Pretty Southern

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

October 2011 archive

Atlanta’s Best Bartender

This year Taste of Atlanta offered up another dose of cocktail competition. We’ve got to give big props to Tyler Nelson of Leon’s Full Service for winning the title of Atlanta’s Best Bartender. The 2011 Barcraft competition (sponsored by the newly formed Atlanta chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild) hosted qualifying matches then narrowing it down to Nelson and Arianne Fielder of Ormsby’s to compete for the honor.

This was a great way to introduce a fine liquor uncommon in most bars to a bunch of Southern foodies. In this Iron Chef-style approach to creating an excellent drink, two bartenders presented their offering to a panel of judges.

Judge and Executive Chef, Shane Devereux of Top Flr looks on as Tyler Nelson and Arianne Fielder toast to their success as Atlanta's bartending elite..

Their cocktails could be of any concoction as long as they included one ingredient, Fernet-Branca. Fernet (Italian pronunciation: [fɛrˈnɛt]) is a type of amaro (a bitter yet aromatic spirit). Imagine Jägermeister without that bit of sweetness, or a savory version of Pimms. Like its English consort, Fernet is made from a number of herbs and spices. Fernet is usually served as a digestif after a meal but may also be served with coffee.

The flavors vary according to the brand of Frenet, but usually include myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and especially saffron, with a base of grape distilled spirits, and coloured with caramel colouring. Ingredients rumored to be in fernet include codeine, mushrooms, fermented beets, coca leaf, gentian, rhubarb, wormwood, zedoary, cinchona, bay leaves, absinthe, orange peel, calumba, echinacea, quinine, ginseng, St. John’s wort, sage, and peppermint oil.

Oh, and it’s strong! Frenet contains 45% alcohol by volume. It may be served at room temperature or on the rocks (with ice). For her cocktail, Arianne created what she named the “Caribbean Hay Ride” using Frenet-Branca, 12-year old aged rum, pumpkin butter, fresh apple juice, and Bitter End Moroccan Bitters. “There wasn’t any cinnamon up here so I had to use the bitters for the flavor component,” Arianne stated.

To polish of her drink, Arianne infused whiskey-barrel oak smoke into her recipe. She then covered the drinks to let them soak in the smoky goodness before presenting it to the judges. Her drink came in second to Tyler’s but for this chilly fall weather we highly recommend trying your own version of the Caribbean Hay Ride.

Causa Vegetariana

This recipe for Layered Potato and Egg Salad by Sandra Gutierrez is this chef’s version of the causa. Like a potato-based egg salad sandwich, this causa will definitely wake people up at your next potluck, with its zingy lime-chile potatoes and a generous topping of olives. Gutierrez, a former food columnist for the Cary News in Cary, N.C., finds three major commonalities between the traditional cuisine of the South and that of Latin America.

The roots of both cuisines come from indigenous people of the Americas, European settlers and Africans from the transatlantic triangular trade who found themselves and their food thrust together in a New World. Second, “we have a similar basket of ingredients that we share,” said Gutierrez, “among them corn and beans and nuts and pork and tomatoes.” Vegans can use crumbled tofu instead of eggs for the filling, and with vegan mayonnaise, you can enjoy this creative new party dish! It makes enough for up to 12 services.

For the Potato Layers:
4 lbs. yellow potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
1/2 cup minced white onion
1/3 cup key lime juice (can use standard Persian lime juice)
1 tsp aji Amarillo paste (can use hot sauce)
2 tsps. salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the Egg Layer:
9 hard boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
2 tbsps. minced capers
1 tsp yellow mustard
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch salt

For the Garnish:
1 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives
1/4 cup finely chopped chives

1. Spray or oil a 9x13x2 inch casserole. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and onion and stir. In a medium bowl, combine the lime, aji or hot sauce, salt and pepper and whisk, then whisk in the olive oil.

2. Pour over the mashed potato mixture and stir to mix well. Divide the mixture in half and press half in the pan, reserving the rest.

3. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, chopped olives and capers, mustard, pepper and salt. Spread over the potato layer. Cover the eggs with the remaining potatoes and gently spread to an even layer.

4. Garnish with sliced olives and chives, then cover and chill for at least an hour and up to 14 hours.

About the Author
Emily Crawford Misztal is a freelance writer and photographer working in North Carolina. She earned a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Georgia in 2006. After graduation she worked as a staff photographer for the Benton County Daily Record in Bentonville, Arkansas. In 2009 she joined the Peace Corps and served in Guatemala, fulfilling a lifelong dream to travel and become fluent in a second language. Misztal is also an avid newshound, armchair fashionista, home cook and exercise procrastinator.[/author_info] [/author]

Chile Chocolate Brownies

Chef and author Sandra Gutierrez recipe for savory chocolate brownies is a perfect dessert for the fall season. A creamy coating of sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, coffee plus two different types of chile powder is sure to please. Beware, this concoction yields 20 brownies!

This recipe and tons more can be found in Gutierrez’s new work, “The New Southern Latino Cookbook”. It’s incredibly timely given the recent demographic changes to the ethnic makeup of the South. “The influx of Latinos into the South, particularly over the last decade, has been gargantuan. It has been huge,” said Gutierrez. “So what happens when two communities come together in such big numbers is that invariably, we start finding amalgamations at the table.”

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsps. vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsps. ancho chile powder
1/2 tsp. salt1 cup chopped and toasted pecans (optional)

For the Glaze
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. coffee-flavored liqueur
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Place butter and chocolate in top of double boiler and heat over simmering water over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and combined. Carefully lift from lower pot so no water droplets come in contact with chocolate mixture; let cool 5 minutes and transfer to large bowl. Stir in sugar; add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; stir in vanilla.

2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, chile powder and salt; gradually add dry ingredients to chocolate mixture, beating well until fully combined. Add pecans, if using. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes, or until center is set and brownies begin to pull back from sides of pan. Cool 1 hour in pan.

3. In medium bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, butter, liqueur, vanilla and chile powder; blend until smooth. Place glaze in pastry bag (or zipper-locking plastic bag with snipped corner), and drizzle back and forth over brownies. Cut into 20 bars.

[author] [author_image  timthumb='on']http://prettysouthern.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Emily.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Emily Crawford Misztal is a freelance writer and photographer working in North Carolina. She earned a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Georgia in 2006. After graduation she worked as a staff photographer for the Benton County Daily Record in Bentonville, Arkansas. In 2009 she joined the Peace Corps and served in Guatemala, fulfilling a lifelong dream to travel and become fluent in a second language. Misztal is also an avid newshound, armchair fashionista, home cook and exercise procrastinator.[/author_info] [/author]

Taste of Atlanta

For its 10th anniversary, Taste of Atlanta brings the culinary creativity to a new level. Featuring city favorites, novel newcomers and global eateries, the street festival welcomes more than 80 of Atlanta’s favorite dining destinations this Saturday, Oct. 22 and Sunday, Oct. 23 in Tech Square. With gourmet grub from the city’s most renowned restaurateurs, live cooking demos and more, Taste of Atlanta is the ultimate ticket to palate-pleasing fun this fall.

More than 80 of Atlanta’s favorite restaurants and most exciting chefs will serve up their specialties at this year’s festival. From international cuisine to under-the-radar eats, Taste of Atlanta spotlights the incredible energy and diversity of Atlanta’s shining food scene.

The landmark celebration combines festival favorites and new experiences:

• Barcraft Competition – It’s back! Guests can channel their inner mixologist and sample cocktails from
Atlanta’s best bartenders as they compete for the top spot. Open to VIP ticket holders only.

• Family Food Zone – Step right up for demos and cooking lessons from national and local chefs in an interactive environment. New for 2011, the Top Chef Kids Competition offers hands-on experience for
chefs in training.

• Inside the Food Studio – Experience the fascinating world of the professional chef to discover secrets
of the craft. Returning for its second year, this intimate experience is hosted by Tom Sullivan. Patrons will enjoy beverages and bites while learning valuable cooking skills and insight into the Atlanta restaurant scene. Whether highlighting tacos & tequila or burgers & boozy shakes, this behind-the- scenes look will offer unrivaled insight into the professional kitchen.

• Global Flavors International Stage – Go global with this worldly showcase, making its Taste of Atlanta debut. Top culinary talent from the city’s diverse international restaurant scene will demonstrate what goes into their signature cuisine.

• Home Plate Main Stage – This year, get ready for a throw down. Renowned chefs battle it out and go head-to-head on the main stage. These culinary craftsmen will tackle secret ingredients, themed challenges, unique recipes and more.

TASTE OF ATLANTA TICKET INFORMATION:

• General admission tickets (includes 10 taste coupons): $25 in advance; $35 at the gate. Kids ages 13
and under receive FREE admission (excluding taste coupons) when accompanied by a paid adult.

• VIP tickets (includes 15 taste coupons and access to Wine+Beer+Cocktail Experience): $75. A limited
number of VIP tickets are available, and the first 300 ticket holders each day will receive a festival gift
bag.

• Taste coupons are used to purchase food from participating restaurants. Menu items are valued at one,
two or three taste coupons. Additional taste coupons are sold in increments of 10 coupons for $10 or 20
coupons for $20.

• Tickets are sold at locations throughout Atlanta including Cook’s Warehouse and Ticket Alternative
outlets. Purchase online through Ticket Alternative. Advance tickets must be purchased by midnight, Oct. 22.

Jordan Worrall & Jennifer Walker contributed to this article. For more info on Taste of Atlanta, check the event page out on Facebook and Twitter.

The Best of Both Worlds

From brownies to barbecue, Sandra Gutierrez’s innovative recipes showcase the flavor of the New South. On my first trip shopping for groceries in a bodega in Guatemala, a familiar item grabbed my attention from the snack section. The bag read chicharrón, but the bubbled tan craters of fried pigskins peeking through the cellophane said “pork rinds,” loud and clear. Sandra Gutierrez, a long time food writer, grinds up the crackly rinds and incorporates them into flour for buttermilk biscuits in her new book, “The New Southern Latino Table: Recipes that bring together the bold and beloved flavors of Latin America and the American South.” This innovation imparts a deep, rich pork flavor to the Southern staple. Combining chicharrones and buttermilk biscuits is just one of the genius combinations Gutierrez creates in a cookbook that celebrates the best of two cultures that have been edging ever closer together over the last decade.

Gutierrez, a former food columnist for the Cary News in Cary, N.C., finds three major commonalities between the traditional cuisine of the South and that of Latin America. The roots of both cuisines come from indigenous people of the Americas, European settlers and Africans from the transatlantic triangular trade who found themselves and their food thrust together in a New World. Second, “we have a similar basket of ingredients that we share,” said Gutierrez, “among them corn and beans and nuts and pork and tomatoes.” Finally, braising, deep frying and barbecuing are inextricable to the two cultures.

“Barbecue is so big here in the South, it’s huge, it’s part of Southern culture,” said Gutierrez. “It’s ingrained; you can’t think ‘South’ and not think barbecue.”

But anyone who has ever spent the night slow roasting a pig for chopped barbecue sandwiches might be surprised at how far the tradition dates back. “The technique of barbecuing was invented in Latin America,” Gutierrez said. “It was one of those techniques that Christopher Columbus discovered. He found the taíno Indians on the island of Hispaniola cooking food over a fire through spits, or putting food into pits with fire and smoke. The term the Indians used was barbacoa, and that stuck.”

“The New Southern Latino Cookbook” is incredibly timely given the recent demographic changes to the ethnic makeup of the South. “The influx of Latinos into the South, particularly over the last decade, has been gargantuan. It has been huge,” said Gutierrez. “So what happens when two communities come together in such big numbers is that invariably, we start finding amalgamations at the table.”

This amalgamation came first to Gutierrez’s own table when she moved to Durham, N.C. as a young newlywed in the 1980s. Gutierrez grew up a student of her beloved Aunt Maria, who ran a successful catering company. Maria taught her the basic French techniques of gourmet cooking as well as the all of the classic Latin dishes. As Gutierrez started a family in the Tar Heel state, she found fresh cilantro and dried cornhusks hard to come by. But she learned traditional Southern cooking from friends and neighbors. “Today, my children are likely to ask for barbecue pulled pork with a side of guacamole,” Gutierrez writes in the introduction to her book.

Several recipes are becoming instant classics since the book was released about two months ago. One such recipe combines the fire of spicy chiles with the chewy indulgence of chocolate brownies. “The combination of chile and chocolate has been happening now since ancient Mayan and Aztec times,” said Gutierrez. “Traditionally used for bitter drinks, they believed it was the food of the gods.” The pairing of the two flavors with the sweetness of a dessert is inspired, and has drawn a great deal of attention from readers. Another popular recipe is a reinvention of the causa, a Peruvian potato salad. Gutierrez reimagines the causa by deconstructing the traditional Southern potato salad, with its olives, eggs and pimentos.

“When a Peruvian sits down and looks at the potato salad, they say, ‘Oh, that’s a causa!’ And the Southerner when they taste it says, ‘Oh, my goodness, this is a potato salad!’” says Gutierrez. “And that’s the point of the book. It’s for both Southerners and Latinos to sit together at the table with a dish, and both of them recognize what they’re eating.”

The writing in the book is warm and informal; in fact, the introduction’s tribute to the diverse cultures that built our nation moved me to tears. It’s also worth noting that health conscious and vegetarian readers will find as many recipes to suit their diets as will meat-lovers and those looking for a more indulgent meal.

Gutierrez’s vision for the experience of this cookbook is an inspiring one. “I hope that both Latin Americans and Southerners when first trying my food, wonder how something so different can taste so familiar to them. And that they
come together at the table realizing all that we all have something in common, and start a conversation.”

[author] [author_image  timthumb='on']http://prettysouthern.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Emily.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Emily Crawford Misztal is a freelance writer and photographer working in North Carolina. She earned a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Georgia in 2006. After graduation she worked as a staff photographer for the Benton County Daily Record in Bentonville, Arkansas. In 2009 she joined the Peace Corps and served in Guatemala, fulfilling a lifelong dream to travel and become fluent in a second language. Misztal is also an avid newshound, armchair fashionista, home cook and exercise procrastinator.[/author_info] [/author]