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.
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.
December 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
As Christmas approaches, I’m missing California more and more. I love my home here, though … but it’s ok to be a little homesick.
One thing I am quite homesick for are my momma’s tacos.
She always makes them when we’re at home. And of course, we pull out our little collection of La Victorias from the fridge. My personal favorite is Salsa Brava, which I’ve found is much spicier when purchased in California.
Last Christmas was no different from any other time periods spent at home, and we set the table with boxwood and red-ribbon accents. Brikki had a friend over, and it was wonderful.
I will miss those tacos this year. I will miss my mom, dad, and sisters this Christmas. But I am grateful for what I do have: my husband! My husband’s family! My pup! And, of course, I’m grateful for having two of my sisters so close by. Though they will spend Christmas in California, knowing I get to see them year round makes the distance not sting so badly. I am truly blessed.
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.
August 1, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Lately there have been plenty of mini food adventures here at home—both in Birmingham and Northport. But I still have a few more memories I’d like to share from our honeymoon. So, real quickly, I’ll share the lunch of a tourist in San Francisco: clam chowder in a bread bowl from Boudin Bakery.
Boudin boasts that it is the original purveyor of sourdough bread in San Francisco. Founded by the Boudin family in 1849, their single bakery has multiplied, and smaller locations are spread throughout the city. Sinking your teeth into that chewy crust to find your way to the tangy, spongy, warm bread is only part of the experience. The other is simply watching loaves upon loaves make their way through the factory overhead as you place your order.
The bread was heavenly—it was everything I love about sourdough bread. And I found the chowder to be quite a treat as well. The clams tasted fresh, and it was well seasoned. A wonderful accompaniment to the local brew.
This may be so touristy you might contemplate staying away, but I suggest just going for it and sitting outside with a nice lunch. We opted not to dine in the restaurant, but went to the lunch counter, put it on our order, and brought it to the tables on the sidewalk. I mean, where else can you dine on soup alfresco in early July and be completely comfortable wearing a light sweater? Well, probably plenty of places, but definitely not in Alabama.
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 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 22, 2012 § 2 Comments
Not too far from the house my parents rented wedding week is a field of trees and clover. And as dusk set in, lightning bugs made their appearance, and danced along the clover and flashed their lights at one another. It was beautiful. I love the South.