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Ben Carter

Ben Carter

Memphis Correspondent

Ben has been blogging about wine, food, and more since 2005 from his home town of Memphis.

  • Website
  • Location: Memphis, TN
  • Favorite foods: Rack of lamb, a perfect fritto misto, demi-glace, a well-roasted goat leg, ripe Stilton, rabbit ravioli, and duck in any form you can imagine.
  • Last bite on earth: Simple southern fare, collard greens and fried catfish and crowder peas and other delights, with iced tea and hot cornbread.

Where to Eat in Memphis: 7 Delicious Spots in the Cooper-Young District

Whenever people come to Memphis, most of them just want to eat barbecue non-stop. And I'm proud to show off some of our local smoked pork and soul food restaurants. But when real food lovers come to town, I take them directly to the Cooper-Young District. The local artsy neighborhood features an ever-changing landscape of locally-owned restaurants that buck the trends of fast food and veer away from stereotypical dishes associated with the South, while still celebrating our regional ingredients and culinary traditions. See our top picks in the slideshow. More

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

I've lived my entire life jn Memphis, but just south of us is a region that has greatly influenced our city and the rest of the nation. I'm talking about the Mississippi Delta, the wide swath of northwest Mississippi that lies between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers. This region has a rich history of small businesses offering a few other unrelated services to bring in additional revenue. Like the koolickle. Whole dill pickles and Kool-Aid and sugar. That's it. Don't start with sweet pickles—those salty dills are going to get plenty sweet during the aging process. More

Where to Eat Fried Catfish in Memphis: 6 Spots to Try

Fried catfish is a classic Southern dish that, like so many peasant foods around the world, demonstrates how a delicacy can emerge from poverty. The catfish is a bottom feeder, a "trash" fish caught with trot lines and cane poles and stink bait—not with expensive boats or flashy lures. You don't scale it, you skin it. And when it's time to cook, you don't dust it with the refined flour of the upper classes but dredge it in the working man's cornmeal, fry it, and let it drain on brown paper bags. Fried catfish is a favorite in the Memphis area; here are six places to try the real thing. More

The Serious Eats Guide to Port

Congrats on joining the SE team! Great article!

Scenes From the Porktastic Cochon Heritage BBQ in Memphis

@fmjmemphis No clue, but you might figure it out from the event's Flickr gallery. Hope you had a good time--I was downing water bottles in a single gulp as the night went on. :)

Scenes From the Porktastic Cochon Heritage BBQ in Memphis

@korenni There's an article here on Serious Eats about making animal fat mayonnaise that might be helpful, since I've never made it from pork fat. I can tell you that the green beans were fresh, blanched, and iced so that they were still crunchy. As for the scrapple, hopefully someone from Pennsylvania will come along and offer a good family recipe.

Where to Eat in Memphis: 7 Delicious Spots in the Cooper-Young District

@Matty S I'm primarily a wine blogger on my own site, and plan to do a piece on Greencork when it opens. Thanks for giving some very local input on this article!

Where to Eat in Memphis: 7 Delicious Spots in the Cooper-Young District

@klp143 Regarding BYOB, your best bet is the first three weeks or so that a restaurant is open before a liquor license is obtained. There are places like Central BBQ that will let you bring your own wine (but not beer), and you should be prepared to bring your own glasses and corkscrew. There are a few juke joints on Airways that were not able to get licenses for whatever reason and are open as BYOB clubs. And you'll encounter oddballs like Vinegar Jim's in Arlington, where you'll see folks opening their own Crown Royal and Jack Daniel's at the table. Always call ahead--house rules and local laws are always changing, and you don't want to leave that nice wine in a hot car during that two hour meal.

Where to Eat in Memphis: 7 Delicious Spots in the Cooper-Young District

@MemphisClaire It was difficult to narrow it down to seven! Love your suggestions, and they're all beloved favorites. Also Tsunami, Cooper 20/20, Soul Fish, Central BBQ, Bayou Bar & Grill, etc. You can eat out three meals a day for a week and never hit a chain restaurant or go to the same place twice.

Where to Eat in Memphis: 7 Delicious Spots in the Cooper-Young District

@jmatt72 There are far cheaper options available, even in the Cooper-Young neighborhood, but quality ingredients and skilled staff cost money. If folks don't want to pay that price, they can go somewhere else or simply drink at home. We've even got some BYOB clubs scattered around the city.

Where to Eat in Memphis: 7 Delicious Spots in the Cooper-Young District

@korenni Glad you liked it! I've covered a few of those places in previous articles here (you can find them here: http://www.seriouseats.com/user/profile/Benitowine ). I do appreciate a good muffuletta as well, and sometimes it's better the second day when it's cold and all the olive juice has soaked into the bread.

The Burger Lab: How To Make Oklahoma Onion Burgers

Made this tonight with a bit of skepticism--white onions tend to give me heartburn--but I found the combination really refreshing and delicious. Thanks for posting it! I've got a lot of friends begging me to drag out the griddle and cook more of these.

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

@apopquizkid There is a weird earthy aroma early in the process, but it mellows out after a week. And if you don't like them after one week, don't be afraid to give it a second week.

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

@toad3000 You could take the advice of @alex_green47 and use sliced Koolickles to make your own fantastic Mark Wahlburger. :)

@gretchenmbarnes Drop back into this thread in a week and let me know how it turned out!

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

@missgarlic: Apologies to the Wheel Inn. A friend of mine from KC never stopped talking about them. :)

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

@SaqibSaab He definitely covered this delicacy in the Feasting on Asphalt cookbook, but thanks for posting the video from the Good Eats episode.

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

@Dennis Lee: I love challenges like that. Mention something like the Kansas City goober burger (topped with peanut butter), and people will claim you're joking. Then it's time to break out the ground beef and Peter Pan creamy.

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

@Shayrose: Sounds good... I think @punkin712 might be on the same track as you.

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

@deliciouslymeta I went to high school within walking distance of the Germantown Commissary. It's still a great place and never disappoints.

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

@cronkz: I did see them on Alton Brown's show. I wish he'd do more of that series. I think it's mostly a kids' treat, although I don't these things had been invented when I was growing up in the late 70s/early 80s.

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

@deliciouslymeta: That's what I've heard them called here in Memphis, but the difference between Memphis and the Delta can be like the difference between Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Dutch country. Frankly for high school football games, nothing beats the Frito Pie served in the little Fritos bag. :)

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

@Honey Bear: Glad to be of service! If you need to see the more elegant kind of food I make, you can check out my blog post on Provençal Lunch with Château d'Esclans.

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

@Golden Palate: I might dice up a few of these and see how they work in deviled eggs or potato salad. :)

@punkin712: I don't know how much that would change the color, but if you try it let me know how it turns out.

@tea-and-syncope: It is something of an acquired taste. That I have not yet acquired. For all kinds of pickles and relishes, I'm all about the dill/salty/sour/garlic, not sweet. But these regional correspondent posts are about showcasing things unique to our local gastronomic environment.

5-Course Beer and Bacon Dinner at L'École Culinaire in Tennessee

@phicks I'll give it another try on its own in the future. There was a lot of salt and cabbage going on with that dish, which would counteract sweetness. When I'm doing a focused beer tasting, I prefer to do it with a clean palate and eat later.

College Tours: Where to Eat Near The University of Memphis

@dongale Thanks for the additions, and it was hard to narrow down this list. By the way, my girlfriend made the same argument for RP Tracks.

@klp143 I've always felt that the shabbiness of Brother Juniper's was part of its charm. :)

@car1fsu Those are incredible.

Reality Check: Memphis BBQ Thickburger from Hardee's and Carl's Jr.

This is doubly depressing, because A) that's a terrible excuse for BBQ anything, and B) the closest Hardee's is about sixty miles south of Memphis. I'm sure somebody around here puts pulled pork on a burger, but I've never had it. Seems like a big textural conflict, although if it's a weird meat paste like in the photo, perhaps that's not a big problem...

BBQ sauce on a burger can work, but it needs to be one cooked on a real grill over lump charcoal and served with aggressive condiments. Get enough creosote on your palate and you're able to enjoy the more subtle flavors underneath the smoke and spice. Serve with a hearty Zinfandel or Sicilian Nero d'Avola and you won't be able to eat a turkey sandwich for months--it will taste like styrofoam peanuts in comparison.

8 Best Non-Pork Dishes at Memphis BBQ Joints

@benn2009: It is a Memphis institution, and the atmosphere is unrivaled in this town. It's also one of the only big players in town that doesn't have any additional locations. Glad you had a good time and a great meal!

8 Best Non-Pork Dishes at Memphis BBQ Joints

@Knitter: That's always the sign of a classy restaurant. I make smoked chicken a lot at home (apple or cherry wood most of the time for the smoking), so I don't order it a lot in restaurants.

@bklynbaker: Oh, so many stories... My girlfriend and I watched some of the London Olympic Games while eating BBQ tofu nachos for this article.

How to Make Koolickles, Kool-Aid Soaked Pickles

I've lived my entire life jn Memphis, but just south of us is a region that has greatly influenced our city and the rest of the nation. I'm talking about the Mississippi Delta, the wide swath of northwest Mississippi that lies between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers. This region has a rich history of small businesses offering a few other unrelated services to bring in additional revenue. Like the koolickle. Whole dill pickles and Kool-Aid and sugar. That's it. Don't start with sweet pickles—those salty dills are going to get plenty sweet during the aging process. More