Saturday, November 29, 2014

THE GREAT CHRISTMAS PARADE

STONE MOUNTAIN GLOWS
By Doc Lawrence

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA-The annual parade had special meaning this year. Like many villages across the nation, the day after Thanksgiving is the first day of the Christmas season. But in Stone Mountain, a lovely historic city nestled beside the mighty granite monolith, this parade was part of the 175th anniversary celebration.

THE BEAUTIFUL NATIVITY DISPLAY
Floats, antique cars, bagpipe marching bands, theatrical groups, gospel choirs and more strutted down the Main Street cheered on by several thousand holiday revelers.

Small towns know how to compress joy, peace and goodwill into something intimate that touches the heartstrings. For just a few hours, roasting marshmallows over warming fires brought different people together. On this starry night not far from Atlanta’s shopping districts, the laughter of children replaced the travails of daily living.

There was Santa Claus. The jolly old man with real snow-white hair and beard came on his motorized sleigh and to no one’s surprise stole the show, stopping from time to time to receive wish lists from wide-eyed kids.

ROASTING MARSHMELLOWS
On the hill above Main Street, the stunningly beautiful Nativity scene created by a group of talented members of Stone Mountain First Baptist Church was unveiled. Made with hand-sawed wood, everything was adorned with appropriate artwork images and illuminated with floodlights. Behind the baby in the manger, parents Mary and Joseph, and visitors from other lands was the evening finale.

Right on cue, the fireworks safely exploded high above the crowd.

MUSIC AT THE GAZEBO
Over five million people visit the famous mountain each year. Stone Mountain Village offers the most spectacular view for observers and photographers. On the hill facing the mountain, the lighted tree atop the mountain compliments the city’s holiday lights. The gazebo is lovely by day and ablaze by night.

Peace on earth and goodwill toward all reigned in Stone Mountain. May this spirit become contagious.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

JERRY LEE LEWIS WITH RICK BRAGG

THE KILLER’S FIERY PIANO

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA- “He’s today’s best voice for the authentic South,” says Frank Spence. That was a typical reaction to author and Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg after a couple of hours at the Carter Presidential Library discussing the critically acclaimed new book, "Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story." Spence, an accomplished raconteur, is a former ranking executive with the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons who knows the South well and can spot a fellow-traveler.

Showcasing his Alabama-accented natural humor to a packed house, Bragg read passages from his book which just hit The New York Times best-seller list. The haunting words belonged somewhere between William Faulkner and Larry Brown.

Bragg, once an Atlanta resident while stationed at The New York Times Atlanta bureau, related hilarious meetings with Jerry Lee Lewis, known also as “The Killer,” was pleased with the final product. “There wasn't a day when he didn't say something that made a story in the book."

Lewis, the 79-year-old “Whole Lotta Shakin’”musician, is still performing. The rock and roll pioneer who began in Memphis at Sun Studio with Elvis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins known collectively as the “Million Dollar Quartet,” has led a tumultuous life, but survived to tell his story through Bragg’s writing talent and intimate understanding of the fiery pianist from rural Louisiana. 

For those who were nearly emotionally shattered by Bragg’s masterpiece, “All Over but the Shouting,” Jerry Lee’s fascinating story is just as entertaining, much like the string of classic hits since the late 1950’s. Success is juxtaposed with controversy dotted with some spicy outrage.

Bragg told his audience that  “Jerry Lee is interesting.” Yes, interesting like a tornado or raging bonfire. Buy the book, fasten your seat belt and take a ride with Jerry Lee into the real South.



A GIFT FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
Southern Thymes Shared. Beautiful and permanent. Stories, recipes and wines in the Jefferson hospitality tradition. Available at bookstores and Amazon.

Monday, November 10, 2014

GARRISON BROTHERS BOURBON DINNER

GOURMET GATHERING IN THE FRENCH QUARTER 

By Doc Lawrence

NEW ORLEANS-The New Orleans Bourbon Society continues to introduce distilled spirits that fit the modern American palate and elevate contemporary lifestyles. For those who haven’t enjoyed Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey, here’s your big chance. And where better to drink this exciting whiskey than New Orleans?

Like everything in the Lone Star State, Garrison Brothers-the first and oldest legal whiskey distillery in Texas- had big dreams from the start: No “pop” or trendy bourbon. Instead, make a legitimate contender for one of the best bourbons to emerge in the marketplace.  

Homegrown and handcrafted, Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey is made from organic yellow corn from the Texas Panhandle, premium organic winter wheat grown on their ranch and two-row barley from the Pacific Northwest and Canada. They grind the grain fresh daily and cook their own sweet mash – one batch at a time. Then, they marry the distillate with fresh Hill Country purified rainwater.

The bourbon dinner has an exalted place with a growing number of gourmet restaurants. Here’s the menu at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House in the fabled French Quarter of New Orleans. The venue is also the home of the New Orleans Bourbon Society. Come on over and we’ll have a glass or two during cocktail and hors d’oeuvre hour just before this amazing four course dinner.


GARRISON BROTHERS BOURBON DINNER MENU

First Course
Smoked Scallop Crudo
with jalapeƱos, citrus jus and sea salt

Second Course
Cane syrup Braised Pork Belly
with pimento cheese grits and cracklins

Third Course
Five Spice Crusted Chappapeala Farms Duck Breast
with peanut sauce, peppers and micro herb salad

Fourth Course
Apple and Fig Crostata
with brown butter ice cream and apple bourbon sauce



The Bourbon House is located at144 Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.
Reservations: (504) 522-0111

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

JACK DANIEL'S BARBECUE 2014


SMOKE IN THE HOLLOW

By Doc Lawrence

LYNCHBURG, TN- This arguably is the singular event that combines all the heritage ingredients of America, showcasing the tapestry of our country. Visit here in this very small village that looks like a Norman Rockwell painting and the cultural exploration begins. Tour the distillery and the museum and the name Jack Daniel ranks alongside Tennessee legends like Davy Crockett and Andrew Jackson. Elvis lived and died in the Volunteer state and the historic distillery is an easy drive from Nashville. There’s barbecue, easily the most popular food in America, and on this glorious weekend, masters of the grill-all champions back home-come to vie for prize money and prestige, friendly competition at the 26th edition of what is known throughout the world as “The Jack.”

One of the country’s top fall attractions, “Jack” is more than competition, it’s an international contest with barbecue champs from faraway lands like South Africa and Germany competing with other nations for one of the awards to take home. Reunion is an operative word here and on this weekend, greeting Master Distiller Jeff Arnett and other notables including Tennessee’s gifted Director of Tourism Susan Whitaker.

Too often overlooked is the wonderful role Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey has as a flavoring for food: Stewed apples, Peach cobbler, Hummingbird cake, and more. Lara Lyn Carter, the fast rising TV star whose cooking show has caused the earth to tremble throughout the South, has taken this noble beverage into her recipes and you’ll enjoy the magic in each bite.

With the holidays just around the corner, Lara Lyn says, “this might be a great time to enjoy food from the sea before the traditional feasts of turkey, ham and roasts.” Here’s her extraordinary original recipe made of course, with Jack Daniel’s.

Scallops in Jack Daniel’s Cream Sauce
                 Lara Lyn Carter
6 slices bacon
1 sweet onion chopped
Lara Lyn Carter
2 tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic minced
1 tbsp. flour
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
1 lb. scallops
1 lb. cooked linguine
Chop bacon into one-inch pieces and cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat until done. Remove bacon from the skillet and drain on paper towels. Cook the onion in the bacon drippings until tender. Reduce the heat to medium and add butter and garlic to skillet cooking for one minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for one more minute. Add cream and Jack Daniel’s stirring until well blended. Add scallops to cream mixture and continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes until the scallops are cooked through. Serve the sauce over linguine and sprinkle bacon over top.


Begin with a fine aperitif:
Jack’s Manhattan
Two parts Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey
One part Sweet Vermouth
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Shake with ice. Strain and serve straight up. Garnish with Maraschino cherry.

Pairing a wine with Lara Lyn’s creation adds dining adventure. A sparkling wine from Italy blends well to magnify some of the flavors, particularly the natural sweetness of the scallops. Santero Asti Spumante NV features bubbles moving like small aircraft, a light straw color, and a delicious nose of yeasty sweet citrus with loads of wonderful taste. 


Holiday Gift Suggestion.
Southern Thymes Shared features a collection of Lara Lyn Carter’s original recipes along with stories about family, friends and places in the Deep South. A lovely production complete with wine pairings, it glows on a coffee table.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TAILGATING DOWN SOUTH

Hushpuppies From Florida’s Big Bend

By Doc Lawrence

TALLAHASSEE, FL- Much like biscuits, hushpuppies are an important part of food folklore. I’ve heard my share of stories with claims about where they came from and how they were named. For those not lucky enough to be from or live in the Deep South, hushpuppies are culinary delights with a base of good cornmeal, fried to a brown crust and often served alongside seafood. There’s no magic formula, but you’ll know the real thing at first bite.

Hushpuppies-the genuine ones- are delicious.

Tune in Chef Lara Lyn Carter's Show
Hushpuppies serve as more than accompaniments to entrees. Try them as appetizers, having some sauces and dips nearby to add even more adventure. Your own variation of remoulade, any number of salsas and dressings will work and the result is a conversation piece. Hushpuppies, well prepared and served hot are show stealers and will disappear quickly before a Saturday afternoon kickoff.

Beverages with Hushpuppies? Think like a Southerner. Bourbon or Tennessee whiskey-based cocktails are wonderful any time of year. Wines from Riesling to Viognier are wonderful choices. But because the best story about hushpuppy origins says they came out of the food culture around Tallahassee, why not open a bottle of chilled Blanc Du Bois, a white wine with Florida ancestry? Lakeridge Winery in Clermont and San Sebastian in St. Augustine and respected producers. The experience opens a new world of tastes.

As her TV viewers are well aware, Chef Lara Lyn Carter has the top hushpuppy recipe today, notable for the blend of appropriate ingredients while staying true to Southern food heritage. “I like the ingredients in my hushpuppy recipe,” she says, “and based on my experience at home and cooking for television, these are almost always the big hit each time they are served.”

 Legendary Hushpuppies
Chef Lara Lyn offered one bit of advice: “Try these hushpuppies with some Tupelo honey. They cannot be described, only enjoyed!”

Seminole Hush Puppies
         Chef Lara Lyn Carter
1 cup yellow cornmeal
¾ cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ cup sweet onion, finely chopped
½ cup sweet whole kernel corn
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup buttermilk
Canola oil for frying
Preheat your deep fryer to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and using a melon ball scoop, drop the hush puppies into the oil. Fry in batches for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.

The Renegade

     Doc Lawrence
4 parts Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon
I part cane sugar simple syrup
Dash of orange bitters
Serve over chunk ice in Old Fashion glass

NOTE: Nothing brings more joy to a home chef than an original book about Southern dishes and wines of the world. Southern Thymes Shared brings the magic of great recipes paired with wines of the world, plus it is a lovely production that looks great on a coffee table. Available as gifts for the holidays at Amazon.com.










Friday, September 26, 2014

STONE MOUNTAIN'S ART STATION SOARS



“TEA FOR THREE” Brings Back Lady Bird, Pat and Betty


By Doc Lawrence
Elaine Brumka as Pat Nixon

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA
-What would the political landscape be like if America’s future includes a First Husband in the White House? “It would be great fun,” says a laughing Elaine Bromka. An acclaimed actress who literally channels three fascinating women who occupied the hallowed position of First Lady, Ms. Bromka took the stage to perform as Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon and Betty Ford in Tea for Three at Art Station Theatre in the Historic Village of Stone Mountain.

An Emmy Award-winner, Ms. Bromka sparkles in this refreshingly witty portrait of three remarkable and formidable First Ladies. These uncommon women appear at a threshold moment of insight and hope near the end of their husband’s administration. This deeply touching, funny play reveals the personal cost of what Pat Nixon called "the hardest unpaid job in the world."

Weaving in the presidents, tumultuous social change and earth-shattering politics of the time in a way that appeals to both male and female audiences, Tea for Three has been critically acclaimed by The New York Times for its blend of humor and passion.

Energetic and cerebral, Elaine Bromka has achieved the impossible by almost becoming for nearly two hours the three very famous women. If there is an objective other than royally entertaining her audience, it is “letting everyone in the room walk in the shoes of these exceptional women,” Ms. Bromka says.

As Betty Ford
The inspiration for Tea for Three, Ms. Bromka revealed, came about when she starred opposite Rich Little in The Presidents, which she performed across the country and on PBS.  Called upon to impersonate eight First Ladies, she ended up spending months poring over videotapes of the women. Studying nuances of their body language and speech patterns to explore psychologically why they moved and spoke as they did, she became more and more drawn in by their personalities and the degree to which they had to suppress themselves while their husbands were president.

“And I wanted to explode myths,” says Ms. Bromka. “Pat was called ‘Plastic Pat’ in the press because she was always smiling. Look more closely at her eyes, though. There’s nothing plastic about her. You see the eyes of a private, watchful survivor.”

Ms. Brumka Portraying Lady Bird
Enjoying a rewarding career, Elaine Bromka has an impressive vitae. Earning an Emmy for her performance in Catch a Rainbow, Ms. Bromka has appeared on stage, film and television with credits that include The Sopranos, Sex & the City, Days of Our Lives, the Emmy Award–winning Playing for Time with Vanessa Redgrave and appeared on Broadway in The Rose Tattoo, I’m Not Rappaport and Macbeth. A member of the Actors Studio and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Smith College, she has also been on the faculty of Smith and of NYU's Steinhardt School, and has taught a variety of one-day acting workshops at over one hundred colleges and prep schools. 

One morning over coffee doesn’t even begin to allow enough time to explore the visionary personality of Elaine Brumka. Responsive and ebullient, she delights in sharing her insights into these First Ladies. “I remembered much,” she says, “from seeing them on television. I did extensive research for the play, reading as much as I could find.”

For those lucky enough to occupy a seat during Ms. Brumka’s performance, this is as close to being in the same room with three of the most intriguing First Ladies of modern times. Here are some of their most private thoughts, emotions, strengths all wrapped in perseverance and courage. “By walking in their shoes,” she says,  “we experience more than the impact of events and fate on these women. Men and women in the audience learn that the most powerful leaders on the planet were better people with their wives at their side.”

Tea for Three has a limited run at Art Station. Don’t miss Elaine Bromka’s spectacular performance. Ticket information: (770) 469.1105;www.artstation.org