Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lets go to Alex City!

A few days ago we were celebrating the 7th birthday of one of our grandsons. He and his brother have always had a fascination for anything with wheels. They live in Auburn where their father is a professor; and we live in Birmingham. So what better place to meet on a Saturday than the Wellborn Muscle Car Museum in Alexander City. 

For those who are unacquainted with this museum, it is interesting to visit. Tim Wellborn has quite a collection of rare muscle cars. He owns so many that he must rotate the collection through this large museum. The museum is located in the heart of Alexander City in a building that once housed a Chevrolet dealership at 124 Broad Street, Alexander City, Alabama.


I am including a few pictures from the museum. We all had a good time playing “what if”, as in; “If you could have any one of these cars, which one would you want?’. This is a good place to go and dream For thoise of us who remember these cars on the street it is a trip down memory lane. It's also an opportunity to kick yourself for not having the insight to buy one of these cars back in the day. I must confess that as we palyed "what if" I would have a hard time choosing between the Pontiac GTO convertible and the former Alabama State Trooper AMC Javelin. I will assure you that a good time was had by all.

What does this have to do with hot dogs? Well, here we have it. Just up the street from the museum is the 99 year old Carlisle Drug Store complete with a full service old fashioned soda fountain complete with sandwiches, burgers and of course hot dogs. That was our choice of where to have lunch.

We arrived at Carlisle to find a choice of tables. Since we had a large group (7 of us) we selected one of the large tables and proceeded to look at the menu. The birthday boy quickly announced he wanted a cheeseburger. That was the choice for most of the table except for little sister and myself. We had hot dogs. I also ordered a burger but felt that due to my interest in dogs I had to try one. I’m glad I did. The little girl ordered what I call a “kids dog”, a plain hot dog with just ketchup (cheebot for some). Mine was a chili dog all the way.

If you look close you will see the corn curl she had dropped behind the 
hot dog and was hoping to find. Also notice the RED dog!

I had no idea what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. The dogs were the ones loaded with red dye, maybe “red food dye 666”. I jest. But they were RED (look at the picture). Even so I really liked it. The chili was definitely mild, kind of like Wendy’s chili. But the overall effect of the toppings was to combine a sweet taste and a sour taste. I really enjoyed this dog. What more can I say. It really wasn’t anything outstanding or different, but it was good.I will order it again when I'm there.
I ate all of mine, but baby sister had only eaten half when she was distracted by the appearance of cupcakes for the birthday celebration. I was tempted to finish off her “kids dog”; but I restrained myself.

What about the burgers? They were also very good. They were surprisingly NOT greasy, with a good flavor. They were obviously freshly made patties rather than the thin frozen ones. The buns were steamed and not warmed on the grill in the hamburger grease. Hey, I know that can be good, but a more healthy burger can also be good. It leaves room for a chili dog, cup cake and who knows what else.

At Carlisle there are no fries. I guess that is consistent with the more healthy burgers. It also keeps from smelling up the 99 year old store with deep fat frying odors. They do have a large selection of chips. I would rather see my local favorite, Golden Flake, than the Lays; but they were well stocked.

Let me encourage the reader: If you are in the area, no… just plan a trip! Go to Alexander City and visit both of these treasures. It is also a great place to stop mid way between Auburn and Birmingham. I plan to make this stop on many more trips between Birmingham and the Educational center of the universe.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

JoJo's Diner

I knew it would take a few days to make this post so I put a teaser post a few days ago. But now here's the full report.Last week Birmingham had a minor snowfall on Thursday. The TV weather men kept down playing it but hedged their bets by saying it was really hard to predict. When it came it was one of those soon forgotten events for most people.

Robert and I along with a friend, Fred, risked our lives in the "blizzard" to venture to a new place in Homewood. Susie had passed on a coupon for hot dogs at JoJo's Diner in Homewood. That was all it took to raise my interest. Then we chose snow day for our visit. I must admit that we really enjoyed being out in the snowfall. It was pretty and invigorating.

We made our way to 903 Broadway looking for JoJo's. JoJo's is located in one of the small comercial buildings toward the southern end of Broadway in Homewood. For many years there was a little sandwich place called "Lag's Eatery" located either in this spot or nearby. I never tried their offerings before they retired and closed. Nevertheless, we now have JoJo's Diner.

I have said before that I tend to enjoy "the unexpected" on our hot dog excursions; and that's just what we found at JoJo's. This is a tiny little place with just a hand full of tables; but the taste is BIG. It didn't take long to encounter Joe (Jo Jo) Resha and his sister Zelda. Zelda waited on us and told about their unique dogs. The menu offered two basic dogs: a "Broadway Dog" and a "Slaw Dog". The Broadway dog is listed as an all beef dog with mustard, red onion, fresh Kraut, and downtown sauce, all for $1.99. The slaw dog is listed as an all beef dog with mustard, red onion, Lebanese slaw, and downtown sauce for $2.49.

We were trying to decide just what to order when Zelda informed us that our options were limited. That day there was no Lebanese slaw; so the slaw dog wasn't an option. So, Robert and I opted to have two Broadway Dogs and split a JoJo Burger and some fries between us. It was a good choice! Both items were outstanding.

The Broadway dog with the "downtown sauce" was familiar yet unique. The sauce starts with what I call "Birmingham hot dog sauce" that has been modified to make it thicker and spicier. It is different enough for me to consider it a unique hot  dog. For those who havent kept up, "Birmingham sauce" is the hot dog sauce that seems to be served at all of the Birmingham hot dog stands. Every vendor has a similar yet slightly different recipe. JoJo's also has their own unique recipe. It is thicker than most and has a nice spicy flavor. It is worth a special trip to sample.

JoJo and Zelda

We talked with Zelda about the Lebanese slaw. It is a sour vinegary slaw that sounds good. Any regular reader will know that I am not a fan of slaw dogs, but this one actually sounds pretty good to me. I must return and try it. Maybe I'll finally find a slaw dog that I like. Regardless, even if I don't care for the slaw dog, as long as I have a Broadway dog I'll be very happy.

I must mention the hamburger. It was also very good and also worth a trip. The fries also are different. It's subtle, but the spices added to the fries give them a special flavor. Zelda told us how JoJo makes his own corned beef which is the basis of a couple of their deli sandwiches. There's no grocery store  or factory made corned beef at JoJo's. It's all made right there. It makes me think of one of my favorite TV shows, Diners, Drive Inns and Dives (AKA: Triple D). They are also trying to develop a "Reuben Dog" made from a dog topped with the ingredients of a Reuben. It's not ready yet; but I look forward to trying one once JoJo thinks he has it right.

What can I say except; you need to try this place, even if it's not snowing.