A Tasteful List 2012

September 6th, 2012

Not long ago, I saw a pretentious review comparing Mortimer’s and Restaurant Iris. Please. That’s not just apples to oranges, that’s braised pears to pecan balls. All are very good, very different, and should not be measured against each other – just enjoyed for what they are.

Like Memphis.

That brings me to this year’s Tasteful List, back by popular overeating. No comments on ambience, no esoteric references to nuance or nose. The stuff on this list, in my plain opinion, would be just fine eaten out of a brown paper bag in the dark and washed down by a warm bottle of Ripple Pagan Pink.

Okay, that’s a bit much. You should turn on a light. You need to see what you’re doing.

So here it is, but first an apology. Last year, as has been pointed out, there was a huge sin of omission in my in memoriam list. “No Dobbs House black bottom pie?” you questioned. “No Toddle House black bottom pie,” you moaned. The common lament, no black bottom pie, and you were right. That legendary offering from those two lost local legends and Memphis originals should be on anyone’s list. So, seeking forgiveness, I offer recipes for both.

Try them, debate among yourselves the differences (one calls for a tablespoon of rum, the other a half a cup) or the authenticity (these did, after all, come from the web), but try them:

Dobbs House Black Bottom Pie

1 ¼ cups milk

2 eggs, well beaten

½ cup sugar

3 ⅔ tablespoons cornstarch

1 ounce Baker’s bitter chocolate, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon light rum

¾ cup whipping cream

½ ounce bitter chocolate, tiny chips

9-inch gingersnap crust

Scald milk in double boiler, then slowly add beaten eggs and blend well. Mix sugar and cornstarch and stir into egg mixture. Cook 15-20 minutes in double boiler, stirring occasionally. When cooked custard generously coats spoon it is done. Take ⅓ of hot custard and mix slowly with melted chocolate until cool. Add vanilla to chocolate custard. Stir balance of custard slowly until cool to avoid lumping. When cool add rum and blend. Whip cream until it peaks. Add chocolate filling to cooled gingersnap crust, completely cover crust. Add rum custard and level across pie. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with chips of chocolate.

Gingersnap Crust: Roll 14 crisp gingersnaps out fine and then add 5 tablespoons melted butter. Pat evenly into 9-inch pie tin and bake 10 minutes at 300°. Cool.  

Toddle House Black Bottom Pie

1 (9 inch) chocolate cookie (wafer) crumb crust

1 (.25 ounce) package unflavored gelatin

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 1/4 cups white sugar

1 3/4 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 egg yolks

1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup rum (or use rum flavoring extract)

4 egg whites

1/4 cup cold water

Dissolve gelatin in cold water, and set aside. In a small saucepan, mix cornstarch, 3/4 cup sugar, milk, and egg yolks. Cook, stirring, until bubbly and thick. Remove from heat, and add vanilla. Divide mixture in half. Add chocolate chips to one half, and stir until melted and smooth. Pour into pastry shell. Chill. Stir gelatin mixture into the other half of the hot egg yolk mixture. Stir in rum. Chill until slightly thick. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and beat to stiff peaks. Fold into partially set gelatin/rum mixture. Chill until mix will mound, then spoon into pie shell on top of chocolate layer. Chill overnight. Mound whipped cream over pie. Shave chocolate over whipped cream before cutting to serve.

As published in The Daily News, September 7, 2012, and in The Memphis News, September 8-14, 2012

Black Bottom Pie


So many of you seemed to salivate over last year’s Tasteful List, I’ve updated it for 2012. While reduced some, make no mistake, there’s nothing dietary about it. Some are last year’s refried beans, some are this year’s nouvelle cuisine, some are just delicious memories. An alphabetical survey of local flavor in one decidedly local man’s opinion. After reading this, don’t step on a scale or check your blood sugar.

So chew on this:

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, Café Ole, Molly’s, Saigon Le; Baguettes, La Baguette; Barbecue Pizza, Coletta’s, Pete & Sam’s; Barbecue Salad, Bar-B-Q Shop, Central BBQ, Germantown Commissary; Barbecue Sandwich, Bar-B-Q Shop, Interstate, Neely’s, Payne’s, Tops; Barbecue Spaghetti, Bar-B-Q Shop, Neely’s; Beacon Salad, Pete & Sam’s; Beer, Bosco’s; Birthday Cake Sno Cone, Jerry’s; Biscuits and Gravy, Blue Plate, Brother Juniper’s; Boston Cream Pie, Calvary Waffle Shop; Catfish, Soul Fish; Cheese Dip, Pancho’s; Cheeseburger, Belmont, Caritas Village, Ernestine & Hazel’s, Huey’s, Tops; Chicken Salad, Bogie’s, Calvary Waffle Shop; La Baguette; Chips, Las Delicias; Chocolate Malt, Wiles-Smith; Chopped Steak, Mortimer’s; Coffee, Republic Coffee; Corn Sticks, Little Tea Shop; Cuban Sandwich, Soul Fish; Cupcakes, Muddy’s; DeNiro, Republic Coffee; Dry Ribs, Rendezvous; Egg Drop Soup, A-Tan’s, Formosa; Eggplant Casserole, Cupboard; Egg Roll & Pork Vermicelli, Saigon Le; Egg Salad, Cheffie’s; Fish Pudding, Calvary Waffle Shop; Flank Steak Salad, S.O.B.; Florentine Pizza, Fresh Slices; Fried Chicken, Gus’s; Fried Rice, Formosa, Saigon Le; Fries, Brass Door, Huey’s; Green Bean with (anything), Formosa; Grilled Cheese, Tomato and Bacon, Wiles-Smith; Guacamole, Las Delicias; Gumbo, Déjà Vu; Hoppin John, Little Tea Shop; Hot and Sour Soup, A-Tan’s; Italian Salad, Coletta’s, Fino’s, Pete & Sam’s; Italian Spinach, Pete & Sam’s; Knuckle Sandwich, Iris; Lyonnaise Salad, Café 1912; Miss Mary’s Salad, Frank Grisanti’s; New York Club, Fino’s; Osso Buco, Sweet Grass; Peanuts, Peanut Shoppe; Pizza Supreme, Memphis Pizza Cafe; Popcorn, Peanut Shoppe; Potato Soup, Huey’s; Salad Bar, Jason’s, Kay Kafe at St. Jude; Salad Sampler, Bogie’s, Calvary Waffle Shop; Salt & Pepper Shrimp, Evelyn & Olive; Sausage and Cheese Plate, Rendezvous; Sea Bass, Tsunami; Self-Serve Yogurt, YoLo; Shrimp and Grits, Sweet Grass; Shrimp Elfo, Frank Grisanti’s; Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce, Saigon Le; Shrimp Po Boy, Déjà Vu; Shrimp Salad, Bogey’s, Mortimer’s; Souflima, Jim’s Place; Soup (any kind), Caritas Village, Parsonage in Marion, Stuffed Avocado, Little Tea Shop; Surf and Turf, Iris; The Belt, Brass Door; Turkey Burger, Huey’s; Turnip Greens, Elegant Farmer, Little Tea Shop; Vietnamese Egg Rolls, Saigon Le; Vodka Pie, Aldo’s Pizza; Wet Ribs, Bar B-Q Shop, Central BBQ, Interstate, Neely’s; Waffles, Calvary Waffle Shop; Wonton Soup, Saigon Le.

And in memoriam:

Barbecue Sandwich, Brady & Lil’s, Little Pigs, Pitchfork; Biscuits and Gravy, Ferguson’s; Black Bottom Pie, Dobbs House, Toddle House; Chess Pie, Seessel’s; Club Steak, Bill and Jim’s; Coconut Ice Cream, Tropical Freeze; Crabmeat Justine, Justine’s; Fried Shrimp, Anderton’s; Green Pepper Beef, Joy Young; Horseradish Encrusted Grouper, Jarrett’s; Lady Fingers, Seessel’s; Mocha Cake, Carl’s Bakery; Onion Rings, Pig ‘n Whistle; Poo Poo Platter, Luau; Vanilla Soda, Normal Drug Store

I’m a Memphian, and I’m well fed.


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