As many of you know I married a southern girl. Originally from Memphis and raised in north Mississippi, both her and her sister (Sil) have now relocated. Known on here as Mrs. Sippi she's living up here in Canada while Sil's journey would see her settle in Huntsville, Alabama (her parents would later follow). This, if you've been scoring at home, you may already know.
With family in Rocket City, several times a year we make the drive south. Stopping along the way at some great mom and pop shops that I've shared with you here.
I've also shared some of the great eats the City of Huntsville has to offer as well.
You may have noticed me referencing a list of the 20 Most Distinctive Dishes in the region. Originally published by the Huntsville Times and posted on AL.com it's a pseudo guide to noshing in the greater Huntsville area. I set out to sample each and every item on the list. Along the way I've made new friends, eaten interesting foods, discovered great new restaurants and foods I didn't know existed.
Some items I found to be absolutely incredible while others were miserable failures. Either in terms of taste or execution.
So here are my findings in the order they appear in the original article.
This is part 1 of a trilogy in 4 parts.
1) White Bean Chili ~ Duffy's Deli. (Huntsville)
It's possible this is the best thing on the list. In fact, it's so much a part of Duffy's that the recipe is considered an asset to be sold with the business. I asked if I could get a copy and that was the explanation that accompanied the "Sorry." It was suggested that the recipe is simple and not hard to decode. I suspect there's RoTel in it and plenty of recipes exist for Rotel White Chili.
What makes the dish is the generous amount of cheese loaded into the cup before the chili.
I can also recommend the Deep Fried Cheesecake for dessert.
2) Hush Puppies ~ (Old) Greenbrier Restaurant (Greenbrier)
Rumour has it these deep fried cornmeal dough balls (finger shaped here) were invented by hunters as a way to keep their dogs satiated. As meals were prepared a simple cornmeal dough ball was fried as a treat to “Hush the puppy.” Around here pretty much everyone agrees, these are far superior to any other hush puppies.
They don't need it to "Make" them but make sure you try them dipped in white sauce.
I will also recommend the Catfish Plate.
3) Coconut Pie ~ Gibson's BBQ (Huntsville)
The name Gibson is synonymous with BBQ in north central Alabama. What some may not realize is they're also famous for their outstanding pies. Sadly, this Gibson's has lost it's way over the years serving Q not nearly worthy of the family name. However, their pies are every bit as good as ever. The coconut offering possibly leading that charge.
What makes this dish is it's home made.
I will recommend you stick with pies and skip the BBQ.
4) Chicken with White Sauce ~ Big Bob Gibson's (Decatur)
The Commodore. The Patriarch. The Headwaters. Whatever you want to call Bob Gibson, he practically invented north/central Alabama BBQ. His main contribution is a little known (outside the area) condiment simply named, White Sauce. At Big Bob's they take their smoked chickens and give them a dunk in the white stuff. It's fantastic. The tangy, mayo based finishing sauce nicely balances out the smokiness of the chicken.
What makes this is the balance of chicken and sauce.
I can also recommend the ribs. Some of the best I've had.
5) Hamburgers with Cheese ~ Big Spring Cafe (Huntsville)
First of all, they're not cheeseburgers, they're hamburgers with cheese. Cooked on a flat top they're held in an au jus bath until serving. They get a quick trip to the sandwich press and voilà. It comes slider size with pickle and mustard.
Add some onion for the classic condiment combination. So named because they did not require refrigeration.
What makes this is the simplicity. Just a great, easy snack.
I'll also recommend the Chili Burger. On the list of 100 Things to Eat in Alabama Before You Die. As is the Slaw Dog.
So there you go. Stay tuned for part 2 coming to a computer near you.