Sunday, September 19, 2010

Found it: Great tasting Cajun food in North Georgia

We're from Louisiana and one thing we Louisianans know is what great Cajun food tastes like (I'll give you a's not heavily spicy or heat hot with cayenne pepper). We've traveled all over Georgia tasting dishes and saying, "No that's not quite it." And then we found the Bourbon Street Grill in downtown Dahlonega.

Tonight we were there for about or 4th our 5th time (we've lost count.) We've had brunch, lunch, and dinner there several times. Tonight we ordered the yummy crab cakes covered with juicy tomato slices and a creamy, understated white sauce atop soft, fluffy 'dirty rice.' The vegetables were fresh and tender, and the food beautifully presented.

While we loved the crab cakes, our appetizer, a Frenchetta, was, as they day, "to die for". Served on large pieces of garlic toast were slices of prosciutto and salami with a muffaletta olive mixture and warm melted mozzarella cheese, with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. If I had let him, Lamar would have licked the plate.

You've got to try it! (And be sure to ask to sit on the outside porch.) Definitely Bourbon Street Grille gets a D&B Thumbs Up.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sad day for Georgia winery - On auction block

Vineyard, restaurant, scenic property for sale outside of Dahlonega
 Ever thought you might want to own property in a vineyard for $2,000, a two story Italian restaurant and the property its on for $42,000, a Tuscan-style villa or river front property for around $10,000? Or an entire winery and development for a mere $672,800.26?

These are the going prices for property being auctioned off at the Lumpkin County Courthouse Oct. for unpaid taxes for two years. 

The property and restaurant are part of Montaluce, probably North Georgia's most dazzling winery, a development on rolling hills that includes estate homes and lots, condo-like Tuscan homes and, of course, Le Vigne restaurant, winner of a number of culinary awards and one of the more romantic spots found in Dahlonega and beyond. 

Montaluce is an exquisite place. Just driving thru the property will make you fall in love with the winery. In fact, the development was one of the first areas we visited when we began our home search in Dahlonega and beyond over three years ago. (We thought..."How wonderful...a house and a vineyard.) We were quite impressed with the vision and concept, but turned off by the exorbinant pricing for even the smallest villa. 

Details of the auction are outlined in this week's Dahlonega Nugget newspaper

Beautiful homes in Montaluce

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Life in Fern Park

Located almost exactly half way between Dahlonega and Dawsonville is a unique, small subdivision called Fern Park. The name is quite apt since part of the 25 acre park, the centerpiece of the neighborhood is filled with ferns along with hardwoods, pines, wild flowers, creeks, rolling hills, deer, and maybe even a bear or two.

Another thing that makes Fern Park different is that it's energy-efficient homes. Some have solar panels that power their electric water heaters and all have energy-saving and environmentally friendly features such as cellulose insulation and VOC building products. You sort of expect this type of subdivision in an urban setting, not 5 miles off a main highway.

We've been residents of Fern Park since April and love our new home and, of course Fern Park.Twenty-five acres of the park are a wildlife preserve registered with the Audubon Society. In the park are walking trails, a wildflower meadow, a community vegetable garden, a large pavilion with outdoor grills, and lots of open space to walk your dogs or just sit in a pavilion chair and enjoy nature.

If you want an idyllic spot in the Ga. Mountain area, come to Fern Park. We've got a home for sell and several lots, too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A picture of North Georgia

Between Gainesville and Dahlonega lies a little town called Murrayville, and in Murrayville is an old wooden clapboard home with a front porch and yard full of memorabilia. That memorabilia includes rusted trucks, cars, gasoline pumps, weathered beverage signs, broken down washing machines, tractors, plows and more.

We're not sure anyone lives there on a regular basis, but people are often sitting on the front porch or walking among their treasures in the front yard.

Lamar has dozens of pictures of this Murrayville that show in beautiful detail what life must have been like in rural Georgia 70 years ago.

The Varsity - One door closes; Another opens in Dawsonville

After 45 years in operation, the Varsity Jr. on Lindburg Avenue closed its doors last month, citing traffic woes and city bureaucracies. As they closed one location, the Varsity announced that they would be opening a 'junior' location right here in Dahlonega and Beyond country.

Come winter time, Dawsonville have a Varsity Jr., serving world famous chili dogs, Orange frosties, onion rings and their classic 'What'll ya have' calls.

For those of you not familiar with a Varsity Jr., it's a mini version of an Atlanta landmark and tradition, the Varsity restaurant and drive in. Located in the heart of Atlanta and in view of the Georgia Tech campus, the Varisty was founded by a Georgia Tech dropout who believed feeding the hungry Tech students would be profitable. And profitable it has been.

The Varsity has several Varsity Jr. locations, including one right in the heart of Ga. Bulldog country, Athens, Ga., but this is the restaurant's first venture into North Georgia. That was the bad news for Atlanta. The wonderful news for Dahlonega and Beyond is that a Varsity Jr. is coming to Dawsonville.

Stopping by the Varsity before or after a Braves or Falcons' game is a must-do for many Atlantans, and we must admit we've eaten quite a few Varsity dogs ourselves. Our family even celebrated our daughter's high school graduation with a trip to the Varsity!

Soon stopping by the Varsity Jr. will be a must-do for those who come all over the Southeast to shop at the North Georgia Premium Outlets, the shopping experience that's brought millions of dollars to Dawson county. Now we will have two world-renown restaurants nearby in Dawsonville - The Varsity Jr. and, of course, the legendary Dawsonville Poolroom and NASCAR exhibit.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Corner Drugstore

When I was growing up in a small town in Louisiana, we had a corner drugstore where we went not just for pills and meds, but also for tall Cherry Cokes and  foamy chocolate malts. Tennyson's Drugstore and its soda fountain was a place for a quick lunch and a place to meet old friends. Plus you could always count on Olin Mills, the pharmacist for trusted advice.

Unfortunately, the mega drug stores and the grocery pharmacies, in so many towns, have replaced the corner drugstore.

But that's not the case in Dawsonville where Goodson's Pharmacy combines the latest in pharmaceuticals with the flavor and style of a Southern small town. While not exactly on the corner, Goodson's is located in the heart of downtown Dawsonville on Hwy. 53.

Pharmacist and Owner Phil Goodson is on hand to dispense your prescriptions and answer questions. Plus he has a great friendly staff who were warm and friendly on my first visit there yesterday and again on my second trip today. (Even the other customers were friendly. No big city aloofness here.)

There's definitely a Southern flavor to Goodson's and if you are a Civil War devotee, you'll love the memorabilia around the store, including the picture of Robert E. Lee.

One reviewer on Kudzu wrote: If you asked me which vendor or professional I would never give up, Phil Goodson, RPh and Goodson's Pharmacy would top my list. This is a pharmacy with high standards and yet obviously cares for each customer. They are simply wonderful. I can't tell you the number of times they have gone above and beyond to make certain I had what I needed, when I needed.

The good news is that Goodson's has ice cold Cokes on hand (I'm going to check to see if he has Cherry Cokes), large comfy benches to sit on while waiting or  just to visit, and shelves well stock with all the over-the-counter medicines and medical aides you can image. Looks like we've found our hometown drugstore.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The only good snake is a DEAD snake

Lamar strongly believes that the only good snake is a dead snake. It's a credo he's long lived with (growing up near a river in Louisiana sort of gives you a healthy fear of snakes.)

One of my fondest stories to tell is the one when our neighbor called the house asking for Lamar's help. She had found a snake curled up in her brass umbrella stand on her porch and she wanted him to get rid of it. Like most normal people, she thought that Lamar would hurry down to her home with a hoe or shovel or some other handy yard tool to rid her of the snake.

Well, Lamar hurried down there, but he didn't exactly have a hoe in hand. Instead, he had his trusty 22. While my neighbor gasped in surprise, Lamar proceeded to kill the snake....and leave several bullet holes in the umbrella stand. Needless to say, Lamar was never invited to 'remove' snakes from any other home in our neighborhood.

That story told, you can imagine my surprise when today, he showed me a snake that he had found in the yard...the second snake in fact. This one, quite small, was a victim of the shovel (as was the one he found last week.)

While I am making light of snakes, a copperhead did bite my neighbor's dog last month. Fortunately, the neighbor was able to get her dog to the vet in time to save him. Our property has a small stream running along the back, so we know that snakes do live literally 'in our backyard.' Guess I will have to alert the neighbors about how Lamar kills snakes!

9/11 in Dahlonega

Flags fly in downtown Dahlonega
On Saturday, 9/11, we journeyed to Dahlonega to see if the city was honoring the brave heroes of 9/11. And yes, Dahlonega was.

Stores in the downtown square were proudly flying their American flags and flags lined the old court house in the center of town.

Appalachian musicians 'jam' on the courthouse square.
Saturday's in Dahlonega during summer months also mean the Farmer's Market, located a block from the city square in Hancock Park where you can buy fresh vegetables, jams, and more, and the Appalachian Jam at the courthouse square where North Georgia’s mountain music pickers and singers perform and jam.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Scorpions - Another one bites the dust

Scorpions aren't only deadly, but they're as ugly as can be.
Since the day my brother, 2 years old at the time, was bitten by a scorpion, I really haven't like the critters. The scorpion, who gave my brother a little sting, was over two inches long, and a really fearsome looking insect. (I happen to know just how big it was because we captured it in a jar to take to the doctor.) Fortunately, my brother recovered fairly quick from his 'deadly' scorpion sting. But you can see why I'm not scorpion friendly. (BTW, scorpions are pretty common in Louisiana where I grew up.)

Anyway, no one told me when we were deciding to move up to the mountains that this is scorpion territory. Seeing scorpions crawl around outside or in our basement isn't a daily occurrence, but it happens way more than I would like.

Now the story of the recently deceased scorpion. He made the mistake of appearing in the bathroom. After three vain attempts of squishing him with the bathmat, I finally resorted to my classic bug weapon - my house shoe. One quick swat of the deadly house shoe, that that little scorpion had met his maker. (FYI...this scorpion wasn't a BIG scorpion...he was really kind of itty bitty.)

Instead of tossing him in the trash, I decided to honor him with a burial at sea...aka the toilet. Yet, even after I flushed him down, I kept checking to see if smushed as he was....could swim and climb back up. Needless to see, I am very careful when I sit on that particular toilet!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back Porch Oyster Bar

Yes, you can find great seafood in the North Georgia Mountains!! That's the slogan for the Back Porch Oyster Bar in downtown Dahlonega, and after the meal we had there tonight, I totally agree.


If you like seafood, you'll love this fact I only saw two items on the menu that weren't some type of fish. But we were told that if you are a steak lover and will call ahead, they'll fix the meat to your order.


But back to the seafood. We started the meal with their bruchetta special...white cream cheese, fresh mushroom and five jumbo shrimp. Too full to order entrees, we ordered fresh steamed peel and eat shrimp. The bowl arrived overflowing in tender, juicy 'Carolina Coast' shrimp. Being from Louisiana, we love boiled shrimp, but the Back Porch's streamed shrimp was as good as any we've eaten in Louisiana.


 While we aren't oyster eaters,  the couple behind us ordered fresh oysters and they did look yummy. The Back Porch's owner told us that she had to search a good bit for oysters this week (thank you BP and oil spill), and that she had to pay a lot more than in the past....but she hasn't raised her prices. Her oyster loving customers are going to love that!


Each Friday night we journey to downtown Dahlonega for dinner and try another restaurant, and believe me, we have quite a choice. Hmmm....what shall it be next week? Cajun? Italian? Mexican? Steak house? Brew house? Irish pub? Decisions. Decisions.

Oasis Spa at Mountain Laurel Creek Inn

If you want your muscles to turn into jelly and be oh so relaxed, my I recommend the Oasis Spa at the Mountain Laurel Creek Inn, just outside of Dahlonega. I just returned from an afternoon at the spa where I had a relaxing massage and facial in beautiful, peaceful, calming setting. (I was so relaxed that I fell asleep twice during the massage.)

The spa is located adjacent to the luxurious Mountain Laurel Inn, a six room B&B located in a picture setting. The Inn has a living room, the cozy Copper Penny pub that serves Georgia wines, a library, a sunny breakfast area and great mountain views.

Dennis Hoover, the owner and former Atlanta resident, told me that he had always wanted to open a Bed and Breakfast and thought Dahlonega would be a great location. A good choice it was because just after his B&B opened 12 years ago, the wineries began to open all around Dahlonega and the area ballooned as a destination wedding venue. (FYI...this would be a great place for a wedding party to stay.)

My dear daughter and son-in-law gave the spa visit to me as a gift. A special thanks to them and the Oasis Spa for a great afternoon.

Definitely the Oasis gets a big thumb up from Dahlonega and Beyond.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Country Life Demands a Truck

After several weeks of carrying plants, fertilizer, tools, and other 'yard' necessities in our SUV, Lamar decided that he needed a truck. After all, he's a Mountain Man now, and a truck is a necessity. (He was the only guy in our small neighborhood who didn't have a about peer pressure.)

He spent over a week shopping for the perfect truck. He wanted to buy a FORD Ranger (our son had one years ago), so off he went to the Ford dealer in Dahlonega and Cumming. After several test drives, he decided that a Ranger wasn't for him (or Diane either). The ride was oh so bumpy....felt like you were getting a back massage while you were driving down the road.

Talk about depressed. He was in the Ford Ranger truck buying mode but his dream truck didn't pan out....BUT our daughter saved the day by recommending he try Nissan...and that's just what he did. Now he is the proud owner of a black Nissan Frontier truck.  And Diane must admit....the ride is smoother.

Look'll see Lamar is shoeless. Who can afford shoes when you've just bought a truck?

Dahlonega Chamber of Commerce After Hours

The Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce certainly knows how to welcome new members. Lamar Photography (Lamar's photo business) was warmly welcomed at the September Chamber's After Hours event hosted by UpStairs DownStairs Tuesday evening.

Upstairs DownStairs (and the 7 different stores in that building) threw a great party....delicious food - pizza, meatballs, barbecue brisket, cheese, Georgia wines. This was a great opportunity to network. We met some interesting entrepreneurs, many like us who had moved from Atlanta to Lumpkin.

One thing we realized at the get-to-gether is that there's a lot going on in Dahlonega and Lumpkin....this is not exactly a lazy, sleeply little town....and the Chamber is helping drive business and tourism.

Oh, and Lamar got to give a little 'Who I Am' speech before the crowd and he received a plaque to hang in his office and a "Member of the Chamber" decal. Well, since Lamar Photography operates out of a home office, there's no door for the decal. Lamar solved that problem...stuck the decal on the back window of his truck!

Monday, September 6, 2010

So much to see. So much to do.

In April 2010, long time metro Atlanta residents Lamar and Diane decided that the city had just gotten too big for them. So, we moved...moved to North Georgia, to a small neighborhood located exactly between Dahlonega, Ga., and Dawsonville, Ga.

The move wasn't just a whim. In fact, for over three years, we searched for just the right spot in the Georgia mountains to live. The hunt took us from Hiawasee to Blue Ridge and every where in between. Four real estate agents and dozens of home visits later, we found the perfect home in Fern Park, an environmentally-friendly neighborhood located between Ga. Hwy. 9 and Ga. Hwy. 136.

We've discovered that life is good in North Georgia and we want to share our love for our new neighborhood. So stay follow us on Dahlonega and Beyond! (Oh, Lamar is a professional photographer and many of his Georgia photos will be featured on our blog.)