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Tallahassee’s Seminole Wind Buffet is a Breath of Fresh Air for Lovers of Scratch Cooking

28 May

We typically pass through Florida’s state capital of Tallahassee at least a couple times each year. Our standby meal stop along this route was normally a little further down the road in Live Oak, FL. Sheryl’s Buffet in Live Oak is really good, but it was time for us to step out of our comfort zone and try something new.

Seminole Wind Country Buffet was suggested to me by a friend who works at Florida State University. He stops by Seminole Wind once or twice a month and raved about the fried chicken and the fresh veggie dishes. He stated he would like to visit more frequently, but his diet simply wouldn’t allow him to do so. The guy has obviously got to get his priorities straight!   

The Florida Seminole Indian theme is apparent both inside and out of the restaurant. So are the Christian messages, religious art, and fish symbols. These folks obviously love the Lord and that is more than just OK with us. The people who work and dine at Seminole Wind are quite friendly. They will stop and chat and not think twice about lingering more than a minute or two. Some may find this uncomfortable. I love it. Reminds me of the good old days when people knew how to make idle chatter. An elderly gent in a straw hat told us it made him feel good to see my teenage boys eat so well. A little old lady pinched 14 year old Travis on the cheek (face, not rump) and exclaimed, “You sure are cute!” It took several minutes for his beet red face to return to its normal shade.

As a lifelong Virginia Tech Hokies football fan, I have been brought up to cheer against the rival Florida State Seminoles. But I never let that loyalty get in the way of a good home cooked meal. And, in this case, I’m pretty glad I didn’t.

The crunchy fried chicken at Seminole Wind is one of their buffet stalwarts.

The made-from-scratch biscuits should also earn a spot on your plate.

Vegetables at Seminole Wind. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Let’s kick it off with the rutabagas. Flat out the best I have ever tasted. Sorry, Granny … it’s true. Great collards here too. As good as you’ll find anywhere.

I have always loved carrot & raisin salad — when it’s made correctly. It certainly is at Seminole Wind. We even made some room for the fresh cucumber & tomato salad and it was (no surprise here) first rate too.

Here (above) are the rutabagas in all their glory — stellar!

My platter (above) following my first trip to the buffet. Yes, several more trips followed in short order. Butter beans, biscuit, collards, cuke & mater salad, carrot raisin salad, fried green tomatoes. Oh yes, almost forgot to tell you about the fried green tomatoes. So doggone good! Pretty much went all veggie the first pass thru — who needs meat with fresh veg like this???

Dessert choices are pretty amazing as well. I would strongly suggest a big fat slab of the strawberry cake. I went back twice and am not ashamed to admit it. It consists of a moist strawberry cake, topped with real strawberries and a light whipped cream frosting. The juice from the berries works its way throughout the cake. This adds to the moisture and the fruity flavor. So simple, so deadly.

Jesus is Lord at Seminole Wind — as this large wall mural will attest.

Former FSU Football Coach Bobby Bowden is also worshipped in these parts.

The lunch buffet is, well, one of the best we’ve ever encountered. And it’s only $4.99 six days a week. Yup, $4.99! It’s about double that price on Sundays and it’s still an incredible value. We hit Seminole Wind twice (once each way) on our most recent drive to South Florida. What does that tell you?  

Seminole Wind – 2226 North Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL

(850) 385-8718; www.seminolewindrestaurant.com

Gulf Coast Foodways Organziation is Officially Unveiled

24 Mar

 

Gulf Coast Foodways is a new community of foodies on a mission to preserve and promote the rich culinary culture along the US Gulf Coast through education, events, documentaries, seminars and more. Gulf Coast Foodways will be a member driven organization and we’re currently looking for charter members and sponsors.

How exactly are we going to do all of this, you ask?  Through the development of thematic maps and tours, we can drive food tourism to our region. Through video documentation, we can capture and show off the unique culinary culture of our coast.  Cookbooks and published compilations of local food writings and treasured family recipes will draw attention to the traditional foodways of our area. 

We plan to hold periodic meetings for members to make connections and network. These events will include guest speakers on local topics and you can always count on a good meal or two along the way. Our annual symposium weekend is now in the initial planning stage.  Hotel and restaurant industry members will always benefit from the trails, meetings, and symposiums.

We’d like for you to play a key role in the creation of this tasty “gumbo.” 

 Your annual membership or sponsorship will:

 *Help finance research projects

*Promote food-related businesses along the Gulf Coast

*Document local traditions & businesses preserving them

*Promote and grow food tourism along the Gulf Coast

*Underwrite any necessary administrative costs

 In return, your benefits will include:

 *Bi-annual e-newsletter

*Profile feature on the Gulf Coast Foodways blog: www.gulfcoastfoodways.wordpress.com 

*10% off all Gulf Coast Foodways event registration

*Priority registration for events

*Discounts at participating restaurants/shops

 We urge you to join this worthy cause today.

Contact Eileen or Gary Saunders at gulfcoastfoodways@yahoo.com.

***Pass this note along to your friends and LIKE us on FACEBOOK.

UGA Press publishes “The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook”

5 Oct

The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge
Foreword by Alton Brown

“Local recipes from the worldly South”

“Each page herein delivers a strong sense of community; the contributions are from real people with real names; the collection is democratic, but with nary a sign of culinary chaos; and the food is just plain good. And here’s the best part, as far as I’m concerned: Regardless of whether it looks back into the past or ahead into the future, this book looks ever Southward.”
—Alton Brown, from the foreword

Everybody has one in their collection. You know—one of those old, spiral- or plastic-tooth-bound cookbooks sold to support a high school marching band, a church, or the local chapter of the Junior League. These recipe collections reflect, with unimpeachable authenticity, the dishes that define communities: chicken and dumplings, macaroni and cheese, chess pie. When the Southern Foodways Alliance began curating a cookbook, it was to these spiral-bound, sauce-splattered pages that they turned for their model.

Including more than 170 tested recipes, this cookbook is a true reflection of southern foodways and the people, regardless of residence or birthplace, who claim this food as their own. Traditional and adapted, fancy and unapologetically plain, these recipes are powerful expressions of collective identity. There is something from—and something for—everyone. The recipes and the stories that accompany them came from academics, writers, catfish farmers, ham curers, attorneys, toqued chefs, and people who just like to cook—spiritual Southerners of myriad ethnicities, origins, and culinary skill levels.

Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge, written, collaboratively, by Sheri Castle, Timothy C. Davis, April McGreger, Angie Mosier, and Fred Sauceman, the book is divided into chapters that represent the region’s iconic foods: Gravy, Garden Goods, Roots, Greens, Rice, Grist, Yardbird, Pig, The Hook, The Hunt, Put Up, and Cane. Therein you’ll find recipes for pimento cheese, country ham with redeye gravy, tomato pie, oyster stew, gumbo z’herbes, and apple stack cake. You’ll learn traditional ways of preserving green beans, and you’ll come to love refried black-eyed peas.

Are you hungry yet? Place your order now!

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Foodways-Alliance-Community-Cookbook/dp/0820332755

Quantity over Quality at Pensacola’s Barnhill’s

31 Jul

A business day trip to the FL Panhandle gave me a rare opportunity to dine in new territory during the work week. This “fly-by-night” banner (above) can easily be viewed from I-110 in Pensacola. I have actually passed this eatery before, but it really didn’t make much of an impact on me. Then last week I saw an “info-mercial” for Barnhill’s Southern Fresh Buffet on MediaCom Cable (our provider here in Baldwin County, AL). And it actually looked pretty promising.

Loyal regular customers raved about the made from scratch, homestyle food. Employees were lauded for their pursuit of both perfection and cleanliness. One employee was even interviewed to fully explain her commitment to be the best dishwasher in the food business. OK, now I had to give this place a go. Frankly, it all sounded a bit too good to be true.  

I guess this sign is appropriate.  A “trainload” of grub is served here each day.

All You Can Eat for $5??? Sure seems like the bargain of the century.

Others obviously agree … the line stretched outside the door on this early Tuesday afternoon. It was a rather motley looking crew — the clientele and the staff. That may have been my first warning sign. The line did move along at a brisk pace and I was certainly happy for that. Yes, I was one hungry beast!

My platter (pictured above) — well, at least the first go-around. BBQ chicken, green beans, stewed squash, and carrot raisin salad. I usually love them all — so I was anticipating a solid mid-day feed. The BBQ sauce slathered on the chicken breast was indeed very good. Both sweet and peppery. But the white meat inside was woefully overcooked … almost to the point of dry petrification. The green beans were just fine – no complaints here. However, I must add that the squash was extremely bland and the carrot raisin salad just a touch warm and watery.

Undeterred, I shoved off for my second run at the steam table. Sadly, similar results were acheived. This bowl of cabbage (above) pretty much summed up the day. Looked good, tasted flat. C’mon, folks — how about a little salt? Maybe some fatback? A sprinkle of black pepper? A splash of hot sauce? Little touches mean a lot and they were consistently missing. My table was dirty. The server seemed bothered. It took a while just to get a few napkins delivered to my table. The sweet potatoes were overly candied into a gloppy, gooey mess. Just gross. The rutabagas (yes, they actually had rutabagas!) were a welcome sight, but not the best I’ve ever had. A little dry … perhaps canned and re-heated???  

Well, I thought, at least there will be some decent dessert choices. Always seem to be a good dessert bars at places like this. But nope, foiled again. The pies were obviously mass produced, Sysco-style productions. As I walked down the line I was greeted by dry, pre-baked cookies, a couple brightly colored Jellos, a chafing dish swimming with canned peaches in heavy syrup. Hardly Southern fresh, Mr. Barnhill. Shame on you!

You may have fooled me once, Mr. B.

But never again, sir. Never again.

www.barnhillsbuffet.com

Zac Brown Band – Chicken Fried

20 May

How could any blog called Dixie Dining not dig this???

Finding Martha’s Place

18 Apr

We all know that Martha Washington was our country’s original “First Lady.” But you should also know that Montgomery, Alabama’s Martha Hawkins is the South’s “First Lady of Soul Food.”  The only other lady who could possibly make lay claim to that title might be North Carolina’s Mildred “Mama Dip” Council. We’ve dined at both places and actually prefer the delicious downhome offerings at Martha’s.

Martha’s Place is located on Sayre Street in downtown Montgomery, where Hawkins has created something of a soul food empire. Over the last 20 some odd years, she has made a mighty name for herself among locals who have a deep appreciation for authentic home cooking. Each dish on Martha’s buffet line is created with great love and attention to detail. It all tastes fantastic — and it is truly good for your soul.

Martha also runs a thriving catering operation.

Pick up her book “Finding Martha’s Place” – a moving read!

Celebrities from all over the world have come home to Martha’s Place.

She is such a sweet lady — we enjoyed finally meeting her!

We enjoyed our lunch in this bright, cheerful setting.

We found an authentic Mose Tolliver folk art piece on the wall.  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mose_Tolliver

My first trip thru the buffet line – fried bird, collards, butter beans, cornbread, and some amazing au gratin potatoes. Everything was simply fabulous. The chicken was crispy and flavorful on the outside while retaining its moisture on the inside. I only wish the plates (and my stomach) were bigger!

The perfect picture of pure plump poultry perfection.

The collards were just like Granny’s – the highest praise possible.

Words can’t describe the goodness of Martha’s pineapple bread pudding.

The restrooms are spotless & there is always a Bible within arm’s reach.

We found Martha’s to be a very special place. It is filled with love, nice people, and some of the best soul food you will ever put in your mouth. So what’s not to like about all that? Make sure you visit — and soon!

www.marthahawkins.com

Claire’s Place on the Creek – Mobile, AL

6 Apr

Claire’s is a fairly new country buffet place on Halls Mill Road in Mobile, AL. The Stagecoach Cafe used to be at this rustic pine-shaded location, but they have decided to focus all their attention on their primary location in Stockton, AL. But not to fear! Louisa “Claire” Terrell has re-opened the place and really all that has changed is the name.  

You can always tell a good Southern lunch joint by the vehicles in the parking lot. Lots of trucks and police cars = good chow. Really good chow!

The grilled pork chops were simply delicious with a authentic char-grilled flavor. I snagged a couple chops at the bottom of the chafing dish to make sure they were plenty juicy — and they were. The green beans were smoky and soft to the bite. Claire’s also makes a killer jambalaya loaded with tender pieces of white chicken and bright green bell pepper. The cornbread dressing was excellent and the tomato pie tart & tasty (especially if you can score an end piece). I even tried fried asparagus spears for the first time in my life and found the flavor combo to be, well, a downhome natural.

Believe it or not, I did save a little room for dessert. That’s a good thing because the choices here are plentiful. Claire’s buttermilk pie was moist with lots of chewy flaked coconut in each and every bite. The banana pudding was even better — incredibly smooth and heavenly. I was on Cloud Nine.

Pricing at Claire’s Place on the Creek ( yes, they are on a creek) is $9.50 and includes the all you can eat lunch buffet, drink ( I suggest the Leroy Hill fresh brewed Sweet Tea), and as many dessert treats as you dare tackle. You will not go away hungry or dissatisfied. This is the real deal y’all and I am so glad to have found them. They can already count me as a regular.

NOTE: Claire’s Place is also open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.

Legendary Montgomery Soul Food Matriarch Releases Book “Finding Martha’s Place”

14 Feb

Welcome to Martha’s Place . . .Memories of the warmth of her family’s supper table would remain with Martha. Even as a poor single mother without a high school diploma, Martha dreamed of one day opening a restaurant that would make people feel at home. She’d serve food that would nourish body and soul. But time went by and that dream slipped further and further away as Martha battled the onset of what would later become a severe mental illness.

But the thing about hitting bottom is that there’s nowhere to go but up. Martha decided to step into God’s promise for her life. Her boundless faith and joy led her to people who would change her world and lend a helping hand when she most needed and least expected one.

Martha’s Place is now a nationally known destination for anyone visiting the Deep South and a culinary fixture of life in Montgomery. Martha only hires folks who are down on their luck, just as she once was. High-profile politicians, professional athletes, artists, musicians, and actors visit regularly. Martha has proven many times that keeping the faith makes the difference between failure and success. This is the story of how Martha finally found her place. . . .

Learn more about Martha at www.marthahawkins.com

Martha Hawkins was the tenth of twelve children born in Montgomery, Alabama. There was no money, but her childhood was full of love. Martha’s mother could transform a few vegetables from the backyard into a feast and never turned away a hungry mouth.

Recipe for Spicy Honey Dipped Fried Chicken

23 Jan

If you can’t get to Uncle Lou’s in Memphis, this is the next best thing …

Chicken and honey is a classic combination that takes on a fiery twist in this recipe for crispy fried chicken dipped in honey and cayenne. This works well for any kind of fried chicken—bone in, boneless, or chicken fingers and nuggets. Short on time? Give deli fried chicken a quick dip and listen to your family rave about your cooking! Serve with cold, creamy cole slaw and buttered biscuits.

Tip:  The heat of hot pepper increases when it is heated up in food, so taste the honey dip to find your desired level of fire-power after heating it.

The Recipe

Spicy Honey Dipped Fried Chicken

  • 3lbs chicken pieces, boneless breasts, or chicken strips
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne, or to taste

How to Make Honey Dipped Fried Chicken

  1. Pour buttermilk over chicken in a ziplock bag and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.
  2. Combine the flour, seasoned salt, and pepper in a plastic bag.
  3. Remove chicken from buttermilk and drain off excess.
  4. Shake the chicken one piece at a time in the bag of flour; shake off excess flour and allow the floured chicken to rest on racks for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Heat oil in a deep fryer, or pour to a depth of 1/2-inch in a deep frying pan and heat to 325 F.
  6. When oil is hot, place the chicken skin side down in the pan or fryer and cook for 10-12 minutes per side for bone-in chicken pieces, or until the chicken is cooked through and crispy brown.
  7. While chicken is cooking, combine the honey and cayenne in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until hot and thin in consistency.
  8. When chicken is done, use tongs to lift one piece at a time from the pan, shake gently to drain off excess oil, and dip immediately in the hot honey. Allow excess to drain back into the pan for a moment; place the dipped chicken on cooling racks over a cookie sheet to finish draining.

Serve immediately.

Don’t worry. You’re still the best, Uncle Lou!

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