Reviews

slice kale harvest salad Harvest Kale Salad 

Slice rolls out new fall salad along with new restaurant. 

By Jan Walsh 

I have been a regular at Slice Pizza and Brew since it opened in Lakeview. And now I have a new Slice, closer to home, located in Vestavia Hills. 

I never order from the menu without checking their seasonal salad option. Today the new in season salad is Kale Harvest Salad. This entrée sized salad includes a large portion of fresh, kale mixed with delectable dried sour cherries, fresh blueberries, bites of butternut squash, sliced almonds, candied pecans, and Alabama goat cheese crumbles in honey balsamic vinaigrette. This scrumptious salad has it all! The cherries and butternut squash add both color and a palate pleasing chewiness, the nuts add crunchiness, and the pungent creaminess of the cheese complements, by contrasting, the sweet acidity of the dressing. If you love kale, this salad is for you. Protein options of chilled chicken, flank steak, or salmon are also available with the salad. 

View Slice Pizza and Brew Profile



Ashley Mac's pumpkin cheesecake 'Tis The Season To Panic 

Ashley Mac’s boasts fall specials and hassle-free holidays.

By Jan Walsh 

Today I stop in for lunch at Ashley Mac’s anxious to try a few of Ashley McMakin’s new fall specials. Turkey Cranberry Sandwich, Apple Spinach Salad, and Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are among my selections. Yet other tempting fall specials include Wild Mushroom Tart (if only I were not allergic) and Pecan Pie. 

Ashley Mac's pumpkin cheesecake The scrumptious turkey sandwich is made with my choice of bread and is filled with generous slices of turkey, melted Havarti cheese, mixed greens, a delectable house made cranberry spread, and her famous sugared almonds—the holidays in one sandwich. And the seasonal salad is a crunchy and delightful mix of spinach, diced Gala Apples, dried cranberries, red onions, feta, sugared almonds, and a divine Dijon vinaigrette, which synthesizes the salad with its tart mustard flavor and mouth puckering acidity. And the pumpkin cheesecake is a must for the holidays. It is thick, rich, and very sweet, with pumpkin flavors dominating, and hints of spice. Highly recommended. 





Ashley Mac's casserolesOn this week before Thanksgiving, my holiday anxiety gets the best of me. And I can’t leave this place without a bag of rescue. In addition to her Gourmet To Go freezer case that is always well stocked with frozen soups, sides, casseroles and the chilled cases of salads, today there are many holiday specialties to choose among. She pairs a full ham and choice of glazes, with casseroles of cheesy twice baked mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, baked cheese grits, hashbrowns casserole, brown sugar and bacon green beans, sweet potato casserole, squash casserole, and best rescue of all—cornbread dressing. The sides are available in medium (serves six to eight) and large (serves 10 to 12). Just pop in oven. And Voilà! Thanksgiving is done. 

And even if you are headed to Mom’s and only need to bring dessert. Ashley Mac’s has your back with Pecan Pie minis and full pies, red velvet cakes in small and large, and red velvet mini cupcakes in half and full dozens that kids of all ages will love. 

Ashley Mac's is also taking holiday orders and will have your holiday meal ready for pick up. Order deadline is November 19 for Thanksgiving and December 21 for Christmas. Call any of their four locations. 

 

View Ashley Mac's Profile + Locations 



blueprint on 3rd wine dinner Inaugural Wine Dinner 

 

Blueprint on 3rd’s first wine dinner benefits TumTum Tree Foundation.

 

By Jan Walsh 

 

This weekend is TumTum Tree Foundation’s Wine Auction Weekend 2018. The Foundation enriches the lives of Alabama’s children who face life-altering and life-threatening illnesses. Over 29 years, TumTum Tree Foundation has donated over $11 million to Alabama children’s charities. And the TumTum Tree Wine Auction is the longest-running charity wine auction in the United States devoted to raising money for children’s charities.

 

blueprint on 3rd crab claws shrimpTo kick off the weekend, eleven Winemaker Dinners were held on November 8, 2018 in the best local restaurants, homes and pop-up venues. Kev and I attend the Arrow and Branch and Gamble wine dinner at Blueprint on 3rd, which is the restaurant’s first wine dinner. Outside on the patio, owner Dean Robb has the wines chilling at cellar temp, as this evening’s good weather would have it. Inside we are greeted by Dean and his son, Brandon with glasses of bubbly in their private dining room, where we toast the evening ahead, while nibbling on amazing appetizers. And before the first course is served we have made new friends whom we share the wine, food, and our own terroir—common ground stories of past wine experiences. The first course is a delightful seafood melody of succulent blue crab claws and poached shrimp paired with a lovely Gamble Heart Sauvignon Blanc 2015. The second scrumptious course of Wayco Cheshire Ham and poached pears, accented by a gorgeous Chirboga bleu cheese, is served with two luscious 2015 Cab Francs, one from each of the labels. For the main course, tender slices of seared venison are accompanied by beautiful bourbon cherries, glazed turnips, and grits. This course is also paired with two amazing 2015 vintage wines:  Gamble G. Thomas Cabernet Sauvignon and Arrow and Branch Dr. Crane Vineyard. And for dessert, we indulge in chocolate bourbon cake and Gamble Cairo Cabernet Sauvignon 2014. 

 

blueprint on 3rd venisonSome of our new friends at this memorable dinner will also be attending Friday’s 29th Annual Live Auction, which includes a Grand Tasting prior to the live auction. And on Saturday they will partake in the 4th Annual TumTum Tree Foundation Tailgate that event includes pre-game beer, wine, and barbeque in Tuscaloosa before the Alabama football game. Cheers to this weekend! 

View Blueprint on 3rd Profile 











the pantry thanksgiving dressing Tackling Thanksgiving 

I am grateful for The Pantry by Stone Hollow Farmstead bringing food to my table. 

By Jan Walsh 


If you want it done right do it yourself. Wrong. I had this attitude for decades and would not allow anyone to bring a dish to my Thanksgiving table. And the morning after, I woke to Christmas decorations landing in my kitchen, before the Byers' pilgrims were off the buffet and before I recover from cooking—much less get to enjoy a turkey sandwich. Thus, a new tradition started. Every other Thanksgiving we started dining out, which I also highly recommend, because it took me two years to get over it and do it all again. 


the pantry deviled farm eggs

But a couple of years ago Thanksgiving changed, when I trusted my neighbor Deborah Stone and delegated her Pantry to make the two dishes that my family—and I—thought no one could do better, the dressing and deviled eggs. Although these two dishes are not difficult to make, in my busy life, they had become too time consuming. First came recipe planning, and next the grocery shopping—including last minute runs to The Pig, while in the middle of prepping, for missing ingredients. It took days to prep for this meal, baking cornbread and biscuits before I could begin make the dressing. Peeling eggs after taking time to get a holiday manicure, made me want to hide my hands in oven mitts. And oh my gosh, the days long clean up! So, it was a joy—the joy of not cooking—to pop the dressing into the oven and serve deviled farm eggs that I had not made. And on first bite, I could not believe it. They were much better than my own. And I was not insulted when my family agreed. 


the pantry cheesecake Thus, I have never looked back nor dreaded Thanksgiving since. The Pantry will begin taking orders for Thanksgiving next week. They are hosting, “Plan Your Party at The Pantry” on November 8, with wine and cheese pairings and will teach you how to build your own grazing board. I will be there with bells on to order much of my Thanksgiving meal. And, I won’t forget to grab a jar of the best bread and butter pickles ever—for Friday’s turkey sandwiches. 

View The Pantry Profile