A Rock and Hard Place
But a beautiful place too, in the work of one Memphis photographer.
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Memphians of a certain age may remember the Embers restaurant, the fine-dining landmark in East Memphis. Were the Embers still open for business, no doubt it would show up in the pages of Food Lovers’ Guide to Memphis: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings, new this month from Globe Pequot Press.
But the Embers does indeed show up. The author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Memphis happens to live in the house that once belonged to Embers co-owner Harry Glaser and his wife, and that author happens to be Memphis magazine’s food columnist/blogger and University of Memphis journalism professor Pamela Denney, who on a personal note makes mention of the Embers in her dining guide. And what a go-to guide it is — a handy and handsomely designed resource not only for out-of-towners but for Memphians too.
The book is a comprehensive look at some 200 restaurants — from the traditionally Southern to the globally inspired, from downtown to the suburbs and beyond. But it’s also a kind of culinary history of Memphis and the South and a good guidebook to Memphis’ food festivals, farmers markets, ethnic markets, specialty stores, food trucks, and food writers.
“Local” is the key word here, and what could be more Memphis than a barbecue or a meat-and-three restaurant? They’re here in Denney’s book, which includes a barbecue lexicon for the uninitiated.
Here too: signature recipes by some of the city’s notable chefs — from Felicia Willett’s Bacon, Lettuce & Fried Green Tomato Salad at Felicia Suzanne’s, to Kelly English’s Amandine of Gulf Flasher & Cauliflower Puree at Restaurant Iris, to Ryan Trimm’s Frogmore Stew at Sweet Grass, to Kat Gordon’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie at Muddy’s Bake Shop.
“Writing this book made me realize that it’s not only the restaurants that are leading the food scene in Memphis,” Denney says. “It’s the artisans, the food purveyors, and even the director of nutrition for Memphis City Schools, Tony Geraci, who’s working with local farmers to bring produce into the Memphis City Schools.
“Memphis has become a real foodie town, a sophisticated food town,” Denney adds. “As a writer, you sit down, put all of it in one book, and you think, ‘Wow, this is impressive.’ And here I am come full circle, 15 years after moving into Harry Glaser’s house, writing about Memphis restaurants!”