Wednesday, October 24, 2012



By Doc Lawrence

LYNCHBURG, TENNESSEE-The clean air, fall foliage and beautifully preserved village combine to stimulate the appetite. Here in Lynchburg, the birthplace of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, tourists from England are lined up to enjoy lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House where the great cookbook author Lynn Tolley is proprietress. Food is served family style, and more than a few dishes are seasoned with whiskey bearing the Jack Daniel’s label.

I learned from Ms. Tolley and in her wonderful cookbooks that Jack Daniel’s is a delightful substitute for vanilla in desserts. Most of the world’s grillers already know that the whiskey has a prominent place in barbecue sauce, but the usefulness in other dishes might surprise many.

Ms. Tolley served me her stewed apples that were elevated by the inclusion of her ancestor’s Tennessee whiskey (she is a Jack Daniel’s descendant), and life has been better at dinner time in my home since I followed suit.

The rising star celebrity chef Lara Lyn Carter, whose show is a highly popular feature on NBC affiliate WALB-TV in Albany, Georgia, has developed other recipes using whiskey and has a big winner I am delighted to share with the thousands coming this weekend to “The Jack,” the 24th annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship Barbecue Competition here in this historic Lynchburg.

(The magazine feature story of The Jack 2011 is a helpful guide for this year’s festivities:

Each year at The Jack, I find new recipes, new possibilities with the world-famous whiskey and the journey to desserts is filled with promise for the upcoming holiday feasts. What could be more All-American than a Thanksgiving dinner with creative dishes enhanced with appropriate amounts of Jack Daniel’s? The subtle taste of sugar maple is no accident. It’s part of the process the whiskey goes through before final bottling.

What happens when a gentleman named Jack meets a sweet Georgia peach? “It’s magic,” says Lara Lyn Carter.

Jack Daniel’s Peachy Rice Pudding
                  Created by Lara Lyn Carter


2 dried peaches
1 lemon
1/3 cup medium grain rice
3 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons peach preserves
4 tablespoons of Jack Daniels Whiskey
Chop the peaches into tiny bite size pieces and place in a bowl. Pour 1 tablespoon of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey over the peaches.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the rind from the lemon. Place the lemon rind, rice, milk, and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes stirring often to prevent the mixture from sticking. Drain the residual Jack Daniels from the chopped peaches and stir the peaches into the rice pudding mixture. Remove the pudding from the heat and divide evenly into 4 serving bowls.
For the glaze, stir the preserves and 3 tablespoons of Jack Daniel’s into a saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until bubbly and the preserves have been reduced. Remove the glaze from the heat and allow the glaze to thicken by allowing it to cool for a few minutes. Pour the glaze evenly over the pudding and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012



Lynchburg, Tennessee Travel, Americana, Nashville Chefs, Parish Patch

By Doc Lawrence

"The Jack," by Olivia Thomason

LYNCHBURG, TENNESSEE-The drive from Atlanta to this lovely unspoiled village in middle Tennessee is an adventure surrounded by brilliantly colored landscape. Peak leaf season in Lynchburg seems to be coordinated between Mother Nature and the folks who schedule the world’s most prestigious barbecue competition. Known among food and spirits writers and barbecue aficionados as “The Jack,” it’s the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue Competition held this weekend beside the historic distillery where the planet’s most popular whiskey is made.

It’s a reunion with friends like Coach Johnny Majors, Memphis legend Silky Sullivan of Beale Street fame and other judges from throughout the country. Some time to breath fresh air at the farm resort Parish Patch and laugh with owner David Hazelwood. The competing teams represent state champions and the best barbecue of many other countries who have teams here ready to smoke and grill their nation’s favorite barbecue. Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and others add delightful accents and adventure to this one-of-a-kind food contest.

This year, the opportunities for more good stories have been expanded.

To celebrate the perfect marriage of Jack Daniel’s and great food, there’s an exclusive media event with legendary pitmaster Patrick Martin of Martin’s BBQ in Nolensville, Tennessee. Known globally for his famous barbecue, Martin and his friends, Nashville chefs Tandy Wilson, Tyler Brown and Jason McConnell, have created a special menu to kick-off The Jack for another successful year. The chefs will lead a taste tour through each menu item, demonstrating why Southern cuisine is widely viewed as some of the best food in the planet.

Jack Daniel’s heralded Master Distiller Jeff Arnett will give a private tasting of the Jack Daniel’s family of brands, including Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye. For the first time since Prohibition, the Jack Daniel Distillery is offering a new expression from a new grain recipe.

Along with other journalists and writers, I’ll join Jeff as he explores this new offering and Jack Daniel’s world-famous brands. And all of this is a prelude to the thousands from North America and beyond gathering to celebrate this remarkable food event: The Jack 2012 pays homage to a higher life.

Monday, October 22, 2012



Virginia Tech, A Mano Primitivo, Grilled Feta Tenderloin, Sugarleaf Vineyards, Charlotte Russe, Marshall Tucker Band

By Doc Lawrence

CLEMSON, SC—Traveling down the Blue Ridge Mountains from Highlands, the nearby North Carolina resort town to Clemson is a visual adventure. The natural beauty is stunning with brilliant fall foliage equal to a Monet painting. Combined with the fresh air, the appetite is stimulated prompting a mighty thirst for an eye-opening drink and some tasty casual food. The destination was the tailgating area on Clemson University’s campus, a necessary step for a friendly traveler looking for nourishment.

It’s game day down south with Clemson facing Virginia Tech: Who needs football when there is great food, wines, cocktails and craft beer?


Clemson is not far from Spartanburg where the fabulous Marshall Tucker Band started and songs like their classic “Fire on the Mountain,” resonated this autumn day amid the smoke, laughter and never-ending good cheer. Although this is near the mountains and across the state from the Atlantic coast, the food served is connected to the Low Country food culture of the Palmetto state. She Crab soup warms the soul on a chilly fall day and when served, as Max Wheeler does, with an added jigger of good sherry, it is a contemporary but still regal dish reflecting its Charleston roots. No wine with this, just a well-constructed bloody mary with tomato juice made at a local farm and Southern vodka from Georgia’s 13th Colony Distillery.

The food was uniformly delicious, but one dish was a show stealer: Grilled thinly sliced tenderloin of beef filet with garlic and oregano and topped with flakes of Feta Cheese. The wine was a selection by an engineer, a Clemson grad, A Mano Primitivo (2010), a delight from the southeast of Italy made from the grape with DNA identical to California Zinfandel. The pairing was stunning.

Clemson is surrounded by trout streams and near mighty lakes like Hartwell. Smoked trout was everywhere and one Virginia Tech visitor shared her still warm trout with a glass of spectacular Petit Manseng   from Sugarleaf Vineyards, the acclaimed winery in Charlottesville, Virginia. Wine from the Promised Land is what the universe demands for trout, whether smoked or grilled.

The cooks, parking lot bartenders, revelers and fans who gathered were primarily Clemson loyalists decked out in electric orange, but there were some from Virginia Tech. Paul and Dottie Sammons live in the Washington, DC area and brought a Charlotte Russe with them, a dessert that my dear mother would make on special occasions. This was a collaborative effort, Dottie explained, “with our friends in Ashville who also have a sweet tooth on beautiful Saturdays.”

I had an ample serving accompanied by flutes of J Vineyards Russian River Valley Vintage Brut, a California sparkling wine.

Along the way, memories are made during the tailgating ritual. After doing this for many years, I have believe that these pre-game feasts display America at her best. Goodwill, joy and sharing dominate, even in the midst of often-heated rivalries. Mature folks love to cook, uncork, pour and share, even with a stranger from Atlanta whose football loyalties may well be different. The chance to make new friends is a blessing. A healthy appetite, a willingness to try new beverages and a mind that is open leads to new possibilities.

NOTE: This week is dedicated to  “The Jack,” the Jack Daniel’s 2012 International Barbecue Competition In Lynchburg, Tennessee. I’ll be there serving as a judge, making new friends and reuniting with so many participants from across America and other countries.

Monday, October 15, 2012



Nashville Hot Chicken, Kilbeggan Irish Whisky, Vanderbilt, Jack Daniel’s, Las Moras  Malbec, Merle Haggard, Tennessee Travel

By Doc Lawrence

NASHVILLE. No wonder locals have a swagger in their walk. Downtown Nashville is as cool as a city gets outside New York. The Ryman Auditorium, the Country Music Hall of Fame, countless honky-tonks with live music and the spirit of a place moving forward dominates. Vanderbilt, a blue-chip university tailgates with a dedication to higher living and it’s not unusual to see a spread laid out on white tablecloth. Champagne is often served in flutes alongside dishes like Nashville Hot Chicken, a community staple that ranks with Miami’s Cuban sandwich, Louisiana’s oyster po’ boys or Tallahassee’s Grouper Burgers.

Hot chicken? The rage dish was conceived at Prince’s, a legendary Nashville restaurant where owners have shared their buttermilk bath cayenne pepper battered fried chicken with the world. The finished chicken is served on a slice of gently friedwhite bread and garnished with dill pickle chips.

My game day began with a visit to the Ryman and a stop at the magnificent Hermitage Hotel for cocktails and snacks at the luxurious Capital Grille bar. Here, folks talk college and NFL football, country and rock music and other sophisticated small talk. Perfect background for a Bloody Mary.

The historic and romantic Hermitage has a staff for the ages. The valet was a studio musician for a major recording company and a bellman sang and played in clubs on his days off.

Tailgating at Vandy can range from informal to elegant. Some things have a high society feel much like the Virginia experience at Charlottesville and Oxford, Mississippi on a football weekend. In this big city the conversation about food and drink is pretty interesting. I asked one tailgating group what wines they were pouring and how they selected them. The response would make a sommelier proud. “Lamb lollipops” Sandi Campbell instructed, “are ours are great grilled; and taste better with a beautifully balanced Malbec.” Her selection was Las Moras (2010) from Argentina. Ms. Campbell knows her lamb and wine.

Nashville is the epicenter of Tennessee whisky: it’s got that tailgating feel according to many enthusiasts and nothing is more closely associated with Nashville and the entire state than Jack Daniel’s. Meandering through the maize of pre-game partiers confirmed this but also provided a view of diversity. Nashville has a strong Irish heritage. I found to my delight that Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey is perfect with a slice of Benton’s Smoky Mountain Tennessee bacon with an orange juice chaser.

Nashville is core American, but it retains a Deep South accent and is a rising star in new culinary adventures. Tailgating fits the culture in Music City like a Hank Williams song in a Honky-Tonk.

                                  Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

(Nashville’s legendary Brother Love believes this to be the recipe from Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Music City. Only they really know, but this is tasty and easy to make.)
The Paste (enough for one or two chicken breasts):
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp lard
3 tbsp cayenne
3 pinches sugar
3/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Other Ingredients:
Self-rising flour, chicken, white bread, and pickles
*All the seasoning is in the paste; dredge the chicken in plain self-rising flour. Fry it.
*Mix all of the ingredients for the paste (microwaving the lard for about 30 seconds will make this easier). Apply it evenly and liberally to the fried chicken using either a basting brush or your latex glove-protected hands. Note: Use about a teaspoonful of paste for each side of a chicken breast.
 *When you’ve covered the top half, flip it over onto a piece of white bread and add the pickles..

NOTE: This pairs well with a Jim Beam American Stillhouse Old Fashioned cocktail with Merle Haggard’s “Big City.” playing in the background..

Monday, October 1, 2012



         Grass-fed Beef Burgers, Red Stag Cocktails, Coppola Red Wine 

By Doc Lawrence

ATHENS, GA—On this autumn afternoon deep in Dixie, the world was colored bright red. Red tents in the lots near the stadium shaded the cooks, servers and guests who were likewise in hues of shinny fire engines. A Saturday in Athens, Georgia’s “Classic City” is a romantic experience. The downtown just rocks and has many places to dine, many just across the street from the University of Georgia campus entrance.

This is the home of the legendary rock group, R.E.M. and the best fried chicken anywhere is the main attraction at Weaver D’s, the little cafĂ© with a global fan base owned by Dexter Weaver, who catered for the group and was the inspiration for the album, “Automatic for the People.”

I feel the spirit of Lewis Grizzard when I visit Athens on a football game day. How many Georgia games against Tennessee, I wondered, did he witness? And I cannot count times I thoroughly enjoyed the gravely play-by-play radio announcing of Georgia football games by the great Larry Muson.

Nostalgia runs deep here in the tailgating areas where there’s good barbecue everywhere, plus fried catfish, slaw and potato salad made every which away, along with some of the finest wines and skillfully crafted cocktails anywhere in the South. College football is the magnet. Food and drink is the pre-game primer.

This is a day when burgers reign. One group was serving burgers made from Will Harris’ grass-fed beef produced at his heralded White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia. These were custom grilled and fit perfectly with a glass of Francis Copppola Diamond Red Blend, a wine that when poured looked Georgia Bulldog red.

Red Stag Bourbon has a high profile because of its association with music superstar Kid Rock. More than a few tailgaters were serving it.. The Bourbon is football fan friendly and mixes easily. One cocktail was made with high quality ginger ale, a stout pour of Red Stag and the juice of a half lime served over chunk ice in beautiful Old Fashioned cocktail glass.

The recipe of the day was the creation of Josh Butler the culinary specialist traveling with the Grammy Award winning Zac Brown Band. For years Josh was Florida’s top chef, cooking gourmet dinners for three Florida governors. Enjoy Josh’s original “Dog Island Grouper Burger with Florida Slaw” with a glass or two of Biltmore Century White wine, combining the best flavors of this great Georgia college town with the Gulf of Mexico and Asheville, North Carolina.

For those looking for excitement, here’s Josh’s recipe:

 In the Classic City, .Tailgating is more than celebrating winning. It is an art form.