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Walla Walla, Washington & Courtyard’s 1000th Hotel

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There’s a wide range of cities on the planet that stick out in your memory when you hear the name, and Walla Walla, Washington is certainly one of them. The name rolls of the tongue and when sitting at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport waiting for my connecting flight to the city, a number of passengers around me were repeating the name with smiles on their faces.

I made it out to Walla Walla as an invited guest of Courtyard Hotels as they were preparing to open their 1000th hotel in a town known for sweet onions and fantastic wine. I’m always up for an adventure and jumped at the opportunity.

Walla Walla is a picturesque town with a main street, friendly faces and winery tasting rooms on every corner. A nice bonus when traveling from Walla Walla airport on Alaska Airlines, a box of wine can be checked in free of charge!

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I love staying at boutique hotels when I travel, and from what I gathered from staying at the Courtyard’s newest property, they’ve given a fresh injection of what works with those hotels and put their own spin on it. The lobby is inviting with comfortable seating, local art is prevalent and there’s an interactive wall which helps to provide directions and a layout of the area.

One big improvement for me, having gone to a Courtyard a few years ago, is the availability of craft beer and local wines at the restaurant. It always seems a bit strange to travel to a new place and only have the same options available in my own city.

Blintzes + Biscuit at Maple Counter Cafe

Blintzes + Biscuit at Maple Counter Cafe

While in Walla Walla I had a chance to check out some of the culinary options from an upscale restaurant to down home comfort food. It can be hard for me to find decent biscuits in Southern California so I order them whenever I see them. I ordered it as a side to a plate of blintzes at the Maple Counter Cafe although they’re a meal in itself and I shared it with my new friends Jenna and Cat, awesome vloggers with a massive following on YouTube. As most places in the town, they offer local craft beers and wine.TMaccaronesPorkShank

Dinner at T. Maccarone’s was one of the highlights of the trip. Our group ordered most of the appetizer menu and there was plenty of wine flowing. The highlights for me were their dungeness crab cakes and my entree, a kurobuta pork shank from a farm in nearby Idaho, which was braised in cider and accompanied by smoked pork belly, a white bean ragout and local chard. I’m not a huge merlot fan but I had a chance to to try a number of Washington merlots on the trip and was impressed by what the winemakers in the area are crafting with the varietal.

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I had a chance to try a few meals in Courtyard’s in-house restaurant, the Bistro, that serves full meals during breakfast and dinner hours. I was a bit nervous that I’d be disappointed at the restaurant, given that hotel meals can be hit or miss and I was the only food-focused blogger on this sponsored trip. I’m happy to say that I was impressed by their offerings here. At breakfast my croissant was flaky and I was able to order eggs any style with crispy potatoes. At dinner, the herb roasted chicken was a hit along with the wild mushroom and fava risotto. Both meals are a far cry from rubbery eggs and dry chicken breast that I’ve had elsewhere.

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I had a great time at the hotel and Walla Walla in general. There was a whole day dedicated to wine tasting as well and I’m looking forward to sharing that on my partner site, Sartorial Exposure. In the meantime, take a sneak peek on my story over on Mode.com for a preview. I’d like to send a huge thanks to Courtyard for allowing me to be a part of their celebration!

 

San Diego, California

 

 

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Twelve Months. 365 Days. One year. I honestly can’t believe that time has moved so quickly since I made the decision to try life out west.

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I’ve always loved visiting friends in San Francisco, Los Angeles/Long Beach, Sonoma/Napa and here in San Diego and thought it might be a nice home base for awhile.

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I’ve had an amazing time watching The food scene grow since launching the blog and it seems odd to pivot and concentrate on a different locale but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

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Hopefully you’ve been able to keep up with me on Facebook and Instagram and if not, please do! I’ve been having quite a bit fun with Pinterest as of late as well.

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It’s been fun exploring a new city and giving pointers to friends who have come out west for vacation. I still have plenty of stories to tell about Atlanta my adopted hometown. Stay tuned, we’re just getting started!

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Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2014 preview

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It’s that time again! The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival returns for its fourth year to the grounds in and around the Loews Hotel in Midtown Atlanta.

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Chefs from around the South will return for cooking demonstrations, create special dishes at dinners around the city and serve crowds at the popular tasting tents May 29th-June 1st.

 

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Modeled after popular events held for years in Miami and Aspen, the Atlanta event champions Southern chefs over television personalities common at other events. If you’re looking for Giada or Guy you’ll have to head to South Beach.

 

Many chefs featured as part of the festival’s advisory council over the years have become famous in their own right and have won James Beard awards and hosted television shows.

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Please check this link for photos from past years. Although I posted a few mobile photos on the blog last year, I have a number of shots from my “big boy” camera that I never had the chance to post, and you’ll find them on this page. I can’t wait for another round this year.

 

If your time is limited and can’t make it to the tasting tents or the seminars, be sure to check out the About South dinner if tickets are still available. It was without a doubt my favorite meal of 2013. Tickets for events range start at $55 and can be purchased at the AF&WF website. Cheers!

 

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Duck, Duck, Goose book by Hank Shaw

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I’d like to think that I’m a bit of an adventurous eater but I’m admittedly a bit safe when it comes to my cooking. I’m pretty comfortable with chicken, pork & beef at home but I love to order duck when I see it on a menu, whether it’s a fine dining menu or at a Chinese restaurant (Ming’s!).

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A few years ago in San Francisco, I struck up a conversation with one of the few male bloggers in attendance with me at BlogHer Food & his approach to cooking & sourcing food doesn’t involve picking out meat from styrofoam packs at the grocery store. His award winning blog Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook describes his hunting & foraging exploits across the country & internationally and he’s been featured on television with Andrew Zimmern.
His second book published by Ten Speed Press is in stores now and he’ll be hosting a dinner January 19th at Holeman & Finch with all the duck & goose that your heart desires, and he’ll be signing the book as well. I’ve got a copy and it’s beautiful. Tickets are available online, take a peek at the menu below.

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Upscale Magazine Features Savory Exposure

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A couple of months ago I was approached by Upscale Magazine to share some Atlanta food picks for their national publication geared to an African-American audience. Their categories were fun and I had a great time working with them. I’m joined by bloggers in selected cities nationwide and my portrait was snapped by my friend Chris Watkins.

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The feature hasn’t hit their website yet but I’ve included the page with my picks below. Check out the print issue for picks from Chicago, NYC and Southern California!

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