The Jealous Crumpet

A sweet little blog


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Photography Lessons with TBEX

This week my hometown of Huntsville, AL is hosting TBEX (Travel Bloggers Expo), a group of professional travel bloggers coming together to explore a new destination, listen to speakers and make connections. I was one of the lucky few that got to attend a Travelography Workshop with esteemed travel photographer Ajay Sood at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. It was an amazing workshop and I won’t do the disservice of giving away all of Ajay’s secrets (take a workshop with him, you won’t regret it), but here are two assignments he gave us in the workshop.

Here’s the little birds! Aren’t they adorable!

The first one was to create a multi image photo essay that had a cohesive theme. I covered the gorgeous butterfly garden, which opened a couple of weeks ago.  I spent an hour in there and got to see mating turtles, mating butterflies, these flightless birds (they weren’t mating, but probably had just finished up), tons of flowers, a waterfall, happy people and more.

First assignment:   

The second one was to great a stand alone image. A birdy in a bottle tree.

This first day of the workshop was so good, I can’t wait to see what the rest of it holds.


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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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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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Theo’s Cafe

cThere is a new coffee shop in Madison County! Be still my caffeinated heart. Theo’s Cafe recently opened their doors in the Hampton Cove area of Madison.  1Y2B6129Of course, like any good cafe, they offers a wide array of coffees, teas, and pastries. Most of the pasties are house or locally made.  In fact the shop offers a variety of local products including Piper & Leaf teas, artisan soaps and art from Lowe Mill.1Y2B6124In the hot Alabama sun you can enjoy a fresh smoothie, a Suzy Ice Pop or ice cream.  Or maybe an iced coffee with cream in more your speed. 1Y2B6144There is a variety of sandwiches and salads. I took the staff’s recommendations (thanks Cayla!) and went with Theo’s Chicken Salad.  I’m very particular about my chicken salad and I can honestly say this was delicious!! I loved it. 10 I also had the Strawberry Pecan Salad. Don’t worry, I had help eating everything.  It was also really nice, fresh and fruity. bIt was super gloomy/rainy out and a creamy, hot latte with dark chocolate on top was required. It was superb and hit the spot. 1Y2B6179Cayla made my coffee perfectly.  It was pretty strong, which is alright by me! rShe even showed off her latte foam art skills by making a little heart for me.  Awww. tNext time I’m asking for her to create Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man with the foam.  7We finished with Peach Cheese cake that was created by owner, Josh.  It was everything a dessert should be, sweet (but not too sweet), creamy, rich, and decadent. Delicious!!   aThe restaurant itself was really fun.  As I said, there is a rotating display of local art which sets off the clean, hip feel of the cafe.  1Y2B6096There are also many personal photos which gives the place a more intimate feel.  The cafe is named after owner Josh’s mentor and grandfather James Theodore Martin and he is very present in the place.1Y2B6100

1Y2B6111There are also many events at Theo’s including: local bands and pottery glazing classes. The cafe is a great place to socialize, learn something new, or just spend some quite time by yourself to enjoy a cup of joe and slice a cheesecake. 1Y2B6326


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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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Blog Tour Hildegard’s Biergarten #dineHSV

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Our second stop of the Food Tour for Restaurant Week brought me and my fellow bloggers to Hildegard’s Biergarten.  This was the one restaurant I hadn’t yet visited so I was especially excited to dine here.

Hildegard’s was voted the Best International Restaurant in the Valley, the Best German Restaurant in The Valley AND the Best German Restaurant in Alabama, so I went into the restaurant with high expectations and I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed.

Hildegard’s has two locations: one on Whitesburg Drive and the other on Heathland Drive, which is across the street from the Madison Square Mall. We visited Hildegard’s on Heathland and it was a little bit difficult to find, so I used my GPS to get there. Once you know where it is, it is easy. feature1

The restaurant is large, which makes it ideal for big parties, but I saw plenty of couples there as well.  The decor is cute with, appropriately enough, lots of garden (or should I say “garten”) paraphilia. As you walk into the restaurant, you are greeted by bundles of flowers, gardening accessories and even a bird bath. feature8They have very comfortable patio and picnic tables, and booths decorated with floral themes.
feature6Though the decor is lovely, the star of the restaurant is definitely the food. We met the owners Sabina and her husband Jeff, and they were happy to talk to us about the restaurant’s history and cuisine.feature9Then Sabina brought out dish after dish for us to try. In fact, there were so many different things that I started to lose track and didn’t even photograph the pork schnitzel, which was to die for! Everything we ate was perfectly cooked, amazingly seasoned, and most importantly delicious (even the stuffed cabbage, which I was never a fan of before now). feature3 copyBeing a biergarten, they also had an extensive selection of beer (my kind of place!) and I had an Amber Ale with my meal.feature2When we were so full we doubted we would be able to walk out of the restaurant without assistance, Sabina brought the desserts.  I actually lost count of how many I tasted, but my favorites were the Black Forest Cake and the Blueberry Cheesecake. Her mother makes all the desserts in-house and she is a culinary artist. Everything was wonderful.feature7As an added bonus, I made my first TasteMade Video about Hildegard’s Biergarten. Check it out at the link below. Note: Be kind, this is my first video! Also, I don’t know why it is so hard to say “Hildegard’s Biergarten”. 

Hildegard’s Biergarten

We also had a new blogger with us on this leg of the journey, Bo Williams, who blogs for Rocket City Mom.

Make sure you check out all of the bloggers’ wonderful posts.

Clint Cantwell with Grillocracy

Phillip Fryman with Southern FATTY

Bo Williams with Rocket City Mom

Constance Smith with Cosmopolitan Cornbread

Katie Wright with Katie Actually

Website:

http://www.hildegardsgermancuisine.com

Location:

1010 Heathland Dr Huntsville, AL 35816

Phone:

256 – 513 – 8260

Hours:

11: 00 am to 9:00 pm Mon-Sat

Closed Sunday