Photos (left to right)
SOCU Coffee – facebook.com/socumobile
Villa Del Rey – facebook.com/Villa-Del-Rey-Cocina-Mexicana-2059270324353656
Mirko – facebook.com/mirkolegacyvillage
Fans of downtown Mobile’s SOCU Southern Kitchen and Oyster Bar will be pleased to hear owner Erica Barrett has plans for a coffee shop set to open this fall. Even better news: It’s directly across the street from her restaurant.
Come September 2021, SOCU Coffee Lounge should be brewing up the good stuff at 456 Dauphin Street, formerly Elle Photography Studio. The 1,500-square-foot facility will not only serve coffee and espresso, but also a variety of Southern-style desserts. Expect classic cakes like red velvet and German chocolate as well as cheesecake, sweet potato pie and pralines, to name a few.
“We are excited to bring a coffee shop to the exact same block we call home,” Barrett said. “We’ve built a strong foundation here and are looking forward to expanding.”
Let’s hope the coffee is even stronger.
SOCU Coffee Lounge is another leg of her SOCU brand, which not only includes her restaurant, but also her cookbook and the brunch/pancake mixes you may have seen on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and CNBC’s “The Profit.” With products such as those, coffee should be a natural segue.
“At the coffee shop, we will also sell our SOCU Coffee, which will be available in stores this winter as well,” Barrett added. “This will be made here in Mobile by the best coffee roasters in town.”
Buckle up for that sugar and caffeine high.
Villa Del Rey Cocina Mexicana expanding to Legacy Village
Legacy Village is eagerly awaiting the new Villa Del Rey Cocina Mexicana set to open in the former Mirko Pasta location. They currently have a successful food truck running the roads and a brick and mortar at 720 Schillinger Road, but the new digs at 9 Du Rhu Drive sound like a game-changer.
Their reputation is for fresh and fantastic mid-priced Mexican food, which should find good company next to the other Legacy restaurants. With Jimmy John’s, Taziki’s, Panera Bread, Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Blaze Pizza, a south-of-the-border addition could really cover a lot of bases.
Mirko closer to opening in Midtown
I get asked this question a lot: “When is Mirko going to open in Midtown?” This has not been an easy year for anyone, but it’s been even more difficult for those trying to open a restaurant. Building permits take forever. Materials are expensive and often scarce. Remodels and updates are tough, and Mirko had to endure all of this for their new Mirko Midtown Bar & Grill at 2056 Government Street in Korbet’s Square.
In the midst of all this, the building (formerly Regina’s Kitchen) lost a sign and suffered damage to the roof and awning when a pair of hurricanes blew through town this past fall. We still don’t have an opening date, but I feel one coming soon as the most recent social media posts announced it was a couple of weeks away, pending inspection.
The new restaurant will feature a lounging area for those looking to unwind after work with a cocktail and new appetizers. It’s time to start eyeballing this one. Menu and hours to come soon.
Bacon crackers: The ’50s-era party pleaser enjoying a renaissance
If Jell-O molds and fondue pots of the 1970s can make a comeback, so can those wonderful magazine recipes from the 1950s. We are already in full cheese ball mode here. My favorite is the green onions and dried beef version. But the ’50s were more than greased hair and packs of smokes rolled up in the T-shirt sleeves. America was introduced to deviled eggs, baked Alaska and Swedish meatballs.
Chicken Kiev crossed the pond and rivaled Chicken à la King. Meatloaf (the entree) wasn’t popular until after World War II and Meatloaf (the singer) wasn’t popular until “Bat Out Of Hell” hit in 1977. By then, people had long since been putting pineapple rings and cherries on ham.
But for all of the cool, hip things to cook in the early Elvis, pre-Beatlemania era — such as Boeuf Bourguignon and Salisbury steak — we had some duds. Tomato aspic is never seen these days. Not by me, anyway.
The TV dinners that still reflected a little light from their shiny, metallic exteriors thankfully gave out decades ago. And while we are in a thankful mood, tuna noodle casserole is now considered about as trashy as smoking during pregnancy.
This recipe for bacon-wrapped Club crackers falls somewhere in between the classic and the trashic, in that it’s easy but pretty fun for those not expecting it. Katie made it for a couple of recent parties and it was a hit. There are a few things to which you should pay close attention. Do not use thick-cut bacon. It just won’t work. Thin but meaty (meaning less fat) bacon helps because you have to slice it lengthwise. Also, allow yourself more than a couple hours. It may be an easy recipe, but it isn’t a fast one. You have to cook the bacon without burning the crackers. Experiment with toppings but start here.
The parchment under the wire rack helps with cleanup, but if you don’t have a wire rack, you can cook these directly on the parchment paper. Just don’t expect them to crisp evenly.
1 box Club crackers (any brand will do)
1 pound center-cut bacon, or the leanest, meatiest thin-cut bacon (not thick)
A few sprigs fresh rosemary
Freshly grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and a wire rack.
Slice the bacon in half lengthwise and then again crosswise. Wrap one piece around a cracker, and place seam side down on the wire rack. Garnish with a small bit of rosemary tucked under the bacon, facing up. If you like, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, but don’t go nuts. Maybe try the cheese on half of the crackers.
Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, until the bacon reaches your desired crispness.
These are great paired with goat cheese or green apples.
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