If you’re just now hearing about this event, the likelihood that you’ll be able to find a place to stay to hang out for the entire week is not great. Hotels and campgrounds get booked months in advance (though it's still worth checking).
So here’s a list of the highlights that are worth a day trip, particularly if you’re a fan of fried catfish:
Pratesi's next tour promises similar opportunities to experience the cuisine of Virginia as she leads a group to the Richmond and Charlottesville area of Virginia from April 21-23. Highlights include a rare behind-the-scenes opportunity to experience Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello as very few people do, a farm dinner at Manakintowne town and a stay at The Jefferson Hotel. They've arranged a special rate of $155 per night at this magnificent property, so If you've ever wanted to stay at The Jefferson this would be an excellent reason to make a road trip.
For more details, check out the On the Road Culinary Adventures site.
All three of those chefs were nominated as James Beard Foundation semifinalists for Best Chef in the Southeast, and the foundation has selected Memphis as one of the sites for their traveling Friends of James Beard Benefit series of dinners. On Sunday, April 14, chefs Ticer and Hudman will host five up-and-coming guest chefs from various regions for a seven-course meal: David Posey of Blackbird in Chicago; Jason Fox of Commonwealth in San Francisco; Jason Stanhope of Fig in Charleston, S.C.; Jeff McInnis of Yardbird in Miami Beach; and Stephanie Prida of Manresa in Los Gatos, Calif.
I was fortunate enough to sample some of McInnis and Stanhope's food at the recent Charleston Wine + Food Festival, and I'm on record as being a huge fan of the Memphis boys, so trust me when I suggest that you clear your calendar for that weekend. According to the official event announcement:
The menu includes — but is not limited to! — funnel cakes, corndogs (referred to by Memphians as "Pronto Pups," a brand name), deep-fried Oreos, Sno Cones, Polish corndog (the mind boggles), candy apples and turkey legs. My favorite fair food, frozen chocolate banana on a stick and hot apple dumpling are not on the menu, but I suppose I could comfort myself with a deep-fried honey bun and some fried pickles.
If your first thought was like mine — "wow, what a fantastic idea!" — and your second thought was, "I wish we had one in Nashville," you should note that the 24-hour Carnival Food restaurant at 3349 Jackson Ave. is the last of the restaurants still in operation. Google tells me that there were three or four other locations in the Memphis suburbs that have shut down over the past few years. So I suppose if you can't get a location somewhere along the eastern perimeter of Vanderbilt or maybe MTSU, then it might be best to scrap any carnival food plans for the Midstate. Then you could just add this to your growing list of Memphis food destinations to try!
From now until Dec. 23, Woodford Reserve in Versailles, Ky., is offering a lovely holiday brunch Wednesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sundays 12:30 to 2 p.m. Chef-in-Residence Ouita Michel and her culinary team have created a bountiful holiday buffet full of Kentucky favorites and seasonal specialties, and you can take a tour of the distillery afterward to walk off some of the calories.
The buffet is only $25 per person, which seems like it must be some sort of loss-leader when you take a look at the menu:
But two iconic Sewanee restaurants recently went through some major transitions, so it's worth a few bytes here at Bites. Shenanigans, home to the famous rhomboid door and the hangout of generations of University of the South students, closed earlier this month after owner Ward Cammack listed the property for sale. It's not the first time the restaurant has changed hands in recent years, and locals and alumni hope that someone will open that crooked front door again soon. At least, they do have a new option to purchase a cold beer as Jackalope Brewery partners Jimmy and Sarah Wilson have opened the Blue Chair Tavern at 41 University Ave. which previously housed a Sweet Cece's, which was also owned by Cammack. The new Tavern focuses on microbrews, many of which come from Jackalope.
The other big restaurant news on the mountain is the reopening of Pearl's Foggy Mountain Cafe after four years of looking for a new owner after the latest in a series of fires shut the place down in 2008. Dan and Joy Hickey leased and refurbished the building for a soft opening in August, and now they are starting to hit their stride in time for homecoming weekend at the university. The Hickeys added a large new deck for outdoor seating and moved the entrance to the rear of the building. Now diners enter through a warm bar area (wo)manned by Jane Borden, a talented mixologist who aims to bring craft cocktails to an audience that has had little access in the past.
The five-day UNwineD fest is more than just a wine event, including live music, coastal cuisine, an art fair and even an offshore fishing tournament. It will run Oct. 24-28 with the main location being the Grand Lagoon Marina between two of Panama City Beach's stalwart restaurants, the Boatyard and Captain Anderson's.
The musical headliners are the LoCash Cowboys, who will play the evening of Friday, Oct. 26. The Jeffrey Steele Band will entertain on Saturday evening, Oct. 27. Here are the food and drink details:
On the Festival site, the Luxury Lounge will be the scene for local seafood, not to mention three full bars, from the area’s most desirable restaurants.
Entrance to the festival is free. Festival attendees will enjoy food and retail vendors, children’s activities, community performances, and BMI music entertainment. Admission into the Luxury Lounge is $10 per night, where a premier showcase of seafood dishes and drinks are available for purchase, and various demonstrations will be shown.
Other events include Raise Your Spirits, a ticketed VIP wine dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at Captain Anderson’s Restaurant which will benefit the Beach Chamber Education Fund and the FRLA Educational Foundation Bay County ProStart Schools; and a ticketed VIP BMI Songwriter Harbor Cruise aboard the Lady Anderson Dinner Cruise Ship on Thursday, Oct. 25.
For even more info, check out visitpanamacitybeach.com.
WhiskyFest New York will feature pourings from more than 300 whiskeys led by Whisky Advocate writers, master distillers and master blenders. The event will be held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square Oct. 26-27, and VIP tickets have already sold out.
Every previous WhiskeyFest New York has been a sellout, so if you're interested buy your tix online ASAP. Pack a suitcase and your stunt liver.
They'll be reprising their Nolensville Road International Tour (Sean should tag along and knock out a few stops on The Road), and they'll also be traveling even farther down Nolensville Road to visit Pat Martin's joint and sip some wine at Arrington Vineyards.
Check out all the details below and find out how to sign up to join in on the fun:
But the truth is that for one weekend in June, Manhattan is the center of the barbecue universe. The 10th annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party will draw over 100,000 visitors to Madison Square Park to enjoy the wares of 18 of the country's best pitmasters, including four from New York City. Admission is free for the event, which runs June 9 and 10, and plates of 'cue from the vendors will run about $8. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait in line with thousands of Yankees to buy those plates, so eaters in the know invest the $125 to buy a FastPass.
The FastPass entitles you and a friend to cut to the front of the teeming masses and pick up your samples from all the vendors in a special express line. You'll also receive $100 toward food, beverage and merchandise, so it's really only $25 to pig out like a rock star.
Since it's the 10th edition of the block party, they're pulling out all the stops this year. The Southern Foodways Alliance will be shooting one of their excellent food documentaries profiling the pitmasters who have attended all 10. I've also heard a rumor that there might even be an air-conditioned trailer where attendees can screen some of Joe York's previous barbecue films. On a hot June day surrounded by all those people, that might be an excellent respite from the claustroporkaphobia.
Here's just a partial list of the activities scheduled for the National Cornbread Festival. There's a run, a church service, a jam tent, a cornbread eating contest, a beauty contest, tours, arts and crafts, a 4-H cook-off, an auction, a street dance, a film and more. There's not a minute of the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, Tenn., that isn't stuffed with activity.
The festival, April 27-29, showcases Lodge cookware, Martha White products, South Pittsburg (population 3,100) and Five Star ovens, made in nearby Cleveland, Tenn.
(Side note here: My oven is a Five Star, and not only is it a superior piece of equipment for the money, but the one time I needed help, an actual guy from Tennessee answered the helpline, then got in his truck and drove to my house. That's what they call customer service, right there.)
Cook-off finalists were announced last week, and they're from all over: two from North Carolina, two from Tennessee, two from West Virginia and, in an unusual twist, two from that legendary cornbread producing state, Connecticut.
The festival's Cornbread Alley lets you sample all the miraculous recipes and uses for cornbread that local organizations can devise. The result is a mix of traditional, unusual (Tooti Fruity Cornbread Balls, with pineapple and maraschino cherry) and others new but so smart you think "Why didn't I think of that? — like this recipe for Pork Puppies from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in South Pittsburg:
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