Summertime Eatin’

I don’t know about you, but once the hot, southern days of summer roll in, my appetite during the daytime diminishes to nearly nothing. I make up for it in the evening! By dinnertime I am famished and looking forward to something delicious and maybe a little lighter. Conveniently, I have Joe Duffy’s contact in my phone. This is one of the many perks of my job. Joe is by far the most knowledgeable when it comes to local food and fare. I asked him to assist me this month, knowing he would both cut my research time down and introduce me to some great food. Good call! Now hearsay is not something I like to depend on, so I had to visit these locales personally and form my own opinion. Yet another great perk.

I started in Johns Creek at Hen Mother Cookhouse which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. The menu offers healthy, as well as traditional, breakfast and lunch options. Soraya Khoury, the chef and owner, referred to the restaurant as “in between green juice and a greasy spoon.” Joe had referred to Soraya as a “cool and great chef.” Well Joe, you are correct, as usual. She’s not only cool and great, but she is also extremely knowledgeable about food. I met her on the restaurant’s lovely patio to discuss the inspiration behind the food and see for myself why Joe would suggest the Harvest Winter Salad. Really? The winter salad in July? And vegetarian too? I figured my carnivore friend was teasing, but it only took one bite to realize his suggestion was a great one—lacinato kale, green cabbage, toasted farro, house-made raisins, toasted sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds with goddess dressing, topped with pecorino cheese.

You may be wondering, as I did, what is goddess dressing? It’s aioli-based with egg, basil, tarragon, chives, and chervil (a delicate herb related to parsley). Soraya mentioned if a customer orders the salad with “the dressing on the side,” she will come out of the kitchen and explain to them that the dressing needs to be in the salad. For the salad to retain the right consistency, the kale must be massaged with the dressing. Fruits and veggies are added and change seasonally. Currently, roasted Georgia corn, Pearson Farm peaches, carrots, and pickled beets complete the salad to make it burst with flavor. The perfect choice for a summertime lunch dish.

Dominique, my delightful server, had a great suggestion: add chicken. Dominique travels from Stone Mountain to Johns Creek for work. Why would he drive so far to work in a restaurant? He explained to me that the work environment at Hen Mother Cookhouse makes him feel like he’s part of the family, and he appreciates how well he is treated there. Having worked in the restaurant environment for quite some time, I know the importance of happy employees—who in turn make customers happy. When you visit, I suggest sitting in the quaint outdoor area which is modified to the weather by an optional enclosure. It’s quite lovely. Please note the Harvest Winter Salad is available in summer, but just Tuesday – Friday.

The lobster roll at bite is a staple on the menu. Owner/Chef Leif Johnson said he can’t take it off the menu because his customers would retaliate

At bite BISTRO & BAR in Alpharetta, Joe suggested I try the Lobster Roll, which he referred to as “definitely awesome for sure.” I was obligated, “twist my arm,” to form my own opinion. Wow! This girl loves lobster, and this isn’t just any lobster roll. Nestled in a Holeman & Finch (H&F) roll, the lime aioli, tarragon, parsley, and pickled onions enhance the lobster’s flavor and leave your mouth tingling with excitement. The house chips are the perfect sidekick. I enjoyed a nice, cold draft beer to make this meal a perfect and memorable experience, not only for the food but also the atmosphere. Once you enter the doors of bite BISTRO & BAR, you realize there’s nothing ordinary about it. The décor is exceptionally unique. So well-thought-out. And there are a variety of intimate settings to choose from inside this playful, yet sexy establishment.

PEI Mussels Barleygarden
Barleygarden’s beer-steamed PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels swimming in a succulent pool of saison-garlic butter accompanied by crisp baguette is a heavenly combination in a very cool environment.

The next summertime dish, in my opinion, is a winner all year long. I can’t think of anything more refreshing on a hot, summer day than an ice-cold, craft beer on tap. Barleygarden in Avalon has one of the best beer menus around. Fantastic, in fact. Nothing goes better with beer than a brat, specifically The Trotter Sausages & Kraut which is knock-braut and kielbasa with seasoned, roasted new potatoes, savory sauerkraut, beer mustard, and a fried egg. I also sampled the Beer-Steamed Mussels—PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels swimming in a succulent pool of saison-garlic butter accompanied by crisp baguettes. A heavenly combination in a very cool environment. Barleygarden has one of the best patios and rooftops to enjoy your summertime treats.

“The Club” at Peach & The Porkchop is loaded with uncured honey ham, turkey, crispy uncured bacon, garden fresh lettuce from Circle A Farms in Cumming, tomatoes from Gazaway Farms also in Cumming, savory Tillamook cheddar cheese & mayo served on a traditional sourdough bread.

Peach & The Porkchop in Roswell is one of my favorite places to congregate with my friends. It has the perfect-sized bar to keep it interesting, but not overwhelming, and is intimate enough to get to know everyone sitting around you. Alyssa and Chuck Staley, owners and operators, combine Chuck’s Pittsburgh heritage with Alyssa’s truly southern heritage to form a menu which reflects the best of both. Kudos to the combination! The north meets the south on friendly and flavorful terms this time around. I’ve tried many different menu items and loved them all, but Joe suggested I try The Club sandwich. It sounded like a great idea, so I grabbed one of my girlfriends, Kara, and we headed (as we often do) to the bar to share The Club.

Loaded with uncured honey ham, turkey, crispy uncured bacon, garden fresh lettuce from Circle A Farms in Cumming, tomatoes from Gazaway Farms also in Cumming, savory Tillamook cheddar cheese, and mayo—served on traditional, full-flavored sourdough bread from H&F Bread Co. in Atlanta, with Amy’s House Chips on the side accompanied by a crunchy pickle places this classic sandwich at the top of my list of summertime sandwiches. It was plenty to satisfy Kara and I, who had left poolside with ravenous thoughts. Chuck told me Amy’s House Chips are made from 250 – 350 pounds, per week, of hand-cut potatoes. Jokingly, I asked about the number of pounds of potatoes cut for French fries, and it’s 800 pounds per week! That’s a lot of work, but that’s why they are so delicious. Chuck commented, “everything is made with lots of love.” I must mention our favorite bartenders Josh and Ali who are vigilant to keep your glass full and appetite satisfied.

Tara ordered the Bluetick Hound at Lucky’s Burger & Brew and managed to keep it off her shirt.

I love a nice, juicy burger at the end of a lake- or pool-day, and the best burger in town for me is at Lucky’s Burger & Brew. I’ll belly up to the bar, sip on an ice-cold brew, and sink my teeth into a Bluetick Hound, a super thick and juicy beef patty, topped with applewood-smoked bacon, and blue cheese crumbles. I like to add pickles and ketchup with a side of sweet potato fries and blue cheese sauce for dipping. Absolutely delicious! I am always careful of what I wear, inevitably I will spill something on my shirt and enjoy every bite of the burger as I’m doing it. Now I prefer to drink a local beer on draft, but some of my comrades love that Lucky’s serves PBR on tap. That’s something you don’t see every day.

Ed Arnold is dad to The Freakin Incan owner, Mikiel. He enjoys tending the bar from time to time, sharing his thoughts on the cuisine, and pouring the perfect draft.

No need to fly to Peru for Peruvian comfort food, just follow Joe’s suggestion and visit The Freakin Incan for a unique and flavorful experience. I met Joe there, and he introduced me to his favorite dinner item Causa de Camaron. The presentation of this dish is exquisite. It was almost too perfect to cut into. It’s comprised of flavored mashed potatoes, shrimp, avocado, red peppers, and green aji. It was delicious and what made it even better was the Variant Moon Cloud beer I ordered from the impressive list of draft beers.

Chef and owner, Mikiel Arnold was born in Peru. He moved to the U.S. as a child, and then did his culinary externship in Peru. He now has two locations of The Freakin Incan, one in Roswell and the other in Tucker.

His father, Ed, enjoys tending the bar from time to time—sharing his thoughts on the cuisine while pouring the perfect draft. After we enjoyed our dinner, we couldn’t resist ordering dessert from Julianna’s Crepes, served in-house. The Almighty (an appropriate name for a crepe filled with melted Nutella, fresh organic bananas and strawberries, and topped with a dollop of whipped cream) was devoured within seconds.

Julianna’s sweet crepes (Inman Park in Atlanta) are served in-house at The Freakin Incan. “The Almighty” crepe is filled with melted Nutella, fresh bananas and strawberries, with a dollop of whip cream. It was devoured in seconds.

All in all, I love my job. Who wouldn’t? Jumping on the coattails of the infallible restaurant whisperer and relishing every morsel of his suggestions—certainly my kind of assignment. ❍

When not writing, Roswell resident Tara Gary is busy making industrial furniture, charcuterie boards, and local art. Most nights she can be found with her friends at local breweries and pubs drinking craft beer.

Theater in July

“Hairspray!” and “Driving Miss Daisy”

Above: Jennifer Massey as Tracy Turnblad and Greg London as her mother, Edna star in Hairspray: The Broadway Musical at City Springs Theatre.

By Brandy Rixey

This month you have the chance to see both a heartwarming play and a feel-good musical: Driving Miss Daisy and Hairspray: The Broadway Musical are being brought to life once again on stage and close to home. Driving Miss Daisy is a play by Atlanta born playwright Alfred Uhry that won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1988. In 1989, Uhry adapted his play into a screenplay which became a comedy-drama film of the same name. The movie received nine Academy Award nominations and won four: Best Picture, Best Actress (Jessica Tandy as Daisy), Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Hairspray: The Broadway Musical is based on the 1988 dance comedy film of the same name starring Ricki Lake, which in turn became a musical romantic comedy film in 2007 complete with an ensemble cast. The books and movies have been around for awhile now. If you enjoyed them, then definitely take the opportunity to appreciate these stories once more in a different light and watch them play out in live theater this summer.

Driving Miss Daisy
Georgia Ensemble Theatre (GET), the professional North Fulton theatre company, is driving to Brookhaven this summer to remount its acclaimed production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Driving Miss Daisy. In partnership with Oglethorpe University, GET brings Miss Daisy to the Brookhaven area college June 28 through July 21 at the Conant Performing Arts Center (4484 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta).

Set against the historical backdrop of Atlanta’s development through the mid-20th century, the story of aging Southern matron Daisy Werthan, her long-suffering son Boolie, and her chauffeur Hoke Colburn unfolds over 25 years of friendship, loss, racial tension, and ultimately—love. This much-beloved story of an unlikely friendship is the play most associated with our late Artistic Director and Co-founder Bob Farley, and this production, directed by his daughter Laurel Crowe, is a tribute to him.

William S. Murphey as Boolie Werthan, Ellen McQueen as Daisy, and Rob Cleveland as Hoke Colburn bring Daisy to life at Oglethorpe University through July 28. Photo: Don Carmody.

Featuring GET veteran Ellen McQueen in the role of Daisy Werthan with Rob Cleveland (Hoke Colburn) and William S. Murphey (Boolie Werthan) reprising their roles from earlier this year. The production runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. for four weeks. According to Co-founder Anita Farley, “We look forward to partnering with Oglethorpe again as this will allow us to give so many more Atlantans the opportunity to experience this renowned Atlanta story.”

Ticket prices will start at $35. Book early for best prices. Groups of 10 or more are welcome with great discounts available. Tickets are on sale now at GET or by calling the Box Office at 770-641-1260. All ticketing is done through Georgia Ensemble Theatre.

Hairspray: The Broadway Musical
Get ready to be swept away to 1960s Baltimore in this international smash-hit musical, piled bouffant-high with laughter, romance, and deliriously tuneful songs. Atlanta’s newest professional theatre company, presents the fantastically fun Hairspray: The Broadway Musical, winner of eight Tony Awards including Best Musical.

The “pleasantly plump” teen Tracy Turnblad has only one desire: to dance on The Corny Collins Show. She’s a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart who sets out to follow her extraordinary dreams and win the boy she loves. Starring Jennifer Massey as Tracy and Greg London as Tracy’s mother, Edna.

Playing the beautiful Byers Theatre at The Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center (1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs) July 12 through the 21st, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. With an additional performance added Thursday, July 18 at 8:00pm. Tickets are $30-$62, with discounts for seniors, students, groups, and active and retired military personnel. For tickets and information call 404-477-4365 or visit City Springs Theatre.

The Freakin Incan

Current Hubville has progressed into a diverse Peruvian food—well, hub. There are at least three restaurants with distinct interpretations. Mambo’s Cafe is perhaps more renowned for Cuban food, but the seafood-heavy Peruvian segment of the menu is where I’ve gravitated towards for a dozen or so years, including their previous locale. Touched on in “Sound Bites” last month, the recently-debuted A-Pollo Taqueria also features a Mexican bill of fare with handmade tortillas. However, their specialty is Peruvian roasted chicken (pollo a la brasa).

Let’s home in on an eatery with a Roswell mailing address, located in East Cobb—The Freakin Incan. The cookery commenced as a food truck but now features two brick and mortar locations, the other in Tucker.

Born in Peru, chef/owner Mikiel Arnold’s family moved to the US when he was six. However, in fulfilling his culinary school graduation requirements, Arnold went back to Peru for an externship under Chef Gaston Acurio at Astrid y Gaston in Lima. It appears he was a learned apprentice.

The Freakin Incan boasts at last two standout cold appetizers that most Americans might associate with as generally served hot. The Instagram-friendly causa de camaron is as flavorsome as it is visually appealing. Mashed potatoes are enhanced with lemon juice, mayonnaise, and yellow chili paste. The taste and texture are almost perfectly balanced with dispersed, small chunks of avocado. Ensconced with shrimp, this dish is an excellent beginning to a multi-course night.

Causa de camaron is a cold appetizer with flavored mashed potatoes, shrimp, and avocado.

To the less adventurous Americans among you, don’t be dissuaded by the thought of cold mashed potatoes. You like potato salad, right? So, chill (pun intended). It’s a similar concept. A bit more avocado would have established the ideal counterbalance, but this is a highly recommended plate.

Is it possible for pico de gallo to be too good? The choros a la chalaca is another cold choice with black mussels topped with the previously stated salsa cruda. But the pico de gallo is so robust it obscures the shellfish. This die-hard carnivore will tell you it’s the salsa that is the most addicting component of this first course. For the most conventional state-siders among you, my wife and son enjoyed the chicken wings, made with the highest quality Springer Mountain chicken. I assure you, they’ve had chicken wings from most of the highly rated providers within 20 miles.

Onward to the entrees. The opposite of the robust pico de gallo mussels dish, the sudado de pescado has delicate, though highly productive flavors. Essentially a very well-stocked soup, steamed mahi-mahi has a subtly tasty aji infused mussel broth, completed with rice.

Need a little more punch? Try the seco de res, a stew with large chunks of cilantro CAB beef, delivered with trimmings of canary beans and rice. Don’t take those beans for granted. As good as any bean dish I’ve had, it perfectly rounded out the repast.

My shrimp-adoring daughter delighted in the shrimp tallarin saltado so much that she ordered it on a return visit. Faintly analogous to lo mein it consists of stir-fried noodles blended with grilled green onions, fresh tomatoes, and soy sauce. Chicken and angus beef are other protein alternatives in addition to my offspring’s beloved shrimp.

Shrimp tallarin saltado loosely resembles a flavorful chow mein.

We finished off the meal with the uncomplicated but enjoyable alfajores, which is simply dulce de leche squeezed between two shortbread cookies.

Premiering his restaurant in 2015, Arnold moved the East Cobb/Roswell location to Woodstock Road and Sandy Plains in the Movie Tavern shopping center. Some will recall the unit as previously inhabited by Corner Pizza. The bright and casual establishment is family friendly. The craft beer list is relatively short, but impressive, loyal to the Georgia breweries.

Thus far, I’ve basked in a pleasurable medley of both moderately spicy and gentle, yet ambrosial dishes. Perhaps next excursion I will seek the Heritage Farm pork stew or maybe the Maple Leaf duck entree. I’m not sure, but what I am certain of is that a next time is required.

Sound Bites:

If you follow me (and why wouldn’t you) on Twitter @CalVulcan, you are aware of my adoration for all things Mitch’s Meats. The quality and quantity of soups headline the expansive inventory of reasons. I’ve consumed 55 or so different soups. But there are still a good dozen or so “Mitch’s quality” broths, pottages, stews, bisques, and chowders in Hubville. All three clam chowders at C&S Chowder House—Manhattan, New England, and Rhode Island—are sparkling examples. In the northernmost sector of Sandy Springs, Samad Mediterranean Grill and Market produces a wicket kibbey ball. Never Enough Thyme, which just opened up a second location, generates competition caliber Texas sirloin chili…

Few soups are “Mitch’s Meats quality,” but the Texas chili at Never Enough Thyme is high on the elite list. Joe is takin’ some home.

Taste… a Seasonal Bistro in Roswell has one of the least adventurous menus. Don’t discount it though. Best thing I’ve had here is the Friday special of shrimp and grits. That’s been taken up a notch with shrimp and chicken étouffée on grits. Also, the beef burgundy sandwich on baguette is worthwhile. The menu is safe as conceivable, but above average, with just-mentioned Friday special the shining city on a hill…

Taste… a Seasonal Bistro focuses on comfort food led by shrimp and chicken étouffée on grits.

And another excellent addition for Alpharetta City Center. Ponce City Market import Botiwalla adds Indian to the “street food” craze that is overtaking Alpharetta. On my first tour, I had lamb boti kabab roll with masala smashed potatoes. The latter is served with a sweet and slightly hot Maggi catchup. It’s a little roomier than the big-city location…

Once upon a year or so ago, bride snatched takeout from the dinner offerings at Emidio’s, a venerable Portuguese restaurant in the northern tip of North Springs. The family approved of the takeaway chow. My fledgling expedition in the interior and also for the lunchtime menu was a triumphant one. Some of the most flavorful marinara sauce I’ve ever relished hoisted the Italian clams to elite status.

The francesinhas (“little Frenchie”) is one of the most ascendant open-faced sandwiches I’ve swallowed this side of The Brown Hotel in Louisville, home of the acclaimed hot brown. The creation has “bottom layer of bread, topped with linguiça, with a fried egg then covered with melted cheese in a creamy tomato and beef sauce accompanied with fries.” I crowned it with pork as alternatives were chicken and steak. It’s no shock this place has thrived for years in the extreme right corner of a shoddy shopping center abounding with vacant units. ❍

Go to Louisville for a better must-be-eaten-with-a-fork sandwich than the francesinhas at Emidio’s.

When he’s not eating, which is rare, the author is CEO of Sports Handicapping website Offshore Insiders. His bride’s gift site, Duffy Gifts is the place to go for gifts for all occasions from My Thirty One Gifts. 

Experienced Robotic Surgeons, Close To Home

More Precision – Quicker Recovery – Less Pain – Lower Risk of Complications

Above: Scott Miller, M.D., medical director of Robotic Surgery, WellStar North Fulton Hospital, was the first surgeon in Georgia to robotically remove a prostate.

No one wants surgery. But when it’s necessary, it makes sense to choose the least invasive, most highly advanced type, if possible. And for a wide variety of surgeries, it is possible. At WellStar North Fulton Hospital, a team of highly skilled robotic surgeons are using the most advanced technology available to help patients get back to their lives sooner than ever.

 “Our team of robotic physicians has collectively performed more than 6,000 surgeries,” said Scott Miller, M.D., North Fulton Hospital’s medical director of Robotic Surgery. “And our specially trained anesthesia team has also provided care to thousands of patients. At North Fulton, we offer the highest level of robotic surgery expertise.”

Robotic surgery specialties at North Fulton Hospital include colorectal, general, gynecologic (oncologic and benign), thoracic, trauma and urologic. And the surgeries are performed by clinical leaders. Dr. Miller, a urologist, was the first surgeon in Georgia to robotically remove a prostate. Named to Atlanta magazine’s list of Top Doctors for 10 consecutive years, he has also been recognized for the past decade as a “National Top Doctor” by established research firm Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. The list aims to identify the top one percent of specialists and sub-specialists in the U.S.

Dr. Miller explains that with robot-assisted surgery, the surgical system is operated by a physician sitting a few feet away from the patient. Using a high-powered camera, the surgeon guides the arms of the robot that holds surgical tools, which are inserted into the patient through small incisions. With robotic surgery, the surgeon’s movements are more precise, according to Dr. Miller. “Robotics allow greater range of motion, and thanks to the magnified, three-dimensional image of the surgical field, we can see the patient’s anatomy in better detail,” he said. “It’s the difference between looking through a window and actually walking into a room.

“With the smaller incisions we make during robotic surgery, there’s less blood loss, less post-operative pain, less scarring, quicker recovery and a lower risk of complications,” adds Dr. Miller, who emphasizes another benefit unique to North Fulton Hospital: personal, compassionate care. “The surgeon you first meet with will be the physician who performs your surgery, and sees you post operatively. We each personally care for our patients, from start to finish.”

WellStar North Fulton Hospital’s robotic surgeons include:

Gregory Coffman, M.D., general, trauma and colorectal
Shelley Dunson-Allen, M.D., obstetrics/gynecology
Caroline Gibbons, M.D., gynecology
Scott Miller, M.D., urology
Ryan Mullins, M.D., urology
Theolyn Price, M.D., thoracic
Evelyn Reynolds, M.D., gynecologic oncology.

For more information about robotic surgery at North Fulton Hospital, call 770-956-STAR (7827).

The Velvet Note Acoustic Living Room Celebrates Seven Years!

Above: The Velvet Note Owner Tamara Fuller with Special EFX guitarist/leader Chieli Minucci

By Mark Penstone

When The Velvet Note opened in June 2012, the idea of live music—especially jazz—in this area was inconceivable. Owner Tamara Fuller was quoted saying, “We would give people driving directions and they would chuckle and say, Alpharetta has jazz? Are you sure?” During the past seven years, no fewer than twenty-nine Atlanta-based jazz clubs have closed their doors but The Velvet Note is still there which means they’re doing something right.

When you walk into The Velvet Note, it feels like a New York City jazz club. It’s intimate, upscale, and far exceeds the expectations set by their modest
exterior location, in a strip mall, sandwiched between a sub shop and a Brazilian wax salon. “In many ways, we operate like an exclusive private club, but our hospitality is available to everyone.” The acoustics and sound quality are unparalleled—you get the clarity and precision of sitting in a recording studio, with the ambiance of a fine dining establishment.

The Velvet Note has won consecutive awards from DownBeat magazine for being one of the top jazz clubs in the world. The food and service level ratings and reviews continue to be high, featuring the area’s best jumbo lump crab cakes, a full bar, and a team of committed, caring individuals who ensure your stay is memorable.

The “acoustic living room” continues to attract the biggest and best names in jazz, including Robert Glasper, Diane Schuur, Larry Carlton, Dave Weckl, Pat Martino, Jazmeia Horne, and many more. They now offer a Blues/Southern Songwriter night on most Wednesday evenings, and it’s a great time for new guests to check them out, along with their Thursday jazz jam session.

I love The Velvet Note, not just because Tamara and I have become good friends but because I’ve never experienced a more intimate place to view some of the country’s best Jazz Musicians. The food is excellent as well. If you’ve never been then give them a call, it’s a great time to ask questions about any artists you may not be familiar with. The Velvet Note is truly an Alpharetta Gem! ❍

Milkshakes at the Lake

By Ethan Craig

We had a beautiful spring this year. It was cool, sunny and pleasant and when the rain finally came, it was a bit of a surprise. I am a huge fan of cooler temperatures, so I really appreciated the longer than usual transition from winter to summer. But in Atlanta, we know that like death and taxes, the summer heat and humidity are inevitable. And this year, the sweltering days seem even more intense than usual.

I’ve made it out to the lake and on the Chattahoochee several times over the past few weeks to get some sun and relax with friends. And for me, a day at the lake includes beer to share with the gang. This summer, there are several new beers that have been brewed to help make trips to the lake a little more enjoyable.

One new trendy beer style is a milkshake IPA. It’s an IPA with lactose sugar added in. This results in a slightly creamier flavor that cuts out most of the bitterness of a traditional IPA. Some of them really taste like they were blended at an ice cream shop. Wild Leap, the brewers of the popular Alpha Abstraction series, recently came out with a milkshake IPA called Bomb Pop. Bomb Pop was created with Rocket Popsicles and Firecracker Popsicles in mind. The flavors include Cherry, Lime and Blue Raspberry. I can’t think of anything better to get you in the mood for some fireworks. You can buy a four-pack or mix and match the flavors.

For a more tropical twist, try out Coco Flamingo. It’s another beer just released by Wild Leap in collaboration with Trim Tab Brewing. It’s a Double IPA with coconut, tangerine and lime added for a taste that will have you thinking about putting a pink umbrella in your glass. It is incredibly easy to drink, but be careful, it’s also 8% ABV.

I also have two easy drinking beers you might want to try. Einstock Icelandic Pale Ale is brewed with pure Icelandic water. The water goes from the ground directly into the beer, and the taste is clean and fresh. Reformation’s Oren pale ale is a new recipe which is more of a hazy pale ale that is very smooth with a slight fruit flavor and comes in at 5% ABV.

Finally, for all of you Hogwarts fans, we will be celebrating Harry Potter’s birthday on July 31st. Come in and join us for a Monday Night Brewing’s Mischief Managed sour beer.

As you make your way through the dog days of summer, please remember what a friend of mine used to say, “It’s not the heat, it’s the stupidity.” Cheers!❍

Ethan Craig is Craft Beer Curator at Tap & Six Craft Beer House, a craft beer market and bar in Historic Roswell at 23 Oak Street.

Annual Flowers Deliver Landscape Color

By Geri Laufer

For a long season of brilliant color, add annuals to your home landscape

Want head-turning curb appeal? Use color! Bedding plants (aka annuals) are plants that flower more or less continuously for a single season then die. Half-hardy or tender perennials (like begonias, impatiens, or geraniums) are also used to add color and are considered annual because they are killed by frost if left outdoors when winter arrives.

  • Flowering annuals have many uses in the landscape, since few other plants supply as much diversity. Annuals are . . .
  • most commonly used in color beds
  • added to mixed borders
  • good for providing backgrounds and quick screens when tall
  • vines that can be used to cover trellises, screen neighbors, provide shade, and soften harsh fencing
  • used as temporary ground covers
  • cut for flowers in vases or sales
  • dried for arrangements or potpourri
  • great for containers (especially trailing annuals) like large mixed pots, window boxes, or hanging baskets
  • available to provide temporary color and mass before the installation of permanent shrubs or ground
There’s plenty of time to plant annuals in July, and then stand back for the colorful display in August, September, on into October. Sunflower (top of page) and zinnia photos by Geri Laufer

10 Easy-Care Annuals

Easy to grow, annuals thrive in prepared beds with improved soil. Before planting, mix in a bag of soil conditioner or planting topsoil with your Georgia red clay! Many annuals are greedy feeders and appreciate some liquid (houseplant) fertilizer every month. Deadheading (pinching off dead blooms) stimulates more flowers to form, continuing the color. If you planted annuals in May, they are now ready to be cut back—by half; then water, feed, and watch them come roaring back with more color through fall.

  • Summer Annuals
  • Coleus – colorful leaves all summer until frost, flowers are irrelevant
  • Marigold – you probably planted these when you were in the first grade and they still look great in sun
  • Pentas – five-petaled blooms cover smaller sized plants
  • Sunflower – a plethora of varieties gives lots of choice, whether 12-foot mammoth or short and bushy for cut flowers
  • Vinca – so tough it even grows in Florida sand
  • Zinnia – colorful favorites, the butterflies are drawn to them and they often reseed next year
  • Cool Season Annuals
  • Pansy/Viola – most popular winter-flowering annual
  • Flowering cabbage – leaves provide the color thus eliminating the need for flowers
  • Snapdragon – blooms fall and spring, with a little time off in mid-winter
  • Dianthus – be sure to scissor off spent flowers so pinks will rebloom
  • Dusty miller – silver foliage makes exceptional contrast and interest winter or summer

There’s plenty of time to plant some annuals in July, and then stand back for the colorful display in August, September, on into October.

Digging Deeper
You may want to investigate some UGA publications for further reading:
Flowering Annuals for Georgia Gardens You can download the publication as a pdf, or peruse the links, including “Annuals for Specific Uses.”

Do you have photos from your home landscape? Share them by posting at The Current Hub facebook page.

Geri Laufer lives in Atlanta, where she, graphic designer husband David, and English Coonhound Lily are working on designing and installing a never-finished landscape. You can reach her at Geri Laufer

Still a Dancing Queen Let’s Go!

By Di Chapman

I gotta tell ya. I’ve had such fun planning this column. Every girlfriend and group of girlfriends, has giggled with enthusiasm when I’ve run this idea past them. Even my husband has gotten into it, helping me brainstorm the memories.

And everyone agrees: ladies and gentlemen, we’re a generation who loved (and if you’re like me, still love) to dance. It didn’t matter if we were single, married, dating, engaged, or girl dancing. As ABBA said in “Dancing Queen,” we had the time of our lives. Sure, since then it’s been around the house as we clean and busting moves as best we can at stoplights. But I’m ready to do the real thing again. What have all these years of exercise been for? Yes – I know, I know. There is that vanity factor and that ability to eat mostly guilt-free. But at the top of the list for me is dreaming of dancing with abandon once again.

Come on, let’s hit the floor and get down.

We all knew where the clubs were in the 70s and 80s, and you could find us there every Friday and Saturday night. With the disco of the 70s we ladies wore braless tube tops and halters, spandex tops and pants, and platform shoes. We did our best to recreate Farrah Fawcett’s hairdo. In the 80s, we girls wore dresses with ultra-padded shoulders, Dynasty big hair, and spike heels – of a dancing size. If we wore the 6” spikes of today, we’d be severely limited in movement, and we all loved to move – a lot. And I don’t mean standing in one spot bouncing up and down with one fist in the air. Seriously? When did that become moving to music? Where’s the bootie action? Where’s the seductive eye contact?

By the way, all ye progeny, we brought you the birth of the DJ. There was nothing like a great DJ spinning tunes. Just add flashing lights, a disco ball, Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls,” and Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling.” I remember the heavy beat of The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno” and Heart’s Wilson sisters belting out red, hot voices, guitar, and techno vibes. “He’s a magic man, Mama…Oooohhhhh…he got the magic hands.” And who could forget the dance floor favorite “Stayin’ Alive?”

Oh, and my goodness, that amazingly great 80s scene. By now, y’all know I was pretty much into driving all over the place and loved crossing the Mexican border at Tijuana to cruise south on an exceptionally manicured highway to Rosarito on into Ensenada. Ladies – surprise, surprise! This highway had clean as a whistle rest stops. It was a beautiful ride alongside the Pacific Ocean in Baja California. Ensenada was an awesome dancing town. Marines with time off drove down from Camp Pendleton in Southern California to hit the clubs, and we California women were happy to be their dancing partners. We’d dance all night to American tunes, with DJs spinning hot material. I was always the designated driver, and I toted home girlfriends in front and back seats at one or two in the morning, all of us swapping stories about the men. We became regulars at the Tijuana border crossing, an hour or so from home at the time.

Those dance rides were followed by, mostly on a whim, my solo trips to Mexico City and San Luis, Mexico. Why not? I discovered that Hispanic men seriously loved to dance. The dance floors overflowed, and DJs played one hot tune after another. I never sat down in either town. Those guys rocked it.

Naturally, I have my favorite dance artists. I can’t lie. I was a huge Billy Idol fan. To this day when I hear “White Wedding,” it doesn’t matter where I am, I’m in motion. I’ll cop to something else. I dig Boston. “More Than a Feeling” gets me moving. As does Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom.” Patti LaBelle’s set of pipes still reign to this day, with no current female artist coming close to her vocal power. Remember doing a come hither sashay to “Lady Marmalade?” We girls did some serious strutting along with Patti.

And remember those, shall we say, party-inspired tunes like Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” and Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug?” Huey Lewis and the News’ retro sound specialized in good, old-fashioned get up and dance beats. Loved it. Jefferson Airplane’s tune “White Rabbit,” while from the 60s, still had us singing along. Whoa, and the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” and Glenn Frey’s “Smuggler’s Blues” both bring me to my feet. Boys and girls, your moms and dads were party animals. Most of us partied for the music, not substances. I liked moving and grooving to my favorite songs with a clear head. Oh, and by the way, you kids ain’t got nothin’ on us in the partying department. We invented it!!

I went to YouTube the other day to find a skit from Saturday Night Live from the 80s. It featured a song with the words “What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…” It was a great dance tune with a skit by the SNL cast featuring three young men out cruising, one of whom was Jim Carrey. They’re blasting this song while they drive and bob their heads to the beat, sideways and in unison. It’s right up there for laughs with “More Cowbell” with Christopher Walken. I typed “Saturday Night Live Head Bob” online. There it was, and I danced and laughed again and again.

So, somebody, help me! Help me here. Where have all the good clubs gone? Who’s spinning “Billy Jean” and “Flashdance?” Who’s featuring Madonna? Where’s Gloria Estefan’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You?” I wanna know, and I wanna go.

Ladies! Girls’ dance, anyone? I’ll drive!

Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it! Contact Di at

A Marvel-ous Summer

Spider-Man: Far From Home —Opens July 2

By Britt Argo

Spider-Man: Far From Home is one of summer’s most anticipated movies! Beware a few spoilers ahead from previous Marvel movies if you have not yet watched.

What it’s about The Avengers action continues with Spider-Man: Far From Home opening July 2. It chronicles Peter Parker’s personal journey, how he returns to high school life and his friends after missing five years. And it shows how his superhero journey must go on after the loss of beloved mentor Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Peter may be wearing the new high-tech, armored “Iron Man-Spidey Suit” (from Avengers: Endgame), but he is still reluctant to let go and step up to take Tony Stark’s place. Seeking Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) to console him, he decides to go back to school and try to return to his friends and a normal life. His school friends decide to take a European vacation, with Peter joining them, while ignoring a call from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). He and classmates visit beautiful locales (Venice/London). But his blissful vacation doesn’t last long, when Nick Fury tracks him down and enlists Spider-Man to help battle new threats to save a changed world.

In this adventure, Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) appears from another dimension — a multiverse. The Snap tore a hole in our dimension, and Beck was transplanted here along with other baddies that followed him, doing destruction. Beck and Fury enlist Spidey to help conquer them and return them back to their Earth in order to save ours.

Why you will love it — If you saw Spider-Man: Homecoming, it has that same lighthearted take. Peter (Tom Holland) is still a young, goofy high school kid now in love with friend MJ (Zendaya), hoping she will like him. His best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) is great comic relief as the sidekick. And he still gets no love from student rivals who roast him. We get more character development with a conflicted Peter still trying to balance his life with his secret Spidey identity. Unlike a Thor or Captain America, we are still seeing Spider-Man trying to fit in, find his way, discover his powers, and what he can do. He’s just a guy who wants to save his friends first — then the world.

Fans of Jon Favreau — get more Happy Hogan on-screen. From his early acting days with buddy Vince Vaughn (Swingers, Couples Retreat, The Break-Up) to his recent starring role in Chef, Favreau is super in everything he does. He has perfected the everyman, the sarcastic sidekick, the “I don’t want to be here, but I’ll do it anyway” guy. In the Iron Man films, Happy is the silent driver/assistant who would pop up only on occasion to help Tony Stark. But in Spider-Man: Far From Home — we get more. Happy finally gets a bigger role. Happy is broken too, suffering the loss of his friend Stark, but we see him step up as a mentor more than a sidekick for Peter.

Fans of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) get more too. We missed Fury and Hill in Avengers: Endgame (only reappearing at the end). Now they come out from behind the scenes to get their chance to assist and save the world.

Do you need to see Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Avengers: Endgame before seeing this one? Well — yes. Understanding what happened in the last two films will set you up for this new saga.

Britt Argo, an avid movie fan for 30 years, sees an average of 150 movies a year in movie theaters. She is the marketing coordinator at Area 51: Aurora Cineplex and The Fringe Miniature Golf5100 Commerce Parkway in Roswell. 770-518-0977.

Storytelling With Strings Attached

By Brandy Rixey

The Roswell Cultural Arts Center has announced its lineup of shows for the 2019 Roswell Summer Puppet Series. The series includes three Roswell premieres and one world premiere show—Rucker, Go Home!. Set in Roswell and based on the children’s book Rucker The Lost Country Dog by Elaine DeNiro and the Roswell Historical Society, this show follows the adventures of a real dog who lived in Roswell at the turn of the twentieth century. The Roswell Cultural Arts Center received a $7,000 grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts and $7,000 in matching funds from the City of Roswell to create the Roswell-specific show. “We were fortunate to assemble an outstanding team of talented artists to collaborate on Rucker,” said center coordinator Donna Clayton. “The show features an original script and musical score and a set that includes animation and projection of scenes from Historic Roswell. We hope kids and families will be inspired to learn more about the historical treasures found in our city after seeing the show.”

With the CAC being less than a mile away, it’s nice to just hop in the car and be able to see live theater shows without worrying about traffic! There are always familiar show titles on the list and sometimes they have twists from the original stories. In many of the shows the puppeteers talk to the audience, and the kids love that interaction. It really gets their imaginations going. My oldest daughter said she liked the shows because “they were funny and they were great stories.” When I asked my youngest about the puppet shows, she got all excited and with a big smile on her face started telling me about how fun they are and a funny part she remembered from one of the shows. As an added bonus, adults can enjoy the talent too. After the performances, some of the puppeteers talk about the puppets. They hold them up, show how they work, and enjoy answering questions.

Two of the puppeteers are local, both with over 20 years experience. From Atlanta, Lee Bryan “That Puppet Guy” combines live vocal characterizations and songs with innovative puppet designs for an enjoyable show. He will be putting on two shows this summer—Rucker, Go Home! and The Giant, The Beanstalk & Jack. David Stephens, founder of All Hands Productions in Decatur, is another one-man show you don’t want to miss! He puts on an entertaining presentation for all with his handmade puppets, incorporating his talents as a songwriter and banjo musician. Be sure to see his Roswell premiere, The Pied Picker, the first week in July.

New for 2019, King of Pops will sell popsicles at the CAC bridge from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays from June 5 through July 19. Also, the CAC will offer puppet-making workshops on Tuesdays and Thursdays immediately following select performances. Workshops will take place on June 18, 20, 25, and 27, and July 18 and 20, and each week will feature a different style of puppet. Workshop tickets cost $5 per participant and can be purchased online at or by calling 770-594-6232. Accompanying adults do not need a ticket but must stay for the workshop. For young people ages 6 to 8 who want an even more in-depth exploration of the many styles of puppetry, the CAC is offering a week-long puppetry camp July 8-12. Call 770-594-6232 for more information, and visit to register.

Each week the puppet shows will take place Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. with matinee performances Wednesday and Friday at 1:30 p.m. They will be closed on July 4. The box office and theater open a half hour prior to show time, and shows run approximately 45 minutes. General admission tickets are on sale now for $5 per person. A ticket is required for everyone ages 2 and up. Summer passes are also available for $30 and include 7 admissions for the price of 6. Tickets and summer passes may be purchased online at, by calling 770-594-6232, or in person at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center located at 950 Forrest Street, Roswell.

So come out and enjoy a variety of professional, live puppet shows in a nice, cool theater with a laid back atmosphere for only $5 a ticket all summer long. These live theater shows are sure to spark imaginations! Wish the Roswell library renovations were finished so we could go after the show but King of Pops will do!