Monday, June 05, 2006

Quest for Fruits

On the last day of a beautiful long weekend filled with outdoor activities, J and I finally managed to anchor ourselves at home to get some work done. The morning went by productively enough with only a few distracted moments during which we caught one another gazing longingly through gaps in the curtains dancing in the pleasant early summer breeze. By the afternoon, our convictions to stay at home started to waver as we found every excuse to visit the balcony and soak in the sun. The home-bound plan completely crumbled around 4 pm when J opened the fridge and declared that we needed to restock our fruit supply because all that’s left are mangos, oranges, and apples. Of course we must, I agreed. After all, we are fruit people who enjoy a great variety.

So at 4:30 pm, we drove out in our beloved sliver bullet, top down and no trunk space, with every intention to load up on lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Whole Foods soon passed on our left. We didn’t stop. After all, there is no sense shopping at a chain when there are abundant freshness for much cheaper at the farmer’s market. Then we passed the farmer market. What’s the point going into a covered market, when local farmers are offering bounties right off the many small highways all around Georgia. So at 5:15 pm, we found ourselves happily going down highway 20 towards Lake Oconee with image of a well-tanned smiling farmer waiting for us right at the lakeside with a huge basket of the early summer’s best picks in hand.

Half way to the lake, we decided to get off the highway and take the road less traveled. What awaited us was a small two lane highway with amazing view of lush grasslands on both sides dotted with lazy grazing cows colored cookies n’ cream. “There are so many of them! I wonder if they make cheese here,” I commented to J. My question was soon answered by a sign proudly claiming “Putnam, the diary capital of Georgia.” When the wind blew in the right direction, the smell of manure was unmistakable and further solidified my view that manure is a main component of the nose in a great majority of Bordeaux.

At 6 pm, two hours into our quest for fresh summer fruits, we saw water, green, calm, and specked with gold from the sun. Circling the Lake for a place to park, we passed a sign pointing to a Ritz on the water. Having seen the lake-facing view of the same Ritz onboard “big mama” being dragged behind E’s daddy’s boat at 30 miles per hour, I assured J that it’s deserving of a visit.

The building is decidedly old school with plenty of mahogany decorating the hall. Despite the less than breezy choice of wood, the view from the plenty of windows facing the lake is bright and soothing. Following the view, we found our way outside looking over the Ritz pool shimmering in the same shade of green as the lake beyond. Slightly elevated from the lake shore and cascading off the far side, the pool appeared to be flowing right into the lake, an illusion that we fully appreciated. Right next to the pool, a casual restaurant sent out tantalizing whiffs of fried seafood to beckon our patronage and we were in no condition to resist. A quick review of the wine list uncovered just the perfect cooling agent, a local Riesling from Persimmon Creek that I had tried and liked in my wine class. The menu was a mesh of bistro favorites and southern seaside grabs - all happy laidback offerings. J went for the ribs and fries, while I, true to my dedication to seafood, opted for the crabcakes and bass. The plates were enormous and the food did not let down the view if only a tad oily, but we are not ones to pick bones when the moment was this perfect. Not much talking went on during dinner, but smiles were seen flashed constantly across the table.

Finally, at 8:30 pm, we found ourselves back on highway 20 heading back to the metropolis that is now our home. In the full-on sunset that was then dyeing our slightly tanned skin an ultra attractive shade of bronze, I turned to J and said “wanna stop by Whole Foods to pick up some watermelon”?

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