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Valentine's edition

This week, the sweetest of the holidays rolls up on the day planner — Valentine’s Day.

With a long history of waxy chocolates, sugary hearts admonishing “Be Mine!” and enough rose bouquets to give a florist nightmares, the holiday is laden with expectations: Candy, flowers, dinner, jewelry.

Shake off the paradigm, boys and girls, and allow me to suggest — cupcakes!

The Hostess City has nearly as many cupcake shops as it does frozen yogurt joints. Regardless of your neighborhood, there’s one nearby – or at least on the path to and from work. Everyone has their favorite and styles vary. Some are frosting heavy, some emphasize decoration and some manage to get the whole little paper–wrapped package just right.

Such are the baked goodies coming out of tiny Just Desserts near the intersection of Skidaway Road and Derenne Avenue. Owner and chief baker Dolores Montoya is no nonsense when she talks cupcakes. She believes the cupcake should taste good, the frosting should taste good and there should be a carefully managed balance between the two.

She has succeeded. Her cupcakes have slowly garnered a dependable audience and she recently celebrated her three–year anniversary. The Red Velvet cupcake is classically Southern but not overbearing. The strawberry cupcake is like biting into that first berry of the season. Triple Chocolate? Well, chocolate, you know —  it’s like a little paper–wrapped hug.

Dolores also makes awesome cookies and cookies on sticks. Seasonal selections come along to brighten party tables – but the daily selection always seems to offer more than a half dozen cupcake flavors.

5224 Skidaway Road, 655–3844,

Staying home?

Delay your special night out to avoid the craziness and try out my simple V–Day dinner recipes – including a deconstructed Cobb salad formed in pieces of PVC. Find pix, recipes and a couple of sparkling wine suggestions at

River Street Crab Shack

The hoopla over the design of Joe’s Crab Shack, a chain seafood restaurant, died off quickly. A pass by the site last week found a banner saying “In Training: Opening Soon!”

I’ve been involved in several preservation projects and find the structure not all that sympathetic to its surroundings. I’ll stay out of the fray and focus on the food, which I’ll report on when the doors swing open.

Vegetarians Rejoice

Asheville–based VegHeads vegetarian restaurant announced last week it would open a location at 37 Whitaker St. between Sweet Melissa’s and Hang Fire. That makes many local vegetarians as happy as a bunny in a carrot patch. Now let’s hope locals will make the trip downtown to support ‘em.

She’s still open

Bizarre Foods America’s episode on Savannah re–broadcast this week, and my text messages exploded. The reason is the belief that Marandy’s, the tasty soul food joint at Skidaway Road and Eisenhower Drive that was featured in the show, is closed.

Not true. Chef Cynthia let the corner “bay” of the center go — she only used it for parties and special events. Her main location, one back from the corner, is still thriving. Tuesday–Saturday, 7 a.m.–8 p.m.