Monday, April 30, 2012

A Day Around Savannah

Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge, Savannah River

"Georgia, Georgia,
The whole day through
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind"*

Savannah Cotton Exchange

The Olde Pink House Spanish American War Memorial

Rainbow Row, Savannah, GA

"He's leaving,
On that midnight train to Georgia,
And he's goin' back
To a simpler place and time.
And I'll be with him
On that midnight train to Georgia,
I'd rather live in his world
Than live without him in mine."**

Big Duke Fire Alarm Bell

*lyrics from "Georgia on My Mind"
**lyrics from "Midnight Train to Georgia"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Holy City*

The things that I like about Charleston: the sense of history comfortably mingled with the present day (much like Boston); the architecture (especially the side porches that run the length of the houses-on each story!); the delicious food & great restaurants (try Tristan's - you won't regret it - $5 cocktails!); the friendliness of the people (we met a lovely woman in the Market making/selling sweetgrass baskets that Friday night); and the walkability of the city. I was sad when it was time to say goodbye.

Dock Street Theater St. Philip's Episcopal Church
French Quarter Charleston, SC Legare Street

Confederate Jasmine Cathedral of St. John the Baptist John Rutledge House US Custom House, Charleston, SC

White Point Gardens, the Battery IMG_8166
Tradd Street Circular Congregational Church, Meeting Street

* Charleston is nicknamed "the Holy City" because the skyline (which is otherwise pretty low - no skyscrapers here) is peppered with the steeples of the many churches within its limits.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"What's a Grit?"*

Back in the summer of 2010, my book club read Kathryn Stockett's novel The Help, and we held our discussion meeting at Tupelo in Cambridge. At that meeting, I had my first taste of grits (along with some amazing chicken and waffles and Southern sweet tea!) Someone ordered grits for the table, and I felt obligated to try them in an attempt at Southern authenticity. (The only thing I really knew about grits was that Flo on TV's "Alice" used to tell people off by telling them to kiss hers!)
Paula Deen's version of shrimp and grits
Uneasily putting that first spoonful into my mouth, the taste was surprising and delightful. Where I had expected something bland and grainy, there was heavenly, mushy, buttery goodness.  With my second spoonful greedily in my mouth I asked, "What are grits again?" To the amusement of my fellow book clubbers, I ended up finishing off the bowl. Turns out, grits are a corn meal porridge. What's not to love about that, right? Right.

This year, I drove back north from Florida, and, for the first time in my life, I got to visit a number of towns in the South (as opposed to having layovers in the Charlotte or Atlanta airports). Stops were made in: Jekyll Island, GA; Savannah, GA; Beaufort, SC; Charleston, SC; and Williamsburg, VA. I ordered shrimp and grits (a popular combination) at a number of restaurants along the way; some places served it traditionally (more soupy), while other places served it more firm, so that it was almost like a polenta.  My favorite version of the dish was at 82 Queen in Charleston. I had the seared shrimp and scallops over stone ground grits with sauce Newburg, which was positively AMAZING. (I highly recommend dining out at 82 Queen if you are in Charleston. They also have really wonderful she-crab soup.) I don't know if I would ever try cooking grits myself, but I can guarantee that I will be ordering them at Southern style restaurants in the future!!(But if you do make grits regularly and want to make a suggestion for a brand to try at home and/or a recipe in the comments, I would be glad to have that info.)

*the classic line from My Cousin Vinny

Monday, April 9, 2012

Down in the Selby Gardens*

It has been really hot here on the Gulf Coast the last few weeks, far too hot to be at the beach during the middle of the day. (I know: boo hoo, poor me.) So one day last week, I went to visit the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which was definitely a lot cooler place to be, both literally and metaphorically. (Bad pun, sorry! I am out of practice with blogging.)

Their website describes the gardens as "an open-air and under-glass museum of thousands of colorful and exotics plants. Many of these plants have been collected from the wild on more than 200 scientific expeditions to tropical rain forests by Selby Gardens research staff." This doesn't do the place justice - it is orchid heaven!! There is a whole green house full of orchids, and then there is an outdoor rain forest of sorts with a waterfall and orchids growing up in the nooks of the trees! It was really something. Here are some of my photos so that you can get a look.

Orchids Orchid
Orchid Orchid

Orchid Buddha and koi Pitcher Plant

Hibiscus Banyan tree
Waterfall Orchid

Part of the gardens is a designated butterfly garden. (The plantings there are chosen specifically to attract butterflies.) There were a several of them flying around very quickly, which made it difficult to get a good photograph of them feeding on the flowers.

Monarch butterfly

We did get to see this male Monarch butterfly that had *just* come out of its chrysalis. One of the volunteers helped the little guy by putting it on this bush so that he could dry out his wings.(Very shortly thereafter, he had his first amorous adventure with another male butterfly. And they say it isn't natural...) ;-)

*Another bad pun, sorry fans of Irish traditional music!


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