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.

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