Like my favorite travel channel hosts Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, I too, believe that the best way to experience a place is to eat through it. Food, along with cute children and puppies, are commonalities that we all relate to across different cultures and geographical locations. The food of a place embodies its soul. Centuries of recipes are passed down from mother to daughters. Everyone has his or her favorite BBQ joint where they grew up going to and is fierce protective of. And that’s what today’s post will be about, eating like a local, eating with locals, and experience all these wonderful off-the-beaten path joints with great friends.
The first stop of what I call “Taste of the South” is Hanna’s BBQ in Granite Falls, North Carolina. We passed by Hanna’s on our way to Rebekah’s grandmother’s (Mawmaw’s) house. The first time I heard the word “hushpuppy” was in the 2012 film Beast of the Southern Wild. I thought it was a weird name at the time; little did I know that hushpuppies are one of the South’s best foot forward in the category of Fried Goodness. I woofed down my first batch of hushpuppies and washed them down with some Brunswick stew and topped off my meal with BBQ and red slaw. Just when I was about to fall asleep in the dining room chair, stuffed to the brim, Anna pulled out the sacred deck of Phase 10. The heated game lasted well into the night with Mawmaw peering mischievously behind her spectacles only to win round after round. Cuss. We woke up to a full southern spread complete with biscuits and bologna gravy, butter with a side of grits, homemade sausage and eggs. I never had bologna gravy before but I’m convinced that anything Mawmaw makes can only be scrumptious.
We continued our culinary pilgrimage to Charleston where we met up with Taryn, a fellow food Enthusiast from the Great White North. Rebekah and Anna picked up a flyer at the visitor center for the Moonpie Shop and were beyond excited to visit. Taryn and I had never had moonpies before so we were eager to go as well. We ended up going all the way and shared a Moonpie Sundae. The recipe is as follows:
1 large moon pie
2 two scoops of moon pie ice cream
Copious amount of whipped cream
A healthy drizzle of fudge sauce
1 maraschino cherry
Microwave the moon pie on high for 20 seconds. Add two generous scopes of moon pie ice cream on top. Pile on whipped cream and drown the whole concoction in fudge sauce. Top of with 1 maraschino cherry and serve immediately. Makes 5 servings.
We were starving after walking around Charleston all day and settled on a small restaurant called Virginia’s on King’s Street situated on…you guessed it, King’s Street. I ordered a round of fried pickles which were the perfect combination of tart and crispy and a fried oysters spinach salad which was an interesting juxtaposition of mushy and crunchy. Unfortunately, they did not have a dessert menu or else I would have ordered a slice of Coca cola cake although Anna swears that her mother’s Mountain Dew cake is far superior. I’m waiting on the recipe.
After an exhausting day in Charleston cap off by drinks with Taryn, Erin, and Bella, we headed further south to Savannah. Although it was a relatively short drive, we were tempted by a roadside peach stands. Word for the wise, do not purchase peaches from meth addicts in front of gentlemen’s clubs. The peaches were grossly overpriced and some were even rotten.
The artistic hipsters of SCAD flourished amongst the old genteel mansions of Savannah. Restaurants also catered to this eclectic crowd. Kate found the Green Truck burger joint where everything served was local and organic. Even their ketchup was homemade! After perusing through the tongue-and-cheek menu, I decided on the Flathead burger topped with sautéed mushrooms and parmesan cheese. The burger, sweet tea, and homemade ketchup and pickle were all excellent. I noticed as I was leaving the restaurant that they had an old-timey juke box that still bellowed songs. I can’t recommend the Green Truck enough.
The second day in Savannah, we traversed Savannah’s verdant squares for our morning cup of joe at the Sentient Bean. Get it? I think Kate picked this establishment solely based on its name. I don’t know if the owners knew each other but the Sentient Bean is like the sister store of the Daily Grind at William and Mary, down to the same coffee shop smell that clings for days to your backpack, laptop, and TOMs. We lounged a better portion of the morning away at the Sentient Bean while taking full advantage of their free wifi. We left the cafe in search of historic cemeteries which are a passion of Rebekah’s. After the visit to the Colonial Cemetery erected by the Daughters of the Revolution, we moved on to the hunt for the fresh taffy and pralines (pronounced Praw-leens), few of my passions. The River Street Savannah Candy Kitchen offers visitors a holistic experience. Not only can you watch candy artisans make pralines and pull taffy, you can also sample their creations and watch an intricate conveyor belt system transport the sweets from the kitchen to different retail boxes. I am ashamed to admit that when the candy maker started to throw taffy at the spectators, I used my height to my advantage. The kids next to me didn’t stand a chance.
No trip to Savannah would be complete without a stop at the Lady and Sons. The trick to getting in is to make a reservation well in advance. We were there on a Sunday when the restaurant only serves buffet for $15.99 per person until 5pm. This lunch/dinner was a great deal for some of the most heart-attack inducing, mouth-watering, dream-about-it-for-days-to-come meal this side of the Mississippi. I would go into details but I don’t want to spoil a later guest post by Kate.