Tag Archives: Soul Food

Weaver D’s is Still “Automatic for the People”

10 Jun

Finding Martha’s Place

18 Apr

We all know that Martha Washington was our country’s original “First Lady.” But you should also know that Montgomery, Alabama’s Martha Hawkins is the South’s “First Lady of Soul Food.”  The only other lady who could possibly make lay claim to that title might be North Carolina’s Mildred “Mama Dip” Council. We’ve dined at both places and actually prefer the delicious downhome offerings at Martha’s.

Martha’s Place is located on Sayre Street in downtown Montgomery, where Hawkins has created something of a soul food empire. Over the last 20 some odd years, she has made a mighty name for herself among locals who have a deep appreciation for authentic home cooking. Each dish on Martha’s buffet line is created with great love and attention to detail. It all tastes fantastic — and it is truly good for your soul.

Martha also runs a thriving catering operation.

Pick up her book “Finding Martha’s Place” – a moving read!

Celebrities from all over the world have come home to Martha’s Place.

She is such a sweet lady — we enjoyed finally meeting her!

We enjoyed our lunch in this bright, cheerful setting.

We found an authentic Mose Tolliver folk art piece on the wall.  


My first trip thru the buffet line – fried bird, collards, butter beans, cornbread, and some amazing au gratin potatoes. Everything was simply fabulous. The chicken was crispy and flavorful on the outside while retaining its moisture on the inside. I only wish the plates (and my stomach) were bigger!

The perfect picture of pure plump poultry perfection.

The collards were just like Granny’s – the highest praise possible.

Words can’t describe the goodness of Martha’s pineapple bread pudding.

The restrooms are spotless & there is always a Bible within arm’s reach.

We found Martha’s to be a very special place. It is filled with love, nice people, and some of the best soul food you will ever put in your mouth. So what’s not to like about all that? Make sure you visit — and soon!


Legendary Montgomery Soul Food Matriarch Releases Book “Finding Martha’s Place”

14 Feb

Welcome to Martha’s Place . . .Memories of the warmth of her family’s supper table would remain with Martha. Even as a poor single mother without a high school diploma, Martha dreamed of one day opening a restaurant that would make people feel at home. She’d serve food that would nourish body and soul. But time went by and that dream slipped further and further away as Martha battled the onset of what would later become a severe mental illness.

But the thing about hitting bottom is that there’s nowhere to go but up. Martha decided to step into God’s promise for her life. Her boundless faith and joy led her to people who would change her world and lend a helping hand when she most needed and least expected one.

Martha’s Place is now a nationally known destination for anyone visiting the Deep South and a culinary fixture of life in Montgomery. Martha only hires folks who are down on their luck, just as she once was. High-profile politicians, professional athletes, artists, musicians, and actors visit regularly. Martha has proven many times that keeping the faith makes the difference between failure and success. This is the story of how Martha finally found her place. . . .

Learn more about Martha at www.marthahawkins.com

Martha Hawkins was the tenth of twelve children born in Montgomery, Alabama. There was no money, but her childhood was full of love. Martha’s mother could transform a few vegetables from the backyard into a feast and never turned away a hungry mouth.

A Mixed Bag of Bird at Danny’s Fried Chicken

22 Sep


After driving past it many times, we finally ducked into Danny’s Fried Chicken in Fairhope for a taste of bird. What we found was a mixed bag of offerings – some good, some not so good. Can we strongly endorse it? No. Will we be back? Probably not. Read ahead & decide your own course of action.

First of all, the sign reads GREAT fried chicken. Not good … or delicious. GREAT! In reality, it’s average at best. Nothing the least bit unique about it. I liked the baked chicken on the lunch buffet far more than I enjoyed the fried variety. It was moist with a nicely seasoned skin and a few sliced sweet onions on top. Even looked homemade! 


As you can see from the above image, it’s sort of a dingy little place from the outside. It was actually bordering on dirty on the interior. The trays they provide for transporting the chow to your table were, well, pretty darn nasty. Nothing special about the place on the inside either. Sort of depressing, honestly.

The chunky potato salad at Danny’s was pretty good, while the cole slaw was thick and heavy with way too much mayo. Yuck! The biscuits (I would call them rolls) were also nothing to write home about. The fried okra was straight from the freezer and the fries were the crinkle cut, SYSCO style that you find everywhere. Not a lot of TLC shown around here.

On the bright side, the green beans were nice & smoky and the peach cobbler really hit the spot for dessert (although finding the canned sliced peaches inside the cobbler was like playing a game of “Where’s Waldo?”) 

Danny’s has several locations along the Central Gulf Coast, but why bother, folks? You can get better fried chicken and fixins at Popeye’s or KFC. 

OK, so there I have said it. Been there, done that. Turn the page.

Catfish Sliders and Mint Juleps in West Hollywood

19 Mar
As the blue skies of summer stealthily approach—hey, March is close enough—your thoughts naturally turn to all things barbecue.

You’re not alone: the famed Venice Beach institution known as Baby Blues BBQ is quietly opening up a new West Hollywood spot on Friday, and they’re bringing their Guinness-soaked ribs with them. (Translation: won’t stay quiet for long.)

Think of the grub as authentically inauthentic—meaning, they proudly mix things up in the kitchen rather than focusing on one particular region. Of course, if you’ve lost a few good shirts to the founding Venice spot, you know that already—but this new outpost has a giant kitchen complete with deep fryer, so in addition to your old favorites, here you’ll find Fried Green Tomatoes and Hush Puppies.

Grab a stool to the left at the full bar (another improvement) for a Mint Julep, and order her a rum-heavy Sweet Tea. (It’s in a pint glass, but she can handle it.) You can choose your own sliders, everything from pulled pork to brisket to shrimp to catfish—but if you’re thinking meat platter and slaw, you’ll probably want to get yourself a table by the windows.

It’s just like a backyard, without the backyard.

Wall’s BBQ in Savannah, GA

9 Feb


Savannah’s lanes run behind and between the big houses facing the streets of the historic district. They have a private feel to them that may discourage sightseers, but they give an inside/backside view of the city worth experiencing. Most give a glimpse of private gardens spilling over brick and wooden walls and the unpolished edge of city living- garbage cans and parked cars. Most are largely unpaved, as is E. York Lane near Price Street. Running behind the houses on the north side of E. York, this quiet lane harbors a BBQ hot spot.


Wall’s could be easily missed, what with Oleander cresting the high wooden gate to left and palmetto and trees tangled on both sides of the small white façade and dark door and windows. There us nothing flashy about the signage, but the aroma of slow cooked, smoke laced meat is all it takes to know you have arrived.  Inside, fake wood paneling and orange laminated banquettes fill the spaces not occupied by the oscillating fans.  Order at the counter and have a seat. It is too dark to read the books lining one wall, but the food comes in a hurry and once it arrives there will be little time for anything beyond those sighs of contentment between the bone sucking and finger licking. The ribs are fabulous. The sauce is served on the side. It is thin but not watery, a fine blend of catsup and mustard with all the necessary spices and sauced ingredients like cayenne and worstershire that let you know you are not in South Carolina, Alabama or Memphis, but in Georgia. The coleslaw is crisp and cold, creamy but tart- perfect. Tourist do find their way to Wall’s but mostly locals walk in, catch up, and carry out food to their families.

More reviews like this can be found online at:


Here’s One Use for Leftover Turkey

27 Nov



SERVES 8 – 10

The lexicon of African-American foodways of the South was created, according to food historian Tracy N. Poe, through the combining of the foodstuffs and methods of African and Anglo-American cuisines. Collard greens boiled with cured meat products, whether turkey wings and necks or pork feet and hocks, is a direct offspring of that merging. This recipe is an adaptation of one in Sylvia’s Family Soul Food Cookbook by Sylvia Woods (William Morrow, 1999).

2 smoked turkey wings (about 2 1⁄2 lbs.)
3 lbs. collard greens (about 3 bunches), stemmed and
   chopped into 1″ pieces
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp. sugar
1⁄2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
White distilled vinegar
Corn bread

1. Put turkey wings and 6 cups water into a large tall pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Add collard greens, oil, sugar, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Return to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until greens are tender, about 2 1⁄2 hours.
2. Remove turkey wings from pot, pull meat and skin from bones, and chop into small pieces (discard bones). Return meat and skin to the pot of collard greens and season with salt, pepper, vinegar, and Tabasco to taste. Scoop collard greens and their liquid into bowls and serve with corn bread on the side to soak up the “pot likker”, if you like.

What the Heck is/are Cuchifritos?

18 Nov


Cuchifritos, often known as “Puerto Rican soul food” includes a variety of dishes including but not limited to morcilla (blood sausage), papas rellenas (fried potato balls stuffed with meat), platanos rellenos (stuffed plantains), chicharron (fried pork skin), and various other parts of the pig prepared in different ways. It derives its name from the word “cuchí” short for “cochino” or pig and “frito” which describes something that is fried. “Cuchifritos” may also be used to refer to restaurants that serve this type of food. Such establishments are fairly common in New York‘s Spanish Harlem, South Bronx, Brooklyn, and other primarily Latino neighborhoods throughout the country and in Latin America. They tend to make use of colorful external lighting and big flashy signs. They also serve juices and drinks pineapple juice, coconut juice and ajonjolí, a drink made from sesame seeds.

Thanks to my friend Cesar Gomez at the Sarasota/Manatee Latin Chamber of Commerce for finally providing the answer to this nagging question. It has been driving me nuts ever since I first heard a tune by Joe Cuba (“Tu Lo Sientes”). Check it out – it’s a groovy Latin number based on the Willie Bobo song “Fried Neckbones and Home Fries.” Seriously!  


Black Eyed Pea Cornbread

8 Nov


I found this recipe at www.saveur.com


SERVES 6 – 12

Unlike traditional corn bread, this version is soft and rich—more like a soufflé or a spoon bread.

1 tsp. butter
1 lb. fresh loose spicy pork sausage meat
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup white cornmeal
1⁄2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
1  15-oz. can black-eyed peas, drained
3⁄4 cup canned cream-style corn
1⁄2 cup canned chopped green chiles
1⁄2 cup drained sliced pickled jalapeños, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9″ × 13″ baking dish with butter and set aside. Break sausage meat into chunks and put into a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, breaking sausage up with a slotted spoon, until meat is lightly browned and just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer sausage and onions with the spoon to paper towels to let drain.

2. Whisk cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Beat eggs, buttermilk, and oil together in a medium bowl. Add egg mixture to cornmeal mixture, stirring until cornmeal mixture is just moistened (batter will be lumpy). Stir in sausage mixture, cheese, black-eyed peas, corn, green chiles, and jalapeños. Pour batter into prepared dish, smoothing top with the back of the spoon. Bake until golden brown, 50–60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Sylvia’s Collards are the Next Best Thing

13 Sep

My friend Todd Morton of Morton’s Market in Sarasota recently dined at Sylvia’s Soul Food Restaurant in Harlem. He came back raving about the food — he also said Sylvia was a sweet old lady. One result of that trip came as a pleasant surprise for us. Morton’s decided to add Sylvia’s canned Collard Greens to their product line. I happily visited the market last week and picked up a can to give it a try.

The greens were pretty darn good, I must admit. I’m a huge proponent of freshly picked collards, but this canned variety is perhaps the next best thing. All I had to do was open the can, add a splash of white vinegar, some red pepper flakes, and a pinch of sugar. The result was delicious — even the kids enjoyed them!

Learn more about Sylvia’s at www.sylviassoulfood.com — and keep it soulful, y’all!