies, pies, pastries, or any other sweet decadence, ice cream helms my sweet affections.  So adding a homemade sorbet (made with luscious strawberries and sweet, lemony basil, no less) to the menu for my Spring Pop-Up Cooking School was a no brainer.  My class raved over it, and now I'm sharing the easy, four ingredient recipe, so you can get in on the action and savor it, too!

Make it now--and thank me later.

Happy Eating!

Strawberry-Basil Sorbet
Ingredients:
1 lb.  fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of a small lemon
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
*Special Equipment: Ice Cream Maker

Method:
Combine berries and sugar in a bowl.  Stir to coat fruit, cover and allow berries to macerate for an hour. 

Add macerated berries and their liquid to a blender or food processor, along with lemon juice and basil.  Process until it becomes a puree.  Transfer mixture to a container and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or up to overnight. 

Pour chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to instructions.  Once frozen, place sorbet in the freezer for at least two hours to harden further.  Enjoy!
 
 
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Al Fresco

From rooftops, to terraces, to backyards, parks, poolsides and beyond, the allure of outdoor dining and entertaining (al fresco, to be exact) is never greater than during the longer, more relaxed, days and nights of Summer.

 
Whether you're hosting a special event, or simply relishing being under the open sky, al fresco affairs are their own kind of special.


 Now all that remains is to indulge.




Happy Eating and Living!

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ice Cubed Coffee + Milk

Bringing a bit of whimsy to my food and drink is one of the elements that makes the kitchen an exciting place to be in my world.  Playfulness and creativity up the ante of what's possible and keep me on my epicurean toes.

Sometimes, it's as simple as bringing a new spin or take to an old favorite.  And because I have a thing for beautiful, fancy ice cubes--and the season for iced drinks is squarely upon us--my latest twist is what iced coffee dreams are made of.  A "deconstructed" approach of sorts is how I see luscious coffee cubes + milk + simple syrup (because I like my coffee sweet).

As simple to make as freezing prepared coffee in ice trays, pouring milk on top and sweetening (or not) to taste.  I admit that this twist gets me giddy because the yield is a pretty little drink.  And I love pretty little things--especially in my eats and sips. 

So as the temperatures continue to rise, and remaining cool becomes a higher priority, add this fun, whimsical ice cubed coffee to your sipping repertoire. 

Cheers to more fun in the kitchen...and Happy Sipping!
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Friday, June 5, 2015

{Discovering Southern}: The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

To say that last weekend was delicious would be an understatement of the grandest proportions. Indulging in the three-day fete that was the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival was delicious, yes.  But it was also so. much. more.  In its fifth year, the AFWF showcased the best in culinary and creative talent across the Southern region of the United States with a clear and simple mission: Discover Southern. 

Undertaking an exhilarating itinerary that began Friday afternoon, in the heart of Midtown, Atlanta, I feasted my way through a weekend that was as special for the people and experiences I encountered, as it was for the food and drink.   From restauranteurs, to chocolatiers, to acclaimed cookbook authors and chefs, to regional purveyors, equally eager festival goers, and beyond, I relished every moment of Southern connection and discovery--and left wanting more.


My first tastes of the festival were at the tasting tents, which featured more than 100 award-winning chefs. With a variety that mirrored the broad flavors of the South, there was something for everyone--and every taste.  Barbecue, seafood, tacos, Indian cuisine, gelato, chocolate, doughnuts, pimento cheese and deviled eggs (of course!), sips of all kinds, burgers, and on and on and on went the lineup of scrumptious eats that spanned four tents--and drew me back day after day. 


Beyond the excitement and indulgence of the tasting tents, I took in a few of the more than 90 classes (my selections included Bugs and Chocolate, Chilies in the South, and more), cooking demos, and a newly featured, Sunday Brunch.  Attendees could also opt-in to an expertly curated Connoisseur Dinner Series, hosted nightly at premier Atlanta restaurants and venues.



My dalliances left me prouder than ever of this part of the country that I call home, and I'm already counting the days until I get to do it all over again next year.  For more festival highlights, visit my photo gallery and check out my column in the July/August '15 issue of Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, where I share a featured recipe from this unforgettable event.

Happy Eating!
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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa


There are some flavors that I simply cannot get enough of.  And such are the flavors of one of my absolute favorite sauces: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.  I began making this bold, tangy, bright and ever-so-scrumptious treat years ago as my go-to accompaniment to fish tacos--perfect for drizzling over crispy or grilled fish and for dipping with tortilla chips.  But, I soon realized that this treasure could be enjoyed on just about anything, from eggs, to steak, to enchiladas, to any way you please.

Tomatillos are used heavily throughout Mexican and Central American Cuisine


I especially savor this recipe because it yields a warm salsa that's somehow more delectable--a byproduct of the roasted vegetables.  Effortless to bring together, there is every reason for this to become a part of your condiment repertoire forever.  Forever. 

Happy Eating!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence

Ingredients:
1 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 large white onion, quartered
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapeno peppers
1/2 cup cilantro
1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place vegetables on a baking sheet and roast in pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes.  Remove vegetables from oven and add to blender or food processor, along with salt, cumin, lime juice, vinegar and cilantro.  

Using the pulse function, blend to desired chunky texture.  Check for seasoning, serve and enjoy!
(Cook's Note: If a mild salsa is preferred, halve the jalapeno peppers and remove the ribs and seeds before using.) 
 
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