Spring is in the air in the ‘Ham. Incredibly beautiful weather brings neighborhood fairs and other outdoor gatherings. This weekend, that meant the Woodlawn Street Market.
This was our first time at the Woodlawn Street Market, which was completely fantastic. Lots of cool Birmingham-focused art, street performances, and of course, food. While we were intrigued by many of the food vendors, I have to admit that we went for one reason and one reason only: Alloy Thai.
You may remember that we blogged about Alloy Thai’s fantastic pop-up dinners in October. Since then, we’ve been to several (and we’re signed up to go to his upcoming Thai New Year brunch in a few weeks, too). We have been consistently blown away by the creativity and sincere authenticity of Josh Haynes’ cooking. We saw what he could do for a group of 12 strangers in his modest Highland Park apartment; what could he do for a hungry mob at a street market?
Josh had participated in some other similar pop-ups recently, including one at Trim Tab. I saw photos online that intrigued me; Josh standing over huge metal vats of beautiful curry, with throngs of hungry people surrounding him. We had to see (and taste) this for ourselves.
Mr. Foodie and I arrived separately (I stopped off at the gym first, out of necessity given what I knew I was about to do). I got there first, and had a chance get the lay of the land. It was around 11am and things were already hopping. I walked the length of the market a few times. Short lines were forming at many of the food vendors. I decided to hang around the Alloy stall just to observe. People were gazing curiously at the large (and aromatic) vats of curry. Talking about what to order. Watching Josh run around filling orders. It really was mesmerizing:
And as more people consumed their delicious meals, it seemed like word got around. I broke off a few times to walk around, and was hearing an electric buzz go through the market. And it had a message: get over to the Alloy Thai stall and get your lunch before it’s all gone. And before I knew it, Josh’s tent looked like this:
Of course, we decided on a rice + 3 selection. We love papaya salad, so we knew we would have to go with that. Mr. Foodie’s favorite is red chicken curry, so we knew we would go with that too. We let Josh pick out our last item – the pork and papaya curry. And we had to try those amazing coconut griddle cakes.
First, the papaya salad. It was made to order by Josh. We got to pick how many chilis to add to it – after some guidance from Josh, we opted for just one. He ground the chilis with veggie fish sauce in a mortar and pestile like so, with some other ingredients, added the papaya and cabbage and voila:
Then the curries. Take a look:
Oh my. The red chicken curry was creamy, medium spicy, with tender chicken and delicious bamboo. The best I’ve ever had (save for the last time I had Josh’s red chicken curry in his house). And the pork curry was truly exceptional. Very pungent and enticing, tender pork, rich sauce.
All the while, Josh was going through the process of making those coconut griddle cakes like so:
And here’s what they looked like coming out of that contraption:
He warned us that they had molten custard on the inside, so we gave it a minute before digging in. Wow. Crunchy and crispy on the outside, creamy coconut goodness on the inside. We devoured them (and gave one away to a friend because we aren’t that piggy).
We stood by Josh’s booth eating our curry (and eating a dessert we bought from another stall….post forthcoming…. be patient). And observing. And talking to a loyal blog fan who somehow figured out it was us – great detective work, friend! You know who you are! The line continued at full force until nearly everything was gone. People ate, talked, and basked in rice and curry afterglow. This was one of the best meals we’ve had in a long time.
The biggest complaint I get when I do these pop-up posts is that I need to be telling y’all about these things before, not after, they happen. Fair point. To find out about Alloy Thai’s upcoming events, sign up here.