Monday, August 25, 2014

SUMMER'S CEREBRAL CELEBRATION

 DECATUR BOOK FESTIVAL

BOOK ENTHUSIASTS GATHER IN DECATUR
 By Doc Lawrence


DECATUR, GA-Once a lovely town noted for a remarkable school system that actually educated students and the home of Agnes Scott College, it is today one of the South’s enviable centers of prosperity with acclaimed restaurants popping up almost weekly, busy city sidewalks, comfortable park benches, wine and gourmet kitchen stores and much more. Decatur is an urban showcase of excellence.

It’s also home of the annual Decatur Book Festival, an event that today proudly claims to be the largest independent book festival in the United States.

For three days beginning Friday August 29, readers throng to listen to author legends like Joyce Carol Oates who is launching her newest short story collection, Lovely, Dark, Deep at the festival keynote event at Emory University’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER

The festival includes author forums at various locations with discussion topics including the Civil War (July through September 1864 saw the area under siege by the forces of General Sherman), food and wine, the farm-to table movement. Of course, everything is celebrated with a parade beginning at the beautiful Old Courthouse.

Authors and more authors dominate the festival. Thousands will meet Pat Conroy, the beloved novelist who maintains deep roots in Decatur and the Atlanta area. Others include Gail Sheehy, Dr. Louis Sullivan, Karen Abbott, Ron Rash, Lev Grossman, Michael Pitre and many others.

Decatur gives meaning to multiculturalism. The event, just like the city, is inclusive. It is a forum for discussions, debates and the introduction of new ideas. It is also one of the friendliest places anywhere.

MARY GAY'S DECATUR HOME
The festival crowds are different that those common to food and wine bashes: Family-friendly, a welcome absence of boisterousness, a comfort zone for three days when you have no hesitation to strike up a conversation with total strangers.

Decatur has a long history with books. Mary Gay’s classic Life in Dixie During the War is a first hand account of the sufferings 150 years ago during the siege and occupation of the area by General Sherman, and a favorite son, the great Roy Blount, Jr. began here before writing countless books that prove smart folks know how to inspire laughter.

No matter their age, those who read are after all, a special breed. Cerebral gatherings refresh the soul and stimulate the mind.

The Decatur Book Festival is a perfect way to ease into autumn.

More information: decaturbookfestival.com 

NOTE: Southern Thymes Shared now available at ART STATION adjacent to Stone Mountain Park.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

GEORGIA'S ART CELEBRATION

Painting by Missionary Mary Proctor
IT'S FOLK FEST 2014

By Doc Lawrence

NORCROSS, Ga-No better event any time of year. But during summer’s Dog Days, Folk Fest, the annual celebration showcasing over 100 galleries exhibiting the works of America’s self-taught artists in air conditioned comfort has little competition. It’s one of the proven ways to beat the heat, have fun with friends and family at a budget friendly price. Folk Fest, now celebrating 21 years and billed as the world’s largest indoor folk art show, has become one of the most popular events in the South.

Visitors to the Atlanta area this weekend can expect more joy from the colorful, family friendly paintings, wood carvings, face jugs and decorated found objects. Folk Fest often hooks adults and children with the magic that comes from talking to artists and gallery owners. It’s contagious, like a celebration loaded with joy.

Folk Fest provided thousands the opportunity to meet Reverend Howard Finster, the sage of Summerville, Georgia who painted according to God’s instructions. The great Myrtice West began painting scenes based on the Book of Revelations after her daughter was murdered. O. L. Samuels, once a prizefighter from rural South Georgia, said he could walk through the woods and certain sticks and fallen limbs would “talk," He took them home, carved images based on these messages with a pocketknife. Each artist has works in the Smithsonian and Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.

Many of the artists are from highly inaccessible parts of the rural South. Their art is inspired by spirits and an environment most would never experience. Homogenization of their culture hasn’t yet happened. Many, however, are on up in the years and their talents will drift away as they leave this planet. America and in particular the Deep South will be the lesser.

Collecting folk art is an adventure that can be a profitable. Those who purchased early works of notables like Ms. West and Reverend Finster own art that has appreciated exponentially in value.

Parking is free. Talented musicians perform crowd-pleasing blues.  Food and beverages are available. The facility is very comfortable and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything other than smiling faces.


FOLK FEST
North Atlanta Trade Center
1700 Jeurgens Ct. Norcross, Georgia (I-85 & Indian Trail Rd. Exit 101)

http://slotinfolkart.com 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

CABARET ROCKS AGAIN

Theresa Hightower Returns to Stone Mountain

By Doc Lawrence

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA-When she takes the stage, Stone Mountain shakes and rattles. Add some virtuoso piano styling and the nearby mighty granite monolith might turn into Jell-O. It’s Blues, Jazz and Broadway this Saturday night at Art Station’s Trolley Stop Cabaret.

Theresa Hightower is Georgia’s unofficial diva of song. Long thejazz club's main attraction in Atlanta’s Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, thousands enjoyed her interpretations of standards by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, Aretha Franklin and other legends. Having the truly great pianist S. Renee Clark on stage makes the two-hour performance one of the most memorable evenings anywhere in the South.

On par with greats like Errol Garner, Gene Harris and Nina Simone, S. Renee Clark thrilled audiences with her gospel accompaniment and acting performance with Bernardine Mitchell in the acclaimed musical Mahalia! the story of Mahaila Jackson and her music that transformed much of America.

An evening at the Cabaret is about as near to the clubs and show bars in the French Quarter or downtown Savannah. as possible without being there.

The Cabaret is intimate, the stage elevated, the food and beverages delicious and the music is world class.

The fun starts Saturday around sunset. Parking is free and the audience primed with goodwill and joy. It’s the best entertainment bargain during the Dog Days of August.

Details: http://artstation.org

Saturday, July 26, 2014

BIG DAY FOR ATLANTA'S BRAVES

HALL OF FAME TAILGATING
The Legend-Bobby Cox

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA. This was the weekend the city and much of the South, took time to honor three baseball legends, all members of the Atlanta Braves World Series Championship team in 1995. Greg Maddux and Tome Glavine, pitchers who dominated the major leagues during a string of championship seasons and the great manager, Bobby Cox, entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. On this hot July afternoon, fans at Turner Field were treated to a double header: the induction ceremony via the enormous JumboTron, followed by the game with San Diego.

This was an eventful week in Atlanta. The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta was commemorated, one which my great-grandfather Private Bryant Hulsey of the Lookout Artillery CSA, fought. Baseball was popularized during the Civil War, and there was a documented game played after the war’s ends less than a mile from Turner Field.
Tom Glavine
Tailgating was born during the Civil War and it has expanded as a culinary cultural phenomenon in Dixie. The grills, tabletops, vans and trucks all around the parking lots were surrounded by hickory smoke, stimulating aromas and lots of laughter.

Our threesome enjoys hero status in Atlanta. Memories of the Braves baseball supremacy during their roster days are fresh, almost sacred. Even honoring them vicariously was thrilling.

Down South, we celebrate baseball and the Braves with the chop, the chant and the tailgating ritual. This very special Hall of Fame weekend at Turner Field was perfect for two of Chef Lara Lyn Carter’s signature dishes, baked beans and grilled pork sliders. Glavine grew up in Massachusetts near Boston where baked beans are a staple. And few baseball men know good pork better than Bobby Cox. We even have a craft cocktail for Greg Maddux.

It’s time to eat and here are recipes for a Hall of Fame weekend:

Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Baked Beans

1 lb. dry kidney beans
1 sweet onion quartered
4 quarts of water divided
Greg Maddux
Soak beans in 2 quarts of water overnight. Drain beans and discard the water. In a large pot, cook beans and onion in 2 quarts of water over medium-high heat for 45 minutes. Remove beans from heat, cover and allow beans to rest for 30 minutes.
Sauce
1/2 cup sorghum
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground clove
3 tbsp. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sorghum, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, ginger, clove, and whiskey. Stir constantly until all of the ingredients have blended well and the sugar has dissolved. Pour beans with the water in a Dutch oven and pour sauce over beans and stir well. Cover beans and bake at 325 degrees for 3 hours.

Pork Sliders with Mustard Sauce

2 pound ground pork
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Mix ingredients by hand until combined. Form into 16 mini burgers. Grill over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Serve sliders with sliced Vidalia onion and mustard sauce (recipe follows) on Kings Hawaiian Rolls.

A cocktail choice is made from Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey:

Dockeroo’s Fabulous Old Fashioned
Dockeroo Old Fashioned
Two jiggers, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
I maraschino cherry
½ jigger organic cane juice
Orange peel
4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Serve over chunk ice in an old fashioned glass.
Gently muddle orange, cherry, cane juice and bitters in an old fashioned glass. Stir in some Jack Daniel’s and ice until it dilutes. Keep adding whiskey and chunk ice. Garnish with orange peel. Toast the Atlanta Braves and do the tomahawk chop!

Chef Lara Lyn Carter
“SOUTHERN THYMES SHARED” UPDATE-Chef Lara Lyn Carter will be a special guest at the annual “Grape Stomp” at Still Pond Winery in Arlington, Georgia this Saturday, August 2.  Come on over and meet her and she’ll sign her beautiful cookbook which you will treasure. The book is now on sale at Still Pond and just became available at Stone Mountain, Georgia’s nationally acclaimed Art Station Theatre.

Monday, July 14, 2014

FARMERS MARKET FUN

It’s Stone Mountain Fresh!

By Doc Lawrence

Smiles with Freah Peaches
STONE MOUNTAIN, GA- Rey Martinez makes Cuban sandwiches with the same skill and gusto as you experience in Miami’s fabled Little Havana. “The secret,” says Martinez, who also owns and operates Rey’s Cuban CafĂ© in nearby Loganville, “is fresh Cuban bread, the right ingredients and the process,” a technique that employs pressure toasting that seals in the remarkably delicious flavors.  His Cuban food is one of the growing number of new vendors that increase each week at this latest version of the neighborhood farmers markets.

Rey Martinez Makes A Real Cuban
Honey with Love
With around five million visitors pouring into the adjacent state park, the Historic Village of Stone Mountain’s Market will likely grow all the way to the season’s end which may go into October according to one city official. And, why not? If there is one activity that will usually bring out the best in everyone from locals to tourists it is food.

Heirloom tomatoes are in season. If you haven’t had a sandwich with an heirloom, you haven’t lived the good life. The late Georgia columnist Lewis Grizzard advised using only white bread and real mayonnaise. No argument there..

Heirloom Friendship
The array of products now range from local honey to artisan goat cheese, blueberries,, home baked cookies, and now white peaches from Georgia’s PearsonS Orchards.

Take a few bucks from the piggy bank and grab a free parking space in the village. I’ll see you there near the Cuban sandwich sign. That’s where I get Tuesday dinner.

NOTE: The Stone Mountain Farmers Market is open on Tuesdays beginning at 4 p.m.

Friday, July 11, 2014

ART STATION SCORES AGAIN


MARVELOUS MUSICAL IN STONE MOUNTAIN

By Doc Lawrence

Music Fills the Air at Art Station
STONE MOUNTAIN, GA- Tony Award winner Kenny Leon years ago said that nothing compares with the magic of the live stage performance. “We all breathe the same air, and something good deep inside is released.” Art Station, the highly respected center for theater in the Historic Village of Stone Mountain just opened their new production, "The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns," which takes you to the 1958 Springfield High School graduation. There, we meet the Wonderettes, a four girl singing group with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts. Delightful characters Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy and Suzy entertain the audience as they celebrate graduation with their fellow classmates and teachers, preparing for their next step towards what they hope is a bright future.

Then comes act two as the musical play zooms ahead ten years where the girls perform as bride and bridesmaids to celebrate Missy’s marriage to her Mr. Wonderful. Songs are pop classics that remain on the oldies but goodies list everywhere including  “Rock Around the Clock,” “At the Hop,” “Dancing in the Street,” “River Deep, Mountain High,” plus a grab-bag of 25 more. Wonderetes, hailed as “delightful and nostalgic” by Broadway World, works with the audience who join in all the fun on this musical journey down memory lane.

Yes, breathing air that propels good music is a big part of the enjoyment of this summertime treat at Art Station.


NOTE: Shows are Thursdays - Saturdays @ 8:00, Sundays @ 3:00, with an additional Wednesday Matinee, July 23, 10:30. More information: www.artstation.org

Thursday, July 3, 2014

SOUTHERN THYMES SHARED TAILGATES

With Our Braves On The Fourth!

 By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA- Fourth of July celebrations Down South really should include our Atlanta Braves. The post-game fireworks are more fun here at Turner Field and the connection between baseball and the American Spirit is inescapable. What became America’s pastime was popularized during the Civil War. Heroes like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson and Atlanta’s own Hank Aaron fit perfectly with songs like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “God Bless America,” making the 7th inning stretch more than just a tradition. It’s a way of life deeply ingrained in our soul.


This is a day for food, drinks, family, and friends with a whole lotta joy. What to prepare and serve on this special day of celebration, baseball and tailgating? With Chef Lara Lyn Carter, the answer is always easy and natural. “Keep everything Georgia,” she says. “My own sauce is made with Georgia ingredients and with three boys and a husband, cheering the Braves and America is a family tradition. This sauce has some extra backbone because I included Rye Whiskey from my close friends at 13th Colony Distillery, just up the road in Americus.”

13th Colony Sauce
Chef Lara Lyn Carter
(From Southern Thymes Shared,
By Lara Lyn Carter and
Doc Lawrence, Pelican Publishing 2014)

3 tbsp. canola oil
1 Vidalia onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup ketchup
1 cup tomato sauce
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. dry mustard
2 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. 13 th Colony Southern Rye Whiskey
Heat the oil in skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic together until tender. Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes stirring frequently. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!

Jim Sanders was the “Father of Fine Wines” in Georgia and his J Sanders label French wines are sold exclusively at Sherlock’s in the Atlanta area. Jim loved good food particularly ribs and Brunswick Stew. A few chilled bottles of his Beaujolais Village will pair beautifully with barbecue of any kind, especially when Chef Lara Lyn’s 13th Colony Sauce is used generously.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!

NOTE: Southern Thymes Shared, the wonderful cookbook, presents Chef Lara Lyn Carter’s recipes along with her wonderful stories that honor family, friends and the culinary heritage of he South. Each dish is paired with a careful selection of Old and New World wines.  The collectible cookbook is available on Amazon.com, at local bookstores and the Museum Gift Shop at Monticello.