Tourism Tuesdays February 23, 2016

Author Harper Lee quietly buried in her Alabama hometown after private funeral

·What some of the South’s top food writers said about Birmingham at Food Media South

·Alabama culinary scene continues rise with multiple semifinalists in the ‘Oscars of food’

·Alabama donut shop makes list of 33 best in America

·Triangle attracting music tourists

·Airbnb will begin paying taxes on behalf of its Alabama hosts next month

·Dauphin’s sends Mobile Bay dining sky-high

·Alabama Tourism Workshop date change

·Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Author Harper Lee quietly buried in her Alabama hometown after private funeral
By The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 20

The author of the American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” was laid to rest Saturday in a private ceremony attended by only the closest of friends and family, a reflection of how she had lived.

Harper Lee
, who died Friday at age 89, was eulogized at a church in the small Alabama town of Monroeville, which the author used as a model for the imaginary town of Maycomb, the setting of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

A few dozen people who made up Lee’s intimate circle gathered at First United Methodist Church to hear a eulogy Saturday by her longtime friend and history professor, Wayne Flynt. Afterward, her casket was taken by a silver hearse to an adjacent cemetery where her father, A.C. Lee, and sister, Alice Lee, are buried.

Flynt, a longtime friend of Lee, said he delivered a eulogy that Lee specifically requested years ago. Entitled, “Atticus inside ourselves,” the eulogy was written by Flint for a speech that he gave in 2006 as a tribute to Lee when she won the Birmingham Pledge Foundation Award for racial justice.

Flynt said Lee liked the speech so much that she wanted him to give it as her eulogy.

“I want you to say exactly that,” Flynt quoted Lee as saying at the time. “Not one thing more, and not one thing less.”

“If I deviated one degree, I would hear this great booming voice from heaven, and it wouldn’t be God,” Flynt said in an earlier interview.

Details of the service were fiercely guarded. Lee had wanted a quick and quiet funeral without pomp or fanfare, family members said.

“We obeyed her wishes,” said Jackie Stovall, Lee’s second cousin.

The town was appropriately somber a day after their native daughter’s death. 

Ann Mote, owner of the Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe in Monroeville, said she thought the town would always be linked to Lee.

Jared Anton, of Hollywood, Fla., sat outside the old courthouse in Monroeville during part of his planned vacation through the South that coincided with Lee’s death.

Anton said reading the book — in which attorney Atticus Finch defends a wrongly accused African-American man — was one reason he decided to become a lawyer.

“It had an impact on me when I was younger. I wanted to do the right thing, to stand up to people, to defend the innocent, if you will,” Anton said. “It is the greatest American novel. Name one that really has had more of an impact on Americans than that book.” 

Mockingbirds chirped and frolicked among blooming camellia bushes outside the courthouse on the warm Alabama morning that teased the early arrival of spring.

The courthouse was where as a child Lee, like her creation Scout Finch, would peer down from the balcony as her father tried his cases in the courtroom. The Southern town was home to childhood friends Truman Capote and Lee, giving rise to its self-given nickname as the literary capital of the South.

“She’s a part of it and always will be,” said Mote.

Tributes to Lee’s novel dot the town. The courthouse is a museum that pays homage to her creation. There’s the Mockingbird Inn on the edge of town and a statue of children reading “Mockingbird” in the courthouse square. 

Tickets go on sale in a week for the city’s annual “To Kill A Mockingbird” play, Mote said. A black mourning bow donned the top of the sign at the bookstore, where a stack of hard copies of “Mockingbird” sat on the counter along with a DVD of the movie. 

The town this summer had a celebration for the release of “Go Set a Watchman” — Lee’s initial draft of the story that would become “Mockingbird” — even though many residents had ambivalent feelings about its release.

Lee was largely unseen in her hometown in recent years, as she first sought privacy and then was secluded at an assisted-living home. Security guards would shoo away the inevitable mix of reporters, curious onlookers and old acquaintances who were not on her list of approved visitors.

“You would see her around, but still we would honor her wishes of being a very private person. The impact from now forward, I think for the next few weeks we’ll have an influx of people in here just looking around, and at some point — like when anybody passes away — at some point it just returns back to normal,” said Tim McKenzie, chairman of the museum’s board of directors, who also acts in the play. 

McKenzie said the best way fans can honor the author’s memory is by applying the values in “Mockingbird” to the way they treat others.

“That story — I’m glad it’s in just about all the schools now because it’s a story that everybody needs to hear,” he said.

“If you adhere to the values she put in that book — if everybody did — we’d be living in a much better world.”

To read this article online, go to:


What some of the South’s top food writers said about Birmingham at Food Media South

By Bob Carlton,, Feb. 22

Food journalists from around the South left Birmingham with a good taste in their mouths — literally and figuratively speaking — following the second Food Media South conference hosted by the Southern Foodways Alliance this weekend.

One hundred and fifty food writers, storytellers, videographers, bloggers and assorted other media professionals from Atlanta, Houston, Louisville, New Orleans, Charleston, S.C., and elsewhere around the South attended the food-centric symposium.

The menu included discussions on such weighty issues as “Race & Racism at the Table and in the News” and a lively “Chef Meets Critic” exchange with Eater national restaurant critic Bill Addison and Highlands Bar and Grill chef Frank Stitt, as well as sessions about such practical matters as visual storytelling, building a brand and recipe sharing in the digital age.

“At the core of what our organization does is we use food as a way of exploring Southern culture and the issues that undergird Southern culture, both good and bad,” Southern Foodways Alliance director John T. Edge said. “And that means racism and its impact on the region. That means class difference. That means gender inequality. All of those things are what the SFA has been tackling for almost 20 years now, from its very beginning.”

There also was food to be eaten.

Before, during, and after Saturday’s day-long seminar at WorkPlay, the Food Media South guests grazed at a vegetarian charcuterie table at an opening-night party at the new Time Inc. Food Studios, sipped Royal Cup coffee, munched on breakfast sandwiches from Shindigs Catering, lunched on fried chicken and tamales from Little Donkey, devoured hot dogs from Sam’s Super Samwiches, and closed out the weekend with cocktails and small-plate dishes at

an after-party at Chris Hastings’ new OvenBird restaurant.

“We’re really happy with Birmingham as a host,” Edge said. “This year, I would say half these people had never been to Birmingham and had heard perhaps about Highlands or about Hot and Hot (Fish Club), but didn’t know the food scene in Birmingham. So that part of it, I’m hearing lots of positive feedback about.”

Georgia native Nicole A. Taylor, author of “The Up South Cookbook” and host of the podcast “Hot Grease,” said she will go back to Brooklyn, where she now lives, with a notebook of new ideas and a network of new friends.

“I mean, it’s always great when you get a bunch of Southerners in a room, right?” Taylor said. “All of the anecdotes, the great food, the laughs — it’s good to be around the Southern table talking about food and the things people love. . .

“When I walk away from this event, I walk away inspired,” she added. “I walk away with a new network of people who are from Birmingham and who are from other places in the South that I can lean on when I need some advice or encouragement.”

To read this entire article online, go to:


Alabama culinary scene continues rise with multiple semifinalists in the ‘Oscars of food’

By Mitchell Kilpatrick,, Feb. 21

Four Alabama chefs and one Alabama restaurant have been named semifinalists for the 2016 James Beard Awards, the country’s most prestigious culinary awards foundation. The semifinalists were announced last week, and this list will be further narrowed down to the finalists on March 16. The winners will be revealed on May 2, in Chicago.

The James Beard Awards are often referred to as the “Oscars of food.”

“Covering all aspects of the industry — from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more — the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America,” the James Beard Foundation explains on their website.

Alabama has been well represented in the James Beard Awards in the past, and this year continues the state’s streak.

Highlands Bar & Grill, in Birmingham, has been named a semifinalist for Most Outstanding Restaurant.  Highlands has been a semifinalist and finalist for this award every year since 2009, but has yet to take home the grand prize. 

Highlands has a long history in Birmingham.  It opened in 1982.

One of Highlands’ employees has been singled out as another semifinalist: Dolester Miles is a semifinalist for Most Outstanding Pastry Chef.  She was a semifinalist in 2014 and 2015 as well.

The other three Alabama semifinalists are all up for the Best Chef in the South award.

Rob McDaniel is the chef of SpringHouse in Alexander City.  SpringHouse boasts a restaurant “that respects the land and a menu that features excellent, local products.”  This is McDaniel’s fourth year as a semifinalist for Best Chef in the South.

David Bancroft runs the new restaurant Acre in Auburn.  Bancroft focuses on Alabama-grown food, and “the kitchen sources from on-site gardens and orchards, local farms, and the bounty provided by the Blackbelt Region, reinterpreting the rich heritage of Alabama cuisine.”  Bancroft has never been a semifinalist for this award.

Bill Briand is another first-time semifinalist for Best Chef in the South.  He runs Fisher’s Upstairs at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach.  Fisher’s offers two waterfront dining experiences, and the website states that “in addition to its breathtaking design and culinary excellence from seafood to steak, Fisher’s Upstairs offers craft cocktails, as well as a carefully curated wine list.”

To read this article online, go to:


Alabama donut shop makes list of 33 best in America

By Bob Carlton,, Feb. 22

Birmingham’s Heavenly Donut Co. has made the food and drink website Thrillist’s list of the 33 Best Donut Shops in America.

Here’s what Thrillist writer Liz Childers had to say about the Heavenly Donut Co.’s divine treats:

“In Southern tradition, kids turn to their parents for family recipes, so it makes sense that, when Kimberly and Brock Beiersodoefer — who knew nothing about donuts in a city that was late to catch on to the donut craze — decided to open a donut shop, they turned to Gibson’s (the grandpa of the Southern donut game) and current owner Don DeWeese.

“The couple did time in the kitchen at the East Memphis legend, learning trade secrets, which explains why there’s a hell of a lot more years of experience in each bite of their fried treats. While jokes like ‘Heaven is a place on Earth… when you have one of Kimberly’s custard-filled Bismarks’ or ‘the chocolate-covered sour cream is like a gift from heaven’ (Brock makes the chocolate in house) are far too easy to riddle off in full corny glory, well, I stand behind it. Gibson’s was just that good of a teacher.”

To see the complete list, go here.

In celebration of National Donut Day on June 5, we asked some of our colleagues across the state to tell us their favorite donut shops. In addition to two pretty obvious and very big chains, we discovered seven other Alabama favorites. To find one that’s calling your name, click through our slideshow.

This is not the first time the Heavenly Donut Co. has gotten a national shout-out.

In 2014, Food Network star Alton Brown tweeted a thank-you to Heavenly Donut Co. for its “Southern hospitality” and “one heck of a breakfast” when he came here for his Edible Inevitable Tour at the BJCC Concert Hall.

And last year, Brown also included the Heavenly Donut Co. on his list of “My Favorite Doughnuts in the U.S.A.”

“I am especially partial to their old-fashioned,” Brown wrote.

The Heavenly Donut Co. menu features about two dozen varieties of cake and yeast donuts, as well as cream-filled Bismarks.

The donut shop is at 4911 Cahaba River Road. The phone number is 205-536-7200 and the website is

Hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 6 a.m. to midnight Fridays, 7 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.

The donuts are also available on the Heavenly Donut Co. food truck.

To read this article online, go to:


Triangle attracting music tourists

By Robert Palmer,, Feb. 19

The cooperative efforts of state and local tourism agencies is paying off with the help of the Americana Music Triangle, officials said. 

“Pass the ball,” said Aubrey Preston, a Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, businessman who founded the triangle.

The Americana Music Triangle is a web-based guide to cities where American music such as jazz, country, rock and soul were created. The points of the triangle touch Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans.

Tourism officials from Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas attended a meeting this week at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame to discuss strategies for attracting more visitors interested in music.

Preston, who launched the website and Facebook page, said using all media platforms has proved successful since the website went live almost a year ago.

Debbie Wilson, of the Alabama Tourism Office, said Americana Music Triangle maps are being placed in visitors centers, and a Tennessee tourism official said they’re being placed in their visitors centers, as well.

Alabama and Tennessee have been especially cooperative with music tourism the past two years. The Muscle Shoals and Nashville musical connection is especially strong, and Franklin and Florence have become connected.

There is no cost to tourism to be a part of the triangle.

It has no paid staff and exists as a virtual map and guide that can be used by tourists.

But tourism agencies can tap into and post upcoming events and news.

Susann Hamlin, director of the Colbert County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said her staff actively markets the Shoals to Europeans interested in the music heritage of the area.

“The ‘Muscle Shoals’ movie has been really good for us,” she said. “It was released about the same time the Americana Music Triangle launched.”

Preston said the launch of the site generated 6 million media impressions, which was coupled with a weeklong bus tour around the triangle. Preston encouraged tourism officials to work with each other and coordinate trips to other events when possible.

“When one of us wins, we all win,” he said, pointing out that visitors from outside the region are not interested in state lines that would otherwise separate efforts to promote the region’s music.

To read this article online, go to:


Airbnb will begin paying taxes on behalf of its Alabama hosts next month

By Lucy Berry,, Feb. 18

A popular online resource for short-term lodging has reached a tax agreement with the state of Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) said Airbnb will begin collecting and remitting taxes for

its hosts across the state March 1. It was previously the host’s responsibility to remit funds for properties booked through Airbnb.

As part of the deal, Airbnb will collect the Alabama Transient Occupancy Tax and local lodging taxes if they have been assigned to the department.

“This agreement will increase compliance in this area, and I commend Airbnb’s willingness to take the steps necessary to ensure that the appropriate taxes are being remitted,” said Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee in a statement. “It’s a win for both the state and for Airbnb customers.”

Airbnb allows hosts and travelers to list and book unique accommodations in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries around the globe. Lodging ranges in price and style from vintage Airstream trailers or apartments to castles or villas.

The fast-growing California tech firm was founded in August 2008 and named the 2014 Company of the Year in Inc. Magazine. As Airbnb expands its presence in Alabama, the agreement to collect and remit lodging taxes provides revenue for the state, as well as local cities and counties.

ADOR spokesman Frank Miles said the agreement could generate as much as $300,000 for the state over the next year.

“We expect a healthy future revenue stream from this source,” he said.

To read this article online, go to:


Dauphin’s sends Mobile Bay dining sky-high

Bob Baumhower’s newest restaurant concept is open

It’s a view that stopped the French in their tracks more than 300 years ago. Spanning more than 75 nautical miles of Mobile Bay, Dauphin’s dining panorama high atop downtown Mobile’s Trustmark Bank Building almost upstages the remarkable menu. “We like to think we’re re-introducing this city to its own waterfront,” offers General Manager Craig Parker. “The view is nearly 360 degrees from far up the Mobile River south all the way to Dauphin Island on a clear day. There’s nothing like it anywhere in the region, and our goal is an overall dining experience that’s just as overwhelming.”

Dauphin’s offers a menu of “classic coastal cuisine with hints of Caribbean and Creole soul” as Executive Chef/Partner Steve Zucker describes.  “Our absolute focus is locally-sourced products and foods. We’re finding fish and produce from the Alabama Coastal Farm and Fish Market, and cheeses from Sweet Home Farm in Elberta and Belle Chevre in Elkmont. Our chops come from the Alabama Fatback Pig Project, and we use a completely natural meat from SRA Butcher in Birmingham,” says Zucker. 

“Baumhower Restaurants were some of the first to serve only Alabama Gulf Seafood. We’re excited to add a locally-sourced gourmet oyster grown right here in Mobile Bay and now getting attention all over the country.”

That commitment to seafood seems natural when….you’re a dolphin. As in legendary NFL footballer and former Miami Dolphin Bob Baumhower. The name Dauphin’s is a playful twist on his own history and Mobile’s too: the “dauphin” was the title of the French crown prince when that country founded Mobile in 1702.

Dauphin’s is the latest ingredient to Baumhower’s restaurant gumbo known as Aloha Hospitality, a diverse 13-restaurant celebration of southern comfort food, island-style seafood and now classic coastal with a French Creole soul.

“French Creole is misunderstood,” says Baumhower. “People think it’s French New Orleans. But French Creole is really a much older mix of many influences that made their way to Mobile and New Orleans.

That heritage is Spanish, French, Native American, African and more.  It’s a culture that’s essential to our menu.” Baumhower’s boat-hopping through the Caribbean and up to Mobile during his Miami football days inspired the love of creole flavors he maintains today.

Dauphin’s represents 7000 square feet of arguably the most coveted bit of restaurant real estate in the region. The Retirement Systems of Alabama – which owns the Trustmark Building – renovated the 34th floor space known since the late 1960’s as the Bienville Club to its new “comfortably sophisticated” hip look. Custom work from local artists joins brilliant Italian glassware by a magnificent baby grand in the piano bar surrounded by shades of blues that mirror the waterfront view.

Perhaps the best view in the house is found in the kitchen, home to the area’s first and only chef’s table.

Diners of 4-6 enjoy unique kitchen and chef interaction over a southwest sun setting over the city skyline.

Chef Zucker and team share the “Farm to Table” philosophy pioneered by chefs like Mary Cleaver of “The Green Table” in New York. She’s credited with launching the movement in the 1970’s, hunting a local tomato for a customer at her Chelsea Market café and realizing our produce system was broken to the detriment of healthy dining. Today Cleaver is a friend and mentor to Dauphin’s.

Offerings include a mix of classic and current dishes – all with regional significance. West Indies salad is a crabmeat delicacy with 60-year-old roots to the beloved Bayley’s Seafood on Dauphin Island. Dauphin’s also serves fried crab claws, another iconic dish born at the still-thriving restaurant.  Flip the menu to an entrée rack of lamb or “Burger with a View”  featuring a ½ pound blend of Wagu Beef Brisket, dry aged short rib and chuck roast on a bun. Chef Zucker’s version of Gumbo Z’herb was just named one of Alabama’s “100 Dishes to Eat Before You Die.”

The commitment to “local” doesn’t stop at the dining table. Bar Chef Rachel Ferrand is zealous in the hunt for locally sourced additions to her classic and craft cocktails. Perhaps locally-infused honey or a touch of mint from the roof-top greenhouse. Dauphin’s pours Alabama-proud craft beers and “Alabama Moonshine.” 

Baumhower likes to think there’s a common “roux” in the new culinary mix simmering downtown.

Dauphin’s joins other hot Mobile restaurants serving upscale Southern innovations like Noble South, Dumbwaiters, NoJa’s and more. “In that sense I’d love to see Mobile join Birmingham and other cities in this region seeing a real culinary renaissance,” he says. “It’s the rising tide theory. We’re all about supporting each other in what I hope can be a destination dining district.”

Dauphin’s is now open with reservation seating for dinner and lunch beginning this spring.

For more information visit:


Alabama Tourism Workshop date change

The Alabama Tourism Department will host the semi-annual Tourism Workshop in Montgomery on Wed., April 27.  This workshop is for new tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in their area. 

Watch upcoming editions of this newsletter for more information on the workshop.

For additional information, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or via email at Rosemary.Judkins@Tourism.Alabama.Gov

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

April 27                  Alabama Tourism Department Workshop                      Montgomery



Tourism Tuesdays is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry.

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