I wasn’t sure what to expect at the 4th Annual Down to Earth Farmraiser but I discovered on this pleasant October evening, that farming is alive and well in mid town Mobile.
Local chefs from twelve area restaurants and businesses wowed the crowd of hungry guests with their bite sized delectable creations. The thirty-five dollar tax deductable ticket admitted me to the event along with two glasses of wine and multiple samples of the various chefs’ bounty.
The restaurants included Noble South, Nourish, Haberdasher, Red and White, Pour Baby, Bay Gourmet and Old Dutch.
Victory Teaching Farm is all about sustainable, clean locally sourced food. It is South Alabama’s first and only teaching farm located in mid town Mobile on Rickarby Street. While the farm provides ample produce each year for the local area, it also provides internships, volunteer opportunities and fresh pick produce markets for locals.
This event gets bigger and better each year. Mark your calendars for early October, 2019. You will not want to miss this locally sourced food event. Come hungry, you will not be disappointed!
Spot of Tea began as a tea room in 1994 at 306 Dauphin Street with seven tables and twenty-nine chairs. Ruby Moore made fruit pizza and her son, Tony Moore served tea. A year later, they expanded into what is now the Carriage room. In the mid 1990’s downtown Mobile was a bit of a ghost town and Spot of Tea has had a birds’ eye view of the rebirth of the downtown area. The two hundred year old building has seen a lot of changes through the years as the restaurant expanded to its present location at 310 Dauphin Street.
Seeing a need for breakfast in downtown because of the nearby newspaper, Mobile’s Press Register, Spot of Tea began a daily breakfast buffet created by Chef Patti Culbreth. With daily breakfast going strong, they then expanded the menu to include a Sunday Brunch.
The downtown icon is noted for its tasty Sunday brunch menu but it’s the signature dish, Eggs Cathedral that really put them on the map. In 2000, construction workers were remodeling the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception that stands just across the square from Spot of Tea. While the workers enjoyed the breakfast offerings, they wanted something more.
Having just received some fresh crab cakes, Tony Moore stepped into the kitchen to create the new dish. He took the crab cakes, an English muffin and scrambled eggs then smothered the dish with the seafood bisque that has been a staple menu item. The workmen devoured the new dish and Eggs Cathedral creation has continued to sate the hunger of many guests. The only complaint they have received about the dish, many guests say they need a nap after eating it.
With its fresh made to order menu, Spot of Tea remains the number one downtown Mobile restaurant for lunch. Spot of Tea will be making some changes to their menu in November. Don’t worry, nothing is going away but several new tasty dishes are being added, an Ahi tuna salad, Lobster roll and Birdsnest’ egg dish. I was treated to a tasting of these new scrumptious creations as I sat with Chrissi Moore and Ruby Moore to talk about their nearly twenty-five year history of Mobile’s perennial favorite, Spot of Tea. Three new dishes will be making a debut on the refreshed menu in November:
The Birdsnest, created with a grilled English muffin, avocado, tomato, a poached egg and served with hollandaise sauce. This is a much lighter dish than Eggs Cathedral that will complement the new refreshed menu. Guests will appreciate the creaminess of the egg and avocado and the sweetness of the tomato.
The Second Mortgage Lobster Roll is a complete lobster bite. The lobster claw and knuckle is soaked in butter before it is served on a buttered bun with mayonnaise and celery salt. This is scrumptious decadence. This dish will be a unique flavor treat for guests.
The seared Ahi tuna salad features seared Ahi tuna, feta cheese, mushrooms, cucumbers, avocado, onions and tomatoes and served with raspberry vinaigrette. This is a super light dish and a delicious salad option.
While serving great food and exceptional service, Spot of Tea has much more to offer.
The matriarch of the family, Miss Ruby offers etiquette classes for children aged five to ten upon request. During these afternoon tea parties usually held on the outdoor patio, children learn about a proper table setting, using proper table manners and how to dress for an occasion. For larger parties, the Carriage Room is available. Weddings are a big deal here too. From the engagement dinner to hosting the wedding itself, Spot of Tea can do it all!
With their continuing commitment to the downtown community, Spot of Tea launched Mobile’s Original Segway Tour, two years ago. With Mobile’s recently updated and easily accessible sidewalks, the segway tour is an easy and safe ride. This offers a fun and exciting way to explore the downtown areas museums and attractions. Nine segways available to rent and some three hundred have enjoyed the guided and self guided experience.
Recently, Spot of Tea began offering curbside service for food pickup. They recommend guests call back just as they get to red light at Dauphin and Claiborne, so the food will be hot when it is ready to be handed off.
Spot of Tea is truly an “Aquarium to the World”. People watching is entertainment for guests eating on the front porch or for those seated just across the street to have an up close view of the Cathedral.
Ruby, who is in charge of Public Relations, told me her advice for running a family owned restaurant business is simple, “You have to have a love of people.” Mobile’s number one destination for lunch and brunch offers more than food and drink. It offers a unique view of Mobile’s history and its future. Chrissi Moore told me, “I love it when someone from out of town loves Mobile so much that they want to move here. And it happens a lot.”
Stop in for a meal at this downtown Mobile icon and beginning in November you can sample their refreshed menu and new dishes. You may just discover some new dishes to add to your old favorites. One thing is certain, you will not be disappointed.
Celebrating the cuisine of the Mobile, Bienville Bites, the first and only food tour company in Mobile, began offering food tours in downtown Mobile in October, 2017. Along with the tasty treats, the tour offers brief historical tidbits about the city as we walked through the downtown streets. Chris and Laney Andrews have embarked on providing tours of gastronomic fun and a bit of a history lesson featuring the best of Mobile.
Royal Scam on Royal Street was our meet up point. Owner David Rath opened the restaurant in the 2006 and it has become a regular treat for Mobilians. A little bit of rain did not deter our group of seventeen food tour participants. Tour guide Laney Andrews offered ponchos to those who wanted them but down South a little rain doesn’t discourage hungry souls from some of Mobile’s finest cuisine.
We sampled the Gumbo, a tomato based traditional Southern recipe created in 1702 by Madame Langlois. Their rue based broth made with onions, green peppers, celery, okra and shrimp is an excellent offering of this tasty dish.
Once the rain shower passed, we were off down Royal Street to Panini Pete’s. On this holiday weekend, Labor Day and the start of college football season, the place was unusually quiet.
We were treated to Pete’s take on a scrumptious beignet, Pete’s own recipe based on the New Orleans delicacy. Here the doughy treat is served with a lemon wedge and adds a little twist to the powered-sugar treat. We also sampled a selection of Panini’s. I chose the Muffaletta which was full of flavor with its olive tapenade. The Roast Turkey, their most popular Panini, was described by Chef Guy Fieri as the “State bird of Flavortown.” Pete’s prides itself on “Real food in our food”. They are a scratch kitchen and make their own mozzarella cheese. Owner and executive chef Pete Blohme is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has made his mark with a multiple locations in the area. Pete’s is open for breakfast and lunch.
Crossing the street, we sampled a small tasting of nuts from the A&M Peanut Shop. A fixture of Dauphin Street for over seventy years, it treats passersby’s with the aroma from the roasting peanuts. It’s hard not to stop in for a bag of goodies. You even get a musical treat.
We continued our stroll up Dauphin Street to Hero’s Sports Bar and Grille. The rain had left us so we sat outside across from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the glorious Catholic Church that dominates Cathedral Square.
Hero’s is a mainstay of sports bars in downtown Mobile and we were treated to one of Hero’s staples, Spinach and Crawfish dip. Served with pita bread, the smooth dip is a rich treat while watching the game on one of the many televisions showing the games of the day. Hero’s is open for lunch and dinner.
The next stop on our stroll was Wintzell’s Oyster House. An iconic landmark on the Mobile Restaurant scene since 1938, it began as a small oyster bar. It is a must do visit for visitors and locals alike. Surrounded by its signature signs, it offers a giggle for those who peruse the funny sayings.
We bellied up to the Oyster Bar for tasting of several offerings of oysters, Chargrilled, Monterey and Rockefeller.
Those who were so inclined were offered a raw oyster in its shell. A small dap of Tabasco sauce and you have a heavenly mouthful of deliciousness. Wintzells’ is open for lunch and dinner.
The light shower began falling was headed back down Dauphin Street to our final stop, Von’s Bistro that opened in 2012. With its unique mix of Asian and Southern cuisine, this eatery is not to be missed. Our tasting included a wonton and spring roll, both light and delicious. You will enjoy Von’s flare on traditional southern fare. Von’s is open for lunch and dinner.
During our stroll, Laney treated our group to historical tidbits about Mobile as well as the restaurants we visited. Mobile’s First and only Food Tour is a delightful way to spend an afternoon. They offer tours on Thursday evenings, Friday and Saturdays. The Old Mobile Tour which features some of Mobile’s better nighttime restaurants and the Loda Stroll, featuring the seven eateries described here. During Mobile’s Mardi Gras celebration, they feature Floats and Food tour. Be sure to check the Bienville Bites website for details on the tour times and tickets.
Visiting Mobile or just looking for an afternoon of relaxing fun, seek out this gastronomical tour that will be a treat for all your culinary senses.