Ole Miss Homecoming, Day 2

Before heading over to the Grove Saturday morning, we stopped by Bottletree Bakery.  We were warned that this popular pastry shop would be packed with locals and out of towners who all seemed clued in to what an amazing place this was. We were lucky to get a table but to be honest, I would have taken a to-go box of pastries outside to the curb.


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The apple brioche was to die for. And while the chocolate croissant was a fav with the kids, we all agreed the cheddar cheese biscuits filled with homemade sausage was worth every bite of cheesy, calorie-laden goodness. And don’t get me started about the famed strawberry humble pie.

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Service was fast and friendly from our groovy waiter. Really wanted his t-shirt.

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Knowing tent after tent of deviled eggs, BBQ and sweet tea would be greeting us in a couple of hours, walking around the Square, as a little shopping seemed like the thing to do.

We stopped in at Square Books’ main store and their two outposts, Off Square Books and Square Books, Jr., which are all located within a couple blocks of each other. I’m not surprised that three bookstores anchor the Square given the literary history of Oxford.

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By the time we made our way to the Grove, a sea of blue and red had already been pitched and BBQ filled the air. Game day television was on and the Ole Miss band was marching through on their way to the stadium. Winding our way through the crowd, we ran into Senators, old friends from Florida and legendary authors like Curtis Wilkie.

As if we hadn’t eaten enough already, my friend Evelyn and I couldn’t resist trying another of Chef Currence’s establishments, Snack Bar.

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Snack Bar has a much more relaxed vibe than City Grocery. In fact, it’s located in a strip mall. But once inside, the food and influence of @BigBadChef (John) takes over and you get lost in another culinary trip of unexpected twists on Southern food.  An unlikely combination of flash fried okra, peanuts, garlic and Indian spices was impossible to to stop eating.

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”.