Salta wines

Colomé and Amalaya: Wines from Salta, Argentina

There is more to Argentina’s wine than just Mendoza. You’re missing out if you don’t venture beyond the country’s best-known region.

Today we’re focusing on Salta. This region is located in the north of Argentina and is characterized by its mountainous terrain. Here you’ll find some of the highest elevation vineyards in the world.

For a taste of Salta, try wines from Colomé and Amalaya. These wineries are located in the Calchaqui Valley, at elevations of more than 5,000 feet above sea level. The vineyards benefit from intense sun during the day and cool nights, ideal growing conditions.

Amalaya wines

The natural place to start is with Torrontes, the signature white wine grape of Argentina. This grape produces aromatic, dry wines with lovely floral notes.

Colome Torrontes & MalbecThe 2015 Colomé Torrontes is made entirely from Torrontes. The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve its bright, fresh characteristics. This is a wonderfully fragrant wine, like taking a sniff from a bouquet of flowers. Gardenia, orange blossom and jasmine mix with slightly sweet citrus, with good acidity adding balance. $15, 13.5% alcohol

I first enjoyed Amalaya wines when I was in Buenos Aires and I’m so glad they’re available in the United States. The 2015 Amalaya Blanco is a blend of 85% Torrontes and 15% Riesling, two grapes that nicely complement each other. Just as with the Colomé Torrontes, the aim is to showcase the true nature of the grapes — controlled, cool temperatures during winemaking and stainless steel aging make the finished wine fresh and fruity.

The floral nose of the Amalaya Blanco introduces a palate of white flowers, jasmine, white grapefruit and lemon peel with a layer of minerality. Gentle acidity gives crispness, and the finish is clean with a touch of orange blossom honey. $12, 13% alcohol

Colome wines

Moving on to the reds, the 2013 Colomé Estate Malbec comes from four estate vineyards at varying elevations: La Brava Vineyard at 5,740 feet; Colomé Vineyard at 7,545 feet; El Arenal Vineyard at 8,530 feet; and Altura Maxima at the almost unbelievable elevation of 10,207 feet above sea level. The blend of Malbec grapes produces a wine that is bold yet elegant, with red and black fruit notes and firm tannins. Juicy dark red cherry and blackberry flavors are supported by an earthy backbone and a touch of black pepper and cedar. $25, 14.5% alcohol

Amalaya Blanco & MalbecThe 2015 Amalaya Malbec is a blend of 85% Malbec, 10% Tannat and 5% Syrah. The three were fermented and aged separately, and blended just before bottling. One quarter of the wine was aged in one year-old French oak barrels for 10 months.

The fruit flavors in the Amalaya Malbec come through first – raspberry, ripe red cherry, plum and a touch of blueberry. Then come the spice and earth notes, with black pepper, cigar box and violet. Though the wine has a lot going on it’s not one that you need to overthink. The Amalaya Malbec is the kind of wine you can enjoy any night of the week, no fancy meal required. $16, 13.9% alcohol

Colomé and Amalaya are part of the Hess Family Wine Estates portfolio. For more information

Pink Limoncello

Drink This: LiDestri Pink Limoncello

The summer of rosé has come to an end but the fall brings new ways to drink pink beyond wine.

Here’s what we’ll be sipping: Pink Limoncello.

It’s the first ever pink take on the Italian lemon liqueur. Pink Limoncello is made by LiDestri Spirits, based in Rochester, New York.

If you’ve never had limoncello before, it tastes like intensely concentrated lemonade but better, because booze. Beyond Pink Limoncello’s taste – the ideal mix of sweet citrus and a touch of tartness – the bottle is so pretty you’ll want to display it.

Sure, you can sip Pink Limoncello chilled or on the rocks  but there are so many more ways to enjoy it. It’s delicious in cocktails, and adds a nice pop of color to celebrations. Pink Limoncello is perfect for bridal and baby showers.

Here are some recipes from LiDestri to get you started:

Fizzy Pink Slipper

1 part LiDestri Pink Limoncello
3 parts Prosecco or Champagne

Serve in a champagne flute and garnish with fresh berries.

Pink Party Sangria

1 Bottle of White Wine
1 Liter of Club Soda
3 Cups Pink Lemonade
1 ½ Cups LiDestri Pink Limoncello
1 Cup Fresh Raspberries, sliced
1 Lemon, sliced
1 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar
Garnish with a Strawberry

Mix together in a large pitcher.

Sixpence Blueberry and Rye

Pink Limoncello cocktail1 oz LiDestri Pink Limoncello
4-5 blackberries
4 basil leaves
1½ oz Redemption Rye Whiskey
½ oz fresh lemon juice
2 oz blackberry soda
blackberries for garnish

It even makes a great salad dressing! Whisk together 2 oz. of LiDestri Pink Limoncello with 1/2 oz. apple cider vinegar, avocado oil and salt.

For more information on Pink Limoncello visit pinklimoncello.comClick here to see where LiDestri Pink Limoncello is sold near you.

photo credit: Jeremy Scott

Scofflaw beers

Scofflaw Brewing Co. Grand Opening Party

Atlanta’s newest craft brewery is opening its doors to the public this weekend. Introducing Scofflaw Brewing Company, which made its debut in the metro area last month.

It’s a seemingly common story for many successful breweries — owner Matt Shirah and co-founder and brewer Travis Herman left behind jobs in the corporate and pharmaceutical industries to follow their true passions. Herman attended brewing school at the University of California, and honed his skills at top craft breweries. Scofflaw is the result of two years of intense (and one would assume tasty) research and development.

Scofflaw Brewing Co. makes 11 craft beers including:

Basement IPA – A seriously juicy and tropical India Pale Ale (IPA) made with organic citra hops, this IPA was created in Grammy’s basement following an argument about the differences in west and east coast beer. At the end of the day, this is one of Scofflaw’s go-to beers.

Slim the Pale Ale – This beer is a well-balanced pale ale for people that know their limits but have crossed the line before. It’s light – but not too thin – with hints of passion fruit, pine, berry, citrus and faint floral tones (but we won’t tell anyone).

Sneaky Wheat – Slightly cloudy and creamy, this imperial American wheat has a kick that can sneak up on you. Made with coriander and orange, it presents its case with light honey and spice aromas that match the moderately sweet flavors, without focusing on a hop profile.

Westside IPA – Straight out of the brewmaster’s arsenal, this brew is full of caramel malt and hops that start with the letter C.  It presents itself as somewhat bitter with plenty of hops, but not overkill.

Tasting notes courtesy of Phase 3 Marketing and Communications.

You’ll be able to taste these beers, plus specialty batches at the Grand Opening Party on Saturday, September 17th. The converted warehouse space on Atlanta’s Westside will be open for tours and tastings from noon to 5 pm. Tastings cost $14 per person.

Sweet Auburn Barbecue and Westside Creamery food trucks will be parked on-site to pair with the brews (not included in the tasting fee).

Scofflaw has partnered with Lyft for the opening celebration. New Lyft users can receive $10 off their first two rides by using promo code SCOFFLAW. Existing users can use promo code SCOFFLAWX1 for 25% off their ride to or from the event.

Scofflaw Brewing Co. is located at 1738 MacArthur Boulevard NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30318. Visit for more information.

Scofflaw Brewing Co. will be open for tours and tastings on Thursday and Friday from 5 to 8 pm and Saturday from 1 to 5 pm. The $14 per person fee includes 36 oz. of beer samples and a take-home branded glass. To-go tours will also be offered at $7 for 36 oz. or $14 for 64 oz.

>> Connect:
Facebook: ScofflawBrewingCo
Instagram: @scofflawbeer

photography credit: Heidi Geldhauser

Toast to the Emmy Awards with Ferrari Brut

Forget what the stars will be wearing at the 68th annual Emmy Awards, it’s all about what the stars will be drinking!

And they’ll be drinking one of my favorites: Ferrari Brut.

The sparkling wine from the Trentodoc appellation in northern Italy is the Official Sparkling Wine of the Emmys.

Ferrari Emmy AwardFerrari Brut is your go-to sparkling wine when you want to try something beyond France. It gets its bubbles via the traditional method just like Champagne, and is made from Chardonnay (one of the three grapes allowed in Champagne).

But you don’t need to compare it to Champagne. Ferrari Brut — and the other sparkling wines produced by the Trentino winery — stands out on its own. It is always winning awards, and was just named the “World Champion Blanc de Blancs” at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships.

Ferrari was founded in 1902 by Giulio Ferrari (no relation to the car company, which wasn’t founded until much later). Giulio did not have children, so he entrusted the winery to Bruno Lunelli in 1952. The Lunelli family still owns and operates Ferrari today.

Ferrari suggests making your Emmy party more exciting by asking guests ahead of time to guess who will win each category. Click here for a PDF of the official ballot.

No champagne flutes? No problem! Ferrari suggests enjoying the Brut in a standard wine glass as it showcases the bubbles and aromas even more.

Tweet how you’ll be toasting with Ferrari Brut @FerrariTrento with hashtags #ToastFerrari and #Emmys.

The 68th annual Emmy Awards air live Sunday, September 18th starting at 7pm Eastern on ABC.

For more information on the sparkling wines from Ferrari visit

image courtesy Ferrari

Cobb Restaurant Week 2016, September 17 – 24

Cobb Restaurant WeekMake your reservations for Cobb Restaurant Week. During the 8th annual event participating restaurants in Cobb County will be offering prix fixe menus for $15, $25 or $35 per person, plus tax and gratuity.

Cobb Restaurant Week runs from Saturday, September 17th through Saturday, September 24th.

Click here to see a list of participating restaurants and their menus.


Highball: High Museum’s New Boozy Benefit

The art of mixology will be on display next February at a new fundraiser for the High Museum of Art.

Introducing Highball, the museum’s first craft cocktail competition. On February 18, 2017, twelve of Atlanta’s top mixologists will shake, stir and serve an original cocktail, with guests getting to sample each and vote on their favorite. There will also be light bites from Sterling Spoon catering and music from DJ Teknology.

The application process to be one of the 12 competing mixologists is now open. To apply visit Applications are due by October 5, and selected bartenders will be notified by October 17.

At the event there will be a “People’s Choice” winner, decided by the guests, and a “Critic’s Choice” decided by a local expert based on appearance, taste, complexity, balance and originality. In addition to bragging rights, the winning mixologist will receive a cash prize.

Single tickets to Highball are $100 for museum members and $125 for not-yet members. Benefactor packages start at $500. All proceeds will benefit the High Museum of Art. The event is 21 and up.

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

Highball is an aperitif to the museum’s main fundraiser (and one of my favorite events), the 25th annual High Museum Wine Auction, to be held March 22 to 25, 2017.

Highball at the High Museum of Art, Saturday, February 18, 2017.
General admission at 7:30pm, benefactor preview hour at 6:30pm.

Margaretta Taylor Lobby, Wieland Pavilion, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, 30309.

image courtesy High Museum of Art

Jeffrey Fashion Cares

Fashion for a Cause: Jeffrey Fashion Cares 2016

Atlanta’s most fashionable gathered at Phipps Plaza Monday night for Jeffrey Fashion Cares. Founded by fashion guru Jeffrey Kalinsky, the 24th annual event is one of the largest combined AIDS and breast cancer benefits in the country. One hundred percent of net proceeds benefit the Atlanta AIDS Fund and Susan G. Komen of Greater Atlanta.

Cucumber Pink Mule cocktail
Cucumber Pink Mule cocktail

The fete kicked off with a cocktail hour. While perusing the silent auction items guests sipped on drinks including a Tropical Tiki Mojito, Spicy Margarita and a Cucumber Pink Mule, made with Svedka Cucumber Lime Vodka, LiDestri Pink Limoncello, and Ginger Beer Syrup and Baltimore Bitters from local favorite 18.21 Bitters.

Once guests took their seats along the runway in the transformed Monarch Court, event chairs Lila Hertz, Jeffrey McQuithy and Louise Sams gave a brief introduction. A live auction offered guests the chance to bid on fabulous trips, experiences and jewelry.

Jeffrey Fashion Cares

Then it was on to the main event. Models showed off the latest looks from Celine, Balenciaga, Chloe, Givenchy, Gucci and beyond.

Major fashion envy ensued. My closet simply won’t be complete without the fab purple pants from Dries Van Noten and gorgeous geometric print dress from Haider Ackerman.

The final walk at Jeffrey Fashion Cares 2016
The final walk at Jeffrey Fashion Cares 2016. I’ll take one of everything, thanks!

Last year’s sold-out Jeffrey Fashion Cares raised $700,000 for the Atlanta AIDS Fund and Susan G. Komen of Greater Atlanta.

Jeffrey Kalinsky is the founder and president of the Jeffrey boutique chain, with locations in New York City and Atlanta’s Phipps Plaza.

For more information visit

Cockentrice Atlanta

The Cockentrice Debuts New Menu

Come for the charcuterie, stay for the new innovative and delicious meat, pasta and yes, even vegetarian dishes. The Cockentrice, the hip restaurant in Krog Street Market owned by the husband-and-wife team of Executive Chef Kevin and Megan Ouzts, has debuted a new dinner menu. I recently got to indulge in a sneak peek.

The CockentriceOf course you have to start with charcuterie. You’ll be craving it after walking past the display at The Spotted Trotter on your way into the restaurant. The Ouzts launched The Spotted Trotter in 2010, and their meats can be found at farmers markets around Atlanta in addition to their two brick and mortar locations.

Pair your charcuterie with one of The Cockentrice’s new cocktails. New Beverage Director Cole Younger Just brings his experience at The Last Word, King + Duke and Horseradish Grill and offers his take on classic cocktails. I was a fan of the Milk and Honey, a twist on a Bee’s Knees, made with milk washed gin, raw honey, lemon and lavender.

The new dinner menu is organized by taste preference. From vegetables to flatbreads, fish and shellfish to beef, pork and pasta, there’s a dish (more likely several) to match your mood.

Tomato cucumber salad with tomato granita
Tomato cucumber salad with tomato granita
Peach caramelized onion tart with candied tasso and fromage blanc
Peach caramelized onion tart with candied tasso and fromage blanc

Several of the dishes can be made vegetarian, and many are gluten free. Dishes range from $8 to $38.

The decidedly non-vegetarian Spanish pork paté with golden date, pimenton and mustard on brioche
The decidedly non-vegetarian Spanish pork paté on brioche bread

There’s even the namesake Cockentrice on the menu. Chef Ouzts’ take on the unique medieval dish is a roasted hen stuffed with lamb and served with cornbread, roasted tomato, asparagus, and game jus. If that’s not your style there’s always the massive 34 oz. char-grilled pork porterhouse.

Scallop with peach chow-chow, fennel and grilled savoy cabbage
Scallop with peach chow-chow and fennel
Brisket with crispy grit and grilled savoy cabbage
Brisket with crispy grit and grilled savoy cabbage

What hasn’t changed is Chef Ouzts’ commitment to supporting local farmers and purveyors.

“As Krog Street Market and Inman Park continue to take shape and grow, we want to make sure we’re providing a distinctly, authentic Atlanta experience that reflects the friendliness and needs of the community and stays true to our philosophy to provide exquisite balance in flavor, price and sustainability,” said Chef Ouzts.

Blueberry and sumac panna cotta with lemon genoise and chantilly cream
Blueberry and sumac panna cotta with lemon genoise and chantilly cream

The Cockentrice is located at Krog Street Market. It is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

The Cockentrice, 99 Krog Street NE, Atlanta 30307.

Connect >>
Twitter: @cockentrice
Instagram: @thecockentrice

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

A Luxurious Getaway Awaits You at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

The tough decisions start just moments after you arrive at Grand Velas Riviera Maya. Do you want a traditional margarita, a tamarind margarita, spicy margarita, lychee margarita or mango margarita?

The decision is made easier by knowing you’ll be able to sample all of them and more during your stay at the luxury all-inclusive resort on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. Emphasis on the luxury – from checking in to dining out, enjoying the white sand beach, three pools or world renowned spa, not a single detail has been overlooked.

You’ll feel pampered, spoiled and blissfully relaxed. I know, as I had the opportunity to spend four days there and I’m ready to go back.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya is located near Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It’s about a 45 minute drive south from Cancun International Airport, an easy flight from just about anywhere in the United States.

The giant white-walled gated entrance offers a hint at what’s beyond. Pass through and you’re enveloped in the jungle, a drive that helps with the transition from work to pleasure.

The entrance to Grand Velas Riviera Maya, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts
The entrance to Grand Velas Riviera Maya, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts

The first section, or ‘ambiance’ of the all-suites resort you’ll come to is Zen. Designed to blend in with the surroundings, this ambiance is all about peace and relaxation. Palapas-covered raised walkways take you from the lobby to your suite, your escort a member of the staff assigned to assist you with anything you need during your stay. Each suite has a large spa tub and private terrace looking out at a lagoon and mangrove jungle.

Lobby at Zen ambiance, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts
Lobby at Zen, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts

The attention to detail is readily apparent. Sparkling wine can be arranged to be on ice in anticipation of your arrival. A bottle of Grand Velas Tequila sits above the fully stocked mini bar (raid it as many times as you like, it’s part of the luxury all-inclusive experience). There’s a Nespresso machine and high-end teas. L’Occitane bath and body products. An umbrella if there’s rain. And bug spray just in case (though as of this posting there has been only 1 case of Zika reported in the Cancun area).

A room at the Zen ambiance at Grand Velas Riviera Maya
A room at the Zen ambiance at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

I stayed in the Zen ambiance the first night of my stay. Waking up the next morning and enjoying coffee and breakfast on the patio was pure heaven. (In-suite dining is available 24 hours a day and included in the all-inclusive experience.)

Breakfast on the patio at Zen
Breakfast on the patio at Zen

Each of the three ambiances has a pool, gym, bars and restaurants. There are readily available shuttles to take you around so you can experience it all.

The pool and bougainvillea-draped balconies at Ambassador
The pool and bougainvillea-draped balconies at Ambassador

The family-friendly Ambassador ambiance is ideally located steps from the white sand beach and the resort’s largest pool. Nearby the Kid’s Club and Teen Club have been decked out with the latest in gaming and entertainment, guaranteeing they’ll have fun while you get to relax.

The beach at Grand Velas Riviera Maya
The beach at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

If you’re looking to reconnect with that special someone in the ultimate setting, you’ll want to stay in the Grand Class section. Exclusively for adults and teens 16 years of age and older, the Grand Class offers views, luxury and beyond, and you can enjoy it while sitting in the soaking tub on your balcony. Also worth noting, the giant spa bathtub that can probably fit six adults, no exaggeration.

I thought nothing could top breakfast on the terrace at my Zen suite until I was sipping bubbly in the soaking tub on my balcony looking out at the Caribbean Sea.

Sunset on the balcony at Grand Class
View from the balcony at Grand Class

The all-inclusive portion of your stay at Grand Velas Riviera Maya feels like the most decadent indulgence. It’s the adult version of being a kid in a candy shop; eat and drink whatever you want, and you’ll want to taste it all.

First, the drinks. You’ll find premium liquors and high quality wines from around the world available throughout the resort, all included. Want an introduction to tequila or mezcal? Host an impromptu tasting yourself! Your bartender will give you a pour from all the bottles you’d like. Decide you want to switch from a mango margarita to a lychee one while lounging at the infinity pool? There are plenty of poolside servers, or my recommendation, float over to the swim-up bar.

Next, the food. You won’t find fine dining like this at any other all-inclusive resort. Choose among the restaurants offering Mexican, French, Italian or Asian cuisine. You’ll find dishes prepared to the highest standards, and flavors to match any top restaurant. In fact, Cocina De Autor, Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s signature restaurant, has been awarded the American Automobile Association’s Five Diamond award – it’s the only restaurant in an all-inclusive to receive this honor.

A selection of dishes at Grand Velas Riviera Maya
A selection of dishes at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

The fun continues late into the night at any of Grand Velas’ bars. Listen to live music at the Piano Bar, or belt out your favorite tune at the Karaoke Bar. Of course if you just want to sit on your balcony and listen to waves lap at the beach, that’s fine too.

A stay at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya is not complete without a visit to the spa. Appropriately located in the Zen ambiance, the region’s largest luxury spa incorporates elements of the natural environment in its two-level, 89,000 plus square-foot space.

Warm water pool at the spa, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts
Warm water pool at the spa, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts

Your treatment begins with a Water Journey. Alternating hot and cold treatments culminate in a warm water pool with bubbles, jets and waterfalls designed to help you sink deep into relaxation.

I enjoyed a Therapeutic Velas Maya massage during my stay. The deep tissue massage is uniquely tailored to each guest, with various techniques to help relieve stress and tension. The massage, coupled with the Water Journey, was easily one of the top spa experiences I have ever had. I was the most relaxed I had been in ages.

Treatment room at the spa, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts
Treatment room at the spa, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts

Spa treatments vary in price and are not included in the all-inclusive rate.

You could easily spend your entire vacation on the Riviera Maya at the Grand Velas resort. But there is plenty to see and do nearby. You can explore the shops and restaurants of downtown Playa del Carmen. Tulum and its famous ruins are located about 45 miles away, and a bit farther is Chichen Itza. Xcaret, an eco-archaeological park is about 20 minutes away. Check out a video of the Butterfly Pavilion below.

A video posted by Robin Austin (@amgastronomer) on

Ready to book? Visit the website for Grand Velas Riviera Maya at

If you’re looking for an excuse to visit in October, the Best of Mexico Riviera Maya will be held from October 5th to 9th. Five internationally-known Mexican chefs will team up for a 10-course tasting menu that will be offered over the four nights. It is included in the all-inclusive pricing.

The $250 million Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers 539 suites ranging in size from 1,184 to 3,767 square feet. Nightly rates start at $393 per person per night based on double occupancy.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya is part of the Velas Resorts family that includes Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, Velas Vallarta, Casa Velas and Grand Velas Los Cabos, which will open later this year.

The inviting pool at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, #nofilter needed
The inviting pool at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, #nofilter needed

Special thanks to Grand Velas Riviera Maya for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own.

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