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You can’t eat them until Twelfth Night. You can’t eat them after Fat Tuesday. You see stacks of them in the stores as Jan. 5 approaches each year. There is a choking hazard. It’s the most anticipated treat of Epiphany. It’s not what it says it is. Give up? I’m talking about king cake, of course!
My youngest had his first memorable king cake on the 13th morning this year, and of course, he got the baby. That day he told the class at his Catholic preschool, “I found Jesus!” We are Episcopalian, but there may be some throwback Baptist gene from my side of the family.
That oval loaf of sugar bread is a tradition that reaches far beyond our city borders, but we Mobilians place a much heavier emphasis on its gastronomical importance than our neighboring communities do. As a matter of fact, we love it so much we are having our fourth-annual King Cake-Off Friday, Feb. 4, in the heart of downtown Mobile at The Temple (351 St. Francis St.).
Local bakeries, eateries and grocery stores are returning to outdo each other with their A-game of king cakes and king cake-inspired treats. It’s a family-friendly affair with local vendors, kids’ activities, specialty cocktails, tastings and live music by Symone French and the always festive Excelsior Band.
All contributions will go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Alabama whose mission is to give our children a caring and supportive adult mentor who will guide them toward success, hold them accountable and set their lives in a direction they never thought possible.
Advanced tickets are $15, increasing to $20 at the door. Twelve and under get in for $5. You can purchase tickets at kingcakeoff.com or at Three Georges candy store at 226 Dauphin St. It’s at the corner of Dauphin and Delicious. Act now as this event will have limited capacity and has a history of selling out. I’ll see you there.
The Tigers Bar and Grill opens in West Mobile
I have been waiting for this one to open. Seems it did since the last time I was out there. The Tigers Bar and Grill at 871 Hillcrest Road is one of West Mobile’s newer hotspots. Though I’m yet to visit, it won’t be long before I’m elbow-deep into what they’re calling Venezuelan food.
With burgers and fries, pasta Boloñesa, you’ll think, “Hey, this isn’t so different.” But delve deeper into the menu to find arepas, empanadas, panes and more. The menu is rather large, but expect a lot of chicken, shredded beef and fried pork.
I’m hearing good things. Let’s go.
Nova Market opens on Old Shell
If you’re a fan of Nova Espresso (and I am) and live in Midtown (and I do), then you’ll be pleased to learn the new Nova Market is open for business at 1812 Old Shell Road. Located just west of the Dew Drop Inn, this coffee shop/market has everyday sundry items. With made-to-order eats Wednesday through Sunday, as well as grab-and-go items Monday and Tuesday, the initial hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
Think of this as a cool little grocer with a kitchen. You’ll also find select beer and wine, plus, if you enjoy day drinking (and I do), they have a lineup of by-the-glass options. I have my eye on a spicy chicken biscuit and a Pinot Grigio. For breakfast. On a weekday. Don’t tell my mom.
Expect hours, menus and selections to develop organically as this one grows.
West Food Bar to fill the Von’s void
There has been some hype over the upcoming West Food Bar coming to 69 St. Michael St. in the former Von’s Bistro location. Chef Weston Simpson (the Grand Hotel, Pour Baby) will be in the kitchen of this Prohibition-era, speakeasy-style restaurant with a farm-to-table menu of steak and seafood.
In true speakeasy fashion, the soft opening, Feb. 8-20, will be by invitation only and require a secret password to confirm. They’re already taking reservations for dates after, so fill out your Mardi Gras calendar. It’s just in time.
Henry’s first REAL popcorn
My wife may be the only person I know who makes popcorn on the stove. No Jiffy Pop, no microwave, just a stainless steel pot with a glass lid. It’s charming. She never has any un-popped kernels, and the taste is far superior to the chemical flavor of microwaved bags with oily butter. We use more conventional toppings such as real butter, Parmesan cheese, kosher salt or even black pepper.
Henry has finally reached that age when eating popcorn isn’t a choking hazard, though we still insist on one pop at a time. He’s into it. But he’s never seen her make it. It was as if she performed a magic trick. I could hear the squeals from the other room. “What are these?” she asked as she showed the kernels to his puzzled gaze. They tossed one in the oil, and he screamed, “Popcorn!”
I heard about it for 10 minutes, the sorcery his mom had performed, the miracle of what happened in that kitchen.
She used grapeseed oil to coat the bottom of a 4-quart pot. Over medium-high heat, they dropped in one kernel. Once it popped, they added about 1/4 cup of kernels. Katie shook the covered pot over the flame continuously until the popping ceased. It’s quicker than the microwave and tastier. I’d say the boy is spoiled, but maybe I’m just as spoiled as he.
See how simple this is? We’ve always included the kids in the kitchen. They love it. Lucas used to devein shrimp for me with a butter knife. Graham used to make pastries from a kid’s cookbook. They both love the kitchen, now. It’s bonding made delicious, and this most recent event was just as good.
If you aren’t making popcorn for your kid, you’re both missing out.
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