Pretty Southern

What does it mean to be a Southerner in the 21st century?

Why I’m Proud to be American in 2015

Red White Blue Country

Yours truly with this awesome dude

This Independence Day is one in which I’m especially proud to be an American. In 2015, we’ve accomplished a lot in that past six months. Here are a few reasons I’m proud to live in the USA this Fourth of July.

Every single American has the right to marry whom he or she chooses. Around this time last year, we partnered with Skyy Vodka’s Freedom to Marry to help raise awareness for marriage equality. I’m so thankful that love won.

Freedom of Speech – there’s no way in hell I would have been able to create Pretty Southern if I lived in Russia or China. In fact, there are some days (or some posts) which I’m kind of surprised I haven’t received a knock on the door for.

Affordable Health Care – disagree with me in the comments section if you so choose, but I am thankful that we have the Exchange. Every U.S. citizen regardless of income or employment status has the right to affordable health insurance.

America is truly the land of the free and home of the brave. There is still much work to be done, but let’s save that for July 6. Enjoy your Fourth of July!

8 Things I’ll Miss About Living in North Carolina

My family’s roots are in North Carolina. My parents were raised and went to college there, and I was born in a small town in the southeastern part of the state. We moved from North Carolina when I was 5 years old, but my extended family still lives here; my parents and I visit several times a year.

I spent the last year at Elon University, which is about 25 minutes east of Greensboro. Even though I’ve visited North Carolina several times a year for my whole life, living in the area has reminded me of what makes this state so special. Now that I’m moving to Tennessee for my first job out of grad school, I’ve been reflecting on my home state and what I’ll miss about living here. I’m definitely excited to move to a new city, but maybe I’m not quite ready to bid adieu to the great Tar Heel state.

Here are eight top reasons I’ll miss living in North Carolina.


Mmmm, Smithfield’s.

1. Barbecue: If you meet anyone from North Carolina and they claim they don’t like barbecue, they’re not telling the truth. Everyone in this state loves barbecue, and everyone has a staunch opinion on what kind of barbecue is superior. Lexington style (more common in western parts of the state) is sweeter and smoky, often topped with a tomato-based sauce. Eastern style is tangy and accompanied by a vinegar-based sauce. I’m a Lexington girl, but I will never say no to some Smithfield’s Chicken & BBQ (which is more Eastern). And down here, “barbecue” is a food, not something you do in the back yard.

Hey Smithfields, can y’all air-drop me some ‘cue once a month or so?

2. Beaches: To me, nothing beats a North Carolina beach. My dad grew up going to Holden Beach on the southern coast, and my parents and I went there in the summers until I was 13. My grandfather then sold his beach house, and unfortunately we haven’t been back. I have the fondest memories of body-boarding in the playful waves, teaching myself to skimboard and hunting for the perfect seashells on the white sand. While I didn’t make it to the beach in the last year, it was nice knowing I was close enough to go if I wanted to.

biscuitville3. Biscuitville: I’m not kidding, y’all. Try one of their hot, delicious pimento cheese and bacon biscuits and tell me it’s not amazing. Watching the bakers knead the dough and cut out biscuits makes your mouth water in a hot second. Nothing beat a bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit with cheese grits on a Saturday morning. Biscuitville over Bojangles, always.

4. Close to Family: This is the closest I’ve lived to my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins since my parents and I lived in NC ourselves, way back in the 90s. My mom’s family all live outside of Charlotte, so they’re only about 2 hours from me at Elon. Weekend visits were easy and relaxing. It’s been so nice to be able to see them more often.

5. College (ACC) Basketball: With UNC, NC State, Wake Forest and Duke (barf) all close by, November through March or April (depending on how the seasons finished) are crazy with blue, red and gold. It’s a sin to like more than one North Carolina college team, so you learn to answer accordingly. We’re in the heart of ACC country so during those months there’s a game on my TV every day. I hope the SEC faithfuls in Tennessee won’t mind my ACC fandom. Do I have to learn to sing “Rocky Top” in return?

6. Southern Charm: This goes without saying. We’ll always smile and wave, even if we don’t know you from Adam. I know that’s all over the South, but I do love seeing it around here. North Carolina has so much charm to offer, from its cities to its small towns, from its mountains to its coasts, and everything in between.

7. Weather: Can we say “yes” to having all four seasons? The summers are stunning, if not a bit humid, and the winters are (usually) mild. We get a clear spring and a clear fall, even if they are a bit prolonged. My boots and scarves do get worn! And only some of us lose our minds when it snows…not all of us.

And lastly…

Red & white wines from Stony Mountain Vineyards, Albemarle, NC

Red & white wines from Stony Mountain Vineyards, Albemarle, NC

8. Wine & Beer: I’m not a big beer person, but oh my goodness, North Carolina wine is awesome. Traditional NC wine is made from scuppernong and muscadine grapes, which are sweeter than regular grapes, and twice as delicious. I loved exploring wineries in the Triad and tasting all of their varieties and blends. As for beer, Red Oak is king, followed by Natty Greene’s. Both are brewed fresh in Greensboro, and can be found in every grocery store’s beer aisle in Guilford and Alamance counties. If I could take Red Oak and some scuppernong wine to Tennessee, I totally would. Dearest North Carolina, you’ve always been good to me. This won’t be a goodbye, just a “see you later.” Plus, when my parents’ lake house is done, I’ll be visiting you a lot more often than twice a year.


Kate RobertsonKate Robertson is a features writer for Pretty Southern and a Virginia Tech alumna. She also holds an M.A. in Interactive Media from Elon University.

Born in North Carolina and raised in Georgia, Kate hopes to further her career as a social media maven and kick-ass writer in the lovely southeast.

Follow Kate on Twitter @kate3robertson and check out her blog, A Thought and a Half.


RSVP Now for Reel Seafood’s Wine Dinner in Woodstock

Reel Seafood, located in the heart of Main Street in Woodstock, is hosting an exclusive wine pairing dinner this Thursday, June 25, starting at 6:30 p.m. Executive Chef & proprietor David Silverman has five courses for the menu, each perfectly paired with a fabulous wine from from the Ferrari-Carano Winery. Here’s what’s on the menu:

1st Course – a Ceviche Martini prepared with Georgia White Shrimp, served with an avocado pozole and a crisp plantain, paired with a crisp 2012 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Grigio.

2nd course – an Heirloom Tomato Burrata Salad with a balsamic reduction, basil oil, and micro greens served with a 2013 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc.

3rd course – Braised Oxtails, served with a root vegetable ragout and a 2012 Ferrari-Carano Merlot.

4th course – the fish course will be a Pancetta Wrapped Halibut with herb garlic gnocchi in a truffle mushroom broth, paired with a 2013 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley.

5th course – for dessert, the Chef will create a Blood Orange Panna Cotta served with a 2013 Ferrari-Carano Eldorado Noir, also from the famous Russian River Valley.

RSVP Now for Reel Seafood’s Wine Dinner in Woodstock! This exclusive tasting is priced at $75 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Seating is limited, and reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling Reel at 770-627-3006.

Reel is open for Lunch Monday through Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m.; Dinner is served seven days a week until 10 p.m., and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Brunch is served on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. For information about other upcoming events or reservations, please visit Reel’s website, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

Reel is located at 8670 Main Street, Woodstock, GA.

The Perfect Southern Brunch at Empire State South

Empire State South

When it comes to dining in the the South, it’s the Northern transplants who are shaping the restaurant scene. Perhaps chefs simply fall in love with the simple art of Southern food because they know of the bounty our land provides. Hugh Acheson knows this love to be true. A group of food bloggers recently gathered for brunch at Acheson’s first Atlanta restaurant, Empire State South (a post Civil War reference for Georgia becoming the cultural and economic hub) to discuss the importance of eating local. He explained that in New York City in order to “eat local” the restaurants ship in from farms six hours away whereas Atlantans eat local comes from farms that are within an hour of the city such as Riverview Farms in Hiawassee, Ga., and Crystal Organics in Newborn, Ga. It’s the amazing gift of a red clay landscape that gives us a plentiful bounty, but it’s up to us Southerners to support our land and its goodness.

“I can’t say enough nice things about the South and where its going.”

Hugh Acheson The Broad Fork

The Broad Fork is on sale now at Amazon

Acheson has truly seen the South transform over the past two decades, but don’t you dare call it The New South in his presence. “I hate that term,” he told our group who gathered to celebrate his new book, The Broad Fork. “Being in Georgia has meant a ton to me, and Atlanta has really come to terms with itself.” A native of Canada, Acheson moved to Atlanta at age 10 and spent two years in the South before moving back to Ottawa. In the 1990s, his wife was accepted to the University of Georgia (#GoDawgs) for her master’s program. He opened his first eatery, 5 & 10, in 2000. He now has three more restaurants in Georgia – The National in Athens, The Florence in Savannah, and of course Empire State South. His his fifth restaurant, Spiller Park – a “kiosk style” coffee shop will open in Atlanta’s new Ponce City Market later this year. Here’s what we had for brunch at Empire State South

French Toast Empire State South

French Toast with marshmallow cream and fresh berries.

Bacon Egg Cheese Biscuit - Empire State South

Bacon, egg & cheese biscuit

Chicken Sausage Biscuit Empire State South

Chicken sausage, egg & cheese biscuit. Y’all, these biscuits were so good I had buttery fingers.

Home Fries Empire State South

Home fries – some of the best I’ve ever had

Georgia Yogurt Parfait Empire State South

Homemade granola and local Georgia yogurt

Tomato Cucumber Salad Empire State South

Tomato & cucumber salad with feta and local greens

Marinated Zucchini Salad - Empire State South

Marinated zucchini with spring onion and wheat berries

“You don’t go to your grave 6 ft. under complaining about the time you spent in the kitchen cooking. That’s the best time you’ll ever have – with your family, cooking from scratch.

Acheson says that dining out in Atlanta has turned into a “palpable” experience contrasting with the glossy and glamorous restaurant monikers which plagued the city during the 1990s. “No one really gave a shit about what was on their plate,” he said while touting the importance of dining local and being a patron of places who are “doing the right thing” from a sustainability perspective.

While he’s made his home in the South, Acheson lives a jet-setter lifestyle and joked about how he achieved his Diamond Medallion status on Delta. Although he’s achieved fame from Top Chef and is known as one of the South’s premier restaurateurs, Acheson says that success is not about becoming a celebrity chef but about operating a business where you’re leading people and playing an integral part of the community, “It’s your responsibility to give back, managing a staff who reveres you, and you being willing to do whatever it takes to deliver for them and your customers.”

It’s pretty cool because Acheson was in New York City filming the segment for Today Show with Carson Daly the Saturday morning before our brunch on Sunday.

Hugh Acheson

Hugh Acheson and yours truly

Lauren Patrick is a native Southerner, UGA graduate, and the editor of Pretty Y’all can find her writing, wining, dining, and working out in Atlanta. She’s a member of the Atlanta Blogger Network and Atlanta Food Blogger Society. Keep up with her & Pretty Southern on TwitterPinterest, and Instagram. Special thanks to our hosts and Eating with Erica for inviting us to this event. Remember y’all #MakeEveryDayLocal and #LovetheSouth


Pittypat’s Porch Rock-a-thon

Get ready to rock because Atlanta’s longest continually-operating restaurant, Pittypat’s Porch, is debuting its new porch during the first-ever Rock-a-Thon this Thursday, June 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. The event will feature a rocking chair musical chairs tournament and patio party benefiting the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Tournament rockers will compete in the signature jumbo rockers from presenting sponsor, the historic Brumby Chair Company, who is also donating one of the prized chairs as the grand raffle prize. Valued at $995, Brumby’s beloved chairs have been fixtures at national landmarks from Yellowstone National Park to Naples, Florida, including the White House! President Jimmy Carter was known to relax in a Brumby rocking chair.

Guests are invited to visit the newly-renovated restaurant and sit awhile on the brand new porch while imbibing in traditionally Southern libations and snacks – just as the restaurant’s namesake, Margaret Mitchell’s Aunt Pittypat from Gone with the Wind, would have.

Admission to the Rock-a-Thon includes two drinks tickets, to be redeemed for a mint julep crafted with Chattanooga Whiskey, a glass of wine, sponsored by United Distributors, Inc., or choice of beer each, a selection of fried green tomatoes, shrimp Charleston and black eyed pea cakes crafted by executive chef David Myree. A silent auction, also benefiting the Atlanta Community Food Bank, will include unique and historic items from across the city.

Kicks 101.5 will emcee the event and rocking chair tournament with a live remote from Pittypat’s rocking chair lounge. Tune into Kicks 101.5’s “Lunchtime Live with Jenn Hobby” over the next two weeks for a chance to win a $100 Pittypat’s Porch gift card to sweeten the deal!

Tickets may be purchased for $29 here. Additional raffle tickets may be purchased on-site for $5 each.