Thursday, February 25, 2016


Young Love is Eternal

“They say for every boy and girl
There's just one love in this whole world
And I know I've found mine.”

    “Young Love,” by Carole Joyner and Ric Cartey
By Doc Lawrence

NASHVILLE-Popularly known as “The Southern Gentleman,” Sonny James lived up that honorary title recalled the late Hugh Jarrett, a member of the Jordanaires, the quartet who often backed Mr. James’ many hit recordings. A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Sonny James died here this week. A virtuoso acoustic guitarist with a powerful voice, he is best known for recording “Young Love,” a song written in 1957 by Atlanta’s Carole Joyner along with her guitar-playing boyfriend Ric Cartey when she was an 18-year-old high school student.

“Young Love” sold over 26 million records, an astonishing success by any measure because it was done before the power of the Internet and social networks and never required any mass promotional effort. It was propelled by the melody, dreamy lyrics, an unusual snare drum introduction and the simplicity of an acoustic guitar.

I never had the pleasure of actually meeting Carole Joyner. I did see her once at Atlanta’s Georgian Terrace Hotel while she was talking to a rising star singer, Elvis Presley who was getting ready to perform at the Fox Theatre across the street. Her arresting beauty attracted just as much attention as Elvis.

After her death in 2007, I met Carol Joyner’s daughter who shared memories of her mother including fascinating details about her date with Elvis who gave her the necktie he wore that night in Atlanta. Elvis and Carole Joyner were pen pals while the man who would become the King of Rock and Roll was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army.

Perhaps the first successful crossover hit record topping both country and popular charts, the significance of  the song isn’t measured solely in record sales or radio play. It remains a classic song and still sells.

“Young Love” will never fade away.

Monday, February 22, 2016

America's Whiskey

Saluting George Washington and Atticus Finch

By Doc Lawrence

A Toast to Harper Lee
ATLANTA-It’s the birthday of George Washington who was not only the Father of Our Country but also the main man at the beginning of America’s whiskey industry. Yes, the old warrior and principal Founding Father started a mighty good thing with his renowned distillery at Mount Vernon, a massive undertaking for the time. The finished product was American Rye and if you visit his home, now a National Shrine, you can purchase a bottle of it at the gift shop. You really want to buy at least two, though: One for pouring and one to keep on display for stimulating conversation.

A Heritage Member of the Kentucky Distillers Association, Michter’s just released their latest rye expression, a 10 Year Single Barrel Rye priced at $150 for a 750ml bottle.

Two days ago, Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was buried in Monroeville, Alabama. It seemed a perfect time to pour some of this regal elixir into an old fashioned glass and join in a toast to her and her magnificent story about decency.

I paraphrased Reverend Sykes who asked Scout, during a moment of high drama, to stand up: “Your father's passin'."

This is serious Rye Whiskey. Don’t be surprised to find cinnamon, vanilla and a hint of pepper. George Washington and Atticus Finch would love it.

George Washington Rye Whiskey

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Georgia's Wines

The World’s Oldest Wine Region
                       For the Love of Wine, by Alice Feiring

Reviewed by Doc Lawrence

A special dinner was served in the stately old Monticello, Florida mansion that included baked grouper, fried shrimp, farm fresh vegetables and local oysters. Impressive wines were served with each course. All were from the Republic of Georgia.

Georgia was just about the last stop on the Silk Road, and its food is laced with the perfumes and tastes of India, Greece, North Africa and Persia. History would suggest that wines are made here and if you guessed that, you’d be right.

The accomplished author Alice Feiring first arrived in Georgia in 2011, and discovered exotic and delicious wines made like they did for past centuries. According to her, this country on the Black Sea has an unusual effect on people, arousing passions and emotions. Visiting winemakers fall under Georgia’s spell and bring home qvevris (clay fermentation vessels) inspired to rethink their own techniques.

For the Love of Wine is Feiring’s highly enjoyable tale of a remarkable country and people who have survived religious wars and Soviet occupation yet managed to hold onto their precious wine traditions. Embedded in her narrative is the hope that Georgia has the temerity to confront modernization.

Feiring senses that danger. With acclaim and growing international interest come threats in the guise of new wine consultants aimed at making wines more commercial. So Feiring wrote a book, her way of fighting back by celebrating Georgia and the men and women who make the wines she loves, made naturally with organic viticulture, minimal intervention, and no additives.

From Tbilisi to Batumi, Feiring meets winemakers, bishops, farmers, artists, and silk spinners. She feasts, toasts, and collects recipes. She encounters the thriving qvevri craftspeople of the countryside, wild grape hunters, and even Stalin’s last winemaker while plumbing the depths of Georgia’s love for its wines.

By the time you’ve picked up For the Love of Wine, says Christine Muhlke, executive editor of Bon Appétit, “Georgian wine will be internationally known.” She asks “what do God, Stalin, and truth have to do with great wine? Follow [Feiring] her on her journeys into a rich and fascinating culture and find out.”

Georgian wines are many and diverse. Saperavi is a substantial deep red wine suitable for extended aging, even up to fifty years. It is the most important grape variety used to make their red wines

Bodbe is made from the Rkatsiteli grape variety in the village of Bodbe in the Magaro microdistrict, one of the most beautiful places of Kakheti. The wine has a light-straw color, an aroma of wild flowers and a pleasing taste giving the wine piquancy highly praised by connoisseurs.

A fortified wine, Anaga is similar to Madeira, a strong wine made from Rkatsiteli, Khikhvi and Mtsvane grapes. The wine is light-golden to dark-amber color, a muscular bouquet with a clearly pronounced Madeira touch. Enjoy it with rich chocolate.

Select Georgian Wines
Byron Moraski has traveled in Georgia and arranged for the wonderful Georgian wines to be delivered for the Monticello dinner. Moraski, who lives in Gainesville, Florida, says that in a Georgian home, a toastmaster is charged with entertaining guests and telling stories and jokes. They know, he adds, that wine has been made in Georgia much longer than in France and Western Europe, and they like to brag that they are the birthplace of wine. In the summer of 2008, he heard the famous Georgian fable: “God was giving out land to the various nations of the world. The Georgians were too busy drinking to attend. Arriving late, God was angry and asked why they had disrespected Him. He had already given out all the plots of land. But the Georgians replied that far from disrespecting God they were late because they were drinking to His health. God smiled at these merry people and decided to give them the land he had been keeping for himself…”

For the Love of Wine
My Odyssey through the World's Most Ancient Wine Culture

Alice Feiring
Potamac Books 2016

Georgia's Natural Beauty-Byron Moraski

Thursday, February 11, 2016



Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.”
~Author Unknown

By Doc Lawrence

So many aspects of love have a relationship to France. The language is gentle like a warm breeze and what is wine without a French accent?

There are several wines appropriate for Valentine’s dinner and an obvious choice is Champagne. Think about a little more originality this year. Saint-Amour, the wonderful Cru Beaujolais from Burgundy wasn’t named by a marketing or advertising firm. It has been around for ages and is as French as Napoleon Bonaparte. The good news for lovers is that it is available, but you may have to search a little. American distributors stick with wines that sell quickly, and way too many restaurants follow suit.

The Saint-Amour region was named after a Roman soldier who, after escaping death, converted to Christianity and established a mission there. The wine is a lasting tribute to him and bears perhaps the best name in wine's romantic tradition. The Saint-Amour experience includes a light touch on the nose with a subtle underlying natural sweetness reminiscent of raspberries with a hint of rich earth and delightful spice.

Food with Saint-Amour? Anything goes. In the words of the late Jim Sanders, the “father of fine wine” in Atlanta, this is as near as we can find to an all-purpose wine. Salmon, steak, lamb, pork, chicken, duck and most Asian cuisine will pair comfortably. And for those is hot weather regions, Saint-Amour can handle being chilled without any adverse consequences.


Located in Quebec City’s Old Town, the Saint-Amour is an icon of gastronomy, allying tradition and innovation. There are but a few restaurants on our planet that effectively blend romance with food and wine. Awarded La médaille de Chavalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole de France, the amazing and unforgettable experience is highlighted by a menu that features Duck foie gras three ways and Quebec deer with forgotten vegetables, seared organic mushrooms, roasted peaches and elderberry venison sauce, regal exemplars of Chef Jean Luc Boulay’s distinctive cuisine.Yes, the acclaimed wine list includes Saint-Amour.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


 Pimento Cheese Grits & Jack Daniel's Salted Caramels

By Doc Lawrence

On this day when America celebrates football with gusto, entertaining begs for some originality. While wings are fun and chili is always popular, there are, according to Chef Lara Lyn Carter, many alternatives that will earn admiration from satisfied family and guests. “This is America’s party,” says Lara Lyn, who will he one of the headliners at this month’s prestigious South Beach Wine and Food Festival, “and I like to create tasty items that add to the joy of the event.”

This year, Lara Lyn is serving a southern staple-with a twist. Instead of chili or gumbo, her guests will be served big bowls of her signature Pimento Cheese Grits “There will be a huge pot ready so everyone can serve themselves, plus another table of many nibble bits.”

The nibble bits can be anything but usually would include some traditional items from  tortillia chips, salsa, spectacular dips, gourmet cheeses, smoked salmon, smoked oysters, crab cakes, shrimp and other foods that encourage grazing throughout the game.

I just enjoyed her  Pimento Cheese Grits. The dish is delicious and pairs beautifully with several white wines, particularly German Riesling, Pinot Gris from Alsace and most any quality sparkling wine. Biltmore Estate Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs is nearly perfect. Lara Lyn suggests having large mugs for the grits, even finding some that can be personalized so guests can take them home as a remembrance.

Beverages should include a variety of wines: Caveat: no jugs of plonk! Good affordable wines are available everywhere. Lara Lyn loves the idea of having a signature beverage like an original Sangria-white and red- allowing guests to enjoy as they desire at their own pace.

Here’s two signature dishes by Chef Lara Lyn Carter crafted especially for your Super Bowl Sunday.

1 cup course ground grits (like Gayla’s from Georgia’s Shaw Farms)
4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp. butter
4 oz. mascarpone
4 oz. sharp cheddar
4 oz. mild cheddar
1 cup diced roasted red peppers
1 tsp.Cayenne pepper
In a large pot bring the grits, broth and butter to a boil. Boil for one minute, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally and add water if needed.  Turn the heat to simmer and stir in the cheeses and peppers. Once the cheeses are melted into the grits remove the grits from the heat and serve.

16 oz. box light brown sugar
5 oz. can evaporated milk
1 stick margarine
2 tbsp. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey1 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.

Just in time for the pre-game entertainment, friends and family start arriving, hungry and excited. They won’t be disappointed when you served them a glass of something refreshing.

May your favorite team win!