Monday, July 15, 2013

Le Tour de Jacksonville & Savannah- Part 1

For the Fourth of July, BFTB and I headed down to Jacksonville Beach to visit some of his family and get away from the gross, rainy NC weather. Luckily it was sunny and warm during the daylight hours of our trip, so we got in some beach time and were even able to try stand-up paddleboarding in the Atlantic. Note that I said try... About 30 minutes into our paddleboarding adventure, I saw a giant, dark dorsal fin lurking 15-ish feet behind BFTB's board. Naturally, I flipped out, immediately (and very carefully) headed into shore, and opted to hide from Jaws Jr. on dry land. After confirming that I was not going to die of shock, BFTB was brave and went back in for more SUP-ing, but I opted to hang out on the beach and play "ID the shark" with my new BFF, the lifeguard. I have now seen a shark four times in real life -and that is four too many. Having watched many a Shark Week (and a few Sharknado clips), I realize that sharks are around all the time, but I'd rather be (a) blissfully ignorant of their presence or (b) out of the water. While I really want to give SUP-ing a more complete attempt, I think I'll visit the Whitewater Center or Lake Norman before heading back out in the open water.

My selection (top left), BFTB's selection (bottom left), the toppings bars 
(top and middle right), and the high tech yogurt pumps (bottom right) 
at YogaBerry.
Estimating that I had burned close to 20,000 calories during the half hour I spent paddleboarding (that sounds accurate, right?), I decided that (even more than usual) I could eat whatever I wanted during the trip. I was especially excited to check out a new (to me) froyo chain, YogaBerry (aka- YoBe). I'd never heard of YoBe before, but it seems that there are multiple locations in Florida and at least one in California. I'm normally an expert Googler, but I can't seem to find a lot of information about the chain online... I do know that YoBe's shtick is that they only use organic, fat-free yogurt with no artificial flavors. The place even looked healthy... or at least incredibly sterile. By far, it was the most modern-looking froyo shop I've ever seen -all the stainless steel surfaces and digital screens listing the flavors made my beloved NC froyo shops look prehistoric. However, I was a little turned off by the fact that the employees rushed over to pump our samples for us (no touching the machines with our grubby patron hands!), but then strangely disappeared and left us to our own devices when it came time to fill our cups. I guess the logic is that they wanted to control the amount of froyo I sampled, but also wanted me to go crazy and overpour the froyo I was actually paying for. I found the whole scurrying-around-the-place-like-ants-fleeing-a-burning-anthill-thing a little odd, but the employees were otherwise friendly and very knowledgeable about the yogurt flavors (a customer behind us was given some great descriptions of the origin and taste of two obscure flavors, taro and lychee). The toppings counter, just like the area around the yogurt pumps, was kept very clean -a major plus in my book. In the end, I pumped out a cup of strawberry and chocolate yogurt topped with waffle cone pieces, maraschino cherries, gummy bears, mini M&Ms, and cookie dough. BFTB went with a strawberry and mango mix topped with granola, Reese's cups, and blueberries. The yogurt, while good, just wasn't as delicious as I had hoped it would be. How could all that technology not produce outstanding froyo?! All in all, YoBe was satisfactory, but it's not on my repeat list. 

One of our most interesting meals was in the Atlantic Beach area at Joseph's Pizza. BFTB's mom and stepdad visit Joseph's regularly, so it was the first place they thought of when BFTB said that he was craving pizza. The restaurant had a pretty big menu full of relatively standard Italian entrees, sandwiches, and pasta dishes in addition to both NY style and double baked thin crust pizzas. BFTB's mom and stepdad ordered a Joseph's Special (a hand-tossed supreme style pizza loaded with pepperoni, Italian sausage, beef, ham, mushrooms, black olives, onions, and green peppers) to share and BFTB and I opted to split a Gyro Pizza (a hand-tossed pie topped with Gyro meat, mozzarella, onion, Tzatziki, lettuce, and tomatoes). The crust was crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and the pizza itself had a tasty, unique flavor. The Gyro meat was a little peppery, but otherwise relatively mild. The onions and tomatoes were cut to a perfect size -the pieces weren't too big, but they also weren't so small that they blended in with the pizza. I liked that the pizza almost seemed like a deconstructed meal -I could taste each ingredient individually and also enjoy the different flavors and textures in combination with each other. The Tzatziki was super tangy and may not have been my favorite had it been on a sandwich (it was warm and almost dressing-like in consistency), it was perfect for the pizza. Combined with the mozzarella, the sauce kept the toppings from sliding off the slice and provided interesting balance to the Gyro meat and veggies. I look forward to attempting to recreate this pizza at home in the near future.

Shrimp nachos (top left); Gyro pizza (bottom left); our beautiful
view while driving around on the Fourth of July (right).
BFTB and I also visited Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grill for a mid-afternoon snack after hitting the beach Friday afternoon. Even though the restaurant brewed a lot of their beer selections in-house, we didn't try any (sorry, we're lame).  Instead, BFTB ordered a bottled Corona and I selected a fancy-looking diet margarita off the cocktail menu. I'm a big fan of the bottled lite version of margarita mix made by On the Border (I buy mine at Target) because it's sweetened with Splenda and makes a tasty, refreshing margarita without too many added calories, carbs, or cavities. In addition to mixing it with my go-to tequila, Correlejo, I've also played bartender and made some delicious beverages by mixing it with vodka or light rum (or basically any other alcohol that's available). Anyway, I  assumed the diet margarita I ordered would resemble one of my trusty bottled margaritas. It did not. If my worst, most spiteful enemy wanted to make me a margarita, it would probably taste like the one I got at Ragtime. I'm pretty sure the whole thing was just a cup of Aristocrat tequila with a minuscule squirt of lime juice thrown in. Even so, I'm not one to let alcohol go to waste (even if it tasted like raw sewage), so I melted some ice in the glass, dumped in a few packets of Splenda, and drank it anyway. In the meantime, BFTB and I decided to split an order of shrimp nachos. We were pretty hungry, so they seemed especially tasty once we scraped off the mountain of black olives dumped on top. Ragtime was not stingy with the shrimp -the crustaceans were both large and plentiful. We also really enjoyed the seasoned black beans that came on the nachos. Usually, I feel like Tex Mex-style nachos are topped with beans that disintegrate, soak the chips, and create a soggy, gross mess on my plate. However, most of our chips stayed crunchy and the beans stayed firm and bean-shaped as we ate our way through our un-mushy nacho pile. The salsa accompanying our nachos was also very good, especially after we dumped some extra Tabasco into the bowl. While I don't think I'll care to return to Ragtime for any liquor drinks, I could definitely see myself coming back for some post-beach snacks if I make it back to Jacksonville.

We also visited Lillie's Coffee Bar (twice) and Beach Diner for breakfast during our trip. Despite my love of all things breakfast-related, I failed to take any pictures of my meals. However, I would recommend both places to Jacksonville's breakfast eaters. My eggs at Beach Diner were cooked perfectly and were accompanied by some exceptionally great hashbrowns. I ordered mine extra crispy and they were perfect -not too greasy and not at all mushy, all without tasting burnt, a major feat in the breakfast world! We also spent an evening in St. Augustine where we ate at A1A Ale Works (which we were amused to discover was the exact same restaurant as Ragtime, just under a different name) and enjoyed some frozen sangria at Sangria's Wine & Tapas Bar

Yobe Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon Joseph's Pizza on Urbanspoon The Ragtime Tavern on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Jacksonville is one of the best tourist spot in USA. if anybody planning to go there than you have to visit this place at least once.