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Southern Food and Beverage Museum wants your menus
September 12, 2007
By Jennifer Chandler

SoFAB wants your Southern menus

By Jennifer Chandler
Special to The Commercial Appeal

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Most of us who live around here agree that there is nothing better than good old Southern cooking. Nothing satisfies like a warm bowl of grits, a pot of beans cooked down with a smoky ham hock or buttermilk-marinated fried chicken.

Folks around the country are finally discovering all the scrumptious foods we've been enjoying for decades. The AICP and the James Beard House chose to give top awards to a Southern foods cookbook, "The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook" (W.W. Norton & Company, $35), this year. If you head up to New York City, I can guarantee you'll find grits and greens on menus of the city's top restaurants.

So it is no surprise that this iconic style of cooking is finally getting its own museum home.

The New Orleans-based Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) was founded in 2004 to be a regional resource focusing on the history of Southern food and beverages. Slated to move into permanent quarters that were later destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, the museum has hosted temporary exhibits in spaces around the nation since the storm. SoFAB has finally located a permanent space in downtown New Orleans and is now raising funds to complete the museum.

SoFAB's signature project is to collect menus from every restaurant in the South and every restaurant in the world that purports to be Southern. By gathering these, SoFAB hopes to help people better appreciate the South's culinary histories, cultures, traditions and economies.

"People rarely save menus, unless they are marking a particularly important, celebratory meal. This is unfortunate, as menus are often the only physical remains of a restaurant's past," says Elizabeth Pearce, senior curator of the museum.

On Monday, SoFAB will be hosting "Invitation to the Southern Table," a benefit and menu-collecting event at the Inn at Hunt Phelan from 6:30-9 p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring menus from their favorite restaurants to add to the collection.

Tickets are $100 per person or $110 at the door. To purchase tickets or obtain further information, please contact The Southern Food and Beverage Museum at (504) 578-8280.

In case you can't make the event on Monday, you can still submit Memphis menus for the collection. Visit southernfood.org for more information.

No Jimmy's Market

Jimmy Lewis has decided not to open Jimmy's Market, a natural foods market that was slated to open in the next few months. Citing several reasons, including construction costs, Lewis mainly credits his decision to the recent Whole Foods Market acquisition of Wild Oats Markets.

"I am very disappointed, but it could be the biggest disaster I ever averted. I have confidence in my ability to operate a great store, but I'm not foolish enough to vie for market share with the world's best operator," says Lewis.

Gene Cone, director of Wild Oats Market in East Memphis, could give no comments on future plans for his store.

"Whole Foods is looking at Wild Oats as a company and people have been visiting stores ... including ours. For now, its business as normal," Cone says.

Biggest Zoo Rendezvous

The 24th annual Zoo Rendezvous, the zoo's largest fund-raiser, is Saturday night. Featuring over 75 of Memphis' best restaurants and beverage distributors, this year's event will be the largest ever. Tickets are $200. For more information, call 333-6757 or visit memphiszoo.org.

Wine and Tennessee cheese pairing

On Wednesday, Sept. 19, Circa by John Bragg hosts a wine and cheese pairing with Gayle and Jim Tanner of Bonnie Blue Farm in Waynesboro, Tenn. The Tanners will present their goat's milk cheeses, handcrafted from their free-ranging herd, and Circa's Randy Caparoso will address the basic principles of wine and cheese matching.

The cost is $30 per person. To reserve a spot, call 522-1488. Bonnie Blue Farm cheeses are available at the Memphis Farmers Market every other week.

Third Jason's Deli will open near U of M

A new Jason's Deli opens Saturday in The University Center at 3445 Poplar. It will be the chain's third location in the Memphis area.

Free apps in The Peabody's Corner Bar

The Peabody's Corner Bar is now serving a selection of complimentary happy hour hors d'oeuvres from Chef Brian Barrow/Capriccio Grill on weeknights. Enjoy Italian-inspired appetizers such as ravioli, fried calamari, chicken Parmesan strips, meatballs and imported cheeses "on the house" with the purchase of an alcoholic beverage. Mondays through Fridays, 5:30-7 p.m.

A sad farewell

R. M. "Buster" Hammond Jr., founder of Buster's Liquors and Wines, passed away at age 97 on Saturday. Hammond founded Buster's in 1954, which is still run by his family.

Please share your fabulous food finds and restaurant news with me at jennifer@cookwithjennifer.com.


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