Tasting Thomasville: Liam’s Restaurant


If you tell someone from the surrounding area that you went out for dinner in Thomasville, invariably they will ask was is to Jonah’s or Liam’s. They are, I suppose you could say, the stalwart, flagship, food ambassadors of Thomasville fine dining.


Of course, if nothing else, I hope you’ve seen that there are plenty of tasty options in Thomasville besides those two. But we’re only human, so when planning our anniversary dinner back in November, we figured it was as good a time as any to give Liam’s a try. (I also had a Groupon that I’d bought about 5 months prior, not realizing it’d take us this long to use it, so that was another deciding factor for timeliness’s sake.)

A few things about dining at Liam’s (or Jonah’s, judging by how often we see groups waiting outside): make a reservation and don’t be in a rush. The time spent (on both of those suggestions) will be well worth it as there’s really no room inside to wait, hence the benches outside.


While perusing the menu, our server (which may have actually been one of the owners, if I’m not mistaken–I didn’t come right out and ask as it really wasn’t important, just indicative of their hands-on approach to food and business) brought us a bottle of water for the table in what appeared to be a re-purposed alcohol bottle (I’m guessing). It was nice to look at than the standard pitcher or carafe, at least, and it allowed the waitstaff to top off our water glasses each time they passed. Todd ordered a glass of wine and I opted for their craft cocktail, the Red Medicine. In addition to the listed ingredients, there were ultra-thin slices (shavings, really) of something in the drink that I first thought might be radishes, but since none were listed in the drink description I decided it must be ginger, and that perhaps the ginger ale was house-made.

Turns out it was radish after all. That earned me a high-five for guessing correctly.


We shared the charcuterie board to start, with 400-day ham, prosciutto, and a house-made pork terrine served with toasted bread (challah, perhaps–I’m going by memory since their menu changes regularly and this is no longer an option per the website), whole grain mustard, and house-made pickles. Those pickles were divine! Everything was, really, thought I was a bit more partial to the prosciutto and Todd preferred the ham.


For our main course Todd ordered the quail served over spatzle and mushrooms in a rich sauce. I opted for the monkfish over tomato risotto and greens. My monkfish was better than a steak and Todd’s quail was quite tasty, too! I remember he had a bit of a pickle telling the sauteed mushrooms apart from the spatzle, but he managed. (He’s not really a fan of mushrooms, they taste bitter to him, but is always willing to pick them out of something he otherwise wants. The best kind of “picky” eater!)


The servings at Liam’s are plentiful but not overabundant, meaning we still had room for dessert! Todd ordered the creme brulee and I the panna cotta with cranberry compote and granola topping. I could really go for some more of that panna cotta right now!

When we arrived for our 8 o’clock reservation the restaurant was jam-packed. When we left just before 10 we were one of the last couples in the place. The relaxed pace of dinner gave us ample time to take in the rustic, homey atmosphere with it’s subtle 7 Deadly Sins edge. It’s definitely somewhere we’ll go again, though most likely save for special occasions (for the curious, our bill for all of the above came to ~$130, including tip and the Groupon value.). Still, it’d be quite tempting to come in and sample their extensive cheese options or just pop in for a late dessert.

Next time on Tasting Thomasville: Andy’s Wings and Q Cafe.

Foodie Resolutions


It’s that time of year, folks, when we look back at the year that was (and wonder where it went so quickly!) and contemplate the year ahead (and what we’re going to do differently). As much as I dislike the word “resolutions”–it sounds so official and ominous and unyielding–it is what most people call their intentions (my preferred word, leaves some necessary wiggle room) that they set. Do you have any that are food-related?

No, no, no, I don’t mean the usual big-d-Diet ones. I mean little-d-diet ones, the everyday practices that we have, the getting out of ruts or starting new habits. Whether we live to eat or eat to live, food is a necessary part of our daily lives so it makes perfect sense that there might be some food-related intentions to be made for the start of the next decade.

If you want to eat healthier in the new year, instead of declaring an all-out war on carbs or fats, why not try a more subtle shift like these:

  • I intend to eat more vegetables. If you’re more of a meat and potatoes type, try mashed cauliflower instead of the usual spuds, bake sticks of turnips or rutabagas drizzled with olive oil instead of fries, or even creamed spinach on the side of your grilled or broiled steak or chicken.
  • I intend to watch my portion sizes. Pick up a deck of playing cards and place it next to your plate at home–that’s the size your portion of meat should be. Does it look very small on your usual plates, making you feel deprived? Buy smaller plates! It’s true, we eat with our eyes just as much as our mouths, and seeing a full plate of practically any size will increase your satisfaction with a meal.

Perhaps you already eat healthily but your usual meals have gotten a bit predictable. Maybe you want to try new things but don’t know where to start. All it takes is an idea:

  • I intend to try a new recipe every week. Too drastic a shift in our eating habits can be upsetting on several fronts. Immersion works well for languages, but I think a more gradual introduction to new ingredients, cuisines or cooking techniques is a kinder way to expand ones horizons; knowing that the familiar is waiting around the corner allows us to experiment more easily.
  • I intend to buy a new spice and learn how to use it. One of the most fascinating things in food, I think, is how different the same basic ingredients taste when a new spice or seasoning is employed. I recently picked up Ian Hemphill’s Spice and Herb Bible and am amazed at how thorough a reference it is, including helpful tips about which spices easily combine, what quantities to use with what sort of foods and what each is best suited for.

Or, maybe, it’s the food budget that needs an overhaul:

  • I intend to eat out less. While I’m all for supporting local restaurants whenever possible, let’s face it: eating out costs more than cooking at home and, when you are out more nights than in, your food budget can be way out of proportion. This means fast food and take-out, too. Not only will you be doing your wallet a favor, but your waistline may show the difference as well. And when you do go out, pay attention to those portions and bring half of it (or more!) home for future meals.
  • I intend to make shopping lists each time I go to the grocery store. There’s just something about having a list in-hand (yes, you have to bring it with you, not leave it on the counter) that curbs the impulse to toss stuff willy-nilly into the cart. It may mean a bit of pre-planning about your menu for the week, but I’m always astonished at how much I spend when I go shopping sans-list compared to with one, not to mention what I invariably forget and have to go back for during the week!
  • I intend to shop locally. While not always the case, many times a farmer’s market can yield better prices on fresh produce simply because the farms are down the road and require less transportation costs instead of several states (or countries!) away. Similar deals can be found with local meat markets that do their own butchering and therefore fewer middle-man costs. Even if the prices are the same, you may feel better for supporting the local economy in a more direct way than shopping for everything at the larger chains or big-box stores.

Whatever you intend for 2010, keep in mind that it should be to add something to your life. By keeping a positive spin on things and concentrating on meeting small milestones on a frequent basis you’ll have a higher sucess rate and be able to look back on the coming year with a smile.

Random Appetites: DeFuniak Adventures


Last week I extolled the virtues of Chautauqua Winery, now you get the rest of the story.

Since Chautauqua doesn’t sell through retail outlets and it was only a couple of hours away, a there-and-back trip certainly wasn’t out of the question to restock. But, if it’s only a couple hours away, why not make weekend away (or, as heard in Bridget Jones’ Diary, a mini-break–why is it the British have better names for these things?) out of it, if there’s anything to do in DeFuniak Springs, that is.

Yeah, not really.

It’s a small town with, apparently, some rich history but not really a lot going on any given weekend. I did luck up and find The Hotel DeFuniak which was listed as a Bed & Breakfast. Granted, the website doesn’t inspire 100% confidence and we knew going in that it could be quaint or an absolute disaster. Thankfully it was the former. The only thing that didn’t really jive with me was the idea that a “B&B” only offers Continental Breakfasts on Sundays and Mondays. I get Mondays since Sunday night stay-overs are probably low but Sunday mornings? Really? That’s just not right…

Anyway, that was the only real disappointment. That, and I didn’t realize one of the rooms (Room 8, the Aviary Room) was supposedly haunted because I totally would have booked that room instead!

The lobby and small sitting area was filled with various antiques and knick-knacks that gave the place a rather charming air and even though there was an elevator to the second floor, except for check-in and -out we used the staircase because it really wasn’t that much of a trek. Our room (Room 4, the Art Deco Room) was decorated in shades of sage and peach with high ceilings, a pedestal sink to one side of the bed (odd but we got used to it soon enough) a cubby-sized bathroom with a commode and shower stall and a tiny television w/dvd player hidden in a cabinet/dresser set up. And the king-sized bed was just right. Overall, the effect was charming. Oh, and they still use actual keys! How novel!

Once settled we had some time to kill before our dinner reservation (more on that in a bit). Since we were essentially in the heart of town, we thought we’d do a bit of on-foot exploring. Well, apparently almost everything browse-worthy closes at noon on Saturdays! I suppose it’s quaint, in a way, but it sorta put a damper on our explorations. What was open was a charming (so much of this area is charming, really) shop called The Little Big Store. It’s a general-mercantile type of shop that is just packed floor to ceiling with all sorts of old fashioned this and that and I have to say I was just in heaven and has to be seen to be believed. Totally made up for the other antique shops being closed.

The other thing we did that afternoon was make a pitiful attempt at Letterboxing. The night before we left I had gotten the sudden brainstorm to check for any boxes in the area, just for something to do, and there was one with a riddle to find it. We decifered the clues ahead of time (at least the initial ones); we figured it would be best to be prepared, being in a strange city and all and were surprised to find that there was an airfield in DeFuniak Springs! Unfortunately, the box seemed to missing–either removed or so very overgrown that it was beyond our finding. Too bad, but it did make us curious to find the ones here in town.

Now, dinner, that was a treat! The house restaurant at The Hotel DeFuniak is Bogey’s and features live music on Saturday nights which amounted to a tuxedo-shirted jazz singer with a keyboard but it was very nice. Several people got up and danced and we had ring-side seats to the dancefloor. We ordered the Oysters Rockefeller and the Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip for appetizers and for dinner I had the Catch of the Day, Lorenzo (which means with crab stuffing and bernaise sauce) which was very, very good and Todd had the Veal Restauranteur, of which I had a bit of a nibble and it was very tender and tasty. We split a dessert (something very chocolatey, I only had a couple of bites as I was way too full already) and toddled off to our room, incredibly sated.

You might be saying to yourself, wait, she didn’t mention alcohol once! I’m getting to that, lol. We had ordered the Romantic Package which came with a bottle of house wine. Instead I opted (big surprise!) for the Pinot Noir and we both ordered cocktails. What surprised me, especially considering the reason we were in town, was that their wine list featured not one local wine from the Vineyard down the road. Not a single one. Now what is up with that? The wine was certainly fine (and don’t believe that white wine with fish rule, drink what you like) and so were the cocktails. I ordered a Pomegranate Martini and Todd had the Lemon Drop. The Lemon Drop was better.

What I’ve discovered through a bit of trial and error (despite the fact that I need to read the drink descriptions more carefully) is that cocktails that are 100% alcohol are not the cocktails for me; I need mixer. You see, the Pom-tini had pomegranate liqueur and vodka, that’s it, and while tasty it was very strong. In contrast, the Lemon Drop was made up of Citron Vodka, Grand Marnier and sour mix… and it was the sour mix that made the difference. I think, had they subbed at least some if not all of the pomegranate liqueur for juice, I would have enjoyed the drink a lot more. At least there was no salt, this time!

One drink that I was intriqued by and will try if and when we return (it certainly seems likely, the hotel was so nice and nearby for a mini-break) was teh Pineapple Upside Down Martini. The description called for Vanilla Vodka, Butterscotch Schnapps, Pineapple Juice and a splash of cola. Doesn’t that sound yummy?

Random Appetites: Trader Vic’s Mai Tai


And back to the booze! Well, sort of…

While at Dragon*Con 2008 Todd and I had dinner at Trader Vic’s. Let me tell you: it was phenomenal! What we had:

Shared Appetizer: Cosmo Tidbits (BBQ Spareribs, Cha Sui pork, Crab rangoon and crispy prawns)
Shared Starter: Bongo Bongo Soup
Todd’s Entree: 20oz Ribeye
Jenn’s Entree: Pancetta Scallop Skewers
Todd’s Dessert: Banana Fritters
Jenn’s Dessert: Trio of Creme Brulee (mai tai, coffee, and coconut)

Holy Cats! but that was a good supper! There really wasn’t anything that we didn’t like and we both took some of our dinner back up to the room because it was just a lot of food. There was only one little thing that struck me as odd: The Cosmo Tidbits appetizer is meant for 2 and while it is 12 pieces, there’s 3 of each thing. Now, we’re really good at sharing, lol, but it seems like it would make a lot more sense (and this goes for a lot of shared dishes where there’s a definite quantity) to have even numbers of each item to make it that much simpler to split. But it’s a minor complaint and certainly didn’t impact the experience. And I totally need to find or create a recipe for the Bongo Bongo soup.

And, of course, there was drinking. Again, if you’ve never been there: the drink menu alone is massive! So many options that by the time I read through it I had totally forgotten what I’d read at the beginning! Todd ordered one of the various punches (I’m having trouble remembering which one he went with) and I had to order the special of the house: a Mai Tai. I wasn’t really sure I’d like the Mai Tai, so I also ordered (we only had to take the elevator to the room, not like I was driving anywhere!) a Samoan Fog Cutter. Wouldn’t you know it: I like the Mai Tai best! Todd and I worked on the Fog Cutter together (it was a big drink, very citrusy).

Now, I have three different bar books in front of me and none of them have the exact same recipe for a Mai Tai. Trader Vic’s is where the drink started so I trust them–wouldn’t you?

The Original Mai Tai

2 oz. 17-year old J Wray Nephew Jamaican Rum
1/2 oz. French Garnier Orgeat
1/2 oz. Holland Dekueper Orange Curacao
1/4 oz. Trader Vic’s Rock Candy Syrup
Juice of 1 large lime

Hand shake and garnish with half of the lime shell inside the drink and float a sprig of fresh mint at the edge of the glass.

Pretty specific ingredients there but I think there’s some wiggle room. The key seems to be that the rum be a golden Jamaican variety and the Orgeat syrup. Since the syrup might be hard to find, I did find a great recipe for making it at home (that I haven’t tried yet, but plan to). In fact, the entire “Art of Drink” site is phenomenal for anyone interested in cocktails and mixology.

Remember how I said the entire dinner at Trader Vic’s was phenomenal? Well, as dinner was nearing an end I asked our waiter (I wish I could remember his name! Kai? something like that…) about purchasing the glass that my Mai Tai came in: it was the 60th Anniversary glass with a quote and the original recipe on it. Well, turns out they no longer stock those for purchase but he transferred what was left of my drink to a regular glass, washed mine out and wrapped it up for me! Also, since there was so much of the Fog Cutter left, he asked if we were staying at the hotel and then put the majority of the drink in a plastic logo-cup so I could finish it later.

Alas, the porter managed to break my Mai Tai glass as we were leaving the hotel. Of the 5 glasses in the bag, that was not only the best wrapped on but the only one to break. Just my luck. The hotel made good on it, though, and in a couple of weeks I had my replacement so all was once again as it should be. Anyone want to take bets on how long it’s going to take me to frame and hang the cocktail art I bought at Dragon*Con?