4 Avondale Restaurants Not to Miss

Fancy's on FifthI love featuring guest writers on my site, and I am so excited to share an article by Leigh Lewis and Ann McQueen Whatley, high school Juniors at Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham. They recently visited a few of the hip, cool restaurants in Avondale in Birmingham, and here’s what they found. Take it away Leigh and Ann McQueen and thank you Leigh Lewis for the photos.

Post Office Pies Pizza

In recent years, Avondale has become a hotspot neighborhood in Birmingham with numerous food options. All of the food at the spots we visited was delicious; the only ways the restaurants differentiate is in their prices and service. Overall, the restaurant that excelled above the others is Fancy’s on Fifth.

After much consideration, we dined at four popular restaurants in Avondale to determine which excelled the most in three vital categories: price, service, and taste.

  1. Melt

Price: Everything on the menu is under $12.00, and this includes, starters, salads  sandwiches and desserts. We loved that!

Service:  The service was good. Waiters were very friendly, chatty and helpful.

Taste: Melt’s sandwiches exceed the average grilled cheese. From traditional grilled cheese to more experimental sandwiches, Melt has something for everyone. We tasted the Mac Melt, which was (as the name suggests) a grilled cheese with mac and cheese in the middle, and the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, which is spicy buffalo chicken in between two toasted pieces of bread. Both sandwiches tasted great. 

Post Office Pies

2. Post Office Pies

Price: 9 inch pizzas cost anywhere from $9.00 – $14.00 but are only served at lunch. 12 inch pizzas range from $13.00 – $17.00. Although a bit pricey, the amount of food as well as the fresh ingredients are worth it. 

Service: The service is really good. Even though the restaurant is not sit-down-and-order-style, waiters checked on us throughout our meal.

Taste: We ordered the Margarita Pizza and the Chicken Pesto Pizza and all of the ingredients were distinctively fresh. From the crust to the basil, we could tell that the ingredients were fresh and of good quality. 

3. Fancy’s on Fifth

Price: The price was much like that of Melt’s, where nothing was too pricey, and the portions are very good (not too big, not too small). The atmosphere is really fun, but get there early, as there is usually a wait. 

Service: The service was very good. The waiter was very helpful, and they were eager to please. 

Taste: Fancy’s on Fifth is an overall creative concept of oysters and burgers, but each item is more than just your average oyster or burger. They offer many healthy options, such as gluten-free bread, vegan patties and lettuce-wrap buns. We ordered the Smoked Salmon Salad and the Turkey Jive Burger, both of which had very good presentation and an unexpected but delicious tastes. Don’t miss the Chorizo Grilled Oysters, Ramen Noodle and Soft Shell Grab Burger as well.

4. Wasabi Juan’s

Price: With sushi burritos ranging from $6.00 – $11.00, Wasabi Juan’s is pretty inexpensive, especially considering the quality of the seafood and portion size.

Service: The service was less than adequate. We were both delivered something we did not order, and while they tried to take our food back, we had already touched it and ended up with four meals. What’s even worse is that they were noticeably irritated and did not apologize. 

Taste: For such an experimental restaurant that combines Mexican and Asian food, the sushi burritos were great, and there were many different combinations of ingredients that were creative and tasty, including one sushi burrito with mango and shrimp.

Where to be James Bond for Halloween

Martini - 007

Go undercover this Halloween at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar with An Evening of Espionage on October 31 at 6:30 p.m. Be James Bond for Halloween with this 007-themed dinner event will be one to remember, featuring hors d’oeuvres and four courses paired with classic cocktails at $95 per Guest. To celebrate the new movie, Guests are encouraged to dress as any 007 character – villain, agent, leading lady, or the man himself. Throughout the evening, Guests can sip on a 007 Martini, Bombe Negroni and more, featuring Belvedere vodka. For more details and menu, click here.

5 Superfoods for Flu Season

Spinach

Flu season is around the corner, and you can sleep and sanitize religiously, but the best way to fight off germs and sickness is through proper nutrition. Medicine will temporarily alleviate your symptoms but can’t equip the body to kill off the illness inside of you and doesn’t have the healing power that food does. Stock your kitchen up with the following infection-fighting superfoods and keep your family’s immune system strong all through the winter.

1. Almonds
Vitamin C tends to get all the spotlight when it comes to fighting off the flu and other illnesses, but Vitamin E plays just as a crucial role in protecting your immune system. Almonds are packed with this fat-soluble vitamin and provide a good source of healthy fats to help Vitamin E be best absorbed into your body. They are also excellent vegetarian sources of zinc and selenium. Almonds can be great additions to a variety of meals and taste delicious covered in antioxidant-packed dark chocolate for twice the flu-fighting power.

2. Kombucha
Kombucha isn’t a food but rather a fermented tea that has been used by the Chinese for over 2000 years to fight infection and disease. Its popularity has skyrocketed in the past few years and for good reason. Kombucha tea is loaded with probiotics, B-vitamins and antioxidants that detoxify the body, energize and boost immunity. It is a great probiotic option when compared to yogurt because it doesn’t enhance mucus production like dairy products do, so it’s safe to drink when both trying to prevent or fight an illness.

3. Oats
The American Institute for Cancer Research has reported that oats may have even more antioxidant power than fruits and vegetables. Oats’ combination of antioxidants, soluble fiber, and energizing carbohydrates all provide the body with the defense, strength and digestion it needs to stay healthy. They also protect your heart against cardiovascular disease. Try steel cut oats with cinnamon for extra anti-inflammatory power.

4. Oily Fish and Shellfish
Fish oil and other supplements can be beneficial when taken alone, but obtaining the nutrients directly from the source itself proves to be much easier and helpful for your body to absorb their nutrients. The omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish such as salmon and tuna, protect the body from inflammation, white blood cell damage, and help to alleviate stress. Shellfish provide the most zinc of any other food, which is one of the key elements in fighting colds.

5. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are one of the most nutritionally-dense foods on the planet, packed with iron, zinc, copper, and other nutrients that help keep the body’s defenses at their best. The antioxidants in spinach function to develop white blood cells and prevent oxidative stress on the body. If you’re not like Popeye and don’t enjoy eating spinach raw, try putting a handful into a homemade smoothie for a sneaky serving of this powerful food.

Your body will reward you when you make an effort to fill it with nutrient-dense food by not only keeping you from being sick but also giving your long-lasting energy throughout your day and keeping stress and anxiety at bay. A nutritious diet reflects from the inside out and will keep you strong through flu season and beyond.

This guest post is welcomed by Lauren Lane, a junior at the University of Alabama majoring in journalism. She is pursuing a career in food and health writing, and is passionate about plant-based living. Lauren is a Florida native and loves fresh waves and food. She is a staff reporter for the university’s school newspaper, The Crimson White and enjoys writing about campus and local culture. I hope to feature more of her talent in the near future!

Homemade Plum Jam

Homemade Plum Jam

 

I have never made jelly or jam before, but I had some leftover plums and attempted my first ever Homemade Plum Jam. This recipe came out fabulous, and if you like Port, it’s wonderful with that unexpected addition. While I know this recipe has sugar, it also contains cardamom which is super healthy for you including gastrointestinal protection, cholesterol control, control of cancer, relief from cardiovascular issues, and the improvement of blood circulation in the body. Plums are also a great source of Vitamin C, K and filled with fiber. Serve on biscuits, toast and even crackers or bruschetta with a touch of goat cheese for a sweet savory appetizer.

A Great time to go to Casa De Campo is…

Casa De Campo

A Great time to go to Casa De Campo is….soon! On September 7-13, 2015, Casa de Campo, the 7,000 acre luxury resort in La Romana, Dominican Republic, is hosting a Holistic Living & Yoga Retreat. Boasting its holistic reputation and a plethora of treatments and sessions waiting to be indulged in, Casa de Campo’s Community Detox invites guests to experience a week of ultimate relaxation and tranquility in the heart of the Caribbean. My husband has been there before to play golf and relax, and he has told me it’s one of his favorite resorts and destinations.

Starting at $315.57 per night (based on double occupancy, not including $130 mud and juice cleanse or $450 full detox fee), the week-long Holistic Living & Yoga Retreat will feature a variety of options for guest rejuvenation, including hip baths, meditation and yoga, detox massages, a bonfire dinner, and juice, herbal colon and mud cleanses. Check out the schedule below. It sounds awesome!

Caso De Campo pool

 

Check out the schedule below:

Casa de Campo Yoga Retreat copy

 

The Beach Club by Le Cirque LR

Mothers Day Brunch at Flemings

Baked Brioche French Toast

If you’re looking to go out for brunch for Mother’s Day, I have an amazing idea for you. Celebrate Mom at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar for $39.95 per guest.

This three-course culinary experience begins with a choice of appetizer including Lobster Bisque, Modern Caesar or Fresh Seasonal Fruits and continues with a choice of entrée including the Fleming’s Signature Eggs Benedict, Prime Rib with a Trio of Sauces, Blue Crab Omelet, Porcini-Crusted Filet Mignon or Baked Brioche French (Pictured Below). The experience finishes sweetly with a choice of dessert that includes the White Chocolate Bread Pudding, Cheesecake or Walnut Turtle Pie. In addition, each mom will receive a $25 dining card valid for a future visit. To find a location near you and to make a reservation for any of these promotions and events, please visit www.FlemingsSteakhouse.com.

Why to go to Fleming’s April 8th

ChocolateLavaMilkshake_Bar_092614_Detail copy

So most of you blog readers know I am a big fan of Fleming’s Steakhouse and Wine Bar. I have some GREAT NEWS! This week there is something  really awesome going! On Wednesday, April 8th, Fleming’s is offering happy hour ALL night at the bar. Guests can enjoy bar signature items until 10 p.m. Some of my favorites include the Savory Ahi Tunas Tacos, Short Rib Empanadas (see below), Lobster Lettuce Wraps see below) or the Deconstructed Balvenie S’more (OMG yum) which are among other mouth-watering options. They can also indulge in our Chocolate Lava Milkshake with Maker’s Mark Bourbon. Should I really indulge in this milkshake on my wedding week? Hmm….

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ShortRibEmpanadas_Bar_092614_Detail 2

How to Prevent the Flu

IMG_3972 copy It’s 25 degrees this morning in Birmingham, Alabama. I think it’s colder here today than New York. When the temperature fluctuates, everyone starts to get sick. I am so thrilled that Children’s of Alabama was willing to share some tips and great information on how to prevent the flu.

“Helping to prevent the spread of germs and viruses is important in making sure that your child does not get sick,” said Brenda Vason, Manager of Infection Prevention and Control at Children’s of Alabama. Hand washing is the first line of defense. This simple practice protects against the spread of infectious germs. It is important that hand washing is performed properly to ensure that germs are scrubbed away.To make sure your children are getting the most out of their wash:

  • Wash in warm water, but make sure that it isn’t too hot for little hands.
  • Use soap and lather for about 20 seconds. Make sure to get in between fingers and under the nails where germs like to hide.
  • Rinse and dry well with a clean towel.

Be sure that your children know to wash their hands before eating, after using the bathroom, after cleaning, after touching animals, after contact with someone who is sick, after sneezing or coughing or after being outside. Getting a flu vaccination is another important way to keep from getting sick. The flu is a highly contagious virus of the respiratory tract. The flu vaccine does not cause the flu and keeps children and parents from getting sick. It is now recommended that everyone 6 months or older get the vaccine. 2- Be aware of signs and symptoms Viral Infections can cause many symptoms that can differ from child to child. These symptoms can also change as the illness progresses. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if your child is experiencing a common cold or the flu. Typically flu symptoms present themselves suddenly and are more severe than a common cold. However, you should not brush these symptoms off. Symptoms, which normally begin about two days after contact with the virus, can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Ear pain
  • Diarrhea

3- Know when to call the doctor For the most part, these viral infections will go away on their own with a little rest and relaxation. However, there are some cases that require medical attention. You should call the doctor if your child:

  • Has flu symptoms
  • Has a high fever or fever with a rash
  • Has trouble breathing or rapid breathing
  • Has bluish skin color
  • Is not drinking enough fluids
  • Seems very sleepy or lethargic
  • Seems confused
  • Has flu symptoms that get better, but then get worse

Children who are sick should stay home from school or daycare until their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. For more information on this or other health and safety topics, visit www.childrensal.org. 2014pikhheader

Deconstructed Porterhouse at Fleming’s

Deconstructed Porterhouse Photo

I love October and fall! Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar has something truly special this month! Fleming’s is welcoming in Fall with their exclusive Deconstructed Porterhouse for two with roasted cauliflower and crispy potatoes, a limited time offer from October 15th to November 12th.  Guests can share a 28 ounce Porterhouse, and this experience can be paired with a choice of two cabernets: Taken, Cabernet blend, Napa Valley; and Raymond, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast (for an extra fee). How awesome does this sound? It’s on my radar for sure! The Deconstructed Porterhouse is not on the regular menu and is only available upon request.

Nationally acclaimed Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar offers the best in steakhouse dining – Prime meats and chops, fresh fish and poultry, generous salads and side orders — with a unique wine list known as the Fleming’s 100®, which features more than 100 wines served by the glass. In addition, the Fleming’s WiNEPAD™, winner of the 2013 Hospitality Technology Breakthrough Award, is a proprietary, custom web-based application on an iPad that helps Guests easily navigate the restaurant’s extensive wine list.

Saint Lucia Hosts November Health and Wellness Month

Caribbean; St.Lucia uncrowded expanse of beach, Pigeon Island

Saint Lucia invites travelers to experience new levels of rejuvenation and adventure this November during the island’s annual Health & Wellness Month. Inspired by the vast array of wellness-related activities, Saint Lucia’s leading hotels will offer value-added packages and discounted rates. Those seeking quality time with the great outdoors can fly through the rainforest canopies and zip-line with Rain Forest Adventures, explore Saint Lucia’s pristine coral reefs by SNUBA, cruise the rugged trails at Anse Chastanet on a jungle bike, and hike forested paths leading to the peaks of the iconic Piton Mountains. Basking in the ocean spray, yoga on white, sandy beaches, luxurious spa treatments, and the naturally healing Sulphur Springs mud baths will leave you completely refreshed. Here are 4 resorts and offers I recommend checking out:

SaintLucia_spa

1. Jade Mountain – Soufrière

“Tropical Tranquility”

·         Receive a fifth night free in the Sky, Star and Moon categories

·         Five night package rates start at US$6,876 per couple in a Sky Jacuzzi Suite; additional nights can be added at US$1,564 per couple per night in Sky accommodations

·         Includes breakfast and dinner, all tax and service, airport transfers both ways, welcome cocktail, drinks package in room fridge, tropical fruit display, an escorted walk of Anse Mamin Plantation, two one hour classic spa treatments per person, sunset celebration (bottle of champagne with appetizers delivered to guests room once during stay), two Anse Chastanet handmade bathrobes, usage of tennis court and equipment, watersports equipment and complimentary resort water taxi to Anse Mamin beach

·         Book by November 30, 2014 for travel from November 1 through December 19, 2014 and January 5 through December 19, 2015

·         Visit www.jademountain.com for resort information; call 1-800-223-1108 or emailjademountain@ansechastanet.com for Health & Wellness offers

2. Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort – Soufrière

“Linger Longer 5”

  • Stay four nights and receive the fifth night free for a total of 20 percent savings
  • Rates start at US$385 per night for a Luxury Sugar Mill Room
  • Includes complimentary breakfast for two daily
  • Available now through December 18, 2014
  • Five night stay minimum required; offer available in all room categories
  • Visit www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/sugarbeach for resort information; call for Health & Wellness offers

3. The Landings – Rodney Bay

“Body & Soul Wellness Package”

·         Rates from US $325, for savings of up to 45 percent

·         Includes US$100 spa treatment credit, healthy recipes booklet, daily beachfront yoga, guided hike to Pigeon Island National Park, windsurfing, sailing, kayak and tennis instruction

·         Book by September 30, 2014 for travel from September 1 through November 30, 2014

·         Website Booking Code:  BODYSOUL

4. Anse Chastanet – Soufrière

“Tropical Tranquility”

·         Receive a fifth night free

·         Five night package rates start at US$3,924 per couple in superior accommodations; additional nights can be added at US$826 per couple per night

·         Includes breakfast and dinner, all tax and service, airport transfers both ways, welcome cocktail, drinks package in room fridge, tropical fruit display, an escorted walk of the Anse Mamin Plantation, two one hour classic spa treatments per person, sunset celebration (bottle of champagne with appetizers delivered to your room once during stay), two Anse Chastanet handmade bathrobes, usage of tennis court and equipment, watersports equipment, and complimentary resort water taxi to Anse Mamin beach

·         Book by November 30, 2014 for travel from November 1through December 19, 2014 and January 5 through December 19, 2015

·         Visit www.ansechastanet.com for resort information; call 1-800-223-1108 or emailansechastanet@ansechastanet.com for Health & Wellness offers

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