Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On Being a Tourist

Definition of tourist : a person who travels for pleasure

Nowadays, it seems, no one wants to be thought a tourist. I mean, I get it; the camera toting, fanny pack wearing, loud American cliche is unflattering. Who wants to be lumped in with that crowd? Sadly, I'm sure we've all been that person at least once or twice in our travels. I know I have.

Let's face it, no matter what we wear or what we say people in other countries will know we're not a local. That's ok. What we can do is be polite, learn a few key phrases and be respectful of the local culture.

If we want to experience the joys of travel we have to be willing to put ourselves out there. To at times blunder or offend, however inadvertent, in order to learn.

I'm a tourist. I enjoy traveling to places away from my home for the pleasure and experience. I don't always get it right but I know that the only way to see and experience this big, wide world of ours is to get out there and do it.

Happy New Year and Happy travels! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Moon River Brewing Company - Savannah, GA

The last place we visited on our recent trip to Savannah was the Moon River Brewing Company. The Moon River Brewing Company is located, as are many things in Savannah, in an historic building. It was built in 1821 and was the location of the city's first hotel and first branch of the US Post Office. 

The building is said to be haunted. (Savannah was named one of the most haunted cities in America.) A couple of TV's ghost hunting shows have stopped by to check it out. Moon River is also part of a haunted pub crawl.  
There are two menus at Moon River; the pub menu and a menu for their beer garden. We decided to eat inside so we ordered from the pub menu. 
Swamp Fox American IPA
Before we placed our food orders we tried the beer. The weather was warm in Savannah for the holidays, near 80. The cold beer was a treat. 

We started our food order with two Small Plates. Well, we tried to start with two but only ended up with one. The Devils on Horseback we ordered were not available on the day we were there. That left us with the Stuffed Mushrooms, which I happen to love. What can I say about stuffed mushrooms? These were tasty and hit the spot.
Stuffed Mushrooms - Mexican chorizo & bleu cheese,
topped with chipotle creama
The Dining Companion ordered the Sausage and Potatoes and I ordered the burger. Both were good. I did steal the grainy mustard from his sausage plate for my burger.

Sausage & Potatoes - Chargrilled polish kielbasa & Cajun
andouille, grilled onions, smoked
Gouda escalloped potatoes
& southern style cole slaw
Build Your Own Burger with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese with a side of onion rings
I tried another beer with my burger. A black IPA called Boo Hag. I really enjoyed this one.
Boo Hag Black IPA

We enjoyed this visit to Savannah. We hadn't spent the holidays there before and it turned out to be a great choice. Being a tourist destination insured that a lot of places were open over the holiday. We had no trouble finding places to dine and things to do while we were there.

If holiday travel is on your agenda for the coming year I recommend you give Savannah a look. It's a lovely city and a great place to spend some time.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Olde Pink House - Savannah, GA

I know the conventional wisdom. Dining out on a holiday can be a sucker's bet. I don't disagree. When you travel for the holidays like we do, well, all bets are necessarily off; you have to eat somewhere. Couple that with the short list of places that are even open on a major holiday and the odds are decidedly not in your favor. Usually. The Olde Pink House tipped that conventional wisdom on its head. The food was fabulous.

The dining room was really lovely. The understated decorations made it even prettier.
The Dining Companion and I had an early reservation and the dining room was still quiet when we arrived.

The Olde Pink House offered a prix fixe Christmas menu. The nice thing about it was the number of choices we had.

There were a few drink selections on offer. So we started off with a cocktail. I went with the Pink Lady and the Dining Companion had the Planters Punch.

Pink Lady

Planters Punch
With drinks in hand we took a few minutes to look over the menu. Our server delivered a bread basket to enjoy while we decided.

Corn muffins, yeast rolls and biscuits.
 There was so much to chose from.
For starters we went with the Fried Pork Belly and the Roasted Corn Chowder. Both were very good but the Pork Belly won the appetizer round. It was just about perfect.
Fried Pork Belly, sweet potato puree and fried collard greens. I mean come on!
Roasted corn chowder with Neuske's bacon and a lobster beignet
On to mains and yet more choices...
I decided on the Crab Stuffed Shrimp and the Dining Companion had the Grilled Kurobuta Pork Chop. The shrimp dish was great. Nice flavors, everything worked. But, but...that pork chop. It was fantastic. Really. Some of the best pork I've had anywhere.
Crab stuffed Georgia white shrimp, spinach & andouille sausage risotto with lemon buerre blanc.

Grilled Kurobuta pork chop, butternut squash puree brussel sprouts, caramelized shallots and Gala apple sauce - Incredible!

Finally we got to dessert and once again there were many great choices.
We had the Eggnog Cheesecake and the Pink Velvet Cake.
Eggnog Cheesecake

Pink Velvet Cake
The Olde Pink House definitely was not phoning it in for the holiday. They way exceeded my expectations. So much so that if I'm in Savannah again I plan to return there for dinner. If what we had was any indication we'll be in for a treat.

 Happy dining!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

River House Seafood - Savannah, Georgia

The Shrimp Factory
The Dining Companion and I usually travel for the holidays and this past year was no exception. We spent the Christmas holiday in Savannah.

There is an Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. With a nod to that tradition we headed to River House Seafood for an early Christmas Eve dinner.

The River House is located on historic River Street. A cobbled thoroughfare that wends its way between converted former cotton warehouses and the Savannah River. The street is lined with antique shops, boutiques, galleries, pubs, restaurants and hotels. It's a touristy area filled with enough unique places to keep us coming back.

One of the things that the River House is known for is a signature drink, the Chatham Artillery Punch. The drink is named after the Chatham Artillery; the oldest military organization of record in Georgia.

Chatham Artillery Punch

 We sipped one while we looked over the menu.

We were there for seafood so we started with the Local Blue Crab Dip. Warm and cheesy and brimming with crab. We were off to a good start.

The Dining Companion knew what he was going to order when we sat down. He was there for the shrimp and crawfish etouffe. It was delicious.

SHRIMP & CRAWFISH ETOUFFE - Rich & spicy tomato based roux mixed with crawfish meat & shrimp served over cornbread

I went back and forth but in the end I had the shrimp and grits. So good.

While we didn't technically have "seven fishes" our dinner felt enough in the spirit of the tradition for me. We all have our own traditions; some we inherit, some we make up. Wherever they come from the best part of a tradition is sharing it with others.

Whatever your own holiday traditions may be I hope you got to enjoy them and share them with the people you love.

Happy traveling! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Christmas in Dixie

I hope everyone had a great holiday (whichever one you celebrate!) and a very happy New Year.

I took a few weeks off from the blog. Well, to be honest it was more than a few. Thanks to everyone who stopped by while I was away!

The Dining Companion and I (and the 4lb-Wonder!) spent the recent holiday in Savannah. We spent the time doing what we do; walking, dining, drinking and shopping.

And due to some awesome weather we spent time outside in the sunshine. Of the three of us the 4lb-Wonder enjoyed the weather the most. She took every opportunity to drag the Dining Companion outside.

Thanks again for checking us out. Stay tuned for some Savannah dining fun. We enjoyed seafood on Christmas Eve, ate Christmas dinner in a colorful and some say haunted, old house and wound the whole thing up with burgers and beer.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year from our corner of the world to yours!*

*I may have just used up 2016's whole allotment of exclamation points. Oh well, in for a penny!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

World of Beer - Kennesaw, Georgia

With additional content by the Dining Companion   

The Dining Companion -

The pretentious craft beer movement & WOB:
I have a working knowledge of beer. I by no means consider myself an expert of anything more than what I like to consume. I remember with a sense of irony the days of my dad & uncles having Schlitz, Hamms, Olympia, PBR & Old Milwaukee in cans long before they were ‘recreated’ for the younger crowds. I enjoyed many a ‘craft’ beer in the day. The craft beer was of the variety or type referred to as ‘Bock’, and it was brought in the form of Leine’s returnables that my dorm neighbor from Wisconsin preferred to stock. ‘Bock’ for those not in the know was the variety of beer that German monks brewed for lent for consumption whilst fasting.

Leine’s Bock has long disappeared. I had long forgotten the taste of a bock beer until about 12 years ago when I ordered the happy hour special at a bar in San Antonio TX. It was there that I was introduced to the local ‘cheap’ beer referred to as a ‘Shiner’. I was somewhat familiar with the name of the other Texas beer -Lone Star (they made ‘generic’ beer during the early 80’s), but had never tasted a Shiner as I recalled. Shiner ordered as a ‘Shiner’ is Shiner Bock. By the time I had finished my first one, I had totally recalled the Leine’s of old and was hooked. 

To this day I enjoy Shiner. When I’m in Texas, I enjoy sitting on the patio with a pitcher of it front of me. When I’m not where I can get it on tap, I actively seek places where I can enjoy a bottle of it. When I can’t find Shiner by name, I can be satisfied by some other brand of bock, if it can be found, which leads me to the second part of this story.

Apparently there has been something called a craft beer movement in the past few years. I don’t follow these things, and I’m not hip enough to be included in the know. I am familiar with the product of smaller breweries. With this I mean August Schells, Spoetzl (home of Shiner), & Sam Adams. I am also familiar with home brewing via my brother. The craft beer movement has led to product in the market place known as the ‘gastropub’, specifically for this writing ‘World of Beer’.

It appears that one of the draws of a ‘gastropub’ is their large selection of beers. I am familiar with this concept as well. Before the gastropub, it was called Old Chicago. My main problem with Old Chicago and the new gastropubs is what they consider ‘cool enough’ to stock. Now let’s be clear, when they talk about having 400 different beers, that ain’t what they have on tap, it's bottles kept in the cooler.

Specifically this World of Beer has 40 beers on tap. This time of year, its Octoberfest themed beers or maybe something fall or pumpkin inspired. Not what I was interested on this day. Prior to coming to this location, I checked their website for beers I would be interested in trying specific to this location. When I checked for bock, only 1 bottled selection came up (nothing on tap). Several doppelbocks came up, but I don’t care for doppelbocks much after a bad experience with a triple bock. With only 1 bock choice, I picked a couple of schwarzbiers as fall back choices.

I tried the bock choice; it wasn’t bad, but nothing special. I tried 3 other beers. The first was 1 of the schwarzbiers I had written down prior to coming. Two of my other written down ones weren’t in stock. Two remaining were recommended by the bartender. The first was good, the other one wasn’t. The food overall was pretty good & I leave it to the HappiTraveler to sum up.

Now this leads me to my rant about craft beers, gastropubs and what they stock. What pegs the cool meter enough to get a place on your menu? It can’t be the size of your brewery. As I look over the glass face cooler in front of me, I see plenty of brewers the size of MillerCoors, but with foreign names. I see Paulaner, Heineken and Hacker-Pschorr, but no Shiner. It also can’t be for variety or uniqueness of brew. Shiner has really good seasonal or limited run brews easily equivalent to the Abita varieties you stock. I guessing you don’t stock Shiner because the brewery doesn’t have a cool name like SweatySock or CoolChinHair and is older than 10 years. The irony of your PBR tall boys is lost on me. 

This leads me to recall the ultimate in pretension. It was not World of Beer, WOB is a poser compared to The Friendly Spot in San Antonio. At Friendly’s you could get Shiner Ruby Redbird on one of their 75 taps in back, but if you wanted Shiner Bock, you had to consume it from a bottle obtained at the front bar (you heathen).

The HappiTraveler - 

The Dining Companion and I stopped in to check out World of Beer (WOB) recently. World of Beer kind of says it all right? It's a tavern/pub/bar that specializes in beers from around the country and around the world. The draw here is the large number of beers on tap (40 or so) and the hundreds of bottled and canned beers from all over. (500 or so according to the website)

The Dining Companion had a short list of things he wanted to try. Some of the beers on his list were available and some that he tried were recommended by the bartender. (I'll pause here to give a shout out to the bartender Andrew(?) for being friendly and knowledgeable about what he sells)

For this trip I was the DD. I had a small taste of the beers that the Dining Companion tried and also a couple of tiny samples of some pretty decent IPAs which have always been my beers of choice.

I did order a couple of things from the WOB's tavern menu. A pretty decent burger and a huge Bavarian style pretzel. The picture below won't properly convey the size of that pretzel. The thing was as big as a dinner plate. It came with mustard and I added a house-made cheese sauce. I loved it.The burger was really flavorful and cooked properly. The Chimay cheese was one I hadn't tried before. I'll be searching it out in the shops now that I know of it.

CHIMAY BURGER - Fresh Angus beef burger piled high with Chimay Classique
cheese, sautéed mushrooms, & caramelized onions. Served on
a brioche bun with house-made Chimay sauce.

GERMAN PRETZEL - A WOB original & tavern favorite. A giant Bavarian pretzel baked
soft on the inside, crispy on the outside & salted. Served with
house-made stone ground mustard.
Happy drinking and dining!