Monday, November 19, 2012



A New Dixie Football Feast

As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. I'll never be hungry again.”
                     Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA-Standing on a grassy area outside Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd stadium was an ethereal experience. Surrounded by towering buildings including the international headquarters of Coca-Cola, a native son can be overwhelmed by these monuments to power and growth. Just a few blocks away is a storied Peachtree Street home where Gone With The Wind author Margaret Mitchell wrote her book, the Fox Theatre where a very young Elvis Presley performed just before fame and fortune and The Varsity, the world’s largest drive-in restaurant where zillions of hot dogs are served.

Atlanta justifiably claims to be the cultural hub of the Southeast. The High Museum of Art, The Atlanta Symphony, and the Alliance Theatre Company are side-by-side components of the Woodruff Arts Center near Tech’s campus. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Center hosts world renowned leaders and Nobel-Laureates and sits just a mile from the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1954, at a studio on this college campus, Georgia native Ray Charles recorded his first hit, “I Got a Woman,” and the earth trembled.

This fall Saturday before Thanksgiving features a football game between Tech and visiting Duke’s Blue Devils, two great academic institutions with alumni and fans that take tailgating to new heights of excellence.

Scarlett’s Atlanta legacy includes a delicious cocktail, the Scarlett O’Hara. Chuck Jackson has been a Georgia Tech fan since childhood days in Atlanta and makes cocktails with the skill of a Ritz-Carlton mixologist. He served his interpretation of this hallowed beverage at his tailgating space and the Southern Comfort-based drink was a near-perfect eye opener.

While Atlanta has an abundance of outstanding Southern restaurants, New Dixie cuisine includes bolder takes on traditional Southern dishes: Apple wood smoked Georgia Mountain trout served on this day soared with a 2010 Becker Estate Pinot Blanc, Pfalz, a great German white wine.

With the Coca-Cola skyscraper hovering, the Atlanta version of the Cuba Libre was ready on call from more than one outdoor bartender. Camp and Marilyn Riddle made them with Mount Gay Dark Rum from Barbados using Coke One to cut down on calories. A nice squeeze of lime added authenticity to the cocktail classic.

They served shrimp cocktail showcasing wild Georgia White Shrimp from Brunswick on the state’s Atlantic coast. The Bloody Mary included a new find, Dimitri's Bloody Mary Seasoning.

Georgia is a rinsing star artisan cheese producer and Sweet Grass Dairy in the southernmost part of the state wins awards as often as Georgia-born Buster Posey, the San Francisco Giants baseball MVP. The Riddle’s presented a pre-game winner, Sweet Grass Thomasville Tomme with Biltmore Estate’s Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine.

Tailgating at Tech was a synthesis of old and new cooking where the beverages were relevant to the event. The cuisine traditions of nearby Mary Mac’s Tea Room, a venerable restaurant legend were juxtaposed with the influences of great chefs like Linton Hopkins, who heads up Atlanta’s acclaimed Restaurant Eugene.

As the fans packed up everything and filed into the ancient stadium, I walked up the hill to Peachtree Street’s Georgian Terrace Hotel where the cast of Gone With The Wind celebrated the movie’s world premiere long ago. The hotel launched the career of Arthur Murray who began teaching the country ballroom dancing while he was a student at Georgia Tech.

The array of diverse food was a prelude to the upcoming holiday feasts. The wines and cocktails coalesced into an existential tribute to Scarlett, forever Atlanta’s favorite personality. For a few hours in her old neighborhood, no tailgater was hungry.

Enjoy a Jack Daniel’s Gourmet evening in Tennessee:

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