The First of the 50th Anniversary Wine Dinner Series at Ruth’s Chris: Veuve Clicquot Dinner

There are a lot of things that I love about my job (#Yelp901 Community Manager), but attending specialty dinners are my favorite. And the dinner that Ruth’s Chris Steak House just had…well, it is a new favorite.

All across the land on Thursday, March 19th, 2015, Ruth’s Chris Steak House hosted the first of their 50th Anniversary Wine Dinner Series. And first up? The Veuve Clicquot Dinner. This excited me for a few reasons…well, two to be exact: steak and *excellent* champagne. Because I could solely live off steak and champagne for the rest of my life…oh wait, I basically already do. And if you follow me on any social media, you know this to be true. I feel like I should be embarrassed…but I’m not. I’m a total lushy hedonist and proud of it!

Grand Marnier Smash
Grand Marnier Smash

Upon arrival, I was excited to see that there was a private dining room for the dinner and all 20 (or so) guests were seated around a large table – perfect for socializing with strangers (my favorite thing!). And before I could even sit down, I was offered a Grand Marnier’s® Smash (1 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier®, 4 chunks fresh lemon, and 6-8 mint leaves) and salmon tartare on a crisp cucumber – the perfect thing to get this party started.

Salmon Tartare on Crisp Cucumber
Salmon Tartare on Crisp Cucumber

The first course was chilled jumbo shrimp with honeycrisp apple, haricot vert (otherwise known as green beans), and dijon vinaigrette paired with the Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label.  I would never think about putting shrimp with apples or even green beans but it was spectacular…and beautiful!

Chilled Jump Shrimp with Honeycrisp Apple, Haricot Vert, Dijon Vinaigrette
Chilled Jump Shrimp with Honeycrisp Apple, Haricot Vert, Dijon Vinaigrette

Next up? Lobster Bisque En Croute with the Veuve Clicquot Rosé…and I’m still thinking about that delicious pairing. There is something about champagne being pink that just makes me happy (OK, yes, I’m girlie and silly).

Lobster Bisque En Croute
Lobster Bisque En Croute

Oh, and I *may* have devoured that bisque in two seconds flat…and in then in the very next breath asked my date if he was going to finish his (he did, much to my dismay).

Veuve Clicquot Rose
Veuve Clicquot Rose

As expected, a filet mignon was the entrée (with black truffle and foie gras butter, served sizzling) with pan roasted cremini mushrooms and garlic mashed potatoes as the accompaniments. And just when I thought it couldn’t be more perfect, I drank the Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2004. My new favorite drink…unsurprisingly, it is around $72 a bottle…I do have expensive and exquisite taste!

Filet Mignon with Black Truffle & Foie Gras Butter, Served Sizzling and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Filet Mignon with Black Truffle & Foie Gras Butter, Served Sizzling and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Pan Roasted Cremini Mushrooms
Pan Roasted Cremini Mushrooms

For dessert, there was a pear and almond tart with chamomile tea whipped cream. They were kind enough to accommodate my hatred of nuts and brought me one without it. We then sipped the Veuve Clicquot Demi Sec to finish.

My favorite part of the evening was surprisingly learning the history of Veuve Clicquot. I’ve always enjoyed history (I mean, I give tours at a cemetery for fun), but wine and champagne have eluded me, because while I enjoy it, I never understand when someone speaks intelligently about it. However, our host for the evening (please forgive me as I have forgotten your name) spoke eloquently (aka simply, which I appreciated) and was absolutely hilarious. He even gave me a powerpoint that I could take home to study…I swear, I’ll read it…eventually.

Future Dates:

April 30th, 2015: Caymus Wine Dinner

June 11th, 2015: Golden Anniversary Dinner

August 20th, 2015: 1965 Cocktail Party

October 18th, 2015: “Best of the Best” 90+ Rated Wine Dinner

Update: HOW COULD I FORGET that I won the giveaway of the evening! Well, technically, my date won the giveaway…but I took it from him…I let him keep the sunglasses though (aren’t I nice?!)!

Pear and Almond Tart with Chamomile Tea Whipped Cream
Pear and Almond Tart with Chamomile Tea Whipped Cream
Veuve Clicquot Basket
Veuve Clicquot Basket

I Spent 15% Of My Salary On A Relationship “Coach” And All I Got Was This Lousy List

I spent 15% of my annual income (BEFORE taxes) on a dating/relationship coach. I won’t tell you the exact amount because A) You’ll know how much I make a year, and B) I’ll look like a total idiot.

What I thought would be an intensive three-month program that would completely change my life was really six one-hour long phone calls, a CD, and a handful of emails…for 15% of my yearly salary.

And what is so frustrating about this is that she came highly recommended. Chances are, you’ve even heard of her! But alas, there was no aha moment…other than the realization her exact advice was in every dating book I’ve already read (or watched on Millionaire Matchmaker)… and most upsettingly, I could have bought a few Chanel purses and Louboutin stilletos with that money instead (much more practical).

At least, that was my initial reaction. Then I started thinking about why I was so angry and it dawned on me that I already knew this stuff…and if I already knew what she told me to be true, why wasn’t I applying it? Why did I keep wasting my time with “exceptions”?  Because that’s what it really came down to…I’d meet someone, make an exception, and then wonder why I got hurt.

So what prompted all of this in the first place?  We have to pop back to the summer of 2014. I had just ended yet another disaster of a relationship and realized my picker was not just off…but on another planet. This wasn’t the first time I’d chosen incorrectly and thought I could use a new perspective…or an ass-kicking to stop the pattern.

To be fair, I really enjoyed talking to my dating coach. She had this soothing voice that instantly made me feel safe and like I could tell her all of my problems. And even when I went onto the call grumpy, I left our calls feeling like I could take on the world. But then I’d think about all the money I spent and wonder why I wasn’t experiencing this immediate change and get more and more ticked off…well, Joelle, the shift had to come from within…and would have to be an actual, active (and continuous) decision. But it wasn’t until I reread my notes from our calls that I understood that.

I ended the program in early December 2014. And while this  is definitely a journey and not a destination (I’m not in a relationship, but at least I’ve been on/going on dates with truly nice guys), I’ll save you whatever percentage of your salary, and share what I learned about dating. Chances are, you’ve heard it before (a million times), but it is worth repeating…because this advice makes sense…and as we know, you get what you accept in life. I like bullet points best, so here it goes (please excuse any first-person as they are my notes from the calls):

Men In General

  • Men’s needs are simplistic
  • Men don’t value things they get for free or don’t pay full value of
  • No real man would let a woman take care of him
  • Be aware of who he spends his time with
  • If a guy presents his body as the value trigger, run
  • Listen to what he says – men say what they mean, especially in the beginning
  • Find a man who wants to protect you and keep you safe
  • Let the man take the lead (it is how you see their character)
  • You cannot change a man

First Dates

  • Don’t be the project manager/event planner for dates – don’t do anything – stop driving the bus and sit on my hands – make him do the work
  • There are no excuses for bad behavior
  • No more than two drinks on the first date – i.e. don’t get smashed on the first few dates
  • Don’t invite a man to do anything for the first six dates – he plans and pays
  • Throw my cards on the table – men respond well to it
  • Notice the little things – does he guide you through the restaurant with his hand on your back? Open doors?
  • Find out if he’s family-oriented
  • Look for a PARTNER
  • Show layer and depth on the first date
  • Never date someone who needs you for financial or social reasons
  • Don’t false advertise
  • Ask questions that matter
  • Focus on philosophical and meaningful conversation on dates
  • Don’t dumb myself down – you want to be with someone you can talk to when you’re 80
  • Is he emotionally stable?
  • Going back in time (i.e. getting back together with an ex) never works
  • Stop being the alpha, let the man take the lead
  • Specificity of what I want is critical – write a list

Later in the Relationship

  • Follow your gut
  • Does he make me feel safe? If no, run
  • If it doesn’t feel good, it’s not right – if a guy cares about you, you know, there is no confusion
  • Don’t settle
  • Loyalty cannot be at my expense, OK to end things instead of trying to make it work

Self-awareness

  • Live in my independence and womanhood
  • Walking on the wild side has always broken my heart
  • “Loneliness” is not a bad thing
  • Who you spend your time with is a reflection of you – take a real look at my friends
  • All we can do is live and be honest with everyone, but especially yourself
  • Everything is a choice. What is most important to me?
  • My choices reflect my readiness
  • Know what is a non-negotiable for me
  • Life isn’t about dating stories – it’s about building a life with someone
  • Be aware of how amazing you are
  • Clarity and specificity
  • You can have your life be whatever you want it to be – design your life

Good advice, right?…but 15% of my salary to hear something I already knew to be true?…Absolutely…if I finally follow it.

The Power of Pin Up

“What’s with the pin up thing?” A question I get asked on a daily basis…on dates, by my friends, co-workers, strangers on the street, and even my mom.

Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells
Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells

Well, the thing? The special thing? It makes me feel great. And I could leave it at that, because frankly that’s all I need to know…but I’ll dig deeper.

Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Pinups
Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Pinups

Like most girls, I was insecure growing up. I don’t know if this was exacerbated by the fact that I went to an all-girl school for 14 years, but I was constantly comparing myself to my friends (in addition to the unrealistic media)…and I had really pretty friends…so I seemingly came up short. One of my best friends was even called the female version of David by the boy I liked. There’s no telling what that actually did to my psyche, but I do know that I was left with a serious case of self-doubt.

Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells
Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells

So when I walked into Amanda Hill‘s studio for the first time a year and a half ago, it was a turning point in my life. And I can say that with absolute certainty. The transformation that has taken place has been undeniably positive and rewarding (I’m not just talking about my eyebrows – thank you, Stephanie Brick!). And it doesn’t really have to do with the fact that I love vintage clothing or hairstyles. Yes, I’ve loved pinups forever (they’ve hung on my walls since the 90’s) and idolized Dita Von Teese, but participating in pin up photo shoots and culture has so much more to do with women empowerment and embracing your femininity than wearing fascinators and corsets.

Joelle Pittman ©Amanda Hill Photography
Joelle Pittman ©Amanda Hill Photography

We (at least the women in my life) don’t spend enough time on ourselves anymore…or get in touch with our sexy side. Heck, I had never, hand-to-God, ever felt sexy or like a real woman until I did a pin-up shoot. These shoots give you the permission to be sexy. Just this past weekend one of my girlfriends mused that she never understood my obsession with pin up until she tried it herself…the hair, the makeup, putting thought into your outfit finally won her over…it is seductive. And why wouldn’t you want to feel that way every day? I do.

Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Pinups
Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Pinups

I’m not claiming to dress up every day, and I’m certainly not a big hitter in the pin up scene (even locally), but that’s why I think I’m the right person to share this message about how life-changing one of these shoots can be. Just wearing my wing tip eyeliner, false eyelashes and filled in eyebrows makes my day better. I even take the time when I’m just riding my horse…he totally appreciates it.

I even wear my false eyelashes and winged eyeliner when I'm riding my horse!
I even wear my false eyelashes and winged eyeliner when I’m riding my horse!

And everything I was insecure about, worked out perfectly for pin up…my curves, my white skin, my dark hair…everything I hated, I learned to love…because of pin up. Pin up made me stop lightening my hair, going to the tanning bed, and starving myself on yet another diet…I stopped trying to be someone else and finally started being me. And that has been the biggest blessing of my life…not only being comfortable with me, but truly loving myself.

Joelle Pittman
Joelle Pittman

Which is why I simply don’t care when people tell me my pin up photos and outfits are “weird.” Pin up actually taught me not to care what others think. Do you see how many important life lessons I’ve learned in such a short time and all because of pin up?!

So don’t knock it ’til you try it…and I highly encourage that you do.

Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells
Joelle Pittman ©Memphis Bombshells

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Memphis Bombshells ;)

Fostering for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County

Joelle Pittman, Foster for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County
Joelle Pittman, Foster for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County

One of my favorite parts of life is fostering for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County.  Yes, it is incredibly difficult to give them back after bonding for a few weeks, but it is completely worth it. By the time they leave for their forever homes, I have loved them, potty trained them (well, they’re on their way at least…), socialized them, and most importantly given them a home when they didn’t have one.

These little ones, Quince (boy) and Summer (girl), were found in an abandoned building along with 12 (!!!!) other pups, which is why I can’t stress enough the importance of spaying and neutering your pets. If you are looking to adopt, foster, or volunteer, I can’t recommend the Humane Society enough. Check out their website for more info. Oh, and remember, adopt don’t shop!

Joelle Pittman, Foster for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County
Joelle Pittman, Foster for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County

And I’ll leave you with two of my favorite pup quotes:

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” – Unknown

“My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet.” – Edith Wharton

Last Horse Show of the Year

It was bittersweet, but this weekend concluded my 2014 horse show year! And while I do like to win, if I have to “lose,” I am so happy it was to my best friend, Rachel Black.

Joelle Pittman, Reserve Champion of the Adult Amateur Hunters 18-35
Joelle Pittman (right), Reserve Champion of the Adult Amateur Hunters 18-35

Rachel Black, Champion of Adult Amateur Hunters 18-35

Joelle Pittman, Reserve Champion of Adult Amateur Hunters 18-35

The Perfect Sunday

A few Sundays ago, I had the perfect Sunday. I woke up, cuddled in bed with my pups and then met my best friend for brunch at Booksellers Bistro, which is attached to my favorite bookstore, The Booksellers in Laurelwood.

After devouring French Toast, we browsed among the aisles and I decided upon Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell, an astrology guide for 2015, and the latest dating book. Pretty much sums up my life…mixing the serious with just plain silliness, which is what keeps life interesting.

The Booksellers Bistro and The Booksellers at Laurelwood
The Booksellers Bistro and The Booksellers at Laurelwood

Afterwards, I set off to meet my other best friend at the Brooks Museum to see their new exhibit, Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt. I was a Greek & Roman Studies major in college and took a million Egyptology courses so to say I geeked out over this exhibit is an understatement. It is incredible and I encourage anyone in the area to go see it. They even have a children’s exhibit with an incredible interactive map of the Memphis in Egypt. You do know that Memphis is named after the city in Egypt, right? Which is why we have the Pyramid…that Bass Pro just bought

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Overton Park

To conclude the day, we walked through the Rainbow Lake Playground and around Rainbow Lake in Overton Park. I had forgotten how amazing this place is and really need to take my pups to their dog park. This is the perfect example of one of the many gems I know about in Memphis, but don’t visit nearly enough. There are so many special things in this city.

Fall Into Winter

I realize it is now November…but it still feels like October to me (or perhaps I’m just clinging to it). So, here is my favorite October picture and my favorite October/autumn quotes.

Joelle Pittman and Yelp, ©Amanda Hill with Amanda Hill Photography
Joelle Pittman and Yelp, ©Amanda Hill with Amanda Hill Photography http://www.amphotography.us

“There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir: We must rise and follow her, When from every hill of flame She calls, and calls each vagabond by name.”
William Bliss

“After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth…The maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch. The oaks along the roadway glowed yellow and bronze. The fields stretched like a carpet of jewels, emerald and topaz and garnet. Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her…In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.”
Elizabeth George Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond

“Ah, September! You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul… but I must confess that I love you only because you are a prelude to my beloved October.”
Peggy Toney Horton

“October had tremendous possibility. The summer’s oppressive heat was a distant memory, and the golden leaves promised a world full of beautiful adventures. They made me believe in miracles.”
Sarah Guillory, Reclaimed

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
Albert Camus

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
Lauren DeStefano, Wither

“Autumn is the hardest season. The leaves are all falling, and they’re falling like
they’re falling in love with the ground.”
Andrea Gibson

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,364 other followers