Bringing together the Old South, the New South, the Global South, and every “South” in between, Georgia has plenty to offer the curious eater. Check out our recommendations for a new twist on a classic hors d’oeuvre, a cattle farmer who won’t put up with any bull, and the holy grail of international markets.
1. Are you hungry? Of course you are. Do you like cheese?
We shouldn’t even have to ask, but you never know these days. If you’re craving a cheese straw, that iconic Southern cocktail nibble, we’ve got a little something for that. This recipe appeared in The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook (UGA Press, 2010). It comes from Steven Satterfield of Atlanta who churns out all manner of deliciousness at Miller Union on the West side of the city.
Blue Cheese Straws
Making cheese straws with anything but the sharpest of sharp Cheddars is risky. The flavor goes wrong, or the texture veers off, or the color tends too pale. But this recipe works. Steven Satterfield found inspiration in his love for fine Southern cheeses, such as the Asher Blue from Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville. (John T. Edge wrote about Southern cheeses in OA issue 65; read “My Cheesy Passion” here.) He molds these in the shape of little shortbreads.
Makes about six dozen
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1 cupped finely chopped pecans (After all, Georgia produces more pecans than any other state)
2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
Stir together the flour, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender or your fingertips to cut in the butter and cheese until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts and egg yolks until the mixture forms large clumps. Press and knead the clumps until you have a well-mixed dough. (It will stay crumbly.) Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a nine-inch log with round or flat sides. Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Cut the logs into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the slices about an inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, eight to ten minutes. Sprinkle the tops with salt. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the shortbreads cool to room temperature. They will firm up as they cool.
2. Chewing the Cud
Photo by Joe York.
Will Harris farms the South Georgia land his great-grandfather settled in 1866. In the last fifteen years, his White Oak Pastures in Bluffton has moved away from conventional practices and become an industry leader in sustainable and organic livestock farming. Early County, where White Oak Pastures is located, is more than a little out of the way. You probably wouldn’t stumble upon it, but SFA filmmaker Joe York went for you. Watching the short documentary CUD is the next best thing to spending a day with Harris. And if you want to follow in his footsteps, take note when Harris says, “Every day, I begin my day with a big cup of coffee in my pastures. And every evening, I end my day with a 750-mL glass of wine in my pastures. And I really don’t much care what I have to do between those two events.” Sounds like a pretty good philosophy to us.
If you’d like to try Will’s beef, poultry, or lamb, you can find it at all Publix supermarkets, at Whole Foods in much of the Southeast and up the East Coast, or you can order it from the White Oak Pastures website.
3. Farmer’s Market
Photo by Kate Medley.
Don’t you hate it when your local supermarket is out of nopales? Or yard-long stalks of raw sugar cane? Or beef pizzle? (Look that last one up and have a good chuckle.) These items are staples at the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market in Doraville, just outside the Atlanta city limits. Whereas many major cities are divided into various and distinct ethnic neighborhoods (Chinatown, Little Italy, etc.), the Buford Highway is an international corridor jam-packed with strip malls featuring the native cuisines of Atlanta’s varied immigrant population, one next door to another. A single parking lot may be shared by diverse eateries offering Chinese potstickers, take-away Salvadoran pupusas, Mexican-style beef-tongue tacos, and a smattering of Korean barbecue.
Harold Shinn, the American-born son of Korean immigrants, is the proprietor of the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market. Don’t be fooled by the quaint moniker: This is a sprawling international supermarket of some 100,000 square feet—nearly twice the size of the average Kroger. Shinn stocks produce, meats, seafood, and canned/pantry items that cater to the tastes and traditions of a fantastically cosmopolitan clientele. He rattles off a list of his customers’ nationalities, which include Korean, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Russian, Jamaican, Mexican, Colombian, and Brazilian.
One thing that sets the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market apart from a mainstream chain grocery store is its meat counter: specifically, its volume of offal. Shinn explains that recent immigrants eat more of the animal, so he offers everything from tongue to tail, lips to feet. He’s constantly educating himself in the market’s vast inventory, and he’s found that “ultimately, you just have to eat it—and you have to eat a lot of it—to understand the food.”
For recipes and more from Georgia and around the South, visit the SFA online.