Saturday, April 29, 2017

As Ella Said:

They call her Hard Hearted Hannah,
The vamp of Savannah,
The meanest gal in town

Well, we didn’t have the opportunity to meet Hannah, but we did visit “her” city for two nights and a full day.  We tied up to the quay in downtown for the day.

In old Savannah, I said Savannah,
The weather there is nice and warm!

And actually the weather was quite pleasant and we spent the whole day in Hannah’s town. 

To start our day, we left for a Trolley tour of the city.  Although we launched at 0900, we were still early enough to see the local farmers in their carts bringing their products to the restaurants

wagon jam

Break Break…..
A quick (?) aside:  in looking at the image above, it sort struck me odd that you would name a winery “Custard”  (okay, there is a Cupcake).  With a little research, I turned up the fact that the winery is owned by a Sebastiani, a fairly large name in the world of wine for the masses.. Donny is quoted as saying about the Chardonnay:

These grapes make a wine that reminds me of one of my favorite childhood indulgencesSunday morning glazed doughnuts with creamy custard filling...'comfort food' before I even knew what that was”.  

The mind boggles.. And not to be outdone, the winemaker (Gloria Mercado – Martin) has to get back to more professional wine speak when she describes the wine as:

Opening with aromas fresh from the bakery, with hints of toasted almond and dried apricots. Flavors of pear and citrus intermingle with silky, smooth vanilla cream pie”

You ever notice that the huge majority of these gobbledy gook wine descriptions contain the words “hints of…”?  Translation: “you won’t taste this; I just say it to make me look like an expert”

Okay, back to business…

We got aboard a trolley (classic, open windows) and got a little overview lecture by our driver

Our first stop was at the “Massie School” Georgia’s oldest s

Which has been open continuously from 1885 to the present, although now it is more of a cultural center.  We heard a little program about the history of education and school operation

It also had a lovely little courtyard (discovered on the way to the potty, a common Feeder journey)

After leaving the school we Trolleyed around town, seeing many beautiful “old” historical buildings
and structures

And it was pointed out to us where some scenes from Forrest Gump were filmed, such as this little square where he sat on a bench, which has now been removed

Many of the older buildings were restored via designs from The Savannah College of Art and Design

Which was founded in 1978 to provide a center for the arts not generally available in Georgia, and is now rather famous.
Of course colleges have college students, and I’m not sure if this is real.  Are there that many of Andy’s works still floating around?  “your” Warhol?

FOOD! (it is, after all, supposed to be a food blog, not a travelblog, although we have strayed a bit)

We returned to our ship just before lunch, and MFO and I decided to get lunch off board.  There were many places along the quay right by our ship

Interesting sign

I'm sure "Cheapest and Coldest Beer" packs 'em in

Look familiar Debbie? (Private Joke)

Pretty "touristy", but at one place we got a glimpse through the window of

Which looked pleasant and was housed inside the River House

While we dearly loved dining with our fellow travelers, tables of six or eight for every meal makes one(me) occasionally yearn for a quiet, dark, single table and a cloth.

We went inside and were seated at a table by the window

We first decompressed with a glass of (sorely needed) wine

A rather nice Pinot Noir from “Left Coast” vineyards for the Feeder, and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (Nobilo) for MFO..   we lingered enjoying the peace and quiet and the view through the window (with our ship in the background)

And very much appreciated an understanding server (John) who said, "Enjoy, just let me know when you want to order"  No pressure, and he did leave us alone.  The menu contained “regional” choices like a fried green tomato salad, oyster Po Boys, crab cakes, etc., and we got a plate of quite nice Hummus to relax with.. (getting the theme here?).  

we finally signaled John and MFO ordered a “Purple Crab salad - our jumbo lump crab cake atop fresh spinach with roasted beets, local goat cheese, red onions, yellow peppers, and glazed pecans with balsamic vinaigrette. And I stayed local with a special du jour of Shrimp and Grits.

Although in all candor, the level of spice was right at my upper limit, which as you should remember is not adventurous…

After lunch we returned to the ship, greatly appreciative of our little interlude of privacy.  Sometimes the experience is created by the food, sometimes the ambiance sets the tone, with the food just an added pleasure.  This wasn't the greatest food in the world, but it was quite competent and didn't take away from our mood. 

That evening aboard ship we saw many ocean going container ships heading out.  Savannah is a huge port for such vessels.

And although we never did see “The Meanest Gal In Town” we did enjoy our stay.  A future excursion including Charleston AND Savannah is being considered.  The latter also has restaurants of some repute..

And of course we would be


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Crustacean Catchin'.. and more!

We’ll start off today with a garment which presaged our day's activity when the ship remained in port in Brunswick

To begin the day, we woke up early enough to see the local farmers supplying our ship

With local delicacies carefully examined by the sous chef.

After the usual breakfast ritual, we boarded a little coach to go to the place documented on the shirt above, and after a short ride, we arrived at the little shack that served as the departure point for the Lady Jane 

There were about ten of us who signed up and we all fit nicely in the stern of Lady Jane.  As we got underway, the “captain” who drove the ship told us about the trip

Basically we would cruise the little backwater canals, drop the nets and drag them for a while, reel them in and see what turned up.   He introduced our “naturalist”

who turned out to be just an interested person who had a terrific knowledge of what lived in and around the local waters.  So over the stern goes the drag net and pretty soon was hauled back aboard

And the contents sort of dumped on a sorting board/table

Quite the array of creatures, and readers here on the right coast can most likely recognize our friend Callinectes sapidus, sometimes known by "Beautiful Swimmers", or more commonly, the blue crab upon which we like to dine.   Anyway, the “naturalist” selected various examples, including that Diamondbacked Terrapin

And a charming ray

Most of the finds he passed around for people to hold, and it was interesting to see the joy some had actually handling and touching creatures they have never seen

Dad looks a little concerned!

I didn’t take notes so can’t identify the little guys but they were kind of cute

Including a little squid (think calamari)

And of course the white shrimp

On one of the “hauls” we came up with one of the ugliest creatures (I shouldn’t judge) there is around, the infamous horseshoe crab

Who wasn't very happy, and is even uglier below

But, they’re all part of the ecosystem which we just visit..

It was a really fun experience.  Although the wind was pretty brisk, the boat didn’t rock at all.  Would recommend if asked

Back to the boat in time for the daily complimentary cocktail hour and the dinner choices (Feeder*) were:

Creole Bean Soup with cornmeal dumplings*
Southern Crab Salad with Cornbread pudding, sherry cream and chives
Creole Daube Style Braised Short Ribs of Beef
Southern Pecan Crusted Local Flounder*
Butternut Squash Penne
Chocolate Cherry Cake
Maple – Bourbon Banana Pudding cake*
Assorted Ice Cream Flavors

The evening’s entertainment in the main lounge was:
“Annie Akins—Move to the music with Annie in the Lounge as she performs classic Rock-n-‘Roll tributes and chart toppers!”
Probably not a surprise to any of the readers that we didn’t attend.

And although I will bring this travelogue to an end in maybe a couple more posts (one reserved for an overall food observation), at the end of the chain will be a real food adventure with this hint from another garment (nice symmetry eh? beginning and ending with garments...I'm so clever)


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Another Island Adventure

A couple of days ago, somebody asked me what I liked best (my favorite word) about our recent “cruise” journey down the inland waterway from Charleston to Jacksonville.  Tough question, but I think maybe today’s subject was at least the most interesting (with the Gullah tour running a close second).  As part of our Savannah leg there was a tour of Sapelo Island, one of the myriad of the Georgia “Sea Islands”.  

Sapelo Island is speculated to be the site of San Miguel de Gualdape, the short-lived (1526–1527) first European settlement in the present-day United States and, if true, it would also be the first place in the present-day U.S. that a Catholic mass was celebratedDuring the 17th century Sapelo Island was part of the Guale missionary province of Spanish Florida.  After 1680, several missions were merged and relocated to the island under the mission Santa Catalina de Guale. Like many of the other such islands, it was settled mostly by “Gullah – Geeche” heritage enslaved African Americans.   

Today, it is sort of an Island that time forgot, with only 50 some permanent residents, and is only accessible by boat or aircraft.  It has a University of Georgia Marine Institute, which is a nearshore ecological and geological research institute, and also is home to the R. J. Reynolds mansion which now operates as a bed and breakfast.   It also is home to the “Plain Chachalaca” a rather unattractive bird (with an even more unattractive call) of the tropical family.   Their largest population is in Texas, but somehow a few have been observed on Sapelo Island.  A couple of the more ardent birders on the trip wanted to explore adding them their list, but the rest of us just did “the tour”.

We took the little launch from the Independence to their little pier

Which serves as the contact to the “outside world”..  Kids go to and from every day for school, plus mail service also is through this pier.  We boarded one of the said school conveyances

And set off for our tour..we passed what appeared to be the local fire department

And many of those haunting live oaks with their decorations

Like our other Gullah island tour, we did see some buildings painted with “haint paint”

That particular shade of blue is said to keep out the “haunts” (ghosts) and so will ward off the “haints”.  We passed by one of the little “communities” which is still a center for inhabitants,

Besides some houses, there is a general store, which has a bar in back.  

As part of our tour, the residents held an “oyster roast” for us, letting us sample some of the local oysters

I found them quite a bit more “salty” than what we get locally, but were very tasty..only missed a beer to wash them down..

Back on the bus, see some more of the local sights..

On our way to the R. J. Reynolds Mansion, which is now owned and run by the State as a retreat center and B&B (for a minimum of 16 guests and a two-night stay).  A quick borrowed history:

The original Mansion was designed and built from tabby, a mixture of lime, shells and water, by Thomas Spalding, an architect, statesman and plantation owner who purchased the south end of the island in 1802. The Mansion served as the Spalding Plantation Manor from 1810 until the Civil War. It fell into ruin after being damaged by Union attack during the Civil War and was later purchased and rebuilt by Detroit automotive engineer Howard Coffin in 1912. Tobacco heir Richard Reynolds (Jr.) purchased the property in 1934 and allowed the University of Georgia to use the facilities for marine research. 

It's a pretty impressive structure

Both inside and outside.. I suppose that such a classic structure had to be modeled after, or at least influenced by, Greek or Roman statuary as evidenced by the lonely lady in the (dry) fountain

or in the grand dining room

The interior walls are beautifully painted with art by Athos Menaboni (1895 - 1990)

and of course there is the classic fireplace adorned with a portrait of the lord of the manor

There was a bowling alley in the basement which the Feeder avoided because of the stairs.

Then it was back on the bus and we wended our way back to the launch for the short ride back to the ship, and we departed for Jekyll Island, ushered by the usual phalanx of gulls

Oh, by the way the birders were shut out of the Chacalacas…

Was a very interesting day and another chance to experience and see a different culture.   Was pleasant to have dinner while underway, which choices were (with underlines indicating the Feeder’s selections):

Crawfish Strudel/Iceberg Chopped Salad
Jumbo Lump Crab Cake/Coffee-Brown Sugar Rubbed Rib Eye Steak/Cajun BBQ Glazed Chicken Breast
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake/Almond Cake/Assorted Ice Cream Flavors

Camera was left in room, probably much to the delight of the other table guests… and of course we were


post dinner entertainment was these guys:

apparently "steel drums" are no longer fashioned from the top of a 50 gallon oil drum