>>>A MAN WHOSE COOKING SKILLS
WERE FIRST NOTICED AT FOOTBALL TAILGATE GATHERINGS HAS
ESTABLISHED A POSTRETIREMENT FOOD CAREER, FIRST AS A CATERER
AND THEN AS A RESTAURATEUR. HE’S DON SIMMONS, AND HE’S THE
PROPRIETOR OF A HIGHLY REGARDED HOME-COOKING RESTAURANT IN
ASHEBORO. BOB GARNER TAKES US ALONG TO
SAMPLE THE FARE AT MAGNOLIA 23.>>THERE’S CERTAINLY NO MYSTERY
ABOUT WHAT ATTRACTS SO MANY PEOPLE TO MAGNOLIA 23.>>HOME, SOUTHERN COOKED FOOD
SOME PEOPLE EXPRESS AS SOUL FOOD. WELL, ALL OUR RECIPES FROM — WE
CALL DOWN HOME RECIPES FROM OUR PARENTS, AND DORIS, WHICH IS MY
WIFE, HER MOTHER AND MY MOTHER. EVERYTHING IS COOKED FROM
SCRATCH. AND WE STICK WITH OUR — I’LL
SAY STICK WITH OUR REGULAR RECIPES.>>ONE OF WHICH IS THE
RESTAURANT’S FAMOUS GRILLED PORK CHOP. THIS HAS A NICE GLAZE ON IT. IT’S COOKED ON A GRILL. AND IT’S GLAZED WITH SORT OF A
BARBECUE SAUCE. I CAN JUST TELL FROM CUTTING
THAT, THE TEXTURE IS PERFECT. NOW, EVEN THOUGH THAT HAS THE
GRILL MARKS ON IT, YOU DON’T NORMALLY GET A PORK CHOP QUITE
THAT TENDER AND FALL APART WITHOUT PUTTING IT IN SOME MOIST
HEAT FOR A WHILE SO THE MEAT CAN KIND OF RELAX. AND THAT’S WHAT’S HAPPENED
THERE.OOH! BEAUTIFUL, DARK GREEN COLLARD
GREENS. MMM. WONDERFUL, LUSCIOUS TEXTURE ON
YOUR TONGUE AND ON YOUR PALATE, WHICH TELLS YOU THAT THERE’S
SOME ANIMAL FAT IN THERE FOR SEASONING BUT NOT TOO MUCH. JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT. LOVE THE WAY THOSE BITE AND THE
WAY THEY FEEL. OH, OH. LOOK AT THE PRESENTATION ON THIS
MAC AND CHEESE, THE WAY THAT HAS THAT GOLDEN BROWN TOP, THAT
CHEWY LOOKING MELTED CHEESE. MMM. NOW, ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WITH
COOKING REALLY SUPERLATIVE MAC AND CHEESE IS THAT IF YOU MAKE A
WHOLE PAN OF IT, IT TENDS TO DRY OUT. THIS LOOKS LIKE IT WAS ACTUALLY
INDIVIDUALLY PREPARED BY THE SERVING WHICH ALLOWS YOU MORE
FLEXIBILITY AS TO WHAT TO DO WITH IT TO MAKE SURE IT’S MOIST
AND YET HAS SOME NICE STRUCTURE TO IT. OH, THAT’S SO GOOD! TRIP ADVISOR HAS JUST RATED
MAGNOLIA 23’S FRIED CHICKEN AS AMONG THE TOP 100 IN THE
COUNTRY; ACTUALLY, 63. AND EVERYBODY KNOWS ONCE YOU GET
IN THE TOP 100, IT’S ALL SUBJECTIVE ANYWAY, THAT YOU
COULD FALL ANYWHERE ACCORDING TO ONE PERSON’S OPINION. THIS IS COOKED IN A CAST IRON
FRYING PAN RATHER THAN A DEEP FRYER, WHICH UNDOUBTEDLY IS ONE
OF THE MAIN REASONS IT MADE THAT HIGH RATING. OH, MY GOSH! IT’S CRISPY, HAS SOME CRACKLE TO
IT WHEN YOU BITE INTO IT, YET IT’S WONDERFULLY SOFT AND
LUSCIOUS JUST BELOW THE SURFACE. THE SALT LEVEL IS JUST RIGHT. OH. OH, MAN, BLACKBERRY COBBLER WITH
KIND OF A BISCUIT-TYPE CRUST TO IT AND A NICE ICE COLD VANILLA
ICE CREAM. BLACKBERRY COBBLER IS ACTUALLY
ONE OF MY FAVORITES BECAUSE WHEN YOU WENT OUT AND GATHERED THESE
IN THE SUMMERTIME, YOU ALWAYS HAD AN INVESTMENT. YOU ALWAYS CAME HOME WITH PLENTY
OF SCRATCHES, AND THE BERRIES TASTED EVEN BETTER BECAUSE OF
THAT. ASHEBORO HAS ALWAYS BEEN A
NATURAL MEETING SPOT BETWEEN THE CHARLOTTE AND THE TRIANGLE
AREAS, AND MAGNOLIA 23 MAKES IT EVEN MORE OF ONE. FOR “NORTH CAROLINA WEEKEND,”
I’M BOB GARNER.