By Donna Cornelius
Food often is a major part of Father’s Day, usually in the form of treating Dad to dinner at his favorite restaurant or gathering the family for a backyard cookout.
But if your father is really into food, go a little outside the usual recipe box this year with the gift of a food experience. There are plenty of options: You can stay local for a cooking class, take a short road trip to visit a farm or winery, or plan a vacation around a food festival.
And if you’re as much a food fanatic as Dad, you can always take a page from the “Seinfeld” episode in which George gifted Jerry with two tickets to “Guys and Dolls” and then said, “I’m gonna go with you!”
Little Savannah Restaurant and Bar
Chef Clif Holt not only offers great farm-to-table food at Little Savannah Restaurant and Bar, he also teaches cooking classes on pasta, steaks and other topics. But one of the most fun learning sessions is his Market to Kitchen outing, which starts at the Pepper Place Saturday Market.
Participants get to wander through the stalls with Holt, meet some of his favorite farmers and vendors, shop with him, and then go back to the restaurant to cook up all the goodies in a hands-on session.
For a full list of upcoming classes, visit.littlesavannah.com. The restaurant is at 3811 Clairmont Ave. S. in Birmingham.
Scott Peacock is a James Beard Award-winning chef who’s been featured on “The Martha Stewart Show” and “Today” and in publications such as Food & Wine magazine, the New York Times and, most recently, Garden & Gun magazine. Formerly a star of the Atlanta food scene and known nationally, he’s now living and working in Marion, in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt.
Small groups can sign up for Peacock’s Biscuit Experiences, which he teaches in Marion’s historic Reverie mansion. The half-day sessions take participants through traditional Southern biscuit-making using some heirloom ingredients. Best of all, you get to hang out with Peacock, a natural storyteller with a warm personality and a passion for Alabama food – and you get to eat the biscuits you make with a healthy dollop of locally made mayhaw jelly. It’s a day Dad won’t soon forget.
For more information, visit chefscottpeacock.com.
Sur la Table
This shop at The Summit sells all kinds of cooking-related products and has an extensive menu of in-store classes, too. You’ll gather in the large kitchen at the back of the store, where a knowledgeable instructor takes you through the lesson. You go home with printed instructions and recipes, and you get to eat what you cook.
While you can choose from a wide range of classes that focus on street tacos, Italian food, Korean barbecue and many other foods and techniques, two classes in June might be just right for Dad: the Father’s Day hand-crafted burger celebration and the Cooking with Local Craft Beer session.
For a full list of classes and dates, visit surlabtable.com. The Birmingham store is at 115 Summit Blvd.
Tours and Tastings
Belle Chevre Creamery Tours
See how some of the best goat cheese in the country is made with a tour of Belle Chevre in Elkmont. Guided tours include a look at the cheesemaking process with one of the creamery’s cheesemakers, an up close and personal visit with the goats and samples at a tasting bar.
Tours are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Fridays and at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays. On non-tour days, you can still visit the cheese shop and tasting room.
For more information, visit bellechevre.com. The creamery is at 18849 Upper Fort Hampton Road in Elkmont.
Snow’s Bend Farm Tours and Tastings
If Dad has shopped at this Tuscaloosa-area farm’s booth at the Market at Pepper Place or eaten its high-quality fruits and vegetables at Birmingham restaurants, he might love seeing where all the magic happens. Snow’s Bend offers farm tours for one to 20 people and a farm tour and tasting, in which you get to sample the harvest, for two to four people.
The Coker property is a beautiful mix of rolling hills, coves, ridges and swampland. There’s even an earth mound that dates from centuries ago when the land was home to the Mississippian people.
For more information, visit snowsbendfarm.com. The farm is at 14900 Commerce Road in Coker.
Wine-loving fathers likely wouldn’t say no to a visit to the Napa Valley or Tuscany. But you can find more budget-friendly options with a visit to an Alabama winery.
Our state has a North Alabama and a Plains and Coastal wine trails, but closer to home is the Shelby County Trail, which features Corbin Farms Winery, Lewis Lakes Vineyards, Morgan Creek Vineyards and Ozan Winery. Some have restaurants, and Ozan even has a wine train.
For more information about any of the trails, visit alabamawinetrails.com or check out each winery’s website: corbinfarmswinery.com, lewislakesvineyards.com, morgancreekwinery.com and ozanwine.com.
We’re lucky to have a wealth of year-round food festivals in Birmingham, and foodie dads likely would enjoy tickets to any of them. But if you’d like to hit the road, here are some out-of-state events to consider.
Music City Food + Wine
This Nashville celebration always has a star-studded lineup of guest chefs, and this year’s event is no exception. Scheduled to appear at the Sept. 20-22 festival are Aaron Sanchez, who’s a regular judge on Food Network’s popular “Chopped” series and on Fox’s “MasterChef” and “MasterChef Junior” shows; Masaharu Morimoto, one of the original American Iron Chefs; Carla Hall, a popular contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef All Stars” and a former co-host of ABC’s “The Chew”; and other high-profile national and Southern chefs.
The festival features a wide range of experiences and demos for food and wine lovers. For more information, visit foodandwinefestival.com. You can buy tickets on the website, which also has a list of Nashville hotels offering special festival deals.
Baytowne Wharf Beer Fest
Is it beer, beer, beer that makes Dad want to cheer? The Village at Baytown Wharf at Florida’s popular Sandestin resort welcomes those who love brews to this beer-centric event. Set for Oct. 11-12, the festival spotlights local, domestic and international specialty and craft beers plus food vendors and a VIP experience.
Special Beer Fest packages offer deals on accommodations and tickets. To buy tickets or for more information, visit baytownebeerfestival.com.
Charleston Wine + Food
If your pop is the patient sort, schedule a trip to the Charleston Wine and Food Festival March 4-8. It’ll be worth the wait to experience this annual culinary celebration in South Carolina’s Holy City. Details and schedules for the 2020 event aren’t on the website yet, but it’s a good idea to check the site frequently because tickets to many of the popular signature events sell out fast. More than 29,000 people attended the 2019 festival.
For more information, visit charlestonwineandfood.com. You can sign up on the website for email updates.