Sunday, June 23, 2013

Valley Girls Have Yo-Moe Fun!

Sign on the wall of J. Spencers in Valley Head.  We thought it pretty much summed up Three Friends and a Fork.
When Sherri, Lu and I decided to set out on this little blogging adventure, it was just a way to share our fun times and food adventures.  We are not food critics and nobody is ever going to sign us up to be food judges on Chopped. Our palates are just not that refined.  We like what we like.  I tell you this so you understand, we are only visiting places we think we will enjoy.  Our criteria for recommending a restaurant is simple..."would we come back on another occasion and eat there again".  That is because we might order something that others would love, but for one reason or another it just isn't to our taste.  For instance, Lu is not going to be happy with anything containing mayonnaise.  That doesn't mean the dish is bad, just that Lu does not like mayo, in any shape, form or fashion.  That is a matter of taste, but it does not mean the restaurant is not good.  I just want you to understand when we give a restaurant three yums up, it means we think the establishment is good enough for us to come back to sometime, not that we would necessarily want to order the same thing again.  I promise we will tell you if we run into a problem and we end up somewhere we would never visit again, but because we are carefully selecting restaurants we think we will enjoy or that have been highly recommended to us, it is unlikely we will report on somewhere truly terrible. We certainly hope that is the case, anyway.  So, now that we have that out of the way...

Last week the Three Friends turned into Valley Girls as we headed to Valley Head, AL.  Valley Head is notable for a couple of reasons.  First, the tiny north-east Alabama town which is tucked away in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is home to Sequoyah Caverns, named after the famous Cherokee silversmith who single-handedly developed the Cherokee alphabet.  Sequoyah was born in Tennessee, but later made his home in the Valley Head area.  The Caverns are famous for beautiful "looking glass lakes" which reflect the cave's intricate rock formations.  Unfortunately, the Caverns will be closing to the public in September, so if you are interested in seeing Sequoyah Caverns, you are quickly running out of time.  The other thing which makes Valley Head stand out, is the temperature.  Valley Head boasts the coldest temperatures in the state, which, for a state with weather as hot as Alabama might not seem like much.  I just know that during the winter months, when I am desperately wishing for snow, I am always jealous of the folks in Valley Head.  They are usually getting the snow that I am being denied.   If you are visiting Alabama and you want to cool off, Valley Head and Sequoyah Caverns might be a good choice. But, as I said before, you better hurry!  And while you are visiting, we have just the place for you to have lunch or dinner.

We came to Valley Head because Sherri had heard of a restaurant called J. Spencer's that she wanted to check out.  J. Spencer's is situated right next to a pottery shop called Miracle Pottery.  After twisting and turning on some winding mountain roads, we pulled into the J. Spencer/Miracle Pottery parking lot.  The first thing we noticed is that getting into J.Spencer's was going to require a bit of a hike.  We had to traverse a long, uphill wooden ramp just to get to the restaurant.

Once we got to the front door, we walked into a quaint, attractive little restaurant.  Tables were arranged at the front of the house and the partially open kitchen at the rear.
The appetizer and dessert menu board at J.Spencers

One of the first things we noticed after we were seated was that the restaurant used a lot of pottery...the goblets and plates were all handmade pottery.  We assumed, correctly, that this was all coming from the pottery on the premises.  
Our drinks came in heavy earthenware goblets.
We chose to sample an appetizer while we studied the menu.  After a bit of discussion, we chose the Zen Bites.  It was an excellent choice.  Zen Bites are an ahi tuna appetizer drizzled with a slightly spicy cream sauce, topped with green onions and served with a soy based dipping sauce on the side.
Zen Bites
While we got zen, we continued looking at the menu.  Sherri made her choice pretty quickly.  She decided she wanted the Reuben.  Luanne and I were more conflicted.  At first Luanne thought she might get a French dip sandwich and I was thinking about the onion pie, but then our waitress told us there were some specials.  When she mentioned chicken parmesan quiche, I quickly changed my mind.  Lu was really wanting to taste the onion pie, so when I decided on the chicken parmesan quiche, she switched to the onion pie.  My quiche was accompanied by loaded potato soup and Luanne's onion pie came with a blueberry filled crepe.  When our entrees arrived, they were on large earthenware pottery plates and were artfully arranged.  Everything looked very appetizing.  Sherri's reuben was on a dark pumpernickel roll, with sliced corned beef, swiss cheese, thousand island dressing and sauerkraut, pretty much what you would expect to find on a Reuben.
Sherri's Reuben
Luanne's onion pie was not what I was anticipating at all.  I was envisioning a quiche type pie featuring onions, but with more of an egg base.  It was actually an onion pie, no egg at all.  The onions were sliced and layered on top of the pie crust.  It was not thick and wasn't quite as filling as Luanne was expecting.  She liked it, but I think she was expecting something more along the lines of what I was thinking.  The blueberry crepe was really good.  I was kind of hoping Luanne wouldn't eat it all because I was really coveting another bite!  We both agreed the only thing that would have made it better would have been real whipping cream.  I'm not quite sure what the topping actually was and it wasn't bad at all, but it did not really taste like actual cream.  
Lu's onion pie and blueberry crepe
While Luanne's onion pie was not as filling as she would have liked, my entree was just the opposite.  The chicken parmesan quiche was rich and thick and filling.  It was so filling I could not finish it all.  It was a cheesy, egg pie filled with chicken, parmesan and tomato.  It was then topped with a creamy cheese sauce that tasted much like a Bernaise sauce, so I suspected tarragon  and butter were some of the ingredients.  The potato soup was also rich and cheesy.  I really could have eaten one of them with maybe a fresh green salad or some fruit, but the two of them together  were pretty heavy...tasty, but extremely rich. You really needed something to cut the richness.
Richi's chicken parmesan quiche with potato soup
As always, we voted on our favorite.  Sherri was sticking with her Reuben, but Lu and I both agreed my quiche was the tastiest. All in all, we really enjoyed our meal at J. Spencers and would love to come back some time to sample the dinner menu.  
Three Friends give J. Spencers 3 Yums Up!

As we left J. Spencers, being the nosy shoppers that we are, we just had to check out Miracle Pottery.
Richi and Sherri in front of Miracle Pottery

The little pottery shed was cute and artsy, just inviting us to come in.  
True to form, Sherri makes another friend...well, sort of.  This cat was not as interested in her as the one at Pikeville seemed to be.

Inside Miracle Pottery, the first thing Luanne noticed was a sign that said no photos without permission, so I didn't take any pictures of the pottery. But there was a large tree dripping with twinkly grapes in the middle of the room.  Each grape on the tree had a tiny light inside which made the whole tree sparkle.  It was beautiful.  I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn't take a picture, when Luanne decided to ask permission.  I am so glad she did, because the girl working in the shop told us we could take a picture of the pretty grape tree.  

Here is the sparkly grape tree.  Can you spot the photo bombers?
I left Miracle Pottery with a butter bell.  If you aren't familiar with a butter bell, it is a crock for keeping butter at room temperature without having it ruin.  The butter fits in a cylinder in the top of the crock.  Then the bottom of the crock is filled with about an inch of water.  When you place the top on the bottom of the crock, an airtight seal is formed around the butter because of the water.  This enables you to have soft butter ready for spreading on toast or biscuits.

As we drove back home, we headed into Ft. Payne.  Sherri was driving and we were keeping an eye out for any other shops we might want to inspect.  On Gault Avenue, we passed by Off the Boat, a fresh seafood shop.  Sherri asked if either of us had ever been there to buy seafood. Luanne said she had been there once and I said I would really like to check it out, but by then we had already driven past.  Not to worry!  Sherri whipped that car back around so fast!  You gotta love girlfriends.  You don't have to plead or beg, just wish out loud!  We jumped out of the car and dashed into the shop.  The first thing I noticed was some really beautiful and thick red snapper.  It looked like just enough for dinner at my house.  Then I noticed my favorite tuna dip...the one I get when I go to the beach each summer.  I bought all the snapper and one container of Skinny Dip, packed on ice.  Good thing, too, because we also ran into a shoe shop before we left town, so the ice was certainly needed.  We will definitely be going back to Off the Boat.  Not only because I want to go back and buy some more of their fresh fish and shrimp, but also because we all want to sample some of dishes on their cooked menu.  I mean, we have all sung about jambalaya and crawfish pie, but have you ever eaten crawfish pie?  I haven't, but now I know where I can get some!


At Yo-Moe's with owner, Jerry

Did you notice that we did not have any dessert at J. Spencers?  That is because we were saving our dessert for yogurt in Rainsville at Yo-Moe's.  Yo-Moe's is Rainsville's reincarnation of those yogurt bars where you select your flavor of yogurt, choose from an array of toppings and then pay based on the weight of your final creation.  The thing I really love about Yo-Moe's, besides all the wonderful flavors of yogurt and all the yummy toppings, is the comfy seating.  In addition to tables and chairs, there are seating areas with poufy leather sofas so you can really relax while you snack on your yogurt.  
Choosing your yogurt flavor is quite a process.  The process involves these little tiny tasting cups.  You fill the little cups with the flavors you want to taste before you invest in a larger cup of yogurt.  After much tasting, I ended up with a tropical dreamsicle combination of Tahitian vanilla and tropical fruit flavors.  Lu had some kind of cherry amaretto almond cake combo and Sherri had cherry amaretto.  My big downfall is the fruit and fruit balls that I pile on top of my yogurt.  By the time I finish piling all the different flavors of fruit balls (they are squishy balls with a burst of fruit flavor inside) my cup looks like a bowl of frog eggs.  

Can you tell which cup of yogurt belongs to which of the Three Friends?
Luanne's husband, Chris met us at Yo-Moe's and I was intrigued with the way he filled his yogurt bowl.  He just put one little squirt of everything!  He had a bowl filled with all these separate little piles of yogurt...nothing at all similar to the way Sherri, Lu and I filled our bowls.  
Don't you just love the door menu?
Sherri, Chris and Luanne relaxing on the sofas.  Sherri thinks we spend too much time on our electronic devices.
I suspect she is correct!  See, she is giving Chris and Luanne the evil eye!

We definitely give Yo Moe's 3 Yums Up!

We all left Yo Moe's full and happy and planning our next adventure.  Where will we end up next?  Stay tuned!
Richi, Sherri and Luanne

Lu and Sherri plotting our next adventure!

















J-Spencers on Urbanspoon Yo-Moe on Urbanspoon
Richi Reynolds
Richi Reynolds

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