Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Low Country

Water Lilies: Skidaway Island, Georgia

You can see the rest of the Savannah photos here - Savannah Photos. The same link is on the right hand side of the blog under the new addition, Photo Collections.

The only city in the South that wasn't burned to the ground in that silly 1800's war was Savannah. As a result, when you traverse the streets of the inner city, you will find a wide variety of architecture from the 1700's.

The city reminds me of a smaller, cleaner, more eccentric version of New Orleans. Yes, more eccentric. This is due, in part, to Savannians themselves. Savannah is strangely devoid of middle-aged residents. On one side of the age spectrum there are 18-24 year olds, mostly due to SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design. SCAD is a focal point in the inner city. The college has developed an unparalled reputation in the art world, dozens of programs costing many tens of thousands of dollars a semester, continue to attract young creative types by the thousands. This is a hands-on college, they have purchased, saved and reconstructed almost 60 historic buildings in the inner city, some of which now serve as SCAD classrooms. SCAD brings a progessive and creative element into a city that, at least on the surface, is old-world.

On the other end of the age spectrum there are the umpteenth generation of Savannah-born old money and a growing number of 60-something retirees. Well-funded and copious amounts of free time, this segement of the community keeps the cash flow liquid when the tourists schlep back to their workaday lives. These disparate groups blend prefectly and create an unusual contrast and balance much the way the 1700's Bay St conversions do to their more modern 21st century architectural neighbors.

My parents retired here 5 years ago, it was an excellent choice for me, um, I mean them. I love visiting this city, if only for the fact that I could spend an entire day on one street unearthing it's history with the help of the unnerving friendliness of Savannah's residents.

Two friends, Noeha & Galina, came with me this time. Neither had been to Savannah, nieither had met my parents. I think it was successful on all fronts, everyone had an incredible time. Here are some highlights, you can add them to your list of things to do and see when you visit.

Carriage Ride
This is a fun way to see the inner city sights in abbreviated form before you head out on foot. Its a one-hour perimeter trip through the inner city, complete with onry horse, history lesson and a driver with a soft lilting accent.

$20, pick it up at the Hyatt on Bay St.

King And I
7098 Hodgson Memorial Dr
Savannah, GA 31406

Hello, my name is Jim and I'm a Thai food whore. I try Thai everywhere I go. Frankly, this place has the best Thai anywhere, including Thailand. The Flounder in Red Curry Sauce and the Salmon In Chili Garlic Sauce are my favorites.

The Pink House
23 Abercorn Street
Savannah, GA. 31401

I keep wanting to try Paula Dean's place downtown but the locals keep directing me elsewhere. This time my dad recommended that we try The Pink House.

Good choice. This is the de facto 5-star Low Country restaurant. Expensive? You bet, you can expect about $50 an entree, but its worth every penny. Housed in a old 1800's residence, it oozes old-world charm; white linen, polished service, food and wine that will leave their mark.

Items to try: She Crab Soup, Fried Green Tomatoes, Crab-stuffed Grouper, Shrimp and Grits. You can't go wrong with anything here but these are local favorites with regional flare.

This place took off after it was featured in the film Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil. There are two now, don't go to the downtown location, too touristy. Drive out a bit to the second location like the locals do. Breakfast is regional and stellar here. Items to try - Grits, Crab Cakes Benedict and the ENORMOUS pecan pancakes. Very addictive, very delicious, pass the maple syrup, please.

Tybee Island
About 30 minutes out of Savannah you run into Tybee Island, one of the dozens of little islands hugging the coastline of Georgia and South Carolina. Its a local hang out, a place to get away from the BIG city of Savannah (smirk :) The beaches are not worth mentioning but it is relaxing just to walk in the sand and listen to wind compete with the crashing waves.

Bay St./River St.
Its touristy like most river front areas but 1700's architecture add some dimension to River St and Bay St. that is lacking from other river fronts. River St. is right on the river, literally. Bay St. is some 40 feet above it at the surface level of the city. Its a mix of hotel, dining and retail - some chain but mostly small independents.

On the first Saturday of the month, Bay St. hosts the 'First Saturday Of The Month Fair'. Clever, I know. Basically, every artist sets up shop along the brick street and every local orders Strawberry Daquiris from street vendors. Its a race to see how much they can drink before spending all their money or falling into the river. You will find some interesting art, jewelry and crafts here, as well as some tasty drinks.

Galina's Margaritas
The girl from Ukraine can mix up some mean Margaritas. Whew, you only need one of these to make you feel like running through the island naked and singing gospel.

Galina divulged her secret recipe.

1 part Tequila (good Tequila)
1 part Grand Marinier
1 part Cointreau
1/2 to 1 part Key lime juice
1/2 to 1 part lemon juice

Mix all that in a blender full of ice, pour into glasses then top each with a 1/2 shot of Grand Mariner. My parents don't normally drink Margaritas but they both insisted that Galina write down the recipe.


Blogger Rachel said...

i (unfortunatelly) live in jacksonville florida right now. it will end soon, but i need a place to vacation and georgia a hop and a skip away. savannah is only 2 hours.

keep the comments comming, its nice to know some great places to go.

2:53 PM

Blogger Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

All the recipes are well and good, but did you have grits, low country style?

5:44 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Hi Rachel,

Definitely worth the drive from JAX, you'll love it!

Oh, I totally forgot to mention the Mansion Hotel on Forsyth Park. Dreadfully expensive to stay but a great place to pop by for a drink.

8:58 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Of course Daniel, I had the variety with shrimp, bacon, butter and cheese.

CLEAR! thump, we have a pulse.

9:01 PM

Blogger JC said...

I just love reading your blog. ..but from looking at your picure, I have to say I HATE YOU! How can you be such a food-aholic and still look so hot...
you make me hungry everytime I read a post. I did pick up the ingredients for the falafels a few posts ago, but had a little family sitution that changed my plans - but next week - YES, falafels ala Jim

2:34 PM

Blogger Jim said...

LOL, thanks JC. I eat small portions and do 1 hour of yoga everyday, that's my secret.

Enjoy the falafel, let me know how it turned out for you! :)

9:21 PM

Blogger DEREK said...

I love Savannah. It's one of my favorite places to get away. I've got some great friends there.

4:14 PM

Blogger Jim said...

And lucky you Derek, you are so close to it :)

9:53 PM

Blogger JC said...

I do eat small portions!
I guess it must be the quantity of small portions I eat, then...
Dang, there's always a catch!
Oh yes, btw JLO Falafel's either Thurs or Sat....will let you know...

4:37 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Shoot, did I forget to mention the small portions are not infinite, JC? I'm always leaving out the important points :)

9:19 PM

Anonymous hb jock said...

Savannah looks really beautiful... seems like a great place to vacation and just relax and have a good time.

2:21 AM

Blogger Jim said...

It is HB, although your home, Hawaii, isn't too bad either :)

5:35 PM


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