Nearly a year ago I had my first, and most likely last, experience making cake balls for an annual work party. Annual events have a pesky way of popping back up and once again, I was snookered into being part of the food committee.
The theme for our office booth was Mad Men (and Women), echoing the 1960s style and feel of the television show on AMC featuring the likes of Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks and January Jones. On a side note, I loved dressing up to fit the part and by some amazing feat I wrestled my hair in an up-do thanks to this bun hairstyles for long hair tutorial on YouTube. See the hairstyle pictured below.
Attempting to emulate the tastes of the era, we decided on serving meatballs with a sweet beer sauce, herb cream cheese sandwiches on rye bread, pimento cheese sandwiches on white bread and chocolate wine bundt cake. We nearly went with deviled eggs, cocktail wieners or fondue but had budget and logistical constraints to consider. I did insist on using fancy ruffled cellophane toothpicks and olives for garnish.
The party has come and gone, and although we didn’t win any of the award categories (not a good year for contests), a women returned to our booth asking for the pimento cheese recipe. I count that as a personal victory.
For the pimento cheese sandwiches I used the famed Parlor Market recipe with a few minor alterations. I remembered being pleasantly surprised by my first taste of pimento cheese and figured it would be a crowd pleaser. It is easy to make and what’s not to love about a recipe that includes bacon, cream cheese, cheese and more bacon. Amusingly enough, it does not include pimentos…which is why an olive garnish is perfect.
Parlor Market Pimento Cheese
I used three loaves of bread at 20 slices a loaf, to assemble 30 sandwiches. (60 slices of bread total = 30 sandwiches) They were then cut into four triangles, which resulted in 120 small cocktail sandwiches. I altered the amounts used from the original recipe.
2 – 8 oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
3 c. mayonnaise
5 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lb. bacon, cooked and diced
4-6 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and a good spoonful or two of sauce
2 green onions, minced
Beat the softened cream cheese and mayonnaise together in a medium size bowl. Once combined fold in the cheddar cheese, bacon, chipotle peppers, a couple spoonfuls of adobo sauce and green onions. Refrigerate and spread on bread or toasted crostini rounds.
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Forget diamonds, dessert is a girl’s best friend.
I’m the kind of girl who prefers experiences over objects. If given the choice between jewelry or a meal out, I’d wholeheartedly pick the meal every single time. For this milestone birthday, my husband spoiled me with both earrings and dinner. And not just any dinner. I was turning 30, we had a Living Social deal and a free evening before I left for Las Vegas. The perfect conditions to eat at Parlor Market had aligned.
On a Friday night we cruised downtown in the El Camino, parked near the King Edward Hotel and stepped into Parlor Market. Upon entering, there are exceptionally close tables on the left and a bar on the right, luckily we were led to the back in full view of the kitchen action. Immediately, a bowl of pimento cheese appeared our table.
The Cooking Bride posted Parlor Market’s pimento cheese recipe after they converted her into a fan. Identifying with her dismay of the alarming neon glow of most versions, I was intrigued to try it myself. Pimento cheese is Only in the South and an unknown phenomenon to most Northerners.
Put your fears aside because this Pimento Cheese is salty, smokey, slightly spicy and a natural color. My Southern born and bred husband exclaimed it’s the best he’s ever had. It involves a lot of bacon and was generously slathered on crostini rounds.
As a preview of the acts to come, we received a spoonful of velvety blueberry puree dotted with lemon scented ricotta cheese. While deliberating over the menu we spread sorghum butter (molded like a beehive) on mini cornbread muffins.
Known for their unique Prohibition-era cocktails, I savored a Front Porch while Ben ventured to the Pre-Prohibition menu for a Corpse Reviver #2. Mine had sweet tea vodka, lemonade and mint served in a mason jar, his included ingredients I’ve never heard of and absinthe. (Remember, I’m not much of a drinker.)
For starters, we decided on the Crab Duo appetizer and a dozen raw oysters.
The Crab Duo paired a light crab salad heaped into a zucchini boat and soft-shell crab tempura. Although nearly everything was fried golden brown, it was a delightful contrast of crisp salty batter and sweet succulent crab meat. The zucchini was still firm, the crab salad delicate and the soft-shell crab extended off the plate. Due to my losing record battling raw oysters, I declined to partake of the platter which Ben happily slurped down on his own.
In seamless synchronization, our entrees were presented while empty plates were whisked away. For the main event we chose Pan Seared Halibut and the Duck Breast special.
A large portion of halibut was placed on top of a cheese laden corn maque choux, nestled next to a lobster tail and garnished with pieces of whole fried okra. The fish had a nice crust and tender center, but could have benefited being taken off the heat one minute earlier. The separate parts were well-executed but the dish didn’t feel as cohesive when compared to the duck. Ben devoured his apple glazed duck breast, haricot verts, polenta and tiger melon which he graciously let me taste. The flavors were bright and more sharply paired. He left no morsel behind.
As a grand finale we requested Cookies + Cream and to my surprise it came lovingly plated besides Walk Down Memory Lane. I was thrilled because it’s more of a struggle to select dessert, than it was to decide on a university.
A trio of ice creams in homemade cones sat perched on cookies, and I’m guessing the flavor combinations were vanilla (hint of mint)/brown sugar cookie, chocolate (hint of cinnamon)/chocolate chip cookie and pistachio/sugar cookie.
Opening the lid of the tin lunchbox I discovered a key lime push-up pop, chocolate pudding cup, moon pie, oatmeal cream pie and brown sugar rice krispie treats. The push-up pop was irresistable, refreshingly tart and creamy. I could only muster a bite of the rest of the items before I threw in the towel. Walk Down Memory Lane is the most playful and creative dessert I’ve ever experienced.
It was a pricey evening made less painful by the Living Social deal (repeat please), but even so, we’ve had such meals before and left much less satisfied. They do have a happy hour, reasonable lunch menu and brunch on the weekends.
We could have lingered much longer in our cozy spot, watching candles illuminate the dark wood accents and exposed brick, entertained by the flurry of activity. Evident by the flawless service and constant need for reservations, Parlor Market is a well-oiled machine, successfully putting their own twist on traditional regional dishes.
I adore everything about Parlor Market. The location, the concept, the glassware, the light fixtures, heck, even the logo. I’ll be back as much as possible (anniversary in October!) and hope to see you there.
115 West Capitol Street
Jackson, MS 39201