Well, technically it’s Spanish Fort, but the intersection of Highways 31 and 181 will always be Malbis to me. In the former cake shop building, RISE Breakfast and Bakery is into its second week of business after hurdling a couple of obstacles, one of which was a faulty oven. Despite the hiccup, the full menu should be up and running by now at Baldwin County’s latest to-go spot.
Speaking of menus, this one is full of cleverly named Benedicts, sandwiches and salads. There are Latin overtones with the use of chorizo and tortillas, as well as a full burrito section. The bakery side of the coin features cookies, cinnamon rolls and something called a Boojie cake.
Open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., RISE is closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Kewpie mayo sweeping the Western world
Thanks to a gift from my mother-in-law, I am now on board the Kewpie train. It’s the latest fad in the mayonnaise world, with chefs claiming the Japanese condiment is far superior to our American brands. There are a few bent mayo rules that give Kewpie its advantage.
First off, Kewpie only uses the egg yolks. I don’t know what they do with the egg whites, but it’s none of my business. Secondly, Kewpie uses rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar in place of our white distilled vinegar. Perhaps the biggest edge that Kewpie has over Blue Plate or Duke’s is the addition of monosodium glutamate, aka MSG.
This seasoning gets a bad rap from time to time. This villain of the spice world is blamed for headaches, numbness, jaw pains and other ailments, but chefs are crazy for that umami additive. I should disclose that only imported Kewpie has the MSG. There is a factory in the States that leaves out the MSG in favor of yeast extract.
Kewpie is creamier than other mayos, almost like a custard, yet its slender squirt bottle is capped with a tight opening for precise application. The MSG imparts a meaty flavor that can really enhance a dish or perhaps give it an offensive scar. Its sweetness comes from the aforementioned vinegars, as no sugars are added, but you will swear some traditional sweetener has been introduced.
My first experience brought mixed emotions. It took me a bit to get used to it. On a cracker, you can really taste the difference. It’s stark, with a sweet and meaty aftertaste. Add cheese and it’s a little better. A little deli meat matches the flavor, and now I am in business.
Sure, you can put this on a ham sandwich and have good results, but I see this as more of a mayonnaise for saucy recipes. It’s pretty good by itself on French fries. Will Kewpie grow on me? Perhaps. I’m just getting used to it. Best all-around mayonnaise? Nah. I think it will excel in certain dishes, but it’s too powerful for everything. I’m glad to have it, though. Think of it as a fad similar to the Sriracha craze. My fridge has always housed at least one bottle of Sriracha for decades, we just didn’t talk about it until five years ago.
Red or White hosting Sunday brunch
No, it isn’t permanent. This is a one-time-only event. Sunday, June 12, Red or White will host a brunch featuring “brunch-type food” and 40-plus wines for sampling. The event runs from noon to 3 p.m., and is sure to attract a crowd. I think this will be heavy on the rosé, some chilled reds and bubbles as well as still.
Tickets are $85, but there are incentives. You get $5 off if you wear pink, and you will receive a $40 credit if you’re buying wines that are sampled. You’ll find them available at redorwhitewine.com.
I’ve been thinking about how interesting it would be to share some hidden gems in our local restaurants. I’m talking about unfamiliar food in familiar locales, highlighting those dishes we’ve often neglected in favor of our usuals. Here are a handful.
If you’ve ever bellied up to the bar at Butch Cassidy’s, you’ve more than likely had a burger, wings or chili cheese fries. Two of those items are perpetually in the hunt for a Nappie. I am also partial to the grilled shrimp salad. But when I wander, the hidden gem of Butch’s is the Woodcock. This turkey sandwich comes on sourdough, dressed. Hot off the grill or cold, I go with hot every time. It’s a substantial sandwich that I can’t finish in one sitting, and that fowl dish is great the next day, cold.
Heroes is another decades-old Mobile restaurant. Here, the turkey sandwich known as the Clipper is the attraction. Like Butch’s, the wings are among Mobile’s favorites, and the Black & Blue burger is a contender. You’ve probably had their spinach and crawfish dip, and true Mobilians dunk their fries into their baked beans.
The hidden gem in this restaurant is the Kahuna Tuna. I prefer the lemon pepper to the blackened, and they will barely kiss it to the grill if you ask politely. The potato roll on which it stands is slightly sweet, cut by the red onion. Order it if you’re tired of the Clipper.
One of our fancier favorites is Osman’s. Open since February of 2000, this is an iconic dinner spot and is one of the first places we recommend when someone new comes to town. For apps, it’s always a toss-up between shrimp or gnocchi gorgonzola. The steaks are incredible. Same for lamb chops. The Wiener Schnitzel is still popular amongst all the red meat.
The hidden gem here, though, is the Zigeuner Schnitzel. Also known as “gypsy style,” it’s simply topped with bell peppers, onions and tomatoes and is a little spicy. Abandon this idea, though, if hanger steak is the special of the day.
Email me your hidden gems from your favorite menus. I’m hungry.
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