Congratulations to Karen, whose partial email address is chiparn! Her comment was chosen using random.org to win this great prize. Special thanks to everyone for entering!
- In the course of my life, when I travel for tv appearances and events hosted by the magazines I’ve worked for, I’ve been treated to several fine dining experiences. While I appreciate the experience and opportunity, “fancy” restaurants almost always leave me lacking – and hungry.
There are a few grand exceptions and one restaurant stands out from them all – Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Alabama. The big difference in this restaurant versus all of the others? Frank Stitt.
If you’ve ever known anyone who knows Frank Stitt or has met him, you’ve most likely heard them sing his praises. There is a simple reason for that: When folks meet someone as kind, gracious, and talented as he is, they can’t help but talk about them.
But why is the experience at Highlands worth it when so many others are not? In my mind, it is the respect that Mr. Stitt has for his heritage. So many chefs these days have an attitude of embarrassment over Southern food and treat it as if it is something that could not possibly be served unless it was drastically improved upon.
Frank, on the other hand, has a reverence for his heritage and the food of our region. He treats Southern food with respect and care and this clearly shines through in his dishes. Gathering many of the ingredients locally, without overdoing anything or taking unnecessary steps that cover up the flavor of bountiful produce raised within miles of his restaurant, Frank manages to take all the best of Southern food and make it even better, allowing each flavor to shine.
The dishes taste as if they know they are loved.
My first bite of creamy cheese grits had my eyes rolling back in my head. These were REAL grits, not the kind you get in packets off the grocery store shelf. I’m quite certain the rich butter and fresh cheeses perfectly blended had a precious Southern pedigree, too. My grits were topped with the most perfectly cooked morsels of pork I’ve ever tasted. And I have something to compare them to as well. While filming a tv show last summer in Los Angeles, when some of the best chefs in the country made an identical dish, it didn’t even come close to Frank’s.
In the world of elite chefs, Frank Stitt is an anomaly. His food is upscale, but reverent rather than arrogant. His restaurant is a white tablecloth and low light establishment, but still manages to feel warm and comfortable. He is one of the best chefs in the world, but when folks meet him he goes out of his way to express gratitude to his patrons for allowing him to serve them. Not an ounce of pretension. Just delicious flavors bringing people together and having them leave with smiles and good memories.
Enter For A Chance To Go To The James Beard Awards in New York City!
I was thrilled to hear that Highlands has been nominated in the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards, which take place in New York on May 6th. Together with the James Beard Foundation, Acqua Panna Natural Spring Water will be recognizing the top restaurant in the field. In celebration of this, Acqua Panna is offering a chance for one lucky winner and their guest to attend the awards in New York. To enter, visit their Facebook page (by clicking here) and click “Like”, then follow the instructions to complete the entry. The sweepstakes closes tonight (April 18) so enter quick! You must be 21 or older to enter.
Special thanks to Acqua Panna for filling my glass at many a gathering!
I love Acqua Panna water and am eternally grateful to their product for being present at so many wine drinking occasions – because while I don’t drink, I’ve found that walking around with a glass of delicious water is a great way to keep from being offered ten thousand glasses of wine by people who are just trying to be gracious!
Since I’m not a drinker, I didn’t know that pairing fine dining water and wine together is a process known as “harmonizing” that many of you may be interested in so I thought I’d share some information about it that Acqua Panna shared with me.
Food and wine interact to impart different taste characteristics through each other, while water is meant to cleanse the palate and enhance the interacting traits of food and wine. Acqua Panna and S.Pellegrino together are known as fine dining waters, found on tables worldwide and in some of the best restaurants.
A light bodied water, Acqua Panna should be paired with soft suave wine with moderate alcohol and food that is lighter in flavor and subtle in aromas. Acqua Panna’s soft balance is perfect with elegant flavors not too rich or structured (such as light pasta sauces, seafood, and white wines).
S.Pellegrino (the water that comes in that cool looking green glass bottle) is meant to be paired with full bodied wines rich in tannins and high in acid so that the two liquids do not compete. Foods heavy in flavor and structure should be paired with water and wine with these characteristics.
Wanna try all of these delicious ideas and foods out for yourself?
One lucky Southern Plate Family Member will win
a $100 gift card to Highlands Bar and Grill,
courtesy of Highlands and Acqua Panna!
To enter, just leave a comment on this post below!
Giveaway closes Sunday, April 21, 2013, at midnight. Winner will be chosen using random.org and notified by email as well as announced on this post Monday morning. Winner has three days to respond to email in order to claim prize or alternate winner will be chosen.
Please note: I was not financially compensated for this post and the opinions contained in it are my own. Acqua Panna and Highlands Bar and Grill graciously provide the prize. Tell Frank I said “hi” and eat some grits for me!