Monday, September 28, 2015



 By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA-A quarter century ago, Jim Sanders published his cookbook with over 100 recipes ranging from French originals to delights from the kitchens of the Deep South. What distinguished his monumental effort is the pairing of these with appropriate wines. While others have tried in some small way to do this, none begin to measure up.

Jim was a Georgia native, well educated at Emory University and a French-trained chef. To this day, he is recognized as the father of fine wines in Atlanta and the Southeast. His daily joy was serving his dishes with fabulous wines at his store to customers and friends, including one special tasting with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (See Down South Today podcast at iTunes.)

Prior to Jim’s death in 1999, he entrusted me with his notes and other documents, all related to food and wine. Among these was a copy of Jim Sanders Cooks for Wine Lovers, which deserved preservation and republication. Thanks to the help of Jim’s friends, it is available again, a lasting testament to his genius and culinary expertise.

Coc au Vin is a page away from Fried Chicken. Normandy Tomato Soup is featured after Cuban Black Bean Soup. Elegant Tournedos Wellington is alongside a recipe for Shrimp Louisianne.

Our All-American entrée, Thanksgiving Roast Turkey with Dressing and Giblet Gravy, is paired with wine selections from Burgundy, Alsace and Germany.

While each page is a treasure for cooks anywhere, the centerfold makes this a genuine collectible. “Guide to the Most Popular French Table Wines” has no counterpart I’ve seen. It is a tour de force of the wines of France, complete with taste characteristics and compatible dishes.

Rib Roast? Margaux, of course. With Brunswick Stew (Sanders recipe is a Southern classic), few wines pair better than a Cru Beaujolais like Saint-Amour.

Jim’s wines, 160 of them, are still available under the J Sanders label. He was a wine retailer and educator. Thousands took his wine course and for me, it was a life changing experience.

This amazing work is the handiest, most useful in my kitchen library. You cannot put it down if you love food, food heritage and the relationship of food with worthy wines.

Jim Sanders Cooks is timeless, a wonderful gift and perfect stocking stuffer.

It will be available in just a few days.

Thursday, September 17, 2015



                  -A Spectacular Array of Arts, Dining, Higher Education & Recreation-

By Doc Lawrence

Stone Mountain Village
DECATUR, Georgia- It's fun writing about such a glorious area of the South. Dekalb, part of the Atlanta region is centered around the very dynamic city of Decatur, childhood home of author and NPR regular, Roy Blount, Jr. and past Poet Laureate of America Natahsa Threteway. The city now claims the distinction of being one of the red-hot culinary destinations of the region, with restaurants like The Kimball House garnering national acclaim. It's a walking town with sidewalks and streetlamps, park benches, galleries and concerts. Smiles are everywhere.

Nearby Emory University, the internationally recognized medical research center, is home to the magnificent Carlos Museum and the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. You can view mummies and take in a symphony concert all with just a short walk. Many see other pedestrians on campus including Jimmy Carter and the Dalai Lama.

Residential areas like Druid Hills are notable for parks, creeks, foliage and some genuine landmark homes. This is where you find the "Driving Miss Daisy" home and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. along with stunning Callanwolde.

The Buford Highway corridor is several miles of Asian and Latino restaurants, shops and markets unlike anything this side of California. Like the accents, food served mirrors the cultures that thrive here, offering up dishes rarely seen in the South.

Then, there's Stone Mountain Park, Georgia's most popular and a refuge from the big city. Climb it-thousands do-and see the Atlanta skyline and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The adjoining Historic Village of Stone Mountain features Art Station, a heralded theatrical company, art gallery and cabaret.

Here's an exciting video produced by our friends at Discover Dekalb. Enjoy it and you'll want to visit!

Monday, September 14, 2015


Rock and Roll’s Birth

“And if you listen to the beat,
And hear what’s in your soul,
You’ll never let anyone
Steal your rock and roll.”


By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA. The stunningly entertaining musical Memphis is much more than a grand stage production. The winner of the 2010 Tony Award for best musical revisits the tragedy of racial segregation while chronicling the journey towards racial justice through the power of music, specifically the blend of rhythm and blues, gospel and country into what became rock and roll.

Credit: Christopher Bartelski
While the Supreme Court condemned racial barriers, rock and roll shattered them. To have lived then deepens the appreciation how it was. In the fifties, Atlanta had few radio stations that would play black music, most notably WAOK and its white DJ the great Zenas “Daddy” Sears. Auburn Avenue was Atlanta’s version of Memphis’ Beale Street. Clubs like the Royal Peacock featured music greats like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Hank Ballard, Lavern Baker, Ruth Brown and Ray Charles. Occasionally, daring young whites would save some cash and take in a show, often buying a cocktail.

Like fictional character Huey Calhoun in Memphis, those who entered the doors saw the light.

The music by Bon Jovi’s David Bryan is an authentic step back into Saturday night in big Southern towns of the fifties.  Huey Calhoun, played masterfully by Travis Smith, is based on white DJ pioneer Dewey Phillips who played black music on white radio stations. The beat and harmony struck at the heart of racial barriers by gaining enormous popularity with young white listeners. Soon, others followed Phillips including Big John R and Hugh Baby Jarrett in Nashville.

Set in the west Tennessee home of Sun Records, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Elvis Presley, Memphis, through the majesty of music and dance recreates the evolution of rock and roll that ran almost parallel to the social upheaval taking place in America. Acknowledging that he path has never been an easy one. Memphis has a message: violence and racial hatred yield under the force young love, particularly when powered by wonderful songs and terrific dancing.

Tightly directed by Tom Key, with musical direction under Ann-Carol Pence and flawless choreography by Waverly Lewis, Memphis accelerates like a V-8 engine. Huey portrayed by Travis Smith and Felicia performed by Atlanta actress (and FSU alum) Naima Carter Russell, never miss a beat, sharing love while enduring more than a little abuse.

Credit: Christopher Bartelski
The epicenter of Atlanta’s own struggle to toss off racial barriers was on the streets and sidewalks surrounding the Rialto Theatre. Introducing Memphis, Tom Key said that those in the audience who became “more heartened to walk through a forbidden door in obedience to the soul’s longing, or possess more courage to receive the enemy as friend . . . can once again be grateful for the gift of theatre to help us toward a better place to be.”

Today, America is a better place and music remains a vital catalyst that helped make this possible.

The show is a limited run. Take the family.; (678) 528.1500

Saturday, September 12, 2015


                        -Gameday Recipe from Chef Lara Lyn Carter-

By Doc Lawrence

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia- Founded by the author of America Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia is one of out top places to tailgate. Everything here from attire to prepared food reflects relaxed elegant style. Original America still lingers and the region is wine country, rivaling anything in North America.

Wine in America was literally born here through the efforts of Jefferson who brought the great vintages from Europe to stock his cellar at nearby Monticello, serving Bordeaux, Burgundy and Riesling to dinner guests.

Tailgating at UVA is an extension of the Jefferson Culinary Heritage: hospitality: local food and fine wines. Everything seems quintessentially Southern. Think about that. William Faulkner, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, was a faculty member here. His place as one of the great writers firmly established, Faulkner accepted an invitation in 1957 from UVA’s English department to come to the University as writer-in-residence.

Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay  produces abundant seafood and crab is plentiful. A late summer Saturday urges tailgaters to enjoy crab cakes, They like their crab cakes the old-fashioned way: lots of crab and not much else. But tailgaters have a mind of their own and the different ones served before kickoff can be as varied as the Virginia countryside. Tartar sauce-always optional- was in abundance and much of it had some distinct spiciness.

Depending on whom you ask, “not too much else” may mean a modest amount of binder and a hint of seasoning, while others see onion, bell pepper, and plenty of seasoning as crucial. TV celebrity chef Lara Lyn Carter, a tailgating leader, prefers crab cakes with minimal additions. “There’s plenty of spice,” she says, “in my tartar sauce so you can control the overall enjoyment to suit your taste.”

     Lara Lyn Carter
Lara Lyn Carter
1 lb. lump crabmeat picked over and shells removed
½ cup panko crumbs
2 scallions chopped (green parts only)
¼ cup chopped bell pepper
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. Creole mustard
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 egg beaten
Canola oil for Frying
 In a large bowl combine all ingredients except oil and form into equal size cakes.
Fry in canola oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes per side.


1/2-cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. Creole style mustard
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tbsp. sweet pickle relish
Combine all of the ingredients together and serve with the crab cakes.

Wine for Virginia crab cakes? Jefferson Vineyards Viognier blends wine heritage and careful production to fit the fruits from Virginia’s bay waters. The grapes are European varietals of vitis vinifera grown exclusively in Virginia and true to Jefferson’s original vision of winemaking in Virginia. The 2013 Viognier was a double gold medal at San Francisco's International Wine Competition.

Give the Cavalier football team credit. While other powerhouse programs feast off lowly competition, Virginia began with highly ranked UCLA and Notre Dame.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


A Brilliant (and Useful) Bourbon Book

By Doc Lawrence

Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan's classic Wine for Dummies ranks as one of the most useful and original resources for those like me who appreciate honest commentary and credible suggestions about wine without all the irritating stodginess. My esteemed colleague Fred Minnick has accomplished much the same with his latest work, Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker (Zenith Press 2014).

For those who want to understand Bourbon, you must first endure a discouraging labyrinth of confusing terms, myriad brands and regulations that are rooted in post-Prohibition America and crafted by special interests.

Minnick offers a tutorial on what this elixir is and is not, distinguishing between quality products and marketing blarney. I couldn’t find a single sentence sucking up to a distillery or corporate goliath.

Minnick, who began his career writing sports stories in Oklahoma and came to write about combat in Iraq, recognizes that not all Bourbon enthusiasts live in Kentucky. The cheerleading is left for other authors-and they are legion-while Minnick, serving the interests of consumers everywhere, explains and simplifies. And the Bourbon industry is better for his effort.

Bourbon, like Bordeaux, begs for some special attention. The devil can be in the details and shopping blindly will often disappoint and cost too much money. Turn that around, become a well-informed consumer, and you’ll discover some taste thrills and an occasional bargain.

Bourbon begs for clarifying language.  It’s one thing if you are making it; quite another when shopping for a bottle to enjoy later at home. Esoterica may have a place with those selling Bourbon or for ponderous mixologists. One read of this book and everything seems simpler: we understand some Bourbon basics particularly the role of grain, water, wood and time. You don’t need a degree from MIT to appreciate what Bourbon pioneers knew long ago.

Bourbon Curious is a well-written utilitarian guide. It will be just as useful a decade from now. And let’s face it: as time goes by there will be hundreds more brands of Bourbon on retail shelves..

Bourbon is far more enjoyable with a splash of enlightenment. Fred Minnick performs a great consumer service by slicing through the Gordian knot of jargon, rules, laws and marketing mo-jo, occasionally with biting commentary. Always with accuracy.

Don’t dare go Bourbon shopping without a copy of Bourbon Curious in hand. A perfect gift for those who enjoy all-American cocktails like an Old Fashioned or a nice pour over chunks of ice.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Jim Sanders Georgia Brunswick Stew

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA. He was the unchallenged “father of fine wine” not only in Atlanta but the entire Southeast region. A French-trained chef, Jim Sanders stayed true to his Southern roots, producing a cookbook pairing the great dishes of the South (his recipes) with the great wines of France. No counterpart exists today.

On select holiday weekends, Sanders served his barbecue pork along with his ancient recipe Georgia Brunswick Stew, something he learned during his childhood days in Covington, Georgia. It is the traditional accompaniment to genuine Deep South barbecue and his recipe is one of the most original in America.

1 four-pound baking chicken
4 pounds ground pork
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1-tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup red wine, preferably Rhone style
3 to 4 tablespoons bacon drippings 
36 ounces tomato juice
4 ounce tomato catsup
3 cups cut corn
Kosher salt and black pepper

Boil the chicken until it is very tender, cool, de-bone and chop the meat finely. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, braise the pork until half done. Add half the chopped onions, one chopped garlic clove, chili powder, thyme, cayenne pepper and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper. Continue to braise until the meat is well browned, stirring every few minutes to break up any lumps and combine with chicken. Add the tomato juice and catsup and simmer for 11/2 hours. Add the rest of the chopped onions, another chopped garlic clove and simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste for salt and spoon off the fat before serving.

Beaujolais goes well with Brunswick stew. It does not fight the spices and it has a lot of refreshment value.  You can’t go wrong with sparkling wine. My personal favorite is Sonoma Brut from Gloria Ferrer.
Over three decades, Jim Sanders taught thousands in his wine classes in Atlanta, a rich mixture of governors, members of Congress, physicians, Georgia Supreme Court Justices and regular men and women. Although a product of the Deep South, Jim was more French than anything. After World War II-he was wounded five times in the Pacific campaigns-he went to France, bicycled the countryside and found his passion in wine and food. He learned to cook in Lyon and Paris and met Armand Cottin, president of Labourie-Roi and through this brotherly friendship, developed his own cuvee of 179 Burgundies garnering numerous awards. Each day, in the rear of his retail wine shop in Atlanta’s Buckhead, Sanders served most anyone who came in wonderful dishes he prepared along with pours from countless bottles of perfectly paired wines. There was no charge.

Jim’s wines, all under his JSanders label, are sold exclusively in Atlanta’s Sherlock’s Wine Merchants.

On the eve of his death in 1999, Jim Sanders entrusted me with his priceless wine notes, lectures, stories and recipes.  His one-of-a-kind cookbook with the wine-pairing chart is being republished and will be available soon.

Enjoy Down South Today on iTunes and YouTube.