Dec 17

Weekend in the Mountains – Highlands, NC

Kevin and I went to a wedding last weekend in Highlands, North Carolina.  Since we’ve been back, I haven’t been able to stop talking about how gorgeous it is there and how much fun we had!  Highlands is a stone’s throw from Atlanta (just over two hours) – such an easy drive – for such gorgeous surroundings: mountains, lakes, waterfalls, adorable restaurants, and one of my new favorite hotels: Old Edwards Inn and Spa.  I’m OBSESSED.

Old Edwards Inn

But let me start from the beginning, on the drive you pass Tallulah Gorge State Park.  I’m not really that outdoorsy to ever want to sleep outside, but I’ve heard that people sometimes go camping there and that it is pretty.  We took a peek at it on our way to Highlands, and I think “pretty” is an understatement.  It was majestic.  Just look!  #america

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I was itching to get to Highlands, though, so we jumped back in the car and drove a few more windy miles up the side of a mountain (it was just a tad scary…eek!), until we reached town.

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As soon as we arrived, I wanted to get settled in at the Old Edwards before exploring the adorable shops and restaurants lining the streets.  We were staying in the cottages (pictured below) and everything was decorated in its Christmas finest.

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We were greeted with champagne and Dove ice cream bars (um yummmmm!) at check in, and after we were sufficiently liquored/sugared up, we made our way to our cottage and opened up our beautiful room.  We were staying in the newest part of Old Edwards, and everything was gorgeous!  May I please live there forever?!

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I almost died over the heated floors and towel rack in the bathroom…

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…and the shower with four additional jets.  Heaven, just heaven, y’all.

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We walked around the city and popped into shops, but found Old Edwards pulling us back, so we zipped over to the OEI library and enjoyed a few afternoon cocktails.

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By that point we needed some food to balance out the booze, and so we went for sandwiches at Mountain Fresh Grocery.  It was packed with folks who seemed to have the same idea.  We liked it there so much that we went back for breakfast the next day!

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The weather wasn’t amazing while we were in Highlands, but we wanted to do something on the nature-y side before we left town.  So the next day before we headed back to Atlanta, we stopped by Dry Falls in the Nantahala National Forest.

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And we got to walk under a waterfall!

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It was pretty unbelievable.

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There are so many more fun things to see and do in Highlands!  This was just a taste – and we can’t wait to make the quick trip from Atlanta again to explore the town even further.  What a perfect little weekend getaway!

xx, L

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Categories: Hotels,Out of Town,Vacation,Weddings,What we're Doing

Jul 30

Tea for Two at the Ritz: Lady Date

I love spending as much time as possible at the Ritz Carlton.  Whether it’s staying at one of the Ritz properties or dropping in for a drink, I try to hit up the RC as much as I can.

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So when my lovely maid of honor came to visit a few months ago and it finally was not a wedding or baby-related weekend of celebrations for us, I made sure that our schedule was filled with fun and relaxing Atlanta stops.

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Neither one of us had been to afternoon tea in a while, so we asked our favorite RC concierge extraordinare, Jessica Gorman, to set us up with a little Sunday afternoon rezzie in the RC Buckhead’s Lobby Lounge.

Now let me tell you WHAT.  It was fab.  Totally fab.  And I truly use the word “fab” sparingly!  (Exclamation points are used almost every other sentence.  “Fab” is reserved for the truly fab.) 

Here’s the Q+DD from the RC: Traditional Afternoon Tea is a gracious way to spend an afternoon with new friends, old friends and best friends. Tea is served in the English tradition, with loose tea steeped in individual teapots and poured through sterling silver strainers into bone china teacups. Tea selections include black, red, green and white teas as well as herbal infusions.

And it doesn’t stop there!  We feasted on delicious tea sandwiches, pastries, bubbles, and strawberry service to accompany our lush RC surroundings and great conversation.  Here’s a tiny peek at some of our favorite treats:

Amy and I had the loveliest time.  I highly recommend booking afternoon tea for you and your girlfriends soon!  And it does not have to be for a special occasion!  It could be just for fun or maybe even in anticipation of Downton Abbey’s return!  (OMG, I can’t wait…)

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Traditional Afternoon Tea: Seatings at 2:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday.  (Strawberry Service only on Saturday and Sunday.)  Check out the menu HERE + don’t forget your pearls!

xx,L

Ritz Carlton Lobby Lounge – Buckhead
3434 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, Georgia  30326
404.237.2700
www.ritzcarlton.com

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Categories: Buckhead,Guilty Pleasures,Hotels,What we're Doing,Where we're Eating

Jun 25

The Fattest Day of My Life.

A few months ago, I had the extreme pleasure of dining at the Park 75 kitchen table in the Four Seasons Atlanta.  It was a truly incredible culinary experience.  It was also the fattest day of my life.  I think it’s taken me a while to actually write about it because I am still recovering – and in the very best way.

As you’ll read on the Park 75 website, the restaurant invites you to pull up a seat around the kitchen table and dine as if you were a guest in Chef Gerstenecker’s home.  The Kitchen Table experience includes a multi-course, family-style menu served with two glasses of wine per person.  Reservations are required, and no special menu requests are accepted.  $75 per person.  Below are a few snapshots of our evening.

The kitchen table.

Chalkboard menu.

Hot boiled peanuts to start.

Wine in mason jars (my personal favorite way to drink it) and champs.

Crab-stuffed squash blossom.

Spicy tempura tuna rolls (Also, the single worst food photo I’ve ever taken…)

Duck and kale flatbread.

Seafood paella(One of my favorites of the night!)

Pan-seared hake and ratatouille.

Pimento mac and cheese(Park 75 is a mac and cheese expert!)

Wood-grilled rack of lamb.

And the best part of the entire evening: Make your own brownies!

Here’s the step by step…  (My brain actually exploded while eating this.)

I can’t recommend this culinary adventure enough!  It’s an excellent idea for a celebration or to impress a client or food snobby friends.  The kitchen staff is especially friendly, and it’s super fun to watch them prepare these decadent delicacies.  $75 per person is a total steal for all this goodness.  Bring your appetites!

xx, L

Park 75
Four Seasons Atlanta

75 14th Street NW
Atlanta, GA  30309
404.253.3840

Park 75 on Urbanspoon

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Categories: Appetizers,Chocolate,Guilty Pleasures,Hotels,Midtown,Where we're Eating

Mar 12

March (Chocolate) Madness @ Four Seasons

Beginning earlier this month, Park 75 Restaurant and Lounge + the Four Seasons Hotel introduced Chocolate Nights, a weekend experience designed to satisfy everyone – from tentative tasters to true chocoholics!

Every Friday and Saturday night from March 1 – March 23, Park 75 offers a special chocolate menu featuring up to 10 uniquely decadent creations available from 6:00 – 11:00 p.m.  Guests are invited to try as many temptations as desired.

One menu item not to be missed is Pastry Chef Charles Barrett’s signature Chocolate Bomb.  Playing with your food is encouraged with this interactive sphere of chocolate melted tableside to reveal a make-your-own-brownie sundae.  All the fixins’ will be provided on the side and this dessert is perfect for sharing – available for two or four people.

The Chocolate Nights menu not only features chocolate sourced from around the globe, but also includes Park 75′s own ‘bean to bar’ chocolate, created in-house from fair trade cacao beans.

If you like a little dinner before your dessert, Executive Chef Robert Gerstenecker and the Park 75 culinary team have created a four-course menu called the Chocolate Experience, featuring three savory cocoa courses that conclude with the Chocolate Bomb.

Park 75′s Chocolate Nights is priced from $4-$5 per item on the a la carte menu.  The Chef’s selection plate features three pieces for $10 and five pieces for $20.  The four-course Chocolate Experience is priced at $55 per person, or $95 per person with wine pairings.  Click HERE for more information.

A whole month of chocolate??  Um, yes PLEASE!  :)

xx, L

Park 75
Four Seasons Hotel

75 14th Street NE
Atlanta, Georgia
404.253.3840

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Categories: Chocolate,Hotels,Midtown,Where we're Eating

Mar 04

What’s Old is New Again: Lobby Bar and Bistro

Although this restaurant hasn’t really been on my radar for a few years, Gorms and I had an AMAZING pre-Oscars dinner a few weeks ago at Lobby Bar and Bistro in the Twelve Hotel and Residences in Atlantic StationYou need to know about it…

As I was getting ready for dinner, I thought about how cool Lobby’s bar space is, but I couldn’t recall anything that really stood out in the past about my dining experiences at the restaurant.

Well, I was in for quite a surprise when we arrived, because since I last visited – Lobby got a face lift.  Lovely renovations to their dining room and a hip new Cellar space for private parties.  (I’m obsessed with the Cellar space…)

AND this…

Chef Russell Hays (who is kinda a big deal, y’all) took over Lobby’s kitchen in November of last year.  Gorms and I spoke with Russell at length about the changes he’s making to the menu, his career path (worked in France/ at the Ritz Buckhead/ Joel/ Peasant Bistro/ Buckhead Life Group – in no particular order and among many other super exclusive gigs), and his personal take on the Lance Armstrong drama (he’s an avid cyclist).  This is huge that he’s now calls Lobby home!

We told our new friend, Russell, to just send over whatever he thought would really wow us.  He said he could handle that, so we set aside our menus.

I started off with some wine: a lovely red blend with a feisty name.  (Someone needs to wash out that bottle’s mouth with soap!)

And here’s where the rest of the night took us:

Korean BBQ Tuna: sticky rice, tempura eggplant, serrano chili.  This was an absolutely fantastic way to officially kick off our feast at Lobby!  It was delicious.

Heart of Palm Salad: orange, avocado puree, hazelnut, blood orange vinaigrette.  I’m not huge on heart of palm, but Gorms raved about this dish.  It sure was pretty, too!

Slow Cooked Chicken Thighs: smoked mushrooms, creamy polenta, parmesan.  This really won us over!  SCCT is not a dish I would have typically ordered on my own (do you have beef carpaccio or tuna tartare, please??), but I’m SO glad that Russell sent it over to our table.  It was succulent, flavorful, and it made me question what I’ve been missing for the past 30 years…  Okay, 31…  It’s an absolute “must try” on Lobby’s menu!

Lobster Risotto: carnaroli rice, thin beans, zucchini, black truffle.  So good.

Seared Scallops: brown butter cauliflower puree, asparagus, caper-raisin emulsion.  Beautiful and the scallops were perfectly cooked.

Grilled NY Strip: roasted potatoes, asparagus, hen of the woods mushrooms, peppercorn-brandy sauce.  Heavier than I’d normally order for myself after all of the food that preceded it, but it was still excellent.  If I were going to order this again, I might stick to one appetizer and entree instead of five, but other than that it was great!

We were stuffed, but that didn’t matter because everyone knows you have a separate stomach for dessert.  This was our outstanding dessert sampling:

Passionfruit Soup: exotic fruits, vanilla ice cream.  A complete surprise!  Reading about it on the menu, I would not have opted for this dessert over any of the others.  As it turns out, it was my favorite!  Tart and refreshing – it was exactly what I wanted to eat after our enormous meal.

Chocolate Ganache and Hazelnut Crunch Bar: espresso anglaise.  Although Russell learned how to make this in France, it reminded me of my favorite dessert at Rathbun’s.  I hope Kevin R will still let me visit his joint after I tell you that this was done better at Lobby!

Warm Chocolate Cake: vanilla bean ice cream, mi amere chocolate sauce.  I mean, it’s hard not to lick the plate when eating this one…

Pistachio Creme Brulee: red fruit jam, chocolate tuille.  Gorms liked this one best.  It was pretty special.

We. Ate. So. Much.  !!!

The only thing that Russell didn’t bring us that I wish he had was a cot to nap on after we finished our massive meal…  Don’t judge.

In all seriousness, we were incredibly grateful to have tasted such wonderful dishes at Lobby.  It was like connecting with an old friend who has really taken off in life!  Lobby is making significant strides to break away from being a hotel restaurant with hotel food and setting itself apart as something truly special in Atlanta.  And it is VERY special!  I’m so happy to have rediscovered it, and I see a big future ahead for it.  Their menu changes seasonally – so I am thrilled to head back soon to see what Russell has up his sleeve for spring!

xx, L

Lobby Bar and Bistro
Twelve Hotel & Residences – Atlantic Station
361 17th Street NW

Atlanta, Georgia  30363
404.961.7370

Lobby at Twelve on Urbanspoon

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Categories: Appetizers,Atlantic Station,Chocolate,Hotels,Midtown,Where we're Eating