The Jealous Crumpet

A sweet little blog


Day 1: Grille 29 #dinehsv

Grille 29 #dinehsv‘Tis the time of year that North Alabama foodies rejoice and get their taste buds ready: Huntsville Restaurant Week! This is the 5th year of Huntsville Restaurant Week and from August 12th until the 21st patrons can enjoy speciality menu items at great prices from numerous restaurants across Madison County.

As part of the kickoff to Restaurant Week several fellow bloggers and I visited three eateries to get a first look at their specials. I’ve had the pleasure of participating in this Blog Tour for 3 years running. I love it, so please feel free to keep inviting me back! (Not so subtle hint)

This year’s talented bloggers included:

Charles Hunter III with The Salted Table

Jennifer Gervens with Sweet T Makes Three

Katie Wright with Katie Actually

Bo Williams and Stephenie Walker with Rocket City Mom

I’ll include a link to each of their posts at the end, so make sure you give them almost as much love as you give me!

Grille 29Our first stop was Grille 29.  Last year the blog tour had brunch here (the shrimp and grits were to die for!) so I had very high expectations, which were surpassed yet again. You can check out last years post here.

We started with Roasted Cauliflower Soup, which was garnished with crispy prosciutto and greens. I’m a huge veggie-aholic, so I found this dish completely addictive. I seriously dreamed about it that night.Cauliflower SoupNext we sampled a Southern classic, fried green tomatoes, topped with pork belly and blue pimento cheese. It was also scrumptious! Fried Green TomatoesNext came the main course Flat Iron Steak, enhanced with a roasted shallot reduction, topped with house-made Pico de Gallo and sweet potato straws, over cheese grits. Are you hungry yet, because just writing this post is making me drool.Flat Iron SteakWhen we knew we couldn’t possibly eat anymore, dessert came out and we mustered the courage to go on.

We started with a Lemon Lava Cake, which was stunning. It was a delicious dessert, but it was also a beautiful dessert, which really warms a food photographers heart.Lemon Lava CakeThen came a Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle, which I’ve had before and loved before. From what I could tell it was a fan favorite. Peanut Butter TruffleAnd last, but certainly not least, was the Cheesecake of the Day, Turtle Cheesecake.Turtle CheesecakeEverything was delicious! While we were photographing food on the patio a jealous lizard kept on eyeing the Lemon Lava Cake.  Sadly for the lizard, we didn’t have any leftovers.lizard and cheesecakeAll of the food was created under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Cara Thompson. Make sure you attend Rocket Chef at the Merrimack Hall on August 8th and cheer for Chef Cara as she competes against other culinary geniuses for the title of Rocket Chef. All proceeds from the event go to the Food Bank of North Alabama, so it feeds your soul as well as your belly.11More about Grille 29 please visit:

Katie Actually:

Sweet T Makes Three:

Rocket City Mom:

Bo Williams:

Grille 29


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Big Oh’s Event

1Y2B1759Yay! Huntsville has a new Korean Fusion Restaurant and it’s wonderful! Last night I had the pleasure of visiting a tasting event at a brand new restaurant: Big Oh’s.

One of the perks of having a food blog, you get invited to cool gigs and people feed you. Seriously, if you have a food blog you know what I’m talking about and if you don’t have one you should, so you’ll know what I’m talking about.Untitled-12My husband has recently become a workaholic so I went to the tasting with my dear friend Deidre. I couldn’t have asked for a better date: good conversation, excellent food, a lively atmosphere, and a compassionate ear for when I complained about my workaholic husband. Untitled-1We sat at a small two person table (it’s more intimate that way), but a short time later I saw two friends I knew: Aska and Nico. Big Oh’s was packed and there were no tables left, so I invited Aska and Nico to join our little table.  We crammed around the 2 person table, our elbows knocking into our neighbors and kicking each other every time we shifted, but we were cozy.1Y2B1787Then a mutual friend Amanda comes in and we thought, What the hell, and crammed her into the mix. As the evening wound down plenty of seats and tables opened up, but we stayed in our tight formation enjoying the food and company.  At the end the owners even jointed the mix and our table for two became of table of 7!1Y2B1766It was wonderfully fun and I can honestly say that Big Oh’s was great, with excellent food (the Bacon Kimchi was to die for) and pleasant ambience.  Everyone from the staff and owners to the invitees and guests were happy and friendly.  I’m looking forward to going back.1Y2B1752This time my photos did not do the food justice.  I was woefully unprepared, (no flash, no tripod, no reflector, etc.) but I can say that there were piles upon piles of food when we started and as we were leaving I noticed there was almost nothing left, aside from a platter of veggies and who’s going to pick vegetables over bacon kimchi.  1Y2B1774


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An Unexpected Ume Wine Festival

feature_1aOn my recent trip to Japan, I visited the village of Tanabe specifically to tour the shinto shrine of Kumano Hongū Taisha. As we walked up the 158 steps to the shrine we noticed many people carrying tiny, white packages covered in red writing. We finally asked a woman what was in the package and she told us they were umes, a fruit similar to plums. She enthusiastically explained that the temple was having a ume festival at that very moment and directed us to a table covered with the packages. feature11We noticed a crowd gathering at the entrance of the shrine so we walked over to investigate. To our delight there was an elaborate ceremony going on to kick-off umeshu or ume wine season. In the states we call umeshu plum wine, but apparently this is a misnomer. Umes are similar to plums, but not actually plums. Here is a diagram explaining.

Here is a diagram from the Choya Umeshu website explaining the differences.

Here is a diagram from the Choya Umeshu website explaining the differences.

We respectfully stayed in the back of the shrine watching the festivities, but I suppose our obvious tourist appearance made us stick out and several people came up to us to ask where we were from and if we were enjoying the ceremony. This drew more attention to us and a short time later two Japanese news stations came over with cameras and started interviewing our friends, Matthieu and Barbara, who speak Japanese. My husband and I were pretty glad to not be able to speak Japanese in that moment. My interview would have been sad and short, “hello”, “I’m sorry” and “thank-you very much”.feature5Unfortunately our lack of speaking/understand Japanese did not help us escape media coverage. We soon found ourselves being handed boxes of umes and through gesturing were asked to join the ceremony by pouring the fruit into a large bucket. We stood in a long line of people solemnly pouring boxes of plums, that aren’t really plums, into a container as cameras and microphones captured every moment. As I stood in line, acutely aware of the cameras focusing on me, I wondered why I had worn such an ugly shirt that day and why hadn’t I bothered to slap a little bit of lip gloss on. The day before, when there was no national coverage of my vacation, I was so pulled together. Jeez. feature10Despite my nerves and insecurities I was quite honored to be asked to participate in such a formal ceremony. I managed to get my umes in the container without tripping over myself or spilling any on the ground. feature6After successfully placing the umes into the barrel (under the scrutiny of spectators and cameras) we receded to the back corner of the shrine to watch the rest of the festival. Many people spoke, which of course I couldn’t understand and men in suits lined up and poured alcohol over the umes and carried leaf covered branches into the shrine. feature7There was even a beautiful dance performed by two women in kimonos and headdresses. They danced with bells, making them ring only at specific moments. I had no idea what was going on, but despite this it was stunning and I actually felt moved by the elegance of it all. feature8Toward the end of the ceremony the head priest of the shrine brought us gifts for attending the ceremony. I couldn’t believe it! At this point I desperately wanted to be able to speak Japanese to so I could fully express my gratitude. I bowed and say “Doumo arigatou gozaimasu” over and over, but that didn’t quite convey my gratitude at people’s amazing generosity and kindness. The ceremony ended with everyone toasting with a small glass of plum wine. I learned that Japanese for ‘Cheers’ is ‘Kanpai’ which literally means empty cup.feature9A baby at the festival over indulged and passed out. Ha ha! Just kidding. She was playing with an empty cup and fell asleep, but I thought it was a funny picture.



Later that evening we enjoyed a glass of the wine in our hostel. Kanpai!!feature3When I got home to the states I bought some umeshu at the grocery story. It made me all weepy and nostalgic for Japan. It is delicious and if you haven’t tried it I highly recommend giving it a go, especially the Choya brand. Their website has many delicious cocktails to make with it, though I like it just straight and chilled. umeshu


Apple Pie Crostatas

Apple TartThough I have been completely remiss in posting for the ENTIRE month of December (I’m so ashamed), I did one to get one last post in before we all bid a fond (or not so fond for some of us) farewell to 2014.

Last month I had the great pleasure of photographing Margaret Baggett, chef and creator the catering company The Chef Next Door.  She also is the creator of the restaurant and speciality shop The Marketplace Cafe.Untitled-1

She baked and cooked many beautiful (and delicious) dishes, but my favorite was the Apple Pie Crostatas.  As tasty as they were stunning.  Below is Margaret’s recipe.

Easy Apple Pie Crostatas

recipe and food styling by Margret Baggett

Pillsbury rolled Pie Dough Sheets (NOT a pie shell)

Gala/Fuji/Honeycrisp Apples, unpeeled

Brown Sugar



Unsalted Butter


On a clean work surface, roll out the pie dough.

Using a small prep bowl, about 6” diameter, trace around the bowl with a knife to make a perfect circle with the dough. Place the rounds on a baking sheet

(You should get 2 circles from each sheet of pie dough. If you don’t like waste, you can remold the excess pie dough, roll it out, and repeat the tracing procedure to get a third circle.)

Slice the apples thinly.

(If you do not plan to assemble and bake the dish immediately, place the sliced apples in water with a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent browning.)

Place 10-12 slices of apple in the center of each pie dough round.

Sprinkle the apples liberally with brown sugar, then a dash of Cinnamon and Allspice.

Crimp the edges of the pie dough in pleats around the pile of sugared apples, almost enclosing the entire pile but leaving the top open.

Place a small dot of butter over the exposed apples, then brush the pastry lightly with milk with a pastry brush or using your finger.

Bake the crostatas at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and the apples and brown sugar are caramelized and bubbly.

1Y2B5677Enjoy and have a wonderful holiday season!

Holiday Dessert

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Beer Glazed Chicken Wings

Beer Glazed Chicken WingsIn the states the air is starting to chill, the leaves are developing a rosy hue and most importantly (especially in the southern regions of the states) tailgating season has started.  This means weekends filled with American football and lots of beer and food.  3I recently wrote article for a local magazine, NoAla, about Alabama’s exploding craft beer industry and different dishes you can make with the local brew.  It wasn’t specifically for tailgaters, but they would love these dishes.

yellowhammer1My friend and colleague, Lily Plauché, developed four amazing recipes for the article, my favorite being the Dark Hammer Chicken Wings.yellowhammer15Dark Hammer Chicken Wings

Serves: 4-6

2 pounds chicken wings

½ cup cherry juice

1 cup Yellowhammer Dark Hammer beer (Belgian Quad)

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon molasses

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1 lime, cut into wedges

Fresh cilantro


1. Heat oven to 425°F. Arrange chicken wings on a foil-lined baking sheet with sides.

2. In a medium pot, combine juice, beer, sugar, soy sauce, molasses, vinegar, pepper, and coriander. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, watching carefully as it can boil over. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced to 1 cup (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat.

3. Pour the glaze over the wings. Bake at 425°F for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until done. Preheat broiler. Broil wings 1-2 minutes or until browned. Serve with lime wedges and cilantro.2