Monday, December 28, 2015


Ideas For Your Peach Bowl Visit

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA-Florida State has a long history in my hometown. The first Peach Bowl in 1968 featured the ‘Noles against LSU, played in freezing rain at Georgia Tech’s stadium. Bill Peterson was FSU's head coach and I'll never forget leaving the great jazz bar, Down the Hatch in Underground Atlanta, greeted with the Marching Chiefs performing on the cobblestone streets.

The boys in Garnet and Gold returned in 1983, another outdoor event played against North Carolina in 16-degree weather. The most recent was the 2010 New Year’s Eve contest against South Carolina in the indoor comfort of the Georgia Dome, site of this week’s game.

Mary Mac’s has a close connection to Florida State. Owner John Ferrell is an FSU alum and has done wonders in preserving this dining shrine, easily the most revered in the region. Located just down the street from The Fabulous Fox Theatre, the menu is vintage Southern. Start off with a cup of the healing elixir, pot licker, and then plunge into platters of Mary Mac’s classics sourced from the farms of Georgia.

Walk around the rooms and see photos of VIP diners like the Dalai Lama, various U.S. presidents, Hollywood and TV stars and many sports legends. There is a special wall covered with FSU memorabilia. Dine next June and you will likely run into Garrison Keillor before his performance of “A Prairie Home Companion,” at The Fox.

FSU enjoys an international reputation as a center for liberal arts. The Woodruff Arts Center includes the world-renowned High Museum of Art (on Peachtree, of course). The Habsburg Splendor is a not-to-miss feature exhibition earning raves. Woodruff is also the home of the Atlanta Symphony (former conductor Robert Shaw was once a conductor in residence at FSU) and The Alliance Theatre Company where plays and musicals regularly showcase Florida State grads

Take Ponce de Leon Avenue east to Decatur. Agnes Scott College was founded by George Washington Scott, Florida’s governor during the Civil War. The battle flag carried at the Battle of Natural Bridge by the cadets at Florida Seminary, FSU’s predecessor, is on display at the Dekalb County Historical Society Museum in the beautiful old courthouse. Decatur is one of the top restaurant centers in the South. Don’t miss oysters and cocktails at The Kimball House, located in the historic rail terminal. Café Alsace serves authentic French cuisine.

During the 1996 Summer Olympics, the North American Indian Compound was alongside the renowned hot dog headquarters. Chief James Billie headed the Seminole Tribe of Florida, principal sponsor of the spectacular exhibition of Native American culture, and entertained with alligator wrestling and country music. For those who haven’t heard the songs of Hank Williams performed in Seminole, your life is incomplete. The Chief made it crystal clear he is both an Atlanta Braves and an FSU fan.
"Hey Good Lookin" in Seminole

Over six million visitors annually enjoy this huge urban park. Experience the Atlanta skyline, your reward after a hike to the summit. Or, take the sky lift. Either way, you’ll never forget the breathtaking view.

Enjoy Atlanta. Dieon Sanders once electrified NFL fans in the Georgia Dome and introduced the Tomahawk Chop to baseball fans while he played centerfield for the Atlanta Braves. Come on back: The 2017 Alabama-Florida State game will be first regular-season college football game played in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Friday, December 25, 2015



By Doc Lawrence

We gather here today, exchange presents and begin the feast. There’s food, egg nog (General Lee’s own recipe), music and laughter, all part of a celebration of family and friends. Joy prevails. December is my day-to-day journey to this magic moment when the world-at least in my little Georgia town-is peaceful. It’s a season of birthdays and remembering my mother who departed this world on a December evening. No person I’ve known enjoyed the Christmas season more. She glowed as children opened the presents she had wrapped in such beautiful paper, bound with pretty ribbons.

Mother was from Alabama and I’ve always found comfort on this day through the glorious story by Truman Capote based on his Alabama childhood.

“And when that happens, I know it. A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing from me an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite on a broken string. That is why, walking across a school campus on this particular December morning, I keep searching the sky. As if I expected to see, rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying towards heaven.”
                                        ― A Christmas Memory, Truman Capote


Wednesday, December 16, 2015



By Doc Lawrence

Few things that are delicious remind me more of special Christmas and Holiday celebrations than egg nog. An essential part of the festivities, it has quite a lineage and no gathering is really complete without it. 

The General's Potent Egg Nog
My collection of egg nog recipes includes the masterpiece served by General Robert E. Lee and contemporary beverage experts. Some common ingredients include brandy, rum, whiskey, eggs, milk, spices. Crystal cups and glasses add elegance.

Vajra Stratigos, the highly respected beverage director for Atlanta’s Fifth Group Restaurants presented me with his special egg nog recipe, “Lightning and Thunder,” a name that embodies his creative talents and zest for the good life.

“It’s a sweet spot for me,” Vajra said recently. “Growing up, I think egg nog made for some of my most memorable taste experiences over the holidays.”  Like so many celebrants, Vajra offers that he “remain[s] a glutton for the thick rich festive potion.” His recipe is aglow, a versatile and festive original that “is really delicious and fits the classic profile.”


1t xxx sugar (or confectionary will work also)
1 oz heavy fresh cream
1 fresh egg yolk (pasteurized if you are worried)
2 oz Brandy or Cognac
.75 oz Flor de Cana 7 or 12 year aged rum
.50 oz St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
I small orange peel
Add egg, cream and sugar to the pint glass and shake hard to emulsify. Then add the dram, the rum and the brandy and shake again. Finally add ice to fill half the glass, cap and shake hard till the shaker is cold and frosty. Strain the contents into a stout tumbler or festive footed stem and garnish with a sprinkle of grated nutmeg and some orange zest. shake once more. Pour into a cocktail glass and finish by shaving a bit of fresh nutmeg and cinnamon on top.
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.
(Stone Mountain, Georgia’s Rusty Hamby, a respected Civil War expert provided this treasured recipe.)



Friday, December 11, 2015



“For I was hungry and you gave me food,
  I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
 I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
 I was naked and you clothed me.”

                           Matthew 25:35-36

By Doc Lawrence

Entrance to Koinonia Farm
AMERICUS, GA-These people walk the walk. It’s easy to tell others what they need to do to make the world a better place. Far more difficult is actually feeding, clothing and providing shelter for strangers unconditionally, without fanfare.

Welcome to Koinonia Farm, located on the marvelously fertile fields of rural Southwest Georgia, a short distance from the home of Jimmy Carter. Driving through the gate, a sign informs visitors that here is the birthplace of Habitat for Humanity.

Since it’s founding in the 1940’s, it has been a refuge for the lonely and oppressed. Koinonia is a place where rules are totally open-ended. Those who have suffered for whatever reasons and need security, Koinonia welcomes them with open arms and love.

My introduction was through Tom Key and Harry Chapin’s wonderful musical, Cotton Patch Gospel, based of the translations of the New Testament Gospels by Reverend Clarence Jordan, Koinonia’s founder. The inspiring performance became a road to Damascus experience that took me from Atlanta to Koinonia.
Peaceful Pecan Trees

Koinonia is the embodiment of all things sustainable and organic. Permaculture is de rigueur. Food comes from the nutrient-rich soil, the enormous aquifer and clean air. Ingredients and products that cannot grow here are sourced from like-minded entities. Their marketing and sales operation-lifeblood and very honest-is generated on site. This is pecan paradise and whether shelled, whole or made into bakery products, sales directly benefit someone in need.

Scene from "Cotton Patch Gospel."
Their mission statement says everything: “We are Christians called to live together in intentional community sharing a life of prayer, work, study, service and fellowship. We seek to embody peacemaking, sustainability, and radical sharing. While honoring people of all backgrounds and faiths, we strive to demonstrate the way of Jesus as an alternative to materialism, militarism and racism.” When the Civil Rights Movement was just cranking up, these beliefs drew shameful violence, mindless state and local government harassment and merchant boycotts.

The men, women and children of Koinonia never surrendered to evil.

My holiday gifts to friends and family include the cakes, pecans, condiments and even the books sold by Koinonia Farms.

Peruse their online catalog and you’ll find a meaningful gift.; (877) 738.1714


Tuesday, December 8, 2015



By Doc Lawrence

Alma Sucic (L) with Daniel Rudinger and Elizabeth Fairleigh
ATLANTA-Nikolai’s Roof occupies a hallowed place in the culinary history of not only Atlanta but also much of the Deep South.  A pioneer gourmet leader in Atlanta two decades prior to the ‘96 Summer Olympics, Nikolai’s, originally conceived with homage to Imperial Russia, still hovers high over street life, offering a startling gaze of Atlanta’s evening skyline. On a recent starry evening, it became clear that the mission of this landmark institution is to remain in the forefront of the city's fine dining venues.

Ushering in the holidays with style, Nikolai’s under the command of GM Daniel Rudinger hosted a dinner party featuring Champagne and sparkling wines. Laurent-Perrier, the fabled Champagne house supplied many memorable pours over nearly three hours of celebration in the best tradition of fine dining in Atlanta.

On display was the Laurent-Perrier gilded birdhouse, an impressive container holding a gift bottle that deserves a place under the Christmas tree of someone special.

Esteemed chef Stephanie Alderete’s creations began with amuse-bouche that included lobster bisque served with Francois Montand extra dry sparkling wine. After seating, Alma Sucic, an eloquent spokesperson for Quality Wine & Spirits, described the wines for the evening, offering a concise tutorial of Champagne.

Thus began the tasting of oysters, a threesome topped off with Royal Oestra Caviar, Orange Miso and Prosecco Mignonette and paired with Marc Herbart Blanc de Blancs Brut.

The stage was set for pours of Laurent-Perrier and the initial choice was the Brut Rosé NV, a bubbly that glowed fluorescent pink in the flute glasses. The items served included Foie Gras and Veal, garnished with sweetbread compote, black trumpet mushrooms with truffle honey and Sherry reduction.

The piece de resistance, Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin and Cheeks, blended seamlessly with a regal Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle. A prelude for the finale.

Dessert was skillfully crafted for the occasion by Chef Alderete, a combination of festive flavors elegantly presented. Her Dark Chocolate Torchon with Bourbon Ice Cream hid a subtle salinity that beckoned for more sparkling wines. The Bigaro Moscato, an Italian rosé delight, balanced out the complex tastes, making this a perfect evening.

High above the busy streets and sidewalks of Atlanta, we gathered for a great feast, honoring the culinary heritage of Nikolai’s Roof established long ago and welcoming the continuation of things truly wonderful
through the ensuing holiday season and New Year.

Monday, December 7, 2015



"Let your heart be your compass
Let your laughter be your guide
Follow after what you’ve always loved
And I’ll be by your side."

                From-A Little Princess

By Doc Lawrence

Sara as Performed by Emerson Steele
ATLANTA-Tom Key, Theatrical Outfit’s artistic director, uses the words of Nelson Mandela to introduce the current production: “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.”

Meet the plucky, privileged Sara Crewe, the lead character of “A Little Princess.” The daughter of a soldier-adventurer in Africa finds herself shipped away from her happy home to mind-numbing, dull Victorian-era London. Through song, dance and tales of magic and mystery, she brings joy to the other children but draws the wrath of the cruel headmistress who resembles a tyrant in a Charles Dickens novel. Set in World War I, Sara learns that her father, a British army officer, is dead. Her charmed life crumbles and with no assurance of room and board payments flowing to the facility, she’s forced to become an unpaid servant, a slave by another name, dressed in rags and living in a cold, damp room.

Sara, however,  is made of good stuff and does not allow her light of life to be extinguished. Through imagination and courage she overcomes adversity with the dignity of a true princess.

Young Sara, brilliantly portrayed by Atlanta native Emerson Steele, is the universal child, glowing with defiance and faith. Her voice will brighten your holidays. Combine her spectacular performance with a talented cast and brilliant choreography and music, you behold an event that will, to quote Mr. Key, “liberate the soul-stirring truth of theatre.”

“A Little Princess” is part of Theatrical Outfit’s Season of Courage, continuing its vision of creating compassion, one thought-provoking and soul-stirring story at a time.

Tickets and information:;  (678) 528.1500

Wednesday, December 2, 2015



“It’s one for the money,
Two for the show,

Three to get ready,
Now go cat go!”

      Carl Perkins, Blue Suede Shoes

By Doc Lawrence

The first time I walked in Sun Studios, the fabled recording shrine on Union Avenue in Memphis, I recalled Bob Dylan saying that when he made his maiden entrance there, he fell to his knees and kissed the floor. For a photo-op, I was provided with one of Johnny Cash’s acoustic guitars by a relative of the man who author Peter Guralnick says invented rock and roll.

Perhaps no one person invented this music, but Guralnick makes a convincing case over his brilliant 700-plus page book that we would have some pretty bland music and a very boring world were it not for the remarkable efforts of Sun Studio’s Sam Phillips.
Sam with the young King

Just in time for the holidays, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n’ Roll, (Little, Brown and Company), is a tour de force of the South’s vernacular music, beginnings that have no end. 

For those millions who came of age assisted by the recordings and performances of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wanda Jackson, B.B. King  Carl Perkins and a few dozen more music legends, Guralnick’s expert storytelling connects the genius of Phillips with the destiny of these singers who might have fallen into the abyss of obscurity without his faith in their voices and talents.

Guralnick, who also wrote the critically acclaimed Elvis Presley biographies, Last Train to Memphis, and Careless Love, knows the landscape of rock music’s evolution. His biography of Sam Phillips, the visionary genius who steered the revolutionary path of Sun Records, documents the introduction of a sound the world was waiting for. An Alabama native, Sam Phillips, consistently color blind and blessed with an open mind, was able to bring forth white and black voices largely from the rural South, launching a celebration of integrated harmonies and rhythms that would forever transform popular culture.
B.B. King

For those who love good rocking day or night, this is the holiday gift that stimulates priceless memories and pays tribute to the one man who made everything possible. Thomas Jefferson didn’t exactly invent America, but as a Founding Father, he was instrumental in its creation. Trusting his better angels, Sam Phillips recognized the magic embedded in the amazing men and women, who, when given the opportunity, would put some everlasting joy in the universe.

Monday, November 30, 2015



By Doc Lawrence

Lara Lyn Carter Heads to South Beach
MIAMI BEACH-The 2016 South Beach Wine & Food Festival will bring more than 60,000 guests to over 75 spectacular events throughout a star-studded gourmet weekend soiree alongside the Atlantic Ocean. The 15th annual festival running non-stop on the last four days of February is a star-studded gourmet celebration showcasing the talents of the world’s most renowned chefs and culinary personalities plus the legends of wine and spirits.

And it’s now official: Celebrity chef Lara Lyn Carter is included in the prestigious lineup.

Lara Lyn Cater is a perfect fit for this global gourmet lifestyle event. A cookbook author, successful cooking show star in South Georgia and the host of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s hit series “Thyme for Sharing with Lara Lyn Carter,” the personable chef bubbles with enthusiasm on the cooking demonstration stage whether from her home kitchen TV set in Albany, Georgia to the big studios in Atlanta or her triumphant appearances at Telluride last summer.
Strolling Along the Festival Venues

What makes her selection to South Beach impressive is that this is one event that occupies a top tier ranking of glamour and success in the highly competitive world of culinary celebrities. Many top chefs from the world over want to be included but only a few make the cut.

What the South Beach Wine & Food Festival means to top chefs is what the major leagues mean to baseball stars. It’s where the big names appear, cook, hobnob and join in the celebration of good living. And, you would be hard-pressed to find a more inviting environment than the festival sites lining the topical beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.
Over the years of covering South Beach, I’ve enjoyed Emeril, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Todd English, Paula Dean, Giada, Guy Fieri (and even Willie Nelson) and dozens more. This year, I have the special honor of admiring the performance of Chef Lara Lyn Carter as she joins ranks with legends like Martha Stewart who hosts her highly anticipated Rosé Brunch, country music superstar Trisha Yearwood’s hosting her Southern Kitchen Brunch, and others like Giada De Laurentis, Michelle Bernstein, Stephanie Izard, and Alain Ducasse.

And there’s the top of the line wine seminars and luxurious tastings hosted by Wine Spectator.

Lara Lyn Carter is just beginning. A network television in the near future will be no surprise at all. Next February, Georgia is going to be on the mind of the throngs from the planet's four corners enjoying food, wine, sunshine and music at South Beach.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Vive la France- Embracing Food, Wine and Travel

By Doc Lawrence

Alluring Martinique
ATLANTA-It’s known as the Fleur de Caraïbes. Located in the heart of the Caribbean archipelago, Martinique is a jewel in the Windward Islands. Bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, its western coast is flanked by the Caribbean. The island is much nearer to the U.S. Southeast than France, but for a few hours on a lovely afternoon it seemed close to Atlanta.
The Normandy Coast

Atout France, the French tourism agency, came here to promote travel in France and Martinique with a group of lucky members of the press at the opulent Four Seasons in Atlanta’s booming Midtown. You expect nothing less than excellence from French hosts and accordingly, French wines were poured and food was served from a special menu presented by esteemed Chef Robert Gerstenecker.

The entrees included Bronzino, the delicious European sea bass and filet of loin steak followed by chocolate silk pie, a delightful finale. Wine glasses were never empty.

During lunch, the intimate gathering learned that despite the tragedy in Paris, travel to France and Martinique is loaded with cultural rewards with a bonus of recreational opportunities along the countryside.

Breathtaking Midi-Pyrenees
Imagine a Normandy vacation. Featuring one of the world’s most famous coasts with 80 sites dedicated to D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, it is known as the cradle of Impressionism. Normandy will glow beginning in April during the 3rd edition of the Impressionist Festival. There will be hundreds of events during the spring and summer featuring over 25 exhibitions showcasing portraiture displaying about 100 paintings by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Degas, Caillebotte, Fantin-Latour, Morisot, Cassat and many more.

Toulouse, the capital of the popular destination Midi-Pyrénées, is also Atlanta’s sister city. A bustling technological hub renowned as the home of Airbus and Aéroscopia, it enjoys a thriving arts and culture scene. Lourdes and the “Grand Sites” of the Pyrénées, include the UNESCO natural heritage site of the Cirque of Gavarnie and the Pic du Midi, a mountain in the Pyrenees famous for its astronomical observatory. The city of Albi boasts the Toulouse Lautrec Museum, the Episcopal City a UNESCO site dating back to the Middle Ages, and the nearby village of Cordes-sur-Ciel, a fortified town dating from 1222 perched on a hilltop. The beautiful sites along the Way of St. James, include Conques, Figeac, Moissac and Auch.

Martinique's Geraldine Rome with Greg McCluney
The horrible events in Paris took a back seat. The gracious hosts were emblematic of the French spirit that eschews uncertainty and fear. As my distinguished colleague Greg McCluney observed, “France is vast and diverse making any region an attractive destination.” While enjoying another glass of wine, we agreed that the perfect place to lose those winter blues would be two weeks in January on Martinique, France’s island paradise.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Vignettes of France in the South

By Doc Lawrence

“There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”
                  -Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Marquis de Lafayette in LaGrange
The statue in downtown LaGrange, the lovely West Georgia city, is one of many tributes to the French leader who was instrumental in helping George Washington’s army win the Revolutionary War. Marquis de Lafayette was a hero to early Americans and drew crowds like today’s rock stars as he traveled Georgia and new country. Milledgeville, another showcase Georgia city, marks the spot where America’s first huge outdoor barbecue was held, honoring Lafayette, a special guest.

Last Saturday on public radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” host Garrison Keillor opened with remarks acknowledging Paris as a city that appreciated the joys of everyday living, gentle moments like dining with friends, the arts and music, a lifestyle he said that made them vulnerable to evil. Then, Mr. Keillor asked the audience in Cleveland, Ohio to stand as the band played the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” I rose from my living room chair as well, a special moment to think about all that is French in my little world.

Rodin's "The Shade"
On June 3, 1962, 106 Atlanta arts patrons died in an airplane crash at Orly Airport in Paris while on a museum-sponsored trip. At the time, it was the worst single plane aviation disaster in history. The French government donated a Rodin sculpture "The Shade" to the museum in memory of the victims of the crash. Today, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art is the leading art museum in the Southeastern United States and one of the most-visited art museums in the world.

Established in 1804 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Père Lachaise in Paris contains the remains of thousands of celebrated artists, writers and musicians, including Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Frederic Chopin and Oscar Wilde. But the cemetery's most visited grave belongs to American rock legend Jim Morrison, a Florida native, who died in Paris in 1971. On any given day, hordes of tourists surround his tombstone.
The Maid of Orleans

The stunning gilded statue of Joan of Arc remains one of my favorite memories of New Orleans and the French Quarter. Millions have seen and photographed it. Not far from the Maid of Orleans is the Cabildo, the Louisiana State Museum where the Louisiana Purchase was signed. One of the most prominent exhibits is the death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte, who, many say, planned to escape from prison exile to live out his days in leisure as a French Quarter resident.

The antidote to sadness and loss can often be found in the Parisian lifestyle. Laissez-faire and joie de vivre suggest that freedom and happiness represent a preferred state of mind. My crystal glass is waiting to be filled. Nothing soothes the soul quite like great French wine. My choice is Moulin-A-Vent from Burgundy. The first sip is warming, infused with optimism.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


             Chef Josh Butler's Recipes

By Doc Lawrence

Chef Josh Butler
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA-They call it the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party, a claim backed up on this college football weekend by partisans who combine their fierce loyalty to their respective teams with libations and some very creative food. Georgia’s ‘Dawgs met the Gators of Florida here alongside navigable waters, under a clear autumn sky.

Welcome to the Sunshine State, a diverse place, far more than beach vacations and Disney World.

Still Southern, Jacksonville is North Florida where you can find a variety of cuisines. Seafood is omnipresent, but there’s a bedrock culture that harkens back to Spain over five centuries ago that includes wines. The first wines to come into America were brought by Spanish explorers into St. Augustine

Cracker cooking is part of Florida’s culinary heritage. Popularized by Pulitzer Award winner and Cross Creek resident Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, it features game, garden vegetables and all things local. A new book on Florida food inspired by Eatonville, Florida’s Zora Neale Hurston, one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, confirms the profound impact of African-Americans on today’s Florida cuisine.

Chef Josh Butler is one of Florida’s most effective food representatives. Josh, who now cooks for Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Restaurant in Senoia, Georgia served as chef for three Florida governors including Jeb Bush. His Grouper Burger is a tailgating original.

   By Chef Josh Butler
1-pound fresh Florida grouper fillet, rough chopped
½ pound fresh Florida peeled and deveined shrimp
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1-teaspoon whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
3/4-teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 whole grain, freshly baked buns

Add the shrimp to a food processor and make a paste. Roughly chop the grouper into pieces. Combine the chopped Grouper, Shrimp paste, salt, pepper, onion, bell pepper, breadcrumbs, egg, mustard, and mayonnaise and fold gently, dividing into four equal sections shaped into patties. Cover the patties and refrigerate for 1 hour. Cook burgers 4 minutes per side or to internal temperature of 150°F. Place the cooked burgers on top of the whole grain rolls, top with Florida slaw and Capital City Tartar sauce.
1-cup low fat mayonnaise
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup fresh basil, leaves picked off of stems
1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves picked off of stems
1-cup fresh Mexican tarragon, leaves picked off the stem
1 cup fresh baby spinach, stems removed
1 teaspoon capers, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon chopped dill pickle
1-teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
In a food processor or blender, add the fresh herbs, spinach and lemon juice, then puree. Add the mayo and yogurt and puree to incorporate the herbs.  Pour this mixture into a bowl and fold in the remaining ingredients. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
½ head Napa style cabbage
2 carrots peeled and grated
1 small sweet onion, sliced
2 pink grapefruits, sectioned
2 tangerines, peeled and sectioned
2 tablespoons key lime juice
4 teaspoons raw Florida sugar
4 teaspoons Greek-style yogurt
1-tablespoon fruity olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the vegetables in a mixing bowl and toss with olive oil. With a serrated knife, peel the grapefruits and tangerines and cut out the segments removing the white pith. Cut the sections into bite size pieces then add to the cabbage mixture. Mix the lime juice and the sugar together until dissolved. Add the yogurt and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
Florida Wines
Warm-up with a Datil Bloody Mary (made with the ancient pepper still abundant in St. Augustine) and sever Grouper Burgers with the delicious white wine, Blanc Du Bois from Florida’s Lakeridge Vineyards.

GIFT SUGGESTION: The collectible Jim Sanders Coos For Wine Lovers is now available. Includes the French wine pairing chart.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


           The Jack Turns 27

By Doc Lawrence
LYNCHBURG, TN-Saturday marks the 27th year of this event-my favorite in America-where teams of champions the world over gather in the park beside the world’s most hallowed distillery to compete for big cash prizes based on barbecue excellence. For the past decade I have served as a judge at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tennessee alongside some of the biggest names in food, spirits, music and media to determine the planet’s best of the best.

Teams from across the country and around the world light the coals and fan the flames going head to head in an intense battle of smoking, seasoning and searing. Only one will emerge Grand Champion. If you live in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Louisville or Birmingham, it’s an easy drive. If you live in New York, Washington or somewhere in the middle of Montana, hop on a plane to Nashville, find a ride and head on over to “The Jack,” as the event is known the world over. You'll get a taste of Lynchburg in Jack Daniel's Hollow, see the international teams parade and enjoy some of the finest barbecue in the world.

The World Championship Barbecue is a combination of culinary expertise and friendly but serious competition with a $10,000 prize going to the Grand Champion.

Award-winning teams from around the world compete for the coveted title of Grand Champion in seven categories: Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork Shoulder/Butts, Beef Brisket, Dessert, Cook's Choice, and Jack Daniel's Sauce.

A Tennessee tradition: No visitor is a stranger. I’ll be in the Judges Pavilion Saturday, lodging at nearby Parish Patch Farm Resort and after the awards, attending the South African Wine Dinner at fabled Cortner Mill Restaurant on the Duck River in Normandy.

Come over and say hello. We’ll take some photographs, do an interview and include you in the stories published, broadcast and podcast next week.

Sunday, October 18, 2015



“There'll be peace without end
Every neighbor a friend
With every man a King.”

       "Every Man A King" by Huey Long and Castro Carazo

By Doc Lawrence

Holly Clegg with Tailgating Centerpiece
Nothing anywhere compares to the food and outdoor celebration in Baton Rouge on game day. Here in this college town and capital city of Louisiana, the aromas, laughter and music aren’t all that unusual because this is one of those top-tier food shrines that dot the Southern landscape. Ask someone to describe in just a few words the defining cuisine of their city and they will likely stammer searching for some common thread. In this river city, it’s a fusion of European, African, Caribbean, traditional Southern, Mediterranean and more that continues to evolve, embracing new ingredients and cooking styles, but remaining true to its culinary roots.

Game day means LSU football. Legendary Tiger Stadium is a powerful reminder of Huey Long who as governor and U.S. Senator, constantly promoted LSU’s football program and wrote the LSU fight song, Touchdowns for LSU.

Tailgating at LSU incorporates culinary heritage with Deep South panache, showcasing music, food, wonderful beverages and some dancing. There are no strangers on game day. Even the “enemy” is welcome to have a drink and some gumbo. Lovely handmade centerpieces beautify the stadium parking lots. “It’s a special touch,” observes Baton Rouge resident Holly Clegg, a Louisiana cooking superstar and devoted LSU fan. She will be the first to tell you that food tastes better served alongside table decorations.

As a mother, wife and cookbook author, Holly Clegg appreciates the ability to create a tasty dish that is both convenient and healthy, offering expert advice for nearly 20 years on quick, flavorful and healthy eating . With nearly 1 million books sold, she has been featured in USA Today, Country Living Magazine, and First for Women. The American Culinary Federation of New Orleans also recognized her as one of the Top Louisiana Chefs of 2011.

Holly Clegg brings her Southern charm to every aspect of her life. “After all,” she says, “I’m a LSU fan which means I’m just as serious about food as football.” And the tailgating feast doesn’t get much better than Holly’s amazing creation:

16 (2 tablespoon) servings 
1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups roasted red pepper hummus
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumber
1/3 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup crumbled reduced-fat Feta cheese 
3 tablespoons sliced Kalamata or black olives
1. In bowl, blend together cream cheese, yogurt, oregano, garlic, lemon juice and season to taste.  Spread on large round serving plate.
2. Carefully spread hummus over cream cheese.  Sprinkle evenly with remaining ingredients, refrigerate until serving time.
Serve with pita chips or vegetables (cucumber rounds).

With my recent introduction to the native varietal wines from the historic Portuguese region of Tejo, tailgating at LSU provided the perfect setting to enjoy some of these wines with Louisiana food. Why Portuguese wines? The thrill of wine enjoyment is expanding the palate with new taste adventures and these delightful wines fit seamlessly. We enjoyed the Conde De Vimioso, a gentle high-value and high-quality white wine that enhanced our enjoyment of the wonderful food.

Adventures in food and wine are integral parts of Deep South tailgating traditions. For more original recipes from Holly, visit her website:

The historic cookbook, Jim Sanders Cooks for Wine Lovers, has been reprinted and will be released this week. It is not only a collectible but includes Jim’s never duplicated wine pairing chart.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015



By Doc Lawrence

It’s a boomtown, a place near the top of popular tourism destinations in the Deep South. Nothing in the ascension of Asheville, the western North Carolina vacation spa, came about through accident and the very informative book by visionary business leader Marilyn Ball takes readers along an amazing journey beginning when the evolution of the city was taking root.

Marilyn Ball’s The Rise of Asheville: An Exceptional History of Community Building, (History Press 2015), chronicles the evolution of an exceptional community. The story starts with newcomers over the last fifty years flocking to Asheville, joining forces with locals to breathe new energy into the city. As the author explains, these folks didn’t necessarily intend to be entrepreneurs, community organizers and business leaders, but when they saw a challenge, they rose to it. Meeting poverty and hunger head-on became a  priority no less important than laying the foundation for Asheville’s natural food culture and boosting the potential of the core-and growing-arts presence.

Marilyn Ball traces these citizen movements, a bonding of community that came together to produce the crown jewel that is Asheville.

A retired advertising executive and writer deeply rooted in Western North Carolina’s hospitality, economic development and tourism, Marilyn Ball moved to Asheville in 1977 and has been tirelessly working to foster a spirit of community there ever since.

Several ranking tourism executives have told me that Asheville is the standard of excellence for attracting visitors. My own experience began during baby days when I vacationed with family living in nearby Hendersonville. I’ve followed Asheville’s emergence both as a culinary center and a place where the arts have a happy home.

Marilyn Ball also hosts "Speaking of Travel," an Asheville-based radio show and podcast, a platform to share unique travel experiences. “I’ve come to realize,” she says, “that travel is like love. When you travel you have this heightened state of awareness. The best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.”

Ms. Ball’s book is a primer in leadership; a revelation of what happens when collaboration is blended into civic and business ambitions. There is power in one, to be sure. However, embracing the talents and energy of like-minded neighbors leads to the miracle of revitalization. Lessons can be learned from this book: Other cities in the South and beyond seemingly consigned to stagnation, could actually have a brighter future.

Today’s Asheville is the work-product of good people with different experiences building on common purpose. According to the Marilyn Ball, her city is a an example of what can happen when “we venture beyond the boundaries of everyday life and slip out of our cultural restraints. We find ourselves opening to new possibilities, imagining a life of greater meaning and seeing ourselves in a new light.”

For those who wonder how to start a renaissance in their own city, the answers are found on the pages of this commendable book.

Friday, October 9, 2015


Chef Paul Prudhomme

“Have fun. Do something nobody has done before.”
                             Chef Paul Prudhomme

By Doc Lawrence

He was a bear of a man who transformed American cuisine by giving it a lot more heat and down home ingredients. Because of Paul Prudhomme, countless restaurants still serve blackened fish, a style that Chef Paul made popular with redfish. A culinary cousin of Emeril, who once worked for him, and a cultural descendant of the PBS cooking show pioneer Justin Wilson, Chef Paul departed his life in New Orleans, the city where he launched a career of cooking, teaching, cookbook authorship and restaurants.

Before I dined at his legendary K-Paul’s Kitchen on fabled Chartres Street deep in the French Quarter, I had met him prior to fame and fortune at Maison Dupuy, the Vieux Carré hotel on nearby Toulouse where he operated the outstanding kitchen. Unlike the more animated Emeril and Wilson, “the Cooking Cajun,” Chef Paul was subdued and soft-spoken. Food was his monologue, cooking with fresh ingredients a primary contribution for today’s preferences. Nearly everything was seasoned with myriad peppers and herbs of all kinds, garnished with a heap of joie de vivres.

An ebullient, engagingly happy man, Paul Prudomme expanded our food lexicon. Debris, boudin and tasso are no longer just bayou backwater words.

His cookbooks flew off retail shelves. I’ve always believed that originality accounted for much of his success. Chef Paul's recipes weren’t always easy. Care was demanded and sometimes the ingredients weren’t readily available. Yes, there was a day not so long ago that local fishmongers had no redfish.

Chef Paul’s signature blackened redfish became so popular that a moratorium was imposed on fishing for them in the Gulf of Mexico to prevent extinction.

Paul Prudhomme was a hit on the road. I met him again in Atlanta during an awards dinner at King Plow Arts Center and even at a Kroger supermarket in Sandy Springs where he came to sign books in the wine department. I never saw him dressed in anything other than solid white, and with few exceptions he wore a beret. His handshake was as gentle as my grandmother’s, the feather-light touch of a French Impressionist.

My home kitchen library has many cookbooks. Chef Paul Prudhome’s works line an entire bookshelf and have an exalted place near classics by Craig Claiborne, Edna Lewis, Julia Child, John Folse, Emeril, Nathalie Dupree and others.

It’s football season down South and I’m in the mood for hearty authentic gumbo. The best recipes are Chef Paul’s.