Wine and Chocolate Pairing with Phillip Ashley Chocolates™️

Phillip Ashley Rix is a talented Memphis-based chocolatier, and owner of Phillip Ashley Chocolates. The passion behind his exquisite artistry is evident in each meticulously handcrafted chocolate. Once donned the “Real Life Willy Wonka” by FORBES magazine, this expert chocolatier’s imagination knows no limits. Each season he debuts a new batch of whismsical flavors and designs that would excite the most discerning of chocolate lovers.

This season newest flavors made their first appearance in late June, and I was honored to get the opportunity to taste. Included as a part of his Signature Collection, I got to sample some of his best sellers as well as some new to the scene. As an added bonus, I also received box of his limited edition Galaxy Collections. 

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3 Summer Salads to Upgrade your BBQ

Although it's hard to believe, summer will be making a swift exit in the next few weeks to make way for the cool winds of Autumn.  Before we store away our grills, and cover up the patio furniture, there's still ample time to celebrate by planning an end of summer BBQ.

As  you peruse your grocery story for hotdogs and hamburgers, and check out your local farmers market for the most ripest seasonal fruit, remember that no summer soiree is complete without a summer salad! From old time favorites of the potato or pasta variety to salads that add some flare to the freshest fruits and veggies, everyone I know has their favorite they look forward to indulging in this time of year.

If you are feeling adventurous, and want to take a little excursion from your traditional summer salads,  here are three salad upgrades that are sure to win your heart.

Photo by Geo Darwin

Photo by Geo Darwin

Grilled Corn & BLACKBERRY SALAD WITH BALSAMIC VINAIGARETTE

( Recipe c/o Korena in the Kitchen )

Best when made with corn fresh off the cob, this unlikely pairing is the perfect marriage of sweet and savory. Tossed lightly in balsamic vinaigrette gives this salad and extra special punch!

Photo by Food Network

Photo by Food Network

 

 

Cous Cous Salad with Tomato and Mint

(Recipe c/o Food Network )

Pasta move to the side, Cous Cous may just be the new winner. A  simple Mediterranean salad complimented with some mint. 

 

 

 

 

Photo by My Recipes 

Photo by My Recipes 

GEORGIA Shrimp and Radish Salad

( Recipe c/o My Recipes )

For the seafood lovers looking for a bit a flare this is one to try. The radishes pairing perfectly with fresh shrimp creates an amazing texture and flavor to die for!

6 Wonderful Black-Owned Wine Brands

I am an avid supporter of small businesses, as it has a huge impact on the local economy and often offers me an opportunity to try rare or interesting goods that may not be offered at larger companies. It is equally as important to support black-owned and minority businesses. In many cases, the profits of these businesses can have a positive influence in our communities, as well as many other benefits.

Some time ago, I read an article that presented a short list of black-owned wineries and wine brands. As an avid wine drinker, I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued by many of the brands listed. It was enlightening to see how these often small operations have made a big impact in their communities and in tandem made history. 

Fitting perfectly into "28 Days of Soul" here are 6 wonderful black-owned wine brands (located right here on the east coast) that  cater to a  variety of pallets and each offer unique experience. 

1. Flo Brand Wines (Washington, DC)

LO Brands’ mission is to enhance customers’ lives and make each day a little better one sip and sound at a time. Everything that the company creates is about improving that segment of [their] consumer’s life, especially when products are combined like music and wine. FLO Brands’ products include FLO CD series, FLO Wine, FLO Fest and more.

GT's Pick: Flo Moscato

 

2. Wisdom Oak (North Garden, VA )

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Wisdom Oak once began as a hobby for founder/owner Jerry Bias. Formerly known as Sugarleaf Vineyards, Bias began with the planting of 375 vines in 2001. Almost fifteen years later, Wisdom Oak is still one of the only African-American owned and operated vineyards on the East Coast.

GT's Pick: Cabernet Franc Rose

 

3. Edelheiss Wine  (Washington D.C)

Chic, innovative, yet traditional European wine, which has never been packaged or branded, to the United States.  The Edelheiss Wine Team has plans for expansion to other countries after its initial launch in North America.

 

4. Mouton Noir Wines (Harlem, NY)

Founded by sommelier Andre Hueston Mack in 2007, Mouton Noir incorporates a trademark attitude and personal perspective to wine subculture. The wines are unique and distinctive garage wines, initially created for some of New York's best restaurants for whom Mack was a sommelier and now are available nationwide. - From the Mouton Noir website

GT's Pick: "O.P.P" Noir-  Other People's Pinot Noir

 

5. Serendipity Wine (Washington, DC)

Located in the Washington, DC Metro area, Serendipity Wines was founded by CEO Brenda Williams. Her vision was to create a brand built on the memories shared over glasses of wine. Serendipity offers three types of wines: Chardonnay - Tempation, Curvee Blanc (White Blend) and Carbarnet Franc - Seduction.

GT's Pick: Chardonnay - Temptation

 

6. Shoe Crazy Wines  (Chesterfield, VA)

Shoe Crazy Wines offers delectable recent vintages for your enjoyment and pleasure. The brand was birthed in 2006 when, Founder Gwen Hurt, was given a wine-making kit for christmas. After making and bottling over 120 bottles of wine, she decided to turn her passion into a career. In 2013, Shoe Crazy Wine, LLC was founded. Shoe Crazy creates signature and proprietary blends that are beautifully balanced wine.

GT's Picks: Cabernet Superior

5 Easy Holiday Side-Dishes

And just like that - we're back....

It's funny how time miraculously moves at light-speed and in the blink of an eye the holiday season is greeting us with a warm embrace. Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday (next to my birthday), is typically a day where I rejoice in the warmth of my kitchen which has been transformed into an oasis of autumn aromas.  This year, as we approach this glorious occasion I have feelings of anxiety and fear. 

For the first ever, Mark and I are the brave souls who volunteered to host the "annual" feast at our home. As we finalize logistics for an intimate, but enjoyable evening with my immediate family, I have searched far and wide for dishes that are trudge the line of innovation, but still appeal to the pickiest of eaters (*cough* my mother).

As you curate your own menus for the BIG day, my pinterest board  for "Holiday Dishes" may get your gears turning and mouths salivating.  If you're looking for some easy items to add a little flare to your table,  look no further as I have hand-picked these special (and might I add quite EASY to make) side-dishes just for you.

5 Easy Holiday Side-Dishes 

1. Brown Sugar Green Beans Wrapped in Bacon (recipe via eRecipe Cards)

2. Slow-Cooker Corn and Jalapeno Casserole (recipe via Real House Moms)

3. Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries and Pecans (recipe via Southern Bites)

4, Sweet Potatoe Souffle (recipe via Vintage Zest)

5, Sausage and Rice Dressing  (recipe via Kalyn's Kitchen)

 

 

 

GT Tips: HEAT-UP your Housewarming!

In August, Mark, myself and our doggie daughter, Hilde,  moved into a new apartment.  While  apartment hunting, we sought out places that would allow us the space to entertain. When we stepped into an industrial-style loft with large windows, exposed brick and a spacious open layout, we instantly fell in love!

This past Saturday, after much anticipation Mark and I hosted a "Stock the Bar Housewarming Party." The premise was simple, in lieu of a formal housewarming gift, we asked friends to bring a bottle of wine or their favorite libation. We provided a spread of appetizers and desserts as well as a signature cocktail.

Our guests had a wonderful time chatting over food and drinks, and we were overwhelmed with gratitude for the fellowship, love and gifts!

Reflecting on this past weekend and the heightened stress that ensued the days prior to the event, I wanted to give you some quick tips to keep in mind if you wish to warm your new home in style.

5 Tips to HEAT UP your Housewarming

  1. Plan EARLY. Choose a date at least two months in advance and commit. Once the date is on the calendar all others details will begin to fall into place!  

  2. Make a GREAT first impression. Whether you choose to  invite guests by snail-mail, electronically or by creating a Facebook event, put some effort into the invite.  Whatever your fancy, some great ideas can be found on Etsy.

  3. Pick a theme that WOWS. Combining two households into one, Mark and I weren't in need of any household items. A quick Google search returned tons of ideas for "unconventional" housewarming parties. Pick a theme that speaks to you, your guests will appreciate that!  

  4. Curate an ECLECTIC menu.  Your guests may be vegans, meat-Lovers or  even taking a pass at eating Gluten-Free? It's important to have options for every type of food lover. If you're struggling to come up with dishes check out my  Pinterest board for some help! 

  5. THANK the guests! The party is over, the guests have left, but you have one more step before you can record this shindig in the history books. Be sure to thank the guests for coming out and supporting you. While a small gesture, thank you cards can definitely leave a lasting impression.

Have you planned a party in the past and want to share your tips? Please leave them below or shoot me a message!