Kool Korner fans: Illdefonso Ramirez, the genius behind the Cuban sandwich shop in Vestavia Hills (formerly of Atlanta), will celebrate his 88th birthday on Monday, Jan. 24. Kool Korner is marking the occasion Monday with a special -- buy a regular sandwich and get a combo plate free.
The restaurant has continue to expand its menu, adding what the restaurant calls a "Saturday-Night Special" that seems pretty high caliber (sorry; I had to say it). Rice, black beans, Yuca and maduros (fried plantains) with your choice of the Cuban-style house-roasted meats of pork, eye of round, chicken breast, or the long-braised classic beef dish ropa vieja. It's $9.50 and is served only after 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
The tamales have gone up in price a bit since they first appeared at Kool Korner, but $2.05 buys a substantial tamale of moist, stock-enriched masa that includes bits of meat, onion and pepper -- all warm and wrapped in a corn husk.
The black bean soup keeps getting better and better.