Florida's capital city reminds visitors of Mississippi far more than Miami. On this college football Saturday the SUV’s, trucks, vans and tents filled the stadium parking lots long before kickoff on this first Saturday of autumn. Food, drinks, laughter towered in importance over the actual football game, a common occurrence throughout the college football highway.
Legend has it that this lovely city gave birth to hushpuppies, the rounded fried cornmeal essential for every meaningful seafood dish served Southern style. Tallahassee was once home to Emile Dubois, a winemaker whose remarkable French varietal wines produced here brought international acclaim. To honor him, I brought along a few bottles of Blanc DuBois, a white wine hybrid produced by Lakeridge Winery in Clermont, Florida, named after him.
Lara Lyn Carter, the Emmy award winning chef from nearby Albany, Georgia, always seems to craft a dish that fits the occasion and reflects local traditions while incorporating local farm products. Sweet potatoes thrive in this part of the south. The sandy soil is buttressed by the Florida aquifer, the world’s largest; the air is clean and the growing season is long. This is the place gave America the great Art Smith and his progeny, young chefs like Joshua Butler. Nearby Bradley’s Country Store, managed by the irrepressible Jan Bradley Parker, is a favorite for stone ground grits and real whole hog sausage.
Th accompany Chef Lara Lyn’s show stopping Cajun Sweet Potato Salad, we tossed oysters still in the shell on a charcoal grill, devouring them as they were roasted in their own juices, devouring hushpuppies one after another, washed down with our Florida wine (remarkably resembling a wine from Alsace.) Here is one of her finest recipes, a Deep South treasure.
|Lara Lyn Carter's Sweet Potato Salad|
Cajun Sweet Potato Salad
~Chef Lara Lyn Carter~
2 lbs. sweet potatoes cut in 1 inch cubes
3/4 lb. Cajun sausage sliced
1/2 cup Vidalia or sweet onion chopped
6 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. creole mustard
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Roast the potatoes for 35 minutes or until tender on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper together and set aside. In a skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage and onion together until the sausage is done and the onions are tender. Add the potatoes to the sausage mixture. Pour the liquid mixture into the skillet and stir into the potatoes and sausage. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the parsley and scallions and toss well.
Next Saturday, Tailgating Down South heads to Knoxville for the East Tennessee food and cocktails before the clash between Georgia’s red hot Bulldogs and the University of Tennessee. Tune in to Marilyn Ball’s “Speaking of Travel” (www.speakingoftravel.net). The perfect gift for any tailgater is the fine art print, Great American Tailgating Party #tailgatingart $33.00 (S&H included) while they last. Make checks payable to Doc Lawrence Productions, P.O. Box 191034, Atlanta, GA 31119.
|Julie Bettinger with a bottle of Florida's Blanc Du Bois|