Family Travel | Fun Tips For Your Mountain Weekend Winter Vacay in Asheville, NC


In our home, we try to apply this rule Long Weekends = Family Vacay
..and since we all had MLK Day off Monday + our daughter had no school on Tuesday due to a teacher workday, 
it was the perfect reason to take a roadtrip and enjoy a change of scenery! This time we made plans to drive to Asheville, NC.

From Raleigh, NC it took us about 4 hours to arrive. Our 9 year old was so excited to have a mountain vacay and so were we! Although this is not our first time visiting AVL, it has been quite a few years and she doesn’t remember much. Our experience will be different, new memories will be made and a balance of fun and relaxtion is always on the agenda.
If you are planning a family trip to Asheville, NC this winter, take a look at our family vacay experience featuring some kid-friendly and family fun tips for you to enjoy!



Arrive | Saturday


SEE & SIP: We made a pit stop in Black Mountain, NC to see the Roberta Flack Mural located on the side of the Black Mountain Brewing building. I am a big fan of her music and was excited to see how they paid homage to this African American female artist! While there, make sure to have one of their unique beers that are brewed daily and see why this area is known for it’s craft beer culture and breweries. For the kids, they have chips and a food truck on the outside patio to grab snacks from. 

SobeSavvy Tip: If you are bringing the family pet along, no worries… friendly dogs in leashes are allowed!


EAT: We were ready to eat lunch when we arrived to Asheville and Itto Ramen Bar & Tapas fit the bill because the menu offers something for the whole family. We started with some tasty tapas (my kid loved the Itto gyoza dumplings and Itto Buns were perfect for my family of 3 because you get 3 to an order). If you enjoy sushi, the Yellowtail Jalapeno is a must try! Want something deliciously fried: order the Crab Rangoon or Takoyaki Balls!


Also on the menu are salads, cocktails/drink menu, wine, beer, sake, desserts as well as signature ramen. It was nice to warm up with a bowl of ramen that features broth that has been cooked for 7 to 9 hours!
They make 3 vats of broth daily that make 300 broth bowls. If your kid loves slurping up noodles like ours, then you must try their house-made ramen. I tried the Itto House Special Ramen, which is brothless but still full of amazing flavors! I am still dreaming about how good that dish is.
There are many gluten free and vegan options on the menu and they are proudly serving local fresh veggies, pork from Hickory Gap Farms and local beer also. My husband and I ordered from the Itto cocktails menu and made a toast to celebrate our safe arrival to Asheville and this amazing dining experience at Itto Ramen Bar & Tapas.





STAY: After hearing about our friends and their 2 kids stay at the Asheville Cottages, I knew it would have the right mix of rustic & luxury that my family would be satisfied with. Wifi for the hubby, a fire pit to make s’mores for the kid and a private hot tub for me! Our vacation rental cabin exceeded our expectations and we felt right at home. We stayed in The Chestnut, which is one of their 1 bedroom cottages. Overall, it was clean, cozy, and comfortable. We loved the location and surrounding views of the woods. Having a full kitchen along with a gas grill on the back deck allowed us to enjoy making meals together just like we would at home. A few things I don’t have at home that I wish I did now that I’ve experienced it here are the King -sized Select Comfort Sleep Number Bed and heated bathroom floors/toilet seat/towel rack. With so many extras, I most definitely would recommend Asheville Cottages for your next stay!


SobeSavvy Tip: Before you go, we shopped for a few hot tub accessories on Amazon to bring with us like this hot tub light that changes colors and some inflatable drink holders !

https://www.instagram.com/p/CKPeOOBgDQX/?igshid=9iynztbgzvna


Sunday Funday


SEE:  Located in Downtown Asheville, the Asheville Art Museum showcases 20th/21st century American Art along with a concentration on work with significance to the Southeast. After learning of it’s 24+ million expansion in 2019, this museum was on my must see list!  From the glass facade to The Oculus, which features a 15 foot viewing window and all the amazing art, photography, crafts and glass being housed here amongst the galleries, there is so much to see!  We spent our time looking at the various artworks in 10 different Exhibitions and learning about it’s Collection. Did you know that the Asheville Art Museum is a collecting institution and serves all 24 counties in Western NC? You can explore this museum both in person and virtually via their website!

SobeSavvy Tip: Families, make sure to take advantage of the programs and some of the fun activities available for kids while there. We printed their downloadable coloring sheets and note cards for the whole family to enjoy!



SobeSavvy Tip: Café access is free for Members or included with Museum admission. Members get a 10 percent discount with code AAMMember.

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DO: Add Hummingbird Candle Co. to your must do list when you visit Asheville for a unique candle-making experience. Shop and/or book an Interactive Candle Making Experience, with over 32 Scents to choose from using products that are earth-friendly. It’s the perfect Family (for kids age 7+) or Couples Date Night, Girls Night or Me Time fun anytime!
SobeSavvy Tip: Join the Insider Group for an Exclusive First Look at ALL of their NEW Items and Sales! You’ll receive 10% off your First Purchase TOO!

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CKKYNNvnXg6/?igshid=1cpfw4wawj4ms

Depart | Monday

READ: During our stay, I got to relax, relate and read! Here is a book recommendation to pick up before your next trip to Asheville: 📗EVEN AS WE BREATHE, the 1st novel published by a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is partially set in Asheville,NC during WWII and tackles difficult social/cultural/ethnic divides.
Author Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle has definitely written a fictional page- turner and is a wonderful writer! I started reading this book before plus  during our trip and it was the perfect vacation read.


SHOP: Ladies, (and all those who like to save & shop) I was happy to discover the Asheville Outlets were just minutes away from where we were staying. After we checked out of our cottage at 11am, we headed there to see what bargains we could find.   I got a belted puffer coat with faux fur hood on clearance at Banana Republic orig $189.99 for just $25‼️ Old Navy had something for the whole fam and our kid loved her new combat boots from Famous Footwear. There were so many quality brands to shop from but so little time (since we were departing from Asheville). However, it will be at the top of my list our next trip here!


SobeSavvy Tip: Make sure to check out these coupons from the Asheville Outlets for extra shopping savings!


Honor MLK: Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said ” We know that to bring justice, love and friendship, we must build strong communities that foster these things.”
We learned via Facebook that the Burton Street Peace Gardens, where they have an area of art dedicated to
Dr. King, would be a good place to visit to see how they honor his words and legacy, while supporting the community.

Before you go, check out ExploreAsheville.com for some insight ahead of your trip. You can find the latest roundups and newsy tidbits with updated information for the current world we live in here.


This winter family vacay was enjoyed by all! From the joy our daughter had just being in the mountains, to my husband spending so much time in the hot tub that I nicknamed him Jacuzzi Joe to me having fun remaking this ” Let It Snow ” video, we truly enjoyed our time in Asheville, NC.

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Top 5 Easy Meals For Kids To Make

Top 5 Easy Meals For Kids to Make | SobeSavvy.com & @outandaboutAva

Moms/Dads, raise your hand if being in quarantine and cooking all the meals has gotten old 🙋🏽‍♀️? So when our daughter, fondly referred to on the blog as @outandaboutAva showed an interest in creating dishes and sharing her meals online..we said go ‘head girl, get your cook on! She wanted to make Tik Tok videos showing off her kitchen skills and came up with a name for her cooking show: Ava Brings The Flava! She has so much fun doing these videos and we just love supporting her. One of our friends has even sent her some customized cooking utensils for her recent 9th birthday to keep encouraging this hobby of hers. Needless to say..Ava was so surprised and happy to receive this gift.

I am more than happy to sit back and let her make her own meals as long as she doesn’t burn down the house. So far, so good y’all! Ava has really grown in the kitchen and used these Covid-19 times to hone her skills while social distancing at home. These are the Top 5 Meals Easy Meals For Kids to Make presented by our 9 year old foodie/cook Ava!

Breakfast

Recipe: Ava-cado Toast

Lunch

Recipe: Pizza Piadina

Snack

Recipe: ChickPea Salad

Dinner

Recipe: Pesto Salmon

Dessert

Recipe: Mango Creamsicle

Which one of the recipes above have you made or would like to try? If you’d like to follow more of my girl’s cooking journey, follow along here:

TikTok: @leslieissobesavvy

IG: @outandaboutAva, @SobeSavvy

Hashtag: #AvaxFlava

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Does your kid like to cook or do you have an easy recipe that my daughter should try next? Please share below and thanks for reading!

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Event Recap | Fun Times at #GalentinesandWine @IL_Palio #GalentinesDay #ValentinesDay #IlPalioNC #winetasting #ChapelHill

What do you get when you mix Girlfriends + Wine Tasting + Valentine’s Day? You get #GalentinesandWine 💕🍷 An event I hosted and created to celebrate good wine and fun times with some amazing bloggers/influencers in the Triangle!

THE INVITE

Inspired by artwork from Deborah Cartwright, I set out to invite 4 black women bloggers/influencers whom I had the pleasure of vibing with over food and wine in the past. It gave all of us a great opportunity to connect and explore the unique, hand-selected collection of wines at Il Palio Restaurant.

THE RESTAURANT | IL PALIO

Il Palio, located inside the The Siena Hotel, was gracious to host our group and take us on a journey of their hand-selected Italian wines and paired it with some delicious small plates. Known for their warmth of service and quality of their cooking, Il Palio was the perfect choice to celebrate Galentine’s Day along with the great tradition of Italian hospitality. Annabel Butler, the new Restaurant Manager and Sommelier, did an excellent job of hosting us!

THE WELCOME COCKTAIL

Nothing says festive like a cocktail in a flute. Make it pink and you got the perfect Galentine’s drink! Lucky for us, Il Palio already had a pink cocktail on their menu, called the Pom Reader, made with Suntory Roku Gin, pomegranate liqueur, honey, lemon, prosecco. We loved this as a pink welcome cocktail prepared by their bartender Bryan!

THE WINE and FOOD Pairing

The wines picked for us were all Italian wines with all native grapes, which gave a great snapshot of Italian wines. These wines were paired with small Italian plates and were provided with tasting notes for all of the following wines:

Sparkling / Wild Card:

• Denny Bini Lambrusco, a chilled sparkling red wine from the Emilia-Romagna region [..paired with Oven Roasted Caprese Salad]

White:

• Collestefano, Verdicchio di Matelica, a nutty, high-acid white wine from the Marche region [ …paired with cheese, nuts, dried fruits]

• Fontanassa, Gavi Ca’Adua, made from the Cortese grape this full bodied white wine is similar to Chardonnay and comes from the Gavi region […paired with wood grilled octopus]

Red:

• Tasca Regaleali Rosso, Nero d’Avola, a lighter bodied red wine from Sicily grown in Volcanic Soil […paired with two types of wood grilled crostini – Olives Tapenade & Chicken Liver Mousse]

• Podero Sapaio Pappolo , a deliciously rich Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend [….paired with Marinated Beef Carpaccio] ❣ While everything I tried was a delicious pairing, this was my personal favorite duo of the night!

Sweet:

• Vietti Moscato a sweet wine from the Piedmont region. […paired with dessert, which was a cookie plate of the chef’s selection of house made Italian cookies]

**SobeSavvy Tip: Not sure what to get that special person in your life for Valentine’s Day? How about the gift of an exquisite Italian dinner in Chapel Hill, NC? Il Palio will have delicious options with wine pairings including their well-known Tagliatelle alla Tartufo. Get details about Valentine’s Day at Il Palio here:
https://ilpalio.com/valentines-day

❤🍽❤🍽❤🍽❤🍽❤🍽❤🍽

Also, SAVE THE DATEIl Palio at the Siena Hotel is excited to host the Podere Sapaio Wine Dinner on February 26, 2020 at 6:30pm. This special six-course dinner highlights wine originating from the territory in Italy that runs parallel to the Tuscan coast. Executive Chef Adam Rose has prepared each course to pair perfectly with winery owner Massimo Piccin’s beverage selections.Tickets are $95 per person including tax and gratuity, with reservations available by calling Il Palio at (919)-918-2545.

THANK YOUs

Me and My #GalentinesandWine ❤🍷celebration was lovely! Everyone got a Thank You gift from me as a token of my appreciation: a candle, chocolates, and a poem I wrote & framed inspired by #debracartwrightart.

To see more highlights of the event, WATCH my YOUTUBE video here:

Thank you again to my wonderful guests for joining me for this special evening and to the wonderful staff at IL PALIO! The great service, amazing food & wine and wonderful memories made with the ladies is something I will cherish always!

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Me and My #GalentinesandWine ❤🍷celebration was lovely! I hosted and created this event to celebrate some amazing black women bloggers/influencers in the Triangle! Plus, it gave us a great opportunity to connect and explore the unique, hand-selected collection of wines at Il Palio Restaurant. Special thank you to @il_palio for their great service, amazing food & wine and wonderful hospitality to host us ladies! • Everyone got a Thank You gift from me as a token of my appreciation: a candle, chocolates, and a poem I wrote & framed inspired by #debracartwrightart WATCH my instastories & SWIPE 🔙 to see highlights of the event! • Do you plan to celebrate Galentine's or Valentine's Day this year? — . . . #SobeSavvy #IlPalioNC #TheSienaHotel #WineWednesday #ItalianWines #Wineandfriends #HappyGalentinesDay #BeWine #BeMyGalentine #GirlsNightOut #GalentinesDay2020 #GalentinesDay #SobeSavvyPresents #blackgirlswine #lifestyleblogger #eventblogger #NCblogger #RaleighBlogger #SobeSavvyCelebrates #foodblogger #blkcreatives #wineandfriends #Blackwomenbloggers #hostesswiththemostess #blacklifestyleblogger #ChapelHill #Raleigh #Durham

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Do you plan to celebrate Galentine’s or Valentine’s Day this year? Let me know in the comments below your plans or if you need some inspiration and other savvy ideas, I’d be happy to help! Cheers 🍷❤ 🍽

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My Top 4 Raleigh Restaurants for @TriRestWeek | @41Hundred @Sushimon_nc @Seasons52 and STIR

Triangle Restaurant Week Roundup January 2020

If you’ve been following me over on Instagram @SobeSavvy, then you may have noticed that I have been getting my eat on for Triangle Restaurant Week! You still have this weekend to make plans to try some delicious dishes prepared for you in 3 courses at a fixed price. Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding areas are participating but here is a recap of my Top 4 Raleigh Restaurants to enjoy during Triangle Restaurant Week!

41 Hundred

Located in North Hills, inside the Renaissance Raleigh Hotel, 41 Hundred is not your ordinary hotel restaurant. Chef Kevin Smith and his team gave us memorable dishes that left lasting impressions. Here is where I kicked off Triangle Restaurant Week and ICYMI, you can check out my full review on the blog>>here. The dinner menu was 3 courses for $30 and I chose the Seafood Gumbo, Sea Bass, and Blueberry Cobbler Cheesescake. Everything was great from the service to the taste/quality of the food. From start to finish, I enjoyed it all but my favorite bite of the night was the Sea Bass as seen here ⤵️

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🎉Kicking off TRIANGLE RESTAURANT WEEK with Dinner at @41hundredlounge From January 20-26, 2020 stop in the Renaissance Raleigh Hotel located in North Hills and enjoy this restaurant's special menu offering a 3 course Lunch for $15 or 3 course Dinner for just $30 for @trirestweek ———— Pictured here: Course 2 | Sea Bass One word: INCREDIBLE ❤ To see more amazing eats from #41Hundred, check out my #instastories and stay tuned for my full #TRW review on the blog, SobeSavvy.com ! . . . #trianglerestaurantweek #SobeSavvy #SobeSavvyEats #NCblogger #foodblogger #Raleighblogger #visitnorthhills #huffpostaste #foodietribe #foodies #dinner #raleighrestaurants #raleighfood #food #trianglefoodies #foodie #nomnom #foodpics #whatIate #instagood #visitraleigh #919eats #raleighfoodpics #foodphotography #ncfoodfinds #forkyeah #f52grams

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STIR Raleigh

STIR Raleigh is also located in North Hills and is one of my go to place for fresh oysters. I was interested in seeing what dishes they came up with for Triangle Restaurant Week. Because I associate STIR with fresh seafood, I was hoping to see more seafood items but was still pleased with the choices. From their $30 p/p dinner menu, I chose Crab Ravioli, Braised Pork Shoulder, and Banana Cheesecake. I really enjoyed the dessert which tasted like a mashup of banana pudding and cheesecake! Take a look at my photos here and feast your eyes on STIR Raleigh ⤵️

Sushi Mon

I highly anticipated going here to Sushi Mon after hearing so many great things about their restaurant, its menu and of course sushi. So when I saw them on the Triangle Restaurant Week list of participating restaurants, I was so excited! Located near NC State, Sushi Mon offers “elevated takes on sushi and Japanese fare“. Their 4 course dinner menu for $35 took my tastebuds on a culinary journey. They had ingredients imported from Bangkok,Thailand and Spain but even featured local food too. My favorite bite of the night: EVERYTHING. Seriously, you can’t go wrong no matter what you choose. Here is my video which recaps my dining experience at Sushi Mon ⤵️

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𝐒𝐮𝐬𝐡𝐢 𝐌𝐨𝐧 × 𝐓𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐞 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐖𝐞𝐞𝐤 is AMAZING! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Sit at the sushi bar and enjoy the experience of watching the chef create the phenomenal dishes available on the special menu. Now thru Sunday, Jan 26. enjoy a 3 course lunch for $15 or 4 course dinner for $35! 👀WATCH this video for a inside look of @sushimon_raleigh x @trirestweek + check out my #instastories along with my dinner date/foodie friend @citygirlcece to see more of their fantastic food! 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐓𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐞 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐖𝐞𝐞𝐤?

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Seasons 52

When I found out my friend would be in town for a business meeting, we quickly made plans to meet for lunch. I told her it’s Triangle Restaurant Week here and we can go somewhere that would have vegan options for her. Seasons 52, located in Crabtree Valley Mall, is known for their healthy cuisine, fresh grill and wines. For $15 p/p, their 3 course Lunch menu is quite a deal! I got the Romaine and Kale Ceasar, Wood-Grilled Boneless Rainbow Trout and Mini Indulgence Dessert. Those desserts are so good, it is hard to choose just one. Take a look at my delicious lunch at Seasons 52 here⤵️

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🙋🏽‍♀️Raise your hand if your face lights up when dessert arrives to the table?! ——– Today, I met a friend who was in town for a business meeting for an impromptu #lunchdate. She's vegan, I'm not, so Seasons 52 was a great option for us both! ——– The @TriRestWeek 3 course Lunch Menu @Seasons52, located @shopcrabtree is delicious, healthy, fulfilling, flavorful and just $15 p/p thru Jan 26, 2020! Pictured here: Romaine & Kale Ceasar • Wood Grilled Boneless Rainbow Trout • Red Velvet Mini Indulgence Dessert . . . #Seasons52 #trw #trianglerestaurantweek #SobeSavvy #SobeSavvyEats #NCblogger #foodblogger #Raleighblogger #dinecrabtree #huffpostaste #foodietribe #foodies #lunch #dessert #raleighrestaurants #food #trianglefoodies #foodie #nomnom #foodpics #whatIate #instagood #919eats #raleighfoodpics #yum #foodphotography #forkyeah #f52grams #healthyeats

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I hope that after reading this you are inspired to visit these restaurants NOW for Triangle Restaurant Week or LATER when the mood for good food hits you! What’s the best thing you had to eat during Triangle Restaurant Week January 2020? Have you been to any of the above restaurants before? Let me know in the comments below!

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Where to Eat in Raleigh for Triangle Restaurant Week|41Hundred @41hundredlounge @TriRestWeek @VisitNorthHills

41Hundred Dinner Menu for Triangle Restaurant Week Jan 2020

Foodies get ready! Triangle Restaurant Week is here, beginning Monday (Jan. 20-26, 2020) and we get to enjoy menu deals for lunch and dinner at some of our favorite restaurants. This is a good time to make your reservations at places you’ve always wanted to try. Or perhaps return to a restaurant you may have been to before but can now try something new and different from the menu. Since there are so many premier places to choose from, I thought I would help by giving you a my review of the special menu from one of my favorite restaurants, 41Hundred.

About 41Hundred |Located at 4100 Main at North Hills St. in Raleigh, 41Hundred is the new concept inside of the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel. 41Hundred offers simply sophisticated, international cuisine crafted by Executive Chef Kevin Smith and team.

DINNER MENU

Known for their memorable food and drink selections, 41Hundred is all about using fresh, local high quality ingredients in their dishes. You can expect food that is simple, yet beautifully prepared and full of flavor. Triangle Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to experience 41Hundred‘s culinary chops at a great value. For $30 p/p, here is what is offered on their special dinner menu:

First Course

Although my guest, the beautiful Anna Haddock, & I had dined at 41Hundred before, we were both excited to try what was on the menu. Our server was helpful and ready to answer any questions for us. The Seafood Gumbo was the perfect start for both of us on this winter evening. Not only did it warm my heart but left an impression on my soul! It had a nice amount of flavor and was chock full of shrimp, crab, sausage, baby scallops & okra. One Word: AMAZING

Second Course

No matter if you are doing Whole 30, Paleo, Keto, or you are a meat-lover, a seafoodie or vegetarian, you’ll find something you’ll like on this menu. I ordered the Sea Bass, not only because I love seafood but the candied bacon listed as one of the ingredients used in this dish was calling my name! It was served with smoked fontina grits, king trumpet mushrooms and pomodoro. Each bite was better than the last. One Word: INCREDIBLE

If you love a nice tender piece of meat that falls of its bone, order the Osso Buco. It is prepared with a saffron sweet pea risotto, roasted baby vegetables and love. We were both impressed by the portion size and how tasty it was! One Word: SATISFYING

Third Course

Whatever you do remember the following Four Words: SAVE👏 ROOM👏 FOR👏 DESSERT. 41Hundred has two options on their TRW menu, one of them I recognized from their regular menu: The Blueberry Cobbler Cheesecake. The berry compote added a nice tart freshness to the sweet and creamy cheesecake. We loved it!

The second dessert option was created by the sous chef and is called The Impossible Cake. It is a chocolate cake layered with a caramel custard, similar to a flan on top. It comes with caramel sauce, whipped cream and bourbon pecans. We both enjoyed the combination of flavors.

**SobeSavvy Tip: Did you know you can stop in for lunch at 41Hundred during Triangle Restaurant Week and enjoy 3 courses for just $15 p/p?! Take a look at this fantastic menu ⤵️

Overall our dining experience was a great one filled with new foodie memories! Not only did we enjoy the service, but the 3 course meal from 41Hundred left a lasting good impression! **What dish is calling you in to dine at 41Hundred for TRIANGLE RESTAURANT WEEK? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!

**Also, be sure to follow me on social media and stay tuned all week to see more of SobeSavvy.com’s Triangle Restaurant Week options. Up Next: STIR Raleigh
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📍41Hundred

4100 Main at North Hills Street

Raleigh, NC 27609

Connect with 41Hundred on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Hey #Raleigh! Get a first look at a NEW #familyfun spot, Stars and Strikes @StarsnStrikesGA

Hey Raleigh, there is a new entertainment venue in town I want to tell you about called Stars and Strikes Family Entertainment Centers. This company hails from the metro Atlanta area and started as one location in 2005. This will be their 14th location and their first in the state of North Carolina. Although their Grand Opening Party is Saturday January 18, we went in on Friday for a preview. Under one roof you can find multiple high quality activities for adults and kids like bowling, arcade games, bumper cars, virtual reality games and they even have a 2 story laser tag arena!

FUN

So many options to choose from and so much fun. The bowling takes place in either the main area or the secluded VIP lanes where you will have a dedicated hostess taking care of your food and beverage requests. Food is not an afterthought here. Their introductory menu, which also includes a kids menu section, has some awesome choices to decide upon. We went with a sampler platter which comes in a neat fresh pretzel ribbon and kids cheese pizza and some wings. The wings are very good and you can choose a variety of flavors. Their chicken and waffles are delicious. Chicken has a crispy outside and steaming moist chicken inside. Paired with their maple syrup and airy waffles are a sure fire winner in my book. We had a couple of their speciality cocktails from their full service bar also. After enjoying our food and drink selections, we were fueled up after bowling to hit the arcade and Bumper cars.

FOOD

Their large number of brand new state of the art arcade machines meant there was always one available we were interested in. Whether playing a carnival water shooting game or an oversized Pac Man console game we were having a blast. Their reloadable cards also double as game winner ticket tally all in one. No more picking up paper tickets from all over the floor and sticking them in a machine to count. Just hand your one card over at their gift center and a rep will tell you the total and advise what gifts you can choose from.

WINNING

Last but not least, we rode the bumper cars and had such a blast! No old school overhead sparks flying, just smooth FAST spinning cars that handle like little sports cars! Pulsating music and friendly bumping friends really made this a thrill we will return to again and again. Stars and Strikes hits the right balance between adult fun {like the full service sports bar area} and kid fun. The staff could not have been nicer or more professional. Some of the management even joined in our bumper car experience and we all enjoyed being kids again!

RIDING

Such a class act and a welcome addition to the Triangle as a must do option for date night, family night or even corporate or church team building sessions. They specialize in all sorts of birthday packages so make sure you book yours as soon as possible!

SobeSavvy Tip: Go online and join their VIP club for their best deals, specials and promotions right in your inbox. They will even send you a special gift just for joining. For more info and to join the VIP Club/Birthday Club for FREE, click here: https://www.starsandstrikes.com/

Also follow on Facebook, Twitter @StarsnStrikesGA and IG @starsandstrikes

EVENTS

Me and my #HeighPartyof3 checked out Stars and Strikes Family Entertainment Centers on a Friday night at 5pm and had a blast! Pics and videos may give you an idea but I really suggest seeing for yourself. There is definitely fun for everyone! And after 8pm, no kids are allowed, so adults can have their fun too. This place is like: sports bar meets Dave and Busters meets Kings Bowling meets Frankies.

CELEBRATE

Celebrate this 14th and newest location at the STARS AND STRIKES RALEIGH GRAND OPENING PARTY!

When: Saturday, January 18th from 10 am until 4 pm!

Where: 4020 Capital Blvd , Raleigh,NC

What:
•$2 Bowling
• Buy-One-Get-One Free Arcade Game Cards
• Buy-One-Get-One Free games of Laser Tag
• Buy-One-Get-One Free Sessions of Bumper Cars
• Prize Giveaways
• Much, much more!

PLUS, the first 50 guests in-line on Saturday, January 18th at 10 am will receive a pass for a FREE GAME OF LASER TAG or BUMPER CARS!

The party doesn’t stop at 4pm! Join us for a LIVE DJ PARTY beginning at 8pm!

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👀WATCH my YOUTUBE video for highlights from our visit!

HAVE YOU BEEN TO STARS AND STRIKES BEFORE? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!

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EAT |Lunchtime in Tampa Bay at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants @CHWinery

LUNCHTIME in Tampa Bay at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant | SobeSavvy.com 


During our recent family visit to Tampa Bay, we worked up quite an appetite when visiting some of the top family fun attractions. While fast food for lunch can be convenient for some, we wanted quality food and after dining at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants in Orlando last year, we were happy to find a location in Tampa. Known for their upscale dining in a casual setting along with wonderful wines and food pairings, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants is a dream for food and wine lovers alike.

COCKTAILS & APPETIZERS


Select Cocktails at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants | American Mule | SobeSavvy.com


Not a wine lover? No problem. Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants has a great selection of cocktails on the menu as well as non-alcoholic beverages. The specialty cocktail that caught my eye was the American Mule made with Tito’s Vodka, lime, simple syrup, ginger beer, mint and candied ginger. Not only did I like the presentation of this cocktail, but I also enjoyed the taste!


APPETIZERS at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants |  Asian Pork Belly Tostadas | SobeSavvy.com


For appetizers, we had the award-winning Asian Pork Belly Tostadas. You get five of the most divine tostadas that combine so many amazing flavors in one bite. Sharing is caring, but these are so good you may want to order one for yourself.


KIDS MENU


Healthy and Delicious options on the Kids Menu at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant | SobeSavvy.com


While some may think this sounds like a restaurant for adults only let me assure you they are family friendly. Not only do they have a special Kids Menu, but they even have dedicated restroom for families. My kid enjoyed her chicken parmesan and pasta with a side of fresh fruit. She got her some extra cheese to sprinkle on top and was pleased! Prior to her meal arriving to the table, she enjoyed coloring and playing the brain games on the menu while having a favorite of everyone at our table: the pretzel bread. It comes out to the table warm and fresh and just seeing the picture below makes me wish I had some now!

Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants serves warm pretzel bread and butter and it is my kid’s favorite! | SobeSavvy.com


WINE


Try exclusive wines like John Legend’s LVE wines available at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants | SobeSavvy.com


Wine lovers like myself would enjoy dining here and discovering a new favorite wine. Handcrafted Wines are what sets this restaurant apart from others. Beside each dish on the menu at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, a wine “bin” number is listed for the suggested pairing. Order it by glass or bottle and feel free to request a taste prior to ordering. Their “no risk policy” allows you to ask for a taste before ordering a glass to challenge you to order something new. Still not sure what to order? The staff is well versed in all of their wines and before you know it you may find yourself in an extended conversation about all things wine and food!


With such a vast variety of wine, choosing one is made simple with Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants  “no risk” tasting policy | SobeSavvy.com


LUNCH


White or Red Wine, Salad or Burger..there’s something for everyone on the Lunch Menu at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants | SobeSavvy.com


After reviewing the Lunch Menu, which is available daily from 11:00 am until 3:30 pm, we decided to each get something that would pair with a white wine for me and red wine for my husband. He decided on their RoadHouse Burger and pretty much devoured it before I could get a foodie pic..lol. It came with Bourbon👏🏽Bacon👏🏽 Jam👏🏽 y’all so I can’t blame him. It also had triple cheddar cheese and caramelized onion ranch aioli. I managed to get a bite and *correction…he did snap this photo below. His burger did taste as good as it looks!

Feast your eyes on the Roadhouse Burger at Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants | SobeSavvy.com

Feast your eyes on the Roadhouse Burger at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants | SobeSavvy.com


I ordered from the Chef Recommendations menu and got the Cilantro Lime & Crispy Shrimp Salad. Again a great choice. Plenty of salad greens dressed with fresh ingredients,  a nice portion of shrimp, and an amazing dressing. It was paired with the November wine of the month, a glass of Gewurtztraminer Savignon Blanc. If you like white wines with sweet notes, try this one. Even though it is December now, the wines of the month are available all year long.


Chef’s Recommendation Lunch Menu and Wine Pairing at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants | SobeSavvy.com 


SobeSavvy Tip:  Stop by the Artisan Market for unique wine gifts and wine to go. There is also a tasting room where you can stop in and enjoy wine only if you choose not to stay and dine. Join Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants Wine Club for exclusive membership perks that are incredible and unique. Cheers 🍷!


Handcrafted Wines, Wine Tasting in a Napa Style Tasting Room, Artisan Market, Casual Dining..enjoy it all at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants | SobeSavvy.com 


The next time you are in Tampa or any of the cities where Cooper’s Hawk  Winery & Restaurants are  **[as of 2018, there are more than 30 establishments nationwide, found in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Virginia], I hope that you are inspired to stop in for lunch with your family. The Founder & CEO said it best in his statement below as to why you should.  Thanks Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants for the Good Food, Good Wine, and Great Memories!


Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants
4110 W Boy Scout Blvd
Tampa, FL 33607
http://www.chwinery.com
Inside Look at LUNCH at Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant | SobeSavvy.com 

Inside Look at LUNCH at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant | SobeSavvy.com 



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Easy Organic Spiced Rum Cake Recipe Ft. @TOPOdistillery

Whenever there is any type of potluck party or request for guests to bring a dish, I know what I am bringing: RUM CAKE. It is a crowd pleaser especially around the holidays! This year, I am spicing things up a bit and using TOPO Organic Spiced Rum.

What makes Topo Organic? TOPO has the distinction as the only Green + Certified distillery in the country. Environmentally friendly and 100 % organic ingredients go into their award winning line of spirits, which include whiskey, vodka, gin and moonshine. Exclusively made from North Carolina-grown wheat and US-grown sugar cane. Every product is USDA-certified Organic. 100% Fermented and distilled in Chapel Hill, NC.

What is the difference between rum and Topo’s Spiced Rum?
Per their website, the rum… “has flavors of the coastline: allspice, vanilla, orange peel, peppercorns, cinnamon and clove. It’s a marriage of the finest organic botanicals with an incredibly smooth rum. We make a tasty white rum and then use a mortar and pestle to grind spices to add more flavor. You can smell and taste the difference.”

I absolutely enjoy TOPO Organic Spiced Rum in various cocktails also such as the Rum Cider, Colony Records and even a cocktail recipe that I shared here on my blog that was inspired by the popular Disney Dole Whip Drink. This is the first time I am trying it in the following Easy Rum Cake Recipe (that is shared all over Google).

Easy Rum Cake RECIPE

Rum Cake
___________
1 cup chopped pecan or walnuts
1 pkg. (2 layer size) yellow cake mix (I used Dunkin Hines)
1 pkg. Jello vanilla instant pudding and pie filling
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup rum ( TOPO Organic Spiced Rum)

METHOD:
1. Sprinkle nuts evenly in bottom of 10 inch fluted tube pan that has been greased & floured ,or sprayed with non stick vegetable cooking spray.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in large mixer bowl.
3. Blend and beat at medium speed for 4 minutes
4. Pour batter into pan. Do not under-bake
5. Cool in pan 15 minutes
6. Prepare glaze
7. Invert cake into serving plate, prick over with cake tester or wooden pick.
8. Pour warm glaze over warm cake

GLAZE: combine 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter or margarine and 1/4 cup water in saucepan.
Stir until mixture comes to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/2 cup TOPO Organic Spiced Rum, bring just to boil. Remove from heat .

**SobeSavvy Tip: Make this cake a day or two before serving. DO NOT TRY TO MAKE THE SAME DAY AND SERVE THE SAME DAY. While it’s true the vanilla pudding keeps the cake moist, and rum goes in the cake and in the glaze, you need a day or so to let the rum sink in. Cover it with aluminum or plastic and if you like, mist it with more rum daily or right before serving. Don’t like nuts? Try it with toasted coconut.

Voila! You now have a moist, yummy, delicious, Organic Spiced Rum Cake to enjoy with family and friends! I can’t wait to share at a Friendsgiving party I am attending this weekend and hope you are inspired to bake one yourself this holiday season.

Have you tried Topo Organic Spiced Rum before? Do you plan to make a rum cake for the holidays?

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Top 3 Restaurants To Try This Fall In NC @koan_cary @Il_Palio @DriftwoodRDU

Top 3 Restaurants To Try This Fall In NC | Cary * Chapel Hill * Raleigh

Hello November! ‘Tis the season to indulge in some good eats and treat yourself to memorable dining out experiences. I recently got to try 3 different restaurants and each one while different in cuisine share the same passion of bringing you an array of flavors on their new Fall menus. Take a look and discover where to eat in the Triangle at these TOP 3 RESTAURANTS TO TRY THIS FALL!

kō•än | Cary, NC

Photo Credit | Tabletop Media Group

🆕️ Restaurant Alert! The most exciting place for food right now is kō•än in Cary,NC, which opened November 1, 2019 with great anticipation! I got a chance to experience the restaurant and its menu at a media preview dinner and enjoyed everything from its innovative cocktails to their delicious small/large plates meant for sharing!

The new restaurant, located at 2800 Renaissance Park Pl, Cary, NC 27513, brings Executive Chef Drew Smith’s [ formerly of Raleigh’s bu•ku and so•ca, and winner of 2019’s Cooking for a Classic dining competition] vision of Southeast Asian cuisine in a zen-like atmosphere. Check out my Facebook post>>here for a look at some of the tasty menu.

For more info on kō•än, follow #koancary @koan_cary on Instagram and Twitter or visit www.koancary.com

Il Palio|Chapel Hill

Photo Credit | Tabletop Media Group

Transport your mind, body and tastebuds to Italy when you experience world-class dining at Il Palio, located in The Siena Hotel at 1505 East Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, NC. Chef Adam Rose and his team uses the best local and Italian ingredients to prepare fresh, homemade pastas like this signature Butternut Squash Ravioli! *[see here for recipe]

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It's #WorldPastaDay ..and there are so many delicious pasta-bilities on the menu at @il_palio, located in @thesienahotel in Chapel Hill, NC. Chef Adam Rose and his team uses the best local and Italian ingredients to prepare fresh, homemade pastas like this signature Butternut Squash Ravioli! Swipe 🔙 for a look at some of the amazing culinary artisanship and fantastic dishes served at Il Palio! . . . . #IlPalioNC #TheSienaHotel #ChapelHill #NC #Italiancuisine #Italiancooking #ravioli #pasta #seafood #steak #dessert #nceats #foodtalk #ncfoodfinds #chapelhillrestaurants #diningout #f52grams #SobeSavvy #soNCsavvy #foodblogger #lifestyleblogger #RaleighBlogger #NCBlogger #chapelhillblogger #foodwomenwine #foodiefriday #nomnomnom

A post shared by Leslie • Lifestyle Blogger (@sobesavvy) on

If you enjoy Italian cuisine along with a lovely wine selection, and amazing culinary artisanship, then you will savor the fantastic dishes served in a warm and inviting Tuscan villa atmosphere at Il Palio!

For more information, follow @thesienahotel #TheSienaHotel on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Follow @il_palio #IlPalio on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Driftwood Kitchen & Bar | Raleigh, NC

Photo Credit | Tabletop Media Group

All my lovers of chicken and waffles [….and really good comfort food] make your way to DRIFTWOOD KITCHEN AND BAR (formerly known as Driftwood Southern Kitchen), located in Lafayette Village at 8460 Honeycutt Road, Suite 112, Raleigh, NC 27615 for a taste of the 🆕️ delicious menu revamped by Chef Nunzio which also includes tacos, meatloaf with tasso ham gravy, pulled short ribs, and chicken & biscuits (made from scratch), plus great craft cocktails, like the “Black -Eyed Rye made with Sagamore Spirit Rye Whiskey.

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Are you #teamsyrup or #gravy on your #chickenandwaffles? 🤷🏽‍♀️ Well at @driftwoodraleigh you can enjoy both, now available on the 🆕️ delicious menu at Driftwood Kitchen & Bar located inside @LafayetteVillage. ———— Chef Nunzio has revamped the previous menu to include exciting new additions like chicken and waffles, tacos, meatloaf with tasso ham gravy, pulled short ribs, and chicken and biscuits. Invited #raleighinfluencers got to experience the new flavors and take a tour of the refreshed restaurant space including a brand new private room for events and parties. ———— Follow #driftwoodraleigh on my #instastories to see some highlights from the #medianight ! Swipe 🔙 to see our tasty experience at Driftwood! . . . #SobeSavvy #soNCsavvy #RaleighBlogger #lifestyleblogger #raleighfood #trianglefoodies #raleighrestaurant #lafayettevillage #visitRaleigh #Raleigheats #NCfood

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Invited Raleigh influencers got to experience the new flavors and take a tour of the refreshed restaurant space including a brand new, communal style private dining room for events and parties. The restaurant’s unique open kitchen concept and scratch made menu showcases the best ingredients from as many regional and local farmers and producers when possible. Feast your eyes on some of the highlights from our media tasting experience on my Facebook page>>here.

For more info, follow Driftwood Kitchen & Bar #DriftwoodRaleigh, @driftwoodraleigh on Instagram and Facebook

Thanks for reading! I hope this post has made you hungry and ready to make reservations. Any of these restaurants would make a great dining out date option or a place to meet friends for small bites and cocktails! Cheers!

Have you dined at any of these restaurants? If not, which one are you checking out first?

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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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