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We offer news, reviews, and listings of locally owned restaurants in Birmingham, Ala. Our focus is on the local places, rather than chains. Some site use tips:

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Goodbye to a taste of history, hello SoHo

Lovoy's is moving to SoHo. While I admit we haven't been to Lovoy's much in recent years, one of the things we loved about the old Green Springs location was that it looked like it hadn't changed in decades -- it was like taking a step back into our childhood, complete with the "lounge" with its separate entrance. I bet the great old neon sign will be gone, as well.

The Birmingham News reported Friday in City Scene that after 46 years, the family-owned Italian-American eatery will open in its new location Monday in the former Grey House Grille in downtown Homewood's SoHo Square. The new location is roomier, with taller ceilings, replacing "Lovoy's dark and cozy former digs," reports the News' Bob Carlton. (But we LIKED that cozy atmosphere!)

Zac Lovoy, the third-generation owner, told Carlton that the family has been looking for a larger space since the 1980s.

Carlton reports that longtime cooks Nadine Walker and Kim Cook, who have been with Lovoy's since the early 1970s, also have made the move to SoHo, and throughout the new restaurant are other reminders of the old place -- from the framed map that Lovoy's grandmother brought back from Italy to a digital photo montage of loyal customers through the years. But solid red tablecloths with black napkins will replace the red-and-white checkerboard linens.

Most importantly, Carlton reports, the menu, recipes and prices haven't changed. Our favorites have always included the baked oysters and the stuffed shells. 

The new Lovoy's also will be open for lunch.

The new address is 1830 29th Ave. South in Homewood, and the phone is 870-9811. Their website is www.lovoys.com.

Posted on Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 04:15PM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in | Comments1 Comment

Isn't that an oxymoron?

In Alabama, BBQ most traditionally means pork -- but what if you're kosher? Announcing the One, the Only, Kosher Barbeque Cookoff and Festival in Birmingham, AL., Sunday, May 16, 2010.

I'm not kidding. The first "When Pigs Fly!" event is brought to you by Temple Beth-El and Piggly Wiggly Food stores, looking for the area's best kosher brisket, kosher ribs and kosher beans and the Pit Masters who create them. 

Read more at http://whenpigsflykosherbbq.com.

Posted on Friday, April 30, 2010 at 02:49PM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in | CommentsPost a Comment

Corks & Chefs April 24-25

A favorite part of the ONB Magic City Art Connection contemporary art festival (April 23-25), Corks & Chefs lets you sample delicious cuisine from some of Birmingham's top restaurants & eateries. Eight chefs and over 100 wines showcased each day. Plus don’t miss the Guided Wine Seminars.

Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. 

Saturday Restaurants: Avo, Café de Paris, Century Restaurant and Bar, Do Di Yo’s, John’s City Diner, Mafiaoza’s, Nabeel’s Café & Market, V. Richards. Experience dishes such as Duck Confit Strudel with Shitake Mushrooms, stuffed chicken ravioli, Mango Sorbet in a Lemongrass Consommé with Fresh Berries, Rick's Sirloin Chili with Homemade Cornbread, and Braised Grass Fed Beef Roast served over Corn Grits.

Sunday Restaurants: Bellinis/La Dolce Vita, Café Dupont, Catering by LaNetta, Dyron’s Lowcountry, Ocean/26, Sol y Luna/Cantina, The Veranda on Highland, The Victoria Restaurant (Victoria Inn, Anniston). You'll find dishes such as steamed clams, braised pork belly, Pork Carnitas Tamal with 3 Bean and Roasted Chile De Arbol Sauce, Beaux Bridge Crawfish and Corn Bisque, and gourmet ice creams and sorbets.

More info at www.magiccityart.com.

Posted on Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 07:14PM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in | CommentsPost a Comment

April Means Spring Events at Ozan Winery

Ozan Vineyard & Cellars in Calera is planning its third annual Spring Wine Release Friday and Saturday, April 16-17, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

They will introduce and release Ozan's Gewurtztraminer, "an olde country white win with  amildly spicy tropical flavor; a "petite sirah" dessert wine, "a classic barrel-aged sweet red wine;" and a Magenta dessert wine featuring "flavors of exotic melon." For $7 each you can enjoy a tasting along with a port style glass featuring the Ozan logo; or, as always, a complimentary tasting of any three wines is available.

The Ozan Wine Train starts April 24th. These Saturday outings include a Souvenir Wine Tasting, Gourmet Box Lunch, and Train Excursion, noon-3 p.m., $26, reservations required. Walk-up tickets are $18 but don't include lunch.

For more information, go to www.ozanwine.com or call (205) 668-6926.

Posted on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 04:59PM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in , | Comments1 Comment

Birmingham Chef's Group Hosting Regional Culinary Conference

The American Culinary Federation is coming to Birmingham for its Southeast Regional Conference, April 24-26 at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel.

The event is hosted by ACF Birmingham Chapter. This will be the second time the local chapter has hosted the regional conference.  A little more about the chapter: On their web site, they note, "The Birmingham Alabama Chapter of the American Culinary Federation is open to all culinarians of Central Alabama. Professionals, students, educators, vendors, support staff, or just plain crazy 'foodies.' All are welcome to come and be a part of our meetings and events."

The regional ACF conference brings together foodservice professionals and chefs from across the Southeast for a weekend of networking and educational opportunities, a trade show, cooking competitions and demonstrations from the region’s finest chefs. Cooking competitions take place off-site at Jefferson State Community College’s Shelby-Hoover Campus.

Speakers include Donald Barickman, an award-winning restaurateur, author and TV personality from Charleston, S.C., who is a pioneer in Lowcountry cuisine, as well as Birmingham chef Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club, and Tim Grandinetti of Overlook Farms, Clarksville, Mo.

Some sessions are probably only going to be of interest to professionals, like "Food Safety Curriculum Development," or "Increasing Product Consumption in Foodservice," but others seem like they might be interesting for the non-chef foodie, such as "Global Flavors & Your Menu," "Thrill Your Guests with Precision Flambe Action Cooking," "Wild Fish & Game: Part of America's Culinary Heritage," and a cheese and wine tasting from Cabot and Kendall Jackson.

Registration is required to attend. Daily badges are $75, and full-registration packages are available. Guests can register on-site. For more information, visit www.acfchefs.org/events or call (800) 624-9458.

Posted on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 12:14PM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

First Impressions: Dodiyós

Had lunch with a friend last week at DoDiYo's, where Tria Market used to be in SoHo Square in Homewood. Didn't get to try enough for a full-fledged review, but definitely was enough to make me want to go back and try more.

The menu features not only authentic Greek dishes, but also ones influenced by Spain, Italy, France, Turkey, the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East. 

First, they bring little chunks of bread, sort of like a foccacia, with a delicious feta spread. For an appetizer, we shared an order of Spicy Stuffed Peppers “Piperies Me Tyri," which translates to “bull’s horn;” long, spicy green peppers stuffed with feta. They weren't really spicy, but they were delicious. The feta stuffing was not as salty and tangy as you might expect, and the tomato sauce featured whole garlic cloves cooked until they were soft and mild. A couple other appetizers that caught our eye were Greek Meatballs “Keftedes” (lamb meatballs with harissa, a North African hot-pepper paste), a trio of sausages, and tiropita (Greek cheese and phyllo pie).

For our entrees, we both chose from the "Traditional Slow Foods" section, which features dishes such as moussaka, pastitsio, roasted leg of lamb and short ribs. Each was served with a small salad, very pretty with fresh greens and matchstick-cut radishes and carrots.

I was very happy with my Eggplant with Basil and Tomatoes, or “Imam Baldi," a Turkish dish which the menu says translates to "the imam fainted." It's a classic meze of eggplant, garlic and tomatoes sautéed in olive oil and served hot.

My friend had Stuffed Grape Leaves, or Dolmades, grape leaves stuffed with rice and ground beef in a lemony avgolemono sauce and served hot. These were large and plump, the filling was very tender, and the flavors were subtle. Unlike some dolmades I've had, flavors such as lemon and cinnamon did not come to the forefront and overwhelm.

Our server recommended the cheesecake for dessert, saying it got raves. It was light and fluffy with a nice lemony flavor, no crust, served with some fresh citrus. I personally prefer my cheesecake more New York style, but that's just me.

There were also cold appetizers, gyros and other sandwiches, salads, soups, entrees such as pasta and fish, and Greek side dishes such as wild greens or peas and artichokes in lemon sauce. And that's just the lunch menu! There's a more extensive dinner menu, PLUS there's a tapas bar in the center of the restaurant with its own yummy offerings.

We didn't even make it into the market area; I think they might want to make it a little more visible from the restaurant otherwise people wouldn't even know it was there.

For more info, check out their website and their Facebook page.

Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 07:41AM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in , , , | Comments4 Comments

What are Bham's biggest events?

Fellow foodies, a need your help. A food writer is coming to Birmingham to write about our restaurants, and has contacted us about restaurant recommendations. That I can handle.

But she also wants to know what big events/festivals we have that bring people to Birmingham. That way she can tie a food story to it: "So you're going to the Magic City for ___________; here's what to eat while you're there."

With the demise of City Stages, what's the biggest event for drawing out of towners? Mercedes Marathon? Sidewalk Film Festival? What? Help me out.

Posted on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 11:28AM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in | Comments7 Comments

Upcoming Food, Wine and Beer events

It's almost spring, and that means a bunch of special events sprouting up:

Tuesdays in March: Basics of Wine classes at Village Wine Market. These classes are $20 each and will emphasize the primary grapes and most relevant appellations in the world’s most prominent wine producing regions and taste wines from most of the areas discussed. March 9 in Italy, March 16 is Frnace, March 23 is Spain/Germany/Austria, and March 30 is Argentina/Australia/South Africa. Reservations required; call 879-5240 or e-mail thomas@villagewinemarket.com.

March 13: Suds of the South Beer Fest. Highlighting the craft breweries of the South, the fest will feature Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. from Kiln, Miss., Terrapin Beer Co. from Athens, Ga., Sweetwater Brewery from Atlanta, Good People Brewing Co. from Birmingham, Back Forty Beer Co. from Birmingham, Olde Towne Brewing Co. from Huntsville, Abita Brewing Co. from Abit Springs, La.. and Yazoo Brewing Co. from Nashville. Each brewery will have a table set up with reps to explain what makes the south rival any other beer region in the world. All proceeds will benefit Free the Hops to help in the fight to continue modernizing Alabama's beer laws. The cost of the event is $10 and will cover unlimited samples, a 3 oz sample glass and special discount on Southern Beers at the after party. The event runs from 4-6 p.m. Buy tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/99481 

March 16: Raptor Ridge wine dinner at Veranda on Highland. Three courses plus dessert, each paired with a Raptor Ridge wine. There's grilled warm-water lobster ravigote with  hackleback caviar and cornmeal Johnny Cake with a Willamette Pinot Gris; pepper-crusted yellowfin tuna, roasted mirliton and asparagus salad with a Willamette Pinot Noir; herb grilled carolina quail, seared duck breast and foie gras mateched with two different Pinot Noirs; and a trio of bread puddings with a Pinot Blanc dessert wine. $75 per person plus tax and gratuity; call 939-5551 for reservations.

March 20: Banquet fundraiser at Cafe DuPont to benefit West End Community Gardens. Executive Chef Chris Dupont will prepare a local-inspired menu featuring seasonal ingredients donated by Whole Foods Market. Tickets are $125 per person, $225 per couple and you are encouraged to purchase online: www.communitychurchwithoutwalls.com. Simply click on “give” at the top of the page and then send an email to rglyons@gmail.com indicating your gift is to reserve a spot at the banquet.

March 21: Swine & Wine. The pig roast and dinner at (and benefit for) Jones Valley Urban Farm features chefs Clifton Holt of Little Savannah, Chad Schofield of Little Savannah, Tom Robey of Veranda on Highland, and Stephen Stryjewski of New Orleans. Live bluegrass; children are welcome. Tickets are $50 at the door, $45 in advance. Children are welcome; 10 years old and under are free. Tickets for children ages 11-15 are $20. Tickets can be purchased in advance atwww.littlesavannah.com or at Little Savannah Restaurant and Bar, 757-6428.

April 29: Dining Out for Life. Locally owned restaurants in the Birmingham area will donate a percentage of their proceeds on Dining Out For Life day to benefit AIDS Alabama, a local nonprofit organization. Some of the restaurants scheduled to participate include 26, Bellini's, Cantina, DeVinci's Pizza, the J Clyde, Lucy’s Coffee & Tea, Bottletree, Urban Standard, Avo, Dram, Bottega, Cosmo's Pizza, Max’s Deli, Café Dupont, Cosmo’s Pizza, La Dolce Vita, Rojo, Silvertron and Open Door Café. More info: www.diningoutforlife.com/birmingham

May 8: Fifth Annual Gumbo Gala cook-off, Caldwell Park. Professional and amateur teams are being sought to compete for the best gumbo in Birmingham; deadline to register is April 1. All proceeds go to provide supportive services to seniors and young adults with disabilities who live at Episcopal Place, an affordable housing community located near Caldwell Park. Festivities will take place from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. In addition to being able to sample the teams’ gumbos, attendees will enjoy Cajun music provided by the Pineapple Skinners. Children’s games and other entertainment also will be provided, along with other food and beverages. More info: www.episcopalplace.org/gumbo-gala/

Posted on Friday, March 5, 2010 at 01:06PM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in , | CommentsPost a Comment

Legislation would help Alabama wineries

Alabama's wineries are asking wine lovers to support a bill in the state legislature they say would help Alabama Wineries become more economically viable and help them provide a greater guest experience, with expanded and better events, a greater wine selection, and a greater wine availability of Alabama wines at your local retailer.

As of today, the bill has been read once in Legislative Committee, and the bill needs to get passed out of the Montgomery State House and off to the State Senate.  

If you'd like to learn more, go to www.alabamawinetrail.net/legislation.htm, where you can

1) read a brief summary of HB637

2) link to the Alabama Legislative site to read the Full Text of HB637

3)  link to the Alabama Legislative site in order to get the email address of your elected officials,  and

4)  send them directly a message in support of HB637.

Posted on Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 09:37AM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in | CommentsPost a Comment

West End Community Gardens Fundraiser Banquet

Cafe Dupont will host a banquet fundraiser March 20, 2010 from 6 - 9 p.m. to benefit West End Community Gardens.
Executive Chef Chris Dupont will prepare a local-inspired menu featuring seasonal ingredients donated by Whole Foods Market.
West End Community Gardens is a project of Urban Ministry, Inc and Community Church Without Walls. 
Urban Ministry is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization that has continued to meet the needs of residents in Birmingham since its founding in 1976. In 2008, building on its foundation as a strong community-based organization in West End and recognizing the lack of access to fresh and healthy foods, Urban Ministry partnered with Community Church Without Walls, a mission-based, United Methodist church that meets in the homes of its members, to create WE Community Gardens.
In a short period of time, WE Community Gardens (which is fully organic) has already been a tremendous success. In the past year:
16 families had 4’x8’ community garden plots, all of which provided fresh and healthy produce to those families
children from Urban Ministry’s after school program learned to garden and prepare healthy food grown in the youth garden area
hundreds of community residents participated in educational and nutritional classes once a month
juvenile offenders were able to learn about gardening and healthy eating habits thanks to an innovative program that allowed them to fulfill their court ordered community service while working in the Gardens.
 
In May 2010, Urban Ministry will start and staff a curb market, which will not only build youth leadership, but also begin the process of offering produce from WE Community Gardens to the larger West End community. This fundraiser will give WE Community Gardens a great start in 2010 and provide a foundation to build from as they launch the curb market/internship program. 
 
Ticket Info: Tickets are $125 per person, $225 per couple and you are encouraged to purchase online: www.communitychurchwithoutwalls.com. Simply click on “give” at the top of the page and then send an email to rglyons@gmail.com indicating your gift is to reserve a spot at the banquet. Or send a check addressed to Community Church without Walls, 1229 Cotton Ave SW, Birmingham, AL 35211.
Posted on Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 08:38AM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in | CommentsPost a Comment