Dishing the Delta 

When we last checked in with Jimmy Gentry a year and a half ago, the former chef de cuisine at Erling Jensen was using his classical French training and his taste for Asian cuisine to inject a bit of ethnic creativity into the dishes at Grand Casino's LB's Steakhouse. During Gentry's tenure, LB's received an award of excellence from Distinguished Restaurants of North America and Wine Spectator.

Now it appears that with his new gig at Horseshoe Casino's Magnolia — A Delta Grille, Gentry's cooking has gone South.

The newly opened Magnolia serves Southern comfort food that's a step up from down-home but not entirely upscale. You can start off dinner with a grown-up version of Southern sweet tea, made with peach-flavored vodka and sweet iced tea, before you move on to "Chicken Livers Three Ways" (blackened, fried, and sautéed), buttermilk fried frog legs in a butter sauce, or "Arkansas Mushroom and Chicken Gumbo."

Among the entrées are the usual suspects — bass, strip steak, Gulf red snapper, filet of beef, and rack of lamb — as well as some unusual ones, such as fried chicken and waffles (buttermilk fried chicken with toasted waffles and warm maple syrup) and ham hocks that are braised and served with white beans and sweet cornbread.

Southern favorites dominate the dessert menu — lemon ice box pie, sweet potato pie, white chocolate bread pudding — but surely you won't be able to resist ordering the "Chocolate Pepsi Cola Cake," a chocolate cake made with layers of peanut-butter mousse and served with Jack Daniel's ice cream.

Magnolia — A Delta Grille, Horseshoe Casino (1-800-303-7463)

If you're interested in Southern food, you shouldn't wait to register for this year's Southern Foodways Symposium at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, October 25th through 28th.

This year's symposium is its 10th anniversary, and it looks like it's going to be one hell of a party. California cuisine guru Alice Waters is flying in for the event. Other participants include the Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva) and chef Frank Stitt.

This year's symposium will examine the state of Southern food, both the present and the future. On Friday and Saturday, cooks, chefs, food writers, scholars, and curious eaters will ponder the diverse food cultures of the South, focusing on topics such as the "Creolization of Southern Foodways"; "20th Century Farm Policy"; and "Class and Consumption."

Also part of the symposium is its annual sidetrip, the Delta Divertissement, on October 24th. This overnight trip to Greenwood, Mississippi, will take in all things porcine.

Led by Southern Foodways Alliance oral historian and "Delta champion" Amy Evans (along with Pluto Plantation native Martha Foose), the group will "break down" a pig with the help of sausage man Bruce Aidells, learn to stuff boudin and fry gratons with chef Donald Link, and gather for a breakfast of artisanal bacon and creamy grits.

Naturally, you will not go hungry during the symposium. On the menu this year during the event's various lunches, brunches, and snacktimes: whole-hog barbecue doused with vinegar sauce, pig ears in mustard sauce, tacos pollo frito, refried black-eyed peas, and boiled-peanut cotton candy.

For more information about the Southern Foodways Symposium and the Delta Divertissement or to register, visit

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