The most southern part of the United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixieland, or simply the South—is an area comprising of 16 states including Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia. This region of America has one most recognisable sub-cultures of the United States thanks to the many incarnations of East meets West Spaghetti Westerns from the early 70s. The fact that we still today, refer to Americans as ‘Cowboys’ is a tribute its unique history.

One of the most exciting and talked about subjects coming out of the South has to be the food. In the past we ‘outsiders’ have often criticised Southern American Food as unhealthy due to its grease factor and outrageous proportions.  However, there has been a renaissance of late, especially in Soul food, a subset of Southern American cuisine originating from New Orleans and Louisiana, where humble dishes such as the gumbo, po’boy sandwiches and fried chicken are making a scene in Melbourne.


Co-owner and Executive Chef Andrew Blake

At Joe’s Bar and Dining Hall, Owner and Executive Chef Andrew Blake has attempted to bring together 12 states from the South with its unique and distinct cuisines with special once-off event called the Taste of the South Festival. Dishes like Chilli Con Carne, a classic Tex-Mex dish– smoked beef rump is combined and a spice mixture of cayenne, jalapeno and chipotle served over corn ships and topped with grated cheese, guacamole and salsa will feature at the Festival. This is a far cry from your average store bought Old El Paso.


Chilli Con Carne

How about a Jambalaya? As we debated what and who Jambalaya is, Blake clarifies and explains it’s a New Orleans dish with influences from the Spanish and French usually made with meat or seafood with vegetables and rice. As Blake aptly puts it – “it’s like a Spiced-up version of paella”. Joe’s version is tuna, prawns, mussels, squid smothered in creole tomato rice.


Jambalaya del Mer

You cannot go to America, anywhere (let alone the South), without having some fried chicken. This is the quintessential food of the States. I’ve had my fair share of amazing Fried Chicken (Pop Eye’s anyone?) but they all have one thing in common – grease. Joe’s Fried Chicken, a version from Alabama is an interesting take using chicken tenderloins, coated in sausage milk gravy and lime and served with a tangy chipotle dipping sauce. A wonderful flavour combination that actually helps cut through the fat.

fried chicken

Alabama Fried Chicken with Chipotle dipping sauce

If barbecue is more your thing, then Joe’s got you covered, in delicious smoky goodness. Unveiling their new toy, an $8,000 custom-made smoker imported directly from the States named ‘Betty’; it provides the most authentic Southern BBQ you can get in Melbourne. Period. And yes, it comes in Black. This baby is the Rolls-Royce of BBQ-smokers. On the menu are pork spare ribs (smoked for 8-hours over apple wood and served with Texas mop) and beef short ribs (smoked for 16-hours over red box served with Tennessee BBQ sauce).


Pork Spare ribs and Beef Short ribs

Joe’s are also serving up some limited edition cocktails just for the festival.  The Hurricane, Georgian Mint Julep and Cajun Lemonade are all classic Southern American drinks that have their own special history. There are also a handful of crafted American beers and Bourbons which is the official drink of the South.


Cajun Lemonade

A  weekend  of  Southern  tastings  wouldn’t  be  complete  without  a  chilli-­‐eating  contest,  for  those  brave  enough   to  chow  down  on  the  world’s  hottest  raw  chillies.  At  4pm  on  Sunday  March  30  Joe’s are inviting the  bravest   comrades   to   show   us   what   their  taste   buds   are   made   of   –   take   note,   the   current   Australian   record   stands  at  54  jalapenos  and  10  habeneros.  With  a  prize  for  first,  second  and  third,  the  most  fearless  competitor   will  take  home  a  $300  Joe’s  Bar  and  Dining  Hall  voucher.

For  food  that’s  generous  and  traditional,  head  down  to  Joe’s  for  Taste  of  the  South.  If  you  dare  to  wear   something  inspired  by  the  States,  Joe’s  might  just  reward  you  for  your  commitment!

When: 29-30 March 2014

Where: Joe’s Bar & Dining Hall, 64-66 Acland Street, St Kilda

Why: To see Black Betty, bam-ba-lam…

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