Saturday, July 31, 2010

Catchup #1: Oxford, Mississippi


Since I returned home I have been thinking, but not writing, about what to share about my July 2010 Annual Roadtrip - part Deux. Oxford Mississippi, like Savannah Georgia, has been on my list for some time. I have never walked the streets of Oxford, and in fact, I do not think I have even passed by on the highway. I got to check another one off on this trip.

Oxford is the home of Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi, and the surrounding town and county reminds me conceptually of Blacksburg Virginia. But that ends once your boots hit the ground. This is summer, the main student body is elsewhere, so the ratio of locals to students is skewed as it would be in any college town. Lots of local people on the street in the evening, even if it is hot and humid.

My hanging around was limited to the Square and to Rowan Oak,
William Faulkner's home that is now a museum complete with grounds under restoration. Great old trees, brick walkways, out-buildings, and pastures. My favorite feature of the home was his planning tool - a Monday to Sunday list on the walls of the room where Faulkner wrote.

Also, the wedding invitation hand decorated by Faulkner's mother.
According to the card in the museum case, she would hand decorate with flowers invitations she received and give them to the couple as a wedding gift.

Very appealing idea. How does that work with eVites?

Since it was the week of the annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, this year considering Faulkner and Film, a lot of the goodies were taken to town and on the morning I visited the house they were replacing items in cases and re-arranging the furniture a little. This home and grounds is worth a visit and I think 2 hours is minimum if you like standing long enough to feel what the original occupants experienced back in the day. I especially like the pasture area. It was a cool(er) morning and just being in the shadow of a hedgerow was special.

The Square, as always around the courthouse, is a delight. However, it has too many good eating places. It also has at least four independent bookstores, that may be owned by the same people, but are delightful. One is dedicated to young people. Yeah, I did buy some stuff for the grandkids. Keep in mind that my goal on this trip is to help the economy of the gulf coast. Well Oxford is far from the coast, but it was in the spirit of the act. Anyway, hanging out in bookstores is a fine use of time.

But back to eating.

After two complete walks around the square I had no idea where to eat. Too many good looking places. So I began asking local folks walking around the area where I should eat if I only had one chance at dinner in Oxford. The first three people I asked pretty quickly responded "Ajax Diner" which was one of my selections too. So Ajax it was. I did not ask what I should eat there, but afterwards I found the answer to that is Meatloaf, but I had Red Bean and Rice with an Andouille sausage. It was great. It would have been good with a beer, but I was re-hydration mode and drank many glasses of water instead. Ajax comes with my recommendation for atmosphere, food, sound level and location. Comfort food in a comfortable place. I followed that up with frozen yogurt and fruit at another place on the square.

I had already decided on my breakfast place, the BottleTree Cafe, based on the bread rack in the window. Located a tiny bit off the square, it has the feel of my favorite coffee shop in Blacksburg (the EasyChair) combined with the bakery smells and products of my favorite bakery (Bolo's). This picture is the result of not being able to think of anything but eating the cranberry and peach (maybe) pastry and Latte served in a beer mug. So here is the empty mug and plate. It was good! Recommended for food, coffee, good layout and smells. Thanks, BottleTree staff, for the Blues Festival poster off your wall!

Many of you know we really love our dogs and dogs in general. Oxford is a good place for dogs. One bank on the square has a stainless, plumbed water fountain out front. Lots of eating places have outdoor seating for dog people with their companions. There was even a guy with a litter of puppies trying to find homes for them.

And then there is the RSVP office craft shop right off the square.

It is hard to not start with the cutest little dog, but what was really cool was the friendly staff and in the end, it is the Fig preserves and the Green Tomato Relish that I bought. We first tried the fig preserves on vanilla frozen yogurt. It was a winner, for sure. Last night we tried the green tomato relish on hot dogs (actually I started eating it straight out of the jar) and that was all we needed to know. We have now made plans to stop in Oxford to buy more of this stuff later in the month. It is only 1500 miles round trip from home. Yeah, it is that good. I better email them to be sure there is some on the shelf for us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is that all you think of......EATING????? Well congrates cause that is the 'bread of life'. Sorry i couldn't resist. It all sounded great. Especially the meatloaf after i checked the menu and found it was stuffed with cheese. That meal is always the best way to judge a dinner, and Lasagna for an Italian place.
Looking forward to the next installment. The peach pie filling for your pie is in the freezer.