All posts filed under: FOOD

Just pin it

Chances are you Facebook, you Tweet, but do you Pin? As, a visual bookmarking site that launched in March of 2010, continues to grow, an increasing number of Mississippians are describing it with the words “addictive” and “obsession.” Users pin images that are linked to other websites, sharing everything from craft and décor ideas to wisdom, travel and food pins on boards they create. “As long as you see an image on a page, you can pin it,” said Shawn Rossi. “Users can pin anything, from family photos to business presentations.” Rossi collects her future Pinterest projects on a “To-Do List” board. “We just bought a 1983 Prowler travel trailer from the ’80s, and we’re going to renovate it,” she said, recalling one of the ideas she found on the site. Natchez resident Shannon Jex compares the site to a SkyMall flight catalog “There are a million products in that little magazine,” she said. “Few of them have anything to do with one another, but you find yourself wanting one of each. I draw …

More Mississippi made products

Still looking for Mississippi made products that will help spice up your life or present dishes in a unique way? Here are a few more that you can find in gourmet food stores across the state. Fat Mama’s Knock-You-Naked Margarita Mix – the name pretty much says it all, but here’s its history. In the 1980s, Natchez residents Jimmy and Britton Gammill spent many hours perfecting a tamale recipe and began selling them from their house. Their children, David and Poppy, often joked that if their parents didn’t perfect it soon, Britton would be a “fat mama from eating all the mistakes.” And that’s how Fat Mama’s Tamales was born. The couple opened the tamale restaurant in 1989, serving only tamales at first, but the menu later expanded to include beer, cold drinks, chili and Knock-You-Naked Margaritas. In 2008, they relocated to 303 S. Canal St. into a larger building and added chicken taco salad, taco soup, Mexican cornbread, homemade salsa and draft beer. Son David Gammill, who now owns the business, said Fat Mama’s …

Made in The ‘Sip

All across Mississippi, you’ll find entrepreneurs who are creating unique dining products. We recently asked Marlana Walters, owner of The Everyday Gourmet in Jackson, about Mississippi dining trends and what products — from pottery to food — seem to be selling well. From Yazoo City’s Mississippi Cheese Straws and Starkville’s Dix Fried Green Tomato Salsa to Knock-You-Naked Margarita Mix made in Natchez — you’ll find a variety of Mississippi-made items that some people can’t live without. “Some people can’t travel out of town without a box of cheese straws,” Walters said. “The most important thing to me is that we don’t sell anything that we haven’t tried, tasted and think is really good, because just because you have a recipe doesn’t always mean that everyone is going to like it. “We’re very interested in beautiful things, whether it’s selling the plate or what you put on it.” Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Do you know what Babalu means?

I Love Lucy fans are familiar with the word “Babalu.” Ricky Ricardo frequently belted out his signature song, a Cuban standard, at his Tropicana nightclub before it was renamed Club Babalu. The song references Babalu-Aye, a deity of Afro-Caribbean origin in the Santeria religion – a faith that blends African religion with some aspects of Christianity. The singer cries out to Babalu to bring his lost love back. It’s also a word that Jackson restaurant owner Al Roberts tucked away in his mind, thinking it would be a great restaurant name. The Fondren eatery Babalu Tacos & Tapas opened five weeks ago at 622 Duling Ave. Three classrooms that were part of the old Duling School were transformed into the space. Enter and your eyes are drawn to a wall projection of vintage I Love Lucy clips. “I was in a restaurant (out of state) that had a small screen that they were showing cowboy movies on,” Roberts said. “When I saw that, I thought we could put I love Lucy on it.” The restaurant’s …

Walker’s and Local 463

California native Derek Emerson grew up having breakfast at Brennan’s, sampling the French Creole cuisine of Galatoire’s, and dining in The Grill Room of The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. His family also took food excursions to New York City and frequented Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills. Emerson attended the Memphis Culinary Academy, and now owns Walker’s Drive-In restaurant in Fondren with his wife. They also co-own the Madison restaurant Local 463, which opened July 8. Local artists William Goodman, Jason “Twiggy” Lott and Ginger Williams-Cook created art for the restaurant, including the distinctive outside mural of a woman holding a martini glass. Walker’s menu changes seasonally and now includes dishes like braised osso bucco, a rabbit three-way entree that has become popular, and quail and foie gras. The restaurant also offers many seafood dishes like its most popular Redfish Anna, and focuses on buying goods locally from the state and Gulf of Mexico. Local 463 (a number that refers to the nearby highway) at 121 Colony Crossing offers entrees like Southern magnolia …

Mississippian, one of four Biggest Losers

Update: House is now in the final three.  When Patrick House visited the state fair with his wife and two young sons last year, he didn’t have fun. “I don’t know who I was fooling thinking that, as a 400-pound person, I would be able to ride the rides with my son,” he said. “My wife had to ride them, and I didn’t get to do anything.” This year, House returned to the fair with his family and rode every ride after dropping almost 140 pounds on the NBC show The Biggest Loser. The Brandon native is one of the final four contestants participating in the televised weight loss challenge, and only two episodes remain before the winner is announced. On Tuesday, House will host a Biggest Loser party at the Vicksburg Convention Center at 1600 Mulberry Street. The event begins at 6:30 p.m., and participants will watch the show at 8 p.m. House will field questions, sign autographs and food and drinks will be provided. The following Tuesday, Dec. 14, the winner will be announced …

From Emeril’s to Nick’s

Growing up in an Italian and French family, New Orleans native Steven D’Angelo, 39, knew early on he wanted to become a chef and often played restaurant as a child. “Watching my family gather around Mamaw’s table when I was a wee little boy – the only time it got quiet was when food was served,” he said. “I just thought that was so powerful.” D’Angelo, now head chef of Nick’s Restaurant at 3000 Old Canton Road in Jackson, cut his teeth in the restaurant business in the 1980s as a teen working in Visko’s, a New Orleans seafood house owned by a Yugoslavian chef with a French background. A cooking stint at Broussard restaurant there followed before D’Angelo moved to Bay St. Louis and later became head chef of The Blue Rose restaurant at age 18. Those experiences prepared him for work with up-and-coming chef Emeril Lagasse, who had just left the legendary New Orleans Garden District restaurant Commander’s Palace to open his own establishment. He was hired in 1995 to join the 30-member …

Colonel cupcakes?

Ole Miss fans who haven’t been completely won over by the new bear mascot may find this Colonel Reb cupcake sweet. It was recently displayed inside the Hey, Cupcake store in Jackson’s Canton Mart Square. I wanted to bring him home, but he was only a sample. Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

A trip to Merigold

I recently took a trip to Merigold to write a travel story for The Clarion-Ledger about the small town and it’s unique features. My stops included McCartys Pottery, a restaurant called The Gallery owned by the McCartys, Crawdad’s restaurant and Po’ Monkey Lounge, which is known by many as the last authentic juke joint in America. Listen to the interview ‘McCartys Pottery in Merigold’ on Audioboom. Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Ed Said eat healthful

Mississippi Public Broadcasting recently introduced its newest star. Ed Said is a 9-year-old boy with purple hair, an orange hoodie and Converse kicks who raps about fruits and veggies to encourage healthful eating habits among children. He was created by a Sesame Street puppeteer in part because Mississippi has the highest childhood and adult obesity rates in the nation. Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Patchwork chairs and the Mississippi sky

I ran across a cool decor article today on the Ready Made blog about a Brooklyn native who moved to Starkville and furnished her new business with patchwork chairs. Because architect and designer Annie Coggan couldn’t afford to spend a lot of money on new seating for her restaurant, she scavenged for sturdy old chairs, refinished them and pieced some together to form unique works of art. The result gives the Little Building Cafe originality. She painted the chairs with Mythic paint (a company based in Hattiesburg) “Medicine Blue, described as “a hue that matches the peculiar color the Mississippi sky turns as storms are gathering.” Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Photo credit: Caleb Crawford

National Geographic reviews Oxford’s Taylor Grocery

National Geographic Traveler published a favorable review about Taylor Grocery today. The building constructed in 1889 was once a general store, but in 1977, the owners began cooking catfish, its signature dish. Today, it’s known as “The Catfish Place” with the motto “Eat or We Both Starve.” Read the National Geographic review here. Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.

The stained glass catfish chef

I visited a Jackson eatery on Highway 80 called The Country Fisherman today and noticed this stained glass catfish chef inside. He seemed to fit my blog theme. According to the Web site, the restaurant’s recipes were developed by Peggy Harris Tuma at the Prentiss location in 1988. They also have restaurants in Brookhaven, Laurel and Mendenhall. Check it out if you want to sample a great Southern food buffet. Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Orla Kiley for Target

I recently found this apron at Target and couldn’t resist it. I was surprised to learn that designer Orla Kiley had created a product line for the store with table cloths, place mats and cups featuring Kiley’s fun, vintage-inspired designs. To learn more about Kiley, visit her site. Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.

Trendy tea

I grew up drinking sweet tea. It’s just one of those things you do if you’re a Mississippian, and you can’t imagine life without it, particularly hot summers. I was introduced to jasmine tea a few years ago at the Ridgeland restaurant Pan Asia. It’s hard to describe the flavor if you’ve never tasted it. It’s really more about the aroma, and it seems to have a calming effect. The tea industry is growing, and it’s evident on style sites that list many hip tea products. Today, Americans are trying to make the traditional trendy. They’re reaching back into the old-fashioned to create new-fashioned things with classic appeal, and tea is one example. To learn more about the different kinds of tea and tea products out there, click here. Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save Save

Popularity of wine-tastings on the rise

For some, learning about wine can be a little intimidating, but local experts say don’t be afraid to try new things. In recent years, wine-tasting events have become more popular in the state. To learn more about wine and read recommendations from a Jackson sommelier, click here. Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Mississippi welcomes Oprah’s former chef

This week, Madison will welcome celebrity chef Art Smith, who once worked as Mississippi native Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef. Smith and other local chefs will conduct cooking demonstrations during St. Andrews Episcopal School’s Designer Showhouse event. Two of the chefs participating, Derek Emerson of Walker’s Drive-In restaurant in Jackson and John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, were named semi-finalists for James Beard Foundation Awards, the Oscars of the food world. Currence was later named one of the five finalists in the Best Chef South category. Oh, and designer Laurie Smith, a Jackson resident and star of TLC’s Trading Spaces, will be present signing her new book. Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

That’s just plain HogWash

Madison resident David Wilson has embarked on a new hobby. When the licensed counselor isn’t evaluating families involved in child custody hearings, he gets in his car and makes the rounds, peddling HogWash Sauce throughout Mississippi. It’s a tasty creation he came up with over 20 years ago, but only recently decided to bottle. Inspired by his late uncle, Fig Newton (seriously), who liked to experimentally create different sauces, Wilson created HogWash, a concoction he says is too good to be a marinade. It’s a finishing sauce. To learn more about Wilson and his product, check out today’s Clarion-Ledger article. Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Mississippi culinary students hunger for success

In today’s Clarion-Ledger, you’ll find a story about the culinary arts. David Leathers, owner of Food Stylin’, is featured on our Southern Style page. He tours the country conducting food carving seminars and demonstrations. While David was inspired to become a chef by his father, who owned a Fulton restaurant, it seems the Food Network and other cooking shows may also be inspiring a new generation to become chefs, cooks and culinary experts, like Biloxi native Kris Geiselman.The Gulfport High School graduate is a student enrolled in the Mississippi University for Women Culinary Arts Institute. “Growing up, I was always in the kitchen with my mother,” he said. “She encouraged me because it was something we could do together.” The wonderful food of New Orleans also influenced Geiselman, who visited the city frequently with his family, tasting all it had to offer. He plans to return to the Gulf Coast after graduation and open his own restaurant. A recent internship at the Country Club of Birmingham coupled with his MUW studies are helping prepare him …

Cat Cora comes to town

Jackson native Cat Cora recently came to town to conduct several cooking demonstrations at the Viking Classic golf tournament held at the Annadale Golf Club in Madison, Miss. Martha Hall Foose, who recently helped the famed chef defeat their competitors during an Iron Chef America battle, worked as her assistant during the cooking demonstration. “We were totally victorious,” Foose said of her television appearance. “It was the most nerve-wrecking thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.” Foose is currently preparing for her next stint on national television. The Yazoo City native will appear on “Good Morning America” June 10 to talk about her new cookbook, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook. Published by Clarkson Potter ($32.50), the cookbook crosses literary genres with a Mississippi history theme. It’s filled with recipes, as well as photographs of Mississippi landscapes, landmarks and locals, Foose said. After graduating from high school, Foose worked at La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles. She attended culinary school at Ecole Lenotre in France before returning to …

The poor get poorer and the rich get pizza

Here is yet another exorbitant example of people losing touch with the needy in the U.S. and other countries. A New York television station reported today that a Manhattan restaurant is offering a $1,000 pizza. Anyone comfortable throwing $1,000 away on a pizza has no soul. Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Kanye West’s distasteful meal

Any person aware that starving people exist in the world will probably become nauseated after reading this post. CNN reported last week that hip hop star Kanye West – the same Kanye West who arrogantly posed as Jesus wearing a crown of thorns on the cover of Rolling Stone last year – recently decided he wanted to order dinner from a Wales restaurant. The problem is this: West wasn’t in Wales; he was in New York. So his $17.50 meal ultimately wound up costing $3,900 when it was delivered to him across the pond. People who exuberantly waste money in an attempt to prove their “exalted status” have always made me cringe. There are lots of things I wouldn’t mind owning if they were given to me. I’m quite fond of fashion and designer handbags, but if I hit the jackpot tomorrow or finally convinced Oprah to adopt me, I doubt you’ll ever catch me dropping $2 grand on a dress or purse, primarily because I am aware that people are starving, and paying that …