I've got to admit, this is pretty cool. If you've spent any decent amount of time in and around downtown Savannah, then you know this town likes to throw a party. No question.
Fundraiser here, fundraiser there, Dancing with the Stars here, Dancing with the Orthopedic Surgeons over there. Savannah Film Festival, Jazz Festival, Music Festival, all of it. You get the picture. There is no shortage of fun in this region, at all.
As the runners made their way out of town after the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Marathon, which by the way, was another tremendous success, I will admit I got a little excited. It was time to make room for the foodies.
Savannah's first Food and Wine Festival was up next in the long line of festivities this city offers visitors and locals every single year. Two weeks ago, I kept tabs on friends who were taking in screenings of different films as part of the Savannah Film Festival. The excitement is palpable in the city during Film Fest week.
This time around, you may or may not recognize a chef unless they are on a TV show like "Top Chef," but they are here this week. In your city. Some of the biggest names in Southern cuisine. Savannah should be not only honored, but proud.
As a result, most of the events are sold out. Celebrity Chef Tour? Sold out. Cooking class with soon-to-be Savannah restaurant owner Hugh Acheson? Sold out. Lee Brothers demo? Sold out. Michael Mondavi Family Estate Dinner (at more than $200 a pop)? Sold out. Many many others are sold out, as well.
This town has responded. As one restaurant owner told us recently, "This is Savannah's White Tablecloth Week." It's hard to disagree with that. You should be proud.
All of that said, I'm sure there are people reading this right now saying, "I don't eat that type of strange food." You know who you are. And there is certainly nothing wrong with not being up to tasting a quail egg or a puff pastry filled with Guinea hen, goat and antelope (yeah, that kinda freaked me out too once at Alligator Soul, but it was phenomenal). There is something this week for everyone.
The main course at Monday night's Farm to Table Dinner at Bethesda Academy was a root beer braised short rib sitting on a three-cheese grit cake, sautÃ©ed baby spinach, smoked gouda and cauliflower. That was meat and potatoes at its finest. I wish I could have had three plates.
The chef? No, not some high-octane guy from Charleston or Atlanta. It was chef Kirk Blaine from Driftaway CafÃ©. Yeah, our Driftaway. The man hit it out of the park. Spectacular dish. Pair that with a salad and a wonderful seafood appetizer prepared by the one and only Elizabeth Terry, and you have a great night at Bethesda.
Speaking of Ms. Terry, I have to mention what an honor it was to meet Savannah's "original" foodie. The lady who brought us Elizabeth on 37th returned to Savannah to be a part of this fundraiser at Bethesda. What a sweet woman. Not only was her crab-stuffed flounder appetizer amazing, but she worked the room like a newlywed bride on her wedding night, thanking everyone for being there and sharing a story or two about back in the day. What a treat that was.
OK, Jesse, get to the point! Where are you going with all of this, right? Yeah, well, I'm trying to tell you this week is a playground for food lovers. In ALL price ranges. There have been pricey (albeit spectacular) dinners, but there is also Taste of Savannah this weekend, which is a true celebration of the the culinary scene in Savannah. Forty-five dollars gets you in for all you can taste in four hours, represented by some of the best restaurants in the area. There is no better deal to be found, anywhere. And still plenty of time for you to make your way down to Ellis Square on Saturday to enjoy it!
I'm told plans are in the works for an even bigger and better event next year. Great news for our city, great news for our food scene.
Enjoy it Savannah! Come out for a taste! I promise you will Eat It and Like It.
See you on TV!