Some of the best events happen at the last minute. That was the case this past Sunday at Southern Napa when they hosted a Sunday brunch with Oregon winemaker Rob Stuart. I had less than two days’ notice to attend, but fate smiled on my schedule and I was able to make it to the very informative and delicious event.

Rob Stuart was on hand to wow the crowd with down to earth stories of his travels, as well as the principle how’s and why’s behind his incredible wines. The morning began as it should with a fantastic bubbly outdone only by an even better Rose d’Or that has this guy permanently on my radar.
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A pork Pate Provenal was served with his Big Fire Rose. Second course was smoked salmon flown in a day or so before from Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. The amazing fish was served with Panzanella cucumber, olive and cherry tomato salad and Stuart’s Love Pinot Noir.

A deconstructed Duck Confit Pot Pie was perfect for the Vignette Pinot Noir (I nabbed a bottle of this) and the big finish was a stilton mousse pastry with fig preserves and a Klipsun Tawny dessert wine. This fortified port concoction was a steal. I’ll be back for it.

For those unfamiliar with Southern Napa they are what I consider the premier wine store in the greater Mobile area. Located at 2304 Main St. in Daphne, the ancient little house features a wide deck and a giant oak tree, but the real beauty is within the doors. Owners Jim and Carrie Cox could not be more personable and really take the snooty out of fine wine as Carrie showcased her talents in the kitchen while the energetic Jim did the talking. I should say I owe it to my friends Todd and Shannon Denison for turning me onto these two, as I have received a Christmas gift or two over the years purchased from Southern Napa.

If you enjoy great wine and even better company you owe it to yourself to make it down there. Jim has promised to let me know in advance (whenever possible) about events so our readers can enjoy the experience the way that I did. We will keep you posted.

Balance is bringing healthy meals to go

“We believe in the power of real food.” That’s a heck of an opening statement, but for takeout meals that fit your schedule and diet, real food is being locally pre-packaged and delivered to your door to make eating healthy easier than ever.

Housed in the former Osman’s Midtown/Little House Midtown building at 2351 Airport Blvd., Balance has no dining room, but is serving up all gluten-free meals from an ever changing menu for delivery or pickup on location. At a recent event I had the pleasure of sampling an Asian style chicken and “rice” where cauliflower was used in place of rice. It was almost as good as the spaghetti squash with meatballs.

Sure, I love normal chicken and rice dishes as well as spaghetti and meatballs. These stood out great own their own. Balance is providing lean proteins with non-processed nutrient rich carbohydrates and good saturated fats. Locally sourced meats and organic produce are used whenever available. It’s a different menu each week, though there are familiar items that reside in the cooler for customers to grab and go.

View the current menu on their website at or check them out on Facebook. One way or another, after a year of flying under the radar it’s time to check these guys out.

Get Fired Up for charity

This past weekend at the UMS Wright “Putting on the Dog” fundraiser I was introduced to probably the best pork ribs I’ve ever eaten. And I have eaten a lot of pork ribs in my day. I will say I have never smoked ribs to this degree of tastiness. Maybe these were so good because the folks cooking them were doing it out of love and a giving spirit.

Fired Up, Inc. is a volunteer nonprofit organization based out of Spanish Fort that began when six friends came together to give back to their community by smoking competition style barbecue and has benefitted the likes of American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, St. Jude, Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention, Baldwin County Humane Society, Wilmer Hall Children’s Home, Young Life Mobile, Heart for Athletes and many others.
“Our goal is not only to help the support groups of those individuals raise money but also raise awareness that not everything during a health crisis is covered by insurance,” the team says. Most of us can relate.

Aside from the spare ribs the magnificent six specialize in beef briskets. Benefits are their bread and butter, but they will cook for other events if a donation is made to Fired Up, Inc., so book your wedding or corporate event now.

Visit or call 251-621-1042 or 251-591-2894. Great guys, great idea, great ribs, sometimes the giving spirit prevails.
Butch’s not just wings and burgers

Yes, we know the burgers are amazing. We know the wings are perfect. The “soon to be famous” Butch Burger was famous long ago. For years I’ve only had three things at Florida St.’s Butch Cassidy’s: burgers, wings, and shrimp salad. But I stopped in for the red beans and rice special this past Monday and I was crazy about it.

I can only explain it as sweeter than most, which begged for hot sauce. A dash of Tabasco amped up the dish, and the giant link of sausage and ample amount of ham in the beans filled me up quickly. I made two meals of this under $10 monster. Impressive. Now I wonder what else I’ve been missing.

Please, Roy, I am begging you to put Miss Karen’s chicken livers on your menu and homemade pickled eggs! I stand with everything I’ve eaten there.