GINNA PARSONS: A day of indulgence in Memphis



My husband and I spent all day Saturday tooling around Memphis, visiting shops and stores and restaurants that aren’t available in our beloved Tupelo.

We started with a restaurant supply store called Lit. We were like kids in a candy store. We raced ahead of each other, pointing out all manner of things, some that we needed (like a new digital thermometer) and some we didn’t (like a 160-quart stockpot).

Charlie was tempted to buy a chef’s coat and hat – called a toque – just for fun, but I talked him out of that. Once we got out of Lit, he said just being in that store made him want to open a restaurant.

I talked him out of that, too.

Next we went to South Front Antiques, which is an architectural salvage shop. I have never seen so many old doors, mantels, stair spindles, windows and doorknobs in any one place in my entire life. At three floors, it was overwhelming.

We had three places in mind to eat lunch: the Rendezvous, P.F. Chang and Young Avenue Deli. After some deliberation and discussion, we decided on ribs.

In the afternoon, we visited Penzeys for an assortment of glorious spices and went by The Fresh Market to get some mussels to cook for supper.

The cheese plate and ribs we devoured at the Rendezvous weren’t exactly healthy fare. In fact, they’re on the opposite end of the spectrum. But Saturday was a treat – a day away from the gym and baked chicken.

Now we’re back to eating mindfully and healthfully, which brings me to this recipe for mashed sweet potatoes. We’ve made these a couple of times and they were absolutely delicious. They make the whole house smell good.

Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots

51⁄2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1⁄2 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 medium)

11⁄2 teaspoons brown sugar

11⁄3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

1⁄4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat 4 teaspoons oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add shallots to pan, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with sugar; cook 20 minutes or until shallots are golden, stirring occasionally.

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 8 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place potatoes in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add rosemary, salt, and pepper; beat until blended. Spoon into a bowl; top with shallots, and drizzle with remaining 11⁄2 teaspoons oil.

Makes 4 servings.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

Click video to hear audio