Bon Temps and the CSA basket

While we were in Orlando, Bon Temps Squirrel was gracious enough to pick up our first CSA basket. Since we were gone for over a week, she was also gracious enough to eat it for us. Here is her report.

Community Supported Agriculture groups (CSAs) are a proactive way to support local farmers and enjoy the best the season has to offer in fresh produce. Locavores in the Memphis area have been wishing for a CSA group to enter our community for years.

This year, Downing Hollow Farm answered the call. Lori and Alex Greene bring the best of their Olive Hill, Tennessee, farm to their pre-committed patrons every Friday afternoon. They are dedicated to producing a variety of fresh produce using strictly organic growing principles.

Their first week brought bunches of fresh kale and chicory greens, baby squash of multiple varieties, green beans, baby radishes, baby cucumbers, spaghetti squash, lush salad greens, tomatoes and fresh herbs.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the flavorful little baby cucumbers. We thinly sliced them up with some fresh carrots and sweet onions and covered them with rice-wine vinegar and some seasonings. It was a perfect hot summer night side dish. We also steamed the greens with just a little lemon, salt and pepper — they were so earthy and flavorful.

Lori also includes recipes with her weekly offerings just in case you need a few ideas to get you going. It’s almost like being a little kid again excitedly looking through your Easter basket. We can’t wait to see what bountiful surprises await us the rest of the summer!


While walking like rats in a maze at Ikea, Mama Squirrel and I were discussing whether to have fancy Japanese near the hotel or to eat our weight in Swedish meatballs at Ikea.

During the discussion, I believe we hit upon what is sure to be the dining sensation of the millennium, Shamu-shabu (© ® Patent Pending. Offer void where prohibited. (Sorry, Tennessee!)) You get all the spectacle of an aquarium show and a hibachi show all rolled (sushi-rolled?) into one. Just remember, the first six rows may be splashed. With hot oil no less.

(We ate the meatballs. And a gravad laks appetizer. And a dessert sampler. And all for less than one shabu-shabu.)

Desposito’s Seafood Restaurant, Savannah, Georgia

Almost everyone wants to sample the local flavor when they’re in a different city. Some cities can be absolutely overwhelming in the wealth of unique choices available to eaters both timid and adventurous. Savannah is most assuredly one of those cities.

There are plentiful choices available for any taste or budget. The historic downtown alone provides enough dining options to tempt most tourists into never venturing away from the picturesque cobbled streets and antebellum homes. So why leave downtown? Desposito’s.

First things first: plan before you go. Get directions. Print a map. Be hungry.

Desposito’s is a classic coastal crabshack. Located just across the Wilmington River on the Isle of Armstrong, down a tiny side road where the only sign is an arrow to mark your turn, it’s easy to get lost even with directions and a map. Don’t be disheartened, though, Desposito’s is worth finding, and the location really couldn’t be better.

You see, Desposito’s buys all of its shrimp from an independent local shrimper who docks his boats literally steps from the restaurant. There’s a lot of advertising out there about wild American shrimp. Eating fresh Georgia shrimp at Desposito’s is really all the advertisement you’ll need. Like the bumper sticker on the bar says, “Friends don’t let friends eat imported shrimp.”

Like I said, Desposito’s is a crabshack. It’s primarily a local spot, but you won’t feel out of place at all for being a tourist. The tables are covered in newspaper, and you can expect to get a little messy while you enjoy their fare. This is food you have to work to get to in every sense. But it’s so worth every effort.

The menu is simple, but delicious. You can get crab legs, boiled shrimp, steamed oysters, or blue crabs in season. They also serve some of the best shrimp salad I’ve ever eaten. Try your shrimp as part of a low country basket. You’ll get a half pound of shrimp with sausage, potatoes and buttery corn on the cob. And don’t ignore the cocktail sauce. David makes it from scratch, and it’s more of a hot sauce instead of just being ketchup doctored up with horseradish. While the shrimp salad sandwich is great all on its own, it turns into something divine when you dip it in the cocktail sauce.

Still hungry? Good. The key lime pie is absolutely perfect. It’s a tangy, rich custard in a sweet graham cracker crumb crust. No whipped cream to tone it down and no green dye at all.

Desposito’s is one of those places that would be all too easy for a tourist to miss. Don’t let that happen to you. Make the effort. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. And tell them those crazy Memphis people with the camera sent you. I promise, they’ll feed you anyway.

Desposito’s Seafood Restaurant
1 Macceo Dr
Savannah, GA 31410
(912) 897-9963

Ice cream throwdown

In what was sure to be a battle for the ages, Squirrelly, Jr., challenged the Viking to an ice cream throwdown. Or maybe it was the Viking who challenged Teh Boy. Not that it matters.

What matters is that the Viking is a writer, educator, and professional chef who has cooked at the Beard House. And Teh Boy is thirteen. Precocious enough to have made ice cream completely unsupervised, but still thirteen.

Our good friend and fellow blogger, Deliberately, provided the arena for the battle when he and his lovely family invited us to their home for a potluck. Mama Squirrel and I brought tamales. Teh Boy brought three flavors of ice cream — peach-ginger, ancho buttermilk, and Abita Purple Haze raspberry. The Viking countered with two — chocolate and coconut-peanut.

I am very proud of Teh Boy, but I can still be a reasonably objective observer. I think Teh Boy’s ice creams were excellent. His peach-ginger was the best. The biggest difference I noticed was that Teh Boy’s had larger ice crystals. The Viking’s were amazing. The chocolate was my favorite. It was a deep, rich cocoa chocolate with bits of candied orange peel.

The Viking is a chef, and an excellent one at that. That he made a perfectly smooth and delicious pair of ice creams was no surprise. But there was a surprise.

Let’s preface this with some back story. Two years ago, the Viking and his better half, the Honeybee, came to Memphis in May to experience the barbecue contest. To simplify a bit, they looked at each other and said, “we should move here.”

Just over a year ago, they moved here. During Memphis in May. Barbecue.

Now, the surprise. Our meat-loving chef friend made vegan ice cream. I didn’t have the chance to ask him for details. I do know that his chocolate was soy milk based, and his coconut-peanut was made with coconut milk.

If the Viking is willing to share the recipe, I’ll post it here. Until then, I need to buy Teh Boy more sugar and half & half.

Blue Grass and Brown Whiskey

The Southern Foodways Alliance has announced its eighth annual field trip. This time, the gang is going to Louisville, Kentucky, for Blue Grass and Brown Whiskey.

This is an opportunity to spend three days experiencing the best Louisville has to offer in food and otherwise. The Squad can personally vouch for the superb time and the splendid people that are to be experienced at SFA events.

Check out the event. Consider joining SFA. No organization is doing more to record and preserve Southern food traditions. And no organization has more fun doing it.

Interim Farmers Dinner — The Event

The farmers dinner at Interim Restaurant was a tremendous success in every way. It was heartening to see the large crowd of diners, all anxious not just for what was sure to be a superb meal, but for the opportunity to support local farmers and to learn more about them. The room was absolutely alive with energy.

The meal was superb as should be clear from the menu. This was, of course, due to a combination of fantastic ingredients and talented chefs. Our friend and dining companion the Viking was dead on when he said, “these greens are diabolically fresh.”

The participation of four of Memphis’s finest chefs was sure to be interesting. Interim’s executive chef Jackson Kramer stepped to the fore with this event. Conceiving of and coordinating an event of this magnitude and making it a stellar success shows Kramer as so much more than a great cook. It shows that, at his tender young age, he is truly becoming a great leader, a great chef.

Fred Carl, founder of Viking Range Corporation and owner of Interim, speaks highly of Kramer. “I’m the one that hired Jackson. I’m proud of that. He really saved our, ahem, when we were in flux here,” Carl said.

The sense of community at Interim was not just among the diners. The chefs were clearly thrilled to be working together and to be working with the farmers.

Stephen Hassinger of the Inn at Hunt-Phelan is a prominent force behind the movement to use local ingredients. Clay Lichterman recently left Grill 83, but the buzz at dinner was that he would soon be announcing something very interesting. Kelly English of Restaurant Iris spent several years at N’awlins in Tunica, but he is new to the Memphis scene. Nonetheless, he is already making a name for himself with his culinary talents.

If you missed the Interim dinner, never fear. The Memphis Farmers Market series of dinners will run throughout the summer giving you a chance to sample the best of ingredients given the best of treatment. And don’t wait for a special event. Stop by any and all of these restaurants to eat and to say thank you for keeping local food alive.

The Work of Paul and Angela Knipple