The state of Alabama may not have the heat of Florida, but it certainly provides warmth to the soul. I was in Tuscaloosa to watch the Alabama Crimson Tide dismantle the Georgia State Panthers. But along the way, I had the opportunity to enjoy some of that down-home southern hospitality you only get to read about.
First stop, food at a wonderful place called the Cypress Inn. Needless to say, I was ready to experience southern cooking in the next 72 hours. Unfortunately, the apps were gone so quickly, pictures weren’t possible, so what you don’t see are an incredible array of award-winning fried catfish (great seasoning, light batter and moist), fried green tomatoes (amazing), fried crab claws (with a little seafood sauce, just perfect), huge jumbo shrimp (the oxymoron at its finest) and get ready for this…fried pickles, so good! By the way, do you see a pattern here?
I ordered shrimp and grits with a side of mustard greens and hoppin’ jons (black-eyes peas and rice). I’m just going to say it was great and let you have a look for yourself. (Who else is reminded of My Cousin Vinny when they hear of grits?)
Ok, so get this. After this enormous lunch, we were off to do some tailgating before the football game. Tailgating, as in more food! I decided to take a walk to work off some of my lunch, what do I find? Yep, it’s a deep-fried Twinkie. I had to try one, right? Well, it was heavenly, the batter was light and crispy and the inside was still warm. If you’re curious what I thought about it, I finished it off in three bites.
In Tuscaloosa, the game in town is college football. Need proof? Well, the population of Bryant-Denny Stadium is 101,821, yet the population of Tuscaloosa is roughly 93,000 and yet that stadium is constantly packed!
Alabama maimed the poor team from Georgia State 63-7. I’ll take a lopsided win rather than a loss anytime, Roll Tide!
The customary “Where’s Waldo?” picture.
More walking was needed the next day if I was to continue eating all this incredible fried food. So a visit to the Bryant Museum was in order. Coach “Bear” Bryant is legendary across Alabama and college football. If you need further proof, he has a stadium, museum and street named after him in Tuscaloosa. He coached the Alabama football team for 25 years and needless to say left quite an imprint with his black and white Houndstooth fedora, 300+ victories and committment to excellence that still exists today.
Before lunch (yes, more eating), a little walk around campus was in order. The students living here had a good time last night if the cans are any indication.
It was a beautiful day in Tuscaloosa, so we hit up a place called Wintzell’s Oyster House in the neighboring town of Northport. If you’re known for oysters, than, I’m having oysters, but not before some fried green tomatoes and gator tail (yep, it’s fried!) So, what does gator taste like? I hate to say it, but it sort of tastes like chicken, but a little chewier. It doesn’t have much of a taste on its own, but the Cajun seasoning was perfect with it.
As for the oysters, so good. Here we go, from left to right. Grilled oysters, butter, parmesan and romano cheese. They shrink considerably from the heat and turn into little nuggets of flavour. Next, can never go wrong with the famous oysters Rockefeller with spinach and a sprinkling of cheese. Next was my favorite, the Oysters Bienville which consisted of shrimp, crabmeat and parmesan sauce. It was over-the-top decadent with an oyster hiding underneath. Last were Oysters Monterey with jalapeno, bacon and cheddar cheese. Enough said!
After lunch, we did a little walking around Northport. It’s a charming little town, where else do you find a spot to take fun pics like an old barn and a nickel & dime store?
And before we had to leave Tuscaloosa, we HAD to eat again. Unfortunately, the picture didn’t come out well but it was so good, I had to share it. We had dinner at Chuck’s Fish and I had to order what got me the most things on my plate which was the seafood platter. Jumbo lump crab cake, stuffed shrimp wrapped with bacon, blackened Mahi and a cheese grit cake that is Iron Chef worthy.
That is my Tuscaloosa, Alabama experience in a whirlwind 72 hours. Certain places are what they are because of the people and from what I experienced, the people of Tuscaloosa make the town what it is. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I was treated like a member of the family and for that I have only one thing to say “Thanks y’all & Roll Tide!”