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This year marked the 10th Annual Savannah International Food & Wine Festival at the St. Paul's Hellenic Center. 
 
The event is known for bringing wines in from all over the world and offers a sampling of tasty dishes from area restaurants, all at a reasonable price. This year was no different. There were about 50 international wines and specialty foods from 15 local restaurants. 

It was a great chance to try some of Savannah’s most popular eateries like Vic’s on the River and Sage, a trending restaurant that opened earlier this year. These two restaurants definitely had my favorite dishes of the event. I'm looking forward to hitting up (and reviewing!) these restaurants soon! 

While great food and wine should be reason enough of a reason for me to go, there was the added benefit that all proceeds go to the Scholarship Fund and the many charities of the Philoptochos Society of the Greek Orthodox Church. The community of Savannah, local individuals in need, and victims of tragedy are a big focus of those charitable efforts. 

In an effort to raise more funds, for the first time, the Festival held a silent auction from 4 – 6pm featuring romantic weekend getaways in the historic district and on Tybee Island, as well as fine jewelry, gift baskets, gift certificates, and more. The wide price range of items will allow every attendee to participate.

I had a lot of fun silently bidding away on everything from light margarita stuffed baskets to vases and jewelry and dog-friendly finds. While I mostly just helped to kick the fundraising up a notch, I did get to go home with a few items. And so did my lovely friend who joined me. 

I will definitely return to this super fun event next year! 





 
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s’mores bites recipe.

These are so easy to make and insanely kid-friendly. Perfect for parties, movie nights, and whenever life isn't being fair. 

ingredients.

1 sheet (4 crackers) low-fat honey graham crackers, finely crushed 
2 teaspoons brown sugar (unpacked)
1 package Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations Seamless Dough Sheet
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
3 tablespoons semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

directions.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Combine graham crackers and sugar in a small bowl. 

Roll out dough into a large rectangle of even thickness. Cut into 18 equally sized squares. Evenly distribute marshmallows (about 3 marshmallows each) and chocolate chips (1/2 teaspoon each) among the dough squares.

Carefully fold each dough square around the filling and firmly press dough together to seal and form round balls. 

Spray the balls with nonstick spray (butter flavor, if you have it) and lightly coat in the graham cracker mixture. Place them seam-side down on the baking sheet.

Bake in the oven until lightly brown, 10 - 12 minutes.

MAKES 6 SERVINGS


PER SERVING (3 “bites”): 180 calories, 8g fat


fyi: The marshmallow will pretty much melt into the dough so your left with melted chocolate in a dough-y ball. It is still tasty! 


 
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I am super excited to announce that local Savannah author, Shawndra Russell, is doing her virtual launch party today, September 16. In honor of this momentous occasion, I am giving away a free copy of her book! Just leave your email in the comments section or leave your info in the contact form (link to the left) and a winner will be picked at random. 

You may be thinking.... wait! This isn't a culinary adventure! You are correct, though there are many mentions of the great restaurants and bars in Savannah, GA throughout the novel. So I say it counts! 

I have read "Couple Friends" and it's a great light read that gives insight into the "Couple Friends" stage of your life; what happens after you've found the person you want to be with. 

Check it out on Amazon! Today is the last day to get it for $2.99! 

Anyone with a device that can download apps can read it through the Kindle app, or it can be read on any computer!  

So, don't forget to leave your email in a comment to be entered into the contest! 

Winner will be contacted Monday 9.17.2012 at noon. 



 
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I'm pretty excited to report that the September/October issue of Fresh Magazine has finally hit Hannaford stores. 

For people living near one of the New England grocery stores, you can take one home for free with purchase. 

For the rest of us, we can check it out online ---  

CLICK HERE

You'll find recipes for Coconut Shrimp, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Beef Wellington, and Carrot Cake starting on page 28! Yum!



 
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Belford’s is located at one end of City Market in downtown Savannah. When you are walking through the crowd, you can easily identify the different feel this place gives off. Across from pizza and candy, you find a little slice of serenity.

I feel it is important to really focus on the atmosphere here. The plants that are perfectly placed, the design inside and out, the table dressing, and all around ambience really show that time was spent on making this restaurant feel like southern class.

We first took notice of Belford’s because of their appearance at 2010’s Taste of Savannah (an event where local restaurants battle it out for the top dish). They featured a pumpkin risotto that was everything it should be. Creamy, flavorful, and satisfying. It won our vote. While they didn’t win that year, they have won 4 times in the last ten years. Many of their award-winning dishes can still be found on the menu. So many winners, it’s hard to choose what to eat first.

On our recent visit, we enjoyed two dinner dishes. The Mahi Mahi was perfect. The balsamic glaze added just the right touch to the dish, along with the caramelized onions. It was all served over creamy risotto, something the Chefs at Belford’s clearly do really well. We also enjoyed a surf and turf special. The steak was amazing and was served with fresh seared scallops over mashed potatoes. Yum!

We wanted something sweet to finish off the meal. Chosen based on recommendation of our server, we ordered the White Chocolate Bread Pudding. It was the absolute perfect amount to lightly complete our dinner. Sweet, soft, chocolate-y, and all around tasty. I’m looking forward to getting into the kitchen to recreate this dish!

It should be noted that the price on the menu will be a turn off for people looking for a quick bite to eat. The fare is definitely higher end, with price tags to prove it. But I assure you, every bite we ate was worth the cost.

 

Top Shelf: Risotto

Get a dish that features the risotto, or at the very least has it on the plate. You will not be disappointed. They are very good at risottos and it would be a shame to miss out on trying it!

Local Alert! Belford's offers a Loyalty Card Program. Worth checking out since it's easy to reach awards.

location: 315 w saint julian street (city market, downtown)
connect: Belford’s
SavannahMenu.com VIP restaurant: not yet


 
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I absolutely love the fall, though in Savannah it is not for the same reasons I used to. Football returns, the weather cools (if we're lucky), and lots of annual local events are scheduled. 

This past Wednesday I attended the Best of Savannah party hosted by Savannah Magazine, with the lovely local author Shawndra Russell, for the second year in a row. First, I love any excuse to don a semi-fancy dress but I also love the chance to taste dishes from some of Savannah's best!

Everything we tasted this year was really great. From the corn bread crustini offered up by The Olde Pink House to the tasty chicken featured in sandwiches over at Zunzi's (who's Conquistador Sandwich was recently voted one of the Best Sandwiches in America by Adam Richman and the Travel Channel). So yummy! In fact, the last person to get a sample of the Zunzi's chicken said the sauce was so good they could have served it over napkins and she would have eaten it!

There were tons of desserts as well. Loads of cupcakes, Gigi's you definitely have mastered the art of delicious, and Leopold's was there with samples of their famous ice creams. 

For me the super surprising highlight of the event was Paul Kennedy Catering. I have not had any catering needs since I've arrived in Savannah (let's face it, I like to think I can cater my own parties), but if I ever do I am calling Paul. 

Shawndra & I thought we had gotten to taste all the non-dessert items when we spotted PKC in the corner. They offered two dishes (thank you!) and both are something I would absolutely want to eat at anytime, anywhere. There was a a lettuce cup/wrap with a Caribbean flair, as well as a piece of white chocolate covered bacon topped with chopped nuts. An absolutely perfect blend of sweet and salty. I plan on making a version at home soon.

Thanks to Savannah Magazine for hosting this event, which I hope to attend every year I live here! I highly recommend attending it to find a few new loves in the city. And for the cost of a ticket, you not only get to taste all of the amazing foods, but you also get wine and select bottled beers and beverages, too. Already looking forward to next year's event!

Oh, and I adore the Photo Booths! So fun! 


 
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There are really too many reasons to love The Distillery; the food, the beer selection, the atmosphere, and the events, not to mention their club. I have been a big fan of this place since we first walked through the door. And now, it is always on our "Must Do" list when we have visitors in town. 

They have a really great, ever changing list of craft beers on tap and over 100 varieties of bottled beer available. If that isn’t enough to draw you in, the menu is fantastic, too!

There are lots of great appetizers to start you off. The Pretzel Treasures (little pretzel nuggets served with two dips – cheese & mustard), Fried Pickles (pickle spears served with honey jalapeno remoulade sauce), and the Distillery’s specialty Hog Hammers (dinner size cuts of pork with your choice of delicious sauce) are all amazing ways to kick off your meal.

As a huge salad fan, I tend to check out this section first. While it is light on the options, the Savannah Chicken Salad with blackened chicken made up for it. Big on taste and loaded with fun things (bacon, tomatoes, sweet potato fries, and cheese), this salad did not disappoint.

Other stand-out dishes include the Big Daddy’s Fish Tacos, Black Bean Burger, and Houdini Chicken Sandwich ---- all great choices! This menu is really packed with options though, so do not feel tied to any one dish. I love The Distillery because I never feel like I have to order the-same-one-dish-I-like. I’ve yet to try everything on the menu, but I’m up for the challenge. 


The only flaw I really have here is that the service is very hit or miss. Sometimes the servers are attentive and can answer your craft beer questions, while other times you might barely see your server. So plan on spending your time there, though the issue has been better recently.



 Top Shelf: Double Chocolate Deep Fried Moon Pie

If you only do one thing while you are in Savannah, go to The Distillery and get the Fried Moon Pie. The menu claims “there are no words to describe the awesomeness”, and they are not lying. Go there. Eat this. You’ll thank me. The best $6 you’ll ever spend.

Local Alert: If you are local (or travel to Savannah regularly) and love craft beer, it is definitely worth joining their Beer Club. Every month they offer their beer club members a night of beer tasting; four tickets to redeem for 5-oz. pours of any of the month’s featured brewery. The club is a reasonable $50. Keep in mind that it is a one-time-only fee for a lifetime membership. Plus it gives you a good excuse to frequent The Distillery! 


location: 416 w. liberty street (downtown)
connect: The Distillery
SavannahMenu.com VIP restaurant: not yet


 
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I sort of hate that I love Nutella. It's evil and delicious. I shouldn't ever buy it because I have to force myself to stop finding excuses to eat it.

This recipe was inspired by an influx of Nutella related pins & my love of faux-ice cream sandwiches.


Ingredients

1/4 cup light butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar blend (or regular brown sugar)
1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons Nutella
2 tablespoons fat-free egg substitute
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Dash salt
2 cups Cool Whip Free, thawed



Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet (or two!) with nonstick spray or grease with a little light butter. 

In a medium bowl, combine butter and both sugars until well mixed. Add 1/4 cup Nutella, egg substitute, and vanilla extract. Mix well. 

In a large bowl, combine both flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add wet mixture, using a hand mixer. Make sure to not over-mix the dough. 

Evenly distribute batter into 16 balls on the baking sheet(s), about a heaping teaspoon each. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave on the baking pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Allow to cool completely. 

Once cool, spread 8 cookies with 1/2 teaspoon Nutella each. Top with 2 tablespoons Cool Whip, and then add one of the plain cookies on top, creating a sandwich. Freeze at least one hour, until firm. 

MAKES 8 SERVINGS



 
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When I first moved to Savannah from Los Angeles, I figured my sushi days were over. Then I met Earl (an amazingly, lovable bartender at Tubby’s on River Street). He used to live in San Diego and also has a love of sushi—a hazard of living on the west coast. His response to my sushi woes--- Wasabi’s.

This sushi bar was everything he promised it would be. The atmosphere inside felt like I was back in my favorite sushi place in LA and the menu was loaded with options.

I’m a huge fan of tuna dishes so I often load up on those, along with anything with avocado. I love starting off with Ahi Poke. It is tasty, fresh, and a great way to start off a meal. The portion size is a lot too, so it’s plenty enough to share with friends. I also love Edamame (who doesn’t?). There is just something about being allowed to play with your food…actually I think that is one of the reasons I love sushi in general.

Wasabi’s offers an array of lunch and dinner combinations with a variety of rolls, Nigiri (fish served on rice), and sashimi (just the fish). I love picking out what I will be eating but the combos are really your best bet. The menu is really large and there are still many items I have yet to try, like the Hi Life Roll complete with potato chips.

As always, the sushi rolls are where the fun is at. I love the Savannah Sunrise, spicy tuna on top of a cucumber & avocado roll and served with a sweet sauce. Other fun rolls? South Accent (deep fried red snapper with avocado, lettuce, cucumber, & mayo), the Redneck (spicy tuna with shrimp tempura & sweet chili sauce), and the Titanic (deep fried crab stick, avocado & masago). Lets face it, the names make the rolls, right? And they are all generously portioned with quality ingredients.

I have yet to have a bad dish here and will return the next time I get the need for some sushi! If you’ve had bad sushi experiences in Savannah, I definitely recommend giving Wasabi’s a chance.



Top Shelf: Lunch Deals!

It’s really the best bang for your buck. You are likely to find what you are looking for and for a reasonable price.

location: 113 mlk blvd (downtown)
connect: Wasabi’s
SavannahMenu.com VIP restaurant: yes, 15% off entire check ($10 or more, no alcohol, dine in only)

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