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Highland Baked Grits-100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die

Tasty Tuesday-A Reblog in honor of MEG’s favorite restaurant. Not only did Highlands Bar and Grill (Birmingham, AL) win the James Beard 2018 Best Restaurant in America, this past week, Highlands Bar and Grill made Food & Wine’s 40 most important restaurants in 40 years. Also congrats to the Pasty Chef Dolester Miles for her 2018 James Beard Award. Just WOW- Other related Blogs Bottega are Chez Fon Fon links above under 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die.

Tasty Tuesday-Baked Grits ar Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham.  This is my #59 dish and/or 42 on the countdown.

As a transplant to Alabama, I knew little of Highlands Bar and Grill and famous Chef Frank Stitt. My expectations were humble; I just knew that I was going to be eating some grits. In this case, ignorance was definitely bliss.

If you follow my Alabama quest, you may remember that I do not like to read about the restaurants before I chow down.   Before I begin to tell you about how I kissed grits, I must tell you that I was blown away by  “finding”  this restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama. In an effort to keep this tidbit short, let me put it to you this way. In 2016, this restaurant was nominated for James Beards Awards. Not in one category, but in two; Outstanding Restaurant and Outstanding Pastry Chef.

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That Day Juancho Surprised Me

It was Cinco de Mayo, you know, the St. Patrick’s Day of Mexico and I was ready for the ho-hum

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Harold’s Restaurant Inspired By The Guy

On a quest to find interesting and the best food spots around South Carolina and having seen Guy on the billboard (s) on I-85 a gazillion times, I finally popped into Harold’s.

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The Hen House is Flying The Coop For The Big Silo in Spartanburg S.C. Best Foods

Not to worry my hens, chicks, and roosters, you will all be able to get your fix of the brunch culinary delights + craft beer...

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Dachau Concentration Camp, Dachau, Germany

“We must actively resist hate and bigotry in all its forms”-Elie Wiesel #NeverForget

My recent trip to The Miami Holocaust Monument inspired me to re visit my trip to Dachau Concentration Camp in Dachau, Bavaria, Germany. So a long post on Soulful Sunday.  My visit to Dachau enriched my life, and became a part of my story.

Dachau was the longest operating camp from 1933-1945. Located near Munich, Germany, where Hitler came to power and the S.S. Headquarters were held. It became a classroom for The Nazi S.S.  Other concentration camps were modeled after Dachau.

Ekhart Tolle, New Age Philosopher, taught me a “Collective Madness.” principle that has helped me to better understand our Mad Mad World. The Nazi era is a perfect example of how an idea can make sense to one person, the idea catches fire and is carried forward by a group of people and the momentum/madness seems to make sense and  grows.

On the path from The Visitor Center…

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Tasty Tuesday- Meg’s South Carolina Gig

Bring on 2018. It is “Tasty Tuesday,” I have a new gig.

What’s Up With Meg’s New Gig?

In 2017, I met my goal to get to try 100 dishes from Alabama Tourism’s 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die.”  However, *spoiler alert, there are give or take 212 food dishes in total, so my quest is… ongoing.

In the meanwhile, I have found myself in South Carolina and I wondered now what?

Fortunately for me, I have a new friend, who after listening to my account of relocation from Alabama to South Carolina and my need for a South Carolina food quest, came up with a solution.

He showed me a list of “The best restaurants in each South Carolina County for 2016.” [1] There are 46 Counties in South Carolina.

Not only did he zero in on the “46 County List,” he brought a dish to a work meeting and said “well, now you have your first County checked off of the list. And it was on. Thank you, Lamar, for giving me guidance and a kick in the pants to begin this new quest.

Meg’s new gig is to find 100 Dishes To Eat In South Carolina While You Are Alive or Dead, while checking out The Best Restaurants in each South Carolina County.

Since there is not a formal South Carolina100 list, I will do it my way and loosely follow the “46 County List”  as outlined on Snacks of Jax.  [1]

Maybe these food suggestions will make it on my list and maybe they won’t.

So special thanks to my Alabama followers, I promise that I will continue to write about my quest to eat some of the best food in the World following that Alabama “100 list.”   I have a few new places to write about for upcoming blogs.  I hope that you continue to follow my blog, my Facebook page, and Instagram account.

And hello to my new South Carolina friends.  Follow along on Tuesday’s as I share my quest to find some of the best food in South Carolina.   Next Tuesday, I visit one of the “46 County Best Restaurant List,” and spoiler alert, it will make my “100 SC list.

[1] Snacks of Jax, Carolina Food Bloggers 2016 Best Restaurants of South Carolina by County



Getting Lucky 52 Tuesday’s – Tasty Tuesday’s MEGapicks from 2017

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!

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!

bottega parmesan suffle

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. [2] 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

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.


Best Dessert Chez Fon Fon Birmingham, AL

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

  1. Bertolone’s Clanton, AL

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

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!


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


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

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


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

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

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 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.

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!

 Pork is king at this festival but not to be undone by the colorful sides, arepas, and tamales.

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

Italian Stuffed Peppers With Potatoes, What-What? Restaurant Recipe Attempt

Don't get me wrong, I tried to get the recipe from the Italian Mama.   So that went well...not.

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National Take A Hike Day 2017 A Hike Below Sea Level

Bonus.  With this hike, you don’t even have to be in fantastic shape. With the exception of a few bridges over the dikes, its pretty darn flat. The paths are great and hey, this walk is under sea level, so altitude sickness. won't be a problem. 

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Make out in an Iowa City graveyard and drop dead

Happy Halloween!

There is this thing that I have for graveyards; I like them, a lot.  As someone who loves history and most especially family history, I find them peaceful and interesting.  I am also superstitious.  Once, I have had a black cat cross my path and admittedly did not walk in a circle 13 times, walk backwards over the place that it happened while chanting bible verses, because I did not want to look unusual, but then bad things happened, three of them including a bad fall off of my bike and an incident with the garage door and a truck.  And this is why it took me so long to cross this “Odd things in Iowa” and “Weird US” destination off of my Iowa bucket list.  Well that and I don’t live in Iowa anymore.

Black Angel 6 (2)

Random fact,  Iowa City is a UNESCO city of literature. U of…

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