Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I HEART...Girls' Night Out!

Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without!

Hey, y'all!  Well, it's been a while.  So long, in fact, I forgot my password to log in this morning!  I appreciate all the kind words I've gotten over the last few weeks from those of you who say you've missed my reports from the woods.  I've missed talking to you. Things have been crazy busy around here and I couldn't find the time to write, but I'll do my best to catch you up on all we've been up to over the next couple of weeks.  Just buckle up!

But back to business - today is Wednesday, and I HEART...
good friends and a much needed GNO!

You've heard me talk about my good friend and former partner-in-crime, Melissa Lester.  Melissa and I have worked on lots of projects together over the years, the largest of which is the UCC Ladies' Book Club.  Well, Melissa decided to up and move to Birmingham to be a magazine executive (as if throwing parties with me wasn't fulfilling enough!).  Seriously, she had the opportunity to join the Hoffman Media company last year as the assistant editor for Victoria magazine.  Hoffman also publishes great periodicals like Southern Lady. Taste of the South and Paula Deen Cooking Magazine.  All their publications are favorites of mine and epitomize gracious Southern hospitality. She's already received a promotion, and is loving her work!

I have missed my dear friend, so you can imagine how excited I was when she contacted me last week and invited me to Birmingham for a day of fun!

I drove to Birmingham yesterday afternoon and had a chance to tour Hoffman Media's offices.  I met lots of wonderfully creative people.  Photographers, stylists, editors - people whose names I have seen for years on these great publications.  We toured the prop room - paradise, I tell you.  Full of china and linen...I could have played for hours!  We peeked into the test kitchen, too, but they were cleaned up and shut down for the day.  Melissa told me that they get emails almost daily inviting employees to come sample the recipes they're testing.  Sounds dangerous, if you ask me!  It was neat to see "behind the scenes" of magazines that I love and look forward to reading each month.

After the tour, we headed downtown for dinner at a great little place called Bistro Two Eighteen. This elegant little restaurant opened in 2012.  It was built in 1885 and first served as a boarding house.  It was later the private residence of a judge.  By the 1890's it was a barbershop.  By 1920 it was a candy shop, then it became the home of the first Bromberg's Jewelry.  By the late 1960's, it was owned by Parisian department stores.  It fell into disrepair but was purchased and lovingly restored by Chef Tom Saab and his wife.  If you ever find yourself in downtown Birmingham and are looking for a delicious meal, stop in.  You won't regret it.  

We shared the Fritto Misto (lightly fried gulf shrimp, red snapper and octopus with a yummy remoulade sauce) for an appetizer.  The shrimp tasted so fresh, and the seasoning was spot on.  It was fried, but it was incredibly light.  Yummy!

We wanted to try as much as we could, so Melissa choose the free-range chicken paillards with lemon butter caper sauce over creamy risotto.  It was divine!  I went with the lamb two ways over purple potato mash and wilted spinach.  The demi-glace swirling the plate was divine!  We shared and enjoyed both very much! 

Restaurant and food images came from Bistro 218's website.
You can get more info about this great place here.

We finished by sharing a decadent chocolate molten lava cake.  Unfortunately, they didn't have a picture of it on their website, but you can use your imagination.  It was divine!  Warm, rich, gooey... OK, I think that's enough.  Wipe the drool off your chin!

We then headed to the historic Alabama Theatre for an evening with Paula Deen!

As I mentioned, Hoffman media publishes Paula's magazine and she was in town for the evening.  I had never been to the Alabama Theatre before, and had we not spent too much time at dinner (and subsequently too much time driving around looking for a parking spot), I would have loved to have wandered around and explored this beautiful old building. 

Theatre and the Mighty Wurlitzer

Photo borrowed from The Alabama Theatre's website.
Click here for more info on the history and upcoming shows.

I did a little research and discovered the theater was built in 1927 by Paramount Pictures as a showcase for their films.  Most interestingly, it was home to a local Mickey Mouse Club beginning in 1933.  Meetings were held on Saturdays, and local kids would come and perform for one another, watch Mickey Mouse cartoons and even raise money for the underprivileged.  By 1935 this club had over 7,000 members making it the largest Mickey Mouse the WORLD!  It peaked at 18,000 members and eventually disbanded in 1943.  The theater was bought by the Birmingham Landmarks Society in the 1990's and was redone.  It features over 300 shows a year, ranging from concerts to plays to movies!

The show was lots of fun!  Paula was humble and funny.  Her husband, Michael, was with her and helped her cook.  You can tell it wasn't his first time in the kitchen!  The crowd loved them, and they seemed like genuinely nice people!  We even got to sample a little of the food!  She joked that we shouldn't expect a repeat of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, but somehow, a small piece of ooey gooey butter layer cake made it around to us, although we passed since we were so full.  But when the grilled chicken passed by, we tried a little and it was great.  (She is an aggressive seasoner, which I like!  Even my tiny bite was full of flavor!)  She cooked, told stories, played games...It was a fun night!

It was so good to spend time with my old friend last night!  We have so much in common and truly enjoy each other's company.  It's so nice to be able to pick back up with a friend as if no time had passed.  It's been a while since I had a Girls' Night Out.  Despite the drive and the really late night, I am refreshed, renewed and ready to tackle the rest of the week.  Although, I'm a little sad that Melissa won't be at our book club on Thursday night.  But, I look forward to another trip North, and soon, I hope!  And I know she and her family are planning to head this way next month for our annual Halloween party.  Looking forward to it already!

PS - When you have the time, please check out Melissa's blog A Little Loveliness.  You'll enjoy her beautiful photography as well as her creativity.  In some ways, our styles are very different, but like good friends should, we complement each other well!  Pour yourself a cup of tea (Melissa would suggest a nice fruity blend in a pretty teacup, I'm sure!) and explore her site.  You'll be inspired... 

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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1 comment:

  1. I am still smiling from our fabulous evening! I can't wait to see you ... in your neck of the woods!