Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cucina Asellina

This past weekend we ended up in Midtown and stopped by Cucina Asselina, an Italian modern/industrial-claiming-to-be-rustic spot by the One Group (of STK ownership).  P was actually the project manager in charge of building both restaurants, and while we've been lucky enough to eat at STK on several occasions this was our first time at Asellina.

Lucky for us, it also happened to be the Oysterfest weekend in Atlanta just down the street, which meant a nonstop flow of absurd and awesome people watching.  

The food was pretty good, small plates with big flavors - we were definitely there at a weird time (who eats at 5pm?  hungover people like us, that's who) so I don't think they were rocking their A-game on the cuisine side.  However, we learned a new shot, thanks to some teen-somethings next to us, and for that, we thank you underage drinkers of Atlanta.

The Breakfast Shot
2/3 Jameson and 1/3 Buttershots
Orange juice chaser

Pancake Shot!
Tastes like a McDonald's pancake.  No joke.  You don't even need the OJ, and I freaking hate Jameson/all brown liquor, but I'm telling you - amazearama in your mouth.  Screw Bloody Mary's and PBRs, this is the way to go.

Aforementioned teens had 4 of them back to back on Sunday at 5pm.  Oh unemployment, I do miss you occasionally.

Until the bill comes...

Oh yeah, the food:
Saffron Strozzapreti with shrimp, spinach and butternut squash (front) - could've done without the tiny little uber briny shrimpettes - totally blew out the saffron flavor I was really hoping for.  Strozzapreti is exactly like German Spaetzle if you've ever had that.  Super dense.

I can't remember what the one in the back was, but it had some awesome little lamb meatballs and was otherwise forgettable, apparently.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Stock the Cellar!

Last weekend a few of our good friends in Atlanta threw us a gorgeous twist on the typical "Stock the Bar" shower - a Stock the Cellar!  I adore wine, and have transformed P into something of a snob as well, so this was right up our alley.  And everyone knows I really only abide by one food group - cheese.  Glorious cheese!  

Ali is always the perfect hostess, but I have to say she outdid herself on this one!

Go see photos on her precious blog:

We had a blind wine tasting and a trivia game (ohmygosh was I terrible at both!  So much for my secret sommelier ambitions!!!), there were wines and cheeses galore gorgeously labeled on a chalkboard table runner (what?!) and she had all kinds of fun things for us to take home, including a beautiful wine cork wreath and monogrammed beer & wine coozies she made herself.  GORG!

She's also a budding photog, so go peek!!!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Spring Springith!

My tulips are so close to opening! I can't wait for them to say hello!

And with all this ridiculous rain we've been having (60 of the last 70 days apparently!) the adorable umbrella ring holder from my little brother seems like a perfect window ornament!

I can't wait to break out my fun dresses and wedges! Hopefully in time for my bachelorette NEXT WEEKEND!!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

DIY: Lantern Wall Display

While perusing Pottery Barn for some wedding registry ideas and came across this awesome wall hanging of lanterns.  

It was styled a little busy, but gorgeous just the same.  Too bad PB style costs my mortgage, that bad boy was almost $500 worth of lanterns and curtain rods!

I rounded up the lanterns at a Kohl's sale for $12-$20 each, the curtain rod at a Hancock furniture sale for $15 and hit up Lowe's for some really thick fisherman and spent a goofy Saturday morning trying to figure out what the hell to do with it.

I found a great guide online, that shows animated how-tos for each of the knots at  Here are some we picked out... mostly due to frustration with the purty ones. Monkey Fist?  Right.  Just after I build my own yacht to tie it with.

This was a joke.  Now I know why people on Etsy charge like $20 for a mini one.
Fist fail!

Initial styling.  Ha!  The radio is for my pup, who likes to jam out to Bieber and a little One Direction, if she's feeling frisky, while we're at work.

Here they are all lit up.  Style just ain't my thing with this idea.  I need help, big time.  
I think I need to pull the lanterns up a bit?  

Disaster.  Suggestions, please.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wine-O Wednesday: Cune

P and I lucked out and got a surprise phone call and visit from a super good friend in Greenville who was in town for a conference.

She was staying in downtown (as in downtown, downtown since you have to specify in Atlanta) and we picked a great place to scoop her up and go to dinner in the area that is super gluten-free friendly, which is always difficult for her to find.  Luckily Alma Cocina is great about it and has an entire menu, almost the size of the regular, that she could choose from!  And it's Argentinian, which is where Jessica celebrated her honeymoon just over a year ago!

Jessica is a wine lover too, and we picked out a Rioja we hadn't had before, got a taste and two bottles later I think this may be a staple in our house!

Cune (C.V.N.E) was founded in 1879 by two brothers and is still run by their direct descendants in Northern Spain.  We sampled a 2009 Crianza, which is 80% tempranillo and totally velvetted (is that a word??) out by 10% granacha tinta and 10% manuelo (which I've never heard of).

From Winex.comdark ruby/purple color, loads of fruit (black currants and cherries), licorice and forest floor notes, a supple texture, medium body, and considerable flavor authority as well as character.

I really did find it velvety and fruity, with almost no spice or tannins, which I love.

Hosting: Stock the Bar Party

A couple of weeks ago I co-hosted a Stock the Bar for a couple getting married a few weeks after P and I are due down the aisle.  I've talked about how fun it is to have someone I can bridezilla my heart out to, that totally gets the ridiculousness of negotiating over linens and flowers and such, trying on dresses multiple times to get the right alterations, feeling up a hundred kinds of paper and design to find "the invite"...  It's been crazy but so nice to have a partner in crime!  

I couldn't have been more excited to play a part in throwing the happy couple a little shower to get them started on stocking their house and bar and kicking off the multitude of festivities coming their way!

My co-zilla has the cutest color combo picked out - yellow and gray, super chic and trendy yet classy.  

It was a lot of fun finding fun ways to incorporate their colors into the party, starting with the shower invite I DIY'd here.

My co-hosterita and I went through a bunch of ideas to find fun gifts and favors, which ended up including a traditional bar set, paper goods and these adorable Mr. and Mrs. glasses

For food we kept it really simple and toothpick/finger friendly:
Slow cooker meatballs
Pulled pork from the bride's fav spot: Fat Matt's
Spinach dip
Rotel-velveeta dip
Salted caramel cheesecakes (I made mini ones in a mini muffin pan!)

We toasted the future newlyweds with some really cute and fun S'mores Shooters:

Wish I'd had my blowtorch to light up those mini mallows!
DIY straw flags (in Word!)
Paper straws, dishwashable stadium cups and cocktail napkins featuring
the new couple's monogram (all from Etsy)

A chalkboard welcome!
Balloons floated around dangling the couple's engagement photos at eye level 
Signature mojito cocktail and water jugs
Why do lemons float and not limes?!
The spread!
The adorable happy couple opening their gifts!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wine-O Wednesday: Terra Valentine

In the theme of the week - this Wine-O is reserved for a delicious, yet ridiculously defined wine out of Napa.  Rated 92, this cheesily described bottle is full of deep chocolate tones and a dark, fruity finish.  This cab is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petite Verdot. The wines were bottled August 2011.

Perfect for a bad ass, juicy monster steakeroni and some good old potatoes and roasted veggies.

straight cheese-tasticness to the face

Monday, February 11, 2013

Clean(er) Eats: Scallops with Sauteed Spinach & Shrooms

I adapted this recipe from some cute little Brit and made it American.  How?  Bacon.  Bacon fixes everything.  And because how exactly am I supposed to measure a knob of butter?  What is that?

But this looked super yummy, and a good ice-breaker into convincing P to get healthy with me (ie stop tempting me with those delicious pints of ice cream and bags of Doritos):

So I doctored it up with some extra goodness.  Bacon is totes paleo, which I count as a win.  We're not going paleo, per se.  We're not going Whole30, per se.  We're just making healthier choices and cutting out unnecessary carbs and dairy when possible.  (Wine doesn't count, duh.)

So here we go.

Ingredients for 2:
10 large sea scallops (don't season!)
1 piece of bacon, chopped
8 oz. fresh spinach
4 oz. mushrooms (I always go with a fun mix)
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp lemon juice
Olive oil
S&P, garlic powder, red pepper flakes

  • Saute the bacon over medium-high heat until crispy
  • Remove bacon to a paper towel, but keep the drippings in the pan
  • Throw in the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes
  • Throw in the spinach leaves, season with spices, and stir to wilt for an additional 5 min-ish
  • Remove mushrooms/spinach and drain into a small saucepan 
  • Keep heat at medium-high, add oil then unseasoned scallops - don't move them for 3 minutes.  No touchy!
  • Season scallops with S&P and flip over to sear for an additional 2-3 minutes (light brown crust)
  • Add butter and lemon juice to saved spinach/shroom juice and stir over low heat to make a sauce
  • Plate: layer spinach/shrooms, top with scallops and crumbled bacon and drizzle with sauce
Seriously, this was 4 ingredients and some seasoning
Mmmm bacon bits.  Do they sell this smell in a diffuser?
Pottery Barn, I found your next scent.
Spinach 'bout to get all wilty!
My shroomy drippings... I clearly need some extra lemon/butter to pull off any kind of sauce...
Unseasoned little suckers.  One has a little suntan...
You can't season or the salt draws out the moisture and turns them into that nasty
leather-faced lady from Something About Mary.  You know the one.
Crusty never looked so good.
Tah dah!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wedding Bells: Final Catering Tasting

P and I recently had our final tasting at Affairs to Remember, or as I like to call it, the only wedding item P happily participates in.  Affairs was recommended to me by our good friend Ali, as they did a fabulous job on their wedding, at our same venue!  I swear the similarities stop there :)

We tested out a few caterers just to be sure, but once we tasted their menu items the first time, we were set.  And they give you an inclusive price w decor and plating and all sorts of great stuff that I am SO grateful I don't have to negotiate pennies with companies for now.  Seriously, how you can vary by up to 100% for a fork is beyond me.  Outcha damn mind.  Anddd after you go, they always send you home with a cute little jar of completely calorie/fat free caramel popcorn drizzled with white chocolate.  

Affairs is awesome.  And here are some pics of what's to come to prove it!   A few of these will be in the final shindig in July, you'll just have to drool until then!

lobster with spicy creamed corn shot
crab cake with lemon dill cream
beef tenderloin with carrot and celery in a blue cheese shot
mint julep chicken grilled finished with southern ambrosia chutney
champagne dijon chicken with an asparagus goat cheese salad
pimento three ways - open faced with fried green tomatoes, deconstructed and
spreadable with roasted vegetables

Friday, February 8, 2013

Valentine's Wishes & Wants and a Timeline of Awkwardly Forced Romance

The season of Cupid and all things dopey and dripping with desires for affection and attention and overstimulated sweet-tooths.  It's funny how this season evolves over your lifetime.  A synopsis:

Mom strings a red paper heart around your neck and sends you on your mini festive little way.
Probably with heart patterned skivvies.

You're forced to make the difficult decision of which trendy super hero/cartoon character wrapped up with a lollipop and a clever, if not inappropriate  quip to your classmates, many of whom you never talk to on the playground.  One (or three in my case) you hope will translate into fairy tale romance under the swingset.  Extra points if you make your own receiving box.

This is just awkward.  No two ways around it.  Boys, girls, adults.
This is just a terrible time in romance land.

Now you're just showing off, a la Mean Girls.  My school on Hilton Head actually did do the heart-shaped lollipop candygram business.  They were fabulous - swirly white and blue/red/purple life-save style goodness.  
I bought in bulk and kept for myself.

Half-priced red shots all night!  Single?  Mingle here and don't go home alone!
And there's a run on the VS lingerie, so now you're stuck wearing an orange nightie.

Real World
Crap.  Presents?  Does a night on the couch with different patterned PJs count as romantic??
At least you can now afford to sub an expensive bottle of wine/champagne for the shots...
(Except last year, where P got confused on my pink champagne request and brought home a raspberry flavored Andre-imposter... That's right, knock-off Andre.  He tries so hard.)

P and I actually have done a good job of staying away from the V-Day hype.  We usually just cook a nice, romantic meal and give some good cheesy presents and enjoy each other's company sans TV.  This year we each have a trick up our sleeve apparently, as Friday is surprise date-night a la Patrick, and I took it upon myself to make some secret plans for Saturday!  

Here are some fabulous things I'd love to have in time for this season of silly pinks and reds:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wine-O Wednesday: Cesari Amarone

Last week I had the good fortune to head to Ocean in Birmingham for a fabulous meal.  Awesome seafood - which totally does not go with the wine we paired with it, but honestly when you order a really good wine... who the hell cares?

We were looking for a bottle of Zinfandel that was no longer available, and the waiter suggested we take a look at an Amarone.  My ears perked up!  Let's .be serious, they perk up with any mention of wine... but especially one I've only had a handful of times and first in Italy.

I was introduced to Amarone by my very wonderful bestest bestie of the best, Theresa, who lives in Italy and is all things fabulous.  [And just married a hottie local Italian Stallion who is the sweetest man ever, and makes some ridiculous ridic risotto... and drives a vespa...  Besides the point...] I visited her in Verona a little over a year ago and one of the fun things we did was go on an awesome winery tour of a local vineyard where they make all their wine in an underground cave,  Zýmē.  Ok, ok, that link is in Italian.  V
oglio vino dio bon!  Literally my only Italian language take-away... Babblefish it. 

Zýmē in Verona, Italy

I too always forget monstrous bottles of vino in 
wall-nooks in my hobbit-home.

I smuggled back some of this amazing olive oil 
they make there too!

Enough wine for at least a week!
Side note: T is the middle hottie
One each, please!
I smuggled the mix of all their babies (graffiti Kairos one) and the second from the right- the Valpolicella Classica. Amarone was not in this gringo's price range after the damage I did to their meat and cheese industry.  And by "their," I mean Italy proper
Still waiting to drink the Kairos- occasions never seem special enough to toast to Theresa and her tour guide hubs, Andrea!

But back to this bottle: Cesari, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Veneto ‘07

91 Points
If you don't know about this amazing style of wine, it's a super intense flavor similar to a Zinfandel, made from dried grapes in the Valpolicella region in Veneto, a north-Eastern part of Italy.  The grapes are dried between 3 weeks and 3 months, then pressed and aged in barrels for at least 2 years.  

I stole this from the website, obvi: "Amarone della Valpolicella Classico wines are rich, red amarone wines from the traditional classico viticultural zone of Valpolicella in Veneto, north-Eastern Italy.One of Veneto's most famous and prestigious wines, Amarone della Valpolicella has played a vital part in boosting the region's status in the wine world ... The early amorone wines were seen as mistakes – reciotos left to ferment for too long – but eventually the style gained recognition and respect.  Amorone comes from the Italian word amaro (bitter), completed with the –one suffix which denotes impressive size or volume.  When compared to the sweet recioto which the early amarones were supposed to be, it’s a logical translation."
It was just great.  It's so intense, so rich and fruity.  Some very earthy tones that the waiter described as tobacco leaves, but that seemed like a stretch - pretty sure it was just a Birminghamian southern addition.  Regardless, if you like big and bold with a lingering finish and a fully velvet mouth-feel (that will never seem appropriate), definitely give this bad boy a chance.

Or go visit my bestie Theresa in Verona; she'll give you the good stuff.  :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Birmingham Bites: Brick & Tin

Brick & Tin is one of those industrial-meets-rustic-with-local-ingredients concepts that actually doesn't come off as pretentious as a lot of them do these days.  We get it, everyone likes sourcing from local farmers.  Everyone likes exposed brick and reclaimed wood.  But these guys do it in a really non-presumptuous way, with legitimately yummy seasonal lunch options that don't go crazy and don't have too many choices.

For lunch there are 6 sandwiches, a few salads and a couple of soups to mix and match.  A great side option of deviled eggs with shaved country ham and some daily desserts I haven't stuck my fork in yet...

While I'm really missing their knock-out fall menu (butternut squash & prosciutto sammy?  Daily!) they have some fun options on the winter block right now.  My most recent lunch consisted of a gratin of white beans, Alabama collards with fennel, onions and root veg, and a cup of potato-fennel-leek soup.  My squash obsession of the fall has migrated to a fennel one apparently...

That perfectly crunchy gratin is going to be recreated in my kitchen, for sure!
The Tuscan panini is really great as well, but I suggest substituting the ciabatta for the bread.  And there's always the "B-ham Mi" if you're feeling froggy.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Skin Care Battle

I am lazy.  Wayyyy lazy when it comes to self-maintenance.  Be it the gym, putting effort into my appearance or even bathing myself, I just don't seem to give a crap.  I'm trying to change that because it's difficult to look effortlessly young and well rested when you're not.  Ha!

I got my first dose of good skin products about a year ago from RueLaLa or something - the Philosophy Hope series.  It's really anti-wrinkle stuff: cleanser, serum and moisturizer which appears to be working because I have yet to have wrinkles... or maybe that's because I haven't quite made it to 28 yet... but Lord knows P has made some significant attempts at giving me creases over the past 3 years :)

Prior to that I used nothing.  Nothingggg.  I mean, I seriously only wash my makeup off before bed once or twice a month.  That sounds gross, but then you find out I don't wash my hair every day and that creeps people out too.  (Ok... they're usually actually upset that I don't really wash me every day either... I'm not a stinky person!).  I hate water!  I don't like to drink it, I don't like to get in it - I just don't do well with water at all.  I'll go in the ocean because I'm supposed to, and in the pool because I'm hot or other people are doing it, but otherwise it ain't happenin!  My lips are constantly chapped and I'm always dehydrated - if it doesn't have caffeine or alcohol in, I typically just refrain.  Healthy, right?

Resolution numero uno for me was to take better care of my skin.  I've been trying to be better - almost every day I drink a bottle of water now first thing in the morning.  Thanks to my hotel who makes sure I have one at my side.  I take more showers thanks to my little morning jumping jack routines.  And I wash my face... no I don't.  But I do use my Philosophy products after I shower.  And I exfoliate when I shower at home with this stuff, which has been in my shower for 10 years (not the same bottle, I swear!).

So I just read an article by @SkinOwl about her beauty routine.  Read some reviews.  And I splurged on some facial goodness.  I got the SkinOwl Geranium Argan Infusion, and then I headed over to her recommended site: Tammy Fender and bought a rosemary-spearmint epi-peel exfoliator.  Sounds yummy and maybe it'll get rid of my gross pores once and for all.  Pore-free-2013!  Yes, the whole pore - clogged or not they freak me out.

So those should arrive in a week or so and then we shall see about results!  
I may even take a pic of some gnarly before and afters!