Friday, February 21, 2014


An Evening at the Atlanta History Center

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA-This year many of the most prominent sites on the planet will be decked out in green on St. Patrick’s Day. This was announced during an evening gathering at Atlanta’s renowned History Center during a soiree forever known as “Jump into Ireland,” a lavishly entertaining event promoting Ireland as a highly desirable travel destination.

Who would have thought that the gorgeous island with its friendly people would have to promote itself to Americans? “We have so much more now to offer than meets the eye,” one official told me as I was enjoying a glass of Jameson Irish Whiskey.
The Atlantic Coast of Ireland

The evening was emceed by  masters the art of good humor and storytelling, an attribute that is part of the Irish DNA. Music was from Atlanta’s own Buddy O’Reilly Band (“Born in a pub and raised on concert and festival stage”), complete with an Irish step dancer who provided lessons to some daring audience members. Wielding fiddles and wooden flute, uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes), guitar, bodhran, (Irish drum) harmonica and banjo, the band kept things festive in anticipation of things soon to come on St. Patrick’s Day.

Waterford Crystal was showcased along with Jameson, the dominant beverage served to guests. A tour of the Irish Atlantic Cost and cities like Dublin became a virtual “vacation” for a few moments during a lovely evening down South.

This is the year during the Civil War Sesquicentennial when Atlanta commemorates the siege and Battle of Atlanta, the burning of the city and the beginning of the March to the Sea. With these events, there are profound connections to Ireland and her people who settled here.

The Buddy O'Rielly Band
150 years ago, Father Thomas O’Reilly, an Irish priest and native of county Cavan,  demanded in a face-to-face confrontation with General Sherman that the churches of Atlanta not be destroyed. Sherman backed down. The only portrait of Father O’Reilly is housed in the Atlanta History Center and a monument honoring him sits alongside Atlanta’s City Hall.

Another native of Ireland, Confederate General Patrick Cleburne was as a warrior and strategist, a major force in the Atlanta Campaign and the 1864 Battle of Atlanta.

Atlanta's Legendary Irish-American

Atlanta, with its heritage that includes the immortal Scarlett O’Hara, is the perfect place to begin a jump into Ireland. You can do this daily, non-stop, from our International airport.

More about Father O’Reilly:

Monday, February 17, 2014


New Cookbook in the Jefferson Tradition

Also a Beautiful Coffee Table Book
“President Jefferson turned the White House into the most interesting social center. The Georgetown market stalls were shopped daily for meats, eggs and vegetables including lettuce, asparagus, peas, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, shad, sturgeon, rockfish, oysters, wild game, venison, duck, pigeon, squirrel, poultry, and a variety of fruits.  Diplomats and politicians were treated to menus that included plenty of good wines.”  
                                              Federalist Senator Cutler.

Food, wine, farming, music and scholarship all combined into joie de vivre for Thomas Jefferson. The “author of America,” as Christopher Hitchens called our third president, was an accomplished gardener and wine importer who loved to entertain guests with his legendary dinners. Meals at Monticello featured local grown food from Jefferson’s revolutionary gardens served with wines from his cellar. Seasoned with ample portions of good will, Southern hospitality became an American tradition.

Chef Lara Lyn Carter
Lara Lyn Carter’s long overdue first cookbook, Southern Thymes Shared, is in the Jefferson tradition: a compilation of her original recipes she assimilated from diverse culinary archetypes ranging from a Cherokee ancestor, a beloved Italian-American uncle plus with a long line of hard-working farmers and good friends. An almost unfair advantage for the rising star chef is her good fortune to be born and raised around the fertile fields of South Georgia, where everything living and growing seems to be healthy thanks in large part to clean air and abundant water provided by the Florida Aquifer. Synthesize all this into recipes while making room for Old and New World wines and you have this wonderful book.

Lara Lyn Carter hosts the award-winning Southern cuisine show Savor the Good Life on NBC/ABC affiliate WALB-TV based in her hometown of Albany, Georgia, a gentle city and birthplace of music legend Ray Charles. As her show earned high ratings, friends encouraged her to produce a cookbook. Somewhere along the way. Lara Lyn Carter shared her book ambitions with me. I used some of her recipes and paired the dishes with wines, inspiring visions of dinner at Monticello. The proverbial light came on and a book was born.

Terrific Chenin Blanc From Texas
Much more than a collection of recipes, Lara Lyn Carter outlines complete meals ranging from traditionals like the New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas to feasts common to her part of the South. The titles are irresistible: Southern Gentleman’s Steak Dinner, Football Kick-Off Party, Old-Fashioned Fish Fry and a Salute to Columbus Day, a paean to her Italian-American great-uncle that includes some impressive original recipes like Italian Chicken, South Georgia Pecan Pesto Bread and Amaretto Chocolate Cake.

Honoring the Jefferson dining tradition, the Italian themed dinner is paired with an Old World classic wine, Primitvo from Pugglia at the heel of Italy’s boot.

Old and New World wines appear with Lara Lyn Carter’s creations. You won't find Dry Comal Creek Black Spanish on many retail shelves outside San Antonio, but the case is established that this wine made with grapes introduced into America 500 years ago tastes wonderful with barbecue. Louisiana wine? The Elegant Seafood Dinner pairs seamlessly with Ponchartrain Vineyards’ Le Trolley. The fact that it’s 100 % Blanc Du Bois takes on meaning when the reader discovers that this wine grape was created by collaborative efforts of the University of Florida and Lakeridge Winery in Clermont, Florida and named after legendary Emile Dubois who produced heralded wines in the Sunshine State in the late 19th century. Le Trolley has flavor characteristics of great Alsatian wines and is a magnificent accompaniment with Lara Lyn Carter’s Seafood Medley of scallops, shrimp and crabmeat.

A Jim Sanders/Atlanta Favorite
Southern Thymes Shared, earns praise from Southern Living editor-at-large, James T. Farmer III.  Marsha Fottler, editor and publisher of Flavors and More, says that for those who are “passionate about food, friends and family, you want this book.”  International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association president Michelle M. Winner describes it as a “perfect pairing of treasured Southern recipes, celebration menus and a primer on worldwide wine.” Often compared to the late Charles Kuralt, Carl White, the host and producer of the hit syndicated television show Life in the Carolinas lauds the cookbook as a “true culinary celebration of Southern charm and elegance.”

This is much more that a cookbook. It is a beautiful production with an impressive cover that glows on a coffee table. The recipes, photographs and accompanying anecdotes are useful and practical. The wine pairings are often daring.

If somehow Mr. Jefferson was planning a dinner at Monticello today, I believe he would have Southern Thymes Shared on a nearby shelf in his kitchen library.

NOTE: Southern Thymes Shared is now available at and bookstores everywhere.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What Would George Do?

Today’s Book for Good Behavior

By Doc Lawrence

“Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.” Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation transcribed by George Washington before age 16.

Courtesy of Pelican Publishing
Our first president was our country’s moral compass. Fact and legend supports the popular notion that the “Father of our Country” was an honorable man, very selfless and generous, acting at all times with a high degree of modesty. While he was a victorious military leader and clever strategist, his assumption of power as out first national leader was with reluctance. The man who could have become king of the new country never sought any public office after the presidency and retired to Mount Vernon to make really good whiskey.

George and Martha Washington were highly successful distillers and, thanks to a combined effort of the US government and the distillery industry Mount Vernon is again producing American whiskey.

A complex person, Washington exemplified charm, elegance, decorum, patience and certain gentleness common to many Southerners. If there was a prototypical Virginia gentleman, it was Washington. Nan Marshall and Helen Broder’s delightfully instructive new book, What Would George Do? Advice from Our Founding Father (Pelican Publishing) is both a tribute to Washington’s social graces and a tutorial for those of all generations whose manners could do with a little polishing.

The authors, mother and daughter, take Washington’s Rules of Civility (which he learned and practiced from the precepts of refinement complied by French Huguenots around 1640), and adapt them to everyday interactions we all experience. Why is it so necessary to rush and be too busy to stop and smell the roses? As the book makes fundamentally clear, George Washington the farmer, businessman, warrior and American president would have loved to walk through and enjoy a neighbor’s flower garden.
Helen Broder  (L) with Nan Marshall

In a world infested by irritating, almost never-ending cell phone conversations, texting, rudeness and boisterous banter, our nation needs this book and the lessons that can be be learned therefrom. The expansion of Washington’s Rules by the authors embodies common sense, thoughtfulness, modesty and quiet conversation. Listening, according to the authors, is de rigueur and above all, when we have respect for everyone, we are walking in Washington’s footsteps. Respect as practiced by Washington would be afforded to the shoeless, largely uneducated and almost uniformly poor Revolutionary infantrymen in portions equal to his British enemies, wealthy neighbors and powerful contemporaries like Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton and Adams.

Never wonder why Washington was almost universally loved and admired.

This book that should be on the required reading list for today’s elected officials. Unfortunately, good behavior for some must be learned. Follow Washington’s advice and good things might just come out of government. Like the proverbial journey, building bridges of understanding begins with the first step.

For those who welcome new friendships and delight at strengthening old ones, What Would George Do? deserves a place by your nightstand where you do contemplative reading. The book is a trove of solid American wisdom and reason with a dash of Southern gentility.

And what a useful gift.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Downton Abbey Inspired Dinner-

With a Southern Touch

By Doc Lawrence

ALBANY, GA-The culinary connections between England and the Deep South might not always be obvious, but they are here. A traditional English breakfast would be right at home in Montgomery, the capital of Alabama.. Or, the glorious dessert, Charlotte Ruse, brings priceless memoirs of legendary Sunday-down-South feasts. While the stiff formality depicted in the mega-se
Dinner at Downton Abbey (Courtesy of PBS Masterpiece)
ries “Downton Abby” is better left to official White House dinners, the cuisine and appropriate wines are another matter. There is a kinship not unfamiliar to Southern cooks. After all, the acknowledged founder of America’s wine industry was a gardener, gourmet and serious wine importer. Thomas Jefferson loved to entertain guests from the four corners with dinner at Monticello.

No better person to learn more about the food with British influences than the rising star of Southern cuisine, Chef Lara Lyn Carter, host of her cooking show on WALB-TV. Enjoy Lara Lyn’s tribute dinner that would no doubt please Lord and Lady Grantham- and perhaps prompt a smile from the butler.

Chef Lara Lyn Carter
Steak with Southern Chasseur Sauce
For the Steak
4 filet or rib-eye steaks 6 oz. each
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Melt the butter and brush over each side of the steaks. Season each side with salt and pepper. Grill steaks to desired temperature and allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes. Serve with sauce poured over the steaks.
For the Sauce
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup Vidalia or Texas Sweet onion finely chopped
3 tbsp. minced garlic
16 oz. sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1 cup of fresh tomatoes diced
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup beef broth
4 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. fresh thyme
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook while stirring constantly for 5-7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the sauce to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Note - This sauce is my variation of a Chasseur Sauce. Chasseur Sauce is a French sauce that was very popular in the Edwardian period and was often referred to as “Hunter’s Sauce” as it could be used for beef, poultry or wild game.
Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 clove minced garlic
Red and White Bordeaux Should be Served
2 large Vidalia or Texas Sweet onions chopped
3 medium size sweet potatoes cubed
1 medium butternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed
32 oz. chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1 cup heavy cream
4 pieces of thick smoked bacon fried and crumbled
Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, sweet potatoes, and squash. Cook for 10 minutes. Pour the chicken broth over the vegetables and add curry, nutmeg and salt. Stir well and cook for 45 minutes. With an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is smooth. Pour in the cream and stir to blend. Pour the soup into individual bowls and top with bacon crumbles.

This show stopping dessert will complete your meal. My dear friend Caron O’Hanlon, who happens to be from England, agrees that my Rum Parfait recipe in my newly released cookbook, “Southern Thymes Shared”, would be the perfect equivalent to a traditional English Trifle.
Rum Parfaits
Two 3 oz. boxes of French Vanilla instant pudding
8 oz. carton of original Cool Whip
1/2 cup 151 proof rum
3 1/2 cups of whole milk
Pound cake
Raspberry preserves
In a large mixing bowl, combine the pudding and milk. Slowly add the rum and mix well. Gently fold in the Cool Whip until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture in a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the mixture for 6-8 hours or overnight.
Cut the pound cake into 1 inch cubes. Begin arranging the parfaits in the glass layering the ingredients as follows; 3 to 4 cubes of pound cake, 1 tablespoon preserves, ¼ cup of the rum cream mixture, and 4-5 berries. Continue the layers until the top of the glass is reached.
You can substitute the raspberries and preserves for blackberries if you prefer.

Wine Pairing