Fairhope, Alabama

Vacationing Martha Foose Style

Our friend, chef and author Martha Foose, was scheduled to make a stop on her Screen Doors and Sweet Tea book tour in Fairhope, Alabama. We were scheduled to pass very near there on our way home from Orlando. Unfortunately, we were to be there the day before she was.

We decided to drop by anyway. We thought it would be nice to leave her a note. As luck would have it, Martha was in town for a cooking demo that we didn’t know about. Far from a note, we were able to spend time with Martha, listening to even more of her delightful stories and checking out some of what Fairhope has to offer.

To get a good picture of Fairhope. Imagine a smaller Oxford, Mississippi. With more humidity. Fairhope makes up for that by substituting Mobile Bay for Sardis Lake. Also, there is no university, but that means no game day traffic. Fairhope has a nice collection of shops and restaurants in a lovely setting. Here are the places we got to visit.

Village Peddler

Martha did her cooking demos here. We were able to sit in on a class as Martha made cantaloupe daiquiris, watermelon salsa, catfish en papillote, pecan rice pilaf, and blueberry cobbler. The store has a nice collection of kitchen accessories. We couldn’t have received a warmer welcome to Fairhope.

Red or White

Red or White is the best wine shop we have visited in quite a while. Honestly, I didn’t take time to browse the racks. I did, however, get to see their approach to the wine experience. We were able to stop in and share a bottle of wine while sitting on comfy couches talking to Martha and meeting excellent new friends.

Red or White also has a chef who cooks in the evening. Afternoons, he prepares small bites for wine pairings. We weren’t able to stay for the day’s tasting, but we did get to check out the case filled with cheese and charcuterie. Red or White is on our list of places to return to. Nothing could be better than a comfortable place to enjoy and learn about wine and food.

Panini Pete’s

The first thing you notice at Panini Pete’s is the row of Segways parked out front. You might be concerned that some modern day biker (Segwayer?) gang is in residence. Not to fear though. Panini Pete’s just happens to provide the parking lot for the local Segway tour company. Pete himself owns a Segway. He praises its usefulness but warns against attempting BMX-style maneuvers with very specific descriptions of Segway physics.

The food was top notch. Martha tried the French poodle, a hot dog with onion confit and dijon mustard wrapped in a crepe. They were out of crepes, but the dog got no complaints as served on a bun. I had the roast beef panini. The gorgonzola spread won me over. Mama Squirrel had the mozzarella and tomato panini. Her reaction? “It’s like a mater sammich, only different.” She loved it.

Page & Palette

We started the day with coffee at Latté Da, the coffee bar at Page & Palette, so it was only appropriate that we end the day there. Page & Palette is a coffee shop, bookstore, and art supply store all in one. Actually, each part is in a separate bay, but they are open to one another and shopping there is like a relaxing stroll.

As Martha started her book signing, we had to say farewell and continue our journey home. I think we’ll be back to Fairhope though.

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