~Michael Wurm Jr. of Inspired by Charm blog and myself were paired up for the afternoon as we drove around Atlanta and delivered our fresh produce.~
This particular post is long overdue, but I must say I am still giddy about the opportunity I had as one of the five finalists in Buick’s Pinboard to Dashboard launch event for their soon to be available (spring 2013)compact luxury crossover, the Encore. Click here and here to see how it all began last fall.
As finalists, Buick flew us down to Atlanta, Georgia, where their media event was in full swing. While the anticipation of who the selected winner would be was present (which was based on top decor and lifestyle magazine editors preferences – O Magazine was one of them!), the opportunity to meet up again with the other bloggers was the grandest treat.
Before I begin, while I wasn’t selected as the winner, the experience is something I will not soon forget, and I am thrilled for Michael Wurm Jr., founder of the decor and lifestyle blog Inspired by Charm who was the winner. I had the opportunity to spend more time with him on this trip, and he is quite the gentleman and talent (learn more about his blog and bed & breakfast here).
Needless to say we were spoiled (pictures of the entire experience are below), but what was also included in our trip was the opportunity to drive a brand new Buick Encore. Granted, it was during Atlanta rush hour traffic on a Friday which made it all the more memorable and adventure-some as I was intensely dependent upon the internal navigation system.
The accommodations at Twelve Hotel located in Atlantic Station more than pacified my preference for a luxurious place to rest my head. We each had our own suite which had high ceilings, large open areas, a full kitchen and sitting area. As the story goes, these particular rooms were originally designed as condos, but as they became available during the recession, they wisely turned the entire building into a luxury, boutique hotel.
Prior to dinner, our first excursion driving the Encore was to an urban farm, Love is Love Farm, on the outskirts of Atlanta. Farmer Joe Reynolds gave myself, other bloggers and lifestyle magazine editors a tour of the grounds just before loading us up with vegetables to be delivered to Empire Street South for our dinner that evening.
And then it was time to dine and be entertained. Chef Hugh Acheson, who you may recognize from Bravo’s Top Chef Masters (season 3), as well as now a judge on Top Chef, presented a cooking demonstration for us at one of his three restaurants, Empire State South located in mid-town Atlanta.
~photo courtesy of Buick~
~photo courtesy of Buick~
Prior to sitting down to dine, in the bar they held a private meet-and-greet session. The interior of the restaurant strikes a wonderful balance of sophisticated luxury with masculine simplicity. It was warm, welcoming and full of life.
~Waiting for the cooking demonstration to begin sitting next to Michael and among Buick employees and other magazine editors.~
~Phil Cooley, who worked with the bloggers and helped orchestrate the marketing and publicity components begins the evening.~
~And the fun began. Hugh Acheson made (and shared the recipe for) his Turnips and their Greens Risotto. Entertaining, intelligent, humorous and gifted in knowing how to handle a room of strangers while successfully cooking at the same time, I had a wonderful time.~
The three course menu was inspired by his cookbook which he signed and gave to each of us A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen. Much of his discussion while cooking was about a misconception of what southern food was. His re-interpretation of what good southern food involved was eating local food, cooking with flavors and not drowning it in fat. And most importantly, trying to inspire everyone to get back into the kitchen, learn to love cooking and becoming aware of how to eat actual food while loving the flavors that are created.
While each of the main entrees I was told were delicious, I chose the Chicken Roulade (as it was served with the risotto and I wanted to indulge in it a bit more), and due to my being enamored with the food, I absentmindedly forgot to take a picture of the dish (oops!). Needless to say, it was scrumptious, and paired with a soft sauvignon blanc, I was in a brief state of euphoria.
~The dessert. Lemon Meyer Parfait: clementine, bergamot brioche, candied cranberry, sweet potato sorbet. Just as creatively presented as it was delicious and palette cleansing.~
~The Atlanta skyline from Twelve hotel.~
The following day, the winner was revealed as mentioned above, and then we dove into the holiday spirit with gift cards from Toys-R-Us to purchase carloads of toys for Toys for Tots. I must say, It was fun being a bit of a kid again. I can’t remember when I was last in a Toys-R-Us, but as you might imagine, it was fun to shop without worrying about a budget and most importantly, knowing that perhaps someone’s Christmas would be even more festive and memorable.
~The Encores are waiting to be loaded with toys.~
~A glimpse of all the toys after they were delivered along with the five blogger finalists and a handful of the lifestyle magazine editors who went shopping with us.~
~Full Disclosure: While the trip itself was paid in full by Buick, this post was not sponsored by Buick, as I was not obligated to share my experience. I genuinely had an amazing time and wanted to share.
All images unless otherwise designated or I am in them were taken by TSLL.