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I know two nice guys from San Antonio and Nashville who recently wrote a cookbook on enchiladas. Cappy Lawton and his family have founded many restaurants in Texas, and presently own three in San Antonio; including La Fonda on Main which features many of the dishes from the cookbook. Chris Waters Dunn loves country music, but is presently more interested in honing his culinary skills.
The Myth. Of all the traditions associated with Georgia’s tradition-rich Jekyll Island, none is more durable than its being at the eye of controversy, the latest stoked by the Jekyll Island Authority’s ongoing redevelopment program. The complaints, simmering in The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Internet web sites and elsewhere, feature invocations of M. E. Thompson, who, as acting governor, acquired the island for the state. The knock is that the Jekyll Island Authority’s management of the island is a betrayal of Thompson’s populist vision of Jekyll Island as “a state park for the plain people of Georgia.”
sho’ ‘nuff yummy
There is an old story about the ten-year old Alabama boy, Junior, who had never spoken a word in his life. Then, one morning at the breakfast table, the lad suddenly blurted out, greatly annoyed, “Mama, you’ve burned these here biscuits!”
His mother and the rest of the family were dumbstruck. After she regained her composure, the mother said, “Praise the lord, Junior – those were the first words you’ve ever spoken; you’ve never said anything before.”
Junior frowned at her and said, “Well, Mama, up ’til now, everything’s been all right!”
ice cream trucks
As the northern hemisphere sinks slowly into increased darkness and a long cold winter the southern hemisphere is waking up to the sounds of spring and summer. The birds and the bees are happy, the gardens have come alive and the grass has started growing again. Families are heading for the parks and beaches to enjoy the warm days. The sounds of lawn mowers, edge trimmers, leaf blowers and chain saws fill the air.
free market vs. fair play
Sometimes communities get hung up over relatively trivial activities. Take what is happening in North Kansas City, Mo. This suburb, surrounded by the larger Midwest area, has a 2013 population of 4,319, smaller than most of the cities near me in Gwinnett County, Ga. It’s relatively small, only 4.63 square miles, and two miles from downtown Kansas City. There’s a casino in town, and the biggest employers is Cerner, a major health care giant founded in North Kansas City. The issue that has people in North Kansas City talking is food trucks…
Responding to criticism that its soft drinks contribute to epidemic obesity in America, and that it hooks kids on the sugary sodas like Bill Cosby giving away Quaalude Jell-O shots to kindergarteners, and that it has funded research to confuse Americans about how horrible soft drinks are for human health, the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. said it is thinking doing something – but probably not.
“Sure, we could recall all 600 billion soft drinks Americans drink on an average day, and you could make the case that these sugar-packed sodas contribute to the nation’s appalling weight gain, in the same way you could make the case that eating ANYTHING, including alfalfa sprouts, contributes to weight gain,” said a Coca-Cola spokesman…
A long time ago in a place far away early explorers were sent to find a safe route through the mountains to a beautiful valley on the other side. As the explorers attempted to cross a flooded river on a wild and windy night their strongest horse drowned while trying to get the rider safely across the raging waters. When convict gangs were later sent to construct a bridge over the river they swore that on stormy nights they could see the ghost of the horse galloping across the countryside.
a clark & poland special
Robert Clark and I were on the road running down a story, a story about land, a farmhouse, and tomatoes, a story of war, old ways, and survivors of sorts. On a hot, humid July morning we abandoned I-20 for Longs Pond Road and after a back road or two arrived at a farmhouse near the community of Boiling Springs. Two big blackjack oaks stood out front. Out back, a handsome, clapboard smokehouse looked lonely, its fellow outbuildings long-fallen comrades…
not eatin’ that
No one in his right damn mind pays “you’ve gotta be kiddin’ me” prices to see a movie — even if it is an advance showing of a major motion picture. I’m willing today because this little excursion is part of my scheme to throw some serious ‘shade’ –- and some serious ‘cool’ –on a despicably hot summer day. I’ve come to the mall multiplex to match wits with Tom Cruise, to see if I can keep up with the on-screen goings-on in the latest installment of Mission Impossible.
Just within the mall, but outside the cinema, the conditioned air smells of popcorn and pastry. ‘Hot buttered’ emanates from the theatre; ‘Eau de Cinnabon’ oozes from the adjacent food court…
In case you’re emerging from a coma over the last couple of months and somehow missed the change, it’s the tourist season again. The signs are everywhere – but, alas, mostly here at the beach. Gone are the days, for a while at least, when I could walk on the beach with my dog ’Dro (short for Pedro) and meet up with no one but myself. Good place for doing that. The late, great Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard wrote memorably that on a back road in Georgia at night, you could ask yourself a question and get an honest answer.
breakfast over hard
“Ol’ Obama knocked it outta the park yestiddy didn’t he?”
“Sumbitch always does. He always does.”
“Big O was fuckin’ magnificent in Charleston. I can’t believe he actually sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ I think he knew Clementha Pinckney…”
The conversation was on-going at a table across from where I’m taking refuge from ominous weather. As near as I can tell, their names are Stan, Roy and Tommy. All three are African-American. They are gray-beards, firmly ensconced in the demographic labeled ‘active seniors…
Word got out last week that the best barbecue in the nation, says TripAdvisor, is at Joe’s BBQ in Blue Ridge, Ga. Ironically, TripAdvisor said the second best place for barbecue was at another Joe’s Barbecue, this one was in Kansas City, Kan. The two eateries are not related.
Since we were in the Georgia mountains, why not try out the Blue Ridge place? So we arrived at 11:45 a.m., saw this relatively small restaurant on East First Street, and found there were 33 people in line ahead of us.
down on the farm
The premise is simple: pigs raised on the ground instead of concrete pens are happier pigs and produce better and tastier meat. That’s the theory at Thompson Farms here in Dixie, Ga., where Andrew Thompson produces pork, selling almost all his production to Whole Foods stores throughout most of the South. There’s a local connection: he is the brother of Mike Thompson, an attorney in Technology Park/Atlanta at Peachtree Corners.
Have you noticed lately that menus aren’t just menus anymore? They are adjective-laden exercises in literary carnage. Pretentious descriptions of food so florid I’m not sure what I’m ordering. It seems the goal of a restaurant, aside from separating me from the contents of my wallet, is to make me feel good about what I’m eating, or self-conscious, I’m not quite sure which. Thus the word sustainable creeps into every menu I read. Sustainable, as in sustainable agriculture or sustainable fish … what I really want is whatever is being served to “sustain me,” not the other way around.
cramping our style
Our hosts arranged for a visit to Suzhou and Wuxi in Jiangsu Province to see two cities relatively untouched by the Cultural Revolution and experience the countryside. We left Shanghai late on Friday to travel the one and a half hours by train to Suzhou where we stayed in the grand old Nanyuan Guest House. Suzhou was an older city than Shanghai, with a population of less than one million people (in 1978), near Tai Hu, the lake at the centre of vast waterways and canals running 1,600 kilometers from Tianjin to Hangzhou.
a sweeter side of appalachia:
This morning, my friend Lusy stopped by my office with a nasty cold and a warm, sixteen ounce can of Surge; I gladly hugged him. As he sat the Christmas-colored can of heavenly proportions on my office desk, I thought to myself, “There it is. My childhood is sitting on my desk.” Waves of memories flooded my mind. I closed my eyes and remember frozen nights spent sipping Surge by the fireside even as the frost formed on our shivering backs. I recalled the punch drunk pleasure of all-night binge gaming sessions, playing Diablo II with now-lost friends and my seemingly endless supply of Surge cans.
a childhood tradition
Last month I was on assignment in a remote place, the kind of place where you see trucks and tractors but few cars. Farm territory. I parked along a weedy, poorly maintained road and as I stepped from the car I saw a sight from childhood. A tangled thicket of briars with succulent, shiny blackberries glistening like onyx pendants. Red berries, hard and yet to ripen, waited their turn for sunshine to do its magic.
“Clean your plate!” Sound familiar?
It was for me when growing up. Perhaps originally my folks wanted me, as a youth, to eat enough food to be healthy. Later on, when I started spooning my own portions, out came again the admonition when I slacked off: “Clean your plate!” Some of this may have reflected my parents experiencing the Great Depression.
I know what you’re thinking, that the Bacon Bowl is an SEC College Bowl Game that takes place on a hog farm in Arkansas … Nope, it’s the newest advance in American gastronomy.
The Bacon Bowl is a small, plastoid, hat shaped device that you wrap a wad of bacon around. Then you zap the crap out of it in the microwave and remove the remaining, crispy, bowl-shaped bowl-o-bacon. You then fill this “bowl” with a plethora of heart stopping ingredients, such as cheese drenched macaroni and sausage balls, swimmin’ in butter, topped with a fried egg…
april 25, 26 & 27
The large crowds attending Dahlonega’s Bear on the Square Mountain Festival come each year to the Georgia Mountain foothills town expecting to be entertained by the better known activities, including the constant jamming by visiting and local musicians, the Friday night Auction, and the MainStage Tent musical performances and Artist Marketplace on Saturdays and Sundays.
There are a large number of other less publicized activities during this festival, which will be taking place the fourth weekend of April around Dahlonega’s Historic Public Square.
another beach tale
Between 8th and 9th Avenues North, between North Ocean Boulevard and the King’s Highway, there sits a big old empty lot, different from other empty lots only because of the zipline installed in its western end. A smaller, completely empty lot sits across the street between North Ocean Boulevard and the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, which is now made of boards, although for the entire time I knew it, the walk was dirty concrete except for a section in the Pavilion’s courtyard. Didn’t matter to me. I was a hip, cool kid at the age of 3 and even later, when I was a gawky teenager who knew little beyond what I’d learned in books and that the beach was a great vacation spot.
lap of luxury
What a sumptuous hotel the Ocean Forest was, described by one writer as “the finest hotel between New York and Miami.” From NYC to Myrtle Beach it’s 558 miles. From Miami to Myrtle Beach it’s 554 miles. Slap dab in the middle as we say around these parts. Built in the late 1920s the hotel’s price tag came in around $1 million. The “million-dollar hotel’s” goal was to create an East Coast haven for well-heeled folks in New York and Miami. They built it and the rich they did come. The location and the hotel’s grandeur, many insist, made Myrtle Beach the tourist destination it is today.
'til death do you part
Among the survivors, obituaries usually mention the spouse whether the “devoted wife,” “adoring husband,” “the loyal husband” or the “love of his/her life.” Occasionally, though, careful obituary readers will find poignant “valentines” or little love stories almost buried in the litany of jobs, accomplishments and hobbies.
It’s always fun to happen upon these as they definitely help to paint a more complete picture of how a relationship began or how a couple bonded and flourished over the years. Even just a hint of romance or intrigue or courtship that is revealed adds a little sweet perspective to a departure.
A recent article in the Journal of Wine Economics by Duquesne University Economics Department associate professor Pavel A. Yakovlev and graduate student Walter P. Guessford offers research findings so obviously pleasing to conservatives that you might wonder whether they were perpetrating a hoax. What their findings show is a positive relationship between measures of the ideological liberalism of a state and measures of how much alcohol was consumed in a state for the years between 1967 and 2010.
Times Are Changin’… Give a little thought to this conjured scenario. Bob Dylan and Bernie Taupin are both private, reclusive types who have managed to share many of their thoughts, visions and talents with the world. Such endeavors require the proper introspection. Therefore a logical spot to take in and digress on the world is the window booth at Manuel’s Tavern, located at the corner of North and North Highland Avenues in Atlanta, Georgia.
If you ever sit down and read a few pages of John T. Edge’s excellent book, Hamburgers & Fries, an American Story, I’m willing to bet that by the time you finish the preface, you’ll be on the prowl for a burger. I was. After reading about hamburgers stuffed with short ribs, or onions, or bacon, or smoked Gouda cheese—after he described burgers topped with caramelized onions and porcini mushrooms — I was more than a little burger crazy.
in these crazy days
I’ve been doing the grocery shopping at my place for awhile now. An arrangement that came about when ‘the management’ (as I sometimes call her) grew weary of me carping about the monthly food bill. So I take her’ double-dog dare’ to”… see if you can do any better, Buster” And of course, the way these kind of things always go, I couldn’t. But I did learn a few things…
Roger’s Fine Foods (not it’s real name) is one of those bigger box national grocery stores located in close proximity to Atlanta’s Little Five Points area.