The Secret of My Success… Sweet Auburn Desserts

Sweet Auburn Desserts by Chef Sonya Jones

This was the first cookbook I was ever asked to review and I took that very seriously. So I’ve had the book for a long time and I’ve tried several of the recipes. And I have to say this book is the REAL DEAL. If you want to learn how to make moist pound cakes, southern style banana pudding, bread puddings, pie crusts and classic cookies– you’ll want to invest in this book. Sweet Auburn Desserts.

The author, Sonya Jones, and her bakery on Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta are known for a delicious sweet potato cheese cake. Yes you read that right. And yes, it is everything you think it is! This treat was my introduction to the Sweet Auburn Bakery.

While hanging out at the Sweet Auburn Festival, I heard a young man yell “girl, you know you want this!” I turned my head laughing, sure he wasn’t talking to me. He was. But he was right. He was holding up a slice of a dessert. I rarely give in to my sweet tooth, but I found him so funny that i decided to see what he was talking about.

It turned out that his mother owned the bakery he was sitting in front of and she had made this particular dessert, for which she is “famous”. Of course I questioned what he meant by famous. He then showed me photos of his mother with all manner of celebrity; politicians, musicians, actors, etc. I asked if I could have a sample. I was denied. As there were no samples, I bought a $5 slice of the famous sweet potato cheesecake. I ate it about 30 minutes later while walking around the festival.

The thing is, I’ve never really been that into desert. Of course I like something sweet, but I’ll choose a chocolate martini over chocolate cake any day. I like pies (especially cherry and sweet potato), but cakes never really moved me. And cheesecake only served to confuse me. Its cheese, its cake, but kinda like pie. I left it alone usually. Only once in my life have I ever had that ecstatic experience with a dessert that so many women describe, but that came many years later. Another post.

My experience with Sonya Jones’ sweet potato cheesecake was like no other. I ate my slice slowly. I even considered saving half of it for later, but I proved completely undisciplined by eating the remainder in my car. I sat there wondering when I’d return to auburn avenue. I had to have more. I had to share it with my mom. I went back to purchase a few more things. And I fell in love.

A few months later, I got an offer from the publisher to review her cookbook. And here we are. If you want to impress your friends and family– GET. THIS. BOOK. My family thinks I’ve mastered the pound cake. I’m constantly asked to make them. And I don’t mind!!

One tip: Read the entire recipe before beginning. Some desserts require two recipes; one for the crust and the other for the filling. I wish you happy baking. Thank you Pelican Publishing! I look forward to more!!

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NEW Podcast Series… Going Dutch!

Hey everyone,

I’m experimenting with podcasts. Leave comments to let me know what you think!

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See you at the Series… The Rialto Center for the Arts

Last week I spoke to WSB-TV (channel 2 in Atlanta) about two of the Series Shows at the Rialto Center for the Arts. The first being Bale Folclorico da Bahia (Nov 1 & 2) and the second being The James Brown Project: Get on the Good Foot (Nov 9).

I am so excited about BOTH of these shows. I’ve seen Bale Folclorico twice and they are AMAZING! I love Brazilian dance, I love African dance. And Bale Folclorico da Bahia is that historic fusion of both. And when they perform at the Rialto, it’s a PARTY! Be prepared to dance at the end!!

The James Brown Project just premiered in New York at the Apollo. The Rialto is the second theater to show it. Its a celebration of James Brown’s influence on dance choreographed by 6 artist from around the world and performed by Philadanco. I saw the FIRST ever preview of the show a few weeks ago. And I cannot tell you enough how amazing it will be.

Both of these shows get me excited, so I was pleased to talk with WSB-TV. And I’m pleased to present you some options for discounted tickets! And PS- get there early the pre-shows are amazing! And the post-shows are great fun! I love the Rialto!

Video autoplayed so here is a link to my interview.


Goldstar $26 is offering half off tickets. Signing up is free! And tix are only $26.

15% OFF cheaper or better seats you MUST call the box office and give them code DINEWITHDANI for 15% off regular price.

Subscribe to the Series (buy tix to 4 shows or more) and get discounted tickets to each show, invitations and entry to VIP events and more!

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Yet again, I missed the deadline to get media credentials, but I’ll be there this year, with my camera in tow. I hope the regulars change their menus this year. PS- buy your tickets in advance if you can and get your additional food tickets as soon as possible. The lines get crazy long.

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Midtown Atlanta Restaurant Week… September 7- 15

I’m so excited to try a new restaurant! I looked at the list of restaurant and I’m amazed at how many I haven’t been to! So i hope I get to go somewhere new and exciting!

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Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week… July 27- August 4

I love almost any kind of restaurant week. Its a way to try some of the city’s restaurants best dishes. Coming soon is Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week and I cannot wait to try at least one of the places I’ve never been.

Let me know which spots you hit up!

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SEE YOU THERE… Live Music, Food Trucks and Beeyer!!

Been waiting for the chance to try Atlanta’s food trucks, but can’t get to the park? Here is your chance. I’m not gonna say much because the image below explains it all. See you there!

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AJA…Asian Fusion in Buckhead

I don’t spend a lot of time dining in Buckhead, but AJA is almost always an option when I get hungry while shopping. Located across from Phipps Plaza on Lenox Road, this Asian fusion spot serves all of my favorite Asian dishes and few extras. Part of the Here To Serve restaurant group, I am HAPPY to collect my Friends of Tom points when dining here.

The low lighting, loft-like space, modern Oriental decor, house music blaring through the speakers along with the varied menu secures this spot’s reputation as the go-to for modern Asian cuisine in Atlanta.

Aja has more than one dollar signs to represent the price point, but there are some great bargains on the menu. The $5 noodle bowl is a great way to dine on the cheap. A small order of chicken fried rice to-go may or may not have saved my life when i was in a pinch last year. And the Vietnamese summer roll can hit the spot for a midday nosh as well.

But never forget that you are in Buckhead, so ordering more than one thing can definitely add up. Especially when you throw in cocktails. The drink menu doesn’t excite me, but the bartenders are pretty good. So a cocktail is usually in order when i dine there.

A reservation is likely only needed for dinner during peak hours. But the bar area is much bigger than most places, so you can easily relax there while you wait. I hope to see you there soon. Let me know what you loved.

Aja Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

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P’Cheen…. Hit or Miss

Crab Macaroni and collards

I’ve been here a several times. In each visit, I’ve had something good and something bad. So I guess that’s what has shaped my opinion of P’Cheen: Hit or Miss. There are some AMAZING dishes, but there are some that I was angry for trying.

There are two things that P’Cheen offers that must be tried: (1) The moonshine. I’m a southern girl, so moonshine was a fairly frequent topic amongst certain family members. I tried a homemade batch many moons ago and nearly cried. But today, they are smoother with the same strength and better flavors. The Apple Pie does not disappoint. (2) The crab mac n cheese. Yup, if you read this blog, you already know how serious I am about my macaroni! And here, P’cheen’s Chef Alex Friedman delivers.

Just as a side note: the specials can be a bit sketchy or maybe they are just never my thing. So I stick with what I believe in now: The wings, macaroni, brussel sprouts and moonshine.

The spot is pretty small so make a reservation for Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as for Sunday brunch. I’ve never checked out the lounge evenings with the DJ or live music, but I imagine its pretty cool. I enjoy the atmosphere. So even if you aren’t there for a meal, you can enjoy yourself.
P'cheen International Bistro and Pub on Urbanspoon

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Legal Seafood… Classic Seafood in Downtown Atlanta

BF made a valentine’s day reservation at Legal Seafood. A spot that boasts classic seafood dishes at a moderate price. That was my most recent visit. I’ve been there three times and I’ve never found anything particularly spectacular on the menu. I’ve never felt cheated by portion or bad preparation. But I’ve never been blown away. I’m not crazy about this place, but I would never say skip it if you want to try it. So to those who want to taste legendary dishes like the clam chowder, I say knock yourself out! You’ll likely be pleased with it, but I don’t want anyone to make the mistake of thinking this is the best seafood restaurant in Atlanta. Its just… okay…. That’s all. Enjoy.

Legal Sea Foods on Urbanspoon

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