Mississippi Cooking

Friday, February 19, 2010

I've come to Mississippi to teach a couple of classes at the Viking Range Cooking School in Greenwood. First stop: The Big Apple Inn in Jackson, home of the pigs' ear sandwich. Also some killer Mississippi-style tamales. I heard about this place when I was at the Southern Foodways Alliance Fall Symposium last October. Gene Lee the present proprietor was presented with a Keeper of the Flame award. Check out this really wonderful short video by friend Joe York for a tour of the place. My sister and I were so taken with it that we ran back by for lunch today on our way out of town.





Last night, on the advice of folks from Lemuria Books we had dinner at Walker's Drive In, near our hotel. Lively, fun and good food, too. I had Red Fish Anna, named I'm guessing, for the pommes de terre on which it was nestled. Outside the streets of downtown Jackson seemed strangely quiet, but this place was packed. This evening we have arrived at the Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood. Tomorrow is for classes but tonight we were guests at both a reception and then a dinner party at Giardina's, the restaurant at the hotel. At the reception, the hor d'oeuvres were all variations of stuff from my book. Included was that green tomato relish that I got from Leslie Jackson's mother. They served it with strips of fried catfish. Chef Jeff Seabergh, a local boy, prepared us a lovely dinner with lots of local ingredients. It was interesting to watch my sister encounter "goat two ways".




*****




Our lunch class today was taken mostly from things I've learned from my staff. Those banana leaf tamales from Oaxaca, mango salad, chicken pozole. The people in the class were delightful, and remained so even after I talked for two hours straight. We finished off with Donna Florio's buttermilk sherbet- the pineapple version.






Dinner started with chicken liver mousse, a very quick hors d'oeuvre, good for a crowd as long as every one likes liver. These folks did. I use this recipe a lot for demonstrations since it is so quick and people often need a little something right at the beginning of these sessions. We followed with brussels sprout and blue cheese salad, salt cured duck with an aigre-doux with fresh grapefruit. Sides were garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed leeks and cabbage. For dessert- frozen mint juleps. This was a really cordial class and lots of people stuck around to talk and visit afterward. Then afterward, drinks and a little more to eat with some of the school's staff. A word about them. I have known and liked Elizabeth Heiskell, the director for a while. It was a real pleasure to work with her and her very competent crew.


On our way home, we had just enough of a layover in Atlanta to have supper at One Flew South, Jerry Slater and Duane Nutter's new restaurant in the international terminal. I have to say, that when I heard that someone was going to open a nice restaurant in an airport, I thought it sounded crazy. But when we got there, it was full and I was really glad to be there.

posted by Bill Smith at 5:24 AM

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