Pretty Southern

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

March 2012 archive

Southeastern Soup Challenge

When it comes to cooking soup put those can openers away. The New England Country Soup Challenge showed me how it’s easy and delicious to have a hearty, creamy bowl of soup without blowing your diet. This competition pitted home cooks against the brand’s prepared soup pouches to see which competitor could create the most nutritious and delicious recipe.

New England Country Soup prides itself on being able to create healthy soups with all natural ingredients to rival any home cooked concoction. All of their soups are full of large cut veggies, low in sodium and in a convenient shelf-stable pouch for the foodie on-the-run. After spending the day tasting a variety of soups including Chicken Corn Chowder, Nana’s Chicken Soup, and Caribbean Black Bean, I have become a raving fan. If y’all are interested in giving these soups a try, check out the soup aisle at Publix or you can order online. This year’s Southeastern Soup Challengers had a real test to see how their home recipes would stack up against the brand’s soups in two categories: Taste and Nutrition.

All of the contestants were giving a third-party nutritional analysis of their recipes and a professional judging by three top chefs. To sort out the winners we deferred to the expert taste buds:

  • Jenny Levison – Atlanta soup icon and owner of Souper Jenny
  • Chef Josh Fromby – Publix Apron’s Cooking School and Art Institute of Atlanta alumni
  • Jim Gallivan – Culinary Arts Department Chair at the Art Institute of Atlanta and author of several books including “The Adventure Cookbook,” and “The New Spa Cuisine”

The judging was tough with delicious soups like Thai Turkey Larb and Carried Away Black Bean Soup with Sweet Plantain Chips accompanied by Mojo Relish; yet, the Grand Prize winner was a comforting classic: Mushroom and Barley Soup. Felice Bogus, the winner and creator of this recipe,  submitted her entry along with her husband, Robert, who turned in a competing recipe of his own.

Both of the couple’s recipes made it to the final round where Richard won the prize for Best Presentation with a Gulf Coast Fish Chowder with Caramelized Orange Scallops. The happy couple will certainly be enjoying their first class weekend in Martha’s Vineyard both as winners.


[author] [author_image timthumb='on'][/author_image] [author_info]Jennifer Eubanks is an Auburn Graduate raised on the golf courses of Augusta, GA. Born to a Chinese mother and New Yorker father, Jennifer is Pretty “uniquely” Southern. She has an eye for style possessing all the grace and charms that only the Southland can offer.[/author_info] [/author]

Party for the Puppies

Every year the Atlanta Humane Society helps lonely dogs and cats find loving families. On Tuesday, April 3, you can help support the cause simply by drinking beer and snacking on yummy appetizers. After work, head over to SweetWater Brewery for an extended happy hour from 6 to 9 p.m. A $35 donation gets you SweetWater beer, a souvenir pint glass, food from The Big Ketch, Tin Lizzy’s, Corner Tavern and Tavern 99 plus a performance from Yacht Rock Review. And if y’all happen to be in the market for a new furry friend, The AHS’s mobile adoption unit will also be on-site with adoptable pets. This awesome event is hosted by the 1873 Society Club (the AHS’s Junior Board ). Tickets will be $40 at the door so give more to the pets by purchasing in advance. We’ll see y’all there!

Editor’s Note: our featured party puppy and her adorable friends are available for adoption. Special thanks to Kate Thacker of Liz Lapidus PR for contributing to this article.

Movie Filming in Atlanta

No. 246 is serving up Southern hospitality this weekend for a movie starring Amy Poehler and Jessica Alba. The movie “A.C.O.D.” standing for “Adult Children of Divorce” is filming in Decatur, Ga., and No. 246 Owners Ford Fry and Drew Belline are privileged to play hosts for the movie set beginning on Sunday, March 25 until 6 p.m. on Friday, March 30. “A.C.O.D.” is a comedy about a grown man who discovers that he was enlisted in a study about divorced children many years ago. When he’s ushered into a present-day follow-up study, it wrecks new havoc on his family. The film also stars Adam Scott (who plays Poehler’s love interest on their NBC comedy “Parks & Recreation) plus his co-star from “Party Down” and recently of “Glee” fame Jane Lynch plus Mary Elizabeth Winstead (soon to be seen in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”). If you’re down in Decatur this weekend then be on the lookout for a star sighting!

~ Melissa Libby and Mandy Betts contributed to this article

Boathouse Oyster Bar

What do Alabama debutantes and local fishermen have in common? Not much. Unless you’re at Boathouse Oyster Bar. It’s a place where all walks of life who love oysters can come and indulge in some aphrodisiacs, cold beer, and good company.

“This is a family business,” Green explained. “I moved here from Tampa in March of 1987 to start working for my mother. She fired me, then hired me back, on three separate occasions.” She seems to live by the concept “the customer always comes first.” Her clientele ranges from homeless folks living under the bridge to affluent millionaires. Even celebrities have visited this place. But the real heart-and-soul of Boathouse belongs to the local fishermen.

Y’all may have been to Boathouse before, and if you have, take one hand to pat yourself on the back, then take your other hand and rub your belly remembering of all the oyster goodness you consumed courtesy of owner and proprietor Kelly Green. Her kitchen brings in Appalachicola oysters fresh from the Gulf and either shucks ‘em to serve up raw or covers them in cheese, bacon, jalapenos, or whatever else is tasty. There’s also fried shrimp, steam crab, and chicken fingers on the menu for the kiddies.

Homemade hush puppies are also on the menu. Ours just happened to come shaped this way.

Boathouse on the docks of Destin, Fla., has maintained the same business model since 1986. Her mama Wanda “Mamma Gumbo” Green, and her partner Paul “Action” Jackson purchased the marina where Boathouse sits almost 25 years ago. Their big anniversary was this past October.

In 1995, Hurricane Opal wreaked havoc on the Florida coast and decimated the restaurant. “It was the locals who strapped on their tool belts to put us back together. All the cash on the walls was floating in the water or strewn down the sidewalks. Folks were bringing us back bags of wet money!”

Dollar bills, bras, and other keepsakes adorn the rafters of The Boathouse.

Boathouse hosts everything from birthdays to bachelor parties but the restaurant will never close for a private event. Two years ago, even the farewell party for Mama Green after she passed away from cancer was open to the public. “On a plane trip back from Seattle I met two girls who were at Mama’s party! Whenever Mama was offered to close for a party she always said ‘Absolutely Not.’ I still say the same thing in honor of her.”

Boathouse truly is a quintessential Southern business. Come sit at the bar to meet the most genuine, loving and considerate staff exemplifying grace and hospitality. Their place is open seven days a week, keeping it real without an ounce of pretension. “If you’re a guy, come in without a shirt and shoes. Ladies, no need to put on make up. In here, you can be yourself. Let your hair down, dance on the bar, sing on our stage while banging a tambourine.”

For more information check out The Boathouse’s web site or just stop by next time y’all are in Destin.

Bourbon & Loathing in Kentucky

Editor’s Note: the names in this story have been changed to protect their bourbon-loving identities, with the exception of the Maker’s Mark personnel. The true author of this post shall simply be known as Remy. Now pour yourself a glass of whiskey and read up.

Good things come to those who wait. I’ve been hearing that since I was a little kid and as much as I hated it then, I find the expression useful as my friend Ashlee paces around the room impatiently. “We were supposed to have left hours ago!” she reminds me as I try to clear my head while throwing random clothes into my backpack and attempting to find my shoes.

She’s right of course. All week long we’d talked about exploring Kentucky’s famous bourbon trail. Naturally, we decided to have a few samples the night before and that turned into a near all-nighter that resulted in a noise complaint and the headache I now have splitting down my skull. Tyler comes to my defense. “It’s your fault, baby. If we didn’t have to stop for so many damn bathroom breaks we would have gotten to Remy’s hotel a lot sooner and we wouldn’t have had to stay up so late.”

“I swear to God, Tyler, if you mention that one more time!”

Their arguing buys me time. I hastily jam a toothbrush, belt, and half empty bottle of water into my bag and grab my car keys. “Okay love birds. Let’s go. Danny, get your gimpy ass up and let’s hit the road.” Danny, always prone to random and hilarious accidents is on crutches but he’s not going to let that stop him from something this important. We walk, or rather hop, out the door and we’re greeted by an amazing day. Sunny with that cool crispness that lets you know it’s fall. There’s slight breeze and we stop arguing.

We invoke Road trip rule #4: you can fit as many bags as you want into the trunk if you just slam it hard enough. I slide into the driver’s seat, fire up some mutually acceptable tunes, crank the ignition and we’re on our way. The hours fly by as we wind our way through the very scenic Smoky Mountains, sunroof open, windows down. As I turn off the highway, I’m surprised how quickly Kentucky “gets rural”. It isn’t long until we’re on a road about as wide as a driveway, surrounded by a few small houses and rolling fields of grass and trees. There isn’t much out here but we’re happy and feeling adventurous knowing Maker’s Mark is right around the corner.

When we finally arrive, we’re startled and giddy. There are neither signs nor massive tour groups. We simply round a final turn and the distillery is in front of us. It looks like a cross between an ancient mill and modern factory. Everything is constructed from grey stone and dark, precision-cut wood. Combined with the occasional logo in famous Maker’s red, the distillery stands out conspicuously from its evergreen surroundings yet somehow manages to look right at home. Sure it’s closed by now (It turns out Ashlee was right) but that’s no problem. We’re quickly approached by a hospitable Southern gentleman in, of course, a Maker’s red pickup truck. His name is Eddy. “Would y’all like a private tour of the facility?” You don’t have to ask us twice. We’re in.

My plan is to write a blog about how bourbon is made so I take careful notes on the process, how long the mash is aged, the type of oak that’s used for the casks. I sketch a diagram of Maker’s famous five-story still. Eddy is extremely friendly and explains the ins-and-outs of bourbon making so well that we walk away feeling like we could easily start our own distillery. Of course, the 120 proof unfinished bourbon i.e. moonshine that we sample probably inspires some of our ambitions and confidence.

I came to realize that we don’t enjoy bourbon because of how it’s made. We drink it because of how it inspires our senses. In fact, that’s precisely what I remember most about our adventure to Maker’s. It’s been several weeks since our trip and I have no idea what temperature the distillation process occurs at but my memory of the sweet, subtle, woody smell that greeted us when we walked in is crystal clear. I can sip a glass of Maker’s, close my eyes, and see the distillery. I remember the slightly smooth but textured feeling of the charred oak casks that give Makers Mark its trademark flavor all like it was yesterday. No notes. No sketches. As we turned to walk away, Eddy asked if we enjoyed our last taste test. Our reply came quickly: “Of course we did.”

“Well, it’s gotta age but come back in twelve years and you can try the final product.” Good things come to those who wait indeed.

Editor’s Note: thanks to Makers Mark for letting us borrow one of their photos. We figured the bourbon story of their blessed distillery calls us even.