Monthly Archives: April 2011

Paul’s Pot Pies, Marietta, GA

Steaming hot pot pies from Paul Lubertazzi’s Traveling Fare Cafe really hit the spot any time of year.

story and photos by Bakery Boy

Paul’s Pot Pies from Chef Paul Lubertazzi help keep his Traveling Fare Cafe on the minds of many in Marietta, Georgia, especially when they get hungry.

Around lunchtime people in downtown Marietta, Georgia, follow their noses to Chef Paul Lubertazzi’s place just off Marietta Square. For 27 years the amicable owner of Traveling Fare Café & Caterers has been cooking and baking aromatic meals for dine-in or take-out. His most alluring creations, called Paul’s Pot Pies, have achieved cult status among a hungry following, and they just might be the best pot pies in Georgia. No matter what the weather, hot or cold, a good pot pie is never out of season.

Here’s a primer on a heartwarming comfort food source you should keep on speed dial if you live anywhere close to this city just to the northwest of Atlanta—or if you are willing to pay the extra price to have pies cold-packed for overnight shipping anywhere.

WHAT MAKES THESE POT PIES SPECIAL Fresh ingredients, daily preparation in small batches, reasonable prices ($7.50 for a 6-inch pie to serve one, $21.95 for a 10-inch pie that feeds five or six), and most importantly taste.

PAUL’S STORY A New Jersey native and Culinary Institute of America graduate, he cooked in hotel kitchens before launching Traveling Fare Café in 1984. His mother Patricia, wife Roberta, brother Tommy, son Brayden, and daughter Renae help out.

INGREDIENTS “I get everything fresh from a butcher and a farmers market—big chunks of chicken or beef and lots of corn, carrots, broccoli, pearl onions, green beans, and peas,” Paul says.

A flower shape cut from pastry dough, Paul’s signature, tops each Paul’s Pot Pie.

CRUMBLY CRUSTS Paul rolls pie dough bottoms just before filling and baking, so they don’t get soggy waiting. He uses puff pastry for the tops for a crisp look and buttery taste.

TRADEMARK TOUCH “I top each pie with a flower shape cut from dough,” Paul says. “It’s my symbol, a tulip with stem and leaves. I’ll put people’s initials or other shapes there by request.”

VARIETY COUNTS Paul makes at least eight different kinds of pot pies. A few examples and what’s in them: Chicken Pot Pie (white meat, peas, potatoes, carrots, corn); Pot Roast Pot Pie (eye round, potatoes, onions, carrots, peas); Vegetarian Pot Pie (feta cheese, cannelloni beans, spinach, broccoli, carrots, zucchini); Italian Sausage Pot Pie (sausage, mozzarella, provolone, onions, zucchini, bell peppers, marinara); Creole Shrimp Pot Pie (shrimp, rice, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers); Pizza Pot Pie (ground beef, mozzarella, provolone, onions, bell peppers).

CATERER’S RX Paul is no doctor, but when people are feeling a little under the weather, he cheerfully prescribes that they “eat a chicken pot pie and call me in the morning.”

RAVE REVIEW Local orthodontist Dr. Gerald “Gerry” Samson frequents Paul’s for pot pies nearly every week. “I like that they’re made fresh, the portions are generous, and they’re consistently delicious—the best comfort food ever,” Gerry says. “For Christmas, as a thank-you gesture, I give pies to my dentist friends who refer patients to me.”

Look for Paul's Pot Pies at Traveling Fare just off Marietta Square downtown.

GIFTING PIES Show up with pot pies at any sort of party—housewarming, birthday, football—or when visiting new babies or sick friends. They’re sure to be hits. Treat yourself sometime when you just don’t feel like cooking.

MAIL ORDER OPTION “For people who live far away and still want a Paul’s Pot Pie, we ship overnight packed in Styrofoam and dry ice,” Paul says. “It costs $12.50 to send a $21.95 pie, but to some devoted pot pie eaters, it’s apparently worth the price.”

TIPS Order ahead to avoid hearing the dreaded words, “They’re all gone!” Eat there at one of four small tables, or get a hot pie for take-out, or carry one home to freeze for later (cooking instructions provided).

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Traveling Fare Café & Caterers

10 Mill Street, Marietta, GA 30060

770-428-6092

www.travelingfare.com

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FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE AREA

Marietta Welcome Center, www.mariettasquare.com, 770-429-1115

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.atlanta.net, 404-521-6600

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National Cornbread Festival, South Pittsburg, TN

Cornbread is king in this Tennessee town known for producing cast-iron cookware that’s perfect for baking cornbread.

by Bakery Boy

My skillet, made by Lodge Cast Iron in the 1950s, still serves my needs just fine. Photo by Bakery Boy

Ah, cornbread. If ever there was a staple food with as many uses as there are cultures using it, it’s cornbread.

Maize-growing Native Americans ate versions of cornbread long before Europeans reached the hemisphere. All across the South it goes naturally with barbecue and chili. Cowboys in the West pair it with pinto beans and ham hocks. In the Southwest adding jalapeño peppers creates a hot Hispanic edge. It’s a cornerstone of African American “soul” food. Whether doused with butter or honey or molasses, specked with diced onions or bacon bits or cheese, thinned with whole-wheat flour or fluffed up with eggs, cornbread is a crowd-pleaser in all its many forms. It can be deep-fried into hushpuppies, stewed into a pudding popular in colder climes, boiled into Italian-accented polenta, or molded around hot dogs on sticks to become county-fair-standard corndogs.

But the absolute best way to make cornbread is to bake it in a cast-iron skillet. And one of the best ways to experience that is to attend the National Cornbread Festival held at the end of April in the only place in the United States that still produced cast iron cookware: South Pittsburg, Tennessee, the home of Lodge Cast Iron and its perfect-for-cornbread cast-iron pans.

ALL ABOUT CORNBREAD

Young Danny's cooking skills earned him a blue ribbon. Photo courtesy of the National Cornbread Festival.

On April 30th and May 1st somewhere around 50,000 people will pour into South Pittsburg, a population 3,300 town 25 miles west of Chattanooga, for the 15th annual National Cornbread Festival (admission: $5 per day). They’ll all have one thing on their minds—cornbread.

South Pittsburg, which also dubs itself the “Tidiest Town in Tennessee”—community volunteers do clean the place up really well after such events—overflows with cornbread-themed everything during the festival. Bakers and cooks compete in a National Cornbread Cook-off sponsored by Martha White, Lodge Cast Iron, and FiveStar Range (top prize: $5,000). Entries range from the most basic recipes to attention-getting innovations such as adding smoked Gouda, sundried tomatoes, strawberry yogurt, sliced apples, peanut butter, hot dog chunks, M&M candies, or other ingredients.

Wholesome entertainment highlights this small-town event. Photo courtesy of the National Cornbread Festival.

At a series of tables on a downtown lane renamed Cornbread Alley for the occasion, you can taste samples of nine cornbread recipes ranging from “pork puppies” and “chipotle cornbread” to “chicken–and-chive flaps” and “tutti fruity cornbread balls.” Your $2 ticket for the tasting supports the nine local non-profit groups doing the cooking.

Like at any good small-town festival there will be a carnival, a food court, music, artwork, crafts, the awarding of blue ribbons to cook-off winners, the crowning of a Miss National Cornbread Festival beauty queen, and more.

ALL ABOUT CAST IRON

Sturdy Dutch Ovens are great for baking and cooking over campfires. Photo courtesy of Lodge Cast Iron.

Lodge Manufacturing Company has been making cast-iron skillets, griddles, and Dutch ovens in South Pittsburg for 115 years, a line that has gradually expanded to include deep fryers, grills, kettles, woks, pizza pans, muffin pans, and more. Naturally the company has a lot to do with putting on the festival, and most of what gets baked or cooked for the occasion gets baked or cooked in cast-iron.

You can see first-hand how Lodge Cast Iron is made during half-hour tours through the foundry on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the festival. There’s also a well-produced 11-minute video about the process on the company’s website. Click the “How Lodge Is Made” button on the www.lodgemfg.com home page to see how raw pig iron and recycled scrap metal—moved around by giant magnetic cranes and heated to an impurities-removing molten state in a 2000-degree furnace—becomes some of the highest-quality cast-iron cookware in the world.

Even if you miss the Cornbread Festival, you can still find Lodge cookware anytime at Lodge Factory Stores located in…

• South Pittsburg, Tennessee (504 South Cedar Avenue; 423-837-5919)

• Sevierville, Tennessee (105 Knife Works Lane; 865-429-1713)

• Commerce, Georgia (165 Pottery Factory Drive; 706-335-4875)

• Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (100 Legends Drive; 843-236-7849)

SING IT WITH A TWANG

Tennessee is known for music, so Tennessee-based Lodge Cast Iron designed a guitar-shaped skillet good for making cornbread, biscuits, scones, and more. See other cast-iron options at the online catalog at http://www.lodgemfg.com.

A country music song, the kind that gets stuck in your  head, accompanies a slide show on the National Cornbread Festival website. Among lyrics about pinto beans, cornbread, clowns, car shows, fun-runs, concerts, and the cook-off—delivered with deadpan honesty by local baritone singer and songwriter Neil Bennett—is this refrain that’s been repeating in my mind for days now:

The last weekend in April / There’s just one place to be / The National Cornbread Festival in / South Pittsburg Tennessee

See you there!

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National Cornbread Festival

April 30–May 1, 2011

Festival details: www.nationalcornbread.com

Lodge Cast Iron details: www.lodgemfg.com

South Pittsburg details: www.southpittsburg.com

For more about traveling in Tennessee: www.tnvacation.com

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Click here to see a separate Bakery Boy Blog post with sample recipes from the National Cornbread Cook-off.

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RECIPES Cornbread Recipes from the National Cornbread Festival

Here are three popular recipes shared during past National Cornbread Cook-offs, part of the National Cornbread Festival held the last weekend in April in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.

Click here to see a separate Bakery Boy Blog post about the National Cornbread Festival.

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BERRY CORNMEAL MUFFINS

Submitted by Boy Scout Troop 63

1 cup flour

¾ cup cornmeal

½ cup sugar

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped fresh strawberries

1 (8 oz) container strawberry yogurt

¼ cup butter, melted

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl gently toss strawberries in ½ cup of flour mixture. Whisk together yogurt, butter, and egg. Stir yogurt mixture into flour mixture just to moisten. Fold in strawberries. Spoon batter into prepared cast-iron pan. Bake 25 minutes.

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MEXICAN CORNBREAD

Submitted by Richard Hardy Memorial School Athletic Club

1 cup Martha White Yellow Self-Rising Cornmeal

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup Mayfield sour cream

1 (8 oz) can cream-style corn

2 eggs

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Mexican blend cheese

1 (4 oz) can chopped green chile peppers, drained

Heat oven to 375°. Grease an 8- or 9-inch skillet; place over medium heat while preparing cornbread batter. Stir melted butter into cornmeal and add sour cream, corn, and eggs, blending well. Spoon half of the batter into the greased hot cast-iron skillet. Sprinkle batter with cheese and chile peppers; cover with remaining batter. Bake for 35 minutes, until nicely browned.

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BROWN SUGAR CORNBREAD

Submitted by the Christian Women’s Job Corp

1 cup unsalted butter

2 2/3 cups Martha White Yellow Cornmeal

2 cups Martha White All Purpose Flour

2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar

2 cups Mayfield milk

4 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 9 x 4½ loaf pans and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together yellow cornmeal and flour. Heat butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat just until melted and whisk until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; whisk in milk and then eggs. Pour into dry mixture, stirring just until blended, and divide evenly between prepared pans, smoothing the tops. Bake in the middle of the oven until loaves are golden and cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

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Recipes reprinted with permission from the National Cornbread Festival and Lodge Cast Iron.

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NATIONAL CORNBREAD FESTIVAL

April 30–May 1, 2011

Festival details: www.nationalcornbread.com

Lodge Cast Iron details: www.lodgemfg.com

South Pittsburg details: www.southpittsburg.com

For more about traveling in Tennessee: www.tnvacation.com

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Click here to see a separate Bakery Boy Blog post about the National Cornbread Festival.

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