I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

In which I explore the culinary side of Savannah

This is the line waiting to get into a restaurant called Mrs. Wilkes.

Some things -- not many, in my opinion -- are worth standing in long lines for, and I wouldn't put most restaurants on that list. But multiple people told me I had to eat at Mrs. Wilkes, and because it's only open Monday through Friday (and only between 11 am and 2 pm) yesterday was my only chance to go. I got there at 10, and there were probably about twenty people in line already. I was seated shortly after the restaurant opened, and by noon I'd stumbled back out into the Savannah heat, lighter by $25.00 and heavier by approximately 25,000 calories.

This is Southern cooking, served family style, and though technically it's all you can eat, the concept is meaningless here. There were two main dishes -- fried chicken and barbecued pork -- and what is reported to be 22 side dishes. I didn't count; they were already occupying every square inch of space on the table when we sat down, and though dishes got passed around, it was impossible to try everything. I did try collard greens and creamed corn and mashed potatoes and rice and gravy and cornbread dressing and sweet potatoes and biscuits, and possibly a few other dishes I'm forgetting. I did not try the lima beans or the okra or the coleslaw or the cornbread muffins. What was in the other dozen or so dishes I never sampled or even saw, I couldn't tell you.

It was all good, some of it very good, but I realized early on that every bite of collard greens, however delicious, was a bite better spent on fried chicken or biscuits, which were both pure heaven. The chicken managed to be both crispy and juicy, and the biscuits were light and crumbly and buttery and salty and the fact that I only managed to eat two of them is something I expect to regret for the rest of my life.

Yes, there was dessert -- peach cobbler with a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yes, I somehow managed to finish it.

So was it worth standing in line for an hour? Absolutely! Great food, and a fun experience. Would I do it again? Well....maybe.

The problem with this authentic Southern cuisine unfortunately is that you're eating it in the South. And walking through heat and humidity that were both in the 90's with a stomach full of fried chicken and peach cobbler almost erased my enjoyment of the experience. The twenty minute walk back to my hotel ended up taking more than two hours because I kept having to duck into stores and museums to cool off.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Do you want that here or to go?

I hadn't realized that Savannah was such a party town, kind of an eastern version of New Orleans. I saw several of these trolleys, which are basically bars on wheels; the riders pump bicycle pedals to move the trolley along while drinking.

There was a mixup with my hotel check-in, so they gave me a voucher for a free drink in the bar. When I went to collect my glass of wine, the bartender asked, “Do you want that here or to go?”

Hot as hell

This dramatic sunrise closeup feels appropriate after surviving a few days in hot, humid Savannah. The weather probably hasn't been much worse than we'd get in New York in July, but it's May and my body definitely isn't ready for this.

Also, my hair has apparently morphed into some kind of out of control shrubbery. Fortunately it's frequently plastered flat to my skull by sweat.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Bonus bird blogging

I like how the early morning sun turns this crow's feathers red.

I left Hilton Head yesterday. After a stop at the Pinckney Island refuge, which was well worth a visit but so hot and humid that I can only marvel at the fortitude of those who visit it in July, I turned in the car at the Savannah airport and took a taxi into the city.

Three days was just about the right amount of time for Hilton Head; it's just a giant resort, and if you don't golf or play tennis or bask on the beach all day, there's a limited number of things to do. If I were still working, lounging by the pool and reading would have been a nice break, but I can -- and do -- lounge around and read in New York, so that's not exactly a change for me.

But oh I will miss those sunrises on the beach.

Sunday bird blogging

This is a  crop from a bigger picture I'll post later, but I have to highlight these adorable baby egrets from Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge today.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Bonus reflections

It's not as dramatic, but I did manage to capture moonlight reflected in the sand as well, in the soft pastel light of early evening.

Saturday reflections

Yesterday morning on the beach.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The moon also rises

A full moon rising over the dunes earlier this evening.

Audubon Newhall Preserve

There are things to see in Hilton Head away from the beach. This pretty little park has hiking trails and is blessedly uncrowded -- there was only one other car in the parking lot when I arrived.

Despite the Audubon name, there weren't a lot of birds. I could hear them, but saw only a few flashes of bright feathers in the undergrowth. It was still lovely to walk on the trails with the trees towering overhead and sit on a bench by the pond and absorb the quiet.

Friday morning

I'm not sure if it's possible to have too many pictures of sunrises -- I may be testing that -- but I just love this bicyclist this morning.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

More sunrise

I do tend to be an early riser, so it's not unusual for me to be awake at sunrise. And if it was visible from my Manhattan bedroom, I might occasionally see some of them. So a sunrise always feels like an occasion, and I have seen some memorable ones: over the Zambezi River in Zambia, through a fogged up bus window in Denali National Park, behind a courtyard of gum trees in the Australian Outback.

But sunrises, like sunsets, are best viewed over an ocean, and it's fun to have one right outside my hotel. Especially since I can have a breakfast that someone else cooked for me immediately afterwards.

Sunrise at Hilton Head

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