In and Around Banner Elk, North Carolina

photo (12)

Ok, I know I missed Travel Tuesday, but I feel like I’ve been slacking on my travel content lately and didn’t want to wait until next week to put this one up. (Side note: y’all let me know if you like the idea of Travel Tuesday or if you’d rather just see travel content as I have it.)

Anyway, I grew up in western North Carolina, about an hour from the mountains, and going up to the mountains was always an integral part of my childhood. We would take day trips or weekend trips to go up and hike, eat, and just enjoy the cooler weather and beautiful views. About two years ago, my parents decided to invest in a little cabin in Banner Elk, North Carolina. I love going up to visit, and although I don’t get up as much as I’d like to be able to, it’s always a nice treat to go home and be with my family in our little mountain abode.

photo 3

I headed up to the cabin for Memorial Day just the other week, and we had the most beautiful weekend we could have ever asked for. The sun was shining without a cloud in the sky, the temperature was between 65 and 75 degrees every day, and the rhododendrons were in full bloom. We hiked, we drank wine on the deck with neighbors, and we had a Memorial Day cookout to wrap up the weekend. It was wonderful.

If you’ve never been to the mountains of western North Carolina, it needs to be on your bucket list. My favorite areas are Banner Elk (where our cabin is) and the surrounding areas of Boone, Blowing Rock, and Valle Crucis. They mountain views are breathtaking, the hiking trails have something for every age, and there are great restaurants and watering holes. I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite places and hidden secrets for eating, drinking, and exploring!

Eat:

Coyote Kitchen – Boone
This is the place I crave most when I’m gone. It’s in a strip mall in Boone, but don’t let that sway your opinion of it. Their style is “Southwest Caribbean Soulfood” and it is so darn good. They have these “boats,” which are personal casserole dishes layered up with protein and veggies and topped and broiled with Jack cheese. There are 10 options and my favorite is the Taos boat: rosemary chicken, cornbread, black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted corn, fried plantains, Roma tomatoes, Jack cheese, chipotle cream cheese, and scallions. The combination is incredible and it’s delicious, filling, warm-you-to-your-toes comfort food.

IMG_1236

The Ham Shoppe – Valle Crucis
This is an unassuming wooden home on the side of the road that you probably wouldn’t think twice about if you drove by. But inside, they have some of the most delicious sandwiches that are perfect for taking on a hike or for a picnic in the park. They are huge sandwiches packed full of protein between slices of delicious fresh bread. You can create your own sandwich or order from their specialty sandwiches. My personal favorite is The Rhett with homemade pimento cheese, spinach, cucumbers, onions, sprouts, and bacon on toasted sun-dried tomato bread (although sometimes I get it on sourdough). My dad loves the Russian Mistress (never thought I’d write that sentence) with turkey breast, fresh spinach, tomato, bacon, and Swiss cheese topped with Thousand Island dressing on multigrain bread. (PS Google will tell you this place is permanently closed when you google it, but that’s not true.)

IMG_2329

Vidalia Restaurant and Wine Bar – Boone
This is my favorite fine dining restaurant, located in downtown Boone. They specialize in refined Southern cuisine, which means all your favorite Southern dishes re-imagined and made a little fancier. People go crazy for the Chicken and Waffles with creole battered fried chicken, sawmill gravy, collard greens, waffles, and whiskey infused cane syrup, but I absolutely love the Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheerwine BBQ sauce, griddled mac n’ cheese, grilled Vidalia onion chowchow, jicama, and baby greens. For a true taste of the mountains, try the oat-crusted North Carolina Trout with pecan brown butter sauce. I love how they take North Carolina staples – like Cheerwine, sawmill gravy, and trout – and incorporate them into their menu. Last time I was there we also had this fabulous lemon poundcake with lemon basil ice cream. Don’t skip dessert!

1433457786.442535.IMG_7977

Drink:

Blowing Rock Brewing Company – Blowing Rock
Blowing Rock Brewing is a brewpub in the adorably charming downtown of Blowing Rock. They brew their own beers in the style of “mountain artisan beers” meaning they use the fresh mountain spring water and incorporate flavors of the area. All the beers are crisp and complex. I like the High Country Ale (their flagship) and the Farmhouse Peach Ale (available seasonally). There is also really good food at the Ale House, the restaurant in the brewery. The Grilled Carolina Bison Burger with charred tomato jam, smoked mozzarella, peppered bacon, stout glaze, and grilled onions is probably the best burger you’ll find in the area. The brewery’s beers are incorporated in almost every dish on the menu. They also have fun seasonal specials like this lobster roll below with pickled okra.

1433457787.223263.IMG_7976

Grandfather Vineyard – Banner Elk
This is a beautiful little vineyard just down the road from our cabin, so we take full advantage of it. You can come and do tastings or just grab a bottle and enjoy a glass (or three) out on the patio or down by the bubbling stream. The vineyards are grown on the side of the mountain, which makes for some beautiful scenery. They have a variety of reds, whites, rosés, and specialty wines like ice wines and muscadine wines (a North Carolina specialty).

IMG_7753

Do:

Mast General Store – Valle Crucis
Take a trip to the original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis one day. It’s an old-fashioned candy store and general store. We always grab our favorite candies and a Cheerwine or Peach Nehi and sit outside on the porch swings or the picnic tables out back and enjoy the beautiful weather. There’s also a little park with a nice walking trail right near the store.

IMG_4724

1433457667.897987.IMG_7974

Hike: 

There is so much good hiking in the area, and while I love to hike and would gladly do some of the more challenging trails, my family likes the easy but scenic ones. Here are three of our favorites.

Rough Ridge – Boone
Rough Ridge definitely has the nicest views of these three hikes. It’s a fairly easy hike – it can get a little rocky – but the views are extremely rewarding for little effort. And you’ll see why these mountains are called the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s only about .3 of a mile.

IMG_2289

Crab Orchard Falls – Valle Crucis
These waterfalls are easily accessed from the parking lot at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Valle Crucis (don’t worry, it’s allowed – there are signs for it). It’s a short hike to the falls – a bit steep in places, but nothing dangerous. The falls are really nice and there are massive rocks and boulders that you can climb on for different vantage points. Watch out though, the rocks can be slippery if they’re covered in moss.

photo 4

Grandfather Profile Trail – Banner Elk
If you’ve seen Grandfather Mountain (see photo at top of post), you know it looks like the profile of an old man’s face from afar. Well this hike is along that profile. The entire trail is one of the most challenging, with steep hills, large rocks, and even ladders to climb, but the first mile of it is a really nice and easy hike with beautiful scenery. You walk through the woods and cross the Watauga river and other streams. It’s really quite scenic and you can say you hiked the profile trail even if you don’t do all of it. 🙂 We were told a good stopping point is when you get to the point where you have to go between two large rocks. But if you want to go a little farther, it’s 1.7 miles from the parking lot to Foscoe View. After that, things start to go uphill and get challenging quickly.

photo 1

I hope you enjoyed these tips and consider planning a trip to the beautiful state I was lucky to grow up in!

Advertisements

Travel Tuesday: Dublin, Ireland

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m going to start doing Travel Tuesday posts (it’s a thing on Twitter) that will be listicles or quick hits of info about places I’ve traveled. Since there are many travel destinations I’ve visited in the past but haven’t blogged about, I thought it would be fun to go back and incorporate some of those places, in addition to recent destinations.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, it seemed only appropriate that I feature Dublin as my first destination. I visited Dublin in November 2010 with my good friend, Clinton. We stayed with Clinton’s Irish relatives who cooked the most delicious Irish food for us each day. I ate everything from Corned Beef & Cabbage to Beef Stew to Black Pudding (aka blood sausage). Black Pudding is surprisingly delicious…

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

We walked around Dublin and saw all of the famous sites, such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College, and Christ Church Cathedral. But my favorite part about Dublin was the Guinness Storehouse. Of course, it is a super tourist attraction, and you have to buy a ticket to get in (it includes a free pint), but the exhibits are really fun and informative. We learned about everything from how Guinness is made to some of the company’s most famous advertising stunts. After you make your way through the multiple floors of exhibits, you can cash in on your free pint on the top-floor bar featuring 365-degree views of Dublin. It really is worth the ticket price.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

My perfectly poured pint of Guinness

Dublin doesn’t top my list of favorite cities, but I enjoyed my time there. What really makes Dublin (and Ireland in general) special is the people. Everyone we encountered was so friendly and welcoming and always down to have a good time. Maybe that’s why St. Paddy’s Day is such a fun holiday to celebrate! (And it is Paddy, not Patty, because it is derived from the Irish “Pádraig.”)

So go get yourself a pint of Guinness (ditch the green beer) and celebrate St. Paddy’s day the Irish way!

Fun facts about Guinness:

  • Guinness should be allowed to settle after pouring and before drinking. There should be a distinct line between the dark beer and the light foamy head. If the colors are still blending together and the beer looks light brown, wait a few minutes and it will settle.
  • Guinness is also great for cooking! I love to add a bottle of it to chocolate cake batter or into the ground beef mixture in a Shepherd’s Pie. It adds a nice richness and another level of flavor.
  • Irish Car Bombs (a shot of Jameson and Bailey’s dropped in half a pint of Guinness) were invented in America and are pretty offensive to those of Irish heritage (and others). Don’t try to order one in Ireland. And maybe just don’t order one at all…
  • If dark beers or beers in general aren’t your thing, give Bulmers Irish Cider (sold as Magners outside of the Republic of Ireland) a try. Hard ciders are popular in Ireland and the UK, and they have a crisp taste with hints of fruit. Before I really got into beer, cider was my “gateway beer.”

The Best Dishes I Ate in London

This past MLK Day, I took an extended long weekend and went to London! London is my favorite city in the world, and I hadn’t been back since I studied abroad there more than 4 years ago. Back in October, I’d found a US Airways flight for 30,000 miles roundtrip (normally it’s about 60,000-70,000 to go to Europe) and knew I had to book it immediately since I had a lot of frequent flyer miles anyway. I convinced one of my friends from Birmingham to come along with me and later a friend of mine in Florida decided to book her trip as well! It was a great reunion with friends and the city I love.

Now I could go on and on about everything we did but I wanted to share some of my favorite eats with you. The London food scene is booming, and it’s definitely evolved since I was there in 2010. Not to say there wasn’t good food there before, because there definitely was, but it’s taken on a trendier, more farm-to-table, artisan-cooking feel. They’re modernizing British cuisine and incorporating many of the flavors and cultures of the city into cool new restaurants that are popping up everywhere. It was fun to see (and taste)!

Here are some of the top dishes I had:

Bread Ahead DonutsDonuts from Bread Ahead at Borough Market These donuts. Oh my goodness. I have never had a better donut in my life. I got the Salted Caramel Honeycomb Donut and let me tell you, I could have eaten a dozen of them. The dough was so moist and bready, but not in a heavy way. It had the perfect combination of lightness and denseness (I promise you this makes sense if you could try them). And the cream. Oh my worddd the cream. You could tell it was homemade and the salted caramel flavor was not overly sweet and paired perfectly with the crispy honeycomb piece on top.

photo 1 (1)Vegetarian Curry from Gujurati Rasoi at Borough Market You can’t go to London and not get Indian food. It’s some of the best. So on that first day when we went to Borough Market (one of my favorite markets in London) and we passed a stand with some of the best looking vegetarian curry I’ve ever seen, I knew I had to try it. You could choose two or three curries, served over Basmati rice, and top them with cilantro, onions, tamarind sauce, and other toppings. I opted for the Cauliflower Curry and Lentil Curry. The flavors were so complex, not too spicy, and the perfect belly-warming meal on a chilly London day. (Sorry guys, curry does not photograph pretty)

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetCauliflower Mac and Cheese and Hiver Honey Beer from Whyte and Brown Ok so apparently I ate a lot of cauliflower on this trip. But anyway, Whyte and Brown is in Kingly Court off Carnaby Street and is known for their free-range chicken dishes and craft beer. I actually did not get a chicken dish, but my friend did and loved it. I opted for the crab and avocado toast with a side of cauliflower mac and cheese. Both were delicious, but I especially loved the use of ditalini pasta for the mac and cheese. The real standout though was the recommended accompanient to the crab toast, a Hiver Honey Beer. It’s made from the honey of London’s urban beekeepers and is one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

photo 4Falafel from Kazan Let me start by saying everything we ate at this Turkish restaurant in Victoria was amazing. It was hard to choose just one dish. We ordered an appetizer sampler (vegetarian mezze platter) to share and then I had chicken shish kebabs with grilled vegetables for my entree. Everything was great, but what really stood out was the falafel on our mezze platter. It wasn’t dry like some falafels tend to be, and the ingredients inside weren’t as finely chopped and ground, so you got a lot of texture, crunch, and flavor. I couldn’t get enough of it. Also, we had amazing Turkish lemonade to drink, made with fresh mint, lime & lemon juice, rose water, and grenadine.

photo 5Beef Carbonnade from Belgo We went to a Belgian restaurant in Covent Garden one night on the recommendation of a friend since the day trip we were supposed to take to Brussels on Saturday didn’t happen (long story – but for the best, a fire in the channel tunnel caused train shutdowns for two days). I ordered the Beef Carbonnade, which is beef stew made with apples, plums, and Gueuze beer. It was served with stoemp mash, a traditional Belgian dish made of creamed potato with carrots, savoy cabbage, and leeks. The stew reminded me of my favorite German dish, Sauerbraten, due to it’s slight sweetness and heartiness. And of course, I ordered a Delirium Tremens beer to go with it (one of the most famous beers from Belgium)!

I hope you enjoyed reading about these dishes as much as I enjoyed eating them! Stay tuned for some more posts about London and make sure to check out these places if you make it across the pond.

Eastern Caribbean Cruise

IMG_5655

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

If you were wondering why I’ve been MIA lately it’s because I’ve been on a CRUISE!! My first cruise ever, actually. I’ve been wanting to go on a cruise since I was like, I don’t know, 5 years old! My grandma kept promising she would take us on one but it never worked out, so finally I decided I was just going to go for it, and luckily my best friend from college was on board (literally)! We researched for weeks and finally found an awesome deal for a 5-day Eastern Caribbean Cruise from Carnival. I know what you’re thinking, why would we willingly choose Carnival after all the drama they’ve been having? Not to mention we booked our Carnival cruise about 2 weeks after the Triumph disaster, which definitely led to people thinking we were crazy. But let’s be honest here, everyone I’ve ever talked to loved their Carnival cruise and they were the ones running the cheapest deals so we figured it was worth the risk. And let me tell you, it SO WAS.

Carnival was amazing. I would cruise Carnival again and again. When they say they are the fun ship, they mean it. We had so much fun. For our times on the ship, there was always something happening, whether it was an audience interactive game show, a show in the comedy club, or a hairy chest competition, we were always kept entertained and laughing hysterically. There were parties upon parties upon parties, including a huge deck party one night where we danced every line dance you can imagine – YMCA, Cupid Shuffle, Gangnam Style, Wobble, etc. It was so much fun just to let loose and be silly. And I promise I’m not writing this as a promo for Carnival, but I couldn’t get over how incredible the staff was! Every person we met remembered our name and was so friendly and always smiling. Way to go!

IMG_5633

Nassau, Bahamas: Bay Street, beers, and cruise ship trickery
Now on to the ports. Our first stop was Nassau. I actually wasn’t a huge fan of Nassau. It was pretty dirty and sketchy in some parts. We walked down Bay Street for a little while but it was just so jam packed with tourists or street vendors selling cheap goods. There were some nice jewelry stores but I wasn’t in the market to buy any diamonds, so we skipped over those as well. When we’d seen enough, we decided to consult a tour pamphlet and realized there was a beach within walking distance called Junkanoo Beach. The beach was actually pretty nice and was a good escape from the hustle and bustle of Bay Street.

Being in the Bahamas, we of course had to have conch fritters for lunch. When I lived in the Florida Keys, I ate conch fritters all the time, IMG_5637but hadn’t had them since. I found a little locally owned beach shack who sold conch fritters and beers. The man who owned it was a local Bahamian who was so kind and friendly. We ended up chatting for a while just about life and traveling, and he even gave me a free Bahamian beer! He asked how we found the beach if we came off a cruise ship, since apparently the cruise ships won’t tell the tourists about it because they want them to take their excursion trips to Atlantis and the beaches on Paradise Island. Tricky! And when we got back to our ship later, pretty much everyone we had talked to had taken a taxi or excursion to Paradise Island since they had no idea there was a close beach. Do your research, people!

IMG_5658Half Moon Cay, Bahamas: A little piece of heaven
Our next port was Half Moon Cay, Carnival’s private island, which meant it was just people from our ship on the island that day. This was actually my favorite port! Half Moon Cay is everything that I imagine paradise to be. It was absolutely picture perfect. I wanted to stay there forever. I even took a picture with a sign that said “I wish I could stay here forever.” The sand was bright white and perfectly powdery, and the water was as blue as the tropical drinks in beach-goers’ hands. There were yellow and orange striped fish swimming around our feet, and silvery ones that darted around us, a flash of fins that quickly disappeared. And there was one lone little fish that just sat about a foot behind us at all times, following us wherever we went. At lunch (Carnival had a cook out for us under a pavilion near the beach), we decided to bring back some hamburger buns to feed the fish. And we were so glad we did! Within seconds of the first bread crumb hitting the water, we had probably 50 fish around us! They were the silver ones that we had seen earlier but we were getting to seem them up close now, and some were so excited they were jumping out of the water. It was so funny and we definitely got the attention of a crowd of people. Other than fish feeding, we mainly just laid out and enjoyed the beautiful view until it was time to head back to the ship.

IMG_5679Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos: Ocean tubing and Margaritaville
I was really excited for Grand Turk since it’s in Turks and Caicos – islands I’ve wanted to visit since my aunt brought me back a beach bag from there when I was younger. It was much nicer than Nassau, but once again it was pretty touristy. Although, I guess that’s what I should expect going on a cruise! We thought about doing an excursion but the ones we wanted were either sold out or way too expensive, so instead we hit the beach. Not before long, we found an island man who was taking people tubing – one of my favorite water activities. (Note: apparently people’s definition of tubing is different – this was when you get pulled behind a speed boat while laying on a giant tube). We thought what the heck, so we paid $20 (still cheaper than any cruise ship excursion) and had a blast flying over the crystal clear water at who knows how fast.

IMG_5761After our tubing experience, we headed to the one restaurant around the port: none other than Margaritaville. As I’m sure you already know, Margaritaville is party central. They had a giant pool with a pool bar you could swim up to to get drinks. We of course had to get margaritas, and after lunch we snagged a spot at the pool and joined the party. There was a DJ and dance competitions and way too many elderly people getting crazy. So our experience at Grand Turk was basically one giant pool party. While this was definitely fun, it would have been cool to see what an actual town in Turks & Caicos is like, because you could tell Grand Turk at the port was just built for the tourists. But we had a blast and this vacation was just for laying on the beach and having fun anyway!

Overall, our cruise was a great success! Sometimes I can be a bit turned off towards tourists since I’ve traveled a lot on my own and have never traveled with a tour group, so it was weird for me to be part of a massive group of tourists. (This might also come from the fact I’ve traveled mostly through Europe and they do not love tourists). As my friend said “We are the least touristy people, but we’re doing the most touristy thing by taking a cruise.” But I recently read an article in my NatGeo Traveler about staying at all-inclusive resorts and how the author felt like she was basically cheating traveling, but then realized sometimes it’s exactly what you need: to not have to worry about anything, to have a set schedule, and to just sit back and enjoy life as a tourist. Sure, maybe you don’t get the local experience but did you have a good time? Yes. Did you relax? Yes. Will there be a time to explore not as a touristy group? Yes. So I stopped feeling like a touristy weirdo and embraced my backpack and fellow tourists. And guess what, I had a great time! Cruises are such a perfect way to get away from everything for a few days. Cell phones were shut off, computers were left at home, food is included, rooms are cleaned for you – you don’t have to worry about a single thing and it’s great. I can’t wait to go on another one!

Gip’s Place

If you had told me a year ago that I would be living in Alabama and visiting juke joints in the middle of nowhere, I never would have believed you. Even though I’m from the South, I was going to live in New York City, didn’t you know? I was going to go to the clubs and trendy restaurants, and wear an LBD and heels all the time. Yet here I am in good ol’ Alabama, eating some of the best Southern food in my life, wearing jean shirts and dancing to blues music. And guess what, I’m absolutely loving it.

How I came to end up here instead of NYC and why I love it so much is a whole blog post of its own, but today I want to discuss what I did Saturday night – an experience I would have never had in NYC. I went to my first juke joint: Gip’s Place. Gip’s is an establishment for Alabama folk, located in Bessemer, AL, about 18 miles from Birmingham. I have to say, this was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Below is my “memoir” of Gip’s Place.

After speeding along back country roads and driving for what feels like an eternity into the middle of nowhere, you turn into an old run-down neighborhood. The neighborhood is dark and quiet, but you know you’re in the right place because cars line the streets and you have to park four streets away from what you believe to be your destination: Gip’s Place – a real-deal, authentic juke joint. You grab your cooler packed with an assortment of local beers (Gip’s is BYOB) and head up the quiet street. But suddenly it’s not so quiet anymore. The faint sound of blues music is drifting towards you on the cool night wind, swirling into your ears with the promise of a toe-tapping, hand-clapping good time.

When you reach the top of a hill, you see it. A shack with a curtain of twinkling Christmas lights immediately catches your attention, but then you look around and notice you are surrounded by what looks like a collection of mini fair tents and shacks, all strung with lights. Someone taps you on the shoulder, drawing you out of your Christmas-light trance. “That will be $10.” You have to pay to go to Gip’s, but rumor has it that Mr. Gip is using the money to pay his neighbors to not complain.

photo (1)Slipping back into a trance, but this time drawn by the music, you make your way to the light curtained shack. You are greeted by swing-dancing bodies, a live blues band and walls plastered with photos of blues legends, neon signs and other memorabilia, including a bumper sticker saying, “If you don’t love Jesus, go to Hell!”

You’re now part of the crowd, clapping your hands, dancing and enjoying the soul-cleansing sound of true blues music. No one makes you feel like a stranger at Gip’s Place, whether it’s your first time or your 50th.  The lead singer of the band, wearing a shimmery metallic shirt and sunglasses, rocks out under a sign saying “Gip’s Place – Home of the Blues.” And you immediately know this is true. This is how blues was born – in tight-knit communities in the deep South, coming together over a shared love of music. 

Suddenly the band stops. A man with a black, wide-brimmed cowboy hat on his head, mardi gras beads around his neck and years of stories on his face takes the stage. That’s Mr. Gip, someone whispers. Mr. Gip, who is said to be in his late 80s, maybe older, quietly sits down, picks up a guitar and begins to play. He somehow manages to drink a Bud Light while playing and everyone gives him the respect he deserves for establishing this place – a place where true Southerners can come together to celebrate the foundation of a culture and the identity of a region.

You get back in your car at the end of the night and you drive back along those dark, country roads. But they don’t seem so dark and long anymore. They feel like a passage; a guide to take you back to your roots.

 

Fashion Week and Food Trucks

This past week was Birmingham Fashion Week, so there were events all week leading up to the three nights of fashion shows Thursday-Saturday. Since my friends and I want to make the most of our time here in Birmingham, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go to one of the shows. We chose to go to the show on Friday night since the headlining designer was Anthony Ryan, winner of season 2 of Project Runway All Stars. Check out the whole week’s schedule here.

The show started at 7 p.m. so we got there around 6:30 p.m. to claim our spots. The show, naturally, started fashionably late. There was a competition throughout fashion week for emerging designers, so eight college-aged and post-grad designers kicked off the show. Some showed true talent but others looked cheap or tacky. They were followed by 15 rising design stars from high school and younger that designed outfits from non-clothing materials such as mardi gras beads or bubble wrap. These were actually pretty fun to see.

After the emerging designers, some local boutiques modeled their fashions. We weren’t crazy about this because we came to see fashion designs, not things that we can go shopping for tomorrow. The next featured designer, Annie Griffin, was similar to this. Her line was resort casual, but many of the fabrics were the same and just repurposed for different styles. There was nothing new or unique to her designs.

Now, onto the designers with Project Runway ties. Joshua McKinley was on Project Runway: All Stars season two, as well, and was a featured designer of the night. His line was a men’s line but it was a little over-the-top for our taste. The designs were garishly colored and the shorts were way too short to look classy. But his models had a lot of personality and spunk and I loved the funkiness of the music choices. Next up was Anthony Ryan, the headlining designer. I really liked his line. It was classy and clean but still stayed true to the high fashion look. He definitely made the show worth going to. After the show, we hit up the after-party sponsored by Avondale Brewery, a local Birmingham brewery.

IMG_4588

Top: Anthony Ryan’s line. Bottom left: Kelsey, Erin and I. Bottom right: Joshua McKinley walks after his line.

Overall, it was a fun night and I was glad we went. However, being the foodie I am, the best part of the night was when I finally got to try one of Birmingham’s food trucks! We didn’t have time for dinner before the show, so by time we got to Avondale I was starving. It’s my goal to try all the food trucks here so I follow them all on Twitter. For once, our location matched up with one: Spoonfed Grill. It was right across the street from Avondale so Erin and I sprinted across the street (in the snow, mind you) to the welcoming smell of delicious food. The best way I can describe Spoonfed’s food is fusion Southern. I ordered the pork loin sandwich with caramel apple slaw and peanut sauce. I still can’t figure out how food trucks have such good food, but this sandwich was so delicious. The pork had a great marinated taste and I would eat that slaw every day if I could. The guy working the truck also told us about the Street Food Rally happening on March 10, where about 10 of Birmingham’s food trucks will be represented. The event is from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Pepper Place and tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. I will definitely be going! Buy your tickets here.