Atlanta, Georgia Preimere of “Chef”: A Movie About Food, That Feeds The Soul

chef pic

I am a firm believer in shaking things up and doing things out of the ordinary to break the monotony of the work week.   So when I heard about a special movie premiere happening on a Tuesday night, it sounded like the perfect mid-week date night to me!

It’s quite rare that I walk out of a movie theater feeling inspired and ready to make changes in my life, but that is exactly how I felt after viewing the movie Chef.

Taste of Atlanta and Cinebistro at Town Brookhaven teamed up for the Atlanta premiere of the movie to raise money to benefit Chef, Terry Hall’s “Legacy Lives On Fund”.  Hall, the late owner of Happy Belly Food Truck, passed away on February 11, 2014.  His fund was established to ensure that his two children would receive a college education.

Chef is about a man’s who’s career and private life have stalled.  As he loses everything he finds that family, loyal friends and fearlessly following one’s passion are the keys to success.  The all-star cast featuring Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara & John Leguizamo make the movie come alive.

As a foodie, I would be reminisce if I didn’t mention that one of the biggest stars in the movie is the amazing food.  From Cuban sandwiches to beignets, the movie left me hungry for more.  Good thing I was at Cinebistro and could order great drinks and amazing food.  I especially enjoyed the beef sliders which were cooked perfectly.

Check out Chef in theaters now and follow Taste of Atlanta for more exciting events to come!

 

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Cape Town, South Africa: A City Surrounded By Unbelievable Beauty ( Part III)

Cape Town, South Africa

My favorite cities have the same things in common:

  • Unique cultural experiences
  • Spectacular food
  • Efficient transportation
  • Beautiful sites
  • Excitement

Cape Town knocks each category out of the park.!  The City’s beauty alone is enough to fill an entire post.

Home to the majestic Table Mountain, there aren’t many places that I would rather spend my time.  It is too hard to adequately describe Table Mountain’s beauty, just know this, if you question the existence of GOD you won’t after visiting.  The site is spectacular.
Table Mountian, Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountian, Cape Town

 

After leaving Table Mountain, stop by Boulders Beach for lunch and to hang out with some animals that you would never guess could weather the South African heat !

Boulders Beach, South Africa


Boulders Beach, Cape Town

Beyond its beauty, Cape Town is home to hundreds of great restaurants.  With so much to try, this great City is where I really stepped out of my culinary box.  At Mama Africa ,in Cape Town’s party district, I ate the most delicious appetizer: crocodile!  It was grilled and seasoned to perfection!

Crocidile, Mama Africa, Cape Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also had the game kabobs consisting of (warthog, ostrich, and springbok).

Game, Mama Africa, Cape Town , South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The food was amazing and the drinks were flowing all night.

 

In addition to the amazing food, the house band kept the party going and several of my companions jumped at the chance to join in the fun.

Mama Africa , Cape Town, South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We couldn’t spend time in Cape Town without taking the 60 minute ferry ride to Robben Island to visit the site of the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela and many other political prisoners were held.

Robben Island Ferry Ride , South Africa

 

Robben Island, South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprisingly, the island is now home to a few hundred people, including former prison wardens and former prisoners a like with a school, church and grocery store.   The actual prison is now a museum, visited by millions of people each year.  Being on the island is a humbling experience.  What really adds to the overall experience is that the tours are guided by former political prisoners.

 

Our guide was imprisoned at Robben Island for six years for his participation with the African National Congress (ANC).  He shared his experiences and even showed us the actual cell that he was held in.   We also viewed the cell that Mr. Mandela was held in during his 18 years on the Island.  (pictured)

Nelson Mandela's Prison Cell, Robben Island , South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting Robben Island was a sobering experience  and as we left, we felt hopeful about South Africa’s bright future despite its troubled past.  Having a wine tour booked following our visit to Robben Island worked out to be a wise idea!

 

In 45 short minutes we were in Paarl sampling sumptuous wines and unbelievable chocolates.  South Africa’s vast wine country is beyond gorgeous.  The rolling hills lined with grapevines as far as the eyes can see, with jagged mountains framing the horizon, create a picturesque setting.

 

Wine country, Paarl, South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wine was fantastic but the absolute star of the day was the meal that we enjoyed at an onsite pizzeria.  The cow feta and spinach pizza, chicken livers, brie and tomato sandwich and the lamb baguettes were unbelievable.

Chicken Livers and Lamb, South Africa

 

I truly recommend spending no less that half a day in wine country.  With hundreds of independent producers you are sure to discover something great.

When the sun rose the following day we were greeted with great coffee and the sour realization that we would be heading back to the states in a few short hours.  But leave it up to my crew to make the very best of it by going shopping!

Cape Town’s Green Market located in the City ‘s downtown district is massive.  Despite the fact that many of the vendors are selling the same trinkets, you can find some really good deals and some unique items if you take your time and explore.

Cape Town Green Market, South Africa

Feel free to haggle but make sure you shop with Rand, the local currency ( it just makes it easier ).

 

A few short hours later we loaded our luggage, headed to the airport, and made the 17 hour journey back to the states.

 

South Africa is an unbelievable country.  I cannot wait to return in a few years.

Have you traveled to South Africa?  Tell me your story here.

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How Kayaking In La Jolla, California Saved My Marriage

Despite being married to the love of my life, our first year of marriage was rough!  We had petty arguments and some not-so-petty arguments.  Simply stated, we had a lot to learn about compromise and effective communication.

A few months into our marriage, I asked my husband to join me on a business trip to San Diego, California.  Neither he nor I had ever been, so we were excited about the trip.  Yet upon our arrival, disagreements ensued.   From disagreeing on what car to rent to where to have dinner in the Gaslamp District, I can’t say we were always on the same page.  Between visiting the San Diego Zoo and enjoying cigars at The Cuban Cigar Factory we quarreled.

On the last day of the trip, we decided to venture just outside of San Diego, to La Jolla, for dinner and to enjoy the famed beaches.  La Jolla is breathtaking, with dramatic cliffs jetting out of the Pacific Ocean, lined with awe-inspiring homes.

La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks

It is a fantastic place to shop, dine, and enjoy outdoor sports.  We decided to tour its famous caves and get a closer look at the sea lions that rest upon rocks close to the beach.

La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks

So we booked a kayaking tour through La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks and set out for an amazing adventure.  There was just one major problem: having only kayaked in calm waters, I was nervous about kayaking off the beach directly into the jagged waves of the Pacific.  My husband on the other hand, became increasing more excited at the thought of encountering such waves.  Before we set sail, I shared my concerns with him.  He reassured me that the trip would be great and that I had nothing to worry about.  I reluctantly adjusted my life jacket and took my place behind him in the vessel.  As we paddled out, the waves grew in intensity.  At the sight of rather large waves, I would close my eyes tightly as the kayak was lifted temporary and then abruptly returned back to a level position.  After a series of large waves, I opened my eyes to find that my husband had paddled us away from our tour guide and further away from the beach.  As we approached the buoys (which confirmed my fears that we had ventured too far) I nervously asked that we turn back.  My husband ignored my petition.  I then responded by attempting to paddle in the opposite direction.  My actions almost caused the kayak to flip over and after a few close calls, my husband decided to steer us toward the group.  He then said “he felt sorry for me because I was missing out on a great experience, all because I refused to let go and trust him.”  I was nearly in tears.  As we neared the group, I took a deep breath and began to relax a bit.  We entered the first cave and the cool breeze suddenly opened my eyes not only to the picturesque scenery but to who my husband is, as a man and as my partner.

La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks

He wanted me to be open to adventure and experiencing something fun and exciting with him, trusting that he would protect us and use sound judgment to keep us afloat.  This revelation allowed me to truly enjoy the second half of our tour, as well as the past four years of our marriage.  As we paddled along in sync we laughed, smiled and road the waves without fear.  We are still riding the waves and staying afloat by working together and trusting each other.

Have you had a travel experience that shaped your perspective on life? Share it here.

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Pictures courtesy of La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks http://www.lajollaseacavekayaks.com/

Fiji: Everything You Think It Is And Much More!

What a treat it is to visit the South Pacific. People always ask what Fiji is like and I always say the same thing. Fiji is simply breathtaking. The beauty is unmatched and the locals are extremely friendly. Fiji

We spent our days basking in the vibrant sun–fanned by the relentless ocean breeze. At night, we were lulled by a moonlight that seemed much closer to the earth than normal. If that wasn’t enough, we sang soft rock from the early 90s while trying feverishly to follow the words attached to a television monitor…Karaoke anyone? We laughed and drank Kava- Fiji’s traditional drink of choice, comprised of a ground root soaked in water. Always open to new experiences, I took the cup offered to me by a charming man with grey hair and leathery brown skin.  I held the cup, which was more like a small bowl between my hands, and I drank. Matamanoa Island, FijiKava is beloved by native Fijians. The drink had an earthy flavor. Once down, my tongue went numb in some places. On the bright side, I felt more relaxed–one of the benefits of drinking Kava.

We stayed at an all-inclusive resort run by native Fijians on the private Matamoanoa Island. The island is located about 2 hours from the airport by ferry. The ferry ride over was an amazing journey. The views were astounding and the weather was perfect. We zipped along dropping off passengers at islands scattered in the sea.  As we approached Matamoanoa, we were greeted by nearly a dozen people standing on the beach singing a lovely welcome serenade. “Bula” the Fijian word for welcome was stated then and we felt that way during our entire stay.Fiji

After we were shown to our private quarters, a 580 square foot bure with all of the amenities one would need, we settled in for seven days of bliss. The island caters to couples and is comprised of 24 private bures.  Our door opened onto the beach and was just steps away from the water.  On the first day, we were pampered with an hour long massage on the beach at sunrise. We kayaked, made baskets, played volleyball, hiked, scuba dived and snorkeled until we were faced with the reality that our trip was coming to an end.FijiMatamanoa Island, Fiji

Matamanoa is for the traveler who seeks seclusion.  Many guests that we met traveled to other islands before ending in Matamaona.  If you want a bustling city with nightlife and a variety of restaurants, consider accommodations on one of the larger islands.  But if you want to relax, be pampered, and enjoy nature, you can’t go wrong with Matamanoa.

Fijian communities consist of close-knit villages governed through a tribal hierarchy. On the neighboring island sat a modest Methodist church–a testament to the island’s many cultural and religious influences. There are people from all over the world living in Fiji’s major cities.  However, on the smaller islands you will find people who have hair and features similar to other groups closely linked to the African Diaspora.Matamanoa Island, Fiji

Matamanoa is owned and operated by native Fijians.  The profits from the property remain in the local community.

From the crystal clear waters to the unforgettable sunsets, Fiji is a destination that should not be missed.

 

Matamanoa Island, Fiji

 

If you are considering visiting Fiji or if you want more information, send us a message here, on Twitter, or on Facebook.  We love to talk travel!

Happy Travels,

Jen

Website: www.eatbreathetravel

Twitter:@Suggstravel

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eatbreathetravel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonoma Valley, CA : A Wine Lovers Paradise

Sonoma, CASo our first trip to San Francisco, CA was amazing. Thankfully, we made time to get away from the City to explore Sonoma Valley.  We opted to take a guided tour of three wineries offered by San Francisco Sightseeing Tours.  The company picked us up at our hotel (Union Square Hilton) and we began the 1 1/2 hour journey to Sonoma.  We were welcomed into Sonoma by miles and miles of rolling hills and landscaped wineries with small well-kept homes on both sides of the street.  With temperatures about 20 degrees higher that San Francisco, the weather was perfect!  The first winery we visited was Cline Cellars.  Cline is a small vineyard with very approachable wines.  There was something on the menu for everyone.  The prices are reasonable and they were very generous during the tasting.  We liked the following wines:  2012 Cool Climate Pinot Gris, 2012 Ancient Vines Zinfandel, and the 2012 White Cashmere.  On the grounds of the Cline Winery lies the Mission MuseumSonoma, CAThe museum documents the Mission system in California.  It seems like a funny thing to have a museum which highlights a major historical religious movement at a vineyard… but it works somehow.  We enjoyed walking through the museum.

After leaving Cline, we visited Sebastiani Vineyards for another tasting.  Sebastiani has some of the oldest wine barrels made from red wood trees.  We tasted several wines and really liked the 2012 Eye of the Swan which is a white wine with great nutty flavor.  The wines were fine but the jams and mustard were even better!  Be sure to check out the gourmet foods section for great gifts and special treats at Sebastiani.

We took a short break for lunch in downtown Sonoma.  The downtown area consists of a quaint square filled with shops and restaurants.  We elected to have lunch at Basque Cafe, a cute local bakery offering sandwiches and pastries.  Our food was terrific and we had the pleasure of sharing a table with two very lovely ladies.  We traded travel stories and discussed a number of other lighthearted topics.  Meeting people on our trips enhances our experiences every time.

After lunch, it was off to my favorite winery Chateau St Jean .  Chateau St Jean was the largest and most beautiful vineyard that we visited.  The grounds were covered with rose bushes and magnificent trees. We really we enjoyed the wines and the tour was the most informative of the three.  The guide explained more about how the wines are produced and how the vineyard operates than any of the other vineyards we visited. We purchased several wines from the Chateau to include a 2011 Pinot Blanc and a 2011 Pinot Noir.

We had an amazing time in Sonoma.  We elected to visit Sonoma instead Napa Valley based on reports that Sonoma was less commercial and more of a relaxing experience.  We look forward to visiting Napa in the future.

If you are planning to visit Sonoma feel free to e-mail us.  If you have visited, share your experiences here.  

 

Happy Travels,

Jen

Twitter @Suggstravel

Instagram http://instagram.com/eatbreathetravel

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San Francisco,California: What a great place to Eat !

So Xeric and I visited San Francisco, California in July and we had an amazing time!  We stayed at the Hilton hotel located in Union Square.  Union Square is a great place to stay because it puts you in the heart of great shopping, dining, and transportation access points. We rode BART from San Francisco International Airport to the Powell Street Station, which put us just blocks away from our hotel.  BART was clean and easy to understand.  All trains leaving the airport take you into San Francisco.  The fee is based on where you are going.  It cost $8.00 for each of us to travel from the airport to the Powell Street Station.

San Fran is a walk-able city but with the steep hills and cool weather… dressing appropriately is key.  Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers.  Coming from Atlanta in July we were not prepared for the 60 degree weather that we faced upon arrival.  If you come under dressed…don’t worry,vendors are stocked with San Francisco wind breakers and warm hats. The City is so unique.  It is the only place that I have ever been where the temperature varies so drastically.  If you travel to Sausalito, a neighboring city just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, you can expect the weather to be up to 20 degrees warmer.

So let’s get down to the food.  As tourist, our days started early, so getting a good breakfast was essential.  We stopped at a diner near our hotel the first morning.  It was just ok and not worth spending much time discussing.  However, the next two days we let Yelp reviews lead us to some great places!  First, we went over to Nob Hill Grill.  I had the chicken and waffles which were really good.  Xeric had the sausage and egg breakfast sliders with home fries. 

On the third day, we went to Mama’s.  Mama’s is a great place to have breakfast or brunch on the weekend.  Tip: get there about an hour before the place opens.  We arrived about 45 minutes before the place opened and there were at least 20 people ahead of us.  Luckily we made it in with the first wave of guests. The place is really small but full of character…you really feel like you are in a comfy family kitchen having a wonderful breakfast just like the ones mommy used to make.  We tried the cinnamon and chocolate french toast.  It was awesome!  Tip: the place is cash only and you should look over the menu ahead of time. Once you are inside things move quickly…know what you want.

Later that day we went to Brenda’s French Soul food. What can I say? The Yelp views are stellar and for good reason. The place is great. When you arrive, place your name and the size of your group on the chalkboard wall… which sits on the right side of the register.  Once you are seated, prepare to be amazed. Biscuits, grits, crawfish stuffed beignets and anything else that may delight the palate.  Get the flight of beignets which includes one of each type :traditional, chocolate, apple and crawfish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also ventured to 21st Amendment for drinks.  Xeric is a beer connoisseur and he couldn’t stop smiling.  I even found a beer that I liked and beer is not my thing.  Try the apple cider beer and everything else!

Well I haven’t even really talked about all of the great places to see and things to do.  Of course we walked the majestic Golden Gate Bridge.  It is impressive.  Cold ..but impressive.  We took the 1.6 mile trek across with piping cups of hot cocoa from the little cafe near the bridge.  You get the best views of the City and Alcatraz from the Golden Gate.  Tip: If you plan to visit Alcatraz, buy your tickets well in advance. We didn’t make it this trip 🙁

We took a two-day jump off jump on tour through Big Bus Tours.  The company picks up at the Hilton and most hotels in the San Francisco area.  We got the 48 hour pass for $50.00 per person.   It was a great deal.

We spent time at Fisherman’s Wharf which was a fun experience.  We ate dinner courtesy of one of the many vendors serving fresh seafood.  There are at least a dozen places to get street food.  There are also sat down restaurants.

So as a tourist you can’t go to San Francisco without riding a trolley at least once!  It will run you $6.00 per person per ride.  We waited in line for nearly an hour to ride the trolley …but it was worth the wait. Traveling through the city by trolley was exhilarating.  Going downhill hanging off the side was thrilling.

We also went to Chinatown and took in the abundant shopping options in Union Square.  Macy’s was awesome; the second largest in the country with one entire level devoted to shoes…lol.  Tip: ask for the 10 percent visitor discount on your purchase.

I could go on and on but I won’t.  

You really need a minimum of five days to really even scratch the surface of this diverse gem.  We cannot wait to return.

Happy travels  

 

Winemaking Georgia Style

 
 Wineries are another great feature in Georgia.  With most located in Dahlonega, GA they range from cozy and warm to modern and chic.  Two of our favorite spots are Three Sisters www.threesistersvineyards.com/ and Montaluce http://www.montaluce.com.  At the latter, you can grab a glass or two and snag brunch overlooking the immaculate grounds of the vineyard.  http://www.georgiawine.com/georgia-wineries

Wine Flight @ Montaluce

Located about an hour south of Georgia’s wine country is the illustrious Chateau Elan www.chateauelan.com.  Chateau Elan is the largest vineyard in the state.  For people living or visiting the Atlanta area the Chateau makes a great day trip or weekend getaway.  Schedule a wine tasting and tour, play a round of golf , and dine at one of the great restaurants on the property.

My bridal shower was hosted at Chateau Elan and Sunday brunch is a big hit with locals.

 

Chateau Elan: Bridal Shower 2010