Sunday, May 1, 2011


I was incognito on Friday, and not happy about it at all. 

Did I say incognito?  I meant incommunicado, but I said incognito.  Deliberately.

Okay, there's a story to this (there's always a story) so let's get it over with:  for many years, my mother and her sister, my Aunt Ceil, lived just a few miles from each other in the Fort Lauderdale area.  My aunt had been widowed a very long time, and as the years went on, and my cousin grew up and moved out, she became much more solitary.  My mother, who was widowed about 20 years later, had always been a solitary, antisocial creature, and needless to say, they almost never left their respective domiciles, and they did not see each other often despite living fairly close.  Yes, they both had cars, but remember, my mother had given up driving once I had my license, and my Aunt Ceil should not have been driving because her eyesight was horrible.  Fortunately, her Vietnam-era Chevy Nova knew the way to the Publix on West Oakland Park Boulevard, independent of her ability to see clearly enough to navigate.  I think that eventually my cousin pried her driver's license and the car keys from her determined hands, and the people of Broward County gave a collective sigh of relief. 

Aunt Ceil, Pop, Uncle Marty, and Mom (sometime between 1979-1982)

So they did try to keep in touch by telephone, but apparently there were rules for that sort of thing.  My mother explained the rules to me every single time I saw her, or called her, and asked how Aunt Ceil was doing.  To my credit - and God and my husband know I had no patience for my mother - I never once stopped her or said, "yeah ma, you told me that last week."  And I never corrected her, because she was very sensitive about being corrected, although she was completely insensitive when it came to doing the correcting.

So Mom would say, "your aunt is fine.  You know how she is.  She never comes to see me, although she drives.  So I try to call her but I can't call her between 1:00 and 4:00 because that's when she watches her stories.  When her stories are on, she won't answer the door or pick up the phone.  She becomes incognito!  She pulls the blinds down, goes in her room and watches her stories.  Can you believe she is completely incognito for those three hours!"

I think once I did say to her, "ma, you mean incommunicado, don't you?"  And she must have been in a good mood, because she laughed and said, "yes, that too.  But Aunt Ceil calls it incognito."  So that was the last time I mentioned incommunicado, because her mood was not always good.  It was a small price to pay for peace.

The "stories", of course, were the soap operas my Aunt Ceil had followed faithfully since some of them had been on the radio.  If I remember correctly, she was a devotee of the CBS soaps, and that would have been The Edge of Night, As the World Turns, and Search for Tomorrow.  My mother and I followed the NBC soaps (although we never went incognito) because those CBS shows were so old and well established, I couldn't get into them, while I started watching about the time shows like Another World, Days of Our Lives, and The Doctors first came on the air.

Anyway, I was incognito on Friday because not only could I not bring my laptop with me to Savannah, my iPhone screen also went black.  First it froze and then after an hour of that, it went gray.  The iPhone worked if somebody called me, but I couldn't see what it was doing, and I couldn't access any of my apps.  I feared, and reasonably so, that I was responsible for this latest electrical travesty, as I am one of those people who cannot wear watches because I somehow mess them up.  I guess I'm electric or something.  This freaked me out, because that iPhone has my life on it, which maybe is not such a good idea in retrospect.  And while I may not like talking on the phone, I definitely do not like being incognito, without access to Facebook, email, internet and texting in addition to my iPod, my books, the weather and all that other good stuff.  Fortunately, Rob found an AT&T store near our hotel (using his iPhone, ha ha) and the very nice people there fixed it in no time.  And then, sort of as a reward for suffering through the fright of being rendered incognito, we spotted an Original Pancake House right near the AT&T, and made plans for Sunday breakfast.

We had an absolutely lovely weekend (except for the incognito incident) in one of the loveliest cities in the United States.  If you have never visited Savannah, I highly recommend it.  I also recommend checking out hotels that are outside the historic downtown area, as the difference in rates is shocking.  You can easily drive from your hotel to downtown, park in one of the public parking garages for a reasonable fee, and walk along the riverfront or over to City Market.  That way, you will have some money left to buy pralines and chocolate gophers (sort of like a chocolate turtle, only better), or spend your savings at the Paula Deen store next to The Lady and Sons.  Also if you have never been there before, plan on spending on a trolley tour, the best way to see that part of the city.

And then there is the food ... this is a food blog, right?  I admit, the first time we headed to Savannah was to try out The Lady and Sons.  This was in the earlier days of Food Network, and it was exciting when one of the celebrity chefs had a restaurant near enough to try.  The only thing I don't like about The Lady is that you cannot make a reservation unless you are a party of 10 or more, and it is not always convenient or comfortable to show up at 9:30 in the morning to put your name on a list for lunch.  That being said, we have been there a number of times over the years, and she never disappoints.  The food is wonderful (except the grits.  I still don't get grits and I never will) and the restaurant is absolutely charming.  We have also eaten countless times in Uncle Bubba's Oyster House.  The chargrilled oysters are on my list of foods to include as part of my last meal on earth. 

I suppose I could spend the rest of my life just eating at those two restaurants, but people would talk, and besides, Savannah is so much more than just Paula Deen.

By the way, I've been home about 2 hours, it's Sunday, and I'm not cooking.  This is making me feel all weirded out.  I can't help but feel I should be frying a green tomato or making some mac and cheese.  I also have peach bread on the brain, and I have an idea but none of the ingredients.

b. matthew's - left is a stock picture, right is one I took from our table of the cozy little nook

We have eaten at other restaurants in the past, notably Vic's on the River and The Pirate's House.  Both were terrific.  We tried the buffet at The Pirate's House, and I have to say that the food was a little bit better than the same food on the buffet at The Lady, and The Pirate takes reservations, by phone and through Open Table.  This time we decided to try b. matthew's eatery which was recommended by the same friends who recommended The Pirate's House.  This was somewhat different than the other restaurants we usually ate in, but it was excellent as well.  Rob ordered the braised lamb shank with white truffle risotto, and I ordered the shrimp and scallop burger with a side of bacon blue cheese pasta salad.  Rob loved his, especially the risotto, and I very much liked what I tasted of mine, which was the usual bite of this, smidge of that.  We ordered cocktails, as it was our anniversary, and Rob pronounced his martini as perfect, the way it is supposed to be made.  I decided to pass on my usual cosmopolitan, and instead ordered an espresso martini which tasted like a Black Russian, only better:

b. matthew's also serves a baguette-like bread with honey almond butter.  I could have made my whole meal out of that bread and butter and my espresso martini.  Come to think of it, I almost did.  And it was (Tony the Tiger voice here) GRRRREAT!

The restaurant is in one of the older buildings in town, very funky inside and out, in a good way.  It is located on Bay Street, across from the riverfront, and we were able to enjoy a very pleasant postprandial stroll.  Perfect weather.  Perfect anniversary.

That was Saturday evening, after the tournament and after Rob won two awards in sparring and combat weapons.  Not too shabby!  Very proud of my boy.  Looks like this will be the last tournament until Worlds in Little Rock and then Atlanta has theirs in July.  Keep kickin' butt, honey!

Friday night we stayed close to the hotel, which meant we were in southside Savannah.  We've stayed in this area three or four times in the past, and twice at the same hotel, which is one of the Marriott brands.  It's a good location, with places to eat, to shop, to get one's iPhone fixed in a hurry, and to get Starbucks.  So for Friday night dinner, we decided to try Sticky Fingers Smokehouse on Abercorn Street.  It's a chain, but it's a great chain.  I ordered the small combo with pulled pork, ribs, mashed potatoes and collard greens.  Rob ordered the larger combo with ribs, pulled pork, smoked sausage, fried corn, and barbecue beans.  We've eaten a lot of barbecue over the years, and this was awesome, especially the ribs.  You can get the ribs cooked with or without sauce, and we went without, so we could check out the sauces on the table.  Never mind the habanero ... neither one of us was in the mood to scorch our tastebuds ... but we tried the other four, and decided the Carolina Sweet and the Carolina Classic (a mustard based sauce) were our favorites.  They use a lot of their signature dry rub, and I'm guessing they renew the application after the ribs are almost done, and the taste is terrific.  It looks like they have two locations in Jacksonville, Florida (who knew?) as well as Savannah, Augusta, Macon, and all over South Carolina.  We will be going back.

Sticky Fingers Savannah
This is also someone else's photo of the food at Sticky Fingers.  I think I was traumatized by the incognito incident and forgot to take pictures on Friday.

If you have never eaten in an Original Pancake House, you've missed a real treat.  I am wearing down, but I will leave you with just two words:  Apple Pancake.

Cook like there's nobody watching, and eat like it's heaven on earth.

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