Love is in the Air
Am I the only one that’s super excited about the crazy long weekend coming up? With Valentine’s Day falling on a Saturday and coinciding with a couple of other holidays, I feel like I should be celebrating twice as hard. I’m totally ok with double the chocolate, double the flowers and double the Champagne, but I definitely do not want double the work in the kitchen! Lucky for us, outsourcing part or all of your special Valentine’s weekend dinner plans is a piece of cake, quite literally, thanks to Piece of Cake bakery and Christophe’s To Go! Make this Valentine’s weekend a memorably simple one by giving your loved ones and yourself the gift of a romantic gourmet meal at home, minus the hassle. It’s easy with Chef Christophe Le Metayer’s gourmet creations at Christophe’s To Go and the delectable array of cakes, cupcakes and other homemade treats at Piece of Cake.
Red, White and Brew
Last week, Joe Salome of Social Joe Marketing treated a group of Atlanta media and our closest friends to a social evening at Piece of Cake’s main distribution facility on Collier Road, including a four course Valentine’s tasting menu paired with local craft beer by Second Self Beer Company, a sampling of Piece of Cake’s signature red and white cupcakes, brownies, cookies and ice cream, and a nail-biting speed cake decorating competition! I won’t soon forget the intoxicating smells of red velvet, white chocolate and velvety cream cheese frosting that filled the air and my car after bringing home a few treats for the girls. Besides the obvious, there were a few other surprises in store for us that evening. In addition to the delicious eats, we got to sample several offerings from the newest craft brewery to hit the beverage scene in Atlanta.
Second Self is an alternative style brewery enticingly inviting you to “sip into your second self” with a selection of unique draft brews. Just a few months old, Second Self was started by college friends, Jason Santamaria and Chris Doyle. Their diverse culinary, brewery and business backgrounds converge to bring us a delicious craft product that also happens to taste great paired with food. You know I’m more of a wine girl, but this beer was incredibly smooth, different and just like wine, each sip unveiled layers of complexity, aromas and flavors. And interestingly enough, as Chef Christophe showed us through his gourmet creations, the right beer can truly compliment a meal. You can tour the brewery on Fridays and Saturdays or check their website for locations near you currently serving their products on draft.
Gourmet To Go
Christophe’s To Go, with its four convenient Atlanta retail locations, provides healthy and fresh home cooked meals for people who want to eat well but just don’t have the time, skill or patience to cook. It’s kind of like having a personal chef, in this case, a French-born chef whose culinary experience includes working in France, Belgium and Monaco. Chef Christophe and his team of skilled chefs expertly prepare a variety of meals each day that just need to be finished, by you, in the oven or microwave. It’s that simple. They even deliver, cater events and cater to specific dietary needs like Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegetarian and Vegan. Did I mention all of the meals are all natural and that they also have kid-friendly selections? How simple is that! In addition, to menu favorites like Chicken Coq au Vin and Braised Beef Burgundy Pie, Christophe’s team will be working around the clock this weekend whipping up a special selection of Valentine’s Day dishes, all made with a side of love.
Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!
It’s no secret that I will travel far for great food. You may well know that my all-time favorite cake comes from Athens, Georgia and that my husband makes a special trip every October for my birthday. A few years ago I made it my mission to find the best cake in Atlanta and a suitable alternative to crush my cake cravings. I finally found it at my dear friends birthday party where she not only served one mouth-watering selection from Piece of Cake, but instead we were treated to three of their signature flavors: white chocolate, caramel and red velvet. It was love at first bite for me! The pecan-crusted white chocolate cake with sinfully rich cream cheese frosting quickly became a favorite, and since they offer it and many others by the slice and in a conveniently decadent cupcake size, I can enjoy my cake just about anytime I want at any one of their ten Atlanta locations.
Atlanta Born and Raised
Piece of Cake is not new to the Atlanta scene, in fact, it is currently celebrating it’s 30th year! Started by friends, Melissa Bunnen and Helen Cleveland, in 1985, Piece of Cake has experienced incredible growth, but continues to deliver, literally to your doorstep, the same gourmet made-from-scratch, all-natural ingredient cakes, beautifully decorated and wrapped in their signature red-bow box. We got to take a peek in the kitchen and main distribution center and saw the team hard at work creating mouth-watering treats for the upcoming holiday. If you can’t get to one of their retail locations, Piece of Cake delivers across the country for all special occasions from birthdays to weddings or if you just want a delicious piece of cake!
The Tasting Menu
When you combine that level of diverse culinary talent in one room with a group of hungry food writers, you know it’s going to be an incredibly fun experience! Our meal began with an amuse bouche of Salmon Tartare served with Red Hop Rye Infused Ice Cream. This unlikely pairing whose flavors complimented each other divinely was, of course, paired with Second Self’s Red Hop Rye, which will soon be available in cans. For the first course, we savored a Twisted Cheese and Chorizo Dip with hints of saffron, chocolate, lime zest, chipotle, cilantro and served with crispy tortilla and crudités. Next, we sipped a Thai Chicken Soup accompanied by a Lemongrass, Ginger and Coconut stuffed Chicken Wing and paired with Thai Wheat ale, which is also expected to be available in cans. For the main course, we were treated to tender Cabbage Wrapped Braised Pork Cheeks with Apple, Endive and Kale and Belgium-style meatballs, or Paupiette, made with braised cheeks and cabbage, served with a glazed apple slice. This was paired with the Saison 2015, a delicate and zesty ale brewed to refreshingly compliment a variety of food. I had been looking forward to the finale all week and we were not disappointed. For dessert, we had a mouth-watering selection of miniature red velvet and white chocolate cupcakes, both topped with Piece of Cake’s signature cream cheese frosting, homemade cookies, brownies and ice cream consisting of flavors like cinnamon and sea salt caramel. This sinful decadence was paired with Second Self’s Bleeding Heart. Brewed just in time for Valentine’s Day, this amber ale is inspired by one of my favorite Southern classics, the Red Velvet Cake!
Make Any Day a Holiday
We won’t even be in Atlanta this year for Valentine’s Day because we’re heading down to visit my family in New Orleans, where we’ll be celebrating another one of my all-time favorite holidays, Mardi Gras. But it’s good to know that when we get back, tired and hungry, there’s a delicious alternative to my home cooking just waiting for us down the street!
The Fine Print
Although our delicious evening with Chef Christophe and Second Self at Piece of Cake was complimentary, I was in no way compensated for this post. These opinions are solely mine, and based on my own experiences. I did, however, consume and thoroughly enjoy more than my share of white chocolate cupcakes!