Elayne Spencer took a recent trip to The King and Prince for fun, food & relaxation. She wasn’t disappointed! Read on… For more of Elayne’s stories, visit www.homeschoolingparent.com
Experiencing the history, beauty, tranquility and the food of St. Simons Island
By Elayne Spencer
Part One: In this installment, I am focusing on the food I found while staying on St. Simons Island. In my next installment, I will share with you the historical highlights of the Island, making it a perfect place for a fall field trip.
If the coast of Georgia isn’t on your mind as a destination for a family/educational get-away, you’ll want to add it to your list immediately. If you’re trying to work in
an affordable “field trip” for your homeschooling family, fall or early spring are exceptional times to visit the area. The rates are lower than in the summer months, but the days are warm and the nights are cool… perfect weather for exploring all the island has to offer.
Nestled among the coastline and barrier islands of Georgia, Brunswick and the
Golden Isles welcome you to a truly exhilarating expanse of sea, sun, and fun. There is so much do and see! Yet, just relaxing and taking in the beauty of these fabled shores will give you enough wonderful memories to last for years. After experiencing the hospitality and beauty of St. Simons Island, it’s apparent why Georgia stays in the minds of so many, evoking images of open arms and peaceful dreams.
There’s a peaceful, laid-back feel on St. Simons Island. It’s quiet. It’s established. It has many year-round residents. Yet, you feel at home. When you enter restaurants and shops you are treated not as a guest but as a friend. There’s a lack of pretentiousness that personifies the soul of the South.
YUM YUM YUM
And the food? I’m not sure I could find better food. Anywhere.
There are foods that I have not been particularly drawn to in the past. Before I left for this trip, however, I decided to open up my mind (and my palate) and view every culinary exposure as an adventure. I was not disappointed.
After checking in at The King and Prince Resort, the adventure began! At dinner, I was seated next to Vinny D’Agostino, Food & Beverage Director at The King and Prince. Besides having a contagious and delightful sense of fun and adventure, Vinny has an amazing grasp on the nuances of food preparation, history and creation. Throughout the rest of the trip, I stayed close to Vinny and experienced food I’d never been brave enough to try. The first culinary treat was Apalachiacola Oysters on the half shell with sweet corn, asparagus, tomato and cilantro vinaigrette. I planned to pretend I liked the dish, but as it turned out, no acting skills were necessary. It was delectable! No one was more surprised than I. I think Vinny had a napkin handy … just in case.
We were joined by Chef Jeff Kaplan and Bud St. Pierre, Director of Sales and Marketing. Dinner was prepared before our eyes and I never expected to be so smitten with grits! I’d had grits before, but none that rival the ones served to us that night … Wild Georgia Low Country Shrimp and Grits.
I love shrimp prepared any way. Fried, boiled, grilled … you name it. I have eaten shrimp all over the country, but there is something that distinguishes Wild Georgia shrimp from any other shrimp I’ve ever eaten. They’re unusually sweet. According toWild Georgia Shrimp, they have their own unique flavor. The flesh is firm and the color is fresh. Wild Georgia Shrimp grow naturally. According to Monterey Bay Aquarium, “Southeast Asian wetlands, especially mangrove forests, are being destroyed to create commercial shrimp farms. These ponds build up muck which can cause shrimp to have pollutants or disease.” Yuck. There’s none of that muck in this sweet, succulent shrimp.
Chef Kaplan prepared Shrimp and Grits in a Tasso Cream Sauce. If you’d like to try your hand at it, here’s the recipe. I’m pretty sure the addition of asiago cheese is a nod to Vinny’s Italian roots. I’ve never met an Italian spin I didn’t like.
King and Prince Shrimp & Grits in a Tasso Cream Sauce Recipe
1 cup heaving cream
1/3 cup tasso ham
¼ cup kernel corn
¼ cup diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
½ cup wild Georgia shrimp
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
¼ cup asiago cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Preparation: In a sauce pan, sauté the Georgia shrimp with Cajun seasoning using olive oil. In another pan, sauté tasso ham, corn, tomatoes, and green onions: add heavy cream and asiago cheese: let simmer two minutes. Add shrimp and serve over stone ground grits of your choice.
I could go on and on about the food. (Too late … I think I already have!) We visitedSouthern Soul Barbeque, housed in a converted 1940s gas station. All the smoking is done with wood. Prior to our visit, Guy Fieri from Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives visited. (Watch here…)
Among our group, we tried nearly every kind of smoked meat on the menu – it was all delicious. My mouth is still watering over the fried green beans. Delicious! Take a look at the menu … it’s so affordable. It’s also gone through its share of challenges and hasrisen from the ashes, so to speak, only a month or so after being visited by Guy.
Heading to the downtown area, we visited Palmer’s Cafe to see Palmer Fortune and his beloved team. I can’t think of a breakfast food I like more than Eggs Benedict. Palmer’s puts a distinctive, southern spin on its version. Their version of Eggs Benedict is fondly called “The Southern.” It is two poached eggs, collards and ham served on an open faced biscuit with homemade ‘pot-licker’ gravy. In place of the usual Canadian Bacon, there was a thick, crispy fried green tomato. I have spent nights awake thinking about that scrumptious tomato. I grew up on fried green tomatoes, but they were nothing like the one I had at Palmer’s. (Sorry, Mom.) Check out their breakfast menu.
Chef Dave Snyder of Halyards surpassed all of our expectations with a sampling of what must have been every single item he serves at his restaurant. Every selection on the menu is prepared fresh – seafood, beef, poultry, game, sauces, soups and sweets. And every single thing is made from scratch. How can you not love a place that hangs its hat on using fresh food and making everything from scratch? While my mouth watered while tasting his luscious the seafood, I have to say … the grilled vegetables were some of the best I’ve ever eaten. Probably because they were fresh … And made from scratch.
And Vinny D’Agostino? Are you reading this? I am waiting on my batch of homemade Limoncello to arrive … It’s been a hot summer here! I need a refreshing treat!
Special thanks to my fellow journalists and Leigh Cort. I look forward to perhaps
crossing paths with all of you again. Maybe a reunion?
MORE PHOTOS BELOW
Chef Dave Snyder of Halyards
There’s more than shrimp in that net!
“The Southern” at Palmer’s Cafe
Shark attack! Follow Will’s travel adventures http://blogs.gonomad.com/wake-and-wander/
Chef Snyder’s fresh selection of seafood