Strike Now Y’All, the Iron City Is Hot
By Kelly Villasuso
If you gauge the evolution of a city’s cool factor by the evolution of its nickname, then Birmingham, Alabama, surely is the coolest city around. From the earliest esteemed monikers of Iron City and Magic City, to its current-day calling cards — Bham and ‘Ham — you could easily surmise that the South’s best kept secret is hashtag-worthy of #goodtimes #food #lifestyle #luxurytravel (for starters). In other words, (minus the trending hashtag-ese), the ‘Ham is smokin’ and really garnering love, so strike while the Iron City is hot.
You will find a progressive city that honors its rich, nation-rocking roots; an active, engaged constituency that feverishly supports its Bham Barrons, its artisan brewers, its motorsports, and its enviable farmers’ market; and a culinary community married to its down-home cooking while also mad for its James-Beard-honored wizards of gastronomy.
Birmingham’s Rich, Nation-Rocking Roots
The Vulcan Park & Museum, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park, and the 16th Street Baptist Church are must-see landmarks to properly honor Birmingham’s (and our nation’s) rocky past and to truly appreciate its rebirth. Vulcan Park & Museum sits atop Red Mountain and is home to the Iron City’s beloved Vulcan, the Roman god of the forge and one of the most significant works of civic art in the United States. The park and the interactive museum pay tribute to Birmingham’s deep industrial roots while offering an unmatched view of the downtown. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park, and the 16th Street Baptist Church serve as immersive (and essential) lessons on the past while encouraging positive new ways forward.
Magic City’s Hottest Happenings
The Magic City has a lot up its sleeve when it comes to adventure. If leisurely activities are what you crave… Presto! Stroll the city’s beautiful Botanical Gardens, wander the Birmingham Zoo, take in a tour and a brew (or two) with some good people at Good People Brewing Company, or explore the Pepper Place Market, Birmingham’s weekly farmers’ market. If you are more of an adrenaline junky, Poof! The Magic City materializes exciting sporting events like a Birmingham Barrons or a Blitz game and exhilarating opportunities at the Barber Motorsports Park, including races, the Vintage Motorsport Museum, and the Porsche Sport Driving School
Yes, Ma’am, Thank You ‘Ham: Serving Up the Love
Birmingham is home to a masterful blend of amazing chefs — many of whom are homegrown — serving regional traditions and embracing everything local. Whatever you are hankerin’ for in ‘Ham, you will not only find it delicious, you will find it served with a large spoonful of Southern hospitality and charm. Be sure to try such standouts as Birmingham’s 2016 James Beard Awards’ Outstanding Restaurant, Highlands Bar and Grill, Hot and Hot Fish Club, El Barrio, Habitat Feed & Social, Saw’s Juke Joint, and Bottega.
Tony, Country Living Smack Dab in BHAM:
Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook
If you consider yourself a bon vivant (or you are working hard to be one), you are sure to feel at home in the Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook in Mountain Brook Village. This tony, 100-room boutique hotel will envelope you in its luxurious setting amidst rolling hills and tree-lined streets… smack dab in Birmingham. Its upscale offerings include a sculpture garden and well-curated art gallery, the luxurious Poseidon Spa, upscale dining at Habitat Feed & Social, wine blending classes, and a cooking school, all of which will provide you with the requisites for truly living life well.
Wine Blending by Kessler:
Simplifying Complex Chemistry, Delivering Uncomplicated Pleasure
During the Wine Blending by Kessler course, Sommelier and Instructor Demián Camacho takes you on a sensory journey through different grape regions and vineyards, and opens your mind and your palate to different varietals and various aging techniques. Employing what you learn about the wines — and utilizing a host of gadgets straight out of high school chemistry class — you will then create your own custom wine blend complete with a personalized label. The Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook will even keep your recipe on file so that you are able to re-create it on future visits to the hotel. Cheers to that!
Kessler Cooking School’s Recipe for Success —
A Heaping of Good Food with a Dash of Great Storytelling
“Food Network” groupies take heed, entering the Cooking School at the Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook will make you feel like you walked onto the set of one of your favorite shows. Not only is the kitchen chock-full of state-of-the art appliances and gadgets, it also comes complete with its very own charismatic host, Chef Clifton Holt. His storytelling prowess is disarming to those nervous about wielding a knife and totally engaging to pretty much everyone else. The school’s courses range from those focused on a single ingredient, such as making pasta or learning to make seafood, to those with menus centered around nationalities, including Italian, Mexican, French, and Spanish, as well as Southern cuisine. Whichever course you choose, you are sure to enjoy an interactive, entertaining evening with Chef Holt at the helm.
No matter where you eat, just make it to Bham quick, before it is too cool to get a seat, y’all.