Saturday, August 18, 2012

3 Cheers for "306 North"

“Tonight’s special is sushi” says the smiling waitress. “They’re hand-rolled by Chef Lee,” she continues.

It’s another busy weeknight and the dining room is filling with hungry patrons, while others gather for happy hour at the well-stocked bar. Sushi is just one of the unique delights to be found here at 306 North Restaurant on a Thursday night. It’s a local favorite in historic, downtown Valdosta GA.

“306” is the kind of restaurant where diners are seated at tables covered with white linen tablecloths, each sporting a dollop of fresh flowers in a tiny vase. Soft green walls are hung with original artwork created by local artists. You can buy one and take it home.
Many of the recipes are Chef Lee’s unique spin on traditional Southern classics.

“I find something I like, then make it with my own twist.” And what he likes is sometimes humorous, like the may haw jelly and peanut butter crème brulee dessert. Or deep-fried fish bones. Based on the playful name, I couldn’t resist the temptation to try that one, and it was good. Really good.

Grits are a staple throughout the South, but Chef puts his own touch on this classic dish using home grown, all natural stone ground white corn grits that are produced in nearby Lakeland, Georgia. Incorporating smoked gouda adds a delicate complexity and richness that perfectly compliments any main dish.
Bask in the ambiance in the contemporary dining room, or wander out onto the covered patio to enjoy Happy Hour daily. On Friday nights, the restaurant showcases the music of newly discovered local talent. 

There are wine tastings on the second Tuesday of each month, where guests can enjoy samples from their robust wine collection along with hors d’oeuvres, for a fixed price.

306 North Restaurant is at 306 North Patterson St. in Valdosta, Georgia. The name is a playful use of its geographic location.

Telephone: 229-249-5333, and you can find them on FB

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oh, Savannah

The wall of steel-grey clouds that chased us all the way from Waycross abruptly exploded in mid-stride, drenching the city of Savannah.

Then, just as quickly the summer storm stopped leaving a humid warm blanket of fragrant air hugging the city. As the town wrung itself out, we could hardly wait to re-visit its beautiful squares.

The charm of these urban parks lies in its blend of nature and beautiful architecture. In the historic downtown area, visitors will find one of the 24 little gardens every few blocks. Each one is surrounded by or encloses a piece of the city’s 300 year-old history.

Here are 3 favorites:

Forsythe Park

Named for former Georgia Governor John Forsyth (c. 1827). The park is the largest in the city, but its scale is intimate and welcoming. You might see runners enjoying the long stretches of shady pathways. And you might recognize this fountain from the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” (1997)

Monterrey Square

A surprisingly short walk from the Forsythe Park fountain is Monterrey Square. Centered in the lush greenery of the park is the monument to Gen. Casimir Pulaski, the American Revolutionary War hero who was killed in the defense of the city.

Flanking this square is the Congregation Mickve IsraelSynagogue, which is third oldest Jewish congregation in America (1733)

Madison Square

Laid out in 1837, this square is named for the fourth American, President James Madison. In the center of this square is a statue dedicated to the memory of Revolutionary War era Sgt. William Jasper, shown hoisting a flag. He died of wounds in the Siege of Savannah. He was only 29.

Relax on a park bench and meet the locals under a magnificent live oak tree, or enjoy a refreshing stroll through Savannah’s Squares.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Glorious Galatoire's

“I knew him,” says the elderly waiter. “He would sit at his favorite corner table in the front window.” The server continues, “But sometimes he would sit over by the pillar, reading a book.”

Him” is the acclaimed Southern playwright Tennessee Williams, and we are in his favorite restaurant, Galatoire’s on Bourbon St. in the Vieux Carre of New Orleans.

Serving traditional French Creole food in high style, Galatoire’s has been a favorite of many patrons for 105 years. Historically, many would wait hours in long lines until a table opens up. (Seating on the main floor is first come first served, although reservations are now taken for second floor dining these days)

It’s the kind of restaurant where meals are served by jacketed waiters. Dishes are served on real china that is laid on linen tablecloths. The silverware is real silver and jackets are required for gentlemen after 5 pm weekdays and all day Sunday.

Many of the recipes and traditions were brought here from France by the original owner, Jean Galatoire. The timeless, award winning menu has changed little in its years of operation.

 Lunch begins with a warm baguette—its thin veneer of toasty-crisp crust encasing an airy crumb. It’s as luscious as any to be found in a Parisian sidewalk café. The bread is served with double pats of salty rich creamy butter that rivals the pale smooth gold of Normandie butter.

Shrimp remoulade, a favorite chilled appetizer, is a staple in this town. We had it paired with crabmeat maison. The combination was a delicate balance of richness and spice. Best of all, the recipe can be found on their website.

We ordered a steaming bowl of rich bouillabaisse and delicate redfish smothered in jumbo lump crabmeat. I began to wonder if Stella and Blanche might have ordered this for supper in Streetcar Named Desire.

Guests are invited to savor the experience, table hop and bask in the ambience.

Galatoire’s is at 209 Bourbon St. in New Orleans. Just look for the longest line on a Friday night in the Big Easy. Telephone: 504.525.2021 Dining room is open Sunday from Noon – 10 pm. Monday-CLOSED, Tuesday – Saturday 11:30 am – 10 pm