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dining

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intelligentsia coffee

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When I travel, I make it a point to find out where the locals have their coffee. Sometimes it’ll be a quaint little anonymous neighborhood cafe and other times it’ll be a nationally recognized coffee roaster. Of course with Chicago, it was the latter. I was lucky enough that Intelligentsia had a small locale nearby my downtown hotel, perfect for two visits in less than 24 hours.

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I really enjoy the way Intelligentsia describes themselves and their various chosen headquarters:

Intelligentsia now has three cities it calls home: Chicago—a city that is brooding, practical and reluctantly beautiful; Los Angeles—a city that views creativity as a birthright, is immensely vast, decidedly impractical and equally messy and marvelous; and New York—a city of paradoxes, hulking but chock full of intimate corners, timeless but achingly current, polished but decaying, worldly yet oddly provincial, all crashing together in perfect cacophony (or is it harmony?).

Honestly, we love all of these places, but for very different reasons. Straight backed-Midwesterness gives us pragmatism and self-discipline, West Coast optimism leads us to believe anything is possible, and the dynamism of East Coast is an unending source of energy. This combination provides the fuel for what we love to do: sourcing, developing, roasting and delivering the best coffee in the world.

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I’m far from being a coffee connoisseur, but I know what I like and what I don’t like. And if I were living in Chicago, I know that this would be one of my go-to spots. I had the chance to enjoy my two standards, latte in the morning and iced coffee in the afternoon. Also, croissant and an oatmeal raisin cookie – all good things in life, all good things from Intelligentsia.

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malvi monday

Can you imagine what your life would be like if your job was to make and sell craft marshmallows?… I think it must involve a whole lot of s’mores and smiles (I obviously try to alliterate whenever the opportunity presents itself)! Aside from that though, Malvi Marshmallow Confections adds finesse to a treat we’ve always known to come out of a huge plastic bag. For the better portion of our lives, marshmallows have been a throwaway food relegated to act as a sugar filler, just a topping. Malvi, on the other hand, takes them to a level we’ve never been able to dream of.

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Inspired by the wonderful simplicity of their flavor origins, I decided to doodle and paint around these little confections. I only wish the quality of these pictures was a little better! We’ve got chocolate mint, vanilla, and raspberry hibiscus…

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chef liu’s

It’s been far far too long since I’ve written about food on here. My time is getting ever more precious to me so it’s been difficult for me to take the time to write about food experiences over using that time to paint or do a quick outfit post. So here I am to remedy that, with my thoughts on Chef Liu’s.

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People come to me frequently for restaurant suggestions, but really.. I don’t have as many as you think. Yes, I’m adventurous and yes I love to experience new things and explore Atlanta. But I, much like you, have only a handful of tried and true go-to spots. It’s partly due to financial constraints and partly due to the comfort of convenience.

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Asian food is quite obviously essential to my weekly dining. I’m no expert on cooking Asian food myself (apart from random stir frying), so what ends up happening is I have a few key restaurants on rotation to get my fix. Though I’m more partial to Vietnamese food by nature (and childhood upbringing), every now and then I just neeeeed Chinese. Like… better than stupid takeout Chinese. So I’m always on the hunt for a good Chinese restaurant that can cook correctly and leave me feeling satiated without feeling like a grease face. Chef Liu’s is one such place.

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As you can see by these photos, we were hungry and ordered way more than we could finish. But of course that gives us the upside of leftovers, which is almost required when eating family style Asian. From what I can remember, we ordered pork intestines, jellyfish salad, cold spicy noodles, dumplings, beef stew, and some sort of chicken chow fun deal. Whatever, you can use your eyes. 

lady brunch at ladybird

I had been hearing lots of things about Ladybird, so it was time I find out firsthand. Perfect opportunity for a lady brunch, right?

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When you get into your late 20s, brunch unfortunately starts to lose its luster. You no longer have the availability to devote hours and hours on a Sunday to sitting around gabbing over mimosas. But every now and then, it’s necessary to indulge and enjoy the company of other lovely ladies. A couple hours out of your errand-running is nothing compared to to some good-hearted laughs with friends. Ladybird was a great spot to spend some quality time – family-style tables, down-home casual breakfast food, and endless cups of coffee.

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Everything was pretty darn delightful here (company included obviously). Their brunch selection covers anything you might be craving for a cozy weekend morning. I myself went for the savory mexican flavors with a cast iron pan full of chips, salsa, avocado, an egg. You know, tasty stuff. Other delicious choices on our table included the deviled eggs, beignets, farro bowl, hot chicken biscuits, and breakfast flatbread.

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a look back

So it’s that time of year again, where everyone makes lists, countdowns, and figures out their resolutions for the coming year. Despite the high probability of seeming trite, I will participate in this action and take a look back at all my favorite blog posts of 2014. Below the picture gallery, you’ll find the corresponding links that will take you to the post. If you have just recently begun reading my words then you might like to see what I’ve been up to this whole time. I’ve seen a lot of lovely creations, spoken with a handful of amazingly talented people, and eaten a lot of tasty food. Isn’t that what life’s all about? It is for me anyways…

row 1 : chattanooga / java jive / may flowers / surfacing
row 2 : elizabeth / apple butter bakery / le petit marche / stacktone slims
row 3 : take heart shop / tiny buffalo / suzanne / henry & june
row 4 : farmer’s market / treat yourselfamelie’s / announcing
row 5 : oakland cemetery / buttermilk kitchen / the tote / krog street market
row 6 : olio / maelu designs / blueridge mountains / arabia mountain

krog street market

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More often than not, the things I choose to write about in this blog are an ode to Atlanta. The sights, the happenings, the people… this city is what sustains my creativity and my drive to be the version of myself I’ve always aspired to. I want to be someone who is cultured, someone who appreciates what the world offers, someone who values kindness and innovation. That plus a whole lot of other little things and I think I’m well on my way to being there. I don’t have as much free time as I’d like, but when I do get the occasional day off, I try to make the most of it. When I heard Krog Street Market was finally open to the public, it skyrocketed to the top of my “must-try” list.

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Although it’s not developed to full capacity, what gems do lie there make up a completely worthwhile visit. The Little Tart, Spotted Trotter, Craft Izakaya, Mama Bath and Body – all with local reputations for an attention to quality and dedication to their craft. It’s nice to see all these Atlanta favorites gathered together under one roof; almost like a permanent farmer’s market or a community-centric mini mall. It’s a concept that has been oddly rare in Atlanta until recently. With mixed retail developments popping up all over town (Westside Provisions, Ponce City Market, et cetera), it is undeniable that the city is thriving and the best is yet to come.krog-street-market-22akrog-street-market-12akrog-street-market-7akrog-street-market-10a

Visiting KSM gave me the opportunity to finally meet two newcomers I’ve had my eye on, Xocolatl and Yalla. Xocolatl has got a great thing going for them; small batch anything obviously piques my interest, but small batch single-origin bean to bar chocolate is like one of the most seductive set of words I might ever hear in my life. Unfortunately they were all sold out (of course) of their bars, but it was lovely to just meet the makers and watch them pour a new velvety batch. Now I definitely have a reason to go back to KSM very, very soon (hello holiday gifts). 

buttermilk kitchen

The upside to working retail is the beauty of my days off. Sure, sure, it would be fantastic to have my two-day weekends back. But sometimes you just have to look at the silver lining and soak in what you can. I get to explore sweet little local places unburdened by crowds and every now and then I’m lucky enough to have the company of women who are quite lovely. This week, Buttermilk Kitchen was our southern brunch nirvana.

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There’s not much I can convey in words to add to what these pictures already show you. The atmosphere was perfect, particularly on the patio with the sun moving up, and the service was extremely on-point. Everything was in a perfect state of balance, very thoughtful but not at all fussy. The menu was pared down and every piece of food on our table was exactly what we wanted it to be. It was fresh, it was rich, and well worth the trip.

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I imagine that the weekends could be overwhelming in a place like this. It’s undeniably awesome and I’m sure the entire neighborhood knows and loves it. If you ever get a weekday off, make a day date for Buttermilk. I swear to you, probably one of the best brunches I’ve had in Atlanta. 

amelie’s

There are some spots that are so special, you find yourself staying a lot longer than you had originally planned. Of course, this can be a good thing. At least when it comes to sweet little spots like Amelie’s! This Carolina import feels right at home in West Midtown, a burgeoning area of all things cool and well-crafted. I didn’t know what to expect really, but when you say french bakery, I come a-runnin. And I was nothing short of enchanted.

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The eclectic and quirky decor, the warmth of the staff, the well-baked baguettes… it’s like a divine melody composed specifically for the purpose of perking up my day. Starting out with the traditional jambon sandwich was a dangerous decision. One little sandwich was not enough baguette to top off my day. I was compelled to eat more bread and I even ended up taking a whole other baguette home. Can you blame me? I daydream of mornings spent strolling through the streets of Paris, picking up a fresh and warm baguette at a corner cafe. Amelie’s is probably as close as I can get right now!

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ration & dram: monday oyster night

Monday night oysters at Ration & Dram are a buck a shuck! So, a dozen blue point oysters for $12? I’m all in. Tucked away on Arizona Avenue in the Kirkwood neighborhood, R&D is the perfect spot to kick those Monday blues. With smooth cocktails and charming patios, it’s hard to feel anything but bliss when you’re here.

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varuni napoli

If you’re an avid local restaurant eater like me, then I’m sure you know that pizza is super hot on the street right now. Neapolitan style, in particular, is having a great 15 minutes of fame on the Atlanta food scene. Ever since Antico made waves among the Buckhead crowd, new spots have been popping up all over town. Varuni Napoli, one of the newest, has taken its stand in the heart of Midtown and Ansley Park at the corner of Monroe and Piedmont. An ideal spot for sure, but was the pizza going to live up to its rustic Italian namesake? Last week I found out.

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First impressions can make quite a difference and by looks alone, Varuni has all the makings of a great culinary spot. The decor is clean and modern with a hint of homemade here and there – just enough to feel of the moment. Their sweet little back patio is also quite quaint, a nice spot to eat your pie as the sun goes down.

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We sat with baited breath waiting for our pizza to come to us. Though all the choices sounded pretty good, we opted for a classic combo of mozzarella, sausage, mushroom, onions, and roasted smoked peppers. As you can see by these pictures, it looked every bit our dream of the perfect neopolitan pizza. By all accounts, things were looking good.