Friday, July 26, 2013



There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are simple things, and because it takes a man’s life to know them, the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave.
Ernest Hemingway

By Doc Lawrence

NORTH WILKESBORO, NC-This in bedrock America, a Deep South counterpart to the landing long ago by Pilgrims in New England. Early settlers here were independent-minded, hardy men and women who loved land and the fruits of the soil. They remain today “God-fearin’” people, as my ancestors would say, and what they believed and built had permanence. Their progeny is all over this region of North Carolina and no person embodies all that makes North Carolina so special than TV’s Carl White who celebrates his birthday this weekend.

“Life in the Carolinas,” Mr. White’s highly popular brainchild is syndicated throughout North and South Carolina, reaching millions of homes, delivering a light-hearted, high-quality program that showcases everything from the arts and folkways to Yadkin Valley wines and Bluegrass music. Not since Charles Karult’s CBS program,  “On the Road," has there been a television series that honors the grassroots culture of a region. Karault, also a Tar Heel, had an eye for humor and poignancy, gifts skillfully employed by Carl White.

While quite contemporary, White’s “Life in the Carolinas,” has spiritual roots in Karult’s. "On the Road" which became a regular CBS News feature. Karult wore out six motor homes during his tenure, but Mr. White’s Lincoln Town Car is holding steady after five years. Much like Karult, the show is produced by a small, albeit gifted crew and where possible, Interstates are avoided (they “allow you to drive coast to coast, without seeing anything" Karult said), in favor of back roads, in search of Carolina’s people and their way of living.

My first encounter with Carl White was in the deep and dangerous waters of the mighty Tuckasegee River in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina near Sylva. I was trout fishing in icy waters when I met the host standing in the stream, holding his microphone. With a cameraman positioned on a nearby rock like a sniper, he inquired if I was having any luck and where I was from. Although the current was swift, and the rocks needed for balance were slippery, the interview remained light-hearted and at times funny.

We never fell in the river. A friendship began.

After many bottles of what Carl White calls “good Carolina wine,” and all night story telling occasionally with strangers is such places like the Outer Banks, downtown Charlotte, Lake Oconee south of Atlanta and points in between, I’ve yet to hear him speak one mean-spirited word or make a cruel reference to anyone, a pretty high claim to clean living in a media culture dominated by empty talking heads. White is a composite of what makes North Carolina such a special place: Classic old school media and celebrity in the tradition of Andy Griffith, James Taylor, Doc Watson, Thomas Wolfe, Earl Scruggs, Ava Gardner, David Brinkley, Charlie Rose and Mr. Karult.

A few days during production at Merrily Teasley’s gorgeous Balsam Mountain Inn near Western Carolina University included mountain dancing, sing-alongs, food and wines and an opportunity to give and receive, the secret ingredient for making new friends. True to Carl White’s formula, the mixture was balanced: Families, technicians, Native-Americans, actors, cooks, musicians and one genuine celebrity, Grammy-Award winner David Holt, the talented host of Public Radio’s “Riverwalk Jazz.”

At dinner, a toast was proposed, observing that life was a wonderful interaction between “good hopes and precious memories.”

Carl White’s “Life in the Carolinas” could be the biggest tourism bargain not just in the two states but also anywhere in the country. Each show reaches the
multitudes with a message that something wonderful is going on by the hour in these nooks and crannies of America’s heartland, beckoning us to come visit and stay awhile.

I join Carl White’s many friends in celebrating. Time and distance mean nothing this weekend. I have a bottle of delicious RagApple Lassie wine from the Yadkin Valley and every sip pairs perfectly with a toast to North Carolina’s extraordinary messenger to the world. He gives his time and resources and this weekend we give our gratitude.

Happy Birthday, Carl!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Papa’s Birthday

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."        Ernest Hemingway

By Doc Lawrence

KEY WEST. The guy is still around. His island home here stays packed and images of him are omnipresent. Less than a hundred miles south in Havana, Ernest Hemingway is just as popular and revered.

Today is the birthday of the Nobel Prize winner and his fame keeps on growing. Along with his popularity is just as much challenge of his skill, storytelling, technique and lifestyle. Hemingway was always bigger than life anyway and the man who said, “there is no friend as loyal as a book” likely wouldn’t be particularly concerned with critical commentary,

The lines can be long here at his home, easily the most visited place on the island. Everything remains in place and you can even buy some interpretive art from sidewalk artists. I have a one called “Papa with a hangover.” It will be framed and occupy a hallowed place by my keyboard.

I have visited his home in Cuba and in Key West. Beyond the books, typewriters, Picasso paintings and celebrity mementoes, I was impressed by his limestone wine cellar in Key West and the full bar he maintained in both homes. Papa, as he was universally called, had a love for life that was nearly as strong as his fascination with death, dominant theme in classics likes The Snows of Kilmanjaro and For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Hemingway adored women and disdained weak men. His boat, the Pilar, was named for the strong gypsy woman, the bravest soldier in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Friendships included Ingrid Bergman, Karen Blixen and Gertrude Stein. His admiration for Ava Gardner landed her career-making roles in The Sun Also Rises and The Snows of Kilmanjaro.
Papa's Key West Home
Cocktails are appropriately associated with Papa. Beginning with his early Paris days, he and his entourage, particularly F. Scott Fitzgerald, drank at places like Harry’s New York Bar, the birthplace of the Sidecar, a venerable cocktail that is still popular.

Havana was paradise for this man. Hemingway’s lifelong routine was to rise early, write until mid-afternoon, walk to his neighborhood bar, and, over cocktails, share stories with locals. Although one of the world’s best known celebrities, Papa was comfortable with grassroots people, whether Cuba, Spain, Africa, Cuba or America. Guys and gals he knew in bars appeared in great stories like The Old Man and the Sea and The Sun Also Rises.Don't you drink? He wrote.  “I notice you speak slightingly of the bottle. I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you? Before an attack who can say anything that gives you the momentary well-being that rum does? The only time it isn't good for you is when you write or when you fight. You have to do that cold. But it always helps my shooting. Modern life, too, is often a mechanical oppression and liquor is the only mechanical relief.”

Would we have the daiquiri or mojito today without Hemingway?  His years in Havana and Key West were energized by his love for rum. Papa wrote “My mojito at the Bodeguita” in Spanish on the wall in La Bodeguita del Medio where it remains today. The Papa Doble, called the Hemingway Daiquiri was crafted in Havana’s La Floridita, a favorite hangout during his years on the island.

During visits to Paris, he regularly stayed at the Ritz. Papa’s preferred cocktail there was the Montgomery Martini. Craig Boreth writes in his marvelously entertaining The Hemingway Cookbook: “Like James Bond, Hemingway, too, had his special martini: the Montgomery. Named after the World War II British General, Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, who would not attack unless he outnumbered the enemy fifteen to one, Hemingway’s martini contains that same proportion of gin to vermouth.” Papa’s ingredients, according to Boreth, were Gordon’s Gin and Noilly Prat Vermouth.

Hemingway left some profound observations: “There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man's life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave.”

On a July afternoon, the heat calls for rum. A daiquiri or mojito? The mojito, a first cousin of the mint julep, seems appropriate for a toast. A salute to all that Papa gave us.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


A New Season of Kickoff Feasts

By Doc Lawrence

ATHENS, GA- Like all college towns, everything is quiet at the moment, a brief  Dog Days interlude before the start of college football, just beyond the horizon. When the first home game in the Classic City begins, many thousands will be satisfied with the delights from the pre-game tailgating, great food increasingly as creative as many of the items on top restaurant menus, all served with ample portions of wine, cocktails, beer, sweet iced tea and goodwill.

Frank Spence, a former Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons top executive is a familiar face here and occupies the lofty position of being the unofficial historian for the tailgating nation. Franks story is even more compelling because it ties in the Civil War Sesquicentennial. “Tailgating here is a hallowed culinary ritual,” according to Mr. Spence,  “ it’s core heritage, vital bedrock and a high-octane picnic as Deep South as grits with red-eye gravy.”

Frank Spence believes that the 1861 “Great Skeedadle” and the law of unintended consequences launched the first tailgating party. A native of Nashville, Spence was referring to the Union Army retr
eat after the first battle of Manassas. “Congressmen, accompanied by beautiful women, set up colorful tents for a fancy hillside picnic to view the assumed quick destruction of the fledgling Confederate Army. Unaware of the looming defeat, party wagons-forerunners of today’s caterers- arrived loaded with picnic baskets filled with fancy food, and cases of expensive French Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. Reacting to the sudden bad turn of events, lawmakers and their ladies fled back to Washington’s fortified safety, abandoning the unpacked goodies. Exhausted Southern soldiers
removed the food and wine from the rear of the wagons and celebrated, going home after the war to share the amazing memories.”

Thus, says the ebullient Mr. Spence, tailgating was born.

Last year. among the wonderful tailgating recipes we found, Josh Butler, Florida’s “Top Chef” under three governors, had the winner in his “Dog Island Grouper Burger.” The search has already started for dishes with this much imagination, local connections and flavors. The local features are impressive: Dog Island is a short distance from FSU’s stadium, Butler
is a home grown chef who serves what he prepares to tailgaters and dish includes local ingredients with everything prepared just before kickoff.

I’ll start the new season at Tuscaloosa, Athens, Tallahassee, Clemson and Knoxville. That’s just the beginning. It’s a long way from August to the bowl games of December and January.

As in past years, appropriate wines and cocktail recipes will be showcased.

All recipes are welcome. If you have photos of people enjoying the feast, send them and we’ll use them. .

May your team go undefeated in 2013!

Saturday, July 6, 2013



By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA-You might see him dining at Mary Mac’s, the venerable shrine of Southern cuisine on Atlanta’s fabled Ponce de Leon Avenue, or speaking impromptu to huge gatherings at Centennial Olympic Park across from CNN’s headquarters. But, he’s most accessible on Emory University’s campus where he maintains a close association that includes prestigious faculty status.

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University, returns to Atlanta this October for a series of public and campus events, including programs on responsible citizenship, ethics and education. Emory’s president, James Wagner, made the announcement recently: "The Dalai Lama has made invaluable contributions to our understanding of what it means to be an ethical citizen of the world. We are looking forward to the return of Emory's Presidential Distinguished Professor and the opportunities for our faculty and students to engage with him on these vital issues."

Two public events are scheduled for Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at The Arena at Gwinnett Center.  In addition, the Dalai Lama will spend two days afterward on the Emory University campus teaching students and engaging with the faculty.

The Dalai Lama last visited Emory in 2010 for a series of events on science research and meditation, creativity and spirituality, interfaith dialogue, and a teaching on compassion. In 2007, he was named Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory, the first university appointment accepted by the 1989 Nobel Laureate. His appointment was an outgrowth of the Emory-Tibet Partnership which was founded in 1998 to bring together the best of Western and Tibetan Buddhist intellectual traditions. As Presidential Distinguished Professor, the Dalai Lama continues to provide teaching sessions with students and faculty during Emory's study-abroad program in Dharamsala, India.

Often referred to as “our professor,” by Emory students, faculty and alumni, both actor Richard Gere and Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker described His Holiness as a role model and a source of inspiration. during a 2010 panel session at Emory.