Juniper is one of those places that is as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the taste buds. Walking into the intimate establishment in the Forest Park commercial district, you see floral paintings and other artwork, framed by an ornate hanging loveseat. The lime-wash walls in the bar area—painted Wellington blue—enhance Juniper’s Victorian vibe.
Just because it’s winter that doesn’t mean nothing’s coming out of the ground on Alabama’s farms. Carrots, greens, root vegetables, satsumas, broccoli, fava beans, and sweet potatoes are all in-season now here. And if you know where to look, you’ll find the freshest homegrown food the state produces. The early season for markets selling Alabama-grown food direct from farms started this weekend, with the opening of Birdsong Farmers Market in Birmingham. The indoor winter market at nearby Pepper Place starts January 22.
It’s an increasingly common conundrum for restaurant owners and managers: You need someone to cover a shift or two—a prep cook, a bartender, a server, a dishwasher, a host. So, you put the word out on a group message to the network of hospitality workers that you’ve built over the years.
It’s hard to slap a label on Helen, the downtown Birmingham restaurant owned by repeat James Beard Award semifinalist Rob McDaniel and his wife, Emily. “It’s hard to say what it is, because Helen doesn’t really fit any category,” says McDaniel, who was the executive chef at the acclaimed SpringHouse restaurant near Lake Martin for 11 years before opening Helen in June 2020.
It’s that time again, when we make resolutions for how we’ll live in the new year, and perhaps assess how we did with the goals we set 12 months ago. As a culinary writer, my thoughts naturally turn to what and how I plan to eat and drink this coming year, while also providing readers some food for thought. Here are five goals for 2022 that can tie into locally driven and sustainable food habits:
The upcoming year will mark a new milestone in Jones Valley Teaching Farm’s growth, as its $8 million upgrade fully comes on line with a new educational center and other improvements designed to enhance the nonprofit’s overall mission of providing nutritious food to people who need it most.
For most people accustomed to walking in off the street to dine in brick-and-mortar restaurants, ordering lunch or dinner from a food truck is about as exotic as it gets. But some Alabama restaurants go to unusual heights or dish from decidedly different locales. You can eat in a jail, or nosh between firing rounds from a pistol or paint gun. If the water floats your boat, try a bobbing bistro in a lake. Or graze on a steak before the barn doors close.
It may seem counterintuitive to folks who live up north and out west, but Southerners believe the best way to ensure a bounty of luck and money through the coming year is to start it off with a humble meal. A pot of greens and their potlikker, a little seasoning pork, a mess of field peas, and skillet of cornbread are the traditional foods here for New Year’s Day. It’s a double-helping—a connection to the past but also a talisman for the next 12 months.
Everyone knows to leave Santa Claus some milk and cookies on Christmas Eve. It’s a snack to help the jolly elf on his worldwide journey. Leaving cookies for Santa has been a common custom in the United States for nearly 100 years, rooted in Depression-era lessons from parents that children should share with those in need and show gratitude for gifts received in a time of privation, according to History.com.
He calls it “French Toast.” But that doesn’t even begin to describe the mélange of flavors from the version Chef Luke Joseph serves during weekend brunch at Automatic Seafood and Oysters in Birmingham. Brioche baked in-house is coated in a custardy glaze and pan-cooked. It’s soaked in a sauce of burnt butter and reduced orange juice that’s infused with flame-kissed orange peel. Golden raisins, chopped pecans, and a healthy dollop of slightly tangy cultured cream complete the dish ($16).