Our third annual Veterans Day Reception was held on Sunday, November 11, 2012 and exceptionally well attended by over 35 active duty and retired veterans plus families. One special veteran was the 92-year-old grandfather of Laci Leoci, of Leoci’s Trattoria – he was truly the center of attention as veterans of all ages shook his hand and thanked him for his contribution to our Country.
The kitchen at Azalea Inn and Gardens was the staging ground and “bar” for the evenings repast and the on again off again sprinkles did little to dampen the spirits or the appetites of these wonderful men and women. Quiet murmurs of appreciation were heard throughout the house as they dined on an enormous spread of foods from some of our most favorite restaurants. We take this time to say “Thank You” to our restaurant partners:
Alligator Soul’s Cajun Meatloaf was the favorite of one vet whose wife declined to make him lunch before arriving… he had begged her to make him some meatloaf!
Leoci’s Trattoria provided Charcuterie and Cheese platters which were devoured quickly and these gracious hosts quickly came over with more platters.
Cha Bella contributed a mouthwatering seasoned Chicken Breasts, Mac-n-Cheese and Green Beans, and the youngest in the crowd declared the mac-n-cheese the best ever!
Pirates House pulled pork and collard Spring Rolls and dipping sauce were quick to go.
Sage made a delicous Planked Salmon, Bruchetta and herbed cream cheese with homemade crostini.
Crystal Beer Parlor shared their famous Crab Dip and homemade crostinie.
Gigi’s Cupcakes contributed 40 mini-cupcakes which were, as expected, quickly devoured.
Lulu’s Chocolate Bar also added to the dessert display with chocolate covered strawberries – Yum!
Azalea Inn and Gardens made Sweet Ricotta Cheese with Fresh Fruit Blintzes.
Wine, sodas and water were all supplied by the four Savannah Inns, Azalea Inn and Gardens, Green Palm Inn, Zeigler House Inn and Dresser Palmer House.
Historic Savannah rocked Broughton Street last night, and I for one am so looking forward to the second Vogue Fashion’s Night Out (FNO). The evening was a mix of fashion shows, food, wine, and desserts (you know me – I still have to have my sweet fix). I am not a fashion chaser, heck I am barely literate in the world of “What to Wear” when one is approaching 60, but last night’s affair has me reevaluating my wardrobe!
I arrived fashionably late, a scant 45 minutes after the start of FNO, to find Broughton Street closed to traffic and a line of sassy women, children and young men flaunting their most fashion forward pose as SCAD students completed lightning-fast sketches of our model wannabes. I skirted this group, not feeling particularly fashionable, and made my way to Ruel Joyner’s 24E (one of the nations leading furniture stores) where a collection of boutiques had set up “pop-up” stores with displays of clothing lines and accessories from jewelry to scarves. Three of my favs were there: Violet Gardens (bohemian couture), and Mangled Courtesan (Project Runway’s April Johnston) and Kathi Rich. I also bumped cheeks with the beautiful Jaclyn Schott of the blog “Shop My Savannah”. Grabbing a decadently rich chocolate brownie I headed on down the street to find what other treats awaited me.
The street was beginning to fill, the bands interspersed throughout the blocks of our fashion “runway” were rocking, and aspiring trendsetters walked, no, strutted their delightful sense of fashion abandon up and down Broughton Street. I reluctantly admit that I was not brave enough to raise my camera and click, click, click away recording some serious fashion nightmares. I ducked into the Copper Penny knowing that Alligator Soul provided the appetizers at this stop and you know this is one of my top go-to restaurants. The interactive fashion show was a mix of renowned designers (Dianne Von Furstenberg and Tibi) as well as a few up-and-comers like Annie Griffin and Waverly Grey.
Paris Market was my next stopping point, where I captured a fashion statement or two around the deliciously set table of confections front and center just inside the store. Shoppers of all ages, children and adults, were pulling loose wisps of green cotton candy and stuffing it into eager mouths while store clerks dressed in the period of Marie Antoinette serving up refreshing beverages.
I ventured next to the Savannah Bee Company and the delightful Bee, Bea – seriously, the bumble bee at Savannah Bee is named Bea – abuzz with activity. She favored the crowd with her incredible bee knowledge, describing the nuances of different honey samplings, and as well as enlightening the crowd with honey flavor science. I scooped a chunk of bee hive honey onto a chunk of cheese, dripped a bit down my shirt and licking my lips left the store. Trust me, I will be back.
I then made a beeline for the Savannah Shoe Company just missing Adam Turoni of Chocolat, but in time to sample a sensuous melt-slowly-over-your-tongue trufflesque treat. I was wearing a colorful pair of slides from SSC and on request modeled them for some shoppers – I do believe I should have earned a commission on that sale – or at least a discount on my custom made ankle boots! (I’ll tell you about them later). Scarfing up one more chocolate I was out the door.
Fab’rik seemed to be the hottest happening store on the block and after a few moments inside I realized in its past life it had been a funky antique mall with the grandest staircase I had ever seen. The same stairs provided several levels of inspired pampering with personal beauty consultations and a glam squad ready to help you shop!
Reaching the outer limits of the FNO zone I found the runway – a flatbed trailer with a band at one end and the catwalk performances with models from Rise Model Management – it was time for me to turn back and catch the other side of the street’s offerings and soon to wend my way home via Pedi-Cab.
You really must make reservations for next year’s Fashion’s Night Out. We have a little something planned for the evening to set you off in style! Azalea Inn and Gardens is a better way to stay.
Time now to slip inside the inn for a picture-perfect breakfast and some easy conversation around the communal table with the guests. What will we enjoy today? Ah, Banana Pancakes with Banana Caramel syrup, chicken-apple sausage, and a refreshing fruit cup of strawberries, black grapes and melon balls topped with blackberries and raspberries drizzled with a ginger-mint syrup, oh my! A little hot tea now to compliment my Savannah Sunrise – an Azalea Inn and Gardens breakfast specialty juice.
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Last Monday, three innkeepers and a husband met at Alligator Soul to admire the new logo and sample the newly-opened-for-lunch menu. Chef Chris DiNello shared with Savannah Foodie’s Tim Rutherford: “Our focus is on express gourmet Southern-style lunch for under $10. The menu will be short, light and diverse. Diners should expect changes on a regular basis because I’m using ingredients that are fresh, local and predominately organic.”
Alligator Soul’s world class cuisine and ambiance is well-known in the bed and breakfast circles, and a favorite of these three innkeepers and one of our top choices for dinner recommendations. Could Maureen and Chris, the co-owners, meet our expectations and their own?
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My sister, Sharon, surprised me with a mid-week visit to celebrate Mother’s Day. We don’t see each other often enough though she only lives a few hours away, so she and her partner, Dana, drove up from Jacksonville on Wednesday morning to share the day with me, in the absence of my own children, all living in California. They arrived about noon, and as I was still working, I sent them off to see Savannah by trolley with the promise to join up as soon as possible. I finally caught up with them close to 5 p.m. down on River Street at a local bar, sipping a brew. After helping Sharon finish hers off, our next venture of the evening was in search of a great bottle of wine and bit of food to go with. I chose a local wine bar, Bacchus, which was just round the corner from where we were.
Though 5:30 is a bit early for a crowd, but I did notice two of my favorite wine-guys as we entered, both of whom work for competing distributors in the Savannah area. Casey steered us toward a B.R. Cohen Cab and entertained us all with the story of Bruce Cohen, manager of the Doobie Brothers, and his successful venture into wine. It is easy to see that Casey has a passion for wine and sharing his knowledge and this choice was a great way to begin a sisters evening together.
Alligator Soul has always been one of my favorites for pairing of food and wine; I love both and am at my happiest when I don’t have to ponder the perfect accompaniment to my dish. Mo, the owner, and her Chef, Chris, offer a Chef’s Tasting Menu of either three or six course, with or without paired wines. We each chose the three-course tasting, with wine, but first the amuse bouche (to amuse the mouth) that starts every meal at Alligator Soul and changes with the day. I cannot now remember what it was, but it doesn’t matter – I was delighted to begin the tasting.
First Course was Poached Halibut and shrimp in a jalapeno miso broth with oyster mushrooms, carrots and green onions, paired with Writer’s Block Roussanne 2006, Lake County California. Second course was a BBQ trio: Guava glazed BBQ ribs with a bourbon smoked ribeye spring roll and a crawfish collard green spring roll paired with Mauritson 2005 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. The third course was a smoked duck breast (hot-dog style) wrapped in spinach and fried potato with roasted lamb chop, zinfandel reduction with red onion relish – oh my! The wine? ONYX, a 2006 Shiraz West Coast South Africa. Our young server inquired whether we might like dessert – which we politely declined.
We are not that temperate – we already had plans to go to Lulu’s Chocolate Bar just a short walk away and indulge in dessert and martinis. I had my favorite Espresso Martini, and then chose the trio of Creme Brulee and stopped just short of licking the little ramekins. My sister had a glass of wine and chocolate peanut butter cake, while Dana realized that the driving was best left to her and she ordered coffee and and a strawberry cake, I think?
As near as I can recall the ride home was uneventful – we did, after all, arrive! The next morning we went to Mom and Nikki’s for breakfast before they headed home.
It was the nicest mother’s day treat my sister could have given me – her company, great food and wine, and love. Sharon told our other sister, Pat, everything we did that night. Pat was shocked – her comment “We couldn’t get her to stay out past 9:30 this past New Year’s Eve, I can’t believe it!” To which Sharon replied, “We were home and in bed by 8:30.”