At the 2014 Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, chef David Bancroft really impressed us at the Southern Grown tasting tent with his dish Buckwheat Noodle “Take-Out” with Nduja Vinaigrette & the Acre Garden. Afterward, chef Bancroft shared a little of his background and told us about his new restaurant Acre.
What’s your background? How long have you been working with food?
I was born in Mobile, Alabama, but grew up in San Antonio, Texas. I loved the art of slow-rolling Texas beef barbecue. In high school I would throw briskets on the mesquite smoker and head to an early double-header baseball game. After the first game I would return home to replenish the fire, then return for the second game. After the second game the guys and I would head back to my house to mow down some brisket while my older brothers snuck us some Lone Star Light.
I enrolled at Auburn University in 2001 to study business marketing. I was elected kitchen steward at my fraternity because all I ever did was cook. I was obsessed with the original Iron Chef and began experimenting with more elaborate recipes. My senior year I asked my parents if I could enroll at the Culinary Institute of America instead of going to graduate school. They urged me to apply at a local restaurant first. After my first year in the industry I was offered the Executive Chef position. I stayed with that restaurant for six and a half years, transitioning it to a farm-to-table concept after I planted a one-acre garden behind the building. After that, in September 2011, I began my quest to open Acre on one full acre of land. We purchased the property during the fall of 2012 and began construction January 2013. We officially opened on August 22, 2013.
What's the concept of Acre and the gardens that surround the restaurant?
I built my restaurant on one exact acre of land in downtown Auburn where we try to work sustainably. We have a full working vegetable garden and fruit trees wrapping the entire parcel of land as our edible landscape. Currently we are growing broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, collard greens, beets, radishes, romaine, herbs, olives, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, apples, pears, figs, persimmons, pomegranates, Meyer lemons, mandarin oranges, guava, and bay laurel. The foods that I am unable to source or grow in large quantities I source from local growers. I don’t have a special style or food philosophy — other than Southern hospitality — I just know where my food comes from.
Would you mind sharing your inspiration for the tasting tent dish you featured at the festival: Buckwheat Noodle “Take-Out” with Nduja Vinaigrette & the Acre Garden?
I really enjoy the concept of street food. After my first trip to Atlanta Food & Wine Festival two years ago I decided that I wanted sneak some street food to the festival. Last year, I served “Redneck Tamales” which featured homegrown collard leaves stuffed with sweet potato cornbread and brisket merguez and finished with garden beet "hot sauce." This year it seems like everyone is going crazy about noodles. My goal for AFWF-2014 was to feature our charcuterie program. Trying to find the link between charcuterie and Chinese take-out was a bit tricky. By turning nduja into "salami vinaigrette" and using soba as the vehicle, I was able to combine other simple ingredients to serve clean comfort food.
Roadtrip Restaurant Reviews: Auburn, Alabama
This is my third entry in a series I’m calling “Roadtrip Restaurant Reviews.” My first two were in Savannah, GA and New York City, respectively. For my third trip, I went to a city known more for its college football program than a being a foodie destination. However, the combined cities of Auburn and Opelika, AL is slowly growing in restaurant variety and reputation.
Auburn and Opelika (pronounced: o-puh-LI-ka), AL are situated right off of Interstate 85 in east Alabama. Even though they’re two separate cities, they sit right next to each other so you can’t tell where one city ends and the other begins. Nearby major metro areas include Atlanta, GA about 2 hours north, Columbus and Fort Benning, GA about 30 minutes east, Montgomery, AL about an hour or so west, and Birmingham, AL about 2 hours northwest.
Auburn/Opelika is the quintessential southern Smalltown, USA (combined population about 93,000). Both have charming downtowns areas and are the living embodiment of Southern Hospitality. The area is most well known for being the home of Auburn University, 2-time (or 8-time, depending on who you ask) NCAA D-1 Football champions. Some notable alumni include dual sport superstar, Bo Jackson, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and best selling mystery author Ace Atkins.
I lived in Opelika for the better part of 9 years from 2005 until 2014. I enjoyed my time there, watching the area grow in population, commerce, industry, and diversity. We were in town this weekend to watch the Auburn game against Liberty University and while we were there, we hit up a couple of my old favorite restaurants, and a new favorite that I hope is a sign of things to come in the Auburn/Opelika restaurant scene.
On most Saturdays, but particularly on Auburn football home games we attended, my wife and I had a tradition: breakfast at Chappy’s Deli before the game. It was great to revisit this tradition with the kids and grandkids during this weekend’s home game. Chappy’s is a regional favorite with locations in Montgomery, Prattville, and Auburn, AL. Their motto is “New York Flavor, Southern Hospitality.” Chappy’s serves a couple of New York inspired sandwiches which includes Ruebens and Pastramis and Swiss as well as traditional favorites like Clubs and French Dips. Most of my visits to Chappy’s have been for breakfast. They serve a full breakfast menu which includes various omelets, pancakes, waffles, etc. For this visit, I went with my usual: The Conecuh Omelet. Conecuh sausage is locally made in Evergreen, AL and shipped all over the US. Their Hickory Smoked Sausage is my favorite a perfect blend of spices with just a little front end heat. It doesn’t overwhelm and makes you dig in for more. The Conecuh Omelet is a 3-egg omelet stuffed with the aforementioned sausage, shredded cheese, and grilled hashbrowns. The sausage was cooked perfectly with a nice snap to each bite and the heat blending well with the hashbrowns and cheese. It’s a hearty breakfast and sticks with you for a full day of Auburn Football.
Chappy’s Deli – Conecuh Omelette
After watching Auburn wallop Liberty University 53 – 0, everyone was in the mood for pizza, so we went to Brick Oven Pizza Company in East Alabama’s largest retail center: Tiger Town Shopping Center. Brick Oven is one of the best pizza places in the Auburn/Opelika area. Most of the pizza places are chains, so having a local option with an actual brick oven is fantastic. We ordered a Garlic Parmesan bread starter called “Dadgum Bread.” It’s a thick round loaf of bread. It’s dense, chewy, and tasty. It’s an interesting twist on the traditional garlic bread starter. For the pizza, we ordered a simple cheese pizza and the Brick Oven Classic a cheese pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, and black olives. The brick oven gave the crust a nice char with the slightly burnt bottoms giving a light bitter taste to offset the richness of the cheese and toppings. The dough used to make the Dadgum Bread is also used to make the pizza crust, so it had that same satisfying chewy texture. The cheese pizza was great, but the Brick Oven Classic is a supremely Supreme pizza.
Brick Oven Pizza – Cheese Pizza and a Grandkid
I saved this restaurant for last even though it was one of the first places we went to. Bow and Arrow BBQ just opened on November 5, 2018 and serves Texas style BBQ. It’s also the latest venture by celebrated local chef, David Bancroft and his up-and-coming executive chef, Caleb Fischer. Chef Bancroft’s first Auburn restaurant, Acre, opened in 2013 and redefined fine dining in east Alabama, sourcing many ingredients from an on-site garden as well as local orchards and farms. Bancroft was born in San Antonio, TX, but spent many years in Alabama and graduated from Auburn University. He’s also a 3-year semifinalist (2016, 2017, and 2018) for the James Beard Award for “Best Chef: South.” He appeared on on Food Network’s Iron Chef Showdown in 2017 and defeated Iron Chef Jose Garces. One of the sous chefs on his winning team was Caleb Fischer, who himself appeared on Food Network’s “Spring Baking Championship” in the spring of 2018.
Having eaten at Acre when they first opened, I was very excited to try Bow and Arrow. It’s a different concept than Acre. While Acre is more fine dining, Bow and Arrow is a fast-casual concept with approachable prices and family style seating. Walking in, you feel like you stepped into a hunting lodge with the many deer head mounts lining the walls, natural wood accents and tables, exposed beams, and even a hunting themed video game in the corner. It’s a beautiful space.
Bow & Arrow
Bancroft describes Bow and Arrow as “South Texas BBQ meets Alabama Pot Luck.” Brisket is heavily featured on the menu, alongside BBQ staples like pulled pork, chicken, sausages, and turkey. As you walk up to the ordering line, you’re met with what I can only describe as a meat merry-go-round. It’s a 3-tier smoker that rotates so the pitmaster can get the meat you want. The smells emanating from that wonderful contraption fill the room and wafts throughout the space. Everyone walking in immediately smells the smoke and meat, conversations stop, heads tilt slightly upward and nostrils flare so the olfactory nerves can take in as much of that scent as possible. It’s a grand first impression.
Ordering is done a la cart. I decided to go big. I ordered both lean and moist brisket, pulled pork shoulder, St. Louis ribs, four sides, a dessert, and a partridge in a pear tree. I wanted to order the smoked half chicken, but that’s only served on Saturdays and Sundays. They also ran out of sausage and had a delivery mishap with the turkey otherwise I would’ve ordered all of that as well. For the sides, we ordered potato salad, mac & cheese, Potlikker Greens, and the Tater Tot Casserole. For dessert, we ordered some of Memaw’s Éclair. Our order came with housemade tortillas and a variety of BBQ accoutrements like housemade bread and butter pickles, hull pea chow chow, marinated onions, various salsas etc. A nice selection of acidic, briny bites to help refresh the palate after a few mouthfuls of rich BBQ meat. For the sauces, they offer a Carolina style mustard sauce, a Texas style red sauce, and an Alabama style white BBQ sauce, again, all housemade. Nothing in Bow and Arrow is premade or comes in some sort of mix. Everything is made from scratch, in house.
Bow & Arrow – Platter
The brisket is fantastic. Even the lean brisket was still moist. The moist (fatty) brisket was my favorite of the pair, with good sized hunks of fat running through the brisket to keep it moist. It melted in my mouth and tasted fantastic. I’m usually a “take-it-leave-it” guy with brisket, no strong opinions either way, but that fatty brisket was brilliant.
The pulled pork was also tasty, but paired with the Texas Red Sauce and wrapped in one of the freshly made tortillas was truly a thing of beauty. The tortillas were warm and tender, but more importantly, structurally sound, able to handle the pile of meat placed upon it for maximum pork delivery into my face. The pork itself was tender and beautifully smoked.
But the real highlight of my butcher paper lined metal tray was the St. Louis style pork ribs. They had a beautiful bark to them and, like the brisket, a beautiful pink smoke ring all the way around. The meat had some chew, but was still tender and pulled delightfully from the bone. I bit into the ribs and juice ran down my chin a sign of a great rib, in my opinion. Six ribs came with a half rack order and before I realized it, there were four clean rib bones on my tray before my wife even had a chance to try one. These ribs were smoky, a little sweet, a bit of heat, and a ton of flavor. Truly some of the best ribs I’ve had the pleasure of eating. It completely rewired my brain on how I think ribs should be.
For the sides, the highlights were the mac & cheese and potato salad. The mac & cheese really did remind me of some of the macs & cheese that made their way to many a church pot luck gatherings. The cheese was smooth and creamy and the noodles were cooked perfectly. The potato salad was a southern style, mustard based potato salad. It had nice large chunks of al dente potatoes and a light vinegary flavor from the mustard base. The Potlikker Greens were fine, but I’m not a huge fan of greens in general. My wife liked them, but thought some of the pieces had too much stalk attached and made them overly chewy. The only real side item disappointment was the tater tot casserole. I was looking forward to this one as I love tater tots however, I found the casserole a bit dry and wishing for some melted cheese or some kind of creamy sauce to go on top. Not a deal breaker, but was expecting more. The house made bread and butter pickles were the star of the complimentary condiment bar. They were perfectly crunchy and had the right amount of acidity to battle mouth fatigue from all the smoky goodness. Eat a few ribs, then eat a few bread and butter pickle chips to get a second wind for the rest of the meal.
Brick Oven Pizza – Dadgum Bread
I did save a bit of room for dessert and it did not disappoint. Memaw’s Éclair is really a pie version of the popular handheld dessert. On the bottom is a graham cracker crust, then a layer of chocolate ganache, then topped with éclair cream and more graham crackers. The graham crackers soaked up the chocolate ganache and offered a bit of texture to a very smooth dessert. It was a great ending to our meal.
Overall, I’m encouraged with the caliber of restaurants that are starting to pop up in the Auburn/Opelika area. For many years, chains ruled the dining options, but more and more locally owned restaurants are starting to make their mark. Not just the places I reviewed above, but also great places I’ve visited during my years there like Ma Fia’s Ristorante in the revitalized historic downtown Opelika area, serving some top notch Italian fare.
There’s also Irish Bred Pub in the same downtown Opelika area that’s doing some amazing things with the simple Beef Stew.
And Warehouse Bistro, a popular Opelika fine dining restaurant that suffered a major fire in 2017 but has bounced back and reopened in November 2018 under new executive chef and owner Paul Diaz.
Brick Oven Pizza – Interior
Or MK’s Asian Kitchen, a place I frequented so much while living in Opelika that even after four years of not going there since we moved to Jacksonville, the owner still remembered my name and knew my usual order when we went there during this weekend.
Or Amsterdam Café in Auburn where Chef Bancroft was executive chef for years before venturing out on his own with Acre.
And I love a good food truck success story, so I have to mention Butcher Paper BBQ in Opelika, owned and operated by Mark Coxwell. What started as a humble food truck is now a thriving brick-and-mortar restaurant and catering business slinging some great barbeque all over the city.
So if you find yourself traversing north or south on I-85, don’t be too quick to pass through the Auburn/Opelika area. Stop by and take in the quaint downtown Opelika area or head over to legendary Toomer’s Corner in Auburn. While you’re there, try out some of these restaurants and “Y’all come back now, ya hear?”
How You Can Help Victims of the Alabama Tornadoes
On March 3, a series of devastating tornadoes tore through southeast Alabama. At least twenty-three people were killed and dozens more injured in what officials are calling the deadliest U.S. tornado outbreak in six years. Especially hard hit by the storms—which also touched parts of Georgia and northern Florida—was Lee County, Alabama, where all twenty-three of the reported deaths occurred, and particularly the community of Beauregard. We’ve compiled a list of on-the-ground relief efforts, ways to help from afar, and resources for those in the area.
Alabama Governor’s Relief Fund
The Governor’s Office of Volunteer Services oversees the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund and is now accepting donations for direct tornado relief efforts.
The Louisiana-based search-and-rescue team sent members to Alabama on Monday to help with relief efforts and search for those who remain missing. Visit the group’s Facebook page to donate.
Community Foundation of East Alabama
A long-term recovery fund has been created by the Community Foundation of East Alabama . Visit the site or donate directly using PayPal .
The nonprofit is sending supplies and team members to Lee County to assist with relief efforts. Donate to the organization here .
The disaster relief organization has deployed its team of professional chefs to Lee County to feed volunteers, first responders, and tornado victims. Two meals per day will be served at Lazenby Farms in Auburn. Donations can also be made on the website .
Red Cross of East Alabama
The Red Cross is offering various services to victims, including shelter at Opelika’s Providence Baptist Church and helping to locate still-unaccounted for loved ones. Donations can be made here .
The Salvation Army has a full incident command team in the area assisting with recovery. The organization’s Lee County Service Center is also providing meals to first responders at six mobile feeding units. Contribute to the effort by donating online .
Samaritan’s Purse U.S. Disaster Response
Samaritan’s Purse has a team on the ground to assist with various relief efforts. Donations to the ongoing work of the organization can be made on its website .
United Way of Central Alabama
The local chapter of the national outreach organization has set up a Lee County Disaster Fund—find ways to donate online .
Acre and Bow & Arrow Restaurants
Chef David Bancroft’s restaurants, both in Auburn, are collecting funds to continue cooking and packing meals for first responders and those affected by the devastation. Visit either restaurant to participate, or check their Facebook pages for more information: Acre | Bow & Arrow
The hospitality service has launched its Open Homes Program to victims and first responders— volunteer your lodging online.
The outreach center , supported by Church of the Highlands, has opened its doors to both victims and volunteers and is collecting donations of bottled water, granola bars, diapers, baby formula, baby wipes, and hygiene products.
Students and staff at Auburn High School are accepting donations on campus. For updates and information, keep up with Auburn County Schools on Twitter .
Church of the Highlands
Alabama’s largest church is mobilizing volunteers in the Auburn, Opelika, and Columbus areas. To learn more, the church requests volunteers text the word “response” to 74000 for updates and service opportunities as they arise.
The Smiths Station fried chicken restaurant is offering free meals to all first responders.
The Farm at Rocky Top
The Opelika farm and events venue is offering temporary housing to families whose homes were destroyed by the storms.
The Opelika store is accepting furniture donations to help families who lost their homes and/or belongings. Employees are available to pick up items if needed.
Lee County Association of Realtors
The LCAR is looking for spare rooms, hotel or apartment complex vacancies, or other housing for first responders working in the area. To offer a location, contact organization president Karen Turner .
Opelika Animal Hospital
The animal hospital announced that it is offering boarding services to displaced animals at no charge. It is also taking donations.
Southern Souls Animal League
The Eufaula animal clinic and shelter, damaged in the storm, is in desperate need of homes for its animals. Find more info on their Facebook page or donate to the cause via GoFundMe .
U-Haul of Central Alabama and Southern Georgia
The company’s local branches are providing temporary free self-storage and U-Box container usage to tornado victims. Learn more at the U-Haul site .
The Village Foster Care and Adoptive Ministry
In Smiths Station, The Village is collecting items to transport to affected neighborhoods. Requested donations include clothes, blankets, snacks, baby necessities, and toiletries. The organization is also in need of volunteers to help organize and distribute donations.
To learn more about a charity before donating, consult Charity Navigator .
Tourism Tuesdays February 23, 2016
The author of the American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” was laid to rest Saturday in a private ceremony attended by only the closest of friends and family, a reflection of how she had lived.
Harper Lee , who died Friday at age 89, was eulogized at a church in the small Alabama town of Monroeville, which the author used as a model for the imaginary town of Maycomb, the setting of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
A few dozen people who made up Lee’s intimate circle gathered at First United Methodist Church to hear a eulogy Saturday by her longtime friend and history professor, Wayne Flynt. Afterward, her casket was taken by a silver hearse to an adjacent cemetery where her father, A.C. Lee, and sister, Alice Lee, are buried.
Flynt, a longtime friend of Lee, said he delivered a eulogy that Lee specifically requested years ago. Entitled, “Atticus inside ourselves,” the eulogy was written by Flint for a speech that he gave in 2006 as a tribute to Lee when she won the Birmingham Pledge Foundation Award for racial justice.
Flynt said Lee liked the speech so much that she wanted him to give it as her eulogy.
“I want you to say exactly that,” Flynt quoted Lee as saying at the time. “Not one thing more, and not one thing less.”
“If I deviated one degree, I would hear this great booming voice from heaven, and it wouldn’t be God,” Flynt said in an earlier interview.
Details of the service were fiercely guarded. Lee had wanted a quick and quiet funeral without pomp or fanfare, family members said.
“We obeyed her wishes,” said Jackie Stovall, Lee’s second cousin.
The town was appropriately somber a day after their native daughter’s death.
Ann Mote, owner of the Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe in Monroeville, said she thought the town would always be linked to Lee.
Jared Anton, of Hollywood, Fla., sat outside the old courthouse in Monroeville during part of his planned vacation through the South that coincided with Lee’s death.
Anton said reading the book — in which attorney Atticus Finch defends a wrongly accused African-American man — was one reason he decided to become a lawyer.
“It had an impact on me when I was younger. I wanted to do the right thing, to stand up to people, to defend the innocent, if you will,” Anton said. “It is the greatest American novel. Name one that really has had more of an impact on Americans than that book.”
Mockingbirds chirped and frolicked among blooming camellia bushes outside the courthouse on the warm Alabama morning that teased the early arrival of spring.
The courthouse was where as a child Lee, like her creation Scout Finch, would peer down from the balcony as her father tried his cases in the courtroom. The Southern town was home to childhood friends Truman Capote and Lee, giving rise to its self-given nickname as the literary capital of the South.
“She’s a part of it and always will be,” said Mote.
Tributes to Lee’s novel dot the town. The courthouse is a museum that pays homage to her creation. There’s the Mockingbird Inn on the edge of town and a statue of children reading “Mockingbird” in the courthouse square.
Tickets go on sale in a week for the city’s annual “To Kill A Mockingbird” play, Mote said. A black mourning bow donned the top of the sign at the bookstore, where a stack of hard copies of “Mockingbird” sat on the counter along with a DVD of the movie.
The town this summer had a celebration for the release of “Go Set a Watchman” — Lee’s initial draft of the story that would become “Mockingbird” — even though many residents had ambivalent feelings about its release.
Lee was largely unseen in her hometown in recent years, as she first sought privacy and then was secluded at an assisted-living home. Security guards would shoo away the inevitable mix of reporters, curious onlookers and old acquaintances who were not on her list of approved visitors.
“You would see her around, but still we would honor her wishes of being a very private person. The impact from now forward, I think for the next few weeks we’ll have an influx of people in here just looking around, and at some point — like when anybody passes away — at some point it just returns back to normal,” said Tim McKenzie, chairman of the museum’s board of directors, who also acts in the play.
McKenzie said the best way fans can honor the author’s memory is by applying the values in “Mockingbird” to the way they treat others.
“That story — I’m glad it’s in just about all the schools now because it’s a story that everybody needs to hear,” he said.
“If you adhere to the values she put in that book — if everybody did — we’d be living in a much better world.”
What some of the South’s top food writers said about Birmingham at Food Media South
By Bob Carlton, AL.com, Feb. 22
Food journalists from around the South left Birmingham with a good taste in their mouths — literally and figuratively speaking — following the second Food Media South conference hosted by the Southern Foodways Alliance this weekend.
One hundred and fifty food writers, storytellers, videographers, bloggers and assorted other media professionals from Atlanta, Houston, Louisville, New Orleans, Charleston, S.C., and elsewhere around the South attended the food-centric symposium.
The menu included discussions on such weighty issues as “Race & Racism at the Table and in the News” and a lively “Chef Meets Critic” exchange with Eater national restaurant critic Bill Addison and Highlands Bar and Grill chef Frank Stitt, as well as sessions about such practical matters as visual storytelling, building a brand and recipe sharing in the digital age.
“At the core of what our organization does is we use food as a way of exploring Southern culture and the issues that undergird Southern culture, both good and bad,” Southern Foodways Alliance director John T. Edge said. “And that means racism and its impact on the region. That means class difference. That means gender inequality. All of those things are what the SFA has been tackling for almost 20 years now, from its very beginning.”
There also was food to be eaten.
Before, during, and after Saturday’s day-long seminar at WorkPlay, the Food Media South guests grazed at a vegetarian charcuterie table at an opening-night party at the new Time Inc. Food Studios, sipped Royal Cup coffee, munched on breakfast sandwiches from Shindigs Catering, lunched on fried chicken and tamales from Little Donkey, devoured hot dogs from Sam’s Super Samwiches, and closed out the weekend with cocktails and small-plate dishes at
an after-party at Chris Hastings’ new OvenBird restaurant.
“We’re really happy with Birmingham as a host,” Edge said. “This year, I would say half these people had never been to Birmingham and had heard perhaps about Highlands or about Hot and Hot (Fish Club), but didn’t know the food scene in Birmingham. So that part of it, I’m hearing lots of positive feedback about.”
Georgia native Nicole A. Taylor , author of “The Up South Cookbook” and host of the podcast “Hot Grease,” said she will go back to Brooklyn, where she now lives, with a notebook of new ideas and a network of new friends.
“I mean, it’s always great when you get a bunch of Southerners in a room, right?” Taylor said. “All of the anecdotes, the great food, the laughs — it’s good to be around the Southern table talking about food and the things people love. . .
“When I walk away from this event, I walk away inspired,” she added. “I walk away with a new network of people who are from Birmingham and who are from other places in the South that I can lean on when I need some advice or encouragement.”
Alabama culinary scene continues rise with multiple semifinalists in the ‘Oscars of food’
By Mitchell Kilpatrick, YellowhammerNews.com, Feb. 21
Four Alabama chefs and one Alabama restaurant have been named semifinalists for the 2016 James Beard Awards, the country’s most prestigious culinary awards foundation. The semifinalists were announced last week, and this list will be further narrowed down to the finalists on March 16. The winners will be revealed on May 2, in Chicago.
The James Beard Awards are often referred to as the “Oscars of food.”
“Covering all aspects of the industry — from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more — the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America,” the James Beard Foundation explains on their website .
Alabama has been well represented in the James Beard Awards in the past , and this year continues the state’s streak.
Highlands Bar & Grill, in Birmingham, has been named a semifinalist for Most Outstanding Restaurant. Highlands has been a semifinalist and finalist for this award every year since 2009, but has yet to take home the grand prize.
Highlands has a long history in Birmingham. It opened in 1982.
One of Highlands’ employees has been singled out as another semifinalist: Dolester Miles is a semifinalist for Most Outstanding Pastry Chef. She was a semifinalist in 2014 and 2015 as well.
The other three Alabama semifinalists are all up for the Best Chef in the South award.
Rob McDaniel is the chef of SpringHouse in Alexander City. SpringHouse boasts a restaurant “that respects the land and a menu that features excellent, local products.” This is McDaniel’s fourth year as a semifinalist for Best Chef in the South.
David Bancroft runs the new restaurant Acre in Auburn. Bancroft focuses on Alabama-grown food, and “the kitchen sources from on-site gardens and orchards, local farms, and the bounty provided by the Blackbelt Region, reinterpreting the rich heritage of Alabama cuisine.” Bancroft has never been a semifinalist for this award.
Bill Briand is another first-time semifinalist for Best Chef in the South. He runs Fisher’s Upstairs at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach. Fisher’s offers two waterfront dining experiences, and the website states that “in addition to its breathtaking design and culinary excellence from seafood to steak, Fisher’s Upstairs offers craft cocktails, as well as a carefully curated wine list.”
Alabama donut shop makes list of 33 best in America
By Bob Carlton, AL.com, Feb. 22
Birmingham’s Heavenly Donut Co. has made the food and drink website Thrillist’s list of the 33 Best Donut Shops in America .
Here’s what Thrillist writer Liz Childers had to say about the Heavenly Donut Co.’s divine treats:
“In Southern tradition, kids turn to their parents for family recipes, so it makes sense that, when Kimberly and Brock Beiersodoefer — who knew nothing about donuts in a city that was late to catch on to the donut craze — decided to open a donut shop, they turned to Gibson’s (the grandpa of the Southern donut game) and current owner Don DeWeese.
“The couple did time in the kitchen at the East Memphis legend, learning trade secrets, which explains why there’s a hell of a lot more years of experience in each bite of their fried treats. While jokes like ‘Heaven is a place on Earth… when you have one of Kimberly’s custard-filled Bismarks’ or ‘the chocolate-covered sour cream is like a gift from heaven’ (Brock makes the chocolate in house) are far too easy to riddle off in full corny glory, well, I stand behind it. Gibson’s was just that good of a teacher.”
In celebration of National Donut Day on June 5, we asked some of our AL.com colleagues across the state to tell us their favorite donut shops. In addition to two pretty obvious and very big chains, we discovered seven other Alabama favorites. To find one that’s calling your name, click through our slideshow.
This is not the first time the Heavenly Donut Co. has gotten a national shout-out.
In 2014, Food Network star Alton Brown tweeted a thank-you to Heavenly Donut Co. for its “Southern hospitality” and “one heck of a breakfast” when he came here for his Edible Inevitable Tour at the BJCC Concert Hall.
And last year, Brown also included the Heavenly Donut Co. on his list of “My Favorite Doughnuts in the U.S.A.”
“I am especially partial to their old-fashioned,” Brown wrote.
The Heavenly Donut Co. menu features about two dozen varieties of cake and yeast donuts, as well as cream-filled Bismarks.
The donut shop is at 4911 Cahaba River Road. The phone number is 205-536-7200 and the website is www.theheavenlydonutco.com .
Hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 6 a.m. to midnight Fridays, 7 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.
The donuts are also available on the Heavenly Donut Co. food truck .
Triangle attracting music tourists
By Robert Palmer, TimesDaily.com, Feb. 19
The cooperative efforts of state and local tourism agencies is paying off with the help of the Americana Music Triangle, officials said.
“Pass the ball,” said Aubrey Preston, a Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, businessman who founded the triangle.
The Americana Music Triangle is a web-based guide to cities where American music such as jazz, country, rock and soul were created. The points of the triangle touch Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans.
Tourism officials from Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas attended a meeting this week at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame to discuss strategies for attracting more visitors interested in music.
Preston, who launched the website and Facebook page, said using all media platforms has proved successful since the website went live almost a year ago.
Debbie Wilson, of the Alabama Tourism Office, said Americana Music Triangle maps are being placed in visitors centers, and a Tennessee tourism official said they’re being placed in their visitors centers, as well.
Alabama and Tennessee have been especially cooperative with music tourism the past two years. The Muscle Shoals and Nashville musical connection is especially strong, and Franklin and Florence have become connected.
There is no cost to tourism to be a part of the triangle.
It has no paid staff and exists as a virtual map and guide that can be used by tourists.
But tourism agencies can tap into and post upcoming events and news.
Susann Hamlin, director of the Colbert County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said her staff actively markets the Shoals to Europeans interested in the music heritage of the area.
“The ‘Muscle Shoals’ movie has been really good for us,” she said. “It was released about the same time the Americana Music Triangle launched.”
Preston said the launch of the site generated 6 million media impressions, which was coupled with a weeklong bus tour around the triangle. Preston encouraged tourism officials to work with each other and coordinate trips to other events when possible.
“When one of us wins, we all win,” he said, pointing out that visitors from outside the region are not interested in state lines that would otherwise separate efforts to promote the region’s music.
Airbnb will begin paying taxes on behalf of its Alabama hosts next month
By Lucy Berry, AL.com, Feb. 18
A popular online resource for short-term lodging has reached a tax agreement with the state of Alabama.
The Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) said Airbnb will begin collecting and remitting taxes for
its hosts across the state March 1. It was previously the host’s responsibility to remit funds for properties booked through Airbnb.
As part of the deal, Airbnb will collect the Alabama Transient Occupancy Tax and local lodging taxes if they have been assigned to the department.
“This agreement will increase compliance in this area, and I commend Airbnb’s willingness to take the steps necessary to ensure that the appropriate taxes are being remitted,” said Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee in a statement. “It’s a win for both the state and for Airbnb customers.”
Airbnb allows hosts and travelers to list and book unique accommodations in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries around the globe. Lodging ranges in price and style from vintage Airstream trailers or apartments to castles or villas.
The fast-growing California tech firm was founded in August 2008 and named the 2014 Company of the Year in Inc. Magazine. As Airbnb expands its presence in Alabama, the agreement to collect and remit lodging taxes provides revenue for the state, as well as local cities and counties.
ADOR spokesman Frank Miles said the agreement could generate as much as $300,000 for the state over the next year.
“We expect a healthy future revenue stream from this source,” he said.
Dauphin’s sends Mobile Bay dining sky-high
Bob Baumhower’s newest restaurant concept is open
It’s a view that stopped the French in their tracks more than 300 years ago. Spanning more than 75 nautical miles of Mobile Bay, Dauphin’s dining panorama high atop downtown Mobile’s Trustmark Bank Building almost upstages the remarkable menu. “We like to think we’re re-introducing this city to its own waterfront,” offers General Manager Craig Parker. “The view is nearly 360 degrees from far up the Mobile River south all the way to Dauphin Island on a clear day. There’s nothing like it anywhere in the region, and our goal is an overall dining experience that’s just as overwhelming.”
Dauphin’s offers a menu of “classic coastal cuisine with hints of Caribbean and Creole soul” as Executive Chef/Partner Steve Zucker describes. “Our absolute focus is locally-sourced products and foods. We’re finding fish and produce from the Alabama Coastal Farm and Fish Market, and cheeses from Sweet Home Farm in Elberta and Belle Chevre in Elkmont. Our chops come from the Alabama Fatback Pig Project, and we use a completely natural meat from SRA Butcher in Birmingham,” says Zucker.
“Baumhower Restaurants were some of the first to serve only Alabama Gulf Seafood. We’re excited to add a locally-sourced gourmet oyster grown right here in Mobile Bay and now getting attention all over the country.”
That commitment to seafood seems natural when….you’re a dolphin. As in legendary NFL footballer and former Miami Dolphin Bob Baumhower. The name Dauphin’s is a playful twist on his own history and Mobile’s too: the “dauphin” was the title of the French crown prince when that country founded Mobile in 1702.
Dauphin’s is the latest ingredient to Baumhower’s restaurant gumbo known as Aloha Hospitality, a diverse 13-restaurant celebration of southern comfort food, island-style seafood and now classic coastal with a French Creole soul.
“French Creole is misunderstood,” says Baumhower. “People think it’s French New Orleans. But French Creole is really a much older mix of many influences that made their way to Mobile and New Orleans.
That heritage is Spanish, French, Native American, African and more. It’s a culture that’s essential to our menu.” Baumhower’s boat-hopping through the Caribbean and up to Mobile during his Miami football days inspired the love of creole flavors he maintains today.
Dauphin’s represents 7000 square feet of arguably the most coveted bit of restaurant real estate in the region. The Retirement Systems of Alabama – which owns the Trustmark Building – renovated the 34 th floor space known since the late 1960’s as the Bienville Club to its new “comfortably sophisticated” hip look. Custom work from local artists joins brilliant Italian glassware by a magnificent baby grand in the piano bar surrounded by shades of blues that mirror the waterfront view.
Perhaps the best view in the house is found in the kitchen, home to the area’s first and only chef’s table.
Diners of 4-6 enjoy unique kitchen and chef interaction over a southwest sun setting over the city skyline.
Chef Zucker and team share the “Farm to Table” philosophy pioneered by chefs like Mary Cleaver of “The Green Table” in New York. She’s credited with launching the movement in the 1970’s, hunting a local tomato for a customer at her Chelsea Market café and realizing our produce system was broken to the detriment of healthy dining. Today Cleaver is a friend and mentor to Dauphin’s.
Offerings include a mix of classic and current dishes – all with regional significance. West Indies salad is a crabmeat delicacy with 60-year-old roots to the beloved Bayley’s Seafood on Dauphin Island. Dauphin’s also serves fried crab claws, another iconic dish born at the still-thriving restaurant. Flip the menu to an entrée rack of lamb or “Burger with a View” featuring a ½ pound blend of Wagu Beef Brisket, dry aged short rib and chuck roast on a bun. Chef Zucker’s version of Gumbo Z’herb was just named one of Alabama’s “100 Dishes to Eat Before You Die.”
The commitment to “local” doesn’t stop at the dining table. Bar Chef Rachel Ferrand is zealous in the hunt for locally sourced additions to her classic and craft cocktails. Perhaps locally-infused honey or a touch of mint from the roof-top greenhouse. Dauphin’s pours Alabama-proud craft beers and “Alabama Moonshine.”
Baumhower likes to think there’s a common “roux” in the new culinary mix simmering downtown.
Dauphin’s joins other hot Mobile restaurants serving upscale Southern innovations like Noble South, Dumbwaiters, NoJa’s and more. “In that sense I’d love to see Mobile join Birmingham and other cities in this region seeing a real culinary renaissance,” he says. “It’s the rising tide theory. We’re all about supporting each other in what I hope can be a destination dining district.”
Dauphin’s is now open with reservation seating for dinner and lunch beginning this spring.
For more information visit: www.godauphins.com .
Alabama Tourism Workshop date change
The Alabama Tourism Department will host the semi-annual Tourism Workshop in Montgomery on Wed., April 27. This workshop is for new tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in their area.
Watch upcoming editions of this newsletter for more information on the workshop.
For additional information, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or via email at [email protected]
Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events
April 27 Alabama Tourism Department Workshop Montgomery
Tourism Tuesdays is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry.
Harvest Wine & Food Festival October 24-26
It’s my favorite time of year at the beach, October! That means cooler temps (still waiting), smaller crowds, and lots of festivities!
Following their most successful auction to date, Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) has grand plans for the return of Harvest Wine & Food Festival to South Walton October 24-26 at WaterColor!
A three-day affair, Harvest Wine & Food Festival has been recognized as one of the premier fall festivals in the southeast. Patrons are provided the opportunity to sip and savor over 250 world-class wines paired with the best in regional Gulf Coast cuisine, all while enjoying the beautiful beach town of WaterColor. Special lodging packages are at the WaterColor Inn.
Currently ranked number four “Top Charity Wine Auction in the US” by Wine Spectator Magazine, Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) is one of the nation’s premier fundraising organizations, raising money for 16 Northwest Florida children’s charities that assist at-risk youth in the local community by tackling a variety of issues including homelessness, food insecurity, mental health, education, medical care, and much more. In April, DCWAF raised a stunning $3.6 million for its benefiting charities.
On Friday, October 25, the Al Fresco Reserve Tasting held on WaterColor’s Marina Park will offer festival-goers a selection of library wines that feature rare vintages not easily accessible in the marketplace. An array of perfectly paired culinary selections prepared by the nation’s most celebrated chefs and live music set to a breathtaking star-filled sky will make for a memorable and elegant evening.
The Grand Tasting, held from 1 to 4 pm Saturday, October 26 in Cerulean Park is the main event and is designed to highlight harvest season at the beach. Large seafood, barbeque, and provisional stations manned by celebrity chefs from throughout the southeast and complimented by the best restaurants along the Emerald Coast are combined with tasting stations featuring over 250 wines from around the world. Craft beer and spirit tents and an exclusive VIP experience will also be available. Amongst a litany of impressive culinary talent, DCWAF is excited to announce the return of Atlanta-based barbecue gurus Johnathan and Justin Fox of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q.
“Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation is well known for our wine events, but great wine goes best with wonderful culinary delights,” Russell said. “Along with the expected line up of wines, spirits, and craft beers, festival attendees will be able to taste their way through every staple of coastal cuisine ranging from freshly caught seafood to farm fresh vegetables and cheeses all the way to traditional smoked barbeque prepared by our friends the Fox Brothers. Last year our festival occurred just 17 days after Hurricane Michael made landfall. While the decision to proceed was difficult, we knew we had a duty to support our benefiting charities in their time of need. Jonathan and Justin understood that. They were generous enough to donate their entire talent fee back to those impacted by the storm, and we’re honored to have them back again this October.”
It wouldn’t be a DCWAF event without the opportunity to bid high and bid often. A silent auction featuring a variety of rare wines, staycations and unique experiences will open Friday, October 25 and will run through Sunday, October 27 at noon. The opportunity to purchase merchandise on-site will also be available throughout the duration of the festival.
This year, the festival will present four Celebrity Winemaker Dinners on Thursday, Oct. 24th, each headlined by a high-end winery and hosted at various homes and restaurants throughout the South Walton area on Thursday, October 24 at 6:00 pm. The 3rd Annual Harvest Wine & Food Festival proudly presents the following:
Bodega Catena Zapata with Chef David Bancroft in WaterColor presented by Good Grit Magazine and 360 Blue
Gamble Family Vineyards at Vin’tij Food & Wine
PRIME Cellars at Bijoux Restaurant + Spirits
ROY Estate at Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood presented by RJH & Associates
Tickets to the dinners are $150 at www.HarvestWineandFood.com.
Bodega Catena Zapata’s Brand Ambassador and Sommelier, Marika Vida-Arnold, is teaming up with Auburn’s favorite son and celebrity chef, David Bancroft, to present a beautiful multi-course menu showcasing the Argentinian winery’s diverse portfolio of ultra-premium Malbec, Chardonnay, and other varietals that compliment Nicolás Catena Zapata’s vision of rich, unforgettable wines. Three-time James Beard finalist and winner of Iron Chef Showdown, David Bancroft, is the Executive Chef and Owner of Acre and Bow & Arrow in Auburn, AL. Known for his stylishly modern cuisine with roots deep in Southern soil, DCWAF is excited to welcome Chef Bancroft to Harvest Wine & Food Festival. Presented by 360 Blue and Good Grit Magazine, this dinner will be hosted in one of 360 Blue’s beautiful WaterColor properties.
National Sales Manager, Michael Kasper will represent Gamble Family Vineyards at Vin’tij Food & Wine. Kasper joined the Gamble team in March 2017 and brings with him over 15 years of experience handling luxury wine brands. Napa-based winery, Gamble Family Vineyards was founded by third-generation farmer, Tom Gamble, with a primary focus on Bordeaux varietals in addition to Sauvignon Blanc. All of Gamble Family Vineyards’ wines are produced in small quantities with careful attention to farming.
After working with grapes from all over California, PRIME’s winemaker, Ted Henry, launched PRIME Cellars with the 2005 vintage to focus on a prime piece of Napa Valley called Coombsville. PRIME Cellars team member, Laurence Koross will be pairing the winery’s beautiful portfolio of wines crafted over years of careful focus on the climate and soils of Coombsville with the talented cuisine of Bijoux’s Chef Jack McGuckin.
Presented by RJH & Associates, Harvest Wine & Food Festival’s final Celebrity Winemaker Dinner, hosted at Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, will feature Founding Vintner Shirley Roy of ROY Estate. A great friend to DCWAF, Shirley and her late husband established ROY Estate in 1999 with the objective of producing the very best Napa has to offer. The result has been two decades of beautifully complex, layered wines with a focus on the purity of the fruit.
Each dinner will showcase highly rated, luxury wines from each respective portfolio, complimented by a perfectly paired, multi-course menu provided by each restaurant. DCWAF staff recommends purchasing dinner tickets early as seating is limited, and they are expected to sell-out.
A powerhouse line-up of culinary talent is slated for the 3rd Annual Harvest Wine & Food Festival. Eight award-winning chefs from across the southeast join a roster of iconic GulfCoastRestaurants to provide world-class cuisine to the area’s premier fall wine and food festival.
Festival goers have the opportunity to mix and mingle with the following celebrities throughout the weekend while sampling their famous fare:
Hugh Acheson | Athens, GA
5&10 Empire State South Spiller Park Coffee Top Chef Judge
David Bancroft | Auburn, AL
Acre Bow + Arrow
Rusty Bowers | Atlanta, GA
Chop Shop Pine Street Market
Jonathan & Justin Fox | Atlanta, GA
Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q
Kristen Hall | Birmingham, AL
Sam Jones | Winterville, NC
Skylight Inn Sam Jones BBQ
Kaley Laird | Asheville, NC
Pat Pascarella | Atlanta, GA
The White Bull
Friday’s Al Fresco Reserve Tasting will feature all of the listed chefs with the exception of the Fox Brothers and Sam Jones, both of which will be spearheading the barbecue installation during Saturday’s Grand Tasting along with Back Beach Barbecue. Chef Bancroft will also be headlining a winemaker dinner paired with wines from Catena Zapata on Thursday evening, and many of the other chefs can also be found throughout Saturday’s Grand Tasting.
“As one of the most successful charity wine auctions in the country, we have strong relationships in the wine industry that guarantee we will be pouring exceptional wine at any DCWAF event,” said DCWAF President John Russell. “We’ve been fortunate to have the continued support of several iconic Gulf Coast restaurants and are excited to further elevate our culinary offerings by welcoming celebrated chefs from across the nation to the 3rd Annual Harvest Wine & Food Festival.”
Harvest Wine & Food Festival will also feature some of South Walton’s favorite restaurants while also celebrating the return of a few culinary favorites. More restaurants will be announced in the coming months:
Back Beach Barbecue
Coastal Kitchen Catering
Cuvee Kitchen + Wine Bar
Destin Ice Market 30a
Evans Meats presents Southern Cheese Selections curated by Brian McMillan of Busy Corner Cheese
Jackacuda’s Seafood + Sushi
Maple Street Biscuit Company
Oysters XO Restaurant
Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood
A three-day affair, Harvest Wine & Food Festival has quickly grown to be recognized as one of the premier fall festivals in the southeast. Patrons are provided the opportunity to sip and savor over 250 world-class wines paired with the best in regional Gulf Coast cuisine, all while enjoying the beautiful beach town of WaterColor.
Earlier this month, DCWAF announced the festival’s 2019 winery headliners. PRIME Cellars, ROY Estate, Bodega Catena Zapata, and Gamble Family Vineyards will all headline this year’s event. Celebrity attendees from each winery will be pouring at the Al Fresco Reserve Tasting and in the VIP tent of the Grand Tasting.
Currently ranked number four “Top Charity Wine Auction in the US” by Wine Spectator Magazine, Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) is one of the nation’s premier fundraising organizations, raising money for 16 Northwest Florida children’s charities that assist at-risk youth in the local community by tackling a variety of issues including homelessness, food insecurity, mental health, education, medical care, and much more. In April, DCWAF raised a stunning $3.6 million for its benefiting charities.
Football fans, rejoice! A-Day is once again upon us.
This Saturday, thousands of Auburn students, alumni, families and fans will converge on Jordan-Hare Stadium for the team’s spring scrimmage.
Where will those thousands of people eat? For many, lunch and dinner will consist of a quick walk to a local eatery. Good thing we’ve got plenty of walking-distance options.
Many will likely stroll across South College Street to Taziki’s, Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, or the old standby, Price’s Barbecue House.
For those who head to the downtown strip, the range of options is huge. Here’s an overview:
If you’re willing to walk a little farther to Glenn Avenue, you can drop by Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Island Wing Company, Waffle House, or Wild Bill’s Kitchen.
So for anyone in need of dining plans on A-Day, hope this helps. War Eagle, y’all!
Auburn has its own Iron Chef
AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - Iron and Auburn have made a pretty good combination in the last year. First the Tigers football team picked up a big Iron Bowl win over Alabama in November. Then in December, things really got cooking, when an Auburn chef got a chance to show his skills on the Food Network show Iron Chef Showdown.
"You're talking about the Super Bowl for chefs," said Acre Owner and head chef David Bancroft. "It's basically cooking in a pressure cooker and trying to get five courses out in an hour to the hardest judges imaginable."
The chance kind of came out of the blue. Bancroft says he got a call from someone on the show. They did some Skype and phone interviews and then all the sudden he got the call.
"I had the opportunity to call my wife and say, 'Hey, we're going on Iron Chef.'"
Tourism Tuesdays January 2, 2018
OWA named 2018 Attraction of the Year
The Alabama Tourism Department has named OWA its Attraction of the Year in the 2018 Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar of Events.
OWA is a $500 million-plus complex that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians built in Foley within 10 miles of Alabama’s pristine white-sand beaches. It includes the 14-acre “Park at OWA,” which houses more than 20 rides and four roller coasters, including Rollin’ Thunder, one of the longest in the country. If stretched out, Rollin’ Thunder’s track of would be 2,234.3 feet, longer than seven football fields put together.
Visitors can also find bargains at new, upscale shops. Stay in luxurious accommodations, and eat at top-notch restaurants. Among the dining options is Wahlburgers, an upscale burger restaurant that chef Paul Wahlberg founded in 2011 with his famous brothers, Donnie and Mark Wahlberg. It is part of the shopping and dining area, which includes other eateries and numerous stores. The 150- room Marriott TownePlace Suites hotel is the first of several lodging options to open.
Future plans include a waterpark, a condominium complex and a resort-level RV park. OWA is adjacent to the city of Foley’s $40 million sports-tourism complex, which features 16 state-of-the-art outdoor fields and a 90,000- square-foot indoor events center.
The state tourism department also released its list of top 10 events for 2018. The 10 events in chronological order are the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee, performances of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the 50th annual 911 Festival, Birmingham’s Sloss Fest, the Jubilee Festival of Arts, the Alabama Coastal Birdfest, the National Shrimp Festival, the Kentuck Festival of the Arts, the GATALOP 35 Renaissance Festival and the 75th anniversary of Dothan’s Annual National Peanut Festival.
The state tourism department selects the top 10 events based upon significant anniversaries and the uniqueness of the event. The events listing is featured in the 2018 Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar of Events that is available at the eight state welcome centers, local tourism bureaus and online at www.alabama.travel. The 204-page magazine-size publication contains colorful photos and covers the state by geographic regions with an introduction section, a city-by-city listing of attractions and accommodations and profiles of the state’s major cities. The calendar section lists more than 700 annual and special events from across the state.
There are also features on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, the best places to eat, drink or watch the sunset, unique must-visit sites, outdoor adventures and a listing of free smart phone apps from different tourism organizations across the state.
Below are more details about the top 10 events for 2018:
The Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee
From March 1-5, this annual event celebrates one of the most important events in American’s Civil Rights Movement – the Selma to Montgomery march. www.selmajubilee.com
Play productions of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”
From April 13-May 19 actors from the author’s hometown of Monroeville perform her classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” in the town that helped inspire it. www.tokillamockingbird.com
The 911 Festival
On June 1 and 2 Haleyville celebrates its 50th annual 911 Festival, memorializing the first 911 call ever made. www.911festival.org
This Birmingham music festival, scheduled for July 14-15, was named by Southern Living as one of the best music festivals in the South. wwwslossfest.com
The 30th annual Jubilee Festival of Arts
The festival, equal parts arts, crafts, food and put Southern charm, is on Sept. 29 and 30 in Daphne. www.eschamber.com
The Alabama Coastal Birdfest
From Oct. 3-6 in Spanish Fort, bird watchers fly in from all over the country to view more than 100 species of migrating birds that are doing the same. www.AlabamaCoastalBirdFest.com
The Annual National Shrimp Festival
This four-day food and music festival that takes place in Gulf Shores from Oct 11-14 attracts more than 250,000 visitors. www.myshrimpfest.com
The Kentuck Festival of the Arts
Crowds flow into Northport on Oct. 20 and 21 for some of the best folk art in the country, along with some of the South’s best storytellers and live music. www.kentuck.org/the-festival
The 35th Annual Renaissance Festival, GATALOP 35
The Oct. 26, 27 festival in Dauphin Island is one of the state’s biggest and best Renaissance fairs. www.dauphinisland.org
Dothan’s 75th Annual National Peanut Festival
The festival, whose first speaker was George Washington Carver, celebrates its 75th anniversary from Nov 2-11. It attracts about 200,000 visitors with its amusement park rides, animal attractions and concerts. www.nationalpeanutfest.com
The 2018 Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar of Events is available at the eight state welcome centers, local tourism bureaus and online [email protected]
The 31 most beautiful places in Alabama
From the article by Tamika Moore on AL.com:
Alabama is filled with natural wonders, hidden gems, and charming towns all packed with fascinating history. Equipped with a giant map, I set out to find some of the state’s most beautiful places based on reader suggestions and documented them on Instagram at This is Alabama.
Get ready to hit the road, because there are many breathtaking places in Alabama to explore.
Attendance Figures needed from state attractions and events
The Alabama Tourism Department is asking representatives of state attractions and events to turn in their attendance figures for the year 2017. These attendance figures are the basis for the annual “Top 10” listings. The figures serve as a vital guide for state government, local organizations and the media.
*In order for you to be counted we must have your data by Wednesday, Jan. 10. The online reporting process should take less than 5 minutes to complete.
Please follow this link to enter your attendance figures: https://tourism.alabama.gov/forms/attendance-reporting/
Note: There is only one event or attraction per online form and only one classification can be chosen. The Alabama Tourism Department reserves the right for final determination of classifications.
Battle of the Breakfast Giants
In Taylor Swifts song ,” the blond-haired country-pop star sings, “It feels like a perfect night/ For breakfast at midnight.”
Well, seems like quite a few Auburn students agree. Most anyone you ask will say they’ve had a midnight, or more popularly 2 a.m., breakfast at one of two places: Waffle House or IHOP.
But where do students most like to go to satisfy their late-night hankerings? Check out this Storify I made to find out.
Here’s the link, if the hyperlink is acting up: https://storify.com/mksherer/battle-of-the-breakfast-giants.
I have a bone to pick. Or, as you'll see. a crumb to pick up. It seems that many American culinary elite - along with the charitable organizations they support - have fallen prey to an ill-mannered habit when combining good food and fundraising. And frankly, it's.
Today I Had a Tomato Craving. I'm not sure where the Tomato Sandwich lands in the hierarchy of Southern food pyramid, but in my microcosm of Southern farm life as a young girl, I knew summer had officially arrived when with great reverence and pride, my grandmother.