Categories
Vino News

Get a taste of fall’s favorite dessert at this charming eatery

A couple sits under a tree swathed in soft-white lights on the patio at Vino restaurant in English Village. Summer is waning but the still-warm night air carries a hint of fall.

The couple shares an order of Apple Fritters A La Mode. It evokes a similar seasonal transition, with summer’s ice cream and fall’s apples singing pleasant harmony.

Open since 2011, Vino is known for Mediterranean-style cuisine spanning from Morocco to Italy and on to the Middle East. But one of its best-loved desserts is as all-American as apple pie.

Vino Apple Fritters A La Mode is as simple as three balls of fried apple-flecked batter, served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of sweet apple slices. Cinnamon sauce tops the dessert. When time allows, the kitchen scripts the word “Vino” on the plate in chocolate.

Owner Al Rabiee has served apple fritters in some form since he owned the Southside restaurant, Anthony’s, in the 1980s. “We used to make them bigger but over the years we started making them smaller,” Rabiee says. “People are watching their weight.”

Customers have long associated the restaurateur with fritters. Rabiee says that when his daughter was born, people at the hospital would point out his family and tell each other, “Those are the fritter people.”

Timing is the key to Vino’s fritters, Rabiee says. The dough needs several hours to properly rise before it’s formed into balls and deep-fried in non-GMO rice bran oil.

Rabiee recommends Grand Marnier or Cointreau as an accompanying after-dinner drink.

Rabiee has built a strong fan base over the years. After selling Anthony’s, he ran other Southside restaurants and sold real estate for a few years before opening Vino.

The California contemporary-style building includes an art gallery, Gallery 1930, which is separately owned. In 2015, Rabiee opened the Gallery Bar inside the space, which specializes in cocktails, oysters, and other seafood appetizers.

Windows showcase the gallery, even when it is closed. “People love to walk around and see the artwork,” Rabiee says.

The patio at Vino, with nearly two dozen tables, almost doubles the inside seating capacity. It is one of the city’s most inviting places to dine al fresco.

The elevated patio is set back and mostly shielded from traffic on Cahaba Road. Most of the outside tables are under a cover. During dry weather, tables are set up under the patio’s four trees, which are strung with lights, providing a peaceful setting to enjoy a leisurely meal or a sweet treat.

Categories
Vino News

Greater Birmingham Humane Society helps canines in the crosshairs of hurricanes

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and the surrounding area, Allison Black Cornelius knew life would immediately change. Shelters in and around the stricken areas were going to need room for pets stranded or separated from their owners by the storm.

For that to happen, those pets already in the shelters needed to go somewhere else.

Birmingham was one of those “somewhere elses.”

“After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, there were a lot of displaced animals,” Cornelius said. “What people don’t realize is that these animals are lost and you can’t move them too far away from home. So one strategy is to move the existing animals to other shelters in safer areas to make room for the influx of other animals.”

Following Cornelius around the Greater Birmingham Humane Society (GBHS) as she deals with the influx of animals and humans drives home the need for alternative shelters. She petted one dog while listening to an owner’s concern. At the humane society shelter, Cornelius is in her zone.

“We are partnering with Louisiana shelters to empty them out for Harvey-impacted animals, bring them to Birmingham and either adopt them out or take them to other shelters,” said Cornelius, chief executive officer of the GBHS.

It’s easy to see the affection Cornelius has for the animals as she pets and loves on them, squeezing, kissing and talking to them like a mama bear with her cubs.

“I have been here at the humane society since the summer of 2014. I’ve always loved animals and given to organizations that helped animals,” she said. “When GBHS took over animal control, we went from 7,500 animals to 22,000 animals. We have four vehicles that are equipped to pick up animals from disaster areas and from all over the country.”

The GBHS is awaiting more than 60 animals from the Harvey-hit areas and soon will take more animals from the Hurricane Irma-affected region. Things will be busy for a while, but Cornelius said it comes with the job.

“Events such as Pooches on the Patio at Vino in English Village are critical to our outreach,” she said. “We believe you don’t use people to develop a mission, you use a mission to develop people. So that allows us to bring what we’re talking about to life and it helps to attract volunteers, because without the hundreds of volunteers and 80 full-time staff, we could not do what we do.”

Hundreds of people gathered at Vino Sept. 6 for Pooches on the Patio to show their support for the GBHS and the animals it saves. The GBHS was there to promote its adoption program and facilitate financial support and volunteerism.

Katie Beck of Style Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations said the dog-filled patio at Vino for the second annual Pooches fundraiser was a success.

Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work, and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at karimshamsibasha@gmail.com.

Categories
Vino News

Dine with your dog at Vino’s Pooches on the Patio event

MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (WIAT) — Vino is hosting an event called Pooches on the Patio in celebration of the restaurant’s sixth anniversary.

The Italian-Mediterranean restaurant located in English Village is hosting the event that will benefit the Greater Birmingham Humane Society and feature themed, specialty craft cocktails for animal lovers.

The GBHS will have adoptable dogs at the event, but guests will not be able to adopt dogs on-site. Guests are also invited to bring their furry friends. There will be opportunities to win prizes like gift cards or toys and treats for your pets.

Pooches on the Patio will be on Wednesday, September 6th from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Event organizers encourage guests to make reservations in advance to attend.

To learn more about Pooches on the Patio, visit the Vino Facebook page. To make reservations, visit the Vino website here.

To learn more about the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, visit their website here.