Recently, I found myself at loose ends and decided to get out of town for a weekend trip. I was intending to go to Mobile, but when I got there I saw that Mardi Gras was in full swing. This isn’t always a bad thing, but I wasn’t up for navigating a town I don’t know well during what is probably it’s craziest and busiest time. So I continued across the bridge to the Fairhope side of Mobile Bay. I like Fairhope. I think it’s a cute town and I plan spend a weekend there soon. But on this day, it just wasn’t what I was looking for. I didn’t have a clear plan in mind. I was wondering south figuring that I would find a place to stay for the night, or run into the Gulf of Mexico. About 20 minutes south of Fairhope on Hwy 49, I saw a sign for Magnolia Springs. I had heard of this town from my father who stumbled across it about four years ago and was completely charmed. He recommended the local bed and breakfast and told me to look for the free-roaming peacocks. As I turned into town, I was greeted by lovely cottage homes flanking a graceful moss covered oak alley.
There isn’t much to Magnolia Springs. You may have heard of it as the small town on the Magnolia River that boast the only mail delivery route on water. In addition to the river and its homes, they have a few churches, a restaurant, the bread and breakfast, and and a handful of beautiful moss draped residential streets. I decided this would be the a lovely place to spend the evening.
I easily found the Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast. A pretty historic hotel that owners Eric Bigelow and David Worthington renovated and opened in 1997. Eric met me at the door of the pretty old yellow home. Inside, the home was tastefully renovated and comfortable. The original character was kept with the beautiful wood work found throughout the home. After a quick tour and an offer of homemade cookies, I was shown to my room. There are five guest rooms with updated private baths, each unique in character and decor.
Ever the gracious host, Eric gave me some suggestions on how I could best enjoy my visit to Magnolia Springs. He told me to have dinner at the town’s best restaurant, Jessie’s, which was within walking distance of the bed and breakfast. I took his advice and was pleasantly surprised to find a seriously good restaurant in such a small place. Jessie’s features a good selection of dry and wet aged beef and bone-in chops. They also have fresh seafood from the surrounding area. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal here and plan on returning for more very soon.
After a leisurely stroll back to the bed and breakfast, I spent a very comfortable night in the Worthington Room. The next morning I woke to a breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt, muffins, quiche and bacon. This was finished with a wonderful pear dumpling, for which the owners have generously shared the recipe. (For more of David and Eric’s recipes visit their blog and website www.magnoliasprings.com)
David’s Pear Dumplings
- 1 pear – peeled, cored and cut into 4 quarters or thirds (can also use an apple, peach, blackberries or a ball of cranberries, anything that makes a good cobbler will make a good dumpling)
- 1 Can Crescent Rolls
- Sauce: Warm the following three ingredients till dissolved
1& 1/2 cup Orange Juice
¾ cup Sugar
½ stick butter
- Wrap 1/4 of Apple with one piece of crescent roll and seal all edges. I usually have a big piece of fruit so when I cut it in half to serve I still have a nice piece of fruit in there. Otherwise they get nothing but a bunch of dough. Since I have a bigger piece of fruit, I roll out the triangle pieces of crescent roll with a rolling pin and a little bit of flour.
- Place seam side down in Pyrex pan (9*13in.)
- Pour sauce over them then sprinkle with cinnamon
- Cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 min. till done.
- Baste dumplings with sauce in the pan before moving to plate
- I drizzle a small amount of sweetened vanilla yogurt on top as icing.
- Makes 8 dumplings cut in half to make 16 servings.
I ended my morning in Magnolia Springs swinging on the front porch swing and relaxing (some more) with a cup of coffee. On my way back north on Hwy 49, I took another one of Eric’s suggestions and stopped at the Week’s Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. There is a small, but interesting, interpretive center for the Week’s Bay estuary, an easy boardwalk hike and, across the road, a fantastic pitcher plant bog that blooms throughout the Spring.
I had a wonderfully relaxing visit to Magnolia Springs. It is a pretty little town full of friendly charm and surrounded by south Alabama’s natural beauty. My only disappointment was that the peacocks were no longer roaming the streets. My understanding is that they blew in with hurricane Ivan in 2004 and were initially welcome. But as the flock grew, they became a nuisance and were relocated to a farm in Summerdale, Alabama.
Editor’s Note: All images are courtesy of Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast website. Thank you, David Worthington and Eric Bigelow