Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Winnow - Episode 3: Beer Talk

This summer, I teamed up with Hanna Raskin, the food editor and chief critic for The Post and Courier, to launch The Winnow, a podcast devoted to what's happening in the Southern food world. Each week, Hanna and I delve into topics ranging from restaurant trends to boiled peanut season, and we invite a guest to join us each week.

This week's episode just posted, and our guest is beer guru Brandon Plyler of the Charleston Beer Exchange and Edmund's Oast. We're discussing Beer Week and the Southern brewery scene, Bon App├ętit's new list of 50 best new restaurants in the country, and the Washington Post's conclusion Charleston is the “future of barbecue." Plus, we consider Uber Taste's initial trial run in downtown Charleston.

Here's how to listen:

iPhone: open the Podcasts app (it's a purple icon) and search for “The Winnow.” You can subscribe to the podcast and automatically receive new episodes as soon as they're released.

Android devices: Go to the Google Play store.

The Winnow can also be accessed via various third-party podcasting apps and through the Soundcloud app or online at the Soundcloud website. And, we have an RSS Feed, for folks who know what to do with those things.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Tale of Two Derbies (Brown Ones)

A Brown Derby made with either bourbon
or rum. Can you guess which?
When people write about the Brown Derby cocktail, they tend to invoke the glitz and glamour of showbiz, presenting it as “a taste of the Golden Age of Hollywood.” After all, according to the widely accepted history of the drink, it was created in Hollywood during the 1930s, the era of Greta Garbo and Douglas Fairbanks and Busby Berkeley extravaganzas. The Brown Derby looks the part, too—a blend of bourbon, grapefruit and honey with a decidedly golden hue.

There are actually two competing origin stories. The first is that it was the eponymous signature cocktail at The Brown Derby, a three-restaurant chain in Los Angeles. The original location was shaped like an actual derby hat, and its Vine Street outpost was a popular hangout for Hollywood movers and shakers. The other version claims that the cocktail was actually created nearby at the Vendome Club on the Sunset Strip and named, for some reason, in honor of the Brown Derby restaurant.

There's a slight problem with both stories, though: the Brown Derby cocktail doesn’t appear to have come within 3,000 miles of Hollywood at any time during the 20th century.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Little Signature Sandwich Theory

This week, the Charleston City Paper ran my Summer Dish essay pondering the thorny question of why the city of Charleston doesn't seem to have a signature sandwich. I talk about the cheesesteak in Philadelphia and the poor boy in New Orleans, of course, but also note that Columbia's signature sandwich may well be the pimento burger.

After I submitted the original copy,  then-editor Chris Haire (who has since decamped for his native Greenville to edit a half dozen or so publications up there) and I exchanged a few emails on sandwich theory.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

A Mint Julep-Fueled Escape

Nicholas Cresswell: An Englishman Who Knew
When to Apply a Little Julep
In my new book Southern Spirits: 400 Years of Drinking in the American South, I tell the story of mint juleps and how they evolved from being a morning dram that tippling men knocked back as an “antifogmatic” into the most trendy drink of the sporting set in New York City. One of the stories I had to leave out involved the early form of juleps—basically, a glass of rum cut with sugar and a little water—and how Virginians’ practice of starting the day off with them helped one Englishman get out of a rather serious jam.

Friday, August 05, 2016

A Visit to Buxton Hall

My family spent our summer vacation up in the North Carolina mountains, which gave me a chance to finally check out Buxton Hall Barbecue. And I wrote about it for Southern Living's Daily South.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

August & September Events

After laying low during most of June and July, I've got a busy August and September lined up with a serious of really great food events & book festivals. See the latest schedule here.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Benjamin Franklin: Early Rye Whiskey Advocate

In my latest book Southern Spirits, I discuss the dominance of imported rum as the spirit of choice in the Colonial South until it was eclipsed by domestically-distilled whiskey in the early 19th century. One of the first proponents of making domestic whiskey was none other than that most practical of practical men, Benjamin Franklin.

In 1765 Franklin published in his Poor Richard’s Almanac a tract entitled “How to manage the Distilling of a Spirit from Rye, or other Grain, that shall be preferable to common Rum”.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Prepare for the Video Robot Deluge

The New York Times ran a piece yesterday on the surge in online video and how news and magazine publishers are marshaling all sorts of resources—including semi- or fully-automated video generation tools—to churn out more of it.

It talks about the much-derided announcement from tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing) that it aspires to ratchet up from producing a few hundred videos to 2,000 . . . per day. And it talks about the rising prospects of two tech companies with eminently silly names—Wochit and Wibbitz—that offer automated services that scan the text of a script or news article, automatically find corresponding images and video clips from subscription archives, and generate on screen captions. They can even—if desired—produce complete videos with no human intervention.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Click-Baiting Editors and Barbecue Lists

Yes, I do actually think Cannon's is one of the best BBQ
joints in the Carolinas. And the South for that matter.
The Fourth of July is upon us, which means the Internet is awash with barbecue listicles. Time just ran two such pieces, but they carry a lot more weight than most such roundups because of who wrote them. The authors aren't fresh-out-of-college Millennials leaning primarily on Google and Yelp but two experienced writers with estimable barbecue credentials and a whole lot of pulled pork and brisket under their belts. But you wouldn't know that from the headlines that the editors slapped on the pieces.

The first one promises to name "The 8 Best BBQ Spots in the Carolinas." If you read the copy that follows, though, it's clear that the author, Rien Fertel, set out with a more limited scope: "In the eastern Carolinas," Fertel writes. "Tradition dictates that barbecue pitmasters go the whole hog."

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Yes, There is Such a Thing as Georgia-Style Barbecue

For its recent barbecue week, Eater flooded the web with barbecue content. Some of it was great (e.g. Robert Donovan's trips to Grady's, Scott's, Big T, and more). Some of it was silly (like that guy from Atlanta trying to argue beef wasn't barbecue.) And then there was this one, on regional barbecue styles . . . and in particular what is or isn't Georgia style barbecue. Here's my Daily South post on the subject.

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