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Archive for August, 2010

Out and About: Flip Burger Boutique

If you are ever in Atlanta’s trendy Westside, you’ll have to make a stop at Flip Burger Boutique. The concept is simple, fabulous burgers with a gourmet twist.

Photo courtesy of Flip
Even the decor took a ‘flip’. Notice the tables and booths on the ceiling? Such a unique and refreshing design.
Photo courtesy of Flip
Now for the goods. After perusing their delectable menu, we finally made our selections. Meet Southern…
Rightly named, this burger includes a country fried beef patty, pimento cheese, b&b; pickles and green tomato ketchup all atop a warm toasty bun.
Partnering up with our delicious burgers were parmesan zucchini fries with gremolata mayo. Smack your lips and lick your fingers good!
Of course I had to be the odd ball and go out on a limb a little. I chose the Tuna Tartare Burger. Tuna, sambal, pine nuts, garlic, wasabi mayo, avocado, carrots, togarashi, cucumber and mango yolk neatly piled on a toasted bun. Such a work of art!
Photos by: KHJ
What is a mango yolk you ask? See that little poached egg looking thing perched on top of my burger? Well, that’s a mango yolk. Created through a process called spherification. Basically it’s created by mixing a fruit or vegetable puree with sodium alginate and citrate solution. The puree mixture is then submerged in a calcium chloride water bath. The sodium alginate gels in the presence of the calcium ions. Resulting in a jelly-like sac with a liquid center. Now how’s that for a lesson in molecular gastronomy!
Tell me, what kind of burgers make you flip?

Posted 8/31/10, Topic: Blog

Campers have s’more fun – Day 2

Well folks, we made it through the night. The night spent in the tent cabin was some of the best sleep I have ever had. Ever. No A/C’s thumping on and off in the night, no distant sound of a washer and dryer rumbling…just the peaceful silence and serenity of the great outdoors. 
We woke up nice and refreshed…and quiet cold. We threw on some comfy clothes and made our way to the camp’s breakfast buffet to warm ourselves with a big hearty breakfast. Delish!
Now, off for more exploring! It was an absolutely gorgeous day, the most perfect weather for trampsing around outdoors.
We made a stop at El Capitan (or ‘El Cap’ if you want to sound like a groovy local). Once again, I wish you could get a sense of the scale in these pictures, but alas, you can’t. I will just have to do my best to make you realize just how small these mountains make you feel.
 
Looking up at El Capitan, we tried to strain our eyes and see if we could find any climbers. I scanned the granite face and didn’t see anything. It was so hard to imagine anyone climbing this monster, but I kept my eyes peeled. The climb can take several days and climbers must sleep on the face of the mountain in beds like this. Do you see anything?
As I am scouring the mountain side inch by inch…I finally spotted something! That can’t be a person…can it?
I grabbed the camera and zoomed in. Do you see anything now?
Yep, Crazy #1 and Crazy #2. I could not believe how small they were. They looked like tiny ants! You’ve got to be nuts to just hang out up there.
Spotting the first two climbers really sparked our curiousity and we stood at the base of El Cap for about an hour finding more and more climbers. It was like a real life version of Where’s Waldo. Do you see any in this picture?
There they are… a string of climbers and their gear.
The guys at the top look like they are sitting around singing Kum-bay-ya or maybe meditating to find the courage to continue the climb.
Here’s their gear…
And here is their other buddy who looks like he is just standing around admiring the scenery.
See any adventure seekers in this picture?
They are taking a break in a shaded mountain crevice.
Now for the real dare devil.
Way, way, way up on high…meet Nutso. This guy looked like a teeny, tiny little speck. We zoomed in as far as our camera lens would reach and snapped a shot.
We then zoomed in even further on the camera’s view screen. We could see a little man that looked as if he were crouching on a tiny ledge. Probably sitting there thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”
While it was absolutely stunning to spot a climber from the ground, it doesn’t compare to their view during their ascent. I am not sure if they’re a definition of bravery or reckless abandon. Either way, hats off to them.
After all that squinting and neck straining, we skipped on over to this delightful rushing stream. This spot was probably one of my favorites in all of Yosemite. The crisp coolness of the stream, the plush green meadows and the rising magestic mountains in the background - I wish myself back to this place often. 
That’s my mountain man. Ha! He looks pretty good in the great outdoors for a city boy. I like his arms, almost like they are saying, “I’ll save you should you fall into this raging river.”
We later took the long, winding road up the mountain to Glacier Point. The air was much cooler and the views were breathtaking.

From the top, we had a great view of Half Dome. In the distance you can see snow-capped mountians. Such a great snap shot of America.
You can also see the raging Yosemite Falls. From here you can get a real sense of the height of this whopper.
Our California buddies - I can’t think of a better bunch to share this experience with.
This is the look I get when I am slowing things down with all my picture taking.
Aww, there’s that smile. He is a good sport most of the time (wink wink).
Like I mentioned, there was still a little snow on top of the mountains. Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder may look all sweet and innocent, but just a few seconds later he pelted me with a giant snow ball. How lovely.
After leaving Glacier Point, we made our decent down the mountain for one more breathtaking stop before we headed home – Bridalveil Falls. If there is one thing I can say about a journey to the base of Bridalveil Falls…you are gonna get wet. I promise.
This is what happens when you ask someone else to take your picure. Thanks lady, thanks a lot.
So, we had to resort to the in-your-face self portrait. Not exactly glamorous, but hey, it works. The crowd at the base of the falls reminded me of some theme park ride, where people line the banks just hoping to get soaked as the ride comes to a splashing end. There were people in bright colored ponchos and others dripping wet and freezing. It was hard to see much of anything at the base. Clouds of icy mist continuously sprayed bystanders. Definitely the place to go when you need a refresher from the heat.
Even little Elle got bundled up to take a peek.
Walking back to the car, I just had to stop and let the filtered sun warm my face. It was hard to imagine that our trip to Yosemite was coming to an end. It hurt my heart to think about leaving this place. I just whispered a promise to the trees…I’ll come back, just wait and see.
Photos by: KHJ and CMJ

Posted 8/26/10, Topic: Blog

Campers have s’more fun – Day 1

It’s been a little over two months since our trip to Yosemite. I still enjoy browsing through our pictures and remembering the unbelievable beauty of that place.
The Pack:
The first challenge of the trip: pack light. I knew we would be staying in “bear country” and those creatures have a thing for the smell of women’s cosmetics.  I tried my best to whittle down on the products I would need. (Cut me a little slack, this was my first time ‘camping’ and a girl’s gotta ease into that sorta thing.)
I couldn’t skimp on the essentials. I packed deodorant (my tent mate thanks me), toothbrush, toothpaste, and contact solution. Then threw in some other items for safe measure: my Aveeno face wash (I can literally count on one hand the times I have gone to bed without washing my face), Archipelago Soy Milk Powder (all girls from the hot South know to not leave home without their powder), and then a little bottle of my Makeup Forever HD foundation (I know, I know…I never claimed to be an outdoorsman).
These are the products I parted with for the trip: hairspray and styling mousse (full pony tail mode for this trip), Aveda smoothing fluid (like I said, nothing but ponytails here), Listerine mouthwash (just sticking with toothpaste), Pond’s cold cream (because I don’t want to wake up to a bear licking this off my face), and lastly my razor (sorry Mr. BEY, camping chicks are rough).
The Road:
We hit the road bright and early for our four hour drive from San Francisco to Yosemite. We stopped off in Groveland and ate lunch at the Iron Door Saloon, the oldest saloon in California. It gets its name from, yep you guessed it, the iron doors. These doors were hauled in on mule back across the Tuolumne River. They were sold to the saloon as a fire protection device. The idea was, if the town was burning, you just shut the doors and wait it out.  Hmm, must have been a good salesman.
The interior was straight out of an old Western. Dimly light atmosphere with some stray bullet holes, beautiful wooden bar, old dusty chandeliers and lots of area artifacts. Such a neat, quiet town – you should stop by if you’re ever in the area.
After lunch, we hit the road again. Little Elle was kind enough to serenade us all the way to Yosemite. (Not sure if her ears were popping or she just didn’t like the backseat entertainment.)
The beauty:
Just as she dozed off to sleep, we pulled up to this magnificent view point. It was like nothing I had ever seen. This picture is a pitiful depiction of the actual beauty. We jumped out of the car and just stood there taking it all in. It was just too much, I started crying. I even get a little choked up thinking back to that moment. Standing there witnessing this beauty with some of my favorite people in the whole world. 
It wasn’t just the sight of it, it was the sound too. You could actually hear nature; the wind blowing through the trees, the roar of distant waterfalls. I couldn’t believe I was going to actually get to sleep in this magical place. 
Smiling from ear to ear.
When Elle woke up, she was happy to be in Yosemite too, or maybe she was just happy to be flirting with Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder. I think she had a serious crush.
We stretched our legs and just took in the beauty all around us. Then shared a little somethin’ somethin’ from the Wawona Store…yummy ice cream to beat the heat.
Now, back to exploring…
We took a short hike to the base of Yosemite Falls. Soaring 2,425 feet, it is the tallest waterfall in North America. This year marked a 30-year high for water volume, so as you can imagine, it was a site to behold.
Yosemite Falls consists of three levels – Upper, Middle and Lower Falls. Here, we’re at the base of the Lower Falls. This is the place to come if you want to get wet. There is a constant icy mist and every time the wind blows, huge sheets of water soak all the sightseers. 

Similar to Muir Woods, the trees in Yosemite were absolutely stunning. A fuzzy, green moss covered one side of this tree (the side facing the waterfall of course!)
The Camp:
After the falls, we headed over to Camp Curry to check in and scope out the campground.
Everything was so beautifully rustic. The whole experience made me want to say, “I love A-MUR-I-CUH”. (That’s me making fun of a Southern accent, I know…the irony.)
Keys in hand, now for the real excitement…let’s go check out the tent!
Aww, aren’t they just precious! There is no better way to experience Yosemite. So simple, so quaint, so perfect.
Here she is…#942. You go first Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder, make sure there are no bears hiding in there. 

Talk about the “bear” essentials. No posh bedding or fuzzy bathrobes here. Just the good ol’ fashioned necessities. 
I know these signs are for my own protections, but really? Who wants to read that as they are headed to bed?
Never fear, Bear Savers are here! All toiletries, food, even water bottles had to be locked up tight. Those bears are mighty good sniffers.
Hmph…I feel safer already.

The view:
As the sun was setting, we left Camp Curry and drove up to Tunnel View. From this point you can see the entire Yosemite Valley including El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls. Imagining it being carved by glaciers millions of years ago made me feel like a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things.
We enjoyed a sweet little picnic dinner as we watched the sun dip lower and lower behind the mountains. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’d take a pb&j; overlooking Tunnel View than a gourmet dinner any day!
The sun dipped lower and lower and the shadows grew longer and longer. The sky swirled with so many magnificent warm colors. As night set in, the Valley transformed into an entirely different world. The mountains grew blacker and blacker in the distance like giant mammoths welcoming the cool darkness. No bright lights, no loud noises, just the gentle quiet of night and thousands of twinkling stars.
Night-night my sweet Yosemite.
The night:
With flashlights in hand we made it safely back to Camp Curry. I made myself go to the bathroom (twice), I did NOT want to have to make the trek to the potty in the middle of the night. We eventually got snuggled in our little bed and the camp’s mandated quiet hours began. It was so dern quiet. Of course something about this was absolutely hilarious to me and I suddenly got a bad case of the giggles. Some dude trying to make his way back to his tent ran into some bushes behind our tent and uttered a few words which sent me and Mr. BEY into fits of laughter. It sounded just like he was in the tent with us! Gotta love canvas walls.
It was so hard to just shut it all off at 10pm, we felt like kids having a bed time. So we decided to take some silly night shots. It was totally dark (except for the flash), I held the camera and snapped…
Mr: What? I thought is was gonna be a serious one.

Mrs: Okay, okay. Let’s do another one. I’ll be serious this time.
*Snap*

Mrs: What!? You dork!
*Fits of laughter…again*
We have so much fun with pictures. We have this little tradition when we are on vacation. We get in the bed, turn off all the lights and look through all of our pictures of that day. Ooh and ahh over our favorites and go to sleep with a guarantee of happy, happy dreams.

Posted 8/23/10, Topic: Blog

You ate what?

Ok folks, get ready to either grimace or drool…
I am not one to turn down a culinary adventure. I’ll try almost anything once. While celebrating my sister’s birthday at Matthew’s in Jacksonville, FL, a little menu item caught my eye. It was a little intimidating, a little mysterious and a little bit…um…rare.
{Beef Tartare}
Yep, that’s right. A juicy hunk of raw beef, finely chopped, served cold and seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs. Now, before you get all grossed out on me, let me say that it was actually very good. I was kind of scared of what it might taste like. It was very flavorful; a beautiful blend of spices and that nice salty ‘pop’ from the capers. It was very tender, almost soft.
It’s not for everyone, but give the poor meat puck a chance. You should try it if you ever have the chance.
So tell me… grimace or drool?

Posted 8/21/10, Topic: Blog

Sack full of happiness


Money can’t buy happiness, 
but it can buy fabric,
and fabric makes me happy.
Oh, the fun treasures I have! Today I came home with a sack full of delicious fabrics.
I could just stack and sort these beauties all night.
I am in love with all the fun colors and patterns.
I could just spread them all out and dance a jig on top of them.
Or fling them into the air and let them scatter all over the floor.
Or fluff them into colorful wads and use them for a pillow. 
Ahh, the possibilities are endless. But alas, these colorful threads have a purpose. And you know me, I like to keep you guessing. So scratch your head and wrinkle your nose or let me know what you would do with all these lovely prints.

Posted 8/19/10, Topic: Blog

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