Hey everyone! I’m finally back from my extremely long hiatus-due to trying to finish my Undergraduate degree- and now that I’ve officially graduated, I have some time to share with you guys all new content (yay)! To start, I’d like to chronicle my recent stay in Savannah, Georgia – one of my favourite little towns in the South.
Here are some of my favourite and most memorable you-have-to-get-food-here places (in no particular order)
1. Chive Sea Bar and Lounge
Not only does it have a really cool name and a super trendy vintage meets modern chic interior, but this restaurant also has some killer seafood! We (my mother, aunt , and me) had reservations for dinner, but there is also a separate lunch menu. To start, we ordered the lobster and shrimp egg rolls which were amazing and the chive mussels which I was unable to try due to my lactose sensitivity (it contains cream) but I was told it was incredible. We also split an order of oysters, which were very fresh. For our main dish; the three of us split the “catch of the day” which was a grilled local fish -the name of which now escapes me- which came with vegetables. The fish tasted amazing and was so soft and buttery. 10/10 seafood- also the presentation of the dishes was also beautiful.
2. Gryphon Tea Room
Ok, this place is just the most aesthetically pleasing places I’ve ever been in. First of all, the Gryphon Tea Room has a super interesting history; originally it was a family run apothecary (drug store) in the 1920’s and was in operation for decades until the SCAD -the local art college- bought it and sold books out of it for a few years. However, it eventually became the tea room, and it is staffed by students from the college. What’s the most fascinating to me is that the inside is all original and all of the stained glass, ceilings, and even the desks and drawers are all from the original apothecary: complete with the old labels from which the medications were kept. It’s absolutely beautiful inside and the tea is amazing as well. We came in for the afternoon high tea and received cute little tiers of desserts and small sandwiches and we each received our own pot of tea. I had the hot cinnamon spice tea-I’m a sucker for anything with cinnamon-( its like Christmas in your mouth) which was sooo tasty.
3. Leopold’s Ice cream 🍦
If you’re looking for quality hand made ice cream served to you in an adorable retro 1940s looking venue then this is the place for you. Opened in 1919, this restaurant is a Savannah icon and for good reason; the family run ice cream parlour has some of the best tasting ice cream flavours in existence. One of the current owners herself was there when I was in, and she was such a wonderful, sweet person and introduced me to their vegan vanilla ice cream when she learned that I was lactose intolerant. She even brought me sliced mango to put in my ice cream because she said it went well with the vanilla (she was right). I hadn’t been able to have ice cream for years as most ice cream parlours don’t carry lactose free or vegan flavours here in Toronto, so I was so happy that they had a flavour I could enjoy. I had an amazing experience at Leopolds and I’m kind of obsessed with all things retro and cute so the fact that the staff were all dressed in 1950s style aprons and caps made me so happy.
4. Savannah Rae’s Gourmet Popcorn
If you’re obsessed with popcorn like I am then you need a trip to this place at least once in your life. Ok-this place has 150+ flavours of popcorn. It is W-I-L-D, I didn’t even know that you could make that many flavours of popcorn- they have everything from cheese flavoured popcorn to chocolate caramel popcorn to cherry popcorn. I visited this place twice and you better believe I got some cherry popcorn.
5. The Olde Pink House
My favourite old house in Savannah: the Olde Pink House is a gorgeous and reportedly haunted 18th century mansion. Although I didn’t see any ghosts sadly, I did see some quality food- I’ve eaten at the Olde Pink House before and I can assure you that everything on their dinner menu is A +. I recommend eating in the basement or the “tavern” part of the house because it is just so fun; there’s live music, a beautiful antique bar, and it’s completely candlelit. The only drawback of eating in the tavern is that it does get crowded and loud as the tables are small and people tend to crowd around the bar area at night. If you’re looking for a quieter and more intimate evening I suggest eating in the main floor dining area. Either way makes for a beautiful experience.
6. Two Cracked Eggs
One of the best breakfast places that we ate at on our trip, two cracked eggs is a quaint small breakfast/brunch venue which features all the classic breakfast dishes like eggs, pancakes, and French toast. I ordered eggs with avocado (I put avocado on everything) and also had the French toast which was unreal ! Also the food is served inside skillets which is extremely aesthetically pleasing.
7. The Crystal Beer Parlour
Another Savannah staple, the crystal beer parlour has been selling food since the early 1900s when it was a grocery store. It has been a restaurant for 50 + Years now and its walls are decorated with all kinds of old photos and newspaper clippings of Savannah’s history. The staff is extremely friendly and the food is southern comfort food at its best. We all ordered fried shrimp sandwiches which were tasty and I recommend trying their peach cobbler for dessert as well!r
8. The Flying Monk Noodle Bar
I’m obsessed with noodles- crispy noodles, soft noodles, thick noodles, thin noodles- I don’t discriminate. So this restaurant was my own personal heaven. The menu is amazing and contains dozens of different noodle dishes both crispy and soft, which caused me to spend 30 minutes just trying to figure out what to order (everything looked too good). Finally, I decided on a noodle dish called the Na Na noodles with tofu and they were incredible. The portions are fairly large but you better believe I downed that whole dish in 20 minutes. Also, I’m absolutely obsessed with their edamame dumplings and I could eat them everyday for the rest of my life.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a double decker bus that has been converted into a café then I recommend stopping in here. This café serves a large assortment of lattes and coffee based drinks as well as pastries which you can then eat inside an old bus. Staffed by students from the SCAD art college, the venue is fun but also serves up tasty drinks.
10. Café M
Another cute breakfast place is Café M, a quaint little breakfast/ café spot that serves tasty egg croissants, pastries, and other treats. I ordered the fruit oatmeal for my breakfast while my aunt and mother ordered the egg and cheese croissant. The food was delicious and the decor is also lovely.
Monday was our last day in the beautiful city of Kingston, and we decided to start our morning with a nice walk down by the waterfront. The view there is phenomenal, and most days in the summer you can see boats of all sizes sailing into the marina. There’s a large building by the water that’s the Kingston yacht club, which is very familiar to me as every summer when we were kids my cousins would spend every day there, first as campers in the summer sailing camp held there, and later as employees.
After our walk, we went to grab lunch at a restaurant called Woodenheads, not far from the waterfront. Wooden heads is another of Kingston’s great restaurant spots and is very well known for its wood oven pizzas. We were seated on the back patio of the restaurant, which is very well decorated and scenic; since the restaurant is inside an old building, stone walls make up most of the atmosphere, giving it a very rustic feel.
Sadly, due to my lactose intolerance I couldn’t order myself a pizza, but my boyfriend ordered a nice Sicilian pizza with spicy sausage and olives. I ordered a tapas dish of coconut shrimp which was amazing, and then an order of salad called “Melo Serena” with apples, goat cheese, and pecans, which was also great. My boyfriend said he really enjoyed the pizza.
After lunch, we took a walk around the shops of Kingston and I made a few really great purchases -which I will discuss in an upcoming blog post- and then headed back to the house for a bit of relaxation. My boyfriend sadly had to leave right after our lunch so that he would have time to unpack and then hit the road again for a small work trip that he had to take the next day, which left me, my mom, and my aunt in Kingston for the rest of the day.
For our last meal in Kingston, my mom and I decided to try a restaurant I had never been to before but was very eager to try; The Rustic Spud. I was super excited about this restaurant as they are famous for their “ponados” which are fried slivers of potato, on a stick. It kind of looks like a potato caterpillar. My mom and I made sure we ordered the ponados, and then we both also put in an order each for fish tacos. I’m a huge fan of fish tacos, and have tried them at many different restaurants. The fish tacos at The Rustic Spud were incredible! As were the ponados which came with two kinds of dipping sauce as well as two kinds of flavoured salt to top the potatoes with.
After spending the afternoon exploring the Kingston Penitentiary, we decided to head back into town (where we were staying with my aunt in her summer home) and relax for a good while. For dinner we made reservations to another one of my favourite Kingston restaurants, an authentic Greek restaurant called Greco’s. Greco’s is another favourite of mine and a restaurant that I’ve been to numerous times in the past with my family. The restaurant is family owned and operated, with the grandfather in the kitchen making the authentic old style Greek food, and the grandson serving tables. It is a small little restaurant but always fairly busy because of the quality of the food. I’ve been told that the lamb is amazing, as well as the chicken skewers, but I’m a pescaterian so I stick to the fish dishes like the fried shrimp, and they are always delicious. Also important to note is that the potatoes which are soaked in lemon, and the house made Tzatziki sauce is amazing. They also serve incredible Greek desserts such as Bougatsa – a traditional dessert of phyllo pastry filled with cream. I wish I had a picture to go with the description but it was quickly eaten by all the moment it arrived to the table.
On day 2 of our three day stay in Kingston, Ontario my boyfriend and I did something that I’ve wanted to do for years now since hearing about the closing of the Kingston Penitentiary- a maximum security prison, the oldest in the country, and one of the most notorious. We bought tickets to take a tour of the now empty prison grounds and we were both super excited about it. Our tour was on Sunday afternoon at 2:15 as we figured that we’d have time for a quick lunch and then finish the tour just in time to get some dinner.
Because we decided to sleep in a bit, we headed toward the prison with only an hour to spare so we decided to stop for lunch somewhere near the prison so we wouldn’t be late for our tour. Luckily we did so, as we stumbled upon an adorable old pub, that was right next to the prison building, flanked on both sides by other old historic homes.
The Portsmouth tavern was a quaint little spot, and it looked like something you’d see in a little seaside town in the U.S. You could tell it was a very old place, and it was decorated with old ship parts, and old sports memorabilia inside. It was the quintessential small town boys hang out, and I imagined that it was and still remains a place where the locals and the university students gather to drink and watch sporting events together. ( kind of like the Clam in Family Guy 😝) I was surprised by how good the food was for such a little pub! I ordered a sandwhich with fried egg and vegetables in it, with a side of fries and my boyfriend ordered a classic grilled cheese. My sandwhich was amazing, and the fries were perfectly crispy and flavourful.
After our lunch, we parked in the prison parking lot and walked into the front of the prison where we checked in our tickets and were given wristbands, and ushered into a sitting area to await the start of our tour. In the sitting area was one of those mug shot backgrounds with height lines on it, so my boyfriend and I decided to pose against it: you can truly grasp the extent of our height difference and of my tinyness by looking at our pictures side by side.
Our tour guide, a young woman gathered about 30 of us and we began our tour in the room where prisoners were allowed visiting hours with family and spouses. There were a few metal tables bolted to the floor where inmates could sit across from their loved ones and a corner of the room was actually painted with images of Mickey Mouse and other characters which used to be an area for the children of inmates to play while they visited the prison. Another area of the visiting quarters resembled what we more commonly see in movies, bulletproof glass plating separating the inmate from their visitor, with a phone receiver on each end that each party could use to communicate. We were told that the inmates who were at risk of sneaking contraband out or in, or had a past of hiding contraband or were more dangerous had to sit behind the glass when meeting with visitors.
We then moved outside where we were shown the original prison entrance building, the oldest structure and the giant gates that served as the entrance, originally designed to fit horse and buggies, and later, cars.
We were told a story about a young man who worked at the prison in the early 1900’s who was attacked by inmates and killed in the spot we were standing on, right outside the main prison entrance. Apparently, although the prison has been operational since the 1830’s, only 7 prison workers have been killed on the prison grounds. Although most were murdered by inmates, a couple died accidentally after being crushed by falling construction equipment while the prison was undergoing renovations at different points in history.
We then entered one of the buildings were we were greeted by an ominous site- a scene straight out of every prison movie I’ve ever seen- walls lined high with cages, and within those walls, rows and rows of jail cells, all intertwined and connected by staircases.
I felt very uncomfortable in this area of the prison and I soon found out why. An older gentleman came into the room and told us he had worked at the prison for over 30 years. He then told us about the root of 1971 which had occurred in this room, and hearing about the atrocious nature of the riot and the actions that took place made me feel sick. We were told that in 1971 on the way to the rec center, an inmate began fighting with a prison guard, another guard got involved and they dragged the inmate into the rec room together. Apparently the other inmates assumed that the two guards were ganging up on the one inmate and they all started to attack the 4 guards on duty at the time. This caused absolute chaos and the prisoners ran free, taking over the entire area for a series of days and barracading themselves in that area of the prison before they eventually surrendered and were overtaken by more guards. During the time of the riot, some of the prisoners ganged up on 4 inmates, torturing and killing two of them. It was a disaster.
After hearing about the riot, we were allowed the chance to see inside some of the standard jail cells. Each was relatively small and contained a bunk bed, desk, toilet, and shelf.
We also got to see solitary confinement, which is where prisoners got sent when they were found with weapons or drugs on them or when they were under threat of being attacked or killed by other inmates, so for their own protection. The Solitary confinement rooms were much larger and only contained a simple stone slab with a mattress and a toilet. Inmates in solitary confinement rarely left their rooms, but they were offered 1 hour outside each day in a very small enclosed court.
Although we were not allowed to ask about specific inmates I was very curious about where notorious serial killer Paul Bernardo was kept as he was a resident at Kingston Penitentiary until it’s closing in 2013 at which point he and the other inmates were relocated. Paul Bernardo is a well known and widely followed case in Canada due to the gruesome nature of the murders and rapes he and his wife committed in the early to mid 1990s. Due to the nature of his crimes, and the fact that he targeted young female victims I can imagine that he spent most if not all of his stay in the penitentiary in solitary confinement for his own protection.
One of the most impressive architectural work I’ve ever seen was inside one of the shop buildings that we got the chance to visit. Since opening its doors in the 1800s, inmates were given the chance to work in a number of shops doing tasks such as furniture upholstery, Mattress making, and even putting together mail bags for the Canada Post. The building that holds the shops is very old, and the stone work in the mattress shop which is the oldest standing shop is incredible. Our tour guide told us that the stone work on the ceiling of the room is so old that no one alive today knows how to replicate it.
After visiting the shops area we were allowed to see the excercise yard where the prisoners got their daily dose of fresh air. What I found most surprising was that for the entire time the prison was in operation, it did not have electric wire fencing. The electric fencing was only added in 2013, which is the year the prison closed. This explains why there were so many prison escapes that took place at the Kingston Penitentiary.
While we were standing in the yard, our tour guide told us about a prisoner who had made a successful escape from the prison in 1999. Apparently he had gotten as far as Toronto, where he had been staying in a condo, when the police began searching for him. Once found however, a giant stand off occurred between him and the police which ultimately left him dead- but from an apparently self inflicted gun shot. Apparently they are still unsure if he shot himself on purpose or accidentally.
The last stop on our tour was in a small recreation room that was attached to a section of the prison meant for inmates who needed assistance whether it be due to mental illness or old age. The room was beautifully painted, and apparently a school had painted the murals on the walls of the rec room for the inmates in an attempt to make the room more cheery. The room had basketball nets and looked a lot like a school gymnasium.
Overall, I am so glad that we got take the tour as it was an amazing and interesting experience! I had never seen a prison before except for in movies, and the Kingston Penitentiary was in some ways similar and in others less so what I had expected. The tour guide was very well informed, the tour was very in depth and well planned and showcased a lot more of the prison than Id expected. Although I felt really eerie in many parts of the prison knowing the nature of some of the inmates held there, it was a very eye opening experience to life inside a maximum security prison. I highly reccomend this tour!
We spent the rest of our Saturday afternoon walking through the streets of Kingston, taking in the old buildings, and checking out some of the shops on the Main Street. The good thing is, since I’ve been to Kingston so many times, I was able to bring my boyfriend to all the coolest spots in town, and to even fill him in on tid bits of historical facts and some of the urban legends surrounding some of the sites I took him too.
This alley way, for instance, a slightly ominous stone tunnel, that serves as a shortcut of sorts between two of the main streets in kingstons downtown core, and gives you access to a hidden little restaurant called Chez Piggy, has a reportedly haunted past. Apparently the old stone alleyway, which has been standing since the early 1800s, was the site of a brutal murder in the early to mid 19th century. Apparently, a young pregnant woman was stalked and killed in the tunnel as she was walking through it alone at night by a scorned lover, or maybe the father of her unborn child, I can’t quite remember. Anyway, the legend goes that her body was never found, but apparently it’s hidden somewhere in the walls of the tunnel, and that when women are walking through the tunnel alone at night, her ghostly figure appears to them, trying to point them in the direction of her remains. Creepy.
Here are some more pictures I snapped of some of kingstons old buildings and homes:
We took a break from exploring the streets to have a hot drink (it was a little chilly that day) at a quaint little coffee shop near town square called “Coffeeco” the “eco” in the name is meant to refer to the fact that all the sweets made in the shop are made with only organic materials, and the coffee cups are all organic and biodegradable. I ordered a hot chocolate with lactose free milk, which came with a lovely design courtesy of the barista, and my boyfriend ordered a dark roast coffee. The hot chocolate was delicious, and we sat in the very back table, as all the other tables were taken, and I was grateful for our table, as I found something quite peculiar and awe inspiring at our little spot. In the old stone wall that are table was placed against, was a small hole in the stone and within that hole was a tiny scroll held together with ribbon. Obviously intrigued, I removed the scroll and opened it up revealing something amazing; it was a bucket list that had been filled back to front with hundreds of entries from previous customers, each of them having written down something that they’ve always wanted to do. I thought that the idea was so unique, and it was so interesting to read everyone’s entries. I have to say that we didn’t leave an entry ourselves, as we couldn’t find anything to write with, but I plan on filling in a spot on the scroll next time I visit.
My boyfriend and I spent 3 days in one of Canada’s oldest cities, Kingston,a city with many buildings that are actually older than Canada itself as they were built before Canada was even named! I love the city of Kingston, and I’d even go as far as to say it’s one of my favourite places in the world. Ive been visiting Kingston almost every summer since I was a young girl, as my aunt rents a house there each summer and my cousins and myself would spend the summer there with her. I love old buildings and historic homes, and Kingston is chock full of them. It is also teeming with amazing restaurants, and has tons of diverse food choices.
We started our first day there with an early lunch at what I consider one of the best Italian restaurants and a must stop eatery in Kingston, Casa restaurant. It’s easy to spot as it’s located directly across the street facing the large town square and city hall, right in the heart of downtown Kingston. The town square was packed with people when we were there, as everyone was checking out the farmers market which is held there every Saturday and Sunday morning. Tons of sellers set up stands to sell a variety of fruits, vegetables, home made treats, honey, and sometimes even antiques. We sat facing the window, and the restaurant wasnquir empty when we were there as it was still quite early for lunch. I was torn between ordering a walnut and goat cheese salad, as their salad is very delicious and in a very generous portion, but their pasta dishes; especially the puttanesca pasta, are incredible. My boyfriend and I decided to compromise, I got the salad and he got an order of Penne, so that we could try both.
On Saturday morning, I had the pleasure of eating at the adorable Sorelle & co. Cafe at its location in Maple, a city North of Toronto.
I had heard a lot of good things from friends about this bakery & cafe, and about how aesthetically beautiful the interior of it was. Two of my best friends and I decided to try it out, and we arrived around 10 am just as it was opening.
One thing that really stood out to me about this bakery is that everything that is sold there is gluten free. I’m not gluten free myself or anything, but I’ve tried recently to reduce my gluten intake as I have a very mild gluten sensitivity and tend to get a bit bloated when I eat bread/pasta which is hard when you’re Italian.
The cafe is in this gorgeous white clapboard house that looks like something you’d see in a quaint seaside town rather than in a plaza, and it’s outside is abundant with boxes of beautiful white and pink flowers and cute little wrought iron tables and chairs.
The inside of the cafe is gorgeous- large chandeliers on high ceilings, beautifully decorated walls, and lovely patterned sofas. Everything is very modern and chic in shades of white marble and light pink.
One of my friends decided on a blueberry scone, the other ordered a caramel tarte, and I decided on a chocolate crumble cookie. They had a great selection of tea blends, and coffee drinks, and I had a vanilla roobois tea over ice, and my friends had iced drinks as well.
Honestly, I had been expecting gluten free pastries to be very pricey, but for the three of us, 3 pastries and 3 generous sized iced coffee/tea drinks came to about 24 Canadian dollars- which is honestly not terrible considering the prices at places like Starbucks which have a much lesser variety of pastries let alone those that are gluten free.
I really enjoyed the chocolate crumble cookie, and it was very tasty and just the right amount of tender in the middle. My friends also really enjoyed their food as well, and I also really enjoyed my iced tea. The decor is beautiful and the atmosphere is very warm and inviting. I’m just sad that I didn’t order more pastries to try, so I will definitely be returning.