The Southern Way

After a run, some boating on the lake soaking up those Vitamin D’s, and a ton of hugs, Laura and I hopped in her mama’s brand new car and headed south from North Carolina destined for my southern home: Savannah.

This place is nonstop wonderful – history, culture, hot days, stormy nights, wonderful foods, crisp and refreshing drinks, and on top of all that: my southern family. A lot of times, people will try to compare Savannah and Charleston and – being a self-proclaimed connoisseur of both places – I have to say that you can’t compare them. Charleston is bright and touristy and full of great foods, but a different kind of Southern. Savannah is rich and deep and entrenched in Southern-ness.

Either way, my time down there was spent running along bluffs and through old plantations and relaxing on the deck of a boat on the inter-coastal waterway. Laura – or LZ to me and about all of her friends – always tries and succeeds in showing me the best of times. We’ve hopped around the restaurant scene (I’d recommend simply catching a crab yourself, making delicious butter sauce and enjoying it on LZ’s grandma’s porch, if I were you…), popped in and out of a bunch of bars in the area (Hangfire is a sure-bet to see a bunch of SCAD students and an overwhelming sense of hipsterdom. Also, their “scorpion tea” is outstanding), hung out on the beaches of Tybee Island, eaten some necessary snacks at Leopold’s ice cream (get the rose, if they have it), gotten our fair share of coffees and lattes and other goodies at some of the best cafes I’ve been to (see: The Sentient Bean), and generally toured around the area in style blasting music out of open windows to streets, and beaches.

This time, though, we explored a new part of town – the Starland District. It’s been a work in process, trying to make this an “artsy” side of town. Right now, it’s a few galleries and boutique-y food spots scattered throughout a residential/industrial area (note, I wouldn’t say an abandoned suitcase next to a Popeye’s is all that “artsy” rather a little sketchy…).

LZ knew exactly where to go: Starland Cafe and Back in the Day Bakery. These spots were so good, that everyone should know about them and go immediately. Back in the Day Bakery was a cute place pumping out some incredible breads and other sweet delicacies. My favorites? The Banana Pudding. The Original Cupcake. The Chocolate Chip cookies. I didn’t try all of the things they had, but they had a deep and rich selection, that should be eaten directly after a lunch at Starland Cafe.

Situated in an old urban home with seating on the porch and front lawn, the cafe serves up wonderful paninis, soups, and some hefty and complex salads – mostly sourced locally and seasonally. It was exactly what we were craving, having been in countries where salads really aren’t prepared with the same gusto as America.

LZ had been here a few times, so she guided me through the gourmet menu, directing me to the salad equipped with figs, grapes, artichokes, goat cheese, summer salsa, buttermilk dressing, and my god some delicious flavors. LZ got one with some guacamole and corn chips, and devoured it, but of course.

The café was homey and comfortable, with seating in what used to be the living room, dining room, and the kitchen was under the stairs. The food really did hit that lunch time spot: sandwiches soups and salads and good prices and with locally wonderful flavors.

Within a day or so, my whirlwind continued and I was on a plane again, destined for Yankee-land: New York City and Ithaca, yet again.

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