Savannah’s Slow Burn

You know how everything is kinda better when it’s low and slow?

Whether it be ribs, brisket or the perfect smoldering charcoal fire?

Low and slow is the way to go. This is definitely how I feel about Savannah these days and I’m not just referring to food and fire–more like the abundant charms and burgeoning pops of chicness.

This city just keeps getting cooler and cooler or I should say hotter and hotter? Maybe since I definitely don’t reside in the low and slow paced part of the country, more like fast and furious, I appreciate Savannah more and more.

We have been going to Savannah regularly for the past 10 years, since my parents moved there.  Though I immediately fell in love with the historic architecture and vibe of downtown, each return trip I am amazed by the slow simmer of cool new additions to the scene.  I believe much of the credit is due to SCAD, (Savannah College of Art and Design)

which infuses the city’s imaginative vibrance.

So what’s new and hot in Savannah these days?

Busting onto the scene is the sleek and chic Artillery, housed in…you guessed it, a former artillery.

A cocktail bar where the drinks and decor are equal parts yummy.

Artillery elevates the standards of cas. in Savannah, there is a no flip flop rule, and a few others…which we initially scoffed at for a teensy second, before realizing forced refinement is nice sometimes.

My handsome escort

was asked to remove his baseball hat (here we are next door to not new The Public Kitchen & Bar).

I don’t have too much of a sweet tooth, but chocolate is a huge exception and Adam Turoni’s Chocolat is a pure delight.

The chocolates are made in house and the beauty and creativity is off the charts-

can you even stand these sweet edible topiary’s?  There are two locations one on Broughton (The Dining Room) and the other on Bull. (The Library)  I love to pick up some fabulous gifts (my fav. are the hollowed out books filled with luscious chocolate creations) here.

We swoon over a meal at the Grey.

Formerly an old Greyhound station of course.

We pretty much died over the pea fritters topped with Benton’s country ham.

A visit downtown for me is not complete without a trip to The French Market

The inventive displays leave me inspired.

But the diameter of hot spots extends outside downtown.  Atlantic is a hip neighborhood spot located in Ardsley Park

and filled with much goodness to imbibe and nosh

and a cool patio to drink it all in.


So there you have it, can’t wait to see what emerges (word on the street is that Sean Brock’s Husk is coming to town!) next to blend in with the old favorites on our next visit.

 

The Big Easy

After spending months under a blanket in Cold-i-cut I mean, Connecticut this winter, I was psyched to head to New Orleans for a Spring visit with my brother who recently moved there.

It had been a while (like pre-Katrina) since I’d been down to Nola, and the city was what I remembered and that much more!

So here’s the 72 hour recap:

John lives in the Marigny.

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A vibrant ‘hood walking distance to the French Quarter
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and walking/biking distance to the riverfront area and Crescent Park.  IMG_1545 IMG_1547

The neighborhood is filled with charming, and colorful architecture–people too for that matter, and a reverence to the historic delights of the area.  Who knew there are like a half dozen different styles of historic shutters?

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The Marigny is filled with loads of Shotgun style homes, Creole cottages and town homes.  Their many design details (gas lamp envy anyone?) are best observed on leisurely walks and bike rides, perhaps with a “go cup” in hand.

John bought an awesome double Shotgun (no shots fired just yet!) house, which he is currently renovating extensively.  He is living on one side and will be renting the other side in short order upon completion of the project.

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A block from his home, standing as a beacon on the Marigny skyline, is the wonderful Marigny Opera House with a patina to just die for. Apparently Solange Knowles must agree as was married here.  IMG_1549

Around each corner is a new surprise. But all this architectural gawking makes one thirsty and hungry. And in Nola, there is no shortage of excellent food and drink.

A slight distance East by bike we head to Baccanal located in the Bywater area.

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Bacchanal feels like a backyard party but is a transformed casual outdoor courtyard space filled with live music,

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drinks, delicious noshes such as cheese plates, seafood fritters and more…

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and an abundance of and plastic buckets filled and chillin’ with cold vino.

IMG_1641As you can imagine, the quarter is always calling.

IMG_1556And so are the world famous beignets from Cafe Du Monde (carb-restricted diets be damned…you really must indulge here.)

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The quarter provides the antidote for boredom.
IMG_1578Verdant balconies perch over the busy streets.IMG_1580

Music is heard at every hour.IMG_1581 Famous old restaurants like Arnaud’s, where we brunched (thanks Mom & Dad) still doing their thing.
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Larger than life with decor and formality–(jackets still required for men)

IMG_1635and tradition in the same breath. Oh and of course more music.

IMG_1601jazz of course!

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We take a quick jaunt “uptown” for a cocktail at Cure and dinner at Petite Grocery

IMG_1534The city barely sleeps.

IMG_1567Thank heavens for Bloody Mary’s with spicy beans from Horn’s

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We tried for some world famous fried chicken from Willie Mae’s, but the line was too long and a little too wet to wait it out.  Perhaps all for the best as this was my husband’s reco. and I’m sure he would be filled with fried chicken envy, must leave some things for future visits with him.

IMG_1571So we opted for a few charbroiled oysters from Marigny’s awesome food emporium the St. Roch Market

IMG_1574before heading home.

IMG_1575Sibling time rocks and John was an excellent host.  Can’t wait for my next visit to Nola!

 

Love is a Canvas

Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination

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-Voltaire

Happy Valentine’s Day

Dinner Party for 8 and Boss

When you’ve been in the working world over 20 years, you have a bunch of types of bosses; good ones, fair ones, maybe a terrible one or two and every once in a while, if you’re lucky–you have a boss who you want to invite to your home for dinner.

I count myself as very fortunate to be in the later position right now. I really admire my boss and his wife, who is a New York Times best selling cookbook author, I may add…no pressure there!  Plus, we love throwing a dinner party every so often–especially in the winter when we all need a little something to look forward to.

First, we start the process by pondering the menu.  We peruse Food & Wine for mid-winter comfort food recipes and troll the internet for inspo.

Found it! We decide on a Cream Spinach Stuffed Beef Tenderloin (who doesn’t love the idea of two dishes in one?), Crispy Herbed Potatoes and airy but tangy cheese Gougeres.

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Next, it’s time to consider the table/decor concept.  I typically start with a floral color palette as inspiration

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Trader Joes usually has a good selection and the prices leave me feeling un-guilty when loading the cart up.  I also got the party tip from a friend that Costco has really chic $20 arrangements, naturally I had to pick up a couple. I repurposed this hollow log with 3 bright fuschia colored plants and some chartreuse colored moss as a centerpiece.

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Once I’ve decided on the flowers, time to think about linens.  A crisp white table cloth provides a blank slate for oh so many possibilities!

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Because I never seem to find exactly what I’m looking for in “traditional napkins” without breaking the bank, or finding something too delicate, many times I look for deals on kitchen towels, which are often sold in multipacks. I don’t believe in matchy matchy, so I alternate with different colors and patterns.

Remember winter is about layering and the table is no different.  I found these fun square gold leathery looking chargers for a steal of a price at TJ Maxx. The black and white striped ones beneath are from IKEA many years ago.

Now it’s time to cook!  First the tenderloin:  When you go to your butcher and order a 4 pound tenderloin (butterflied), you kind of feel like a badass. Or like you’re ordering the Old 96er from the movie The Great Outdoors!  But this piece of beef is for 8…

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Next, the making of the creamed spinach…the dish is rich (think heavy cream and shallots), flavorful and pretty easy to make.

Then the rolling and tying, truth be known our beautiful piece of meat had some holes in it, where some of the spinach oozed out, so we patched with bacon.  Made it delicious, but not as photogenic, so this is what it looked like in the magazine.

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I had always admired our Nantucket neighbor’s ability to make gougeres, but was slightly intimidated, as I know baking requires exactness and I’m a bit more of a cooking ad libber. At the end of the day, I figured if I couldn’t try to make them on a cold winter day–

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it might be hopeless.  So I gave it a shot…

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They were surprisingly straight forward to make and crowd pleasing.  Full disclosure, I made them again the next day as a snow day snack!

And finally any person having their boss over, obviously believes in the concept of “brownie points”…

So when one of our guests offered to bring Ina Garten’s recipe for Brownie Pudding I gladly took her up on it.  Delicious decadence for a cold winter night.

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The dinner ended with lively conversation and laughter (I was a little relieved when none of my friend’s revealed anything too incriminating to my boss!)

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Quick aside: I have been on the hunt for the perfect round dining table for a couple years.  The linear effect was good aesthetically but a bit challenging for convo.  Cross  your fingers I find “the perfect round table” someday…and if you happen to have any leads, please share!

I kid you not, we had no food left.

The next day I recapped with my mother.  We always love swapping entertaining tips and stories.  I told her how we had NO EXTRA food leftover.  I wondered if it was our superb estimation skills or that it was a winter post-hibernation hunger that was brewing, or maybe–gasp, we didn’t make enough!

She laughed and shared an episode of Mary Tyler Moore’s show when Mary had her boss for dinner and she had exactly 6 portions for the 6 people who came.  Then of course her boss took an extra portion and she had to awkwardly ask him into the kitchen to put it back, then he comes back to the table puts it back and declares “he’s suddenly not very hungry.” Ha.

Luckily, we didn’t have to ask anyone to take a smaller portion, but maybe we’ll make a little extra next time;)  Rest in peace Mary Tyler Moore.

Happy Monday everyone!

 

 

The Things We Do For Our Kids…

It’s post-holiday season so I pull out my over-sized wall calendar and start populating the activities within the first month of a new year. First, a few birthdays..appointments…and gulp–coming right up, the dreaded “sleepover” with my daughter’s girl scout troop at the Aquarium that I got an email about months ago… 

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A “sleepover” at the Aquarium you ask? Yes, that’s right.  A “sleepover” at the aquarium.  

Why the quotations you ask?  Because this really is the misnomer of all time, there is no sleep at this.  

I scribble it onto the calendar (in pencil), now it is real.  The dread begins to set in though it is 5 days away.

First, my thoughts gear towards blame when I think about the parents who originally conceived of such events?  Not our troop leader! She’s a Saint, as are all troop leaders, and I’m pretty sure she was also equally dreading the “sleepover.” These wacky events have been going on for years at a host of museums, zoos, etc. The kids start talking about it amongst themselves and suddenly it becomes a “my parents never took me to Disneyland” type of phenomenon, and in some kind of weak moment a parent acquiesces to such an idea.  WHY????

Next, I try to think about how I can get out of it.  I get pretty creative with my excuses. Will I disappoint my daughter for life?(who of course, knows. see the above chatter amongst the kids, that practically becomes (sub)urban legend) Probably.

Then my dear friend/neighbor asks me to chaperone her daughter, also in our troop, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend because she is in Africa, helping to build schools. Truly. Talk about an excuse, geeesh! You owe me L.T.

I am officially on the hook.

I start projecting my worry to my husband, who is surprised by my level of apprehension.  He’s accompanied our daughter’s on many a camp-out through Dad/Daughter events where cards are played late into the night in their cabins (with proper bunks/beds, I may add!) along with their flasks of hooch and icy coolers of beer to cope with the daddy snores throughout the night.  I assure him, there will be no such adult entertainment at the aquarium, there is a strict–no booze rule.

I better start my pre “sleepover” training.  I try to grab a few extra minutes of zzzs where I can, I start googling native marine life to our area (just kidding, I didn’t really do this). I try to really savor that nip of wine at night, I dream about which spa i may go to after this is all over.  I get my “sleepover” aquarium game face on.

I carefully read the instructions and packing suggestions on the permission slip.  Yup, we are sleeping on the floor. The floor where hundreds, probably thousands of aquarium visitors walk daily.

There is some fine print…oh thank heavens, we can bring an air mattress.  I give thanks to the Gods at Amazon Prime and the heavy plastic cushion of sleep arrives in the nick.

It’s game day, we are packed.  My daughter and her friend are psyched.  We drive, we park, I become a pack mule with sleeping bags, blankets, flash light, beer (again, kidding–but I did really wish) as we tote our gear into the aquarium.

We are to sleep in the “otter room” though there are no otters, as the exhibit is under construction (wonder where the otters went?)–still the room is kinda smelly. There are turtles and eels (gross ones I may add) in loud bubbling tanks and a display of light houses with operating strobe type lights. A perfect sleeping environment!

Another troop gets assigned to the shark room, I better not complain.  Can you imagine? I’ve seen Jaws too many times people.  I begin to wonder about those poor otters…?

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The night’s activities commence.  The girls craft, tour, run around in their pajamas–blissfully unaware of how dirty everything probably is, just aware that they are the only ones in the aquarium.  They are delighted.  The moms exchange half smiles with each other and I secretly wonder how much Ambien is stashed in their bags?

Milk & cookies are served around 10:30 p.m. and you can tell the kids think this is the. best. night. ever.  Wine and cheese would have been a nice touch.  I am just sayin’.

It’s time to set up our “beds.”  The jockeying of positioning for mom’s and daughter’s sleep area commences, the mattress inflation is a frenzy.  And yup, we end up right under the turtle tank.  I shouldn’t complain too much, another mom is next to us on the floor.  She didn’t read the fine print, I guess.  Sucka, I actually really did feel bad for her.

We brush our teeth…in the public restrooms.  The men’s rooms were also open for the night as no men were there.  The girl’s thought this was rather thrilling.

img_0690They make an announcement over the loud speaker, it’s 11:30 p.m. and lights out in 5 minutes.  They say “the sea life needs their rest.” Ha.

But that’s the thing, we are in the lighthouse room, so the lights never really go out.  Maybe that’s what happened with the otters, insane sleep deprivation due to the lighthouse exhibit?

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The kids have no intention of sleeping. They run around the room like little aquarium nymphs.

It’s 1:00 a.m. now–I make several threats to my daughter involving leaving if she does not sleep.  (She loves telling our family/friends this after the fact, l.o.l., and I can’t deny it.)

My head is wrapped with my puffy coat over my eyes/ears for a turban type of effect to drown out the turtle bubbler/lighthouses.

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It’s 2 a.m.  That bubbler really makes me feel like I have to pee.  I don’t want to get up, we are on the 2nd floor and have to take an elevator down to the public restrooms.  Plus, the aquarium nymphs, a.k.a, our daughters, seem to finally have settled down.

It’s 7 a.m. There is an announcement over the loud speaker that it is “wake up” time.  I wonder if I slept at all? Don’t think so. It was kind of like one of those airplane naps, where you felt like you slept for 5 minutes and were really just super aware that you are trying to sleep on a plane.  I was just really aware that I was sleeping next to eels.

Time to pack our stuff up so the aquarium can get ready for the next day of ticket buyers who will soon be coming through.  We are all zombies and like the plane, felt as though we had just landed from the “red eye.”

We quickly eat breakfast and watch the seals eat theirs.

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It’s over, we/I survived.  I am amazed I do not get a speeding ticket on the way to Dunkin Donuts.

My daughter got a badge.  I think I should get one too!

I’m afraid to peek at the calendar for February…

Disclaimer: Writing this post absolves me of any future invitations of kiddy campouts.  

 

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