Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Southern Sights, Southern Hospitality, Southern Food

As soon as Penn let out for the summer, I had the great pleasure of visiting North Carolina (the cities of Durham and Raleigh), South Carolina (Charleston), and Georgia (Savannah). I explored beautiful historical plantations, saw famous Civil War sites, and strolled down cobblestone streets. However, the true star of my vacation was food! We encountered two menu items that seemed to be present at every restaurant: cornbread...

Jestine’s Kitchen; Charleston, SC
...and fried chicken.

Jestine’s Kitchen; Charleston, SC
Savannah played host to my favorite places for both. The Olde Pink House Restaurant had incredible cornbread—golden in color, airy in texture, and buttery in taste—and Mrs. Wilkes’ dished out moist, flavorful fried chicken with excellent seasoning that left you hankering for more (more on this extraordinary place later). I couldn’t believe it, but we found amazing authentic French food in the South!

Croque Monsieur; Papillote; Savannah, GA
Chocolate Macaron; Macaroon Boutique; Charleston, SC

Palmier; Harris Baking Company; Savannah, GA
Some meals stayed true to their Southern roots…

Chicken Pot Pie; The Lady and Sons (for you Food Network fans, this is Paula Deen’s restaurant); Savannah, GA
…others were BBQ-inspired...

Carolina-style Ribs; The Pit; Raleigh, NC
...but ultimately, all were just plain delicious.

Pan Seared Crab Cake with Sauteed Corn, Arugula, and Truffle-Corn Puree; Middleton Place Restaurant; Charleston, SC
Housemade Potato Chips; Magnolias Uptown/Down South; Charleston, SC
Braised Pork Shank with Pineapple Glaze; The Olde Pink House Restaurant; Savannah, GA
Crispy Local Pork Belly with Clams, Potatoes, Leeks, and Tomato Broth; Slightly North of Broad; Charleston, SC
Sauteed Duck Breast with Goat Cheese and Confit Duck Risotto, Glazed Carrots, and Honey Thyme Reduction; Slightly North of Broad; Charleston, SC
There was no shortage of delicious sweets either (much to the excitement of my sweet tooth).

Mocha Chocolate Chip Ice Cream; Leopold’s Ice Cream; Savannah, GA
Red Velvet Cupcake; Cupcake!; Charleston, SC
Napoleon; Amelia Café; Durham; NC

Orange Curd Tart with Coffee Ice Cream and Chocolate; McCrady’s; Charleston, SC

The best food experience of the trip? That would have to go to Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. The all-you-can-eat family-style restaurant serves traditional Southern fare and is only open on the weekdays from 11 am to 2 pm. They don’t offer reservations, so people begin standing in line at least an hour before the place opens. We arrived around 10:45 am and waited 1 ½ hours before we sat down to eat! Trust me, the wait is well worth it. As soon as you enter the door, you sit down to a 10-person table already laden with over 20 different heaping piles of food. We had the chance to try fried chicken, beef Brunswick stew, red rice with sausage, cabbage, snap beans, macaroni and cheese, black eyed peas, squash, white rice, mashed potatoes, candied yams, collard greens, okra and tomatoes, baked beans, potato salad, English peas and egg noodles, butter beans, pickled cucumbers, apple salad, biscuits, cornbread, peach cobbler, and banana pudding. Mrs. Wilkes' makes the most incredible biscuits I’ve ever had. Each bite I took was like eating a pillow: light and airy, soft and fluffy, not dense at all. You will not leave hungry after this Thanksgiving-esque meal. Dining with other visitors who waited in line with us was also a fun unique social experience. It truly emphasizes the worldwide power of food. This one-of-a-kind meal is a must-see (and must-eat) if you visit Savannah!

I greatly enjoyed visiting the Carolinas and Georgia, getting a wonderful taste of their delicious cuisines, beautiful sights, and Southern hospitality. Take a trip here whenever you get the chance!


  1. Sounds delicious!
    Comfort food... makes me want to head south.

  2. You are right on the money about Mrs. Wilkes.
    But how did you squeeze in all those other places? Oh yeah, I forgot, you're with your mom. Also--your writing continues to get tighter & more expressive.

  3. I loved your article and photos! Reading it made me want to revisit the South even though I just traveled to Savannah last summer and Charleston 3 years ago. My favorite food memories of Savannah were the family-style all-things-Southern lunch at Mrs. Wilkes and the chicken pot pie at The Lady and Sons. In Charleston they were the ambience of the Middleton Place Restaurant and the steak frites (not Southern but oh so delicious!) at 39 Rue de Jean, a French bistro. Your photos are mouth-watering!

  4. This entire series of photos helped improve my disposition on this gloomy Sunday! :)



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