Dining Recommendations

DINING AND LODGING RECOMMENDATION:

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Almand J. Westbrook, Sr. (Joe)

 

 

THE FRYEMONT INN

245 Fryemont Street

Bryson City, NC 28713

 

Toll-Free: 1-800-845-4879

or 828-488-2159

 

Owners & Innkeepers:

Monica & George Brown IV

Sue & George Brown

 

I can’t even remember how many years that Joe and I have made at least one visit, and often more, to this favorite historic inn in Bryson City, North Carolina.  Suffice it to say that we were not the original guests when the mountain inn opened in 1923!

 

I love it because it gives me a peak into the early days of our wonderful country, when vacationing parties arrived with their trunks by train or spindly-looking cars to “take” a month of mountain air.

 

The Brown family that owns The Fryemont Inn obviously operates it with love and seems to have dedicated a large part of their lives to the preservation and traditions of the inn.  I really like that!

 

The Fryemont Inn sits on a wooded knoll distantly overlooking the tiny town of Bryson City, North Carolina.  The town is tucked into a quiet corner of the Great Smoky Mountains with the beautiful Tuckasegee River meandering through it.  You can even hear the old steam locomotive’s whistle that summons passengers to the antique rail cars for a ride through the mountains.

 

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DINING RECOMMENDATION:

PINZONE’S ITALIAN DOWNTOWN RESTAURANT
312 Fairhope Ave.
Fairhope, Al 36532
(251) 990-5535
www.italiandowntown.com

OWNERS: Mike Pinzone and Chef Scott Dumas

 

On our many trips to Fairhope, AL to visit our adult children, we were intrigued with a new building being built in the heart of downtown that was reminiscent of an Italian villa.  To our absolute delight we learned that it would be a restaurant; we love Italy and almost anything Italian.  Pinzone’s Italian Downtown Restaurant opened on April 15, 2011, and we have been patrons, whenever possible, since their opening.

Their menu is carefully designed and focused on authentically representing a wide range of Italian foods.  It begins with interesting and unique appetizers, and offers daily gourmet specials in addition to the menu.  These specials often feature filet mignon, veal, or fresh Gulf of Mexico seafood.  It also travels to well-prepared traditional Italian dishes, salads, wonderful eggplant entrees, and, of course, ends with luscious dessert offerings.  If you prefer more casual fare, there are a variety of pizzas to choose from that are made using recipes handed down from Mike Pinzone’s grandfather.  The carefully selected wines are primarily Italian or American in origin

 

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DINING RECOMMENDATION:



AUNT B’S COUNTRY KITCHEN
3750 Bay Road
Theodore, Alabama 36582

(251) 623-1868
www.shopauntbs.com



OWNERS: Robert and Beverly Pettie

We were on vacation and Joe and I were just “bumming” around Dauphin Island enjoying the scenery, while the other houseguests were baking in the sun on the beach.  Joe has “Irish” skin and avoids direct sun like the plague, unless slathered in sunscreen and covered with a wide-brimmed hat.  We had taken in the wild water crashing on the rocks on the East end of the island where there’s lots of turbulence from the confluence of Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.  And, we had walked some of the lovely Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary Trail where we had spotted four Great Blue Herons, several white Cattle Egrets, and a Tri-Color Egret all in a small lake with beautiful yellow water lilies.  It seemed like time for lunch, which Joe and I rarely have to be prodded to partake of, when my cell phone rang.  My sweet young cousin, Mardie Pfeiffer Sharp, was calling to remind us of her suggestion to be sure to eat at a restaurant-country store-farm combination that was close-by.  Joe had to gently pry me off the island with the promise of good food since I was definitely not in the mood to get near anything that might resemble work!  What the heck, I was hungry.   Mardie had mentioned this place several times; she knows good food when she tastes it; and it was only ½ mile off the main road between Mobile and Dauphin Island.  You can see that we’re easily persuaded when food is involved.  On the way we called her to join us for lunch, but she was the real estate agent “on duty” at Pickett Real Estate and couldn’t leave the office.  Sorry, Mardie.



The restaurant named, “Aunt B’s Country Kitchen”, turned out to be quite an interesting place. Fortunately, we were lunching later than usual which gave us extra time with one of the owners, Robert Pettie.  The restaurant is named for the other owner and the chef, his wife Beverly.  She was out on an errand at the time, so we missed her.  Beverly’s nieces & nephews call her “Aunt B” thus the obvious name for the restaurant.

 

This place is full of fascinating contradictions! Aunt B’s Country Kitchen is just across the street from the Pettie’s 125-acre farm where they grow as much as possible for their extensive menu. The grounds are beautifully kept pastureland with pecan groves and huge old oak trees.  The 1901 farmhouse-restaurant could pass for a dainty tearoom with its white gingerbread trim on pale yellow with a large screened porch entry.  But once inside, it is an entirely different structure.  There are hand-hewn heart-of-pine timbers used for both wall panels and magnificent massive open rafters.  The rich dark colors compliment the large brick fireplace which shows its 110 years of use to warm the house.  The heavy mantle is laden with old books and guarded by an antique rifle.  Before the loving renovation of the farmhouse, it had stood abandoned and completely overgrown for many, many years.  As luck would have it, Aunt B’s Country Kitchen opened for business four days before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill about 15 months ago.  Bob Pettie laughed, yes, laughed at his sense of business timing!  I would have been beyond devastated!   You’ll have to admit, the guy’s got a great sense of humor and staying power.

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RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATION:

 

RED or WHITE
WINE & GOURMET CENTER

323-A De La Mare Ave.
Fairhope, Alabama 36532
(251) 990-0003
email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

&

RED or WHITE
WINE & GOURMET CENTER

1801 Old Shell Road
Mobile, Alabama 36607
(251) 478-9494

OWNERS: Randy and Sherri Williams


Until about eight years ago, there was really not a good place to buy fine wines at a reasonable price in southern Alabama.  You could always travel to New Orleans to get a large selection of wines, but this was not a suitable solution.  As luck would have it, Randy K.Williams had been the sales manager for a fine wine company out of Atlanta for quite a number of years and definitely “knew his wines”.

Being a native Californian was a perfect beginning.  During his college years at The University of Washington in Seattle, Randy was a bartender at an upscale restaurant.
He would occasionally fill-in for his friend, the sommelier, at the restaurant.  By way of thanks, the friend educated Randy sip by sip in the art of wine tasting and wine selection.  After college, Randy “ditched” his banking degree and became a representative for a large wine company in the West.  During his wine rep travels, he met and married Sherri who was an airline attendant and most importantly a native of Mobile, Alabama.

Twenty years and two young sons later, in 2003, they opened RED or WHITE WINE & GOURMET CENTER in Fairhope, Alabama.  Then, several years later, they opened a second shop in Mobile, Alabama.  

Randy studies all of the newest wine literature and also keeps abreast of the industry through his wholesale wine reps and gurus.  He usually brings in 4 to 5 new wines every week.  In talking with him, I was amazed to learn that red wines are 65 to 70% more popular than white wines for both men and women!  Well, it only stands to reason - my doctor says that a little red wine is particularly good for a body.  Now that, tops my all-time-excuses for going to RED or WHITE!   

RED or WHITE has an interesting concept - racks of over 600 bottles of fine wines, both foreign and domestic to allow you to make your own selections to stock your cellar or your wine rack.  If you prefer, Randy or his staff will recommend wines to suit you or make a suggestion for a gift.  RED or WHITE also features fine olive oils, many artisan cheeses, unique wine accessories, a dozen wines served by the glass in elegant wineglasses, and bottles of wines to be decanted there to serve yourself at your table.  There are small bistro tables and chairs, “cushy” sofas to sink deep into, while sipping a glass of vino, or a private back room for larger parties.   Add a little lighting ambiance and wonderful aromas coming from the bistro to make a grand evening or a luncheon afternoon with friends.  

Randy and Sherri do not want a full restaurant, but have added a chef to their staff to prepare their food offerings.  Choose a red or a white wine cheese board with Manchego, Pecorino, Mobay Mobier, Mimolette or other cheeses.  Or, a sampler board with a Ravioli pot of wild mushroom ravioli in roasted red pepper cream sauce, Bruschettas, warm mixed olives, a wedge of cheese, and thinly sliced Italian cured meats.   Perhaps you would enjoy a handmade, thin-crust small pizza, or an antipasto, chicken or vegetable board.  You can add roasted walnuts, almonds & pecans or beef Carpaccio on a baby greens salad with shaved Pecorino cheese.  I absolutely must stop now; I’m starving!

When in South Alabama, make an extra special date to visit either or both RED or WHITE WINE & GOURMET CENTERS.  Fairhope and Mobile are VERY lucky that Sherri found that “Wine Guy” wandering around out West and brought him to south Alabama!

CHEERS!  SALUTE!  L’CHAIM!   SALUD!  A VOTRE SANTE!  KAMPAI! SLAINTE!   ZUM WHOL!   NIEN NIEN!   SKAAL!   JAMAS!   PROSIT!
MUD IN YOUR EYE!

 

Restaurant recommendation:

THE BAKERY and CAFÉ at Rose Cottage in Pine Mountain, Georgia

Could not believe our great good luck last Friday.  Joe and I had slipped away to Georgia for a long weekend in the Pine Mountain and Calloway Gardens area.  It was perfect weather in the gentle, Georgia rolling hills.  We had the entire day to ourselves before joining friends for the rest of the weekend.  We went on a short errand into “the bustling metropolis” of Pine Mountain, Georgia with a total population of about 1,500 people, and stumbled across an interesting looking bakery.  On a high, open rack in the window, there was stack upon stack of loaves of round, crusty artisan bread.   Those loaves could not be denied since it was time for lunch.  Inside the restaurant we were surprised to find an antique and gift shop blended with the dining areas.   It has Southern-Victorian-Cottage charm (is there really such a thing, other than in my mind?).  Antique double-topped square tables with chairs, lovely oil paintings, old wooden chests, nooks with recessed cabinets displaying delicate antique china.  Someone had a great eye for an inviting place for lunch.  
Joe and I both selected “grilled country ham and flat creek cheddar on walnut campilloux served with a bowl of tomato bisque”.  Joe decided on a salad as the side dish and I asked to get their soup of the day instead of the tomato bisque.  Our delightful young server tried her best to steer me to the tomato bisque, but the other soup appealed to me more.  The sandwich was made on the bakery’s walnut bread and was absolutely fantastic. The soup of the day was great and then, our cute server rather sheepishly arrived at our table with a demitasse cup of the tomato bisque for me to “just sample”.  Obviously she was “sold” on this soup!  Only one sip of it sold us, too.   Joe and I instantly decided that this was a restaurant that we would like to mention on my new blog.  

The owners, Chef John and Maria Makin, formally of Scottsdale, Arizona are quite an interesting pair.  John was born in the Philippines where his father worked after World War II and married his mother who is of half German and half Filipino/Chinese.  Maria was born in Austria where her mother lived in Vienna.  So this pair came by international cuisine in a natural way.

They specialize in fresh, locally grown and raised ingredients for all of their menu offerings –
grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, cage-free eggs, chemical-free fruits and vegetables, artisan-made cheeses, etc.  Their menus change often to suit seasonal availability and to quote  Chef John, “the whims of the chef”! .

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