Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Beery Birmingham…

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

One of the reasons I love Birmingham.. This is the menu for the J. Clyde beer dinner I’m about to tuck into…


Bean, beans, the musical fruit…

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

When I think of Pinson, of course I think of beans. What, you don’t? Didn’t you know Pinson is home of the Alabama Butterbean Festival? This year’s festival was a pretty big deal. That’s because they made a prety big pot of beans. In fact, it was a world record pot of beans.

musical fruit....

When I say it’s a world record pot of beans, I’m not kidding. A 1,010 gallon pot of beans even got the attention of the fine folks at Guinness. They even sent a lovely young lass down form New York to present certification of the big feat. (And yeah, Phil’s right. 1,010.65 gallons.)

Guinness agrees!

Of course, a butterbean festival wouldn’t be complete without a mascot (Bucky, of course) and a butterbean queen.


Of course, the centerpiece IS the beans-which oddly were called baked beans. Here, Phil shows they are definitely NOT baked.

Stirrin' the pot...

Our lovely young lass from Guinness was a good sport, and sampled the product. She said they were pretty good…though she does look a little scared.

scared of a few little beans???

Small town festivals will always prove one thing. Even if you think a top hat will make people think you’re Slash (regardless of the fact you’re playing a sax), you’re still just wearing a top hat while you play in a cover band.

Hep, but not hep enough.

I went to the fest because I’m rather easily amused. I’m happy to say it was amusing- but also an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday morning. (But I regret to say I did not get to catch the greased pig competition.)

Beer good….beer dinner better!

Monday, May 24th, 2010

A bit late with this post, as I wanted nothing more last night than to pass out and sleep off a good meal. J. Clyde hosted a beer dinner featuring Good People brews. The J. Clyde beer dinners are always good- but this one was even better, as Good People is the local brewery- and one I like very much. The dinner was also a fund raiser for Junior Achievement of Birmingham. It all started off very well, soon as I walked through the door. I had been inside for mere seconds when I was offered a Good People Wild IPA.

I love IPAs, and it was a fabulous warm up. Once the dinner started, we had some good opening words from J. Clyde owner Jerry Hartley, whose mind, heart, and palate always seem to be int he right place. He apologized for not being a good speaker, but he definitely was, and always is.

Jerry hartley

Next up was Good People’s head brewer, Jason Malone. He’s a guy I sometimes find very intense in his focus, but it’s not the sort of intensity that intimidates. But every now and again, he pops out for a bit, cracks a great smile, and says something grand. He’s a great guy, who makes some great beers.

Jason Malone

All of the beer was good- and so was all of the food. But this salad was quite a highlight for a few people there…


When it was all over, we were all stuffed to the gills. J. Clyde staffer James tried to humorously show it, and wound up looking like a creepy old pregnant woman!


I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. If you’ve never been to a J. Clyde beer dinner, you need to get to one!

Lots O’ Ham Ahead….

Friday, May 21st, 2010

If you’re in the greater Birmingham megalopolis this weekend, there’s lots on tap. First, the events that started today, and continue all weekend:

      Imagicon is on at The McWane Center, Old Car Heaven, and a few other locations. It’s a sci-fi and fantasy con featuring performances, parties, and workshops on a variety of things ranging from anime to costuming to…..hard science! I hope to drop by to gawk at the guys dressed as Lord Vader, who are passing out form the high heat we’re expecting this weekend.

That’s hardly everything this weekend, though….

      Saturday night after barber I hope to stop by to see the Tragic City Rollers take on the Columbia Quad Squad. It’s been a while since I went to a roller derby bout, and hopefully, this time I won’t arrive an hour late like I did last time.

So…if you’re not in the ‘Ham this weekend, you should be!

And this is free? Yes, please!

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Tabla and sitar and sarangi, oh my! Tonight, the Birmingham Museum of Art host a free concert of Indian music- and even threw in some good Indian snacks (provided by Taj India) during intermission. This is the sort of thing I love to attend: events that show there is culture in Alabama.

The initial bill was Pandit Ramesh Mishra, Pandit Joydeep Ghosh, and Pandit Subhen Chatterjee. Unfortunately, the volcanic ash cloud over Europe stranded Pt. Ghosh and Pt. Chatterjee at an airport in Germany. Fortunately, that meant they were replaced with five awesome Indian musicians, all residing here in the metro. Culture AND local talent? They could charge for this….

First up, an awesome father & son act…


Next up, an equally talented local trio. I didn’t manage to get them all in one shot.



Finally, the man we’d all been waiting for…and he was brilliant!


Number one son also got to play with Pt. Mishra. Dad apologized in advance for his tabla skills. Nothing to worry about- your boy did just fine! Pt. Mishra seemed very happy with his new-found precussionist.


All of the locals seemed to be apologetic for the quality of their playing (especially in the presence of a talent such as Pt. Mishra), but I’d be happy to have them play for me any day. Well done, guys!

Overheard at J. Clyde…

Friday, March 19th, 2010

“If you lick my face, I would owe you fried chicken and watermelon.” – Freddie

(Tonight, black-on-black comedy was the best kind. Guys, thanks for giving me some good belly laughs!)

Steaming up southside.

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

No pictures yet, as I’ll be very busy today and in the next few days- but People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals had another in their line of interesting demonstrations today, just a few blocks from my apartment. Two barely-clad young vegetarians spent an hour making our on an inflatable bed. The point? Cutting out the meat can make you a better lover. In essence (and as the PETA news release says), a veggie burger in the kitchen means a whopper in the bedroom.

It was a fun scene, full of good people watching opportunities, even off the bed. Pics ahead when I have more time to download and edit them.

Nothing says lovin’ like something from the….

Monday, February 1st, 2010

I think I just heard someone on a local TV station make a reference to “a hot coven.” It’s certainly not something you find in central Alabama every day. I’m guessing she choked on her words when trying to say “hot oven.”

Pizza fail….and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

You’ve seen him on TV commercials, and in print ads….and today ‘Papa’ John Schnatter came to my ‘hood, complete with his now-famous Camaro, a small media circus, and autograph hunters (the ‘random hand’ at right). Of course, he was here for the Bowl.

John arrives...

After meeting a few fans outside, he headed inside to take a turn at cranking out a pizza. I was happy to see he hit the handwashing station first. The boss never would have heard the end of it if he’d launched in without proper sanitation.

Keeping clean...

He said it had been a very long time since he’d made a pizza, but he seemed to do just fine, even while dodging a crowd of cameras.

Like riding a bike...

John’s words caught up with him when he placed his finished pie on an oven conveyor that was turned off, then went off for a quick interview. (A few minutes later, a store employee spotted his mistake, and put it on the working conveyor.)

Pizza fail.

John really was a super nice guy, and when he headed outside, even hopped in the Camaro and revved the engine so we could hear how mean it sounded. He then left not in the Camaro, but in the furthest back of seats in an SUV. You’d think they’d let the boss ride up front. :)

Politics & pints.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I’d intended to leave politics off the blog, so I won’t dwell on this. Today, Birmingham’s mayor was convicted on all 60 counts in a bribery indictment. I say this to the people who live outside the metro. Those inside already know, and have their opinions of Mr. Langford. Now, our council President moves into the role of interim mayor. It all changes in a month or so when the new council is sworn in. Prepare for a fun ride.

Now, on to the beer and the food….

I had a lovely evening tonight down at J. Clyde tonight for the SweetWater beer dinner to benefit Black Warrior Riverkeeper. If you’ve never been to a J. Clyde beer dinner, you should. However, now that they’re just quarterly, you won’t have as many opportunities.

Here’s what we had tonight:

SweetWater Motor Boat & Corn Chowder with Caramelized Sea Scallops
A fabulous way to start the 5-course dinner! The Motor Boat is a little darker than amber, with a hoppy aroma. There’s not as much hop in the flavour- but combining it with the scallops and the sweet fresh corn in the chowder really brought it out. Very nice pairing.

SweetWater 420 & Asian Egg Roll with Fresh Gulf Shrimp drizzled with a 420-honey reduction
I’d always associated 420 with fabric softener. That’s because the first time I had it, I was sitting outside my building’s laundry room as someone was washing their unmentionables. (Kidding about the unmentionables. Not sure what was in there.) This course may cure me of that.

420 has a light character with a bit of hops, but not too much. That played a nice counterpoint to the reduction sauce, which had darker, richer flavours going on (and still a good soy nose). It also paired well with the fresh Asian-style vegetables in the egg roll. They were cooked to the point where they still had some firmness- perfect. The single shrimp pn the side of the dish also brought out a nice sweet orange-like overtone in the beer.

SweetWater IPA & Okra Salad over mixed greens and shoepeg corn tossed in a Honey Lime Dressing
SweetWater IPA is easily my favourite in their regular lineup. The grapefruit-like overtones and the hop bitterness appeals to the hophead in me.

This was one of the most complex pairings of the night. First, I tucked in to the salad. The honey and lime played well together. When the fresh (grassy even) greens and the sweetness of the dressing met the beer, it turned the flavour a little spicy and almost woody. The light sweetness of the corn was a nice element, but the red beans were a little distracting. The okra (which was thankfully not overdone) had darker flavours, and a wonderful peppery overtone. For such a different flavour from the greens, it also brought out a remarkable sweet and spicy flavour when it met the beer.

SweetWater Georgia Brown & Soy Honey Tilapia served with Alabama grown Sweet Potato mash
I am not a huge fan of nut brown ales. I appreciate their sweetness and their sessionability. They just don’t really have enough zing for me, for I am a hophead. For me to really enjoy them, they need a pairing like this.

The Georgia Brown starts off with a nice hazelnut quality, then morphs to dark caramel and hits a quick hop highlight before the caramel returns to close the deal. Drink it with the pleasantly slightly lumpy potato mash, and all bets are off. It gives you a wonderful pumpkin pie effect. The caramelized grilly-bits of the fish also went well with the mash- but overall, the tilapia didn’t meld at all with the beer. The two flavours were wallflowers at the dance on my palate. Neither would ask the other to waltz. In the autumn of this dish, the fish was summer. That’s not to say it was bad fish; it was certainly not. On the contrary, it was very tasty- but just didn’t fit in.

SweetWater Dank Tank Big Ol’ Belgian Blue Balls & Native American Rice Pudding with golden raisins, dried blueberries, and a Maple butter rum sauce
First off, the native American dish was made by a Canadian. (I know….before the Europeans arrived, even the pre-Canucks were native Americans.) I wanted to sing Oh, Canada! when this arrived at the table. But we’ll start with the beer.

There’s a nice sweet blueberry aroma on the Blue Balls (combined with a brown sugar note), but it’s mostly absent in the flavour. That’s sweet, caramel-y, with a hint of citrus, and a distinct Belgian overtone. The pudding looked like oatmeal with big dark spots. :) The aroma reminded me of bread pudding and oatmeal. The flavour was a little darker than some of the rice pudding I’ve had. It was interspersed with bursts of flavour from the berries, which had reconstituted. I’m not entirely sure there were any raisins. The sauce was mostly maple, with a lurking hint of rum. The highlight for me was the texture- with rice that was almost al dente, a pleasing graininess to the sauce, and a nice smoothness to the blueberry innards. The beer pairing didn’t bring an overwhelming change to the flavours, but did lighten up the beer, and really bring out its yeasty Belgian goodness.

After all that, maybe you can understand why I advise you to get yourself to J. Clyde for the next beer dinner. It’s in February, and there may be a very special guest!