So how’s your Summer going? By the time you read this, Savannah Chatham County Public Schools are back and rockin’ the Casbah. 

That’ll give a lot of you a bit of a reprieve with your time, no? Or are we not allowed to talk about those things publicly? Go ahead, celebrate, we won’t tell.

On my side of the street, it has been our busiest Summer in the now 11 years that we’ve been doing Eat It and Like It. I can remember a time when Summer was slower than molasses running up hill in the winter around here. At least when it came to producing a television show and all of the stuffs that go along with it.

This year has been very different. Back in June I was fortunate enough to be invited on a press tour of Greece where we visited several Feta cheese production facilities all over the country. One of the top experiences of my career. I’ll share the cheesy details on that deeper into the Fall.

All of that fun aside, waiting for me when I got back from Europe was a book I was hired to write documenting Savannah’s food scene. Research actually started for this project back in May, but I was waiting for a few new ribbons to arrive for my typewriter before I jumped in began riffing about all of the good eats we have to share here in Savannah.

The book will be called “Savannah Food Crawls.” The assignment was to break downtown Savannah into sections and create over a dozen “food crawls” in those sections. 

The stops could be food-centric or drink-centric or a combination of both. The idea was to string several of these stops together in each neighborhood or section of downtown to make up a substantial crawl.

I submitted the book this week featuring 16 such crawls. That came at the end of countless hours of research, discussions with fellow foodies around town and ultimately well over a hundred hours of writing, tweaking, deleting and starting over.

The good news is I can honestly say I know the food scene down here as well as anyone in town, so it just flowed once I started tapping keys. The bad news is, it was impossible to include everyone I wanted to. I hate that.

The assignment was pretty specific in that we wanted to create approachable (as in affordable) crawls. Sending everyone to my favorite fine dining eats was a big no no. I was allowed to include some of our higher end eats, but I had to make it fit within the scope of the crawl.

Think about it: a Friday evening crawl from Elizabeth on 37th to Common Thread to La Scala to Cotton and Rye would make for a pretty amazing evening. 

You won’t find it in my book.

Hop Atomica to Al Salaam Deli to Green Truck Pub to Lone Wolf Lounge to Over Yonder to Ardsley Station is the speed I was tasked with traveling at. Which is actually one of our crawls and a darn good one if you ask me.

Sprinkled in along the entire book are food tips, historic facts and relevant quotes related to a reader’s journey through Savannah. I even managed to squeeze an homage to Sex and the City. 

I’m hoping that and my shout to Randy’s BBQ sticks once my editor runs through it.

I actually learned quite a bit about Savannah in putting this book together. A lot of it I shared, some of it I didn’t. But one thing will be absolutely true about the finished product: anyone showing up here in Savannah with no knowledge of what we are about, will read that book and have a pretty comprehensive feel for our food scene.

And to-go cups.

Ultimately, it gives me no greater pleasure than to shine a light on the hard working people of food and beverage in this town. I’ve seen it first hand so many times. 

Owning a restaurant is often a thankless job. They bust their butts, miss family holidays and gatherings and string it all together as best they can, just to feed you. Just. To. Feed. You. That is never lost on me and I’m honored to be able to help however we can.

Finally, I want to publicly thank my friend Stratton Leopold for contributing a foreward to the book. It’s a wonderful perspective on where Savannah has been food-wise and where he believes we are going.

Look for it in the Spring on Amazon and all the other spots.  I am hoping for Christmas pre-sale orders. We’ll keep you posted.

My reward is half a day off. Might grill some chicken. Production of season 12 of Eat It and Like It with Jesse Blanco continues tomorrow. Season premiere on WTOC-TV is September 17.

Jesse Blanco

One of the most recognizable personalities in the Savannah/Hilton Head Island television market, Jesse Blanco is sometimes called "Savannah's Anthony Bourdain." His 'Eat It and Like It' show has become a major regional brand in the foodie world.

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