September 10, 2018 @ 10:30 a.m.
I've just gotten in from Nashville, Tennessee, having traveled there with Melanie and our son, Richard, to celebrate Tate's 22nd birthday. He's just begun his senior year at Vanderbilt, studying civil engineering. Hard to believe this time 22 years ago he was just coming into the world. As a father, I could not have dreamed him any better. I am proud of everything he's accomplished in his short time on earth and it was, as is usual, great to see him and spend some time catching up.
Over the past few years our family has developed a tradition of sorts. We typically celebrate birthdays by enjoying Sushi at Jensei in Birmingham. But, since Tate has been at Vanderbilt, on his birthday, some portion of our family has traveled there to celebrate his birthdays. For the second year in a row, we chose City House for dinner.
And if it's Sunday, it's Family Supper at City House. The Sunday menu features items that don't appear during the week and, according to our waiter, Sundays are the time for chef Tandy Wilson to shine. Wilson is a James Beard Foundation award winning Best Chef in the Southeast.
Maybe this is as good a time as any to mention an intention of mine when I post here (Melanie and I may post together sometimes too). If I (we) mention a restaurant and link to their website, it means that, if asked, I'd/we'd recommend you eat there. And most likely I/we will have few qualifications. I'm not a restaurant critic and don't have aspirations in that general direction. While I truly appreciate good food, like enjoyment of good wines, set and setting are, and can be, paramount. Our family gathered around a table last night for a great meal at City House. We laughed, drank, and ate, but most importantly we were together to celebrate life.
"Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating to me. The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself."-- Anthony Boudain
September 7, 2018 @ 9:46 a.m.
I've just gotten in from my morning workout at the gym located in the apartment complex where we've rented as we await word from Leisure Travel Vans or, more specifically, Van City in St. Louis, MO. about when we can expect our new home on wheels to be delivered. It's been about 7 months since we ordered our vehicle, a Unity Island Bed, and, like many of you, waiting is not my strong suit (neither is patience, but we leave that one for another day). Paraphrasing a former president, I'm "Fired up. Ready to go."
Since I'm the one of us who's retired (currently), I occupy my time in part by doing things that will enhance our travel once the time comes to begin a new chapter in our lives. Posting here seems like one of those things. This post will give you some of my/our food-related background.
One of the ways Melanie and I enjoy spending time is over a great meal. We don't have to be in a "white table cloth" restaurant when we eat out, though we certainly have spent our fair share of time sharing a table in some of the best restaurants in the United States. We also enjoy finding those out the way lesser known restaurants, the less expensive spots, that offer great food, prepared with the best local ingredients, where locals eat regularly and know each other. It doesn't hurt if the ambiance tells us something about the town or the people who may eat there.
I'm also a bit of a cook myself and, since I've been the domestic for some years, I like to prepare a great meal for us. While recently we've gotten away from collecting bottles of wine to drink, we both enjoy having a great wine to accompany meals.
Just before I finished law school, I was fortunate enough to land a waiter position at Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Alabama. At the time, Frank Stitt, the chef and owner of Highlands was in the kitchen directing from behind the line. I spent about four years there while deciding which direction a legal career might take. Four good years of watching one of the best chef's in the U.S. work his magic with locally sourced ingredients. I learned a great deal during that time about food preparation, wines, and what it means to deliver great service to a town starved for great food. I am indebted to Frank and others I was fortunate enough to work with for engendering a life-long love of food and cooking.
I worked at Highlands during the late 1980's early 1990's and Highlands was busy on most nights and at lunch. Highlands recently won the coveted Outstanding Restaurant award from the James Beard Foundation, with the Outstanding Pastry Chef award going to Dolester Miles of Highlands. Frank and Pardis, his wife, also own other successful restaurants, Chez Fonfon and Bottega and Bottega Cafe. They have also employed many who have gone on to open their own successful restaurants and for that Birmingham is grateful. Because of Frank and his progeny and their great spinoff restaurants, Birmingham has become a foodie's destination city. Melanie and I are likely to make reference to some of our favorite restaurants here in future posts as we make our way around the country. But, if you happen into the Birmingham area, you can do yourself a favor by checking out the local food scene.
Additionally, here are a few links to some of our favorite eating spots in Birmingham:
Hot and Hot Fish Club
John's City Diner
Bamboo on 2nd
Fancy's on Fifth
Silver Coin Indian Grill
Big Bad Breakfast
Johnny's (James Beard nominee 2017 & 2018 Semi-Finalist Best Chef South)
Brick & Tin
The Fish Market
SAW's Soul Kitchen
Slice Stone Pizza & Brew
Post Office Pies