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.