The Shot

There’s Food to Go With Your Football in Atlanta

Plus: Hounds in Aiken, music in the Smokies, and Elvises in Baltimore


Thanksgiving is officially in the rear-view mirror, but thanks to a quirk in the calendar, we’ve still got several days of November left to savor before December and the holiday season kick into high gear. So put your Christmas lights down, prop your feet up, and enjoy our seasonal cocktail of what’s happening around the South in this week’s Take-It-Easy-Santa-It’s-Still-November edition of The Shot:

Pigskin Picnic

Sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the South’s third spiritual holiday of the season is scheduled for Saturday, when the SEC Championship will be up for grabs between the Auburn Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs. No SEC fan needs The Shot to give them the odds on who’s going to win, but allow us to shed some light on the other important business of the day—your pregame, in-game, and post-game plans if you’ve got tickets to game.

Photo: Justin Fox

Fox Bros.’ Frito pie is among the offerings at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta has designated several lots for tailgating, but with the dining options inside the billion-dollar megaplex, may we suggest saving some room for what you’ll find under the roof? Your options include Atlanta legends like The Varsity’s chili dogs and Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q’s famous Frito pie, along with some truly fine dining options at Molly B’s Kitchen (named after Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank’s mother), Kevin Gillespie’s Gamechanger, and, for the gluten-free, vegetarian, or veg-curious among you, Snackology 101. No matter what, you’re practically guaranteed to leave the game with a full tummy and the job you came with—which is more than we can say for some SEC coaches these days.

Blackberry Jams

Photo: Courtesy of Beall + Thomas Photography

Bramble Hall is an intimate venue at Blackberry Farm.

You probably know Blackberry Farm in east Tennessee for its award-winning cuisine and gracious hospitality in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. But did you also know the resort puts on a mean concert? Look no further than the current calendar, when Luke Bryan, the Brothers Osborne, and Little Big Town will all play separate nights in the farm’s new events venue, Bramble Hall. The indoor-outdoor space seats just about 250 people, so there’s no such thing as bad seat.

The concerts are a part of the farm’s unique music program exclusively for guests, which not only honors the Smoky Mountains’ musical tradition, but also aids the community that surrounds the farm. Ticket proceeds go to a variety of charities, including the Blackberry Farm Foundation, and support special projects in East Tennessee. The bad news is that tickets for the concerts are sold out for the rest of this year. But a full calendar of new events has just been posted for 2018. Take a look now, and get your tickets early.

Bless Your Hounds

Photo: Courtesy of Ginny Southworth

The Aiken Hounds in Hitchcock Woods.

A traditional Thanksgiving in beautiful Aiken, South Carolina, always includes turkey, dressing and an annual blessing. Specifically, it’s the annual Blessing of the Hounds before the Aiken Hounds’ opening meet on Thanksgiving Day, the official start to foxhunting season for the nation’s oldest “drag hunt,” in which the hounds chase the scent of a fox that’s already been laid down by the huntsman, instead of hunting a live animal.

Every Thanksgiving morning for more than 100 years, horses, hounds, and visitors who love the spectacle have gathered in Aiken’s famous Hitchcock Woods, occasionally with bloodies and bagels in hand. This year was no exception, with the Rev. Joseph Whitehurst from St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church praying for the safe return of all who braved the hunt.

If you’ve never been to Hitchcock Woods, think of it as South Carolina’s very own enchanted forest, with 2,100 acres of towering pines, walking trails, bridle paths, and a rare sandy soil that makes every footstep—whether horse, hound, or human—a whisper.

Elvis Lives

Photo: Mark Ricks

It’s all Elvis all the time this weekend in Baltimore.

Speaking of hound dogs, it’s time for the annual ode to Elvis in Baltimore this weekend, with Young Elvis, Old Elvis, and every other kind of Elvis impersonator you can think of scheduled to perform for The Night of 100 Elvises.

The event originated more than 20 years ago as a tribute to the Mississippi-born King of Rock & Roll by the Society for the Preservation of American Roots Music. The night has now stretched into a three-day burnin’ love extravaganza, with fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches (Elvis’ personal super food), an in-house movie theater screening nothing but Elvis goodness, Sunday brunch with Elvis, and the main event—three stages of “non-stop, all-Elvis” entertainment.

Profits from the event go to charity, while the motto for the weekend is one we’ll be embracing all year long: Don’t be cruel.

Parting Shots

This week, the team at The Shot is: Celebrating National Fritters Day on Saturday, because Thanksgiving detox is the refuge of the weak. … Pulling over at the Laurel & Hardy Museum in Harlem, Georgia, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Laurel & Hardy’s first movie, Putting Pants on Philip (it was a thing—ask your parents). … Reading the December/January issue of Garden & Gun, obvs, hot off the presses and on newsstands this week. And finally, we’re wondering what it will be like to accept a James Beard award after our 100 percent successful foray into deviled eggs and pickled cranberries on Thanksgiving Day. OK, we’re not getting nominated, but the call for nominations is now open, for the talented chefs and chef fans among you. You gotta think big to be big, friends.

Until next week …