Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island

The NYT ran a promotional email for Florida’s Amelia Island at the end of September — it was all about holiday travel there, with the  21st season of the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival going Big Band with Wynton Marsalis, 7th annual Dickens on Centre festival, and their restaurant week in January. Trying to figure out with the boys at different schools now how and what we will be able to schedule, but spending time at the beach sounds wonderful.

We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island a couple of years ago for Shug’s birthday. The room was a beachier version of the usual RC, still restrained:

Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island FL Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island FL

They just underwent a renovation of the rooms, and while still very understated, they look terrific.

We enjoyed the pool also, but he best part of all was the glorious beach. It’s a big deal for the boys when we stay on the Atlantic Ocean because most of the time, they’re accustomed to the Gulf. The tides are so much more pronounced and I think that must have something to do with why the shells are so much more prolific. There was a mat down to help with tracking sand even on the beach to the chairs, and the attendants were fabulous.

Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island FL

I let the staff know ahead of time (not that it matters, but this stay was on points) that Shug would be having his birthday, and they were so kind:

Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island FL

He was gifted with this necklace which he loved:

Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island FL

There’s also a Lilly Pulitzer shop here.

Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island FL

Like all the RCs, there’s a calendar of activities every day (and wow, look at their beach tree). Also, a few days ago, they had their Right Whale Festival “to celebrate the annual return of endangered North Atlantic right whales to the warm coastal water off northeast Florida and Georgia, where they give birth to and nurse their young. With less than 400 whales remaining, this family-fun event raises awareness of the threats to right whales and how we can help in their recovery.”

Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island FL

…and we got to see a wedding!

Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island FL Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island FL

Interested to hear if your family often gets away for the winter break, and what you’re thinking for this year. We’re in the midst of gathering food for all the Thanksgiving pies we’re making — we’re up to 48 to do as of this morning — so dreaming of late December somewhere beachy sounds especially fun. Right now, I’m (blissfully) stuck on visions of Amelia Island.

 

This Week’s Various

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Gee's Bend Collage

pics from a Gee’s Bend visit in 2009

At the 5th Avenue Bergdorf Goodman, a 900sqft installation just inside the entrance featuring Greg Lauren’s partnership with Gee’s Bend quilters. Inside, a listening station where customers can hear recordings of the quilters, and portraits of the quilters on a recycled muslin quilt handing from the ceiling.


William Edmondson Courting Lady, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

William Edmondson pieces from the Memphis Brooks in 2017

The artist KAWS has donated a William Edmondson piece, likely the long-time missing Martha and Mary sculpture, to the American Folk Art Museum and will be displayed in the Multitudes exhibit AFAM will open January 21 of next year. It is the one the NYT wrote about in A ‘Holy Grail’ of American Folk Art, Hiding in Plain Sight :

“It was like finding the Holy Grail,” Foster said. “Edmondson worked in Nashville, so who would ever dream that a piece would be in St. Louis?”


Okra, Isom's Orchard, Athens AL

not bhut bhindi. Isom’s Fruit Orchard, Athens AL, last month

Apparently one of the highlights of this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show was a new variety of okra, ‘Bhut Bhindi’ which grows to almost five feet tall and the okra itself about one foot long.

Who else is wondering how tough a foot-long okra is?


The new American Masters: Helen Keller is out; it would be great if people could get a much better sense of who she was — her politics, especially. This piece in the NYT is thoughtful.

 

The statue of her at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington replaced the one of Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry (he was my first cousin, five times removed). Very interesting, though: graduated from Georgia and Harvard Law, served in the Mexican-American War, in the AL State Legislature, the US House of Representatives, and the Provisional Congress of the CSA. He was lieutenant-colonel in the CSA, later an advocate of free education in the South. He was president of Howard College, which is now Samford University, and I understand his statue is there now, but I haven’t yet been to see it since the move from Washington. Lots more, including appointments to Spain, and recipient of the Royal Order of Charles III. The Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia chose to remove his name last year due to his involvement in the CSA.

Here, from a visit several years ago, the JLM Curry home in Talladega County, Alabama — it’s on the Register:

J.L.M. Curry Home, Outside Talladega AL


The Storytellers: Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, William Faulkner sculptures at Pinnacle, Jackson MS

The Eudora Welty statue in downtown Jackson, 2015

This 1970 NYT interview with Eudora Welty:

…the first thing you learn about Eudora Welty is that one of the most admired of living writers hasn’t learned to be a grande dame.

…“I’ve got ham and snap beans and grits and salad out in the kitchen, will that be all right?”

After writing ‘Where is the Voice Coming From’:

 “Had anybody burned a cross on my lawn, he wanted to know. I told him, No, of course not, and he wanted to know if he could call back in a few days, ‘in case anything develops.’ I told him I couldn’t see any sense in his running up his phone bill. The people who burn crosses on lawns don’t read me in The New Yorker. Really, don’t people know the first thing about the South?”


A Show with its Host City, New Orleans, as the Protagonist in the NYT

“This is a condition of living in New Orleans,” said Ms. Nawi. “We were thinking about the ways that New Orleans is a nexus of so many definitive social, political and climate issues of our era.”


An interview with John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (here at Bookshop / here at Amazon)


 

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The fruit illustrations for Moschino were done by Dylan Sartin, a Mississippi tattoo artist


My Refrigerator

my fridge with H-E-B’s That Green Sauce, 2015

From a Texas Monthly piece on Meta’s vision of shopping at H-E-B in VR:

On the one hand, it’s cute to see that a brand-new corporate behemoth with a market cap that outstrips the GDP of all but seventeen countries wakes up to the world the same way the rest of us do: confused, lonely, and thinking about barbecue.


Grand Ole Opry, Nashville TN

Opry, 2019

The Grand Ole Opry is hosting its 5000th Saturday night broadcast this weekend


Super random.

The Enduring Appeal of Laura Ashley

How to come out of the collective Great Unpleasantness better, in the Harvard Business Review

In San Benito, Homecoming Mums Are an Over-the-top Texas Tradition

Yes to Yinka Ilori’s Lego laundrette

This series, The 212, Revisiting New York institutions that have defined cool for decades, from time-honored restaurants to unsung dives in the NYT is terrific

What Kathleen Purvis thought of this year’s SFA Symposium in Oxford, and I’m still ready for new leadership

Astros fans: How Mattress Mack Pays for his Sports-Related Mega Giveaways — I thought it was an insurance policy, but nope

Mobile’s 1897 Shephard House, a Queen Anne by George Franklin Barber, is on the market

Dollywood is serving their interpretation of poutine, with sweet potatoes: crispy sweet potato cross-cut fries topped with Applewood-smoked bacon, white cheddar cheese sauce and crispy onion straws

There’s an extinct volcano under the Mississippi coliseum in Jackson, Mississippi about a mile down


Dog Trot Cabin, Winston County AL

dogtrot in Winston County, Alabama, 2006

The Whidby Dogtrot on an island just north of Seattle was designed by SHED. Gorgeous. From their description:

For clients transitioning into retirement, the design challenge was to create a compact house for economy of operation, ease of maintenance, and a space that maximized the natural beauty of the site. In addition, the house needed space for guests, visiting adult children, hobbies, music, and a home office. The dogtrot form was used as a way to organize these programmatic needs into two sections — one with the master suite, living, kitchen, and dining area, and the other as a flex space.


Abita Mystery House, UCM Museum, Abita Springs LA

Abita Mystery House, 2017


A journal dated 1859 and titled “Tracking 264 Negroes between Swift Creek, Bibb County, Georgia Sumter County, Georgia, Spring Creek, Georgia and Cowarts, Georgia” had an estimate of $500-1k but the hammer price was $32400. The journal originated with John B. Lamar, brother-in-law of the older brother of Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb, who owned the T.R.R. Cobb House in Athens, Georgia. The T.R.R. Cobb House hopes to have it on exhibit in 2022.



Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale MS

Ground Zero in Clarksdale, 2016

Bill Luckett, who started Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale MS died this week; the new Ground Zero being built in Biloxi should be fully open in January.


GooGoo Cluster Store, Nashville TN

Nashville Goo Goo store, 2016

The Goo Goo Cluster shop in Nashville will reopen Nov 5 after its $2M renovation and will offer interactive classes, a full-service chocolate bar, a design-you-own confection station, and alcoholic drinks will be served.



Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden, Ruleville MS

Fannie Lous Hamer Memorial, Ruleville MS, 2015

Fannie (The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer) is now playing at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago


Dr Bob Art, Crabby Jack's, New Orleans

Dr Bob art at Crabby Jack’s, 2016

A Visit With Dr. Bob, New Orleans’s Beloved Folk Artist at AFAR Magazine

“I was a young juvenile delinquent going to bars,” he says. “I had some cash and was buying some cigarettes and, if you could do that—be nice or leave—you could do anything.”


When William Faulkner and Langston Hughes Wrote Children’s Books — but Faulkner’s was just one book named The Wishing Tree, made by him, for one child. The NYT laments:

Except for the author’s name, there seems little reason to publish it now. Although it appears in a charming edition with lavish illustrations by Don Bolognese, it is a curiosity rather than a book that a child would rejoice to read and read again. I can’t believe that a collector would read it either.


The Adams French mansion in Aberdeen, Mississippi, is on the market (still).


I love this design for Houston’s Urban South Brewery combo plate beers

 

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It’s birthday season in our family, and we’re thinking about Halloween coming up too. Hope your trick-or-treat bag will be full of Reeses. xoxo!

Since 1870, For the Love of Chocolate Pies, And, Well, Bourbon

Weidmann's, Meridian MS

I ran across a listing of the oldest restaurants in each of these states:

Alabama: Bright Star in Bessemer
Georgia: Plaza in Thomasville
Louisiana: Antoine’s in New Orleans
Mississippi: Weidmann’s in Meridian
Tennessee: Varallo’s in Nashville
Texas: Scholz Garten in Austin

Thankfully we have Bright Star all the time (snapper throats!) and Antoine’s is also a favorite, and Weidmann’s reminded me of the dish they’re best-known for: black-bottom pie.

Black Bottom Pie, Weidmann's, Meridian MS

Doing some research, I found the recipe for theirs, tweaked a little and printed in Delta Magazine, and the original is here at Mississippi Magazine.

Black Bottom Pie

I didn’t have gingersnaps so used those Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers. Theirs is definitely prettier!

This was a good diversion, but if my family is in the mood for chocolate pie, they 100% will ask me to make my recipe for the Ollie’s Barbecue chocolate meringue pie:

Homemade Ollie's Chocolate Meringue Pie

That makes everyone happy. When I’m making tons of pies for distribution to the shelters in town for the holidays, I’ll sometimes include hot fudge pies or chocolate chess pie.

At the holidays, just for our table, I’ll do a chocolate bourbon pecan pie. In fact, I read a couple of weeks ago at VinePair about The Historical Reason Bourbon is used in American Desserts (there’s a splash of whiskey in that black bottom pie too). Likely a large part of the reason bourbon was included in old cookbooks? The availability of vanilla.

The article goes on to discuss Lane cake, Alabama’s official dessert, that according to the original recipe calls for 1/3 brandy or bourbon.

Real Lane Cake, From The Original Recipe

In today’s episode of MTV Cribs, we visit the refrigerator of Ginger, stocked with Lane cake and a jar of pickled okra.

From the VinePair article:
President Jimmy Carter, who grew up in neighboring Georgia, recalled holidays where Lane Cakes were at the forefront. “My father … would even make a couple of Lane cakes for Christmas,” Carter wrote in his 2004 memoir, “Christmas in Plains.” “Since this cake recipe required a strong dose of bourbon, it was just for the adult relatives, doctors, nurses, and other friends who would be invited to our house for eggnog.”

And while we’re on the topic of alcohol in desserts, let’s not forget that before too long it will be time to make fruitcake and the biggest reminder: if everything you put in the fruitcake is delicious, the fruitcake will be delicious (so don’t add jars of fruit menagerie that magically appear this time of year on grocery shelves — add things you like to snack on already). Also, adding chocolate chips is fun. And consider cupcakes rather than a loaf shape.

Fruitcake

And don’t forget the bourbon.