You’ve given your thanks. You’ve stuffed yourself tighter than that turkey. Now let us turn our attention Decemberward. Join the fun in kicking off the Christmas season in the Village of Spring Hill on Sunday, Dec. 8 as merchants and residents celebrate Christmas on the Hill. The celebration begins at 1 p.m. and carries on through 5 p.m. with refreshments dressed in holiday style.

Photos with Santa (I think it’s the real one), strolling carolers, children’s activities, refreshments, sleigh rides and more refreshments make this one a “do not miss” event. This year’s event has been broadened to include the Mobile Museum of Art and an art walk. All of this is put together by the Spring Hill Merchants association, so come out and enjoy the old familiar faces of yesteryear along with many new merchants making their debuts.

John Besh is “Cooking from the Heart”

It’s cookbook season as publishers rush to get the latest hardcovers on the shelves by Black Friday. With so many to choose from everybody wins, but the one that has me the most excited is by the Crescent City’s own James Beard Award winner John Besh. “Cooking From The Heart: My Favorite Lessons Learned Along the Way” (Oct. 29, 2013; Andrews McMeel Publishing; Hardcover; $40) is almost as much a photojournalistic work of art as it is a fount of information with its 375 photographs and stylish layout, and the text reads like a culinary romance novel.

“My chef slices the liver on an old walnut butcher’s block, seasons each slice with a touch of flaky sea salt, and delicately places them in a very heavy, hot, buttered sautoir.” And you thought “50 Shades of Gray” got you riled up.

Besh takes the readers on a journey to the locations that shaped his culinary expertise and introduces them to his mentors as he reveals the lessons he learned in each chapter. It makes you almost forget you are reading a cookbook. But in the end, it’s the recipes that will expedite the wear and tear of the cover. Sure to be a favorite that will last through any season, I would prefer to receive a holiday cookbook in September. This is the perfect Christmas gift. You will refer to this one for years to come.

Unleash The Bull’s winter menu

The winter menu is out at one of my favorite downtown eateries, and I predict it will be a hit. The Bull on Dauphin Street has it going on for the cooler temperatures with new appetizer items such as steak tartar topped with a fresh farm egg yolk or cornmeal fried oysters with red pepper jelly. Not enough to get you there? New entrees include Gulf shrimp and chorizo cheese grits, or maybe you’d prefer the herb roasted half chicken with citrus pan jus.

As if that didn’t load the deck enough, a blood orange Manhattan could convince you to ease on down to LoDa. There is also a specialty drink for the sweet tooth in all of us called “…and Everything Nice.” Imagine dark rum, butterscotch schnapps, cinnamon simple syrup, and cream in a Martini glass with freshly ground nutmeg and cinnamon. The bottom of the teacup predicts you will be there before the New Year arrives.

Old 27 Grill new and improved mornings with Bloody Mary Bar

Well, we couldn’t be so fortunate every morning, but Saturdays and Sundays at Fairhope’s Old 27 Grill, the Bloody Mary bar opens at 9:30 until the folks stop drinking them. Our favorite ESho outdoor venue with the stellar dogs, burgers and shrimp wraps has outdone itself again with a Bloody Mary bar packed with 27 different items. It’ll remind you of a Saturday morning pregame at the Grove or a Sunday morning coming down. Do you have a better way to wash down your shrimp and grits? It’s better than sitting around the house eating an entire box of Pop-tarts. The people there would probably tell you it is not just for folks who can’t say 181.

Outback moves, facelift ensues

Do not panic, Outback Steakhouse fans. Yes, the Montlimar location closed this month, but a revamped version of the Zagat survey winner opened at 4017 Airport Blvd. The building is a new design inside and out, and the new look has been called “Modern Australia.” Managing partner Steven Harris says, “It has a contemporary feel with a relaxed ambience and the same great food and attentive service.”

I’ve said for years if they would get some live koala bears my kids would drag me there every week. Consider it, Outback. Consider it.

Chicken Salad Chick opens in WeMo

It’s a fast growing franchise, and months ago we told you we were getting one. Now the wait is over. Chicken Salad Chick has opened its doors in the Hillwood Shopping Center on Hillcrest Road. The “custom fit” chicken salad experience is a favorite among Auburn students, and locals are excited to see them make their way down south with their 15 original flavors of chicken salad. Just in time for winter, soup and green salads are also on the menu as well as fresh baked desserts.

As far as the chicken salad goes, I hear the Jalapeno Holly is the way to go.

La Pizzeria back open in the LHD

La Pizzeria on Monroe Street in the Leinkauf Historic District reopened on Saturday, Nov. 23. In January, Todd Henson, who also owns Café 219 downtown, decided to close the doors on his restaurant there, but the original owner of LP, Bill Faircloth, decided to open it back up, with new chef Boyd Moss. They will have sort of a slow roll out, with only a limited dinner menu available for a while, as they fine-tune the more extended version. They also hope to add lunch and Sunday brunch eventually. And don’t worry, they will, of course, still have their delicious pizzas.

Watch the flying elbows at your Black Friday shopping event. Get ready to put up the tree and recycle all those gifts you didn’t want last year!