Unique and Fun Holiday Traditions Our Staff and Customers Love to Observe

Noja Holiday Traditions

Here at Noja, we thrive on a fusion of cultures, pulling from across the world to create a unique culinary atmosphere. The holidays are such a wonderful time to highlight different cultures by celebrating traditions from around the world. With that in mind, here are a few unique and fun holiday traditions our staff and customers love to observe.

 

  • The Actual 12 Days of Christmas

It’s more than just a song and it doesn’t mark the days leading up to December 25. Instead the 12-day celebration begins on the 25th and lasts until January 6—or Epiphany, the day the three wise men arrived and Jesus was baptized. This is when the bulk of the holiday is celebrated and most won’t begin any sort of tradition until well after the calendar has turned to December. This model is still followed in most of Europe. Just don’t tell the American stores who like to begin in October.

  • Dancing Around the Tree

In Denmark, December 24 isn’t complete without a dance. Families will join hands and dance in a circle around their tree while singing classic carols. Once the dances are done, it’s time for presents!

  • Lighting of the Menorah

While not as observed along the Gulf Coast, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is one of the largest celebrations worldwide. One of the most recognizable ways to observe the eight-night festival of lights is by the lighting of the menorah. Each night, observers light a candle to honor oil lasting during the Jewish Maccabees rededicating their temple.

  • South African Caterpillar Platter

Looking for a new fusion dish to pair with the Christmas ham? Take a page from the South Africans and dig into your garden. In that country, locals like to deep-fry the caterpillar of the Emperor Moth for a special festive treat.

  • Finding the Pickle

This German ritual has become popular around the globe as a favorite game. Hide the pickle (find a faux toy like pickle to avoid any moldy or stinky vegetables) amongst the tree branches. On Christmas morning, the first to find the pickle gets to open the first gift.

  • A Consoda Breakfast

Portugal holds one of the more touching customs with their Christmas morning breakfast. At that special meal, there is one plate that will go unused. That setting is there to remember those in the family that have passed in the last year.

  • Matrimonial Pudding

In Sweden, rice pudding is a classic holiday dish. But they put their own Swedish twist inside with an almond…only one though. In much the same vein as Mobile’s Mardi Gras king cake or a bridal cake trinket pull, the lucky recipient of the dish with the almond is said to find himself or herself married in the next year.

  • Loska Pudding Throw

Pudding apparently plays a role in several Christmas traditions. In Slovakia, the home’s oldest male will take a spoonful of Loska and throw it up at the ceiling, because why not? The more pudding that sticks, the better the fortune of the upcoming year.

 

These are just a few of the unique and fun holiday traditions our staff and customers love to observe. The most important part about this time of year is creating the memories and traditions that will last for you and your family. Let Noja help by becoming one of your new culinary customs this holiday season.

 

Noja is a Mediterranean-Asian fusion restaurant in the heart of downtown Mobile with an ever-evolving menu. Call us at 251-433-0377 to make a reservation today then visit at 6 N. Jackson St. in Mobile, AL.

 

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5 Free November Events Happening in Mobile, AL

November events in Mobile

The calendar has turned, meaning it’s officially the Holiday (read: busy) Season. November brings with it fall festivals, Thanksgiving celebrations, and of course it ushers in Christmas and all the ensuing fanfare. It’s a time of year meant to be spent with family and friends. Since the holidays can also drain your piggy bank, it’s important to find free events to enjoy that are rich in experience and easy on the wallet. There is a little something for everyone around town. To help you decide which events you can’t miss, NoJa highlights five free November events happening in Mobile.

1. LoDa ArtWalk
November 10, beginning at 5pm.
The Battle House Hotel
Roam around lower Dauphin Street and take in local artistry at its finest. The sidewalks will be lined with artists, artisans and craftspeople who make locally sourced handmade goods. While browsing their merchandise, enjoy live music, food, and drinks. Enjoy the cool night and support local vendors at the LoDa ArtWalk, which begins at The Battle House Hotel.

2. Veteran’s Day Celebration, Parade of Flags and Symphony Concert
November 10; Symphony at 7pm
Aircraft Pavilion at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park
Celebrate our military veterans and country’s proud militia with local heroes. The festivities begin with a parade of flags, presented by hundreds of local 4th graders with music from Baker High School. The 2017 Veteran of the Year, Patriot of the Year and Veteran’s Day Essay winners will all be presented, and a keynote address given by the 2017 Distinguished Young Woman, Skye Bork. The grand finale features the Mobile Symphonic Pops in a rousing rendition of patriotic music in a tribute to our veterans.

3.Family Fun Fall Festival
November 11 from 3-7pm
Dayspring Baptist Church
This large fall festival brings the family together to celebrate all the excitement that comes with a nip in the air and the changing leaves. The community wide Fall Festival features inflatables, two fair rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, train rides, hay rides, rock climbing, a classic car show and a football tent to watch the games! Food is offered at a minimal price ranging from fair food to jambalaya to Chick-Fil-A. All activities are free so bring the kids out for one last fall hurrah before Christmas arrives!

4. A Night of Song
November 13 at 7pm
The Battle House Hotel
Take a step back in time and enjoy a relaxing evening at the tavern. The Royal Street Tavern invites the public to come listen to acapella music. The entertainment is free. Food and drinks will be offered as specials.

5. Lighting of the Trees
November 17 from 5-7pm
Bienville Square on Dauphin Street
Welcome in the Christmas season with the annual Lighting of the Trees! Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Santa Claus will flip the light at 6:10 pm, but the enjoyment doesn’t stop there. Browse the Merry Market, enjoy live entertainment and make sure to get your picture with Santa for a memento of the year’s festivities.

Soak up the celebrations and entertainment that only November can offer. There are events for everyone across the city to enjoy. Keep in mind these five free November events happening in Mobile from NOJA as you plan out your holiday season.

For an intimate meal in one of the Port City’s longest-running restaurants in Downtown Mobile, make a reservation to Noja. We have both indoor and outdoor seating in a secluded area, just steps from Dauphin Street in LODA at 6 N. Jackson Street. To reserve a table now, call 251-433-0377. Learn more about our cuisine and offerings at www.nojamobile.com or on our Facebook page.

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NoJa: Our Humble Beginnings

Our Humble Beginnings

The great things in life worth having come from perseverance and a dedication to excellence. That is exactly the idea behind the birth of NoJa. The longest running restaurant in the heart of Mobile is a success in part to the trials chef and owner, Chakli Diggs, put into it.
Master Chef Diggs’ humble beginning started in Ethiopia where, believe it or not, he first trained to be a fighter pilot. Through many different experiences in his life, he decided that the culture of Ethiopia and its love of food was his love as well. Chakli has traveled all over the world to experience many types of cuisine and is fluent in several languages. This experience has brought to Mobilians the unique taste of the “MediterrAsian” food we love so much from NoJa.
It may seem peculiar the way an Ethiopian fighter pilot wandered into Mobile, Alabama, but his sister was actually the first to settle here. When Diggs attended college at Michigan State University, he would come visit his sister in Mobile during his breaks. At first, Mobile seemed a bit too quiet and small. When his mother had become ill, Chakli knew he needed to move here to be with her. He has made Mobile his home since 1991.
NoJa is not the first restaurant Chef Diggs has ever opened. Although, to Mobilians, it may be the most desired on their list. Regarding the opening of this restaurant, his business vision was to mentor other people in his place that can step in and conduct business as usual. This, as many can attest to, has made his business flourish.
With NoJa’s rising success in the past years, it has seen patrons like Dan Marino, Secretary of the Navy; Oscar-winning actor Robert DeNiro; local attorneys Dean Waite and David J. Maloney; and our very own mayor of Mobile, AL, Sandy Stimpson, as well as hundreds of other prominent entertainers and local business owners in Alabama.
Chakli Diggs brought a new cultural cuisine to the City of Mobile that many had never eaten before. His attention to detail and unique flavor combinations makes his career in the food industry one Mobilians will not soon forget.
For an intimate meal in one of the Port City’s longest-running restaurants in Downtown Mobile, make a reservation to Noja. We have both indoor and outdoor seating in a secluded area, just steps from Dauphin Street in LODA at 6 N. Jackson Street. To reserve a table now, call 251-433-0377. Learn more about our cuisine and offerings at www.nojamobile.com or on our Facebook page.
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5 October Events Happening in Downtown Mobile You Don’t Want to Miss

October events in downtown Mobile

There are always fun things to do in Mobile. It’s this time of year when the sun goes down and nights get cooler that Downtown Mobile comes alive! Family friendly, safe and exciting is what you can expect from these five events that are happening this October!

Haunted Ducks

The Duck Boat has been a staple in Mobile for years and this October they are putting a twist on their favorite ride. Haunted Ducks tour ride around The Fort of Colonial Mobile will take you back in time and tell the tales of pirates, vagabonds, miscreants, and soldiers. You could connect with those departed while they tell you their stories in the night. Even with this creepily attractive ride, it’s still fun and safe for families and children! Visit gulfcoastducks.com to get your tickets.

Spooky Walk

It’s during this season that everyone knows to watch out for Friday the 13th. This year the traditional LODA Art Walk falls on such a day. Downtown Mobile will be transformed into a Spooky Walk where costumes, food, arts, and craft will be in abundance!

Haunted Arena

Lazer Zone is presenting its 3rd Annual Haunted Laser Tag event at Lazer Zone Mobile. Getting your scare on is easy with live actors, spooky decorations, and eerie lighting. All laser tag games will be held in the Haunted Arena. They have two nights of creepy fun on October 12th and 13th. Pizza, bumper cars, and loads of fun await you!

Woofstock

Everyone gets to dress up for Halloween in October, even man’s best friend! Woofstock is celebrating its 13th year in Bienville Square on October 22nd. Dress up your pup in the best outfit for a canine costume contest. If you have a wiener dog you could sign up for the annual wiener dog race! There will also be a kid’s zone, food, and music. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for kids. This fun event benefits the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF).

Boo! At Bellingrath

The enchanting gardens at Bellingrath will be decked out in Halloween decor.  Bring your dressed up goblins and family to the gardens to enjoy a magic show, inflatables, and treats! Kids will be able to trick or treat across different vendor tents while the adults can enjoy the food trucks and live music. The views will be spooktacular, so get your tickets at Bellingrath.org before October 27th!

For an intimate meal in one of the Port City’s longest-running restaurants in Downtown Mobile, make a reservation to Noja. We have both indoor and outdoor seating in a secluded area just steps off Dauphin Street in LODA at 6 N. Jackson Street. To reserve a table, call 251-433-0377. Learn more about our cuisine and offerings at www.nojamobile.com or on our Facebook page.

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Meet The People Behind Our Food – Noja’s Culinary Team

Noja Culinary Team

 

Our dynamic, seasonal menu featuring Asian and Mediterranean flavors is brought to you by our culinary dream team. These three individuals have a passion for creating exciting fine dining cuisine for our guests every evening. Get to know the chefs behind their coats with this introduction to the fire that burns within our open-air kitchen:

Kevin “KP” Powell

This Mobile native has been preparing first-rate fare at Noja for eight years. He considers Chef Alex Perry of sister restaurant Saisho his mentor and has honed his cooking skills from his extensive experience working alongside him. Perry’s positive attitude and striking smile are always apparent and he attributes his happiness at work to the wonderful interactions with regular patrons to the restaurant.

His prized creation is the Noja mash available each day. He carefully perfects this recipe daily to ensure you can savor every delicious bite of this popular side dish. His beloved medallioned pork loin with basmati rice and sriracha sauce is one of his cherished meals to make for guests. He recommends trying the Cajun Marsala and anything that comes out of the kitchen with the top-quality scallops he serves.

When he’s not cooking, Perry enjoys time with his family on outings in his hometown. When asked what’s exciting about working at Noja, he mentioned meeting distinguished guests such as Dan Marino, Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, local attorneys Dean Waite and David J. Maloney, and hundreds of other prominent local business owners in Alabama.

Perry treasures his relationship with restaurant owner, Chakli Diggs. “I consider him family. He is a really good guy and is willing to help you out whenever you need it. I appreciate his hard work and everything he has taught me.”

Preston Tortorich

It may only have been a year, but Tortorich has flourished in the kitchen at Noja. His family owns a New Orleans restaurant and they were surprised that his passion and flare for cooking ignited only when he moved to Alabama. “I was stubborn and resisted at first, but my passion grew and I fell in love with cooking. I don’t meet many people my age (21) who feel the way I do about it,” he said.

Tortorich started out at Saisho and moved up the street to immerse himself in the world of fine dining. He enjoys working with the small crew and the customers daily with the open-kitchen concept. “I remember when Dan Marino was here for the Reese’s Senior Bowl. He wanted to personally shake my hand because he enjoyed the Hanger Steak with Scalloped Shrimp so much. We were all thrilled he had a great time.”

His most enjoyable part about working at Noja is the free range he gets with creating unique sauces that pair well with the flavor profile of the establishment. He loves to make pork cheek with sautéed soy-caramel sauce paired with butternut squash and brussels sprouts. “Many people have never tried pork cheek and it is very tender. Pairing it with a sweet sauce really sets this dish apart from the rest,” said Tortorich.

In his free time, he likes to grill with his family, submerse himself in the world of import vehicles, and he is an avid drummer and DJ.

Elizabeth Son

As a woman of very few words, Son is humble about her time at Noja. As the lead salad and dessert chef, she has been whipping up sweet and savory treats for seven years. Son never rushes a creation and her precision and patience shows on every plated dish she sends out. She meticulously plates every order she receives with care resulting in an exquisitely designed presentation, similar to an artist with a canvas.

“Everyone loves the ginger donut, but we also have a chocolate one,” Son says. “I like to make it beautiful so when someone gets their order, it makes them smile.”

Son spends hours each day preparing the homemade dressings, sauces, and garnishes she needs for an exciting palette of flavors listed on the menu. The attention to detail is apparent as she assembles everything from scratch and memory.

“The bacon vinaigrette dressing is something everyone needs to try!” Son exclaims.

When she’s not making whimsical cuisine, Son spends time with her husband Santos (married 10 years), and he nine-year-old son, Bryan Antonio.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know our three main chefs. Experience their hard work and dedication to satisfying your craving for fine dining by visiting Noja Restaurant in Downtown Mobile tonight. Make a reservation now by calling 251-433-0377 or visiting www.nojamobile.com.

5 Tips for a Romantic Dinner Date

Romantic diner date

The dinner date is a staple of romantic pastimes. If done wrong though it can seem stale and cliché. If you want to create a night to remember, don’t be scared to take the romantic dinner route for your sweetheart. Using what Hollywood and years of Hallmark commercials taught us to create a foundation, we can pull five tips for a romantic dinner date that will be special, memorable and perfect for you and your beau.

  1.   Make it Personal

This is the basis for every other tip. If you don’t make it personal, then everything will just appear standard and frankly boring. If it’s a first date, show your date something about yourself. If you’ve been together for a while, show your date that truly know them and bring in touches they’ll love.

  1.   Go Somewhere Special

Just because that new restaurant in town has candles on the table and mints on the plate doesn’t mean you have to eat there. Go somewhere that’s special to both of you; maybe it’s that average Mexican joint where you first met in high school or the pizza place two towns over you visited once and loved. If it’s a first date, take them somewhere that’s special to you and give them a glimpse into your life. You can visit the new restaurant for a birthday, celebration, etc. For a truly special romantic evening, the setting is much more important than the food.

  1.   Bring Flowers

Ok so this may seem like one of the clichéd things that were mentioned to avoid, but as long as you keep the first tip in mind, this will be a home run. Even if a girl says she doesn’t want flowers, she’s lying. Every girl wants them, even if she doesn’t like them, because it means you thought about her and wanted to bring something to simply say hello and get the night started. But you must be careful. Don’t just grab roses and think you’re golden. Take time to find out what her favorite flowers are (everyone has a favorite) and bring those. It will show you paid attention, remembered and then took time to find the perfect bouquet.

  1.   Mood Lighting

There’s some truth to the thought that everyone looks better in candlelight. There’s nothing more distinctively romantic then sitting across from someone in the flicker of a flame. Bring in candles or twinkle lights or just pick an open field for your picnic—or a post-dinner dessert picnic—where the stars are clearly visible. Whatever you do set the mood, and nothing is more romantic than candlelight.

  1.   Play Music
  2.    This goes together with the mood lighting. Music brings an extra element to the setting. As a bonus, it can help create a memory that will last for years. If the right song comes on while you’re lost in each other’s company, it can make an impact and become your song. Don’t be afraid to go old school either and create a playlist of the soundtrack of your relationship. It’s so cheesy that it’s cute.

A relationship is marked by moments. Follow these five tips for a romantic dinner date to create a night that can become one of those moments and memories.

For an intimate meal in one of the Port City’s longest running restaurants in Downtown Mobile, make a reservation to Noja. We have both indoor and outdoor seating in a secluded area just steps off Dauphin Street in LODA at 6 N. Jackson Street. To reserve a table now, call 251-433-0377. Learn more about our cuisine and offerings at www.nojamobile.com or on our Facebook page.

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Cutting Through the Culinary

Cutting through the culinary

What should Patrons Expect from Fine Dining Restaurants in Mobile?

Mobile, Alabama is known for Southern cooking at its finest. As the official home of Mardi Gras, Mobile restaurants offer traditional southern fare as well as Cajun delicacies that can’t be found anywhere else. If you’re looking for a night out on the town and want something out of the ordinary, then here’s what you can expect from fine dining establishments in the Mobile area.

Specialization

Fine dining restaurants do not offer multi-page menus filled with dishes designed to suit every taste. Instead, a premier eating establishment narrows its focus and specializes in delicacies that cannot be found in other Mobile restaurants. Each item on the menu is signature, unique, and memorable. Specialization requires expertise from seasoned chefs and professionals who know exactly what their guests look for in a fine dining restaurant. Each member of the staff takes pride in what he or she does and they do it well.

Impeccable Service

From the concierge to the servers, bartenders, chefs, bussers, and everyone else, the finest restaurants in the Mobile area are known for their exceptional service. Every member of the team has an innate sensitivity to the needs and desires of the patrons and works hard to exceed all expectations. Smiles, kindness, courtesy, and a listening ear are all paramount to the success of a leading dining establishment. Fine dining services should also include:

  • Escorting guests to their seating
  • Escorting guests to the restroom
  • Clearing the table after each course
  • Replacing linen napkins if the guest leaves and returns
  • Providing an appealing and interesting description of menu items
  • Serving food directly to the plate

Fierce Attention to Detail

Seasoned restaurateurs pay attention to a room’s environment. They carefully craft every detail of a room design in order to create ambiance throughout the dining area. The vibe is so well defined that guests will instantly feel it when they walk into a room. Every item in the room from the furniture and the décor to the linens, menus, silverware, music, staff attire, artwork, and paint on the wall reflects the image that the business intends to portray.

Refined Elegance and Style

For fine dining establishments elegance is proprietary. While good food, excellent service, and an original concept are all essential ingredients to a successful dining experience, nothing can replace sophistication. A stylish and graceful design makes guests feel that they are a part of something distinctive and special in the culinary world. Patrons who attend fine dining restaurants have discerning taste and look for elements of a restaurant that sets it apart from competitors.

For an intimate meal in one of the Port City’s longest running restaurants in Downtown Mobile, make a reservation to Noja. We have both indoor and outdoor seating in a secluded area just steps off Dauphin Street in LODA at 6 N. Jackson Street. To reserve a table now, call 251-433-0377. Learn more about our cuisine and offerings at www.nojamobile.com or on our Facebook page.

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Introducing Our Favorites from Our New Wine Menu (and what to eat with each)

Our new favorites

 

An exclusive wine experience at Noja awaits! We compiled a comprehensive list of wine and food pairings from our menu. Enjoy!

Moet & Chandon Champagne

Pair with… Panko Crusted Fish

The apricot, citrus and blackberry notes of Moet & Chandon Champagne will pair beautifully with the crunchy panko coating and fingerling potatoes.

Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial    

Pair with… Pan Seared Skuna Bay Salmon

The fruity, daring notes of Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial will make the lemon, dill, and caper blend stand out on your palette.

Cakebread Chardonnay, Napa

Pair with… Ethiopian Chicken

Celebrate a long finish after each sip of the Cakebread Chardonnay, which accents the Ethiopian flavors found in this one of a kind chicken dish.

Dr. L. Blue Slate Riesling, Mosel

Pair with…Arugula Salad

The sweet and spicy combination of the candied jalapenos in our Arugula Salad will be balanced perfectly with the peach and floral notes of the Dr. L Blue Slate Riesling.

Diora Pinot Noir, Monterey

Pair with…Smoked and Sous Vide White Duck

Your taste buds will thank you when you pair earthy Diora Pinot Noir with the Smoked and Sous Vide White Duck. Cherry notes in both the food and wine will be highlighted.

Peju Merlot, Napa

Pair with…Filet Mignon

A dry merlot with hints of anise, cocoa, vanilla bean, plum and ripe blackberry flavors pairs wonderfully with our house favorite, filet mignon with seasonal vegetables and NoJa Signature mashed potatoes.

Quilt Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

Pair with…Hanger Steak

Quilt’s Cabernet Sauvignon is medium bodied with red and black fruity notes that allow for the goat cheese flavor to heighten the flavor of the hanger steak.

Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape  

Pair with… Colorado Lamp Chops

The spicy, tangy flavors of Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape will accentuate all your scenes when paired with the Colorado Lamp Chops which exquisitely draws the smoked paprika and tarragon flavor to the forefront of your palate.

Chateau Saint Ahon, Haut-Medoc

Pair with… 14 Ounce Pork Chop

It’s a match made in Heaven when you pair the ripe red fruity flavor of Chateau Saint Ahon with our 14 Ounce Pork Chop and buttery fingerling potatoes with seasonal vegetables. Your palette will thank you!

 

 

For an exclusive wine experience in one of the Port City’s longest running restaurants in Downtown Mobile, make a reservation to Noja. We are in a secluded area just steps off Dauphin Street in LODA at 6 N. Jackson Street. To reserve a table now, call 251-433-0377. Learn more about our cuisine and offerings at www.nojamobile.com or on our Facebook page.

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Why Business Owners Dine at Noja

Why business owners dine at Noja

 

Owning your own business can be stressful. You often work late hours and don’t conform to the normal nine-to-five schedule. When you’re ready to eat, you want something amazing, consistent, and in a relaxed atmosphere full of your peers.

Therefore local, national, and regional business owners (and celebrities) dine at Noja. Our reputation for phenomenal cuisine in a serene setting is what sets us apart from other restaurants in Downtown Mobile. You can believe the hype you’ve heard about signature dishes, but you won’t see any commotion when you walk through our doors. We’re focused on the food while providing exceptional service.

On any given night you will see doctors, lawyers, media tycoons, and sports team owners filling the seats and barstools with their friends and families. They desire a more refined palette and appreciate the premium wine selection, high-class spirits, and the fresh, local fare. Some of our specialties include pork belly, duck breast, lamb chops, and the finest steaks in the city. Our menu does change with the season, but the “Mediterrasian” flavor is always prominent.

If you’re coming to the area for a business trip, company retreat, or on vacation, we welcome you to enjoy the best of the Port City here at our restaurant. We take reservations in advance on our website and have indoor and outdoor seating for small or large gatherings. We can even rent out the entire restaurant for a special occasion.

Out-of-towners are also keen to our stellar reputation. Robert De Niro and his coworkers stopped by and ordered everything on the menu. De Niro later requested the pork belly for take out, so we’d like to think it’s that memorable! The Reese’s Senior Bowl brings in big names for football each year. We were blessed to have Dan Marino rave about our Hanger Steak and return for two nights in a row.

Our guests don’t come in to be bothered, and there isn’t a paparazzi standing outside the door. There’s a chill, composed vibe here at Noja, and we want you to be able to unwind. Whether you need to finish a meeting over cocktails at the bar, or treat yourself to a well-deserved, full-service meal –  we are here to help you forget about the stress of the day. Come see why our regulars have been with us over the years.

For an intimate meal in one of the Port City’s longest running restaurants in Downtown Mobile, make a reservation to Noja. We are in a secluded area just steps off Dauphin Street in LODA at 6 N. Jackson Street. To reserve a table now, call 251-433-0377. Learn more about our cuisine and offerings at www.nojamobile.com or on our Facebook page.

 

The Rules of Wine Pairings

The Rules of Wine Pairings

 

(WE WON’T TELL IF YOU DON’T FOLLOW THEM)

White wine with fish, red wine with beef. That is the extent of knowledge most people have. However, since discovering a few wines that we really enjoy, it is time to learn a few very basic rules on selecting a wine.

If you are looking for advanced information, then this “primer” may bore you. However, for the rest of you who may not know the first thing about wine, here are a few very basic guidelines.

The trick to selecting a wine to go with your meal is to heighten the sensory experience. Contrast is the key in many cases, while in others, a complimentary taste may work beautifully. It is like putting sour cream on a hot, spicy burrito to even out the heat, or enjoying a sharp cheddar cheese with a sweet apple.

  • The first rule is that rules are made to be broken. Some of the best pairings are happy accidents. If you have a wine that you just adore, enjoy it.
  • Price is not an indicator of pleasure.
  • Some of the most amazing wines are found in small obscure wineries, not in France, but in rural towns across the United States.
  • Start with a dry rose and appetizers. Rose is not a white or a red, but somewhere in the middle. It is light, and will pair with a variety of foods without overwhelming them. This is great when you have an assortment of hors d’oeuvres.
  • Try to match the depth of your food with an equally intense wine. If you choose a light wine, and a heavy, mouthy-feeling food, you will lose the wine. If you grab a deep, rich wine with a light salad or delicate seafood, you won’t taste the salad.
  • Try a Rieslingwith spicy foods to help tone down the heat. This works great for Asian dishes that have a little extra kic
  • Enjoy a deep red such as a Cabernet with red meats such as beef or duck. The dryness will counter the richness of the meat. You might enjoy this with a saucy beef stir-fry.
  • Match the sauce to the wine. Light sauce; light wine. Dark, rich sauce; deep, rich wine.
  • Try a burgundy with a mushroom sauce or other “earthy” food.
  • Moscato is a great finish with dessert; unless you are having chocolate. Try a cabernet with that.
  • If you purchase a wine that you can’t stand to drink, use it in cooking or make an amazing wine jelly. Some of the worst wines make the best jellies. If you have never tried wine jelly, you may be in for another whole level of wine enjoyment.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask.

Enjoying a gastronomic delicacy or a series of them is one thing. Adding a decadent wine or two may take it over the top.

Most of all, experiment. Wine isn’t all about seriousness. Have some fun with it. Life, like wine, is meant to be savored. Enjoy!

For an intimate meal in one of the Port City’s longest running restaurants in Downtown Mobile, make a reservation to Noja. We have both indoor and outdoor seating in a secluded area just steps off Dauphin Street in LODA at 6 N. Jackson Street. To reserve a table now, call 251-433-0377. Learn more about our cuisine and offerings at www.nojamobile.com or on our Facebook page.

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