The Shot

The Pink Pig Rides Again

Plus: A fresh cranberry recipe; a final call at Foggy Ridge; and beer in space.

It’s go time. Thanksgiving is nine days away and you know that bird’s not going to brine itself. But there’s no need to panic. We’ve got you covered with a seasonal blend of conversation starters, recipes, and coping strategies, served up with a twist of inspiration. We’re calling it The Shot.  

Pork Belly 

Photo: Patricia Murphy

Priscilla the pig at Lenox Mall in Atlanta.

Does anything evoke the warmth of the holiday season more than riding a miniature pig train through a mall parking lot with the ones you love? Not if you live in Atlanta, where the city’s inexplicably weird, but much beloved, Pink Pig fired up for action last week at Lenox Mall and unofficially launched the holiday season in the city.

Priscilla (the pig) got her start in 1953 when Atlanta’s best-known department store, Rich’s, was looking for an attraction to bring families downtown to do their Christmas shopping. Seventy years later, Rich’s has closed for business and Priscilla has moved out to Buckhead, but the Pink Pig is more popular than ever. In a city that changes constantly, taking a spin in a pink pig’s tummy is one of the few traditions that has endured. Don’t try to understand it, just hop aboard and love it like everybody else.

Cranberry Crush

Photo: Courtesy of Canyon Kitchen

Chef Adam Hayes’ pickled cranberries.

You’re invited to someone else’s home for Thanksgiving and your gracious host insists, “Just bring yourself.” May we humbly suggest: Don’t you dare. You weren’t raised by wolves—bring a dish! But which one?

Into the brink comes Chef Adam Hayes from Canyon Kitchen in gorgeous Cashiers, North Carolina, who is giving Garden & Gun readers the only recipe needed to ace your guest game or, for the hosts among you, to give your own Thanksgiving menu a chic update—pickled fresh cranberries. This twist on traditional cranberry sauce is as delicious as it is beautiful. It packs easily if you’re driving across town and can be made ahead if you’re a planner. Consider this your guarantee that you will never go empty-handed to Thanksgiving again.

Chef Adam Hayes’ Pickled Cranberry Recipe

2 bags fresh cranberries (12 oz. each)
4 cups cider vinegar
4 cups water
8 cups sugar
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tbsp. juniper berries
3 bay leaves, crushed
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
1 tbsp. whole cloves
2 tbsp. coriander seed
1 tbsp. star anise

Bring all ingredients except for cranberries to a boil. Remove from heat. Let steep 10 minutes. Strain and return to boil. Add cranberries to boiling liquid. Remove from heat just as cranberries begin to split. Pour mixture into a bowl, place bowl in an ice bath to cool. Refrigerate.

Last Call for Final Call

Photo: Courtesy of Foggy Ridge Cider

Diane Flynt will focus on growing fruit for other cider makers.

It’s the end of an era at Foggy Ridge Cider; owner Diane Flynt told her customers last week that Final Call, the cider maker’s most recent label, will be its last. Flynt, a three-time James Beard nominee for Best Beer, Wine, or Spirits Professional, was the first cider maker in the South when she launched Foggy Ridge in 2005 using heirloom fruit she grew in the southern Virginia Appalachian Mountains.

Twelve years later, Flynt tells The Shot she’s ready to focus solely on growing fruit for other cider makers. “It’s very much a celebratory move,” she says. “And I’m ready not to clean tanks every day.” We hear ya, Diane. But expect her to remain a force in the industry. As we spoke, she was headed for a staff training at Husk Greenville for chef Sean Brock, and she plans to stay in the apple business “until I fall out of a tree when I’m 95.” May we all.

Space Beer, Y’all

The gents at Oconee Brewing Company in Greensboro, Georgia, achieved one giant step for craft beer last week. They used a weather balloon to launch a can of their craft beer into the heavens, a drone to film it, an art installation to keep it company, and two business cards in case somebody found the beer once it landed.

Why? “Life is really short here,” says co-owner Nathan McGarity. “Why not?” After a week and a half of intensive research, Team Oconee fashioned a balloon-and-brew contraption that managed to fly just over 120,000 feet high (about 22 miles), stay aloft for 2 1/2 hours, and come back to Earth 60 miles away. With the help of two GPS devices and a local farmer, the John Glenn of beer cans returned home safe and sound. “We’ve got it back at the brewery now,” McGarity says. “We’re going to make a little space helmet for it.” What kind of beer was it anyway? Round Here Beer, of course.

“G” Is for Gift

The “S is for Sweet & Salty” gift crate from Mercantile & Co.

The truly organized among you ordered your holiday cards in September and have your Thanksgiving menu ready to roll. So what else is a Type A to do but move on to gift giving for the ones you love. That’s where Mercantile & Co. comes in, Garden & Gun’s online emporium of life well lived, featuring unique items made in the South.

Blackberry Farm biscuit mix and jam for the teachers? Check. Cast-iron-everything for your sister who has almost everything? D’uh. Elk punch bowl? Why not? Mercantile & Co. is our one-stop shop for duck calls, barware, gift crates, and maybe a little fantasy shopping for the day we, too, need a signature portable cornhole set. Until then, pass the etched crystal decanter.

Parting Shot

This week, the team at The Shot is … Popping the champers for G&G chef-crush Mashama Bailey and her incomparable Savannah restaurant, The Grey, for being named Eater’s restaurant of the year. …. Still looking for the other Southern cities on National Geographic’s list of the 25 happiest places in the country, which includes only Charlottesville, Virginia, in the top 10. Has National Geographic never been to Tuscaloosa on Game Day?…. Looking for an excuse to book the new Waffle House party bus. It’s real and it’s spectacular. … And finally, we’re still singing along to Darius Rucker’s performance of “Hold My Hand” at last week’s CMAs, backed up by what seemed like half of country music and every member of the CMA audience. After a year of hurricanes, earthquakes, tragedies and sadness, we were all Blowfish in that moment. And it was beautiful.

Until next week, friends.