The Remagicing of Birmingham

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I’ve been reading Fannie Flagg’s I Still Dream About You, and it has made me look into so many aspects of Birmingham’s history. One is the refurbishing/reopening of  many lovely buildings downtown, most of which I’ve yet to see. Such as….

 

Florentine Building

Located at Second Avenue North and Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard, it first opened in 1926 and has always been an events center. It sat empty for about six and a half years until Corretti Catering bought it and remodeled it. It has a newly renovated ballroom and they hope to have a cafe open for lunch in April.

 

Redmont Hotel

This  hotel first opened in 1925, and some of it’s original features are the 10-foot chandelier, marble staircase, moldings and iron railings found in the lobby. Harvest Restaurant & Bar on the ground floor is a fine-dining restaurant that serves farm-to-table fare with an Italian twist. The hotel’s Cafe 2101 serves pastries and other treats made on-site, along with Revelator coffee.  Two ballrooms and two board rooms make up most of the meeting room space and there are 120 guest rooms. There is also a new rooftop lounge. The Redmont Hotel Birmingham is located downtown at 2101 Fifth Avenue North.

 

Pizitz Food Hall

The Pizitz Building was built in 1925, but it had been vacant since the early 1980s. It recently reopened with restaurants, retail and apartments. Pizitz Food Hall  is a unique dining experience with a wide variety of vendors, from traditional burgers to Asian to Ethiopian to Israeli cuisine.

Thomas Jefferson Tower

The twenty story Thomas Jefferson Tower, completed in 1929, had been  vacant since 1982. The 96 renovated apartments are ideal for living in the middle of the magic of Bham.  The newly opened  Roots and Revelry restaurant here is worth a visit.

 

Lyric Theatre

The Lyric Theatre, built in 1914 for vaudeville shows, underwent an $11 million restoration project and relit its  marquee in 2013. It features a restored 38-foot mural, “Allegory of the Muses,” that was painted by local artist Harry Hawkins.

 

The Carver Theatre

Now known as the Carver Performing Arts Center, it was originally opened in 1935 as one of the first movie houses for African-Americans to see first-run films. It closed in the 1980s, but reopened in 1993 and is now the location of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

 

The Empire Building

This Classical Revival style 16-story building was built in 1909 and was the tallest building in Alabama at the time. After being remodeled, it reopened as City National Bank. It was again sold in 2012. After a $27 million renovation, it is now experiencing new life as the Empire Hotel, which includes a restaurant and rooftop bar.

 

ledz2

photo – Hannah Scofield

Led z

photo – Hannah Scofield

The Alabama Theatre

Now this is one I have been in. And I love it. I’ve been in similar – perhaps sister- theatres in Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida. They are all lovely. The Alabama, built in 1927  as a classic movie palace with gorgeous  Art Deco style, underwent a major renovation and restoration in the late ’90s.
Birmingham has indeed once again earned the right to be called the Magic City.

Third Quarter Recap

 

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October is almost over and I just realized I didn’t write a third quarter recap at the end of September. So, for what it’s worth, here are the highlights of my third quarter:

  • We kept our daughter’s dog, Poca, for over a month while she was in Columbia, South America. Things started out well, but after the second fight, in which Loretta received a puncture wound, we kept the two dogs separate. It was fine, though, as each one got special attention.
  • I went to McAlister’s Deli for the first time. The Orange Cranberry Club was delish!
  • Joined Grace Covenant Baptist Church and began making new friends
  • Subbed in some new schools. including McAdory Middle, McAdory High, Pleasant Grove High, West Elementary, Hueytown Middle, Oak Mountain Middle, Helena Middle, Helena High
  • Attended a few Saturday Write Club meetings at the Hoover Library
  • Went on five hikes
  • Took lots of pictures around Bham
  • Went to Jacksonville and squeezed in a lot of visits. Got to see my  cousin Paula for the first time in over 15 years
  • Spent a morning at Jacksonville Beach
  • Started the Kindred Spirit Book Club  – it’s online, so if you are interested, leave me a comment or email me.
  • Started Round Two of the Capture the ‘Ham Small Group/Photo Group3q2

And now to finish the year well!

 

Sharing the Love

alabamaI have come across some excellent local and not-so-local bloggers/articles because of the blogging groups I belong to, as well as  social media links. I’d like to share some good posts that I think would interest my readers.

  1. Touring wineries in the summer can be fun. You can read my post on Vizzini’s , and then read about a few other spots on the Shelby County Wine Trail written by Michele from A Southern Ruckus.
  2. If you visit Pepper Place or other local markets, you may have recently purchased some pink-eyes peas like we did last weekend. Here’s the down-low and some recipes from Garden & Gun Magazine.
  3. I was born in Athens, Georgia,but I haven’t been to Athens, Alabama yet. This post from Susan’s Cabinet  makes me want to go! It’s about the Athens Grease Festival
  4. For what to eat in Birmingham, look no further than this blog by the same name. Be sure to read the Trader Joe’s post.
  5. For a peep at Huntsville, read Discover Your Own City , then read more at The Remark. 
  6. For some Alabamian reading suggestions , check out this page at Three Friends and a Fork.
  7. The Leaf is the best local monthly magazine!

Half the Year Gone

People are always asking, “Where did the time go?” The time goes in big and small moments, some memorable and some wasted. You can read my highlights of the first quarter of 2016 HERE.

Here are some highlights of the second quarter of my year:

  1. I got my taxes done on time
  2. Discovered Ruffner Mountain
  3. Finished out the year subbing – you can read some of those adventures HERE.  This also included the last three days of school with a great bunch of 8th graders  IMG_4822
  4. Flew to Tampa to spend time with fam. This included a late afternoon at Clearwater Beach and a gorgeous sunset sunset 
  5. Read lots of books – You can check out what I’ve read so far this year here on my Pinterest board
  6.  Made several trips to Pepper Place Market
  7. With more time in the summer, I checked out movies from the Hoover Library. It’s also a great place for lunch or a coffee!
  8. Discovered: Over Easy Cafe – delish!; Hillsboro Trail; Lazy Boy BBQ in Helena (great pork – best for take-out); Twisted Root Burger  in Vestavia (you  must check out the Chuck Norris wall!)
  9. First-time visit to Clanton for Peach Festival – highlight was getting peach ice cream.
  10. Got the first pedicure in over four years at Riveria Nails & Spa in Hoover. – so nice!
  11. Enjoyed watching the Braves beat the Marlins in Atlanta with hubby and daughter. braves

 

Looking forward to the rest of 2016!

First Quarter Gone

A quarter of 2016 has already slipped by. The following is a recap of the last three months, just covering some of the highlights.

  1. I was the voice of @BeingBham on twitter for the last week of January
  2. Had the best pork chop ever at  Gianmarcos in Homewood
  3. Got my name on the sign at Demetri’s!
  4. I met Matt Redmond, author of God of the Mundane
  5. I flew to Tampa for Juliette’s 3rd birthday and Princess Party
  6. Heard  the Vulcan Eejits at the Hoover Library
  7. Spent quite a few days subbing at RMS and PHS
  8. Rediscovered some old photos
  9. Discovered Eudora Welty

 

Friday Night and the Eatin’ is Easy

art by arztsamui.

art by arztsamui.

When Friday evening rolls around and we discuss going out to eat, I always want to but don’t want to drive to far again after coming home. So, I look for a fairly inexpensive place nearby that will satisfy the both of us. This is no easy task.

There are, however, a few go-to places we’ve been to more than once that we like. Here’s the short list:

  • Tortuga’s in Hoover
  • Baumhower’s in Hoover
  • Jim-n- Nick’s in Pelham
  • Johnny Brusco’s in Hoover
  • Nino’s in Pelham

Tonight it was Tortuga’s, where the deep dish Chicago Style pizza was more than we could handle. Every time we’ve been the place has been hopping. Service is fast, but you must wait for them to cook your deep dish pizza. They also have thin crust pizzas, as well as lasagna, spaghetti and such. You can while away your waiting time enjoying all the memorabilia, mostly sports related, and most often Chicago Cubs related, on the walls.

What’s your go-to neighborhood place?

Redneck Foods

photo by Ryan McGuire

photo by Ryan McGuire

I realized yesterday as I was reviewing a restaurant, that two of the choices I made from menus in June both had the word REDNECK in them. First there was the Redneck Pot Pie at HomeGrown in Asheville, NC. This dish was suggested by my son and it was delish! It’s a pot pie made with BBQ chicken, cheesy grits, and a buttermilk biscuit – all in one. There is also a Redneck Cuban on their menu – perhaps next time?

Later in June we went to Dave Poe’s BBQ in Marietta, GA. Here I got the Redneck Lasagna. Man oh man was it good! It’s their creamy mac-n-cheese mixed with Brunswick stew. So excellent!

This got me to thinking – what other “redneck” foods have I savored in my life? The first thing I thought of was fried bologna sandwiches. We made this as kids – it was probably one of the first things I ever “cooked”.  Fast forward to the microwave age of my kids, and they made bologna bowls. They would put a piece of bologna on top of an inverted bowl in the microwave and nuke it. I can’t remember what went in it, but I’m pretty sure cheese was involved.

Here’s a similar version – The Hillbilly Bologna Pizza – watch below:

Please share your favorite REDNECK foods in the comment section!

A Visit to Vizzini’s

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A visit to Vizzini Farms Winery  will get you a nice meal, some excellent wine, and pleasant surroundings. Located in Calera, just south of Birmingham, the winery was started in 2005 by Tom and Deborah Vizzina. Tom was born and raised in the Birmingham area.

The Bistro at Vizzini’s is open Monday-Saturday and serves many dishes using vegetables fresh from their onsite garden. The Chicken Tetrazzini Salad is exceptional, but the menu also carries an assortment of pizzas, pastas, paninis and more.

Customers may take advantage of a wine tasting and tour, getting a little history of the winery along the way. As part of the tour we took  a peek at the lovely vegetable garden and grape vines.

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There is a wide selection of wine to choose from, including red and white. Some carry locally influenced labels, such as the Collegiate Collection for both Alabama and Auburn fans. My favorites were Miss Scarlet, a sweet red wine, and the Appling Riesling that has a hint of green apple. We had part of a bottle of the Viognier with our lunch, and had the remainder of the bottle corked to take home. We also took advantage of a Living Social Coupon and ended up taking away two souvenir glasses as well, so keep your eye out for those Living Social and Groupn deals!

Tip Top Grill

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I think it won’t matter what you order at the Tip Top Grill because you’ll be so enthralled with the view. However, for a breakfast that is good and economical, it can’t be beat.

 

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On my first visit I ordered a ham and egg sandwich. And I said “yes” to the question, “Do you want mayonnaise?”  I DO like mayo, but I’ll never go as far as the man who plans to be buried in a Duke’s Mayonnaise jar. Anyway, it was tasty and a perfect start to a great Saturday morning.

 

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The restaurant  overlooks the Oxmoor Valley  Golf Course and a Lover’s leap. Quite a combination. The Lover’s Leap is a dramatic  set of limestone boulders that protrude out over the valley. One Indian legend says an Indian brave, weary of the attentions of an Indian princess, took her to the high crest where he stabbed her with a bone knife. Then, in remorse, he gathered her in his arms and leaped off the bluff.

 

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Next time I want to try out the lunch menu. Or, better yet, dinner and a sunset.

 

588 Shades Crest Road

Hours: Mon – Fri: 6:30 am – 7:00 pm; Sat: 6:30 am – 3:00 pm

89% like it at urbanspoon

“Hot Bama” Brown at Baumhower’s

 

4445 Creekside Avenue – just off John Hawkins Pkwy.

Hoover, AL 35244

205-403-7474

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Last Friday night we went out to an early supper at Baumhower’s. After perusing the online menu, I’d already decided to try the sand-wedge they are famous for – the “Hot Bama”. It’s featured in the “100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die!” It’s a good thing I tried it last week, because I could have died waiting at the courthouse while getting my driver’s license. But, that’s a blog for another day.

So, the “Hot Bama” Brown was excellent. It features their Almost-Fried Turkey piled up on a slice of sourdough bread, smothered with cheeses and mushroom-beef gravy, then topped with bacon and tomato slices. It comes with a side of mashed potatoes with MORE gravy.

Next time I go I want to try either the Gulf Wild Shrimp & Grits or the Catfish Po’ Boy.

Baumhower’s