The Hangout isn’t just a venue for an annual music festival, folks. Our favorite spot at the south end of State Highway 59 is partnering with Alabama Gulf Seafood for the 7th Annual Oyster Cook-off. Nov. 7, 8 and 9 are three days you don’t want to miss that begin with a craft beer festival on Friday and end with Sunday brunch.

Saturday is reserved for the oyster.

“We are once again proud to partner with The Hangout for this fantastic and anticipated fall event,” said Chris Blankenship, program administrator for the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission and director of Alabama Marine Resources. “We invite everyone to come to the beach and enjoy the region’s best and brightest chefs while celebrating one of the Gulf Coast’s finest treasures – oysters.”

Can I get an “Amen!” oyster lovers?

Tons of celebrities and local legends will be judging the contestants in categories of Rockefeller, Gulf Coast Cajun and raw, all of which will be evaluated by a panel of judges on a point system ranking presentation, flavor and creativity, all overseen by the Kansas City BBQ Society. Over $20,000 in prizes is at stake, so competition should be fierce. Chef registration is currently open.

Get to stepping and learn more at www.hangoutcookoff.com.

LA Gumbo Festival: Tailgate Edition hits the Wharf

From Lower Alabama to Louisiana it’s always a fight to see who has the best gumbo. You will roux the day this Saturday, Oct. 4, as the LA Gumbo Festival Tailgate Edition gets underway at the Wharf in Orange Beach.

The festivities begin Friday night with The Wharf Street Party featuring live music from Waylon Thibodaux. This event is open to the public. You’ll be dancing in the streets from 7-9 p.m. and a light show will blow your mind around 8 p.m. If I were you I would refrain from over indulging. You will have a long day ahead of you come Saturday morning.

The festival begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 9 p.m. That is a lot of gumbo to put away.
Expect the competition to conclude at 1:50 p.m. when the winners are announced, but that’s not all she wrote. This is the tailgate edition of the festival, so there will be tons of football on the Monster Screen as well as more than 70 flat screens TVs located throughout the festival. Drop a donation in the giant pot that will be home to the World’s Largest Pot of Gumbo when the festival resumes in March 2015. Live music throughout the day will only add to the fun.

Entry into the festival is free, but tickets will be sold to taste the competitor’s gumbo at $2 for one or $20 for 15.

Taste of the Bayou brings Miss Kay!

As if there wasn’t enough going on this weekend, Taste of the Bayou will be heating up Bayou La Batre. Teams will be competing in categories of General Seafood Dish (restaurant), General Seafood Dish (non-restaurant), gumbo and dessert.

The local seafood from those waters is unmatched globally, and this is sure to be one of the tastiest events of the year. Held this Saturday at the Bayou La Batre Community Center at 12745 Padgett Switch Road in Irvington, it runs from 6-10 p.m. Attendees will be able to sample some of the freshest ingredients South Alabama has to offer.

This year’s event will be enhanced by the charm of Duck Dynasty’s Miss Kay Robertson! Miss Kay is taking a gamble on leaving Phil and the gang back home, hoping they don’t destroy the place, and making her way to Mobile County. Limited VIP tickets are available for a meet and greet with the short of stature, tall of flavor Robertson.

Visit www.tasteofthebayou.org for more information and ticket pricing or email info@bayoulabatrechamber.org. If you have trouble with the website just go the old fashioned route (no, not snail mail) and call Brandi at 251-824-4088.

Beltline loses Denny’s, I retain a memory

It was out of nowhere, all of a sudden-like, one day we have a Denny’s, the next day it is gone. Mobile is now Grand Slam poorer since the Beltline location unexpectedly shut its doors last week. I guess not enough folks from the Drury Inn were crossing the parking lot for Two Moons Over My Hammy.

I personally enjoyed an evening there in 2002 with Cliff Fulkerson and Czech mandolin phenomenon Radim Zenkl. Zenkl chose the spot for a pre-Garage performance dinner saying he preferred their coffee to breakfast rival Waffle House. I told him I was going to, “scatter, smother, cover, chunk, top and dice his face if he spoke ill of Waffle House ever again,” but the incredibly fit eastern European overpowered me and the next thing I knew we were following his rental car to the corner of I-65 and Airport for some fresh ground medium roast and sub-par hash browns.

This guy who records with my heroes spoke very good English, considering, but maybe didn’t understand our Southern sense of humor. Maybe even Southerners don’t understand our Southern sense of humor. But despite the obstacles and strange looks from our newfound friend we had a stellar gig downtown after our Denny’s dinner. It turns out the language of Budweiser is international.

Now Denny’s is gone. Perhaps I didn’t relive that night enough. Maybe my lack of visitation forced a closing. Maybe that aggravating intersection deterred the profit. Whatever led to the demise, all I have left is a memory of a blistering barrage of notes preceded by a wealth of wisdom from a world-class picker preaching to me from a booth in an unlikely restaurant in an awkward location. Come back anytime, Radim. Waffle House is on me.

Happy BayFesting! Recycle.