Martie Duncan, Birmingham's Best Bites, Instagrammys, and a New Cookbook

Orange and Blue Oyster Poppers from Dixie Fish & Co.
Photograph by Arden Ward Upton
Food Network Star finalist Martie Duncan and other local food experts joined forces this summer to create Birmingham’s Best Bites: Favorite Recipes from Restaurants, Bars, & Food Trucks Around the Magic City. The book will be revealed at a launch party on Friday, Oct. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the downtown Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place. The book will cost $20. Proceeds will benefit the library.

The book launch party is part of the library's Eat Drink Read Write Festival, Oct. 3 - 10. During the Oct. 10 party, 17 area restaurants will provide some of their "best bites.'' Advance tickets to the launch party are $10.

“We’ve got a really good book. It’s a beautiful book,’’ says Duncan.

Nearly 90 recipes from Birmingham-area restaurants and bars will be featured in the new cookbook that highlights the area’s culinary community. There are recipes from well-known and award winning chefs such as Frank Stitt, Chris Hastings and James Boyce; newcomers such as Melt, Hotbox and El Barrio; landmarks such as Bright Star and Fife’s; favorite barbecue restaurants; and meat-and-two locations such as Eagles Restaurant, which Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern featured in 2013. Recipe entries range from appetizers and entrees to desserts and cocktails. Several of the restaurants in the book have gained national attention for their food and history.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell says he’s excited about the library’s efforts in putting together such a recipe book so that it may be shared with individuals to show that “Birmingham is moving forward in a quality way as it relates to our restaurants.’’ “I want to thank all of the chefs who make it possible to have such great food here in Birmingham, Ala. And we look forward to continuing to grow that arena because it helps attract people to come here for conferences and conventions,’’ Bell says. “And also when people come here and they see the fine quality of life with the fine food that we have, it makes them want to live here as well.’’ Says Angela Fisher Hall, the library's interim director: "There are so many great restaurants in Birmingham - each has its own style and flavor.''

Duncan worked with a team to complete the book. Some of them include Connie Blalock, a Birmingham Originals board member; Chef Chris Vizzina; Anne Cain, a former Time Inc. editor; and Arden Ward Upton of Arden Photography. “The photography is incredible. The recipes are brilliant,’’ Duncan says. “For the home cook or the experienced chef, I think people will find something they will want to make. Some of your favorite recipes are in here like Hot and Hot’s Tomato Salad, Ashley Mac’s Mac and Cheese and Dreamcakes’ Brown Sugar Pound Cake with Bourbon Caramel Glaze.’’

Duncan sees the book as a way to shine an even brighter light on the city’s food scene. “The diversity of recipes and places in the book, I think, will make people want to come to Birmingham to eat the food,’’ she said. “I think it will encourage people who live here to go and try new places.’’ Duncan says she’s loved the library since she was a child growing up in east Birmingham. “The library has a big place in my heart. From the time I was a kid, I would ride my bike to the East Lake Library to get books,’’ she says. “I would try to fill up my summer reading card to show how many books I’d read.’’


Birmingham's Best Bites and the Instagrammys
Buy Tickets/$10.00
Friday, October 10
Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Central Library

End EDRW on a savory note with Food Network Star finalist Martie Duncan and some of her food expert friends during Birmingham’s Best Bites finale party. Enjoy delicious bites and watch for the unveiling of the new Birmingham’s Best Bites cookbook, which is full of recipes and history from some of your favorite local restaurants and bars. The local culinary community continues to climb, and this book celebrates that trend. The book is a library fundraiser.

Also, some of the best EDRW photos taken during the festival and posted to Instagram with the #EDRW hashtag will receive an Instagrammy award as part of the InstagramBham contest.