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January CONTENTS 2021 • VOLUME 18 • NO. 1
A Guide to Southern Barbecue Styles
Charcuterie Boards: A Feast for the Senses
Getting Mobile with Food Truck Fare
departments 14 Living Well Jones Valley Teaching Farm 18 Notables Trace Barnett, The Bitter Socialite
40 On the Road Again Covington, La. 42 Greater Goods 62 Homegrown Tom’s Tiny Kitchen
22 Exploring Art The Magnolia Flag 24 Exploring Books Red Truck Bakery Cookbook
66 Southern Gentleman Whiskey at Its Best 68 Southern Harmony Magnolia Bayou
28 Southern Roots Buttermilk
70 In Good Spirits Covid Killer
32 Table Talk Bazar’s Bakery 36 Exploring Destinations The Andouille Trail
72 Exploring Events 74 Reflections Making Biscuits
editor’s note | JANUARY
Cooking during a Pandemic This past year, cooking at home became a thing again. People have joked about the COVID-19 pounds they’ve put on, but many found a creative niche they didn’t know they had. Whether developing new recipes or rediscovering the joys of baking, home cooking has provided some comfort during a stressful year. Two trusted national magazines – Good Housekeeping and Women’s Day – reported that recipe searches on their websites were up by 227 percent over the previous year. To keep the momentum going, the DeSoto Magazine editorial team has put together an amazing array of stories about food this month. The South, especially Memphis, is known for its barbecue. We asked writer Jason Frye, who has served as a judge for many ‘cue competitions, to look into the barbecue styles and explain the differences. This mouthwatering story will help you decide whether you want a vinegary Carolina sauce, a Memphis rub, or some Texas heat with your next barbecue meal. Food trucks have been around a long time, but writer Karon Warren found they are enjoying a new kind of popularity with social distancing and many restaurant closures. With more than 23,000 food trucks nationwide, these mobile vendors offer a wide range of cuisines as well as convenience. Whether you are attending a small get-together or an elaborate reception chances are you’ll find a
JANUARY 2021 • Vol. 18 No.1
PUBLISHER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR Adam Mitchell PUBLISHER & ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Paula Mitchell ADVERTISING CONSULTANT Melanie Dupree CO-EDITORS Mary Ann DeSantis Cheré Coen
charcuterie board or two. I talked to Chef Cole Ellis at the Delta Meat Market in Cleveland, Miss., and cookbook author Marissa Mullin about how to create these photogenic feasts for the senses. We have many other foodrelated stories, including one by Pamela Keene who explains why buttermilk is a cultural staple in the South. Bakers have known for ages that this product is more than just a beverage. It is essential for Southern cornbread, poundcakes, and – as my grandmother used to say – “jes’ pie,” as in buttermilk pie. As a bonus, we’ve included several recipes in our stories that we hope will get you through the next few months as the pandemic winds down. Bon Appetit!
CONTRIBUTORS Michele Baker Jim Beaugez Deborah Burst Cheré Coen Mary Ann DeSantis Jackie Sheckler Finch Jason Frye Verna Gates Pamela Keene Karen Ott Mayer Julia Sayers Dayle Shockley Karon Warren Kevin Wierzbicki PUBLISHED BY DeSoto Media 2375 Memphis St. Ste 208 Hernando, MS 38632 662.429.4617 ADVERTISING INFO: Paula Mitchell 901-262-9887 Paula@DeSotoMag.com SUBSCRIBE: DeSotoMagazine.com/subscribe
on the cover
The passion for barbecue runs deep in the South, one of this region’s most iconic foods. No matter what your favorite style of barbecue is, you won’t go wrong with a slab of ribs from your favorite ‘cue joint. Read more on page 44.
©2021 DeSoto Media Co. DeSoto Magazine must give permission for any material contained herein t o b e re p ro d u c e d i n a n y m a n n e r. Any advertisements published in DeSoto Magazine do not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser’s services or products. DeSoto Magazine is published monthly by DeSoto Media Co. Parties interested in advertising should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 901-262-9887. Visit us online at desotomagazine.com.
living well | JONES VALLEY TEACHING FARM
Jones Valley Teaching Farm -- This overview showcases the row crops, orchard, water feature, green house, tool shed, farm market shed and the picnic area. This piece of land sits behind Woodlawn High School, which is located in an underserved neighborhood.
Jones Valley Veggie Sorting - Students designed and operate their own farm market on-site to learn about commerce. During normal years, students will package bunches of leafy greens to be sold at the stand to parents and neighbors.
Growing Plants and People By Verna Gates | Photography courtesy of Jones Valley Teaching Farm
Students connect with nature while learning how to grow food and understand core subjects at Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Birmingham. The pungent scent of earth and peppers fill the air as Mohamed Jalloh leads a small group of apprentices as they prepare the soil for a crop more suited to the winter blasts. The harvest was bountiful, with students sharing their largess by delivering their school-grown vegetables, fruits, and flowers to first responders and food pantries. In an ordinary year, they would sell the food they grew in a small fruit stand, designed by the students themselves. Still, the goal was met — to connect the soil to food and food to life. Jones Valley Teaching Farm (JVTF) was founded in 2001 by a young pair who wanted to bring California holistic farming home to Birmingham, Ala. Edwin Marty and Allison Page started with a small, littered, ragged patch of ground in a once grand, but crumbling neighborhood. They partnered with the Birmingham YMCA to provide job training and to test the viability of small, urban farms. Soon, their organic produce found its way into restaurant kitchens like Highlands Bar and
Grill, named the most outstanding restaurant by the James Beard Foundation in 2018. Two changes revolutionized the new non-profit. One, they were given a 3.5-acre site in downtown Birmingham. Two, an innovative inner-city school asked to partner. It did not take long for the underserved children at Glen Iris Elementary School to prove the long-term impact of focusing on the next generation. “When we started to see kids grab a scuppernong or a blackberry at recess as a normal thing, and not something weird, we knew we had successfully changed school culture,” says Amanda Storey, executive director of Jones Valley Teaching Farm. “We had shifted the dynamic. It was working.” A curriculum was written based on state school standards to teach everything from science to English to engineering for K-12 students. Lessons such as Fraction Chili and the Silk Road Spices Game cross cultural and subject lines DeSoto 17
Jones Valley Planting - Students plant a crop within viewing distance of the high school they are attending. Students participated during school hours, in after school programs and summer camps.
using food for math, history, culture, and educating taste buds. Today, JVTF operates in six schools in the Birmingham area. They work to create a continuum from kindergarten through high school by working with pipeline elementary and middle schools who send freshmen to Woodlawn High School. Each school has its own educator who works with all classes, plus “farmers,” student volunteers, and apprentices who work in the garden plot. “We are an integral part of the schools,” says Storey. “The kids will call out to Farmer Mohamed in the halls, just like he was a celebrity. They trust the farmers in a different way than a teacher.” Jalloh has been involved in JVTF since 10th grade. He moved up through the volunteer and apprentice system, and now works as farm and apprentice manager for Woodlawn High School, where he graduated four years ago. Students must apply to be a paid apprentice and it is competitive. Twenty-five percent of the JVFT staff came through the program. “Students in the neighborhood need jobs,” Storey says. “Some of them have to help their families, others want to buy cell phones or other things. They all benefit from job training.” The program runs year-round, serving 3,500 students. In addition to the school day programs, JVTF provides an afterschool program and summer camps. School systems in other areas and other states are consulting with them to replicate their success, such as the spin-off EatSouth in Montgomery, started by JVTF founder Marty. The plot of garden behind Woodlawn High School is ripe with figs, apples, pears, collards, carrots, peanuts, head lettuce, beets, and sweet potatoes. A pond filled with colorful fish forms a swale to absorb heavy rains. Behind it are native plants known for their ability to absorb pollutants and toxins — phytoremediation, which is common in wetlands that serve 18 DeSoto
as nature’s strainer. Inside the shed stands a tractor in front of neatly hanging tools. A greenhouse stands ready to nurture seeds into plants. While farming may appear simple on the surface, it teaches a complex web of life lessons. Among these are cycles of the earth, hard work, problem-solving, conservation, culinary skills, soil ecology, finance, and resilience. And survival. Students watch seeds develop into food, learning that a $1 pack of seeds can feed a family. “They learn that it doesn’t matter if a grocery store refuses to open in their neighborhood. They can grow their own food,” says Storey. Literally getting to the root of problems such as hunger, obesity, poverty, and so many other ills reverts back to the soil. The source of healthy food, independence, and exercise, farming digs deep into the core of humanity. As apprentice Destiny Nelson-Miles demonstrates the use of a specialized tool that scrapes out the weeds, her face glows with confidence. All of teaching is hands-on, so students connect with the abundant earth in a transformative way. This year, the Center for Food Education is slated to be completed and opened at the downtown site. The Center will feature a demonstration kitchen where cooking classes, workshops, family dinner nights, and other programs can pair the farm with the table. While growing produce grows people, as JVTF proclaims, the ultimate homerun stops at the plate. jvtf.org Verna Gates is a Birmingham-based writer and the author of “100 Things to Do in Birmingham Before You Die.”
notables | TRACE BARNETT
Living Off the Land By Julia Sayers | Photography by Ojas Gokhale
Blogger Trace Barnett returned to his Alabama roots and created a kind of utopia where he grows and makes everything he needs. It’s early in the morning on a chilly autumn day and Trace Barnett has already fed his chickens, watered his garden, and taken his dog for a walk. He slides a cast iron pan of homemade biscuits into the oven and pulls up a stool at one of the long wooden farmhouse tables in his kitchen. “These tables were left here from the fabric store this building used to be,” Barnett says, gesturing to the restored barn he lives in. Barnett’s family has lived in Brilliant, a small town in northwest Alabama, since 1828. His childhood consists of stories of trapping quail, visiting flea markets, learning about native plants while foraging, and cooking and crafting with his grandmother. “I was a child with the demeanor and knowledge of an 80-year-old man,” Barnett says with a laugh. Those childhood experiences unknowingly shaped
Barnett into who he is today. After attending the University of Alabama, Barnett had dreams of bigger cities and new experiences. He moved to East Hampton, N.Y., in 2014, where he became enthralled with the glamour and society. It was there that he launched his blog, “The Bitter Socialite,” where he shares tips for hosting parties, entertaining, cooking, gardening, and more. But there was something tugging at him, something he couldn’t ignore: a desire to be back in the place where his heart belonged. “I was longing for the sights, smells, and tastes of home,” Barnett says. “There was a restlessness in me that kept me awake at night.” So, in 2016, he packed up his car and moved back home to the little town in Alabama with one caution light and about 900 people. DeSoto 21
Barnett decided to restore a 1920s barn on his family’s property to be his home. It’s now filled with antique finds and heirloom treasures passed down through generations. There’s a table dedicated to fossils, arrowheads, and petrified wood; china displayed in a myriad of ways; a giant antique dollhouse filled with miniatures; and art in a well-curated blend of styles covering every square inch of the walls. An artist himself, Barnett talks about his debut art exhibit at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center in Decatur, Ala. It’s called “White Trash,” and is a collection of paintings he has created using found objects — sometimes literal trash — and white paint. But art isn’t Barnett’s only talent — he’s also a natural in front of the camera. He regularly appears on TV shows in Birmingham, Nashville, and Atlanta, where he demos recipes, decor, gardening, and more. In 2017, he was a competitor on “Food Network Star” and again in 2018 on “Comeback Kitchen.” His charismatic personality and distinct northern Alabama accent charms over the airwaves. Also a gardener who lives off his land, Barnett points out features of his pollinator garden, which started as a small fenced-in area behind his home. It’s now expanded into his backyard with raised beds and a vegetable area in the field behind his house. “I always plant turnip greens and collards because they’re one of the first pollinators in the spring for bees,” Barnett says. Barnett grows most of the food he eats, including okra, corn, greens, tomatoes, beans, peppers, squash, melons, and more. He collects fresh eggs daily from his 40 chickens in 22 DeSoto
the coop behind his house. He added two beehives to his garden in 2019 but is not harvesting honey this year. The honey he does get is bold and peppery, because the bees pollinate from his pepper plants. “I mainly keep bees for the environment,” he explains. Among the more unusual plants in his garden are loofah vines, which twist around the fences. The long, squash-like vegetables dry in his garage. Ever environmentally conscious, Barnett uses the sponges for cleaning and dishes. And as if being an artist, gardener, and beekeeper weren’t enough, Barnett has written a cookbook, “Tracing Roots.” The book focuses on a modern approach to living off the land, with tips on growing your own food, raising chickens, and keeping bees, as well as recipes organized by growing season. His signature dish, Collard Green Gratin, is featured in the book. Barnett has adapted a lifestyle similar to the one his grandparents showed him when he was just a boy. With the rolling Alabama hills outside his window and a bounty of garden-fresh Southern vegetables, it’s easy to see why this place has kept Barnett and his family captivated for so many generations.
Julia Sayers is a freelance writer and editor living in Birmingham, Ala. She is passionate about all things food and travel.
Collard Green Gratin Serves 6-8 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 onion, chopped 2 slices bacon, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 large bunch collard greens 2 cups beef stock 1/2 teaspoon sugar 2 cups heavy cream 2 tablespoons flour 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 1 tablespoon chopped thyme 1 tablespoon pepper 1 tablespoon salt 2 tablespoons granulated garlic 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated 1 cup white cheddar cheese, grated 1 cup bread crumbs Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and sautĂŠ onion and bacon for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in garlic; cook until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Thoroughly wash collard greens and pat dry. Prep the leaves by holding the stem in one hand and grabbing the leafy flesh with the other hand to pull away from stem; discard stems. Cut or tear collards and place in pot with bacon and onion mixture. Allow collards to wilt slightly from heat. Slowly add beef stock; sprinkle with sugar. Cover pot and simmer until liquid has reduced and greens are tender. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together heavy cream and next seven ingredients, breaking apart any lumps. Set aside. Grease a casserole dish, and add just enough collard greens to cover the bottom. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of cream mixture over collards. Sprinkle with Parmesan and white cheddar cheeses. Repeat process for additional layers until all collards have been used. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spoon over top of casserole and sprinkle with more cheese; cover. Transfer to oven and cook for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and cook an additional 10-12 minutes until bubbly and golden brown. Tip: If you want less spice, reduce the amount of red pepper. DeSoto 23
exploring art | MISSISSIPPI’S NEW FLAG
Raising a New Flag By Jim Beaugez | Photography courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History
Designers from around the state worked to create the official state banner, which pays homage to Mississippi’s arts, literature, and music. When the Mississippi Legislature voted overwhelmingly in June 2020 to establish a commission devoted to designing a new state flag, lawmakers mandated the flag must incorporate the words “In God We Trust.” But the final design itself, affirmed by 72.9 percent of voters in a statewide referendum in November, was created in the spirit of e pluribus unum: From many, one. The Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag, with administrative support from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH), curated a collection of more than 2,000 flag design submissions. While the approved flag was based on a design created by Rocky Vaughan of Ackerman, the final version was a collaboration among the nine commissioners as well as four additional designers. 24 DeSoto
The new Mississippi state banner’s centerpiece is a white magnolia blossom, the official state flower and a symbol often used to represent the state. According to MDAH, the blossom represents hospitality as well as a sense of hope and rebirth, as the magnolia often blooms more than once a year and has a long blooming season. For designer Sue Anna Joe, a Greenwood native now living in San Francisco, the magnolia is especially meaningful. The flower played a large role in her own flag design, which made it to round two of the commission’s voting, but it endured and was incorporated into the final version. “[The magnolia blossom] made the most sense from both an official standpoint and a symbolic perspective,” says Joe. “It’s our state flower and tree, [and] it symbolizes longevity
“One thing I felt very strongly about was to include a nod to the arts, literature, and music that has come out of Mississippi.” and perseverance. Some of the most determined and steadfast people I know are from Mississippi, so the magnolia is the perfect reflection of their spirit.” Twenty white stars representing Mississippi being the 20th state of the Union encircle the flower, crowned by a gold five-point star for the indigenous Native American tribes who inhabited the land that became Mississippi. Dominique Pugh of Starkville worked on those elements, as well as more than a dozen of the flag designs, at the request of the commission. “The flag means a lot to me because it simultaneously represents our history while also symbolizing change for our present and future,” says Pugh. “The gold star resonates with me because it represents the Native Americans in Mississippi and will show the world that they are a part of our Mississippi community.” Three colors make up the background of the flag. Navy blue, a nod to the blue used in the American flag, is used behind the magnolia and stars, while bordering bands of gold represent the rich cultural history of Mississippi. Wide bands of red on both sides represent hardiness and valor. “One thing I felt very strongly about,” says designer Kara Giles of Oxford, who worked on multiple designs for the commission, “was to include a nod to the arts, literature, and music that has come out of Mississippi.” Clay Moss of Pearl, a vexillologist who prepared the design specifications for flag makers, worked with the designers to ensure the artwork could be reproduced without losing detail. That meant simplifying graphic elements such as the magnolia
Kara Giles, flag designer
stamen, which became a solid gold feature instead of the more intricate original design so it was easier to identify from a distance. He also prepared the final flag file for the Secretary of State’s office, the caretaker of official state symbols. “The artwork is available through the Secretary of State’s office — that way, the same artwork will be sent, at the Secretary of State’s discretion, to anyone desiring to manufacture Mississippi flags for state government use,” says Moss. “We got that idea from the state of Florida, as all Florida flags, regardless of manufacturer, are almost exactly uniform. No other U.S. state with a complex design can say that.” Joe says she felt relief when the final flag was approved by nearly 1 million voters, but she wouldn’t have minded going back to the drawing board if they wanted a different design to represent them. “The most important thing out of all of this was that Mississippi could move forward,” she says. “I got involved because I felt a sense of duty to contribute. Even though I live out of state, I still consider myself a Mississippian because Mississippi is the only place that feels like home, and I identify with Mississippians more than I do with other people. Mississippi culture has a way of seeping into your skin and curling up in your bones.” Jim Beaugez is a freelance writer based in Mississippi. Follow him on Twitter @JimBeaugez.
exploring books | RED TRUCK BAKERY COOKBOOK
A Penchant for Nostalgia By Pamela A. Keene | Photography sourtesy of Brian Noyes, Andrew Thomas Lee
Brian Noyes went from a newsroom to the kitchen and found his Southern roots. With an old red truck and a former filling station, he created a storied bakery and best-selling cookbook. For chef and baker Brian Noyes, everything has a silver lining, even two surgeries in the year of the pandemic. “With both shoulder and knee surgeries at the beginning of last summer, I had plenty of time on my hands,” says Noyes. “We couldn’t go anywhere, so I used the time to work on my newest project, ‘The Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook.’ It will be published in 2022, and will include all new recipes, including entrées, appetizers, salads, sides, and desserts. I’m really excited about it.” His “The Red Truck Bakery Cookbook,” first
published in 2018, is in its third printing. He launched The Red Truck Bakery in Marshall, Va., in 2009 in a 1921 Esso filling station. Business was so good, by 2015 he opened his second location in a 1922 former pharmacy and Masonic lodge. Actor Robert Duvall, who lives nearby and frequently buys pies and cakes from Noyes, cut the ribbon on the second store. Noyes credits his Southern grandmother Willmana Noyes for his love of comfort food. Little did he know that the foods he learned to love as a teenager would lead him away from the family newspaper business and into the kitchen. DeSoto 27
“Living in California with my newspaperman dad and my non-adventurous cook mom and the seven of us kids, we ate pretty economically,” he says. “Each summer from the time I was 12, I’d head to Hendersonville, N.C., and my grandmother’s house. That’s where I learned the truth about Southern cooking.” Noyes admits that it took a while to embrace collard greens, country ham, smothered pork chops, and tomatoes and okra, but those summers in North Carolina planted a seed that took his own newspaper career to the kitchen, launching a whole new passion. When his grandmother died, he kept some of the items from her kitchen that he treasured most: her green mixing bowl, a rolling pin, her box of recipes, and “Isabel” – a homemade dinner bell that always called the family to mealtime. Growing up around the newspaper business, Noyes was well on his way to a storied life in publishing. From the time he was young, his father let him stop by the newspaper office after school. By 1984 Noyes had moved to the nation’s capital, where editor Ben Bradlee hired him as art director for the new Sunday magazine at The Washington Post. He also worked with the paper’s food critic, designing annual dining guides and weekly restaurant columns. He later became the art director for several high-profile magazines. His entry into a food competition at the Arlington County Fair was the tipping point. “I entered peach jam made with local peaches and complemented by some crystallized ginger a friend brought by,” he says. “I wasn’t sure the judges would like it, but I ended up being named Grand Champion. After that, there was no turning back.” When he purchased a weekend farmhouse, he planted orchards of peaches, apples and sour cherries. “We also bought 28 DeSoto
a bright-red 1954 Ford F-100 online that happened to belong to fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, who had been using it on his farm in Connecticut.” That truck became his trademark as he began baking breads, pies, and homemade granola and delivering them to area stores. Soon the bakery needed a home. “Because of my penchant for nostalgia it only seemed fitting to convert an old filling station into the bakery,” he says. “We called it ‘The Red Truck Bakery’ because so many people knew me by that truck.” Noyes’ baking has been featured on the front page of the food section of The New York Times and highlighted by food critics and cookbook authors. The bakeries are regular stopovers for folks like Duvall, who has brought actor James Caan with him for sandwiches, and singer Mary Chapin Carpenter, who has been known to hang out there to work on her music. Former President Barack Obama has become a fan. In fact, he likes Noyes’ pies so much that he penned the testimonial on the back of the “The Red Truck Bakery” cookbook. So what is Noyes’ favorite thing to eat? “No one has ever asked me that before,” he says after a moment of reflection. “Really, my favorites are the sides that people eat with barbecue, especially North Carolina barbecue. It’s the coleslaw, corn pudding, baked beans, and banana pudding. I guess they remind me of those summers with my grandmother.” Atlanta-based journalist Pamela A. Keene grew up loving her grandma’s simple Southern cooking when she visited the family farm in Florida. Cobblers made with hand-picked blackberries from the back 40 were her favorite.
Red Truck Bakery’s Guinness Stout Chocolate Cake A favorite at the Red Truck Bakery is this chocolate cake with a nod to the Irish, especially around St. Patrick’s Day. The secret ingredient in the frosting is Bailey’s Irish Cream coffee creamer, which offers the same taste and better results than the actual liqueur. CAKE: Nonstick cooking spray 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for dusting 1⁄4 cup canola oil 1⁄2 cup Guinness stout 1 tablespoon plus 1 1⁄2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted 1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 cup granulated sugar 1⁄2 cup sour cream 1 large egg 1 1⁄2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 teaspoons instant vanilla pudding mix 1 teaspoon baking soda 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder FROSTING: 1 3⁄4 cups confectioners’ sugar 1⁄4 cup Baileys Irish Cream coffee creamer Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick spray and dust it with flour, tapping out any excess. Make the cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the canola oil, Guinness, and melted butter until well blended. Whisk in the cocoa powder and granulated sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sour cream, egg, and vanilla at medium speed until just combined. Add the Guinness mixture and mix until combined. Add the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat until smooth. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, turning the pan after 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the middle of the cake bounces back when touched. Let cool completely, then turn the cake out of the pan onto a cake stand or platter. Meanwhile, make the frosting: In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and Baileys coffee creamer, adding a bit more confectioners’ sugar as needed, until the frosting is pourable. Pour the frosting over the top of the cake and let it run down the sides, but don’t cover the cake completely.
southern roots | BUTTERMILK
Flavor Secret of the South Pamela A. Keene | Photography courtesy of Southern Foodways Alliance, Debbie Moose
Buttermilk is a staple in the South and it’s not just for drinking. This go-to ingredient has been the secret for flavorful cakes, pies, breads, sauces, and even poached fish. It’s all about buttermilk in the South. Cooks living below the Mason-Dixon line know that buttermilk makes the difference in quick breads, flaky biscuits, and sweet desserts. Buttermilk pie is a standard at family gatherings and oldfashioned cafes and diners. “Buttermilk has long been a go-to ingredient for baking and cooking,” says Debbie Moose, food writer and author of seven cookbooks, including “Buttermilk: A Savor the South Cookbook.” “For one thing, it keeps longer than sweet milk, and for another, its acidity and flavor add to recipes.” Human consumption of buttermilk is nothing new. Some histories report that as far back as 3000 B.C. buttermilk
was regularly consumed in ancient India. “Buttermilk is still a popular drink in India, where it’s considered a cooling and refreshing drink,” Moose says. “It’s not sweet, but savory.” The website beveragehistory.com credits the Irish with bringing buttermilk to America. They used it as leavening for the soda bread they ate daily. Today it’s used in everything from cakes and pies to breads and preparing certain meats and fish. In the days before refrigeration, Southern farmers used every drop of the buttermilk left over from churning butter. “They’d pour whole fresh cow milk into the churn to make the butter by hand, pulling the plunger up and down until DeSoto 31
the butter rose to the top,” Moose says. “Once the butter was done, they’d pour the remaining thin liquid into a pitcher and set it on a shelf. There, the cultures in the air, good cultures, would settle on it and create that distinct flavor. “It would keep much longer than sweet milk, and the acidity in buttermilk works as a leavening agent to help baked goods rise,” Moose adds. By the early 1900s, commercial leavening agents such as baking powder and baking soda became available. “Using both buttermilk and a leavening agent made it possible to make quick breads, those baked without yeast,” she says, “opening up a whole new way to cook muffins, banana and zucchini breads, cornbread, and scones.” Moose’s childhood memories of her father include his buttermilk after-supper treat. “In the evenings, my father would crumble the left-over cornbread into a glass of buttermilk, let it sit for a few minutes, then eat it with a spoon while he watched TV.” Her father knew what many people today tend to forget: buttermilk is actually good for you. Its nutritional benefits include potassium, vitamin B12, calcium, riboflavin, and phosphorus. One cup of whole buttermilk has 99 calories; a cup of whole milk has nearly 160. And it’s lower in fat content. “Be sure to read labels for exact caloric and nutritional values,” she says. “And notice whether you’re purchasing whole buttermilk or reduced-fat variety. If you’re baking with it, you can use either.” She suggests using locally produced buttermilk when you can find it because it’s more flavorful. Reach out to your state’s department of agriculture or extension office to find dairy farms that sell it. Local buttermilk has the best flavor, but store-bought can be as good as locally produced buttermilk for baking. Aside from baking, buttermilk has many uses. “Poaching fish in buttermilk takes away the fishy taste, and soaking chicken in it before dredging it helps your flour coating hold on better and brown up nicely when frying,” she says. “There’s even a recipe for a buttermilk turkey brine that adds a nice flavor to the bird.” Make salad dressings or sauces, sweet potato pies, and quiches by using buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, there are several ways to make an acceptable —though not nearly as tasty — substitute. Use one tablespoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice plus enough milk to fill a 1-cup measuring cup. Stir and let stand for five minutes, then use as the recipe directs. Although it’s a Southern standard, many people today don’t cook with it. “Buttermilk is one of the most underappreciated foods,” Moose says. “The flavor it adds certainly makes it worthwhile. Try it in any recipe that calls for whole milk and you’ll discover a whole new way of cooking.” debbiemoose.com Pamela A. Keene, an Atlanta-based journalist and photographer, spent summers on her grandparents’ farm in northeast Florida. Her grandfather milked the cows every morning and her grandmother cooked biscuits, cobblers, and cakes using fresh buttermilk.
Hoochie Mama Pie by Kathi Vincent
“Hoochie Mama” Pie (Buttermilk Custard with Pecans & Coconut) When an elderly customer at the Cotillion Southern Café in Wildwood, Fla., tasted this pie for the first time, she closed her eyes and loudly yelled “Holy Hoochie Mama! That’s the best pie I ever had in my whole life.” It was inevitable that owner and baker Kathi Vincent would rename her popular “Buttamilk” Custard Pie with this very Southern moniker. Ingredients 1 cup buttermilk 1/2 cup melted butter 2 1/2 cups sugar 2 tablespoons flour 1 cup coconut flakes 1 cup chopped pecans 6 eggs Fresh nutmeg Directions: Mix buttermilk, melted butter, sugar, flour, coconut flakes, and pecans together until well combined and pour into a 9 1/2 or 10inch pie plate. Grate fresh nutmeg on top and bake at 350 degrees. Pie is done when the center puffs slightly and the pie is not jiggly in the center. Recipe reprinted from Miz Kathi’s Southern Sweetery Cookbook with permission from Kathi Hall Vincent.
table talk | BAZARâ€™S BAKERY
Bazar Breakfast Bowl
For the Love of Food By Karen Ott Mayer | Photography by Adam Mitchell
Bazar’s Bakery in Hernando mixes the right ingredients of family and fun to bring specialized keto menus and comfort foods during hard times. The name says it all: Love. When walking into Bazar’s Bakery in Hernando, Miss., owned by Bill and Brenda Love, it’s hard to tell where family stops and business begins because the entire restaurant revolves around family. Originally from Greenville, Miss., the Loves found Hernando, and eventually the restaurant, because of their daughter’s disability. “One of our children, our daughter, is disabled and needs care,” says Brenda Love. “We found a school here with nurses. It’s been a Godsend.” Bazar’s was first opened by Laura Bostain and Donna Azar in May 2019 and acquired by the Loves in January 2020. Working for herself allows Love to take care of both her family and her customers. Love describes the menu as “comfort food”
and wants Bazar’s to be as family friendly as possible. In fact, there’s a playroom for her daughter when she’s on-site. While the name might imply baked goods only, Bazar’s is a full-service restaurant with a bakery serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Originally from Indiana, Bazar’s Chef Michael Stotler trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, Calif. His wife and four children chose Hernando four years ago to be closer to family. Stotler came about his second career after his initial 13-year career in the Army. “I didn’t cook at all,” he said. “I actually got interested watching my wife’s mother who would cook Sunday dinner from scratch. When I was discharged, I decided I’d like to study cooking so we moved from Colorado to California.” DeSoto 35
Love and Stotler have worked closely together throughout the year to keep the doors open. Even before the pandemic, Love had re-organized the restaurant and revisited the large menu Stotler helped create. Able to seat about 100 people, Bazar’s faced the same challenges as most other restaurants when the spread of COVID-19 dictated social distancing measures. “We immediately started doing take-out casseroles and they were really popular,” she says. “In fact, Michael continues to make them today although the restaurant dining area reopened. He creates a keto and regular version for every casserole.” Many customers come to Bazar’s for the keto dishes. Ketogenic diets focus on low carbs, no sugars, and are glutenfree. “It’s probably 70-to-75 percent of what we serve,” Love says. “With our clientele, it’s keto, keto, and keto.” At Bazar’s, menu items may have some dairy. “We are conscious of our diabetics and those who have celiac disease,” she adds. The extensive menu, however, offers something for everyone. Even favorite dishes like the French toast or creme brûlée, that were taken off the main menu, return as specialty items. “The Avocado Smash Toast and the Monte Cristo sandwich are two of our favorites,” Love says. “And the Bazar Classic breakfast with eggs, meat, grits or hash browns is still popular with guests.” 36 DeSoto
Other popular items are the homemade pimento cheese with crispy bacon, omelets, and breakfast burritos. But the real giant? “The Bazar Bowl is a mix of grits, hash browns, eggs, and all smothered with sausage gravy. Guests love it.” At the opposite end of the day, guests can enjoy a steak, whether a filet, ribeye, or strip. Love says they’re also known for their crab cakes and homemade sauces like remoulade. “People love our crawfish dip which is served hot with crostini bread,” she enthuses. Likewise, Stotler enjoys Friday and Saturday night dishes. “I spend a lot of time frying eggs so I like to get a chance to cook a signature steak or dinner,” he says. He also makes something called a chaffle, a cheese-and-egg-based dish. “We have chicken Rotel and cheeseburger chaffles.” On Sundays, guests line up for the crepes or steak and eggs. Stotler makes a different soup every day, and he believes it’s an overlooked choice. Soups are available for carryout and sold in pints or gallons. “I change with the seasons so now we’re making chili and stews, something hearty during the colder months,” Stotler says. “It’s (the carry-out) a great way to stock the freezer.” Delicious dishes aside, Love’s business philosophy is believing first in people. “I surround myself with people who are capable. When Michael came, I handed him the keys to the restaurant and said you’re in charge of the kitchen and he runs it.” Bottom line, she adds, “I really want mom and dad to come
eat, and I want it to be affordable for families.” As for pandemic restrictions, indoor dining is currently the only option other than take-out. Guests can choose to wear masks and social distance. Stotler says it’s been tough but safety comes first. “Our prized possessions are our customers,” she says. “We have tailored our services and listen to our customers, especially now.”
Karen Ott Mayer writers, gardens and enjoys good food from her farm in Como, Miss.
exploring destinations | LOUISIANAâ€™S ANDOUILLE HERITAGE
Gumbo is served at Oak Alley Plantation Restaurant & Inn on the Andouille Trail. Photo courtesy of Oak Alley Plantation Restaurant & Inn
Louisiana’s Andouille Heritage By Jackie Sheckler Finch Photography cortesy of Jackie Sheckler Finch, Oak Alley Plantation & Inn & River Parishes Tourist Commission, and Cheré Coen
New culinary trail along the Mississippi River honors ‘a German delicacy with a French name’ located in a Cajun region. Spuddy Faucheux takes an appreciative sniff, gives another swift stir of the simmering gumbo, and proclaims, “This is the real thing. This is what our ancestors were eating generations ago.” Gumbo is made with many ingredients, but one product -- andouille -- is birthed from French and German culinary heritages. Combined with Cajun influences, it is considered a delicious specialty in Louisiana’s River Parishes, a region that hugs the Mississippi River. “It’s not sausage,” Faucheux emphasizes. “It’s andouille, a German delicacy with a French name, made of very lean ground pork and special seasonings that are smoked over a wood fire.” Andouille is a prime ingredient in Cajun dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and shrimp and grits. Now andouille lovers and newcomers to the popular meat can enjoy it on a new “Andouille Trail.”
Launched last September by the River Parishes Tourist Commission, the Andouille Trail includes the parishes of St. James, St. Charles, and St. John the Baptist, all located upriver from New Orleans. The trail currently features 36 area restaurants, general stores, butcher shops, and smokehouses where people can buy, make, taste, eat, or ship andouille. “We’re proud of the diversity of the Andouille Trail,” says Buddy Boe, executive director of River Parishes Tourist Commission. “It’s on both sides of the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and we will be adding more places to the Andouille Trail website as the trail grows.” The Andouille Trail map can be downloaded from the tourism website. Passports to keep track of the stops are available at all links on the trail in addition to local visitor centers. Signs marking participating businesses are displayed in shop windows and tacked to telephone poles. To make the experience even more fun, trail followers can end up with a DeSoto 39
Andouille is smoked in a time-honored tradition. Photo courtesy of River Parishes Tourist Commission
Spuddy Faucheux dishes up gumbo at his Cajun Cooking Experience. Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch
Oak Alley is a popular spot on the new Andouille Trail. Photo courtesy of Oak Alley Plantation
handy souvenir. “Save receipts from five links on the trail, mail them to us, and receive an Andouille Trail wooden spoon perfect for cooking roux for jambalaya and gumbo,” Boe says. “We’ve already had thousands of people visit the site and already sent out some of the spoons. People are very excited about visiting the trail.” The taste of andouille changes in the various stops according to how the meat is made, the spices used, and the smoke intensity with various woods, Boe says. “It’s different almost every place you get it because they all have different family traditions for the recipes they make.” The Andouille Trail also pays tribute to the River 40 DeSoto
Parishes’ German heritage. “Next year marks the 300th anniversary of Germans settling in the area,” Boe says. “We’re going to have a huge andouille festival next year to celebrate that part of our heritage.” Faucheux already knows the power of the region’s cuisine for visitors who find their way to his restaurant, Spuddy’s Cajun Foods in Vacherie. As for that name, Maitland Faucheux III has gone by the nickname Spuddy his whole life. “I was born the year Sputnik was launched,” he explains. “I’ve always been called ‘Spuddy.’ When I was 5 and headed off to school, I had to be told that teachers would call me Maitland because, to me, my name is Spuddy.”
Although he started off as a computer programmer after graduating from college with a degree in computer science, Faucheux always wanted to open his own business and decided that food would be it. “I’m not a chef,” he says. “I’m a cook. I don’t wear a white hat. I didn’t go to school for cooking. But there were always people around, like my mama, who were willing to teach me what they knew.” Faucheux shares his culinary and historic knowledge in his popular Cajun Cooking Experience where groups can get hands-on instruction and eat the results. “What we do here is cook not so much from a recipe but from our heart and soul,” he says. “I can’t put my recipes on a piece of paper. Just come into my kitchen and you will learn how we make real food.” Over at Oak Alley Plantation Restaurant & Inn, another beautiful stop on the Andouille Trail, Marketing Director Hillary Loeber says one of the most requested andouille dishes at the historic Vacherie plantation is gumbo made with chicken, smoked sausage, and andouille. “Andouille was popular because it didn’t require refrigeration, which wasn’t available in the 1700s and1800s,” Loeber says. “It was actually cured to preserve it, so it was a meat that lasted. It continues to be popular because, as a seasoned meat, it can be used in a variety of dishes.” As early as 1803, Jacques Etienne Roman started formalizing land claims that included the property now known as Oak Alley. The name stuck because of the towering oak trees. “The main house was not built until 1837. Today, visitors can spend the night in century-old cottages as well as newly built cottages,” Loeber says. Preserving local history for generations to come is an important goal of River Parishes Tourist Commission, Boe adds. “As stewards of the River Parishes, we have to make sure authentic traditions stay alive. With andouille, you can literally taste the history and flavor of the River Parishes in a bite.” lariverparishes.com andouilletrail.com An award-winning journalist, Jackie Sheckler Finch loves to take to the road to see what lies beyond the next bend. DeSoto 41
on the road again | COVINGTON, LOUISIANA
, n o t g n i v o C Louisiana
8:00 Start the day at Mattina Bella Restaurant, a favorite of locals who enjoy breakfast dishes from Belgium waffles to poached eggs atop fried eggplant. 9:15 Rent a kayak and paddle down the Bogue Falaya River, known for its scenic beauty and inspiration in the writing of Covington’s lauded author, Walker Percy. Launch at the newly opened dock at the Bogue Falaya Wayside Park. 11:00 Relax inside the Covington Trailhead Museum and Visitors Center and step back in time. A short film, along with vintage photographs, shares the founding and evolution of this river town. Noon Celebrate southeast Louisiana’s tempered winter weather and dine outdoors at Meribo restaurant. Toast happy hour all day on Wednesdays or dive into the innovative pizzas topped with local ingredients. 1:15 Pop in and out of Covington’s quaint shops, from ladies’ fashions to home décor. A must stop is Once in A While – Green Eyed Goddess Gifts, a spacious space filled with art, jewelry, and unique gifts. 2:00 Feed your artistic spirit with the rich artistry at the Marianne Angeli Rodriguez Gallery with a collage of prints, large paintings, and paintings on canvas. 2:30 Check out Brooks’ Bike Shop and join the guided bicycle tour of Covington’s rich history and historic buildings. 4:00 Have a spot of tea at the English Tea Room, a charming find with a vast selection of tea and delightful scones. 6:15 Savor dinner at PePe’s Sonoran Cuisine with delightful blends of Mexican food and southeast Louisiana’s divine resources. The Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board recently crowned owner and Chef Robert Vasquez the 2020 King of Louisiana Seafood. 8:00 Grab dessert at Hoodoo Ice Cream Shop and savor the taste of handcrafted ice cream. Choose from 14 flavors sourced from locally grown ingredients and homemade waffle cones.
To plan your visit: www.louisiananorthshore.com www.mattinabella.com www.brooksbikeshop.com www.meribopizza.com www.marianneangelirodriguez.com
Local Favorites Southern Hotel Top off your visit with a stay at the historic Southern Hotel, a shining star in Covington’s downtown historic district. Walk along the hallways and relish the historic photographs. Sip a mint julep at the Cypress Bar and take note of its mystical murals of ancient rivers and the bar’s woodwork built from sinker cypress once buried along the river’s bottom. Conclude your evening by cozying up to the woodburning fireplace. www.southernhotel.com
H. J. Smith & Sons General Store Step back in time when a trip to the hardware store with papa was an adventure. Family owned and operated since 1876, it’s both a hardware store and a museum packed with hundreds of items from 1870 through the early 1900s, including a 20-foot-long cypress dugout boat, cast iron casket, old farming tools, a 1920s gas pump, a hand-operated wooden washing machine and much more. Check online for open dates and times. www.louisiananorthshore.com/hjsmith
Royal Carriages, Inc. Choose from a half-hour or full-hour carriage tour of downtown Covington with an expert guide narrating Covington’s history. Royal Carriages is the oldest sightseeing carriage company in the United States, and the same carriage tours serving downtown New Orleans. www.neworleanscarriages.com -- Compiled by Deborah Burst DeSoto 43
greater goods | IN THE KITCHEN
1. Kitchen containers, Bon Von, 230 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 2. Hot Mits and Spatulas, Complete Home Center, 32 E Commerce St, Hernando, MS 3. Coontown Pottery, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 4. Golden Rabbit cookware, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 5. Chip and Dip set, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR 6. Fancy Panz serving piece, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 7. Slate charcuterie boards, Keep It Casual, 106 S Industrial Rd, Tupelo, MS 8. LeCreuset dutch oven, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 9. Michael Aram serving pieces, Magnolia House, 2903 May Blvd Suite 103 Southaven, MS 10. Resin serving pieces, Keep It Casual, 106 S Industrial Rd, Tupelo, MS 11. Senatobia cutting board, The Other Side Gifts, 122 Norfleet Dr, Senatobia, MS 12. Tea Towels, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 13. Crossroads Pottery pie plates, Bon Von, 230 W Center Street, Hernando, MS
greater goods | BUNDLE UP!
1. Thick flannel coats, Bon Von, 230 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 2. Cozy lounge set, Retro Rooster, 125 S Market St, Holly Springs, MS 3. Ear Warmers, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 4. Faux Fur scraves, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR 5. Fur coat, Center Stage Fashions, 324 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 6. Fuzzy Slippers, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR 7. Cozy blankets, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 8. MeMoi fuzzy slippers, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 9. Plush hooded jacket, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 10. Reversible fur coat, Center Stage Fashions, 324 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 11. Smart Tip Gloves, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 12. Super soft inital throw, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 13. Barefoot Dreams cardigan, The Pink Zinnia, 134 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS
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TH E S T Y L E S O F
B A RB E CU E
By Jason Frye Photography Credits: Rodney Scott by Angie Mosier, Melissa Cookston by Casey Hilder, Big Bob Gibson's BBQ
Barbecue styles vary across the South and everyone has a favorite whether itâ€™s the flavorful Memphis rubs to the lip-puckering Carolina sauces to the holy trinity of Texas meats.
Melissa Cookston of Memphis BBQ
Barbecue. Has any word in the Southern lexicon been so controversial? Southerners will argue the merits of wood selection, cook times, to-rub-or-not-to-rub, and sauce styles until they are red in the face. Then, they’ll share a rack of ribs, a few slices of brisket, the choicest pieces of the hog with their former foe and declare how the bite was the best barbecue they’ve had…that day. To the outsider and the un-initiated (read: newlytransplanted, formerly-Northern neighbors who haven’t been invited to a pig pickin’ yet), the passion for barbecue in the South and the arguments over favorite styles is the stuff of madness. It’s easy to understand the confusion. The South is rich in barbecue tradition and each region approaches ‘cue a little differently. If you didn’t grow up in it, barbecue becomes a blur and the regional differences and nuances are lost. Until
you know, that is. Today’s the day. This is your master’s class in meats, your seminar on smoke, and when you’re finished reading, you’ll be hungry and primed to find the best ‘cue that suits you whether you live in Memphis, South Carolina, Texas or anywhere in between.
The Center of the Barbecue World
As much as North Carolina claims to be the “Cradle of ‘Cue,” so does South Carolina. And Georgia. Virginia, too. But the truth lies somewhere to the far south, in the Caribbean. “Barbecue began as barbacoa, and that started on the Caribbean islands where native tribes would prepare meat over hot coals, low and slow like we do now,” says Melissa Cookston, seven-time world barbecue champion and owner of the Memphis BBQ Company, which has locations in Horn Lake, Miss., and
Dunwoody, Ga. Island origins aside, Cookston, a Mississippi Delta native who grew up eating barbecue sandwiches with her grandfather and taking weekly trips to Memphis for ribs with her mother, claims this river city is the “geographic center of barbecue” in America and she’s got a point. “Without a doubt, Memphis is the geographic center of barbecue,” she says. “We pull our flavor profile from the styles that surround us, brining in the tangy vinegar sauce from North and South Carolina; the salt, pepper, and heat of Texas’s sauce and seasoning; a bit of sweetness from Kansas City.” Add those together and you get Memphis. Or you start to. “Memphis-style barbecue is the most flavorful in the world,” Cookston says. And it’s not just because of the sauce. “The secret’s in the rub.”
Therein Lies the Rub
Every piece of barbecue, whether it’s a whole hog like Pitmaster Rodney Scott cooks in the lowlands of South Carolina, the brisket coming off Texas pits, or chicken in Alabama waiting for a dunking in that ubiquitous white sauce, gets seasoned. But it’s the rub that distinguishes Memphis from other styles and is a difference maker like no other. “It’s a convoluted sauce. Lots of ingredients,” Cookston says before rattling off the dozen or so spices that flavor her rub. “Onion powder, granulated garlic, salt, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes, dry mustard, and, of course, turbinado sugar. A lot of people like brown sugar, but it caramelizes at a lower temperature, so I use turbinado and I love the results.” So do her fans. Her rub serves to season her ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and her sauce. “I serve a tomato-based sauce, spiked with plenty of vinegar and my rub, giving you a real consistency in flavor,” she says. Barbecue fanatics often think of dry rubbed ribs when they think of Memphis, but Cookston serves hers dry – seasoned only with the rub – wet – seasoned with the rub and sauce – and muddy. Muddy ribs are sauced then dusted with more rub for a triple layer of that signature Memphis flavor.
Big Bob Gibson’s Alabama White Sauce
Sauce is Boss
Not every style adheres to the rub-centric notions of Memphis. Rodney Scott of Rodney Scott’s Barbecue in Charleston, S.C., and Birmingham, Ala., cooks whole hogs in the tradition of the coastal Carolinas. That means he eschews the rub and seasons everything late in the game, when the hog is flipped meat-side-up. A healthy dose of salt, pepper, and smoke, plus a few other ingredients flavor Scott’s hogs before he begins to mop them with the thin, distinct sauce he grew up with. In 2018, Scott was named Best Chef in the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation, winning what is essentially the Oscars of food for his whole hog cooking, so he’s a man who knows seasoning and sauce. “When the sauce is right it makes you want to kiss. It’s got a little twang that makes you pucker up and blow a kiss,” Scott says with a laugh. “It’s not too sweet, not too spicy.” And it’s not the mustard sauce many think of when South Carolina ‘cue comes to mind. “That mustard-based sauce, it’s found in a pocket in the central part of the state,” Scott explains, “and further out in the mountains there’s a sweeter, tomato- or ketchup-based sauce, but I stick to what I grew up with.” In North Carolina, traditions are similar, minus the mustard. On the coast, barbecue served at places like Skylight Inn, a beacon for barbecue lovers, consists of whole hogs, salt and pepper, and that vinegar-pepper sauce. Move west and you find Lexington-style or Western-Carolina barbecue at places like Lexington Barbecue: shoulders crusted with rub and served 50 DeSoto
with a sweetened, thickened vinegar sauce. In Asheville, Chef Elliot Moss’s Buxton Hall Barbecue serves whole hog and a bevy of sauces that call on the nuances of his native South Carolina as well as the North Carolina traditions. Scott does the same at his restaurants, serving his distinct whole hog, spareribs, smoked chicken, and thin-sliced smoked turkey breast, all with that tangy, twangy Rodney Sauce. At his Birmingham location, Scott took the dive into a sauce that marks Alabama as its own barbecue genre: his take on Big Bob Gibson’s Alabama White Sauce. This mayo-based sauce is prepared by blending Duke’s mayonnaise with apple cider vinegar, salt, white pepper, and some secret spices; whole chickens are pulled from the pit and dunked into the sauce and served. It’s a fabulous flavor combination and elevates the simplicity of chicken to new heights. “In Bir mingham, I wanted my barbecue to compliment, not complicate, the barbecue traditions that existed,” Scott says. “So, we reworked the profiles of our vinegar and pepper sauces, figured out our take on the Alabama White Sauce, and we were ready to go.”
Salt, Pepper, Smoke
Sauce aside, barbecue comes down to three things: salt, pepper, and smoke. Texas-based Yoni Levin, host of the “Best BBQ Show” podcast and YouTube channel, cooks his own ‘cue but also sits down with pitmasters and barbecue legends from the Lone
Star State and wherever his travels take him, exploring the nuances of barbecue regardless of style. Still, he finds Texas ‘cue to be the best. “There are a few things that define Texas barbecue,” he says. “First, the speed of the cook. We’re super slow, cooking for a few hours beyond what you’ll often find in the Carolinas and elsewhere. Second, we season with salt, pepper, and smoke, letting the quality of the ingredients, be it beef brisket, pork shoulder, chicken or anything else, speak for itself. Third, it’s the sauce.” According to Levin, some of the old guard Texas barbecue joints forego the sauce, leaning on the meat alone. “The holy trinity of Texas barbecue – ribs, brisket, and sausage – should be delicious without sauce.” With sauce, which in Texas plays with the balance of tanginess, sweetness, and spiciness, these meats get that extra jolt of flavor.
But Which is Best?
Ask Levin and he’ll tell you Texas serves the end-all-be-all of barbecue, period. Cookston says the same of Memphis. Scott stands by South Carolina’s whole hog and his lip-puckering sauce and North Carolina stands with him. Which means you have a dilemma on your hands: deciding which style you like, which sauce you love, and which ‘cue camp you fall into. Fortunately, Scott sells his rubs and sauces online at www.rodneyscottsbbq.com and his cookbook, “Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day’s a Good Day,” due out in March, reveals some of his secrets for crushing ‘cue at home. Cookston’s pair of cookbooks lets you in on her methods and you can order her ‘cue from www.melissacookston.com, and taste her barbecue, sauces and rubs alongside those from legendary pitmasters by ordering from www.thebbqallstars.com. Jason Frye writes about barbecue and all things Southern from his home base on the coast of North Carolina. As a bona fide barbecue nerd and a certified barbecue judge, he’s happiest when he can smell the smoke of the pits. Follow his adventures on Instagram where he’s @beardedwriter.
Finding Food on the Go Chile Verde mexic & taco facebook.com/chileverdetacotruck El Mero Taco elmerotaco.com Say Cheese! saycheese901.com Soi Number 9 soinumber9.com The5000 Food Truck facebook.com/the5000ms/ Local Mobile facebook.com/localmobiletupelo/ Memphis Food Truck Park facebook.com/memphisfoodtruckpark
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Getting Mobile: FOOD TRUCK FARE
By Karon Warren Photography Credits: The5000: Courtesy of The5000, Chile Verde: Courtesy of Chile Verde mexic & taco Local Mobile: Credit Tupelo CVB, Soi Number 9: Courtesy of Soi Number 9
Grabbing your favorite bites to eat could be just around the corner, cooking up in a trendy food truck.
Running out to buy an ice cream sandwich from the ice cream truck cruising the neighborhood... ordering a Lucky Dog in New Orleans from one of the numerous cart vendors... grabbing your favorite latte from the coffee kiosk near the office. Getting a bite to eat on the go from a food truck is nothing new. In fact, mobile dining harkens back to the Wild West when chuck wagon cooks served up breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the back of their wagons as cowpokes made their way along the trails. Following the Civil War, pushcart vendors started popping up in urban centers, near manufacturing districts, and other populated areas, offering quick snacks, sandwiches, and meat pies to workers who wanted a fast, yet cheap meal. It didn’t take long for food trucks to expand their presence, emerging near office complexes and at festivals and popular attractions. But industry experts credit the 2008 recession with inspiring food truck owners and operators to take the risk of launching their own mobile dining restaurants that led to the dramatic and notable increased presence of food trucks in communities large and small. Today, there are more than 23,000 food trucks in operation across the country. In Memphis, food trucks offer a wide range of cuisine including barbecue, seafood, Mexican food, chicken wings, French fries, grilled cheese, gourmet popsicles, and more. One such example is Chile Verde mexic & taco. Started by Fermin Camacho in August 2014, this food truck specializes in tacos and cheeseburgers. Camacho always had a passion for food. With more than 35 years’ experience as a cook, his dream was always to open his own restaurant or have his own taco truck serving authentic Mexican food. Although there have been some stumbling blocks, he has, in fact, achieved his dream. “ S o m e c h a l l e n g e s w e h av e encountered are problems where we have been parked before, but, for the most part, our customers love us and appreciate us, as we appreciate them,” he says. Another popular Memphis food truck is El Mero Taco, owned by Jacob and Clarissa Dries. Started about five years ago, El Mero Taco is a unique fusion of Mexican and American South cuisine. Popular dishes include the Southern fried chicken tacos, brisket quesadilla, and smoked cheddar grits. DeSoto 55
The husband-and-wife team met while in culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, Texas, and wanted to open a family-owned restaurant. The low cost of starting with a food truck was attractive, and El Mero Taco opened about five years ago. Although they’re always faced with mechanical issues related to the truck operations, Jacob says they are blessed with their success. In fact, they now have a brick-and-mortar location, and just purchased the Say Cheese! food truck from its original owners. At Say Cheese!, you can indulge your love of all things cheese with the Triple Decker, which includes Colby, provolone and pepper jack cheeses, or the PCB, a homemade pimento cheese and bacon sandwich on sourdough. To satisfy cravings for Asian cuisine, seek out Soi Number 9, which features Thai street food. Husband-andwife team Tim Vimonnimit (chef) and Mai Mitrakul (business manager) reconfigured an older school bus and hit the road in October 2017 with the goal of sharing their favorite Thai dishes with Memphis. Today, their menu offerings include Thai basil chicken, fried Khao Mun Gai, crunchy spring roll, and pot stickers. Although they continually face challenges related to weather and limited space in operating a food truck, they don’t regret their journey. “We absolutely love meeting people, getting to know Memphis and supporting other Memphis businesses,” says Mai Mitrakul. “Being able to travel from one end of town to 56 DeSoto
another while sharing our dishes has been one of our greatest joys.” Gaining popularity in Laurel, Miss., thanks to its appearance on HGTV’s “Home Town,” The5000 features a standard menu of salads, sandwiches, tacos, and specialty fries, including Erin’s Sandwich, named for “Home Town” star Erin Napier, who requested a sandwich comprised of pimento cheese, pulled pork, cole slaw, and barbeque sauce on grilled white bread. You also can grab a breakfast of biscuits and gravy, pancakes, a carne asada breakfast burrito, and more. “Our menu is pretty big considering we’re a food truck,” says Bill Hogue, who owns the truck with his wife, Julie. The Hogues launched their food truck business in Arizona, just before moving to Laurel in 2018. They brought their truck with them and set up shop in downtown Laurel. Bill attended culinary school and spent five years working in kitchens and restaurant management, but left the industry for banking and finance for financial and career stability while raising his family. As such, opening the food truck was a dream come true given he wanted to get back into the culinary industry. “Getting to know everyone has been the most fun,” he says. “We’ve really enjoyed getting to know the people of Laurel and the downtown area.” In Tupelo, Local Mobile was the first food truck in Elvis’ hometown and continues to attract fans. Owner and Chef Curt McLellan offers a menu of burger sliders, po-boys featuring grilled shrimp, grilled catfish, and grilled Cajun
sausage, chicken tacos with corn and black bean salsa, and shrimp tacos with cilantro lime slaw. The truck is just one of several that participates in Food Truck Fridays at Fairpark. In Memphis, you can also find several food trucks at the Memphis Food Truck Park near the Memphis International Airport. Selections change daily, but trucks that set up here regularly include Pablo’s Cuisine & Grille Food Truck, Melt in Your Mouth, Bay’s Wings, and Memphis MoJo Café. To find out which trucks are at the park, check the Memphis Food Truck Park Facebook page. Food truck cuisine comes in a variety of flavors so it’s easy to find one (or more!) that will satisfy your appetite – and be an entirely new type of road trip, one that never ends.
A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Karon Warren covers lifestyle, business and health for online and print outlets. She also is a big fan of food trucks.
Delta Meat Market's Charcuterie board
Feasts for the Senses By Mary Ann DeSantis Photography credits: Cheese board photos: Marissa Mullen. Delta Meat Market and Rory Doyle.
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From small, casual get-togethers to elegant receptions, charcuterie boards are the rage among hostesses looking to provide dinner-worthy displays, not to mention Instagram- worthy photos. DeSoto 59
Cheese By Numbers, Marissa Mullen at work
Cole Ellis, Delta Meat Market
Charcuterie – an elegant word that rolls off the tongue and causes many a partygoer to overstuff on delicious meats and cheeses. The word is French so, of course, it’s more sophisticated than “grazing boards,” another term often used to describe these delicious and often picture-perfect displays. The word charcuterie comes from two French words: ‘chair’ meaning flesh and ‘cuite’ meaning cooked. Although France turned charcuterie into an art form, the Romans were the first to standardize pork butchery and trade. “I feel like it was extended by the Italians with their ability to preserve meats,” says Cole Ellis, the James Beard Awardnominated chef at the Delta Meat Market in Cleveland, Miss. “Both the Italians and the Spaniards were into preserving and curing meats before the French.” Regardless of whether it was the French or the Italians who started serving a variety of meats and cheeses on platters, the trend has skyrocketed. However, it’s not a new concept – the idea of serving meats cured with salt trickled into the Americas hundreds of years ago. “Many people lived remotely and had to dry or salt cure foods for preservation,” adds Ellis. But now charcuterie has become more than meats meant for subsistence. The elaborate boards or trays contain not only meat, but also cheeses, fruits, and breads or crackers. They have also become a social media phenomenon among food bloggers and Instagram influencers. Marissa Mullen, who wrote the book “That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life” and created a colorful Instagram page called “Cheese by Numbers,” believes it’s important to feature a range of cheeses and accoutrements. “A great charcuterie board includes variety, thoughtful flavor pairings and a dash of creativity,” she says. “I like to partner cheese with a cured or aged meat, like salami or prosciutto.” Mullen coined the term “Salami River,” a signature meat-folding technique seen on most of her creations. “Folding the meat creates texture dimension,” she explains. “Adding fresh fruits, dried fruits, and vegetables make for simple and colorful details. I'll also add jam, honey or mustard to the plate to make for unique complexities and savory pairings. DeSoto 61
Last but not least, I always like to add a garnish for the finishing touches. Something simple like fresh thyme or rosemary does the trick!” Both Mullen and Ellis have seen many trendy charcuterie boards in recent months, like the “charcuterie chalet” that popped up last year before the holidays. Designed like a gingerbread house, the meats and cheeses are used to build the chalet. However, neither are big fans of that trend. “I like to stick with boards for the most part,” says Mullin. Ellis agrees that the cutesy displays may be great for photographs, but they compromise the flavors of the items. “I make it so that you can taste a variety of things,” he says. “From a chef ’s standpoint, I’m looking for a variety of tastes and characteristics. I want my ham to taste like ham, not 10 different things stacked on it.” On the charcuterie boards from Delta Meat Market, Ellis takes a basic foundation and builds from there. He begins with three different kinds of meat, usually a fermented salami, fresh sausage, and a muscle – a meat that is not ground. He then adds two or three cheeses, a complementary jam, crackers or breads. His personal favorite is grilled sourdough bread. And he always incorporates fresh or dried fruit and berries. “I start with these basics and use the ingredients that are in season and available to us at the time. Same thing with salamis; we use what we make,” explains Ellis who first opened Delta Meat Market in 2013 as a butcher shop and boutique grocer of specialty meat, cheese and artisan goods. He has since expanded it into a full-service, casual restaurant located in Cleveland’s Cotton House Hotel. For this time of year, Ellis likes to make charcuterie boards with beef. “One thing that pops up in stores now is summer sausage, which is a beef product. Bresaola is also perfect for now.” Fresh and in-season are also mainstays for Mullen. In the winter, she adds dried figs and cherries for a sweet compliment to creamy cheeses, like brie, camembert, or soft-ripened goat cheese. While Mullen also uses cured and aged meat, like salami or prosciutto, her boards are built around cheeses. So much so that she invented her now-famous Cheese-by-Numbers method, which breaks down a cheese plate in six simple steps. “I’m a very visual person, so I sketched one of my boards and numbered the categories, a hybrid between paint-by-numbers and an organized shopping list,” explains Mullen. The categories are as follows: 1-cheese, 2-meat, 3-produce, 4-crunch, 5-dip, 6-garnish. By building the board in this order, the items come together beautifully.” She adds that her Cheese-by-Numbers method takes the guesswork out of creating an Instagram-worthy board. “I believe that everyone’s creativity shines on their own plate, so naturally every plate will look different. There’s no reason to be intimidated,” she says. When building charcuterie boards, Ellis focuses on the meats while Mullen concentrates on cheeses. Both talk about the importance of freshness and the support of local vendors. Delta Meat Market has been recognized nationally for its butchery program. “Delis and butchers will give you what you need [for an excellent charcuterie] and it will be fresh,” says Ellis. “I hope that people will continue to support and purchase artisanal cheeses from local U.S. cheesemakers, especially those who are struggling in the time of COVID,” says Mullen. deltameatmarket.com thatcheeseplate.com/cheese-by-numbers
CREATING A PERFECT CHARCUTERIE Chef Cole Ellis offers these tips for putting together a great charcuterie. And if you don’t want to make it yourself, just order one from him at the Delta Meat Market. 1. Start with the basics so you can have a wellrounded platter. 2. Buy small increments, only what you will need. Once salami is sliced, for instance, the integrity deteriorates after it’s been refrigerated. 3. Place things together that complement each other. Fruits should go next to smoky meats; mustard next to salami. 4. Think about how you want the person to eat the plate. 5. Gravitate more toward functional versus making it cute. 6. Cheeses – include firm, semi-firm, and hard cheeses.
All Those French Terms Are you eating a charcuterie or a crudité? An appetizer or an hors d’oeuvre? Or possibly, it’s a canapé. Here’s a quick glossary to help you know the difference. Canapé – a small piece of bread or pastry with a savory topping, often served with drinks at a reception or formal party. Charcuterie – the definition literally means ham, sausage, and other sliced meats or the place that sells those items. They often take the place of an appetizer at the meal. Crudité – a traditional French appetizer consisting of sliced or whole raw vegetables which are typically dipped in a vinaigrette or sauce. Crudités often include celery sticks, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, bell pepper strips, and broccoli. Appetizer – Meant to stimulate the appetite, appetizers tend to indicate the beginning of the meal. They are usually chosen specifically to complement the courses that will follow. Hors d’oeuvre – another French term that translates to “outside the meal.” It’s generally a one-bite item that’s served separate from or prior to a meal.
Mary Ann DeSantis is the co-editor of DeSoto Magazine. She believes charcuterie boards are especially delicious with a glass of good Pinot Noir wine, which pairs well with almost every charcuterie.
TOMâ€™S TINY KITCHEN
Big Cheese and Big Heart By Michele D. Baker | Photography courtesy of Tom’s Tiny Kitchen
Get ready for National Cheese Lovers Day later this month with cheese dips from Memphis-based Tom’s Tiny Kitchen. When Memphis native Tom Flournoy was laid off from his job in 2009 at the age of 61, he did what many newly unemployed people do: he stepped up to household chores and he cooked. “My wife was still working, so I decided to have dinner on the table when she came home,” he says. “I started to cook.” When it became clear he wasn’t going to find another corporate job, Flournoy expanded his vision to include culinary possibilities as a way to earn a living. “We took my mother’s pimento cheese recipe and tweaked it a bit,” he explains. The original pimento cheese spread debuted at a Memphis farmers market in 2011. Preparing, packaging, and selling it soon became Flournoy’s livelihood. During much of the week, he made pimento cheese. The rest of the time, he sold it. “I was selling at three or four farmers markets a week,”
he remembers. “We had so many commitments that my wife Jill and I had to split up on Saturdays, going to two different places. We sold out every weekend.” The business grew faster than they could have imagined, and the whole family, including their children, pitched in. “My daughter was working with us; our son moved back from California to help out,” recalls Flournoy. “We asked Cordelia’s Market in Harbor Town if they could sell our products in their store. They said yes. They were the first.” Soon, other independent grocery stores were carrying Tom’s Tiny Kitchen cheese spreads, and Kroger’s Delta Division placed the product line in their 100 Delta regional stores. Whole Foods soon followed because Tom’s Tiny Kitchen products contain only the highest quality ingredients and only a very few, all-natural preservatives. National Cheese Lover’s Day on Jan. 20 is the perfect excuse for turophiles — otherwise known as cheese lovers — DeSoto 65
to celebrate with all five varieties of Tom’s Tiny Kitchen cheese: Classic Pimento, Chipotle Pimento, Classic White Dip, Spicy Thai Dip, and Chipotle Bacon Dip. All Tom’s Tiny Kitchen products are made in a tiny kitchen — a 1,500-squarefoot brick building in east Memphis. Trucks deliver fresh, pure Wisconsin cheese, real mayonnaise from Missouri, and the finest pimentos from Moody Dunbar Company in Johnson City, Tenn. “We’ve always made our cheese for families, not for commercial business,” explains Flournoy. “We could probably cut costs by using cheaper ingredients, but we would never do that — we’re not willing to sacrifice the quality.” Flournoy jokingly warns customers that his delicious cheese might be habit forming. “I don’t drink alcohol, so every night for happy hour I sit down with a bowl of my own cheese dip and a bag of Tostitos. I’m pretty sure I’m addicted.” Flournoy’s commitment to quality and integrity shines through in other ways as well. Over the years, he has taken what he’s learned through this journey and shared it with struggling, under-represented entrepreneurs. He has happily mentored dozens of small business owners, especially those with food products when they've sought his expertise. “The one constant that I tell [them] is that as they expand their businesses, there will always be pressure to lower the price,” he explains. “But my philosophy is that you should never sacrifice quality for price. There are always ways to cut costs without giving up the integrity of your product.” Flournoy’s future appears as golden as the cheddar in his dip. Tom’s Tiny Kitchen delectable dips and spreads are currently available in 250 stores nationwide — including 19 stores in the greater Memphis area — and Kroger and Walmart stores in 13 states (more stores and states coming soon). “I’d love to be in every one of the Walmart stores and Krogers nationwide,” Flournoy says with a gleam in his eye. “It would mean expanding out of this building, of course, and the kitchen would no longer be ‘tiny.’ But we set out to make the best66 DeSoto
tasting, highest-quality pimento cheese and cheese dips available. And I truly believe we’ve done just that. Now we just need to scale it up.” TomsTinyKitchen.com Michele D. Baker is a freelance travel writer and blues music fan in Jackson, Miss. She has three cats, too many books, and loves dunking Honeycrisp apple slices in Tom’s Tiny Kitchen Spicy Thai Cheese Dip. Read more of her writing at www.MicheleDBaker.com
Not Your EGG-verage Baked Potato! Baked Eggs in Potatoes with Tom’s Tiny Kitchen Pimento Cheese Recipe courtesy of Jill Flournoy, Tom’s Tiny Kitchen Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Servings: 2-4 Ingredients 2 large baking potatoes, fully baked and cooled enough to handle 1 cup Tom’s Tiny Kitchen Pimento Cheese (Classic or Chipotle) 4 large eggs 2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 1/4 cup bacon bits (optional) Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice baked potatoes in half horizontally and place on a baking sheet. With a spoon, hollow out each potato half to make a shallow “bowl.” Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread 1/4 cup pimento cheese into each potato skin. Gently break one egg into each potato half and top with chives or green onions and bacon. Bake 18-20 minutes until egg white is set but yolk is still runny. (Cook slightly longer for firm yolk.) Serve immediately.
southern gentleman | WHISKEY AT ITS BEST
Southern Whiskey Society: Brown Water at its Best By Jason Frye | Photography courtesy of Southern Whiskey Society
Travel the whiskey world in Franklin, Tenn., with events that include visiting chefs, distillers, and 90 spirits to sample. Great things come from humble and unexpected places. This laptop I’m using, a MacBook Air, traces its roots to a garage in Los Altos, Calif. Google, the email service I’ll use to send this story to my editor, was born in a garage. Amazon, Microsoft, even Disney’s first animations... all came from garages. What if instead of an anonymous garage in some suburban cul-de-sac somewhere in California, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had met in a barn in Franklin, Tenn., invited over a few buddies for conversation and a bottle or two of good whiskey? I think they’d have come up with the Southern Whisky Society, just like Chris Thomas, founder and CEO of Made South and the mastermind behind the best evening of whiskey tasting in the region. “It all started in a little barn where we’d hang out,” 68 DeSoto
says Thomas. “A few good friends, good conversation, good whiskey, it was all we needed. But I’d been in the event business for a while and I thought, ‘I wonder if we could get 20 or 30 or 40 of our favorite distillers together for a giant tasting?’” Turns out, the answer was a resounding, “Yes.” Thomas knew that whiskey alone wouldn’t carry the evening. “With that much whiskey, you need food, and that food’s gotta be good,” he says. One look around Franklin and the surrounding hills, a phone call or two to some Nashville buddies, and Thomas had 10 chefs lined up, ready to flex their culinary muscles and dish up hundreds of plates to what he was calling the Southern Whiskey Society. The Inaugural Southern Whiskey Society event in 2017 saw 500 people descend on The Factory at Franklin, a former stove factory in its second act as a home to boutique
shops, restaurants, recording studios, offices, and Liberty Hall, an event space perfect for whiskey tasting. When those 500 thirsty patrons arrived, they found 10 chefs, 30 distilleries, and somewhere north of 90 whiskeys to taste. Those whiskeys weren’t just the top-shelf offerings from places like Buffalo Trace, Willett Distillery, and Jack Daniel’s. They were rare bottles, single barrels, and blends hand selected for the Southern Whiskey Society. Things you couldn’t taste anywhere else. “We were onto something and we tried to grow,” Thomas remembers, “but that second event, it just didn’t shine for me, so we retooled it.” Limiting the number of participants to the 500 range kept the flow and energy of the evening running right. “We never wanted any lines, and at that size, you could walk up to pretty much any distiller for a taste and a chat with no problem,” he says. But Thomas wanted something more, something to make the whiskey aficionados turn their head. After observing the next couple of events and doing some thinking, a true VIP experience was born — a separate lounge upstairs in Liberty Hall, surrounded by historic brick walls and looking down on the rows of distillers and throngs of thirsty whiskey hounds. Also, a table of ultra-rare bottles (and a few ultra-ultra-rare bottles tucked away beneath the tablecloth for those in the know) were available for VIPs only. I found myself standing at the balcony of the VIP area on Leap Day, 2020. My throat warm from a swallow of Kentucky Owl and a barbecue slider in my hand, I watched bottle after bottle tip, spill a splash of brown liquor into a glass, and then the swirl-sniff-sip of seasoned tasters. On stage, The
Podcask, a whiskey-centric podcast was conducting interviews with distillers and chefs. Soon the band — with their slideheavy blend of blues, Southern rock, and Outlaw Country — would take the stage again. I’d already texted my buddies, the ones with whom sit in the garage and compare notes on whiskey and beer and whatnot, telling them, “I found the perfect guys getaway for the end of summer: Franklin, TN, and the Southern Whiskey Society,” illustrated with a blurry selfie. For all of 2020, the Southern Whiskey Society, and the other events Thomas had planned through Made South — his company that provides subscription gift boxes of curated items from Southern makers and artisans and hosts a spectacular Holiday Market every winter — was silent. With the pandemic, Thomas’ vision of two Southern Whiskey Society events — one in late winter and one at the end of summer — was for naught. He had time to think again, reworking the event in his mind, running through lists of craft distillers, chefs whose culinary voices needed to be added to the chorus, one more way to make this event the best it can be. “Maybe less is more,” says Thomas. “Maybe we’ll all appreciate the camaraderie and the food and the whiskey just a little more next time we can come together and raise a glass.” madesouth.com/southernwhiskey-society
Jason Frye writes about food and travel from his home base on the coast of North Carolina. You can follow him on Instagram where he’s @beardewriter, or you can see him in person at the next Southern Whiskey Society, sipping and snacking his way across the room.
southern harmony | MAGNOLIA BAYOU
Magnolia Bayou Visits a ‘Strange Place’ By Kevin Wierzbicki Photography credits: On stage shot by Tiffany Anderson. Others by Linda Gossett Stroud, Linda Stroud Photography.
Life on the open road, with all its trials and tribulations for a band, led to a new album for Gulfport’s Magnolia Bayou. Anyone with an occupation that requires a copious amount of travel will tell you that there’s a lot of weird stuff that happens out on the road. That notion especially applies to touring musicians, a bunch that spends an inordinate amount of time away from home. And while legends from long ago might portray traveling minstrels as having to face off with ogres to get from village to village, today’s performers have their own challenges. “Once we fought off a horde of demons with the power of rock,” laughs Drew Fulton, the singer and guitarist for the Gulfport, Miss.-based band Magnolia Bayou. 70 DeSoto
Besides Fulton, Magnolia Bayou consists of lead guitarist Dylan Palmiero, drummer Cedric Feazell, and bass man Josh Estes. All of them are native Mississippians and they play blues-tinged rock that, as their official bio says, is “forged in the heart of a Mississippi swamp.” And that swamp, and all of the other places in their state that inspire music, are wellknown to the foursome. “The Mississippi Delta is full of the richest musical soil in the United States, and it is absolutely the birthplace of American music,” states Palmiero. “Obviously, the blues is a big part of rock ’n’ roll and it is in our blood. I consider Clarksdale
to be sacred ground because of the history surrounding Robert Johnson as well as Muddy Waters’ first home being in Stovall Plantation on the outskirts of Clarksdale. You can really feel the energy and the vibe of the blues in that part of the state.” The new Magnolia Bayou album is called “Strange Place” and with songs like the Southern rock of “Sleepin’ in the Doghouse” and “Hands in the Dirt,” the affection for home expressed in the honey-dripping “Sweet Magnolia” and the slide guitar romps that permeate many cuts, it’s obvious that this music is a product of the South. “Being raised in the South means that certain songs have just followed you around your whole life,” explains Fulton. “Songs like ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ ‘Ramblin’ Man,’ ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ and ‘The Thrill is Gone.’ Southern rock and blues are just buried deep within our psyches, and it comes out in our music and playing without really even trying. We are proud of our heritage.” “Hurricane,” one of the songs on the album, turned out to be a prescient soundtrack for the South in 2020 as the region was battered by tempest after tempest. The Lynyrd Skynyrd-recalling track features a frenzied wail of slide guitar, perhaps representing the mental anguish of awaiting some level of doom. Fortunately for the band, Gulfport escaped most of the year’s wrath. “Every year is predicted to be the worst yet,” Fulton says. “We’ve learned not to panic too early. It’s best to prepare and watch the storm closely. Usually a day or two before arrival we will know whether we should evacuate. We’ve been lucky for the last 15 years.”
Magnolia Bayou wasn’t, however, immune to 2020’s main woe, the COVID-19 pandemic. "It completely halted touring,” Fulton laments. “We were fortunate to have “Strange Place” and a ton of other material to keep fans occupied. We also participated in weekly acoustic live streams for a while, which was a lot of fun. Our goal on the road is to mask up and to practice good hygiene and social distancing. We are taking it very seriously as we have a lot of high-risk family members at home.” When the guys are able to get back to their full touring routine they’ll definitely hit one of their favorite places, Memphis, and Palmiero enthuses about a couple of cherished memories from the city. “The show we played at The Bluff with Bishop Gunn in late 2019 was an absolute barn burner! Another of my favorite Memphis memories is when my girlfriend and I ate at an Indian restaurant called Mayuri. They have absolutely phenomenal cuisine,” remembers Palmiero. When it comes to food, Fulton adds that the band is fed nicely at home, too. “Our cook is our bass player’s father, Chris. At rehearsal, he always grills Conecuh and boudin sausage. He’s done that for five years and it’s always been our band meal of choice.” The “Strange Place” song “Tupelo” has a line “the road is a strange place,” and that’s where the album’s title comes from. And while the road may be a place to find freaks and fantasy, Fulton notes that the monster that a band might run up against may merely be a construct of logistics. “We once drove to and from Idaho with no rest stops in between,” he says. “Thirty hours there and 30 hours back. If you want to hallucinate, that’s an option.”
Kevin is a Phoenix-based freelance travel and music journalist who finds it hard to resist the call of the open road, which he hopes will lead him to a song with a catchy beat. Sometimes he really hits the jackpot and discovers a band like Magnolia Bayou, purveyors of new music that comes from old-fangled roots.
in good spirits | COVID KILLER
A Spirited Fight By Cheré Coen | Photography courtesy of Peter Kern Library
Knoxville’s Peter Kern Library, a speakeasy bar in the Oliver Hotel, loves paying homage to literary figures but last year fought the virus with a unique cocktail. Like most libations establishments, the Peter Kern Library — a lounge, not a library, inside Knoxville’s Oliver Hotel — had to shutter its doors during 2020’s COVID-19 lockdown. While in hibernation, General Manager Kevin Armstrong decided to change up the printing of the cocktail menu, narrowing it down to one sheet and printing it in-house. And he added a few fun cocktails to the mix. “It seemed the opportune time to rename the cocktails,” Armstrong says. The Peter Kern Library sits tucked deep inside the hotel, a speakeasy-style bar with dark wooden walls covered in books. The historic building hails back to 1876 when Germanborn Peter Kern began the Kern Bakery and Confectionery in downtown Knoxville. As a later hotel, the room was used as a reading room, complete with library and a grand piano. When the present-day Oliver Hotel was renovated and opened in 2009, owners decided to make the reading room a speakeasy bar with a library flare, serving up craft cocktails named after literary characters, an expansive whiskey and bourbon selection, and beer and wine in a cozy setting. Cocktails made with fresh ingredients — sometimes with herbs from Armstrong’s garden — offer nods to literary characters such as the “Holly Golightly” from Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Mustapha Mond” from Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The winter menu includes a “Removed Reading” section, honoring books threatened to be removed or that have been banned from public places such as schools and libraries. There’s “Curley’s Wife” from John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” a mixture of cognac, Cointreau, lemon, cranberry sauce, and pimento dram, and “Aunt Polly” from Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer,” something akin to an apple pie with flavors of cinnamon and cloves. “The current menu’s definitely a holiday-cold weather kind of menu,” Armstrong said. But back to that menu change-up last spring, when Armstrong and staff were coming out of the COVID lockdown.
They decided to veer afield of the literary names, adding the cocktails “Spanish Flu,” “Exotic 2020,” and “COVID Killer.” “We did clever names that captured the times,” he said. COVID Killer has become so popular, it remains on the menu. The drink combines Japanese whiskey, lemon juice, ginger liqueur, simple syrup, honey bitters and a Bowmore 12 Scotch float with a mint garnish. “It’s a mash-up between a whiskey smash and a modern classic called the Penicillin,” Armstrong said, the latter owning the alleged healing properties of honey, lemon juice, and fresh ginger. We suggest you remain vigilant against the virus — wear your mask, get the vaccine, — but here’s a killer drink that may take the edge off the pandemic. COVID Killer 2 ounces Toki Suntory Whisky 3/4 ounces house-made ginger liqueur 3/4 ounces fresh squeezed lemon juice 1/4 ounce simple syrup 1 squeeze Bittermens Krupnik Herbal Honey Bitters 1/2 ounce Bowmore 12 Scotch 4 mint leaves (expressed) irections: Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain D into a glass. Float Bowmore 12 Scotch by holding a bar spoon upside down over the drink and slowly pouring the Scotch over the back of the spoon, making contact with the side of the glass and letting it flow into the drink. Garnish with mint sprig.
DeSoto Co-editor Cheré Coen is a native of New Orleans and thus, a lover of cocktails. Her roots hail back to Mississippi, however, which may be why she loves Four Roses bourbon as much as Faulkner.
exploring events | JANUARY Van Gogh, Monet, Degas & Their Times Through January 10 Mississippi Museum of Art Jackson, MS For more information visit msmuseumart.org or call 601-960-1515.
Illuminating the Word:The St. John’s Bible Through January 10 Dixon Gallery & Gardens Memphis, TN Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible presents the story of the book’s creation, exploring the relationship between faith, art, and the written word. The exhibition features more than thirty original unbound folios, including illustrations for the scriptural accounts of Creation, Esther, the Genealogy of Christ, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. For more information visit dixon.org or call 901-761-5250.
“Power and Absence: Women in Europe: Through January 14 Brooks Museum of Art Memphis, TN Exhibition explores the representation of women in Europe from around 1500 to 1680, known as the Renaissance and Early Baroque period. For more information visit or call 901-544-6209.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer Through April 30 The Children’s Museum of Memphis Memphis, TN Experience an awesome museum exhibit featuring the four heroic ninjas in training. Leap to the rescue and learn teamwork, collaboration, and problem-solving as you work your way through puzzles, mazes, and obstacles. Now you can join these pizza-eating, crime-fighting “Heroes in a Half-Shell” to hone your ninja skills and problem-solving intellect while learning the secrets of the sewer! For more information visit cmom.com or call 901-458-2678.
Grammy Museum Mississippi presents Stronger Together: The Power of Women in Country Music Through May 3 Grammy Museum Cleveland, MS Stronger Together: The Power of Women in Country Music will take visitors on a journey through the history of women in country music, from the early years and post-World War II, to the emergence of Nashville as a country music mecca. For more information visit grammymuseumms.org or call 662-441-0100.
Celebrating Garth Brooks Through September 2 Grammy Museum Mississippi Cleveland, MS The display features artifacts and personal memorabilia from the GRAMMY®-winning country star, including the Takamine acoustic guitar Brooks played during his appearance at the Mississippi Museum on Sept. 24, 2019, and the uniform Brooks—a longtime baseball fan—wore when he participated in a training camp with the Pittsburgh Pirates, among other items. For more information visit grammymuseumms.org or call 662-441-0100.
Willie Mitchell and the Music of Royal Studios Through September 5 Grammy Museum Mississippi Cleveland, MS The legendary studio that was instrumental in shaping the sound of Memphis soul will be celebrated with a new exhibit. The exhibit will tell the story of the iconic studio—one of the oldest in the world that continues to operate today—and the late Willie Mitchell, who ran the studio and produced many artists on its label, Hi Records. For more information visit grammymuseumms.org or call 662-441-0100.
Elvis’ Birthday Celebration January 7 - 9 Graceland Memphis, TN Elvis Presley's Graceland® will be celebrating the King of Rock 'n' Roll's™ 86th birthday on January 7-9, 2021, including the annual Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony on January 8, a Birthday Celebration "Elvis Unplugged" Concert featuring singer and musician Dean Z, exclusive tours and more. Tickets can be purchased at Graceland.com or by calling Graceland Reservations at 800-238-2000 or 901-332-3322.
New Beginnings Exhibit January 9 - February 6 DeSoto Arts Council Hernando, MS Free Admission! Saturdays in January meet the artist open house - noon to 4:00pm. Adam Webb, Potter - January 9 Rita Swanger, Painter - January 16 Suzanne Cox, Painter - January 30 For more information visit desotoartscouncil.com or call 662-404-3361.
Van Gogh, Monet, Degas & Their Times
Oxford Fiber Arts Festival January 15 - 23 Oxford, MS The Eleventh Annual Oxford Fiber Arts Festival will look at little different this year due to COVID-19, but we hope you can join us in person and online to celebrate the fiber arts! For more information visit oxfordarts.com or call 662-236-6429.
You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown January 22 - 31 Corinth Theatre-Arts Corinth, MS Charlie Brown and the entire Peanuts gang explore life's great questions as they play baseball, struggle with homework, sing songs, swoon over their crushes, and celebrate the joy of friendship. For more information visit corinththeatrearts.com or call 662-287-2995.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer
Elvis’ Birthday Celebration
reflections | BISCUITS: A FAMILY TRADITION
This cast iron skillet dating back decades was the one Shockley’s mother used to cook biscuits on her first morning following her wedding.
Biscuits: A Family Tradition Story and photography by Dayle Allen Shockley
I grew up in a home where having three meals a day was standard practice. As a youngster, it didn’t seem like anything extraordinary but, looking back, I don’t know how my mother did it — with three daughters (two of them twins), and a husband who couldn’t cook a thing. As I remember it, unless we were on vacation, every day of my childhood and young adulthood my mother made homemade biscuits in a cast iron skillet, with bacon and fried eggs for breakfast. Some days, breakfast might include buttery grits and tomato gravy, as well. This feast would be followed a few hours later by a simple lunch of sandwiches, soup, or something similar. In the evenings, there would be a hearty supper with meat, starches, vegetables, and a dessert worthy of a blue ribbon at the county fair. The truth is, Mother has been cooking all her life. In my cherished collection of old letters there is one dated Aug. 15, 1945. It was written by my mother — then 13 — to her mother, who was out of town preaching the gospel to those who would listen. In this delightful two-page letter, my mother writes: “Daddy woke me up Monday at 10:30 a.m. I got up, made up my bed, dressed, made up daddy’s bed and cooked dinner. We had vegetable soup, bread, and biscuits. Bread, ok, biscuits, not so good.” Further in the letter, she writes of churning butter, carrying milk, shelling peas and beans, and cooking a dinner of peas and sweet potatoes, with “good bread and biscuits,” although she adds, “biscuits stuck bad” and were “as big as buffalos.” 76 DeSoto
Visualizing my mother preparing meals for herself, her brother, and her hard-working father, while her mother was out feeding souls, if you will, leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Just four years later, my mother married my father, a month after she turned 17. That is hard to imagine, but what’s not hard to visualize is that on their first morning together as newlyweds my daddy ate nine biscuits! Clearly, Mother’s biscuits had improved by then. My mom isn’t the only woman in my lineage who made great biscuits. It was my paternal grandmother, the one we called Maw-Maw, whose biscuits made a lasting impression on me. I will never forget our visits to her home and how every morning Maw-Maw could be found standing at her old Hoosier cabinet, humming a happy tune as she shaped plump biscuits made of flour, buttermilk, and lard. With rhythm and speed, she’d roll each one in her hands, then pat them gently into a greased cast iron skillet, while a cloud of flour swirled about her head before settling into the wrinkles around her neck. Although Maw-Maw didn’t live long enough to see me grow into an adult, I know she’d be pleased that the tradition of making biscuits lives on. And there’s nothing sweeter than when my granddaughter climbs up on a chair beside me and asks, “Memaw, can I help you?” A native of Lucedale, Miss., Dayle Shockley is an award-winning writer and the author of three books. She and her husband make their home in Southeast Texas.
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