Violet vidalia onions tumble into deep wooden bins alongside brown bulbs of sweet potatoes, heads of lettuce, bell peppers, and tomatoes still wet with dew. Owner and general manager Margaret Wood fills The Grove Farmers Market & Bistro with a locally sourced spread of produce, but her mission to support Alabama farmers goes beyond retail. Wood has embraced European food concepts by putting a market and farm-fresh bistro under one roof and topping that roof with a satin beret. Head chef Thad Gerrell sifts through the same organic produce brought in daily to create rustic dishes seasoned with gourmet olive oil, grapeseed oil, sea salts, and raw sugars. Seasonally fresh herbs elevate traditional gyros, souvlaki, and cholesterol-free pastas, many of which are available as take 'n' bake for home preparation.
When Tasia Malakasis walked into a gourmet food shop in New York City, she unexpectedly found herself face to face with her future. It was cheese?specifically, Belle Chevre, a French-style goat cheese made by hand in her home state of Alabama. It wasn't long before she was journeying down south to study the art of cheese-making. She became a genuine protege, and eventually, when the company's owner retired, she took over. Since 1989, the company has racked up numerous awards and accolades for its fine cheese, which include a pimento chevre, a Montrachet-style goat cheese, and a mint julep-inspired Southen Belle goat cheese. Their rustic creamery, housed in the old town cotton warehouse, offers both guided and self-guided tours, samples at the tasting bar, and a chance to meet the goats that help make the cheese by wrapping it up with their dexterous hooves.
The town of Brookside owns Five Mile Creek Canoe & Company, which works from a philosophy that nature is a splendor to be shared by all people. Five Mile not only grants access to a bonanza of camping and canoeing activities—such as bench pressing a canoe—it gives patrons the opportunity to control their own adventures. The campground presents enough activity opportunities to keep patrons busy throughout the day, including a playground, a 2-mile walking track, and a swimming hole.
When patrons want to set out on watery expeditions, they carry their own boats down to the creek and steer their vessels from beginning to end. After pushing past the shallow waters, canoes paddlers can traverse up to 26 miles of gently flowing creek lined on either side by a row of trees. These leaf havens obscure guests from the curious eyes of civilization, chipmunks, and Bigfoot's cousin, Steve. Before they hit the water, helpful staff members can give demonstrations to those with little paddling experience. They can also organize group floats for social paddlers.
Whether retooling the body's hormone levels or removing tiny impurities from its pores, there's no treatment too big or small for the staff at Solutions Wellness. On the spa side of things, hair-removal expert and aesthetician Cassee Young uses wax to eradicate unwanted fuzz and save her clients from the burden of regular shaving. For solutions of a more medical nature, advanced practice nurse Cristina Moore helms a clinical team that specializes in bioequivalent-hormone replacement therapy and medical weight-loss strategies.
While awaiting treatment, guests can relax and enjoy a warm or cool beverage in the welcoming reception area, whose golden walls are accented by red- and orange-toned prints and bright-red leather chairs.
Following in his father's footsteps, Vincent R. Little Jr. migrated south to Birmingham, where he opened V. Richards, a store just like the one he had run for years back in Wisconsin. Today, it's home to a full grocer that stocks specialty goods and foodstuffs such as jet-fresh seafood, full service meat-and-wine-departments, and a bakery that churns out fresh-baked breads and sweets daily.
Dr. Derek Renfroe draws from his award-winning experience at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and from his years spent as an active-duty dentist in the U.S. Army to protect and enhance smiles inside a new, contemporary office setting. Preventative and general treatments come in the form of checkups, cleanings, fillings, and dental implants. Cosmetic services improve the look of toothy grins with porcelain veneers, teeth-whitening treatments, and strategically placed mirrors. Warm yellow tones cloak the modern office, where TVs rest beside cushy treatment chairs, and sleek white furniture reflects off a meticulously shined floor.: