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Day 204: Savor the European brunch at Liam’s

20 Aug

Liam’s is probably the best restaurant within a 100-mile radius from Tallahassee. From exquisite cheeses brought in from all over the world, to a sumptious pork tenderloin soaked in a tasty brown sauce, Liam’s knows food and cooks it very well. I’ve made the 45-minute trek to Liam’s for a dinner and brunch and both times walked away raving about the experience for weeks afterward. Example: I had a fettucine alfredo that was literally the best pasta I’ve had in my life and the chef whipped it up for me at the spur of the moment because I’m a vegetarian. But I’d like to highlight their brunch because it is very unusual and delicious. Liam’s offers a European brunch on Saturday mornings. Unlike your American-style brunches, the European brunch doesn’t have pancakes and toast. Instead, they offer items like “croque madame,” which is ham and gruyere cheese, dipped in egg and sauteed in butter, topped with a fried egg and mornay sauce. You get a salad or fresh fruit with almost all of their breakfast items. They also have beignets which I have no doubt are amazing. You can also try their cheese plates at breakfast or dinner, which were truly incredible. Mark had what he called “the best cheese I’ve ever had” on this $13-plate of cheeses from France, Italy and the United States. It was worth every penny. One thing worth noting is Liam’s wait staff is top notch. Both times our waitress knew the types of cheeses inside and out, where they came from, how it would taste, and what to pair it with. She also knew the wine and craft beer list inside and out, and when they were out of the beer Mark requested, she suggested a similar, but still tasty, replacement. I can’t say enough good things about Liam’s. It is perfect for a special occasion because it is a little pricey. Definitely make reservations on a weekend.

Address: 113 E. Jackson Street, Thomasville, Georgia

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Day 201: Learn about black history in Thomas County

3 Aug

Credit: Jack Hadley Black History Museum

If you’re like me and not from the Deep South, then you might find it as strange as I do that museums around here tend to politely sidestep the area’s dark and disturbing history with slavery and mistreatment of African-Americans. Sadly, the best place to learn about this kind of history is in museums dedicated specifically just to black history. In Thomas County, just across the Georgia state line, there is a wonderful, quirky museum called the Jack Hadley Black History Museum. It started as one man’s personal collection and blossomed into a full-blown museum. The creator, Jack Hadley, is a talkative military veteran that will show you around the museum himself. Unlike the sparse, minimalist collections you might find at, say, the Smithsonian, Hadley’s collection still has the look of a crowded attic or garage. His focus is on black history in Thomas County. He has loads of old photos and memorabilia of the accomplishments of local African-Americans. But he doesn’t neglect black history in general, and notes some of the major accomplishments of African-Americans nationwide. One of the more memorable and shocking items in the museum was a pair of old, rusted chains used to contain slaves. I liked that the Jack Hadley Black History Museum confronted that issue head on rather than hiding from it. At $5 per person, it’s a bargain and I guarantee you will walk away having learned something new and hopefully met the delightful Hadley to boot.

Address: 214 Alexander Street (Thomasville, Georgia)

Day 189: Bite into a pie at the Bread Wagon

9 Jul

The day I stumbled upon the Bread Wagon was a glorious one indeed. This Amish bakery sits next to a gas station off Highway 319, just outside Thomasville, Ga. It is one of those roadside joints you pass many times and think “I should go in there….” but almost never do. Many of the ingredients used are shipped in from Amish country in Ohio. The young women who work the cash register wear the traditionally Amish handmade dresses, though I wasn’t sure if that was some Amish shtick or they really were Amish. The Bread Wagon sells cakes, pies, lemon bars, brownies, breads, cinnamon rolls, cookies pumpkin cream cheese rolls and even some sausages, jams and piemiento cheese. Everything is made right there and tastes deliciously moist and fresh. I tried their lemon cream cheese bars which were so delicious I inhaled three of them in less than five minutes. It’s impossible to step into the Bread Wagon and not walk out with something in your hands. I usually stop by on my way to Atlanta or if I find myself in Thomasville.

Address: Highway 19, three miles north of Thomasville

Day 183: Tour the historic grounds of Pebble Hill Plantation

3 Jul

The grounds of Pebble Hill Plantation, with expansive green lawns, rainbow-colored gardens, grazing horses, neatly manicured shrubs and low-slung Spanish moss, are so beautiful you can easily forget it was once a plantation that owned slaves. The curators of Pebble Hill, which is now a large museum, like to gloss over that part of Pebble Hill’s history. It was built sometime in the mid-1800s and, given what we know about Southern farms, surely had slaves. After the Civil War, and a series of different owners, Pebble Hill employed many of the descendants of the former slaves. (I know this not so much from the Pebble Hill museum, but from the Jack Hadley African American History Museum in Thomasville.) One reason the slave bit is not mentioned very often at Pebble Hill is because it is restored closer to the early 20th century version of Pebble Hill, which includes a lovely white-column mansion that you can tour for $15. The owner at that time was Kate Ireland, and then her daughter Pansy, who died in 1978. Both are described as horse and dog lovers, hence the abundant references to those animals throughout the house and lawns. The house is lovely to tour, with loads of interesting details about life of the well-to-do in the early 20th century. A tour of the grounds, which costs $5, is equally enchanting, and includes a peek at some of the vintage vehicles Pansy (or more likely, her driver) drove around town. It is said that a good many successful, famous people were guests at Pebble Hill, including former President Jimmy Carter. Pebble Hill has become a popular spot for weddings, which is completely understandable given the breathtaking views of magnolias and dripping Spanish moss. There is something about Pebble Hill that appeals to all of our fantasies about Southern charm and hospitality. It is definitely worth a visit and you will learn a great deal about not just that plantation, but a good snapshot of the area’s history. I only wish they had a bit more information about what the plantation was like during the slave years.

Address: 1251 U.S. Highway 319

Day 129: Sample the cheese at Sweet Grass Dairy

9 May

In downtown Thomasville (about 45 minutes north of Tallahassee) there is a lovely cheese shop run by Sweet Grass Dairy, a family-owned handcrafted cheese producer. They make their cow and goat cheese through two Georgia-based farms. Though I don’t know all the proper lingo, I do know it is damn good. At the shop you can order a platter of cheeses or meats to sample, and each comes with its own pairing. For instance, the Thomasville Tomme, the buttery cheese made from grass-fed cows, is paired with fig jam. The Asher Blue, one of their blue cheeses, is paired with sugary pecans. They also have wine on hand and you can buy your own cheese and jams to go. Sweet Grass Dairy made me a bit of a cheese connoisseur. Before my visit, I was your standard cheddar kind of gal. Now I make a point of stopping by every few months and sampling their latest cheese invention and I never leave without some cheese to bring back home with me.

Address: 105 North Broad Street

Day 120: Go shopping on Broad Street in Thomasville

30 Apr

There aren’t enough superlatives in the world to describe how warmly I feel about Thomasville’s charming downtown. First, this small town of about 20,000 about a 30-minute drive north of Tallahassee oddly has much more going on than Tallahassee’s downtown. Along a two-block street of Broad Street, smack in the middle of Thomasville’s downtown, you will find over a dozen adorable boutique clothing stores, home furnishing and fabric stores, a bookstore, coffee shop, cooking supply store and athletic-wear store. All locally owned. It’s a shopper’s paradise and I could have easily spend hundreds of dollars in that one tiny geographic area. Parking is plentiful and easy to find and the locals are friendly and helpful, always grateful for your business. My favorites are Relish, which sells gourmet cooking and baking supplies, and The Bookshelf, which has a fabulous selection of books that pertain to the South Georgia area as well as bestsellers and a children’s section. Of the clothing stores I am partial to Ally B because of its reasonable prices and great selection. It’s perfect for a Saturday day-trip from Tallahassee with your girlfriends, just don’t go on a Sunday when everything is closed.

Address: Broad Street and Jackson, Thomasville, Georgia

Day 80: Eat cheese grits at Jonah’s

22 Mar

Jonah’s Fish and Grits is in the heart of Thomasville’s charming downtown, about 45 minutes north of Tallahassee. This Southern food restaurant is known across the South for its shrimp and grits, and was even featured in Southern Living magazine. Truthfully, their cheese grits are the best I’ve ever had.  In fact, I thought I didn’t like grits until I had them at Jonah’s. I like to pair it with their delicious harvest salad, while my husband gets the shrimp and grits. Jonah’s itself has a cozy interior with outdoor seating. Probably the best thing about Jonah’s is its prices. For the high quality food we got, my husband and I paid $20. A similar meal in New York City would have cost $50. Jonah’s is a great place to stop if you’re spending an afternoon in Thomasville, or if you’re on a road trip north to Atlanta.

Address: 109 E. Jackson Street, Thomasville, Georgia