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24 hours in Savannah (day 1)

[caption id="attachment_433" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="The only style of graffiti that makes me smile. (Photo: Vance Kite)"][/caption]

Wherever you are in America, there are terrific places near enough for a short road trip to a weekend away. And it's so healthy to occasionally push yourself out of the normal routine, to remind yourself what's truly important in life: God, family, food. (You had to see that one coming).

As much as I know it's important to get away, it's good to have someone here to actually force the issue. I'm going around life's merry-go-round at a dizzying speed; Vance pushes the big red button and says, "Get OFF — we're going to Georgia."

[caption id="attachment_429" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="The most adorable baby slippers from Paris Market. I'll have to ask Vance's grandmother to make us these some day."][/caption]

So to Georgia we went — Savannah specifically — leaving our neurotic but lovable "puppy" in the care of some dear friends (who also could use a weekend away). We arrived five hours later at an artsy cafe somewhere in Downtown, although I can't say exactly where it was since the only concern I had was downing a chocolate cookie the second I walked through the door.

Soho South Cafe

Based on some Yelp recommendations, we had chosen Soho South Cafe as the first stop on our whirlwind tour of the "hostess city." I might have mistaken the place for a quirky art gallery gift shop, but it didn't take long for the chocolate chip cookies piled high in glass jars to start singing the Call of the Sirens. We sat on a creaky bench happily munching one of the dense cookies until the waitress seated us. It was nearly 2 o'clock in the afternoon and there was still a wait at this place. Albeit a happy wait; there were plenty of cookbooks and art pieces to keep us occupied.

The wait turned out to be worth it in the end. I downed their signature Crab Cake Sandwich in the span of a very lady-like two minutes; Vance took down a grilled cheese and tomato soup (amazing, smoky, delicious cheese combination BTW) in about the same amount of time. My crab cake was outstanding on its own, but paired with a toasty challah roll and some Russian dressing it was over the top.

[caption id="attachment_436" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="The quirky atmosphere and food at Soho South Cafe"][/caption]

After a short walk, it was time to head over to the historic district, to the Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn. The Inn does a "manager's special" deal, where you take whatever room is left over at a reduced rate, and they really put us up in a nice one. At about $129 a night, the price is right.

Cha Bella

After a brief respite in our lovely room, we walked in the general direction of dinner. We stopped by

Eat Locally: Maraya at Sabrina's

The "Piper" release of SocialSpark was finally announced last week. It's the first feature set to roll out for the new version, and so far it's been quite the roller coaster. Some days, I'm home after 7 (I get into the office around 7 am); some days I'm up into the wee hours getting a new feature ready for prime time the next morning. It's exciting, emotional work, but unfortunately it leaves little time for cooking gourmet meals, much less blogging about them.

The Mise en place for a glazed bundt cake from The Grand Central Baking Book — the next in a series of Portland food posts — is on the kitchen counter coming to room temperature. Meanwhile, I wanted to give a shout out to someone else who is cooking up amazing homestyle Mediterranean cuisine with fresh, local ingredients.

[caption id="attachment_209" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Maraya at Sabrina's has a lovely ambience, save for the lack of crowds."][/caption]

I'm not sure if it's accurate to call this place "off the beaten path" when it's in the heart of tourist country in Orlando, FL, but it's tucked back into such a corner that I'll call it that anyway. Maraya at Sabrina's, a few hundred yards from the Florida Mall, serves up fresh, locally raised and organic Mediterranean dishes.

While their website leaves much to be desired (these things matter to the designer-developer in me) the food more than makes up for it. As soon as we entered we were greeted by Violet, as warm and inviting an individual as you could ever expect to find at a family gathering. She absolutely adores the food, and genuinely seems to want to get to know the patrons who dine at Sabrina's.

[caption id="attachment_208" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A bit of hummus, on the house."][/caption]

Our meal started with a complimentary hummus, as well as some Kibbeh, which Violet begged us to try. They were crispy and delicious; a great way to start off a Friday night meal. I settled on a Greek salad for dinner, while Vance ordered the lamb. Priscilla, a dear friend of mine, had highly recommended the lamb and I'll do the same here. I'm not much on lamb (I get visions along the lines of this when I think about ordering it) but I had a nibble and it did not disappoint.

[caption id="attachment_210" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The "must-try" lamb at Maraya at Sabrina's."][/caption]

If you're in the Orlando area, and I know most of you reading this are, I'd definitely add it to the dinner rotation when you're on that side of town. Don't let the website scare you away. ;)

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