Sometimes you just need a quiet night in…

An exciting day of promising meetings behind me, and one last night to curl up, relax and recharge before a busy award season officially starts for me tomorrow.

Sometimes you just need a quiet night in...

Sometimes you just need a quiet night in…

Sitting on the floor, listening to the rain, watching Nashville and whatever Law & Order is on, nibbling on homemade sweet & spicy pecans delivered fresh from talented chef & blogger buddy Lily Diamond, of Kale and Caramel, accompanied by venison jerky from country singer Drew Baldridge, sipping a glass of Josh Cabernet, comforting a rain-phobic puppy on my lap, and enjoying fond memories of my Texas holidays – staring at me from my fireplace – in the incarnation of cowboy boots.

Here’s to a successful 2016 for us all!

Dine & Dish with Dawn: Society Bakery in Dallas – It’s Not Just Their Desserts That Make Them Sweet!

Life might not be a cake walk, but don’t tell Society Bakery that.

The oven is always on at Society Bakery in Dallas, where they bake as much sweetness as they add to the world around them!

The oven is always on at Society Bakery in Dallas, where they bake as much sweetness as they add to the world around them!

A bakery whose motto is “Be good to your sweet tooth, be good to society,” Society makes it its mission to sweeten the world, while giving back.

And, I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Ellen Degeneres and AOL have named them one of the Top Ten Cupcakes in America, and People Country Magazine listed Society Bakery as one of “Four top bakeries in L.A., Dallas, Birmingham, and N.Y.C.”.

Society Bakery founder, Roshi Muns and I established a friendship last December when I was referred to Society when I needed a last minute cake for an impromptu holiday tea party with my girlfriends. I tasted the cake (delicious!), and met Roshi (the sweetest!), and it was friendship at first sight! We’ve followed each other on social media since then, so when Roshi saw I was headed home to Dallas, she told me she wanted to “roll out the red carpet” for me and my family and friends, and host a tasting brunch for us.

Knowing I would need some help from other discerning tastebuds to taste such delectable treats, I invited my mom, my fabulous Dallas blogger friend Lee Cordon of DoSayGive, my best friend Jenny Harris, her son Shepherd, Jenny’s sister Dr. Sally Falwell, and her daughter, Evie.

Lots of love at the table with my tasting crew by my side!

Lots of love at the table with my tasting crew by my side – and that’s Roshi right behind me!

And oh my, were we ever treated!

We started out with Pimento Cheese on toast with hardboiled egg, bacon, lettuce and tomato.

Society Bakery's homemade pimento cheese on toast, with hardboiled eggs, bacon, lettuce and tomato

Society Bakery’s homemade pimento cheese on toast, with hardboiled eggs, bacon, lettuce and tomato

Then, came out the chicken salad on croissant, tuna salad on wheat, grilled cheese and pasta salad with tomato and mozzarella.

Chicken salad on croissant, truna salad, grilled cheese and pasta salad  at Society Bakery - delicious!

Chicken salad on croissant, truna salad, grilled cheese and pasta salad at Society Bakery – delicious!

The next course was ricotta with fresh peaches and strawberries, served with a side of some of the most delicious homemade peach jam I’ve ever enjoyed.

Ricotta with fresh peaches and strawberries with a side of scrumptious homemade peach jam by Chef Erin

Ricotta with fresh peaches and strawberries with a side of scrumptious homemade peach jam by Chef Erin

After all that, came the…DESSERTS!!
And, I do mean desserts plural!

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Life really is a cake walk at Society Bakery (details of desserts in this pic below)

We were treated to the following dessert smorgasbord (as pictured above clockwise witht the brownie, standing in for 12 o’clock): Brownie, Frosted Sugar Cookie, Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Jessie Jessup Cupcake (vanilla cake with buttercream frosting & my FAVE!), Strawberry Cupcake, Coconut Cupcake, Salted Caramel Cupcake with Salted Caramel Filling, vanilla Cupcake, White Petits Fours with filling, Monster Chocolate Chip Cookie, Bread Pudding Whoopie Pie, Apple Pie, another Whoopie Pie, Monster M&M Cookie, and their signature Chocolate Cake in the center.

Here’s a closeup of some of that deliciousness.

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Sugar Heaven at Society Bakery with cupcakes, cookies, petits four, pies, brownies and whoopie pies!

As delicious as the food and “sweet treats” (as Sally & Evie call them) are, Roshi’s mission is even sweeter. Society Bakery is active in giving back to the local community of Dallas, by giving thousands of cupcakes away in exchange for items that local charities need. Society Bakery also donates throughout the year to over 100 different charities, schools and non-profit organizations, refraining from taking tax write-offs for donations because Roshi and her team believe that a business can be profitable and charitable at the same time. Sounds like someone else I know!

My heart was so full getting to share both my love for what I do, and my love of food, with some of the people I love best in my own hometown of Dallas.

What it takes to capture those delicious food pics y'all love looking at! My friend Jenny was praying I didn't fall off that step ladder!

What it takes to capture those delicious food pics y’all love looking at! My friend Jenny was praying I didn’t fall off that step ladder!

 

My dear friend (of 21 years), Jenny Harris Crandall and I cakewalking at Society Bakery

My dear friend (of 21 years), Jenny Harris Crandall and I cakewalking at Society Bakery

 

With my friend - and fellow influencer & blogger - Lee Cordon, of the fabulous blog, DoSayGive

With my friend – and fellow influencer & blogger – Lee Cordon, of the fabulous blog, DoSayGive

 

So, when in Dallas, head on over to Society Bakery, where the oven’s always on – and the place, where when you buy sweetness, you also add sweetness to the world around you!

xoxo,
Dawn

Where Foodies Meet Fundraising: No Kid Hungry Taste Of The Nation LA in Culver City

This tree could just have easily have read, "DM hearts NKH"

This tree could just have easily have read, “DM hearts NKH”

Today, I’m feeling miiiiiiiighty grateful, because yesterday, I got to eat so that kids can be fed.

I know. This sounds like a dichotomy. How can eating actually feed others?

Well, if I know anything from my collaborations with No Kid Hungry, it’s that with these guys, anything is possible.

Linds & I at Taste Of The Nation LA, benefitting my beloved No Kid Hungry

Linds & I at Taste Of The Nation LA, benefitting my beloved No Kid Hungry

No Kid Hungry’s Taste Of The Nation events do just that. Food-loving patrons pay for a ticket to get the opportunity to try bites from a bevy of the best chefs in their city, and 100% of the profits earned go to No Kid Hungry programs. That certainly fills me up more than any pizza could.

So, yesterday, I headed to Media Park in Culver City for Taste of The Nation LA, with my friend, Lindsey, and we ate and drank to our hearts’ content.

Gearing ourselves up to be stuffed silly!

Gearing ourselves up to be stuffed silly!

Among the hundreds of options, there were…

Delicious scallops…

Scallops and ravioli goodness from Maru in the VIP lounge

Scallops and ravioli goodness from Maru in the VIP lounge

and peach tarts from Maru in the VIP lounge.

Peach tarts, served with ice cream from Maru. This is what you get when bread pudding and peach cobbler have a baby.

Peach tarts, served with ice cream from Maru. This is what you get when bread pudding and peach cobbler have a baby.

 

Deconstructed Philly cheese rolls with the melted cheese INSIDE from The Bazaar by José Andrés at SLS.

All I can say is…YUMMMMMM.

All I can say is…YUMMMMMM.

 

One of my favorite lunch spots, Mainland Poke, served up some fresh goodness to balance out the decadence.

Mainland Poke is one of my favorite lunch spots!

Mainland Poke is one of my favorite lunch spots!

Chile Con Corny from Dog Haus: Masa-Battered Smoked Queso Sausage, Haus-Made Pepper Jack Sauce & Crushed Corn Chips. Holy heck.

Chile Con Corny, from Dog Haus

Chile Con Corny, from Dog Haus

Plan Check burgers with cheese crostini, sunnyside up egg, bacon two ways (why yes, there WAS bacon jam), melted cheddar and dehydrated ketchup (think fruit leather). Amazeballs, y’all.

These divine little Plan Check burgers had the longest line by far: too much, and just enough all at the same time. Just decadent.

These divine little Plan Check burgers had the longest line by far: too much, and just enough all at the same time. Just decadent.

As for dessert? Oh, a little Moët Chandon bubbly certainly never hurt anything.

Champagne, anyone?

Champagne, anyone?

And did I mention SNOW CONE cocktails from Davey Wayne’s? Oh, I didn’t. Well, I did now. Summer in a basket, my friends.

Nothin' says summer like snow cone cocktails!

Nothin’ says summer like snow cone cocktails!

So, whatever city you’re in, do your darndest to get yourself to a Taste Of The Nation this year. I’ve been to two now, and it’s just one of the best – and most rewarding – culinary experiences you’ll ever have.

Upcoming No Kid Hungry events:  The No Kid Hungry Chef’s Cycle is coming up THIS WEEKEND! (http://chefscycle.org/) Nearly 50 chefs and restaurant industry professionals are riding bikes 300 miles to raise funds and awareness for No Kid Hungry.  The East Coast ride takes place June 7-9 and the West Coast ride happens June 14-16. 

Roll me away…

 

xoxo,
Dawn

 

Eat To Feed Others: Taste of The Nation Laguna Beach, Benefitting No Kid Hungry

At the Montage Laguna, for No Kid Hungry's Taste Of The Nation Laguna, wearing WAYF

At the Montage Laguna, for No Kid Hungry’s Taste Of The Nation Laguna, wearing WAYF

Well, I figure the best way to get y’all excited about No Kid Hungry’s Taste Of The Nation in Culver City (coming up on Sunday, June 7th) is to show you what a fun time I had at Taste of The Nation in Laguna Beach this past weekend at The Montage Laguna Beach.

Yep. Pretty much me in a  nutshell the whole night. No date? No problem. Delicious food. Wine. Friends. Good cause. And best yet? All for @NoKidHungry at @montagelaguna . Bite I'm eating right now? @FordsFillingStation Ben Ford's Seared Sea Scallop with Pea Sprout Salad, Preserved Lemon & Toasted Hazelnuts. Holy yum.

Yep. Pretty much me in a nutshell the whole night. No date? No problem. Delicious food. Wine. Friends. Good cause. And best yet? All for @NoKidHungry at @montagelaguna . Bite I’m eating right now? @FordsFillingStation Ben Ford’s Seared Sea Scallop with Pea Sprout Salad, Preserved Lemon & Toasted Hazelnuts. Holy yum.

Details are at the bottom on how you can buy your tickets to have your own foodie dreams come true, all while helping our nation’s kids get fed! But, for now, here’s my Taste of The Nation Laguna story.

As a Team No Kid Hungry member & influencer, I arrived, with a hungry belly – and a full heart – ready to eat, drink, and raise money and awareness for No Kid Hungry.

On the carpet for No Kid Hungry Laguna Beach

On the carpet for No Kid Hungry Laguna Beach

First up? Delicious Riverain Cabernet and cheeses and charcuterie from The Cellar and Center Street Cheese Shop.

The perfect first course to kick off my tastebuds! Riverain Cabernet and delicious cheeses and charcuterie from The Cellar and Center Street Cheese Shop.

The perfect first course to kick off my tastebuds! Riverain Cabernet and delicious cheeses and charcuterie from The Cellar and Center Street Cheese Shop.

Next up? The vegetarian portion of the evening. And it was surprisingly downright delicious to this Texas girl!

Beefsteak's Marcel Vigneron's Smoked Bowl with Brown Rice, Quinoa, Veggies, Spicy Sauce, Avocado and Crispies

Beefsteak’s Marcel Vigneron’s Smoked Bowl with Brown Rice, Quinoa, Veggies, Spicy Sauce, Avocado and Crispies

 

Then, it was time for the flavors of the sea with the plentiful ocean-fresh seafood options! After all, our view was all ocean, there at the beautiful Montage.

The Montage's Craig Strong's Grilled Octopus and some Sauv Blanc

The Montage’s Craig Strong’s Grilled Octopus and some Sauv Blanc

 

Twenty Eight's Shirley Chung's Chilled Noodle with Uni

Twenty Eight’s Shirley Chung’s Chilled Noodle with Uni

 

My 3 favorites of the evening? THESE GUYS.

Faith & Flower's Chef Michael Hung's Yellowfin Tuna Poke, Soy Braised Konbu, and Foie Gras Panna Cotta

Faith & Flower’s Chef Michael Hung’s Yellowfin Tuna Poke, Soy Braised Konbu, and Foie Gras Panna Cotta

Chef Ben Ford's Seared Scallops with Pea Sprout Salad, Preserved Lemon and Toasted Hazelnuts

The Filling Station’s Chef Ben Ford’s Seared Scallops with Pea Sprout Salad, Preserved Lemon and Toasted Hazelnuts

Gastropub's heavenly Venus Clams with Tabasco  Butter and Reyes Blue Mousse…and beer!! The beer would be Noble Ale Works Spicoli

Gastropub’s heavenly Venus Clams with Tabasco Butter and Reyes Blue Mousse…and beer!! The beer would be Noble Ale Works Spicoli

And, lastly, the meat options!
I started out light with Alma’s Chef Ari Taymor’s Beef Tartare with Fermented Walnuts and Blackberries. It was a divine balance of savory, nutty and sweet!

Alma's Chef Ari Taymor's Beef Tartare with Fermented Walnuts and Blackberries

Alma’s Chef Ari Taymor’s Beef Tartare with Fermented Walnuts and Blackberries

The line was out of control for this one:

Chianina's Steakhouse's Chef David Coleman's Spit Roasted Whole Chianina Beef Leg Trio, California Style BBQ Sliders, House Made Corn Tortillas, and Grilled Flatbread with Pickled Ramps

Chianina’s Steakhouse’s Chef David Coleman’s Spit Roasted Whole Chianina Beef Leg Trio, California Style BBQ Sliders, House Made Corn Tortillas, and Grilled Flatbread with Pickled Ramps

And, the eating & drinking didn’t end when the event did!

With new friends, s'moresing it up around the fire pit at the VIP reception

With new friends, s’moresing it up around the fire pit at the VIP reception

I stayed on for the special VIP reception, where I got to enjoy more of what the Montage chefs had to offer, got to meet the chefs, and eat s’mores!

Clearly excited to meet Chef Ben Ford (fun fact? He's also Harrison Ford's son)

Clearly excited to meet Chef Ben Ford (fun fact? He’s also Harrison Ford’s son)

The VIP reception eats, courtesy of The Montage:

Fried Mac & cheese balls

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Fried Lobster

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Grilled Cheese & Sweet Tomato Bisque

My FAVE!!

My FAVE!!

Foie Gras Cones

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S’mores!!!

photo 5 copy 4

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Late night antics in the photobooth with new friends:

Why yes, there WERE cigars

Why yes, there WERE cigars

So, NOW, it’s your chance. Tickets for the LA Taste of The Nation event at Media Park in Culver City are on sale now! General admission tickets are $110 and VIP tickets are $160. I say, go ahead and spend that extra $50 because it’s for my FAVORITE cause, and you get all that VIP access you’re gonna want. And talk about a romantic date!! Be sure to bring your sweetheart, because what’s better than eating, drinking and being with the one you adore?

Feed the kiddos by tasting to your heart's content!

Feed the kiddos by tasting to your heart’s content!

I’ll see YOU there!

xoxo,

Dawn