A FEW YEARS ago at my friend Mary’s house, I asked her where she’d purchased a relatively unusual (and now forgotten) food item. Gourmet shop? Asian grocer? Farmer’s market?
“Uh...the grocery store,” she deadpanned. “You can buy food there, and take it home to cook, and then you eat it. For nourishment.”
Really? And I thought they only sold coffee, ice cream, dog food and laundry detergent.
Although Mary later admitted she’d borrowed her dig at me from a commentator on National Public Radio, the implication was clear. At mealtime I’m more likely to be found at a table in a cafe or sandwich shop than at my own dining room table. A close second is at supper with kind hearted neighbors like Mary and her husband Stew, when I’m invited to pull up a chair and join their two young sons in a twilight feast of stove top macaroni and cheese, a side of apple slices and a plastic tumbler of milk.
Many of the meals I eat at home come through my front door in Styrofoam containers, fully cooked, thanks to take out from several midtown establishments. Hirano, owner and stir fry chef at the Habersham Street restaurant that bears his name, knows I’m on my way as soon as he sees a to go order ticket for teriyaki-steak-medium-rare-no-sauce-steamed-rice-sesame-on-the-side.
Savannah’s storybook fall weather is luring me further and further away from my kitchen. Over the weekend, four consecutive meals were not only outside my house, they were in the fresh air--the ultimate dining out experience.
Saturday morning began with breakfast in the garden at Jane Fishman’s annual Fall Plant Swap, pairing the fresh strawberries I’d brought from the Publix with Virginia Aliffi Castilian’s strawberry cookies. For lunch, avocado sandwiches and cranberry spritzer from Brighter Day, shared with an out of town visitor in the shade at Bonaventure Cemetery, overlooking the Wilmington River.
Saturday night, after watching the sun set behind the Tybee Lighthouse, a gang of six sat in the fading light on North Beach, trading our best stories, crackers and hummus, until the darkness drove us in search of dinner, found on the breezy balcony of Fannie’s on the Beach.
Sunday brunch at a neighbor’s provided my fourth consecutive outdoor meal, sharing a table on the party hostess’s wide front porch with five of her 29 guests, enjoying an airy haven from the elbow-to-elbow coziness inside.
Worn out from all the socializing, I passed on Savannah’s largest and most celebrated outdoor feast, Sunday night’s Picnic in the Park, opting for simple at-home fare in front of the TV, resting up for another week of outdoor dining out.
I’m hoping to hit the weekly Trustees Garden market for the first time this Wednesday, which I hear is a partially-open indoor market with plenty of prepared delights to offer to non-cooks like me. This weekend offers the Starland Farmer’s Market and the New Moon Market Bazaar, two open air markets on Saturday with ready-to-go food options for sale among the produce or crafts booths.
That evening I’ll be heading back to Tybee to a friend’s oyster roast—my favorite kind of outdoor eating, coastal Georgia style.
Saturday also offers a smorgasbord for the mind at the annual open house on Skidaway Island, showcasing the UGA Marine Extension Center (aka the Skidaway Aquarium) and the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.
On Sunday, at Grayson Stadium, the Savannah Folk Music Society will host their annual Folk Music Festival. I’m particularly excited about the performances by The Carolina Chocolate Drops, who I missed at this year’s Savannah Music Festival. It’s just what my appetite calls for — an outdoor serving of chocolate for the soul. cs