By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
When I was in Knoxville, Tenn., in May for the Southern Food Writing Conference, we were treated one day to a catered lunch prepared by the good folks at Tupelo Honey Cafe.
The flagship restaurant opened in Asheville, N.C., in 2000, and others have popped up in Knoxville and Greenville, S.C., and I believe two more are set to open soon in Chattanooga and Johnson City, Tenn. There’s also a second location in Asheville.
For our lunch, the Tupelo Honey Cafe team, led by Executive Chef Brian Sonoskus, prepared four appetizers, four entrees, six sides and a dessert. We had everything from pimento cheese biscuits to fried chicken with milk gravy to fennel, artichoke and ramp salad to strawberry and blueberry short cake with buttermilk ice cream.
Being from Tupelo, I, of course, made a point of introducing myself to the chef and his staff and telling them how much I enjoyed the food. I was rewarded earlier this week with a copy of the restaurant’s cookbook, “Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited Recipes from Asheville’s New South Kitchen,” by Elizabeth Sims with Chef Brian Sonoskus.
As I flipped through the recipes and lovely photographs of the food, the farms where it comes from and old pictures of Asheville, I was reminded of the deliciousness of the fare we were served and the care with which it was prepared.
Here’s a recipe from the cookbook for Garlic Ranch Dressing that promises to have twice the flavor of the bottled stuff. The cafe serves this on its spinach salad made with roasted beets, goat cheese, peppered bacon and grape tomatoes.
Garlic Ranch Dressing
2⁄3 cup buttermilk
2⁄3 cup sour cream
2⁄3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3 tablespoons roasted garlic puree (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor for 30 seconds. Refrigerate for up to 10 days.
Makes 2 cups.
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.