The kitchen crusader

I love food more than anything and I'm really bossy in the kitchen. I was brought up to care about food. I rant about it a lot. Food makes or breaks my day. I can't understand people who don't care about what they eat. I once cooked in a former job and I dream of cooking in a future one.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
what I ate last: Scallops

Oh dear. I feel like I have been terribly neglectful of this blog over the last couple of months. I'm sorry. I promise to post more often. Well, I will certainly because I am at the start of a six-week road trip all over the States so am going to be doing a lot of eating. And so I will write about it...and if any of you lovely readers who still actually read this have any suggestions about where/what to eat, any little secret places, please let me know! the route is meandering up from Savannah, GA (where I am tonight) to NYC to get my friends who are coming with me, then pretty much straight over to Berkeley, driving fast, then a slow meander back to Alabama via as many places as we can fit in.

Well, today was officially the first day of the road trip, and I did some pretty good eating.

Lunch was in Phenix City, AL, where I got mildly lost and then was quite pleased because it meant that I ate some really good barbecue. Believe it or not, I had not eaten barbecue yet since I got back a week ago, which is pretty amazing. Anyway, I thoroughly recommend the Smokey Pig, really good Boston butts (you can see them slowly smoking away behind the counter, and the smell of the wood in the parking lot tells you all you need to know about the quality before you even walk inside) which can be chopped, sliced or shredded as you like, good sauce (not sweet), and they put pickle and a good un-mayonnaisey slaw in their sandwiches. And they don't do fries! wow. But they do a mean Brunswick stew, baked beans, potato salad and other sides like that. The building is suitably low-key, really local, obviously very popular and well-loved. Just what you want from a local bbq joint.

Dinner was here in Savannah, at the Bistro Savannah which I passed by on my stroll around town and which was (I'm so sad) mentioned in my Rough Guide. Actually, I really wanted to eat at Garibaldi's, which is meant to be the best seafood in town and looked that way when I peeked in the window, but it was also very starched-tablecloths and I was alone, scruffy-looking and really didn't want to have to endure being eyeballed for my weirdness. I nearly got cross about that, thinking 'why shouldn't a single slightly scruffy girl be able to eat in a very smart restaurant' but then I thought again and really, I wouldn't eat alone and scruffy-looking in a lot of smart London restaurants which I love, not because I would think that they would look askance, but I would succumb to self-consciousness in front of the other diners. The exception is of course our beloved St John (either one) where I can eat on my own and feel utterly at ease.

Anyway, I digress...but my dinner was, well, I guess pretty OK. That's rather damning faint praise which I don't really mean. The place was nicely decorated, the staff were lovely and not at all put out by me wanting to eat on my own, the food was fine. Actually, my main course (seared scallops with green beans, mashed potato and saffron beurre blanc) did surprise me with its quality, mainly due to the scallops. They were incredibly huge (no sliced-in-half cheating here), very tasty and perfectly cooked - caramelised and a little crispy on the outside and juicy, nearly raw within. The beans and all the rest was just OK but the scallops did make me very happy. My house salad which I had as a starter was fine, but way too small. Guys, salad leaves are cheap, if you are so generous as to give me such enormous scallops, surely you can give me a few more leaves...

My wine choice was appalling, but it was totally my fault. Why did I decide to get a glass of Californian riesling here? I know why - I was hot and wanted that gorgeous, crisp, clean riesling taste to quench my thirst, but I forgot that I wasn't in a top NY/London restaurant and if they had riesling by the glass it was obviously not going to be any good. 'Nuff said. I peeked at the next-door table's food and it looked pretty good too. I don't think it was anything to really write home about (they sell themselves as Zagat's 'best place in town' or something - surely a mistake or it was a long time ago) but if you are in town and need to eat reasonably it does the job. They do have some decent wine by the bottle, I saw. Price-wise it's not that cheap (I paid $34.40 without tip for 2 courses, 1 glass wine and coffee) but I suspect that the horrible tacky waterfront places might charge you the same for infinitely worse food and service. You could have chosen a little cheaper options too, and the salad was way overpriced for what I got - the other starters looked much better value.

Right, tomorrow is another day!

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