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!)
December 14, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Ok, so confession — this post is extremely delayed because I’m a bad blogger. I don’t think I’m going to review this restaurant, I’m just going to highly suggest that you go there and try it for yourself.
Our last night on our honeymoon in San Francisco, James and I had a serious sushi craving. And after some research, James discovered that our hotel was just a few blocks from Ryoko’s, a family-owned little spot with great reviews. We hungrily headed over in the blustering July breeze. It opened at 6 pm, and we arrived at about 5:50. We were the first ones there, and a line started to form as we waited outside. I knew we had found a great spot.
The atmosphere was rockin’. The restaurant was small, underground, dimly lit, and chill music was playing. I hear they have DJs weekend nights starting at around 8.
The service was great, and we started with a Sapporo on tap.
The sushi was so fresh and flavorful. I recommend the Alcatraz, the barbecued eel with avocado—that was our favorite. We also enjoyed the Spicy Golden Gate, which was spicy salmon, shiso, cucumber, and flying fish roe over the top.
Sushi by the sea—nothing I’ve had since that last night in San Fran has come close to this. I miss you, Ryoko! I will visit you again one day.
July 23, 2012 § 2 Comments
Next in my recounting of the honeymoon, I’ll take you to the Hog Island Oyster Company in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I have been dying to talk about this place!
We were given a very reliable tip by our dear friend Diane McCracken, who is one of the best people to talk to if you’re contemplating a San Francisco visit. She had a long and thorough list of places to go, and we could not have been more grateful! When she was coming up with ideas for us, she she simply uttered the question, “Do you two like raw oysters?” Our eyes widened and heads nodded, and so she told us where to find them.
Though we didn’t get to sit at the envied spot at the bar—where, inches from your plate, chefs dump mesh bags of oysters onto their workspace and begin rapidly shucking—we got to watch that scene from our table by the window, enjoying the beautiful view of San Francisco Bay.
Ok, down to business. We started off with a couple of local brews. James ordered a Moylan’s Irish Style Red by Moylan’s Brewery in Novato, and I ordered a Blue Star Great American Wheat Beer by North Coast Brewing Co. in Fort Bragg. We would recommend both. Also, the bread was amazing.
So who knew oysters from this part of the country were going to taste so different from their Southern brothers? They are smaller and saltier, and their shells are slightly more gnarled with a wide variety shapes, colors, and sizes. We ordered the Oyster Bar Mix so we could sample a bit of everything on the menu.
Included in the Mix:
- Hog Island Sweetwater (Tomales Bay, CA)
- Hog Island Cliffside (Discovery Bay, WA)
- Chelsea Gems (Eld Inlet, WA)
- Island Creek (Duxbury Bay, MA)
- Hurricane Island (New Brunswick)
They don’t serve oysters with hot sauce, horseradish, and saltines like they do in the South. Hog Island serves their Hogwash—a cider vinegar sauce with bits of onion and jalapeño. It was a bright complement to the briney flavor of the oysters. One slurp, and I was addicted.
This was a pricey little meal for us, but the experience was well worth it—especially for a honeymoon (4th of July!) lunch.
July 21, 2012 § 6 Comments
Earlier this week, I shared this recipe from Saveur. It’s a Greek dish—Garides Saganaki (shrimp with tomatoes and feta)—and we made it for dinner this weekend. It was a rainy afternoon, and we were actually home with the time to cook, and this went quite well with a glass of Pinot.
I made a few adaptations. For starters, I skipped the mint since James and I aren’t big mint-in-savory-foods lovers. I used smaller shrimp, and I used an entire pound. I didn’t grate the tomatoes, I put them in a food processor, and because of that, I think there was more liquid than probably should have been. I also increased the amount of red pepper flakes.
We served this with warm French bread and a Caesar salad. Make this tonight or tomorrow!
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you like extra heat)
4 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta
1 lemon, halved
1. Place a rack 4 inches from top of oven, and preheat broiler. Heat oil in 10-inch ovenproof skillet, such as a cast iron skillet, over medium heat. Add garlic and scallions, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until soft.
2. Stir in tomato paste, and cook for 2 minutes. Add wine; let reduce by half, about 5 minutes.
3. Add oregano, sugar, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer until slightly thickened, about 12 to 15 minutes.
4. Stir in shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with feta. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes. Squeeze lemon over top.
A Rainy Weekend Caesar Salad
Makes 4 servings
1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup croutons
Place lettuce into serving bowl. Add garlic, salt and pepper, and squeeze lemon over salad. Let stand for about 10 minutes. About 5 minutes before serving, add croutons and desired amount of Caesar dressing. Toss, and serve.
*I used Publix brand Caesar dressing. It’s actually my favorite brand of Caesar to buy.
Have a nice weekend!
July 13, 2012 § Leave a Comment
To start off the documentation of food consumed on our honeymoon, we’ll go to one of favorite meals in Monterey.
Kudos to my husband for locating a great hole-in-the-wall, a true “where the locals go” kind of place. This Mexican seafood joint is off the beaten path of regular Monterey tourist-frequented areas. And when I say off the beaten path, I mean it’s down the freeway inland a bit until you reach a slightly rougher part of town (technically you are in Seaside at that point). But nonetheless, we were delighted to discover this little spot.
When you order a Modelo Especial (or any beer), you’re given an ice-cold bottle with a lime wedge and a shrimp dipped in their flaming cocktail sauce sticking out of the bottle’s opening. We were so excited about this novel idea that we immediately exclaimed, “Ah! Shrimp!” And we popped our shrimps in our mouths and gushed over that perfect heat of the sauce before I even thought to take a picture. I think that little treat alone is worth a trip to this restaurante.
I ordered a ceviche tostada. It was fabulous and fabulously affordable (we’re talking $4 here!). The fish was delightfully flavorful and fresh. The shell was crisp and cooked well. It was topped with another fresh little shrimp.
I do have one thing to say: I also ordered the crab quesadilla. I did not like that. The crab was disappointingly fishy.
But I am so willing to overlook it when I contemplate my tostada, and the shrimp cocktail (which, by the way, you can order a large serving of. We wish we had done that.).
July 12, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Go vote! It’s fun to contemplate your absolute favs. The results for both of these will appear in the September 2012 issue of Birmingham Magazine and the fall issue of Tuscaloosa magazine. Click here (or on the image below) for Best of B’ham and here for Best of Tuscaloosa to fill out your answers. And hey, there’s a little spot for a favorite local blogger on the Best of B’ham. Maybe consider listing yours truly??
May 23, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Back Forty Beer Company, which is based out of Gadsden, offers a Kudzu Porter. I enjoyed its tamed hoppiness with chocolate and nutty undertones. I suggest you try it! And obviously, since kudzu has a special place in my heart, I thought it was perfect to share with you all. And as a side note, their Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale is one of my absolute favorites.