Getting a Taste of the South

Memorial Day weekend this year broke our tradition of having our friends, the Hesters, over. Instead, my nephew got married! The wedding was in Florida, on Amelia Island.

For those of you that don’t know, Amelia Island is a vacation spot near Jacksonville, Florida. It’s about as far northeast in Florida as you can go without being in Georgia. There’s a good amount of history in the Ferdandina Beach, but most of the area is geared toward people being on vacation. The beach is very nice, and, for Memorial Day weekend, really uncrowded.

Sunset on Amelia Island

The best part of Amelia Island was spending time with family. Just about my whole family was there, and I think we all enjoyed spending the time together. For food, though, the seafood was great, especially the shrimp, which is caught locally. The best example we had of this was at a nicely done restaurant where the breeze coming off the water made it cool enough to enjoy eating lunch outside, called Brett’s Waterway Cafe. It’s just at the end of the historic area, and the waiter told me that they should be famous for their shrimp grits, so I had to try it. It had a nice amount of fresh shrimp, with a cajun redeye gravy, and the grits were done just right. This was the best version of shrimp grits I’ve had outside of Charleston!

Shrimp Grits

We had a couple of days left after we had to get out of the vacation home we stayed in, so we decided to spend a couple of days in Savannah, Georgia. It was only about 2 hours up the road, and it sounded like more fun for us than Disney to the south!

We drove up early on the first of June, and got to Savannah about 11:30. We found our bed and breakfast quickly, and were able to check into our room right away. Jackie, the innkeeper, was very hospitable, and she bakes every day for the guests. I can’t believe I didn’t get any photos of her baked goods, but she leaves a variety of them in each room daily. We were greeted with almond croissants, strawberry and cream cheese filled muffins and cranberry/orange muffins. The second day brought us cinnamon crumb muffins, butter croissants and individual blueberry cobblers. It was all great! If you’re going to Savannah, I highly recommend the Zeigler House Inn. Jackie even has coffee, tea, sherry and other desserts available at all times for her guests, and the house is gorgeous.

Food wasn’t our main reason for going to Savannah, if you can believe that. We wanted to see as much of the historic district as we could. The area is well worth taking some time to see, and it’s easy to get around, other than the heat! It was the first part of June, but it was 95 in Savannah, with really high humidity. I think March would be a better time to be there… next time.

Jackie set us up with reservations for a couple local restaurants. And, no, we didn’t eat at Paula Deen’s; you have to get in line at 9:30 in the morning just to get a chance at a table. Then I heard the servings are so ridiculously huge that you’ll be in a food coma the rest of the day. We ate at a great place called Alligator Soul, which was in the basement of a building just a few blocks from the inn.

Alligator Soul

Dinner at Alligator Soul

The restaurant looked great, with old stone floors and brick archways. The bar was really nicely done, and the restaurant had window wells letting in some natural light from above. The chef sent out an amuse bouche of marinated sirloin; unfortunately, it was overcooked and dry, but the follow-on to that were corncakes with rosemary which were moist and very tasty. For mains, we got 2 plates and split them. The first dish had seard scallops with hominy and an ouzo sauce. This was good food! It was different, with flavors that worked really well together. The second dish was a cold smoked ribeye that was handcut and finished to medium rare. This was served blackened, with a bourbon peppercorn sauce, which I thought was fantastic. The cold smoking was a bit overdone, as the edges of the steak had a bit of a creosote taste that comes from oversmoking, but the steak was overall really good. It was served with duck fat roasted potatoes and fresh greens. We were too stuffed to try dessert, but we saw another table get the Alligator Soul banana beignets. I still wish we’d gone back to try this, as it looked fantastic!

Amuse Bouche


Smoked Ribeye

The rest of the trip was more about seeing everything we could in the historic district. The live oaks are amazing, and one that was pointed out on the tour we took is said to be over 300 years old, even older than the city itself. Without talking about all of it, here’s a grouping of photos we took. If you’d like to see more, check out my flickr set here.

… and, yes, we tried the pralines!

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.


  1. I want to go back!!

  2. I was born and raised in Jacksonville. Amelia Island is okay if you can handle all of the low rent housing, run down golf courses, and cheap hotels. (ha ha ha ha, yeah…..)

  3. Amelia Island wasn’t my choice… My niece-in-law’s family lives in the area now. There were some nice places, I thought, as well as some that were a bit in need of updating.

  4. Marlene Hollier

    Is there any chance you have their recipe for shrimp and grits?

  5. Marlene,

    I looked online for it, but, I’m sorry, I don’t have it. There are recipes all over the place for similar, but not that one in particular. I may have to make a version of it, though, using my grills to make everything!
    Curt recently posted..Beef Ribs and Tomato PieMy Profile

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