Ole Miss Homecoming

This past weekend I enjoyed one of the most time-honored traditions in the South. My family and I flew to Oxford, MS and tailgated at The Grove for homecoming.

The South takes football–the game, the food, the fun–to a level unmatched anywhere else.

Football is ingrained into the way of life. I love the passion with which the fans embrace the whole weekend, not just the game. Tailgating is central, and I have eaten my way through the most elaborate parties in parking lots. These college football fans break out chandeliers, fine linens, floral arrangements, and mouthwatering game-day food.

I have to say, this trip to Ole Miss didn’t let me down. This school loves their team and loves celebrating their team — win or lose.  Someone once said of the Rebels, “Ole Miss may not win the game, but we will always win the party.”  I agree.

But my trip to the Delta couldn’t just include football and food in the parking lot. While in Oxford, I checked off a couple of my “must eats”.  I had been wanting to visit the restaurants of James Beard Award winner, Chef John Currence ever since I heard about his role in highlighting the culinary richness of the Mississippi Delta.  Friday night we hit up his restaurant in the heart of town, City Grocery.

His signature shrimp and grits with mushrooms, medallions of ribeye over horseradish potatoes and jerk-rubbed chicken thighs with sweet potato hash took us into the next course. We topped it all off with an incredible apple tart served with an apple cider sorbet and creme anglaise.

That visit was a success, and Currence’s City Grocery moved from the “must eat” to “visit at all costs”.

Sarah Simmons at City Grit

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Could there be a better discovery for a transplanted Southern girl than the City Grit Supper Club in New York City? I doubt it.

Chef Sarah Simmons is the mastermind behind this innovative mix between restaurant and private supper club. Her weekly dinners, held in a makeshift dining room in an old Manhattan school house, feature both established and emerging chefs who offer exciting variations on the Southern menu. I’ve had this downtown New York destination on my list for a long time and this week, a friend and I signed up for our first dinner — Butts, Legs,and Thighs.

The “butt” was roasted pork served up on butter lettuces leaves with sticky rice grits. It was layered with kimchi, fried oysters, ginger scallion sauce, spicy mayo, and dragon sauce. The “legs and thighs” were the classic Southern staple, fried chicken served steaming hot. Delish.

Sarah rounded her main courses out with sides of fried rice hoppin’ john and sautéed spinach with pickled raisins.

Throughout the evening, her Southern hospitality showed as she moved crossed the room, checking up on guests like the perfect host. I am charmed and can’t wait for the next City Grit offering…wanna join me? Learn more about Sarah and grab your tickets here.

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Farmer’s Market

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Nothing gets my culinary juices flowing more than browsing through the fresh fruit and vegetables sections under tents at my local farmers’ market.  This time of year I am especially drawn to the vibrant colors and varied textures of the early fall harvest.

Whether I am walking through the smallest farmers’ market in a library parking lot or wandering through the vast expanse of the Union Square Green Market in Lower Manhattan, these showcases of nature’s latest and greatest inspire menus and set my taste buds whirling.