Party for Piedmont Park September 5, 2019

Every morning around 7:30am, eight men wearing “Piedmont Park Conservancy” imprinted on their chest set out on golf carts, trucks and mowers to tackle the 200 plus acres of beautiful Piedmont Park. Standing from any Piedmont Park gate looking in, anywhere your eyes can see is likely to be impacted by the Piedmont Park Conservancy. Whether you love to visit the Dog Parks, play in the playgrounds, shop at the Green Market, attend camp, splash in the Legacy Fountain, or jog around the running track, you can see the efforts of this hardworking team.

The Conservancy is now celebrating their 30th anniversary at the fall fundraiser, Party for Piedmont Park! While Party for Piedmont Park is one of the most important events benefitting the Piedmont Park Conservancy, it is also a joyful celebration of the life of Piedmont Park. Great food, drinks, music, and auction items all contribute to a wonderful evening of support.

Pop the champagne and turn on the music, because the Conservancy and over 500 friends are going to have a night to remember. Guests will arrive at Greystone, a gorgeous venue hall with original granite walls overlooking the pool and Lake Clara Meer. Then, attendees will be treated to an open bar, restaurant tastings from Atlanta’s premier spots, and an opportunity to snap a picture at the photo booth. Dance through the decades with DJ BIGG H and Ricardo Spicer of Amp’d Entertainment. Finally, check out a live drawing by The Sketch Effect and an experience-based auction spreading across the venue.

Many Atlantans don’t realize that Piedmont Park is much too large for just city support. The Piedmont Park Conservancy must raise over $3.5 million each year and rely on over 10,000 hours from volunteers to preserve and enhance beautiful Piedmont Park. Support your park by attending the Party for Piedmont Park on September 5, 2019! CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS!


Dad's Garage Big Stupid Parking Lot Carnival - April 6th

BSPLC Square

Move over BaconFest, Dad’s Garage Theatre Company is shaking things up this year and rolling out a brand-new concept for its annual fundraiser: Dad’s Garage Big Stupid Parking Lot Carnival.  One part festival and one part theatrical weirdness, the inaugural event will feature plenty of beer, delicious food and rides.  Attendees will also have the chance to interact one-on-one with Dad’s Garage improvisers in games and carnival booths like the Redneck Wine Tasting, Wheelchair Obstacle Course, Bad Caricatures, and Improvised Erotic Fanfiction.  Set for Saturday, April 6, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Dad’s Garage Big Stupid Parking Lot Carnival is for ages 21+ and will take place in and around the theatre’s home in the Old Fourth Ward.  Tickets start at $10 and all proceeds benefit Dad’s Garage Theatre Company.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit


Food for Thought | March-April 2019

Feature photo: Pork and ricotta meatballs at Adalina. Photo by David Danzig.

Feature photo: Pork and ricotta meatballs at Adalina. Photo by David Danzig.

In this issue, we stamp our gastronomic passports with the cuisine of Mexico, Italy, and South Korea; welcome new ideas into old spaces; and say goodbye to a slew of restaurants that did not survive the winter.

It’s all Food for Thought.


Skirt steak taco with chimichurri garlic aioli and cotija cheese and Tuza Taco. Photo by David Danzig.

Skirt steak taco with chimichurri garlic aioli and cotija cheese and Tuza Taco. Photo by David Danzig.

Atlanta’s affection for tacos will find nurturing at the new Tuza Taco on the westside in the Berkley Park neighborhood. Owner Jason Sherman cooks up Mexican street-food-style tacos, all little $4 explosive flavor grenades with hyper-fresh ingredients. Carnitas (slow cooked pork), tempura-Modelo beer fried fish, skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, wild-caught American shrimp and chicken with cotija cheese, are a few of the varieties that you can wrap in a soft tortilla (corn or flour) or a hard, crunchy corn shell. Housemade salsa, guacamole, and queso with roasted jalapeño are great starters and are emblematic of the attention to detail put into preparation. Cervezas and margaritas are a-flowing and with a little spring sunshine, the kiddies and pets should join to enjoy the outdoor patio and small yard.

Wild rice salad with grilled shrimp at Adalina. Photo by David Danzig.

Wild rice salad with grilled shrimp at Adalina. Photo by David Danzig.

Italophiles willing to venture off the beaten path will find amore at the new Adalina off Northside Parkway by the Chattahoochee River and the new North Atlanta High School campus. Drive up the hill to the Post Riverside apartment complex and arrive at an immaculately landscaped town square. There, former Empire State South chef Josh Hopkins is creating exciting renditions of Italian food classics. Octopus arancini, pork and ricotta meatballs, lobster risotto and blue crab pappardelle are a few of the modern spins he has applied to time-tested Italian staple dishes. And, if you are craving pizza, try their artisan Neapolitan-inspired pies with a wonderful, chewy crust and toppings like bacon, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and soppressata salami.

Korean staple dish, Bibimbap, at Dish Korean Cuisine. Photo by David Danzig.

Korean staple dish, Bibimbap, at Dish Korean Cuisine. Photo by David Danzig.

The expansion of Buford Highway eateries continues with Dish Korean Cuisine, a handsome new space from Hahn and Barbara Lee that sits next to the hugely popular Food Terminal. The restaurant is bright and clean, and the menu is in English and Korean with photos of each dish (something not ubiquitous on BuHi). Dish proudly takes a modern spin on classic dishes including a crispy potato pancake made with seafood and chives, beef ox-bone soup, and a raised pompano with spicy house sauce. Dish also offers some Korean fusion with burgers and tacos that will please both a Korean food devotee or a beginner.


Mushroom Terrioir at Lazy Betty. Photo by Gianna Keiko, Courtesy of Lazy Betty.

Mushroom Terrioir at Lazy Betty. Photo by Gianna Keiko, Courtesy of Lazy Betty.

After buzz-worthy success as a pop-up concept, Atlanta favorite Ronald Hsu has locked in the space on Dekalb Avenue formerly occupied by Radial Cafe for a formal brick-and-mortar location called Lazy Betty. Hsu, the star of Netflix’s “The Final Table,” earned his cooking stripes at Michelin-starred Le Bernardin and Le Colonial in New York City. Lazy Betty will feature both a tasting menu option and à la carte options. Expect variations on globally-inspired cuisine that are, according to the Lazy Betty website, “guided by exquisite ingredients and a thoughtful approach where every part contributes to the whole.” Editor’s note: Chef Hsu and the team at Lazy Betty celebrated their grand opening on February 26th!

Gulf Snapper Tartare, Kholrabi, Herb Nage. Photo by Eric Sun, Courtesy of Lazy Betty.

Gulf Snapper Tartare, Kholrabi, Herb Nage. Photo by Eric Sun, Courtesy of Lazy Betty.

Could it be the wave of the future? Not one, but three “virtual” delivery-only restaurants are coming to Sandy Springs. Out of one shared kitchen will come a meat-and-three concept, Fatbacks; a gourmet burger concept, Top Bun; and healthy eating concept, Salad Hippie. It’s unclear which delivery services (i.e. Door Dash, Uber Eats, et al.) will handle the transportation or just how far-reaching their availability will be, but at this moment when many just want to “Netflix and chill,” maybe a virtual restaurant is just what the Instagram generation needs.

After much speculation on what would fill the void left by the defunct Decatur legend Cakes & Ale, Chef Terry Koval has announced that he will open The Deer & The Dove restaurant and Side Bar wine and coffee bar in the vacant space. The Deer & The Dove will serve “new” American cuisine and Side Bar will focus on grab-and-go breakfast and lunch sandwiches, bagels, and coffee. At night, Side Bar will transition to a simple bar with natural wines, cocktails, and small plates.

Speaking of big shoes to fill, the hallowed ground formerly inhabited by Anne Quatrano’s Bacchanalia off Howell Mill will soon welcome Redbird, a new effort from Zeb Stevenson and Ross Jones, formerly of Watershed. Redbird will cook up “free-spirited cuisine” that will be focused and balanced with fresh flavors and a reinvigorated commitment to time-honored cooking techniques” according to What Now Atlanta.


The now-toast King Barbecue. Photo by David Danzig.

The now-toast King Barbecue. Photo by David Danzig.

The restaurant requiem has been playing steadily over the past few months with a dizzying number of casualties checking into the culinary morgue. Among the deceased are Perimeter Mall’s burger/sushi hybrid, The Cowfish Burger Bar; longtime French mainstay in Roswell, Pastis; Phipps Plaza’s Public Kitchen; The Battery Atlanta’s Feed Fried Chicken + SuchFirst & Third by Hugh Acheson5 Seasons Brewing in the Prado, Avalon’s King Barbecue; Little Five Points’ Tijuana Garage; several locations of quick-serve Pollo Tropical; quick-serve sushi eatery Maki Fresh; and Nashville import Blue Coast Burrito. Many of the operators’ parting shots to their customers included laments about rising rents and other costs, while some gave no reason for throwing in the apron. We wish them well in restaurant heaven.


OUT ON FILM Sep. 24, 2018


ABOVE: A scene from “When the Beat Drops,” the festival’s opening-night film, screening Sept. 27.


Atlanta’s 31st LGBT film festival screens 128 features,

documentaries, shorts and more at 3 venues

over 11 days


IN WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILYMolly Shannon delivers a surprisingly upbeat take on 19th-century New England poet Emily Dickinson.

In The Happy Prince, Rupert Everett plays Irish poet-playwright Oscar Wilde in his twilight years, a role for which he’s received early raves.


Matt Smith, best known as the BBC’s 11th “Dr. Who” and “The Crown’s” Prince Philip, has the title role in Mapplethorpe, embodying the famous — some would say infamous — New York City photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989 at age 42 of AIDS-related complications.

The biopics are among the highlights of the 31st annual Out on Film, Atlanta’s LGBT film festival, running Sept. 27-Oct. 7.

The event screens 128 films in 11 days at one of three locations — Midtown Art CinemaOut Front Theatre Company in West Midtown and the Plaza Theatre in Poncey-Highland. About 50 films are full-length narrative features or documentaries. The rest are short films and Web series (grouped into 16 programs).

The event expanded from eight to 11 days last year and attracted 10,000 moviegoers, according to fest director Jim Farmer. The year’s films speak to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience in 25 countries, including Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Tunisia, the U.K. and, of course, the United States.

The lineup includes a starry staged reading of The Laramie Project, about the 1998 gay-bashing death of Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard (7 p.m. Sept. 30 at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company). It features Atlanta-based TV, stage and film actors Amy Acker, Steve Coulter, Randy Havens, Jessica Meisel, Rosemary Newcott and Tara Ochs. All proceeds benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation, in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of his murder. Details, tickets HERE.

The festival’s opening film, When the Beat Drops, has a strong Atlanta connection, Farmer says. The 87-minute documentary details “bucking,” a term for athletic dancing created in the American South by gay African-American men who were banned from cheerleading or being major/majorettes because of homophobia.

Atlanta native Anthony Davis, who’s in the documentary, helped grow the dance into a nationwide program that now includes an annual competition in Atlanta. Davis, actor-choreographer-director Jamal Sims, producer Jordan Finnegan, and other cast and crew members will attend the screening.

Paul Rudd (left) and Steve Coogan in “Ideal Home.”

Paul Rudd (left) and Steve Coogan in “Ideal Home.”

Also worth checking out:

  • Lez Bomb, with Cloris Leachman, Bruce Dern and Steve Guttenberg, about a closeted young woman played by Jenna Laurenzo, who wrote and directed (Sept. 28, Landmark).

  • 1985, with Cory Michael Smith as a closeted gay man coming home for Christmas.  Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis play the parents (Sept. 29, Landmark).

  • Studio 54, a 90-minute documentary about the legendary New York City disco, a hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (Sept. 29, Landmark).

  • Ideal Home, with Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan as a bickering gay couple shaken by the 10-year-old on their doorstep (Oct. 6, Plaza).

In the festival’s first two decades, Farmer says, the lineup was dominated by coming-out stories. “And while those are still here and always relevant, we’re dealing with so many other things.”

A scene from the documentary “TransMilitary.”

A scene from the documentary “TransMilitary.”

Several films address transgender issues: The 93-minute documentary TransMilitary (winner of the 2018 audience award at the SXSW film festival) looks at 15,500 transgender individuals in the U.S. military (Oct. 6, Out Front); Man Made follows four men in a bodybuilding competition (Oct. 3, Landmark).

The fest holds its first horror night (Oct. 5, Out Front), with a late-night program of shorts preceded by the feature films What Keeps You Alive, about a lesbian couple’s not-so-cheery anniversary getaway, and Devil’s Path, in which two men meet on a gay-cruising park trail.

Pick up the free 78-page Out on Film guidebook at the screening venues and throughout Midtown. It includes the full schedule and information on every film. Details and festival passes ($175 + $200); three-packs ($30); and single tickets ($11 per screening) available HEREDaily updates also on Out on Film’s Facebook page HERE.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT | May-June 2018

TOP: Some of the scenery at New Realm Brewing Co., where you’ll find elevated eats and craft beer near the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine. Photos: David Danzig.

TOP: Some of the scenery at New Realm Brewing Co., where you’ll find elevated eats and craft beer near the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine. Photos: David Danzig.

Restored landmarks, brews on the BeltLine, Lao street

food and Houston’s, we have a problem.

THIS EDITION of our bimonthly dining column catches you up on projects coming to Midtown, Spaghetti Junction, Buckhead and the Atlanta BeltLine, and leaving East Cobb and, again, Buckhead.

Well done

Despite a dearth of historic structures in Atlanta, a few 20th-century icons still hide in plain sight. Midtown’s “Castle,” a six-level, 1910-era mansion, is one such survivor that is now home to the all-new ROSE + RYE. After an interior architectural makeover, the space feels modern and elegant.

Rose + Rye’s one-sheet menu stays in the epicurean fairway with American cuisine that has a slight Southern flair. Steak tartare, chilled yellowfin tuna, pork tenderloin and a buttery-soft filet mignon are among the confidently executed dishes. And with a name that includes the word “rye,” you can imagine which way the excellent cocktails lean. Think of Rose + Rye as a good jumping-off point for a show or concert at the Fox Theatre, the Woodruff Arts Center or the High Museum of Art.


SNACK BOXE BISTRO, new to the Spaghetti Junction area, puts a modern spin on Lao street food — the sort of dishes you’d buy on city streets from a stall or food cart. Try the sticky rice, an extremely dense and rich rice that comes in a bag. You eat it with your fingers and dip it in sauces like a sweet roasted pepper or chili lime fish. Other standouts include the chicken larb (pronounced LOB), the Nam Kha and the lemongrass ribs. We Westerners will love Snack Boxe Bistro for its English menu, simplicity, cleanliness and prices. Not a single dish tops $10, an absolute steal for food of this quality.

NEW REALM BREWING CO. has to be one of the most exciting openings on the Atlanta BeltLine. The 20,000-sq. ft. colossus of a brewery and full-service restaurant is on the Eastside Trail and shares a building with Two Urban Licks, which was cool before we’d even heard the term “beltline.” New Realm’s second-story, indoor/outdoor terrace commands an impressive perch with views of the BeltLine’s concrete ribbon, Ponce City Market and the Midtown skyline.

The Spanish-style tomato-braised pork meatballs at New Realm. Photo: David Danzig

The Spanish-style tomato-braised pork meatballs at New Realm. Photo: David Danzig

Inside, the experience is genuine brewpub, where the smell of hops is in the air. The beer lineup includes pilsners, IPAs, pale ales and even a triple IPA, which boasts an alcohol content of 11.5 percent. Quaff your beverage of choice with elevated comfort food — Springer Mountain Farms beer-can chicken, Spanish-style tomato-braised pork meatballs, Korean pork buns, she-crab soup and wood-fired pizzas.


Ponce City Market’s iconic — and long-vacant — tower will become home to RFD SOCIAL, a new concept from Slater Hospitality, owners and operators of PCM’s rooftop Skyline Park and Nine Mile Station. The name comes from the 1920s radio show “Dinner Bell R.F.D.,” which was broadcast from the tower’s 11th floor. RFD Social will include the Parlour, a “re-energized” extension of the indoor lobby with a public bar area, and Roebuck Room, a special-events space that will hold up to 175 people.

Kevin Gillespie

Kevin Gillespie

Kevin Gillespie, former “Top Chef” combatant and owner of Gunshow and Revival, will open COLD BEER, a 7,000-sq. ft. cocktail bar/beer garden near the BeltLine’s Old Fourth Ward section. Expect three patios, all facing the BeltLine and one on a rooftop. The beer garden spot plans a sizable dining room and bar.

Cold Beer will join a new Shake Shack and Hazel Jane’s Wine & Coffee in the Edge mixed-use development at Edgewood and DeKalb avenues. Construction should begin midyear, with an opening anticipated for mid-2019. Recent news of a renal cancer diagnosis for Gillespie, reportedly, will not slow the project. We wish him well — and the privacy he and his family have requested.

Say hello to happy news for Buckhead. Roswell’s popular LITTLE ALLEY STEAK is opening a second spot there, likely in early May. The new Little Alley moves into the space that once belonged to Emeril’s and AJA. Look for an oversized dining room; a 2,500-sq. ft. outdoor terrace with a full bar, lounge and dining patio; and more than 356 bourbons.


Much to the chagrin of its fans (and it had many), the HOUSTON’S on Lenox Road closed after 30 years and a high-profile boycott organized by rapper T.I. The two sides mended fences in early February (“We may now enjoy the spinach dip again!” T.I. tweeted), but allegations of racial profiling hurt the restaurant’s reputation. The spinach dip is still available at the Peachtree Road and Northside Parkway locations.

MUSS & TURNER’S in East Cobb closed less than a year after opening. In a press release, namesake Ryan Turner said the closure was due to location and a dining market less fertile than the eatery’s original location. The original Muss & Turner’s — and its secret alter ego, Eleanor’s — (check out the speakeasy’s walk-in refrigerator), continues to be a popular spot.

Bob Amick

Bob Amick

Finally, wave and say bye-bye to  ONE MIDTOWN KITCHEN.

The restaurant was a millennium pioneer in the modern Atlanta dining scene but, after 16 years, founder Bob Amick decided to focus on his consulting business instead.

One Midtown’s slightly younger sibling, Two Urban Licks, and six other Concentrics-brand Atlanta restaurants, continue on.



POUR DECISIONS: North Georgia's Wineries

ABOVE: Tiger Mountain focuses on fine, dry, white European wines and has a list of awards as long as the mountain views from the property’s 75-year-old Red Barn Café. Photo by Wendy Palmer.

ABOVE: Tiger Mountain focuses on fine, dry, white European wines and has a list of awards as long as the mountain views from the property’s 75-year-old Red Barn Café. Photo by Wendy Palmer.

Awards keep growing for North Georgia’s picturesque wineries. Why not raise a glass or two in their honor?

IF YOUR BUCKET LIST includes filling yours with wine, North Georgia is a fine place to start. The state has some 50 wineries (impressive considering the challenges of grape-growing in the Deep South), with most in or near the mountains, tucked into bucolic niches and spread across rolling landscapes.

Photo: Stonewall Creek Vineyards

Photo: Stonewall Creek Vineyards

While other wine regions are undoubtedly more famous, don’t discount Peach State grapes as a secondhand rosé. North Georgia wine country delivers killer views and a rural charm that will relax you even before the sipping starts. The area also produces wines that win regional, national and international awards.

Admit it, wine is sexy. Oenophiles discuss the body profile, the legs and the finish in a provocative way, and it all means something. Body is how the wine feels in your mouth. The legs are judged by how much liquid clings to the glass. Thicker, slower legs mean a higher level of alcohol or sugar. The finish, or aftertaste, shows quality.

Whether you’re wine-confused or a wine connoisseur, Georgia’s vineyards welcome you. We quaffed at three grape-producing gems in Rabun County, where they craft thousands of bottles of red, white and dessert wines annually.

If you need a place to stay in Rabun (these wineries don’t offer lodging), try Lake Rabun Hotel, built in 1922 and the last of its kind. Think Old Europe meets rustic-but-genteel American South. Each room ($114 and up) is different, and named rather than numbered. (Details: or 706.782.4946.)

When plotting your own wine getaway, don’t discount vineyards near Dahlonega and at Château Élan in Braselton. All that wine isn’t going to drink itself.

12 Spies Vineyards

Founder/winemaker Mike Brown dismisses the idea that the everyday person is not a wine expert. “Do you know what you like? Then you’re an expert at what you like,” says the former financial services executive.

Photo: Wendy Palmer

Photo: Wendy Palmer

The whimsical tasting room (which Brown built, along with the winery) lends itself to easy conversation and new friends made over a glass or three (perhaps why 12 Spies received a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence). The vino veranda has country views defined by layers of green and a wood-burning oven for pizza parties. Tastings are $1 per pour. The Cabernet Franc alone is worth the trip. 12 Spies also makes an aptly named, for Southerners, Bless Your Heart muscadine (less sweet than others).

Brown says the winery’s name is from the Old Testament and came to him as he sat in church. The wines have playful names, too, like Holy Moses Red and Lordy Mercy, a Seyval blanc and Petit Manseng blend.

Brown doesn’t enter contests. Yet. But his business has grown from some 500 cases in 2012 to a probable 3,000 this year. For him, it’s about the wine and especially enjoying the people who enjoy the wine.

Details: 550 Black Branch Road, Rabun Gap. 706.490.0890.

Stonewall Creek Vineyards

Stonewall Creek’s valley view is striking, and its wines won multiple awards at the 2016 Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge.

Uncork and unwind in the homey tasting room or on the expansive covered patio, which overlooks 3,000 precisely planted vines and the rise of Glassy Mountain.

Co-founder/winemaker Carl Fackler, a retired orthopedic surgeon, now uses his tactile skills on the vines. Everything is done by hand, from planting and harvesting the grapes to labeling every bottle in the 900 cases produced each year.

Photo: Wendy Palmer

Photo: Wendy Palmer

Leftover wine goes into fine wine jellies, served with cheese and crackers in the tasting room. You’ll often find Fackler and wife Carla there, conversing with visitors. Max the dog will wag you inside.

Red wine lovers will love Stonewall Creek. Its Cabernet Franc is an award winner; the mild, tasty 2015 Malbec is aged 12 months in French and Bulgarian oak. The Malbec is named Three Eagles, for the couple’s sons, all Eagle Scouts. Tastings here are $10 for six samples or $6 for three samples.

Details: 323 Standing Deer Lane, Tiger. 706.212.0584.

Tiger Mountain Vineyards

In 1995, a fifth-generation family farm became Tiger Mountain Vineyards, the first in the area and the first vinifera (white Mediterranean grape) vineyard in Georgia. At 100 acres, it’s still one of the largest.

Photo: Wendy Palmer

Photo: Wendy Palmer

John Ezzard, who made his living as a urologist, was born on the farm in 1936, and founded the winery with wife Martha, a onetime columnist and author (The Second Bud, Deserting the City for a Farm Winery). He died in November, but you might meet Miss Martha, who at 77, still is a force of nature.

Tiger Mountain focuses on fine, dry, white European wines and has a list of awards as long as the mountain views from the property’s 75-year-old Red Barn Café. That list includes prestigious international honors.

Your many choices here include whites (a one-of-a-kind, late-harvest Petit Manseng) and reds (go for the Malbec). The challenge is deciding which of the eight wines to taste for the $10 it costs.

Each May, Atlanta’s Seed & Feed Marching Abominables visit to perform and “wake the vines” for growing season. This year, that happens May 12.

Details: 2592 Old 441 South, Tiger. 706.782.4777.



Cavender Creek Vineyards

Five acres of vines produce Norton, Petit Manseng and cabernet sauvignon grapes. Two of Cavender’s 2016 reds are award winners. Tastings are $12 for four samples, with the option of adding a shot of “wine shine” (apple or peach) for $3. Also tempting: the sangria and wine slushies. Stay on-site in the 1820s log cabin ($225 nightly), and relax on the porch with Tinkerbell and Tucker, two Great Pyrenees who look after the place. Donkeys and free-range chickens will keep you company, too. 3610 Cavender Creek Road, Dahlonega. 706.867.7700 or

Château Élan Winery and Resort

The granddaddy of Georgia wineries was founded in 1984 and recently changed ownership. There’s much to do on its 3,500 acres: You can go gourmet at mealtime, stay a few days, swim, play golf, get married, take cooking classes, disappear into the spa and, of course, drink wine. Should you tire of wine (???), grab a pint at the Irish pub. Tastings are $25 for seven samples; $63 buys eight samples, a guided tour, and a sampling of chef-selected cheeses and seasonal goodies. 100 Rue Charlemagne Drive, Braselton. 678.425.0900 or

Photo: Kaya Vineyard and Winery

Photo: Kaya Vineyard and Winery

Kaya Vineyard and Winery

Numbers tell the tale here. You’re at an elevation of 1,600 feet and can take in views from a 2,000-sq. ft. front porch. Fill your glass with the reserve chardonnay, a 2017 award winner, or any of 19 other estate-grown varietals. Tastings start at $14 for five samples. On-site cottages open to guests this summer. Kaya holds its annual “Jeeps in the Vines” party on April 25 (live music, dozens of Jeeps and, of course, wine). 5400 Town Creek Road, Dahlonega. 706.219.3514 or

Montaluce Winery & Restaurant

Italian-style la dolce vita (the sweet life) is served daily. Montaluce’s wine and food are 2017 North Georgia Top Chef and Wine Tasting winners. Tastings are $18-$23 for five samples (white only, red only or mixed). Montaluce also makes mead. Weekend wine hikes are $45. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily, with a Sunday brunch that includes chef-made cinnamon rolls. 501 Hightower Church Road, Dahlonega. 706.867.4060 or

Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery

The first Georgia winery to win best in class and double gold medals at both the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles International competitions offers Napa Valley-style opulence. Tastings are $20 for six samples. Lunch and dinner (reservations required) are served in the Vineyard Café. Ask about the gourmet winemaker’s dinner. Check out the library and 19th-century wine artifacts. 180 Wolf Mountain Trail, Dahlonega. 706.867.9862 or




Alvin Ailey


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs Feb. 14-18 at the Fox Theatre. Tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499. 

“ALMOST SPIRITUAL.” That’s how Robert Battle describes Atlanta’s passion for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

“The black experience,” says Ailey artistic director Robert Battle, “is not a one-note samba.” Photo: Andrew Eccles

“The black experience,” says Ailey artistic director Robert Battle, “is not a one-note samba.” Photo: Andrew Eccles

“The love and electricity we feel every time we’re there is the kind of excitement and commitment that’s usually reserved for pop culture — like for rock stars,” says Battle, artistic director of the nation’s pre-eminent modern dance company.

This visit the 32-member company — in which no one is a star but everyone dances like one — brings 13 pieces for six performances. You’d need to attend four of the six to see them all. What you can count on is plenty of powerful, athletic dance and Revelations as the finale. The spirit-rousing, visually stunning piece created by founder Alvin Ailey dates to 1960.

Revelations is a light in a dark place,” Battle says from New York. “As we look at this world and our country, Revelations gives us a sense that tomorrow the sun will shine.”

Battle, on the job since 2011, is the third artistic director in Ailey’s 60-year history. He was chosen by his predecessor, Judith Jamison, just as she was chosen by Ailey himself. Battle’s Mass, created in 2004 for the Juilliard School, is new this year to Ailey dancers.

He was inspired to create it after seeing a choral performance of Verdi’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall. “I found myself inspired by the sort of pageantry of a chorus of a hundred people, even how they entered in a somber way and the precise way they organized themselves on the risers, the juxtaposition of it all.

“When they sang,” he says, “the juxtaposition was their voice, like a passport to the world that could travel freely.” The choir leader “was almost like the preacher figure or chosen one born out of the mass. I found myself thinking about it all — the individual, the group or huddled mass, the chosen one freeing himself from the group.”

You never know where you’ll find inspiration, he says.

A scene from the Robert Battle-choreographed “Mass.” Top of page: “Twyla Tharp’s Golden Section.” Photos: Paul Kolnik

A scene from the Robert Battle-choreographed “Mass.” Top of page: “Twyla Tharp’s Golden Section.” Photos: Paul Kolnik

Battle’s choreography often features sharp, ritualistic movements and intricate patterns. He’s comfortable endorsing one phrase used to describe his style: rapid-fire movement. “My last name is Battle, and I think that says it all.”

As always, Ailey audiences can expect some social consciousness in the program. A highlight is likely to be Shelter, created in 1988 by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder and artistic director of Urban Bush Women, the Brooklyn- dance troupe whose works often illuminate the disenfranchised.

Ailey dancers first performed the 22-minute Shelter, described as a hard-hitting interpretation on homelessness, 25 years ago. This is its first revival in 15 years.

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s “Shelter.” Photo: Paul Kolnik

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s “Shelter.” Photo: Paul Kolnik

One day in New York, Zollar says, she found herself stepping over a homeless person. “When it became normal and didn’t have any impact —when I stopped seeing it — that is when I thought we were losing portions of our humanity.”

Since the piece premiered, New York’s homeless population has tripled to 63,000, according to a recent NBC News estimate. Georgia has about 14,000 homeless people.

Battle sees Shelter’s relevance expanding. “I think we’re having to think about shelter and protection in larger ways. There’s a real fear out there of needing shelter from the very laws that are supposed to protect you.”

At least two other pieces in the lineup date to the 1980s, as well:

TWYLA THARP’S THE GOLDEN SECTION (1983). This 16-minute piece, set to a New Wave score by David Byrne, was the finale to Tharp’s The Catherine Wheel, an acclaimed 1981 project. Two years later, it became a stand-alone piece “celebrated for its expression of blissful joy.” In 2006, The New Yorker described Ailey’s re-staging as “daring, driving choreography with breathtaking leaps.”

STACK-UP  by Talley Beatty (1982). Beatty’s piece examines “an urban landscape and all the things that can happen within that context,” says Battle. More plot-driven than most Ailey pieces, it’s a colorful, energetic number of physical pyrotechnics done to a disco vibe from the Fearless Four, Grover Washington Jr. and Earth, Wind & Fire.

An Ailey performance promises a wide range of themes, moods and emotions. “The black experience,” Battle says, “is not a one-note samba.”