Third Annual MEGapicks from 2017 Tuesday Blogs
Although I didn’t quite hit 52 new Tuesday blogs in 2017, I reached my goal of eating “100 Foods To Eat In Alabama Before You Die” and I look forward to trying to eat more from this list. Hint, there are on any given day about 231 dishes.
*Disclaimer, Tasty Tuesday writes and picks from 2017 are heavily slanted towards Alabama. Following the “100 Dishes” list, I have eaten some of the best food in the world, and my bar will now forever be set quite high.
Best Restaurant Bottega, Birmingham, Alabama.
I chose this restaurant for my 100’th dish experience because it is one of Chef Frank Stitt’s restaurants. Although my visit did not go as smoothly as it had at Stitt’s Highlands Grill and Chez Fon Fon; the Bartender, without serving me alcohol, saved the day and the food was outstanding.
From my September 19, 2017, blog on Bottega-
“Chef Frank Stitt and his wife Paradis own Bottega. In prior blogs, have written in more detail of this royal couple’s restaurant empire. Trust me, I am not writing in a cynical manner. This couple along with their dedicated and professional talented staff has given me some of the best food that I have ever eaten, and in general, some of the most incredible dining experiences of my life. As a restaurant group, they are masters of perfection. In fact, the meaning of Bottega per Miriam-Webster Dictionary literally means. : the studio or workshop of a major artist in which other artists may participate in the execution of the projects or commissions of the major artist.” Executive Chef; Frank Stitt and Chef De Cuisine John Rolen. I did not catch the name of the Professional Bartender. This group should be extremely proud of his customer service.”
The salad of the day was Heirloom Tomato Salad. Made of various heirloom tomatoes, field peas, arugula, and mozzarella, it won my heart. I have tried to duplicate it several times over and thus far unsuccessfully. Absolutely delicious!
Heirloom Tomato Salad with field peas, Arugula and Mozzarella at Bottega, Birmingham, AL
Heirloom Tomatoes of the day. Bottega, Birmingham, AL
Fresh bread at Bottega in Birmingham, AL
My 100th dish on Alabama Tourism’s 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die was the Parmesan Souffle at Bottega, an appetizer that blew me away. Outstanding!
The signature appetizer at Bottega in Birmingham, AL is the Parmesan Souffle
“MEGathoughts. Of course, porcini mushrooms were used. Known often as “the King of mushrooms,” they are collected from nature only, have a great texture and an amazing woodsy flavor. And, of course, prosciutto di Parma was used in this dish. Made from a certified heritage pig located in the Parma region of Italy and cured naturally without preservatives.  This is not bacon.
Because at the Stitt Restaurants, only the best will do!
MEGastars 5 ***** This dish will rank amongst the BEST appetizers that I have ever tasted.”
Appetizer pasta and dinner pasta
Garganelli Neri at Bottega of Birmingham. AL
Papardelle at Bottega, Birmingham, AL
The appetizer pasta was Garganelli Neri made with corn, chives, and Gulf crabmeat. The Garganelli was housemade pasta with squid ink. Simply perfect paired with the creamy crab sauce. This dish was outstanding. 5 MEGastars. *****
Pappardelle Pasta with house-made fennel sausage, pasta, chanterelle mushrooms, and marjoram. This is a dish that I would not order on my own because I lean away from meat-based dishes. Again, I felt privileged to taste this dish because it was simply exceptional. MEGastars 5 *****
Best Restaurant Runner-Up 1. Chez Fon Fon Birmingham, AL
Another Frank Stitt Restaurant. January 31st, 2016, Tuesday Blog.
How beautiful is this? Scallops served on cauliflower puree. Chez Fonfon
Exceptional food in a casual fine dining setting was another 5-star experience in a Frank Stitt Restaurant. I was especially curious about the Scallops with kumquats, capers &a cauliflower purée. This dish shocked me in a good way. Although I love scallops and cauliflower, I am not crazy over capers and I could not fathom the cauliflower puree coupled with scallops. I have to say that these were some of the best scallops that I have ever eaten and are only next to scallops that I tried on the west coast of Ireland. Right on Birmingham, Alabama and the Chef Stitt and staff! However, I was there for the dessert.
Best Restaurant Runner-Up 2, Ovenbird Birmingham, AL
From my May 30th blog
Another Chef in Alabama with awards and accolades to back up the success, including two nominations for a James Beard Award in the category of Best Chef in the South. An interesting menu with small plate dishes of local seasonal, fare, cooked with the live fire that according to their website, was inspired by food from the likes of Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, Argentina and the American South.
From the Oceans and Estuaries Menu, I checked out the Alabama Shrimp And Clams. I had to look up lots of words to understand this dish. Fideos, Aioli, Chorizo, Sofrito. I really enjoyed the interesting food and will never be able to recreate those gorgeous deviled eggs made with. Anchovy, Curtido, Romesco.
Alabama Shrimp and Clams at Ovenbird in Birmingham
Deviled Eggs Anchove, Curtido, Roesco of Ovenbird in Birmingham AL
Best Dessert Chez Fon Fon Birmingham, AL
Chez Fonfon Coconut cake
Chocolate Caramel Nut Tart at Chez Fonfon
Chez Fonfon Lemon tart with raspberry sauce. Sensual!
Chez Fonfon Coconut Cake
From my Jan 31st blog. “Likely I can count on one hand, the number of times that I have ever tasted any dessert made by a James Beard nominee. Had it not been for this Alabama list, I may never have eaten at Chez Fonfon and certainly, I likely would not have eaten dessert; missing out on some of the best sweets of my life. Tasting the desserts made by one such nominee, Chef Dolester Miles helped expand my understanding of culinary excellence.” 5 MEGastars ***** Just WOW!
Best Dessert Runner-Up
- Bertolone’s Clanton, AL
The colorful cakes of Bertolone’s
Bertolone’s Strawberry Cake
From my March 27th blog. Although not on the “100 List,” Mama “Nonna” Bertolone bakes a cake to die for. Bring friends because, after a large Italian meal, you will want to have dessert. My favorite is the strawberry cake pictured above is my absolute favorite(tied with the seasonal peach cake.) yes, there are Cannoli and Tiramisu.
Best Unicorn Dish Bertelone’s Clanton, AL
Bertolone’s, where you can #TasteTheLove is one of my favorite places to eat in AL. I especially LOVE Nonna’s Stuffed Green Peppers. I call this a unicorn because I have never had, nor seen, this dish elsewhere. I tried to get the recipe without luck so, from my November 28th blog, I tried to recreate the recipe. I called this recipe Meg’s Italian Peppers and gave myself a C+ on the dish. I will keep trying! See blog for the recipe.
Bertelones Italian Pepper the Meg way
Runner Up Unicorn Dish Shakey’s in Auburn, AL
I love Shakey’s pizza and Mojos. Why a unicorn dish? From my May 2cnd, 2017 blog, I describe how this pizza chain was once found in the Midwest where I grew up. They are now in California and this one place in Alabama. Yes, a nostalgic pick for me, but seriously, those Mojos are patented. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found the place. And that broasted chicken-Yum!
Shakey’s Pizza Thin crust Auburn AL
The original Mojo at Shakey’s Pizza
Shakey’s Chicken and Mojo potatoes.
Best Steak Micahel’s Steaks & Seafood, Homewood, AL
Michaels in Homewood, AL Butt Steer Steak
Michael’s Signature “Steer Butt” is a 12 oz. tender and juicy, hand cut in-house, from the top of the tenderloin. Since 1953, Michaels has been serving the highest quality steaks. Yum! From my August 8th blog.
Best Pizza MPK Kitchen Prattville and Montgomery, AL
Cheese Bread from Midtown Pizza Kitchen, Prattville, AL- Cheese bread with Marinara Sauce
Midtown Pizza Kitchen Bruschetta Prattville, AL
Midtown Pizza Kitchen Garlic Crostini. Prattville, AL
The VY-Spinach, Fennel Sausage, Artichokes, Cherry Tomato, Provolone, Red Sauce Midtown Pizza Kitchen
March 28th blog. MPK has consistently great food, service, and pizza. Cooked in a brick oven = perfection. With unique toppings on the menu, they always cook my pizza my own way. I am a pizza purist.
Best Chicken Cypress Inn Tuscaloosa, AL
Chicken with white BBQ sauce at The Cypress Inn
The delicious food at The Cypress Inn
February 21st blog. Cypress Inn Smoked chicken with white BBQ sauce at Cypress Inn in Tuscaloosa. Smoky and saucy, just the way I love my chicken. *To note, this was a smaller lunch plate. Oh, and the grits are made with Gouda. Now I am not a fan of grits but dang, anything tastes amazing with Gouda.
Best Seafood Jubilee in Montgomery, AL
Jubilee Seafood Watermelon Salad
Jubilee Seafood Tripletail Fish with Lump Crab
Jubilee Seafood Fresh Pecan Smoked Tuna Dip
Jubilee Seafood Destin Pampano Fish with Tarragon Butter.
Jubilee Seafood Grilled Sesame Crusted Yellowfin Tuna with Wasabi Ginger Sauce
Jubilee Seafood Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Pecan-Praline Sauce.
From my April 18th, 2017 blog. Oddly, my home was only a 25-minute drive and yet I had never visited. A humble restaurant with some bang-up seafood. From the salads to the smoked tuna dip to the Redfish, Destin Pampano Fish with Tarragon Butter, Tripletail with lump crab, Grilled Sesame Crusted Yellowfin Tuna with Wasabi Ginger Sauce, to the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with pecan praline sauce, the food was a joy to eat.
Best Bar Food Capitol Oyster Bar Montgomery, AL
Just a few of my favorite things; Alabama sunshine in April, Oysters, Music, a view, friends.
The view from The Capitol Oyster riverboat as the The Harriott II rolls down the Alabama River
The Capitol Oyster Bar serves fantastic fresh shrimp. And, yep liqour on a Sunday!
The Capitol Oyster Bar Raw Oysters are served with crackers, lemons, and horseradish!
April 11th blog. Hands down the Capitol Oyster Bar is my favorite place to slurp down some scallops, listen to jazz, and view the Alabama rover and Montgomery skyline. I love this place!
Best Setting Georgia Dome, Atlanta Georgia
Star Spangled Banner at The Georgia Dome
Hail Mary as bigger than a stadium seat at the Georgia Dome
Hail Mary as bigger than a stadium seat or a few Falcon fans. At the Georgia Dome
January 24th blog. Why? It was a Green Bay Packer-Atlanta Falcon’s Game in the Georgia Dome before it was torn down. Nostalgic, I suppose. My sister bought me a “Hail Mary” sandwich the size of a pool cue. The Packers lost that game but it was fun to see the stadium before it was torn down for the new.
Best Street Food– Calle Ocho Carnival and The Cuban Smackdown, Miami Florida
March 15th blog I LOVE Cuban Sandwiches, so it was a thrill to go to the third annual Cuban Sandwich Smackdown and taste the competitor’s sandwiches.
The Cuban Sandwich Smackdown Judging area and VIP Tent
1/4 of a cuban sandwich.
“The Kiwanis Club welcomes visitors from all over the world to Calle Ocho where visitors numbered 1-1.5 million. NBD. On the streets, there is music stages on every block, dancing, and conga lines, food, vendors, children’s areas and more food.”
The street food was incredible.
Colorful International Foods and sweets
Sandwiches and sides galore! On this day in the year of our Lord 2017, I became a fan of Elotes. Take some corn, roast it, spread on cheese and pepper flakes, and go to heaven!
Elotes Roasted Corn Sign
Cuban roasted corn Elotes
Borinquena Browsing food of Calle Ocho
Pork is king at this festival but not to be undone by the colorful sides, arepas, and tamales.
Fresh and crisp Calle Ocho Latin Festival Salsas and condiments
Calle Ocho vendors Tamales, pork, rice, chicken
So there you have it, a few of my “bests” from Tasty Tuesday blogs. I hope this inspires you to try new foods, food travel, and fun eats.
Thanks to my readers and Facebook page followers for hanging in with me this past year when I traveled a lot and had life changes that stopped me from blogging each and every Tuesday.
I have a new gig; I look forward to Tasty Tuesday 2018 and a new MEGAchallenge with South Carolina foods in each of the 46 counties and make a new 100 list the Meg way.
Happy New Year! Eat on and stay healthy.
2] Parma and Proscuitto Parma