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All posts in The Au Courant

Up Next: Asheville Wine & Food Festival August 20-22

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We continue our adventures in good taste exploring the country’s best wine and food festivals. One to add to the list is the Asheville Wine and Food Festival, set in the beautiful backdrop of the North Carolina Mountains. In its 7th year, this year’s festivities kick off with ELIXIR, a craft cocktail contest which reveals the area’s best mixologists. Local distilleries including Blue Ridge Distilling, Davis Valley Distillery, and TOPO Distillery will be present.

Asheville

On Friday evening, enter Candyland , with the festival’s SWEET event celebrating desserts, champagne, wine, spirits, and shopping. We’re most excited about Saturday’s Grand Tasting, a three-tier tastings taking place at the U.S. Cellular Center located in downtown Asheville. Local and international wineries, area breweries, regional distilleries, restaurants, artisan food producers, chefs, and more will all be present showcasing the best delectable eats and quenchy drinks. We can not wait!

Photo courtesy of the Hotel Indigo

Photo courtesy of the Hotel Indigo

Fantastic accommodations at the nearby Hotel Indigo put us right in the center of the action. I’m especially excited for this decadent weekend as a celebration of the big 4 0 -1 as I like to call it, i.e. turning 39. Hoping to cheers and celebrate with you there. For more information and for tickets, please visit Asheville Wine & Food.

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La Nuit En Rosé Sails Into New York

Photo credit Guillaume Gaudet

Photo credit Guillaume Gaudet

It’s summer and it this is the sultry season for sipping rosé while enjoying some of the seasons most succulent summer foods. In this all Rosé and Rosé Champagne event, La Nuit En Rosé is sailing into New York’s Hudson River on the Hornblower Infinity Yacht on Thursday, June 25 – Saturday, June 27. This almost all-sold out event returns this year with even more to offer including VIP Rosé Wine Pairing Dinner, a VIP Lounge, more than 150 rosé wines, and live entertainment. There’s still space available to attend Saturday’s general admission cruise from 1 PM – 4 PM, so don’t miss out!

Stemmari Rose bottleshot

 

Rosés from Italy, France, and New York will be featured at the event and will include STEMMARI ROSÉ 2014 Sicily, Italy; Château Sainte Marguerite, Cuvée Symphonie Rosé 2014 Provence; Cru Classé Côtes de Provence, Domaine Montrose rosé 2014; Languedoc Roussillon, Pays d’Oc; Bridge Lane Rosé 2014 New York, North Fork of Long Island; Ca’ del Bosco Annamaria Clementi Rosé Italy, Lombardy, Franciacorta Riserva DOCG. All of these wines retail for under $25 with the exception of the last mentioned, which sells for $100.

Rosé wine sales are at an all time high in the U.S. with reason! These easy-sipping wines are the perfect pair to chilled summer foods including seafood, salads and sushi. They are elegant to the eye and on the lips and are always best served well chilled. La Nuit’s founder, Pierrick Bouquet created this event to celebrate what is called the “rosé lifestyle.” Food is provided at the event by exquisite restaurants including STK, Butter & Scotch, and my personal favorite Fig & Olive. Dress code is none other than “Pink Chic.” Don’t miss this one! For more information visit, http://nuitrose.com/events/2015/la-nuit-en-rose-new-york

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What We’re Crushing on Now – Atlanta Food & Wine Festival May 28-31

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

In its 5th year the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival will once again take midtown Atlanta by storm – in a good way – Thursday, May 28 – Sunday, May 31. Elizabeth Feichter and Dominique Love are the dynamic duo responsible for the growing success of this four-day, exquisite and delicious event. Chefs, sommeliers, and those, in the wine and food know, from all over the South will come together to present seminars, Champagne Brunch, exclusive dinners, and a collaborative experience of the Tasting Tent event. Here guests can sample and sip their way through the South while chatting it up with fellow foodies, wine and distillery peeps, and top-tier chefs.

SPIT: Eric Crane of Empire Distributors says he won’t stop till he’s a Master Sommelier POUR, SABER AND SWIRL: (clockwise from left) Five Atlantans dedicate their lives to becoming Master Sommeliers  There are 211 Master Sommeliers in the world. Eric Crane, Matt Bradford, Marie Ballard, Justin Amick, and Joon Lim are vying for spots on that exclusive list.

Eric Crane of Empire Distributors Photo courtesy of Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

VODA Magazine had a chance to catch up with Atlanta local, Eric Crane, advanced sommelier and Director of Training and Business Development for Empire Distributors. Crane will be presenting two seminars within the wine industry. He shares what he’s most excited about, how the festival has grown, and professional tips on how to make the most of your Atlanta Food & Wine Festival experience. Hint it involves always having a “party pal.”

In the Festival’s 5th year Crane enthusiastically says, “They’ve made it this far, there’s more synergy. It puts a nice spotlight on Atlanta and the Festival allows you to eat and drink your way through the South.” Another one of the Festival’s highlights are the Tasting Tents. Crane’s recommendation is the fried chicken section. He says, “There’s nothing better on the planet but that, usually.” He refers to festival Sunday as “Lazy, Southern Sunday.” “By that time everyone’s had too much fun during Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.” There’s a Champagne Brunch on Sunday that I’m personally looking forward to. For me bubbles are always welcomed. To get the most out of your festival experience, Crane advices to stay hydrated and pace yourself. Lastly he adds, “Always have a drinking partner, a party pal. There’s less errors.” Eric will be co-presenting on Friday, May 29 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM American Oak in All Its Glory seminar. Then on Saturday, May 30 from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM is the Acid is Your Friend seminar. For more information and for tickets visit, www.atlfoodandwinefestival.com

 

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Best in Show 2015 Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance Shines

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In its third year, the Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance is well on the heels of the more established Pebble Beach and Amelia Island classic and luxury car shows. Taking place on the greens of famous Pinehurst #2 golf course best known as the premiere course for the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Opens that take place there every few years, 2014 being the most recent. Without a cloud in the sky, and the weather a flawless 75 degrees and sunny, the setting, day, and scenery could not have been more perfect on this second day of May when the main event took place.

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Doors opened at 9 a.m. and a lucky few were able to hear Pinehurst Concours President, Jay Howard, speak about this year’s show, what makes it stand out from the other tony shows, and new exciting things taking place this year. The feature that stood out most is Pinehurst’s near perfect location. Located about an hour south of the Raleigh/Durham area this pristine locale boosts the beautiful greens of Pinehurst number two, has nearly no traffic, and is equipped with ample parking. Folks, we may have found utopia and the word is spreading. This year ticket sales were up by an astounding 4,000 more than last year.

The show features 280 cars and the fairway offers abundant room to properly display these works of beauty. Rows of cars situated into 13 classes line the greens. New this year was bringing in a national act to the evening’s events. Three Dog Knight performed to a baby boomer-centric crowd. A highlight for me was admiring Rita Hayworth’s 1953 plum-hued Series 62 Coupe by Ghia Cadillac. It was stunning! My eyes gravitated towards the fabulous Jaguars dating from the 50s and beyond and the BMWs. I have an affliction for the 800 series popular in the 1990s.

Photo courtesy of the Pinehurs

Photo courtesy of the Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance

This year’s best in show was the 1919 Pierce Arrow Model 66 A-4 Tourer whose owner is Robert Jepson, Jr. from Savannah, Georgia. The evening closed out early to the sounds of the band and all went home just a little more enriched as the Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance graced our beautiful locale.

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Happy Earth Day

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Earth Day began in 1970 and for 45 years it has served as a reminder that our collective actions have reprocussions that affect everyone everywhere regardless borders, class, or religious and political affliliations. The global environmental movement reminds us to be mindful of the legacy we leave our future generations.

It has been an uphill battle to get everyone to “think green”.   The issue of environmental change is for whatever reason still online casino a matter for debate.  I would suspect the proponents against climate change have a vested interest in keeping the status quo.  It is not all doom and gloom.  As more and more large corporations (e.g. Apple, TeslaNew Belgium Brewing, 360 Vodka, just to name a few) begin to implement eco-friendly policies and practices, and government making steps with greener initiatives, a more environmentally responsible way of living is slowly starting to sink into the social consciousness.

To learn more go to http://www.earthday.org/2015

You can also read more about 360 Vodka in the New Orleans issue of VODA Magazine

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A Healthy Happy Hour at Four Seasons Atlanta

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

The Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta, one of the best luxury hotels in Atlanta, knows how to beat the Monday blues and kick off a Friday happy hour like no other. Monday through Friday they offer their Spa Happy Hour that includes two treatments and a glass of Prosecco or sparkling cider for mommies-to-be or teetotalers.

I arrived at the hotel midweek to attend the High Museum’s Wine Auction fundraiser that took place in late March. Wound up from work and travel, I was fortunate enough to squeeze in some pre-workday workouts in their well-equipped gym (and spy some well-known actors who were in town filming a movie) to relieve some tension. Even though Saturday was officially a work day for me this particular week, I decided to book a little happy hour for myself early Friday evening.

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

The Four Seasons Spa in Atlanta offers a choice of six treatments during their happy hour which include the following: Stretching Therapy; Reflexology Massage; De-Stress Massage; Hand and Foot Paraffin; Moroccan Oil Hydrating Scalp Mask; and Tropical Body Exfoliation. I chose the body exfoliation – an indulgent sugar-based scrub laced with ylang ylang essential, Vitamin E, and coconut. This was followed by the De-Stress Massage, focusing on the neck, shoulders, and back.

I arrived 20 minutes early to make full use of the full-service spa’s amenities which include a sauna, steam room and a fantastic indoor swimming pool and whirlpool dressed in white marble and luxurious marble. Once cozy in my robe and slippers I relaxed in the women’s relaxation lounge in a quiet nook and leisurely sifted through glossy magazines with beautiful images while grazing dried fruits and nuts and sipping lemongrass tea. I was in heaven and the treatments hadn’t even begun.

A lovely lady, by the name of Cassandra, called my name as she led me to a spa suite equipped with a glass-enclosed shower. Her voice was soft and soothing. She introduced a sugar scrub to my skin and vigorously, yet in a massaging manner, sloughed my skin smooth. After 30 minutes, Cassandra started the shower until a steamy cloud seeped from the stall. She quietly left the room as I rinse off the sugar scrub which revealed baby-soft, silky skin. Like magic, she quickly changed the sheets to ready the table for my massage.

She knew my back needed special attention and advised I incorporate regular 30 minute massages only focusing on my back in order to get the knots out.  Energized from the body scrub Cassandra and I had a lively conversation about the awesome city of Atlanta known as Austin’s sister city.  She taught me about the different areas of town and led me to some great restaurants to try.

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

I emerged from the spa suite refreshed and relaxed and made my way back to the relaxation lounge for some more guilty-pleasure reading of those glossy magazines and a pre-dinner nosh on the plentiful snacks. Cassandra handed me a bubbling glass of sparkly and I twinkled with delight from my new found favorite type of happy hour. Cheers Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, you sparkle!

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Perry Clark Home Brings Farm-To-Table to Your Online Shopping Cart

The windy city is a wonderful city for shopping! Chicagoans should be so lucky to have it all at their fingers and now you can too. Chicago-based Perry Clark Home brings their gorgeous home goods right to your door with online shopping. I couldn’t wait to check it out for myself and with a few clicks fabulous home furnishings were just seconds away.

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

While browsing the easy-on-the-eyes website, described as an eBoutique for Inspired Living & Giving, I was drawn to the new, spring and summer line named Farm-To-Table. What I liked most about the items offered on Perry Clark was that there is something for everyone in a variety of price ranges. You don’t have to break the bank to have beautifully-crafted home goods.

I referred to the site as easy-on-the-eyes because now through April 10, Jeremiah Brent, interior designer known for his part on “The Rachel Zoe Project,” will serve as the “Master Curator” of the Farm-to-Table collection. Some of Brent’s favorite things include a Bamboo Serving Board ($24), a Farmer’s Market Tote ($64), and a forever piece, the Farmhouse Dining Table ($2,800).

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

The regal Kew Votive Candle, Set ($24), caught my eye and was well within my budget. The beautiful, Tiffany Blue votive candles were embellished with gold trim and eloquent, embossed lions on the front. I was also drawn to them because they can double as mini planters once the candles burn out. Shopping on Perry Clark Home was pleasant, efficient, and enjoyable with free shipping, returns, and gift boxing. My package arrived in a flash and I swooned over the gorgeous packaging – they were wrapped in simply, yet elegant tissue in a high-quality gift box with a gorgeous, gold-toned bow.

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Another fact that lends the Perry Clark home collection its fabulousness is that Sheri Salata, president of the Oprah Winfrey Network, is currently a board member. Not that we needed another validating fact to share with you a few of our “favorite things” here at VODA Magazine. Happy clicking and home collecting!

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Feast and Fête – It’s Spring Gala Season

Photo Courtesy of High Museum WIne Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Gents, dust off your tuxes, and ladies, it’s time to get svelte to slip into those gala gowns – Spring time has arrived so let the soirées begin. High on our list (no pun intended) is the 23rd Annual High Museum Wine Auction “Uncork A Southern Tradition.” Wine Spectator magazine named this the fifth largest, charity wine auction in the US. Events start on Wednesday, March 25th and run through the weekend.

Photo Courtesy of High Museum WIne Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

We’re most exited about the Industry Tasting on Thursday, March 27th and the Vintners’ Reception and Live Auction on Saturday, March 28th. The Industry Tasting was ranked the most prestigious tasting in the Southeast. Here, we’ll meet guest vintners educating and introducing us to their choice selections. We’ll mingle with over 900 wine-trade attendees at this premiere tasting.

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

We’ve left our schedule open on Friday evening and may pass on the Friday Fête. This event is for the gourmand and party-goer. James Beard chefs will feature their succulent selections, guests can bid on silent auction items, and attendees will shake their groove thing to sounds of a live band. We may save ourselves for Saturday when the grand finale happens at the Vinters’ Reception and Live Auction. Top-notch chefs and winemakers will showcase their finest savories and sips and the highly-anticipated 23rd Annual High Museum Wine Auction will feature rare and fine wines, art, trips, and dining experiences. Uncork A Southern Tradition benefits the High Museum in Atlanta. Let the bidding begin!

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

For more information, please visit call Carole Ashworth at 404-733-4543 or carole.ashworth@woodruffcenter.org

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Are Stem Cells the Next Big Thing in Skincare?

It’s been about a month and a half and I’m scraping the nearly empty jar of CellEssence Cream. I have a feeling it normally lasts longer; although I caught my significant other dipping into it a few times and emerging from his daily routine with strikingly radiant skin. In an ever-ending effort to fight the signs of aging without needles or going under the knife, and also to bring our readers the best hidden gems out there, we introduce you to CellEssence skincare. I heard of this line, based in Newport Beach, from Twitter, of all places. I was eager to try it to see if it would ease those fine lines and dark circles around my eyes and expression lines that have made a home for themselves on my face.

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My sample package arrived in the mail and included the NuvaCell Wrinkle Repair Eye Serum and CellEssence Anti-Aging Face Cream. The eye cream comes in an ample-sized container with an easy-to-use-pump that with just one push dispenses a dab plentiful enough to use on both eyes. Both initially went on rich and noticeable concentrated. I applied them at night and was wondering if they were light enough to apply under makeup in the daytime. Within minutes they absorbed into my skin seamlessly leaving behind a smooth and almost velvety feel! The next morning (even with less than eight hours of sleep) I emerged from my slumber with a glow about my skin and the lines around my eyes softened.  My skin look hydrated, more even-toned, and felt smooth to the touch. I was intrigued and was excited to see how this worked during daytime with a full schedule ahead. One word, awesome. No added oiliness and my makeup seemed to like it too.

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I sampled this product in the midst of winter and what I noticed throughout the season was that my skin gave off this radiant glow, did not once get dried out even during the cold, dry winter we experienced where I was stuck indoors through most of it with dry heat blaring in our home and car to keep the winter chill at bay. The lines around my eyes were non-existent. The line promised to deliver “potent DNA repair activity” that helps to repair DNA and activate the skin’s stem cells which result in less sagging, fine lines and wrinkles, and under-eye dark circles and bags.

Key ingredients in the CellEssence line responsible for these noticeable results include DMAE; Alpha Lipoic Acid; Licorice Root Extract; Renovage ™; Vitasource; and Synovea  HR. While I’m not too familiar with all of these wonder components listed above; I do know I’m a fan and can’t wait to get my hands on more CellEssence skincare.

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Pucker Up and Get Soft, Supple, and Ready for Valentine’s Day with Amala

Photo courtesy of Amala

Photo courtesy of Amala

Here at VODA, you know we are big fans of the organic and luxurious line of skincare products by Amala. This winter, and right in time for Valentine’s Day, they offer two products that came just in the nick of time to soothe my moisture-deprived chapped lips and dry hands. I breathed a sigh of relief, finally products that feel good and you can feel good about using.  Amala does not test their products on animals and uses plant-derived ingredients that are grown responsibly and work with your skin to deliver noticeable results.

Photo courtesy of Amala

Photo courtesy of Amala

The samples arrived in the minimal, yet elegant, signature Amala packaging. The Rejuvenating Hand Cream was in a tube with a cork-like top, the Soothing Lip Salve in an easy to squeeze, no-mess tube, both with elegant copper-toned caps.  Before bedtime I slathered on the velvety hand cream and applied the balm to my rough, dry lips.  The next morning I notice my lips felt softer and not as tight and dry. I felt my hands, it was like touching a baby’s bottom. They hadn’t been this soft in years, probably since I was a baby.

Photo courtesy of Amala

Photo courtesy of Amala

The lip salve, labeled “soothe,” is made from desert fig seed, Moroccan chamomile, and shea butter. It goes on smooth and silky and leaves a subtle shine.  By day two, my lips were back to their plump, nourished self. I noticed they were incredibly soft too.  The Rejuvenating Hand Cream goes on silky smooth and absorbs quickly without a greasy feel.  It is made with cocoa beans, Inca inchi seed, and licorice root.  This dynamic duo was just what I needed to get ready for that silly, Hallmark holiday we can’t help but love!

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