Southern food

Here come Vidalia onions, squat and sweet

Here come Vidalia onions, squat and sweet

Vidalia onions are among the fruits and vegetables that mark the seasons of the year. We always love the challenge of eating our fill of such seasonal produce for the few short weeks that it's fresh. We've been a little impatient with the official state vegetable of Georgia because the harvest came late this year at the end of April. The onions are just starting to flood into the market. It's not that hard to eat a lot of them in their short season. Their combination of high water content and low levels of the sulfur compounds that make other onions pungent means that you don't tear up when you slice Vidalias. Moreover, they impart a sweet onion flavor to dishes even before they are...Read More
Cocktails honor the Barnsley spirits

Cocktails honor the Barnsley spirits

Jon Mattson, dining manager at Barnsley Resort (597 Barnsley Gardens Road, Adairsville, Georgia, 877-773-2447, barnsleyresort.com), has good advice for mixing cocktails. “One ingredient is the star,” he says. “Others should make that ingredient shine.” From that starting point, Mattson experiments until he “finds the ratios that really work.” A student of American cocktail history, he also delights in showcasing high-quality Southern products whenever possible. “I like to keep things simple and balanced,” he explains. He generally limits his cocktails to three ingredients. Even within that limited framework, he creates libations that nod to cocktail history as well as to the drinking habits of the Barnsley estate's late 19th century heyday. Estate founder Godfrey Barnsley originally called his property Woodlands and the name survives in the...Read More

In Lexington, Kentucky, no one eats alone

Plutarch would have loved central Kentucky. In his first-century A.D. treatise on food in Moralia, he astutely observed, “We do not sit at the table only to eat, but to eat together.” In Bluegrass Country, mealtime is just a phase in the ongoing party that begins with drinks and appetizers and is followed up with after-dinner drinks, snacks, and definitely lots of conversation. We spent a week in Lexington and the surrounding countryside at the end of June, and never did we taste alone. Food and drink in this corner of America are the currency of social exchange. If a Lexingtonian has anything to say about it, no visitor ever goes hungry. Or lonely. The Lexington area is justly famed for thoroughbred horses and fine...Read More

Montgomery’s Central reinterprets a Southern classic

[caption id="attachment_2450" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Central restaurant by Tastebuds Photography[/caption] Montgomery, Alabama, likes to call itself the place where both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement started. But this historic city also looks forward as well as back. The handsome warehouses and other buildings along the riverfront have been spruced up as the Downtown Entertainment District. Central restaurant (129 Coosa St., 334-517-1121, www.central129coosa.com) epitomizes the style: It occupies an 1890s warehouse with high ceilings and warm, exposed-brick walls. An open kitchen brings the space to life as cooks execute the refined comfort food of tattooed and bearded executive chef Leonardo Maurelli III. Originally from Panama, Maurelli is a big proponent of Southern cuisine—as long as he can add his own innovations. He has created...Read More

What to eat at the airport in Little Rock

Chain eateries (Starbucks, Burger King, Quiznos and the like) constitute the bulk of food choices at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, and Bill is probably out of luck if he's searching for a vegan meal. But right next to Pizza Hut I discovered Whole Hog Cafe, the airport outlet of a small barbecue chain with two spots in Little Rock and one in Bentonville. Whole Hog has taken several awards in barbecue cook-offs and back when he still ate real food, Bill Clinton must have been a fan. Whole Hog claims that their serving utensils are in the presidential time capsule. I decided on a pulled pork sandwich and the server advised me to have the meat topped with cole...Read More