Girls Gone Greenwood: Road Trippin’ in Mississippi Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments
I was a bit stunned. “We’re a group of practically middle-aged women in a mommobile. We’re the definition of ‘can’t get arrested!’” I proclaimed.
“It’s thinking like that, which lands you in the jailhouse of Greenwood, Mississippi,” he warned.
We did not have any unfortunate incidents with the law. We did, however, have marvelous time.
Greenwood, Miss. understands customer service. From the moment you enter the city limits until you leave, every single person there is doing anything possible to be sure you’re having a good time.
The clerk at the antique store made dinner reservations for us. The driver of the hotel courtesy vehicle suggested his favorite pie at the restaurant where he was dropping us. The waiter told us when to bring our husbands back for the best turkey hunting, even giving us his personal contact information with the offer to be a scout to ensure a successful shoot. He wasn’t sexist in his offer. He would have taken our group of women hunting, had a single one of us shown any interest.
If you decide to go hunting in Delta, I really can’t help you. However, if you and your friends of either gender are looking for a great time in Greenwood, there are six places you really must see:
The Alluvian Hotel and Spa
The Alluvian bills itself as a “cosmopolitan boutique hotel in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.” It’s as nice as your grandmother’s front room where she entertains company, but you’re not only allowed, you’re actually encouraged to sit on the furniture.
The spa is actually located in the building across the street in the same place as the Viking Cooking School. It offers signature sweet tea services. The building, staff and services are all top notch.
The Viking Cooking School
Despite a recent sale to new owners, the Viking Range Corp. shows signs it will remain in Greenwood. The cooking school classes are truly a wonderful time.Our particular class was about appetizers and drinks for a cocktail party, but they also offer classes to teach steak-grilling techniques, Southern cooking or any number of other options, depending on your area of interest.
The instructors were quite knowledgeable, but also very personable. They offered tips for novices like me to actually get into a dish and more advanced instructions for my friends who were ready try something new.
They also let me drink wine pretty much the whole time I was in the kitchen, which is not something they put in the brochure or on the website, but they totally should. As far as I’m concerned, that was a huge selling point.
This was the first place we were introduced to the feature everyone in Greenwood calls a “booth,” as in, “You need to be sure and make a reservation if you want a booth.” Now we were in Mississippi, so I understand things are done slightly differently. But I’ve eaten at many restaurants in my life, and the difference between a booth and a table is not worth fretting over.
What they mean by “booth” is a private dining room. It has the look of walking through an old horse barn. Each small room, or booth, curtained off with a table inside. It’s totally worth making an effort to get one.
You don’t realize how strained a conversation can be in restaurant until you have a private room, and don’t have to worry about the table next to you overhearing things. It was just full wonderful.
The other discovery we made at Giardina’s was Benton’s bacon. It was in one of the dishes we ordered. That one meal sent me on a personal quest to locate it. It’s not quite as difficult to get as Pappy’s Van Winkle bourbon, but they don’t make it particularly easy. You can order a personal stash online.
However, if you ever see it on a menu, order the dish, I don’t care what it is.
You’ll thank me for this advice.
Mississippi is like all Southern state with its quirky liquor laws. At Lusco’s, we had to bring our own wine, but were told in advance and reminded with several signs, we could not under any circumstances bring our own beer.
I noticed several autographed photos of famous people behind the register when we came in. Most prominently feature were one of John McCain and Sarah Palin and another of George Bush and Dick Cheney campaigning.
“Oh,” I said, before good sense got the better of me. “Someone’s a Republican.” My friends glared at me. They did not want a lovely dinner spoiled by political talk.
The woman looked puzzled before she followed my gaze, “Those? Nah, Daddy sent away for them. He thinks it makes us look important. Bill Clinton ate here once, though.”
Our food was once again some of the best I’ve ever eaten. It’s a little surprising just how upscale the food is in Greenwood. I was prepared for plenty of greasy, Delta cooking, but this rivaled anything I’ve eaten across the country. When we got the check we were equally surprised. It was the least expensive fine dining any of us had ever done.
By the time we got to Crystal Grill on Sunday morning, we had eaten so much at so many places; we really could eat no more. But my husband, who occasionally does business in Greenwood, swore to me I would regret forever missing this pie.
We ordered coffee and five slices of pie, and ate family style. It was like the happiest pie buffet you’ve ever seen. Lemon, chocolate and coconut were the ones I pretty much went face first into. I brought a whole lemon meringue pie home to the family. I was a hero around here for a week.
The church crowd was arriving when we were leaving. The line was out the door. They all said the food was worth the wait. The pie certainly was.
Shops on Howard Street
Howard Street is the kind of street every small town in America once had. Greenwood has managed to pull some of the shops back down to it.
There are antique shops, furniture stores, clothing boutiques and a bookstore called TurnRow Books where I got lost for hours. They have captured the magic in the smell of old pages and new words, mingling the people who create them. They regularly host author signings and talks. I picked up several gifts for friends, family and myself in there.
In love with Mississippi? See all of our hand-picked products from the state.
*Bridge photo courtesy of greenwoodms.com.
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