I just got back this afternoon from an amazing trip of a lifetime with one of my favorite people. Our travels took us from Wilmington, NC, to Myrtle Beach, SC, to Athens, GA and finally to Atlanta. We had an amazing time, and we made use of every second to experience our shared loves, like music, food, sightseeing, and hanging out together.
I'm a bit tired to share every amazing detail, but it's Sunday which means a post about one locally produced meal I ate this week. But before I get to my One Local Summer post for the week, I feel the need to publish a retraction and an apology for saying in my last post that REM started to suck after 1991. My friend Stephanie and I saw them last night in Atlanta as the finale to our 4-day 30th birthdays road trip. REM you blew us away. I started to feel like one of those Beatles girls, particularly during the encore when they played Pretty Persuasion. I about lost my cool.
Oh, to feel 13 again. Except for the part where I realized 75% of the audience was over 30, and that I've become one of those approaching middle-aged people who buys overpriced concert tickets to see their favorite band from middle school. Now I understand that phenomenon. So if Paul McCartney made you weak in the knees when you were a teenager, I recommend blowing your budget and flying to Liverpool the next time he's playing there. You won't regret it.
During the concert and after, I felt guilty and a bit disappointed in myself as a fan for having totally written them off for the last, um, 17 years. They were my first musical love and I guess like most first loves, it's hard to see them change. To make up for lost time, I am going to give some of the newer songs a listen now. For sure I'm downloading the entire Atlanta set list and the new album. Michael Stipe, with your microphone gyrations, your megaphone, your moaning vocals and your urgent political speeches, you still got it. Even though I didn't know your new songs very well, I enjoyed your performance very much, so I apologize. I'm glad you guys didn't break up the band.
Since REM was the band that first gave a voice to my budding environmentalism, it is appropriate to talk about the local eating we did before the concert -- definitely the culinary highlight of our trip. We had an outstanding local dining experience at Watershed Restaurant in Decatur, Georgia. It is partially owned by one of the ladies who stole my heart away from Michael, Mike, Peter, and Bill.
The Indigo Girls also hail from Georgia, so I was happy we were able to add an Indigo Girls related stop to our pilgrimage.
The restaurant specializes in regional, Southern cuisine and supports local organic farmers. We started out with some yummy cocktails. I was excited to realize that citrus is relatively local to Georgia, compared to New England. My drink featured raspberries, mint, gin, and citrus. Here's my adorable travel partner posing with our citrusy cocktails.
Next we ordered a starter, and luckily Stephanie knew that pimento cheese is a Georgia specialty. Perfect with the celery, which was too green, fresh, and tasty to not be locally grown. The cheese was heavenly. We wanted to lick the bowl clean.
Before we ordered our entrees, I asked our waiter which selection had the most locally grown produce. He said to go for the vegetable plate, and said that they buy produce that is local and organic. The vegetable plate changes daily depending on what produce is available. I had a yummy plate of Southern style vegetables: stewed tomatoes, black eyed peas, okra fried in white corn meal, greens, green beans, and a cornbread muffin. Loved it all, especially the black eyed peas and the delightfully salty fried okra.
With food this tasty, we couldn't leave without dessert. We choose to split the Georgia Pecan Tart with Shortbread Crust.
Short of walking into the kitchen and grilling the chefs or buyers about where each ingredient came from, I can't imagine a dining experience that would cater more to a locavore. The only thing I would have changed is adding some information to the menu about the local farmers whose produce the restaurant regularly uses. Overall, a truly lovely restaurant housed in a renovated gas station - another nod to sustainability.
There was also a restaurant in Athens, called Farm 225, that featured local and sustainable foods. We wished we could have eaten there, but they weren't open for breakfast Saturday morning when we were in town and looking for some grub. Next time I'm in Athens, eating there will be at the top of my list of things to do. As always, there is never enough time on a good trip. We wanted to visit a farmer's market and the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, but had to cut them from the schedule when our time in Athens was running out too soon.
Georgia, motherland of some of my early musical influences, we loved you so much!!! I will be back. More on our wonderful time in Athens later this week!