The "Dishing with Donna" Show is Atlanta's Only Celebrity Food, Wine and Restaurant Radio Program. Listen every Saturday @ 4:00pm on WGKA Talk 920am to hear Donna entertain listeners with celebrity interviews such as Paula Deen, Guy Fieri, or Ted Allen - as well as the exclusive inside scoop into Atlanta's very own restaurant scene.

Listen "Live" Every Saturday at 4:00pm on WGKA 920am

Email Donna Directly @

God Bless Each and Every One of You!

Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Howl on up to Wine Country

I am so blessed to do the things I do for my job.  I actually get to call this "work".  A couple weeks ago my radio show drove up to North Georgia, just outside of Dahlonega to broadcast live from this gorgeous winery,  WOLF MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS & WINERY.  It was breathtaking.  -- As most vineyards are, especially if you are a wine lover - like myself.  It is easy to appreciate the lush rolling hills and the spectacular views and the beauty of the nature God created.  At Wolf Mountain,  this is such a place.   Not only were the grounds absolutely beautiful .... but the winery itself and the restaurant was simply fascinating.  I can't recommend it enough,  especially if you have a special someone to share it with.  Talk about romantic!! 
My special someone's were my sponsors, We Sell Restaurants - Eric and Robin Gagnon, as well as my partner in crime, my Director of Operations - Dan Hott.  We all drove the hour and a half to get into North Georgia mountains, and thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon there for the live radio broadcast.  --- Which actually never happened.  True!  There were technical problems with the phone lines and we could not get a dedicated line to broadcast through.  It was a hectic, problematic panic time of trying to make it work.  I am a LIVE show,  remember??  And without trying to sound cliche,  the show must go on! To make a long story short .... I had to replay a back up show, and we had to reschedule the winery remote.  Which was completely fine and worked out better in the end anyhow.   (like I said,  I'm skimming over the long story)   I don't want to focus on that part because Wolf Mountain Vineyards will be coming on the show in 2 weeks from now anyhow!  All is good.
So!  Let's just get back to the lovely afternoon . . . . . . . 

We all were treated to delicious wines (I had to force myself to stop at the 4th glass),  interesting education about the specific wines and varietals from the local vineyard ... to which I was sincerely impressed at the quality of this Georgia wine, and an afternoon of euphoric relaxation.
Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery is a family owned and operated business.  Wolf Mountain's wines are produced 100% at the 1,800-foot elevations of the Dahlonega Plateau. The Estate Vineyards are home to plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, Mourvedre, Tannat, and Touriga Nacional which are blended to create our Reserve Estate Red Wines.  The Boegner family prides themselves on the multitude of awards they have earned across the country.   My personal favorite  (3 glasses worth) was the Demi-Sec white wine.  - Which is crazy because I'm not even a white wine fan.  So that tells you how delicious it is!

I'm very excited to have Karl and Brannon Boegner coming onto my radio show soon.  Make sure you tune in and listen,  but make sure you've got gas in your car ... because if you're anything like me .... you'll want to hop right in and take the scenic tour up to North Georgia mountains and treat your palate to this fine establishment.  With everything from tastings, to parties, to special events, to wine classes, tours, and the exquisite restaurant -- I dare anyone to say they weren't completely satisfied! 
Now,  bottom's up!!! 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Indigo Girls eat Fried Chicken

(Thank you Audrey Mangold for taking this awesome picture)

I was 16 years old.  My best friend in highschool wanted me to listen to this new TAPE she had by an all girls group called the Indigo Girls.  (Hi Erin!!)  I was so frustrated because the songs were so "wordy" and too much like lyrical poetry.  But because my friend insisted on playing this tape constantly against my will .... I quickly started catching onto the words, and before I knew it -- I was hooked!  The album was "Rites of Passage".  The year was 1992. 
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 18 years later,  I would be sitting next to Emily on my own radio show!  Since I was 16,  the Indigo Girls have been my personal #1 favorite music group of ALL TIME.  Their music has captivated me throughout the years, knowing every word to every song of every album . . . attending atleast a dozen concerts, several of them front row . . . and because the music is such a part of me,  every friend I've ever had already knows that a road trip with Donna means a road trip with the Indigo Girls!
So!  With that said,  I guess there's no need to explain my child-like ridiculous excitement when I received the message that Emily was going to come on my foodie show!!!  I was a basket case of emotion, running around my kitchen listening to the voicemail over and over again .... as if I were 16.  - I'm laughing at myself as I write this!  (20 years of being a fanatic will do that to you).
In fact, here is a picture of my face as I waited on Emily (with total enthusiasm) to come up the elevators of my radio studio.

Yeah.  I was a hot mess.  But here's where everything changes . . . .
As soon as Emily walks in,  there's such a comforting air about her.  She's the furthest thing from pretentious and was happy, cheerful, positive, energetic, and very welcoming.  I somehow morphed into "Ms. Professional" the moment she opened the door,  and hopefully my 20 years of being a dynamite loyal fan didn't make me look like anything other than the professional radio personality that I try to be, no matter which celebrity I'm interviewing.  I stayed cool, calm, collected, and ready to rock the interview!  (no pun intended)

The interview was fantastic.  We dished all about her restaurant in Decatur called Watershed.  Joe Truex (from Repast) is the new Executive Chef and the menu is all your favorite southern dishes.  Emily has grown up with a passion for food and wine and the restaurant has been opened for eleven years. (Yes, 11!)  It is in the heart of downtown Decatur, just down from Parkers on Ponce (another DwD friend) and also Cakes and Ale.  Watershed has grown into a wine focused restaurant with a style all its own.  Emily can often be found there as long as she is in town.
During the interview,  not only did we have a light hearted "Top Ten Q&A", her favorite recipe, updated info on all things Indigo Girls, and Watershed information galore ..... but my favorite part of the entire interview???  A live performance!!!  Emily graced us with her music, singing 'Watershed' live on air - the namesake of her restaurant.

The whole show was full of energy and laughter.  And despite being an Indigo Girl,  we definitely focused mostly on food topics,  which was so great to learn another side of Emily.  We learned that both Emily and I are from a family of four daughters, both of us being second in the lineup.  She is a graduate of Shamrock Highschool (although I'll forgive her for that) and we loved and hated all the same foods.  -- Crazy!!  For those of you who tuned in and listened,  I'm not sure if you could pick up on my giddy demeanor and fumbling over some words ... which is not like me .... but please just remember,  this moment was a 20 year long build up of anticipation!   As much as I have loved meeting Paula Deen and having dinner with Ted Allen and so many other favorite Food Network faces ..... for me, Emily took the cake.   It was good to feel 16 again.

And now that we're sisters from another mister,  you can definitely find me hanging out over at Watershed!  And don't forget to buy the upcoming Holiday album by the Indigo Girls.  - Their first holiday album ever. 

..... I've got 'Romeo and Juliet' playing in the background.  I think I'm gonna make me some fried chicken  (her best seller)  and crank up the volume! 
Maybe I'll invite Emily on my next road trip  .....  I wonder if she jams to her own CD's?!?!?  Man, that would be a trip!!!
(Ha!  Get it???  - Trip . . . . )

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

TV Never Tasted So Good!

It's the new season of "THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR"!!!  My favorite competition show!!  Don't get me wrong all you Top Chef fans .... that is a very close second.  Maybe my first and a half  favorite show.  But since I personally know the most important judge, Bob Tuschman, on The Next Food Network Star,  and have had many personal conversations with so many of the Food Network faces who appear on the show as well . . . . . I have to be loyal and say that this is the best show ever!  Since I still have not succumbed to TiVo yet,  I am therefore glued to the tv on Sunday nights again and I've got double the enthusiasm this year because Atlanta has 2 finalists competing head to head to win the coveted prize of winning their OWN SHOW on Food Network and becoming a famous star!  Hence the name "The Next Food Network Star" ... which I will now be referring to as NFNS throughout this blog.  (probably a no brainer, but that's for the skimmers!) 

Last year -  funny story - Senior Vice President of Food Network Programming and also Judge on NFNS, Bob Tuschman, came onto my show for the second time that season to discuss the building anticipation as it was wrapping up to the Final 4.  Our Atlanta finalist, Jamika Pessoa, got so close!  I was rooting for her all along of course.  But Bob asked me a question, on air, and he asked "So Donna, who do you want to win??"  -- Now, please keep in mind that the recording of the show had already wrapped a couple months beforehand.  Everyone involved is basically contracted to keep all details a secret.  So Bob already knows who wins the whole shabang and the finale has already been taped, edited, and ready to air for quite some time.  He knows I don't know!  And he won't tell me.  So I blurt out there  ... with such style ... (yeah right) ... "I don't care who wins as long as it isn't that Melissa woman.  I cannot believe I'm still having to watch her!  How has she made it to the Final Four????  I mean really,  c'mon!"

-- Yeah.  She won.  If you watch the Food Network,  then you know her from her hit show, "10 Dollar Dinners with Melissa D'Arabian".   Yep!  That was me and my big mouth.  What do I know!

But Guy Fieri also got his fame and fortune by winning Season 2 of NFNS.  Aaron of "Big Daddy's House" won  Season 4.  And now .... season 6 just began!!  Ladies and gentlemen,  give it up for Atlanta's very own BRIANNA JENKINS & HERB MESA! 

(and me).  Both Brianna and Herb came on my radio show this past weekend to discuss the premiere of NFNS and they're individual experiences going through the auditioning process and then the craziness of the first competition!  With the help of the one and only, princess of Food Network - Giada, these two characters got to show off their personality as well as their culinary talent.   - Unlike Kevin Gillespie, Hector Santiago, Richard Blais, or even Eli Kirshtein ... neither Brianna nor Herb own their own restaurants.  Instead,  they successfully work for themselves as personal chefs, caterers, teaching cooking classes, and still so much more!  In Herb's case ... he is a personal trainer too.  He's got two definitions for meat!  ;-)
It was a pleasure meeting both of them.  They each have so much energy and charisma and spunk,  I could have kept talking to them for hours!   I laughed out loud when Brianna told the story of how Herb was just "one of the girls" from day one, walking in with his animal print bags ......  luckily, his wife is also a big fan. 


Go check out your Georgia Food Network stars and see their pictures, read their bios, and learn about their culinary expertise at  Watch THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR every Sunday night at 9:00pm.  This first premeire episode last weekend had both Brianna and Herb looking strong one minute ... and needing improvement the next.  They both sailed past elimination ... which means, more weeks to watch our hopefuls grow better and better and sharper and sharper.  With their larger-than-life personalities ... let's see what the world has in store for them!

 ( I think I should host the show.  Move over Giada .... Dishy is on her way!!!)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hungry Heroes

The Pentagon recently created a 26 page recipe for "bombproof" brownies.  This recipe was published by the Department of Defense and isn't referred to as a recipe .... but a formula.  It has become an internet sensation for news outlets, bloggers, and even twitter users.  But where did the need for "bombproof" brownies come from??

Food is probably the last thing we think about when discussing a war.  But what exactly do those soldiers eat when they're stuck in a trench out in the middle of a jungle for weeks on end??   How is the food delivered?  How is it prepared and saved?  How often do they even get to eat?  What are the edible options?  How has it changed throughout the history of wars??
Well,  my favorite foodies, I have many of these answers for you.  Last week for my special Memorial Day radio show,  I covered all of these questions.  I have to admit, I was pretty fascinated as I conducted all my research.  In fact,  I became so engrossed in studying this information that it completely consumed me for several days.  There is no possible way for me to share all the historical information I collected.  So in this blog,  I will simply highlight certain aspects that I found most intriguing.  However I do encourage you to look online for even more information which can satisfy your own hungry curiosity.  But again, please note - I am not covering every war and these are only highlights.  - So let's embrace Memorial Day from a foodie perspective.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.  First observed on May 30, 1868 - the tradition began by placing flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.  Yet the south refused to acknowledge the holiday until after World War 1 because they didn't want to share the holiday with the north.   (talk about holding a grudge!)

CIVIL WAR:   Food historians claim that the north generally ate better than the south.  Certain packing companies chose only to send food to the Union armies during the Industrial Revolution.  In the south, plantation owners ate very differently from their slaves, as you could probably suspect.  However, the slaves still ate better than what our pre-conceived notions may think.  For example, it was quite common for workers who completed their duties early to be released to go hunt and fish for themselves - keeping whatever they wanted.  Many slave women were allowed to plant their own vegetable gardens in their own quarters.  The birth of "soul food" came from a combination of the rations slaves were given from their masters mixed with whatever they could grow, hunt, or catch for themselves. 
The state of Georgia itself had considerably lower prices on their food distribution and sales than any other southern state.  For example, bacon could be bought for 2 cents.  Rice was at 4 cents.  Sugars sold for 25 cents.  Soda was popular at 25 cents.  Molassas at 50 cents.  Peas, which were in great demand, sold in large quantities for 85 cents.   (all prices subject to weight and quantity) 
Perserving foods and canning foods became popular during the Civil War for the first time.

WORLD WAR I:   Sadly,  food alone was considered a luxury for the soldiers trapped in trenches.  Eating hot food or even warmed food was next to impossible.  Food was strictly rationed and restricted.  The British historically receieved meals that far outweighed the quality and quantity of the food the Germans received.  While the German armies were fed mostly bread, potatoes and vegetables only ..... the British were served cheeses, jams, spices, breads, butter, oatmeal, tobacco, tea, chocolate, and even rum!

WORLD WAR II:   In spring of 1942, food rationing for civilians was put into motion.  This drastically changed the American way of life.  Rationing was introduced to avoid public outrage due to shortages and wealthy favoritism.  In 1943, it was nationally mandatory for families to register for "Buying Cards".  This started with the Sugar Buying Cards.  In today's standards, this would be like a coupon book.  But government mandated.  Other rationing methods were also active.  Stamping became a way of life.  Red Stamp rationing covered all meats, butter, fats and oils.  Blue Stamp rationing covered canned food, fruits and veggies, beans and soups.  Ration stamps morphed into 'currency' with every American family being issued a "War Ration Book". (can you imagine our government suddenly telling us today what we can and cannot buy at the grocery store??)   Unfortunately,  this extended into rationing clothing, gas, and oil.
What was the side effect??   The Black Market.  The 3 most popular items on the Black Market were meat, sugar, and gasoline.

VIETNAM:    One word.  Spam.  Period.  If the soldiers were not eating spam, then it was usually powdered rations instead.  ("just add water")   This was seen in spaghetti, rice, chile, and sometimes chicken. The Navy and the Air Force almost always ate the best.  These branches often had the "luxury" of having access to a mess hall or dining facility.  While the Army and Marines would go weeks at a time buried deep in the jungles barely surviving off a can of spam. 


The list of wars and information continue on and on.  I even found recipes online from the wives of Confederate soldiers.  My favorite was a hushpuppy-like recipe called "Confederate Johnnie Cake".  I wish I had more room and more time to write.  But if any of this interested you .... it's only the tip of the ice berg!
Regardless of our foodie opinions . . . . something else jumped out at me while researching this material.  I wanted to share it.  It is the perfect reminder of why we honor Memorial Day. 

In 1915, Moina Michael wrote this poem:


(to my grandfathers, my uncle, and many of my friends  ..... this was for you.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My favorite VETERAN

For Memorial Day,  I was tearfully proud to introduce my grandfather - Navy Petty Officer Donzell Geddie of World War II - to come talk with me on my radio show about the food rationing and experiences of his war era.  At almost 90 years young,  my grandfather ("Grandaddy") fascinated listeners with a personal account of spam dinners and waiting for the ships to bring in their once-in-a-blue-moon treat ... steak.   He also told the story of how he and his fellow navy men would sit on their boats close to the shore of Papau New Guinea and watch as the tribal natives would feast on beetle-nut and other questionable foods.  As other military branches were being served merely potatoes and bread,  my grandfather got to eat lots of hot dogs,  which I thought was humorous. 
He didn't sound nervous at all,  even after saying  "Well it's only taken me 90 years to get on the radio".  I tell my grandfather all the time that he is going to live forever and he's not allowed to leave me.  But deep in my heart,  I know that this was a moment for me to share with him that I will personally treasure even after he's gone. 
He still loves to cook!  He cooks every single day.  In these pictures,  I am walking him through my easy-step dessert cobbler.  He chose fried apple.  His favorite.

(Yes.  We ARE blood related.  This is not a joke.  I know the coloring looks 'off'.  --- I lean much more to my father's side of the family.  The Puerto Rican side!  Hence,  I'm brown.  My mother? - Looks like these up-to-no-gooders!)   ;-) 
I cannot thank our fellow men and women in the service enough for their valor, courage, patriotism, and willingness to protect me,  protect you, and protect our country.  GOD BLESS EACH AND EVERY ONE YOU.   Past or present,  the honor lives on through the ages.  My grandfather bravely served in World War II,  and now I have friends serving overseas this very moment.   (wonder what they're eating ....)  So in honor of Memorial Day Weekend,  I devoted my entire radio program around the food economy, rations, and recipes from all the different wars America fought in throughout history.   It was fascinating!!   I'm going to attempt another blog on the information I aired during the show.   -- It's alot of 411.
Oh!!!!  And one more thing . . . . . . . .

Yeah.  That means me.    ;-)