Behind the Scenes at Porsche – CHOA’s Rolling for a Reason

A few weeks ago, we had a chance to go behind the scenes at the Porsche Driving Experience for a charity event benefiting the Aflac Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. We’ve said this before, but Children’s holds a place near and dear to our hearts, so we are always grateful for the opportunity to volunteer at these events and bring awareness to such an amazing cause. This night was nothing short of spectacular, and we’re sharing some behind the scenes photos from this incredible event!

The new facility was opened in 2015 and is located just south of Atlanta right next to Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. The best way to describe the Porsche Driving Experience is a real life “Test Track” for car enthusiasts. From the history of Porsche, to their wall of paint colors, to the driver development track, this place is a car lover’s dream!

If you are looking to go on a drive, we heard rumors that the blue car was the fastest!

Our evening started with a cocktail reception on their patio, which overlooks their test course and has views of the planes taking off and landing next door at the airport. Combine that with a gorgeous sunset, and it’s hard to find a view that will beat this one! The CHOA VIP attendees had the opportunity to go for a ride around the test course in one of the many Porsche models. While we didn’t get to fulfill our need for speed this time, the Porsche Experience Center offers a variety of different driving experiences here. Prices vary depending on which experience you choose, but still are a bit out of the Local Bells’ budget – guess we’ll have to make do with getting our fast car fix at Test Track this November! (Stay tuned for our tips and tricks on how we saved hundreds on our Disney vacation!)

When the sun went down, the games began and the stakes were high! You had your pick from whatever your game was – whether that was roulette or blackjack, craps or Texas hold’em. Everyone started out with $1,000 worth of chips to gamble as you pleased. For some, they went big but didn’t have to go home early thanks to a donation buy-in that let them stay in the game. Midway through the evening, we heard a moving speech from the Blythes, the honored patient family this evening, about their son’s battle against cancer and the love and support they’ve received from the Aflac Cancer Center and CHOA. Hearing those stories and knowing that the proceeds from this evening go to real people like the Blythe family truly puts everything into perspective.

Shout-out to ONEHOPE Wine for the amazing wine this evening! They donate to a different cause with the purchase of every bottle of wine – a winning combination in our book!

At the end of the evening, we traded in our chips for raffle tickets for some amazing prizes – if you’ve ever been to a CHOA event, you know the silent auctions and raffles are outstanding! Let’s just say Grant and I shouldn’t quit our day jobs to play blackjack professionally…

If you are interested in ways to support Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, we invite you to check out their website, www.choa.org. There are so many ways to give back, whether through amazing events like this or volunteering in their hospitals. For one of their exciting events coming this October, be sure to check out Polo in the Pines at the Atlanta Regional Polo Center! Two days of polo, delicious food, fantastic silent auction prizes, and supporting a great cause. We hope to see you there!

Follow us on Instagram for more of our fall fun to come – www.instagram.com/thelocalbells!

Top Springtime Dates

It is finally starting to feel like spring in Georgia! Fingers crossed that the beautiful weather stays and we get to enjoy more of these warm and sunny days. With the days getting longer, we’re excited to enjoy some of our favorite outdoor places and events in the coming weeks. Here are some of the springtime date activities that we are looking forward to most.

Zoo Atlanta – Who doesn’t love the zoo? We love getting to learn more about all of the amazing animals at Zoo Atlanta and typically try to go at least once a year. Spring is great before it gets too hot and humid during the summer months. If the heat and crowds aren’t for you, they have a lot of awesome evening events throughout the year, like Sippin’ Safari and Brew at the Zoo (coming up Memorial Day weekend!).IMG_1409

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Taste of Alpharetta – It’s been awhile since we’ve gone to this, but we are making plans to attend this year with it being walking distance away for us! On Thursday May 3rd, downtown Alpharetta shuts down for over 60 local restaurants to set up booths offering small plates and drinks of some of their most popular menu items. You can purchase tickets for the food and drink items, and it’s a great way to try a taste of so many great restaurants. Plus, there will be live music throughout the evening!IMG_2100

Barnsley Gardens – If you want an escape from the hustle and bustle, a trip to Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville may be just what you need. From their beautiful pre Civil War manor house ruins to their championship golf course to their gorgeous new Inn, it’s the perfect weekend or day trip from Atlanta! The Woodland’s Grill and Beer Garden are perfect to enjoy the nice weather and they have several walking trails if a picnic is more your style.

What are your favorite springtime dates that we should add to our list this year? Follow along with us on Instagram at www.instagram.com/thelocalbells

“Would You Rather” – The Local Bells Edition

Want to get to know us better? See our answers to some completely random, somewhat difficult “Would You Rather” questions!

Would you rather be completely invisible for one day or be able to fly for one day?

M: Flying for sure! I don’t really see a reason why I would want to be invisible, and it would be incredible to be able to fly! Maybe I’d finally get over my fear of heights too!

G: I would for sure fly for one day, I’ve always hated sitting in traffic.

Would you rather unlimited sushi or unlimited tacos for life?

M: Definitely sushi, especially if it was free! There are so many awesome combinations of fish, so I feel like it would be hard to get sick of it too quickly. Don’t get me wrong – tacos are delicious too, but long term I feel like it would be the healthier option to go with the sushi.

G: Tacos. No question about it. There are so many different thing you can put into a taco and always change it up.

Would you rather get one free international round trip plane ticket every year or be able to fly domestic anytime free?

M: Hmmm…this is a tough one. I think I would choose the one where I could fly domestic free anytime so that I could visit more places. But there are also so many international places I want to visit! With my current work vacation time in mind, the international option might be the best option, but with unlimited vacation time, the domestic option wins for sure.

G: I would have to go with fly domestic anytime for free. I feel I would venture to a lot more new places and it would fit into my normal life schedule pretty easily with being able to take trips on the weekends.

Would you rather have all green traffic lights as you approach or never have to wait in line again?

M: As much as I hate traffic and red lights, I have to go with never having to wait in lines again solely thinking about our love for theme parks. If we had perpetual Fast Passes for Space Mountain and never had to wait in line at Starbucks again, that would be absolutely amazing! Where can I sign up?

G: Easy, ever wait in line again. Being able to walk right on to the Hulk at Islands of Adventure or go straight to the front of the long concession line at football games would be an incredible advantage.

Would you rather talk like Yoda or breathe like Darth Vadar?

M: I feel like there is really one right answer for this one – talk like an incredible Jedi Master or sound like you are breathing through a scuba regulator every minute? Speak like Yoda I must choose.

G: Considering Yoda is one of the best characters in the whole franchise? Yoda for sure!

How would you answer these tough questions? Share with us in the comments! Be sure to follow along with us on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/thelocalbells

Sushi Making Class – Everything You Need to Know

Meagan here to tell you all about our awesome sushi making experience at the Cooking School at Irwin Street! Grant gave me the class as a Christmas present, and we finally had the opportunity to book a class. One of our goals as a couple in 2018 was to cook at home and together as much as possible. We’ve made pretty good on that so far, though we sometimes get in a rut of making the same things every week. We were really excited to try something new at cooking class and settled on sushi making – something neither of us have done before. But since we love eating sushi, we figured it would be the perfect class for us!

Living in Alpharetta, we typically only venture ITP for work or special events. We quickly remembered why we love suburbia life when there was no parking at the cooking school and Grant had to put his parallel parking skills into action. Luckily, it turned out to be a nice day, so the short walk wasn’t bad. The Cooking School at Irwin Street is located in the Irwin Street Market, right down the street to Krog Street Market and the Beltline.

We waited in the market for class to begin, then were brought back to the kitchen by Chef Mihoko. Other than us, there were only another 9 people, which made it great to follow along with the Chef’s instructions and ask questions along the way. Each pair was given their own station complete with all the prepped ingredients. We had sushi rice, nori (seaweed), fresh salmon, crab, shrimp, avocado, peppers, cucumber, and asparagus.

The Chef showed us first how to make the “inside out roll” with the rice on the outside, as opposed to the traditional method with the nori outside. We started by placing our nori on the bamboo mat (covered in plastic wrap to prevent any sticking), then spreading a thin layer of rice across it. TLB Tip: Make sure to dip your fingers in water before ever touching the sushi rice – this is very sticky rice and you’ll end up with more of it stuck to your hands then to the nori! Once you get an even layer of rice, you flip the nori and rice layer over and can start adding your fresh ingredients for the center of your roll.

After placing the ingredients about an inch away from the edge, then slowly rolling it up with the bamboo mat. Once it’s completely rolled, you use the bamboo mat to squeeze it a little more to make sure everything is locked in. Then voila! You have a perfect California roll!

Once we made our California rolls, we had the chance to do whatever we wanted. The whole process is fun and relatively easy once you get the hang of it! You do realize that less rice is more – it goes a lot further than you think. Grant and I each made our second roll, then realized we didn’t have much rice left to do anymore. Luckily, the wonderful Chef shared some of her rice (and salmon) with us so we could make one more!

From instruction to eating, the class took less than an hour and a half. We had no idea how simple it was to make your own sushi and it was delicious when we got to enjoy our own creations! TLB Tip: Most classes are BYOB (with the exception of their knife skills classes), so it would be the perfect date night or activity with a group of friends.

After class ended, the ice cream shop that shares space with the cooking school gave everyone a free scoop of ice cream! Needless to say, we were absolutely stuffed afterwards! We ended our adventure with a short walk down the Beltline, mainly looking for cute puppies.

We are really excited to put our new skills to the test! Next stop for us will be the Buford Farmers Market or H Mart to get all of our sushi making ingredients. We would highly recommend the Cooking School at Irwin Street and will be keeping an eye on their future classes. TLB Tip: They sometimes offer a Groupon which can be a substantial savings! However, classes book up quickly and not all are eligible for the Groupon offer. (New to Groupon? Sign up here!)

Hope you all check out the classes they offer on their website: https://www.irwinstreetcooks.com/ We had an awesome time, and you realize how fun it is to try something completely new. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Keep following along with us on Instagram at Instagram.com/thelocalbells

Chops Lobster Bar Review

We had a great Valentine’s Day celebration Wednesday night, cooking and relaxing at home instead of fighting the crowds and bad service with all the other couples. Instead, we decided to have our big celebratory dinner Friday night and visit one of the most iconic Atlanta restaurants – Chops Lobster Bar.

To put it simply, Chops Lobster Bar is home of some of the best steak and seafood in Atlanta, and consistently ranks in the top 10 steakhouses in the U.S. The intimate cavern-like dining room creates an inviting atmosphere as you walk in and see the seafood bar front and center. While we waited for our reservation time, we had a seat at the “Lobster Bar” and settled in with a cocktail to kick off our evening.

When it was time to be seated, we were escorted to a table towards the back, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the dining room. One thing to note about Chops Lobster Bar is their incredible staff. We were always addressed as Mr. and Mrs. Bell, making it feel very personal to us and almost as if we were regulars.

Since it was a special occasion (and also because we had a gift card to offset some of the cost), we decided to take our time through each of the courses. We started off by splitting the signature lobster tail – you can’t go to the iconic Lobster Bar without eating lobster! The 1/4 lb lobster tail was flash fried and served with warm drawn butter and a Greek honey mustard aioli. The batter was light and crispy, though not overpowering for the juicy, buttery lobster. Definitely recommend this as a shareable starter!

For our next course, we selected the French onion soup and the Chops chopped salad. The soup was served in the tradition crock with copious amounts of cheese, making it a truly decadent soup. The salad had some of the freshest romaine lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, endive, and onion and was tossed in a creamy basil vinaigrette. For appetizers, both dishes were generously sized and could easily be shared by two.

When it came to entrees, we decided to get one steak and one seafood option, representing both of the specialities of Chops Lobster Bar. We chose the 20 oz. bone-in ribeye and the horseradish crusted black grouper. Both were incredible! Though I don’t think there is a bad option on the menu. All of the steaks are custom aged and broiled at 1700 degrees, locking in the juicy flavors. The fish was flaky and light, with a subtle rather than overpowering flavor of horseradish. Again, generous portion sizes for both. We split a side of the smoked Gouda mac and cheese too, which was so decadent and delicious that not a noodle was left behind.

After stuffing ourselves with appetizers, soup, salad, and entrees, we were too full to properly enjoy the dessert course and decided to pass this round. All in all, an incredible experience from the food to the service to the ambiance of the Chops Lobster Bar. Such a great experience comes with a comparable price tag, so it’s unlikely we will become regulars but definitely a place to remember for special celebrations.

TLB Tip: Interested in checking out Chops Lobster Bar or one of the other Buckhead Life Group restaurants? Order an Ultimate Dining Card to get an extra 10% added for future purchases.

The Lion King on Broadway

Last night, we had the incredible opportunity to see The Lion King on Broadway at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre. Growing up, we both loved The Lion King and have grown to appreciate musical performances and plays more as adults. When we heard the show was making its way to Atlanta, we knew we had to go!

The Lion King has won six Tony awards and is now in its 21st season on Broadway, making it the world’s #1 musical. To create the life-like effects of the animal characters, the show uses over 230 handmade puppets to bring them to life. The costumes are beautifully handcrafted with vibrant colors and homage to the African culture that you feel transported in both time and place (or to the Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World Resort!).

There is no bad seat in the house at the fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta. The picture above is a view from our seats in the left orchestra – definitely one of our favorite spots! Every time we get to enjoy a show here, we are reminded of the timeless beauty of the theatre.

The performance was absolutely amazing, especially the music! “The Circle of Life” kicked off the show with a procession of the animals down the aisle to the stage, and Young Simba stole the show in “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.” Our favorite song was “Hakuna Matata” – a great motto to live by! It means no worries, for the rest of your days!

Whether you are a local Atlantan or just visiting, a trip to the Fox or to The Lion King on Broadway wherever you may be is highly recommended! The show is currently in Atlanta January 10-28, so be sure to check it out!

Follow along with our adventures on Instagram at instagram.com/thelocalbells

Bad Daddy’s Burgers and Bar

What are the most important things when looking for a great sports bar? Great drinks, great food, and lots of TVs!

If you haven’t been able to tell so far, all of the posts thus far have been written by my lovely wife, Meagan, but now it’s my turn! This is Grant Bell (the other half of The Local Bells), and I am here to tell you about a new place in Brookhaven/Chamblee called Bad Daddy’s Burgers and Bar. Now if you are from the North Carolina region (where this chain originated) you have probably heard of Bad Daddy’s but this is the first location here in Georgia and you should be excited about it.

Meagan and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend the soft opening for Bad Daddy’s this past Saturday. Before I go into what Bad Daddy’s is all about, I do want to mention the coolest thing about this soft opening. Instead of charging for food and drinks, they said everything was on the house but they would accept donations that night for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Seeing a new restaurant in the area already be this involved with a local charity is awesome to see and they haven’t even opened yet!

We started off with an appetizer of the Backyard Chicken Nachos. These things were killer. The nachos came with BBQ chicken, corn, black beans, pineapple, and topped it off with queso and BBQ sauce. The best about these nachos is that the toppings were spread evenly across the chips. Now if you have ever gotten nachos at a restaurant, the biggest complaint for me is always that they give pile on all these great topping on top of a top off only 10 chips and then you have another 15-20 chips that have nothing. These Backyard Chicken Nachos had almost the perfect ratio of toppings to chips. I know what your thinking, this is probably the most in-depth analysis of nachos that you have ever read. But these are legitimately the thoughts that went through my head eating these awesome nachos.

Now to get down to the what his restaurant is all about: burgers. There are a lot of great burger places in Atlanta, but they all have some big competition now. They have a large menu (but not huge like a diner) that included lots of different types of burgers from a monster bacon cheese burger with two different types of cheese and two different types of bacon, a classic mushroom and Swiss and your basic good old American cheese burger. Now if beef doesn’t tickle your fancy, you had other choices of turkey and chicken burgers. Bad Daddy’s also has a wide variety of salads, but I wasn’t about to get a salad at a brand new burger joint.

Now with this soft opening being a charity event I’ll admit, I did not take too much into account how much I was theoretically spending. That being said, you could order from the menu of the preset burgers OR you could create your own. In an almost sushi type ordering system, you could fill out a check list choosing exactly how you want your burger. Starting with the type of meat, the bun, the cheeses, the toppings, sauces, and premium toppings (like bacon and a fried egg). Pictured below are the two burgers Meagan and I had!

This is Meagan’s: a turkey burger in a lettuce bun with white cheddar cheese, bacon, avocado, mushrooms, and truffle aioli with a side of truffle fries.

This is mine, I called the “I didn’t have lunch” burger: two beef patties on a brioche bun, with pimento cheese, pepper jack, grilled onions, jalapeƱo bacon, a fried egg, onion straws, raw jalapeƱos with the buffalo tots!

These burgers are INCREDIBLE! The burger was seasoned and cooked perfectly and the fries and tots were the perfect partner for both burgers. You could tell the bun was fresh and toasted (which is key to a perfect burger), the bacon was hot and perfectly cooked, and the egg was just how I ordered it!

Not only were the burgers great, but the drinks were great too! I highly recommend the Bad Ass on the rocks Margarita; apparently only two are allowed per customer since they are so strong. If your a beer fanatic, they have their own brew that is produced by Full Sail out of Colorado and is a great ale to pair with burger, fries and sports!

We highly recommend to give Bad Daddy’s Burgers and Bar a try, and see if you can make a bigger burger then the “I didn’t have lunch” burger!