While the term “eating local” is a buzz phrase these days, I’ve found in my travels that it has different expressions in various areas of the U.S. So during my rail trip south, in each city I’ll take readers step-by-step through a journey of eating local. From a visit to the farmers’ market, a farm-to-table restaurant and interviews with farmers and chefs (plus info on CSAs, farm-to-table restaurants and farmers’ markets in the area), the articles will explore all the flavors unique to each city–and what it means to eat locally in the south.
Please join me on this journey by following my Wanderlust blog, commenting below, or by tweeting or sharing this post. Then follow along as we explore four southern states by rail–and discover the southern locavore.
July 28, 2015–On the way to New Orleans I’ll have a layover in Chicago where I’ll research a jump-off-the-train-and-go-exploring article, “Five Hours in Chicago.”
New Orleans, LA
July 29-30, 2015–Eating my way through New Orleans, I’ll stay at The Maison de Ville, which offers guests the chance to enjoy New Orleans the way it was meant to be experienced: in a French Quarter hotel with a historic courtyard and balconies. Guests are treated to true Southern hospitality with that special New Orleans flair at the romantic French Quarter Hotel.
Some New Orleans restaurants I’ll visit:
Bayona–“Defying definition or simple classification, Susan Spicer’s team creates food that moves across a spectrum of styles and influence. Using the freshest local ingredients to craft flavorful, balanced yet complex dishes is Bayona’s specialty.”
Dante’s Kitchen—Local produce shapes a seasonal menu of modern Louisiana fare served in a quaint cottage setting.
August–The cuisine at August is contemporary French with a focus on local ingredients, inspired by Chef John Besh’s classical training here and in Europe, and by the depth of his own Southern Louisiana roots.
I’ll also check out the Southern Food and Beverage Museum while I’m in New Orleans.The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage.
July 31-August 1, 2015–While lodging at the Home2 Suites by Hilton, I’ll spend the weekend checking out the Saturday River Market, eating at a farm-to-table restaurant, and exploring the city for an additional “Girlfriends’ Weekend” article. As Tuscaloosa is a walk-able town with lots to explore, it’ll be fun to experience a weekend getaway tailored for a group of gals on the go.
Friday, July 31, 2015
- Cravings – Just off the train, I’ll grab some refreshments at this specialty grocery, wine bar and beer garden.
- Check-in at Home2Suites by Hilton.
- Downtown T-town! I’ll explore the galleries and shops in downtown, including the beautiful Grand Hall Art Gallery upstairs at the Federal Building, where artist Caleb O’Connor has depicted the history of Tuscaloosa in 16 stunning murals.
- Stop by the Tuscaloosa Visitors Center to explore the possibilities and meet the staff of Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports.
- Cypress Inn for drinks on the deck and the best view of the sunset in T-town.
- Live at the Plaza! I’ll enjoy live music in the heart of downtown and then head to DePalmas afterwards for true Italian Cuisine that rewrote the rules of “Comfort Food.”
Saturday, August 1, 2015
- Breakfast at The Waysider—a Tuscaloosa tradition where the champions meet. Southern breakfast at it’s finest.
- Off to the Farmers’ Market at the Tuscaloosa River Market, then I’ll savor the local flavor, sights and sounds on the Tuscaloosa River Walk.
- At the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art I’ll explore one of the largest and greatest collections of American Art
- Lunch at Archibald’s BBQ—Voted #6 on the “Best BBQ in the US” list by USA Today, and #3 on Southern Livings “South’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints”
- Explore the University of Alabama campus, where history abounds. From Civil War to Civil Rights; some pretty cool sights, and of course the Museum of Natural History–where the only meteorite ever known to strike a human is housed; and the Bryant Museum where the history of the Crimson Tide is told.
- Blaze the short trail of 15 minutes from downtown to Moundville Archaeological Park to transport myself back in history.This must see on any trip to the area will reportedly open my mind to a whole new Native American experience.
- Grab a refreshing afternoon beer at Black Warrior Brewing Company then return “home” to get dressed and ready for a night on the town!
- Wine tasting at Carpe Vino with Appetizers from Epiphany Cafe
- Dinner at The Side by Side. James Beard award winning Chef, Chris Hastings created this concept located inside the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Tuscaloosa. His eclectic approach at combining the freshest local ingredients, a Southern flair and a unique dining experience make for a winning combination.
- Visit the Temerson Square Entertainment District. Tuscaloosa is, after all, a funky little college town where live music can be found every night of the week.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
- Brunch at FIVE BAR before jumping on the train to Gainesville, GA.
I have a full schedule in Gainesville covering the Girlfriends Getaway and other stories. Every moment is packed with fun, nature, and adventure, so I’m eager to explore this beautiful area.
Monday, August 3, 2015
I check into the Holiday Inn Lanier Centre on Sunday night after a late arrival on the train. Monday morning it’s a full schedule:
- Breakfast at The Colored Egg, which serves up incredible Quiche and pastries.
- The Solar System Walking Tour down to Lake Lanier
- 1 of 13 to-Scale Solar System Walking Tours in the United States.
- The only one in Georgia.
- Begins Downtown and goes 2.5 miles down to Lake Sidney Lanier.
- Shopping on the Square
- Lunch at Avocados, a farm-to-table restaurant.
- Driving tour of Gainesville Public Art Tour and Historic Green Street
- Serenity Massage and Day Spa for afternoon tea at Annastasia’s Tea Room and then a Spa Treatment.
- Then it’s off for cocktails at Downtown Drafts, followed by dinner at Luna’s.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
- Breakfast at Longstreet Café, where they put the “home” in home cooking.
- Drive to Jaemor Farms, an open-air market that sells homemade ice cream, fried pies and a store filled with goodies.
- Then to Sweet Acres Farm where I’ll interview farmers Matthew and Lindsey about their farm and the new winery (and hopefully pick some berries to enjoy on my train ride that night to Greensboro).
- Back to Gainesville for lunch at 2 Dog Café, Sweet Magnolia’s or perhaps the Collegiate Grill–so many choices…only two short days.
- Drive to Gainesville Marina or Elachee Nature Science Center
- Dinner at Atlanta Highway Seafood Restaurant
- Then an Arty Party at the Quinlan Arts Center before jumping on the train for Greensboro.
August 5-9, 2015–My longest stay (and family there, to boot), Greensboro looks to be a foodies dream. A few of my plans for this trip include:
Thursday, August 6, 2015
- Breakfast at Iron Hen Café, an owner-operated coffee shop, café, and catering company, with an award-winning chef, they serve organic, fair trade coffee, plus local, seasonal, and sustainable food daily.
- Check into Proximity Hotel: Recognized as the “greenest” hotel in America, the Proximity Hotel was built to use 40% less energy and 30% less water than a comparable hotel. The AAA Four Diamond, locally-owned Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina, offers a glimpse of the future while celebrating the past. Sustainable practices, custom-designed furnishings, commissioned art and innovative design await guests in every corner of the 147-room luxury hotel and its adjacent restaurant, Print Works Bistro
Proximity Hotel’s green sustainable design and construction follows the guidelines of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System,™ the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
- Experience some of Greensboro’s gardens in the area.
- Lunch at Green Valley Grille for informally elegant fine dining and seasonal food using old-world European culinary sensibilities and flavors.
- Tour the Greensboro Curb Market
- Dinner at Print Works Bistro: “Fresh, local ingredients | Creative comfort foods | Fine Dining. Traditional and modern versions of classic dishes popular in European / French Bistros.”
Friday, August 7, 2015
- Tour the Old Mill of Guilford
Saturday, August 8, 2015
- Explore the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market
- Check into Grandover Resort and Spa: A luxury resort in Greensboro, NC.
- Dinner at Di Valletta, inside the Grandover Resort.
August 10, 2015–Departing Greensboro via Amtrak, on the way home to Kansas City I’ll have a layover in Washington, DC. There I’ll research a jump-off-the-train-and-go-exploring article, “Six Hours in Washington, DC.”
I’ll check out these six stops, all within immediate walking distance of Union Station:
- National Postal Museum, the Smithsonian Institution’s museum dedicated to the USPS: stamps, the art of letter writing, the mechanics of mail, all housed in a historic post office, immediately across the street from Union Station.
- Exiting Union Station’s grand front entrance/exit directly in front is the US Capitol Building.
- Across the street from the entrance to the US Capitol Visitor Center is the Supreme Court of the United States. While the court will not be in session at the time of my visit, I’ll pop my head inside and sit where history has happened and is happening.
- Two blocks from the Supreme Court is the largest collection of Shakespeareana in the world. The Folger Shakespeare Library is a treasure trove for fans of The Bard. There are manuscripts, First Folios, lots of Elizabeathan art and objects and exhibitions that connect his world to ours.
- Also nearby, the world’s largest library: The Library of Congress.
- Then before jumping back on the train, I’ll visit the Eastern Market, the city’s oldest covered market–and the spiritual center of people who live on The Hill. There I’ll grab a picnic for the next leg of my Amtrak journey.
With such an exciting itinerary, it looks to be a great trip. I’ll update as I get more events scheduled.