By Doc Lawrence
CLEMSON, South Carolina-Two hours from large cities like Atlanta is one of the great green areas of the South, where pure crystal water is abundant, the rolling hills confirm the nearby presence of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the fishing is tops anytime of year. This weekend was reserved for college football and on the first day of October, the world seems bright orange.
For a few glorious hours before Clemson played Louisville in an ACC match up with national meaning, tailgating in all its glory was in full throttle. Not that these stalwarts occupying fields and parking lots near the stadium needed an excuse to eat and drink, but they do like the added spice of being in the bright spotlight. Showing their colors is almost secondary to the delights brought in by cars, trucks and SUV’s that jam the countryside. Smoke from countless grills was seasoned with chicken, pork, sausages, trout and more.
A prelude to friendly combat.
Beverages are more varied than the old days when beer dominated. Now, it’s Bourbon, Jack Daniel’s, Tequila and, of course, wines. Lot’s of them: red, white and rosé are de rigueur.
The almost perfect weather called for elixirs from Kentucky and South Carolina. Highspire, a 100% Kentucky Rye, proved to give smooth new meaning. South Carolina-produced Six & Twenty Bourbon from the distillery not far away allowed us to enjoy the best of both states. Plans are to enjoy them again in Georgia, Florida and wherever I travel and long for something satisfying.
Pumpkins are Clemson orange and on this day, they are omnipresent. I tried a slice of pumpkin bread with a cocktail, Jack Daniel’s and Coke. Nice.
Time is needed to get the tailgate spirit, Give thousands of people time to set up for pre-game partying (this means a night football game), and the choices are staggering. Chicken and shrimp every which away. Lamb kebobs served by Clemson fan and tailgater Mary Gillispie became heavenly with a glass of Besieged, a 2014 Sonoma County red blend from Ravenswood. The pronounced but subtle blackberries, black cherries and plums blended with locale and the food.
Rice is a South Carolina staple. On this heavenly fall day, tailgating takes on more meaning, inspiring the South’s best to create something memorable.
I asked Emmy Award winner Chef Lara Lyn Carter what happens when a gentleman named Jack meets a sweet Georgia peach? She answered sweetly:
Jack Daniels’ Peachy Rice Pudding
- 2 dried peaches
- 1 lemon
- 1/3-cup medium grain rice
- 3 cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 8 tablespoons peach preserves
- 4 tablespoons of Jack Daniels Whiskey
Chop the peaches into tiny bite size pieces and place in a bowl. Pour 1 tablespoon of Jack Daniels over the peaches.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the rind from the lemon. Place the lemon rind, rice, milk, and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes stirring often to prevent the mixture from sticking. Drain the residual Jack Daniels from the chopped peaches and stir the peaches into the rice pudding mixture. Remove the pudding from the heat and divide evenly into four serving bowls.
For the glaze, stir the preserves and three tablespoons of Jack Daniels into a saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until bubbly and the preserves have been reduced. Remove the glaze from the heat and allow the glaze to thicken by allowing it to cool for a few minutes. Pour the glaze evenly over the pudding and enjoy.
This dessert deserves an appropriate wine like Rosé. Two recommendations, Emtu Estate Russian River Valley Rosé or Margerum 2015 Riviera Rosé. These proved to be refreshing with magnified color when garnished with a slice of late season peach.