Eat Drink Mississippi: August/September 2021 Issue

Page 1

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI Queen’s Reward Meadery | Fat Mama's Tamales | Walnut Hills Restaurant

& k c i u Q y h t l Hea l o o h c S o T k c a B s l a Me

30-Minute and Under Meals

Three all-star meals and lunches to get your family’s back-to-school season started right August/September 2021 $

4.95 DISPLAY UNTIL September 31, 2021

Festival Season is Just Starting Learn more about local festivals that are sure to be a great end to your summer eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 1

JXN Delis for Meals On-the-Go BY REBECCA FENDING


ack to school season is here again. If you’re adapting to a new, busy schedule, on-the-go meals are a blessing.

Steve’s Downtown Deli and Bakery – 125 South Congress Street

Here are just a few delicious eateries in Jackson that can help you get a quick bite on your most active days.

Order any sandwich you can think of—from honey ham to buffalo chicken or muffuletta, Corner Market has anything you could want. Or if you can’t decide, ask the deli clerk for their recommendation.

Steve’s Downtown Deli and Bakery has no shortage of delicious sandwiches, wraps and even pizza. The menu features various sandwiches, including the blackened shrimp po’boy, made with remoulade, lettuce and tomato.

If you’re looking for a hot meal on the fly, Corner Market has you covered there, too. The popular choice for the blue plate is the classic fried chicken that keeps customers coming back. On Fridays, Corner Market features catfish as part of the choices for the blue plate special for $6.99. However, there are also many other entree options for your plate, as well as side dishes, including black-eyed peas, green beans, cabbage and mac ‘n’ cheese.

Or, if you prefer a wrap, the Sausalito is a crowd favorite. Made with all-natural roasted turkey breast, avocado, tomato, lettuce, house ranch dressing in a wheat wrap, it’s perfect for a busy day.

Corner Market is open daily from 7 am to 10 pm (the Fortification Street location closes at 9 pm). For more information, visit .

Steve’s also has a great cheeseburger, ham and cheddar quiche and even a pepperoni pizza.

Basil’s Fondren - 2906 North State Street Suite 104

This deli is open from 11 am to 2 pm on weekdays, so be sure to drop in for lunch. Daily sandwich specials rotate throughout the week, so visit their website,, for more information. Keifer’s Downtown – 120 North Congress Street Keifer’s Downtown is known for their Greek food, including the pita wraps and hummus, but they also make a mean sandwich and wrap.

option of all.

Try the gyro for an authentic Greek lunch: stuffed with a spicy blend of lamb and beef and served with tzatziki sauce, this is perhaps the most famous Greek

sandwich for lunch.

When it comes to good, fast and fresh, Basil’s knows just what their customers need. This deli specializes in paninis built on their fresh-baked focaccia, guaranteeing a crisp, soft and mouthwatering

Panini choices range from classics such as turkey, ham or grilled chicken to more involved combinations. The rodeo panini includes smoked beef brisket, Southwest coffee barbecue sauce, bell peppers, spicy jack cheese and roasted garlic mayo. Or, for pizza lovers, Basil’s 10-inch pizzas have been perfected inhouse over the last 15 years, making them a favorite for regulars and newcomers alike. With flavor combinations that you can’t find elsewhere, you won’t be disappointed with your choices.

Not feeling a gyro? Don’t worry: Keifer’s menu has several options like the pocket pitas. Order one stuffed with chicken salad, tuna salad or turkey breast, with lettuce and tomato for a perfectly refreshing lunch to-go.

Basil’s is open weekdays 11 am to 3 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm, and is closed Sunday. Visit their website,, to learn more.

Keifer’s is open weekdays from 11 am to 2:30 pm. Check out their website at for their full menu.

Sugar’s Place Downtown – 168 East Griffith Street

Corner Market - 1220 East Northside Drive #330; 904 East Fortification Street; 653 Duling Avenue Although a grocery store, Corner Market’s deli is a favorite for local shoppers and those in need of a quick bite. With fresh-cut meats and cheeses to make the sandwich of your dreams, Corner Market might be your new go-to.

2 • August/September 2021

If you need a fix for your comfort food cravings, Sugar’s Place Downtown knows just what you need. Sugar’s is known for its catfish, chicken and waffles, a half-pound Angus chuck burger and fried wings, that would be perfect for an easy to-go meal. Or, if you’re looking for a refreshing bite, the restaurant also offers salads like the fried chicken salad, or even a side salad to pair with your entrée. To make it full meal, add a few of Sugar’s classic sides such as the potato salad, candied yams, green beans, coleslaw and collard greens. For more information, visit the Sugar’s Place Facebook page or email with any questions.


eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 3

CONTENTS August/September 2021 Volume 10 Number 4


13 43 in every issue 6 From the Editor 7

What’s Happening

in this issue 14 FRESH FROM THE FARM: Cherry Creek Orchards

40 COMEBACK SAUCE: A Southern Staple

18 BACK-TO-SCHOOL MEALS: 3 Quick and Healthy Recipes Perfect for Weeknights

43 MONTHLY RECIPE: Restaurant Recipes Never Go Out of Style

24 HEATON PECANS: A Mississippi Treasure

10 Fabulous Foodie Finds

28 QUEEN’S REWARD MEADERY: Mississippi’s First

12 A Taste of Magnolia

31 HIGHWAY 61 ROAD TRIP EATS: Walnut Hills

52 Recipe Index

34 BURGERS: History, Secrets and Hidden Gems

55 Till We Eat Again


4 • August/September 2021

44 RESTAURANT SPOTLIGHT: ThirtyTwo 46 MISSISSIPPI MADE: Tony’s Tamales 47 RAISE YOUR GLASS: Cantaloupe Bubble Tea 48 FROM THE BOOKSHELF: "Half Baked Harvest Super Simple” 50 FESTIVAL GUIDE: August and September 2021 51 SEASONAL PRODUCE GUIDE

ON THE COVER: Molasses Glazed Cast Iron Salmon by Lisa LaFontaine Bynum, page 22.

SUBSCRIBE NOW SUBSCRIBE SUBSCRIBENOW NOW taste Mississippi allyear yearlong! long! forfor a aa taste for tasteof of ofMississippi Mississippiallall year long!

Only2424 forsix sixissues! issues! Only 26for $ $$ Sandwic








d Chic



r Frie


d Chic







hes |





9 Tast Old y Ging Wav erbr erly ead Farm Trea Ham ts | Bill’ ’s | Joh s Creo hes | 9 Tast nnie le and Old ’s Driv Cooking y Ging Wav Stea e-In erbr erly As a k Dep | Fren 9 Tast ead Farm First Old Trea ot | Salv ch Her y Langua Ham Wav ts | Bill’ Sandwic Gingerbr ’s | John mit atio erly ge | Oyster s Creo ead n Arm Farm Okto hes | nie’s Trea le and c Cou y Sou Cook Com Ham Driv ts | Bill’ pany ing As ntry ’s | Joh per Bow Stea e-In s Creo Stor k Dep | Fren a Firs nnie l e ot | Salv le and ’s Driv ch Her Cooking t Lan guag Stea e-In mit atio As a e | Okto k Dep Oyster | Fren n Arm First ot | Salv ch Her c Cou y Sou Com Langua pany ntry per Bow mit atio ge | Stor Oyster n Arm Okto l e c Cou y Sou Com pany ntry per Bow Stor l e ie-For





d Chic

12 To-D


















y 2020



y 2020

y 2020


ary 2020






eat. drink

PI •

eat. drink





PI •



PI •

eat. drink

PI •


y for


Smoke Gri Rack lled of Lam

eat. drink



Ginger with bread Lem on GinSau gerce bre wit Chihcke Lem ad Street Saucen on Tacos Chicke But tern n Street ut Squash Tac os Mac But & tern Che ut Squese ash Mac & Cheese






ber 2019



ber 2019






PI •





ber 2019



ger with bread Lem Sauce on Chi Streetcken Tacos Buttern Squashut Mac & Cheese


















Missis sip annu pi Food Missis al Ne sip turkey twork’s annu pi Food drive al tu Netw eat. drink rk.ey ork’s MISS ISSIP dr PI • ive 1

Missis sip annu pi Food al tu Ne rkey twork’s drive eat. drink




P li HT riay id fic ne P oler IPPI TerrifiPcra IP Hec raSo T uth line riolan idayPI Prali Holid Perecnfl Swut anes ne P ay So eehT t ri an Sout Tec Poteeaternfles Sw herrinfles to Swee Pot ieat t o Potat P ie o P ie Gin



Makes Makes Makes aa great great a great gift! gift!gift!

12 To-D

ea ea d eeat. d rin aMtIS. SdISSrrink. eat. deaMMttIS..eSdISdaSrrtIPi.indke.aMMttIS..eSd ISa Srt. k. n P I MISS rinISSISM k. SIPISPSIISkSr.inISkSIS.SMIPIPiISPPnIISdISkSr.iMnISkSIS.SIPIPiPPnII k. ISS 12 To-D


Thyme Lem and Loaf on Cake Waterm eat. drink Aru elo . MISS gul ISSIP aPISal n • 1ad



Hoora Hoora y for Herybfor s

Subscribe online at

Subscribe at or cut out online online at s Subscribe onlineSubscribe www.eatdrinkmississippi or cut outtothis form and mail to us at this form and mail us at our corporate office: orP.O. cut out this form andtomail us at or cut out thisBox form and mail usMS atto39130 1663, Madison, 10971 Four Seasons Place P.O. Box 1663, Madison, MS 39130 P.O. Box211 1663, Madison, 39130 Suite Crown PointMS IN 46307 MY SUBSCRIPTION GIFT SUBSCRIPTION


Smoke Gri Rack lled Smof Lam oke - b ThyGri lled Rac k me and of Lam Lem Loaf on b Thy meCak e and WaLem termon Loa Aru elo f Cak . MISS gul ISSIP aPISale n • Waterm 1ad eat. drink Aru elo . MISS gul ISSIP aPISal n • 1ad eat. drink

eat. drink. drink. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI MISSISSIPPI MISSISSIPPI


1-year $26 1-year $24 $24 2-years$36 $36 2-years $34 2-years $36

1-year $26 1-year $24 $24 2-years$36 $36 2-years $34 2-years $36

__________________________________________ __________________________________________ PAYMENT ENCLOSED BILL ME LATER __________________________________________ PAYMENT ENCLOSED BILL ME LATER NAME NAME PAYMENT ENCLOSED BILL ME LATER NAME __________________________________________ TO: __________________________________________ TO: __________________________________________ ADDRESS TO: ADDRESS ADDRESS __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ NAME CITY NAME CITY NAME __________________________________________ CITY __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ ADDRESS STATE ZIP ADDRESS STATE ZIP ADDRESS STATE __________________________________________ ZIP __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ CITY PHONE CITY PHONE CITY __________________________________________ PHONE__________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ STATE ZIP E-MAIL STATE ZIP E-MAIL ADDRESS ADDRESS STATE ZIP MISSISSIPPI • 5 E-MAIL ADDRESS eat. drink.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 5

{ from the editor }

Back-To-School Memories BY REBECCA FENDING


his time of year is always jam-packed with back-to-school to-do lists. From organizing the family calendar for the upcoming months to shopping for new school supplies like a new backpack and lunch box, the mayhem has begun. Possibly the most exciting part of the new school year was choosing a new backpack and lunchbox. Since we were at the mercy of whatever local stores carried in terms of themes and patterns, it felt extra special when you found a bag that spoke to you. One of my most favorite backpacks I ever had was

an ultra-bright electric blue, with a pale white swirly Paisley-like design crawling over the canvas. While I was smitten with the color and design, my mom gently pointed out that it may not be big enough for that year. My teacher had prefaced that we would be toting heavy books and large three-ring binders to and from school. Long story short, my mom was right, and my backpack zipper was never fully zipped that year. Now, choosing a lunchbox was a different story as I grew older. My primary focus of cute, unique patterns morphed into a more subtle style to not

draw attention and feel “dorky” as I carried it to the lunchroom. Silly, I realize that now, but at the time, having to tote my lunch in a brightly colored Vera Bradley bag had me mortified. However embarrassing my lunchbox felt, the meal inside always made it more palatable. In elementary school, my mom packed it with a note from Mom, written on a napkin in blue ink. Looking back, I wish I would have saved those. Packed lunches varied from the iconic Lunchable, classic PB&J with crunchy peanut butter to a thermos of hot SpaghettiOs or soup or a turkey and cheese sandwich. Sides usually included string cheese, cheesy crackers, fresh fruit or a granola bar. It did not occur to me until I was high school age and packing my own lunches how much trouble my mom went to in order to make both mine and my brother’s lunches. Really, it’s the cleanup that’s not very fun—bread crumbs from trying to shove a sandwich in a baggie, mayo or peanut butter smeared and messy knives. Trying to make lunch the morning of was such a mess that I started packing it the night before. Sure, the bread might have been slightly soggy, but that was better than throwing ingredients together Disney-style (you know, meat, cheese and all the toppings are thrown onto a plate from three feet away and it somehow comes out looking restaurant-grade?) and hoping it came together before the school bus did. Now, my go-to lunch is like a grown-up Lunchable: slices of deli meat, cheese and Ritz crackers. It’s simple, no-mess and easy to put together the morning of. I would highly recommend trying it for yourself or even your kids. And maybe include a napkin note, just for old time’s sake. edm

EAT DRINK MISSISSIPPI (USPS 17200) is published bi-monthly by Connected Community Media Group, 10971 Four Seasons Pl. Ste. 211, Crown Point, IN 46307. Periodicals postage paid at Madison, MS, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please mail changes of address to P.O. Box 1663, Madison, MS 39130.

6 • August/September 2021

{ what’s happening }

Delta Hot Tamale Festival Set for October 14-16


ast year’s Delta Hot Tamale Festival, like most events last year, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the long-awaited festival is back this fall, set for October 14 through 16. The Delta Hot Tamale Festival is a fun-filled, three-day event that celebrates local and regional artists, musicians and tamale makers, as well as some of the South’s most influential chefs and writers. Head to downtown Greenville for a weekend full of tamales, crafts, music and literature. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit edm


Bulldog Burger Company Opens Ridgeland Location

nown for their upscale burgers, tasty appetizers and gourmet milkshakes, Bulldog Burger originally opened several years ago in Starkville’s Cotton District, followed by a second location in Tupelo. Over the summer, Bulldog Burger’s third location opened in Ridgeland, located on Lake Harbour Drive. Bulldog Burger’s menu includes unique burgers like the Freshman 15, a burger with a slab of panko-fried mozzarella cheese on top and other over-the-top burgers and sandwiches, as well as appetizers and salads. Bulldog Burger also boasts a full bar, along with boozy spiked milkshakes. Visit Bulldog Burger at 879 Lake Harbour Drive in Ridgeland, and visit for information and menus. edm

Marina Cantina Set to Open Second Location on Mississippi Gulf Coast


he first location of Marina Cantina opened in Gulfport amidst the chaos of the pandemic and was instantly a success among the residents of Gulfport and surrounding communities. The open-air, waterfront restaurant boasts a tasty, south-of-the-border and seafood menu. The second waterfront location is set to open in October in Ocean Springs. What was McElroy’s on the Bayou, sitting on US 90 just east of the Biloxi Bay, is getting a total redo. Old dining room windows are being replaced with glass doors, and the back deck will be outfitted with cabanas, fire pits and a stage for live music. The Gulfport location opened in October 2020, and owner Thomas Genin says he plans to have the Ocean Springs location open around the anniversary of the opening of the Gulfport restaurant. edm eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 7

VENDORS WANTED We are currently seeking magazine vendors in all areas of the state.

If you would like to sell this magazine at your business, call 601-427-5694 or email for more information.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI Debbie Hansen Publisher/Editor

Rebecca Fending Editor


Paige McKay Contributing Writer & Advertising Associate

Julian Brunt Lisa LaFontaine Bynum Divian Conner Melissa Cookston Susan Marquez Brandi Perry Jay Reed Contributors



DROP US A LINE! Thank you for your interest in this magazine. We would love to hear from you. Please understand that letters submitted become the property of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI and may be edited for length and clarity. E-mail us at, leave a comment on our Facebook page, or write to P.O. Box 1663, Madison, MS 39130.

NEW ADDRESS? If you’re a subscriber and your address has changed, please let us know. The post office doesn’t provide forwarding service for the magazine and we don’t want you to miss an issue. Send your change of address to us at P.O. Box 1663, Madison, MS 39130 or e-mail us at

8 • August/September 2021

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI is published six times a year by Connected Community Media Group

b 10971 Four Seasons Place Suite 211 Crown Point IN 46307

b 601.427.5694

b © eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or reprinted without written consent from the Publisher. Advertising rates available upon request. Subscriptions are $26 for one year. Subscribe online or make checks payable to: eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI 10971 Four Seasons Place Suite 211 Crown Point IN 46307


Check out for info on all our offerings! • meats • jerky • fudge

• lunch daily • deli trays • catering

A must-do when visiting Laurel! 520 CENTRAL AVE, LAUREL, MS 601-651-2054 •

With basil in season, those of us who grew the herb at home may be looking for a way to put the leaves to good use. There’s no better way to enjoy homegrown basil than with homemade pesto. Use it the same day, store in the fridge for a week or freeze it in an airtight container for up to six months.

Ingredients: • • • • •

2 cups basil leaves 2 tablespoons walnuts 2-3 large garlic cloves ½ cup quality extra-virgin olive oil ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place basil, walnuts and garlic in a food processor or blender and blend until finely minced. 2. Drizzle in olive oil as the basil mixture continues to blend. Process until smooth. 3. Add in the Parmesan and blend just long enough to combine.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 9

{ fabulous foodie finds }

Modern Kitchen Concepts L ast year saw a rise in the love for vintage home and kitchen décor. And while the nomenclature of “classics” stands for a reason, it may not be for everyone. For those who have already lived through eras now regarded as “retro,” a

contemporary spin may be what you need. If you’re looking for a modern take on your space, here are just a few ways you can achieve a gorgeous kitchen from this century.

Less is More The main component of modern home space is the practice of minimalism. Toning down the urge to fill the inches of counter space that meet the backsplash is a great place to start modernizing your kitchen. Declutter where and what you can, and instead opt for clean, open and neutral-toned surfaces and accents. If you’ve been thinking about adding an island to your kitchen, you may want to double-check the dimensions. Be sure to get something large enough to be functional in your home but small enough that it will not restrict movement or keep guests from socializing in the space with you.

Kitchen Plants Whether you’re looking for decorative, air-purifying or even a countertop herb garden, plants are a great way to decorate an otherwise minimalistic space. They also contribute to the growing (no pun intended) idea of increasing your connections with the outdoors. Keeping a few plants in your kitchen area is a great way to brighten up the room, especially for those in smaller, closed-off apartment spaces. This windowsill herb garden kit from Amazon is a great way to incorporate nature and flavor in your kitchen. Complete with seeds, reusable pots and bamboo labels, this is a great way to start with kitchen plants.

10 • August/September 2021

Hot Water Taps As folks become accustomed to staying home, what would before be a luxury is now a necessity. One of these is an instant hot water tap. No longer must you wait for the water to heat or boil as this modern necessity is ready when you are. If you’re looking for a cup of tea or coffee on the fly or even need hot filtered water for other household needs, this InSinkErator Instant Hot Water Dispenser has you covered. It has adjustable water temperature settings, from 170 to 200 degrees, and heats the water with electricity, which set up is ultra-easy.

Two-Toned Accents Modernity rejects the matchy-matchy mindset of previous home design. From mixing two unlike colors to blending wood stains, opting for a two-toned cabinetry system is one way to make your kitchen look ahead of its time. Although it may pain you at first, blending two different colors or tones isn’t just modern, it’s art. Mixing the depth of darker colors with brights or lights can create a perfectly-you space that is great for all seasons of entertaining. This kitchen design idea from European Cabinets and Design Studio is an example of going dark with cabinets and light with flooring and wall color creates a sleek, modern spin to the room.

Mesh Cabinets If you’re not into the idea of two-toned cabinets or you’re looking to add another modern layer to the design, mesh might be your ticket. Mesh doors for cabinets and cupboards create a hyper-modern feel as they borrow from the past and reclaim it now. They have a comparative look and feel to old-fashioned pie safes from the early 1700s, but with the modernized twist of industrial metal. This example from Traditional Home completes this modern trend and also includes the aesthetic of open cabinetry.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 11

Delicious Backto-School and a Taste of Magnolia Work Lunches BY DIVIAN CONNER


hen my kids were younger, they loved the idea of taking lunches to school and of course, I loved making school lunches. The euphoria when walking the grocery store and choosing items for the week’s upcoming lunches was thrilling to me. All of the endless varieties of snacks coupled with super cute lunch box accessories made my heart flutter. I would get the occasional side eye from my children when I would eagerly tell them about the animal toothpicks I had purchased or the rainbow silicone cupcake liners that were just the best. Even though they were not as excited as I was about what went into making their lunches, they were certainly excited to take them to school. With the past year spent in a virtual learning environment, I am most excited about getting back into the swing of things and to make more amazing lunches for the last two peas of my pod and creating even more unforgettable memories. edm

CHINESE BAKERY STYLE HOT DOG • Crescent or pizza dough DIVIAN CONNER is a Mississippi mama of four ‘not so little’ little ones. Coming up with recipes, trying new ones, and feeding her crew of tweens and teens is her passion. Southern recipes, easy recipes, sorta hard recipes, but always delicious recipes is what you will find on her food blog, Now venturing into outdoor cooking over an open fire, Divian is fascinated with camp cooking and entertaining.

• Hot dogs of choice • Shredded cheese of choice 1. Wrap each hot dog with a thick layer of the dough. Using a knife, cut through the wrapped hot dog without slicing completely to the other side of the dough. Make sure the hot dog is sliced completely, just not through the other side of the dough. 2. Once sliced, turn each slice under to face upward, arranging into shape. Place on greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until golden. 3. Add cheese and bake for until melted. Remove and allow to cool. 4. Serve with toppings of your choice. We love ketchup!

August/September 2021 12 • June/July 2021



• Thick-cut pork cutlets

• 2 teaspoons oyster sauce

• Italian-seasoned panko breadcrumbs

• 1 tablespoon ketchup

• Salt and pepper, to taste

• 1 teaspoon sugar

• 2 eggs, beaten

• 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

1. Mix well. Refrigerate leftover sauce.

• Hawaiian sandwich bread


• Tonkatsu sauce (recipe included at right) • Red cabbage coleslaw (recipe included at right)

• 1 cup of shredded red cabbage

1. Sprinkle bread crumbs on a baking sheet and bake until browned.

• 2 tablespoon mayo

2. Season pork cutlets with salt and pepper to taste. Coat lightly in flour, then dip to coat with the beaten eggs. Make sure all sides are coated. Dip into the toasted bread crumbs, make sure the entire cutlet is covered, patting the bread crumbs down onto the cutlet.

• ½ -1 tablespoon rice vinegar

3. Place on a non-stick baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or longer, depending on size of the cutlets.

• Cooked Udon noodles

4. Cut the edges from the bread and spread one slice with Tonkatsu sauce.

• 2 tablespoons honey

5. Top the other slice with the red cabbage coleslaw and place cooked cutlet on top. Slice in half and serve.

• 2 teaspoons sriracha

• ½ teaspoon sugar • Salt and pepper, to taste 1. Mix well and serve chilled.

SWEET CHILI NOODLES • 3 tablespoons soy sauce • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce • 1 teaspoon sesame oil • Dried seaweed and sesame seeds to garnish (optional) 1. Mix all liquid ingredients together and pour over cooked noodles. Coat noodles evenly and sprinkle with a mixture of chopped dried seaweed and sesame seeds. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 13

{ fresh from the farm }

Cherry Creek Orchards:

The State’s Sweetest Surprise



ain drizzles down on us as we make our way onto the farm at Cherry Creek Orchards in Pontotoc. However, even on this dreary day, the peach trees hang low with flavor-rich peaches, the yellow fruit with an aroma so sweet it is easy to imagine the first taste on your tongue. The western side

14 • August/September 2021

of the farm is the peach orchard while the eastern side hosts tomatoes, peas, butter beans and lima beans. Amanda and Wylie Stark own the expansive 123-acre farm, but the life of this orchard dates back over 40 years. Originally owned by George Adrian in 1981, the Indiana-native sold it

to a couple of brothers. The brothers were relatives of Amanda and Wylie, which played a big part in why they decided to have a go at it. “After our house burned, we moved into the house on the property and enjoyed having the orchard around us. Eventually, the entire property was offered to us for sale, and we decided it would be a lot of fun to own such a place, and it has turned out to be everything we had hoped and a little more,” Amanda Stark stated. When asked what her favorite part of owning the orchard was, Amanda responded, “I love meeting the different people who come in, and I also love having the opportunity to be outside every day, and no two days are the same. For years, I sat inside a cubicle and did not get to experience what working a farm was like. I left early and came home late, so I did not have a chance to work here except on the weekend.” The original orchard was 60 acres, but the Starks had to have room for all the other produce they want to make available to their customers. In addition to peaches, Cherry Creek also grows and sells nectarines, plums, figs, blackberries,

tomatoes, purple hull peas, speckled butter beans and lima beans. The wooden beehives on the property produce honey that is as sweet as candy. Even though many farms and orchards are on a seasonal schedule, there is never a time of year that something is not growing at Cherry Creek Orchards. With more than 6,000 fruit trees and over 20 species of peach, their dedication to the fruits and vegetables on their property ensures that consumers always have the freshest assortment of produce. When you visit, you will notice that the farm is in pristine condition and the fruits and vegetables are watched carefully to pick them at the perfect time to ensure the most delectable taste. These are absolutely some of the best peaches you will find anywhere in the south. The same people who work so hard to pick the fruit and vegetables at their prime are the ones during the coldest winters who do everything they can to keep the trees from dying. During the winter of 2019, hundreds of barrels were lit in the orchard to produce enough heat to keep the trees warm. Their unorthodox plan worked, and all eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 15

the trees were saved. A visit to Cherry Creek Orchards is an educational experience every time. The staff is always open to offering a tour and there is no better place for children to learn about where their food comes from than a trip to the farm. The future for Cherry Creek Orchard is bright. The Starks would love to expand the farm a little more. One plan is to build a new building on the property for the customers to visit. There is even a chance that guests may attend a wedding reception or other event if Amanda’s idea of having a venue location plays out. “We have already had several weddings here, and we would love to have a location where the reception could happen. Or just give our community a place to host events and such,” Stark said as she pointed out where most of the weddings occur on the property. The grass lane is shaded by a canopy of trees and gives wedding parties a perfect picture opportunity. Beyond weddings and even the occasional photo shoot on the property, the orchard also hosts two special events each year, but they are usually on the same day. The first is the Cherry Creek Orchards Peach Festival that was held July 10 this year. On the same day, the Flamin’ Fury 4-mile run occurs, which benefits the running programs at Pontotoc High School. During the annual Peach Festival, vendors come from miles around to show off their crafts and homemade items. It is a family-oriented day full of good music, great company and delicious food. Cherry Creek Orchards is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5:30 pm and on Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm. When you drive onto the property, the metal building on your right is filled with crates and containers of all the fruits and vegetables they have picked fresh. But, if you are interested, they also offer guests the opportunity to pick fresh fruit themselves. They are located at 4660 MS 345 in Pontotoc, and if you have any questions, please call (662) 489-7783. Stop in and visit with Amanda, Wylie and their helpful staff. It is a visit you will want to make time and time again. 16 • August/September 2021

There are so many delicious recipes that call for peaches in cookbooks all over the south, but when asked what her favorite recipe was to make with their peaches, Stark did not hesitate to suggest the Jell-O Peach Pie. Make sure you follow them on Facebook for more updates from their farm and more delicious recipes that are tried and true! All photos in this article were taken by Dori Lowe of “Backroads and Burgers” edm

JELL-O PEACH PIE RECIPE • 1 package 3-ounce Jell-O • 1 ½ cup hot water • ½ cup sugar • 2 tablespoons cornstarch • Sliced peaches • Baked pie shell or ready-made graham cracker crust

Directions: Cook Jell-O, water, sugar and cornstarch together. Cool slightly and pour over sliced peaches in chosen pie crust. Serve with whipped cream.


eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 17

Quick and Healthy 18 • August/September 2021



ike it or not, the return of a new school year is right around the corner. Time to get back into routines, homework and after school activities. You might also find yourself with less time to get a healthy meal on the table. Never fear, these tried-and-true recipes are not only delicious, but they take 30 minutes or less to get on the table. edm

Back-toSchool Meals eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 19


Sloppy Joes

20 • August/September 2021

Molasses Glazed Cast Iron Salmon

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 21

HOMEMADE SLOPPY JOES - SERVES 4 Ingredients: • 1 pound ground beef • ½ cup onions diced • ¼ cup celery diced • 1 small green bell pepper diced • 1 cup ketchup • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard • Salt and pepper, to taste • 4 hamburger buns To make: 1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. 2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the ground beef and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Set aside. Reserve at least two tablespoons of the grease in the skillet. 3. Add the onions, celery and bell peppers to the skillet. Sauté the vegetables for an additional 8 to 10 minutes until they are tender. 4. Return the ground beef to the skillet. 5. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, Worcestershire and mustard. Pour the sauce over the ground beef. Stir until combined and heated through. Season with salt and pepper. 6. Serve on hamburger buns. Tip: Double the recipe and freeze a batch for later!

MOLASSES GLAZED CAST IRON SALMON - SERVES 4 For the molasses glaze: • 2 slices bacon • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar • 2 tablespoons molasses • 1 teaspoon minced garlic • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper • 1 teaspoon dried mustard • Salt, to taste For the salmon: • 4 salmon fillets, 6-7 ounces each • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 1 teaspoon salt • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper To make the glaze: 1. Cook bacon in a medium-sized cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and reserve the bacon grease. Once the bacon is cool, finely chop and set aside. 2. In a small saucepan, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, molasses, garlic, ground black pepper and dried mustard. 22 • August/September 2021

Simmer over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until the glaze begins to thicken, about two minutes. 3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped bacon. To make the salmon: 1. Brush both sides of the salmon fillets with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. 2. Heat the reserved bacon grease in the same cast iron skillet over medium heat. 3. Place the fillets skin side up in the pan. Sear the fillets for about three minutes. Carefully flip the fillets so that the skin side is down. 4. Brush the molasses glaze over the salmon. Continue to sear for about three minutes more or until the salmon reaches your desired doneness.

HIBACHI STEAK WITH VEGETABLES - SERVES 4 Ingredients: • 2 tablespoons canola oil • 1 1/2 pounds top round steak cut into bite-sized pieces • 1 large carrot thinly sliced • 1 zucchini thinly sliced • 1 yellow squash thinly sliced • 1/2 cup sodium soy sauce • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic • ½ teaspoon ginger • 1 teaspoon cornstarch • Sesame seeds for garnish • Cooked rice • Salt and pepper to taste To make: 1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 2. Generously season the meat with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add the meat to the hot skillet and brown on all sides, while still a little red on the inside, about three minutes. Remove meat from pan and set aside. 3. Reduce heat to medium. Add carrot, zucchini and squash to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about five minutes. 4. Whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and cornstarch. Pour mixture over vegetables and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 3 to 5 minutes. 5. Return meat and any accumulated juices to the pan. Stir to coat the meat with the sauce. 6. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. Serve over rice.

Hibachi Steak with Vegetables

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 23

Heaton Pecans: A Mississippi Treasure BY REBECCA FENDING


ne of Mississippi’s claims to fame is the pecans that flourish in this rich, Southern soil. From holiday gifts to a last-minute garnish that will elevate any meal, these nuts are loved globally. In Lyon, Mississippi, Heaton Pecans works year-round to deliver folks with the best that their groves have to offer. Whether you prefer plain, salted or even chocolate-covered pecans, Heaton Pecans has a tin with your name on it.

About Heaton Pecans Heaton Pecans is a family-owned business in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. It all began with the patriarch Bill Heaton, who planted the first Heaton Pecan grove in 1958. Over the years, the grove flourished, which was a sign to plant more pecan trees. Today, the business has over acres 200 of pecan trees from which they harvest their crops. Cadey True, the granddaughter of Bill Heaton and current owner of Heaton Pecans, has lived in Mississippi all her life and grew up on pecans. Cadey graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2011 with a bachelor’s in marketing. Later, she moved back to Clarksdale after college and married her husband, Ford True. They have been married for 10 years this October and have three boys: Winford, 6, Cade, 4, and Wesley, 1. “I have been working at 24 • August/September 2021

Heaton Pecans since I graduated from Ole Miss in 2011. I accepted the management role in 2014,” Cadey explains. “I learned by working under my father who owns Heaton Pecans, Cliff Heaton, and former pecan manager, Brian Fyfe. My husband, Ford, is in charge of all the wholesale in-shell pecan orders. Since I took over in 2014, we have grown the business in so many fun and exciting ways.” Although Cadey is the current manager, her days are filled with much more than pecans. “As a mother of three boys, my day begins at 4 am with a quick run, packing lunches and backpacks for the day, and then I am in my office by 7:45 am after dropping my boys off at school,” Cadey explains. It’s a team effort at Heaton Pecans. A fantastic staff helps

Cadey balance both professional and private life. “Thankfully, I have a wonderful team who is ready to hit the grown running when the doors open each day. Last year, we hired a full-time employee to help me manage the growth of Heaton Pecans. The business was growing steadily, and I realized really quickly I couldn’t be the mother I needed to be to my boys and continue to grow this business without a full-time employee. “I approached my father, and I remember his response: ‘Cadey, you’re right, your time with your children is so important. I don’t see how you have done it this long by yourself. Get the word out, and let's find someone to help you.’” Luckily, it was a quick process in finding the perfect fit for a full-time position with the business. Parker Capps from Indianola, Mississippi, applied for the job and was, “hands down the best! We set up a quick interview, and she was hired on the spot. She has been amazing since day one and allows me to have a flexible schedule,” Cadey gushes. But the help doesn’t stop there. Heaton Pecans is a family affair that keeps members working closely and keeps ties close. “My sister, Ann Granville Heaton, recently moved home from Nashville to work for the company. She is currently traveling around the South promoting our products for retail stores and building our corporate order clientele,” Cadey explains. “She started working for the business last October and it has been a treat having her help me in so many different areas of the business.” A day in Cadey’s office during peak pecan season is nothing short of hectic but rewarding: “I spend my mornings reviewing orders from corporate, in-store, online, Amazon, Sam’s Club and end of the day reports.” Last year was one of Heaton Pecans’ best years for online sales due to COVID-19 and the launch of their Amazon shop and new website. “And during the harvest season, which begins October 26,” Cadey continues, “Our doors open and it’s insanely busy until December 26, the day we close for the season.” However, Cadey is sure to make time for her boys throughout the workday. “Around lunchtime, I always try to sneak away from my office to go pick up my 4-year-old from school at 11:30 am and stop by my house to see my 2-yearold.” During the on-season for the business, the balance of being a mother and working is challenging. “But I have to remind myself every day,” explains Cadey, “It will all be here in the morning when I get back to my desk, my time with these boys I will never get back.” Due to the growth in sales for the past year four years, Heaton Pecans is currently in the process of adding an addition to the current shipping room. “It will allow us to have twice the amount of space and double the workers to get our holiday orders out in a timely manner,” Cadey shares. “In addition, we have over 1,000 square feet of dedicated cooler space for inventory and over 2,500 square feet in warehouse storage. Our in-shell pecans will be moving to a new location to allocate more space for inventory for our shipping department.”

The Process of Harvesting Once harvest season begins, the business is in full force. “Beginning around the later part of October, harvest is in full swing with 90 percent of our harvesting being mechanical,” according to Cadey. “Occasionally, the weather may force us to use hand harvesters, but that is becoming a thing of the past. Mechanical shakers travel from tree to tree, grabbing the trunk of each tree and shaking it vigorously until the nuts drop. At this time, mechanical harvesters canvas the areas under the trees and retrieve the nuts through a combination of mechanical and airflow processes. Harvested nuts are cleaned, dried and sacked in preparation for their trip to either our retail operation or in the wholesale market.”

About Heaton Pecans’ Items So, what are some of the most popular items Heaton Pecans offers? According to Cadey, it has to be the chocolate-covered pecans. “The most popular item our customers love is the three-pound tin filled with half chocolate-covered pecan and the other half roasted salted pecans.” Not only is it a customer favorite, but it’s also Cadey’s go-to. The holiday season is the busiest in terms of product demand. “During the holiday season, we have over 100 businesses from all over the world place holiday gift orders,” Cadey says. “The corporate orders range from anywhere between 20 or 3,000 tins to their customers.” Rebecca Gardner, a worldwide event planner, launched a holiday pop-up store at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City in 2018 on 5th Avenue, and Heaton Pecans was chosen as one of the products. For the 2021 Christmas season, we have been contacted for a super exciting business opportunity we are hoping to announce the big news the first of October 2021!” Cadey says.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 25

26 • August/September 2021

The Future for Heaton Pecans Cadey has high expectations for the business in the coming years. “My goals for Heaton Pecans are to continue to grow our corporate orders, increase our space in retail stores all across the South and I want to see the Heaton Pecans name spread worldwide,” Cadey continues, “And possibly be chosen for Christmas gifts for worldwide host shows. In terms of retail business, I feel like the sky is the limit—I have so many dreams for this business!”

The William Cliff Heaton Junior Foundation However, the good that Heaton Pecans offers does not stop at their mouthwatering treats. “The William Cliff Heaton Junior Foundation is a huge part of our business and my dream,” Cadey says. “The goal is to watch this foundation grow and show everyone that with the purchase of a tin of our pecans for the holiday season, you are giving back to a wonderful cause that is so close to our family.” Cadey explains the purpose of the Foundation: “Heaton Pecans has always strived to bring a bit of joy to people with every tin of pecans opened. Along the way, our son and brother, Cliff Heaton Junior, brought this kind of happiness to everyone he encountered. “However, tragically, after battling drug addiction for 10 years, we lost him to the disease in 2017. At that time, our family created The William Cliff Heaton Junior Foundation to provide funds for young adults struggling on the same path. Our family helps dozens of young adults enter treatment programs that they could not have otherwise afforded to aid in their recovery.” Learn more about the Foundation and all it does at

Where Can You Buy Heaton Pecans? Heaton Pecans are currently available online at Amazon, Sam's Club and even launching soon in Costco. You can also visit www. to make online purchases year-round. Heaton Pecans’ products are available in 10 retails stores in Mississippi and Tennessee. Retail locations include “The Lily Pad,” “Floral Olive Juice” and “Mod & Proper” in Oxford, Mississippi; “The Rody Mil Market Place” and “Pickering Boxwood” in Memphis, Tennessee; “Pop Apples” in Clarksdale, Mississippi; “The Gin Lot” in Staton, Tennessee and “The Pink Nest” in Collierville, Tennessee. Heaton Pecans is located at 15263 US-61 North, Lyon, Mississippi. The storefront is open from October 26 to December 26.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 27

Queen’s Reward Meadery: Mississippi’s First J


eri Carter and her husband once joked about opening Mississippi’s first meadery, but they never dreamed it would ever come to fruition. Now, three years later, the Tupelo business is bringing home awards and steadily expanding. “We loved making wine at home, and we would get kits two or three times a week in an attempt to get better. They came with yeast and juice and very specific instructions, and we thought we were doing pretty good. But then we decided to do it on our own,” Carter explained with a smile. What happened next was nothing short of fate and paved the way for the future of the first meadery in Mississippi. “The day we decided to make our own wine, we rushed out to find the perfect grapes for it, and there just are not that many options for grape wines in our state so, we decided to use honey. We had heard that some wines used honey, and so we tried that,” Carter told the story. “But when we went to the liquor store to find wine made with honey, there was not even one, and that is when we realized there was an opportunity for us to explore.” The couple started looking into what it would take to open a business, and some realized there was a lot more to it than they had initially thought. Before a state permit can be issued, a federal wine-making permit must be in hand. However, the federal permit requirements are extensive. One requirement is that applicants must have a lease of a location to make the wine for at least a year before applying for the permit. The owner of the said property also has to submit a letter with the application saying they understand that alcohol is being made on the premises. “I was still teaching, and after my husband and I talked about it, it simply was not feasible to lease a place for an entire year before we could even start the wine-making 28 • August/September 2021

process. So, we were able to work it out by leasing my husband’s mancave in the backyard. I leased it for one dollar a year,” Carter explained the process. After a year and a half of paperwork, the process was complete, and the Carters were the proud owner of a state and federal wine-making permit. They found the permit location in Tupelo, and they started bottling the mead. Mead has been around since the days of Moses and is naturally occurring. When a beehive is vacated and water seeps in, the fermentation process begins. But, when the hive seals itself off, the fermentation goes to another level, creating the smooth, sweet natural wine. When reading ancient history books, including the Bible, mead was enjoyed by characters throughout the world. Historically, mead has been found on six of the seven continents. When Queen’s Reward was ready to start producing mead, Jeri decided that she would not use any honey that was not from Mississippi. Unfortunately, there were only six beekeepers certified through the Mississippi Health Department. After several visits and conversations, they decided to go with Yazoo Honey, and it has been a match made in heaven. At the date of this article, Queen’s Reward has used more than 30,000 gallons of the incredible Yazoo Honey. Due to more than 51% of the contents of their mead being from Mississippi, Queen’s Reward has the distinct recognition of being a Native Winery. Queen’s Reward Meadery officially opened the last weekend in May 2018. With three meads ready to share with their visitors, the grand opening was a huge hit. Scarlet Noir, Traditional Dry and Rubee flew off the shelves while Pucker waited in the tanks to be bottled by hand. Even though the majority of the first guests did not know what mead was, they loved the unique alcohol just the same. Jeri had every

intention to return to her job as a teacher but could not pass on this unique opportunity. Today, their mead is wildly popular, but one of the Carters' favorite parts of owning it is the education they get to share with their guests on the history of mead and the process of making it. Today, Queen’s Reward hosts multiple events, including Singo and Trivia Night. Each event brings a tremendous crowd, and there is usually an amazing food truck there, as well. They also have food and mead pairings planned with the local restaurant, Harvey’s. Even if there is not an event going on, the meadery hosts tastings anytime the door is open, and the huge grassy front yard offers visitors the chance to play cornhole, frisbee or just soak up the north Mississippi sun. Currently, the meadery has seven mead flavors, including the brand-new chocolatecovered cherry, which is out of this world. Rubee combines sweet honey and tart cranberries, which is delicious by itself or paired with a Thanksgiving or Christmas ham or turkey. Delta Dry is a unique combination of honey and tart grapes that appeals to beer and wine drinkers. Winter spice mead is semi-sweet and enhanced with cinnamon, clove and nutmeg to deliver a perfect flavor for

the holidays. Many drinkers like it cold, but others have remarked how delicious it is warm. Blackberry mead is one flavor that you simply cannot go wrong. The tart blackberries are offset perfectly with the sweet honey. Pucker Up is a perfect summer drink as you lounge by the pool or out with friends. Cotton blossom honey and natural lemon flavors deliver a deliciously dangerous blend of flavors. Visitors have frozen it for a perfect summer slush, while others have mixed it with bourbon to create a Mead Julep. There is truly no wrong way to drink this mead. Finally, Delta Gold is a fine blend of honey and Riesling grapes to bring out a new spin on traditional tasting wine. The meadery also has slushes of many different flavors that you can buy by the cup or gallon, and peach has just been added to the list. There is a good chance you may also find Jeri and her staff set up at a festival near you. The Queens Reward Law passed last summer opened up an entire world for the Carters and Queens Reward. This law means that they can show up at a festival and get a temporary liquor license to sell bottles while passing out samples. If you are planning to visit Queens Reward Meadery, they are located at 1719 McCullough Boulevard in Tupelo. The meadery is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 am to 8

pm, and Thursday through Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm. You can find out more about the meadery by following their Facebook page or by visiting edm

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 29

Annual Fundraiser


TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5TH, 2021 • 6-9 PM Town of Livingston at the corner of Highway 463 and Highway 22 Tickets: $60.00 per person and may be purchased online at Food and beverages provided by numerous local favorites GRAND SPONSORS MCH Transportation Co. • Nissan DIAMOND SPONSORS Dianne Anderson • Gary Anderson • BankPlus • Highland Building Services • Mike & Janie Jarvis MayDesigns Creative • Jim & Amy Streetman • the Chapel • The Town of Livingston • Watkins Construction

Adults Only

21 Years and Over

No Pets, Please

Casual Attire

To learn more about how MadCAAP’s programs assist the poor visit

30 • August/September 2021



ocated just a couple of miles off Highway 61 and mere blocks from the churning Mississippi River stands a large, southern-style home perched high on a hill overlooking Adams Street in the Historic Olde Town Vicksburg. Long before this home was built or the world-renowned southern cuisine was served to thousands, the Spanish explored the area and called it “Nogales” for the many walnut trees that adorned the bluffs throughout the area. However, by the time the United States became a country in 1776, the area residents called

it “Walnut Hills.” The town changed its name once again when founded in 1811 to Vicksburg. The handsome old house that bears the name of the original settlement was built in 1880 by the Rogers Family. Laying eyes on this marvelous piece of architecture just once keeps visitors remembering the wide porch, mismatched rocking chairs, the tall, shuttered windows and the pierced columns. But the strongest of all memories come when the first-time visitors sink their teeth into the delicious cayenne-laced fried chicken. When

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 31

you step through the doors and here and creak of the floor under your steps, you are immediately taken back in time. There is no way around feeling as though you are miles away from your daily life when you enter the doors to a true Mississippi culinary adventure. The historic district home opened in 1980 as a round table restaurant. The state has seen very few of these types of establishments, and most have passed from existence. Walnut Hills was very similar to the old boarding house restaurants that became popular in Mississippi around the beginning of World War II. Patrons still have the opportunity to sit at a round table when they visit Walnut Hills. While seated, food arrives to guest in large portions, and the table is spun when someone wants a dish passed their way. One of the best reasons to sit at the round table is that guests may share a meal with someone they have never met, getting to extend courtesy and hospitality to each other while sharing in the south’s favorite pastime, eating. The secret behind the delicious food and 41 years is the longevity of their staff. Miss Herdcine Williams has been the chief cook at Walnut Hills for more than 30 years, and she is the second generation of family members to attribute to the success of this incredible restaurant. Miss Herdcine’s mother, Ms. Alma Robinson, made the salads and slaw every day at Walnut Hills 32 • August/September 2021

until she retired at the age of 70. Her son, Xavier, has been serving there for more than 15 years, making him the third generation of the Williams Family to play such a critical in the restaurant.

Beyond their place on the staff, they each have helped develop the extensive menu and contributed recipes to the community cookbook. For instance, Herdcine is the author of the recipes for the famous fried chicken, homemade biscuits, salad dressing and made from scratch cornbread. Owner Joyce Clingan’s specialties include cakes, pies, casseroles and potato rounds, all of which are favorites at Walnut Hills. In addition to southern cuisine, Walnut Hills also serves incredible steaks, seafood, po-boys and desserts that have won numerous awards. Some of the old favorites include the creole cream cheese cheesecake, the pecan praline pie, complete with pecan liquor, and the Nellie and Joe’s Key Lime Pie. If you want dessert, there is something for everyone! After a visit to Walnut Hills, it is easy to see why Delta Magazine awarded the restaurant the title of "Best Fried Chicken" and why they received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor. Additionally, they received Best Presentation at Taste of Mississippi in 2015, were named one of Mississippi’s 10 Best Restaurants by Culture Trip in 2015 and Deep South USA listed them as a top 10 places to eat in Mississippi. With all these awards and recognition, there is no wonder they have been featured on Good Morning America, Southern Living Magazine, 1000 Places to See Before You Die and Saveur Magazine, to name a few. Walnut Hills is so much more than just a popular restaurant. There are a couple of sister businesses on the property that deserve mentioning as well. The Nogales House at Walnut Hill, originally built in 1868, is a renovated home next door to the restaurant. This home serves as an event center that specializes in fine dining, a full bar and an extensive wine selection. They also pride themselves on making your private function a success while keeping it within the budget you established. Requests and reservations must be made ahead of the event. The Bakery at Walnut Hills serves freshly made cakes and pies, and guests can choose to have one piece or the entire dessert. The bakery recently unveiled four new delectable creations including, chocolate cake, lemon cake, red velvet cake and even homemade cheesecake. Guests who have previously visited Walnut Hills before may notice some changes upon a new visit. Extensive remodeling has been done to the property, including a new kitchen and a chef for the evening meals. However, regardless of any changes, the hospitality, delicious food and the longing to stay a little longer to experience the spectacular location remain. Take a second when you are nice and full and sit a spell in one of the famous unmatched rocking chairs on the front porch. There is no better way to let your food settle. When you have a chance to visit this Mississippi jewel for yourself, they are located at 1214 Adams Street in Vicksburg and are open Wednesday through Monday and closed on Tuesday. Their hours are 11 am to 2 pm on Sunday, and 11 am to 9 pm the remainder of the week. If you have questions about any of the three parts of Walnut Hills, please call (601) 638-4910. You can view all their delectable menu items and learn more about the restaurant and its colorful history at walnuthillsms. com. All photos in this article were taken by Dori Lowe of “Backroads and Burgers” edm

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 33

Burgers: History, Secrets and Hidden Gems BY JULIAN BRUNT


here can be little doubt that the hamburger is the most iconic American food, and it is wildly loved around the world as well, with millions being served daily. But where did this steak between two slices of bread come from? Stories vary from convenience food served to workers during the Industrial Revolution to German restaurants in New York, Chicago or even a small town in Texas. But there is one fact that is absolute: it is another example of impoverished people doing what they can to get by on little or nothing.  Is the hamburger really a food inspired by poverty? Yup, you can be sure of it. The wealthy were steak eaters, but the poor could not afford such an expensive cut of meat. The solution was simple: small cast-off pieces of meat trimmings were ground up and reformed into a patty. It looks like a steak, tastes good and is far more affordable. Poverty provokes ingenuity.    Every town in the South has a burger place that the locals

34 • August/September 2021

brag about. But when it comes to innovative ideas, burger makers just cannot be topped. Fine dining restaurants use Japanese wagyu beef for their patties, others top theirs with cave-aged Gruyère cheese, perhaps the king of all good melting cheeses, and there is a vast list of other toppings from bacon to fried pickles. More often than not, great burgers are vaunted just by word of mouth or social media. When a good burger is found, word gets out fast, and lines will form. But Hattiesburg, Mississippi, has created the Burger Trail to advertise the city's famous burgers, with dozens of places advertised to attract locals and visitors alike. It is a pretty cool idea. But just where can you find the best burger of all? It is pretty simple to break burgers down into two basic classes: homemade and restaurant-made. There are some pretty amazing burgers out there being made by professional chefs

like the Land Mass Burger served at the sports bar at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi. It is an award-winning burger created by executive chef Kristen Wade, made with a smoky, grilled double-patty, American cheese, Mississippi tomato fondue, caramelized onions, crispy bread and butter pickles, a succulent blend of New Orleans barbeque sauce and Alabama white sauce. All of that is topped with a fried oyster. It has got to make you wonder; just how many kinds of burgers are there in the restaurant world?

In southern Mississippi, where I live, the po’boy is the most popular sandwich style and, as you might guess, hamburger poboys are popular. My favorite comes from Fayard’s Marathon gas station on Washington Avenue in Ocean Springs. It is chargrilled and absolutely delicious, but I always order it with extra mayo. Any po’boy that does not require a handful of paper towels is just not up to snuff. The Ole Biloxi Fillin’ Station also has a famous chargrilled burger, The Main Street Burger, made with half a pound of

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 35

Angus beef and a blend of locally known secret spices and comes fully dressed (meaning lettuce, tomato and pickles). In Ocean Springs, there is a food truck called the Burger Box, which is all about burgers, as the name implies. They have burgers such as the BBQ burger, made with Angus beef, lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized onions, bacon, pickles, cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce. They also serve The Showtime Burger, made with a half-pound Kobe Beef patty, Muenster cheese, hickory smoked bacon, fried pickles, tomatoes, onion and lettuce. My all-time favorite burger in the classic category comes from the Delta Corner in Indianola, Mississippi. It is a small, out-of-the-way restaurant famous for its fried chicken, but the burgers I have had there were sensational. I am not sure what makes this cheeseburger so good and can only guess it is the perfection of each ingredient. The bun is firm (I hate falling apart bread or buns) and tasty, the patty is hand-formed, perfectly seasoned and cooked, the pickles are crunchy. It must be magic. I have ordered the burger with a side of their famous pan gravy, which is typically served with their crazy good fried chicken, and although I get weird looks when I order it, it is a great combination. Just down the street is the Blue Biscuit, so ably run by my friend Trish Berry, and she makes a killer good double burger. Trish was Morgan Freeman’s personal chef for years, and it shows in the delicious food served at the Blue Biscuit. I could go on and on telling you about good restaurant burgers served in the South, but the very best burgers just might be the homemade variety. Restaurants have to make a profit and so must control food and operating costs, but the backyard griller does not have any restrictions. Here are a few suggestions: hands down, the best fire for grilling is made with hickory wood. It is hard to find in some places and takes a while to burn down to the red glowing coals perfect for grilling, but it is worth the wait. Next is hardwood 36 • August/September 2021

charcoal, followed by regular charcoal, then a propane fire and in last place is in a skillet on the stove. The best beef has a high-fat content (fat equals flavor!) and, of course, Japanese wagyu is probably at the top of the list. Even a cheaper regular grocery store ground beef with the highest fat content can be delicious when well-seasoned. Certified Black Angus is good, too, but make sure it says certified, not just Angus. The number one rule when cooking burgers is do not overcook the patty. Medium is best for texture and flavor. A well-done burger is going to be dry and uninteresting. There is a world of good cheese out there, with Gruyère at the top. A good English or Irish cheddar is good, and, if it is what you are used to, good ol' American cheese, if you use enough of it, is good, too. My favorite toppings include smoky Benton's bacon, heirloom sun-ripened tomatoes, Duke's mayo, crunchy pickles, a fried egg and a side of Zapp’s chips. There really are so many good options when it comes to having friends over for a grill party. Remember that the quality of ingredients and taking the time to do things right will make all the difference in the world. edm

RECIPE CORRECTION This recipe was originally printed in the June/July issue of eat.drink.MISSISSIPPI. The recipe instructions were printed as a duplicate of Chef Nick Wallace’s Pressed Chicken Recipe. The correction to the recipe has been made and should be followed as directed above. We apologize for the error.

Vegetable Hash by Nick Wallace

Prep Time: 35 Minutes, Cook Time: 25 Minutes Total Time: 60 Minutes, Serves 4 Ingredients: • 3 red beets, diced • 2 carrots, chopped • 1 sweet potato, chopped • 2 zucchinis, chopped • 1 small onion, chopped • 1/4 cup olive oil • 1 cup sliced mushrooms • 1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped • 1 cup smoked sausage, sliced

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining vegetables, season with salt and pepper, or Nick’s 26 seasoning. 2. Add remaining olive oil and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes or until veggies are soft and caramelized. Stir in sausage, sage and cook another minute or two. 3. Remove from heat and top with goat cheese and serve.

• 2 oz goat cheese • Salt and pepper, to taste

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 37

From Mississippi to Beyond

Chef Ty Thames: Cooking Up Excitement for Eating Local BY KATHY K. MARTIN Jonathan “Ty” Thames, chef and co-owner of four Starkville restaurants, embraced the farm-driven way of eating, long before the farm-to-table concept swept the country. He grew up in Clinton and relished summers spent on his great grandfather’s farm in Philadelphia. “I loved farm life and picking tomatoes fresh off the vine,” he said of his early fascination with food grown in his native state. While he has many other fond food memories such as licking cake batter from his mother’s mixing bowl, he wasn’t clear on what direction his food fascination would take him until later in life. His first restaurant job was washing dishes at a barbeque rib shack when he was 15, which led to another job during the remainder of his high school years at the former New Orleans Café in Jackson. “This was when I really fell in love with the hospitality industry and found a passion for the local side of the food business.” That passion led to a degree in hospitality management at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1999, and graduation with distinction from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont a few years later, a school he chose because of its more interactive approach to learning the culinary craft. Between his schooling, he also spent a summer in Japan with a former college rugby teammate, where he said he expanded his palate and knowledge of cuisine. He also spent a summer in Woodstock, Vermont, where he worked at a resort starting out in room service and eventually moving into the kitchen. After culinary school, he traveled to Parma, Italy, for an apprenticeship in Italian cuisine under Chef Leonardo of Maria Luigi Restaurant. When he returned to the states, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Georgetown Property, for one and half years. He moved on to work at Centro, a regional Italian fine dining restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland, where he gained notoriety in many D.C.area publications. He described Centro as a first-hand lesson in the details of fine dining offerings, such as weekly menu changes that highlighted all 20 regions of Italy. One day his former college roommate, Brian Kelley, contacted him about returning to Mississippi and partnering with him in the restaurant business in Starkville. “Brian sold me on the idea and two weeks later I was back home.” They opened Bin 612 in 2005, an upscale restaurant with a college atmosphere on the Cotton District. About three years later they opened their second restaurant, Restaurant Tyler, also in downtown Starkville, which allowed them to more fully embrace his farm philosophy and core values of eating local and sourcing products within a 60-mile radius, he said. As an extension to Restaurant Tyler, his cocktail bar, The Guest Room, opened in the basement of the restaurant to offer hand-crafted cocktails in the style of a speakeasy. He says the

38 • August/September 2021

bar is the best-kept secret, albeit a popular one, due to its more discreet entrance in the back alley of the building. Elevated appetizers feature dishes such as barbecue okra and catfish egg rolls. Entrees include a bone-in cold smoked pork chop finished with a truffle and Mississippi honey demi-glaze, and a duck burger served on a house-made brioche bun with garlic Boursin cheese and Mississippi red pepper jelly. Mississippi Red is the name of Thames’ signature hot sauce, which he creates in small batches for many of his dishes. The opening of their next restaurant in a former bagel shop, Humble Taco, was delayed due to the COVID pandemic, but finally opened in January of 2021. Thames calls this latest venture a chef-driven street taco concept that offers creative combinations. In addition to a corn or flour tortilla, he presents a sweet potato flour tortilla. “We have a cowbell taco that features steak with chimichurri and an okra gremolata,” he says. “And a ‘Mexissippi’ taco with buttermilk fried chicken, coleslaw and an ancho chili sauce.” Thames calls the cuisine Mexican fare with Mississippi roots. Childhood memories of Southern cuisine guide many of his signature flavors today. His memories of fluffy buttermilk pancakes come alive in his updated version at Restaurant Tyler. He reinvents the pancake as a crepe-style cake stuffed with a cheesecake filling and topped with a custard sauce and candied pecans. Other childhood favorites such as vine-ripened tomatoes, okra and cornbread take on new profiles in all of his

restaurants and sweet potatoes are used to make gnocchi. “I try to take my food and flavor histories and put my style on them with an Italian, Southern twist.” While chefs and restaurants compete for creativity in larger cities, he notes that in the Magnolia State there’s more comradery among chefs. “Competition stays primarily to football,” he notes with a laugh. He also believes he must patiently respect firmer food boundaries and make his food fun and exciting, yet approachable. His next venture in the next few years will be marketing his Mississippi Red signature hot sauces. “I’m hoping to take it from a hobby to a business,” he says of his next goal. For now, he’s making small batches of about 1,000 small bottles at a time, but he’s encouraged by the response from customers. With all of these unique flavors and interesting pairings, Thames shows that eating local is also about eating well. edm

Barbecue Okra, featured at Restaurant Tyler Serves 4

Ingredients: • 1 pound okra (fresh or frozen) • 2 cup buttermilk • 1 cup all-purpose flour • 1 cup cornmeal • ½ cup corn starch

• 1 teaspoon salt • 1 cup dry barbecue rub mix • 32 ounces vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions: 1. Cut okra in half, length ways. 2. Mix together flour, cornmeal, and corn starch. 3. Dip okra in buttermilk, and dredge in flour mixture, place in 360-degree oil until golden brown. 4. Once golden-brown, dust fried okra with salt and barbecue seasoning. Serve hot with remoulade dipping sauce.

Humble Pie, featured at Humble Taco Serves 15

Ingredients: • 1 pound butter, unsalted • 1 quart heavy cream • 50 individual graham • 25 limes crackers • 5 each 14-ounce cans • 1 cup sugar sweetened condensed milk • 1 ½ tablespoons kosher • 1 cup añejo tequila salt • ¼ cup triple sec Instructions: 1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let cool slightly. 2. Crumble graham crackers into the bowl of a food processor. Add sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and melted butter to bowl and process until mixture resembles wet sand. 3. Transfer graham cracker mixture to sheet tray, bake until golden brown, set aside and freeze for 20 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, whisk heavy cream in a stand-up mixer until cream begins to thicken to the point you see ripples and stiff peaks begin to form, 3–5 minutes. 5. Cut limes in half and juice into a fine-mesh sieve set over

a glass measuring cup (you should have about 2.5 cups juice). Pour lime juice into another large bowl and whisk in 5 cans of condensed milk, 1 cup tequila, ¼ cup triple sec and remaining half tablespoon salt until smooth. 6. Fold half of whipped cream into lime juice mixture, carefully folding under and over while turning the bowl. Add remaining whipped cream and continue to fold until no streaks remain. 7. Remove graham cracker crust from freezer and crumble. Place 1 tablespoon of crumbles into bottom of 8-ounce dessert cup. Pour 3 ounces of filling into mason jar and then another 1 tablespoon of crumbles, repeat this process by pouring 3 ounces of filling on top of crumbles and top with another layer of crumbles, wrap and freeze overnight. Serve frozen garnished with lime zest, animal crackers or whipped cream.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 39

Comeback Sauce: A Southern Staple BY SUSAN MARQUEZ Any Southerner worth his or her salt has eaten comeback sauce. The popular condiment is a rich, creamy, spicy concoction that pairs perfectly with a bowl of fresh salad greens while also making the ideal dipping sauce for French fries, onion rings, tater tots and fried dill pickles. Spicier than ranch dressing, creamier than barbeque sauce, comeback sauce holds its own with a plethora of foods. Try it with roasted vegetables, spread it on a turkey sandwich or use it as a dip for fresh Gulf shrimp – fried, boiled, broiled or baked! It’s also great on purple hulled peas, fish and burgers. No matter what you pair it with, comeback sauce is guaranteed to make you want to come back for some more. Malcolm White has extensive knowledge of comeback sauce. I heard him make an hour-long presentation on the sauce origins at a Southern Foodways Alliance symposium in Jackson, Mississippi, back in 2014. The SFA refers to White as “a font of Mississippiana.” A Mississippi native, White owns Hal & Mal’s restaurant in downtown Jackson, where comeback sauce served with saltine crackers is a popular item on the appetizer menu. Like most other food and restaurant historians, 40 • August/September 2021

White could not give a definitive origin of comeback sauce. Some say it sprang from the Rotisserie Restaurant in Jackson, while others say comeback sauce came from the Mayflower Café. What we do know for sure is that comeback sauce originated in a Greek-owned restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi. John Currence, owner of City Grocery and Ajax Diner in Oxford, Mississippi, wrote about comeback sauce for the James Beard Foundation. Currence explains that one of the larger groups of Greek immigrants to hit the South settled in north-central Alabama to work in the mining and steel industries. “As the steel market softened and/or folks started to migrate out of it, Greek families began setting up restaurants in and around Birmingham. As families grew, migration was inevitable, and several of those families ended up moving west to Jackson, Mississippi. The Mayflower, Primos, Dennery’s and Crechale’s were all part of those families’ legacies.” The Elite in downtown Jackson can also be added to that list. Currence says he regularly uses comeback sauce on their Croque Monsieur and as a sandwich dressing. “It’s also great for French fries, so

we just make a little and keep it in the fridge. It’s kinda good on everything.” The sauce made its first appearance either in the late 1930s at the Mayflower Café or early 1940s at one of the Denneryowned restaurants. No matter which restaurant “invented” the sauce, it spread like wildfire and was soon a staple in the Greek restaurants in Jackson. Over the years, comeback sauce has spread beyond the borders of Jackson into other parts of Mississippi and to other (mostly Southern) states. The basic made-from-scratch comeback recipe calls for ketchup, mayonnaise, chili sauce, yellow onion, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, paprika, black pepper, salt, salad oil and lemon juice. There are variations, but as someone who is a comeback sauce snob, I can tell you that if the recipe calls for onion powder or garlic powder, run the other way. A true comeback sauce uses grated yellow onion, including the juice, and minced fresh garlic. I’ve seen variations that call for siracha instead of chili sauce. Take my word for it: just say no. Patsy R. Brumfield is a NOLA-centric writer who posted a comeback sauce recipe in her February 6, 2013 blog post on Southfacin’ Cook. Her recipe calls for a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter. All I can say is try it; you may like it. The Clarion-Ledger newspaper once printed Dennery’s comeback sauce recipe in their food section. My mother cut out the recipe and kept that little yellowed piece of newsprint in her recipe box for as long as I can remember. She followed the recipe to the letter; it tasted every bit as delicious as the comeback sauce served on the table alongside a basket of crackers at Dennery’s restaurant near the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. I loved eating at Dennery’s and always preferred my comeback on Captain’s Wafers. Some called that a “redneck hors d’oeuvres.”

Hattiesburg restauranteur and food writer Robert St. John wrote that comeback sauce, “is the offspring of the incestuous marriage between 1000 Island dressing and remoulade sauce.” He calls it “the Queen Mother of all Mississippi condiments.” The sauce has become so popular that many restaurants started bottling and selling it, not only in their restaurants but in other outlets as well. Mayflower Café sells Papou’s Sauce. Georgia Blue sells their version of comeback sauce both in their restaurants, as well as in area grocery stores. A comeback sauce bottled under the

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 41

Thames Foods label comes from the shelf-stable recipe developed by John and Nita Thames, who owned Fat Tuesday’s restaurant in Ridgeland. Oxford Falls sells a bottled comeback dressing. And Duke’s, a Richmond, Virginiabased company famous for their mayonnaise, makes Mississippi Comeback Sauce. Truly the South’s most beloved condiment, comeback sauce is here to stay. While my mother’s dog-eared comeback recipe is long-lost after many moves, I copied it down while in college and still have my hand-written version. This is possibly as close to the original recipe as any I have found: • 1 tablespoon water • 2/3 cup chili sauce • ½ cup vegetable oil • 1 lemon, juiced • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce • 1 dash Louisiana hot sauce • 1 tsp. black pepper • 1 small yellow onion, grated, with juice • 1 cup mayonnaise

• ¼ cup ketchup • 1 tsp dry mustard • 1 dash paprika • 1 tsp. salt • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced Assemble all ingredients and process in blender or food processor. Store in refrigerator for up to one week. edm


42 • August/September 2021

{ monthly recipe }

Restaurant Recipes, Like Their Hotels, Never Go Out of Style BY KARA KIMBROUGH


t the risk of sounding like I’m hanging onto the past, sometimes I do mourn the demise of longgone restaurants. Especially those that were part of a national chain or hotel that’s either closed its doors or on the verge of disappearing. A good example is hotel restaurants. During the early part of my career, I attended many business-related lunches and banquets at Jackson-area hotels. Learning someone had unearthed an old copy of Holiday Inn’s restaurant recipes and was sharing it online was an unexpected surprise. Recipes of favorite dishes and many I’d never tried, brought back memories of many delicious meals at locations around Jackson. And, I learned I wasn’t the only one who held fond memories of Holiday Inn. The post was published by a former state resident who said, “As a teenager, I always

loved when my aunt and uncle would come to our house in Mississippi. They would stay at the Holiday Inn and some weekends; they would ask us girls if we would like to go. We loved going with them and staying in the Holiday Inn... the food was awesome and we were crazy about room service. So, I was so happy to come across these cookbooks published in 1962 and 1963.” After posting the index, over 200 requests came in for specific recipes from the cookbook. Here are three of the most original that just might bring back memories of bygone hotel restaurant meals to you. Note: As with many old recipes, recipe ingredients and directions are not very detailed, so you may have to guess and use your best judgement. edm



Wash chicken breasts and flatten, leaving skin intact. Dip in melted butter and lightly flour, coating completely. Sauté in melted butter over medium heat, letting a light crust form. Remove to baking pan and cover with mushroom soup. Mix butter and sherry (can substitute equal amount of balsamic or red wine vinegar) and pour on top. Add more sherry or vinegar according to taste. Spoon sauce on top. If using whole breasts, they may be split for serving – do this before cooking.

Make cake mix orange muffins according to package. Do not overbake. Mix together in a saucepan over medium heat with 1/3 cup orange juice with pulp and one cup of sugar. Dissolve and heat just until syrupy. Dip hot muffins straight from the oven into the hot mixture. Chopped pecans may also be added to the cake mix. Recipes from “Cooking the Holiday Inn Way”, 1962

QUICK MARINATED GREEN BEANS Drain one can of French-style green beans. Toss well with French dressing until coated well. Then sprinkle with garlic salt and toss again. Chill before serving. Variation: Marinate beans in Italian dressing. Onion may be cut and mixed in the blender with small amount of the dressing, then added to the beans. Top with a sprinkle of ground black pepper.

Image from PureWow eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 43

{ restaurant spotlight }

Thirty-Two: Class and Casino Dining BY JULIAN BRUNT


s the name implies, Thirty-Two is located on the 32nd floor of the IP Casino Resort Spa. It has a spectacular view of the coastline to the south and Biloxi Back Bay to the north, in fact, the best view of the Coast to be found anywhere. If you are looking for a romantic evening this is the place. Make reservations for sundown and ask for a table on the south side. It will be an evening you will never forget, but not just because of the view. Your first impression of Thirty-Two is going to be of sophistication and class. The tables are beautifully set with sparkling white dinnerware, wine glasses, flatware and thick white napkins. There is a glass wine cellar in the middle of the restaurant, one side reserved for white wines, the other reds. Thirty-Two is beautifully appointed and is as classy a restaurant as you will ever encounter, anywhere.  Chef Matthew Kallinikos describes Thirty-Two as, “American Continental, with a modern Southern Twist,” an adept description. The menu is meticulously thought out and emphasizes the season and availability of the freshest, local foods. Chef Kallinikos went on to say, “There are two hard menu changes a year, spring/summer and fall/winter, but other minor adjustments are made as needed.” But other influences affect what goes on the menu, like national food trends in New Orleans, New York, and Chicago. Chef Kallinikos has been the chef at Thirty-Two for years, and he has a feel for what this place is all about, so his personal opinions, likes and dislikes are a crucial part of the process.

Charcuterie board 44 • August/September 2021

Chef Matt Kallinikos Creating a new menu at ThirtyTwo is no simple endeavor and is a large part that keeps this place on the leading edge of the culinary world of the South. It is a challenging and demanding task, but keeps this place sharp and at the top of the finedining game. Let me give you a few examples of the creativity you can see in Chef Kalliniko’s kitchen. On my early summer visit, we started with a charcuterie board like none I have ever seen. It was a delicious pairing of meats, cheeses, Valencia almonds, marinated olives, duck fat and honey roasted heirloom carrots, pimento and cheese, deviled eggs, black-eyed pea hummus, sugar cane slaw, fried

Scallops Saltine crackers and grilled bread. Wow! The ricotta dumplings, made with roasted cherry tomatoes, house-made pancetta, confit garlic, basil, charred spring onions, locally foraged mushrooms and Ricotta Salata were a hit. Being a huge fan of dumplings, I absolutely loved the idea of ricotta dumplings, and with all the other pairings, this dish was stunningly good. Paired with a glass of dry zinfandel, this will make a fine meal unto itself. Chef Kallinikos must have the same love affair as I with scallops, as I think they have been on the menu every time I have visited, but this time he outdid himself. The pan-seared scallops and bacon were delectable. The scallops were perfectly seared (which is not that easy to do, especially on a low BTU home stove), braised local pork belly, corn and crawfish maque chow (for that Southern touch), pea greens, pork rind crumble, fennel and Creole mustard vinaigrette. This dish, taken as a whole, was wonderfully creative and perfectly executed, but I would be remiss if I did not hold forth on the pork belly. Pork belly is an ingredient that has become popular within the last 20 years. It is one of my favorite dishes when done well. I am not sure I have the skill to describe Chef Killiniko’s pork belly the way it should be, but I liken it to warm, fatty chocolate that melts in your mouth. There is absolutely no way you could have just one. I would gladly order a plate of pork belly with no accompaniment at all, other than a good stout red wine, and be the happiest man in the world. Yes, it was that good. Chef Killinikos and his team offer one of the most refined dining experiences on the Gulf Coast and in the Deep South. The service is professional, the atmosphere sophisticated, and the food that comes out of this kitchen is sublime. If I had to choose one factor that makes this place what it is, I would have to say the attention to detail. The time and effort that Chef Killinikos puts into getting the menu just right is a great example and epitomizes the experience you will have with a visit to Thirty-Two. edm

Thirty-Two IP Casino Resort and Spa 850 Bayview Ave, Biloxi 228-436-3000 Open Thursday and Sunday from 5 pm to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 5 pm to 11 pm

Thirty-Two dining room eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 45

{ mississippi made }

A Mexican Delicacy Turned Southern: Tamales



amales have long been a staple in the Mississippi Delta. There is even a Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail that celebrates the tamales within the region. According to the Tamale Trail website (, the history of the tamale in the Mississippi Delta dates back to the end of the Civil War with an influx of migrant workers, mostly from Mexico, who came to Mississippi to work on local farms and to reconstruct infrastructure damaged during the war. They naturally brought recipes from home, which included tamales. The compact nature of the tamales made them perfect for lunch breaks. Easy to eat by hand, tamales provided the energy needed to work the rest of the day. Over the years, those Mexican recipes have been adapted to a Southern palate. Many variations of the tamale can now be found around the Delta region and beyond. Made with cornmeal (masa), traditional tamales are filled with spiced meat. The Mississippi Delta hot tamales are smaller than traditional Mexican tamales, with several typically eaten during a meal. Robert Mosley, a Mississippi Delta native, perfected his own tamale recipe and had the idea of bringing them to the state’s capital in 1982. He and his wife, Patricia, began serving his delicious tamales in a small restaurant on Delta Drive in Jackson. He named the business Tony’s Tamales after his brother, Tony. “Tony’s Tamales sounded so much better than Robert’s Tamales,” laughs Reginald Mosley, the youngest child of Robert and Patricia, who now owns the company. As the restaurant and brand grew, Robert relocated the business to a larger facility on Livingston Road. That helped launch the company in a new direction. In 1984, the company began its wholesale operation and began supplying tamales to area restaurants. The company moved to a larger location on Woodrow Wilson Boulevard in 2007 before moving its operations to the current location in Bentonia. Retail locations are located in a drive-through on Old Canton Road in Ridgeland and on Cress Park Drive in Pearl, where tamales are available for

46 • August/September 2021

purchase by the dozen or half dozen in vacuum-sealed bags. The tamales are also available in area grocery stores. “During Covid, grocery stores ordered more tamales than ever before,” says Reginald. “One of our buyers said you’d think tamales were the cure for Covid with the way people were buying them.” Reginald still uses the same tamale recipe his parents taught him, “But I make them faster,” he laughs. Reginald, who grew up working in the business, has a degree in industrial technology. After college, he went to work for the company full time. “I run the company, but I also know how to repair the machines that make the tamales as well as fix the computers when they break down.” Reginald is the youngest of the Mosley children. His older brother, Robert Junior, is an occupational therapist and works for the company part-time. Reginald says the original turkey tamales are the best sellers, but the beef tamales are popular, as well. “They are very versatile,” he says. “We’ve had folks share recipes with us on dishes they’ve created using our tamales,” Reginald says he likes them heated up and served with a side salad. “They are so easy to prepare. You just leave them in the bag and drop them in boiling water to reheat.” The tamales make an ideal school-night meal when there’s not much time to cook, also make a delicious appetizer or snack. Further south, in the city of Natchez, Fat Mama’s rules the tamale world. Jimmy and Britton Gammill worked for two years in the mid-1980s to perfect their tamale recipes. The joke with their children is that someone was going to get fat eating all their rejected tamales, thus the name Fat Mama’s. Made with a combination of seasoned ground beef and pork roast wrapped inside a spicy masa, the tamales are wrapped in corn husks and cooked for over three hours. The tamales can be found in Fat Mama’s restaurant on Canal Street in Natchez or ordered on their website. The tamales are packed by the dozen, are shipped around the world, including Hong Kong and Tokyo. The restaurant serves its famous Knock-You-Naked margaritas with tamales. The margarita mix, along with their popular Fire & Ice Sweet Pickles, is also available to order on Fat Mama’s website at edm

{ raise your glass }

Cantaloupe Bubble Tea BY REBECCA FENDING


ithin recent years, bubble tea (aka “boba”) has risen in popularity thanks to social media. Traditionally, bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. Since then, it’s spread to other Asian countries, including China and Japan, becoming a large part of the trendy obsession around street food. If you’re wondering how this drink has become a global sensation, it’s because it’s just that good. Bubble tea comes in a variety of flavors for both the tea itself and the tapioca pearls. The drink typically incorporates a dairy (or dairy substitute) element to transform the liquid into what’s called a milk tea. Really, if you like a splash of milk in your hot tea, milk tea with boba is a modernized, iced version.

This drink is easily one of the best pick-me-ups during warm weather. It combines the cooling effect of an iced tea with the fun texture of the boba pearls at the bottom of the cup. Really, bubble tea is a snack and drink, all in one. This recipe is one that can easily be adapted to your specific tastes. If you want less tartness, opt for orange juice instead of lemonade. You can also brew a flavored green tea that would go well with the melon, such as lemon or even peach green tea. Or, if you’re making this when cantaloupe is not in season, you can always opt for a different melon or fruit. Ultimately, it’s up to you! edm

CANTALOUPE BUBBLE TEA RECIPE INSPIRED BY MELON BUBBLE TEA ON FOOD.COM SERVES 2 Fresh Blackberry Puree: • 2 cups of brewed green tea • 1/3 cup honey, preferably locally sourced • ½ to 2/3 cup of packaged black tapioca pearls (found in Asian grocery stores or online) • 2 cups granulated sugar • 1 cup hot water • 2 cups cantaloupe chunks • 2 cups ice cubes • 1 cup fresh lemonade • ¼ cup coconut milk • Optional: fresh mint, for garnish

2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add tapioca pearls to boiling water. Boil until pearls are softened, about 25 minutes. 3. Drain pearls with a metal mesh strainer. Place strainer over a bowl. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the pearls and slowly pour over the hot water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and allow pearls to soak submerged for 30 minutes. Set aside. 4. Combine cantaloupe, ice, lemonade and coconut milk in a blender. Blend until smooth or until the texture is to your liking. 5. Place desired number of soaked pearls in the bottom of a large glass (about ¼ cup is perfect). Pour about 1/3½ cup of cantaloupe mixture into the glass, followed by refrigerated green tea. Add ice, if necessary. Garnish with fresh mint. Enjoy!

1. Brew green tea according to package. Once brewed but still hot, add the honey and stir until dissolved. Set aside and allow to cool. Refrigerate once cooled.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 47

{ from the bookshelf }

“Half Baked Harvest Super Simple” by Tieghan Gerard Article By Paige McKay


his time of year, there’s nothing better than a hearty comfort meal, and after a long day at work or school, you don’t want to spend all evening in the kitchen. This Half Baked Harvest Super Simple cookbook has you covered with 282 pages’ worth of “super simple” and hearty recipes that are perfect for fall, as well as year-round. Super Simple opens up with “The Basics,” which entails just what it sounds like—the basics for simple meals. In this short but necessary chapter, you will find staple recipes for bread dough, pancake mix, bagel spice, lemon basil pesto, pressure cooker eggs and no-knead bread and pizza dough. After the basics are covered, readers will jump into “Breakfast & Brunch.” This chapter includes recipes perfect for a fall Sunday morning at home or any event you might host that calls for brunch foods. Choose from recipes like Brioche French Toast, Egg-in-a-Hole with Tomato and Bacon, Pumpkin Butter Crème Fraîche Pancakes, Maple-Glazed Cardamom Apple Fritters or Cinnamon Roll Bread. Next up in Super Simple is “Appetizers & Sides,” and these recipes are great for the dinner table for the family or a dinner party. Impress your dinner guests with appetizers and sides like Cheesy Poblano and Bacon Quesadillas, Cajun Fries, Cacio e Pepe Brussels Sprouts and Maple Cinnamon Acorn Squash. After appetizers, Super Simple hops into the chapter “A Cocktail For Every Season.” This section includes simple and delicious cocktails that are, of course, for every season. For the perfect fall cocktail, opt for the Honeycrisp Apple Bourbon Smash. After a tasty libation, the book continues with “Salad & Soup.” Choose an Autumn Harvest Salad, Gingered Thai Steak and Pepper Salad, French Onion Soup, Broccoli Cheddar Soup or Golden Butternut Squash Soup for a perfectly comforting bowl any night of the week. For those who love a good carb-heavy dinner, the “Pizza & Pasta” chapter is just what you need. Here, readers will find creations like Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Pizza, Harvest

48 • August/September 2021

Butternut Squash and Apple Pizza, Potato and Burrata Pizza, Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese Bake, Penne Alla Vodka Two Ways and Pumpkin and Sage Lasagna. All of these indulgent dishes are the perfect comfort food meal on a brisk autumn night. For any vegetarians, author Teighan Gerard has created a chapter solely for vegetarian dishes. Choose from yummy options like Black Pepper Buffalo Cauliflower Bites, Hot-andSpicy Pot Stickers, Spicy Poblano Tacos, Garlic Butter Ramen and Spicy Potato Shakshuka. Of course, for those who prefer meat, the next chapter is all about “Poultry & Pork.” Recipes include hearty dinners like Walnut Crusted Chicken with Honey and Brie, Instant Chicken Gumbo, Browned Sage-Butter Chicken Pot Pie, Ginger Apple Pork Chops, and Sun-dried Tomato Turkey Meatball Bake. Along with chicken and pork, readers can also find the “Beef & Lamb” chapter, dedicated to hearty meals with red meat. Recipes in this chapter include Spiced Lamb Hummus, Sheet Pan Cuban Steak, Beef Bourguignon, Baked Coconut Curry Meatballs and Thai Basil Beef with Peanut Sauce. For the seafood fanatics, check out the “Seafood & Fish” chapter for dishes like Lemon Halibut and Chickpeas, Greek Salmon and Zucchini, Lobster Tacos, Browned Butter Scallops, Clams on Toast, and Sesame Crusted Salmon with Honey-Soy Dressing. Of course, to close things out, Super Simple ends on a sweet note with “Desserts.” Satisfy any sweet tooth with desserts like Blackout Chocolate Cake, Coconut Carrot Cake, Easiest Cinnamon Apple Tarts, Bourbon Peach Pandowdy, Butter Pecan Bars and Hazelnut Brownies. Whether it’s for a quick and easy weeknight dinner or a more extravagant dinner party or event, Half Baked Harvest Super Simple is full of comfort food recipes for any occasion. You can find this book at any local bookstore or online on Amazon. edm

BROWNED SAGE-BUTTER CHICKEN POT PIE • 4 tablespoons salted butter • 1 shallot, chopped • 6 carrots, chopped • 1 cup broccoli florets, roughly chopped • 1 to 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, store-bought or homemade • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, plus whole leaves for serving • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth • 1 cup whole milk • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (see note) • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper • 1 large egg, beaten 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. In a large, oven-safe skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot, chopped sage and thyme. Cook, stirring often until the shallot is fragrant and butter is lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the broth and milk, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the carrots and broccoli and cook until tender, about 5 minutes more. 4. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the chicken and parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. 5. Unfold the puff pastry and gently roll it out on a lightly floured work surface until it is slightly larger than your skillet. Place the pastry over the skillet, tucking the sides under the top to fit, and brush with egg. Make two or three slits on the top of the pastry with a sharp knife for venting. 6. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and sprinkle with sage leaves before serving. 7. Store any leftovers refrigerated covered in plastic wrap or foil for up to three days. Note: When working with puff pastry, cover any pastry that is not being used with a damp towel to keep it from drying out while you work. The pastry should never sit uncovered.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 49

Festival Guide for August and September 2021 BY REBECCA FENDING Ride out the end of summer the right way with these fantastic local events and festivals. From reading, eating and even

competing, Mississippi’s festival season isn’t over just yet. edm

Mississippi Book Festival – Jackson, MS, August 21 Calling all bookworms or those looking to get back into reading for the fall and winter—Mississippi Book Festival is set for Saturday, August 21. This event will be held at the state capitol building and grounds from 9 am to 5 pm. This free festival is a local favorite due to its size and the expansive collection of books for sale.

Image from

According to the festival’s website, the event was created by a nonprofit founded by literacy advocates, and made its debut in August 2015 on the State Capitol grounds. The event, “continues to draw thousands to its annual ‘literary lawn party’ and book lovers’ celebration.”

Not only are books available for purchase, but there are also hundreds of visiting authors, panel discussions, book signings, booksellers, capitol tours, food trucks and family-friendly activities. To find out more, visit

PepperJack Music Fest – Hattiesburg, MS, August 27 and 28 If you like (or love) gyros, beer and music, the PepperJack Music Festival is just what you need to celebrate the end of summer. This two-day event will be held at Glory Bound Gyro Company in Hattiesburg, just across from the University of Southern Mississippi. It will begin at 11 am and go well into the night, likely for both days. Image from Eventbrite The festival is sponsored by Southern Prohibition Brewing Company and will have DJs, live musical acts, drinks and games. For more information, visit the event Facebook page or purchase your tickets on Eventbrite for $15 to $20.

50 • August/September 2021

SummerFest – Meridian, MS, August 28 Although previously known as Meridian Day Festival, SummerFest is the new and improved summer festival in Meridian. The event will be held on City Hall Lawn from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, August 28. There will be many family-friendly activities such as pony rides and a petting zoo, bounce house, face painting station and carnival games. There will also be a lip-syncing contest, as well as a cornhole competition with a $200 prize. Other forms of entertainment include jiu-jitsu demonstration, professional boxing exhibition and live local music acts. Visit and search the festival name for more information.

Market Street Festival – Columbus, MS, September 17-18 It’s back again for the 25th year running! Market Street Festival will be held over two days in Historic Downtown Columbus. Festivities will kick off Friday at Riverwalk Park with a Concert starting at 7 pm. The theme for Friday night is “Market Street Mardi Gras,” so bring your best NOLA and Mardi Gras flare to help get the event off on the right note! Saturday begins with the 5K down at the Riverwalk, starting at 8 am. Be sure to preImage from the event Facebook page register for this event. However, for those looking to simply indulge in the festive fun of the festival itself, from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday, historic downtown Columbus comes alive with arts and crafts vendors, fun activities, food and live music. Entertainment will include various carnival-style games, rides and activities, as well as a car and motorcycle show. For more information, entertainment details, maps and street closings, visit or the event Facebook page.

Biloxi Seafood Festival – Biloxi, MS, September 11 and 12 Seafood lovers, rejoice! The 40th annual Biloxi Seafood Festival is set for Saturday, September 11, and is sure to satisfy your summer seafood craving. The festival will be held at the waterside park of Biloxi Point Cadet, allowing guests a day by the water, bridge views, restrooms, as well as a playground and splash pad for kids. The event will begin at 10 am on Saturday and continue until 8 pm. According to the event Facebook page, the Biloxi Seafood Festival is held as a celebration of Biloxi’s rich culture, heritage and connection to the seafood industry. The two-day festival features continuous live entertainment, an array of seafood, Sunday’s Gumbo Contest, arts and craft booths and children’s activities. For more information, visit the event Facebook page. .

Image from the event Facebook page

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 51

Recipe Index Fresh Basil Pesto, 9

Recipe Correction: Vegetable Hash, 37

Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog, 12

Barbecue Okra, 39

Japanese Katsu Sandwich, 13

Humble Pie, 39

Tonkatsu Sauce, 13

Classic Comeback Sauce, 42

Red Cabbage Cole Slaw, 13

Chicken Breast a la Holiday, 43

Sweet Chili Noodles, 13

Easiest Orange Muffins, 43

Jell-O Peach Pie, 17

Quick Marinated Green Beans, 43

Homemade Sloppy Joes, 22

Cantaloupe Bubble Tea, 47

Molasses Glazed Cast Iron Salmon, 22

Browned Sage-Butter Chicken Pot Pie, 49

Hibachi Steak with Vegetables, 22

Italian Zucchini Boats, 54

Follow us on Instagram to see some of the tasty, local bites we’ve discovered!

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI 52 • August/September 2021

Seasonal Produce Guide for August and September


he end of summer yields tons of delicious fruits and veggies for Mississippi. Whether you are looking to make a sweet dessert or make stir fry for dinner, turn to

local farmers and farmer’s markets for your ingredients. Here are just a few of the best produce items you can get during August and September.

Basil This herb is best fresh, both in terms of taste and health benefits. The most common variety of the herb is sweet basil, the version used in Italian cooking, but there are several other varieties, including Thai, Greek, cinnamon and lettuce basils. Although basil has very few overall health properties, vitamin K and omega fatty acids are among the most prevalent. Fresh basil is best with fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers or even corn. This herb is a tasty garnish for any pizza or pasta dish, as well.

APPLES Apples are in season from now until October. Although this fruit is mainly sugar and water, it also contains several different vitamins and minerals needed for a balanced diet. Apples contain about 15 to 20% of the daily recommended dose of fiber, helping to keep you regular by feeding the good bacteria in your stomach. This fruit also has a high level of vitamin C and potassium, which work to keep your immune system strong and increase heart health. CANTALOUPE

WATERMELON This quintessential summer melon is more than just a sweet treat at a cookout. It has the highest water content of any fruit, making it a great way to keep hydrated in the hot sun as summer comes to a close. Watermelon also contains high amounts of beta-carotene, making it a great way to help keep your eyes healthy as the compound is then converted to vitamin A within your body. It can also help prevent high blood pressure by allowing for excess sodium to pass through the body in the form of urine. Whether you eat it off the rind or puree it to add to fresh-squeezed lemonade, watermelon is perfect for all occasions. EGGPLANT Although technically a fruit, eggplant tends to be a polarizing produce item. While some people love it for eggplant parmesan, others cannot stand it. Regardless of where you stand, eggplants have many health benefits buried within their deep purple skin. Because the nutrients of the fruit outweigh the calories, eggplants are categorized as a nutrient-dense food. They have tons of antioxidants and fiber, which both act to help lower inflammation and blood sugar.

This sweet melon is of the best during late summer. Not only is it a great snack by itself, but it also adds a great flavor to drinks such as tea or even smoothies. Cantaloupes are high in vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, which is great for staving off age-relating degeneration. The melon also contains large amounts of vitamin C, fiber and potassium, while being low in calories due to its high water content. If you are looking for recipe inspiration for your cantaloupe, check out our Raise Your Glass article on Cantaloupe Bubble Tea! PEACHES Peaches are a summertime favorite, especially in the South. Not only do they taste great, but they also have high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants, helpful in building and repairing connective tissues within the body. Although peaches are loaded with sugar, they contain complex carbohydrates. These carbs benefit the body as they are harder to break down and keep you full for longer. There is no shortage of ways to put a peach to use, but none is better than with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or even Greek yogurt.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 53

Share your recipes!

ITALIAN ZUCCHINI BOATS You’ve probably seen this trendy dish all over the internet, but for good reason. These zucchini “boats” are a great alternative for anyone looking to cut out the carbohydrates in pasta. Best paired with savory Italian fillings, zucchini is in season August and September, so shop local and give these a try!

Ingredients: • 4 medium zucchinis • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning • salt and pepper to taste • 2 teaspoons olive oil • 1-pound ground Italian sausage

• • • •

1/2 cup onion, finely diced 1 teaspoon minced garlic 2 cups marinara sauce 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. 2. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, trim off the stem ends. Use a spoon and hollow out zucchini flesh to make room for filling.

Do you have a family-favorite dinner recipe? Or a favorite dish that never lasts long at gettogethers? Eat Drink Mississippi wants to feature your recipes in future issues. Please send recipes to, or mail them to PO Box 1663, Madison, MS 39130.

3. Sprinkle a portion of the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper over the zucchini shells. Arrange the zucchini in the baking dish. 4. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook for 4-5 minutes, breaking up the meat as it cooks. 5. Add onion and cook until onion is softened. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. 6. Season the sausage and vegetable mixture with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. 7. Pour the marinara sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer; cook for 5 minutes. 8. Spoon the meat mixture evenly into the zucchini shells, then top with cheese. 9. Bake for 25 minutes, or until zucchini is tender and cheese is melted and golden brown.

Old Waverly Farm Ham’s | Johnnie’s Drive-In | French Hermit Oyster Company


Digital Subscriptions Available!


SmokeGrilled Rack of Lamb

April/May 2020

Getting a taste of Mississippi has never been easier!

Hooray for eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI

Access issues on all your devices.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI

Thyme and Lemon Loaf Cake Watermelon

Arugula Salad eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI •1

Visit to subscribe. 54 • August/September 2021

Till We Eat Again


Jay Reed, a graduate of Ole Miss, lives in Starkville where he is a pharmacist by day and a freelance food writer by day off. He is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and blogs at

Back-to-Lunch Season



he impending arrival of fall is heralded by a number of things in Mississippi: mountains of loose-leaf notebook paper on sale at the local discount store, high schools and colleges freshening up the paint on the football fields, temperatures dropping from 95 degrees to a balmy 88. And for those in K-12, be they students or teachers, it’s back to school … lunches. In the days I was a part of those multitudes, it was rare that I didn’t sit down to a hot, fresh lunch five days a week. Sounds like a pretty good deal, huh? You can bet I asked (maybe begged) from time to time to take my own lunch in what I’m sure would now be a valuable vintage lunchbox. But my mother believed in hot school lunches, and if I wanted to eat, that’s what I ate. Save one horribly vivid fourth grade flashback involving successive cartons of spoiled chocolate milk, my memories are generally fond ones. I may have experienced occasional jealousy of the cool kids who brought their own lunches, but I didn’t go hungry. I particularly remember the pizza. It was rectangular, probably engineered to fit the largest cutout in the lunch tray. I’ve since had some amazing pizza in my many years of eating—it may be my favorite food group—but school pizza will always hold a special place on my palate. No, the cheese may not have always melted completely, and the pepperoni may have been in little bits instead of slices. But there was a particular flavor in the sauce—hard to identify or match—that I still remember. At some point, years after graduation, I came across an opportunity to buy some of that pizza to cook at home. I don’t know if it “fell off a truck” or how it happened to end up in my freezer, but I was grateful. Not too terribly long ago, Strange Brew Coffeehouse in Starkville created a version with what I’m sure were higher quality ingredients, and perhaps a few more veggies than we encountered in the lunchroom at Emerson Elementary. Yet somehow, they managed to capture the vibe: rectangle, sauce and all. I also have fond memories of the Shepherd’s Pie. It was mostly a tri-layered dish of ground beef, mashed potatoes and melted yellow cheese. What’s not to like about that? I honestly can’t remember if it incorporated any vegetables at all. I’ve either blocked it out or they gave up trying to sneak peas and carrots into our diet that way. (Remember, Michelle Obama was still in school then, too, which could explain a lot…). I’ve since learned that the proper Irish name for the version we were served is Cottage Pie. I won’t go into the whole “mystery meat” conspiracy theory, but true Shepherd’s Pie is made from minced lamb, and I’m confident they weren’t feeding us sheep. My kids ended up going to many of the same schools I did, though some of the grades had shifted in a game of musical buildings. I recently took a poll of their favorites and was largely unsurprised by their responses. My daughter’s top choice was the cheesestuffed crust pepperoni pizza, with fries dipped in hot sauce-spiked “best ranch I’ve ever had.” Two thoughts here: 1. My pizza, however memorable, did not have a stuffed crust. 2. That’s high praise for someone who has consumed a lot of ranch dressing. My son chose the chicken tenders with mashed potatoes and gravy. Again, no shock. What was a bit surprising was their unanimous choice for “least favorite,” a very commonly served dish called “cheesy chicken over rice.” Ironically, my daughter rarely orders anything in Mexican restaurants other than the universal P5, which I’m now convinced is the Spanish abbreviation for “cheese(y) dip over chicken and rice.” Go figure. A few summers ago, the local schools invited the community to come eat lunch any day they were serving. I had every intention of going, with the hope of finding an old school pizza, a hunk of Shepherd’s Pie, or even some cheesy chicken over rice to judge for myself. Maybe even in the portion sizes they served at the teacher’s table. Alas, life and the day job got in the way. But there is still hope. And if hope runs out, there is always Goldbelly. edm

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 55

Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.