el zunzun roasted chicken Pollo Asado Rojo

Chef recommends El ZunZún’s roasted chicken, and so do I. 

By Jan Walsh 

For this week’s “Food Find,” I found a whole new restaurant—El ZunZún! The restaurant is a sister restaurant to Satterfield’s Restaurant, as both are owned by Becky Satterfield. El ZunZún is located in Cahaba Heights at 4105 Crosshaven Drive, Vestavia Hills. Outside there is a valet in waiting and a covered patio. Inside the colorful high ceilinged-interior the restaurant has a separate bar open to the large dining room. Today we are here for lunch during their family and friends preopening. The restaurant opens to the public on Monday, August 27 at 11:00 for their Grand Opening until 9:00 p.m.

El ZunZún is named for the hummingbird, or "El ZunZún," as Cubans call their local species, is the tiniest Central American ambassador. And inspiration for the restaurant came as owner, Becky Satterfield contemplated the 1,000-mile journey hummers make each year, sampling local flavors as they go. El ZunZún honors its namesake bird, by highlighting their cuisines of their migratory path. Satterfield and El ZunZún’s executive chef, Angela Schmidt spent three months in Mexico, taking classes, shopping in local markets, and working side-by-side with the abuelas (grandmothers) who patiently taught the old ways. 

El zunzun hummingbird margarita The menu boasts an array of Latin American fare. It is divided among Botanas (snacks/apps), Tlayudas (large, thin tortillas with toppings), Tortas, Tacos, Antojitos (little cravings), Ensaladas y Sopas (salads and soups), and Postres (desserts). And we want it all! We start with a Hummingbird Margarita, Blackberry Farms Saison, a chunky Guacamole, and spicy Salsa Macha with our choice of crispy, whole tortillas. Yucca and plantain chips are also options. 

Becky sees us and stops over for a hug just as I am deciding on an entrée. I want chicken and ask her to choose for me because everything sounds so good. She can’t decide either, so she has Chef Schmidt make the call.  
And her recommendation is Pollo Asado Rojo (chicken roasted red), my translation is… “world’s best chicken!” This plump, half chicken is served with poblano rajas, okra, arroz verde, and salsa Montez. I share the leg with Kev and dig into this white, moist, succulent, and flavorful golden, roasted bird. Never had a better chicken as it rivals Rotisserie Georgette’s chicken in New York City. And its side of scrumptious rice rounds out the plate as a comforting accompaniment. As an entree, Kev enjoys the Lechon Al Horno, which is a tasty torta of majo-marinated pork shoulder, accompanied by the most incredible yuca fritas. I would come here just for the fritas! 

We finish our first meal at El ZunZún with Flan de Vanilla de Janelle, a lovely vanilla custard with caramel sauce and shortbread cookies as we make plans to come back next week. 

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Galley and garden corvina Phenom Fish Dish 

Catch the corvina with house-made cavatelli at Galley and Garden.

By Jan Walsh 

Today I am lunching with my long time, dear friend, Ed Hardin at Galley and Garden. Last night he had the Corvina, from the dinner menu’s option of entrées. And today the same dish is Galley and Garden’s lunch special. So, I quickly take his recommendation and order it. Corvina is a generic name for a variety of fish from the Scaienidae family, which is the same family of one of my favorites, the drum fish. 

galley and garden fish specialThe colorful fish plate arrives steaming hot with the golden corvina perched atop a bed of house-made spinach cavatelli, wilted spinach, crisp yellow corn, heirloom tomatoes, pesto, and a romesco sauce, which adds a just a hint of heat. And the fish is crowned with a lovely chiffonade of greens. On the outside the fish is similar to snapper and inside it is white, with large flakes similar to sea bass. Its flavor is beautiful, mild and sweet—with no fishiness in aroma or flavor. Cavatelli is among the oldest pasta types. These small, plump, hollow, green (from the spinach), dense, pastas have an incredible al dente bite. What a tooth feel! I highly recommend this phenomenal plate when you can catch it for lunch or when it is easier to catch, for dinner. 

gianmarco's tomato salad shrimp louie
Love the Louie! 

GianMarco’s seasonal tomato Louie salad is crowned with Gulf shrimp. 

By Jan Walsh 

My favorite thing about summer is a perfectly ripe heirloom tomato. I have spent many summers learning and tasting the various varieties and buying the finest from organic farmers. 

And the only thing better than an heirloom tomato sandwich in my own kitchen is GianMarco’s tomato Louie salad. Last summer I caught their Crab Louie often. One bite and I knew why Crab Louie—California’s version of a cobb salad—is known as “The King of Salads.”  

Today’s lunch Louie is Shrimp Louie. This colorful salad begins with a bed of romaine lettuce leaves topped with three different types of vine ripe summer tomatoes, layered with avocado, grilled and butterflied Gulf shrimp, and crowned with boiled farm egg and crispy bacon bits. GianMarco’s pink Louie dressing adds just the right amount of moisture and creaminess to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. And just when I decide GianMarco’s Shrimp Louie is fit for royalty, I learn tonight’s version will include Royal Reds that just arrived from the Gulf. Oh my, I will have to come back soon and try to catch this version soon. 

overbird market brunch
Market Brunch 

Ovenbird’s Patatas Bravas is a popular brunch dish that pleases all. 

By Jan Walsh

When shopping The Market at Pepper Place on Saturdays, we don’t miss the Market Brunch at OvenBird. Last week we did not make the market, but we did make OvenBird’s Market Brunch. And we were delighted to find the parking lot in front of OvenBird conveniently open for OvenBird patrons’ parking, rather than filled market booths. 

Market Brunch is seasonal at OvenBird, and is served during The Market at Pepper Place’s main season. This live fire restaurant is Chris and Idie Hastings casually upscale eatery, which serves seasonal, Southern ingredients in a synthesis of cuisines from the American South, Spain, Portugal, Uruguay, and Argentina. Yet the brunch menu is very approachable. overbird mimosaLocated beside a farmer’s market, there is no shortage of farm eggs. Here fresh farm eggs are served ala carte or with a variety of dishes: steak, Serrano ham and crab benedict, sofrito and bacon, boudin rouge, and the burger. 

Our mimosas are presented unmixed in two glasses, one with the bubbly and the other with fresh squeezed orange juice. We each add as little or as much orange juice as we prefer to our glasses of wine. And I order the Patatas Bravas. This Spanish potato dish is often served with a topping, as is today’s two fried farm eggs. On first cut the orange yolk runs down the generous portion of tiny, tender white potatoes, which have been cooked in their skins. This simply delicious dish is vegetarian friendly and highly recommended.