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Lunch Between Trees and Sky in Savannah

"Crobb" Salad at Vic's

Savannah whispers stories of layers of lives lived; hoary Spanish moss sways in the breeze as each town square shares some, but not all, of its secrets. Savannah’s charm is also encrusted with a layer of tourist attractions that do a serviceable job of telling her story, but almost, almost leave you feeling you could be in a mall, anywhere.

So where to dine to get a sense of the here and then, the very immediate nature of history filtered through the present? Friends suggested Vic’s on the River, and it did not disappoint. Its dining room perches with one foot on busy, historic East Bay Street and the other poised four stories atop River Street, looking down over the river and its commerce that has always cruised below.

We started with the amusing Pulled Pork Eggroll situated in a drizzling of three sauces: barbeque, hot mustard, and peach chutney, perfect for dipping and sampling. The “Crobb” Salad pictured above was the most visually appealing, but disappointing entree (but then again I did choose a salad). The goat cheese was the commercially available sort that causes people to dislike goat cheese, the crab was just ok, and the creamy citrus vanilla dressing was interesting, but ultimately cloying. Shrimp and grits graced with bacon and rosemary barbeque sauce proved a more interesting choice. We did not try the friend chicken liver sliders, which we’ve heard are fabulous.

But the reason to return, to love this place is the chance to simply sit in the lambent light on a bright spring day, with new green live oak leaves waving on the East Bay Street side windows, and the Savannah River flowing by below on the opposite side. History goes that Sherman’s “lesser” officers camped there during the “War Between the States.” A portion of a map detailing Sherman’s traipse south from Chattanooga drawn by his men on the plaster walls has been restored, complete with local detail (Lookout Mountain, Calhoun…) we’re still familiar with today. The past and the present, the golden light, the river leading to the sea…..the food is fine here, but it’s not the main course.

Homemade Mayo – Fun, Easy, a Good Workout!

Chalk up another one for the “I thought this would be hard” category. Used this recipe from Bon Appetit, substituting all vinegar for lemon juice because there was none in the Krabill cupboard, and used olive oil because, well, it comes from a real plant. Added minced garlic (figured since I’d used olive oil, I’d go all the way to aioli) and smoked paprika at the end.

The most fun? Whisking, channeling my inner Julia. Came close to trying the blender, but what a treat to see the mayo building up in volume. Satisfaction guaranteed. And the flavor is something to focus on, not to slather over bread as an unguent. Superb!

–Nancy Reed Krabill

St. Simons Island Homecoming

St. Simons Island off Georgia’s coast has served as island home to generations of families who return to roost year after year, like snowy egrets. And on that island, resting with open arms against the beach, the King and Prince rules the the coast.

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In love with Costa Rican breakfasts!

At Soda la Parada in Fortuna near Arenal. The Gallo Pinto black beans and rice mooshed together with spices is grand – simple, filling, pure fun.

A Turtle is the Prize Aboard the Lady Jane

For an authentic experience while at St. Simons Island, head to the Lady Jane, a refurbished shrimp boat, for a trip on through the calm (no sea legs required) salt marshes for a price of $39.95/person. Captain Larry Credle and son Cliff pull a trawl net behind the boat that captures a bevy of sea life from the estuary. The Credle family has a long history at sea, even claiming the infamous Blackbeard as a distant relative. Cliff, an aspiring marine biologist, identifies the haul as it’s pulled in and spread out on a metal table.

On a recent trip, the catch included a rare green sea turtle, which is carefully documented for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, then released. Click here for a video of the catch (fast forward to second 00.48 if you’re antsy). All creatures are spared, except for shrimp that are saved for a boiled snack you’ll have at the end of your journey. The flavor of the Georgia wild shrimp is sublime; with supple flesh and a sweet spartina taste added by the native marsh grass, a member of the same family as sugar cane. You’ll be “hooked” in no time!

Tasting This Year’s Olive Oil – From Georgia!

Feeling right at home at an olive oil tasting – in Georgia! Arbequina olives, Texan Jim Henry of Texas Olive Ranch helped with the pressing! This is this year’s oil from Georgia Olive Farms, pressed September17: light, floral, buttery!

We’re All a Little Southern, Honey!

Getting to know local food artisans in Georgia! Savannah Bee Company honey – Black sage and Winter White have made me a believer! From 1:00: Sourwood, Orange Blossom, Black Sage, Winter White!

Then here, the luscious piece de “I can’t resist-ance.” Lovely honey comb surrounded by enticing fruits, cheeses and sides.

Sun sets at one of my centers of the universe: St. Simons Island in GA. Marshland smells, susurrus of waves, sunset over sea. History at the Coastguard Maritime Museum yesterday, shrimp and grits culinary demo at the The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort last night along with Georgia cheese, wine, and distilled spirits. Things have moved on a bit since we left GA 15+ years ago!

On the eleventh green at the King and Prince golf course – marsh holes coming up! This golf course is near to my heart because it is environmentally correct (marsh holes are on natural hillocks) and incredibly beautiful at the same time. As you address the holes, you sense that you are floating across the marsh grass. Incredible.

A Little Southern Soul

A serious foodie visit to St. Simons Island must include a stop at Southern Soul, a celebration of protein located at the epicenter of the island’s more populous south end. Co-owner Griffin Bufkin declares “you want to go to a barbeque place with wood out front” and so it is at Southern Soul. The restaurant’s three smokers, all set at different temperatures according to the type of meat to be cooked, burn about $300 of wood per week. The Weekday Worker Special offers a pulled pork “Que” sandwich with fries and a large soda for $6.50. For a more eclectic sample, go for the $15 Southern Soul Sampler with two meats, Brunswick stew, and a side (bring your eatin’ clothes). Try the lovely two-toned smoky brisket and classic pulled pork. For directions and a menu, click here.