The Jealous Crumpet

A sweet little blog


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Day 2: Toybox Bistro #dinehsv

Toybox BistroAs celebration of a growing food community in North Alabama the Huntsville/Madison County Visitor’s Bureau will host Huntsville Restaurant Week. From August 12th until the 21st restaurants across Madison County offer specials that range from $5 to $30, allowing patrons to dine in wide variety of eateries over this 10 day period.

To kick off the event several top-notch bloggers (and myself) get to sample the special deals and blog about it. 

Fun(free food + blog idea) + A=(happy food bloggers)5  Solve for A (Show your work)

Day 2 of the blog tour found us at the Toybox Bistro and I’ll admit I was really excited about this one. I’ve been hearing great things about the Bistro, but I haven’t tried yet and this was a great excuse to visit (not that you need an excuse).Toybox Bistro

I’m going to get to the food, which was exceptional, but let me start with the ambiance, which was surprisingly fun and exciting.

As the story goes owner Michelle was married to Steve, who was a big collector of all things nerdy. He had a huge stash of geeky toys from just about every genre and when he passed away Michelle wasn’t really sure what to do with it all. At around the same time her BFF Bill, who has extensive experience in the restaurant industry wanted to “build a place where he can cook some funky food and serve some cool beers and just let people hang out.” Out of this came the funky, geeky amalgamation of nerd meets foodie, The Toybox Bistro.Foodie meets nerdThe decor is epic. No matter what your fandom is, you will probably find a corner in the Bistro that represents your love. There is Pokemon, Mario, Star Trek, Star Wars, Magic, UNO, Voltron, Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, Hungry Hungry Hippo, etc, etc, etc.6

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I forgot to look if they had a cricket bat for Shawn of the Dead.

9There are canisters of legos to bring to your table, but honestly it is so exciting to just look around that you won’t have time to build anything.7Each table and corner is unique, so you’re bound to have a favorite nook or cranny. Even the ceiling is covered with model space ships, nostalgic board games and over 150 Pez dispensers.  17It is hard to not feel nostalgic in this place. For a photographer it is a dream restaurant to get pictures. 11And we haven’t even gotten to the food!! After you have marveled at the toys and games, had childhood flashbacks, pointed out nerdy things to the other people at your table, you start to realize that you actually came to eat, so you peruse the menu.

I forgot to see if they had a cricket bat for a Zombie Apocalypse.

I forgot to see if they had a cricket bat for a Zombie Apocalypse.

The menu is as nerdy as you’d hope, with dishes such as the Redneck Luigi, The Sonic Gut Buster and Fires of Mt. Doom Chili.15They also have cool culinary dishes that explore the joys of comfort food, such as Waffled Mac & Cheese, Lobster Rolls, Fried Wickles and the northern favorite, way northern (like Canada north) Poutine (fries, with gravy and cheese curd).

Because food bloggers are great at sharing we all ordered a bunch of specials and had a little of everything!

See all of the bloggers working together!!4Our first dish was the PB & Yay Burger with the poutine that I just mentioned. The burger was a fresh (never frozen) 6 oz patty with tomatoes, red onions, tons of bacon, pepper jack cheese and peanut butter. Yep, you read that right, peanut butter. It was surprisingly awesome. 12The next sandwich was the C3PO, which is a hand breaded chicken breast with bacon bescemel sauce, more bacon, tomato, ham and crisp lettuce.  I liked both sandwiches, but this one was my favorite.  It also came with a side of fried wickels. Oh so yum!13Then came Mac and Cheese Waffles. I know, right! The best part of Mac and Cheese the is crispy, melted bits and this entire dish was covered in it.  Yum!!2At this point I was post-Thanksgiving dinner stuffed, but just like with Thanksgiving there is always room for dessert. And this dessert was spectacular: Cherry Cheese Cake Rangoons.
1Warning: the portions are generous is an understatement, so make sure you come hungry or at least with loose-fitting clothes.
16Make sure you check out my fellow bloggers posts. There was so much to see and talk about that I know they all covered a lot of stuff that I didn’t even touch on.

Katie Actually http://www.katieactually.com/toybox-bistro/

Rocket City Mom (with a Kid Reporter!!) http://www.rocketcitymom.com/kid-report-toybox-bistro/

Bo Williams http://bowilliams.com/2016/07/visiting-toy-box-bistro-for-huntsville-restaurant-week-2016/

Sweet T Makes Three http://www.sweettmakesthree.com/places-to-eat-in-huntsville-alabama/
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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: http://www.katieactually.com/grille-29-2/

Sweet T Makes Three: http://www.sweettmakesthree.com/places-to-eat-in-huntsville-alabama/

Rocket City Mom: http://www.rocketcitymom.com/grille-29/

Bo Williams: http://bowilliams.com/2016/07/huntsville-restaurant-week-2016/

Grille 29

 


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Uncle Maddio’s Pizza

Uncle Maddio's

Madison Alabama has a new pizza place, Uncle Maddio’s Pizza, and it’s pretty awesome! I had the pleasure of attending Maddio’s Ribbon Cutting and VIP event (somehow I’ve tricked people into thinking I’m a VIP, he he he) and got a first taste of the pizza and restaurant.
Uncle Maddio'sMaddio’s specializes in fresh pizza made with local ingredients. There are 3 types of crust (traditional, whole wheat and gluten-free), 6 types of sauce (tomato basil, BBQ, buttermilk ranch, buffalo, herb pesto and garlic olive oil) and 45 toppings!!
10At the event I met up with fellow bloggers C.C. Fridlan, Bo Williams, and Constance Smith. Make sure you check out their blog posts as well.   9 The restaurant is a family-friendly, casual restaurant with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients.
16The way it works is, you select your crust and sauce and then comes the hardest part, you have to pick your ingredients, which seems easy until you realize that you have 45 to choose from.
18So many options!14I went with the gluten-free, Peachy Keen summer pizza, which had fresh peaches, basil, onions, prosciutto, and balsamic vinegar. It was de-licious!
15The staff was friendly and lovely. The employee (pizza artist, pizzista, I don’t know the official title)  making my pizza even happily tolerated my manic picture-taking and posed to let me get a photo right as it was about to go into the oven.
13After the pizza is assembled it goes into the oven and you go to your table to wait.
12We all received our meals promptly, which was impressive considering the throngs of people who were there.  As us bloggers enjoyed our pizzas we were brought cookies and cannolis (though I think this was only because it was a VIP event).  I am absolutely not supposed to have wheat or sugar (that’s a blog post for the future) but I did partake in one cannoli.
7I’m such a sucker for tiny desserts!5Everyone’s pizza looked delectable and I’m looking forward to bringing my husband and trying Maddio’s again. They had so many local beers on tap for the adults and a children’s menu for the kiddies.  There really is something for everyone!68Patrons can order online and avoid the line. The employees were fast, so the line wasn’t a problem for me, but if you have small children this could be a life saver.
20Check out Uncle Maddio’s in Madison and let me know what you think!4


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New Menu at BRAVO Cucina Italiana

2To be honest, blogging can be a lot of work and often I wonder if it is worth the effort. And just when I decide maybe I don’t want to do it anymore I get invited to a dinner or tasting and I decide I like it again.

My latest food-venture was at Bravo! Cucina Italiana with fellow food blogger C.C. Fridlin. We attended a tasting of the restaurant’s new menu, which included a wine pairing.
4We started with Zucchini & Eggplant Fritti with lemon aioli and pomodoro sauce. Yum! I’m sort of allergic to eggplant, my throat and mouth itches, but dang I love it, so I ate some anyways. I actually preferred the zucchini with this dish, so I minimized the allergic reaction. The first wine of the evening was 19 Crimes, which paired nicely with the appetizers.
11I had the pleasure of dinning with Maddie, a spunky 5 year-old with a yen for lemons. Seriously, this girl loves raw lemons, she ate them by the bowl full and still wanted more! She is also very adventurous, tasting a bit from each dish. I know a lot of adults that could learn eating lessons from this young lady.BravoOur second appetizer, Ricotta & Ciabatta, was heavenly. I’m a huge fan of dishes that you assemble at the table. I know it’s weird, but I love it!5Next came the Antipasti Salad, which had a nice, tangy red wine vinaigrette. It is also gluten free, which can be hard to find sometimes.
6Next came the wine wines and Spicy Shrimp & Clam Linguine. I honestly feel terrible for people that can’t eat seafood because this dish was divine. It had a nice slow burn that crept up on you at the end of the bite.
7Next came the Linguine Carbonara! It was perfect for summer, creamy with hints of white wine. You can also add a sunny side up egg to it for a dollar. What a deal!
9Haricot vert (green beens) framed the Grilled Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato Goat Cheese. The chicken was tender and cooked to perfection, but the veggie-holic in me especially liked the green beans.
8At this point I was pretty full, but the food was so good that I kept on eating. I really enjoyed Decoy’s Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a nice pairing with the Bravo! Ribeye. The steak was wonderful, but I went crazy for the polenta and balsamic roasted mushrooms. I’m salivating just remembering it.
10The last entree of the evening was Citrus Marinated Chicken, which was skewered thighs on a bed of orzo and vegetables.  Since it was thigh meat it was especially rich and flavorful.
12Maddie was quite excited when dessert came. See her patiently waiting with her spooned posed for attack! I don’t blame her as it was a delicious: a warm butter blondie, topped with vanilla bean gelato, cookie butter caramel and sugared pretzels. There were but a few crumbs left by the time we were finished.
13Everything was nice and it is good to know that Bravo’s talented team is always working to update their menu. It is worth mentioning that the staff was truly spectacular. They were prompt, friendly and very informed about every dish.
15There was very little food left by the time we were finished. It was all very good. Thank-you Huntsville Bravo and Tiffany Jordan for inviting me!! Thank-you also to C.C. Fridln for keeping up with all of the plate names. You are so much more organized than I am! Please visit C.C.s post here.
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Aussie Night at Outback Steakhouse

1Y2B4084Outback Steakhouse is upping their steak game by unveiling a new center-cut sirloin.  I got invited to a VIP tasting event at Outback on Whitesburg to sample the new steak and east some of their tried and true fare (a blooming onion).  1Y2B4060I very rarely feel like a VIP, but I had a cool super-star moment at this event. Being Outback at dinnertime, there were many, many people waiting for tables. My husband and I walked up to the event (late as usual) and I was mentally preparing myself to wait. I told the host that I was there for the VIP Tasting and she ushered me to the back, no wait at all! The servers immediately started bringing us cocktails, appetizers, steaks, etc. I felt so much more important than I am.1Y2B4023There were also fellow ‘VIPs’ in attendance, including the illustrious Christy Jordan, super-star blogger and creator of Southern Plate, (sorry I didn’t get a photograph) and the amazing Bo Williams, duel blogger for Rocket City Mom and BoWilliams.com. 6 3I tried to pay attention to the names of all the dishes but I wasn’t as good as I should have been.  If I have messed up a dish please let me know.

We started with drinks and bread. I like how Outback violently stabs their bread through the middle when they bring it to you. I’m not sure what that says about me, but when the bread isn’t stabbed I feel really let down.  1Then came shareable cocktails, which was a weird concept for me. Why would you share your cocktail. They were delicious though, despite the shareable issue.  I tried the strawberry peach sangria and my hubby went for a fresh fruit gin cocktail. Both were great, but I loved mine. I’d totally get it again.1Y2B4027Of course there were some blooming onions (did you know the blooming onion has its own wikipedia page #goals) and Aussie cheese fries.

We then got two types of steak: Center Cut Sirloin and Slow Roasted Steak. Both were lovely.4They also served Bacon Bourbon Salmon, which was to die for. 1Y2B4062We ended with Oreo Mousse, which unfortunately I couldn’t partake in because of current allergy issues, but it seemed like a hit.5Thank-you Outback for the invite! See you again soon!


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Stay Warm with Chicory

ChicorySee how happy I am to be about to drink my chicory. Sadly moments after this photo was taken I slipped and dumped the entire contents on the ground. I should have taken a photo of that, but I was too busy cursing and my husband was too busy laughing, so alas, there is no photographic evidence.

Though Alabama didn’t get the massive piles of snow that the rest of the of the East Coast received, it get enough to make winter official.snowI lived much of my childhood in New England, so any bit of snow makes me nostalgic and wistful for a simpler time. I love bundling up in heavy socks and sweaters that I almost never get to wear and crunching through the fresh snow, savoring the moment and knowing that tomorrow it will most likely be gone and year before I see it again.8After fun in the snow I like to drink a hot cup of coffee, but as part of my 2016 initiative to be healthier I have been trying to cut my caffeine intake down. Happily I discovered the delights of chicory, which is caffeine free and quite delicious. chicoryChicory is a blue flowered plant whose root has a similar flavor to roasted coffee beans.  There are lots of claims of medicinal uses, such as improving calcium absorption and bone mineral density, as well as helping with weight loss. I just started drinking it, but I let you know if I increase bones and decrease fat.  It is also used in flavoring beers, especially stouts, which is probably another reason I like it.4I started drinking Pero, which has barley (containing important dietary fibers), rye (with several markers of blood sugar control) and chicory. I can’t really say if I’m feeling healthier, but I enjoy it nevertheless.1I also got to break in my new tea-cup, which I’ve been dying to use. The cup and saucer were my souvenir from a recent trip to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. It’s a gruesome homage to Romeo and Juliet, depicting a pierced heart and the quote, “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” So dark, I love it!6So stay warm everyone and enjoy a cup of Pero. 2

 

 


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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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