“After Ruth died and the railroad stopped runnin’, the cafe shut down and everybody just scattered to the winds. It was never more’n just a little knockabout place, but now that I look back on it, when that cafe closed, the heart of the town just stopped beatin’. It’s funny how a little place like this brought so many people together.” – Ninny Threadgoode, Fried Green Tomatoes
On a beautiful fall day recently, my mom and boyfriend, Kurt, ventured to have lunch at the Whistle Stop Cafe, made famous by the 1991 movie “Fried Green Tomatoes,” a comedy-drama based on the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Though the movie plot is set in 1920’s Alabama, the filming took place in Juliette, Georgia. It’s one of those films that every Southerner can relate to; every character in the movie is identifiable as one’s own family member. The cafe was everything I’d imagined it would be: country with a wide front porch complete with rocking chairs and large ferns, inviting in a way that reminds you of a simpler time and place, and authentic with a menu that proclaims Southern culture and cultivates deep-seated food memories in the hearts and minds of every diner.
We drank sweet iced tea served in Mason jars with big wedges of lemon and bit into the crunchy, highly anticipated Fried Green Tomato appetizer to the tune of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Country State of Mind.” The hand sliced green tomatoes were battered and fried to perfection, and you could see flecks of black pepper in the coating. Served with made-from-scratch radish sauce, it tasted much like a spicy Thousand Island dressing, though the waitress was tight-lipped with the recipe. We placed our orders — Country Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and gravy and Brunswick stew for Kurt, Yard Bird Tenders with collard greens, grilled squash and zucchini for mama, and the Fried Green Tomato Burger featuring Swiss cheese, lettuce, onion, bacon and radish sauce, with sweet potato fries for me. What I loved most about the menu was how the Fried Green Tomato was elevated — featured in an appetizer, a salad, a sandwich and on a burger, the restaurant’s name is not in vain. Prices ranged around $9 an order to $22 for a full rack of Smoked Baby Back ribs.
For dessert, we split a slice of seven layer lemon cheesecake with vanilla bean ice cream. The cake was moist and light, with tangy sheets of lemon filling between each layer. Other dessert options included peach cobbler, pecan cobbler, apple dumpling and chocolate bread pudding.
The once general merchandising store-turned-cafe still contains an antique file system loaded with old yellow tickets from the past along with the meat block, cash register, meat scales, wood heater, safe and other items used from 1927 to 1972. Movie memorabilia and local history also adorn the walls. Folks sit on bar stools at the u-shaped counter top in the center of the restaurant, or in tables and booths. The floors squeak and ceiling fans keep the air flowing.
The wait staff wear t-shirts that say, “Get Fried at the Whistle Stop Cafe,” and bustle about welcoming tourists and locals.
If you’ve never seen the movie, watch it. If you’ve never read the book, read it. And if you’ve never eaten at the cafe, plan a trip. You’ll be glad you did.
Good food and good company, that’s what it’s all about!
Get my recipe for Farm to Table Fried Green Tomatoes.
As many of you know, I had the opportunity to headline a food and style event recently in Centre, Alabama with my good friend, Chad. It’s been one week ago today, and as promised, I’m sharing the recipes served during the event right here on Some Kinda Good. Whether you attended the event or just happened across my food blog, these refreshing grilled desserts, appetizers and warm weather-friendly beverages are tailored for summer entertaining and don’t even require heating up an oven. They’re simple, yet elevated and certainly Some Kinda Good!
Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sliders
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
- 1 12-Pack of Dinner Rolls, such as King’s Hawaiian
- 1 Package of Spring Mix Lettuce
- 6-8 Slices of Hardwood Smoked Bacon, Cooked Crispy
Spicy Pimento Cheese
- 2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and diced
- 1/2 Large Sweet Onion, such as Vidalia, diced
- 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
- 2 4-oz. Jars of Diced Pimento Peppers, drained
- 1/2 of an 8-oz block of Pepper Jack Cheese, grated
- 1/2 of an 8 oz block of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
- 1/2 of an 8 oz block of Cream Cheese, softened
- 3 – 4 tablespoons of Dukes Mayonnaise
- Salt, Pepper and Old Bay Seasoning to taste
In a medium bowl, blend all ingredients together with a hand mixer. To assemble a slider, spread pimento cheese onto dinner roll. Top with spring mix lettuce, one fried green tomato and crispy bacon.
Fried Green Tomatoes
- 3 Large Green Tomatoes
- ½ cup Cornmeal
- ½ cup Self-Rising Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
- Vegetable Oil + Bacon Grease for frying
Slice tomatoes about ¼ of an inch thick. Place them on a flat surface and season with salt. Transfer the tomatoes to a colander and allow them to drain in the sink for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a cast iron skillet or 10-inch frying pan with vegetable oil halfway full and set over medium heat. The oil will be ready for frying when sizzling occurs after gently sprinkled with water. In a small dish, use a fork to combine the cornmeal, flour, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Dredge the tomatoes in the flour mixture on each side. Roll the sides of the tomato in the flour mixture too, to ensure an even coating. Shake off any excess before dropping the tomato slices into the hot oil. Fry the tomato slices until golden brown, turning once during cooking. Remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels.
- 1 whole Pineapple, Cored, Peeled and Diced
- 1 whole Mango, Diced
- 1/2 of a Medium Red Onion, Finely Diced
- 1 whole Jalapeno, Seeded and Diced
- Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
- 1 whole Lime, Juiced
- Dash Kosher Salt
Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Serve with tortilla chips. This salsa is also refreshing alongside or atop grilled meats such as chicken or fish.
Grilled Pound Cake Served with Macerated Berries
- Store-Bought or Homemade Pound Cake
- 1-2 Pints of Strawberries or a combination of Mixed Berries
- 1/4 cup of Sugar or more to taste
Remove stems from strawberries. Slice lengthwise. Pour sugar over berries and mix until coated. Set aside and let stand at least 30 minutes. Slice pound cake. Lay on an oiled grill grate just until heated through and grill marks appear. Serve macerated berries over cake. For major indulgence, dollop with fresh, sweetened whipped cream. Any combination of fresh berries can be substituted. Blackberries or blueberries would work marvelously! Always use what’s in season and available.
- 2 large bell peppers (any color), quartered
- 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
- 1 Medium Onion, cut in half
- 1 cucumber, sliced into half-moon pieces
- 3 medium tomatoes, halved
- 1 loaf of ciabatta or Italian bread, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Lemon Juice
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Brush grill with olive oil, season vegetables with kosher salt and black pepper. Grill bell peppers, zucchini and onion for about 4-5 minutes, turning once until grill marks are visible. Chop the grilled vegetables into bite size pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl. Meanwhile, drizzle the bread with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cucumber into the same bowl. Remove bread from grill, cut into cubes and toss together with the vegetables. Drizzle the mixture with equal parts of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, just enough to dress the salad lightly, and season with more salt and pepper. Squeeze about 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice over the mixture. Toss in fresh basil. Devour!
- 4 cups of sliced seedless watermelon, rind removed
- 1 16-oz carton of Lemon Sorbet
- The Zest of 1 Lemon
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- Watermelon wedges and mint, for garnish
In a blender, combine the first four ingredients until smooth. Pour over ice and serve immediately or refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Garnish with fresh mint and a wedge of watermelon. If you’d like to make this recipe a cocktail, vodka is a great addition. Recipe inspired by Paula Deen.
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
- Seedless Watermelon
- Feta Cheese
- Fresh Basil
- Balsamic Vinegar
Using a small melon baller, scoop out 25 balls of fresh watermelon. Cut feta cheese into medium size cubes (You don’t want them too small because they will crumble when skewered). Pick 25 small basil leaves from a basil plant. Skewer ingredients on wooden skewers in this order: watermelon, feta, basil. Pour about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar into a small bowl. With a grill brush, dip the brush into the balsamic vinegar and gingerly brush the skewers with it. If the feta cheese gets too damp, it will crumble and fall off the skewer. Serve in a tall flower or frog vase for an interesting display!
A special thanks to all who attended “Nibble & Nosh and Everything Posh!” If you make these dishes at home, please let me know how they turn out. To see photos from the event, visit Some Kinda Good on Facebook. Now you’re set on the menu for your summer party, but don’t forget to check out The Stylish Steed for tips on what to wear and how to decorate!
Cheers…to good food and good company.
This is it y’all! History in the making. Me on TV!! In this episode of Statesboro Cooks, I star as a guest host.
The show will air on local cable, Channel 99 at the following times throughout the month:
- Monday 7:30 p.m.
- Tuesday 1 a.m.
- Wednesday 1 p.m.
- Thursday 7:30 p.m.
Statesboro Cooks is a multimedia communications team production. My next appearance will be in September. Thank you for watching!
A visit to the lowcountry these days or any seafood restaurant worth its weight wouldn’t be complete without a taste of Fried Green Tomatoes. Once considered a poor man’s food, today the dish is served with fancy dipping sauces all over the South and prices range anywhere from $7 for an appetizer to $16 or more for an entrée. For me, the Fried Green Tomato symbolizes stories of days gone by and aside from their crunchy, salty exterior, it’s the farm to table concept and nostalgia factor that make them so appealing.
It’s been said that Fried Green Tomatoes came about because when there was little to nothing to eat, farmers would harvest the green tomatoes before they ripened and fry them up. I don’t have a farm, but thankfully, you can purchase green tomatoes at Farmers Markets and in most produce sections of the grocery store.
Once your tomatoes are sliced, you’ll want to lay them on a baking sheet and salt them well. I used kosher salt because the pebbles are bigger and it really brings out the flavor. The salt also will draw the moisture out of the tomatoes.
My Great Aunt had 1 brother and 2 sisters, and recently shared with me that my Great-Grandmother would fix fried green tomatoes in a cast iron skillet, using cornmeal ground from fresh corn on the family farm in the 1950s. These are the stories that make a recipe rich. I used equal parts cornmeal and self-rising flour, then seasoned the mixture with 2 tsp of Old Bay and a healthy dash of black pepper. I’ve seen many variations of the recipe, but no buttermilk is needed!
After the tomato is coated good on each side, shake off any excess before dropping it into the hot vegetable oil. Be sure to roll the sides of the tomato in the flour mixture too, for a nice, even coating.
This was my first time making the lowcountry dish, and I gotta tell ya, it wasn’t hard at all. Look how pretty they turned out! Serve them hot.
What’s your take on the Fried Green Tomato? Love it? Hate it? Tell me how you like them! Is there a certain sauce you enjoy eating with them? I asked two of my favorite chefs to recommend a sauce, and one recommends a goat cheese basil sauce and the other, a zesty citrus remoulade.
I’m looking forward to experimenting.
3 Large Green Tomatoes
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup self-rising flour
2 Teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
Vegetable Oil for frying
Green Onion for garnish, optional
Slice tomatoes about ¼ of an inch thick. Place them on a flat surface and season with salt. Transfer the tomatoes to a colander and allow them to drain in the sink for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a cast iron skillet or 10-inch frying pan with vegetable oil halfway full and set over medium heat. The oil will be ready for frying when sizzling occurs after gently sprinkled with water. In a small dish, use a fork to combine the cornmeal, flour, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Dredge the tomatoes in the flour mixture on each side. Roll the sides of the tomato in the flour mixture too, to ensure an even coating. Shake off any excess before dropping the tomato slices into the hot oil. Fry the tomato slices until golden brown, turning once during cooking. Remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels. Garnish with green onion. Serve warm with Ranch Dressing if desired.
Watch me cook this recipe of fried green tomatoes on an episode of Statesboro Cooks!
Charleston Crab House Seafood Restaurant
Charleston, South Carolina
I don’t know what it is about being in the Carolina lowcountry that makes me want to eat fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits, but every time I visit, without fail, those are the dishes I order. My best friend and I recently visited Charleston for the Miranda Lambert On Fire Tour and among shopping on King Street, sampling benne wafers in the City Market and getting wind-blown on the giant porch swings at Waterfront Park near the battery, we had lunch at the Charleston Crab House Seafood Restaurant. What did we order, you ask? You guessed it–Fried Green Tomatoes and BBQ Shrimp & Grits.
Check out that presentation! Don’t you just love the pop of color those scallions give this dish? The BBQ Shrimp & Grits is a house specialty. It was actually an appetizer, but it will fill you up! Now, I had never had barbecue sauce on my shrimp & grits before and I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. Let me tell you, it is a beautiful combination. Man alive, it was Some Kinda Good y’all. The tangy barbecue sauce really compliments the cheddar jack cheese grits and the perfectly succulent shrimp. This dish will run you $8.99.
We were really hungry after our two and half hour drive from Augusta, Georgia so needless to say we gobbled down the fried green tomatoes before I thought to get a picture. I might add, we had a very hard time making a decision because the menu had an awesome selection! Sandwiches, pasta, seafood platters, garden selections and raw bar items are just a few of the options.
After lunch, we made our way to the pier. It was a stormy and windy day but the seagulls were out and about just the same. I love looking off the dock at all the shrimp boats and large carriers wondering where they’re headed.
And now, just for fun, a little film strip of our attempts to get a good picture while hanging out near the Battery.
So, there. Country music, good seafood and my best friend in the Carolina Lowcountry…the finer things in life. It really doesn’t get much better.
What’s your favorite lowcountry classic activity?