The time has finally come. Our week long, whirlwind, eat as much as you can stuff in your face, lather yourself in BBQ and honey butter, leave the kids at home and drink bourbon on a shrimp boat, Epic BBQ Adventure begins! We are ready. Bags are packed, kids are bribed sufficiently with game zones and lollies and our BBQ merch is on board and ready for sharing.
This is the deal: Martin has been invited to participate in the COOLEST BBQ fest in the South, hosted by our very dear friends and Southern Living Magazine’s Best BBQ in the South two years running, Southern Soul BBQ on St Simons Island – South Georgia. Harrison & Griffin, SS’s fearless leaders – the two most Southern-hospitality, BBQ-lovin, good-time havin folks you ever did meet – are hosting the third annual Firebox BBQ weekend and their BBQ brings all the boys to the yard. Not only is the event for charity (supporting down on their luck, local hospitality folk) but it’s just cool. So everyone’s in. Who’s everyone you ask? Here’s the list:
So here’s our plan: We arrive on Wed night and drive to Georgia from Jacksonville. My Mom, who lives a mere 30 mins from this airport is less than impressed we’re hightailing it up, but our ‘work’ awaits! Thursday is welcome BBQ dinner with all the pitmasters and ticketed guests. We’ll try not to fangirl & boy but I can’t promise. We’re pretty sure we’ll get lots of questions about kangaroos & what everyone knows/thinks of US goings on (we see them, we love them, we don’t eat them and yes, everyone knows. And everyone thinks). Friday is a friends and family dinner and another opportunity to get to know the crew and learn about how they do what they do. Saturday is the big event and Martin and co will be on site first thing, pits fired, donuts and coffees (from a pot, I’m assuming. We’ll manage) and the long, wonderful day of Martin in his happiest of places and me, basking in the warmth of an Autumn Georgia and catching up with friends begins. Sat night is the big event where all of the BBQ will be served up and beers and bourbon will be drunk. Sunday we’re off to Savannah for 3 days and nights of eating at some of Savannah’s most iconic – new and old – Southern restaurants and some serious meandering across the squares and boutique shops.
So come along with us! Follow our journey – what we’re eating, who we’re playing with and how much mischief we can track down in 6 short days. Check back here where we’ll be sharing all of the coolest, most uniquely Southern things we come across. And eat vicariously with us. Can we transfer calories somehow?
Airplane food has come a long way in the past decade. This Qantas meal was awesome!
And we knew we had arrived in America when we found awesome Mexican at Dallas airport.
And Martin really loves travelling with Melissa so he was overjoyed to be doubling up!
After arriving into Jacksonville and organising our luggage to be delivered to our hotel (it preferred coming in on the later flight), we set off for St Simon’s Island and our hotel. Arrived. And this is our weather while here! Translated into Celsius: “farking hot and awesome.
“Sleep. Next stop: Day 1.
Martin was up and ready to go at 6am – part jet lag, part excitement (prob most the former) and hit up Starbucks across the street for some Pumpkin Spice lattes. I’ve let him know that he can order me one every day while we’re here. I’ll stock up. Then he popped into Southern Soul BBQ – conveniently placed across the street from our hotel (Thanks SS!) and said hello to Harrison. Eventually we all got moving and got the tour of the smokers and saw Kitty and got totally excited about all of the festivities.
Day 1, almost complete. Off now to the Pitmaster’s Dinner to meet all the crew. YAY. See you with more updates tomorrow!
Martin tasting Mead (hat required)
Smokers everywhere. This is a mini one outside an Argentinian restaurant.
Last night we visited Southern Soul BBQ to enjoy dinner hosted by Chef Eddie Hernandez of Taqueria del Sol in Atlanta, Georgia. To say that the dinner was a journey of Mexican culinary delights is not only wanky but a huge understatement. Eddie was gracious and entertaining and each course was paired with an awesome beer. In plastic cups. Which just felt so much like home. Enjoying this meal, amongst our BBQ friends – new and old – was pure delight. It was the perfect start to our adventures on St Simon’s Island.
Day 2 began with lunch with Mom on Jekyll Island. The island is just neighbouring St Simon’s and is a beautiful old heritage site with a hotel and historic homes. We lunched, chatted and roamed.
Martin’s lunch – the American Club. Martin says he knows he’s in the US when his mouth cramps trying to fit the sandwiches in.
The beautiful Spanish Moss trees of this area. Too beautiful.
We’re just heading out to the Grill & Chill friends and family evening at Gascoigne Bluff now to enjoy more socialising, beer and good times in the warm Georgian evening. Back tomorrow morning to start the big day. 💗
On the evening of Day 2, we headed to Gascoigne Bluff – the site of the Firebox festival, now inhabited by BBQ trucks and smokers.
This evening was the Grill & Chill Family and Friends event where we had an opportunity to get stuck into some fried fish, hush puppies, grits and local craft beer. And of course, family and friends.
Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke BBQ.
This mellow affair was followed up by a distinctively not so mellow, karaoke night.
Me & Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin’ BBQ. I can’t really explain this image. That I know of, there is no evidence of my karaoke from the evening but we’ll just assume that I totally channelled my 90’s angry girl for Alanis Morrisette’s ‘You outta know’ and that Peg Leg Porker and I were dead ringers for Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton.
At the start of Day 3, I left Melissa behind and headed to Gascoigne Bluff.
These are my lamb shoulders with my Granny G Lamb rub, these are cooked over Pecan. Lamb is not as popular as it is Australia and people are super inquisitive about it. I am super stoked when folks respond well later on when the event starts.
A Cinnamon Scroll for breakfast to hold the hunger at bay. This sure helped after a long night on the turps.
Anthony’s St Louis Style Pork Ribs. These were epic, thick and smoky. Anthony is a super nice dude.
Me and Kitty Sapp under the Spanish Moss. She keeps Harrison in check and the ship sailing.
I am always amazed how Melissa came make our BBQ stands so beautiful. Harrison and Melissa taking it all in.
These guys are the OG’s, humble and caring. The nicest gents in BBQ, Harrison and Griffin of Southern Soul BBQ.
You have never seen anything like this, Georgia Peach BBQ sauce. Bryan Furman is already a legend in the BBQ world and it is easy to see why.
BBQ Ninja time.
I am hanging with a good bunch of people, if you would have told me 5 years ago I would be on the Firebox bill with this mob I would have never have believed you.
It’s time to dine with Swig and Swine.
Bryan and Kitty.
Tank from Holy City Hogs. Whole Hoggin.
Elliot Moss of Buxton Hall chilling with the cauldron of Hash.
Momma Jean’s BBQ, this girl was a party!
We were pulling pork next to this lovely lady – Amy Mills of 17th Street BBQ. What a pleasure!
And took some of her ribs as gifts to friends! #wecomebearingmeat
Tomorrow we’re off to Savannah where we’ll immerse ourselves in more of the South and its wonderful food treats.
Day 4 starts by packing up our hotel on St Simon’s Island and saying goodbye to the island, to Southern Soul and to the new friends we’ve made and our dear old friends who came to see us.
We didn’t have to be heartbroken for long because we skipped over to Jekyll Island where we were joined by more friends, reminisced and ate fried pickles with ranch dressing.
Just a short drive later and we arrived into Savannah and the amazing Perry Lane Hotel. We can’t remember staying at a more unique and wonderful hotel.
After wandering the nooks and crannies of Perry Lane, we made our way to Elizabeth’s on 37th Street – a Savannah icon where President Obama ate once upon a time.
Here are our cheese biscuits, served with butter and marmalade. Because butter is not enough.
Here is Martin’s Savannah Red Rice with Georgia Prawns, whitefish, clams AND sausage!
And here’s a little taster of their Gullah Rice – cooked in a skillet with crab and lots of other yummy things.
With very full bellies we decided to walk home from dinner, taking advantage of the warm, fall evening and the charming Savannah streets. It just so happens that on this balmy Sunday evening, crowds were gathered, food trucks were parked and the Savannah orchestra was in full swing.
The city is just so magical and we’re so thankful to be able to spend more time here.
Day 5 began with a coffee, taking a call from Southern Living’s BBQ Editor in one of our magical wonderland hotel sitting rooms. We may be dreaming but we’ll keep eating – don’t wake us up.
From here we borrowed hotel bikes and headed out for lunch at Treylor Park down in the historic district. I had the classic patty melt, Martin had a Sloppy Joe and we shared fried banana pepper rings with ranch dressing.
This is a picture of my chip with thousand island dressing.
We continued to bike, explore and shop for a few hours and then sat by the pool to relax before dinner.
Tonight’s meal was at The Atlantic, a recommendation by our few Southern experts at Firebox. We were not disappointed. Highlights included:
Open tomato sandwich on house made rye bread with bacon mayo. Not bacon AND mayo but BACON MAYO. It was as good as this sounds.
After dinner we wandered the city again – getting lost in its historic squares, admiring the gas lanterns and stunning southern architecture.
This is us as we got back to the hotel and remembered we had just one more day in Savannah before we had to leave.
Day 6 began with breakfast at our hotel. Martin went for the ‘American’ with poached eggs (which I feel like sort of changes it to the Australian).
The biscuit and crispy, smoked bacon were a highlight.
Following breakfast we made our way to Bonaventure Cemetery – the Savannah cemetery made famous by Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil and the forever home to some of Savannah’s most interesting characters.
We then went next door and searched for some of my family who were buried here. Aunt Vic – Granddaddy’s only sister and the centre of some of our family’s wildest stories, was here. I said hello and spent a moment recalling some of my own sweet memories of her.
These guys have got a wonderful last resting place.
And then we had lunch. Pimento sandwich.
We’ve spent a fair bit of time wandering the squares of Savannah but haven’t tired of these homes and views
Martin, excited. Boiled peanuts. Look for these on our Summer bar menu – YUM.
Some of dinner’s highlights: Carrots, Chicken and Grits. But these words don’t do justice to what they were. Everything we had was beautiful. The venue, service and food were worth every bit of hype. What a brilliant way to end our Most Epic BBQ Adventure.
Tomorrow we stop by for another lunch with Mom (and pizza at Moon River – Martin is SO looking forward) and a short goodbye to our friends at Southern Soul BBQ before getting on our plane to make the long journey home.