RECAP| Art of Cool Festival 2019 @AOCFest Ft. Jill Scott, Ari Lennox, Big Daddy Kane, RUN-DMC and more! #AOCFest

Art of Cool Festival 2019 | Recap by SobeSavvy.com

Art of Cool Festival 2019 | Recap by SobeSavvy.com

Durham, NC was the place to be this past weekend (Friday, September 27-Sunday, September 29) for the 6th Annual Art Of Cool Festival also known as the AOCFest! This festival, which features great music, good food trucks,community engagement and sponsor activations, has quickly become the premiere late summer cultural experience that should not be missed!

PLAN YOUR STAY

Since SobeSavvy.com was there to provide local media coverage for the weekend, I decided to make it a workcation and checked into one of the official hotels of the AOCFest. The Aloft Durham Downtown proved to be an excellent choice with its urban style and comfort amenities PLUS it is the closest hotel to the festival’s main venue, Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Guests attending the festival were provided a special group rate if booked in advance. I definitely would plan ahead to stay here next year or anytime you want to Stay & Play in Durham!

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2019 LINEUP

Produced by The Dome Group LLC, AOCFest 2019 featured 20+ R&B, Neo-Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz, alternative and spoken word artists at multiple venues in Durham.

FRIDAY

The Masonic Lodge is where various DJ parties were being held all weekend in one of their event rooms. DJ RNB was spinning and there was also a bar sponsored by Durham’s own Bedlam Vodka, who I had the pleasure of reviewing and sharing recipes >> here on my blog!

Later that evening, “Cooligans” were seen at the 2019 AOCFest Urban Vendor Market being held on Blackwell Street. Food Trucks along with a variety of vendors lined the closed down area. We had a few delicious shrimp tacos from @shrimptrucknc to fuel us up for the headliners at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park stadium next door.

We also did a little shopping at the 2019 AOCFest Urban Vendor Market and I purchased some organic Shea Butter products from Nailah’s Shea. I also ate chicken and waffles from Big C’s Waffles food truck. We also spotted “Thelma” from Good Times, Bernadette Stanis who had her books for sale and was taking pics with fans!

We arrived in time to see the group Black Violin were on the stage. A duo from Florida, this group takes classical violin training and combine it with a hip-hop twist.

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Next up was artist Ari Lennox. She is the first female signed to J.Cole’s record label. Fans got to hear and see her perform hits from her successful album entitled “Shea Butter Baby”. Her creative singing style and bold lyrics energized the crowd. Her future is limitless and as bright as her smile!

Up next was the the incomparable Miss Jill Scott. She has been an entire industry upon herself over the past almost 20 years. Album upon album of iconic poetry tinged R&B songs captured the attention of an entire generation. Her catalog is deep and she did not disappoint. Her stage presence is simply unmatched. She had the crowd in the palm of her hand. We sang the songs with her and just showered her with love and affection for all her music means to us. Great night to kick
off the festival.
https://www.instagram.com/tv/B3DlpUVnDKt/?igshid=1x3mddvoqahze
SATURDAY
A stay at the Aloft Downtown Durham allowed for me to wake up to an awesome view of Diamond View Park at the American Tobacco Campus where Power Yoga, a free community engagement event hosted by The Art Of Cool Festival, was held at 10am & 11am on Saturday. Such a great way to start the day!

DJ Fatz took us back with a “2Pac vs Biggie” during a day party at Masonic Lodge. He did an awesome job blendiing two titans of rap by mixing their hits back to back. Every lyric to every hit record was sung by the festive crowd. Realizing how we lost both so young was sobering but celebrating their music was inspiring.

https://youtu.be/oO966ZzVbZY
We headed back to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park stadium for a night full of legendary hip-hop featuring
Big Daddy Kane, Whodini and RUN- DMC. Before they took the stage DJ
Skillz showed some amazing work on the 1’s and 2’s. He played everything from old school hip to new school R&B. This man truly is in a league of his own in the DJ world.

Big Daddy Kane feat. The Symphony took the stage looking and sounding amazing! Back like he never left, he
performed as if he has not lost a step. His rapping skills go from fast to slow and he rocked the mic no matter the tempo. He was joined on stage by his Bboy dancer, his little son showed of his moves too, and the legendary Cool G Rap was there for an epic performance of The Symphony. If you ever get a chance to see Big Daddy Kane live you will see there Ain’t No Half Steppin EVER with him!

https://www.instagram.com/tv/B2-kFNQnAJ6/?igshid=cs8y664hxoo5

Next up was the group Whodini, who blazed the stage performing hit after hit such as “Big Mouth”, “One Love”, “The Freaks Come Out At Night” and “Friends”. Lead rapper Jalil did come out in his signature Zorro style hat and the ladies went wild!

By the time RUN-DMC took the stage, the electricity of anticipation was in the air. Rap was still in it’s infancy during the mid 80’s and RUN-DMC almost single handidly was responsible for rap crossing over to
mainstream America. Every successful rapper owe them a debt of gratitude. Time stood still during their set. It was as if they transported all of us back to the 80’s. Their catalog of hit records is immense. They only performed a sampling of them with “King Of Rock”, “It’s Tricky”, “Peter Piper”, “Run’s House” and many more! The crowd showed their love by coming dressed in Adidas, or rocking RUN DMC tees. Even AOCFest was selling “RUN AOC” tshirts to honor the group and he festival. RUN DMC are true icons that are rightly revered as some of the founders of Hip-Hop.

The festival ended on Sunday with a VIP Brunch featuring The Hamiltones that took place at the Durham Convention Center.

If I had one word to describe the Art Of Cool Festival 2019 it would be DOPE! Amazing weekend and phenomonal performances. The AOCFest once again proved that with the right mix of artists and audience, you can expect a dope cultural experience. 👀 Watch my full recap video for more fun highlights

For more information on the 2019 Art of Cool Festival (AOCFest), visit aocfestival.com.

Twitter: @AOCFest #AOCFest

Instagram: @AOCFest #AOCFest

Facebook: Facebook.com/AOCFest

Spotify: AOCFest Playlists

********Read previous AOCFest recap coverage >>>here

Did you attend AOCFest this year? If YES, who did you enjoy most? If NO, which artist would you have been most excited to see?

Event Recap | 10th Annual Chesapeake Crab, Wine & Beer Festival at National Harbor @drinkeatrelax

On Saturday, August 24, 2019, SobeSavvy.com joined over 35,000 people at the 10th Annual Chesapeake Crab, Wine & Beer Festival at National Harbor, MD. featuring live music, food, and “all you can taste” crab, beer and wine. Because I was born and raised in Baltimore, MD., I am a Maryland Blue Crabs lover. I like them hot,fresh,steamed & seasoned and this event by Drink.Eat.Relax serves them up just the way I like it!

If you’ve never been to the Chesapeake Crab,Wine,Beer Festival, here is what you can expect at either of the two ticketed four-hour sessions [ 11am-3pm or 5pm-9pm] :

Summertime fun for everyone!

Over 30 beers and wines and a few spirits.

A souvenir BEER MUG

ALL YOU CARE TO TASTE CRABS. Enjoy all the crabs you can handle during the four hours of the show. Both female/male crabs were served and varied in size from medium to large and will be offered at 6 crabs at a time, per person.

Other GREAT FOOD options as well available for purchase. There are no vegetarian options available.

A LA CARTE CRABS option will be SOLD 6 CRABS (1/2 dozen) AT A TIME PER PERSON FOR TBD (while supplies last)

LIVE MUSIC. Enjoy fun summer sounds from area bands.

THOUSANDS OF TABLES AND CHAIRS AND HUGE TENTS for crackin’ to your heart’s content. They even ordered enough crab paper to stretch all the way across the Harbor and back.

👀WATCH my YOUTUBE video to see more recap highlights from this wonderful event! ⤵️

Follow @drinkeatrelax for future event details and information!

Thank you for reading and I hope you are inspired to go next summer!

Event Recap |9th Annual @ATLFoodandWine Festival #AFWF19 @Old4thWardPark #LoewsAtlanta #KnowTheSouth

Food and Wine, Wine and Food. Has there ever been two things that go together better? If you think the answer is no, than take a look at The Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, now in it’s 9th year, the festival is an ode to southern cooking and libations. It took place this past weekend, May 30-June 2, 2019, at the Loews Atlanta Hotel in Midtown and at the Historic Old 4th Ward Park.

👀 TAKE A LOOK at their preview video⤵️

This festival truly has it all… from special dinner presentations, informative learning seminars and the epic tasting tents where you can indulge in an all you can taste experience! The Midtown community of Atlanta served as the perfect backdrop for the festivities and the mother nature gave us all beautiful weather to enjoy ourselves at the festival! The event was well organized and put together with such detail and care that it really felt like a fun, family affair!

OFFICIAL HOTEL | LOEWS ATLANTA

One of the many unique features of this world class festival is the fact that the vast majority of events take place all under the roof of the gorgeous Loews Atlanta Hotel in Midtown. This was the official host hotel and the festival basically does a weekend takeover. All of the event rooms, spaces and lounges are occupied by various tasty seminars, beverage mixing classes and much more. We made the Loews our base camp for the weekend and it was the best decision ever. *Stay tuned for our review of our stay at the Loews Atlanta Hotel soon!

TASTING TENTS | HISTORIC OLD 4TH WARD PARK

The tents were located at a new location at Historic Old Fourth Ward Park, which is adjacent to the Ponce City Market Food Hall and the Beltline. Crowds arrived early and stayed until closing. They came to eat, drink, explore the south and party! Guests got to enjoy live music, a DJ, fun photo booths, and gift swag. The thoughtfully curated Tasting Tents allowed guests to take a culinary road trip through the South and discover new food/beverages to enjoy.

FOOD | #PNCBestoftheFest

When guests arrived at the Tasting Tents, they received a tasting glass and a chip to vote for their favorite bite (or sip) at the festival. The entire food lineup was impressive, so it was really hard to chose just one! Oysters on the half shell and lobster rolls were my favorite seafood choices. Hot chicken sliders were amazing as were the prime rib tacos. The Visit Mississippi tent had an amazing beef and mushroom burger topped with a fried oyster. It was so good! I also loved the fresh tuna from the Visit Aruba exhibitor. There also were dessert options to satisfy your sweet tooth. With so many delicious choices, both regional and global to try, the festival is designed to take your tastebuds on an epicurean journey.

LIBATIONS | Wine, Spirits, Beer, etc.

Cheers to the Atlanta Food &Wine Festival for having libations of every sensation: Bourbon, Vodka, Gin, Whisky, Tequila, Beer, and Wine for all to enjoy! Guests who have chosen not to consume alcohol could still enjoy creative drinks thanks to The Mocktail Project, which celebrates and allows an inclusive drinking culture. There also was an effort to support sustainability by using AARDVARK paper straws!

Some of my favorite sips were from Bedlam Vodka and Knob Creek, who not only served craft cocktails but both had great vendor setups. Bedlam had a lounge and Knob Creek were actually “smoking” their Old Fashion cocktail. We even got to witness how the smoke was infused with the drink! (I captured a snippet of the process for you and uploaded in my YouTube video below). Every varietal of wine was on hand from whites to reds and of course rosé were available to enjoy each festival day!

LEARNING EXPERIENCES

More than 50 learning experiences, dinners and events were offered by #AFWF19 for guests to get Off the Eaten Path and get to #KnowtheSouth. Dozens of food and drink topics were covered at the Loews Atlanta Hotel, where guests could choose between which hour long seminar to attend throughout the weekend. I attended the Cast Iron Chronicles: Evolution Of Soul Food sponsored by Butter Pat Industries and presented by Tiffanie Barriere[@thedrinkingcoach], Jennifer Hill Booker, and Deborah Vantrece.

These three women not only educated guests on the true history of soul food but also prepared communal dishes for us in the ‘smooth’ cast iron pan from Butter Pat Industries. Did you know that the seed of black eyed peas were smuggled from Africa by slaves who then grew them here and from that a dish called “Hopping John” was born?! We got to try an updated and elevation version of that dish. The Chefs reminded us that soul food is more than grease and gravy and should be celebrated! We also were served two cocktails ( one was rum based, the other is named Cab Calloway made with sherry) and as a bonus, we got to try some of the best peach cobbler I ever had!

I also enjoyed The Other Cuts sponsored by Big Green Egg, which was held on the beautiful outdoor terrace at Loews. Chefs served samples of lesser known meat cuts from Porter Road, a meat delivery service, and how to best grill them for maximum flavor and tenderness. There were so many other interesting seminars but alas I could only be in one place at a time. Where was my clone when I needed her?!

👀 WATCH my video recap of The Ninth Annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival below and hope to see you there next year MAY 28-MAY 31, 2020!! Follow @atlfoodandwine for details

🎉🎉🎉🎉CONGRATS to Chef Kristian Wade of Beau Rivage Resort & Casino as this year’s winner of the #PNCBestoftheFest competition! The ‘Landmass Burger’ satisfies both burger fans & seafood lovers with it’s combination of beef + fried oyster!


The 9th Annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival took my tastebuds on a fun, foodie journey that I will never forget! I got to sip & savor, discover amazing flavors, and taste cuisine from the South and beyond. I also enjoyed the education received from culinary talent and the celebration of community during the entire weekend. Can’t wait until next year!

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Event Recap | 7th Annual Bull City Food & Beer Experience @BullCityEXP @DPAC #Durham #Food #Beer #Fun

On March 24, 2019, 30+ of Durham’s Finest Restaurants Paired with 30+ Fantastic Breweries at the 7th Annual Bull City Food & Beer Experience! This event was held at DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center) in Durham, NC and presented by Tyler’s Restaurant & Taproom and Sam’s Quik Shop to benefit the ELLERBE CREEK WATERSHED ASSOCIATION.

Last year, I had the opportunity to cover the 6th Annual Bull City Food and Beer Experience>>read recap here<< and can assure you it’s a great time for foodies and beer lovers alike!
The event features restaurants paired with breweries spread throughout all three DPAC floors featuring unlimited samplings and the Stella Artois Onstage Experience showcasing live music & local food trucks.

Admission into the Bull City Food & Beer Experience includes:

  • Souvenir Glass
  • Food Sampling from 30 of Durham’s finest restaurants in addition to local food trucks and food vendors
  • Beer Sampling from local and national breweries
  • A limited number of VIP Experience Ticket Holders will enjoy all elements of regular admission PLUS 30-minute early event access, a private entrance and restrooms, specialty food tastings, exclusive T-shirt, private access to VIP tasting lounge with specialty spirit, rare beer and wine tasting only available to VIP experience ticket holders.

Take a look at the 2019 List of Restaurant/Breweries:

Here are some of my Favorite Pairings and Highlights:

Harvest 18 – Tröegs Independent Brewing

Alley Twenty Six – Golden Road Brewing

The Pit – Bold Rock Hard Cider

Bleu Olive – Compass Rose Brewery

Qspresso – Stem Ciders

Stella Artois Onstage Experience featuring Live Music

Check out more of my favorite bites from the night:

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Swipe 🔙 to see some of the tasty bites from last night at the 7th Annual Bull City Food and Beer Experience! Over 30+ local restaurants were paired with breweries and some of the Chefs created dishes using whichever beer,ale,cider,stout,mead it was paired with! The yummy variety at @bullcityfoodandbeerexperience is what I most enjoyed about the event! ********* See my YouTube video recap + Read more about this event #ontheblog, SobeSavvy.com! *********** #bullcityfoodandbeerexperience #BullCity #Food #Beer #Durham #NC #DurhamEats #919eats #DurhamFoodies #NCeats #DurhamRestaurants #NomNom #SobeSavvy #soNCsavvy #yum #Lifestyleblogger #EventBlogger #FoodBlogger #RaleighBlogger #DurhamBlogger #TriFoodies

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This event was simply wonderful. The variety of food vendors on 3 floors allowed for our tastebuds to never get bored. Most dishes were presented in the perfect bite size so my beer samples never spilled! Some chefs chose to incorporate their beer pairing as an ingredient in whatever dish they created. I also loved how most beer vendors took the time to educate guests on various beer backstories and fermentation methods. It was simply the perfect way to spend a beautiful early spring afternoon!

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As The 7th Annual @bullcityfoodandbeerexperience comes to a close, I would like to raise my #beersampling glass to @tylersrestaurant + @samsquikshop and everyone who came out to @dpacnc for this #Durhamevent benefitting @ellerbecreeknc! There were so many delicious local #Durham #NC #restaurants, paired with #breweries from across the nation. Stay tuned for more highlights from the #bullcityfoodandbeerexperience on the blog, SobeSavvy.com! ————— #SobeSavvy #Foodblogger #Raleighblogger #eventblogger #Durhamblogger #durhamfoodie #ncblogger #beer #food #bullcity #durham #yum #chefs #foodfest #sundayfunday #ipa #beerfest #foodandbeer #foodies #ncbeer #trifoodies #durhameats #event #eatlocal

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👀Watch my YouTube Video event recap here>> https://youtu.be/XByGcmJptZo

For more information about participating Restaurants & Breweries, how to donate to Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association or if you want to sign up for details of their next event in 2020, please visit – BULLCITYEXPERIENCE.COM

Event Recap | The Art of Cool Festival 2018 – 5th Yr Anniversary @aocfest #AOCFEST | by SobeSavvy.com

The Art of Cool Festival 2018 has come to a close, but we here at SobeSavvy.com was fortunate to attend and share with you some of the magical moments from #AOCFEST. There has been so much growth since we attended the Art of Cool Fest in 2015, and I am so glad to be apart of highlighting this amazing festival. This past weekend, we celebrated the 5th Anniversary of this great music festival that brings jazz-inspired music, artists and all the Cooligans together in Downtown Durham, NC. Trust me, you don’t want to miss next year!

This year the AOCFEST experience was expanded to include Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop and Soul performances by renowned artists from around the world! 20+ artists, 6 venues, 1 price to enjoy: Live Music Concerts, shop from local vendors at the Urban Street Market, dance, mingle and network at the various Day Parties, savor Durham cuisine from the featured Food Trucks and quench your thirst at the Beergarden. The AOCFEST 2018 truly had something for everyone. It’s an amazing sensory experience you must see, taste, hear, and feel!

DAY 1- SEPT 28

The fun began on Friday with the arrival of music lovers to Downtown Durham. Festival goers could shop for some official merch at Wristband City, grab a cocktail, and listen to live music at various pop ups and attend free Innovate Your Cool seminars / workshops focused on Innovation, Music and Culture. I caught at DJ set on the rooftop at Unscripted Hotel where The Lux Blog held a meet-up mixer to welcome everyone including bloggers/social media influencers to the Art of Cool festival. It was a vibe!

Downtown Durham is a walkable city and the perfect place to host the AOCFEST because all the venues are conveniently within walking distance to each other. Just a couple of blocks over from Unscripted, I was able to catch MeShell N’degeocello at the Carolina Theater. She is a talented singer and musician who reminded us in the audience that although the lighting was not ideal, MUSIC. IS. SOMETHING. YOU. FEEL. She took us down memory lane by singing her funky smooth renditions of Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam “I Wonder If I Take You Home”, Al B. Sure “Night & Day” and TLC ‘s “Waterfalls” along with her classic song “Grace” from her album Bitter.

Maxwell headlined at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, which is new on this list as an official AOCFEST stage. Everyone who was either seated in the stadium watching his concert from the jumbo screen or on the field could see his moves and feel his groove! There were so many favorite songs by the incomparable male singer that turned into a sing-a-long, such as “Pretty Wings”, “Bad Habits” and “Fortunate”.

Watch Video Highlights of Photo Recap from Day 1 As Seen on the Scene by SobeSavvy.com! ⤵️

Day 2 – SEPT 29

Downtown Durham was the place to be for the second and last day of music and festivities. Even if you were not going to the concerts, there were so many ways to support the community and enjoy the amazingly cool city of Durham. A 90’s style vintage pop up party hosted by The Key to Style was my first stop before heading to the heart of the Bull City. CCB Plaza, near the iconic bull statue, is where emerging artists performed cyphers and Hip Hop radio station K97.5 held a block party showcasing local talent.

From there, I took a short walk to Pinhook, an iconic live music venue in Durham perfectly sized for intimate performances. Durham’s own Zoo Cru were up first. This quartet of musicians jammed out to their own unique sounds that is really beyond description. Not electronica and not R&B but a subtle blend of both. I love to support local, so I enjoyed my first listen from this popular band.

Next up at Pinhook was renowned trumpeter Keyon Harrold. He has done music and horns for A listers such as Beyonce and JayZ over the years. In addition, Mr. Harrold did the music for the hollywood movie “Miles”, so his resume is unmatched. Wynton Marsalis has called him “The Future of the Trumpet”. He did not dissapoint. His breath control and range were simply amazing. He was paired with a female vocalist which added a different angle to his horn. Unique and dynamic music is just one of the many things you will always experience at AOCFEST.

What’s a festival without the opportunity to shop from a variety of vendors? The Urban Market, set up on Blackwell Street, was the answer for those of us who like to shop local. Vendors were on hand selling quality products such as clothing, artwork, accessories and natural body care products, like my favorite Nailah Shea. Enthusiastic and stylish crowds took advantage of the warm, sunny afternoon in the Bull City. It was fun for the whole family!

My AOCFEST experience ended with seeing the one and only Erykah Badu, who is the first female to headline the Art of Cool Festival. Nas had just rocked the mic and said goodnight as i was entering the stadium. Before Ms.Badu came to the stage at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the crowd heard from the new President and VP of The Art of Cool Festival, Sulaiman and Lesleigh Mausi, Founders of The DOME Group, LLC. They thanked the sponsors and all the fans for a fabulous Art of Cool Festival weekend.

Ms. Badu came to the stage with her big hat, her big hair to match her big voice and asked..”Brothers, how y’all feel? Sistahs, y’all alrite” ? She really needed no introduction because her energy fills up any atmosphere. Erykah Badu almost single handidly created the genre called “Neo Soul”. Her music, style and delivery of colorful lyrics has made her one of the most unique talents of our time! Fans filled up Durham Bulls Athletic Park and joined together to celebrate her greatness which like her song, goes “On and On”.

Watch Video Highlights of Photo Recap from Day 2 As Seen on the Scene by SobeSavvy.com! ⤵️

Electric ending to another exciting and informative Art Of Cool Festival. The AOCFEST is one of the best music festivals that gets better every year. Be sure to check out aocfestival.com • #AOCFEST and make plans to visit Durham, NC to experience the Art of Cool Festival next year! Congratulations again to Art of Cool Festival for 5 years strong!

Event Recap |#NCWineMonth September 2018 Kickoff, A Celebration of #NCWine + Featured Wineries To Try!

North Carolina Wine and Grape Month | 2018 Kick Off Event | Norris House-Raleigh,NC | August 28,2018

Hey Wine Lovers! It is time to raise a glass and support your favorite NC wineries because September is North Carolina Wine and Grape Month. This is the time of year vineyards and local wine makers are celebrated and recognized for helping North Carolina become the 7th highest wine producer in the nation!

Leslie H., Founder of Lifestyle Blog- SobeSavvy.com with hosts NC Wine Guys! Follow NCWineGuys.com as they share their knowledge of all things NC Wine

The NC Wine Guys hosted their invitation only kickoff event at the famous Norris House in downtown Raleigh. This historical home was the perfect venue to promote the upcoming month and feature some regional wineries.

Norris House | Raleigh,NC – Beautiful location for the North Carolina Wine and Grape Month 2018 Kickoff Event

After the presentation of the Governor’s Proclamation which officially sanctioned the month of September, guests had the chance to network, and eat from a spread of spectacular breads, cheese and meats provided by local favorite La Farm Bakery.

La Farm Bakery eats are the perfect pairing to NC Wines!

Guests also had an opportunity to taste wines from different wineries across the state, showcasing what North Carolina Wine is all about. Got To Be NC wine glasses were provided to sample over 25 wines from 8 wineries. Want to know how to effectively taste a number of wines and appreciate them all at an event? Here is a Pro Tip to Wine Tasting provided by NC Wine Guys!

Pro Tip

Swirl – take a moment to swirl the wine in your glass to get some air into it.

Smell – stick your nose right into the glass and sniff.

Sip – take the wine into your mouth, swish it around, and see how it tastes.

Spit – this is important as you’ll be tasting about several wines. *Spit cups, dump buckets, and water were provided.

I was quite impressed by the variety of the wineries that we had the pleasure of tasting yesterday. Most have tasting rooms and winery tours on their property that I look forward to visiting! Be sure to check out their websites for more details.

Banner Elk Winery, Banner Elk, NC http://www.bannerelkwinery.com/

One of my favorites was the High Country Rosé~a dry seasonal wine that would go great with baked salmon. Their use of French-American hybrids of grapes and the elevation to which they are grown is what gives thwir wines a unique taste!

Childress Vineyards, Lexington, NC http://www.childressvineyards.com/

I just loved their Starbound Dessert Wine. This blueberry wine is fortified with Brandy and aged in Oak Barrels for at least a year. It was my first time trying it but will not be my last. It retails at $19.99 at selected Harris Teeter.

Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery, Thurmond, NC https://www.jonesvondrehle.com/

Their Petite Manseng wine is simply fabulous. Grown on their 85 acre vineyard, this award winning white is something to behold. If you like dry, European styled wine, then I would recommend wines from this family owned winery. As reviewed by Epicurean Magazine in Charlotte, watch my video and hear more about why red wine lovers enjoy this full bodied white!

Biltmore Wines, Asheville, NC https://www.biltmore.com/visit/village-winery

Located on the iconic 8,000 acre Biltmore Estate grounds, their Chardonnay is aged in both steel and oak barrels which gives it a distinct finish that I enjoyed. Their winery is mostly self sustainable. So much that the winery vehicles actually run on used oil from their operations instead of gas!

Raylen Vineyards, Mocksville, NC https://www.raylenvineyards.com/

No matter if you are a wine expert or novice, I find there is always something to learn from sales/marketing managers and tasting room managers of wineries. We spoke with Micah Habershaw, Assistant Tasting Room Manager of Raylen Vinyards, who gave us ideas for food pairing choices with their fruit forward wines. For example, their 2016 Petit Verdot would be great with lamb chops and grilled salmon with 2017 Rosé of Cabernet Franc.

Laurel Gray Vineyard, Hamptonville, NC https://www.laurelgray.com

I tried their Scarlet Mountain Red Table Wine, which is their best seller. If you like a red that is not too sweet and straight down the middle, this would go well with any red sauce dish you could think of!

Also in attendance was Cybress Bend Vineyards from Wagram,NC , Junius Lindsay Vineyard from Lexington,NC and Sanctuary Vineyards of Jarvisburg,NC. From the mountains to the coast, wines from every region were represented at this kickoff event. These featured wineries truly exemplify the diversity of wines found here in our great state of North Carolina.

This was the 2nd year of this event hosted by NC Wine Guys and North carolina Wine and Grape Council. What a great introduction and celebration for North Carolina Wine and Grape Month. Help spread the word about North Carolina wines and be sure to go check out these wineries and buy their wines for yourself or as a gift! Follow #NCWine and #NCWineMonth on social media for information and to join the conversation about North Carolina Wineries throughout the month of September and beyond!

Do you have a favorite NC Wine that you enjoy? I ❤ 2017 Pearl Albariño from Santuary Vineyards as it pairs well with seafood. Share in the comments below your faves!CHEERS 🥂🍇🍷

Cheers to North Carolina Wine And Grape Month – September 2018

Event Recap |Carnival Horizon’s Naming Celebration + More #FunontheHorizon @CarnivalCruise

#FUNONTHEHORIZON

If you read my previous blog, I shared My Top 5 Must See Features On Carnival Cruise Line’s Newest Ship, Carnival Horizon. Well, I just got back from seeing it in person at the naming ceremony and US inaugural celebration in New York on May 23, 2018. This momentous occasion has left me so inspired to cruise with my family this summer!

Photo Credit | Carnival Cruise Line

Officially named by its godmother Queen Latifah, Carnival Horizon was celebrated by invited guests aboard the ship for an evening full of festivities. My time with Carnival Cruise reminded me that having fun is a daily choice and if I had one word to describe the event it would be FUN! Just take a look at my #FunOntheHorizon recap and you’ll see why:

MEDIA BRIEFING

Prior to the event, Carnival hosted a media briefing with Carnival President Christine Duffy, where St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was presented with a $100,000 donation check from Carnival representing monies raised from various fundraisers, both onboard and ashore. The funds continue the line’s ongoing support of St. Jude with more than $16 million raised in the fight against childhood cancer since the partnership began in 2010.

EMBARKATION

After the media briefing, it was time for the fun to begin aboard the Carnival Horizon! Check In/Boarding was a smooth process thanks to Carnival’s wonderful staff and The Cat in the Hat was even there to welcome us. When I boarded the ship, the first thing I noticed was the Dreamscape, a stunning three-deck-high LED sculpture in the ship’s atrium. It will showcase the artwork of the talented young artists from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It’s a beautiful sight to see and such a cool collaboration!

TOUR

Before the naming ceremony, my husband and I took a self-guided tour of Carnival Horizon. We started in our outside stateroom which was spacious, modern and comfy.

We could not wait to see the dozens of new innovations on this ship that makes it different than other Carnival cruises! Carnival Horizon has:

* Dr.Seuss Waterworks, the first-ever Dr. Seuss water park

* a new teppanyaki venue, Bonsai

* Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse, a unique dining concept that combines real deal BBQ favorites created by Food Network star and longtime partner Guy Fieri, along with four craft beers brewed on board by brewmaster Colin Presby.

Carnival Horizon is the second in the line’s Vista class series so it includes features like the following:

*the bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide

*a Havana section with its own Cuban-themed bar and pool

NAMING CEREMONY

Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line said “Carnival Horizon’s naming ceremony was one of our best yet, with Queen Latifah carrying out her duties as godmother then battling it out with Super Bowl champion Jake Elliott of my hometown Philadelphia Eagles in an entertaining Lip Sync Battle. We were also delighted to showcase the wonderfully talented children from St. Jude whose artwork on the Dreamscape will be forever associated with this spectacular ship.”

Photo Credit | Carnival Cruise Line

Added Latifah, “My time aboard Carnival Horizon was nothing short of incredible. In addition to having the honor of serving as the ship’s godmother, meeting the amazing kids from St. Jude and their families and squaring off against Jake in an all-out Lip Sync Battle is certainly something I will always cherish.”

Photo Credit | Carnival Cruise Line

LIP SYNC BATTLE | #LSBCarnival

Photo Credit | Carnival Cruise Line

Following the ceremony, we headed into the Liquid Lounge to see Queen Latifah square off against Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl champion Jake Elliott in Lip Sync Battle: Horizon modeled after the hit Paramount Network TV series and rolling out across the Carnival fleet.

Photo Credit | Carnival Cruise Line

Latifah rocked the house with her incredible interpretation of the Weather Girls classic “It’s Raining Men,” while Elliott had a chance to live out his rock star fantasies performing Whitesnake’s arena anthem “Here I Go Again,” all performed with back-up dancers from Carnival Horizon’s Playlist Productions to a packed house who were given light up microphones and foam banners to wave in support of “Queen” or “Champ”.

DINING

Dressed in our “cruise elegant” attire, [if you are like me and not quite sure what that is, find definition here] we headed to dinner in the Meridan Dining room. Being the seafood lover that I am, I ordered and enjoyed the oysters as a starter, the Lobster/Shrimp entree while my husband got the lamb chops. We also sampled food from the Seafood Shack,various dishes from the buffet at Lido and Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint!

There are so many dining options and amenities to satisfy any traveling foodie! The quality of the food was great and everything we tried was fresh, and flavorful. After dinner drinks are available at the many bars on the ship. If you enjoy craft cocktails, definitely try Alchemy Bar, where they take a scientific approach to Mixology.

ENTERTAINMENT

So much to see and so much to do if you choose aboard the Carnival Horizon. Sports Fans can hang out at the SkyBox Sports Bar, Comedy Lovers can catch at act at the Limelight Lounge, check out the DJ and party on the deck. Catch a movie at IMAX or watch a Dive-IN Movie at Seaside Theater.

There really is so much to do and I had so little time. However, this overnight stay gave me just enough glimpse into how entertaining a cruise on Carnival Horizon would be!

BOOK YOUR CRUISE


Carnival Horizon kicks off a summer schedule from New York with a four-day cruise to Bermuda departing May 24, 2018. The ship will operate four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from New York through September then reposition to Miami for year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning later that month.


To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line or to make a reservation, visit Carnival.com, call 1-800-CARNIVAL, or contact any travel agent. Follow Carnival on: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

GIVE BACK #HOWICHOOSEFUN

Thanks again Carnival for giving me the opportunity to explore Carnival Horizon to get a first look at your 26th ship and share the #FunontheHorizon!

As part of their “Choose Fun” for a great cause campaign, Carnival invites us all to share a selfie on social media with the hashtag #HowIChooseFun and Carnival will make a donation to St.Jude Children’s Research Hospital!

Leslie, Founder of SobeSavvy.com and her daughter #outandaboutAva says Carpe Diem! Wake Up and Choose Fun! #HowIChooseFun

I choose fun by embracing my inner child while playing with my own kid. Everyday she reminds me to get some laughs and fun in before my Mom/Wife/Life daily duties begin!
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE FUN?

Event Recap |Fun Times at #GalentinesDayPJBrunch !Celebrating #GalentinesDay in #Raleigh #NC

Product gifted to SobeSavvy.com by Bedlam Vodka, Hard Candy and Lit Cosmetics

I have never celebrated Galentine’s Day before until this past Saturday when the lovely Nekeyeta Newkirk (Raleigh’s BBU Director, Stylist & Blogger @the_key2style) invited me along with some fellow bloggers and closest friends to a Galentine’s Day Pajama Jam Brunch. I love a great theme party as well as a chance to fellowship with other creatives, so I found me some PJs (shout out Carolina Thrift) and was ready to network and party! But first, I got in a quick mini photoshoot at home because that’s what we bloggers do!

Pajama Set: Soma Intimates, Embraceable Pajama Pants + Top French Scroll Black | Lipstick: Hard Candy Fierce Effects Matte , Crave

If you are like me and never celebrated Galentine’s Day before, it occurs on February 13 and its a chance for women to get together with their friends and celebrate sisterhood, friendship, Valentine’s Day and self-love! It’s a chance to connect with your tribe and support each other. We did all of that over some amazing food and drink of course. Take a look:

THE FOOD + DRINK

The Brunch menu was an amazing fusion of island and southern cuisine with buttermilk waffles including donut, blueberry and red waffle flavors and savory chicken wings sponsored by Big C Waffles + delicious strawberry cupcakes provided by Southern Lady Sweets ! Cohost Laing of Laing & Co., @justlaing, brought the vibes of the island with her saltfish and jerk chicken. Other brunch items like grits, andouille sausage, dumplings, eggs were also on the buffet style spread.

Sangria and speciality cocktails made with Durham’s own Bedlam Vodka were available to enjoy. I highly suggest when you are going to a party and asked to bring an adult beverage, #BringTheBedlam! And feel free to make this Galentine Martini aka Galentini to celebrate on Galentine’s Day or anytime!

THE GIFT BAGS

Parties can be a drag without some kinda of swag..that is a gift bag for your guests to take home to remember how fun it was! The #GalentinesPJBrunch had some great swag bag sponsors. Make sure you check out these brands and upcoming projects:

Original Artwork from @Millifemme

Candles from @habibaloveskenton

Satin Bonnets from @captivatingcaps

Shea Butter Bath Soaps from @nailahs_shea

Upcoming Events

Darkness Rising Project ~ @castcarlita

Upcoming event @baabsbeauty

Upcoming event @shopnoblecompanion

I would like to thank the following SobeSavvy.com gift bag sponsors for the ‘Galentines Day Pajama Jam Brunch’. We randomnly selected a few ladies to go home with the following goodies:

Bedlam Vodka crew super soft t-shirts + Bedlam Vodka mini bottles | @bedlamvodka #bedlamvodka #bringthebedlam

Hard Candy cosmetics | @hardcandylife #hardcandymakeup #hardcandylife

Lit Cosmetics | @litcosmetics #LITCOSMETICS Follow Facebook: www.facebook.com/litcosmetics

…And Crabtree Valley Mall (where I recently went shopping for #MyVioletValentineseries and dining at Brio for Valentine’s Day Preview) and picked up sample goodies from Belk, complimentary dining coupons from Brio and some Crabtree and Evelyn hand cream.

We all had a wonderful time filled with laughs, good eats, great conversation, dancing and pictures of course. Find more of the fun at #GalentinesPJBrunch #BlogBaeBrunch, my instastories @SobeSavvy and my YouTube recap. Until next time ladies…

The Galentines Day PJ Brunch 2018 in Raleigh,NC was so much fun!

Have you celebrated Galentine’s Day before. How do you plan to celebrate this year? Let me know below and Happy Galentine’s & Valentines’s Day to you! 💖💜💖

Event Recap | #NCMAEbony ‘Behind the Seams ~ Girls in Gowns in the Gallery @ncartmuseum 

Disclaimer: Thank you to NCMA for providing tickets to facilitate this recap by blog contributor, Kiara Ruth @kiararuth

Beautiful gowns and heels adorned the halls of the North Carolina Art Museum for the Ebony Fashion Fair Behind the Seams, Girls in Gowns in the Gallery event. Burst of colors and personal closet picks were the hallmarks of the night. Celebrating Inspiring Beauty 50 years of Ebony Fashion Fair exhibition, the sold-out event featured a lip print analysis by Ariana Lightningstorm who has been featured on Dr. Oz, delicate candy floss provided by Mama’s Sugar Shack and methods for fashion illustration with live demonstration by visual artist Karen Campbell. 

During this event you were able to sip and stroll the galleries with your girls dressed in their best gowns. We were able to view the 40 stunning outfits by Christian Dior, Givenchy, Alexander Mcqueen and many more. Designs from the 60’s to the early 2000’s vibrantly worn by the most beautiful mannequins filled the North Carolina Art Museum. 

This portrait was drawn by Karen Campbell. She was gracious enough to make me look like a Disney Princess. She is amazing, and her talent is out of this world. Visit her website at www.karencampbellartist.com for illustrations and live demonstrations.

During this event my favorite thing to eat was the blue raspberry cotton candy from Mamas Sugar Shack; It was just the right amount of sweet and the perfect addition for any party.

I went with this off the shoulder rose gown from Swoon, a local boutique in Holly Springs, NC. Here are more photos from this lovely event:

Overall the Behind the Seams, Girls in Gown Night was simply amazing. I am extremely grateful that I attended this event. ~Kiara Ruth

If you missed the Behind the Seams event, check out NC Museum of Art’s photo stream >>>>here. Be sure to follow @SobeSavvy, @NCartmuseum and share your experience on social media using hashtag #NCMAebony

North Carolina Museum of Art

East Building

Meymandi Exhibition Gallery

October 28, 2017- January 21, 2018

Event Recap|Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival @drinkeatrelax @theyardsdc #oysters #beer #fun

Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival DC | Photo Credit: SobeSavvy.com

Hi, my name is Leslie and I am a seafood lover. Considering I was born in Maryland and lived there for 23 years of my life, seafood from the Chesapeake Bay is most likely in my DNA! So when I heard about the Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival, I knew this was going to be a shucking good time!

Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival DC -Capitol Riverfront/The Yards DC

It all went down on October 21, 2017 from noon-6pm at the Capitol Riverfront, next to Nationals Stadium at The Yards Park in Washington,DC . It was the perfect day..sunny skies, high 70s..for an outdoor festival filled with seafood and libations. There were over 30 wines, beers, and spirits to sample along with over 15 types of oysters. The motto of the day was SHUCK. SLURP. REPEAT..oh and watch out for the Angry Mermaid!

Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival DC “Shuck,Slurp,Repeat” ..and 1 Angry Mermaid

FOOD

Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival DC | Oysters served Raw, Grilled, Steamed

Whether you like oysters raw, grilled, or steamed (or if you are like me and enjoy them in all ways), then this festival is for you! Some of the world’s best shuckers were there handling the 1000’s of bivalves with care at this All You Care To Taste event. If oysters are not your thing, there were food truck options, restaurant samplings and other types of seafood such as mussels, clams, shrimp and lobster*(if you were one of the lucky ones to get some). 

Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival | New England Clambake, Charleston Seafood Boil & Lobster Steam

Per the Oyster listing, these were served at the festival:

Double T’s ● Shore Things ● War Shore Oyster ● Battle Creek Oyster ● Rocky Shores ● Tatamaguche ● Malpeques ● Fire lakes ● Caribous ● Blues points ● Delaware Bays ● Shooting points ● Bullseye’s ● Salt ponds ● Well fleets ● Duxburys ● Naked cowboys ● Sugar shacks ● Arrow heads ● Caraquets

If I had to choose one (which is a blasphemy to a seafoodie like me) the Blue Points were my favorite served raw. There was a condiment station with lemons, cocktail sauce and horseradish to add to the taste of those briny beauties. The Grilled Oysters with Goat Cheese +BBQ and Garlic +Parmesean were also amazing! I hope to recreate those at home to serve sooner than later.

Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival | Freshly shucked Blue Points and Oysters from the grill

DRINK

Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival DC | Souvenir Glass

Upon arrival, VIPs and General Admission guests received a Souvenir Glass to taste over 30 Beers, Spirits and Wines.  That’s right, the event is not all just beer. Included with the ticket price was access to the wine pavilion, where attendees could enjoy pairing with Champagne, Chablis, Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc and many more!

Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival | Wines,Spirits,Beers

 FUN

Friends enjoying the Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival

If you have ever been to a Drink Eat Relax event or festival then you know their goal is to provide a fun, value -oriented experience that wows you and is worthy of your valuable weekend time. I can say after attending this one, between the games, music, drinks and flavorful seafood, I left feeling like the world was my oyster! 

If you saw my TwitterInstagramFacebook , I shared more photos from this fun event!  You can also click below to see the following: 

Watch “2017 Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival” on YouTube

Fun Times at Chesapeake Oyster & Beer Festival

Be sure to follow Drink Eat Relax on Facebook , Twitter , SnapchatInstagram and drinkeatrelax.com to find out where their next event on the East Coast (from NYC to Tampa) will be! You don’t want to miss it!