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chocolate taco magic city chocolate challengeChocolate Taco

And the winner of the Magic City Chocolate Challenge…

By Jan Walsh

It was my pleasure to judge the 4th Annual Magic City Chocolate Challenge last night. The event was held at Regions Field in the Diamonds Direct Ballroom and benefits Disabilities Rights and Resources, Here local chocolatiers and pastry chefs competed as we tasted and judged which dish would be named Birmingham’s Best Chocolate. The event also included live music, a silent auction, free non-alcoholic beverages, and a cash bar.


regions field jan walshGo Pro Event Solutions made this event magical from start to finish. Upon arrival in the VIP parking lot, I am welcomed with a BIG thank you—the judges names on Regions Field’s scoreboard. Nice touch.
And inside not only was I provided water and milk, but also a bottle of sparkling wine for pairing.





We judges tasted through each entry until the final dish. Of all the food I have tasted, I never once had a chocolate taco—until now. For Savoie Catering, pastry chef, Aimee Bishop whipped up this delectable winner of a chocolate pancake filled with white chocolate chips, chocolate pastry cream, fresh strawberries, shortbread crumble, salted toasted almond, and topped it off with a white and dark chocolate ganache. Congrats, Aimee! Well deserved.

the gardens cafe tomato salad Lunch Date

Do lunch with your mate at The Gardens Café by Kathy G.

By Jan Walsh

Today Kev and I are on a lunch date at Birmingham Restaurants newest member restaurant, The Gardens Café by Kathy G. It is located in Birmingham Botanical Gardens and boasts palladium window views of the gardens from the dining room. And the patio is lined with Oak Leaf Hydrangeas. There is also a private space upstairs open to and overlooking the dining room and staircase, making it a popular wedding event venue. Yet much like Champagne, this place is too welcoming to save it for special occasions. The café offers lunch Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:00 until 2:00. And the menu is “his and hers” friendly.

the gardens cafe tomato soupNew to the summer menu are Fish Tacos and Summer Caprese Salad. I select the salad along with the soup of the day, tomato basil and pair it with a glass of white Bordeaux. Kev orders a beer and can’t decide between the Cuban and the 8 Ounce Sirloin Burger until the second he has to order. And the burger it is, which proves to be a great decision.







The soup arrives piping hot and is bursting with fresh tomato flavor. The tower of tomato salad is stacked with beefy, juicy slices of tomato, lined with layers of Mozzarella cheese, on a bed of arugula, topped with charred white corn and a sherry vinaigrette. It is a divine balance of creaminess and acidity. And the crunchy texture of and flavors of the corn adds another layer to this delightful dish.

the gardens cafe burger the gardens cafe wine beer Thick cuts of melted cheddar top the cooked to perfection burger, served on a Kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and thick cut French fries in sea salt.

Kathy stops by the table to visit, and Kev proclaims to her that there is not a better burger in Birmingham. And he has had them all.

She treats us to a decadent dessert of their cheesecake of the day. After all, what is a lunch date without dessert?

the gardens cafe cheesecake dessert











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