Left at the Fork

the road | the food | a new direction

Category: Alabama

Live Blues with a Side of World Class BBQ

We love outdoor blues festivals, for the music, yes, but also because many of them feature some form of barbecue on the menu as well — barbecue and blues go together like baseball and hot dogs. But very, very few can claim to serve some of the best barbecue in the country. That’s what you’ll find at tomorrow’s (May 21st 2016) Bob Sykes BBQ & Blues Festival in Bessemer, Alabama. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the music kicks off at 12:10 p.m. The forecast says 83 and no rain. Best of all, there’ll be plenty of local Bob Sykes pit-cooked pork. Find all the details here.

Poke Salat Festival, Arab AL, May 20th and 21st 2016

The name of this festival is really for historical significance and atmospherics as you are not likely to find actual poke salat (or sallet) at this or any of the other poke sallet festivals held in Southern communities. What is poke salat? You may know it as pokeweed. It has been treated as a vegetable in the rural South, much more so in the past than today. Only the young leaves are eaten, and they must be boiled well – some say in several changes of water. The plant is considered poisonous, particularly the root, stems, and berries. Continue reading

Is Nashville Hot Chicken Going Viral?

Super-hot-spiced fried chicken has been percolating along quietly in Nashville, TN for, oh, about 80 years. Through the decades the fiery bird received little national attention nor, for that matter, all that much local attention. Suddenly, within the last two or three years, the yardbird has flown the coop and is nesting in spots like New York City, Lexington, KY, and Birmingham, AL. Why now? Or, more to the point, what took so long? All it takes is a taste for a lifelong love affair. We know; we’re addicts as well. Continue reading

Greater Gulf State Fair, Mobile AL, October 30th through November 8th 2015

What began in 1955 as a civic project by the Mobile Junior Chamber of Commerce has over the decades grown into today’s Greater Gulf State Fair, Alabama’s largest fair (still run by volunteers from the Jaycees). The Greater Gulf, for those unfamiliar with the region, refers to South Alabama, Northwest Florida, and Southeast Mississippi, all, of course, along the Gulf of Mexico. This year’s theme: ““Lions, Tigers, The Fair , Oh My!”. Continue reading

Grand Bay Watermelon Festival, Grand Bay AL, July 3rd and 4th 2015

It was 1973 when Grand Bay, Alabama revived an early 20th-century local tradition and put on the first Grand Bay Watermelon Festival of the modern era. The festival is courtesy of the local Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and it begins today, with free admission, at 3 p.m. On the 4th, there’s a $5 per vehicle charge for the 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. festival but admission comes with all the locally grown, ice-cold watermelon you care to eat! Continue reading

Alabama Barbecue Hall of Fame

The Alabama state tourism department has declared 2015 the Year of Alabama Barbecue, and as part of the promotion they have created the Alabama Barbecue Hall of Fame, which features 29 veteran barbecue restaurants in its inaugural class. From Golden Rule Bar-B-Q in Irondale (which is the oldest barbecue restaurant in Alabama – they opened in 1891!) to Whitt’s Barbecue in Athens (opened in 1966 – they bent the rules slightly) all 29 inductees have been smoking meat for 50 years or more. I see a road trip in our future! Check out the entire list here.

Interview with Van Sykes, Owner of Bob Sykes BBQ of Alabama

Bob and Maxine Sykes opened Bob Sykes Bar B Q in 1957. Today, their son Van runs the restaurant with Van’s nephew, Jason, using the exact same recipes and methods that were used in 1957. The Birmingham News talked to Mr. Sykes about the restaurant, his parents, and the blues and BBQ festival he holds in town each year. Some things we learn: you want to order the most popular meal at Sykes? Get a BBQ pork sandwich with homemade O-rings and red velvet cake for dessert. And: when he was 12, he burned a pit full of pork, and his father made him pay for the burned meat!

Poke Salat Festival, Arab AL, May 15th and 16th 2015

The name of this festival is really for historical significance and atmospherics as you are not likely to find actual poke salat (or sallet) at this or any of the other poke sallet festivals held in Southern communities. What is poke salat? You may know it as pokeweed. It has been treated as a vegetable in the rural South, much more so in the past than today. Only the young leaves are eaten, and they must be boiled well – some say in several changes of water. The plant is considered poisonous, particularly the root, stems, and berries. Continue reading

Rattlesnake Rodeo, Opp AL, April 11th and 12th 2015

55 years and counting: that’s how long the Rattlesnake Rodeo has been held in the town of Opp, state of Alabama. Gates open Saturday, April 11th, 2015 for the rodeo, and the bands begin at 10:30 a.m. There’ll be snake shows and snake races, a 5K run/walk, a greased pole climb, a buck dancing contest, the introduction of the 2015 Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo Queens, and plenty of musical performances, headlined by Gary Allan and NewsBoys. The rodeo continues Sunday the 12th. Over 20,000 people are expected to attend. Continue reading

Elberta German Sausage Festival, Elberta AL, March 28th 2015

In 1953, a man named Alfred Stucki began managing Elberta’s Locker Plant in Alabama and it was there he originated the famous Elberta German sausage. Mr. Stucki died in 1973, and over the ensuing years the recipe for the sausage has evolved, but its roots can be traced back to Mr. Stucki’s 1953 original. And it’s that sausage that is celebrated twice a year in the town of Elberta, on the last Saturday of March and October. One of those days, March 28th, 2015, is almost here! Continue reading

James Beard Award Finalists Announced

The finalists for the annual James Beard Awards were announced this morning. Some of our personal favorites among the nominees include: Continue reading

“What Slow Smoked Pork Should Taste Like”

The Brick Pit of Mobile, Alabama begins by “loading up the massive smoker with 30 or so 8-9 pound Boston butts that will undergo some 25-30 hours of smoking at about 225 degrees.” Pitmaster Bill Armbrecht uses no seasoning at all, other than that which the smoke from pecan wood provides. The pork is hand-pulled and served with sauce on the side. That’s what David Holloway of al.com named The Best Thing I Ate Last Week. Read his writeup of The Brick Pit here.

LAF in the A.M. January 20th, 2015

A Morning Menu of LAF-Style Food News and Stories to Begin Your Day

HAPPY NATIONAL BUTTERCRUNCH DAY!

Turkey Since the Early ’40s

Eating I-95 from NJ to DC

Maxine Sykes, of Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q, Has Died at 94

12 Must-Visit Restaurants for 2015

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LAF in the A.M. December 31st, 2014

A Morning Menu of LAF-Style Food News and Stories to Begin Your Day

Dutch Babies and Apple Pancakes

Best Diner in Every State

The People Have Spoken: New Chick & Ruth’s Menu

Shake Shack IPO

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LAF in the A.M. December 13th, 2014

A Morning Menu of LAF-Style Food News and Stories to Begin Your Day

Wintzell’s in the 21st Century

Capriotti’s Watch

Watch Frank Brigtsen Make BBQ Shrimp with Shrimp Calas

Portland’s Voodoo Doughnut Heading East

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LAF in the A.M. December 5th, 2014

A Morning Menu of Stories We Think You’ll Find Interesting

Why Are Charleston, SC’s Soul Food Restaurants Closing?

Come See the GingerBrown in Louisville

A Look at 2 New Appetizing Restaurants in NYC’s Lower East Side

AL.com Writer Falls for Wintzell’s Fish Tacos

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