I’ve navigated strange lands before using instinct to roam streets without maps and deciphering directions in foreign tongues. But I never thought I’d be such a fish out of water as I was on a long summer weekend south of the Mason-Dixon line. Thankfully, Twitter and some good ole’ fashioned southern hospitality led me to the doors of all I needed: food, beer and coffee.
Moon River Brewing
Even though there is a giant bridge that drops out of North Carolina into Savannah, Georgia, I completely missed it and ended up driving through the seedy underbelly of this pictorial town. So much for those instincts. Given the humidity, the idea of roaming for too long didn’t have much appeal. What did was some place to get the scoop on “must-sees.” And a beer. It was a Twitter inspired happenstance that I parked the car around the corner from Moon River Brewing. I’d just added them to my feed.
Inside, the bartender was already telling people about the ghostly inhabitants of the brewery. He was happy to recommend some of the local brews and give us a walking route for the day as well. I was impressed with the Slo-vannah Pale Ale with a hint of hops bite that would have paired well with some of the food I saw going out. The Apparition Ale was an even better sipping ale for the hot day.
I need to get in the habit of packing my Moka Espresso, but finding a local coffee shop in a new city is as fun as finding local breweries. Unfortunately, the only way Hilton Head Island resembled a Seattle-esque coffee culture was in the overabundance of Starbucks. I hoped for better luck in Savannah, but when a search downtown came up short, I detoured right to the source: the local roasting house of PERC Coffee. Inside, owner Philip Brown was finishing his day. Canvas bags were scattered along the floor of his small workshop, the raw green beans spilled out from open flaps, and an intoxicating aroma of roast lingered in the air. While he didn’t serve coffee, he was pleased to show off what he worked with, talk about the still-emerging coffee scene in Savannah, and give me a sample to try at home.
He advised I wait for at least a day to let the flavors come out from the Nicaragua Selva Negra he had just prepared, so the next afternoon I brewed up a batch. As readers know, I take my java espresso style. I hesitated to have a cup of drip, but only for as long as it took to touch my lips. It was strong, smooth and life-changing. All of a sudden I realized why my Seattle pals all want their coffees to “walk around with.” There was no bitterness or watered-down quality that I usually associate with drip brews. I wanted to drink this all day, but the one cup was enough to keep me going for hours.
Barnacle Bill doesn’t need a twitter account. Not only do fish not tweet, he gets plenty of foot traffic from a roadside shack and good signage. Once inside, old-school social media takes over. Bill entertains his customers with tapes from the Doors while they patiently wait in line for his personalized service– and rumor has it he plays in a cover band himself. I grabbed a basket, picked out some vegetables from the small produce selection then took my place in line for the seafood. Working from a substantial list of local catch and nearby imports, Bill spends time with each visitor to help them select the right kind of fish and the right amount for their group. It’s hardly instant gratification, but fishing itself is a sport of patience. The rewards of our slow catch came at dinner with a grouper so fresh and flavorful it needed nothing but a fry pan and a little salt and pepper.