Drake on Cake Demo with Joy the Baker

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Two weeks ago, I attended a Black Food Bloggers Retreat in New Orleans that still has me in awe. Everything from the fine cuisine, eclectic decor, and vibrant fashion has kept my creative drive in overload since I left. Recording my epic weekend has proven difficult because it’s so hard to put the experience into words, but a post is coming soon that will truly do the trip justice in my eyes.

During the education sessions for the retreat, our small but mighty group spent time in ideation sessions around our blog strategy, learning tips and tools to help us expand our brands, and getting to discuss all of the kick ass and groundbreaking work we are doing in our respective communities. Outside of the sessions, our lovely host and leader, Jasmine Lukuku (The Blenderist) planned some phenomenal food-centered experiences that I truly enjoyed. Of all of the events throughout the weekend, my favorite was time spent with the infamous Joy the Baker.

Joy is a legend in the blogging world, who has been chronicling her adventures in baking and cooking for nearly a decade. Welcoming us into her home (a meticulous marvel of interior artistry), she shared a little bit about her trials and tribulations as she built her career as a blogger.

From self-taught baker to the author of multiple cookbooks, Joy bestowed infinite wisdom about how we needed to trust in our talents, identify the things we truly care about, and how the best tools are the ones we have right at our fingertips. Charming and witty, with a great sense of humor, she achieved all of this while putting her foot in some savory beignets.

In the grand finale of our time together, Joy let us get up close and personal with one of her passion projects, Drake on Cake. The gallery of cakes with Drake lyrics is one of my guilty pleasures of instagram, and the experience of watching her take a blank cake and create whimsy and wonder was second to none. We watched as she took the cake from simple to stunning, adding notes of confetti, candles, and mini champagne bottles.

Following the cake decoration, we watched her build the photo scene for her final shot. Using a photo-board placed in front of her patio door for perfect lighting, she scoured her home for props that represented the essence of the Drake lyric. As we watched her add paper flowers, rosary beads, and fresh cut slices of cake for depth, she shared that her end goal is to create a story centered around the cake.

Reflecting on my time there, the lyric, “I’m blessed, I just checked,” is the embodiment of our time together in NoLa, and is now a mainstay mantra as I look toward the future of Geo’s Table.

To follow Joy, her awesomeness, and to view the latest photoshoots from Drake on Cake check out her instagram accounts and websites:

Website: joythebaker.com

Instagram Accounts: @joythebaker | @drakeoncake | @thebakehousenola

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GT Getaways: St. Louis

On my latest getaway, I took a weekend trip to St. Louis, MO. While I have been to St. Louis several times before for work, this time was a completely different experience. My favorite way to experience a city is through the eyes of a dear friend who lives or was raised there. It dives a little deeper than the notion of “seeing it like a local,” and instead gives you a little context on how food and culture shape the personality of some of the people you love the most.

In a city known for its unmatched hospitality and charm, I was able to eat, drink, and bask in all the wonders of this amazing city. The warm embraced I received from the people of St. Louis will never be forgotten and there are now pieces of my heart scattered all over city. Here’s some flicks and just a few of my faves from the weekend.

My Top Picks

1. Uncle Bill's Pancakes and Dinner House

A St. Louis breakfast spot that locals swear by! With menu options galore and an empty tummy in tote - you will leave with a full belly and a warm heart.

My pick: The Crepes Paree

2. Snarf's Sandwiches

A local sandwich chain with a limited number of locations in Missouri, Illinois, Colorado and Texas. With fresh and filing sandwiches, my inaugural visit to Snarf left me begging for more.

My pick: The Turkey & Swiss Cheese

3. Rosalitas Cantina

Located in Downtown St. Louis, Rosalitas Cantina is vibrant and festive offering a menu of amazing St. Louis style Tex-Mex. As an added bonus the Margaritas are extra strong margaritas, and the chips and salsa are endless.

My picks: The Shrimp Tacos and Fried Cheesecake

4. The Grove Neighborhood

A progressive neighborhood with buzz-worthy nightlife and an eclectic crowd, you are sure to have a blast dancing the night away at Rehab or having some late night Ice Cream Martini at The Fountain on Locust.  For boozier drinks of the frozen variety take a trip to Tropical Liqueurs and be sure to grab some authentic "street meat" at their indoor food truck Guerrilla Streetfood .

My Picks: The Tiger Paw Slushee (Tropical Liqueurs) and The Bagnet Kare Kare Po' Boy (Guerrilla St. Louis)

5. Gourmet Soul There is nothing like a home cooked meal that touches the soul and Gourmet Soul has this down to a science. Enjoy a solid selection of soul food that is fresh, fried and will leave you satisfied!

My picks: Fried Fish and Sweet Potatoes

 

GT Getaways: London Trip!

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It's hard to believe it has been a full month. As everyone was eagerly awaiting warmer weather on the east coast, Mark and  I were fortunate enough to be springing forward in London!!!

Spring often signifies a period of rejuvenation, and embarking on my first adventure to this beautiful city across the pond was just what I needed to get my creative juices flowing. Old world charm, with many modern notes; London's celebration of diversity is evident in its architecture, street-style, food, and most notably the people.

Being my first time in London, Mark's sister and her husband (thanks Tammy and Alex!) were our gracious tour guides. Our jam packed days (but well worth it) and included trips to all the major landmarks, as well as some hidden gems. This post only highlight a few of my favorite sites.

1. The Queen's Walk

As a first-timer, my number one desire was to see as many major landmarks as possible. London's Queen's Walk made this easy. We found convenient parking under St. James Park, starting our day-long tour at Buckingham Palace followed by seeing Big Ben. We then took a stroll across the Westminster Bridge and got up close and personal with the London Eye. We ended this portion of the day at the Tate Modern.

2. Tate Britain & Tate Modern

Art museums exhibits and tours often give me an opportunity to gain a more visual history of my travel destination. The Tate was no different. With two locations in London, the Tate Modern is London's official museum of Modern Art, and the Tate Britain is the official home of British art from 1500 - present. At Tate Britain, we got the opportunity to see the David Hockney exhibit (which was phenomenal and showing until May 29th). I was also pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Stan Firm Inna Inglan : Black Disaspora in London, which was a time capsule of photographs highlighting the black British experience during the 1960-1970s.

3. Camden Town, Camden Market

Even across the pond, there were bits and pieces that reminded me of home.  To me, Camden Town was reminiscent of Philadelphia, sprawling with mom and pop shops that made me feel less like a tourist, and more like a Londoner. My favorite part of this area was the Camden Rock Market. Similar to Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market, the Camden Market was a two floor building packed with (at least) hundred stalls and live entertainment sprinkled throughout. We were able to pick up some locally made gifts for our family and friends, and as a special treat, sampled some gin at Half Hitch microbrewery. 

4. Akeman Inn (Kingswood)

Prior to arriving, we expressed an interest in trying food at a local pub or restaurant. Tammy and Alex,  had been interested in trying Akeman Inn (a pub in Kingswood, a short drive from their town, Aylesbury) for quite some time, but waited for our visit so we could experience it together. I'm happy to report that we thoroughly impressed The pub (formerly a 17th century Inn) served a menu of traditional British fare (fish and chips, bangers and mash), as well as some unique dishes like the Scallops of the Days (which still had the beard attached!) 

5. Picadilly Circus

Although I tried to resist, our stroll through Picadilly Circus, brought on strong desires to feed my shopping addiction.  Affectionately referred to as "Times Square" of London, the streets of this posh neighborhood were buzzing with people. Tall buildings with more colonial facades had been transformed into modern shops for some of the biggest brand names. For those who aren't into the shopping scene, you can still are in luck, this district is also full of street performers and artists, theaters, and it is a short walk from Chinatown, SoHo, and Covent Garden.

As the old saying goes, I left my "heart in London." We are already plotting our next trip, hoping to see much more!

 

2016 Bucket List!

Welcome to 2016! I am delighted to embrace this new year with new adventures in cooking, eating and leading a more healthier and fulfilling life. In the last part of 2015, I took a chance and launched the Geo's Table blog as a creative outlet for myself. During this "soft launch" period, I have expanded my horizons tremendously, and have learned a great deal about blogging as well as food photography and writing.

Now that 2016 has graced us with her presence, I am ready to take Geo's Table to the next level. Honoring my philosophy of: "Eat well. Share experiences. Cultivate Community." this year I seek to fold a more personal touch into my posts. This will include features on the people, places and cuisine that influence and uplift this philosophy and whom make up my personal community.

To kick-start this new adventure, I've developed a bucket-list as my guide. Follow me as I chronicle my quests in conquering each items on this short (but possibly growing) list! If you have items on your bucket list that you want to accomplish leave them in the comments below!

The 2016 Bucket List

#2

Get my passport and finally travel and EAT abroad

#3

Launch the "Instagrammer of the Week" feature

#4

Complete the  Couch to 5K Program  and eat healthier

#5

Get my food writing featured in more magazines

#6

Host my first "Geo's Table" pop-up dinner party!

GT Getaways: Chicago Weekend!

If there's one city that makes my heart flutter, it's Chicago! Last weekend, in honor of Mark and I's three year anniversary, we planned a trip there! Although our time there was limited (only 3 days) it was packed full of satisfying cuisine and exploration of the city's many neighborhoods. If Chi-Town is on your bucket list or you're planning a getaway soon, here are some highlights and recommendations you may need to keep in your back-pocket from our trip.

THE SIGHTS:

MY PICKS:

Chicago Architecture Foundation Tour - As a city known for it's massive skyscrapers and captivating building designs, the CAF Architecture Tour is a must for those who have never been to Chicago (or have been but never taken the official tour). The tour we attended was an information packed 90 minutes that was well worth it and included amazing views of the city and Lake Michigan. 

Maude's Liquor Bar - An intimate bar cloaked in rustic modern charm, Maude's Liquor Bar is the perfect option for a date night or some tasty pre-dinner cocktails  with friends. If you are a cocktail connoisseur, I highly suggest the "Aviation" which is a blend of Sipsmith Gin, Lemon, Luxardo Maraschino, and Crème di Violette, 

Sweet Mandy B's Dessert Boutique - Located in the heart of Lincoln Park, Sweet Mandy B's is an amazing dessert boutique. The bake shop offers a rich selection of delectable desserts that are crafted with care by Pastry Chef, Sherrie Tan. If you decide to stop by, (and you definitely should!) the Lemon Cupcakes and Confetti Cookies are to die for!

The John Hancock Observatory  - With 360 Degree views at 1000 feet above Lake Michigan, the Hancock building offers the most breathtaking views of the city. You've never seen Chicago until you've seen it from the 94th Floor!

The Bongo Room - If you're looking for a place to grab breakfast or lunch (or alternatively, my favorite meal BRUNCH) The Bongo Room is a fantastic option. With locations in The South Loop and Wicker Park, the restaurant serves feel-good comfort food with options for every type of diet. My pick, the Breakfast Burrito (trust me, you will not be disappointed) !

I plan on making another trip very soon! If you have any recommendations, please drop them below!