morning afterYou know it’s been a heck of a weekend if, on Sunday night, you’re craving a salad and a shower.

Last weekend The Kid and I drove down to Greenville, SC and attended the 12th annual food, drink and music festival, Euphoria.  It was an all-you-can-eat, drink, and listen extravaganza.

So, we did.

Saturday afternoon we went to the “Feast by the Field” held in and around Fluor Field on the West End, the stadium for Greenville’s minor league baseball the Drive.  Chefs from all around the country cooked up tempting bites that represented them and their style.


The duck, with those amazing collards.

The first bite was one of my favorites of the weekend.  It was an empanada filled with slow cooked short rib and served with a green tomato relish and microgreens.  Another favorite was a cornbread toast point with duck confit, the best braised collards I’ve ever eaten, and topped with crispy duck cracklings.  I asked for the collard recipe, but unfortunately, it came the chef’s grandmother and was not for sharing.

My favorite offering of the event was mini cupcakes.  I chose a salted caramel one.

I ate it in two bites.Saturday night was the inaugural Big Easy Bash.  It was held in a town near Greenville which is undergoing a kind of renaissance, Traveler’s Rest (is that a cute name for a little town, or what?).  It was a celebration of all things New Orleans.

The band, Soda City Brass Band was talented and playful.  One of my favorite moments of the night came when the trumpet player broke out his digeridoo and played some jazz.

The band came out into the crowd and a large portion of the of the crowd paraded in front and behind.  This is called “Second Line”.  My child and I joined the Lousiana and danced our hearts out.  The consumption of numerous, brightly colored cocktails may or may not have played a part in our decision.

Chef Tariq Hanna

Tariq Hanna, sugar wizard, and creator of brown butter ganache.

My favorite dish of the night was no surprise, a dessert.  The pastry chef actually works in N’awlins and his creation was totally traditional, and at the same time, completely insane.  It was a tart, about 3-inches long by ½-inch wide, filled with bread pudding.

So that is unique enough.  But he then along the top he piped a line of something I’d never heard of, but which now resides on my short list of favorite foods.


How is it that I never heard of this ambrosia?  Can you imagine the buckets of it that I have missed eating because I only just discovered it this late in the game?  It’s just too depressing to even contemplate.


John Lewis of Lewis Barbecue in Charleston.  The Best Short Ribs ever, and the best bite at Euphoria.

Sunday though, was my favorite event.  The reason?  It was brunch, a delicious hybrid of breakfast foods, lunch fare, and a slice of melon.  With an emphasis on barbecue, it was called “Fired Up!”.

And here I discovered and devoured my two favorite of the weekend: pork belly tacos, and short ribs that were so amazing, I told the chef to call me if he ever needed a kidney.  Next to him was a pile of stripped bovine rib bones so massive it looked like the aftermath of a cookout at Fred Flintstone’s house.We were lucky enough to have a VIP ticket.  It conferred upon us exclusive events, early admissions, and entry to the VIP lounge.

I’ve never been a VIP before.  But I have a sneaking suspicion that after this weekend, it’s gonna be tough going back to being a mere “P”.

Chef Crenn

The Kid and I were so honored to meet Chef Dominique Crenn.  What a weekend!

Thanks for your time.


Column, the first

Good morning Henderson.

My name is Debbie Matthews, and I am delighted to have been asked to write a weekly column about food, cooking, and all the whimsy that pops into my head on a regular basis.

First, I’d like to tell you a bit about me.

Although a military kid, I’ve spent the majority of my life in NC.  I’m married to Petey, and have been since the invention of movable type.  We have one child, The Kid, who was educated at the New England Culinary Institute, and is my usual gastronomic partner in crime.

My favorite foods are potato salad and birthday cake.  I know all the lyrics to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody (and most of the lyrics to American Pie).  I can bend my thumbs backwards at a 90% angle.  I love dogs, and have a 200 pound Anatolian shepherd named Riker.  My favorite movie is The Big Chill.  I’m a fan of Doctor Who and pretty shoes.

A few of my favorite things-look at those awesome shoes.

A few of my favorite things-look at those awesome shoes.

Not many things make me happier than putting on some good music (mostly 70’s and 80’s rock, with a dash of ragtime), and cavorting around my kitchen, coming up with new dishes and putting twists on old.

Although Petey is one of the least fussy eaters ever, I can tell by his extremely low-key reaction how well a new dish has gone over.  He is the best Guinea pig for whom a girl could ask.

Recently I had in the freezer both a bit of pastry dough, and some short ribs I’d gotten on sale.  I made short rib hand pies.

Sometimes called a pasty, but a pie by any name…

Petey liked.

Short rib hand pies

For ribs:

2 3-4 inch pieces boneless short ribs

¾ teaspoon either seasoning salt or salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 250.  Heavily season short ribs and double wrap with foil, leaving a little space around ribs for juices.  Cook for 2-2 ½ hours or until falling-apart tender. 

For gravy and pie:

8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

½ yellow onion, chopped

¾ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped finely

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ cup Sherry

2 cups beef stock

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons horseradish

Salt and pepper to taste

2-6 inch rounds pie crust, about 1/8-1/4 inch thick (either store-bought or homemade)


½ cup butter and ½ cup flour cooked together until peanut butter colored.

In a skillet, sauté mushrooms, onions, and herbs in olive oil.  Season.  When veggies start to caramelize, add garlic and cook ‘til fragrant.  Add tomato paste and cook until color’s deepened to burgundy.  Deglaze pan with Sherry, and cook out.

Stir in stock, Worcestershire, horseradish, and bring to boil.  Whisk in roux until it’s the thickness of cake frosting.  Mix in shredded meat and any juices. 

Place about ¾ cup of cooled short rib mixture into each crust. Fold over and seal with egg wash (1 egg and 1 tablespoon water).  Brush egg wash over pie, and cut 3 slits to vent.  Sprinkle top with salt and pepper.

Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown.  Serves 2.

You’ll have filling left.  I froze mine, and another night will thin it and spoon it over grits.  Just make sure to label your bag.

Though I am very definitely neither Julia Child nor Erma Bombeck, I hope you’ll enjoy my earnest scribblings.  But if even you don’t, there is something that this column will do magnificently—line bird cages.


Thanks for your time.