Last week my brother Ed wrote a good description of how I was ushered in to run the paper you now know as the Birmingham Weekly for the first time as a reluctant publisher. That was because at least a few inquiring minds wanted to know. Or, rather, wanted to speculate and self-supply the missing information, so please don’t correct my capitalization or spelling.
I will elucidate further on the parallels between taking on the paper that first time after my other brother died and taking on the current version of the Birmingham Weekly the second time around, quite recently, as you know. There are some interesting tales and parallels, mainly about those who, for one reason or another, did not manage to make the transition with us.
But that will have to wait because this week I have more immediate matters on my mind. And they all have to do with food. And, as someone who lost 30 pounds in the last three months, I know food has a way of bringing itself to your immediate attention.
One of the joys and not-so-joyous aspects of taking over a newspaper for the second time can be striking the balance between keeping to its traditions and striking off in new directions. If you can’t get the thought of eating out of your head you could posit a blossoming and fruiting theme--all a matter of bringing seeds from an earlier day over to germinate on the other side, with maybe a hybrid or two that sprout in a different way.
And we have been busy carrying over the old and making it new with one of the Birmingham Weekly’s best traditions, the Menu of Menus. For those of you who do not have one sitting on a table or bedside waiting for the day you need a comprehensive guide to where you might go and what you might eat in Birmingham one night, let me catch you up (no, that’s not a condiment pun).
The Menu of Menus for ten years in a row has been the best annual guide to Birmingham dining. It is published in a stand-alone tabloid booklet form and distributed along with the paper and also throughout restaurants that are in the guide. It is called the Menu of Menus because many restaurants choose to publish their menus, both to entice you to their establishment and to aid you in your take-out and delivery orders in the upcoming year. Menu of Menus also has a grand taa-daa! ring to it.
But one feature of the Menu of Menus that Birmingham always looks forward to seeing is our readers’ poll. You will find a blank one for you to fill out in this issue. Through that poll we can find out how well the dining establishment is getting to us through our stomachs.
So what does that have to do with my ramblings about taking over a paper and mov ing it forward? Well, the transition has affected the voting. In the changeover from old to new, we have had to learn the website and get it up and running and functioning like it is supposed to do.
So if you went on the website trying to vote and had some trouble, try again. The wonderful IT genies at Wehaa web hosting and design and the Birmingham Weekly have smoothed out all the wrinkles and worked out all the kinks. And we have extended the time for voting and apologize for any inconvenience.
Thanks for your patience with our growing pangs (yes, that’s a malaprop pun brought on by hunger). If some astute reader will write in and correct my diction, we will pick one response out and get you a gift certificate to one of these local establishments with their sumptuous victuals. But even all you non-grammarians who cannot replicate a Shakespearean sonnet can write in or fill in our on-line questionnaire at www.bhamweekly.com to tell us your favorite chefs, servers, atmosphere, and cuisine.
One way we have changed the poll from last year is that it is open-ended. It does not depend on a pre-programmed database that limits your responses. You may know something we do not, after all. There may be an undiscovered hole in the wall you may bring to our attention--much the same way the Four Coursemen will ride--well, actually they will drive, so let’s not get overdramatic- -into town from Athens, GA this weekend and show us how to gather and cook local ingredients the delicious and sustainable way.
According to the media audits, The Weekly has the largest readership of any non-daily publication in town, so if you will all pitch in it is the best opportunity to provide a good sounding board to our local provocateur restaurateurs--straight from the local palate in the colloquial parlance. Check out the poll in this issue and send us your gut responses.
Better yet, go to our website and input your data online. We’ve worked that bug out. And pay even closer attention because one reason we are doing this is the Weekly is keeping its longstanding commitment to informative and entertaining writing about food and wine. So check out the food memories of Franklin Biggs. And Christiana Roussel this week will explain to you who they are and what the Four Courseman from Athens can do. I might even opine from time to time about Argentine wine. But give us your opinions about what the foodies of Birmingham are bringing to the table as well as what we have to say. There is much more on the way.