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Getting Some Sugar in Savannah

December 9, 2010

My initial impulse on that first morning in Savannah was to head to the heart of the Historic District, but as I exited my hotel and headed east on Bay Street, out of the corner of my eye I could see the Savannah River. I made an abrupt left, crossing the street and descending down a steep, curved, cobblestone-lined stairwell down to River Street. It was early yet and there were only a few people there taking an early morning stroll or staring out across the watery expanse. The sky was a crisp, clear blue and the breezes cool as the massive hull of a loaded cargo ship floated silently downriver.

Cargo ship on the Savannah River

The MSC Loretta making its way down the Savannah River on my first morning in Savannah

I left River Street briefly in search of breakfast but returned a few hours later. The air had warmed and swarms of people had descended on the riverfront. A few couples here and there strolled arm in arm; a horde of children tossed chunks of stale white bread to a flock of unusually quiet seagulls hovering overhead. A street artist was wielding his brush against a canvas while interested onlookers surveyed his work. Several sidewalk palm weavers were selling roses hand-fashioned from palm leaves, charming unsuspecting tourists into buying their handiwork.

Many small shops and restaurants line River Street but one particular establishment stood out: River Street Sweets, with its bright red awning and the series of flags adorning the storefront, you really couldn’t miss it if you tried. But I had no intention of avoiding River Street Sweets. As I walked toward the entrance, I could smell the sugary sweet aroma of the confections being made inside.

River Street Sweets

River Street Sweets, all decked out for the holidays

Within those walls it was pure sugar overload. Shelves were lined with all different types of candies. Chocolates, fudges, jellies, and other various confections of myriad shapes, sizes, and colors tempted the eye and the palate from behind well-lit glass displays and atop loaded platters. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but for a moment I felt like the greedy kid in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. In spite of the plethora of choices laid out before me, I knew I wanted the house special: a Savannah praline.

Treats galore

More sweet treats than you can shake a stick at!

At the front of the store near the entrance, a man was mixing up a fresh batch of pralines, doling out the thick syrupy liquid into small mounds by the scoopful and allowing each individual morsel to cool on the large flat work surface. As he handed out sample pieces of the treat to eager customers, he shared the history of these particular pralines which reached Savannah from France by way of New Orleans. While he spoke, I allowed the creamy, fudgy sliver to melt in my mouth.

Mmmmmm. Mama likey.

I went to the register, handed the cashier a couple of crisp dollar bills, and received my first full-blown Savannah praline in return. Not wanting to rush the experience, I sat at one of the small, black bistro tables in front of the store and unwrapped my purchase. I’ll be honest: pralines aren’t much to look at but what they lack in appearance, they more than make up for in taste.

My first Savannah praline

Me, savoring my very first Savannah praline at River Street Sweets.

At once crunchy, buttery, smooth, sweet, and nutty, I slowly savored every last bite.

Yes, indeed. Eating freshly made pralines in Savannah is highly recommended.

The rest of my time on River Street was brief but blissful as shortly after my encounter with the famous sweet treat, I took an enjoyable tour of Savannah’s riverfront and port aboard the Georgia Queen, one of the two riverboats docked at the landing. After the hourlong cruise, I could feel my energy dipping so I retired to my hotel for a late afternoon nap. I needed to be in full possession of all my senses that night.

Thanksgiving dinner at The Olde Pink House awaited.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2010 3:18 pm

    have always wanted to go to eerie savannah. isn’t it suppose to be the second most haunted city in the u.s.?

    • December 9, 2010 3:49 pm

      Ahem! Some say *the most* haunted city in the U.S. I didn’t have time to go on any of the haunted tours or Bonaventure Cemetery at night (ooooh, creepy!) but I’d love to go back to Savannah sometime. There’s something for everyone there!

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