December 13, 2012 § 2 Comments
I hope you all will forgive my absence. I feel so bad about it! I think the truth is that a 1-hour commute to and from work has made me a little less inclined to spend free time on my computer and more anxious to savor precious time with my little family. But every time I blog, I realize how much I miss it. So please pretend it hasn’t been so long, and let’s pick up where we left off.
About, uh, two months ago now (sheesh), James and I had the splendid opportunity to take a quick trip home to California (James got a work invite to a press event, and I was his guest!). It was such a quick trip that it almost felt like a secret. We literally touched down in LA, had a quick couple of days, then turn around and left.
That Friday we landed, headed to our hotel, and my parents + Brikk met us for lunch. Ever since my family had brought it up what felt like a year ago or so at this point, I had been dying to try Umami Burger.
There are about a handful of locations within five miles of where we were staying. (Actually a Pasadena location just opened up! It wasn’t open at the time). So this a local chain, and a darn good one. We chose to head to the one at The Grove so we could follow lunch with some shopping.
As the name of the restaurant indicates, its focus is on deep, savory flavors. It is said that umami is one of the five basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and, of course, umami, which can be translated from Japanese to mean “pleasantly savory.” This flavor profile was first proposed in 1908, according to my lengthy research on Wikipedia, and was officially added as a scientific term in 1925.
The restaurant boasts that it has mastered the art of “creating the perfect mouthful.” Their house-ground beef is fused with their Umami Master Sauce which is the base for each burger. Going over the menu took quite some time as I deliberated each beautifully described burger. At the end, I chose the Port and Stilton.
This burger has blue cheese, onions caramelized in port. It was rich, so deep.
This was probably one of the best burgers I ever had. I don’t think I’ve ever had a burger where I can taste how well thought out each flavor truly was. The meat was cooked to perfection and I could taste the subtle sweetness of the caramelized onions with the depth of the savory meat. The saltiness of the stilton was the perfect finish.
Next time I am in Pasadena, I’m going back for more! Have you been here? Did you enjoy it?
On a finishing note, I’m so grateful for this precious time spent with my parents and youngest sister. As it turns out, James and I won’t be able to head to California this Christmas. So this trip was truly a blessing. Thank you, Lord!
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 3, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This post is a bit delayed (well really, what hasn’t been delayed with me lately, huh? I am ready for things calm down just a bit!), but James and I visited Slice Stone Pizza & Brew not too long ago (well ok, this was before Lent, but we’ve been back since). I had been once before, and I wasn’t all that impressed, so I was a little reluctant to return. But Bettola was closed because it was a Sunday, and a grey and rainy one at that, and we really needed pizza, so we came here.
After this visit, I completely changed my mind about Slice.
The first time I went, I ordered the Basic Pesto pizza, which was good, but it felt lacking in anything special.
On this rainy Sunday, we took refuge from the downpour inside the historic Craftsman home turned restaurant on 29th Street. Its walls are covered with graphic art depicting beer, pizza, and Birmingham icons like The Vulcan.
We sat at the bar, and we ordered the Bajalieh Special —named after the brothers who founded this pizza joint— and it was topped with tomato sauce, cheese, bacon, grilled red onion, and Wickles Pepper Rings. Ah! So good! The crust was seasoned very well—a little crisp and just a little chewy (how I like it). The peppers on the pizza were fabulous. I love spicy things—especially on pizza. We devoured this.
This restaurant also prides itself in its local, fresh ingredients that top the pizzas and its local beer selection. What I really liked was that a beer pairing suggestion was listed on the menu beside each item.
The suggested beer for this was Good People IPA. But I’m not a big IPA consumer. I wanted to try something new, and that day it was Avondale Spring Street Saison—my brand new fav. Light, crisp, citrusy, and a bit sweet. Love it.
Ok, and because I said, “Hey, I’m going to blog about this” (I was really on the ball about that now, wasn’t I? I’m a terrible blogger as of late.), I made James split dessert with me. We ordered—hold onto your hats—their special ice cream with blackstrap molasses and bacon.
Ah! So delish. So decadent. So sinful. But so pricey! It was $6.50. That’s a lot for one scoop, in my opinion.
So then we come to end of all this, which was a $35 bill. It’s not bad, but when you’re grabbing pizza (that yielded no leftovers) and a couple of beers (one each), it does seem like a lot to spend for us. I think that’s why this place has had mixed reviews—it’s quite pricey. And that’s probably why I wasn’t too impressed with my former pizza adventure here.
However, we loved that pizza, loved the unique flavor of the ice cream, and we really enjoyed the atmosphere. So we have been back (we skipped the beers to keep it cheaper). We reordered the same pizza, and we were just as happy. So go try it!
October 23, 2011 § 1 Comment
So let’s see: January, February, March, April, September, October, November, December. That may just be hearsay, but the thought behind this rule of thumb is that with colder waters, there’s less chance for harmful bacteria to be present in raw oysters. Summer months mean that Red Tide is present, which brings a bad algae that can be harmful when consumed. Take a look at this article for some more insight on the topic.
James and I went to Tin Top in Tuscaloosa Friday night with oysters on our mind. With a glass of wine and lovely conversation, this was a great way to end the work week.
There are three things I love about oysters.
1. The thrill of eating them raw.
I abandon the practice of being ladylike for this. I squeeze lemon, dash some hot sauce, and plop a mini-dollop of horseradish onto the little guy. I bring to my lips the gnarled mud-colored shell (with a simultaneous pearly glow on top). Then I tilt my head back as I slurp. The fresh seawater taste combined with lemon and zest rushes over my tongue and slides down my throat. Ahh… Again!
2. Our most memorable dates have involved oysters.
Oh yikes—that probably made your thoughts go straight to the folklore that comes with this particular shellfish. No, no. That’s not where I’m going with this at all. Perhaps it goes back to number 1—the thrill of sharing this experience with someone you love—combined with football season, chilly nights, warm coats, and the joy of being together at the end of a work week spent 60 miles apart—me in Birmingham, him in Tuscaloosa.
James wrote about this restaurant when it first opened for Tuscaloosa Magazine, so perhaps that is why Tin Top has become a special place for us.
3. The shells.
Can I keep them? I confess I almost took a few. I think they are beautiful. Perhaps my time at Coastal Living instilled that sentiment in me. I believe oysters make fabulous decor. I’ll share more about that later this week. Now there is something to look forward to, eh?