Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Finding tea in unexpected places


Over a long weekend, Alex and I were blessed to stay at the lake house of some friends on Lake Wedowee in Alabama. Since Saturday was his birthday, we drove into Birmingham that night to have dinner at a restaurant we'd both long wanted to try, Frank Stitt's Highlands Bar and Grill.

Stitt published his first cookbook, "Frank Stitt's Southern Table," in 2004, and it was a huge hit. The foreword was written by the inimitable Pat Conroy, and his elegant food descriptions alone would make you want to try the place. (It doesn't hurt that Highlands was named #5 on Gourmet magazine's list of the 50 Best American Restaurants.) Some family members in Alabama had recommended the restaurant as well, so off we went.

Alex wasn't even finished with his appetizer before he started raving over his meal (he'd ordered the pork loin). Like him, I have to say it exceeded my already-high expectations. I had Tasmanian Salmon with new potatoes, sugar snap peas and English peas, and I never knew a vegetable could taste so good. (And I'm a veggie lover to begin with.) What capped it off for me, besides watching my man enjoy his birthday dinner, was when we decided to share a dessert and he found the perfect one, a Dark Chocolate Espresso Tart with dark chocolate espresso filling topped with a scoop of rooibos chai ice cream. Could ice cream really taste like rooibos tea? Indeed it did! The tart was just incredible, and plated beautifully (as was everything else). And I was pleased they offered Harney and Sons teas, so I ordered the Paris blend to accompany my dessert. Now, if I could just figure out how to make that ice cream. Or, if any of you decide to dine in Birmingham and would like to bring back a pint for me (along with the special of the evening, of course), I'd be much obliged.

10 comments:

Karen Bullock said...

Umm, everything sounds so yummy! And, chai rooibos ice cream to top it off....who would have thought? A belated Happy Birthday to your hubby. It is nice that you had a weekend away to celebrate.

parTea lady said...

Sounds like a great birthday weekend. Your description of the meal at Highlands Bar and Grill makes the word delicious seem inadequate.

Frank Stitt's Southern Table is one of the best cookbooks I own; so very entertaining to read. Not to mention the great photos and fabulous recipes. I hope that one day I can also enjoy a meal at this restaurant. Now, I need to go look for a recipe for chai ice cream.

Southern Touch Catering said...

Oh, yum! I would love to visit this restaurant. I'm so happy that your expectations where blown out of the water. Thanks for the info on it. I've been meaning for the longest time to get one of his cook books and now I can't wait!

Steph said...

Those are the BEST moments, finding great tea in an unexpected place! BTW - the "traveling teapot" will be on its way to you first thing next week.

Beverly said...

I did a google search for rooibos ice cream and came up with a recipe! Island Teas sells a rooibos extract which is added to softened ice cream. The extract is pricey. Maybe you could just add a strong infusion of rooibos to vanilla ice cream. It would be fun to experiment.

SANDY said...

I enjoy a good cup of tea, and collecting cookbooks. Think I'll get this one.

Gwendol Bowling said...

Angela,
I am curious. . .Did you send your compliments to the chef? I remember when dining at the Churchill in London, the chef made "some little something" especially for me and kindly let me know how he did it. Is it possible that may have been the case for you? I mentioned your name to my grand daughter and her immediate reply was, "Angela McRae? That woman is FAMOUS!!!"

So maybe, just maybe (fingers crossed), even now, the chef just might let you in on his secret!

Angela McRae said...

Gwendol, are you sure she didn't say "infamous" instead? (That is tooooo funny!) And I'll try to screw up my courage to contact the restaurant and ask about the ice cream! Good idea ...

Anonymous said...

My mouth is watering! What a wonderful meal together. Happy Birthday to Alex and i am so very glad ya'll had a sweet and special time together! tammyp

Anonymous said...

Great post: sounds like "a road trip" is in order! Thanks for sharing and Happy Birthday to Alex - Joanie