Savoring Alabama (Peaches) (In January)
"We use Chilton County peaches." Doug Allen, co-owner and pastry chef at Angels Cake & Confections, had my full attention right there at "county." That one little word started a fun, energizing conversation that led in intriguing directions. Here are just three:
- I like that we can import exotic gourmet processes like Italian gelato-making, and use wonderful local ingredients to bring the food home. In Mountain Brook, Alabama -- a Birmingham suburb -- on a miserably cold day, a frozen dessert seemed just the right thing. Doug explained that we were eating one of the last batches of peach gelato he will make this year from Chilton County peaches bought, peeled, and frozen at their peak last summer.
- I like that fine food can serve communities. Just as Lexington's Seedleaf, Inc. is generating ways to engage people of all ages and income levels in growing, preparing, and preserving excellent locally grown foods, Doug and Jane Allen have brought young women who are part of Birmingham's Strong Girls program into the Angels kitchen to learn to make beautiful, elegant pastries and sweets. More good may come of this alliance if present plans for collaboration in a larger, commercial kitchen work out as intended. Culinary skills are a key pathway to excellent work at the Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh, as well.
- I like, too, that excitement about locally grown food and growers makes it easy to make friends wherever I go.
I enjoyed Angels so much I made a return trip with camera and experimented a bit with showing some of the beautiful confections available there. View the experiments here. I look forward to returning for a piece of their signature caramel cake -- if I can get past the amazing gelato!