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When I opened our Farm Box from Berry Farms last week, I found a bunch of fresh okra. Being from the north, I sort of freaked out a little bit since I have never actually cooked with fresh okra before. Sure I've eaten pickled okra, and had it in southern stews, but my thoughts immediately went to fried -- the true staple. 

I don't eat fried foods (unless it is something I can't get ANYWHERE else), so I decided to whip up some baked okra instead. Super tasty, especially when served with sweet Asian chili sauce! 



I made them both gluten-free and with "regular"  ingredients. Feel free to use the ones you have on hand or choose base on your dietary needs. 


not-fried okra

ingredients.
2 large egg whites

1/4 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs OR panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. quinoa flour OR whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 dashes salt

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional
20 fresh okra, stems removed and sliced

directions.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay aluminum foil on a baking sheet. 

Put egg white in a small bowl. Place breadcrumbs and flour in a sealable plastic bag. 



Divide garlic powder, black pepper, and salt between the egg white and breadcrumb mixture. If you like, add cayenne pepper to the breadcrumb mixture. Stir egg mixture.


Put the okra slices in the bowl with the egg right. Gently stir to coat all sides. 


In batches, transfer okra from egg to plastic bag with breadcrumb mixture.


 NOTE: Make sure you shake off or drain excess egg before putting okra in with the breadcrumb mixture. 


Seal bag and give it a shake. Transfer coated okra to the baking sheet. Continue with remaining okra. Spray the tops with nonstick spray. 


Bake for 30 minutes, or until outsides have started to brown. For even browning, gently shake baking pan or flip okra about half way through. 


MAKES 2 SERVINGS


nutritionals.
1/2 recipe: 98 calories, <0.5g fat, 246mg sodium, 18g carbs, 4.5g fiber, 2g sugars, 7g protein




Tips & Notes: You should have just enough of the breadcrumb mixture to coat all of the okra, as long you make sure to drain the excess egg. 

For more traditional flavor, you can use cornmeal instead of breadcrumbs, I just prefer the taste & texture of panko and GF breadcrumbs! 




 
B- Outstanding bread, it does everything a baguette should do.
I- The chicken itself is extraordinary.
T- The even distribution of sauces, flavors, veggies and the amazing bread makes it extraordinary.
E- You are in one of the best cities in the south.

Rating by Travelchannel.com
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Zunzi's Express Take Out was made famous by one of its sandwiches winning the title of Regional Champ of the South through the Travel Channel's search of the Best Sandwich award.

Any local or visitor that has not yet enjoyed this mind-blowingly delicious sandwich is definitely missing something. Stop making excuses and plan a lunch date already! 

Seriously.


The famous sandwich, known as The Conquistador, has moist and succulent chicken served with lettuce and tomatoes on the most delicious, fresh baked bread.  THEN it is smothered with two tasty sauces.

The sandwich is not so large that you can't finish it on your own, but in truth, I've yet to finish one in one sitting. Which is kind of perfect since I absolutely love the treat of eating this twice in one day.

The only thing better than The Conquistador, is topping it with marinara sauce, sausage and parmesan cheese. And calling it The Godfather. It sounds like an awfully weird combination, but I assure you it is ridiculously good. 7

There are vegetarian options (anything with the grilled mushrooms is great!) and you can adjust the meal to suit your tastes because they make it right there in front of you.

Finding it can be a little tricky if you're looking for a full size restaurant. Zunzi's is essentially a small counter just inside the door of a brick building. You will usually know you are in the right place by the line down the sidewalk. Since it is just a take out service, you will have to plan where to eat. In the spirit of the South, you can always take your food a few blocks over to the cemetery and lunch with the dearly departed (a Southern tradition). If that is a little too weird, they do offer a few tables around the side of the building.

Parking in the area is pay-per-hour (though you never pay after 5pm or the weekends!!!)  and hours can be a bit tricky, so make sure they're open right away.

location: 108 E York St. Savannah, GA 31401 (downtown)
connect: Zunzi's
Hours:
(Mon-Sat) 11am-5pm
(Sun) Closed






 
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Jazz’d Tapas Bar is a really great swanky place located near the heart of City Market. It is fantastic for date nights, girls’ nights, and celebrations. At night there is often live jazz music and the atmosphere feels like nothing else in Savannah.

The menu is definitely eclectic with over 35 different tapas available. These slightly oversized-versions of appetizers are perfect for mixing, matching, and (most importantly) sharing! I am a huge fan of this trend, and if you haven’t experienced it yet, what are you waiting for?

The Tapas for Two is a really great place to start for newbies. Each person in the pair gets to choose a salad or soup, four Tapas, and two desserts. Since the menu has so many great offerings, you may find yourself adding another tapas to your table, though you’ll be full enough that you will not need it.

I highly recommend the Black Bean Soup and the Pesto Chopped Salad for a starter-style choice. Both are a little different but a fun way to start the meal!

I’m always a fan of Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and this dish has jalapenos, roasted red peppers, peanuts and topped with a red curry peanut sauce. Spicy, peanut-y, and tasty! The Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms are also a great choice. I love the goat cheese and smoky chorizo combination! But perhaps I just love chorizo, because the Chorizo Empanadas are a favorite for sure.

There are lots of seafood (for those Pescatarians) and Vegetarian options, too. The Sesame Tuna is a favorite of mine --- hands down! A must order for Ahi lovers.

Overall, it really is a great place for special occasions, happy hours ($4 Tapas Tinis!), and for starting a night out. Plan to visit soon! And order a few fun cocktails --- like the Plumsake Tini and Watermelon Tini!




Top Shelf: Cuban Rubbed Beef Satays

These beef skewers are basted with a sweet jalapeno glaze that is really like no other. They’re also served alongside salted dried plantain strips – so good!

 

location. 52 Barnard Street, Downtown near City Market

connect. Jazz’d

SavannahMenu.com VIP restaurant. Yes! $10 off Tapas for Two


 
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Located in the heart of downtown Savannah, this dual level restaurant has a lot of character and history. My first experience with this space was during a ghost tour. Since then, it has played monthly host to gatherings up on the rooftop. The bar is over 300 years old and imported from England, by way of Central Station in New York City. It should absolutely be included on your next trip downtown for the atmosphere alone.

They have a high quality selection of beers and a variety of wines, as well as a simple but tasty menu. While I usually go for the atmosphere up on the rooftop level, I almost always grab a bite to eat as well. Popular choices for the group include the Plantation Crab Cakes and their Crab Nachos.

Their sandwiches are also tasty, I prefer The “Drayton Street” Chicken Sandwich with grilled chicken. They also offer several salads and tons of other dishes that will accompany your delectable drinks.

Make sure to check out their happy hour. They do have a few specials that they run between 4 – 7pm during the week.

From time to time the service can be slow, especially if a big tour group just arrived, but it’s a great stop for any bar crawl to just enjoy a drink, admire the atmosphere and carry on a conversation. The only other downer is that there seems to be a different bartender every time we go so it has been hard to build a repoire with anyone that works there.

Top Shelf: Moroccan Chicken

This spiced-up chicken plate is something a little different than I normally find on the menus in Savannah. I love the sauce paired with this tasty protein.






location: 9 Drayton Street, Downtown Savannah

connect: Isaac’s

Savannah Menu VIP member: yes, free appetizer or dessert when you purchase two entrees


 
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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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Let me start off by saying that this is my favorite BBQ restaurant. Not just in Savannah, but anywhere. And with good reason; it wins championships, people! Of course, championships are not the only things this little restaurant wins. They've been named the “Best of the Best in Barbecue Restaurants”, “Best Savannah BBQ”, “Best BBQ”, “Best Savannah BBQ Ribs”…… you get the picture.

We've pretty much tried the entire menu and have enjoyed everything we've tasted. We bring every visitor of ours to Wiley’s and usually start off with the Fried Pickles or the Fried Okra --- most of our northern visitors have never eaten a fried pickle, and lots have never even seen okra in person, making either a fun choice.

But southern starters are not why we talk up the place whenever we can, it is the barbecue! They have this amazing Better Than Sex BBQ Sauce (in Original and in Extra Tingly), and when you dip, pour, dunk, smother any food item in it, it instantly becomes 100 times better. You can even buy the sauce separately, at the restaurant or at local Savannah shops. And when you pair it with the juicy, tender meats on the menu it is nothing short of divine. Choose from Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, Chicken, Ribs, and more. I highly recommend the Sampler Plate so you and a friend can try a little bit of everything.

The sides are all really great, too. The ones we return to, time and time again? Mac & Cheese, Potato Salad, Red Beans and Rice, and Green Beans. They have really great desserts as well, but don’t plan on having room to eat them. Just take one to go.  They also offer daily specials. Try them. They are always great!

There are very few downers to this restaurant. They do have some odd hours, so make sure to check that they are going to be open before you head over. Also, you’ll find some of the side dishes are made with sort of a lot of oil or butter. The sides are very reasonably sized though, so I just leave the last bite or two at the bottom of each cup. 

Top Shelf: Side of Dutch Crust Sweet Potato Casserole

No joke, this is one of my all time favorite treats. I order it every time as one of my sides. I always save it for last to enjoy as a sort of dessert. It’s amazing and exactly what this dish is supposed to be.

location: 4700 highway 80 (Whitemarsh Island) Savannah, GA 31410

connect: Wiley's Championship BBQ

SavannahMenu.com VIP restaurant: yes, buy two entrees and two beverages and receive a free appetizer or dessert up to $5


Photo Credit: John Carrington/Savannah Morning News

 
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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 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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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!