Spring Break Planner 2019

By Tara Gary

Considering that Mother Nature forgot to bestow a proper season of autumn, and NOAA predicts our area will have the greatest odds for above-average precipitation this winter, you may be as excited about the prospect of spring as I am. Believe it or not, it’s time to schedule and book your spring break vacation. If you have children in the Fulton County school system middle school age and up, you are likely familiar with the mass exodus of many such families in that category leaving Atlanta and congregating in the panhandle of Florida. Spring break is scheduled Mar. 30 – Apr. 7.

Blue Angels
The National Naval Aviation Museum sits at the end of the Blue Angels practice runway in Pensacola.

30A stickers are abundant on the family roadsters in our area. Rosemary Beach, Watercolor, and Seaside being some of the most popular destinations on 30A. Sandestin also stands out as a top contender for families of tweens and teens. Pensacola Beach is my personal favorite because it is the home of the Navy’s Blue Angels. I am an aviation, and beer, enthusiast and The National Naval Aviation Museum sits at the end of the Blue Angels practice runway. You can watch them practice and on certain days they sign autographs in the museum. Afterward, you can hit the beach or sit at the bar of Red Fish Blue Fish and have nice cold beer and fresh oysters. National Naval Aviation Museum.

All of these destinations are more than lovely for a spring getaway. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the beaches of the Panhandle in Florida I highly recommend it. Endless biking and hiking trails. Unique restaurants and shops. Crystal clear waters and snow white sand. Rental properties are abundant but they do sell out quickly, so research now and book one.
If you’re not headed to one of the beaches I just mentioned and you decide to keep the family in town, Atlanta offers countless experiences and activities. Many who live in our area have never visited the famous attractions nearby. Be a tourist in your own home town and go to: The Georgia Aquarium, which is the largest aquarium in the United States and hosts over 100,000 animals, is one of my favorite sites to visit in Atlanta. If you go, plan to spend the entire day there. The 6.3 million gallon tank located in the Ocean Voyager section is by far my favorite experience. I can gaze for hours at the four whale sharks, manta rays, and various sea creatures that gracefully glide in that enormous tank.

A few years ago I received a call that I had won the “Grand Prize” from a local television station. I’d never won anything before and I was hoping it was an exotic vacation or a giant jackpot. No. The voice on the other end of the line exclaimed with excitement that I had won the opportunity to swim with sharks in the largest shark tank in the world. I thought I was being punked. What?! What kind of “prize” is that? I thanked the­­­­ individual, put on my big girl pants and decided to go for it. I invited my mother as my guest considering she was the only person willing to actually do it with me. What an unforgettable experience. The professional, educated, and hospitable staff from the aquarium had our scuba gear sized and ready in our personalized lockers and then we submerged ourselves into a magical and beautiful ecosystem. It’s one thing to view the sharks from the carpeted theater steps outside the tank but to actually have these gentle giants swim beneath and graze your body out of curiosity is exhilarating. We swam a figure eight configuration over the football field-sized water. The experience was unforgettable. You too can swim the sharks as it is one of the many inter-active experiences the aquarium offers. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, make your reservations now and know that they do have age requirements that vary.

If you have a high-schooler between the ages of 15 – 17, the Beginner Environmental Leadership Program is a great opportunity offered by the aquarium. The program empowers those interested in aquatic ecosystems to become leaders in future environmental conservation. Volunteer hours can be accumulated during school breaks, including spring break. It’s an amazing opportunity for young adults. Details can be found at www.georgiaaquarium.org.

Some other attractions in the downtown area include the SkyView Ferris Wheel that overlooks Centennial Olympic Park. The World of Coca-Cola, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, and the College Football Hall of Fame are all in walking distance of one another.

Another one of my favorite attractions in Atlanta is the Fernbank Museum of Natural History located at 767 Clifton Road NE. Fernbank is host to the world’s largest dinosaurs, Atlanta’s largest movie screen, 75 acres of outdoor nature adventures, interactive exhibits and much more. You walk through time on a journey of Georgia’s natural history as well as the development of the planet. Growing up, my kids loved that section of the museum the most. They loved seeing the dinosaurs looming above them, seeing the various creatures that used to, and those that still inhabit our state. These are the ecological variants that sum up Georgia. It is a great educational experience masked in fun.

If you like amusement parks, like my 20-year- old daughter and I do, plan on visiting Six Flags Over Georgia. With 11 rollercoasters, a wide variety of shows, a section dedicated to little riders, and Hurricane Harbor, a large in-park water park, this 290-acre park has something for everyone. Our favorite ride by far is Goliath. This hypercoaster drops you from 12 stories high at 70 MPH and you experience 4Gs! We always choose the front seat for the best viewing experience and we typically ride this mammoth at least four times per visit. This ride is not for the faint of heart. Six Flags has special spring break hours so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance and plan accordingly. Six Flags.

Bear Hair Gap Trail within Blood Mountain Wilderness
Bear Hair Gap Trail within Blood Mountain Wilderness is a scenic, stream-filled forest hike. The dog-friendly path allows the fur one to come along, too. Photo courtesy of Imagine Camper Blog.

Our local area is filled with fantastic outlets for the outdoor enthusiast. There is certainly no lack of light to vigorous hiking trails, water sports, biking, and camping available. I love to drive a few hours north to climb Amicalola Falls or Blood Mountain. The views from both are fantastic and the hikes are well marked. Amicalola Falls also has zip lining, archery, and rock climbing walls. Visit Atlanta Trails for guidance and to find the perfect trail to suit tour needs.

For a spectacular view of Atlanta, take the family for a hike up Stone Mountain. Picnic on the massive quartz stone while taking in the view. Make it an overnight visit and rent a yurt, RV, or safari tent overlooking the lake. Play a round of golf or take a ride on the duck boats. There are plenty of options to choose from. I have a year parking pass to Stone Mountain and I often like to make the hike to the top of the mountain and then cool off with a good German brew from The Village Corner, a great little German restaurant, bakery, and brewery located in the town of Stone Mountain.

muddy kids and dirt bikes.
Durhamtown Off Road Resort is two hours east of Atlanta. Let ’em get dirty. Photo: Georgia Department of Economic Development

For the dare devil thrill seeker drive two hours east of Atlanta to Durhamtown Off Road Resort. The largest in the southeast, this resort sits on 6,000 acres and offers over 150 miles of one way tracks for dirt bikes, ATV, and SXS trail riding. They have 15 unique racing tracks, shooting ranges, and hunting memberships for day hunts. I’ve been meaning to take a trip there with my 18-year-old son to show him up on a dirt bike. Well, it’s been about 25 years so we will see how that goes. Durhamtown Off Road Resort.

Atlanta is centrally located in the midst of day-drive destinations that are definitely must see. A two-hour drive lands you in Chattanooga. While there, make a reservation to go tandem hang gliding at Lookout Mountain. This is one of the most invigorating experiences I’ve shared with my kids. A certified instructor by your side talks you through your choice of an altitude of 1,500 or 3,000 feet. We chose 3,000 feet and I truly felt like an eagle soaring freely over the beautiful surrounds of Lookout Mountain. I was apprehensive to watch my children dangle above me at the hands of a an instructor we had just met but after flying myself I felt I could not deny them the experience. I also had every confidence with the well experienced instructors. Afterward, visit downtown Chattanooga and stay overnight in one of the cars of the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo. There are so many unique shops and activities to take advantage of there.

So whether you decide to drive to beautiful Savannah and explore Tybee Island, visit the beaches of the Panhandle, or any of the destinations I suggested, you’re sure to find something to delight everyone in your family. There is no excuse for you to sit idle over spring break and listen to complaints of, “I’m bored!” ❍

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.

The Hoppy Vibe

By Ethan Craig

Go to your local supermarket and you will find more than the ordinary domestic beer we are used to seeing. More and more beers are flooding the market from our local breweries and from breweries out of the state. This is because of the increase in Georgia Breweries as well as the demand for more craft beer. In fact, not only are more breweries opening in Georgia, they are incentivized to release more specialty beers. As a response to consumer demand, breweries are releasing beers at an unprecedented pace, sometimes with a new beer coming out on nearly a week to week basis.

Variant Brewery puts a new beer on every Wednesday, along with any other special releases they decide to do. At Tap & Six, we have 40 taps behind the bar; I do keep a Pilsner, a Golden Ale and a Root Beer on all the time, however, everything else we carry rotates through. This means that when I run out of one beer, I have a completely different beer ready to go on right after it. As I am writing this, I am also contemplating three new beers I want to go on next. Because so many breweries are coming out with beer so frequently, we now have Facebook groups, websites, podcasts, and more content all discussing new beer coming out on a weekly basis.

Personally, I have my favorite beers that I always keep stocked in my fridge; One is “All I want for my Birthday is a Big Booty Baltic Porter” by Blue Tarp, all right, you got me, I got this one first because of the name… and now I just can’t get enough. If a brewery makes a great beer that I enjoy, of course I will still buy it, but I’m not going to stand in line or savor every last drop, because I can always get more. On the flip side, when I pay over $20 for a bottle, I want it to last, I want to share it and I am drinking to take in as much flavor as I possibly can. Yes, beer can be expensive, and I have bought multiple bottles for over $50. Because I want to taste as much as possible out of these expensive beers, they are going to be the first ones popped open, followed by one of my go-to beers to finish off the night. All these new beers mean that it is more difficult than ever maintain a good reputation in the beer community, they cannot simply brew one beer that everyone likes, they now have to compete against themselves and consistently create and replicate great beers or else risk their consumers getting bored. My job is to keep up to date with all of these new and special releases in order to make sure we have the best selection available to us. Stop in to see what’s new on tap.❍

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

Moonlight and Magnolias

A Behind the Scenes Look at a Classic American Movie

By Rachael Brice

Photo above, left to right: Googie Uterhardt, William S. Murphey, Bart Hansard, and Mahalia Jackson. Cast photo by Daniel Parvis Photography

This year, the cinematic motion picture Gone with the Wind celebrates its 80th birthday and Georgia Ensemble Theatre (GET) in Roswell is commemorating the occasion with a production of Moonlight and Magnolias, a great comedy and fictional farce that recounts the story of how the iconic film’s script was created.

The show tells the story of producer David O. Selznick, who has just fired the director of Gone with the Wind and is in desperate need of another. To exacerbate the problem, the movie doesn’t have a working script and Selznick’s first choice for a screenwriter, Ben Hecht, hasn’t read the classic novel.

The deadline for a new script is five days away. So, Selznick calls director Victor Fleming, pulling him off of The Wizard of Oz to direct his new movie. Then Selznick does what any sensible man would do—he locks the three of them in his office for five days, living on nothing but bananas and peanuts, as they toil away acting and writing the script to one of the greatest American films of all time.

James Donadio
Director of Moonlight and Magnolias and Associate Artistic Director at GET, James Donadio

Director of Moonlight and Magnolias and Associate Artistic Director at GET, James Donadio, finds the show amusing and believes that any tale that begins with its basis in a true story is always compelling.

“Even though the play is almost all fictional, the story is composed of elements that were true within the storylines of what we know from the characters in real-life,” says Donadio, “but there is more to the production than meets the eye.”

The show is only three scenes, but it spans five days, and by the end of those five days, the set is in disarray—covered in peanut shells, banana skins, and paper wads of rejected script pages—and the characters are exhausted, most of them clothed only in a T-shirt, socks, and underwear. Donadio describes it as a scene from The Walking Dead.

“One of my favorite parts of the play occurs towards the end of the second act when the characters go to desperate lengths to finish the script,” says Donadio. “These men are sleep-deprived. They’ve eaten nothing but bananas and peanuts for five days. They’ve had no contact with the outside world, except Miss Poppenguhl, Selznick’s secretary. They’re frantic. They start out strong, ready to seize the challenge before them, but by the end of the show, they are sobbing in a corner, just wanting to go home.”

Googie Uterhardt, as Ben Hecht, types furiously while David O. Selznick (William S. Murphey) conjures up Scarlett.

Moonlight and Magnolias offers audience members a rare glimpse behind the proverbial curtain into a world they rarely get to see, as some theatre patrons are often unaware of the amount of work and time that goes into making a movie or production, not to mention the challenges the actors, director, and production crew must overcome.

“This show is fascinating to me,” says Donadio “and I want audience members to be delighted when they see it and really enjoy themselves. There may even be a few surprises audiences can learn from the show that they may not know from the movie, like the fact that 1,400 women were interviewed to the play the role of Scarlett O’Hara.”

A professional director and actor, Donadio is putting his own spin on the show, meticulously thinking through every word and movement to make it unique. Even before rehearsals began, he had already read through the script at least 12 times, each time learning something new about a character or adding new directorial notes.

“Directing is very stimulating,” he says. “When you’re a director, the audience sees your overall purview of everything. Good shows, especially comedies, require musicality. It must be well orchestrated, and when it is, it’s a thing of beauty.”

Moonlight and Magnolias will run at GET from January 10–27, 2019. Come out and support the arts while taking a look behind the scenes of one of the most beloved films of all time.

To purchase tickets, visit get.org. ❍

Roswell Sets the Table For Restaurant Week

By Carolyn Kutney, Photos: Angie Webb Creative

As a means to celebrate the city’s finest culinary experiences, Roswell Restaurant Week runs Jan. 24 through Feb 2. For the fifth consecutive year, the event will be presented by Roswell Inc, the economic and business development organization for the City of Roswell.

This year’s Restaurant Week includes 50 participating establishments from around the city, making it the largest restaurant week in the metro Atlanta area. All restaurants will serve individual prix fixe menus featuring signature favorites and original specialties.

Brookwood Grill participating in Roswell Restaurant Week.
Brookwood Grill

“Our restaurant community is at the center of Roswell’s economic vitality,” said Steve Stroud, executive director of Roswell Inc. “Roswell Restaurant Week supports one of our top five industries—hospitality and food—and showcases the diverse dining the city has to offer while inviting foodies from all over to enjoy Roswell’s regionally recognized restaurants.” Prix fixe menus will be announced early this month; look for them at Roswell Restaurant Week.

When we asked our Infallible Restaurant Whisperer, Joe Duffy, to weigh in, he said, “Glad to see the top three restaurants in Roswell are participating: Foundation Social Eatery, Osteria Mattone, and Table & Main. Foundational Social Eatery lacks the sexy location of Canton Street, Alpharetta City Center, or Avalon but there is not a better restaurant in my home chomping grounds of AlphaRozJohns. FSE perfects fine-dining in a casual atmosphere, albeit an uber cool interior.”

Table & Main dish for Roswell Restaurant Week
Table & Main

Osteria Mattone may be the best date night place in the area. Though higher-end, the make-your-own pizza bar is an economical alternative. Their sister restaurant, Table & Main, has the best fried yardbird within many miles. The rest of their southern-inspired menu is outstanding as well.”

“Along with previously reviewed Hen Mother Cookhouse, Gracious Plenty is tied for the best breakfast in AlphaRozJCMilty. I need to try the steak and eggs, but so far biscuits and gravy and hash brown bowls have had me returning and groveling for more. It’s the best new restaurant in Roswell.”

Wild Slice Pizzeria is a Roswell Restaurant Week participant
Wild Slice Pizzeria

The staff at The Current Hub wishes to give shout-outs to a couple of good spots that help keep our magazine on press and in the mail with their advertisements: Wild Slice Pizzeria, Crazy Love Coffee, Gracious Plenty Bakery & Breakfast, Deccan Spice, bistro VG, and, not on this year’s participating list, but in our hearts: Mitch’s Meats & Fish. ❍

Follow Roswell Restaurant Week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @RoswellRW and share dining experiences using #RRW2019.

The Holidays and the Excuses are Over

By Don Rizzo

Okay people… the holidays and the excuses are over. It’s January. Time to shed the blubber and flex the flab. Lurking inside you, just a pushup away from revealing itself to the world, is a buff, sculpted, Greek statue-like body. Okay, okay, so maybe being able to see your shoe tops without bending over is your ultimate fitness fantasy. Gotta start somewhere.

With those thoughts in mind, I resolutely headed for the gym the first week into the New Year. After all, what could be so difficult about doing a few jumping jacks, pumping a little iron, and miraculously returning my body. to its 18-year-old perfection?

Found the place. Things are going well. I burst through the door with a manly swagger. O! M! G!

An entire continent of torture devices confronted me, disappearing off into the distance as far as the eye could see. Was this a gym or an interrogation nightmare from the KGB? Trapezes, hanging bars, monster bar bells, bizarre machines with enough handles and levers to send a commercial. pilot into a tailspin.

I pivoted quickly, trying to do a 180 out of there.

“Hi, and welcome to the gym!” Apparently, an iron vice had grabbed me by the shoulder. Unable to shake it off and bolt to the door, I turned and was confronted by a twenty-something bundle of wiry muscle. Too embarrassing to run now. Besides, no way could I loosen his grip.

“Hi,” I muttered weakly. I felt like Mr. Magoo in a face-off with Michelangelo’s David.

After a spirited sales pitch I was intimidated into signing up. “Let’s get right at it,” Adonis says, his eyes glinting like a psychopath sizing up his next victim.

But guess what? Turns out he is a pretty gentle guy. Respectful of my aging, mushy body. Patient. Nice. And he had some wonderful little pain inducers I had never thought of. For example, holding all your weight up on one elbow as you rest on your side. How easy is that? Give it a try. In 15 seconds your whole body is vibrating. Good for “the core” he says. Turns out the guy is obsessed with “the core.” I didn’t even know I had a core. Turns out an apple has nothing on me.

So, anyway, I recommend using a trainer to get you over the “I despise every minute of this” hurdle. If you sign up for five or ten sessions, then you have a commitment. You either show up for your session or admit that you’re a pathetic loser who can’t take it. I don’t know about the ladies, but that logic works for most men.

A few sessions went by, and I was actually getting more comfy about the whole thing. If nothing else, I could strut around feeling superior to those undisciplined beer bellies in the outside world who didn’t have my iron will and rapidly firming abs.

The only other adjustment problem that plagued me centers on the clientele at the gym. Categories seem to emerge. Most noticeable are the iron-bodied twenty-somethings; guys in Stanley Kowalski muscle shirts with rippling biceps and an in-your-face strut; the women in skintight body outfits that are totally distracting. At the other end of the spectrum are the chubbies—panting men and women in baggy warm-ups looking totally lost. You usually see them once or twice and they disappear. That’s because they either graduate to another group—or they opt out.

I religiously avoid eye contact with the extreme groups. I’m in the middle group. Middle-aged to advanced age, looking to stay in some kind of reasonable shape, recognizing we’re never going to be a rippling pile of percolating protein. We slink in, do our thing unobtrusively, and slide back into the world of the anonymous milling about the malls. But, believe it or not, two good things have resulted for me. I have actually reached the point where I enjoy my workouts—and they make me feel really good mentally and physically. Great result for a small sacrifice. As I read somewhere there are positive addictions and negative addictions. Positive addictions feel terrible while you’re doing them and have a great result. Negative addictions feel great while you’re doing them and have a terrible result. Take your choice.

Don Rizzo is a Roswell resident who wasted promising career possibilities, opting to spend his time cranking out press releases and inane advertising copy. He is continuing that trajectory in retirement—he now keeps busy playing mediocre golf and hiding in his man-cave to avoid vacuuming and yard work.

Don’s book, Confessions of a Grumpy Old Man—How to make a mess of your life in 80 short years is available at Blurb, and Amazon. It’s a great read. —Ed.

Q&A with Dr. Nandini Sunkireddy

Dr. Nandini Sunkireddy recently joined WellStar Medical Group Family Medicine. Her office is located in WellStar North Fulton Hospital’s campus and she’s accepting new patients. Dr. Sunkireddy is a Board Certified family doctor who enjoys spending time with her family in the North Fulton area.

Where are you from?
I am originally from India. I went to med school there and after getting married I moved to the United States. I did my residency in Louisiana State University and lived there for three years. We moved to Georgia in 2016 because my youngest son needed a transplant and we wanted to live near the hospital where he was being treated.

When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?
Initially it was my mom who suggested I should go into the medical field. She does a lot of social service and she thought that if I became a doctor I would be able to touch the lives of many people and make a difference. Once I started med school I saw she was right and my interest in medicine kept growing from there.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
Being able to talk to people and getting to know them. When I see a patient I not only treat a disease. I see the person as an entity, I want to know about their family, their emotions, their environment… I try to find out what is going on in their lives and establish a connection with them. As a person I have gone through difficult times due to my son’s medical condition. That has made me a better person and a better physician. I know what it is to go through chronic pain. I can sympathize and empathize with a patient who’s facing a difficult situation.

Why is it important to have a primary care physician?
Primary care doctors have a comprehensive approach when they treat patients. We take the time to learn about their lifestyle and what’s going on in their lives that can be possibly affecting their health. We can create plans based on each patient’s circumstances and establish a long-time relationship.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like spending time with my family. I have two kids so I’m busy all the time! But in my free time I like cooking.

What do you like to cook?
I’m good at making Indian food and Italian food.

Do you live in the North Fulton area?
Yes, and I love living here. I live in the great community and the schools in North Fulton are awesome. Living five minutes from work is also a great advantage.

Any favorite spots in the area?
We like going to Main Street in Alpharetta. We go to the farmers market and festivals in the area. We also enjoy going to Main Event. ❍

Dr. Sunkireddy is accepting new patients. If you want to schedule an appointment, call 770-740-1753.
WellStar Medical Group Family Medicine
2500 Hospital Boulevard, Suite 130
Roswell, GA 30076-4919D

TIPS FROM THE DOC for a healthier lifestyle in 2019

Have a positive attitude, live in the moment, practice gratitude and mindfulness.

More important than making a resolution is to stick to it. To accomplish this, do everything in moderation. If your goal is to lose weight, instead of cutting all the food you like from your diet, start eating smaller portions and being mindful of what you eat.

Exercise regularly.  Any kind of exercise is good. Do it at least 30 minutes, three times a week.

Stay away from fast food, avoid an excess of carbohydrates and include protein in your diet.

Visit your primary care doctor at least once a year for a physical exam.

Citizen Soul a Serious Player

By Joe Duffy

While Roswell’s City Council continues stuck in neutral when it comes to encouraging sufficient parking, Alpharetta has upshifted and passed their neighbor as the epicenter of uOTPian dining by juxtaposing plentiful parking to live/work/play walkable developments. Enter Alpharetta City Center, the latest mixed-use complex, adjacent to City Hall in the heart of downtown.

Unlike nearby Avalon, which had scheduled grand openings for each of their two phases, City Center is debuting piecemeal. Neck-and-neck with neighboring Restaurant Holmes, the co-leader among the newcomers is Citizen Soul. Indeed, the sister restaurant of Roswell’s Vin 25, Phillip Cooper’s newest eating house appears to be cash-cow, already playing to capacity crowds, even on a Monday night.

Many restaurateurs when opening a new shop, fancy menus different than their established siblings. But Coop and his chef Sean Clark consigned many of Vin’s staples such as house-made pimento cheese fritters, short rib stuffed piquillo peppers, and duck confit to their new business. Similarly, while each enterprise has a different cut of steak as well as a scallop dish, albeit with slightly different accompaniments, the menus are much alike.

cheese-fritters at citizen soul
The pimento cheese fritters have a perfect balance of flavors and texture, a crisp and slightly crunchy outside, with inner goodness (much like our infallible restaurant whisperer).

Citizen Soul is described as a Pacific Northwest style tavern. As a northeast transplant of a certain age, “tavern food” connotes to me big sandwiches and big beer. #FakeNews. “Inspired by pubs and taverns in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington” Citizen is not that old soul we seasoned Yankee expats knew. The menu correctly describes the cuisine as “fine fare” and definitely in an upscale casual atmosphere.

My foodie underground has touted the short-rib stuffed pepper first course as much as any food item.

Short rib is a luscious cut of beef. Okay, well pretty much all parts of a cow are savory. Thus, the piquillo pepper is the perfect enhancement for this shining star appetizer. It is a variety of chili pepper that packs no heat and is slightly sweet. The subtle taste is perfect to add just enough flavoring while allowing the meat to be spotlighted in its own juice.

Intrinsic to my glutton haughtiness is the yearning to distinguish items as “best.” Assuredly, those stuffed peppers are a formidable entrant. Then again, the pimento cheese fritters are equally prodigious in the vegetarian bracket. They are crisp, with just enough crunch on the outside and mouth-watering gooeyness on the inside. What Clark has down to a science is allowing the main ingredients to sparkle, while amalgamating the corresponding parts. The sweetness of the house red pepper chili jam perfectly offsets the salt of the cheese.

Last month, I professed how my family is carrying out research (with many deserving combatants) for a favorite burger in the post-Oak Street Cafe era. Especially when the accompaniment fries are considered, Soul may have the foremost burger and fries entree.

Oh, the fries. The secret is in the oil—duck oil. Intown chef (and now Avalon power broker) Shaun Doty is perhaps the forerunner in making duck fries a thing in Atlanta. But Doty would be dazzled with the pommes frites here. And yet again, Clark’s choice of Port Salut cheese is no accident. It’s tasty yet mild enough to allow the Angus beef to shine. Ditto for the oregano aioli, which is flavorful, but in a tender way.

Lesser chefs often blunder by overpowering a dish with sauces, spices, or other components. Clark indubitably takes great caution in ensuring he empowers, not overpowers a dish.

Master Sommelier Cooper built the appropriately named Vin 25 into the area’s most revered wine powerhouse. His Alpharetta outpost showcases a mostly domestic wine register. Likewise, on the current beer draft list, I tallied 16 beers, 12 from Georgia. Thank goodness (literally), you will find none of those “for the many” slopsucker swills. All draughts appeal to discerning gustatory organs. Take your dilly dilly elsewhere, Bud. Citizen’s Soul’s adult beverages are to dazzle dally.

Our well-versed waitress Amber said the 60 South salmon is their most popular item. The fish originates from Tierra del Fuego Province, Argentina in isolated, pure waters, producing the highest sustainable salmon.

With the most excellent suppliers and a chef adept at ensuring each aspect component completes, not competes has Citizen Soul as a serious player in the never-ending dining dynamo that is Alpharetta and Roswell. Oh, I’m looking forward to the impressive dossier of restaurants coming in early 2019 to Alpharetta City Center. Still, I need to find my way inside Citizen Soul’s doorway on a regular basis. ❍

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. 

Time to Make Garden Resolutions for the New Year!

Green Scene, by Geri Laufer
DYK? Gardening tones muscles and burns calories. Assuming a body weight of 150, Live Strong (a website for healthy living) suggests you can burn through a good number, just doing the things a gardener needs to do. See the list below and some resolutions for 2019.

Calories per hour

272 General Gardening
141 Light Gardening
306 Weeding
29 Hand Watering, Standing
306 Pruning Trees or hrubs
340 Digging
434 Turning Compost, Soil
301 Shoveling Mulch
238 Cutting Brush
306 Mowing with a power mower

Garden Resolutions for 2019

I resolve to garden more
I resolve to look at my yard as a stranger might, to assess its strong and weak points
I resolve to draw up a master plan with the help of a landscape architect
I resolve never to pass up a new plant I see in a nursery
I resolve to dig the holes before I go to the annual plant sale
I resolve to join a garden club or plant society
I resolve to weed religiously
I resolve to organize my tools
I resolve to rescue plants from markdown racks at big box stores because I have green fingers
I resolve to get timers for both hoses
I resolve to plant 1000 daffodils per year
I resolve to plant every plant I purchase immediately after I get home with all of them
I resolve to label every plant
I resolve to weed occasionally
I resolve to re-read all the gardening books I already have
I resolve to subscribe to a new gardening magazine
I resolve to divide my hosta and iris
I resolve to sharpen my ratchet loppers
I resolve to mark where the bulbs are already planted so next fall I won’t plant over top of them
I resolve to weed if desperately needed
I resolve to clean my spade and garden fork after each workout
I resolve to make friends with the Chipper/ Shredder Tree Guy who has free woodchips for mulch
I resolve to swap plants with friends
I resolve not to buy any more plants unless I know specifically where I will plant them in the garden. Ha. ❍

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

Beer Pairings

By Ethan Craig

Just as we are recovering from the smorgasbord of Thanksgiving fare (I have a soft spot for pumpkin pie!), the next round of holiday festivities and indulging is upon us. Scientific research shows that the thing people look most forward to this time of the year is the food. Okay, we really just asked some folks at the bar, but it seems accurate, and we agree with them, so consider it valid data.

Whether it’s your family’s recipe passed down over the generations or creating a new tradition with those close to you, what comes out of the kitchen and lands on the dining room table is a focal point of the season. When there’s good food, good drink is important as well. It’s common to hear about which wines pair best with different dishes, but beer is often a better complement to your food because of the diversity it offers.
Something to consider while pairing beer with your meal are the three C’s: Contrast, Complement, Cleanse. And always be wary of overpowering your palate.

Contrasting flavors can be a bit tricky. We want to find a dominant food flavor that won’t get washed away by the flavors of the beer. For example, oysters have a briny flavor, so find something that has enough flavor to contrast the brine without overpowering it. In this case, try out a rich, dark stout.

Complementing takes the same approach. A salad with a clean fresh flavor will be overwhelmed by a stout. However, a lighter pilsner or lager will bring out more flavors from the salad. This can also apply to fruit. A sweet dish heavy on fruit may also benefit from a sweeter beer by bringing out the sweetness in both.

Sometimes a flavor can be strong enough to linger on your palate and have a negative effect on the beer and food. The carbonation of beer can save the day and cleanse your palate, leaving you ready for the next sip or bite. My favorite example of this is blue cheese and IPAs. Some love the taste blue cheese leaves in your mouth and some don’t. But a cleansing IPA can help bring out the best flavors of both.

Finally, always do what you can to avoid overpowering your palate. A protein like chicken breast won’t pair well with a heavier beer. Having too many competing flavors can have a similar effect. At a paired beer dinner that I attended recently, an IPA infused with curry and spices was paired with a spicy Indian dish. The food and the beer were both so intense that they were fighting each other for my taste buds’ attention. My mouth ended up in intensive care, barely able to taste anything else the rest of the night.

Keep in mind the beers that you want to pair with the feast during the coming holidays. I am already planning pairings for my family’s Christmas celebration. For more information on specific beer pairings, drop by to see me at Tap & Six. Here’s a useful chart, as well.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! ❍


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

This Holiday Season, Be Generous, Be joyful, Be Awesome!

By Di Chapman

We’ve rolled into the season with our usual bloated bellies from Thanksgiving, right into ubiquitous tins of cookies, fudge, pecan pies, and if you’re Scandinavian like I am, tasteless lutefisk fondues, which you should not go out of your way to try.

We’ve barreled into the season of overloaded airports, collective stress, packed exercise classes, and dreaded family gatherings to stuff ourselves with yet more food. Ah…don’t we love this month of rampant gluttony, chaos and, barring any ugly sweaters, gift giving and receiving?

The giving we do with family can really bring us joy. So does showing generosity, big or small, of any kind to causes throughout our community, nation and world. It’s awesome to bring joy to others by being generous with time, money, or things during the holidays.
The joy you’ll feel from giving surpasses the generousness itself, no matter the size or type of contribution.
Here are some basics to creating joy through giving, if you’re thinking about it this season like I am:

Keep the K-I-S-S in giving. Have you noticed the food donation boxes everywhere? Throw in some canned goods! Simple. If you don’t want to haul them around, keep them by the front door. The post office delivery folks pick up your bagged canned goods right at your mailbox one day a year. As a perennially-hurried girl, I throw the cans I’ve saved into a bag when I hear the mail truck. I run to the mailbox, usually in bare feet in the ice, snow, rain, or otherwise, and hand it to my mail person. Easy enough! I’m lucky they don’t come early, or I’d be in boxer shorts.

Keep the canned goods year ‘round. I like to troll grocery store isles all year and pick up canned foods on sale. It’s a simple routine, and storage just took a cleanout of my cupboards. That’s the agony. You must make difficult decisions about the contents of said cupboards. If they’re like mine, there’s a treasure trove of throw-awayable-junk, like old crackers, and popcorn that drives you crazy when you pop it and all you get are unopened kernels. Ditch near-empty chip bags, and stashed moldy fruit cake. Dump the pile of gadgets and plastic football team cups you’ve never used. Make room for generosity.

Generosity can be demonstrated many ways. Heck, you can give money, time, supplies, gifts, and/or companionship to the cause of your choice. Wounded warriors? Give any of the above! Animal causes? Any of the above. Relieving an Alzheimer’s caretaker for an hour, or a day? Give the time. Helping children? Ditto. I enjoy donating a stuffed animal to children’s hospitals every time I visit the pet store. My Miss Kitty’s spoiled, so I haunt the place often.

Give all year round. Drop change in the lucite boxes at grocery stores. Give a buck or two toward children’s meals during back-to-school. Easy. Grocery stores manage the process and record your donation on your receipt. Ditto the pet stores. (I know you’re taking Fido there regularly.) I have a little game I play to donate cash to causes at both. I go to the store more than probably any human throughout history. I have no idea how two slender adults and a kitty go through so many groceries. We tell ourselves it’s all healthy perishable foods, but I know we sneak in ice cream, dairy-free desserts, soft drinks, chips, trail mix and chocolate, all of which go “poof!” into thin air. Every time I’m there, I give a few dollars to an awesome cause. Let’s say I get groceries three times a week. Maybe four. My giving adds up!

Clean out your over-stuffed closet. I know it’s there! Take out your spandex miniskirts, ladies, and old Hawaiian shirts, gents. Face it. Your closet is a scary place overflowing with donation potential.

Are you frugal? Think tax deductions! Choose to give donations, whether cash or goods. You’ll be rewarded with joy and with deductions. Be awesome and think about it!

When you give, you’re in good company. I love the episode of the “Big Bang Theory” where Howard is taken, kicking and screaming, to volunteer at a soup kitchen. He kvetches loudly while washing dishes. Suddenly, in walks Elon Musk in dish gloves and apron, carrying dirty dishes. Trust me, many awesome CEOs are donating time in the trenches.

Giving is great “medicine.” One of the best ways to find joy, no matter what your circumstances, is to give anywhere, anytime, any way.

Never doubt that your giving touches someone. I had a teddy bear business, and one Christmas Eve an order came in for a sweet pink bear. It was 4:00 and the post office closed at 5:00 sharp. I was ready to close up shop. Surely, nobody expected that I could mail a bear on Christmas Eve. I had friends gathering at my home, waiting for me to join them. All of a sudden, I told the gang to party on, and I wrapped the bear in tissue and ribbon, placed it in an overnight mailing box, and sped to the post office. I tripped through the door at 4:55. While I had my spot in line, I placed the package on the floor, sealed it, and addressed it, while scooting as the line moved. I made it, and it felt so right.

Two days later, an email arrived from my customer, thanking me for sending the bear to their friends overnight. “They buried their little girl today,” they explained, “and the bear meant the world to them.” I gave of myself that night, and the reward was priceless.

The awesomeness of generosity invigorates us and gives us purpose. It can change our lives. I promise.

Happy Holidays, awesome readers! Today, it’s my joy to give you my writing. ❍


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!” Write to Di.