Read in browser
The Daily Memphian – Truth in place.
Table Talk: A beer series launches, plus an apple cake recipe and new Midtown restaurants

Welcome back to Table Talk, where The Daily Memphian’s food and dining editor Jennifer Biggs sends the latest food news (along with a dash of this and that) to your inbox every Wednesday.

Some years ago I had the great pleasure of meeting Gayden Metcalfe at a some food writers’ conference, either something to do with the Southern Foodways Alliance or the Delta Hot Tamale Festival. I remember that it was in Mississippi.

Metcalfe was perfectly put together in the Southern heat (I remember that, too), so gracious and genteel and gently yet wickedly funny. It all comes through in her 2005 book “Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral.”


The book tells stories and has recipes for funeral food, and one I particularly remember is the fried sugar walnuts, which I’ve made numerous times for funerals and non-funereal functions, one I make by memory (blanch 6 cups walnuts, toss with ½ cup sugar, deep fry about 2 minutes and spread on cookie sheet; sprinkle with salt and when cool, store in a tightly covered container).

But now I have a new favorite funeral food. My friend and former colleague Cindy Wolff brought a cake to me the day before Bob’s memorial service and told me not to put it out for the guests, but to keep it back for the family. Other rules: Don’t put it in the refrigerator, and wait at least 24 hours from baking before you eat it.

I will forever refer to this as Funeral Cake, but I’ll bake it any time I need an easy dessert. I’m not a skilled baker, but this is a simple recipe and it was one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted. I didn’t listen to Cindy and put it out for guests, but when I tasted it, I discreetly moved what was left off the table so we could eat it as intended, as a family.

I’m sharing that recipe this week instead of a request, because I just believe you need it. I told you this might happen, that sometimes I’d just throw in an unsolicited recipe. The day is now. If you like pineapple upside down cake but always have to eat around the pineapple (guilty), this cake is for you. Enjoy.

If you open it right away, this email will reach you on National Hot Dog Day, so go indulge. Chris Herrington and I get you started with some places we like, but others are sharing places in the comments of the story and on our Table Talk Facebook page, so read those for more suggestions. 


For years I’ve longed for a Spanish restaurant in Memphis, and would you look? Now we have two opening. Kelly English will open Pantà in the Restaurant Iris space after he closes it later this summer (it’ll reopen later in Laurelwood) and Sabine Bachmann is opening Tonica just down the street from Ecco on Overton Park, in the space most recently occupied by Parish Grocery. I am thrilled about of them. 


The former Restaurant Iris, near Overton Square, will be reborn as Pantà, serving Catalan cuisine. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian file)

Chris Herrington catches us up on some street food, including a wrap-up of some hot and spicy foods at several food trucks around town, and a story about Sugar Ghost, which is now a food trailer and soon to become an ice cream shop on Broad. Read both stories, then tune into this week’s Sound Bites to hear us talk about them (and the new Spanish restaurants plus who-knows-what)


Olivia Evans scoops a serving of tapioca boba while making a bubble tea at Sugar Ghost's Broad Avenue food truck July 16, 2021. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Martha Foose is coming to the Beauty Shop to sign copies of her latest book “A Good Meal is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South” on July 31, and you need to make reservations now if you want to also eat Saturday brunch when you go to meet her and get your book.


Crosstown Brewing Co. patrons enjoy their craft beers on Wednesday, June, 23, 2021. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian)

Also last week, we launched Cheers for Beers, a series of stories about our local breweries that will run through Oktoberfest. We have fun, creative and passionate people making beer in town and this is a good way to get to know them and read about their brews. Click here to read about Crosstown Brewing Company, and the little squirrel who inspired a neighborhood during COVID and ended up with a beer named for him.

Spoiler: The squirrel dies. I’m letting you know, just in case. I always tell people to warn me if the dog dies in a movie, because I don’t care how good it is, I’m not going to watch it if the dog dies.

Memphis Food and Wine Festival is back this year, once again under the stars at Memphis Botanic Garden in October. Find out who’s coming and how to get tickets by clicking here.

And finally, Whataburger is doing more than giving Memphians something we’ve been begging to get for years: Tom Bailey tells us that the fast-food chain will hire more than 500 employees by the end of the year and exceed 900 by the time it opens its five now-announced locations in 2023. 

Enjoy these summer days, friends. See you back here next week.

View this article on our website

Support quality, local journalism and access exclusive content by becoming a subscriber at