St. Andrew’s

We made another stop at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Prairieville, Alabama — it’s on the National Register and is very simple and striking. Good to see this Upjohn Gothic.

According to its application to the Register, it:

“is a country church believed to be designed by Richard Upjohn” and “was built in 1853 by slaves belonging to members of the church working under the direction of Peter Lee and Joe Glasgow, Master carpenters, who were slaves of Captain Henry A. Tayloe.” Episcopal services were held in Prairieville in 1834 and the church was consecrated in 1858 by the first Episcopal Bishop of Alabama.

It “served the planters of Perry, Hale, and Marengo counties of the Canebrake area and many baptisms of white families and slaves are recorded in the church annuals. After the War Between the States the number of parishioners steadily decreased because of removals, deaths, and a decline in the population of the community.”

“Around about 1950 the bishop of the diocese and suffragan bishop, in alternate years, began holding a service in St. Andrews’s Church on the fifth Sunday of a month late in the summer or early fall. These services are attended by people from far and near and, weather permitting,the congregation usually fills the church to capacity. As many more people, seated outside the building, hear the services through loudspakers. After worship is concluded, a picnic dinner is enjoyed under the shade of the trees in the church yard.”

“A stain brewed from the stems of tobacco plants was applied to the interior wood walls. No change has been made in the tobacco stain finish and it remains in an excellent state of preservation and has a mellowed appearance. The symbols and figures on the altar rail and elsewhere in the chancel were hand carved.”

“The exterior of the church, painted a red-brown color, is made of long wide boards with battened joints fastened vertically to the framework, and buttresses made of thick wooden boards spaced at appropriate intervals; its lancet windows and high pitched roof are features of the Gothic style of architecture.”

“There is some evidence that the present Gothic entrance replaces a high tower which was removed because of damage caused by decay and woodpeckers. With the exception of the removal of the tower and the construction of a chimney on the south side of the nave, the edifice stands exactly as it was when built.”

The cemetery has some interesting monuments, and this spring, a number of crawfish castles

Table tombs

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS AL-291) that photographer Alex Bush did on July 31, 1936 (no copyright restrictions on these images from the LOC), shows the interior.

There are still one or two services each year at the church (including a fall Homecoming). Beautiful.

Top Of Atlanta, And The Chocolate Blue Dome

I shall never tire of a revolving restaurant.

We’ve been to the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the Chart House at Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, and now both of the ones in Atlanta.

Earlier this year, we planned to celebrate our anniversary by going to the Sun Dial Restaurant for lunch and then later drive to Florence, Alabama for the 360 Grille at the Marriott Shoals (on our way over, after having our reservation for several days via OpenTable, the manager at 360 called a couple of hours before our res to let us know that the mechanism that makes the restaurant revolve hadn’t been working for a few days. I canceled our reservation, but couldn’t he have called earlier than that night so we could have made other plans? It worked out okay because we wound up at Odette which was fab).

The Sun Dial is on the 71st floor of the Westin Peachtree Plaza.

Over the course of…maybe an hour, we got a 360* view of Atlanta, which the boys got a big kick out of


Besides getting to see everything from a window-side table, there’s also an area with an observation binocular

Happy!

Av had blackened Georgia trout over tasso-crawfish grits, which he liked

Shug went with pasta and Shugie had pizza

And I wasn’t so hungry, so I just ordered a Caesar salad which was tiiiiny.


(looking up from the lobby at the Hyatt)

This past weekend, we were in Atlanta again and after supper elsewhere, we walked over to the Hyatt Regency and had dessert at Polaris, which is on the 22nd floor. This time, we had a nighttime view of the city as the restaurant revolved.

We rode right past the open kitchen

We shared the very pretty Polaris Blue Dome: fair trade chocolate mousse, rooftop honey caramel, flourless chocolate cake atop a meringue disc

Delish.

Hotel Finial, Neon, And Pawn Shop Murals

Earlier this year, we went to services in Anniston with plans to go on the next day to Atlanta, so we made reservations to stay at the Hotel Finial. It was recently renovated and had previously been known as The Victoria.

Only suites are inside the main home, and all the other Expedia et al-bookable rooms are in a motel-like arrangement with exterior corridors. That’s what we wound up with.

Parking was in a gated lot. The room was okay — not luxurious (e.g. two pillows on each bed whereas most hotels offer at least three or four) but not uncomfortably minimalist, either. It was fine.

We stayed out until almost bedtime anyway, and when we got up, it was time to walk over to the Victorian home for breakfast, which is included in the cost of a stay. The food was a step up from, say, a Hampton/economy hotel breakfast, and the best part was definitely the setting.


That first night, though, for something different, we decided to drive up to Jacksonville, Alabama where a there’s a family pizza place on the square with a fab neon sign — so we figured we’d have supper and walk around…

The boys liked their pizza


We drove back to Anniston for services. The congregation there is so, so kind and they have a great building. The rabbi here drives in from Atlanta and he’s in his mid-80s…he and his wife are just super sweet.


Before we left Anniston, we stopped to take a picture of this great mural at a pawn shop there.

Fried Chicken In Paper Bag, And Beef Fat Candle

I had a friend visiting Birmingham while I was away, and she asked me what I thought of Chris Hastings’ OvenBird — it’s all about small plates, and live-fire ovens for cooking. No gas lines. In fact, I was there late once when the power went out and they had to close the restaurant early because of the fire smoke (serious fans for ventilation are required, I guess). The entry is by Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery at Pepper Place, so the courtyard is beautiful, and the inside is cozy and comfortable.

While I’ve had a disappointing brunch at Chris Hastings’ The Side by Side, and some mixed nights at Hot and Hot Fish Club (it’s always better if he’s there), Av and I are impressed with how great everything at Ovenbird is, and I encouraged my friend to give it a try.

We’ve had their fried chicken which comes served in the bag — order it first if you’re planning on staying a while and ordering as you go, since they sometimes run out

*The* thing to get, though, is the beef fat candle with ember-roasted vegetables and chimichurri. To me, it tastes like all those bits at the bottom of an exceptional all-day roast, with all the little soft vegetable pieces and the jus from the meat, all this made even better as the candle burns down, offering up its own beefy flavors.

Here, anchovy, curtido, romesco deviled eggs. Nice and creamy, but they needed more…something. Also: the egg at 6:00 is jealous of the egg with all the sprinkles at 9:00.

Hi!

Here’s the NYT’s take on OvenBird. Oh! And my friend loved it. xoxo!

Perfection Never Taste So Good

…at least, that’s it according to the sign at Road Side Bar-B-Que in Birmingham

A while back, they repainted the image of the gentlemen next to the pit, and they look different than before — now:

before:

Cathedral of Junk

One of my other Austin friends, Scott — who has his own art environment — took me to visit his friend Vince who is the creator of the Cathedral of Junk.

Because Scott and Vince have been friends for so long, we got to visit for a long time (and Scott had called him earlier in the week about coming over for a while). But before I get too far ahead, it’s absolutely imperative that visitors call before they visit — Vince’s number is 512-299-7413 and he’s pretty adamant about people having appointments. He’s kind, but he’s serious about a minimum of disruption to the neighborhood. When a couple of cars full of people showed up to see him while Scott and I were visiting, he sent them away, even though they explained they were only in town for a day or two and were from different states. Besides Vince’s sanity, there’s another reason for that…

He’s been working on the cathedral since the late 80s, and then around 2010, there were complaints. City inspectors came in and made a big deal about safety and permits, neighbors were apparently complaining about the parking situation and total strangers showing up whenever in the neighborhood.

Vince had to start taking the cathedral down — volunteers came out and helped. At one point, he was just sick of the whole thing. But finally the city relented, no doubt due in large part to community outrage that part of what helps Keep Austin Weird was being stomped on.

From The Statesman in June 2010:

Hanneman said he is happy that the structure will remain an Austin landmark but said working through the city bureaucracy was unnecessarily complicated. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” he said. “It was like a cross between a divorce and a death.”

There are several different ways around, ways up to the top, and pathways with colorways
















A must-do in Austin. You could spend an hour or a few hours and of course you’re never going to see it all. Fab.

Big, big, big thanks to Scott for arranging my visit and to Vince for being so kind and hanging out while showing us his work. xoxo!

The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Lockhart Barbecue, Franklin, and Round Rock

When a friend and I were talking about uber-Texas venues to have a wedding in Austin, I instantly thought of the Driskill. Our family has stayed there a couple of times before and it’s beautiful. I shared this room with a sweet friend of mine who lives in San Antonio now.



…but even prettier are the common areas at the hotel.

The pic below can be clicked through for an album of images from this and previous stays at the Driskill:

Driskill Hotel, Austin TX


The last time we made our annual Texas trip, Av did the big three in Lockhart, as usual.

BTW, Aaron Franklin was interviewed by Eater for where he’d go for a barbecue roadtrip (and what he’d get there) and the first stop on the list was Kreuz.

Kreuz Market:






We happened to get the same things Aaron suggested from his list — pork chop, prime rib, sausage — but we weren’t fans of the prime rib at all. Stick with the pork chop here.

My fave, Black’s (because they have those huge bronto-size beef ribs)












beef ribs at Black’s all day, every day.

and Smitty’s





hot ring yesssss

The boys and I watched a movie another day while Av survived the line at Franklin in Austin, and he felt as though his hours-long wait was worth it (plus it sounds like he made some friends). The brisket. The brissssketttttt yesssssss.


Notice no sides on any of the barbecue stops. That was enough meat to put anybody in everlasting ketosis, I think. Anyway, on our way out the next day, we did decide it was time to sneak some carbs so we made it to Round Rock Donuts which were a-maz-ing.


I guess we could have thought about splitting a Texas-sized one with six other families, but…

We tried some doughnut holes (yummm)

…and we each got a flavored one for later. Chocolate sprinkles for Shugie.