Monday, August 31, 2015


Decatur’s Book Festival is Top Choice

-Meet Lara Lyn Carter and Nathalie Dupree-

By Doc Lawrence

DECATUR, GA-Always known as a lovely town and the home of Agnes Scott College, it is today one of the South’s enviable centers of prosperity with acclaimed restaurants popping up almost daily. Busy city sidewalks are lined with comfortable park benches near wine and gourmet kitchen stores. Decatur is a showcase of urban excellence.

Lara Lyn Carter
It’s also home of the annual Decatur Book Festival, the largest independent book festival in the United States.

Authors and more authors dominate the festival. Decatur gives meaning to multiculturalism. The event, just like the city, is inclusive. It is a forum for discussions, debates and the introduction of new ideas. It is also one of the friendliest places anywhere.

Legendary Nathalie Dupree
You can learn about cooking from an array of experts. Some like the legendary Nathalie Dupree and rising star TV celebrity chef Lara Lyn Carter are very approachable and delighted to autograph copies of their books.

The festival crowds are made of gentle, family-friendly folks, a welcome absence of boisterousness, a comfort zone for three days when you have no hesitation to strike up a conversation with total strangers.

Decatur has a long history with books. Mary Gay’s classic Life in Dixie During the War is a first hand account of the sufferings 150 years ago during the siege and occupation of the area by General Sherman, and a favorite son, the great Roy Blount, Jr. grew up here, going on to author countless books that prove smart folks know how to generate laughs.

The Decatur Book Festival is a perfect way to ease into autumn.

More information:

Sunday, August 30, 2015



 By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA-We debut the 14th season of Tailgating Down South this Saturday September 5 at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta. It's a good match-up with the ACC's Louisville Cardinals taking on highly-rated Auburn, a perennial SEC powerhouse. Just a mile away, Georgia Tech opens its season with high expectations.

The game is important to fans, of course, but our focus is on what is being prepared and served under all those tents surrounding the stadium. What's really creative and flavorful for this early September feast? Are wines gaining in popularity here? What about cocktails that show some imagination?

Include the AJC Decatur Book Festival on Friday and Saturday for a full weekend. Saturday's food stage features the legendary Nathalie Dupree and the rising star TV celebrity Chef Lara Lyn Carter.

We'll have some favorites, lots of photographs and a couple of delightful recipes.

Tailgating, says Atlanta's Frank Spence the nationally respected authority on Southern lifestyles, "was born in the South, just like gospel, blues, rock and roll, jazz and country music. It's part celebration, part feast and always a great party."

We'll be at many games in many locations continuing into December. It will come as no surprise that this is more fun than anyone could reasonably expect!

Monday, August 24, 2015


Delicious Food, Rosé Wines & College Football

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA- It’s time for toe to meet leather, an old football saying that signals the kickoff of college rivalries accompanied by colorful pageantry and robust celebration. The almost sacred Tailgating tradition is showing signs of upgrading. Tailgating, which began during the Civil War and found its way from battlefields to college football, has evolved, becoming more inventive while still retaining the casual conviviality and warm hospitality we enjoy in the South.

Tailgating dishes are more elaborate. Grills and smokers are commonplace. There are flower arrangements, tablecloths, unbreakable dinnerware and shatterproof flutes. Presentation can be dramatic. The Saturday spreads from Baton Rouge to Tallahassee can rival a church picnic on the grounds.

Wines have an important place in tailgating. It’s still hot in August and September, and a chilled wine that refreshes is just what should be uncorked and served.

Welcome to the cheerful wines of Provence. The lovely, refreshing rose wines produced in this region of France, are magically suited for the cuisine we enjoy outside campus stadiums from now through early December.

Rosé comes in soft colors of pink, salmon or peach and is one of those wines that you know up front will pair with everything.  Mexican or Thai dishes, seafood, barbecue, burgers and even homemade coconut cake.

Provençal rosés contain some combination of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rolle, Carignan and Tibouren. These wines have a relationship to our easier lifestyle in the Deep South. They are exceptionally food-friendly, and can be enjoyed late into the football season.

Getting in palate conditioned for the season, I recently enjoyed two that are now favorites: Cote de Provence Rose Les Quatre Tours Classique 2014 is very affordable and goes gently with almost everything Asian. Côtes de Provence Sables d’Azur Rosé 2014 seems made for bacon wrapped grilled wild Key West Shrimp or sushi. A few glasses during the great picnic and you know there is a kinship here with the Provençal lifestyle.

Note: Tailgating Down South will visit the great campus stadiums of the ACC and SEC with a few surprises. We welcome recipes and your favorite wine and cocktail suggestions. Down South Today will give you full credit as we choose the best submissions. Contact Doc at

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Long Live Rock and Roll

“Nobody sings a love song quite like you doAnd nobody else could make me sing along
And nobody else could make me feel
That things are right when I know they're wrong
Nobody sings a love song quite like you.”
                       Sweet Music Man by Kenny Rogers

By Doc Lawrence

MEMPHIS-Rock and Roll was born here. And the man who started it all just happened to be in the right place and time to put a fusion of Southern music into one of Sam Phillip’s Sun Studio recordings.

On that July day, some felt the earth tremble.

Elvis died on this day when the world was a different place. The outpouring of grief still lingers and that included my dear now departed mother who called me to break the news on a morning that was lovely for August. I turned on the radio and instead of weather and sports, heard the hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” the recording by Elvis with the incredible harmonies of The Jordanaires. The sad news was confirmed.

The legendary folk artist Reverend Howard Finster painted and constructed art based on visions he maintained were from God. If you knew Rev. Finster, you would never doubt him. I have one painting called “Winged Elvis,” showing a young boy with a farm hat, coveralls and angel wings. Finster explained to me that he had visions of Elvis as a child in the rural South, a decent boy who was aware that he was about to embark on a mighty mission.

The painting is on a prominent wall in my home and it brings me comfort.

I met Elvis before I was old enough to drive a car. It was brief but I knew something big was ahead for him. One other time I saw him perform on the eve of fame and fortune. My world would  never the same.

Remembering is de rigueur down here. It stimulates something deep inside replacing turmoil with peace.

Light a candle tonight. Say a prayer. Feel the embrace.

Monday, August 10, 2015



“I have visions of other worlds . . . I have visions I can’t even tell people. And I try, the best I can, to draw my visions.”  Reverend Howard Finster

By Doc Lawrence

Howard Finster's Art is Omnipresent
NORCROSS, Georgia-It’s one of the proven ways to beat the heat, have fun with friends and family at a budget friendly price and spend three days in air conditioned comfort. Folk Fest, billed as the world’s largest indoor folk art show, for over two decades has become one of the most popular events during the Dog Days of summer.

Based on 22 years of uninterrupted success, visitors to the Atlanta area can expect more joy from the colorful, family friendly art extravaganza. Folk Fest often hooks adults and children on the magic that comes from talking to artists and gallery owners about the paintings, wood carvings, face jugs, painted walking canes and objects that defy description.

Amy and Steve Slotin, two of the most good-hearted people you’ll ever meet, founded this celebration. Folk Fest provided thousands the opportunity to meet Reverend Howard Finster, the sage of Summerville, Georgia who painted according to God’s instructions. The great Myrtice West began painting scenes based on the Book of Revelations after her daughter was murdered. O. L. Samuels, once a prizefighter from rural South Georgia, said he could walk through the woods and certain sticks and fallen limbs would “talk," He took them home, carved images based on these messages with a pocket knife. Each artist has works in the Smithsonian and Atlanta’s High Museum of Art..
A Missionary Mary Proctor Painting

Lorenzo Scott's Paintings are Prized
Many of the artists are from highly inaccessible parts of the rural South. Their art is inspired by spiritual messengers and an environment most would never experience. Homogenization of their culture hasn’t yet happened. Many, however, are on up in the years and their talents will drift away as they leave this planet. America and in particular the Deep South will be the lesser.

Collecting folk art is an adventure that can be a profitable. Those who purchased early works of notables like Ms. West and Reverend Finster own art that has appreciated exponentially in value.

Folk Fest begins Friday and extends through Sunday. Parking is free at the North Atlanta Trade Center. Talented musicians perform crowd-pleasing blues.  Food and beverages are available. The facility is very comfortable and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything other than smiling faces. .

Saturday, August 8, 2015



“Babies squalled as August crawled
Past old folks in the shade
The weather vane was stuck
And white oak creek would drop
When dog days came around.”

               “Dog Days” by the Atlanta Rhythm Section

Braves From Seasons Past
ATLANTA-It’s sizzling here in the deep South, quite normal for August. Dog Days, a name that has ancient roots, means more that high heat and humidity. According to Nashville native and former Braves front office executive Frank Spence, “this is a time to slow down, gather friends and survive the elements through leisure.” Baseball and the Braves, Spence says, “help us adapt to the weather. We don’t give in.”

With many of the familiar players long gone now, the future of the Braves as a competitive team seems cloudy to puzzling, but these are mere distractions. Fun comes in all sizes and shapes and down here it embraces food and drink. The tailgating feast is an open-ended variable welcoming friends and strangers with delicious dishes well beyond hot dogs and burgers.

TV Celebrity Lara Lyn Carter
TV celebrity chef Lara Lyn Carter, star of Georgia Public Broadcasting's hit show "Thyme for Sharing," is a devoted Braves fan and her tailgating menu for the home series with the Miami Marlins is crafted with Dog Days in mind. With the spices in her hot wings, try a chilled bottle of Riesling from Germany. Not sweet mind you, but fry enough while not masking the fruit is this noble wine. The 2013 Dr. Losen Red Slate Riesling Dry, Mosel is near perfect.

This is Braves alumni weekend which would have been called the “old –timers” reunion not long ago. Getting ready for the delicious pre-game picnic allows time to walk around the outside perimeter of Turner Field and ponder the statues of  Hall of Fame members Hank Aaron. Phil Niekro and Ty Cobb. Baseball, we are reminded, will always be America’s pastime.

Hot Wings with Spicy Mustard Dipping Sauce
               From Lara Lyn Carter
3 lbs. chicken wings
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. coarse salt
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Canola oil for frying

Cut the wings at the joint to remove the tips. Marinate chicken for two hours in the buttermilk. Combine the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large paper bag. Remove the wings from the buttermilk and drain. Toss the wings in the bag with the flour mixture to coat. Heat one quart of canola oil in a cast iron skillet to 350 degrees. Fry the wings in batches for 8-9 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with dipping sauce.

For the Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. Creole mustard
2 tbsp. jalapeno pepper jelly
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve with the wings.

Salted Whiskey Caramels
 16 oz. box light brown sugar
 5 oz. can evaporated milk
1 stick margarine
2 tbsp. whiskey
1 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
1 tbsp. kosher salt
Mix the brown sugar, evaporated milk, and margarine together in a heavy pot. Stirring constantly, cook the mixture over low heat until the margarine melts. Turn the heat up to medium/high and continue stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the whiskey. Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and beat until the mixture cools slightly and becomes the consistency of icing. Add the nuts and mix until just blended. Pour into a buttered 8x8 pan and sprinkle with the salt. Cover the caramel with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. Cut the caramels into squares.

NOTE: Down South Today debuts soon.