Friday, May 29, 2009

Slow Food, Southern Style

Not long ago I had the opportunity to visit Callaway Gardens, a very special resort just an hour outside of Atlanta.  These are not your typical gardens; much of the 13,000 acres is made up of forests that have been naturally restored over the years from land that had been devastated by the monoculture of cotton farming.  Now, the lush landscape is interwoven with hiking and biking trails, with a wide variety of ecofriendly activity and lodging options available to visitors.  

Perhaps most delightful for this visitor was the discovery that Callaway's mission--"connecting man and nature in a way that benefits both"--has grown to include the Slow Food philosophy.  At Gardens Restaurant, pictured here, much of the menu is locally grown and produced, including veggies from Mr. Cason's Vegetable Garden, a 7.5 acre growing plot located right in the heart of the resort.  Diners can enjoy a southern-themed menu full of locally sourced items, including fresh goat cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy and pan seared Alabama shrimp, as well as gorgeous stacks of fried green tomatoes.  The muscadine salad dressing, made with a local grape variety that's a Callaway specialty, was also a delightful treat over some organic greens.  All told, the menu at Gardens is a reminder of how important it is to keep our local food cultures alive and thriving.  Regional cuisine is not only a key part of our cultural history, but also part of what makes travel so enjoyable.  How exciting to discover the sweet flavor of a new grape variety, rather than the same chain restaurant items everywhere you go.

So, next time you find yourself in the Atlanta area, or if you're looking for the perfect spot for a relaxing getaway, pay a visit to this southern gem.  Just be prepared to extend your stay by a day or two; once you're there, you'll never want to leave!

1 comment:

  1. Yum. Sweet Grass Dairy is a great name. I'm ready to go!