A Travellerspoint blog

July 2010


Another visit with sweet Savannah

She sits on a crumbling brick wall that glows golden in the sunshine, a butterfly in her hair, her fingers twirling long vines of ivy that trail onto the cobblestones. Her voice is whiskey rich, like aged bourbon, as she whispers to me in the evening heat, a sheen of light sweat on her honey skin, the smell of summer lilac drifting through the still hot air….she calls softly…..Savannah does, and I follow and am folded into her warm and sweet embrace. It is like returning to a sweet friend that I met only a short time ago, but who has so enraptured me that I yearn for her presence and return to her whenever I can, if only to be folded into her warm arms for a moment.



I love going to her place. She has the most delicious food, always gives me the best room, and she always makes sure she shows me a good time.

We planned a long weekend to Savannah for the 4th of July, expecting sweltering heat and what we were greeted with instead were breezy mild temperatures, almost no humidity, and clear blue skies. It was a weekend of amazing food, long slow walks through her brick streets, and fun with family.

Day One: So much food….so little time…..

We arrived early on a Friday and were able to check in early to the Zeigler House, my favorite B&B of all time.


Zeigler House is not only beautiful, but the location is ideal, and we love the way the innkeeper stocks our own little kitchenette with drinks, juice, water, snacks, candy, fruit, and tons of breakfast goodies. Instead of a formal sit down breakfast with strangers every morning, Jackie delivers 3 boxes of home baked goodies to you every day. You can feel the love pouring out of the white chocolate cherry scones and the oversized poppyseed muffins. Okay, maybe it’s not love, maybe it’s just damn fine baked goods and lots of sugar, but I feel loved all the same.


After an early check in, we walked a few houses down Jones Street to Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House. I had heard it rumored that this was “the mother of all southern eats” and I was willing to wait in line to find out.

The wait wasn’t too bad and before we knew it, we were ushered inside and seated at a large table for 10 with some very pleasant strangers. Bowl…after bowl….after bowl…..after bowl of food sat on the table when we arrived. Each bowl filled to the rim. There were 21 bowls in all: mashed sweet potatoes, collard greens, green beans, cabbage, rice, bbq brisket, black eyed peas, sausages, lima beans, succotash, gravy, mac n’ cheese, peas and noodles, dressing, beef stew, corn, squash casserole, turnips, mashed potatoes, and cucumbers. There was also a platter stacked high with cornbread and hot biscuits. Oh, and who could forget the crispy, golden fried chicken?


In what was obviously an attempt to kill us, they brought out a tray of banana pudding and blueberry cobbler at the end of the meal. We didn’t die, but I think we gained at least 7 pounds each.

We walked the short distance to Forsyth Park in an attempt to “walk off the food.” Seriously, we would have had to walk to Arizona to walk off that food.


The park was beautiful with it’s gorgeous fountain and happy dogs running through the green grass.

We then turned toward River Street and made our way across the historic district. It was hot and Wet Willies was calling.


Wet Willies is tacky. Wet Willies is classless. Wet Willies is low rent. It’s the kind of place you go on spring break in Daytona Beach when you are 18 and too stupid to know any better.

I love Wet Willies.

Where else can you get a 20 ounce glass filled with frozen juice and 190 proof grain alcohol for $8? The Attitude Improvement and the Call A Cab are the strongest of the strong and we ordered up. One is all it takes, folks, and 20 ounces later, my attitude was most definitely improved.


We arrived back at Zeigler house just in time for the wine and hors d’oeuvres party. Woo Hoo! More food! More drinks! This was my kind of day.


Jackie had made a great selection of snacks: cucumber slices topped with smoked salmon dip, focaccia squares with salmon, several cheeses and crackers served with white or red wine. She also had a selection of fresh baked cookies and cupcakes that were put out all day, every day, as well as a great coffee bar where you can make your own coffee, lattes, espresso, or cappuccino.


Suddenly feeling like a size 24W that had been shoved into a size 2, I need some elastic waist pants and I needed them fast. That said, it was time to retire to the cool of our rooms for some much needed down time.

That night, we really wanted sushi. Yes, I know. Savannah does not typically bring sushi to mind, but we had eaten so much that day, we wanted something a little on the lighter side. I remembered getting some good sushi and tapas at Tantra on a previous visit, so we headed that way.


Tantra still had the cool red lanterns, the chill vibe, and the great house music….but they had taken the sushi off the menu. We headed out in search of another place that should have been nearby, but unbeknownst to us….it had moved. We finally just wandered back down to River Street because Matt wanted oysters. We ended up at Fiddler’s Crab House because they have great oysters in the downstairs oyster bar during the afternoon. Problem was, this wasn’t the afternoon and we wanted more than oysters.


It was average at best. The food was just okay and it was pretty overpriced. Note to self: stick to the afternoon oyster bar at Fiddler’s from now on.

The upside to Fiddler’s was that it was practically next to….WET WILLIES.

An Attitude Improvement later and I didn’t even remember what I had for dinner. We ended the night with cheap drinks and black lights. What’s not to love?

Day Two: Neither crowds, nor lack of parking, nor gale force winds….will keep us from being Tybee Island Bound.


Okay, so maybe planning to go to Tybee Island on July 3rd, the day of their big 4th of July celebration wasn’t the brightest idea, but the day broke with bluebird skies and a cool breeze and we were riding high on carbohydrates. We weren’t really thinking about all that.


After a delicious breakfast on our private patio at Zeigler House, Matt and I took a long walk while the cousins slept in. We love the walk from Zeigler House down to and around Forsyth Park. I like wandering down different little cobblestone streets looking for secret doors to hidden gardens, past solemn statues holding age old mysteries behind their stony smiles.


I love the live oak trees, stretching like green leviathans with their arms reaching toward heaven, wrapped in swirls of graying moss.


When we felt we had at least reset the carb to exercise ratio slightly back in our favor, we were off to Tybee Island.


Traffic was a bear and it took a lot longer than it should have to get there. Once there, it took even longer than it had taken to get there to find a parking space. By this point, we were STARVING. I didn’t care one bit about finding the beach, I wanted to find a BURGER.


We literally walked into the first place we came to, lest our now fat and carbohydrate laden bodies become comatose while we tried to find “just the right place.”

The Rock House was awesome. They had amazing hot burgers and awesome frozens.


Bellies full, we decided it was time to brave the crowds and try to find our own 2x2 square of unclaimed sand on this incredibly populated beach. The wind was ferocious as we made our way down to the water. Call me spoiled, but this:


is why I prefer to take my beach vacations in the Caribbean. This was so not my scene.

We all sat there feeling like we were getting sandblasted for as long as we could stand it. I had sand in my ears, up my nose, and in crevasses that I don’t think can be mentioned in mixed company. Yet…there we sat….getting buried in the wind driven sand by the second.

No one wanted to be the whiny pants that said, “Do y’all want to go?”

Finally, we all met eyes at once and it was obvious. At the same time we all shouted, “Let’s get out of here!” and we grabbed our stuff and ran for the safety of the car.

All was made right with the world when we were settled back into the car and I finally had a chance to dig the sand out of my ears.


We got back to Zeigler House just in time for Jackie’s evening reception. We were greeted by GIANT chocolate covered strawberries and southwestern spring rolls.


After spending some time getting the sand out of our nooks and crannies, we walked over to the Crystal Beer Parlor. From the outside, it’s a cute building, but doesn’t really give you any hint about what’s inside. We opened the heavy door and walked into a warm and inviting place. Stepping into Savannah’s second oldest restaurant and bar was like stepping back in time.



Not only do they serve a pretty good variety of beer, their cocktails are pretty great too. I had an ice cold Sweet TeaTini. Good stuff for a southern girl!

After the fruitless sushi hunt the night before, we were all still craving a little wasabi and soy, so we made our way to TaCa and was it ever worth it. In a non-descript little building in a strip mall, TaCa served some of the best sushi we have had in a long time. Not only delicious, it was inventive and quite beautiful!


Day 3: Happy 4th, Savannah!


The next day was a bright blue sky 4th of July.

We spent the morning strolling down to River Street and back to the Zeigler House. You can never take too many walks in Savannah. Each one yields something wonderful and new. Churches reaching to the heavens, old cars sitting proudly in front of even older buildings, and crepe myrtles drowning in Spanish moss.




The morning was a slow and lazy affair and eventually we drifted over to Tubby’s Tank House for lunch with a river view. The outdoor deck was hopping with live music and strong drinks. This might be the prettiest drink I have ever had:


We overate when faced with a menu filled with more fried seafood delights than we could decide between.


Then we overate more when we saw the homemade coconut cream pie.


Fat and happy, we did a tour of Wormsloe Plantation which had the most beautiful drive, lined with towering live oaks. You could just imagine yourself on a genteel plantation, heading back to the sweeping front porch for an afternoon of mint juleps.


We also took a drive through Bonaventure Cemetery which might be the prettiest cemetery I have ever seen. So many secrets here. You could feel them hiding around every crumbling tombstone.


That evening we walked down to the River for the fireworks. We grabbed ourselves a front row seat at …..where else….WET WILLIES!


The fireworks were lovely, but we might have had one Willie too many because somehow we ended up at the Club One Cabaret Drag Show. Uh-oh! It was a blast, but I can’t tell you what all we saw there. You just have to go see it for yourself. Let’s just say that when “Lady Gaga” ripped off her gown and was wearing nothing but duct tape underneath, we all nearly fell off our chairs.


Willies and Fireworks and Drag Queens, Oh My! It was finally time to call it a night. It was officially July 5th, and we needed some sleep.


We bid sweet Savannah goodnight. As always, she had been a wonderful hostess. As I slipped away, I whispered in her ear to save me a seat for next time…in a wide porch rocker next to the wisteria that climbs up the rail…..I can still feel her sweet, warm kiss on my cheek and will think of her whenever I smell crepe myrtles blooming in the steamy July sunset.


Posted by vicki_h 13:27 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Meet Me At the Corner of Cheesecake & Pickles

A gastronomical weekend in Philly & NYC


Everything exists in NYC. You can get anything you want at any time of day. The city is ablaze with energy no matter the hour. The sun shines, but you never seem to see it, blocked in the sky by the towering giants of the skyscrapers. Smells of exhaust, old trash, pizza and flower stands mix with the song of the musicians on the street corner and the screaming rant of the crazy guy in front of the hotel across the street shouting, “Marriott Sucks! Marriott Sucks! Marriott Sucks!” Storefronts dazzle, horns blare, and the heat comes off the sidewalk in waves as the street vendors hawk their fake Guccis and I "heart" NYC t-shirts.


I "heart" NYC.

This was a long weekend split between Philly and NYC. It was about shopping, eating, and spending time with two of my favorite people, my husband and my best childhood friend, Sam. Some things we did were old favorites and some quickly became new favorites. The high points, in no particular order:

1. The Vista Suite at the London Hotel. Our super spacious suite was not only gorgeous and comfortable, it had a sweeping view of Central Park. The room screamed “Super cool rock star posh!” and I loved everything from the walk in closet to the semi circle sofa to the tiny lights in the curtains.


2. The Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien.
The last thing you expect to find inside the posh and swanky Le Parker Meridien Hotel is a hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon dive decorated with faded out movie posters and handmade signs scribbled in marker on cardboard boxes, but that’s exactly what The Burger Joint is. Hidden behind a long curtain, you would know it was there unless….well…you know it’s there. The only thing indicating anything is back in that dark little corner is a small neon sign with a hamburger on it.


The walls are covered in the scribblings of 1000 patrons despite the sign (handmade, in marker, on a cardboard box, of course) that says, “We don’t spit in your food…don’t write on our walls.”A sign at the counter reads:


Step 1: Hamburger or Cheeseburger

Step 2: How d’ya want it cooked?
(rare, med-rare, medium, med-well, well)

Step 3: What d’ya want on it?
(Lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, mayo, mustard)
With everything, call it “The works”

Be ready to order or else you go to the end of the line.

Cash only.

They meant serious business. Get it wrong and I am pretty sure a huge trap door opens in the floor and sends you away to the “No Burger For You” chamber of Hell. But the burgers are seriously worth it. Tightly wrapped in paper you’ll find a steaming mound of hot grilled beef and creamy melted cheese. Burger perfection.


3. Always Tacky, Always Awesome: Times Square. I never stop in Times Square, because I hate its tacky, touristy shops and restaurants, but I love to walk through. There is nothing quite like it. The giant billboards, dazzling in the afternoon sunshine, the street performers filling the air with music, the freak show of people passing by….it fills your eyes and ears with a sense of wonder. It’s like watching a giant show pass you on the sidewalk.


4. A Behanding in Spokane starring Chistopher Walken. It might have had something to do with the fact that our seats were second row center in a very small theater, putting us close enough to Christopher Walken that he could spit on us if he wanted to, but this show was AMAZING. The man is a genius and the play is darkly hilarious.


5. Anything at Balthazar Bakery. From the workers in their crisp white aprons and hats to the stands of thick, luscious cakes and pastries, Balthazar is like a grown up candy store. A feast for the eyes and the stomach, this little bakery makes my heart smile.



6. Shopping in SoHo. I have to say that NYC shopping leaves me dazed and confused, mesmerized and breathless. “Totally confused” comes in at the Prada store where a room the size of a high school gym has only 2 handbags in it…plus a guard to watch over them. “Totally mesmerized” comes in at Armani Exchange where a giant store opens before you like the heavens filled with beautiful clothes and beautiful people shopping to the high energy tunes of their very own DJ. I love a store with its own DJ. The music just screams, “Buy something! Buy something!”



7. Carnegie Deli Cheesecake (and pickles). I LOVE the Carnegie Deli cheesecake. It is enough for at least 7 people and they bring you a bowl of pickles with it. Where else do they bring you pickles AND giant cheesecake?


8. Nobu 57. I knew I was in for a treat when the schizophrenic shouter out front screamed, “Enjoy your dinner with the rich and beautiful!” as we walked inside. Nobu is dark and sexy. You are welcomed by low slung settees and polished wood, wavelike chandeliers of silvery abalone shells, while soft candlelight glimmers and winks from every table. The place is noisy with laughter and music.The cocktails are creative, like the Champagne 95, a delightful blend of Delamotte Champagne, Torres Orange Liqueur, Crème de Peche, & Pineapple Juice. Matt had the Pina Martini with Vincent Van Gogh Pineapple Vodka, Fresh Pineapple Puree, and Fresh Lime Juice. For dinner, it was mini lobster tacos…..crispy little shells filled with delicate lobster, crab miso soup, and assorted sushi. Everything was delicious, enhanced by the sleek décor and flickering candlelight.


9. The rooftop Ava Lounge at the Dream Hotel.
Having stayed at the Dream Hotel during the hideous Dove Photo Shoot experience, I remembered the beautiful and breezy rooftop lounge. You can sit at a cozy corner table overlooking the Manhattan skyline and order up some of their special cocktails. I believe I had something called a Lolita Lemonade and a Brazilian. Ava Lounge always has a very creative selection and the drinks are strong….which takes a little of the sting out of the $16 pricetag. I could never be a drunk in NYC. I’d be broke first.


10. Central Park, the Lungs of NYC. Central Park is an oasis in the city. I go there to breathe. I love to stroll and watch the colorful people, listen to the street musicians, or watch the artists on the sidewalk.


11. Yankee Stadium Suite Seats. Sam had scored suite seats for the Yankees game. I am not that much into baseball, but I am very much into baseball food, and suite seats came with unlimited nachos, hotdogs, popcorn, peanuts, and ice cream. I spent the next two hours eating myself into a chili dog coma. I think there was also a baseball game going on, but I can’t tell you very much about that.


12. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sometimes bigger is better. I think this is the case with the Museum of Art. It seems you can walk forever. I think you could live here and never see every nook and cranny. Despite the maddening crowds, this place is an inspirational one.


The Big Bambu exhibit on the roof is wild. You can even climb it. And the views from the rooftop bar are extraordinary. This is a museum for the ages, a museum to get lost in, a museum to go to when you have a day to spend wandering aimlessly through beauty and history.


13. Little Italy. When you ask a New Yorker to recommend the best Italian Food in Little Italy, most will tell you there isn’t any great Italian Food in Little Italy, and while it’s true that NYC has some amazing Italian culinary experiences elsewhere, they don’t come with the tacky charm of little Italy. Only there do they string up the lights and pull the tables onto the sidewalk, covering them with the expected red & white checked tablecloth and baskets of bread. Only there do gelato and cannoli vendors line the streets next to tables where you can get a Statue of Liberty or a Statue of Saint Francis....both in the most lifelike plastic resin that $3 can buy. I can’t help myself. I love Little Italy. It reminds me of the Gwinnett County Fair from my childhood except that they have spaghetti with meatballs instead of corndogs. A dinner of warm bread, prosciutto di parma with melon and Pepperoni Ripieni (sweet cubanelle peppers stuffed with sausage, endive, mozzarella, and cherry tomato sauce), and gnocchi with Bolognese sauce does a body good.


14. The subway. Am I the only person that loves the subway? I love the subway. I like the sound of it, the neat old tile work in the tunnels, the confusing signage, and the odd people you meet along the way.


15. The interesting people. One of my favorite things about a visit to NYC are the interesting people you'll see. There's the guy on the subway in tattered clothing and dirty hands who can sing like an angel. There's the girl walking down the street with neon pink hair, 4 inch black stillettos, and a face to die for. There's the guy in the flamenco dress with a parrot on his head pushing a tie dyed poodle around in a baby stroller.


16. Amtrack. I LOVED the train. LOVED, loved, loved. We took the train from Philly to NYC and back. Clean, comfy, and fast. This would be my preferred means of travel if I could take it everywhere!


17. Downtown Philly. I love walking through downtown Philly. The great neighborhoods, like Old City and South Street, are fun places to eat and shop. There is also so much history steeped in its streets with landmarks like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We spent a day just walking, looking, shopping, and eating our way through downtown Philly.


18. Amada. I’ll save the best for last. We had reservations at Amada for Matt’s birthday. A Spanish Tapas restaurant in the Old City, Jose Garces’ Amada gets rave reviews and tops out most “best” lists in Philadelphia. I wanted something special for the night and it was beyond special. The interior is warm with wood and candles. The sangria is fruity and delicious. We had a carafe of the Blanco (white wine with pears, apples, and peaches) and a carafe of the Tinto (spiced red wine with orange, apple, and cinnamon). We even tried some of their inventive cocktails like the “Dark Habit,” made with lime, strawberries, and gin. We ordered 12 small plates and each was enough for 4 people. I can’t begin to tell you how delicious and special each one was. Each small plate was like a bite of magic….all different….all tantalizing our tastebuds. Some of my favorites were the Gambas al Ajillo, delicious shrimp bathed in a savory garlic oil with sourdough toasts; the Ensalada Verde, a virtual mountain of salad with asparagus, favas, and green beans; the Costillas de Ternera, a flatbread topped with boneless beef shortribs, horseradish, parmesan, and bacon; or the sirloin slices with spinach, membrillo, and goat cheese. The meal was an evening of perfection topped off by a sweet fried Vanilla Cream topped with Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce and Hazelnut Ice Cream.

A sweet ending to a sweet trip!


Posted by vicki_h 13:18 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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