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Archive for August, 2010

Okay, so ATL. Atlanta! We started the day by spending the morning at the High, looking at gorgeous vintage cars and brilliant, if not heartbreaking, photographs by Peter Sekaer. The High was a beautiful modern art museum that was easy to navigate, spacious and airy, and really lovely on a hot summer day.

We would have stuck around, but had things to do and animals to meet at the Georgia Aquarium. Like Nemo:

And Mr. Beluga:

Isn’t he cute? He loved to come and say ohai as he swam by.

And George (my name for him), who I think may be the long lost husband of Myrtle?

Oh, how I love aquariums. And the Georgia Aquarium is AWESOME. So big, friendly, and with a ton of information and fantastic animals to see. There’s even a petting zoo, where I pet a starfish and a stingray, then got totally grossed out and couldn’t stop freaking out at the memory. But still very cool ūüôā

After that we headed home to get ready for our big night out at…Woodfire Grill! This was my birthday dinner and being totally obsessed with all things Kevin, I was ecstatic. Like tween-girl-first-middle-school-dance ecstatic. So I do what anyone does when they’re nervous and excited – made a fool out of myself.

But first things first: the actual restaurant. The restaurant is located on kind of a funny thoroughfare (think triple XXX video shops and fast food joints all around), but had valet parking which looked kind of out of place, but was welcomed since I couldn’t get into the restaurant fast enough. Our table wasn’t ready yet so they seated us in the cozy lounge at the front, where we tried some of their seasonal cocktails. I had the¬†Rendezvous (high west rye whiskey, fresh grapefruit juice, caradamom syrup and lemon juice) to start, which was delicious, but after that moved on to Hendrick’s gimlets since I wanted to focus on the ingredients in the food, not in my drinks. Plus, Hendrick’s is my favorite and it was my birthday so I could and I did and I ¬†loved it. Again and again.

The wait wasn’t too long at all (just enough to get through most of our drinks) but the¬†front of¬†house¬†staff was super gracious and apologized for the wait when they came to get us. They led us past the bar (where the bartender vaguely resembled Kevin…could it be? No, course not) and into the cozy, high-ceilinged dining room in the back, to a table right by…the open wood fire grill! Ahhh AWESOME thankyouverymuch! I love to see food getting prepared, and this also raised our chances of actually seeing the big man himself. The meal was off to a very good start.

After¬†¬†ogling the menu for .5 seconds, we¬†all agreed that there was really only one way to go – the tasting menu. Now, I’d like to point out that Woodfire Grill has two tasting menu options, $65 for 5 courses, and $85 for 7 courses. $65 for¬†5 courses! Maybe I’ve lived in Boston too long, but this seemed like a steal. The 7 courses sounded amazing, but I’ve had my fair share of tastings lately, and find myself stuffed beyond repair (or enjoyment) around course 4, so 5 it was.

So, I don’t have pictures, because I was too busy eating and drinking and dying when Kevin would walk by (which he did! multiple times!). But the food was SUBLIME. Truly amazing. Yummy yummy porkalicious bacony fishy cheesey light fresh localorganic brilliantness. I do remember we DRANK our salads – caprese shooters. YUM. I’m getting hungry writing this!¬†So. good. And it was leisurely, but not too long between courses, just enough that we didn’t feel rushed, and could treat each course with the respect it deserved. From amuse bouche through dessert, the food was excellent.

By the end of the meal I was feeling pretty fantastic, thanks to both the food and the gin, and decided to write Kevin a love note promising that if I ever got divorced he was the first person I’d call (and yes, the hubs was sitting next to me while I wrote this). I then proceeded to give it to the waiter to give to Kevin. For reals. Apparently I’m not the first girl to make an arse out of myself though, because the waiter then told us about a girl who had begged and begged to meet Kevin and then couldn’t say a word when she finally did. AWESOME. At this point my dining companions thought it was best to whisk me out of the restaurant before I got on that train. So we floated out into the sultry Altanta night, with full tummies and visions of porkbellies dancing in our head.

Best. Birthday. Dinner. Ever.

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I promise I’ll get up to speed (i.e. the end of August) soon enough. But the weather outside is frightful, and looking at pictures of vacation two months ago is, well, delightful.

Wednesday broke hot and steamy, like all the other days we were in the South. After bopping around the city center for a bit (had to buy my requisite cheesey tourist souvenirs) we hopped into the car to head to Atlanta. Honestly, this drive wasn’t nearly as scenic as the coastal causeway we’d followed from Charleston to Savannah, but it did have one highlight about halfway between Savannah and Atlanta — Macon!

Macon turned out to be a pleasant surprise, I think because we had such low expectations for it. We started by stopping at the Visitor’s Center, which was actually really nice with great information, friendly helpers, and – most important of all – clean bathrooms ūüôā We asked what were the must-see’s in Macon, and where we should have lunch. They recommended some of the historic homes, and just walking along the main street full of eateries and shops. Soon after we stumbled on La Dolce Vita Cafe and Bar, where we enjoyed a hummus platter and a crab cake roll for a whopping total of $7.50. Tasty, satisfying, and with gracious service (and they served¬†the check in an old book!), this was a great place to stop and take a rest. From there we headed upstairs to Jack and Coat Clothiers, a small independent men’s clothing store that was a surprisingly stylish outpost that inspired images of the Billy Reid store in Charleston. The store had an excellent selection, and one purchase¬†later, we were on our way. We finished up our Macon experience by driving by the Hay House (aka the “Palace of the South”) and the Cannonball House, two historic mansions that represent the quirky charm of Macon, then were on our way to Atlanta.

The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful, besides sitting in awesome rush-hour traffic for awhile just outside the city. But our efforts were highly rewarded by dinner at Sauced, which was sooo yummy. Ohemgeee was this good. Fried okra, bbq pork, and braised short rib were the highlights of this meal. And the drinks were just as good! Loved the laid back, quirky vibe of this place – reminded me of a cross between Franklin Cafe and Delux, if you know what I mean. Except in citrus tones. Obviously.

After that we made friends with our Atlanta host, Elliott*, who had just recieved a new lion cut he couldn’t wait to show off:

Basically he looked like he was wearing Uggs!

Next up, best birthday day in Atlanta eva. Why? Two things: Beluga whales and Kevin Gillespie. Cause you can’t have one without the other.

*Unfortunately Elliott passed on to kitty heaven recently. We were so sad to hear of his passing, but so happy we got to hang out with him for our time in Atlanta. A better host there never was.

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What a dark and dreary day in Boston. Thank goodness I have these sunshiney pictures to remind me of the sweltering heat of Savannah just a few months ago!

After walking around Forsyth Park and many of the other squares in Savannah, we got back into our rental car and headed to Bonaventure Cemetery, one of Savannah’s oldest cemeteries, and reputedly one of the most beautiful in the nation. Yes, going to a cemetery is pretty morose, but this is also the cemetary that shows up in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and since I’m a sucker for all things haunted, spooky, or scary, we had to go. We were not disappointed.

First off, little Gracie Watson’s¬†grave. Little Gracie! How creepy! She was the only child of her parents, and died at the age of 6 of pneumonia.

She has her own little gated area. Is the gate to keep things out….or in?

It is easy to see why Bonaventure is known for the scenery. Between the graves, live oaks, and moss, it’s a pretty ethereal setting.

The trees and other growth provide a stunning backdrop for some remarkable graves and tombs.

Gorgeous and creepy all at the same time.

Apparently John Muir visited (and slept!) in the cemetery in 1867 and wrote in A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf: “But of all the plants of these curious tree-gardens the most striking and characteristic is the so-called Long Moss (Tillandsia usneoides). It drapes all the branches from top to bottom, hanging in long silvery-gray skeins, reaching a length of not less than eight or ten feet, and when slowly waving in the wind they produce a solemn funereal effect singularly impressive….The dead do not reign there alone.”

After spending an hour walking and winding through the cemetary, we decided to head back to the land of the living and made our way to the Savannah waterfront to lighten up the mood with some beer in plastic cups. The Savannah waterfront is pretty but is kind of the typical tourist scene, and we found much more beautiful and charming areas in the blocks further away from the water.

Lunch at Mrs. Wilke’s kept us full past five o’clock, but eventually we made our way over¬†to Local 11 Ten, a restaurant that specialized in using local and seasonal ingredients. Everything was light and fresh, which was warmly welcomed after our prodigious lunch.

After dinner we walked down to the Mansion on Forsyth Park, a property that I’ve had my eye on for awhile since it made its debut on LuxuryLink several years ago. The hotel did not disappoint, and presents a fabulous mixture of traditional architecture and hip, modern, and sumptuous¬†decor.¬†It’s worth it just to pop in and have a drink in one of the many lounges, but make sure to wander the hallways and check out the various dining rooms, patios, and even the bathrooms for the amazing interior design. Next time we’re in town I’d love to try one of the cooking classes at 700 Drayton, the inhouse restaurant, as well.

A Celtics playoff game was just starting so we snuggled into the overstuffed couches in the bar upstairs, and sipped on cocktails. I made the mistake of ordering absinthe (aka “firewater”), which was – as the bartender promised – pretty gross. Kind of like Jaegermeister. And I don’t like Jaegermeister. I should have stuck with the martinis!

The hotel bar was gorgeous but pretty quiet on a Tuesday night, so we headed to the other Kessler Hotels property in Savannah, the Bohemian Hotel on the Waterfront. We had checked out the rooftop bar earlier and thought it would be a great place to return, so headed over.

OMG, the place was OUT OF CONTROL. There was some kind of pilot’s conference going on, and it was madness and mayhem. The place was packed, and looked like the Webster Dictionary definition of a meat market. We stepped in, surveyed the crowd and crazed lines for drinks, and quickly retreated back into the elevator in search of a different venue. Luckily we found a relatively quiet bar across the street where we were able to watch the rest of the game uneventfully before making our way back to our hotel. We had to get in some good zzz’s because the next day we were heading to Hot-lanta!

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Okay, back to Savannah! So on Tuesday morning we woke up bright and early (ummm, 9:30?) and drove over to 107 West Jones Street to get in line. To get in line for what you ask? Only the best lunch ever! We were some of the lucky individuals who go to participate in a lunch at Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room.

This place was.the.bomb. Operating since 1943, everything is served family-style in cozy, charming dining rooms throughout the first floor of an old Savannah boarding house. This is one of those tourist attractions that even locals love, and half of the experience is meeting your dining companions while you wait on line for your seating. This place is very popular, and for the 11am seating people start lining up at 10am. By 11, the line had grown so long it curved around the block.

Luckily it was a gorgeous morning in Savannah, and I took the chance to capture the beautiful neighborhood:

Loved the American flags flying over the doorways.

Secret gardens.

I could live here.

The trees, the trees, the trees!

Sigh.

And then it was time to eat.

After being ushered through the house into our dining room, we sat down at a large communal table covered with dishes. And I mean COVERED. And we ate it all: fried chicken (swoon), collard greens, macaroni and cheese, snap beans, beef stew, cornbread muffins, black-eyed peas, butter beans, okra and tomatos, candied yams, sausage, mashed potatoes, pickled beets, squash, bread pudding and peach cobbler. All washed down with a bottomless glass of sweet tea.

YUM.

I cannot recommend this place highly enough. For $16 per person, there is no reason not to go. Simply amazing. And eating communally was a wonderful way to meet all different kinds of people, and of course everyone is in a jolly mood because of the absolute wonderfulness of all the food and surroundings. So fun!

After lunch, we rolled ourselves back out onto Jones Street and decided to wander around the neighborhood and the many squares¬†nearby¬†in an attempt to digest at least a portion of what we’d consumed.

I could get used to this.

I’ll take that one.

Yes, please.

Love.

After walking around for nearly two hours, it was high time to retreat to the air-conditioned environs of our car. Up next, we head to our creepiest destination yet…

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Where did I go?! I fell off the interwebs! Summer took over and I’ve been distracted by warm nights, cold drinks, and¬†lazy dogs. But have no fear,¬†posting will resume shortly!

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