Saturday, April 14, 2012

Days 12-13: Savannah, Land of History and Homestyle Cookin'!

If I wrote this post saying exactly I how I feel about Savannah, it would go something like this.... "Savannah is a beautiful old city with lots of history, history, blah, blah, blah.  And then we ATE!!" And then I would describe in 6-part harmony what we ate, where we ate, how we ate, and re-live the Best.Lunch.Ever.

But I won't do it that way.  I'll tell the story chronologically. 

We drove into Savannah and parked at the Visitor's Center, right across the street from this old fort.  We knew Savannah was important during the Civil War, but we didn't know it played such a large part in the American Revolution!

During the Revolution, the British controlled Savannah.

Savannah is the oldest planned city in the US.  It's also the most walk-able, making it also a good biking city.  We rode around the historical district the first day and saw all the beautiful homes...
....and squares.  A British gentleman planned Savannah on a perfect grid, with acre squares every couple of blocks.  It makes the whole area green and lush.

Sherman spared Savannah on his march through the south, gifting the city to Lincoln for Christmas.  So the old trees survived when other cities lost theirs to Union fires.

The City Hall dome is covered in real gold leaf!

That night, we drove out of town a little ways to Fort McCallister State Park to spend the night.

No intoxicants here, officer!

Pretty sunset overlooking the Ogeechee River, which flows directly into the Atlantic Ocean, making this a hot spot during the Civil War.
The park is home to the best preserved earthwork fortification of the Confederacy. Though the earthworks were attacked seven times by Union soldiers, it did not fall until taken by General Sherman in 1864 during his famous March to the Sea.

These hills are actually bunkers.  The one in the photo is a "hot shot" fireplace to heat cannon balls red hot so that they'd do more damage to enemy ships on the river.

...where soldiers slept...

...and forged weapons.

...and packed cannons to shoot at the enemy.

This huge cannon is so big, it makes Greg look like a little boy.

The next morning, we went back into Savannah for lunch at Mrs Wilkes Boarding House.    It was recommended in both Off the Beaten Path and 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and touted as THE best Southern cooking in Savannah, so we figured we shouldn't miss it.

The restaurant doesn't open til 11:00am, but we got there at 10:30 and the line was already a block long.  We waited for TWO HOURS!!  Both books warned us of this possibility, so we were prepared.  Still, a long wait! (Apparently, there was a tour in the dining room before they even opened, delaying the admittance of the line. This can happen, so save yourself some time, book a tour, and skip the line!) 

People sit at large tables and eat family style with strangers in what looks like a larger version of your grandmother's dining room.

If it's good enough for the President and Clint, it's good enough for me!  (They probably didn't have to wait to get inside)

And oh boy was it!  You sit down at tables already laden with food and you just start eating.  There were 23 dishes on our table: fried chicken, bar-b-que pork, beef stew, potato salad, mashed potatoes, green beans, baked beans, cabbage, okra salad, sweet potato souffle, creamed corn, rice, gravy, jambalaya, black eyed peas, corn muffins, collard greens, mac & cheese, butter beans...oh my goodness, everything was so good.  The dishes are passed family style.  I don't think I even got to try everything because there were so many varieties.

And, for dessert, your choice of a tiny banana pudding or cherry cobbler.
When Greg tasted the banana pudding he immediately had a flashback to his Grandmother's!

The servers wore shirts with this slogan. And the chicken is good!  Crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside, yum.  I wanted to put some in my purse for later, but thought it'd be frowned upon.

When we waddled out, the line was still around the block.  We're glad we went, it was truly an experience.  The ONLY thing I would change, though, is the pace of the meal.  Anyone who has eaten a meal with me knows I'm the slowest eater in the universe.  Mrs Wilkes gives you about 45 minutes to eat your lunch.  Plenty of time for most people, but, even eating at my fastest speed, I didn't get my fill.  Greg, though, managed two plates and didn't have to eat dinner!  P.S. We were there on a Friday, the busiest day. A local told us that Tuesday is the best time for Mrs Wilkes.  Next time, next time....

We worked off our lunch with a bike ride to the river front.  These old buildings date back to when cotton was king.  Many of them served as brothels, cotton exchanges, and where slaves were bought and sold.  Now, it's a tourist trap.

We passed this on our way back to the car.  A fun public art piece.  People are given the opportunity to write in their own goals.  What're yours? 

On our way our of Savannah, heading back north towards the Low Country in SC.  We loved Savannah and would definitely go back.  In the meantime, I'll be dreaming of Mrs Wilkes Boarding House, of fried chicken and collard greens, and of having all the time in the world to eat my fill!

1 comment:

  1. Your are soo right several trips to Savannah allowed for me to see soo much more. I read a book about the lunch spot or maybe it was the cook book??