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Food News



Now you can stop to smell the roses and the "carnivore" panini at the Memphis Botanic Garden.

Late last month, the folks at Fratelli's, the Italian cafe and market, packed up the downtown Front Street store and moved to the garden, located at 750 Cherry Road.

Sabine Baltz opened Fratelli's with Malcolm Aste, former director of marketing for The Memphis Flyer, in June 2002.

"It was a lot of work downtown -- 60- to 80-hour weeks to make overhead, and now I can spend more time with my family," says Baltz. "The Botanic Garden made us such an incredible offer because they hope to get more foot traffic."

Though Fratelli's will no longer sell imported gourmet pastas and oils, it will still offer its swanky sandwiches and colorful salad plates for lunch Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"We will continue to do the box lunches, and we are really going to start promoting the catering more," says Baltz. "We still have the same menu, same desserts. Everything is handmade."

Memphis Botanic Garden interim executive director Bob FouchÇ says that he and the staff are excited about the move.

"It's a good opportunity to take the Botanic Garden to another level by offering dining to the public," says FouchÇ.

"We had some great loyal customers who loved the food, but there wasn't enough foot traffic," says Baltz. "In three or four years, after the south side of downtown develops, we would love to come back."

Savor Sunday afternoon with rare wine and fine food at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Overton Park. Continuing "The Art of Good Taste," an annual series of fund-raising events, the museum will present a classroom-style tasting of Mazzocco wines April 25th at 2 p.m.

Mazzocco Vineyards is a small boutique winery in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, California. At this tasting, guests will sample single-vineyard Zinfandels produced from 80-year-old vines as well as Matrix, Mazzocco's Bordeaux-style blend.

"Mazzocco in 1987 was a pioneer in the California propriety-blend movement to create what are now called Meritage wines," says local independent wine broker Tracie Hogan of Hogan Wine Ventures.

It's a rare opportunity to taste the winery's first vintage as well as preview yet-to-be released 2000 vintages.

Mazzocco's director of marketing, Ned Carton will offer insight into the history of the family-owned winery, its winemaker, and the winemaking process and results.

Chef Jennifer Dickerson will prepare hors d'oeuvres in the newly refurbished Brushmark restaurant. The restaurant now features 300 new mahogany and chrome chairs purchased with funding from the "Take a Seat" campaign. A mahogany hostess stand and buffet, handcrafted by local artisan Stephen Crump, complement the new design. Turn-of-the-century stained-glass windows from the Hill Mansion, which once stood at 1400 Union Avenue, adorn the walls in specially constructed light boxes.

Tickets are $100 per person and can be reserved by calling 544-6219.

No permission slip required. This field trip calls only for a healthy appetite for down-home Southern cooking and an interest in race relations. Anyone can join the Southern Foodways Alliance to celebrate the power food has in uniting people across cultures and races.

From June 4th to 6th, the SFA, a group of culinary writers, historians, and enthusiasts, will travel to Birmingham to explore the connection between food and culture in the South.

The 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which declared segregation of restaurants illegal, gives special meaning to the fourth annual SFA Symposium, "Alabama in Black and White."

"Like music, food is universally loved and shared, and we want to elucidate the power of food as a means of racial reconciliation," says John T. Edge, SFA director.

The weekend events will include a tour of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, speakers and panel discussions, entertainment, and lots of food.

The trip culminates with a "freedom ride" to Willie King's Freedom Creek Blues Festival in Aliceville, Alabama. Renowned chefs, such as John Fleer of the Inn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, and Scott Barton of Voyage in New York City, will join Birmingham chefs to prepare Southern favorites such as Conecuh County sausage and sweet-tea-brined fried chicken.

The SFA is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, Oxford. Registration fees of $175 for members and $195 for nonmembers include transportation, some meals, and entertainment. Lodging is separate. For more information, contact the SFA at 662-915-7236 or visit

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