Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Ultimate Food Lover's Companion to the South

Book cover image -- Southern Belly by John T. Edge
From the Pensacola News Journal, July 29, 2007

In a weary old world, it's always time to eat
by Carl Wernicke (

When the issues of the world grow too heavy, I eat. There's nothing like a good meal to take the edge off.

Iraq? I need ribs.

Congress? Fried mullet.

The presidential candidates? Gumbo -- and lots of it.

Fortunately, just off the press is a "revised and expanded" edition of "Southern Belly, The Ultimate Food Lover's Companion to the South," by New South food writer John T. Edge.

Included is a section on Pensacola informed by Edge's eating binge here in 2005, when he spoke at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition.

He doesn't include many Pensacola stops, but what he lists is quality. I have to hand it to John T., he knows his food.

He should.

He has written for for Gourmet and Oxford American magazines, edited "Cornbread Nation: The Best of Southern Food Writing;" and is director of the Southern Foodways Alliance at Ole Miss in Oxford, where he lives.

On his Pensacola visit, he told me that "Food is a way to write about race and class and gender. Southerners like to tell good stories about themselves -- we talk about food and music and lifestyles to avoid the ugly stuff out there."

Then he went out to eat.

Edge went looking for Southern cooking. He's trying to keep it from being smothered by the homogenization of America, even if it means raising cholesterol levels across the South.

This is a guy you expect to see sopping up the gravy from a plate of smothered chicken with his last biscuit.

Ken Ford, founder of the IHMC and the catalyst for getting Edge down here, put it this way: "He's looking for authentic food."

He found it.

First in the book is the Coffee Cup on Cervantes Street. He celebrates the chicken and dumplings, omelets and grits -- including Nassau grits, and I've never had a better BLT. And of course long-time cook Creola Rutledge figures prominently.

Frankly, it is hard to claim you are a Pensacolian if you have never eaten at the Cup.

Next on his Pensacola tour list is Jerry's Drive-In.

If there's a test, Edge passed it. You can't do a piece on authentic Pensacola eating and not mention Jerry's; the very thought of it brings on the vapors.

He highlights the mullet at Jerry's, which is appropriate in a section headlined "Mullet Holiday." Mullet is, after all, a large part of Pensacola's culinary claim to fame.

Still, the burgers, fries and shakes deserve a mention, too. Ford says Edge was blown away by the fact you can order oysters a la carte at Jerry's. Ford says Edge ordered a single oyster on his first visit, apparently just because he could. (Edge makes multiple visits in rating a restaurant.)

Then it was on to the Marina Oyster Barn, which to various generations of Pensacolians is known as the Marina, the Oyster Barn, Rooks, for the owners, and sometimes even Johnson's (for the nearby marina).

Again, while he justifiably celebrates the mullet at the Marina, he could also mention the gumbo, consistently among the best in town, and the oysters. It is one of the few outlets for local East Bay oysters, which Dale Rooks serves when he can get them, and as far as I'm concerned there isn't a better raw oyster on the planet.

Finally, Edge goes where any true mullet holiday must take you, to Chet's on Navy Boulevard, for the marinated mullet.

The only real problem with Chet's is that it is only open Thursday through Saturday. But given that owner Randy Sanders and crew catches their own mullet, asking for more would probably kill them, given that they also stay constantly booked with catering.

One day, after years of puzzling over the bizarre phenomenon of seeing people eat at a bland chain eatery in the New Orleans French Quarter, I had an epiphany: Of course, that's exactly what you want -- if there are people who would go to New Orleans and eat in a chain restaurant, you wouldn't want them cluttering up the good restaurants.

Now, don' t get me wrong -- I eat at chains, and the food is often good. You know exactly what you are getting, and sometimes that's all you want.

But in an eating town like this, we should all support our locally owned restaurants as much as possible. The Coffee Cup, Jerry's, the Oyster Barn and Chet's make a darn good start.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sail Away!

Grand Princess at sunsetThe travel brochures are starting to fill the mailbox again and many are for cruises. And it's not too soon to be thinking about winter cruising.

So far we have taken three cruises -- all on Princess. You can read our daily comments for each cruise by finding the "Categories" list in the sidebar to the right and then clicking on the ship's name: Caribbean Princess or Coral Princess or Golden Princess.

Grand Princess after darkSo far we are thinking about a Western Caribbean cruise on the Grand Princess, out of Fort Lauderdale, a couple weeks before Christmas. We loved our cruise on the Golden Princess last April and the Grand is virtually identical to the Golden.

More details to come as we make our plans. If you have sailed on the Grand Princess, please leave a comment. Or if you haven't, please leave a comment anyway.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A can of bottled water
I know this link isn't completely politically correct, but it is funny. And it reinforces my belief that English is a very difficult language to master.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Duchess' Favorite Sandwich

The Duke and Duchess of WindsorYes, The Duchess of Windsor loved Club Sandwiches or at least a bite of one now and then. She also loved another American classic, Caesar Salad.

Today we had lunch at Madison's Diner in Pensacola. Their version of the Club Sandwich inspired me to do some research when we got home.

Madison's had chicken not turkey and that's correct -- along with lettuce, tomato and crisp bacon, but it was on a soft roll and we had to ask for mayonnaise. And it included a slice of smoked Gouda cheese. And that's just wrong. Granted, they did call it Madison's Club Sandwich.

In other food establishments, and particularly from that most popular place to find a Club Sandwich on the menu -- hotel room service -- you can often find non-traditional ingredients. Turkey is frequently substituted for chicken and ham for bacon (or added along with bacon). Cheese, pickles and a third slice of bread are also popular additions. In a Japanese hotel, room service made the Club Sandwich with duck instead of chicken.

The Hard Rock Cafe has what looks like an authentic Club Sandwich but then they go and serve it using two slices of rye bread, not toasted white bread.

Madison's sandwich was OK but it wasn't a traditional Club Sandwich and it sure could have been improved with a tasty sauce on the roll. Maybe some honey-mustard or a spicy, Tabasco-infused mayonnaise like you get at Flounder's Chowder House on Pensacola Beach.

The popular, but not quite authentic, Triple-deck Club SandwichRead about the history of the Club Sandwich from the What's Cooking America site.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

What do you want to eat tonight? Part 2

Menu: Whistle Post Tavern, Conyers, Georgia
Meal planning isn't easy and every day we have to find answers to the questions, "What do you want to eat tonight?" & "What haven't we had for a while?" I thought it might help if I kept a log of what we have been eating.

The original list was getting so long I decided to break it into six-month segments. You can always find both lists by clicking "Categories" on the sidebar to the right and then clicking "Menus".

To see what we ate during the previous six months, January through June, 2007, click here. For the menus since January, 2008 click here.

The image at the top is from the menu at the Whistle Post Tavern in Conyers, Georgia. Good eats. Always worth a stop.

Sunday, July 1, 2007 -- beef and veggie kebabs on the grill, rice pilaf
Monday, July 2 -- grilled pork chops, baked beans, biscuits
Tuesday, July 3 -- Ken's birthday dinner at Jamie's Restaurant, classic French cooking
Wednesday, July 4 -- Noodles Alfredo, KFC
Thursday, July 5 -- Hunt Brothers Pizza from the BP Station on Scenic Highway
Friday, July 6 -- lunch at La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, snacks for supper

Saturday, July 7 -- Chicken Fried Steak, mashed potatoes, country-style gravy, collard greens
Sunday, July 8 -- Chicken Salad on greens from the garden, whole wheat croutons
Monday, July 9 -- Marie Callender's Pot Pies
Tuesday, July 10 -- Chinese take-out
Wednesday, July 11 -- lunch at Madison's Diner (see The Duchess' Favorite Sandwich); for dinner, leftover Chinese take-out
Thursday, July 12 -- breakfast at the Village Inn for
Eggs Benedict; dinner was Salisbury Steak, Merlot gravy, mashed potatoes, baby carrots
Friday, July 13 -- BBQ burgers, potato salad, corn on the cob

Saturday, July 14 -- Southern-style crowder peas & speckled butter beans with bacon and biscuits, home made banana cream pie
Sunday, July 15 -- lasagne, salad
Monday, July 16 -- Kung Pao chicken, green beans
Tuesday, July 17 -- BBQ steak, baked potato
Wednesday, July 18 -- leftover Kung Pao chicken, green beans
Thursday, July 19 -- Jack's birthday dinner at Pensacola's Coach 'n' Four Steakhouse
Friday, July 20 -- taco salad

Saturday, July 21 -- chicken curry, green peas, pineapple
Sunday, July 22 -- Beef & veggie kebabs
Monday, July 23 -- Spaghetti Bolognese with Basil Pesto Focaccia from Panera Bread
Tuesday, July 24 -- lunch at Granny Cantrell's Southern Cookin' with lots of veggies and some peach cobbler; snacks for supper
Wednesday, July 25 -- Vichyssoise, Phillips' Crab Cakes, chopped salad
Thursday, July 26 -- bacon burgers (Nueske's Bacon of course) with fresh corn from Bailey's Farmers Market
Friday, July 27 -- Teriyaki pork tenderloin, corn & crowder pea succotash, rice and gravy

Saturday, July 28 -- Chinese Pie, green peas
Sunday, July 29 -- pork loin sandwiches, stuffed celery
Monday, July 30 -- chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, country gravy, corn
Tuesday, July 31 -- chicken salad
Wednesday, August 1, 2007 -- Lunch at Commander's Palace, New Orleans; for supper, sandwiches at the Beau Rivage's Terrace Cafe in Biloxi, Mississippi
Thursday, August 2 -- pepperoni pizza, salad
Friday, August 3 -- peel-and-eat Gulf shrimp, potato salad

Saturday, August 4 -- Beef Stroganoff, Noodles Mary Westbrook & green peas
Sunday, August 5 -- Beefy baked beans, pico de gallo, corn chips
Monday, August 6 -- Burgers with pico de gallo, salad
Tuesday, August 7 -- Lunch at Siam Thai in Pensacola; snacks for supper
Wednesday, August 8 -- Noodles Alfredo, fried chicken, pesto with French bread
Thursday, August 9 -- Kung Pao Chicken, green beans
Friday, August 10 -- Oven-roasted filet steak, crusted with Panko over Dijon mustard, mashed potato

Saturday, August 11 -- leftover Kung Pao Chicken, green beans
Sunday, August 12 -- spaghetti with meat sauce
Monday, August 13 -- Salisbury steak and Nassau Grits
Tuesday, August 14 -- lunch at Charles Barnhill's Buffet, snacks for supper
Wednesday, August 15 -- BBQ steaks
Thursday, August 16 -- lunch at Piccadilly, snacks for supper
Friday, August 17 -- Beef & veggie kebabs

Saturday, August 18 -- Corn Maquechoux (Queen Ida Guillory's mother's recipe), Corn Fritters, a side order of Nueskes Bacon, and peach shortcake (fresh corn and peaches from Baily's Farmer's Market)
Sunday, August19 -- Chicken Caesar Salad
Monday, August 20 -- French Dipped Sandwiches, potato salad
Tuesday, August 21 -- lunch on the beach in Destin at The Back Porch, salads for supper
Wednesday, August 22 -- Crab burgers
Thursday, August 23 -- chicken salad on mixed greens, garlic croutons
Friday, August 24 -- BBQ burgers, two coleslaws: traditional and mustard

Saturday, August 25 -- Kung Pao Chicken, green beans
Sunday, August 26 -- leftover Kung Pao Chicken, green beans
Monday, August 27 -- Hamburger Stroganoff, noodles, English peas
Tuesday, August 28 -- lunch at Golden Corral, snacks for supper
Wednesday, August 29 -- taco salad
Thursday, August 30 -- Chicken Fried Steak, mashed potatoes, cream corn, country gravy
Friday, August 31 -- Gazpacho, deep-fried Gulf shrimp, smoked sausages in buns

Saturday, September 1, 2007 -- Monte Cristo sandwiches, beef and vegetables soup
Sunday, September 2 -- spaghetti and meatballs
Monday, September 3 -- creamed chicken on toast points, carrots in brown butter
Tuesday, September 4 -- lunch at Jesse's Restaurant in Magnolia Springs, Alabama; dinner at Memphis Q, Beau Rivage Casino, Biloxi, Mississippi
Wednesday, September 5 -- breakfast at Harrah's Grand Biloxi Casino & Hotel, dinner at home: cold roast beef with chipotle cream, salad
Thursday, September 6 -- BBQ burgers, corn-on-the-cob
Friday, September 7 -- Vichyssoise & Pizza

Saturday, September 8 -- Beef & veggie kebabs
Sunday, September 9 -- Fish Fry at Kim's
Monday, September 10 -- crab bisque, curried chicken salad sandwiches
Tuesday, September 11 -- Mexican food at La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant
Wednesday, September 12 -- Chicken Fried Steak, country gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans
Thursday, September 13 -- chicken satay, spicy peanut sauce, steamed rice
Friday, September 14 -- James Beard's Quiche Lorraine, Romaine salad

Saturday, September 15 -- Bill D's roast beef birthday dinner at NAS Pensacola
Sunday, September 16 -- charcoal grilled fillet steak wrapped in Nueske's bacon and stuffed with garlic cloves, with mashed potatoes
Monday, September 17 -- Noodles Alfredo, KFC, green beans
Tuesday, September 18 -- Lunch, burgers at the Flora-Bama Lounge, Package and Oyster Bar; Dinner, salad with ham, cream cheese and green olive roll-ups
Wednesday, September 19 -- Festival of International Treats (cleaning out the freezer)
Thursday, September 20 -- Salisbury Steak, rice, red wine gravy, carrots & peas
Friday, September 21 -- Kung Pao chicken, rice, spicy shrimp, steamed broccoli

Saturday, September 22 -- leftover Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice, fried rice
Sunday, September 23 -- bacon burgers, fries
Monday, September 24 -- French Dipped Sandwiches, cole slaw
Tuesday, September 25 -- lunch at Granny Cantrell's Southern Cookin' with lots of veggies; snacks for supper
Wednesday, September 26 -- Chicken pot pies, mashed potatoes
Thursday, September 27 -- charcoal grilled fillet steak wrapped in Nueske's bacon and stuffed with garlic cloves, with new potatoes
Friday, September 28 -- Chicken and dumplings with Redbird Corn Pudding

Saturday, September 29 -- sliced leftover steak in red wine sauce, steamed rice, salad
Sunday, September 30 -- soup and pizza
Monday, October 1, 2007 -- spaghetti with meat sauce
Tuesday, October 2 -- lunch at Jesse's Restaurant; snacks for supper
Wednesday, October 3 -- pork chops with rice and gravy, applesauce
Thursday, October 4 -- grilled steaks wrapped in Nueske's bacon, mashed potatoes
Friday, October 5 -- Chicken Caesar Salad

Saturday, October 6 -- Monte Cristo sandwiches
Sunday, October 7 -- BBQ burgers with bacon, grilled onions, green salad
Monday, October 8 -- Chicken Pot Pie, rice, gravy
Tuesday, October 9 -- lunch at Bennigan's Grill & Tavern, snacks for supper
Wednesday, October 10 -- beef and veggie kebabs, rice
Thursday, October 11 -- lunch at Madison's Diner, snacks for supper
Friday, October 12 -- Chinese take-out

Saturday, October 13 -- grilled beef salad
Sunday, October 14 -- leftover Chinese take-out
Monday, October 15 -- crab cakes and fresh corn on the cob
Tuesday, October 16 -- dinner at Barnhill's Buffet
Wednesday, October 17 -- clam chowder, spaghetti with meat sauce
Thursday, October 18 -- tomato & bacon canap├ęs, French Dipped Sandwiches
Friday, October 19 -- Chicken Fried Steak, mashed potatoes, country gravy, corn

Saturday, October 20 -- Cajun-style deep fried turkeys with potluck side dishes at the fall gathering of the White Trash Yacht Club, Pensacola
Sunday, October 21 -- steaks at the Crescent City Steak House, New Orleans
Monday, October 22 -- on board the City of New Orleans, "Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer..." (lyrics, Mack Gordon/music, Harry Warren).
Tuesday, October 23 -- lunch at Cafe 42 in the Bill Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock, Arkansas; dinner was BBQ ribs and brisket at Charles Vergos Rendezvous, Memphis, Tennessee
Wednesday, October 24 -- lunch at the Gold Strike Casino, Tunica, Mississippi; dinner, takeout sandwiches delivered to the hotel room from Westy's (see Westy's T-shirt), Memphis
Thursday, October 25 -- breakfast in the dining car on the City of New Orleans; dinner at the Cracker Barrel, Gulfport, Mississippi
Friday, October 26 -- Kung Pao chicken, rice, green beans

Saturday, October 27 -- leftover Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice, green beans, fried rice
Sunday, October 28 -- meatloaf, mashed potato, gravy, corn
Monday, October 29 -- Shrimp Creole, steamed rice, French bread
Tuesday, October 30 -- hamburgers and bacon
, October 31 -- pizza and salad
Thursday, November 1, 2007 -- beef stew and biscuits
Friday, November 2 -- Ken, ill, not eating; Jack, frozen dinners, McDonalds, etc.

Saturday, November 3 --
Ken, not eating; Jack, frozen dinners, McDonalds, etc.
Sunday, November 4 -- Ken, not eating; Jack, frozen dinners, McDonalds, etc.
Monday, November 5 -- Ken better, Chicken Alfredo, classic green bean, fried onion & mushroom casserole
Tuesday, November 6 -- BBQ Steak Jesse, twice-baked mini-red potatoes
Wednesday, November 7 -- lunch at Hacienda Mexican Restaurant; snacks for supper
Thursday, November 8 -- dinner at Coach 'n' Four Cowboy Steakhouse
Friday, November 9 -- chicken pot pies

Saturday, November 10 -- Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice, green beans
Sunday, November 11 -- beef and veggie kababs
Monday, November 12 -- leftover Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice, fried rice
Tuesday, November 13 -- dinner at the Grand Biloxi Casino
Wednesday, November 14 -- chicken salad with chopped salad
Thursday, November 15 -- burgers with bacon and fries
Friday, November 16 -- steak soup

Saturday, November 17 --Chinese takeout
Sunday, November 18 -- crab cakes and noodles Alfredo
Monday, November 19 -- takeout fajitas (beef and chicken) from Chili's Grill
Tuesday, November 20 -- chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, country gravy, corn
Wednesday, November 21 -- leftover Chinese takeout
Thursday, November 22 -- Thanksgiving Day dinner at Bill and Maria's
Friday, November 23 -- Billy's 80th birthday lunch at Kim's

Saturday, November 24 -- Steak Jesse, Brabant Potatoes
Sunday, November 25 -- chicken fried chicken, rice and gravy, broccoli
Monday, November 26 -- dinner at Bonefish Grill
Tuesday, November 27 -- hot chicken sandwiches with green peas
Wednesday, November 28 -- James Beard's Quiche Lorraine
Thursday, November 29 -- bacon burgers with red beans and rice
Friday, November 30 -- Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice, green beans

Saturday, December 1, 2007 -- leftover Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice, fried rice, egg rolls
Sunday, December 2 -- BBQ steak, mashed potatoes
Monday, December 3 -- french toast with Nueske's bacon and Canadian bacon, Jimmy Dean's sausage patties
Tuesday, December 4 -- chicken salad sandwiches
Wednesday, December 5 -- spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread, salad
Thursday, December 6 -- Road food, driving to Clermont, Florida
Friday, December 7 -- Road food en route to Miami, dinner at La Rosa II between MIA and Little Havana

Saturday, December 8 until
Saturday, December 15 -- on board the Grand Princess for a Caribbean cruise
Sunday, December 16 -- Road food on the drive home
Monday, December 17 -- bacon burgers
Tuesday, December 18 -- chicken and dumplings, cream corn, carrots
Wednesday, December 19 -- Dinner at the Pensacola Yacht Club, hosted by Billy
Thursday, December 20 -- grilled pork chops, Noodles Mary Westbrook
Friday, December 21 -- Jack took us to Jerry's Cajun Cafe for dinner he had a steak I had barbecue shrimp

Saturday, December 22 -- Cajun Fried Turkeys at Kim's
Sunday, December 23 -- spaghetti and meatballs
Monday, December 24 -- BBQ steaks, corn casserole and little red garlic potatoes for the Billy Daughdrill's and Kim, with banana pudding for dessert
Tuesday, December 25 -- Christmas lunch at Kim's: fried oyster and shrimp po' boys and Joan's Ambrosia
Wednesday, December 26 -- Brunch: Eggs Benedict; Dinner: Kung Pao Chicken, steamed rice, green beans
Thursday, December 27 -- sliced leftover steak in gravy, mashed potatoes
Friday, December 28 -- leftover Kung Pao Chicken, steamed rice, green beans, egg rolls

Saturday, December 29 -- smoked salmon, cream cheese, salmon mousse, toast points, bagels, green onions
Sunday, December 30 -- beef kabobs, charcoal grilled veggies, Christmas cookies
Monday, December 31 -- burgers, black eyed peas with bacon and smoked sausage

Click here for meals January through June, 2007. For the menus since January, 2008 click here.