The Jealous Crumpet

A sweet little blog


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Hideous Photos from a Professional Food Photographer

This past weekend I got the opportunity to go to the International Associate of Culinary Professional’s (IACP) annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky. (I drank SO much bourbon!). The conference is a great opportunity for people in all sectors of the culinary field to come together, learn some things, network, meet your culinary idols and of course, eat lots of amazing food. Oh yeah, and the bourbon. IMG_5695Of course, being at a conference with some of the world’s top food photographers/stylists/writers I wanted to be able to put a good foot forward and have some nice images of the conference, but this was not to be the case. I’m not really the most responsible of adults and last year I broke the camera on my phone. I’m not really sure how it happened, but I have a general idea. My husband couldn’t believe that such an expensive phone could break so easily, but when I went to pull my phone out of my purse and accidentally flung it 9 feet across the parking lot he pondered no more.

I did not want to lug my real camera to the conference and the selfie mode of my phone still works, so I just figured I could take lots of selfies to illustrate my experience.  This let to a whole slew of really shitty photographs. I’ve been following the other conference attendee’s beautiful imagery and I’ve got to say it is pretty humbling to present you with this ugly pics.  Enjoy!  4Yikes! That’s super rough. It is seriously hard to take a photo of food when you:

A. Can’t see the image on the screen

B. Can’t zoom in

C. And are shooting with a 1.2 mp camera that does terrible in low light and is clearly meant for portrait mode. 5These were the very best images. Yes, seriously. There are actually images much worse than this crap. 8These are not as bad, to be clear they are not good, but not as bad. You should have seen the confused looks while I was trying to take a photo with my phone facing the wrong way, while hanging over the top and putting fun shadows all over the place. IMG_5667People would ask why I did and when I said I was a food photographer the response was ‘Oh wow.. really?’

The conference itself was excellent. I saw a free friends, met a lot of new people and learned a lot. It was my first trip to Louisville and I throughly enjoyed it.  My husband and I are already making plans to revisit.  I especially want to visit Dinosaur World and the Patton Museum. They weren’t in Louisville city limits, but not far from it.  Also the KFC Museum, how can that be anything less than awesome.

The other awesome thing about the conference was the swag! I’m actually not a huge fan of swag, but there was some primo stuff a this thing. Such as packages of California figs and fig BBQ sauce.IMG_5721I also picked up a potato doll called a Spuddy Buddy! Hilarious! Also, sad that I have the fashion sense of a potato.

I picked it up from my friend’s children, but then I realized the Spud and I had the same shoes! I might keep him now. I mean we have the same shoes! IMG_5737I also got an Anolon frying pan, a yogurt carrier, a cute back of chips, a nice wine opener.. There were also lots of snacks.  My favorite were the kiwi berries, which are essentially mini hairless kiwis. 6I enjoyed the Hillshire small plates while watching Knocked Up at midnight.  I party hard. IMG_5841  I stayed at two different hotels over the 4 days there, and they were great, but my view was less than picturesque. IMG_5879It could be a postcard couldn’t it! Who needs a mountain view when you have a construction site or parking garage?IMG_5664They did make my towel into a swan, so that made up for the view.. a bit.

IMG_5735IMG_5704My husband didn’t get to come with me, so I spent much of the weekend sending him photos of the fun times I was having.  On Saturday I was looking so pulled together with my scarf, make-up and Starbucks so I sent him a photo of it.

When he saw the photo he said it didn’t look a thing like me. Jeez! Why do I even bother. Later that night I sent a ‘regular’ photo with Spuddy Buddies on my head.

On the last day of the conference I went to The Palace for an awards ceremony. Swank!Untitled-1 copyIt was really nice and I got to finally hang out with some friends I’d been missing for most of the conference. IMG_5804Then I packed up all my stuff, grabbed a banana for a road snack and too one last shitty photo of myself before heading back to Alabama. I hope you enjoyed the noisy, blurry, badly cropped awful images. IMG_5878


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Tom’s Commemorative Wall

1Though I lived in the Muscle Shoals area for a number of years, I did not visit Tom Hendrix’s Wichahpi Commemorative  Wall until last year. For those of your unfamiliar with the wall, it started with Alabama-native Tom Hendrix hearing stories about his great-great-grandmother Te-lah-nay, a native American living in Alabama in the 1800s. Te-lah-nay was part of the Yuchi tribe and in one of the worse atrocities committed in the United States, she and other native people were abducted from their homes and marched to Oklahoma along a route now known as the Trail of Tears. Many Native Americans died, but Te-lah-nay not only survived but walked all the way back home to Alabama, by herself! The journey took 5 years, but Te-lah-nay said she heard the Tennessee River singing for her to come home so she just kept on going. Tom was in such awe of her strength and her journey that he wanted to do something to commemorate her. So he build a wall. But that is a complete understatement, because he spent thirty years building the largest mortarless wall in the United States. The wall has over 8.5 million pounds of stone and is the largest monument build for a Native American woman. 3The wall is amazing and draws visitors from all over the world. Numerous Native American tribes have visited, priests from China have hung red ribbons in the trees, a Benedictine priest left carved statues, and visitor have left little trinkets throughout the area. It is a holy, sacred place, that celebrates humanity, strength, courage and unity.1y2b7184

But more than the wall, was the man behind it, Tom.  When you visit Tom would come out of his house, usher you to a folding chair, sit down in his green, plastic lawn chair and tell you the story of his great-great grandmother, the wall, himself, and anything else you wanted to know. He’s show you different parts of the wall, point out interesting memento’s left behind and answer every question. It was truly a spiritual experience and you left striving to be a better person. 6I visited the wall twice, once with my husband and once with my mother.2The second time was last April and Tom spent so much time with my mother and me. He went into his house and brought out beautiful pine needle baskets and the stone that his great-great-grandmother had carried with her. 1y2b7162He told us Native American stories from his childhood and discussed the herbs and teachers and language and so many more things. I had hoped to revisit Tom, but sadly he passed away last weekend.    5He is a great loss to the world, but I know that he touched many lives, including my own.  4Rest in Peace Mr. Hendrix and thank-you for creating something so beautiful. 7


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I’ve Been a Bad Blogger!!

1Okay, so I have been a bad blogger for over 3 months! Ouf, that is a long time and pretty much everything you are not supposed to do if you have a blog. In retrospect I wish that I’d written short easy posts just to maintain consistency, but I didn’t.

So, here come the excuses. There’s so much good television! The Man in the High Castle, Stranger Things, I just started watching Legion.. so good! But that’s not really why I’ve been a slacker. The real reason is because I was writing my first book! A history book about beer no less.

And I know this sounds very naive of me, but I had no idea how much work it was to write a book. The book took thirteen months to write, but the last three months were insanely  intense and nearly did me in.

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SO many papers!! Everywhere.. for months!!

Book writing led to me to be very neglectful to my blogging, but if it makes you feel better I was neglectful to everything and everyone. My friends were ignored, my house was like an episode of Hoarders and the laundry situation was bleak to say the least. It also took a personal toll.  I’ve always been fascinated by the photographs of presidents over time so I did a mini version of myself during the book writing process. I took photos of myself at different points. As you can see I start out so happy and then degrade until a ball of stress and then back to tired but happy at the end. 2To see the different within 24 hours the photo on the left is the day before the book is due and the photo of the right is 10 minutes after I mailed the transcript to my publisher.  img_5563Happily survived and my book North Alabama Beer: An Intoxicating History comes out in August.

Going forward I swear I’ll be blogging more and when I write book number two I’ll be more prepared for the workload.

Thank-you and I am sorry. Foodie posts will be on their way.


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Kona Grill

1Huntsville has a new, ultra cool place to enjoy an upscale cocktail, a pint of local craft beer, and a truly amazing array of culinary delights.  It’s hard to say what the restaurants food genre is other than an eclectic spectrum of deliciousness.  Usually when I got to a restaurant opening I do a little research on the place, but I was pressed for time so as we were driving to the Kona Grill I looked the restaurant up on my phone (don’t worry, my husband was driving).1y2b9304The menu had  lots of different types of food: Japanese, Italian, good old American and even some New England fare.  Mmm Clam Chowder. (It gives me flashbacks to my childhood).

“How can this be good?” I asked by husband while looking at my phone. “There are too many different styles of food.”

Thirty minutes later I would be eating my words, while sipping on a heavenly strawberry basil cocktail and eating a numerous styles of food that were consistently good.1y2b9311The interior is sleek, yet comfortable.  The restaurant is divided into different atmospheres, but all of them were equally enjoyable.  It is a great place to grab a meal before a Saturday out on the town or settle in on a weeknight for numerous dishes, drinks and causal conversation. We opted to sit on the patio in the unseasonably warm weather with blogging superstar SweetTMakesThree and our hubbies.  1y2b9323The staff was lovely, well-informed and so helpful. They brought us lots of different dishes to sample and offered to get anything we needed from their skilled chefs and bar staff. 1y2b9333I started with the flatbread pizza. It was delicious, which is going to sound very redundant soon, but seriously everything tasted amazing.untitled-12After a while I noticed people sipping on fruity cocktails, and being a person that doesn’t want to miss out, I went and located a few for the table.untitled-15Mmm. Just looking at the pictures again makes me want another.  They were fresh and fruit the with right amount of kick.

I LOVE food presentation, so I was all about the ice sculpture in the sushi room.untitled-13All of the sushi is made fresh in-house. It went so fast that I was barely able to get a photo before it was gone, but I snagged a couple of pieces.  Once again delicious. 1y2b93341y2b9343We then enjoyed well-cooked burgers (American-style) and pork dumplings (Chinese-style). My absolute favorite was the tuna sashimi (Japanese-style) and we finished up with passion fruit creme brûlée (French-style).  It was like visiting Epcot Center without all the crying children and overpriced Mickey merchandise. untitled-14I highly recommend visiting Kona Grill! The husband and I have already made plans to be back. Make sure you visit it at Bridge Street Town Centre in Huntsville. 1y2b9421

 


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Local Taco

untitled-11A couple of weeks ago I got invited to the soft opening of Local Taco.  I walked in hungry, but I waddled out so so full and so so happy.    untitled-13The restaurant is located at the Shops at Merchants Walk, close to downtown Huntsville, but also convenient to my neck of the woods, Madison. 1y2b7688The restaurant has a cool, open floor plan with hip, clean decor.  The polished concrete flooring and restoration-style lighting makes this place perfect for young professionals, but it also very accommodating to families.  It’s a great versatile place with delicious food.   untitled-2The hubby came with me on this adventure and we both had a blast.  We started out with a quadruple sauce tray that included guacamole, two types of salsa and smokey jalapeño queso.  Everything was delicious, but our favorite was the queso.  untitled-1We KNEW we needed to pace ourselves because we would be served numerous dishes, but everything was so good that we royally failed.  With our dips and chips we each had margaritas: mango strawberry and peach strawberry. Both were too yummy for their own good.untitled-1aThen the tacos started coming out. This is when we over indulged, but the food was so good. All of it!   untitled-14We started with the chef’s recommendations and got Nashville Hot Chicken (one of my several favs!), Al Pastor, El Carnicero, and the Mission Smoked Chicken.  We did spilt the tacos, but they are still quite filling.  untitled-17They also have gluten-free options, so it is a great place for dietary restrictions. At further recommendations we went with the Dory, a catfish taco with pickled onions, coleslaw and pico.  It was by far my favorite taco. The restaurant is officially open, so make sure you pop in.  If you are a catfish fan it is imperative that you order the Dory. You won’t be disappointed!untitled-12


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Green Bus Brewing

1Huntsville has a new brewery!!! Let’s all toast Green Bus Brewery with a pint of Hop Bus IPA!!1y2b7819Back in 2009 craft beer in Huntsville was in its infancy. Prior to this beer with an alcohol content of more than 6% was banned from the state. Other prohibition era laws remained of the books and essentially stifled an industry that was thriving and benefiting other states throughout the country. In 2005, a group of passionate beer lovers started the Free the Hops movement to change the laws and bring more sophisticated beer drinking habits to the state.  And once change started there was no stopping it.  Throughout Alabama craft breweries started expanding, but no place took to it like Huntsville.  Maybe it’s all of our out-of-state brew drinking transplants, maybe it’s our high populations of beer-loving engineers, but whatever the reason, Huntsville loves craft beer!2Now that we’ve hit 2016 Green Bus will be the 8th brewery in Madison County.  I had the pleasure of dropping into the Grand Opening.1y2b7808The Grand Opening lasted all day and I picked a time that I thought would be dead, but I would be wrong.  There were tons of people, lots of beer, food, games, live music, raffles, and a guy in lederhosen. ‘Tis the season I suppose.  1y2b7833They even had the infamous green bus! It was covered with stickers from all the other local breweries. I love how the craft beer industry in Alabama is so supportive of each other. I can’t tell you how many times brewers have told me ‘when one of us succeeds we all do’.1y2b7839I’d loved to have tasted the beer, but unfortunately I am currently under a strict gluten-free diet (doctor’s orders) so alas I could only photograph it.  I will say it was quite pretty and the drinkers around me seemed immensely happy.3


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A Splendid Shindig at Piper & Leaf

Piper and LeafAll North Alabamians know and love Piper & Leaf and now there is a second location in Madison!!3You can’t pop into a local farmer’s market without seeing the long lines of smiling faces coming from the Piper & Leaf tent and for good reason. Their tea is, in a word, divine.untitled-5With flavors like Apple Cart Blossom, Pumpkin Moonshine and Strawberry Shindig there is a tea for everyone. untitled-2 The new location is in the Sprout’s shopping center, tucked nicely against The Juicery, allowing you to get all of your healthy treats in one area. To kick of the grand opening Piper & Leaf threw one of their Splendid Shindigs, which included morning yoga, henna painting, contests, raffles and much more. untitled-1Olivier and I arrived to the new location, which is light and modern. I’m so hesitant to use the term hip, as the hipster movement has such a bad rap, but the new location was all the good parts of hip. Clean, interesting, local, fresh and energizing. It was also very inclusive, accepting of all with judgement of none, which is very unhipster.    4There are lots of comfy sitting options throughout. You can enjoy your tea and nosh at the bar and watch the masterful tea artists at their best or in the overstuffed sofas in the back.11The Piper and Leaf has amazing french cookies and house made pastries, so Olivier and I each got a savory pastry to pair with iced Piper Mint Blue at half sweetness (my favorite).  untitled-3My french husband said the pastries were the best he’d had.. outside of France of course, but still that is a huge compliment. untitled-4Unfortunately, I went into complete glutton mode and forgot to find out what the names of the pastries were. They were delicious and I’d guess you really can’t go wrong.  I will say they were presented on the most stunning wooden trays and I recommended eating them in-house for just that reason. The trays are created but the ultra talented artist Joshua Arney from locally produced Alabama hardwoods. Each one is a unique masterpiece so make sure you follow him at The Irish Crafter.12Piper & Leaf also has dry tea and brewing accoutrement for the homebody and if you don’t need an entire jar they sell smaller bags. There are also samples if you can’t decide!7Pop over today and enjoy the new location. It’s comfortably close to my house so I think I’ll be spending a lot more of my money on tea!  You can also stick with the tried-and-true and visit the original Piper & Leaf at Lowe Mill Arts in Huntsville.  9