February 24, 2013 § Leave a Comment
There are a great many things Birmingham has to offer that let you feel that you are enjoying life to the fullest. I’ve often found myself searching for just the right suggestions for out-of-towners searching for somewhere to go, somewhere to truly experience Birmingham. The city has several attractions: the Civil Rights Institute, the Vulcan, Birmingham Museum of Art, Sloss Furnace, Railroad Park (just to name a few), or just driving around beautiful, historic neighborhoods and experiencing the architecture and the culture.
If this locale fits the crowd you’re with, I suggest a boozy afternoon at Avondale Brewing‘s taproom.
First, head two doors down over to Saw’s. (I reviewed this place some time ago, when their only location was in Edgewood, but the city now boasts two more locations: Saw’s Soul Kitchen in Avondale as well as Saw’s Juke Joint in Crestline. This little establishment has seen some well-deserved growth.)
Back to your to-do list: place an order at Saw’s. I recommend one of their Baker’s—the pork one is incredible. On top of this oversized baked potato, you have an entire layer of tender, juicy, divine pulled pork with crispy, charred edges. Then as you dive deeper in, you get a layer of cheesy potato with green onions and more pork. And if you order a side of white sauce, it’s just all over.
Or you could also get the Saw’s Burger, which is a darn good burger. And on the side, order onion rings or fries—you can’t go wrong either way.
Then carry your food over to the Avondale taproom, and find a spot to sit and eat while sipping a beer, perhaps a seasonal Peach Saison, which is light, crispy, and delicately sweet.
Finish that beer, then order a flight of their flagship beers.
My personal favorites are the Spring Street Saison which is citrusy and crisp (I’ve mentioned this before), the Scottish Ale with its sweet flavors and buttery aftertaste, and the Vanillaphant Porter, with chocolate and coffee undertones.
February 21, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Whether or not you’re planning a big day, you definitely should take a look at Celebrate‘s first ever weddings special issue! Our whole team worked hard on this. We love a challenge, and I think this issue shows it.
You can pick this issue up on newsstands, or you can order it here! (Hey, it’s at a special price right now!)
February 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
It’s cool—you can be impressed.
We used an adaptation of Sunny Anderson’s wings recipe for the Buffalo variety, and used that to add a spin to Caribbean Jerk marinade. I kid you not, these were the best wings I’ve probably ever had. Adding the lemon juice (we added the juice of half a lemon) and herbs to the sauce completely took wings to a new level for me. (We also cut down on the butter, and just did one stick). We then added a bit of lemon, butter, and herbs to Caribbean Jerk marinade, as well.
In addition to the great flavor, the texture of this was unreal. We shook these in a bag of flour, and then we let them sit for a few hours to absorb it all. What resulted was perfectly crisp, perfectly juicy wings. Ah, I’m salivating just thinking about it.
For Valentine’s Day, we talked about making pizza with a glass of wine. We talked about going out to a fancy dinner. And all of these sounded great, until James suggested we just do what truly is nothing but fun for us.
And so, we will be having hot and spicy wings and a pitcher of beer.
February 12, 2013 § 2 Comments
About five minutes down the road from where I work sits a shiny, brand-new doughnut shop. Walk through The Heavenly Doughnut Co.’s doors, and this Christian-run operation is filled with the sweet smell of doughnuts baking, and a case full of tempting options sits in front of you.
Christina and I ate doughnuts for lunch last week. These doughnuts, to be precise:
This was easily my favorite of the bunch. I appreciated what a bit of salt and savory can do to a sweet maple glaze on a yeast doughnut. Next time I go in, it will be to try one of these or the one below.
2. Blueberry Cake
Whenever I eat a blueberry cake doughnut, I’m transported back to after-church snacking when I was little. I’d make a cup of tea with way too much cream and sugar, then I’d grab a blueberry cake doughnut and go find my friends. This was a great version of, what is for me, a classic. I didn’t find the cake too heavy and the blueberry flavor was sweet and prominent.
3. Bavarian Cream
The cream was as rich as you’d hope without being over the top. I love how light the yeast doughnuts were.
4. Chocolate-Peanut Butter
Ok, this one crossed a line for me—it’s way too rich. I had one bite and had to stop eating.
So have you been by yet? What did you order? What do you think? I would suggest liking Heavenly Donut Co. on Facebook – they have special deals and trivia questions with free giveaways often posted there. YUM!
January 31, 2013 § 2 Comments
When I lived in Chile, I lived in french fry heaven.
Consider the chorillana: Home-fried papas fritas topped with steak, scrambled eggs, and fried onions. So wrong, so right.
We were up in Huntsville visiting James’ parents not too long ago, and they nearly made me tear up when they said they’d be frying their own french fries that night.
It’s just one of those things. I know I love french fries, but when I pop a fry into my mouth that is hot and crispy on the outside, and fresh, tender and rich on the inside, I can hardly articulate how my fry affection is taken to an almost forgotten level.
January 30, 2013 § 2 Comments
We FINALLY went to Little Donkey a couple of weeks ago with my sister Brynn and her husband. I had been dying to try this Mexican-barbecue fusion spot in Homewood for oh so long.
There has been plenty of buzz about this restaurant, as it is founded by Birmingham restauranteurs Nick Pihakis and Joshua Gentry of our beloved local chain, Jim ‘N Nick’s. Pihakis and Gentry took their homegrown, slow-cooked barbecue expertise and used that to season their take on Mexican fare. What I appreciate very much about this place is that this is apparent throughout the experience.
We started off with horchata! What else? This is a nostalgic drink for me. It takes me back to family trips to La Fogata in the San Fernando Valley. Little Donkey’s version of this sweet beverage is rice water flavored with almond, cinnamon and vanilla.
We also snacked on their chips and salsa, which had a deep, savory roasted flavor. Of course, my only issue here was that just one basket was complimentary.
For lunch, I enjoyed the Torta de Cerdo, or the Drunken Hog, which a cross between a Southern pulled pork sandwich and a Mexican torta. Tender, Jim ‘N Nick’s-reminiscent pork was topped with pinto beans, pickled red onions, cheese and guacamole with their homemade bread. It also came with tomato broth on the side for dunking. Biting into this tasted as a torta should, with a bit of Southern comfort.
As my side, I chose the elote—street vendor-style corn on the cob topped with crema, cotija cheese and cayenne.
And truly, one of the best tamales I have ever tasted lives at this restaurant (Arguijos, don’t be mad! Notice I said ONE of the best). My sister ordered a taco alongside a pork tamal.
I reached over and grabbed a bite of it with my fork, and the tamal sang. The maza was so well flavored and moist, and the meat was as tender as could be. Both components married each other in flavor—you could taste it.
And finally – one of my favorite things – was La Concoccion: Mexican rice topped with black beans, cotija, a poached egg (omg!) and green onions. Decadent, comforting, perfect. I’m so making this at home.
We didn’t stay for dessert … we ran over to Steel City Pops next door! Tales of that adventure are coming soon. Have you visited Little Donkey? What do you like to order?