Wade on Birmingham

The 2015 Birmingham food and drink preview

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Pepper Place Saturday Market - farmer, watermelons

The popular Pepper Place Saturday Market opens its 15th year on April 11.

Birmingham shouldn’t be the food capital of the South. It should be Food Capital of the World.

Don’t believe us? Let’s look into the world of tomorrow, the world of fantastic food ahead.

January

  • Acoustic Soup: The fund-raiser for VSA Alabama was nearly frozen out this year thanks to a burst of ice and snow. Hopefully the ninth annual event will dodge winter’s grasp. Chefs, soups, artists’ bowls and the opportunity to support arts programming for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. WorkPlay, Lakeview.

February

  • Feb. 19: The 14th annual Taste of Homewood will have more than 30 restaurants and other vendors to delight and tickle palettes. $30-$35. Rosewood Hall.
  • Feb. 27-28: The newly christened Food Media South stays in Birmingham after a change in ownership to the Southern Foodways Alliance. The digital conference once called Food Blog South is already sold out. It takes place at Rosewood Hall in Homewood.

March

April

  • April 10-11: The 17th annual St. Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival serves more than 8,500 people, but also has raised more than $310,000 for area charities. Baked kibbee and spinach pies for everyone! Free. Southside.
  • April 11: The biggest farmer’s market in Birmingham, Pepper Place Saturday Market, kicks off its 15th year. Lakeview. [Previous coverage]
  • April 11: The Alabama Asian Culture and Food Festival is a fund-raiser with everything: drummers, hand-painted umbrellas, cookbooks, fashion show, dancers, a walking tour of Asia and seven cuisines. $8. Zamora Shrine Temple, Irondale. [Previous coverage]
  • April 18: The 10th annual Gumbo Gala moves to Regions Field for the Episcopal Place fund-raiser. The organization raised $50,000 in 2014 to provide housing for elderly and disabled adults. Teams compete to see whose gumbo is greatest. $12-$15.
  • April 24: AIDS Alabama and AIDS Alabama South are putting together the 5th annual Dining Out for Life, an opportunity for diners in Birmingham to support the cause at participating restaurants. At least 25 percent of the check will go to these organizations.
  • April 24-26: The 18th annual Corks and Chefs will complement Magic City Art Connection in Linn Park downtown. Two afternoons of sampling the city’s best dining, along with wine tastings and seminars. $30-35.

June

  • June 5-6: Magic City Brewfest … a hundred beers from at least a dozen breweries, a great way to welcome summer at Sloss Furnaces while raising money for Free the Hops. It will likely sell out. $34.50-$40.

July

  • Shelby County Shindig and BBQ Cook-Off: Who has the best ribs? The best sauce? These questions and more will be answered once and for all at this fund-raiser for the Shelby County Arts Council and the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce. $10 to sample barbecue. Shelby County Courthouse, Columbiana.

August

September

  • Sept. 7: They may drop the big Moon Pie tonight in Mobile, but how many Moon Pies can you drop in your mouth? The 24th annual Labor Day Celebration and Moon Pie Eatin’ Contest is for you. The state’s largest competition has divisions for adults and children. $2-$3. Tannehill Historical State Park, McCalla.
  • Sept. 19: Put your foot down. The Grape Stomp at Morgan Creek Vineyards will give attendees the opportunity to crush grapes in barrels, along with a wine tasting (not sure if the two are related). Harpersville.
  • Oktoberfest: Join in the fun at the 35th annual celebration at Das Haus downtown. Traditional German cuisine, kegs, beer garden, beer hall and a wide assortment of European beers.

October

  • Oct. 1-3: Opa! The 43rd annual Birmingham Greek Festival takes place at Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Southside. A fund-raiser for various area charities. Don’t even think about using the drive-through when you can stop in, eat and shop.
  • Oct. 2-3: The 10th annual Alabama Butterbean Festival isn’t just about the beans. Look for fireworks, a car show, a pageant and a carnival in Pinson. Free.
  • Breakin’ Bread: More than 40 restaurants will provide the samples, paired with beers and wines, in beautiful Railroad Park. Fund-raiser for various area charities. $50-$100.
  • Eat Drink Read Write Festival: The Birmingham Public Library puts on a week of events, many free, including competitions, tasting, a poetry slam and more. [added Jan. 3]
  • Friedman Family LJCC Jewish Food Festival: The 13th annual event has traditional foods plus desserts from the bakery. Free. Levite Jewish Community Center.
  • Magic Moments Kick’n Chick’n Wing Fest: The fund-raiser joined forces in its third year with music festival Cask and Drum. Includes a competition for Best Wings. To date, more than $40,000 has gone to Magic Moments.

November

  • Nov. 7-8: The 33rd annual St. Nicholas Russian/Slavic Food Festival is a bustling affair in tiny Brookside, a chance to sample stuffed holupki (cabbage) and halushki (dumplings). Plus, tours of the temple which dates back to 1894. Free. [Previous coverage]
  • Fall FestivAle: The 5th annual fund-raiser for Free the Hops offers seasonal, unique and rare beers from within and outside of Alabama. $29-$39. Regions Field. [Previous coverage]
  • TASTE: Or Trussville’s Art Show and Tasting Event comes back for a 7th year to the Trussville Civic Center with music, art and of course, food for everyone. $25-$35. [Previous coverage]

December

Also

  • Trader Joe’s will open its first Alabama location at the Summit in the second half of 2015. (Sorry, no Publix downtown till early 2016.)

Video: Dancing at the St. Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival

Don’t miss the 2015 Birmingham sports preview!

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