Among the many traditions at Dillard is the Saturday night supper at John and Kathy Swift’s cook site. John and Kathy are from Atmore, Alabama, and are among the nicest people you will meet ever in your life. Saturday is a day of intensity and stress for the cooks. At the end of the day, a few of them win. Many more who are knocking at the door do not. Kissing your sister comes to mind.
For the judges, Saturday is a day of utter bliss followed by protein overload. The barbecue is good. No, it’s great. But it settles in your stomach no matter how good it is. Hard.
So John and Kathy have a few friends over for fried catfish, hush puppies, sliced tomatoes and grilled Silver Queen corn. Everyone else brings a side dish.
Kathy Swift is just a force of nature with a smile and a great palate. Here she is with Chris Lilly, the shining light of Big Bob Gibson’s. Let me just digress for a minute to tell you that Big Bob Gibson makes a barbecue sauce out of mayonnaise. Mayonnaise! How could you not love that?
I should just detest Kathy Swift. She is beautiful. She is super smart. She is one of the greatest party throwers on the planet. And she is a great cook. But I don’t detest her. She is easily 20 years my junior and I want to be just like her when I grow up. She lets me store my wine in one of her coolers. She “loans” me wine when I run out. She feeds me marinated shrimp and hunks of gourmet cheese. I feel like her elderly, wrinkled daughter.
So, tonight it is fried catfish, hush puppies, tomatoes and corn. The perfect Southern supper. Here is Georgia, Terrell’s daughter, starting to load up with catfish. She is happy. Terrell has had a fine time at Dillard after a difficult few weeks. Georgia has been right there with him the whole time. That girl deserves some catfish.
John has developed a new rub, which he is now selling. I will get to why I’m mentioning this a little later. That’s John behind Georgia. Did I mention that this man is so nice that he coached the Chicks in Charge on cooking chicken and then didn’t even complain once when we beat him at his own game at a contest? I say this because we will beat John Swift at a BBQ contest about once every 500 years, so he can afford to be gracious.
So we sit around the Swift’s site and enjoy some adult beverages and catfish. We talk about the day. A wonderful day spent with friends in the North Georgia mountains. It is the last day of a four-day vacation, probably the best of the year for me. I have a little too much wine. But that’s O.K. because I can walk back to my room. And then, it’s on the road and home to Brentwood with my bags of corn, tomatoes and peaches. And some of John’s new rub. Rubs are a dime a dozen, to be honest with you. But I get some out and try it on some skillet potatoes when I get home. It’s really good. I mean really good. Sweet and savory with a little bit of heat. The potatoes go well with the Silver Queen corn and tomatoes. It is a perfect Sunday supper.
So I am done with Dillard for another year, I hate to say. If the Dillard House would rent me a room for the year I’d never leave.
(And just one more personal indulgence. Good night, Terrell. I love you. When I called Mark last night I told him I’d just left your room. He said if it were anyone else, he’d be worried.)