Monday, 25 August 2008

We Interrupt This Holiday to Bring You a Tropical Storm

Tropical storm Fay arrived in Florida and we decided that it would be prudent to leave while she blew herself out. Having been to Savannah many years ago, I suggested it might be a nice place for us to ride out the storm - far enough away from the wind and rain, but not too far to drive. In the end, for reasons of both weather and culinary delights, Savannah was a fantastic choice. We loved the architecture and the history too, but as always, Southern hospitality won the day and we ate like kings.

From easy meals at chain restaurants like Ruby Tuesday, to fantastic lunches at the locally owned Shrimp Factory, to a dinner at the famous Lady and Sons, we enjoyed lots of wonderful southern delicacies while riding out the storm.

Two of the places that really do stand out for me are The Shrimp Factory, on East River Street, on the Savannah waterfront and Lady and Sons, owned by Paula Deen and her sons. We had lunch at The Shrimp Factory on afternoon and it was an absolute joy. The restaurant is cozy and offers a view of the port of Savannah, with friendly staff and super food. After we had ordered, a hot basket of baby blueberry muffins arrived with pots of pecan butter, all on the house. They were just delicious. Guy and I wanted sandwich and salad, but as we had been enjoying all that Southern hospitality, we didn't want a whole sandwich or a whole salad. Well, without any fuss, the waitress allowed me to order the sandwich - a beautiful shrimp salad sandwich on rye that was the most delicious I have ever had - and Guy to order the salad. She then brought enough plates so we could share. The salad was wonderful too, a Shrimp Factory take on Caesar Salad - really yummy. Alex had a turkey bacon club sandwich he just raved about. Wonderful!

As for Lady and Sons, what an experience! It's so popular they don't take reservations. You have to line up outside at 9.30am in the morning and book your table for lunch or dinner. We got the time slot we wanted - 7.30pm - and looked forward to our dinner all day. After we arrived, my only complaint was that there was no bar area to wait in - and we did have to wait despite our booking. They ask you to be there 15 minutes before your reservation (and we were) but we were not seated until nearly 8pm. But once we sat down, our friendly waiter soon made us forget that experience. You can either have the buffet (which includes many of Paula's famous dishes) or order a la carte. Guy and I had the buffet and Alex had the a la carte chicken pot pie. The buffet had such a super selection - from the expected southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes, red beans, rice and candied sweet potatoes, to the not so expected chicken in red wine sauce, beef stew and lasagne. I particularly enjoyed the red potatoes and green beans dish. And the fried chicken was just divine. There was a salad bar, but neither Guy nor I managed to get anywhere near it we were so full. The buffet includes dessert and we were offered tiny versions of peach cobbler, and other delicacies. Alex's chicken pot pie, which he allowed me to taste, was wonderful and had a biscuit crust that was clearly not for those counting calories! The serving was so generous he could not finish it. I gave him my mini dessert (in fact the waiter gave us three mini desserts) as I was desperate to try the key lime pie.

Now key lime pie had taken on epic proportions in my head. I had it once, when I was 13 and visited Florida with Mom and Dad. I just loved it - the tart flavour of the lime combined with the sweet graham crust and was one of the nicest things I had ever eaten. I had not had it since, and after me dreaming about it for well over 25 years, the pie had some pretty high expectations to meet! Well, Paula and sons key lime pie did not disappoint. It was just amazing. I had to take about two thirds of it back to the hotel in a box, and I enjoyed it the next day I was so full! I must say that a visit to Savannah really is not complete without a visit to the wonderful Southern institution that is Lady and Sons - but for heaven's sake eat lightly for several meals before you visit. I've never been so full in my life!! What a treat it was.

After four wonderful days in Savannah we headed on back to Florida through the tail end of Fay, and have enjoyed wonderful weather ever since. And even more food! Watch this space...

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