Today we finally got out to Savannah. We weren't there long - we had a late start. My brother-in-law offered to bring me back late but I wasn't sure I'd be up for it.
Still, with this short visit there is much to mention. Too much. It's not a fun city to drive around, that's for sure, especially when you get stuck behind the minivan that's afraid to drive down the bumpy brick-paved River Street anywhere faster than, oh, 2 miles per hour. It is indeed a fun city to walk around, despite the heat and humidity (no, we have no idea what that's like back home). And it's a lovely city to look at - at least the downtown historic area, which is where most tourists end up.
My sister and her husband sprang for dinner and let me choose. I went with the Moon River Brewing Company, Savannah's only microbrewery. It may not be the fastest service, but it had a very impressive sampler of 7 of its microbrews. Most were very good, but I had my favorites: the IPA and the chocolaty stout. My brother-in-law James also got it, and had much the same opinion. They also had one they created for an employee who just got married. He should hope his marriage is not as forgettable as that beer. One particularly unforgettable brew, however, was aged in wine barrels. It tasted and smelled like whiskey, and was about as strong as any beer I have ever drunk.
For appetizers, we got a standard quesadilla and some crinkle-cut sweet potato fries. The fries came with a cinnamon-chipotle dipping sauce that was wonderful. I will need to figure out how to make this at home because it went quickly. It was a favorite of the meal.
For our entrées, we went in different directions. I saw crab cakes on the menu, but I knew these would not be the type I am familiar with. Two tenets of seafood in the Chesapeake are that you never boil anything, and you always put the breading inside the crab cake, not outside. Lowcountry cooking dispenses with that first tenet, though Old Bay is still quite popular throughout the South (Did you know that Old Bay makes a seafood boil bag?). That second tenet is pretty much thrown out the window as soon as you get a reasonable distance away from the Chesapeake Bay, north or south.
The blue crab cake platter ($17) threw both tenets out the window and into the Savannah River. These three small crab cakes were accompanied by Carolina cole slaw and Lowcountry rice, along with a roasted red pepper salsa. The flavor of the delicious special crab meat (who says you always have to use lump? I don't - not as sweet) was creamier than a typical Maryland crab cake, because - again - the bread was on the outside. The coating, a cornbread-type coating, was firm and flavorful and was a nice addition. Would I take this over a standard crab cake back home? No, of course not. But for what it was, it was still a tasty crab cake. The long grain rice was kind of a dirty rice, and I could eat it all day. Same with the slaw, though I have had as good slaw elsewhere.
On the way out, I stopped in the Savannah Candy Kitchen. Most people will only be able to see it in the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport (the busiest in the world). With four locations in Georgia and South Carolina, it is a damn dangerous place, because you will spend money there. Lots of money, on delicious candy. That goes quintuple for their pralines, freshly made on the premises (Do they do that at the airport? I would suppose not). And yes, they give out free samples. One praline is pretty big, so you will either eat just one for dessert, or break off pieces and eat them here and there (like me). Today they offered a free 1/2 lb of pralines (or 1 lb of taffy) for every 1 lb of pralines bought. So I went in on that deal: 1 lb of regular pralines, plus and extra 1/2 lb of chocolate ones (sssssssiiiiiiinnnnnnnful). Total so far: $17. Then I got an extra 1/2 lb of fudge (also $17 per lb). Grand total: $25. But I don't usually get down here to buy this stuff, so it was excusable.
Oh, did I mention that Savannah Candy does mail order?
Epilogue: You may be wondering if I saw Paula Deen's restaurant. Yes, we did drive by it. It was about 4 PM, and there was no line! That was soon explained by the big sign saying "Sorry - We're booked for tonight."
Big shocker there.