June 3rd, 2020 – The Whispering Possum Inn and Tavern is Puddlegulch’s fine dining experience. Established 1955 in one of the oldest and grandest houses in Puddlegulch, it was built in 1895 by Puddlegulch royalty: Thadeous Felcher. He owned Felcher’s Butcher Shop in downtown Puddlegulch which went out of business during the depression. There is no relation to the current Feltcher’s Butcher Shop (with a “T”) and don’t let Floyd tell you otherwise.
There is a question of which Puddlegulch restaurant holds the original legendary sixpie recipe. A sixpie is a Puddle Possum Pot Pie with savory persimmon pudding (a six “p” pie). The owners of The Whispering Possum, the Caldwell family, claim to have found the original recipe from the Felcher family in a coffee can in the cellar.
Last Saturday night, I visited The Whispering Possum to try this pie. I was greeted by a grieving Denise Caldwell who had just lost her mother, Lorretta Caldwell. The inn was a tribute to squirrels that Lorretta had cared about deeply. There were many stuffed squirrels, paintings of squirrels, squirrel miniatures, and a magnificent squirrel quilt hanging in the foyer with real squirrel tail worked into the pattern.
I would describe the dining room as quaint and intimate. Denise sniffled through the specials, but I already knew what wanted, and her face lit up when I ordered the sixpie; their specialty. When the waiter came, I asked him what a good wine pairing would be. He recommended a Sauvignon Blanc with a shot of local moonshine to chase the possum.
The pie was a small, individual-sized pie with a rustic flaky crust served with a small molded pudding which I worked into bites of the pie. The filling was surprisingly sophisticated: glazed huckleberries, a hint of country moonshine, sliced carrots and cabbage, and a creamy possum gravy. The possum itself was tender and not at all gamey. The persimmon gave it just the right balance of tart.
But I do not think this is the original recipe. Huckleberries are in no way indigenous to Puddlegulch. I mentioned this to the ever-weeping Denise when she came to check on me, and her grief exploded into fury. Her younger brother, Seth, grabbed me by the collar and dragged me through the foyer where the squirrels seemed to glare at me. It was quite traumatic.
I give 4 stars to the food, but only 2 stars for the service. I’ve been thrown out of many restaurants, but the squirrels have continued to haunt me.
Alexander Preston is an occasional guest food and entertainment columnist of The Puddlegulch Post. He attended the Clarke County Food Handling prep class and has performed in the last three performances of A Christmas Carol at the Whistlestop Theatre. He’s traveled to all of the neighboring counties reviewing local restaurants and school/community theater performances. He ended his travels after his controversial review of Tompauk High School’s performance of “Once Upon a Mattress” which he inappropriately described as “a glorious ode to horizontal recreation”