My whirlwind three day visit to Saint Simons Island this past April was drawing to a close. Part of Georgia’s wilderness coast, it’s one of 15 beachfront islands along a 90 mile stretch. We began Wednesday morning with a visit to a local favorite for lunch and dinner, Palmer’s Village Café. This charming spot is adorned with local art on every wall and the smells are heavenly. Chef John Belechak made sure we started our day with full bellies beginning with a mini biscuit with Café sausage and pimento cheese accompanied by Challah French Toast with blueberry orange compote. Trust me on this. That would have been plenty, but he was just getting warmed up. Following that we were presented with The Islander Southern: Egg Whites, Bacon Crumbles, Garden Herb Cheese, w/ Seared Tomatoes, Watercress, Cucumber Ribbons & Reduced Balsamic. For dessert, yes we had dessert at breakfast we savored a dessert stack with vanilla and honey marscapone and spiced pecans. We waddled out and headed for the Lady Jane.
Cliff pulled in two nets, both filled with a variety of sea creatures including fish, shrimp, squid, sharks, sting rays, sea turtles and horseshoe crabs. I said to him I imagined the job never grew old and he replied “I’ve been doing this since I was 13 and I haven’t worked a day yet.” John boiled some shrimp on deck. Sweet and tasty, you just can’t get it any fresher.
We adjourned to the King & Prince where Chef Jeff Kaplan and Food & Beverage Director Vinny D’Agostino hosted The Georgia Food Experience featuring a bounty of Georgia food and drink. The Tea Lady, Angela Cunningham of Serenity House Tea Society shared her iced non-alcoholic Green Chatham Artillery Punch and Three Tea Green, three green teas with flavors of mango, papaya, coconut, ginger, cardamom, rose blossom and more. They were both exquisite. The resort’s culinary team then presented us with a platter containing the fixin’s for a Low Country Boil. As I was taking pictures, one of the crabs got a hold of my pen and virtually destroyed it. What better to follow tea with than honey? Ted Dennard is the founder of Savannah Bee Company and he shared his passion for honey as well as tastes of several different honeys including orange blossom, black sage and my favorite, Tupelo. Insert Van Morrison song here. David Lane III from Lane Southern Orchards gave a presentation on Georgia’s signature fruit and sent us home with freshly baked peach bread. Wine in Georgia? You bet. Muscadine is king here and Still Pond Winery makes a fine one. Muscadine has a distinct nose and flavor. Winery owner Charlie Cowart led us through a tasting and recounted a time when a sommelier with an attitude asked about their peach wine “What would you pair with this?” Without batting an eye he replied “a rocking chair and a front porch.” Their Savannah River Red is blended with Tupelo honey. Sandra Bland of Bland Vidalia Onion Farm extolled the virtues of Vidalia onions and told us they’re often imitated, but there’s nothing like the real thing. “Ours only make you cry when they’re gone.” We tasted chocolates with Ms. Dale Potts, founder of Sugar Marsh Cottage. She led us through a tasting of four different chocolates and had us rate them on appearance, chocolate flavor, aroma, other flavors and mouth feel. These are divine and beautifully packaged treats. We wound up our culinary afternoon with a cocktail reception hosted by Elizabeth Warnock of 13th Colony Distilleries. They produce two vodkas, a gin and a Southern corn whiskey bottled at 95 proof. They spirits were blended into some wonderful Southern themed cocktails which we enjoyed with the incredible Low Country Boil.