Four flight delays and one canceled flight later, I’ve finally returned home from the endearing city of Birmingham, Alabama. Yes, you read that right – Alabama (cue endless Sweet Home Alabama and Heart of Dixie jokes).
Last weekend, I headed south of the Mason Dixon line to spend a weekend with my best friend, coincidentally also named Arielle. She’s recently moved there for work, and what better way to take a trip to the Heart of Dixie (joke no.1) than to visit your best friend?
In the 72 hours (and one extra night, thanks Delta), I spent there, I ate a three course meal every day, had some of the best sweet tea that I’ve ever tasted, and visited a speakeasy. Wild, right?
Well, it’s really not that wild. Spending a weekend down south, especially with my foodie best friend, meant I was without a doubt going to have multiple delicious meals. What was really wild (or less wild and more surprising, actually) was how much I enjoyed Birmingham. Coming from New Jersey, I naturally had some pre-conceived ideas about life in the south, just like many folks have pre-conceived ideas about life in the north.
However, by the time I set foot on my flight out of Birmingham, I was a little sad to leave. Well, I wasn’t sobbing on the floor sad, as my flight the night before had been canceled and I had to catch a 6:10am flight back to New York (maybe I was sobbing, but more from having to be up so early). But for a brief weekend I got the chance to experience and understand why folks from Alabama love their state.
There’s plenty to say about my trip, since my friend planned tons of activities for us to do. However, I’m not going to get into vivid detail about every single venture we went on, but I’ll certainly give you the highlights reel
After a delayed flight out of NYC on Friday, I finally landed in Birmingham around 6pm. Our first stop was a delicious meal at local (and popular) French restaurant, Chez Fonfon. A glass of rosé, one blueberry mojito, a tasty tomato appetizer, a savory croque madame and a sweet slice of coconut cake later, we found ourselves in a speakeasy. Yes, a speakeasy. Nestled in the back of a hot dog joint, my friend and I sipped cleverly named libations, like the Less Than Fifty Words, in a good ol’ bar straight out of the prohibition era.
The next morning we visited what was my favorite part of my trip – The Market at Pepper Place. I’ve always been a fan of farmer’s markets and outdoor markets in general. I always find some of the best food products, knick knacks, flowers, and more for my home there. It was at the market where I found a gigantic mason jar filled to the brim with the best sweet tea that I’ve ever tasted. Southern Y’all Sweet Tea epitomized everything I imagined about Alabama – everything is bigger and sweeter than up north. In fact, said jug inspired the title for this post – Alabama is HOT, so keep hydrated with some sweet, sweet tea.
Fast forward to Sunday, and my trip was finally drawing to a close (or so I thought – see delayed and eventually canceled flight). But before I bid adieu to the Heart of Dixie, my friend and I did what we do best – brunch. At Galley & Garden we nibbled on the best peach cobbler we both had ever had, sipped on mimosas and French press coffee, and ate our three course meal with a show as the couple next to us got quite animated during their meal.
All in all, Alabama was so surprisingly pleasant and endearing, that I’ve been telling everyone I know from back home that they’ve got to visit. Birmingham is certainly not a bustling city like New York or London, but it’s filled with plenty of hidden gems that will having you falling in love with everything it has to offer.