Saturday, December 28, 2013

Matzo Balls in the Land of Magnolias

Once a year in Savannah, Georgia the aroma of corned beef fills Forsyth Park as Shalom Y'all, one of the country's largest Jewish Food festivals takes place. 
Read the whole article on page 13 here: 
 Reform Judaism Magazine, fall 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

In The Footsteps of Len Foote

             Here’s a plan for future fun:  put a trip in your pocket.  Even if you think you have no time to travel, once it’s on your calendar months away, your life will mysteriously clear a path.  Some of the Southeast’s most popular adventures require advance planning anyway.  I booked our trip to Len Foote’s Hike Inn six months ahead to coincide with the fall colors.  The moderately easy five mile trail to reach one of our country’s few hike-to inns passes through a forest of hickory, pine and oak trees and across some pretty little streams.  It’s Georgia’s most popular hike and one of the 36 best hikes in the country according to Backpacker Magazine.  After about three hours of walking, my husband and I caught sight of our destination peaking through the fall leaves like the candy house from Hansel and Gretel. 

            The Hike Inn provides food, bedding, towels, heat and hot showers so you don’t have to carry in much.  Its beautiful architecture includes roomy porches with rockers, a sunny “Sunrise Room” with games and a large dining room with long tables.  We’d struck up a conversation with a hiker coming down as we went up who aptly described the bedrooms as “closets”.  They’re just large enough for a bunk bed, stool and shelf, hence the opinion of one hiker who described her stay as “one of the most unusual anniversary trips ever.”  Romance is not the idea here.  “Just look around,” said Robert Smith the general manager “We’re here for a reason.  We want to educate and recreate.”  Robert shares the passion of Len Foote himself, a conservationist in the 1950’s who inspired the cartoon Mark Trail. Foote built his own solar heater in the 1970’s which makes his namesake lodge a fitting legacy since they pride themselves on conservation and stewardship.  The showers are solar powered, the toilets are compostable (and odorless) and the leftover food is fed to red worms in a vermiculture program that creates compost.

            The tight-knit staff accommodates 9,000 overnight visitors a year.  Like the others, Terrance the cook, was attracted to Len Foote’s vision of stewardship.  “I quit the computer world, hiked here one day … asked if they had an opening and took the job.”  He’s up early and working late to cook big batches of stews, baked goods, soups, roasts and other hearty food.  To discourage waste all the uneaten food from plates is combined after each meal, weighed and posted on a big sign.  Rachel, the staff naturalist has a degree in biology and ecology.  She delighted in showing us a rattle from a dead rattlesnake she’d found.  When asked about snakes in the vicinity she said, “we caught a fair amount, copperheads mostly” which they removed to another location. 

            Sunrise is the big event.  The Adirondack chairs with the best view filled first as everyone got up early to watch the spectacle of the sun rising over the Blue Ridge Mountains and especially to view it through the “Star Base”.  This huge granite construction was built by Atlanta’s Fernbank Science Center to commemorate the two yearly equinoxes.  During those events, the rays of the sun are channeled to a cave wall through a cylinder in the sculpture.  But every morning you can peer through the sculpture’s rock window as it artfully frames the rising sun.

            Most folks stay overnight at the picturesque Lodge at Amicalola Falls right at the trailhead before or after their hike but we wanted to explore nearby Dahlonega. In the 1830’s this little town was swarmed by 15,000 newcomers who’d heard that the streets were paved with gold.  They weren’t entirely wrong.  The streets glistened from the trailings of the area’s numerous gold mines which were mixed into the pavement.  For almost 100 years the area mined gold commercially.  Today the town’s draw is recreation.  A huge bicycling race was going on, dozens of waterfalls beckoned, wineries dot the area and optimistic folks still pan for gold. 

            We rewarded ourselves with a stay at the historic Smith House.  The roomy villa guestroom was a welcome contrast to the bunkroom we’d shared the previous night.  One of the Historic Hotels of America, Smith House began life as a private home but was converted into a quaint guest house in the 1920’s.  Each comfortable room has a unique character.  The original owner, Corporal Frank Hall, struck a rich gold bearing vein several feet wide while excavating the site in 1899. Local restrictions prevented mining the shaft but it remains as a glass-enclosed curiosity under what is now the hotel’s popular restaurant.  Just off the town’s pretty little square, Smith House provided a great location for strolling around the small town.
People often exhaustively plan all kinds of things but balk at planning fun.  The Southeast if full of adventure.  Put a trip in your pocket. 
 More photos are at

If You Go

Hike Inn:  Reservation are available up to 11 months in advance.

Smith House:

The Lodge at Amicalola Falls:


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tasty Travels

            I’m not a food writer but I often travel with some.  We’re lucky recipients of lavish meals meant to impress. Sometimes they’re delectable and sometimes you have to wonder what they were thinking like a dinner recently at a sprawling golf resort in Georgia.  The tuna tartare was grandly displayed on a gilded platter like a huge cow patty.  That should have been my first clue.  As the servers began to distribute dozens of artfully arranged plates with three appetizers, the chef rhapsodized about the pigs we were about to eat and what they’d eaten… local this and that…but the words that caught our attention were “fromage de tête”.  You don’t have to speak much French to know that means head cheese.  “This is dog food!” the writer next to me said (a little too loudly I thought).  Meanwhile the chef went on, “It’s something that you’ll never see.”  Well let’s hope not! 

            At Fire on the Dock, a reality-show type cooking contest in North Carolina, chefs are given secret ingredients and have to quickly include them in a three course meal for about one hundred voting diners.  The night I attended the secret ingredients were buttermilk and chocolate.  A remarkable praline crusted quail with buttermilk biscuits and tartufo sauce had diners rushing to their ballot sheets.  And then there was the do-I-really-have-to-taste-it dessert of sturgeon chocolate cake.  Points off for that one. 

            Cities try to impress us with honey tastings, moonshine cocktails, flaming absinthe and garnishes like popcorn shoots.  They lay out hors d’oeuvres on the lawn of the governor’s mansion, serve breakfasts in farm’s barns and give us the password to speakeasies.  But what impresses me is a good story about people and their food.  I found one at the 75 year old Sea View Inn on Pawley’s Island.  It’s really more of a boarding house on a beautiful beach.  Family style meals are the epitome of Southern hospitality.  Their Palmetto Cheese was developed by proprietor Sassy Henry with Vertrella Brown, the inn’s cook.  This version of pimento cheese became so popular that it has spawned a much larger business than the inn and is now sold nationwide. 

              On Eagle Island Andy Hill cooked us up a story in the scenic outdoor kitchen of his private island.  “This is not a five star resort, it’s a five-moon one,” he said as he poured a conch shell of bourbon into the steaming oysters before adding cheese, diced scallions, crumbled bacon and jalapeno peppers for a Five Moon Oyster dish that rivaled any Rockefeller.  Watching him cook on the lantern-lit patio surrounded by sea oats, the smell of the oysters and salt marsh…the food became more than a recipe. 

            Stories come from what inspired the food.  Chef Peter Pollay developed the menu at Posana’s Café in Asheville for his wife who follows a gluten free diet: creative dishes like lobster mac and cheese made from ricotta gnocchi and zucchini “noodles” standing in for pasta.  “This is my version of the Taj Mahal,” he said referring to how the palace was built as a tribute to the king’s wife.  Without that story, the menu was just a delicious but forgettable meal. 

            Foods that symbolize their locale intrigue me.  On St. Simon’s Island which our guide Captain Fendig described as “an eat-stroll-eat-stop-stroll” sort of place,  we were instructed in the proper way to poach shrimp by the chef at Halyard’s Restaurant:  immerse them in very hot but not simmering water with onions, lemons, Old Bay, carrots and letting them sit just a moment.  On the other end of the culinary spectrum Palmer’s Café served us reinvented pancakes: Buddy’s Banana Pudding Cakes, along with poached eggs over collared greens.  That’s local flavor. 

            Hikers who spend the night at Len Foote Hike Inn near Dawsonville Georgia come away with a new appreciation of food.  After the five mile trek up the mountain, the hearty dinner is a welcome amenity but it’s what happens afterwards that is the story:  they weigh the uneaten food from the dinner plates.  The goal is zero waste, just one part of their sustainability goal.

            Occasionally I stumble upon something so good I have to have the recipe as I did at Smokin’ Gold BBQ, a trophy encrusted hole-in- the-wall in Dahlonega, Georgia.  “Most everyone orders the award winning corn casserole,” the waitress told me.  So I did or course. Laurie Dieterle, the owner, was kind enough to share the recipe with me and tell me how it developed from a “failed” attempt to make cornbread that she quickly repurposed.  I premiered it at a pot luck shortly afterwards.  Now my friends want the recipe too.  

            On the other hand, I could do without another swig of kombucha or one of the highly touted Britt’s Donuts from Carolina Beach.  I know more than I ever wondered about peaches from Georgia, Muscadine wine and Vidalia onions.  The long winded descriptions and the photo-ready plates that the food writers are seeking are wasted on me.  What I hunger for are the stories behind the food.   

                                                      Corn Casserole from Smokin'Gold BBQ
2 cups corn 
2 cups creamed corn
2 sticks melted butter
2 cups sour cream
2 boxes Jiffy Corn bread mix
Mix all together and pour into buttered shallow casserole dish.  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

                                                     Five-Moon Oysters
1 bushel of oysters
1 conch shell-cleaned and sanitized to use as a measuring cp
4 ounce bags of shredded Mexican mix cheese
4 bundles of scallions, chopped
10 jalapeno peppers, sliced
2 pounds of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 box of saltine crackers
3 cups of favorite bourbon
Steam the oysters with water and bourbon, measured in the conch shell.  Shuck them and put them on the half shell in a cast iron skillet.  Cover each oyster with cheese, scallions, bacon and a jalapeno pepper slice.  Cover and cook until the cheese is melted.  Turn off the heat and keep covered for another 2-3 minutes.  Spoon each oyster onto a cracker to eat. 



Friday, November 8, 2013

Inspirations and Artists

                    What inspires an artist or a chef?  Where do they get their ideas?  George Harrison got the idea for the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by opening a book in his parent’s library and randomly pointing to the phrase “gently weeping.”  Paul McCartney’s conversation with a cab driver who described his busy life as “Working hard, working eight days a week” became a hit song.  Dave Brubeck’s encounter with the exotic rhythms of Middle Eastern and Indian music inspired the meter-busting “Take Five”. 
          If you ask some of the 25 artists and 7 chefs who will be at Creative Spark’s Art on the Beach and Chefs in the Kitchen, they’ll tell you that inspirations come from some surprising places. Like being distracted. This year’s poster artist Carol McGill for example was painting colorful houses when her eyes were drawn to a white one nearby just as a shaft of sunlight struck the tin roof.  “That’s what I wanted to capture.  All those hot colors.  If I drove you to that house, you would insist it couldn’t be the one on the poster.”  Artists notice these things.
          Chef Jane Smith who will provide desserts for the “Toast the Artists Reception” that ends the tour threw her plan for a Farmer’s Market demo out the window when she saw the variety of tomatoes being sold. “Instead of making salads, I set up a tomato tasting station complete with condiments and herbs. People, including growers, lingered and told stories of their family traditions…. Many seemed to be searching for a match with a taste memory of a childhood tomato.”  Flexibility paid off.
          Although the beach at sunrise was her intended subject, a field of brightly colored wildflowers caught Deanna Walter’s eye along the way.  Especially one solitary yellow one.  The one yellow flower represents the viewer.  Even among all the other flowers, each one of us is lovely and unique” she thought.  The painting “Wildflowers” has this deeper meaning.
     Other artists also told of profound
insights that were sparked by unlikely
scenes. Take Kristy Bishop.  If you saw a holey, woody skeleton of a bush would you be inspired? She was. Through hand dyed silks she explored the idea of what is left behind when life ends.  This is art that speaks with emotion.
          Sandy Logan’s photograph was sparked by a mystery.  While examining the ruins of a house being torn down “I noticed the strange outline of what appeared to be a post box near the top of the stair.  The arched shape was only about two inches deep, thus not allowing for either mail or some reliquary to be placed therein. Clearly, something else had been its early purpose, but what?”  Through his eyes, the mystery became art.
          Art can be transformative too.  After an injury ended her career as an EMT, D. Page started creating with glass.  Her whimsical art was an antidote to the recovery she endured.  The recycled materials she uses resonate with her situation, “Like me, my art is not ready to be put out to pasture.  We are working on our second chance at life...”
          Skip Shaffer was inspired by family heritage, the memory of his grandmother making spicy crab cakes at the legendary Henry’s Restaurant.  Her recipe for Henry’s Crab Cakes was preserved for decades as a family treasure.  Skip’s father turned it into a business, selling the delicious creations to a few restaurants.  But last year Skip took it to the next level with his creative input.  Now sold in several supermarkets, it has become a new career and a passion for him which he’s eager to let patrons taste.   
            To kick off the fundraiser, Creative Spark has begun a community mural on Sullivan’s Island. The headline “I Am Inspired By…” has prompted passers-by to write: “the barrier islands and animals”, “playing with my sister”, “running the island”, “my new school”, “upbeat music” and dozens more.  During the Nov. 10 event, the mural will be one of 12 stops on the self guided tour on Sullivan’s Island which includes extraordinary houses, artists’ studios and two after parties.
Creative Spark’s motto is “Everyone has a creative spark”.  Art on the Beach is a great place to ignite yours.
If You Go
Art on the Beach and Chefs in the Kitchen is a house tour on Sullivan’s Island that celebrates artists and chefs.  It will be Sunday, Nov. 10 from 1 to 5 PM with after parties until 7PM.  Tickets are available in advance for $35 at, at the Sandpiper Gallery, 2210 Middle Street on Sullivan’s Island and at Everyday Gourmet 1303 Ben Sawyer Blvd., Mt. Pleasant.
On Nov. 10, tickets are available for $40 starting at noon at Battery Gadsden, 1921 I’On, Sullivan’s Island. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Exploring Georgia's Lake Country

           When I was invited to visit Georgia’s Lake Country I have to admit that I had no idea where that was.  Knowing it is in Georgia’s Heartland helped a little. The photo reminded me of the Great Lakes in Michigan but this area is just a four hour drive from Charleston, southeast of Atlanta. The colorful characters I met there, some real and some fictional, brought the story to life.

          Perhaps if I were Japanese or into Goth culture I would have visited Andalusia in Milledgeville, Georgia sooner.  Since the proliferation of television shows like “Lost” and “Hannibal”, Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home has had a resurgence in popularity that delights Craig Amason, the Andalusia Foundation director.  The Southern Gothic author would probably appreciate the throngs of Japanese and black-clothed teens that come with pilgrimage zeal.  She led a rather unconventional life herself.  Her favorite playmates were her pet ducks, chickens and peacocks. Fowl roam the restored farm today. So enamored was she of her ducks that she designed an entire outfit for her favorite one and paraded it to school for a sewing assignment. 

          Other literary heroes attract visitors to the area also.  Alice Walker's enslaved ancestor Mary Poole walked to Eatonton from Virginia as she supported a baby on each hip. Alice began writing at the age of eight surrounded by her family’s rich oral tradition.  In her Pulizer Prize winning book The Color Purple she wrote ''I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.''  Of Flannery O’Connor she said “She destroyed the last vestiges of sentimentality in white Southern writing; she caused white women to look ridiculous on pedestals, and she approached her black characters - as a mature artist - with unusual humility and restraint.”

          Joel Chandler Harris, the collector of Uncle Remus stories, is celebrated in nearby Eatonton with a log cabin museum in the park.  Careful to say that these stories are not original to Mr. Harris, the docent pointed out that these were African tales that were published in newspapers, books and eventually make into Disney movies.  The sensitivity to racial history was apparent in several conversations.

          Georgia is proud of its history but not shy about revealing its dark side.  Mapped driving routes have been developed for exploration.  You can wander along the “Antebellum Trail” to see architectural gems and Civil War sites.  Or explore the “Blue and Gray Trail” and see over 60 civil war battlefields.  General Sherman still looms large in the area’s imagination.  Milledgeville calls itself “the Antebellum Capital of Georgia” and the old Governor’s Mansion remains a treasure because the town didn’t resist Sherman’s occupation and he headquartered in the building.  There’s also the Trail of Tears that follows the
Cherokee’s forced migration and others devoted to interests ranging from antiquing to pottery to presidents to farming.

          At Crooked Pines Farm Duncan and Angela Criscoe gave us a taste of the area’s agritourism.  Turning what could have been a financial downfall into success, the Criscoes reinvented their family farm after Duncan was downsized out of the hospitality industry.  It now offers a variety of events, concerts, camps and culinary experiences in an atmosphere that “provides lasting memories for family and friends.” The town of Madison has a popular bi-annual Farm Meander with over 20 farms, inns and markets.  Among them is self-taught cheese maker Christel from Greendale Farm, a Zimbabwean who “decided to get up and go farming” along with her husband and children.  The delicious cheeses are sold widely including at Fig and the Butcher and Bee in Charleston. 

          In Greensboro our group was unexpectedly joined by Flo, a colorful character dressed as a Waffle House waitress.  With a big beehive hairdo (“You know the thing about big hair?  It makes your hips appear smaller”) and lots of flare, she explained in her exaggerated Southern twang that Greensboro is a “whine free community.  You need to FIDO:  forget it, drive on.”  Greensboro’s is like its famous buttermilk pie, she said “real and simple.”  She led us to the Festival Hall auditorium where we were given samples of that real simple pie and an excerpt from the town’s community theater. 

          And then there is the lake.  Lake Oconee is the second largest in the state.  It looks immense from the shore. I launched a canoe from Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee, a huge resort with golfing, pools, and a variety of accommodations. As I drifted peacefully I pretended I lived in one of the grand houses along the shore. There are lots of ways to meander around Georgia’s Lake Country and relive history, explore agriculture or nature, buy antiques, learn about authors and culture…or you can just quietly float on the glassy water of the mammoth lake.

More Images are here:  Georgia Lake Country Images

If You Go

Crooked Pines Farm:

Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee:



Friday, August 16, 2013

Our Three-Generational Girl’s Get-Away to Asheville


            Among the four of us we have an age range of over sixty years.  My sister Lila and I are hardy hikers.  Mom likes to stroll.  My niece favors vegetarian food.  Lila is gluten-free.  Three of us think chocolate is soul food.  My mom doesn’t eat sweets.  We share an avid interest in the arts including my niece who is a graphic designer and resident of Asheville where this epic “three generational girl’s getaway” took place.  But could we please everyone?

            We were mighty pleased with the large, luxurious accommodation at the new boutique hotel Posh.  Located in Biltmore Village, each condo is over 2,000 square feet and includes two bedrooms and baths, kitchen, living room and a massive entry/hallway.  We felt like kin to the Vanderbilts as we walked the two blocks to their Biltmore mansion, window-shopping along the way.  A cute sign “Welcome Antman Girls” and a bottle of wine greeted our arrival and hinted of the concierge attention to detail that Posh provides.  We happily toasted our adventure on our private terrace. 

            My niece Hanna was eager to tour us to arts venues and the River Arts District where over 160 artists have working studios and galleries.  Weaving to wood, painting to paper and especially clay are attractively displayed in transformed warehouses.  Some, like Sheila Lambert (“Attorney at Law, Potter at Heart”) are serious amateurs but at Bookworks Ulrike Franz was preparing for her art opening and expertly pulled a print from the bulky press onto her handmade vegetable paper. We made a promise to return for one of the Arts District’s biannual studio strolls.   

            Dining experiences ranged from picnics to gourmet.  A particular highlight was Posana Cafe.  Like the architectural wonder in India which the emperor built for his wife, Chef Peter Pollay calls his menu a “Taj Mahal to my wife” who requires a gluten free diet.  It’s “a nice comfortable place for people with celiac and for people who don’t need to worry, they don’t notice it.” A tremendously creative décor is the backdrop for flavorful dishes including noodles made from zucchini, salad with hemp seeds, ricotta gnocchi and the best brie we ever had which Peter noted was from Three Graces Farm nearby. 

            We also carried a perfect picnic from Laurey’s Gourmet Comfort Food to a shady table outside one of my favorite Asheville destinations, the Folk Art Center.  A pretty drive up the winding Blue Ridge Parkway leads to this collection of beautifully curated mountain crafts that vividly portray the rich Appalachian culture.  Laurey’s tasty dishes, especially the kale salad, put a smile on everyone’s face and made us eager to meet some of the artisanal food producers. 
     And so we headed out to cruise the new Western North Carolina Cheese Trail.  A colorful map covers 33 counties where 11 farms are open for visits.  We chose the two closest to Asheville, Looking Glass Creamery and Hickory Nut Gap Farm, and had a delightful afternoon tasting and buying cheeses, picking berries, trying homebrewed kumbucha and reveling in the agrarian scenery:  crowds of baby chicks in a hatchery, goats engorged with milk, kids driving tractors and a bumper sticker that captured the sentiment “Local food, thousands of miles fresher.”

            A sensational Asheville experience is the super-popular French Broad Chocolate Lounge where even at 3 PM on a Friday there was a line out the door to indulge in their house-made truffles, desserts, coffees and wines.  Carried away with choices, our table was soon crowded with the best chocolate cake we’d ever had, a sinful drink called The Jitterbug, crème brulee, a parfait with strawberries and champagne and French press coffee.  Oh my.  The story behind the Lounge is almost as interesting as the desserts.  On a two hour tour of the Willy Wonka-esque factory we learned the science of transforming 12 tons of chocolate, mostly from Peru, into what the Aztecs call “the food of the gods.” Jael and Dan Rattigan began this chocolate dream with a Costa Rican farm and are now two of Asheville’s most celebrated entrepreneurs.

            At Dough we got to try our own hands at making dessert.  In a Blueberry Crostata Class led by Henny Pennypacker, we surprised ourselves by making excellent pie crusts following Penny’s instructions:  “when adding liquid, toss, don’t squeeze…” and left with four pretty pies and four more crusts to replicate our lesson.
            For a dose of Asheville’s counter-culture, we visited Rosetta’s Kitchen where the graffiti walls and slogans (“Together we are displaying our oneness”) were the backdrop for a vegan Pad Thai and spicy chili dinner.  Tattoos and dreadlocks added atmosphere and a pay-what-you-will beans and rice plate brought in colorful characters. 

            For a fitting end to a busy trip, mom enjoyed a massage at Sensibilities Day Spa.  She emerged smiling and relaxed.  Street musicians serenaded as we took our final stroll together.  “Why don’t we do this more often?” mom said.  Our sentiments exactly!

For Additional Images:
Three Generational Girl's Getaway to Asheville

If You Go:

Posh Boutique Hotel also hosts weddings







Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Euphoric in Greenville

            Have you been to Greenville lately?  If you still think of it as Charleston’s little sister, you’d be surprised to see how she’s grown up.  She’s popular, beautiful and full of surprises.  Downtown is revitalized and pulsing with things to do:  local shops, art galleries, museums, upscale hotels and a variety of restaurants that boast contemporary cuisine with a hearty dollop of Southern hospitality.  The best time to visit may be coming up at the end of September when the city presents the seventh annual food festival Euphoria. 
            Since the 1970’s Greenville has worked tirelessly to revitalize its downtown.  An innovative public/corporate partnership transformed blocks of vacant storefronts into a cultural and shopping destination.  When my husband and I exited the Hyatt Regency Hotel onto Main Street we were immediately swept up in a lively crowd.  The entire street was closed to cars.  A band was setting up on a concert stage.  People were arriving with chairs, strollers and wheelchairs.  Jump castles entertained the children while parents enjoyed outdoor dining nearby.  Walking towards the food festival, we encountered an outdoor artists’ market where we bought petite handmade mugs from Michelle Wright at her Frolicking Frog Pottery.  A block later was the farmer’s market where a table of multi-colored peppers were worthy of Monet.  And we hadn’t even arrived at our destination yet! 

            Greenville stages Euphoria in its transformed venues near the Reedy River and at area restaurants and hotels.  The anchor is The Peace Center for the Performing Arts which rose like a phoenix from a languishing industrial area.  The Wyche Pavillion, reinvented from an old warehouse, carves a stylish facade along the scenic river.  At Friday’s “Taste of the South” over 20 chefs and dozens of vendors whipped up food from the imaginative to the familiar.  Our favorite morsel was from the Nosedive Restaurant:  a pork taco with cilantro and kimchee. 
As we mingled with the crowd we struck up a conversation with a young couple about living in Greenville.  They told us they’d moved from Charleston with regret.  “How could we leave Charleston?  But this is why:  for young professionals it’s incredibly cheap to live here.  I can walk to work.  There are festivals like this twice a month and it’s only three hours to Charleston.”  Greenville native and Euphoria founding board member Edwin McCain was last year’s headliner.  While we sat on the pavilion steps listening to this “great American romantic”, colorful lights illuminated a backdrop of office buildings and apartments.  Sitting next to me on the pavilion steps was a woman who said she’d booked a flight to Greenville a year ago after reading about Euphoria in a travel magazine.  She had planned well.
            Among the weekend’s culinary highlights was a lively cooking competition where we watched Charleston chef Craig Diehl compete while a commentator narrated like it was a sporting event.  Saturday night’s Guest Chef Dinner at the Lazy Goat featured creations by George Mendes and Victoria Moore after which we truly felt euphoric.  New this year is a full pig roast, French Bistro and music from Traffic Jam.  Like little sisters everywhere, Greenville is borrowing some of Charleston’s ideas.  But its event is less crowded and less expensive than the larger BB&T Charleston Wine + Food festival. 
            You have to strategize for the non-stop eating or else you feel like you’ve gone into a restaurant and ordered everything on the menu.  Wine tastings, cook-offs, jazz brunch, VIP events, after parties, restaurant dinners and demonstrations can be a little overwhelming.  A quick remedy is a short walk further up Main Street across the river to Greenville’s most impressive accomplishment:  Falls Park on the Reedy.  Walking paths go over Liberty Bridge, a one of a kind pedestrian bridge suspended over  waterfalls.  The Swamp Rabbit Trail continues on for more than 17 miles past the beautiful Governor’s School for the Arts.  Pedestrians and bicyclists enjoy the trail’s easy access to and from downtown’s schools and businesses.  Many other hiking and biking trails and waterfalls are nearby. 
         We closed out the weekend at the Sunday morning Jazz Brunch where a rockin’ New Orleans style band was the soundtrack for a staggering array of food vendors.  Mardi Gras beads and paraphernalia abounded.  Vats of gumbo, crab cakes, mountains of pastries, variations of Bloody Marys…Intrepidly, we continued our research with journalistic dedication.  But as the unexpected sound of a didgeridoo joined the band for a unique rendition of  “Summertime” we finally said “uncle”. 
If You Go:

Greenville information:

 Recipes from the chefs

Kenny Callaghan's Blue Smoke Salt and Pepper Beef Ribs
Executive Chef/Pitmaster/Partner, Blue Smoke & Jazz Standard, New York, NY
2 Racks of beef back ribs (with membrane removed from underside of ribs)

2 Tablespoons butcher ground black


2 Tablespoon Kosher salt

1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
Preheat oven to 200°.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix all of the Rub ingredients together, making sure to break up the brown sugar. Take the rub and coat
both sides of the beef ribs evenly. Place ribs on a baking pan in the oven, and cook for 6 ½ to 7 hours (or until tender). Serve immediately. Each rack can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to three days. To serve, simply reheat in the oven or on the grill.

Fountain of Youth Cocktail 

1.5 oz Van Gogh Acai
Blueberry Vodka
.5 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 oz Honey Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 Dash Fee Brothers
Celery Bitters
Top Off With 1 oz
La Marca Prosecco
Lemon Twist


1. Place potatoes in large pot and cover with water
by 2 inches.
2. Add a good amount of salt (6 tbl) and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce to simmer and cook until tender.
4. Drain and reserve at room temperature.
5. When cool enough to touch, cut into ½ inch rings and
place in large bowl.
6. Sauté bacon in thick-bottomed pan until
beginning to get crispy.
7. Add sugar, and cook to caramelize sugar in the
rendered fat.
8. Add vinegar and mustard, then bring to a boil.
9. Pour over potatoes and toss to coat. Season with
salt & pepper.
10. When room temperature, fold in red onion, green
parsley & tarragon.

Linton Hopkins' Fingerling Potato, Bacon and Mustard Salad

2 lb fingerling potato such as
Russian banana or French
½ cup shaved red onion
3 tbl whole grain mustard
3 tbl red wine vinegar
1 tbl sugar
½ cup slab bacon cut into 1/4” pieces
¼ cup Italian parsley leaves
1 tbl tarragon, minced
2 green onions, shaved very thin
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1. Place potatoes in large pot and cover with water by 2 inches.
2. Add a good amount of salt (6 tbl) and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce to simmer and cook until tender.
4. Drain and reserve at room temperature.
5. When cool enough to touch, cut into ½ inch rings and place in large bowl.
6. Sauté bacon in thick-bottomed pan until beginning to get crispy.
7. Add sugar, and cook to caramelize sugar in the rendered fat.
8. Add vinegar and mustard, then bring to a boil.
9. Pour over potatoes and toss to coat. Season with salt & pepper.
10. When room temperature, fold in red onion, green onion, parsley & tarragon.

Chef/Owner, Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta, GA