This Week’s Various

My hometown, Cullman AL, made the NYT this week for its completely gorgeous new Weihnachtspyramide, a German Christmas pyramid.

The display is more like a tower than an ancient pyramid, resembling a multilevel carousel tiered like a wedding cake. Its decorated artwork originated with woodcarvers in the Erzgebirge mountain region. A traditional German pyramid, which is a few feet high, is usually bedecked with small figures playing out Christmas scenes on its bottom or top level. A wood propeller, powered by the heat of candles on each side, typically rotates the centerpiece.

…Cullman’s structure, though, is super sized, with six rotating tiers, including one with a Nativity scene, moved by a motorized rotor at the top. In all, 32 figures including a police officer, fireman and baker, adorn the other levels, according to city officials.

We went at night last week and took pics:

Weihnachtspyramide - Christmas Pyramid - in Cullman AL Weihnachtspyramide - Christmas Pyramid - in Cullman AL

Weihnachtspyramide - Christmas Pyramid - in Cullman AL

Through January 5 at the Customs House Museum in Clarksville, Tennessee: Hunt Slonem: Both Sides of the Brush. No idea how big this exhibit will be, but his Antebellum Pop! show at the LSU Museum of Art in 2016 was one of my very favorites. From that show:

Hunt Slonem: Antebellum Pop! at the LSU Museum of Art, Baton Rouge LA

The Austin Central Library’s restaurant (wow that large libraries have restaurants, but I guess that makes sense) has dedicated a small menu to Little Women in anticipation of the new film coming out later this month. The restaurant is home to the Virginia B. Wood Cookbook Collection which gives guests access to 500+ cookbooks.

Skipping to slide #85, the WaPo reports there are two shotgun houses in a particular two-story style on Capitol Hill, and the one they feature is $1.3M.

Bad Penny Pleasuremakers, Oxlot 9, The Southern Hotel, Covington LA

Ran across the Bad Penny Pleasuremakers online this week — they’re from New Orleans — last saw them at Oxlot 9 in The Southern Hotel in Covington LA (pic above, below). This is *exactly* what I want to listen to at brunch

Realized I never posted pics from that visit, and I’m so hungry, here we go:
Oxlot 9, The Southern Hotel, Covington LA

fried oysters with andoille, brussels sprouts, white remoulade

Biscuit, Oxlot 9, The Southern Hotel, Covington LA

biscuit for dayssss

Oxlot 9, The Southern Hotel, Covington LA

and the hotel is gorgeous
The Southern Hotel, Covington LA The Southern Hotel, Covington LA

The Southern Hotel, Covington LA The Southern Hotel, Covington LA

definitely going to find a reason to stay at The Southern sometime soon.

The Heart of the Matter: The Celebration of the Essential in Everyday Life exhibit of James Michalopoulos‘ works at the R.W. Norton Museum in Shreveport ends already, December 15. I’m not certain what works are included, but here are a few that appeared in the Waltzing the Muse exhibit at NOMA in 2017 when I visited:

James Michalopoulos Exhibit at the Ogden James Michalopoulos Exhibit at the Ogden

James Michalopoulos Exhibit at the Ogden

Here’s the Garden & Gun article about him from April/May this year.

Eater on how 700k bottles of Tabasco are filled daily

The Jackson Free Press on 5th-generation Mississippian Chandler Griffin (who makes some fab docs), and the part about Blue Magnolia was new to me:

Chandler and his wife, Alison Fast, have two companies that teach documentary filmmaking and photography: Barefoot Workshops and Blue Magnolia Films. Barefoot Workshops, founded in 2004, is a tuition-based model and is meant for people who are serious about filmmaking and photography. In 2013 they created Blue Magnolia Films, which allowed them to “work with people who have no desire to be filmmakers or photographers, but have every desire to tell their community story.”

The Washingtonian lists the 27 Best Dishes in Washington Right Now and white barbecue makes an appearance (or at least as inspiration):

Fried Chicken
Where: Anju, 1805 18th St., NW

Alabama-style white barbecue sauce—tangy and mayo-based—has been cropping up more and more up north. Even at this Korean kitchen. Here, the sauce is made with Japanese Kewpie mayo and serves as a drizzle for the superlative double-fried chicken. The bird is glazed in fire-red, tongue-tingling gochujang. Even so, you’ll want more of the white stuff for dunking.

Russian Deviled eggs, stuffed with herring (which has been blitzed in the Cuisinart with apple and some other ingredients). Going to give this one a try.

Someone…added to a Banksy in Birmingham, England, and…’tis the season.

Cotton candy was ‘invented’ in Nashville.

Government is cracking down on the nonnas. This last sentence by Mr. De Meo is everything.

He said he didn’t know which restaurant was caught serving contraband orecchiette but talked about how those little irregular, handmade pasta ears had “a little magic in them.” He suggested that trying to regulate Bari was like trying to straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“Sometimes the irregular is what makes things beautiful,” Mr. De Meo said.

Criterion has done a restoration and included interviews on its release this month of the 1933 The Story of Temple Drake, loosely adapted from Faulkner’s Sanctuary.

Old Monroe County Courthouse - To Kill A Mockingbird

the old Monroe County Courthouse, kept to look the same as it has since used as set inspiration for TKAM movie.

Rare Square Books in Oxford is selling a first printing of the 50th anniversary edition To Kill a Mockingbird, in mint condition with a bookplate signed by Harper Lee affixed to first free endpaper.

Among the four new trustees on the board of the American Folk Art Museum in NY: KAWS (Brian Donnelly).

Zero political here. Never ever. Just want to point out that this was all over Twitter, but this man knows what’s up in the transportation of literally anything anywhere department. I’ve used IKEA bags for everything from grocery shopping to recycling storage to taking things to the beach, the lake, for quickie nobody’s-going-to-see-me-use-this-for-luggage (it’s pretty perfect for an overnighter, btw). I even ordered Whataburger ones for whatever because Whataburger. I don’t have a briefcase. If I ever need to make my case to Congress (Lawd, please please let it be for something good), I’ll be there in my Louis Vuitton and my Whataburger bag.

Not sure why this is so funny, but at Grub Street, the dumb trends that happened the last decade in food starts with rainbow bagels

Christmas Bagels

…which…the other day I was at Winn-Dixie for bagels and all they had were these and 1/ yeah my Jewish kids went to school with “Christmas bagels” the next day because that was the only plain ones they had and um they can learn to roll with things, sure 2/ yes I had a lot of guilt over filling them with a year’s worth of food coloring until 3/ they came home telling me how gross they tasted and they didn’t eat them so 4/ I had guilt over giving these kids bagels they wouldn’t eat

anyway the list ends with:

…Grub Street is ready to declare it the Decade’s Absolute Dumbest Food Trend: Viral milkshakes.

Crazy milkshake at K&J's, Alabaster AL

yes we did. Once was enough.

Also: those cakes in IG that are hollow in the middle, then filled with sprinkles that go everrrrrwhere when the cake is sliced, like an edible glitter lava stream — sprinkle explosion cakes. I mean, sprinkles don’t even taste good, amirite? It was cute the first thousand times but now: whyyyyyy.

A little love for Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies at Thrillist.

We went to the Oxford Fed’s annual Bubbe’s Table event last week at the very pretty Farmstead on Woodson Ridge and had a great time (one of my tablemates not thrilled at the prospect of Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss next year, though, but RTR sooooo…). Mile End Deli from Bham catered and was very good.

Oxford MS Jewish Fed’s annual Bubbe’s Table event Oxford MS Jewish Fed’s annual Bubbe’s Table event

Oxford MS Jewish Fed’s annual Bubbe’s Table event Oxford MS Jewish Fed’s annual Bubbe’s Table event

Oxford MS Jewish Fed’s annual Bubbe’s Table event

We didn’t get latkes, but we did get sufganiyot. And brisket. And kugel and brussels sprouts and a very good salad. BTW, Mile End makes the best cheesecake in Bham, and they serve a pretty good poutine, so next time you’re in town…

That sufganiyot above reminds me: the NYT had a piece about churros for Chanukah. Also, GrubStreet did a piece about the absolute best latkes in NYC.

Have a sweet, sweet weekend and an even better upcoming week, friends. xoxo!

Paul Freedman at SoFAB, & Toups South

Saturday, December 14 from 2-3:30p with RSVP, SoFAB (Southern Museum of Food and Beverage) in New Orleans will host Paul Freedman. From the site:

Paul Freedman’s new book, “American Cuisine and How It Got This Way,” has just been published. Paul will speak at SoFAB about community cookbooks and their role in developing American cuisine. Join us for this informative and delicious event! Paul will sign books (available for sale at SoFAB), and some goodies from community cookbooks will be served.

This event is free with museum admission.

This talk will be taking place during SoFAB’s special exhibit, “Talk About Good, Celebrating 40 Years,” running December 7, 2019 through February 28, 2020. Featuring the stories of the women who created the cookbook, George Rodrigue’s original paintings that appear in “Talk about Good,” the tools and equipment popular during the late 70’s and early 80’s, interactive videos on Cajun cooking techniques, and food products popular during this period, Paul Freedman’s book will be honored in the context of American community cookbooks.

Coincidentally, I have that book checked out from the library right now. I mean, part one sounds like a downer: American Regional Cuisines and their Decline. The author talks about how by 1880, regional dishes like chili have become national and Southern possum and Rhode Island johnnycakes have become extinct. I loved seeing that he mentions “a special barbecue style confined to Decatur, Alabama, is smoked chicken with a mayonnaise-based white sauce” though it’s not really *confined* anymore. The group at SoFab will love to hear him talk about Creole cuisine: “no other part of the United States has preserved its regional cuisine to the degree that Louisiana has.”

So many cookbooks and guides are included, also: the history of grocery stores as we know them (Piggly Wiggly’s modernization), food conveniences, fads (gelatin concoctions), and diet trends, “ethnic” restaurants, celebrity chefs…

Under the same roof as SoFAB is Isaac Toups’ Toups South restaurant. I met him there once; he was working on his Chasing the Gator cookbook — he’s super nice and even asked if we wanted to take a picture with him. Uh, sure!

Toups South, New Orleans Toups South, New Orleans

Toups South, New Orleans Toups South, New Orleans

Seared Toups Burger: buckboard bacon, bourbon bbq sauce, pickled jalapenos, aged cheddar, pommes frites — and yes, that was delicious.

Toups South, New Orleans

Thinking of Isaac Toups’ time on Top Chef: it is *past* time we got to KBC in Dothan, this past season’s winner Kelsey Barnard Clark’s restaurant. Look at their IG. Yassss.

Tis the Season

May Santa Chuck hear all your most fervent desires, and have them fulfilled this and every year. xoxo!

Stampede Steakhouse, Talladega AL

Santa Chuck card on bulletin board
Stampede Steakhouse
Talladega AL, 2017.

This Week’s Various

Brittany Howard’s Jaime made #2 on the NYT’s list of Best Albums of 2019. KCRW votes it #1. If you know the area around Florence, Alabama, much of this is going to be very familiar:

Robert Indiana, LOVE, Red Blue above: Robert Indiana’s LOVE at the Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans

Robert Indiana’s Disputed Estate now Estimated to be Worth over $100M

Artistic tortillas, via Texas Monthly: First produced by the indigenous Otomí people of Mexico’s Guanajuato and Querétaro states, tortillas ceremoniales are for special occasions like Dia de los Muertos, weddings, quinceañeras, saint’s feast days, and other holidays. Stamps (sellos) imprint intricate patterns onto the tortillas in a natural, edible dye, like those made from Mexican honeysuckle or hibiscus, or from insects like cochineals.

Barber's Egg Nog

above: ’tis the season

Emily Dickinson’s gingerbread recipe.

Pie Lab, Greensboro AL above: Greensboro’s Pie Lab

Thrillist came out with their list of Best Pie Shops in America, and so glad to see Pie Lab in Greensboro, Alabama made the list.

Birthdays & celebrations & random live-it-up times mean dessert, amirite? Eater New Orleans published New Orleans Restaurants Where Dessert Steals the Show: From satsuma almond cake to chocolate cremeaux to pistachio pavlova, you’ll want to save room for dessert at these restaurants, and I think I’ve had dessert at 9 of the 15 listed. Some notes: at Saba, never pass up a chance to get the warm chocolate babka. That was maybe the best dessert I had in all of 2018:

Warm Chocolate Babka with Hazelnut Gelato and Blackberry Sauce, Saba, New Orleans

also: #11 on the list is Bakery Bar (and I’ve had theirs, one slice pictured below), I still like the one at Gambino’s best of all, even if when I order them to ship, they arrive a little smashed. Smashed doberge still roxxxx, btw.

Doberge at Bakery Bar, New Orleans LA

Most intriguing? Maybe Gianna, with the sweet milk tartufo with amarena cherries, walnuts, honey and a fried rosette cookie. Nice. And: Food & Wine visits Gianna and talked about the inspiration for their holiday menu (incl tortellini / baccala / chocolate cassata).

Ah, I still love making museum snaps. Some from a visit to the New Orleans Museum of Art:

My Snapchat Creations My Snapchat Creations My Snapchat Creations

For the people who’ve said the “perfect church” doesn’t exist, I give you

The Perfect Church, Atlanta GA

The Perfect Church. McDaniel St in Atlanta, from a pic I took in 2017.

E.M. Bailey's Home, Atlanta

I visited here in 2017 but somehow managed to not post an update on DFK. This is the site of E.M. Bailey’s home and his sculpture garden on Rockwell St in Atlanta. Eldren Bailey made and displayed a number of his plaster or cement sculptures and shrines in the side yard here. Like Nashville’s William Edmondson, he was a maker of gravestones. The artwork has been moved since his passing in 1987. Bill Arnett took pics of Eldren and his environment, available here.

The Most Beautiful Sign in Atlanta

above: quite possibly the most beautiful sign in Atlanta (haaaaaa)

You know not to call New Orleans the Big Easy, and don’t call Atlanta Hotlanta: it’s like going to a literary convention and mispronouncing Proust. Anyway, Atlantans are so sick of it, Monday Night Brewing has a new flavor and they’re hoping this will help. Sidenote: Atlantans aren’t crazy about “The ATL” either.

Watching The Irishman on Netflix is the Best Way to See It and I did, and yeah.

The Chefs Reinventing the Midwestern Supper Club

But eating is only half your purpose here, for this is a Wisconsin supper club, a distinctly American subgenre of restaurant that for nearly a century has largely and triumphantly ignored the passing of time. The owner greets you at the door and shows you to the knotty pine bar — no rush to get to the dining room — where there might be a cracker table waiting, with cheese spreads to sample, and a relish tray of cold crinkle-cut carrots and sweet-and-sour pickles. The bartender makes you a drink, muddled by hand. It’ll be a brandy old-fashioned, if you’re doing this right…

a list of supper clubs

Setting boiled cookies above: boiled cookies just out of the pot, starting to set

Apparently people are discovering/rediscovering boiled cookies, and Edna Lewis’ recipe for them is at WaPo.

Shug's Gee's Bend Baby Quilt

above: the Gee’s Bend baby quilt we got for Shug

At artnet: See Inside Turner Contemporary’s New Show Featuring Gee’s Bend Quilts and Other Vital Art from the Deep South:

Opening in February 2020, “We Will Walk—Art and Resistance in the American South” includes paintings, sculptural assemblages, and quilts ranging in date from the mid-20th century through the present day. All of the artists either hail from Alabama or one of its surrounding states, which together comprise a subregion of the US popularly known as the Deep South—long a hotbed of race relations and civil-rights resistance. 

Futuro Spaceship House, Pensacola Beach, FL

above: how the Futuro on Pensacola Beach appeared, 2006

Nice: this restored Futuro in California.

Dallas Fab and Meso Maya

I got an email alert that the Scottish Sun just ran a travel piece about how amazingly friendly and wonderful Dallas is, and one of the places the author went for lunch was Meso Maya.

l o v e

Meso Maya, Dallas TX

Queso. The boys inhaled this.

Queso, Meso Maya, Dallas TX

Everyone there was so friendly with us, and when we mentioned it was our first time, the manager brought out these complimentary guacamole tortillas:

Sample of Guacamole & Tortillas

The elote con crema was out of this world:

Elote Con Crema, Meso Maya, Dallas TX

Chile relleno:

Chile Relleno, Meso Maya, Dallas TX

Carne asada:

Carne Asada, Meso Maya, Dallas TX

Every. Single. Thing. was just beyond delicious.

And outside:

Tacos Mural, Dallas TX

Via IG, their avocado margarita

MM Chef Nico Sanchez’ recipe for the restaurant’s pozole verde

Sidenote: Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors is on at the DMA through March 22, 2020 and that is not to be missed. One of my all-time fave exhibits.
Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors

Mwah, Dallas! xoxo!

Meat & Three & Amuse, and Tea Services

I just saw that reservations are now available at New Orleans’ Windsor Court Le Salon for their holiday tea service (so something to drop by for definitely, along with seeing their 20′ Christmas tree, 1500′ of garland, and 6′ magnolia wreaths).

I haven’t had a formal tea service since a couple of years ago in Las Vegas at the Mandarin Oriental (I’ll put pics of that one below) which is now the Waldorf Astoria.

Never yet having had the tea service at Le Salon, I’d love to experience it this year. I’m a huge fan of The Grill Room at the hotel, which is quite possibly the nicest meat and three I know. And certainly, the only one I know that comes with an amuse.

First, though, the setting:

The Grill Room, Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans Rose,  The Grill Room, Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans

The Grill Room, Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans

a crabmeat amuse

Crab amuse,  The Grill Room, Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans

Tito’s martini

Martini,  The Grill Room, Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans

the breaddddd Bread, The Grill Room, Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans


Bread,  The Grill Room, Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans

salad, crab cake with remoulade, hoppin’ john, and roasted cauliflower

Crab Cake Remoulade, salad, hoppin john, roasted cauliflower  The Grill Room, Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans

perfect, perfect, perfect little rounds of sorbet

Sorbet, The Grill Room, Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans

In December 2018, the Waldorf Astoria (their tea service here) finished its takeover of the Mandarin Oriental. I had the M-O’s tea service before the takeover, and it looks very similar now, minus the china and some of the decor:

Mandarin Oriental Tea Service, Las Vegas Mandarin Oriental Tea Service, Las Vegas

Mandarin Oriental Tea Service, Las Vegas Mandarin Oriental Tea Service, Las Vegas

Mandarin Oriental Tea Service, Las Vegas Mandarin Oriental Tea Service, Las Vegas

Mandarin Oriental Tea Service, Las Vegas Mandarin Oriental Tea Service, Las Vegas

Grill, Boxes, Lists, Notes, and a Graveshelter at Darian Primitive Baptist

Some really nice, interesting monuments at Darian Primitive Baptist Church in Tallapoosa County, Alabama:

Darian Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Tallapoosa County, AL

Hodnett Family genealogy

Darian Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Tallapoosa County, AL

Bishop Family genealogy from late 1700s, with monument erected by descendants in 2009
Darian Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Tallapoosa County, AL


“In memory of Abner L Stanfield, was born March the 7, 1826, died January the 9, 1893: “I hope to meet my dear one in that bright world a bove and dwell with him in that sweet home where parting is no more”

Darian Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Tallapoosa County, AL

Wooden graveshelter with metal roof grave shelter
Darian Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Tallapoosa County, AL

Darian Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Tallapoosa County, AL


Several box grave monuments
Darian Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Tallapoosa County, AL

Darian Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Tallapoosa County, AL


Unknown as of 1998
Darian Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Tallapoosa County, AL