Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Trip Recap.

This weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Savannah, GA to attend the wedding of a friend of mine from law school. I had been looking forward to the trip since receiving the invitation months earlier.

The nautical theme carried through the wedding itself. It was fitting. After all, this is a bride who quit her law job to sail around the world, and cook as part of a crew on a private yacht. Can you imagine? What an adventure!

My little trip down South might not have been a jaunt around the world, but for me, it felt pretty daring. Solo travel! woo-hoo! The opportunity to explore and do what I wanted, wake up when I wanted, eat where I wanted, take as long as I wanted to stroll around, browse, take pictures, sit, contemplate, observe. I couldn't imagine the joy.

And that's basically, what I did. As soon as I arrived in Savannah, I grabbed a cab over to my hotel. Took a quick pic of the place for posterity...

recorded a snap of the river view from my window..

and then I was off.

First stop - food! I was ravenous. The last meal I had eaten was a bowl of cereal at 6:30 that morning. And now it was after 2:00. Being the consumate planner that I am, I knew exactly where I wanted to eat - the Soho South Cafe on W. Liberty St. It was a bit of a walk from the hotel - but that was exactly the right thing to do. Savannah's historic district is such a walking town. There's no better way to get a sense of the layout, the design and vibe of the place than on foot.

And since I was down South, I forcibly reminded myself to just take it slow. For just this weekend, I would put aside my East coast type A personality. I would not rush. I would savor the moment.

And so I did. I strolled. I detoured through various town squares to admire architecture, dripping Spanish moss, bursting colors of azalea bushes...and I breathed. I immediately recognized that warm, humid, sun kissed smell because it reminded me of the Outer Banks.. and I felt right at home.

The wait for the food was worth it.

That's not a hamburger. That, Lord help me...is a meatloaf sandwich with Swiss cheese and Russian dressing, tomato and lettuce. The three bean and corn salad was dressed with a lime cumin vinagrette that brightened up all the flavors and was a perfect foil to the meatiness of the sandwich.

After stuffing myself like that, it was obligatory to walk it off. And I did... with an hour or so of a detour through the best of Savannah's boutique shopping. So Much Fun! Granted, it was mostly window shopping for me, since I tried really hard to not spend more than absolutely necessary... but looking is free, right?

Time flies. Met up with friends for a pre-wedding welcome party at the Moon River Brewing Company. I appreciated how close it was to the hotel. And its cozy downstairs party space was just the right size to promote catching up.

The next morning, my first stop was an absolute must.

There's just no excuse people when the gym is one floor below you.

After that nonsense was out of the way, I recharged with a hearty breakfast at Clary's Cafe - the diner made famous by that other Savannah tribute - Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Good stuff. Nothing fancy, but filling, fast and reasonably priced.

After that, I had an hour to kill before my next adventure. So I walked. My hope was to tour the Mercer House.

But, I was too early. The best I could do was stalk the place like a burglar, and take furtive pictures from the outside.

That's ok. I had plans. I was going to take a cooking class! I was so excited. Before leaving, I did some research. I asked myself what I'd really like to do on vacation, for myself. What really interested me? Was it taking a guided walking tour of the famous squares? A hearse ride though the equally famous cemetaries? An all-you-can-eat glutton fest at Paula Deen's?


What I really wanted to do, in those three hours I had to myself that morning was to indulge my senses and take a real cooking class. Taught by a real chef. In a real, hands on cooking classroom.

So, that's what I did. I took a class at 700 Kitchen. We did tapas and mezze.

Chef - demonstrating tricks to prepare roasted baba ganouj.

Preparing a classic proportion vinagrette.

infusing olive oil to drizzle with our roasted olives. Ohmigod. This was worth the price of admission alone.

We were all assigned tasks, including knife skills. Which, as you can see, I need to work on. I cook at least five times or more a week from scratch, and I'm constantly chopping, dicing, chiffonading, etc. But for the life of me, I cannot stop using my pointer finger as a guide on the blade.

I was a natural at beverage service though.

Other highlights ...

A citrus salad.

Fish kebabs.

And just about everything else - homemade bread with sea salt and herbs, cucumber mint salad, roasted chickpeas, etc.

I can't believe how much fun that was. Hanging out, cooking without pressure, without picky eaters, without the nagging sense of obligation. Cooking purely for my own pleasure with no other incentive than the sheer joy of learning, and tasting, and being around other people who took as much pleasure in that as I did. This, I have to do again.

Now.. it was late in the day. After meeting friends for a late lunch (ha!), it was time to go to the wedding itself.

Which was wonderful. Beautiful. A deeply touching exchange of vows, underneath twinkly fairy lights, surrounded by loved ones. I teared up - of course. And then we celebrated!

Loads of food. Great music. Foot stomping dancing. I had so much fun...except for the slow dances. Without Jeff there, I felt a little lonely. Sigh.

But, I wouldn't have missed a chance to hang out with old friends.

And who better to take my picture at the airport?

Look how well rested I seem.

I brought back a souvenier for Beanie. The wedding placecards were little boats. I snatched two of them for the kids. Yay!

She approved.

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