Archive for December, 2011

Time for Good Food

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Rachel writes in her blog, “Time for Good Food,” about her trip to St. Simons and all the sites she saw and food she ate at The King and Prince.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inspired by St. Simon’s Island

A week ago today I was at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia taking in the beautiful scenery and stuffing my belly with delicious food. Magical sounds cliché, but it really was an amazing trip that I won’t soon forget. I was invited by The King and Prince Resort and their publicist Leigh Cort, along with other journalists and bloggers from around the country, to be a part of a media trip focused on Southern culinary traditions. My friend Nikiwas also one of the journalists, so we rode down together.For someone like me who is enamored with history, food and the idea of eating locally and sustainably, it was sheer heaven. I learned so much, tasted so much and am so inspired, this is going to have to be several posts. Maybe a trilogy? You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

Christ Church – the most visited attraction on St. Simons Island

I vaguely remember spending a day sightseeing on St. Simon’s Island as a child. One memory that stands out is visiting the moss draped Christ Church and its cemetery. I was excited to get to see it again all these years later. The parish was founded in 1736, though the current church building dates to 1884. A walk through Christ Church’s cemetery inspired prolific Georgia writer, Eugenia Price, to pen her first historical novel The Beloved Invader. The book brought to life the church’s rector Anson Dodge, Jr. and led to additional books, New Moon Rising and Lighthouse – known as the St. Simon’s Trilogy. Interestingly, Price stayed at The King and Prince in 1961 when she discovered the island that would define her career as a writer. Tourists still come to St. Simon’s today inspired by her books. Who knows, maybe I’ll be inspired to write a historical novel, but for now I’ll settle on a trilogy of blog posts. This first: an overview rich with photos.

The exterior of The King and Prince’s historic hotel building.

The King and Prince was built in 1935 and is the only oceanfront hotel on the island. I think that’s what sets St. Simon’s apart from other tourist destinations. It doesn’t feel touristy. You won’t find the high-rise condominiums and tacky beach stores. It’s quiet, laid back, upscale in some ways, but unassuming.Naturally, it’s a popular destination for weddings and romantic getaways. However, I’m totally inspired to take my family back there.

A wedding photo shoot I happened to catch out the window.

The beach is great, but there are also miles and miles of golden marshlands that are especially beautiful at sunset. Growing abundantly in the marshlands and estuaries is Spartina, the golden hued grass that gives St. Simon’s Island and other nearby barrier islands their nickname, “The Golden Isles.”

Marshlands at dusk.

And there’s the Lighthouse. And the cute village with shops and restaurants. And the waterfront park. And the Maritime Museum that is housed in a former Coast Guard Station.

Oceanfront park with St. Simons Lighthouse in the background.Maritime Center and Museum

I could go on and on, but I know you are probably wondering: what about the food? This is a food blog after all! Most of our meals were served at The King and Prince under the direction of its Food and Beverage Director, Vinny D’Agostino. While on staff for just a short while, D’Agostino is making great strides in bringing local farmers and food artisans “to the table” to enhance the dining program at the resort. Honestly, going in to this I was not expecting the food to be that great. I’ve had some pretty bland, uninspiring hotel food in the past — but I have to say that the food I tasted at the King and Prince was really delicious. The shrimp and grits, I swear, may have been the best I ever tasted. I’m going to attempt to make them at home and share the recipe with you in the next post in my trilogy!

Shrimp and Grits made highlighted with Tasso ham, fresh corn and tomato.

One afternoon we had the pleasure of meeting food growers and artisans from around the state and sampling their fare. The most exciting thing I tasted was the first pressing of olive oil made from Georgia-grown olives thanks to Georgia Olive Farms. It’s so new that it isn’t even on the market yet. We also tasted cheese from Flat Creek Lodge, muscadine wine from Still Pond Vineyards, 13th Colony Distillery liquors, chocolates from Sugar Marsh Cottage, Wild Georgia Shrimp, Savannah Bee Company honey and peach products from Lane Southern Orchards — to name a few. I’ll definitely share more with you. Remember, my trilogy?

Georgia made products we tasted.

On our final day at the King and Prince, we ate breakfast in the elegant Delegal Room — once the ballroom of the old resort. I imagined how many dances, weddings, receptions and important events must have taken place in this stained glass adorned room with sweeping ocean views. I doctored this photo up a bit to look “old,” much like the actual historic photos that lined the lobby hallway and are featured in each guest room. It makes me feel happy.

Pretending it’s 1951

I love places with a sense of history, natural beauty and authentic Southern charm. You will definitely find that at The King and Prince and on St. Simon’s Island. Now, time for a short disclaimer: The King and Prince provided me with a complimentary stay and meals, but did not pay me to write this or endorse the resort in any way. By being a gracious host, showing me the island and sharing the spotlight with other local businesses and attractions, they made me fall in love. I’ll definitely be back!

King and Prince Shrimp & Grits in Tasso Cream Sauce

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Marc d’Entremont writes an article at Suite101 about his visit to The King and Prince Resort and eating their Shrimp & Grits, a Southern Culinary Tradition.

King and Prince Resort’s Shrimp and Grits in a Tasso Cream Sauce

The King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort, St. Simons Island, GA, finesses a classic dish served in every southern dinner elevating Shrimp and Grits to stardom.
 

 

Shrimp & Grits in a Tasso Cream Sauce- Marc d’Entremont

It was the end of a pleasant sunny early November day in the now quiet off-season of St. Simons Island, one of Georgia’s premier barrier island destinations. The elegant 1935 King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort , listed on the National Historic Register and Historic Hotels of America, set a table befitting its Old World heritage. The formal place settings with an array of flatware and crystal stemware lay on starched white linen lit by softly glowing candles. The guests are not what the media would identify as royalty or even VIPs. We’re nearly two dozen jaded, or nearly jaded, travel and food journalists – critics to the core.

 

Southern Culinary Traditions

We were the guests of The King and Prince. Our four day tour to explore the culinary traditions of southeastern Georgia was organized by Leigh Cort Publicity. Such media trips involve a considerable amount of activity, not the least of which is eating and drinking. To make an impression worthy of an article the fare has to be more than just free.

Tradition versus an Old Standby

Personally my foodie radar was picking up more an old diner standby rather than a fine tradition when the itinerary indicated that dinner would include a Shrimp and Grits cooking demonstration. Google any of a dozen recipes and discover everything from bullion cubes to extra sharp cheddar used to mask tasteless farm raised frozen shrimp mounded on top of instant grits. Believe me I’ve had my full of disappointing versions.

Chef Dwayne Austell and Vinny D’Agostino

It took only a moment after entering the dining room for my nose to detect a subtle aroma of warm smoked meat. It was emanating from the chafing dish that was keeping the sauce at serving temperature. I should have guessed that a Johnson & Wales University graduate, Vinny D’Agostino, Food and Beverage Director, and Georgia Low Country native Sous Chef Dwayne Austell would rise above the ordinary.

Wild Shrimp and Tasso Ham

Quality ingredients are essential for a great dish and there is no comparison between farm raised and wild shrimp. Fortunately, much of America’s shrimp is wild and the package will be labeled appropriately. The high tides and lush nutrient rich salt marshes of low country and barrier islands provide an excellent clean environment for Georgia’s abundant shrimp. The Georgia White Shrimp is especially plump, meaty and flavorful. Yet the secret to Chef Austell’s outstanding Shrimp and Grits is the addition of smoky, cured Tasso ham – an essential ingredient in much of southern cajun cuisine. What is actually a pork butt rather than a ham gives the cajun spiced light cream sauce a rich flavor that lingers in the mouth.

The Recipe – for 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3rd cup diced Tasso ham
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen kernel corn
  • 1/2 cup seeded diced tomatoes
  • 4 Tablespoons diced green onions
  • 4 to 6 ounces fresh shelled wild shrimp
  • 2 Tablespoons cajun seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • cooked grits

Preparation:

  1. First prepare grits using the best recipe I know for Creamy Stone Ground Grits
  2. Add just enough olive oil to lightly cover the bottom of two saute pans and heat over medium setting.
  3. In one pan add the shrimp and cajun seasoning. Saute no more than 5 minutes. Overcooking results in tough shrimp.
  4. In the second pan add the ham and corn and saute for a couple minutes. Add the tomatoes and green onions, combine and saute a few minutes more. Add the heavy cream and asiago cheese. Bring to a simmer and cook for two minutes.
  5. Combine the shrimp and all the pan juices into the sauce.
  6. Serve over the prepared grits.

Wine Pairing

Vinny D’Agostino, a sommelier as well, paired the entree with a nice Georgia Chardonnay from Frogtown Cellars. The minimal acidity of a Chardonnay, preferably unoaked, works well with the creamy sauce. A California or Washington State Chardonnay would be a fine substitute since Georgia wines are not widely distributed.

Even if you’re not dining a few hundred feet from the ocean, this fine recipe from the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort can conjure memories of warm lazy days under oak trees dripping with Spanish Moss and sea gulls laughing overhead.

Brunswick Georgia Christmas Parade

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

This past Saturday December 3, The King and Prince Resort was a participant in the annual Brunswick Christmas Parade.  The parade featured floats from local businesses, clubs, school groups, religious organizations and more. There was over 100 parade floats this year.  It was a great day to get in the Holiday spirit! The parade went from Howard Coffin Park up Gloucester St. and ended at Mary Ross Waterfront Park. Hundreds of families lined Gloucester to watch the parade.  The parade concluded with Santa Claus.  The King and Prince employees helped out to create the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” float.  The employees with their families passed out candy to the parade viewers and had a great time walking with the float.  Our General Manager was the driver and we even had the Grinch with us!

K&P Van pulling the float

K&P ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ Float

K&P Employees and their families at the parade

The Grinch!