Tag Archives: Birmingham

Hometown Foodstalking- Saw’s BBQ and DoDiYos

In part two of my Magic City adventures, I discovered two new favorite spots. Since I was home for the holidays for 10 whole days, I had the chance to strike a nice balance between visiting my old favorites and trying out some new up and comers.

I am going to attempt to write about Saw’s BBQ without jealous tears streaming down my face. This is my new favorite place in Birmingham. I wish I lived there so I could go once a week. Had it been open during the SPC days, I have a feeling our trio would have spent many a lunch hour(s) here.

My dad and I shared an obscene amount of food for two people- but hey, how else are you going to try it all, right? I had the pulled pork plate with mac and cheese and turnip greens. He had the chicken plate with turnip greens and deviled eggs. We also got a plate of ribs to share. With the exception of the ribs, which I thought were above average but not my all-time favorites, I adored everything we ate. The pork is Carolina- style, pulled into large chunks and doused with a sweet, vinegary sauce. I’m no expert on this style (would like to get Miss Em or Allred’s opinion to verify) but I think Saw’s does a pretty darn good version for an Alabama ‘que purveyor. The smoked chicken features a strictly Bama white sauce. Ordinarily I wouldn’t go for this, given my aversion to white sauces/creamy things (mayo, sour cream, yogurt, etc.), but this I loved (and yes, I realize there is most likely mayo in that sauce- ignorance is bliss, people).  The chicken was juicy and the sauce had a great acidic kick to balance the creaminess. Thanks to Saw’s, I discovered that I do indeed like turnip greens, and the other sides were tasty as well. Long story short, I can’t wait to go back for more. Saw’s has taken its place as an “old favorite” to return to when I am home in B’ham.

Pork plate, turnip greens, mac & cheese

Chicken plate, turnip greens, deviled egg

Ribs

I was really excited about checking out this next newcomer on the Birmingham restaurant scene. DoDiYos is the brainchild of two of the most storied restaurant families in Magic City history, the Sarris family and the Kanakis family. As a (very strange) kid, I went through a phase where boiled shrimp was my favorite food. I remember going to the Sarris’s Fish Market with my family many a time to satisfy my craving. This new venture is a more upscale version of the Mediterranean and Greek foods these families have perfected. Greek food just so happens to be one of my favorite cuisines, so needless to say,  I had high hopes.

Greek lamb meatballs

The camera was shaking from the deliciousness. Basque-style mussels.

Connie Kanakis' Snapper. A classic.

Shrimp kebabs

Diples for dessert. It's anyone's guess how to pronounce that. We still don't know. Fried pastry ribbons with sugared almonds and honey.

I think the pictures speak for themselves, but everything we ate was just fabulous. The menu was so extensive that it made my head spin- in a very good way. You could visit DoDiYos dozens of times and not even scratch the surface of good-looking menu items (I could, anyway). They also serve lunch, and from what I can tell, that menu is a very fair representation of their many good offerings. It’s a good option for those on a budget who’d like to try it out before taking the plunge for dinner. The only issue with lunch: probably not okay for you to order that great Greek wine we had- but you most likely wouldn’t be sorry if you did.

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Urban Standard’s Grilled Cheese- at home!

I’m going to make this quick, as I have a piece of information that must be shared immediately. Ladies and gentlemen, something monumental happened in Houston, TX last weekend.

I cracked the code of Urban Standard’s grilled cheese and the ALL important balsamic jam.

I guess it wasn’t “cracking” the code so much as googling the mess out of every possible combination of words and finally stumbling upon a Birmingham News Food Detective column (for the balsamic jam) and a random blog outlining the different types of cheeses used. Armed with this information, I got to work.

Here is my version of this masterpiece (it’s pretty true to the original):

For the balsamic jam:

3 tablespoons of grape jelly

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (I used my wonderful, pricey Zingerman’s balsamic– next time I will go for a cheaper version)

(This made enough jam for about 3 servings, so adjust as needed)


For the sandwich:

Sourdough bread

Sharp Cheddar

Provolone (not smoked)

Boursin cheese (just the regular old garlic and herb variety)

And lots of butter, of course

The goods

Get yer cheezez ready


Hopefully we all understand how to make a grilled cheese. Go at it, and then when you’re finished, serve with the balsamic jam for dipping.

Butter


I imagine this balsamic jam would be good on other sandwiches as well. Turkey with caramelized onions, for example…

Enjoy!

Hometown Foodstalking- Flip Burger

For the holidays, I traveled back home to the place where the foodstalking magic first happened between LG and Miss Em: Birmingham. I got to sample several new-to-me spots, including a couple that are new to the Magic City.

First up was a newcomer to the B’ham restaurant scene, Flip Burger Boutique. I had been stalking this menu for months in eager anticipation of visiting the new Birmingham location over Christmas. This is the brainchild of Top Chef alum and Atlanta native, Richard Blais, one of my all-time favorite Top Chef competitors. He made his mark on the show with a playful and accessible brand of molecular gastronomy.

Blais himself was in da house on the night that we braved post-holiday Summit traffic to grab some gourmet burgers. He was looking a little flustered- later on I think we would find out why.

Hipster fun with the light fixture


Even after reading this menu dozens of times, the fam and I had a hard time choosing between all of the amazing sounding burgers. One whole side of the menu is dedicated to beef burgers, the other side is anything-goes. I went for the carne- specifically, the Butcher’s Cut with caramelized onions, blue cheese, and red wine jam. At our table, we had a Farm Burger, a Korean BBQ burger, a Chorizo burger, and two regular ole hamburgers. The general consensus, I believe, was that the burgers were tasty, but that there was an issue with service and/or the kitchen on that particular evening. They had been open for no more than 2 weeks at this point, so I’m sure they were still ironing out the wrinkles. Most of the burgers arrived to our table not exactly warm. I thought mine was tasty, but definitely could have been warmer and I would have preferred the ratio of toppings a little different: less blue cheese, more red wine jam. We sampled fries, fried pickles, fried okra, and the warm potato salad. All were perfectly serviceable, although the okra especially were very greasy.

My choice. The Butcher's Cut.

E's Chorizo burger

Dad's Korean BBQ burger. Points for originality.

As an apology for the hour-long wait for our food, and the lukewarm-ness of it when it finally arrived, we were sent a sampling of Blais’s famous liquid nitrogen milkshakes. My favorite was the Pistachio, rather shockingly. I don’t dislike pistachios, but I would never think of it as the first flavor I’d order on a milkshake menu. The slight saltiness went with the sweetness very well. Other flavors at our table: S’mores, Krispy Kreme donut (just like the real thing pureed into a frosty mug), and Foie Gras (seriously not as disgusting as it sounds- if you didn’t know it was Foie Gras, I bet you wouldn’t be able to guess).

S'mores. Pleasingly burnt marshmallows on top with bits of graham cracker interspersed.

Pistachio

While our experience was less than perfect, I do think we’ll be back. For one, the prices are fair. The menu is so varied that you’ll always have something new to try. And of course, I’ll be back because I have faith in Blais! Hopefully he can attract and retain some real talent in the kitchen, folks who are able to execute the “foodie” vision that this restaurant is going after.

A month’s worth of eating

Once again, we have been bad blog parents. Please forgive. Here are some of my foodie adventures over the month of December…

dsc01917You’re probably wondering, “what kind of reindeer are those?” Nice try, but haven’t you heard of the Christmas dachshund? No? How are they not festive for all occasions?! Here is batch #1 of the wiener cookies right out of the oven. For the dough, I used a recipe for Cinnamon Sugar cookies instead of just your average sugar. It added a nice kick to an otherwise boring cookie, in my opinion. I whipped up an icing “paste” out of powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla so the sprinkles would adhere to the cookies. I gave up on wiener dogs before long because they all looked like they had tumors. 

dsc01919

dsc01924This is art.

I only took pictures of one foodstalking adventure while I was in Birmingham! On Friday night, we went to Davenport’s, aka my favorite place ever (I am truly convinced this is some of the best pizza to be found, anywhere). I didn’t have my camera with me at the time, but I definitely remembered to snap a picture of the leftovers. 

dsc01980Good things come in this bag.

dsc01986This is what we had leftover. Allie and Zack’s cheese, and my favorite combo of pepperoni, mushrooms, and black olives. This picture totally doesn’t do it justice, but the crust on this pizza is amazing. It tastes like a saltine cracker, and is cut into these dangerously small, oh-I’ll-just-have-one-more pieces. My dad has decided that it is best appreciated with minimal toppings. I concur. Too many and the thin crust gets weighed down and dare I say: soggy. Davenport’s receives criticism for using canned mushrooms instead of fresh. I am okay with this practice, as I think that fresh mushrooms can dry out on top of a pizza. By using canned, the ‘shrooms come off as more of a meat than a fungus. 

Some other favorite B’ham spots that I hit up while in town: Urban Standard (o.m.g. their grilled cheese with balasmic jam), Taziki’s, and Rojo. There are many more places I would have loved to go, but alas I’ll have to wait until next time. 

I have to include this next mention. My little foodstalking pup got some pretty cool treats in her stocking this year:

dsc01989These are dog treats! The “wasabi” is edible! 

 

Thanksgiving Stalking: Golden edition

I apologize for my absence. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been busy foodstalking, but really it’s just laziness (in writing and in eating). We will do better. Cross my heart…

And now, a pictorial journey through my last few memorable meals:

BB's Oyster PoboyCelebrating a new month with an “R” in it by picking up an Oyster Po Boy from BB’s Cajun Cafe. I’d heard good things, so I decided to check it out. It was definitely a home run. I appreciated the fact that I didn’t have to worry about losing teeth on hard french bread. I hate that.

Turkey 08It’s a Golden Thanksgiving! Look at that beautiful bird. 

Gravy 08The best gravy we’ve had yet. 

Tgiving Plate 08My main plate. Mom outdid herself this year. Pictured: Broccoli Casserole, Cranberry, Apple, and Sausage Stuffing, Corn Pudding, Sweet Potato Casserole (sweetened with pureed dried apricots this year!), Cranberry sauce, Turkey (is in there somewhere)

Mashed Potato SidecarSidecar of mashed potatoes and gravy. Too important to leave out. 

Bottega LunchLunch with my buds at Bottega Cafe.  I had the Friday special, which was sauteed trout with butter, almonds, and hazelnuts. A spruced up version of Almondine, I suppose. Very good. Special thanks to my photog, Kali, for this picture. 

That’s all I’ve got for now! I have been in a baking mood lately, so maybe some holiday cookies will appear after this weekend!