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Last week, my friend Shawndra and I joined a group of people for an evening cemetery tour.  The Bonaventure After Hours tour is lead by Shannon Scott and begins after the group has been locked inside the gates of this historic cemetery.

Sounds like the beginning of a terrifying experience, but that is not at all what this is about. The city of Savannah has rules against telling ghost stories on its hallowed grounds so this tour is more of the history of the cemetery itself and the stories of the people that rest there.

We were lucky to tour during a beautiful night, just as the dark set in, giving the cemetery a truly beautiful glow. Shannon guided us around and gave insights to some of the more famous residents, as well  people he had relationships with. From eccentric millionaires to free-spirited children, there were engaging stories throughout the entire journey.

I highly recommend this experience to anyone that wants to experience the cemetery in a new way (since the gates close early, it is the only way to get in afterhours), or just wants to get a mini history of Savannah while visiting. In fact, you can schedule private tours just about any night of the week with your group of friends or family. And since this is not a scare-the-pants-off-you kind of experience, it is great for all ages and for people who are a little skittish.

Some general tips? Bring a flashlight. Especially if you do get a little jumpy in the dark. Even though the overall feeling is peaceful, the extra light will just make you feel better. Also, bring a camera. There will likely be a few sculpted statues you will want a picture of.

Cost: $30 per person for the public tour, call for details to schedule a private tour

Website: Bonaventure After Hours

Schedule: See website (above) for details


 
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 The long wait is finally over --- Greek Fest is here! For over 60 years, Savannah has been the home of St. Paul’s Greek Festival. With a long standing tradition of bringing all things Greek to the Victorian district. 


This weekend (Thursday through Saturday) the event will sell thousands of desserts and tons of other Greek goodies!


I got to head over there yesterday and we sampled the gyro (amazing -- why would I be surprised at how authentic it tasted?!) and also the sampler plate which was loaded with Spanakopita, Dolmada, Meat Balls, and came with a Greek salad and a roll. (The Dinner version is also served with rice pilaf.)


Everything we tasted was really, really tasty, though the gyro definitely topped our list. 


They also offer tons of pastries. Because some of these items were new to us, we got one of everything. And I am SO glad we did! Throughout the day we kept going back to our pastry package. 


They were all very tasty though if you are only looking for one or two treats to try, here is my take on the pastries:


Baklava -- Traditional in flavor, flakey layers of filo with spices and pecans


Chocolate Walnut Triangles -- in the Baklava-style, but with chocolate and walnuts instead


Kataife -- A different looking treat, with a Baklava-filling but with shredded filo encompassing the deliciousness -- Tied for my favorite!


Pecan Queens - This was the sweetest of the treats but soooo yummy. It's a little filo basket with pecans and a sweet honey-syrup that reminded me of Maple syrup. A truly decadent treat.


Kourabiedes -- a butter cookie with powdered sugar. I imagine this would be divine with one of their coffees.


Koulourakia -- Another treat that would go well with coffee. I really enjoyed the simple pastry because it was not too sweet but it really was a great texture. Tied for my favorite!




There are LOTS of options at the Greek fest. Their little grocery store (Bakaliko) has a ton of Greek olives, oils, cheeses, and more. And the Market Place (Agora) had some fun items, too. There were some really pretty belly dancing-style outfits that I had my eye on.


There were lots of musical performances and dance troupes scheduled, too. Fun for the whole family, or for a lunch break. Just get their early so you don't miss out on the food! 


Top Shelf: Gyro


As much as I LOVED the combination plate, the Gyro is good enough to get me to sneak back over to the festival before it ends. 




connect: Greek Fest 2012
location: 14 West Anderson Street, Savannah (Victorian District)
Hours: Thursday - Saturday, 11 AM - 9PM






 
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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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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!