Monday, December 24, 2012



Recipes from Craig Claiborne, Robert E. Lee and 4th & SWIFT

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA-One holiday drink that goes against the grain is eggnog, and it’s making a big comeback. And, why not? This is the season of celebration, homecoming and reunion and rich, delicious and high caloric eggnog just brings the spirit of Christmas and the holiday celebration to the forefront like nothing else.
Many of the food and beverage traditions are deeply rooted in the South. Tonight, I’m serving Jim Sanders’ Oyster Stew made with bivalves from Georgia’s Atlantic coast, something I’ve done nearly all my adult life. The wine? Champagne, of course.

Craig Claiborne was a fixture with The New York Times for many years. The Mississippi-born food journalist often shared his family recipe during the 1950’s.


 12 eggs, separated
1 cup Bourbon
1 cup cognac (Armagnac great too)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 pints whipping cream
nutmeg, freshly grated to taste
1 -2 cup milk (optional)

In an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick.
Slowly add the bourbon and Cognac while beating at slow speed. Chill for several hours.
Add the salt to the egg whites. Beat until almost stiff.
Whip the cream until stiff.
Fold the whipped cream into the yolk mixture, then fold in the beaten egg whites. Chill 1 hour.
When ready to serve, sprinkle the top with freshly grated nutmeg. Serve in punch cups with a spoon.
If desired, add 1 to 2 cups of milk to the yolk mixture for thinner eggnog.

Kevin Bragg is the head bar manager at Atlanta’s wonderful restaurant 4th & Swift. Here’s his modern take on an ancient recipe.
12 egg yolks
3/4 c. sugar
4 c. milk
2 c. heavy cream
2 1/2 c. Dark Rum
2 c. Brandy
1 1/2 c. Bourbon
 12 egg whites
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
 Add yolks and sugar to mixer and mix until smooth.
Add milk, cream, and liquor and stir.

To serve:
In a mixing bowl, add egg whites and sugar. Beat until peaks are stiff. 
In a separate mixing bowl, whip remaining cream.
Fold cream into meringue. Fold mixture into eggnog base. 

This is authentic, published in a wonderful 1996book by the University of North Carolina Press.

12 Eggs, Separated
12 Tbs, Sugar
7 Wineglasses of Brandy (approx. 5 ounces = 1 wineglass)
5 Wineglasses of Rum (or Bourbon)
2 -3 Quarts of Milk
1 Quart of Cream
Fresh Nutmeg

Beat egg whites till stiff. Beat yolks with sugar till sugar is dissolved (should not feel grainy when run between your fingers).
Fold egg mixtures together. Pour in the brandy and rum, and stir. Let stand for 30 minutes to an hour. Add 2 quarts of milk and the cream. Taste – if too strong, then add the 3rd quart of milk, otherwise sprinkle with nutmeg, and let stand overnight on cool porch, or in refrigerator.

Each recipe has Bourbon. I recommend the more flavourful and mellow ones (they’re all pretty darn good, though) particularly Knob Creek, Basil Hayden’s or Maker’s Mark.


Thursday, December 20, 2012



                   Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart Create a Masterpiece

There is something about the South that stimulates creativity in people, be they black or white writers, artists, cooks, builders, or primitives that pass away without knowing they were talented. It is also interesting to note that the South developed the only cuisine in this country.”
                                                    Edna Lewis in Gourmet Magazine

By Doc Lawrence
More than a few famous cooks think of the food traditions of the South as American bedrock.  Joining those making magic in their kitchen who have taken their work and achievements to a national and international audience is Nathalie Dupree. With her new cookbook, Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, a monumental 720-page work co-authored by the accomplished Cynthia Graubart, this highly readable and almost encyclopedic treatise has earned a space in my culinary library. For those who appreciate authenticity, it should be near their kitchen counter.

No stranger to the limelight, Nathalie Dupree is a celebrated cook, popular teacher, acclaimed author, and pioneer TV cooking show host.  She started her restaurant career after finishing London’s Cordon Bleu and with stops on the way, came to Atlanta. A genuine television cooking pioneer, Ms. Dupree starred on more than 300 top rated television cooking shows on PBS, forever changing the culinary landscape of the South.  She has been featured on “The Today Show”, “Good Morning America”,  “CBS This Morning” and CNN and her daily “Home Cooking” tips have aired on more than 1,000 radio stations. Two of her dozen books, Southern Memories and Nathalie Dupree’s Comfortable Entertaining, received James Beard Awards.

The book is an evolutionary milestone for Nathalie Dupree who has been teaching technique and ingredients to the masses. She launched the “new Southern cooking movement” a blending of regional ingredients with French and Southern cooking techniques and founded the groundbreaking Rich’s Cooking School in Atlanta.  As chef, instructor and director for more than a decade, she taught over 10,000 students including some of today’s celebrity chefs. 

The book’s title should sound familiar. Substitute French for Southern and you have Julia Child’s masterpiece. However, the title selection wasn’t predicated on borrowing hallowed words, but a salute to Ms. Dupree’s close friend. It is fair to say Julia Child’s Southern connection was Nathalie Dupree.

I once asked Nathalie Dupree her favorite memory of Julia Child. “Julia came to Rich's (the cooking school at the famous Atlanta department store where Ms. Dupree taught at the cooking school) a number of times, as well as once or twice to my home.  The time I most remember was when she did an event for 500 people at the downtown Atlanta Rich's.  The line for her book signing was horrific.  Then she had seven TV and press interviews that she conducted in the Cooking School, where we were to have lunch.   We had made butterbeans, among other things.  Every time someone walked by them whether a producer, television crew or one of my students or assistants, they stirred them. It was sort of a subliminal reaction, nervousness over having Julia there.  By the time lunch came around, the butterbeans were mush!”

Cynthia Graubart was instrumental in Ms. Dupree’s Southern cooking career, helping take her to a national audience as producer of the television series in 1985 to accompany another influential book New Southern Cooking. The added value in Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking  is the continuing the influence of their early collaborations by giving each recipe and advisory permanence based on tradition combined with practicality and usefulness.

Nathalie Dupree is a founder and two-term president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, a founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and active in the James Beard Foundation.  She was the founding Chair of the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, as well as organizer and first co-president of the Charleston Chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier.   She also helped organize the Atlanta chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food and the Atlanta Chapter Les Dames d'Escoffier. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Echoing the sentiments of Edna Lewis, Nathalie Dupree states that “Southern cooking is the mother cuisine of America.” In the words of another child of the South, baseball immortal Dizzy Dean, “it ain’t bragging if you can back it up.” Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking stands alone today as a lifetime achievement, a preservation of food heritage and a mighty handy instrument for cooks at any level. Giving this book to those who want to know how we cook, eat and celebrate down here deep in Dixie is an enjoyable first step on the way to enlightenment.

NOTE: Enjoy “An Old Fashioned Christmas,” the holiday TV special on Carl White’s delightful “Life in the Carolinas” beginning on December 22. Sneak preview:
And the story behind the TV show:

Monday, December 17, 2012



 Postage Stamp Honors Ted Williams                                                    
“Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel, not just to be as good as someone else but to be better than someone else. This is the nature of man and the name of the game.”
                                  Ted Williams

By Doc Lawrence

Islamorada FL --- Ted Williams, one of baseball’s greatest hitters was also known for catching big fish in the Florida Keys. Several of his old fishing buddies recounted their stories of Mr. Williams here at Robbie’s Marina near the magnificent Overseas Highway in the stunningly beautiful tropical island community of Islamorada.

Legendary pro fisherman Stu Apte recounted how in 1948 he met Williams, sharing his secret fishing spots for three months before he knew Williams was a famous baseball player. Williams signed his $100,000 annual endorsement contract for fishing gear with Sears at Apte’s home in the Keys because Williams didn’t want to miss out of three days on fishing with a trip to Chicago. He also attended two Thanksgiving dinners at Williams’ Islamorada home.

On this day, South Florida postal officials presented enlargements of the Ted Williams first class postage stamp to Stu Apte, Skip Bradeen, Hank Brown, Gary Ellis, and Tony Hammon who shared recollections of fishing with Williams.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service issued the Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps, recognizing the accomplishments of Williams and three other baseball greats:  Joe DiMaggio, Larry Doby, and Willie Stargell. Each of these Hall of Famers was a perennial All-Star selection and each left an indelible impression on the game. But at Robbie’s Marina, the spotlight was on Ted Williams.

Regarded as one of the all-time greatest hitters in Major League Baseball history, Williams (1918–2002) a career Boston Red Sox outfielder was the last Major League player to bat over .400 for a single season, in 1941. Over a 19-year career, he hit .344 including 521 home runs.

Atlanta resident Kris Krebs as a young shortstop signed with the Red Sox out of Florida State University and received batting instruction from Williams. “He could read the numbers on a jet flying across the baseball field,” Krebs remembers, “and no player had better hand and eye coordination.”

During World War II, while in the prime of his career, Wil­liams enlisted in the Navy and began a flight-training pro­gram after the 1942 season. He earned his wings as a second lieutenant in the Marines and became a flight instructor. He missed three full seasons of baseball during the war. He also missed most of two seasons in 1952 and 1953 while flying combat missions during the Korean War.                                                                             

Despite the interruptions to his career, Williams man­aged to win six American League batting titles and four home-run titles, even though Boston’s Fenway Park was difficult for left-handed power hitters like Williams. He also was voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player twice. In 1947, his second season after returning from World War II, he won his second Triple Crown. In 1957, at age 39, he hit .388 and became the oldest player in the his­tory of the majors to win a batting championship; he then led the league in batting again the next year at age 40. He even batted a more than respectable .316 his final season, in 1960, at age 42. 

Williams was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. In 1969, he became manager of the Washington Sen­ators and was named American League Manager of the Year. After four years, he retired from managing and moved to Florida to pursue a lifelong passion for fishing. 

Williams shared the unofficial title of America’s most popular sport fisherman with Ernest Hemingway, a long time resident of Key West.

In 2002, Ted Williams died in Florida at age 83.

A Holiday feast: singing, dancing, laughter and food from local farms at the Balzam Mountain Inn.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


The Curious World of Wine

                      by Richard Vine, PhD

Reviewed by Doc Lawrence

With an already overloaded food and wine library, the last thing I needed was another book about wine. Or, so I arrogantly thought. Everything changed with the arrival of Richard Vine’s remarkable book, The Curious World of Wine (Perrigee 2012), a delightful work that just replaced a terribly boring book about wine better suited as a doorstop.

Richard Vine, PhD, is an Emeritus Professor of Enology at Purdue University and his masterful Curious World of Wine has packed into each page a charming assemblage of lore and facts that successfully incorporate knowledge with entertainment. I began reading it during breakfast and found myself quoting from it for columns I was writing. Ideas appeared like new spring cudzoo and life was enriched with these “facts, legends, and lore” as his subtitle states.

The book, printed in digest size, has the feel of a diary and the content of a classic textbook. I gauge books like films and plays: Do they serve a higher purpose? If entertainment is achieved, wonderful. If exhilaration comes from added knowledge, all the better. And that’s part of the real value in this book.

America’s Founding Fathers were men of letters and children of the Enlightenment who knew their way around a wine cellar. Vine relates a response by Benjamin Franklin to an Abbot who used Franklin’s name and reputation as a bon vivant with excessive jest. Franklin’s response to the overbearing piousness was forgiving: “Let us adore and drink.”

Books make a permanent gift. Wine adds elegance to the gesture of giving. A bottle of Frank Family Vineyards Petite Sirah 2009 included with a copy of The Curious World of Wine is almost guaranteed to ignite, solidify or possibly repair a relationship.

That’s part of the glory of the grape, particularly during the holiday season.

Enjoy this story about celebrating the holidays in the mountains of North Carolina during the production of Carl White’s “Life in the Carolinas.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Emory University’s Historic
Dave Brubeck Festival

By Doc Lawrence
"I can't understand Russian, but I can understand body language."
               Dave Brubeck, after seeing Mikhail Gorbachev tapping his foot during
                a 1988 dinner performance in Moscow hosted by President Ronald Reagan.

ATLANTA-The death of Dave Brubeck, the legendary jazz pianist, composer and recording artist inspired media tributes here and in other countries. Dave Brubeck’s impact was particularly significant at Atlanta’s renowned Emory University where in 2002 he was the centerpiece of a five-day festival and symposium exploring his contributions to the arts and humanities.The Emory University Dave Brubeck Festival provided an overview of Brubeck's career, with a special look at his role in the civil rights movement, his musical compositions and style, and his impact on the history of jazz.

The Festival featured a variety of concerts and educational opportunities, including a two-day symposium, concerts by the Dave Brubeck Quartet in Glenn Memorial Auditorium and intimate workshops. Brubeck's breadth of composition spanning jazz, choral and classical genres offered Emory students and the Atlanta community a chance to listen to and learn from one of America’s most prolific composers.

One concert was introduced by H. Johnson, host of the long-running "Jazz Classics," on Atlanta’s WABE-FM. The jazz pianist and American music pioneer led his acclaimed quartet in a sizzling night of jazz, a tour de force of his music that entertained America and the world audiences since 1945 including performances with such legends as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and concerts for eight U.S. presidents.

At the time of his 2002 visit, Brubeck was still an active composer, writing jazz and classical music and in some cases crossing boundaries between these genres. Generous with his time, Brubeck hosted a jazz improvisation class, an afternoon with Emory students at the Carlos Museum that encouraged dialogue and was highlighted by a duet with one young woman who joined maestro Brubeck in playing “Take Five,” easily the most recognizable jazz composition ever. Atlanta resident Stephen Thomason was there and recalls the moment: “Brubeck was just hanging out,” he said, “enjoying everybody and invited this student to play the piano. He sat down beside her and joined in playing ‘Take Five’ all around her hands on the keyboard. It was so warm and thoughtful and to me was music from another world.”

Emory's historic five-day festival and symposium included The Dave Brubeck Quartet performing with the Emory Symphony Orchestra and Chorus joining in for such favorites as "Boogie One A.M," "All My Hope," "In Your Own Sweet Time,” plus Bach-inspired arrangements.

“If there's a heaven," Brubeck once said, "let it be a good place for all of us to jam together and have a wonderful, wonderful musical experience."

NOTE: Here is a sneak preview of the holiday TV special “An Old Fashioned Christmas” which airs December 22:

    Images courtesy of Emory University

Wednesday, December 5, 2012




“Doing something for Jim makes time move faster for Della than it would otherwise. It's her love for her husband animates her and gives her energy.”
                                                                The Gifts of the Magi

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA-They don’t call this exciting city the cultural capital of the New South for nothing. Along with the Atlanta Symphony, the Atlanta High Museum of Art, Alliance Theatre Company and the Carlos Museum at Emory stands the Balzer, a downtown gem and headquarters of the Tom Key led Theatrical Outfit.

The holiday production of “The Gifts of the Magi” will satisfy that itch to do something worthwhile with family and friends during this wonderful season. The timeless story features a talented cast that includes one of my favorites, the irrepressible Bernadine Mitchell. The holiday musical by Mark St. Germain is based on the classic O. Henry story.

It’s Christmas in New York and Jim and Della are out of work and penniless. To afford presents for each other, both secretly part with their most precious possessions. In the classic holiday story, the two lovers' gesture of giving creates a warm and intimate Christmas in a cold, unfriendly city. Set to the music of Randy Courts, this charming musical kindles the holiday heart of Atlanta.

Atlanta native Bernardine Mitchell has performed nationally and internationally in a wide range of roles that includes Mahalia Jackson in Mahalia, Bessie Smith in Bessie’s Blues, Mrs. Potts in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Velma and Mother Shaw in Crowns, Alice in Big River and the Matron in Chicago. I treasure precious memories of her jazz and blues singing here in Atlanta clubs.

Theatrical Outfit holds true to its mission of providing diverse audiences, actors and artists with a rich theater experience and to produce works that stimulate thoughtful discussion, using local talent to tell its “Stories that stir the soul” – which often come from classic and contemporary literature – featuring themes that are both relevant and revelatory. “Magi” provides all this and more. “Magi” or any musical blessed with the special touch of Atlanta’s S. Renee Clark elevates the spirit with rhythm and harmony.

Since 1995, Tom Key has led the organization at the award-winning downtown Balzer Theater at Herren’s.  The Balzer Theater is also the historical site of Herren’s, the first restaurant in Atlanta to voluntarily desegregate. Key has produced many of the best writers of the American South: Truman Capote, Horton Foote, Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Hank Williams, Tennessee Williams, as well as the new dramatists Carlyle Brown, S.M. Shephard-Massat and Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder.

“Gifts of the Magi” runs through December 23.  Performances are Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

Photographer credit: Josh Lamkin.