Wednesday, November 20, 2013


A War Eagle Celebration
By Doc Lawrence

“Oh I'll speak my Southern English
Just as natural as I please
I'm in the heart of Dixie,
Dixie's in the heart of me
And someday when I make it,
When love finds a way
Somewhere high on Lookout Mountain
I'll just smile with pride and say, that my
Home's in Alabama . . .”

            -By Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry

AUBURN, ALABAMA—Great songs, fascinating stories, raw visions and college sports blend here on football Saturdays with the culinary heritage of the Deep South. They call Auburn  “the loveliest city on the plains” and Auburn’s teams are sometimes named “Plainsmen.” But War Eagles and Tigers are more common. Take your pick. Local food, wines and cocktails on gameday here are not confined to a few choices. Hours before kickoff, countless displays, grills, tents and trailers make up a smorgasbord of Deep South delights.

Walking around the orange and blue-colored tents, you might be inspired to look for two Auburn sports greats, Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley. Jackson, a NFL and Major League Baseball star and Barkley, still going strong on television after a stellar career in the NBA and household words here.

On this day when Georgia’s Bulldoigs are football guests, the area outside the stadium was, as it has been for so many football Saturdays, a feast with few equals.. Forests, lakes and rivers surround the area and wild game is served right alongside usual dishes. Fried chicken and grilled quall, smoked wild duck gumbo or rabbit is not uncommon. Alabama catfish is a hot item with tailgaters. That’s part of the fascination of this Southern soiree: what you see is what you get where fun has no boundaries on gameday.

The Auburn campus is a very accessible, With I-85 close by, an easy drive from Atlanta or Montgomery, Alabama’s capital city. Accommodations, including Callaway Gardens, the fabled Georgia resort are plentiful.

The decorated tables signal that a perty has started. Cups and glasses have Auburn logos but the food is non-partisan: a rich selection of meats, fowl, fish, casseroles, homemade biscuits, cold cuts like the Southern staple celery stuffed with pimento cheese. Wines cover the spectrum of popular brands, Michael David produces a Chardonnay that waltzed with the lighter dishes,.

Writers make up a significant part of Auburn alumni including the great journalist and author Paul Hemphill. His biography of Hank Williams, “Lovesick Blues,” was praised in The New York Times by Garrison Keillor as one of the best literary works about the Country music giant. This is the college of best-selling novelist Anne River Siddons and Pulitzer Prize winner Cynthia Tucker.

Local restaurants are plentiful, juxtaposing simple and fancy. A favorite of residents and visitors is Pannie-George’s Kitchen where the food is fresh and delicious. To quote an old friend, if you leave here hungry, it’s not their fault.

Chili was omnipresent and an All American full flavored Old Vine Zinfandel from Dry Creek with its rustic structure, spicy piercing flavors pairs beautifully with this popular dish, dispelling the claims that only beer or sweet tea goes with chili.

Before toe meets leather cocktails are de rigueur and Curley Burnell, a retired high school football coach served up his “War Eagle Wiz,” that was a an old fashioned glass filled with Wild Turkey Forgiven, a blend of Bourbon and Rye over a few chunks of ice. Enjoying every sip recalled earlier days when living was uncomplicated joy.

 Auburn Venison Chili
          By Chef Lara Lyn Carter

1 lb. ground venison
1 sweet onion chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can kidney beans drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 clove garlic minced
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
Brown the venison in a large skillet along with the onion and pepper. Add the tomatoes, beans, brown sugar, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Stir well and simmer the chili for 45 minutes.

Perdido Vineyards near Mobile and Pensacola produces several Muscadine wines that seem to gravitate to Chef Lara Lyn’s Chili. They are nearly perfect with the flavors and aromas from Chef Lara Lyn’s Auburn Venison Chili. Remember, local grown extends to wine as well. Give it a chance.

NOTE: Dinner with Frank Sinatra? It’s an evening at Jack Daniel’s hosted by the acclaimed whiskey maker, Jeff Arnett, Master Distiller for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Plus, highlights of the 25th Jack Daniel’s World Championship Barbecue Competition.

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