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Entries in Grant Park (4)

Thursday
Dec032015

Beautiful Briny Sea

For me, the best part about having a blog is the artists I get to meet and the opportunity I have to learn more about what they do, what they create. Suzi Sheffield of Beautiful Briny Sea is a force of nature and a gal after my own heart. She is passionate about creating, pushing boundaries, succeeding- and none of that happens without having a ton of fun along the way. If she's not enjoying the process, something is seriously wrong. 

Suzi owned a taqueria and catering restaurant for 12 years in Columbia, South Carolina. Craving a new direction, she left that business but brought her food instincts and savviness with her to create salts and eventually, sugars. And quality is paramount. Every item packed inside each Beautiful Briny Sea tin is hand harvested...the salt, the sugars, the herbs. Each product is then labeled and packed by hand in her Grant Park warehouse just east of downtown Atlanta. 

If Suzi doesn't love her job every day, she is failing at some level. So she comes up with fantastic creations that keep her imagination and enthusiasm level on high. As her possibilities for crafting dry goods are unlimited, the results are a mix of quirky and awesome. Like Mr. Gigglepants, a hibiscus sugar that's perfect for french toast, cupcakes or fancy schmancy cocktails. She wanted the label to reflect the spirit of this sugar, so it's an elephant in pink hot pants, holding a champagne glass and dancing while baring his three chest hairs. 

Creative people love to collaborate- they know that's the good stuff. And I think my favorite product of Suzi's is one she did along with Amy Sedaris and Fishs Eddy called I Like You Sprinkles. It's a mix of colorful sprinkles, sanding sugar, pastel sugar wafers, nonpareils and the best part- chocolates with the phrase 'I like you' on them. It's a perfect product for Amy and she found the perfect partner to make them with. I mean, I just can't take the cuteness. Such a great gift idea. 

Another recent collaboration of Suzi's was with Chef and Restaurateur, Kevin Gillespie. Owner of the popular Atlanta restaurant, Gunshow, Kevin and his Executive Chef, Joey Ward, came up with a finishing salt aptly named Gunpowder.


Suzi explained to me that her front door is always open as she wants chefs and other professionals to come in and mix and match her ingredients to see what they can come up with. It's a playground upon entry, so one must play


Inside the warehouse, Suzi has a small team that work together to fill, label, package and manage all the tins and employees enjoy the constant perks- like the Soap Box Derby they were all racing in that weekend, dressed as magic unicorns, of course. 

If you're in the Grant Park area, stop in and see Suzi- she loves to show off her space and share a bit of her passion. And honestly, the best no fail gift to give this year is one of her sugars or salts. There are so many to choose from, including Santa Salt made with rosemary and pink peppercorns or the Dream Team salt set featuring Hot Steve, French Picnic, Campfire and Friends Forever. I mean, c'mon. So good...

 

Images: Beautiful Briny Sea; Sweet Peach     Content: Sweet Peach 

 

Tuesday
Sep112012

The Little Tart

A little over a mile from my house in Atlanta is a bakery that has as much style as it does substance. The Little Tart, is owned and operated by master baker, Sarah O'Brien, who believes in making pastry the right way. As Sarah explained, "We use good, local ingredients and lots of care." 

At 10 years old, Sarah received a rolling pin from her grandmother, who then taught her how to make apple pie using fresh apples from the orchard up the street. She's been hooked on baking every since. 

After I spent a morning in the backroom of Little Tart, it became quickly apparent that baking is serious business. Their workspace was incredibly clean and organized, with Sarah and her two employees working studiously to craft crusts and doughs that taste as good as they look. 

When I first arrived, Sarah was finishing off her morning batch of fresh croissants. (out of the oven each morning at 8:15am) When I asked Sarah what made them so tasty, she replied, "My croissants are the product of many frustrated attempts at perfection. I'm still perfecting my croissant recipe." 

She added, "They are uniquely mine because I made them for myself every morning for months and decided they weren't quite there. Once they got good enough for me, I thought they were finally good enough for my customers. I eat one every morning." 

You'll find a bevy of delectable goodies at The Little Tart with Sarah's best sellers including her quiche, tarts, whole wheat chocolate chip cookies and seasonal galettes. 

The salted caramel nut tarts are quite popular, and for good reason. These delicious pastries are another result of Sarah's unending search for perfection. As Sarah shared, "This means that not every tart looks the exact same." 

Sarah was kind enough to share her caramel sauce recipe. The ingredients are; 200g organic cane sugar, 115g water, drop of lemon juice, 1 cup cream, 30g butter, 1 1/2 teaspoon honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt. 

Bring the sugar, water and lemon juice to a rolling boil in a saucepan. Cook without stirring until the caramel turns a deep, smoky brown. Swirl at will. When the caramel is nice and dark, slowly add the cream and whisk. Be careful as the cream will bubble and burn. Take the caramel off the heat. Add honey, salt and butter to finish. 

Pour the sauce over your favorite toasted nuts in a sweet tart shell. Top with Maldon sea salt and enjoy! 

Grab your own salted caramel nut tart or a slew of other treats, including lunch, at The Little Tart in Grant Park. They share their space with Octane Coffee, so if you like your pastry with a cup of good joe, you'll feel quite at home here. In fact, you may not want to leave...

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach


Tuesday
May292012

Terrestrial Landscape and Design

I've desperately needed some pretty flowers and plants in my front yard for quite some time so I was happy when my friend Susan recommended Terrestrial Landscape and Design to do the job. They're based in the Grant Park section of Atlanta and made up of husband and wife team, Adam and Kara Ziegler. 

I had two requests for them- use as many native plants as possible and incorporate plants that work well for clippings. Inspired by Wendy Binns, who has an incredible yard full of textured plants and gorgeous greenery, I wanted leaves and flowers I could easily cut and add to vases year round. 

I'm excited about this vine, called moonvine or moonflower. It's a night blooming morning glory which you'll find quite a bit in Florida and south Georgia. If offers up large, fragrant white or pink flowers but only in spurts. As stated on Wikipedia, "The flowers open quickly in the evening and last through the night, remaining open until touched by the morning sun." 

Adam described my new front garden as Southern subtropical. He then quickly ammended it to old fashioned subtropical. I like both descriptions. The great part is I can slowly add more plants to the garden as I decide on what works best. For now, thanks to Adam and Kara, I finally have some luscious greens and fragrant blooms to grow and change with the seasons. 

This is Artemisia powis castle which grows best in full sun. Its silvery green leaves look quite lovely in small vases, no matter which time of year. The plant rarely flowers and is an evergreen here in the South. 

Some of Adam and Kara's recommendations for native plants to buy and plant now, in anticipation for the fall, include local AstersSwamp Sunflowers, and Arkansas Blue Star. Each offer their own brilliant colors, unique textures and foliage. Thanks for all your hard work and lovely plantings Adam and Kara ... To learn more about their incredible work at Terrestrial, click here. 

Please check back tomorrow as I'll be posting about Wendy's gorgeous yard clippings. It's all very inspiring and will make you rethink your entire landscaping plan. Consider yourelf warned...

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach. Final three photos: bloomiq.com; Randy Emmitt; hawthornhillwildflowers.blogspot.com
 

Tuesday
Apr032012

Cake Hag

As soon as I read about mother and daughter team, Maggie and Katie Sweeney in Atlanta, who make delicious and innovative cakes, many with a southern twist, I found my way to their shop Cake Hag. I ordered a piece of their Carolina Carrot Cake filled with incredibly delicious carmelized pineapples. It was, as they say, love at first bite. 

Maggie and Katie recently moved from their storefront location in downtown Atlanta to a kitchen behind a local church in Grant Park. They no longer have their retail space but you can stop by or call to order a cake. And if you do stop by, I bet they'll offer you cake scraps of whatever yumminess they're concocted for the day...

In all her cakes, Maggie uses Swiss and Italian buttercream and stays away from hydrogenation. Her favorite is the butter sponge cake with dark chocolate ganache and a blood orange sangria marmalade. She is known for her Jameson Irish Whiskey pudding cake but I'm dying to try their brandied peaches cake with honey butter or Katie's favorite, bourbon chocolate cake with cookie dough filling. Hungry yet? 

Maggie took a night class on the principles of baking 26 years ago and has been hooked ever since. Her flavor combinations, that have been perfected over time, are spot on. Maggie loves to come up with a new cake idea, sharing "The real fun comes from creating unusual recipes and combos." 

Each week you'll find something different in their kitchen and as all true chefs will attest, it depends what's in season and what tastes best at the time. They source as many products as they can from local farmers. Their strawberries and apples come from R & A Orchards in Ellijay, Georgia and all their peaches from Sunny Hill Farms in Gaffney, South Carolina. 

A couple weeks ago, Maggie let me know of a really wonderful event that her and Katie were asked to be a part of at Morehouse College. It was a luncheon to celebrate the 100th birthday anniversary for Dr. Dorothy Irene Height.  

Dr. Height led an extraordinary life. Known most as a civil rights advocate, she fought tirelessly for equality for both African Americans and women. My favorite part about her career was her creation of Wednesdays in Mississippi, which brought together women from the north and the south and encouraged a dialogue about race and equality. She received a bachelor and masters degree from New York University and has amassed over 30 honorary doctorates from prestigious schools such as Princeton, Harvard and Morehouse. Miss Height passed away in 2010, just two years shy of her 100th birthday. 

As Dr. Height came up in a time when women wore hats and gloves, it was common to see her impeccably dressed...from her tailored church suits to her extensive collection of signature hats. For the 100 year anniversary of her birth, Maggie and Katie were asked to make 16 hats to serve as centerpieces for the event. 

Maggie decided on four different varieties of cakes; white chocolate raspberry, chocolate covered cherry, butter coconut with mango and Carolina carrot. 

This is freshly made raspberry curd for the white chocolate cakes. You have to have a lot of willpower in this kitchen not to lick every bowl...

Maggie and Kate prepared the hat accessories ahead of time which include an array of colorful flowers...so pretty. 

Maggie sketched out all the stylish hats beforehand. She also created a color chart to signify which hats would be the chocolates, carrot or butter coconut. 

I love the all-white theme to this party, which helps the vibrant and eye catching hats be the centerpieces that they are. 

This hat was Maggie's favorite and I have to say, I have to agree... the little bows are just too perfect. 

It was wonderful to learn more about the astounding work of Dr. Height and quite fun to read about her love for staying stylish through the years. Her personal bravery in fashion complemented her couragous fight for equality and justice. Click here to see a look at Dr. Height's style throught the decades. And to learn more about the fabulous cake duo Maggie and Katie over at Cake Hag, click here. Their cakes, I promise you, will not disappoint...

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach    First photo: Aharon Hill Photography