Linda Miller is the Broker of Rosemary Beach Realty on Scenic Highway 30A. With 20 years of experience and wisdom as well as extensive knowledge of the local market, she has been the number one agent since 2015. Miller brokered the largest sale on 30A of $12.5 million in Rosemary Beach and has generated over $517 million in career sales with an average sale of $2,660,000. When you own property on 30A, youâ€™ll be smiling too!
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Life without Complications FIND YOUR PLACE BY THE GULF OF MEXICO
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Unique Treasures in Paradise COA S TA L GEM S FO R SA L E A LO N G HI GH WAY 3 0 - A
ROSEMARY BEACH, FL
BLUE MOUNTAIN BEACH, FL
PENTHOUSE AT MERCADO #3D | $2,235,000
THE DAVIE ESTATE AT 1567 W. HWY. 30-A | $6,500,000
• Synergistic location on corner of Main St. and Rosemary Ave.
• 504 feet of waterfront on a coastal dune lake overlooking the Gulf
• Largest condo in Rosemary Beach—600 square feet of covered balconies
• 4.12 acres with over 500 feet of Scenic Highway 30-A frontage
• Two master suites in two-story living area with elevator available
• Owner has D/O for property to be subdivided approved by Walton County
• Walk to restaurants, shopping, and snow-white beaches
• Colonial style brick home with pool and carriage house
• 4 bedrooms / 5 baths / 3,077 square feet
• 5 bedrooms / 4 baths / 4,331 square feet
SEACREST BEACH, FL
ROSEMARY BEACH, FL
58 BLUE DOLPHIN LOOP | $1,080,000
113 EAST LONG GREEN | $2,950,000
• Front row in Seacrest Beach on Scenic Highway 30-A
• Quintessential Rosemary Beach residence
• Proximity to 12,000-square-foot pool and the beach with tram service
• Newly constructed carriage house
• Two master suites plus attached garage
• Private courtyard with heated pool and hot tub
• First-floor guest suite with morning kitchen and private entrance
• Centrally located to the shops and restaurants in Town Center
• 4 bedrooms / 4 baths / 2,837 square feet
• 4 bedrooms / 4 baths / 3,951 square feet
Alys Beach Beauties L I V IN G IN PA R A D I SE I S P OSSIB L E
53 Sea Venture Alley | $6,500,000 Close to the beach and move-in ready! Beautifully finished 3,850-square-foot fortified home has five bedrooms and five-and-a-half baths and is steps away from the soonto-open beach club and fitness center. This home has it all including a two-car garage, elevator, courtyard with private pool, summer kitchen off the huge living/dining area, outdoor fireplace with Gulf views from covered porch, master suite on main living area, and guest suite with den on the first floor. This listing won’t last long!
32 Shinbone Court | $4,095,000 – SOLD One block off the Gulf and ready for you to move in, this “Sea Gardens Walk” home has first-floor living. The courtyard with pool adjoins the open living/dining/ kitchen area, conveniently planned for practical living with a master suite on the first floor. Additional master and two more guest suites are on the second floor with another living area for family gatherings. A collaboration between custom home builder Benecki Homes of Atlanta and internationally known interior designer Melanie Turner makes this a spectacular property.
G R A N D B O U L E VA R D | S H O P T H E J E W E L . C O M ( 8 5 0) 8 3 7- 8 8 2 2 |
C E L E B R AT I N G
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THIS IS MODERN, BEACH!
JLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLK • CELEBRATING 26 YEARS IN THE BUSINESS OF MODERN •
In this issue On the Cover
Fashionista-turned-professional baker Amirah Kassem has brought smiles to the faces of her NYC customers since she opened Flour Shop bakery in Manhattan in 2012. Kassem’s new book, The Power of Sprinkles, shows readers how to make her signature Rainbow Explosion Cake plus a variety of cakes in novelty shapes, including doughnuts, unicorns, pizzas, bowls of cereal, and much more. We caught up with Kassem to discuss the book, her new collaborations, and her love of all things food and fashion. Check out the Q and A in “Couture Confections!” Photo by Henry Hargreaves
WE’RE FEELING NOSTALGIC FOR NASHVILLE WITH A STORY ALL ABOUT ITS RETRO-INSPIRED EATERIES, HOTELS, AND MORE. WOOLWORTH ON 5TH, ONE OF THE CITY’S FORMER DEPARTMENT STORES, HOUSES A DINER THAT SERVES LUNCH AND DINNER DAILY. WEEKEND BRUNCH INCLUDES THESE MOUTHWATERING SWEET POTATO PANCAKES! PHOTO BY DANIELLE ATKINS
Couture Confections! Life Is Better with Sprinkles
86 Wild and Wonderful Alaskan Lodge Adventures
LA VITALITÉ 21
94 Nostalgic for Nashville: Revival on Music Row
31 L’intermission: Emeril on the Move
101 L’intermission: Bow & Arrow Restaurant
32 Yours, Mine, and Ours: A Culinary Conversation
40 Firefly Restaurant Glows Again after
44 The ARÔME of Success
112 A Place Where Everyone Knew Your Name:
Heights at The Pearl
54 Cocktails and Dreams 58 Building upon a Legacy: A Bird’s-Eye View
A Family with Resilience
116 The Paella Queen 120 There’s No Place Like Home (and by That, I Mean Yours)
63 L’intermission: A Thirty-A Tradition
124 The Final Straw: The Future Is Not
64 It’s Five O’clock Somewhere
68 Send Noods: Nanbu Is Changing the 30-A Culinary Scene
72 Like Fine Wine: Vin’tij Proves It Gets Better with Age
78 Foodie Family: A Legacy in Central Florida
106 The Birthplace of Sweet Tea
48 The Love of a Chef: Taking Food to New
102 Seafood and Spice and Everything Nice
C’EST LA VIE CURATED COLLECTION: LIVE WELL, DINE WELL 82
LA SCÈNE 128 THE LAST WORD: FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD 131 AU REVOIR! 135
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 11
CREATIVE TEAM FOUNDER / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF LISA MARIE BURWELL Lisa@VIEmagazine.com
FOUNDER / PUBLISHER GERALD BURWELL Gerald@VIEmagazine.com
EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR JORDAN STAGGS Jordan@VIEmagazine.com
CHIEF COPY EDITOR MARGARET STEVENSON CONTRIBUTING WRITERS SALLIE W. BOYLES, NATHAN R. CORDLE, ANTHEA GERRIE, MYLES MELLOR, KELSEY OGLETREE, CAROLYN O’NEIL, TORI PHELPS, SUZANNE POLL AK, DAVE RAUSCHKOLB, COLLEEN SACHS, LIESEL SCHMIDT, ARIX ZAL ACE
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CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS DANIELLE ATKINS, GILLES BAECHLER, NICK BROOKS, MARL A CARTER, HENRY HARGREAVES, BRENNA KNEISS, STEVEN MANGUM, SEAN MURPHY, K AY PHEL AN, L ANDON NEIL PHILLIPS, JONATHAN PURVIS, ROMONA ROBBINS, NATHAN ZUCKER, DEAR WESLEYANN, MELLOW MEDIA, PURE7 STUDIOS, SHUTTERSTOCK
ADVERTISING, SALES, AND MARKETING DIGITAL MARKETING DIRECTOR MEGHN HILL ASSISTANT TO THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ABIGAIL RYAN BRAND AMBASSADOR LISA MARIE BURWELL Lisa@VIEmagazine.com MARTA RATA Marta@VIEmagazine.com
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12 | M AY 2019
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LIFE IS SO DELICIOUS 1
Taste and see that the Lord is good. —PSALM 34:8
When you really think about it, life is grand. In the midst of a stressful day, listening to gleeful bird chirps on a short walk to the mailbox under the warmth of a bright spring sun will instantly bring a smile to my face. The day becomes brighter as gratitude washes over me like a wave, enabling me to shake off all worries and cares. At that moment, I know everything is going to be all right and that it is glorious to be alive.
Because this is our annual Culinary Issue, gastronomic art abounds in its stories. The chefs, restaurateurs, and other foodies found within these pages extol the virtues of good food and discuss culinary creativity, passion, and prowess. Our cover girl, Amirah Kassem of Flour Shop bakery in Manhattan, demonstrates those very qualities in her craft—all the while putting smiles on faces as she creates her magic. And because good food usually involves celebrations, we have numerous ones to share—from Outstanding in the Field’s recent dinner at Kaiya Beach Resort to the many philanthropic endeavors of Chef Emeril Lagasse. In reality, a celebratory repast is merely an excuse to linger and engage in engrossing conversation that is so very good for the soul. After all, if you can’t celebrate life or experience joy with those around you, then you aren’t really living. So dive in and discover all the awesomeness that life—and great food—can bring you!
—Lisa Marie Founder/Editor-In-Chief 1. Lisa Burwell, Demetrius Fuller, and Morgan James | Photo by Kay Phelan 2. Guests around the table for Outstanding in the Field at Kaiya Beach Resort | Photo by Romona Robbins 3. Pam Burge, Heavenly Dawson, and Lisa Burwell | Photo by Gerald Burwell 4. Leslie and Jack McGuckin, Greg DeLeo, Bill and Heavenly Dawson, Demetrius Fuller, and Zack Krone | Photo by Pure7 Studios 5. Jim Denevan and Gerald Burwell | Photo by Romona Robbins 6. Lisa and Gerald Burwell at Hotel Café Royal in London | Photo by Abigail Ryan 7. Nicholas Rodriguez and Morgan James perform with the Sinfonia Gulf Coast orchestra | Photo by Kay Phelan
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 15
Here’s to You! WE LOVE TO COMMUNICATE AND INTERACT WITH OUR READERS! AND WE LOVE IT EVEN MORE WHEN THEY PROUDLY SHARE THEIR STORIES AND POSE WITH VIE FOR A CLOSE-UP! THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT: SHARING, LOVING, AND BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. WE THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH AND WE APPRECIATE YOU!
@surellaccessories The Feminine Hunter. Thank you @viemagazine and @csiriano for incorporating our pieces into your vision. Photo by @alexhutch
C E L E B R AT I N G
@ann.delaney Tickets are now available for @dgalysbeach 2019! Very excited to partner again with @viemagazine for the Digital Graffiti Pre-Party! Buy tickets online at digitalgraffiti.com or at @neatbottleshop, @alysshoppe or the Alys Beach Bike Shop.
24 Y E A R S in B U S I N E S S
ON THE EMERALD COAST!
@morganajames In honor of our show tonight with @sinfoniagulfcoast, here is my prom pic with the maestro @dmystro. @viemagazine @carlopieroni @csiriano
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T H E M O S T C R E AT I V E C U L I N A RY E X P E R I E N C E O N 3 0 A T H E M O S T C R E AT I V E C U L I N A RY E X P E R I E N C E O N 3 0 A
Contemporary American cuisine served al fresco. Our menu utilizes fresh, local ingredients to showcase our Gulf Coastserved locale al with craftOur cocktails, wine and beerlocal to match. Contemporary American cuisine fresco. menu utilizes fresh, ingredients to showcase our Gulf Coast locale with craft cocktails, wine and beer to match. Open to the public Tuesday through Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Located on the east end of Highway 30A in Alys Beach. Open to the public Tuesday through Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Located on the east end of Highway 30A in Alys Beach. 8 5 0 . 213 . 5 7 0 0 8 5 0 . 213 . 5 7 0 0
C A L I Z A R E S TAU R A N T.CO M C A L I Z A R E S TAU R A N T.CO M
Bon appétit! THE ESSENCE OF LIFE
Visit ShakerAndSpoon.com to learn more or subscribe. Photo courtesy of Shaker & Spoon
All that’s missing is the booze—and you! With Shaker & Spoon Cocktail Club’s curated monthly subscription box, you can try all the incredible cocktail concoctions that you might not usually make at home. The box comes with recipes and all the ingredients you need (aside from the recommended liquor) to make each drink. It’s a fun addition to any party or the perfect gift idea for the cocktail connoisseur in your family or friend group!
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 21
Flour Shop founder Amirah Kassem 22 | M AY 2019
COUTURE Cº nfectiº ns! LIFE
I N T E RV IEW BY J O R DAN STAGGS
PH OTO G RA PH Y BY H E NRY H ARG RE AVE S
FLOUR SHOP, THE
MA N HATTAN BAKERY THAT’S BROUGHT A
GRIN TO ITS FANBASE FAR AND
W I D E , I S NOW PASSING ALONG THE
C R E ATI NG ITS INCREDIBLE CAKES THROUGH A NEW BOOK BY FOUNDER
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 23
assem, a native of Juarez, Mexico, who grew up with an intense love of bright hues, making messes, and all things creative, started her career in fashion, first in Los Angeles and then in New York. It wasn’t until her friends in NYC began to gush over her elaborate confectionary creations that she realized her true calling wasn’t necessarily in designing things to wear—unless you count the crumbs or icing that might drop on someone when they’re enjoying her elaborate cakes. Her love of making her friends and family happy on their birthdays with her signature “explosion cakes”—multilayered towers of cake filled with candy and sprinkles that spill out when you cut the colorful dessert—eventually convinced her to open Flour Shop bakery in 2012. She’s been coloring outside the lines of the traditional baking business ever since. “I don’t remember most of the gifts I got as a child, but I still remember those moments when we blew out the candles on my cakes, and I still remember the cake,” says Kassem in the intro to her new cookbook (she says it’s actually a “cake book”), The Power of Sprinkles, released by Abrams publishing on April 9. The book is a kaleidoscope of color and Kassem’s recipes, from cakes shaped like hamburgers and pancakes to her Magical Frosting and tips for decorating. She even explains the secret behind the explosion cake in a chapter called “Sprinkle Science.” We caught up with Kassem to talk about her cake book, recent collaborations, and, of course, food!
24 | M AY 2019
VIE : Congratulations on your new book, The Power of Sprinkles! What inspired you to take your culinary creations and expertise and transfer them to the literary world?
VIE: You say you got started when you were nine years old by baking a cake covered in M&M’s for your brother’s birthday, and cakes are your specialty—do you have a second favorite thing to cook?
AMIRAH KASSEM: Thank you! Almost
AK: Pizza, ice cream, pasta, guacamole, mac and cheese, and pancakes—basically, just all of my favorite foods. But also cookie cakes!
every day we get tagged in photos and videos of people trying to make our signature rainbow explosion cake, asking for tips and tricks, and this book will have it all. I’m so excited to share it with the world!
Left: Breakfast is ready! Kassem with her Baba Pancakes cake. Below: This cheeseburger cake (yes, it’s a cake!) is another recipe found in The Power of Sprinkles.
VIE : We love how fashion and food are inextricably linked in your life and your creations—why do you think they make such a fabulous yet seemingly unlikely pair?
AK: Colors, textures, creativity, and imagination all play a part in both industries, and it came naturally for me to combine the two worlds.
VIE: The Power of Sprinkles includes a ton of tips, tricks, and even the recipes for your Bonilla Vanilla Cake (named after your mother), your Magical Frosting, and lots of other fun confections. Why did you decide to give away your “secrets”?
AK: I don’t consider them secrets; I just want to share my magic with the rest of the world! I have so much fun doing what I do and spreading joy. Seeing other people’s creations is what makes me happy. VIE: The book is full of cute graphics and emoji-style artwork in addition to Henry Hargreaves’s fantastic photography. Did you design these signature elements for Flour Shop or did you work with another artist to create them?
JUST WANT TO
WITH THE RE ST OF THE WORL D! I H AV E SO MUCH
WHAT I DO AND SPREAD I NG
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 25
TO WO R K
WI T H T H I N GS O UT OF MY B E EN
P R AC-
T IC E FOR A L L THE
collaborations I ’ M WO R KI N G O N .
AK: This was a huge part of my branding, and although most of it comes from what I think the inside of my brain looks like, the artist behind the execution is Vanessa Kreckel of Two Paper Dolls. I work very closely with her on all of my projects. She really gets my vision and fully designed the layout of the book for me. I don’t know what I would do without her, and the same applies to Henry Hargreaves—he sees angles and colors that are just so unique. V I E: Speaking of collaborations, you’re releasing a collection at Williams-Sonoma this May. Can you tell us a little about it?
AK: I have been working on it for a couple of years now and can’t wait for you to see it! Finding the balance between luxury and fun was key to the collection. It includes everything you need to live the birthday lifestyle from the kitchen to the table! V I E: What do you find most challenging about collaborating with others on creative endeavors, whether it’s culinary, literary, a product line, fashion, or something else?
AK: Not being able to be everywhere at once. I find it hard to let go of different aspects of the process. Learning to work with things out of my control has been great practice for all the collaborations I’m working on. 26 | M AY 2019
V I E : What advice would you give to someone who is just beginning to get into baking as a hobby or as a potential profession?
AK: Don’t ever let go of why you like to do it; have fun! Don’t look at what anyone else is doing; draw inspiration from within. If you can dream it, you can bake it! V I E : Is there any other Flour Shop news coming up for 2019 that you’d like to share?
AK: A lot’s going on, so stay tuned! And now, some “just for fun” questions: V I E : What’s the craziest custom cake you’ve created?
AK: I rarely think things are crazy because a six-layer rainbow explosion cake is our standard. I love matching cakes and prints, especially from my favorite Alice + Olivia fashion collections! V I E : What’s your favorite color and why?
AK: RAINBOW! It combines all of the best colors, so you don’t have to pick just one.
Kassem shows off her favorite color— rainbow—with her signature Rainbow Explosion Cake. Her book even includes a recipe for the Cara the Unicorn version (right).
V I E : What’s your favorite thing in your kitchen?
AK: My powerful pink KitchenAid mixer from Williams-Sonoma! It can make it all. It’s the biggest help in the kitchen apart from my husband, Ross Harrow, who has recently become quite the chef himself ! V I E : What do you love about living and working in New York City?
AK: Pizza! But also the energy in NYC is like no other. I wake up full of ideas and feeling ready to conquer the world. V I E : Finally—and this might be the most difficult question of all—cake or pizza?
AK: Easy . . . PIZZA CAKE!!! Why choose one when you could have both?
VISIT FLOURSHOP.COM TO LEARN MORE OR ORDER YOUR COPY OF THE POWER OF SPRINKLES AT POWEROFSPRINKLES.COM!
Although she didn’t like cereal as a child, Kassem admits it’s now another of her favorite foods—hence the inspiration for this “CEREALously Delicious” cake.
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Culinary EMERIL ON THE MOVE
Good News from the Chef If there’s one thing we know about celebrity chef, restaurateur, and philanthropist Emeril Lagasse, it’s that he’s never bored! In addition to being very hands-on in running his ten restaurants, Emeril has a calendar full of educational programs and charitable events that are run by his Emeril Lagasse Foundation. Its most recent event, the Thirteenth Annual Chi Chi Miguel Weekend held in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, benefited Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Camille’s Art for Autism, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Alaqua Animal Refuge, Food For Thought Outreach, the Ingram Lee Foundation, and the Seaside School Foundation. The chef also made an appearance at Taste of the Race on March 1 to benefit the Seaside School Foundation. Before that, Emeril was involved in the Line, Vine & Dine Fishing Tournament, which raised over $800,000 in February for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Arc Culinary, and the Dan Marino Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And in New Orleans last November, the annual Boudin, Bourbon & Beer and Carnivale du Vin signature fund-raising weekend raised over $3 million for various children’s charities. Visit Emeril.org for more news and to see the foundation’s upcoming events.
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 31
Yours, Mine & Ours A Culinary Conversation
By Co llee n S a chs Pho to g ra p hy b y Ro mo n a Ro b b i n s 32 | M AY 2019
or years I have been enthralled by photos of long, beautiful dining tables in dramatic settings. Surrounding the tables are happy people enjoying meals of locally sourced foods prepared with care by local chefs. On a warmer than usual winter day in the Florida Panhandle, one of these photos came to life for me. I was invited to the table. The specific location was the future site of the Kaiya Beach Resort on Florida’s Scenic Highway 30-A. When completed, the Kaiya community will include homes, an inn, and a club. Planned venues focus on the natural beauty of the Grove (a beautifully landscaped green space) and the beach. Kaiya will also offer wellness through a spa and fitness center, adventures along the Gulf Coast, and farm-to-table dining. It will be a place of relaxation and rejuvenation nestled in the heart of the South Walton beaches.
Outstanding in the Field set up its 160-foot table on the white sands at Kaiya Beach Resort along Scenic Highway 30-A in Northwest Florida on February 6, 2019.
The Kaiya philosophy of blending the inside with the outside and appreciating the natural beauty of the area makes it a perfect choice for an Outstanding in the Field event. This mobile celebration is the labor of love of Jim Denevan, an artist from Santa Cruz, California. Twenty years ago, he became disenchanted with the mundane state of so much fine dining. Where style over substance was the norm, Denevan’s focus was on the substance. Looking for a way to honor the ingredients in meals, he designed the ultimate farm-to-table pop-up restaurant by bringing the table to the source. After two decades, he has brought this concept to at least fifteen countries and every state, including Florida.
Right: The perfect appetizer—fresh grouper crudo, prepared by Chef Phil McDonald of Black Bear Bread Co.
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 33
As luck would have it, the afternoon was comfortably warm with a light breeze and blue sky peeking through the clouds. Pelicans flew in a low undulating line overhead. An enticing scent of smoke from the kitchen tents settled over the heady aroma of the sea.
hen I arrived at the resort, I visited with Kaiya cofounder Jason Romair and learned about the Outstanding in the Field event he had attended at Bloomsbury Farm outside of Nashville. The organic farm, owned and operated by his friends Teresa and Myron Palmer and their daughter Lauren, has hosted this celebration three times. Romair credits the Palmers with the inspiration for a meal at Kaiya, as well as the food and drink vision at Kaiya. And because sense of place is so important to both Kaiya and Outstanding in the Field, an important element of the dinner was its designation as a benefit for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. Not surprisingly, host Jim Denevan, an artist who creates large-scale drawings in sand, dirt, and ice around the world (see images on jimdenevan.com), leaves no detail to chance. At the beginning of the day the dining location is a clean slate, and taking a leave-no-trace approach, a clean slate is what is left after the event ends. What happens in between is art and magic and something that will only exist at that place and time.
Beer was provided by local favorite Grayton Beer Company, and their Salt of the Gulf Gose provided the perfect pairing for the location. Locally harvested salt teamed with coriander results in a beer that tastes as if you sprinkled some good sea salt on a piece of fruit to bring out the sweetness.
A week or so before the event I received an email with details. The most interesting thing on the list of what to bring was a plate.
A week or so before the event I received an email with details on how long the event would last (five hours), what to wear (anything comfortable from jeans to dressier attire), and what to bring. The most interesting thing on the list of what to bring was a plate. While you can opt for a plate from the eclectic collection Outstanding in the Field has available, choosing a plate to bring made the fun start even earlier. Some guests buy a plate specifically for the meal, and others bring one that has special significance. Departing from my usual preference for beautiful food on white plates, I went for a plate from my Bois d’Arc dinnerware collection that provided rich hues of purple in the form of a polka-dot border and root vegetables in the center. The variety of plates creates a one-of-a-kind table filled with color and interest.
were breaking on the shore. Three firepits were impeccably arranged with equal spacing between the table and the steps of the beach walkover. But the afternoon started on the lawn with a reception. Wine, beer, and hors d’oeuvres were served.
As I arrived at the event, Hannah with Outstanding in the Field greeted me and took my plate, adding it to a growing collection. She directed me around the corner of the house down a short path that opened to a lawn on a bluff overlooking the beach. A single 160foot table was set just a few steps from where the waves
When Denevan realized the one o’clock start would not allow us to enjoy the sunset to its fullest, the reception was moved to two. There was a chance of rain, but that wouldn’t stop the meal. The only time an event has been canceled for weather was when evacuation orders were in effect for an approaching hurricane.
34 | M AY 2019
Just as welcome was The Country Wife, the San Lucas Vineyard Rosé of Cinsault 2018, produced by Ernest Vineyards for their Eugenia label. Made from cinsault grapes grown on California’s Central Coast, The Country Wife’s pale pink color belies the lively freshness of this wine with notes of deep citrus and bright tropical fruit. Wine pairings with the dinner were also from Ernest Vineyards. Each Outstanding in the Field event features a local farmer. Being located on the Gulf of Mexico, the “farmer” for this event was Captain Mike Eller of the Lady Em charter boat. Captain Mike has been a Destin, Florida, fisherman for over thirty-five years.
He provided red snapper, grouper, and amberjack, all of which had been swimming in the waters we sat beside only a matter of hours before. Other ingredients came from local purveyors: Water Street Seafood in Apalachicola (the site of an earlier Outstanding in the Field), the Honey Hutch in Seagrove Beach, the GreenMans Garden and Dragonfly Fields in DeFuniak Springs, Arrowhead Beef in Chipley, Mac Farms in Santa Rosa Beach, and C & D Mill in Pensacola. And all of that local food called for a chef who would treat the food with enough respect to let the ingredients shine. Chef Phillip McDonald of Black Bear Bread Co. in Grayton Beach was an ideal choice. His food philosophy is to buy local and eat local. One of Chef Phil’s most impressive feats was creating our meal in early February in the Florida Panhandle using only local produce a week after a freeze. The first tastes were a quartet of one- and two-bite finger foods passed during the reception. Tiny Alligator Harbor clams were steamed and chilled in the shell and topped with a vivid green parsley and olive oil–based chermoula (think Moroccan pesto). These clams from Franklin County had the wonderful fresh taste of the sea. Above: Asking guests to bring their own plates to create a unique and colorful table setting is an Outstanding in the Field tradition—but if you forget your plate, OITF has you covered! Left: Guests enjoyed an incredible meal and a spectacular sunset at the February event. Opposite bottom: Outstanding in the Field founder Jim Denevan and Chef Phil McDonald Opposite top: Charred sweet potato salad with greens from Mac Farms, pancetta from Arrowhead Beef, and a honey-sherry vinaigrette featuring Honey Hutch local honey V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 35
moked snapper salad with hints of lemon and onion was served atop little potato latkes. The combination of flavors and textures was so addicting it was hard to resist taking one each time the tray came by. Two crostini diverged from the seafood focus but stayed local. Grass-fed beef from Arrowhead Beef became a rosemary-aioli-laced tartare, while sweet potatoes from Dragonfly Fields were pureed and topped with parsley-pecan pesto.
Waiting for us on the table were round loaves of crusty sourdough from Black Bear Co. Black Bear’s baker, Debbie Swenerton, was recently named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Baker.
After time to greet old friends and meet new ones, the festivities moved to the beach. I left my shoes at the bottom of the stairs and stepped onto the cool soft sand, enjoying another sensory pleasure. With everyone gathered on the beach, we heard from Denevan and gained an understanding of what Outstanding in the Field means to him. We also heard from the family who had homesteaded this site, known as Emerald Crest, in 1925. It was clear that our table was set in a very special place. It was now time for dinner, served family style, lending a friendly communal feel. A large steamer trunk topped with stacks of colorful plates marked “Ours” was placed next to two benches filled with equally colorful plates marked “Yours.” I found my plate right away and took a seat at the table. 36 | M AY 2019
hadn’t yet met my dining companions seated across from me, but by the end of the meal they were no longer strangers. A man sitting near me discovered that a friend he hadn’t seen since they lived in New Jersey in 1975 was sitting just a few seats away. They reconnected through sharing childhood memories. The meal progressed with passed platters and lively conversation. Waiting for us on the table when we sat down were round loaves of crusty sourdough from Black Bear Co. Black Bear’s baker, Debbie Swenerton, was recently named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Baker. One taste of this chewy, tangy loaf made the reason clear. The bread was served with a platter of seasonal pickles, including golden beets, and fresh radishes topped with their peppery greens. Fragrant za’atar butter was wonderful slathered on the bread and on the radishes. As I bit into one of the radishes and saw the deep purple interior, I had to smile— I had chosen a plate that coordinated with my food. The next course was Captain Mike’s Gulf grouper crudo. Thin slices of perfectly fresh fish were layered on a platter. Smoked pecan pieces and arugula were scattered on top. The fish was drizzled with olive oil and fermented hot sauce, and diners could add as much sweet-tart juice from charred Meyer lemon halves as they liked. The crudo was paired with Ernest Vineyards’ The Jester, the 2016 Fallenleaf Vineyard Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. The Jester is a crisp wine with green apple, mineral, and Meyer lemon notes that complemented the dish perfectly. In warmer months when vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn are abundant, salads are easy. Midwinter in the Florida Panhandle is more of a challenge. Our salad course was a pile of charred sweet potato flesh mixed with a jumble of bitter greens from Mac Farms. Arrowhead Beef ’s house-cured pancetta, spoonfuls of grain mustard crème fraîche, and the Honey Hutch honey-sherry vinaigrette made for a dish that could make you yearn for winter salads this summer. Ernest Vineyards’ The Farmer, their 2015 Green Valley Ranch Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast), was more floral and had more oak character than The Jester, making it a good match for this hearty salad.
For the main course, which took me right back to my childhood, Captain Mike provided meaty amberjack. This is the fish I ate as a sandwich over and over again up and down the beach. And here it was elevated by Chef Phil with green olive salsa verde and preserved lemon. Yet it was that unmistakable flavor of the Panhandle that I have known for decades. It was a bold choice. Many chefs would have chosen to feature a fish that might be considered more elegant. But as Chef Phil greeted diners, he told them that amberjack was what he grew up with, and he wanted to showcase it. This meal was most certainly a meal of this place. Served alongside the amberjack was a side dish of grits that could have been a meal unto itself. Anyone who says they don’t like grits has not had these grits: creamy with the distinct taste of corn accented by the tangy bite of pickled peppers. Herbaceous flavor came from fresh oregano. Large dollops of roasted garlic butter melted into the grits. Paired with this course was another Ernest Vineyards selection—this time,
Above: Wines from Ernest Vineyards were the perfect complements to Chef McDonald’s feast. Opposite bottom: Outstanding in the Field’s team uses a ruler to make sure each place at the table is perfectly set. Opposite top left: Developer Jason Romair (right) of Romair Construction and Kaiya Beach Resort Opposite top right: Passed hors d’oeuvres and sips from Grayton Beer Company and Ernest Vineyards preceded the grand feast. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 37
Bon appétit! As we lingered during the main course, we were treated to a stunning sunset thanks to Denevan’s foresight in changing the event’s start time. With the setting sun the temperature dropped, and the firepits were lit. Not leaving anything to chance, the excellent service staff offered blankets to anyone who was chilly.
The seasonal pickles, fresh radishes, and local greens paired perfectly with Black Bear Bread Co.’s sourdough bread.
As the glow of candlelight gently illuminated the table, dessert was served. A platter of buttermilk biscuits became tender shortcakes with the addition of a topping of mixed-berry compote, a scatter of fresh mint leaves, and a pile of soft whipped cream.
Wanting to take in everything, I breathed in the sea air and noticed the breeze on my skin. Above me the sky had cleared, opening up to twinkling stars and just a sliver of a moon. It was one of those moments when you just want to make time stop for a bit— an unparalleled experience that can be approximated but never duplicated. It was the quintessence of Outstanding in the Field.
Visit OutstandingintheField.com, BlackBearBreadCo.com, and KaiyaBeachResort.com to learn
The Artist, the 2015 Upp Road Vineyard Pinot Noir. It had enough acidity to work with the richness of the grits, and its bright red fruit was lovely with the meatiness of the amberjack.
With dinner winding down and no announcement that the event was over, diners left the table and wandered off a few at a time, while others stayed to finish quiet conversations. Our plates had been cleared before dessert, and the newly cleaned plates were waiting at the base of the steps.
more about some of the players in this distinctive culinary event.
Not in a rush to have such a special evening come to an end, I moved to one of the firepits to warm my hands.
Colleen Sachs loves food and traveling around the world and has been writing about both for twenty-five years. She lives with her spouse and a multitude of pets in Santa Rosa Beach and Pensacola, Florida.
A passion for perfection. Consistently delicious since 1995.
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gLOwS Firefly Restaurant
Again After Hurricane Michael
By Tori Phelps
Photography by Romona Robbins
40 | M AY 2019
Hurricane Michael is just a vague memory for much of the country, but many Florida Panhandle residents are still trying to regain a sense of normalcy following last October’s devastating storm. For Dave Trepanier, owner of Firefly in Panama City Beach, “normal” means welcoming locals and tourists to his popular restaurant—a routine he recently resumed six months after the hurricane hit.
The much-missed eatery underwent an almost total renovation during its hiatus, thanks to a roof that peeled back at the rear of the building. Ferocious winds and ankle-deep water destroyed the entire kitchen, with the dining room, bar, and lounge not faring much better. That damage is undetectable now, replaced by an upgraded kitchen, new roof, ceilings, and walls, along with a few other touches Trepanier encourages patrons to come see for themselves.
As it turned out, though, the roof wasn’t Trepanier’s biggest challenge. He’s had to fight with his insurance company from the beginning—so far to no avail—to get his full settlement. “I’ve depleted my savings and had to borrow money just to keep the contractors working,” he says. “It took almost four months to get a quarter of what I’m owed. I’m still waiting on the rest. If I didn’t have the wherewithal to find the funds, I would be four to six months away from opening.”
While much has changed with the restaurant, the most important element has not: the Firefly people. Chef Derek Langford and his staff are still manning the kitchen, Trepanier reports, and many front-ofthe-house employees have returned as well. “I’m very grateful,” he says of their commitment. “They’re a great team.”
The main dining room at Firefly as it appeared before Hurricane Michael made landfall on October 10, 2018; the tree survived and is waiting for guests to come dine under it again! Right: Firefly owner Dave Trepanier
He’s always known that the Firefly crew was special, but that confidence was reinforced in October when the staff, including Chef Derek and the general manager, Danielle Mills, immediately shifted into clean-up mode to begin the process of putting Firefly back together. Construction crews, too, have been working diligently, although Mother Nature did her best to delay things. Most notably, the roof repairs—key to the rest of the rehab—got stuck at the “dry in” phase for about a month, forcing them to restart the process every time it rained. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 41
Bon appétit! “The community support has been unbelievable; it’s incredibly flattering. The fact is, we miss them as much as they miss us. I can’t go anywhere without someone asking me, ‘When are you opening?’” A further delay would not only be devastating for Trepanier, but for Firefly’s dedicated fans, who’ve gone without their favorite dishes since last fall. And, yes, he promises, all of those favorites will be back on the menu, along with seasonal fare. While many restaurateurs would be nervous that their clientele had moved on after six months, Trepanier has built genuine relationships with customers, who’ve offered nonstop encouragement during the rebuilding process. When he posted an update to Firefly’s Facebook page indicating an imminent reopening, he was flooded with responses from patrons who shared happy Firefly memories and promised to return as soon as the doors were unlocked. “The community support has been unbelievable; it’s incredibly flattering,” he says, adding that he most appreciates the concern people have shown for his staff. “The fact is, we miss them as much as they miss us. I can’t go anywhere without someone asking me, ‘When are you opening?’” Though thrilled with the amount of time he’s been able to spend with his family over the past six months, Trepanier has also been itching for that all-important normalcy. He was so anxious to return to his routine, in fact, that he didn’t plan a formal reopening for the restaurant. “I just want to get back to work,” he says. The cozy Library at Firefly
Welcome back, Firefly!
FIREFLYPCB.COM Tori Phelps has been a writer and editor for nearly twenty years. A publishing industry veteran and longtime VIE collaborator, Phelps lives with three kids, two cats, and one husband in Charleston, South Carolina.
The Firefly sushi bar will soon be open!
42 | M AY 2019
House-made pastas, pizzas, and much more are on the menu.
BESTIN DESTIN VIP DESTIN MAGAZINE READER CHOICE AWARD
44 | M AY 2019
OF S U C CE S S
Spirits have long been a ritual: the best part of the day as it comes to a close, a soothing moment to reflect on events, a source of courage, or comfort in liquid form. The finer a spirit is, the purer its taste; it has a smooth finish, with rough edges softened and flavors enhanced over time. And, much like vintners never waiver from their passion for coaxing the best wine from the grapes, the meticulous processes involved in crafting the finest spirits speak to a level of dedication passed down for centuries. The very best ingredients are patiently sourced and blended, becoming liquid gold whose taste and nuanced flavors embody excellence in a glass.
BY LIESEL SCHMIDT | PHOTOGR APHY COURTESY OF ARÔME 28
or many, pourable perfection is found in the expected spirits—the aged tequilas and the cognacs, the scotches and the bourbons, the vodkas and the brandies whose ages climb into the double digits. These are the bottles that glitter with their expensive allure, their pedigrees often the source of boastful pride for those who collect them. Admittedly, rum is not a spirit that holds its own in the space of superior spirits. Rather, it is a mere bit player, an additive in cocktails that are consumed with little appreciation for the heritage of their ingredients. For superyacht broker Andrew Troyer, however, rum has gone underappreciated by the American public for far too long. He set out to establish a label that would not only command attention but also defy expectation and set a new bar in the realm of rums. Officially launching in 2016 under the name ARÔME 28, Troyer’s first bottles of rum were the culmination—the distillation, if you will—of his hard work and dedication, a reflection of the extensive time he’s spent in the field. He has traveled to source his ingredients, to witness the processes firsthand, and to speak to the people who know rum so intimately that it runs in their veins. “I tasted hundreds of rums and other spirits from a multitude of countries and traveled to visit industry professionals, visit distilleries, and learn everything I could,” Troyer explains. “What happened was pretty simple—I fell in love with a people and a passion that was seemingly untouched by commercial America. I fell in love with a traditional method of production and the rum styles of Cuba that date back to the 1800s, and we were blessed to connect with one of the very few people in the world ever to earn the title of maestro ronero—rum master. He became my connection to Central America and the old ways of Cuban rum production,” he says of finding the man who is now an integral part of—and an undeniable treasure to—the ARÔME team. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 45
Bon appétit! uch a connection was crucial for Troyer’s dream of successfully launching a product of the quality he wanted to achieve, but the embargo between Cuba and the United States prevented Troyer from sourcing his product from Cuban distilleries. Fortunately for Troyer, however, his rum master had begun living and working at an old, storied distillery in the Chitré district of Panama, thereby bypassing the complications that could easily have derailed his dream. Launching an unparalleled product is no simple matter; as so many are unaccustomed to expecting a “refined” rum, finding the appropriate price point was important. Troyer was offering up something new, far surpassing the readily accepted market share of lower-cost bottles by pricing ARÔME to reach into the triple digits.
Perhaps the sweet smell of his success can be found in the base notes of his rum’s aroma. The brand has achieved popularity among those who seek out exclusivity in their most prized possessions and who take the time to appreciate the finer details to which Troyer has dedicated himself. “It took twenty-eight years to mature the rum and four years to design ARÔME and our packaging, and I was told by most that it could never be done—and that, if it was, that nobody would sell it,” he recalls. He faced not only a lengthy production process but also the challenges that arose from his lack of willingness to compromise. “In truth, one of the hardest things to overcome has been the wide perception held by the general public of what high-quality rum should be and how it should be appreciated,” he admits—a point which lends itself well to the fact that his goal doesn’t involve the mainstream.
While a more modest valuation could have proven more prudent, Troyer had reason to believe his rum worthy of commanding such a price. “ARÔME was founded on my passion and the belief that rum could be both amazing and luxurious,” he says. “Few will understand how it could take nearly a year to create a handmade gift box, or how four different label producers failed to properly make our metal plate labels, or why it’s important that we had a large twenty-three-millimeter natural cork. But when you understand the patience it takes to create a rum that’s matured for twenty-eight years, then I believe you’ll understand why every last detail has to be special.” He goes on to enumerate the fine details that set his brand apart: the proprietary blend of molasses and yeast, the multicolumn distillation process in copper columns dating back to 1912, the excellence of the Kentucky-sourced bourbon casks used to mature the rum, the use of strict, traditional Cuban methods of aging. And the name is multilayered as well, as Troyer is quick to explain. “ARÔME translates to ‘aroma’ in both English and Spanish, and when a bottle of ARÔME is opened, the room is filled by the aroma.”
“We’ve created something here that far surpasses anything else available,” he proudly insists of the rum that was awarded Double Gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2018. “It’s for those who wish to experience something that took countless amounts of sacrifice, passion, patience, and willpower to create. It’s for sipping as the sun sets in the sky, for sharing at a graduation, for toasting and
“I FELL IN LOVE WITH A PEOPLE AND A PASSION THAT WAS SEEMINGLY UNTOUCHED BY COMMERCIAL AMERICA. I FELL IN LOVE WITH A TRADITIONAL METHOD OF PRODUCTION AND THE RUM STYLES OF CUBA THAT DATE BACK TO THE 1800S.” 46 | M AY 2019
celebrating. It’s to transport the drinker to times of old when products were made with heart.” Like the aroma of a newly opened bottle of his rum, the words hang with philosophical importance in the air before settling back into his own heart—the heart that so tirelessly pursued something special and now delights in seeing his passion poured one glass at a time.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ARÔME, VISIT RUMAROME.COM. Liesel Schmidt lives in Navarre, Florida, and works as a freelance writer for local and regional magazines, a web content writer, and a book editor. Having harbored a passionate dread of writing assignments when she was in school, she never imagined making a living at putting words on paper, but life sometimes has a funny way of working out. Follow her on Twitter (@laswrites) or download her novels, Coming Home to You, The Secret of Us, and Life Without You, on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.
Join Us for Our Monthly “Around the World” Dinners! C H E F ’ S TA B L E | P R I VAT E D I N I N G | E V E N T S 114 Logan Lane, Suite 1, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459 | Roux30a.com
Left: ARÔME 28 founder Andrew Troyer Opposite: With its metal plate labels, twentythree-millimeter natural cork seals, sophisticated packaging, and smooth taste resulting from the traditional Cuban distillation process, ARÔME is poised to become a go-to luxury spirit.
Chef James Neale of Havana Beach Bar & Grill at The Pearl hotel in Rosemary Beach, Florida Photo by Brenna Kneiss 48 | M AY 2019
LOVE of a
TA K I N G F O O D T O N E W H E I G H T S AT T H E P E A R L
By L I E S E L S C H M I D T
ith piercing eyes trained on his task, his steady hands carefully place finishing touches on a dish—James Neale is perhaps the quintessential chef. But it takes only a few moments in his presence to determine that his firm command of the kitchen isn’t born of arrogance, it’s born of a love for his craft and a desire to create exquisite cuisine for an unforgettable dining experience that transcends expectation. For Chef Neale, that love of food began at a young age, when his family chose their holiday destinations based not on landmarks, but cuisine. They took the forks in the road almost in a literal sense, creating a rich collection of memories tied to the flavors that danced over their tongues and the aromas that scented the air. It could easily be V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 49
Bon appétit! HE NEVER PUTS ON AIRS, NEVER OVERTHINKS A DISH OR A TECHNIQUE TO THE POINT THAT IT RESEMBLES ANYTHING OTHER THAN ITSELF—IT’S MERELY BEEN ELEVATED. the techniques he had learned and imparting some of his profoundly unique knowledge along the way.
Above and opposite: True to its namesake, the decor at Havana Beach Bar & Grill reflects bright colors, coastal flair, islandinspired prints, and photos of Cuba by Tommy Crow. Far opposite: Gulf shrimp atop a delicious grit cake is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Next page: The bar at Havana serves up delicious craft cocktails and classics in a sophisticated setting. Photos courtesy of St. Joe Club & Resorts
50 | M AY 2019
said that such a personal food-based history has made Chef Neale who and what he is today, leading him to the position he now holds. Just a few years into his thirties, he is the executive chef of Havana Beach Bar and Grill, located at The Pearl hotel in Rosemary Beach, Florida. Admittedly, one’s deep immersion in food does not always lead to a path so clearly focused on becoming a chef, but for Neale, the pull was undeniable. It was made even more so with each passing year and each new place he explored to understand its culture and experience its food. Setting off from his native South to pursue some of the more preeminent kitchens in New York after training at CIA in Hyde Park, Neale could well have stayed north of the Mason-Dixon Line to more fully establish himself on the food scene, perhaps with the goal of headlining his own restaurant. But the call of home beckoned him in 2016, and he took the opportunity to return to his childhood home near the Destin, Florida. He accepted a position that would still give his passion a place to shine and allow him the freedom to lead his own team, teaching those under him some of
That knowledge is, in effect, one of the very things that keeps him on the cutting edge—ever seeking new methods and ingredients, ever vigilant of knowing not just what he’s using but also where it comes from and how it was grown, raised, sourced, or caught. He knows the farmers, the fishermen, the foragers— every detail of what’s being added to his menu. And while others satisfy themselves with using expected lists of ingredients, Neale challenges himself—and, by extension, his diners—to think outside the box and try something different. New ingredients, for Neale, bring techniques and flavors to explore. They open the mind and the palate, creating something that isn’t just a meal; it’s a sensory experience and a way to create a lasting imprint on the brain. Crucial to just what makes James Neale tick—both as a chef and as a person—is his voracious love of learning, and nowhere is there better evidence of that than in his reading material. His home library—not merely a few neatly arranged shelves—comprises thousands of books. But no matter the number of books at his disposal, there’s always room for more, as he eats words with the same appetite as he does food. “I love reading about everything from food to art to business and finance to personal growth and on and on. I read a book a week most weeks, depending on the size of the book; and I have composition books filled with notes on most of them, which helps in applying my knowledge into my everyday life,” he says. “There’s a saying that knowledge is power, but knowledge is only power when you use it to better
your life and the lives of others. I’m very critical of the way I spend my time, keeping daily journals, constantly trying to replace bad habits with good ones. Books are my escape, but all of the books that I read help me toward a specific goal of mine. It’s a win-win.” His penchant for true nose-to-tail, root-to-shoot, farm-to-table cuisine aside, the scholarly young chef— who regularly takes his staff on farm field trips to educate them on the importance of pure products and responsible sourcing—does have a few tells that give insight into the fact that he is just a regular, downto-earth guy. “I love the Texas Bacon Cheesesteak plate at Waffle House with scattered hash browns totally covered, topped, and peppered,” he admits with a laugh. He is, indeed, like the rest of us: a guy who likes to spend his downtime with his wife and son doing ordinary things—except perhaps for using family camping trips to source ingredients like sorrel and mushrooms. Once again, the undeniable DNA of a chef peeks through. And while he certainly creates a menu at Havana Beach that fully displays the tenets to which he so greatly dedicates himself, he never puts on airs, never overthinks a dish or a technique to the point that it resembles anything other than itself—it’s merely been elevated. Food is still food, entirely recognizable to the eye as well as to the palate.
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 51
Bon appétit! The only deviation from that might be seen on Havana’s dessert menu, most specifically the long-treasured, grown-up version of s’mores—a creative confection whose seemingly simple presentation to the table is brought to dramatic effect by the billow of smoke from the lid, allowing the first hints of chocolate, house-made graham cracker, and scratch-made marshmallow. It’s a whimsical dish, a playful reminder that food should be fun and enjoyable, that it should be inspiring—and, above all, that it should be memorable. After all, as Virginia Woolf once said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” And Chef James Neale certainly wants every guest at his restaurant to dine well.
Havana Beach Bar & Grill is located at The Pearl, 63 Main Street, Rosemary Beach, Florida, 32461. For more information, visit ThePearlRB.com. Liesel Schmidt lives in Navarre, Florida, and works as a freelance writer for local and regional magazines, a web content writer, and a book editor. Having harbored a passionate dread of writing assignments when she was in school, she never imagined making a living at putting words on paper, but life sometimes has a funny way of working out. Follow her on Twitter (@laswrites) or download her novels, Coming Home to You, The Secret of Us, and Life Without You, on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.
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Cocktails and Dreams BY ANTHEA GERRIE
54 | M AY 2019
Y OF QUEEN’S PARK
SHE LAUNCHED HER CLAIM TO FAME IN THE BIG APPLE AND NAILED IT IN BERLIN, BUT BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, IS WHERE THE TOP MIXOLOGIST IN THE UNITED STATES HAS CHOSEN TO OPEN HER OWN BAR. LAURA NEWMAN HAS OFFICIALLY BEEN NAMED THE COUNTRY’S BEST BARTENDER, AND SHE ADMITS THAT A FAIR SHARE OF BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS WENT INTO BECOMING THE FIRST WOMAN TO WIN THE NATIONAL TITLE SINCE THE PRESTIGIOUS WORLD CLASS BARTENDER OF THE YEAR COMPETITION BEGAN TEN YEARS AGO. “The cocktail bar world is a bit of a boys’ club,” Newman confided to me on her return from the global finals in Berlin. She had recovered from the health issues that hit her over the frantic final weekend after she was named one of the world’s top four. “I lost my voice but kept going—and when I got home, I wasn’t just sick: I had pneumonia,” she confesses. She dealt with these issues, and she had a new bar to open by Thanksgiving—six weeks later. Queen’s Park, situated in an atmospheric (and, until recently, abandoned) building in the downtown Loft District, is the result of a dream born in 2017. That’s when Newman turned her back on the New York bars where she had honed her skills and followed her heart to Birmingham to be with a boy who had captivated her in Kentucky. “We met on a distillery tour there in 2015, and I thought he was incredibly handsome as well as smart, funny, kind, and charming, but we both had significant others at the time,” she says of fellow bartender and business partner Larry Townley. She didn’t make a move until she met Larry again in 2017 when visiting Birmingham with a group of friends. “Sparks flew as soon as he picked me up from the airport, and this time it was OK to act on it as we were both single.” What Newman did not expect was to also be captivated by the Southern city. “Everybody is so incredibly friendly. In my Brooklyn neighborhood, I’d get people saying ‘Hi, how are you?’ but here, they really want to know how you are! And the local food and beverage scene is just amazing.” The bar—which has been “rammed,” she says, since opening the day after Thanksgiving—is a distinct contrast to the dive bar where she had worked previously. “This one celebrates the concept of the grand hotel, although we serve three-dollar beers as well as sixteen-dollar craft cocktails,” she laughs. The name celebrates a now-defunct grand hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and the rum swizzle that was its hit house drink in 1920, when Prohibition put a sudden end to the cocktail culture in the United States.
the hotel for giving work to American bartenders, who brought with them their cocktail expertise as well as scores of regular customers. The swizzle—think daiquiri made piquant with Angostura bitters—remains a favorite drink in the Caribbean, and you can expect a decent one from Newman. But also expect something a little different from the woman whose title was partly won by broiling lemon peels before boiling them and adding powdered acid to create her own citrus stock. This homemade alternative to ordinary lemon juice was an ingredient in her challengewinning whiskey sour, which was topped with a maple syrup foam scented with star anise and coriander. You can find something a little different in her Birmingham bar, too: the Midnight Breakfast, featuring vodka mixed with cereal milk made from marinating Fruity Pebbles, is a house favorite. “We serve it in a little milk jug.” Newman is not only an ace mixologist but also a certified sommelier who holds a degree in hospitality management from the Institute of Culinary Education. As a finalist in Patrón’s Margarita of the Year contest and Woodford Reserve’s Manhattan Experience challenge, she is no stranger to awards, but when she decided to enter World Class, she knew she was going against a tide of tacit disapproval on her
Above left: World Class bartending champion Laura Newman and her partner in business and in life, Larry Townley Photo by Jonathan Purvis Left: Airmail cocktail with Jamaican rum, honey, lime, and sparkling wine Opposite: The Ohana at Queen’s Park, a tropical house specialty
“Overnight, Americans who had the means to travel left the country for weekends in the Caribbean, where they could drink legally,” explains Newman. She credits V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 55
Bon appétit! “WORLD CLASS IS ABOUT MORE THAN SHOWMANSHIP; IT’S ABOUT great drinks , AND TO ME THAT INVOLVES MAKING A CONNECTION WITH THE PERSON ABOUT TO TASTE MY DRINKS.” home base. “Statistically, more than half the bartenders in the United States are female, but that doesn’t seem to trickle up to the craft cocktail level,” she explains. “Discrimination may be illegal, but that didn’t stop an East Village bar telling me I could serve drinks, but they’d never hire me to make cocktails. “It reflects a bigger picture across the country—it’s mainly men mixing the drinks—and perhaps one reason is that when you start with such a level of prejudice, lots of women don’t even want to go there.” Luckily for the cocktail lovers of New York and Birmingham, Newman did not let male chauvinism in a surprising area (statistically, women are driving the cocktail revival trend) deter her from making the drinks as well as presenting them to her customers over the bar, a level of personal contact she feels is deeply important to the experience. It was one reason why she went to such lengths to whisper to the judges when she lost her voice in Berlin but nevertheless had to present a couple of fantastic rum
cocktails she had dreamt up during a sixteen-hour window, which included sleeping time. This special challenge for the last few finalists could not be a case of just slapping down the drink without explaining the inspiration behind it, she explains. “World Class is about more than showmanship; it’s about great drinks, and to me that involves making a connection with the person about to taste my drinks.” Future plans include a second Birmingham bar, which will please those who currently have to stand in line outside Queen’s Park when capacity has been reached. “It doesn’t feel small, because of the fourteen-foot-high ceilings, but the space is really tiny,” Newman explains. “We need another bar in the same neighborhood so our customers can just walk from one to the other.” As always, Laura Newman is putting the customer first and rocking the connection between them—a connection she has experienced in the beautiful South like nowhere else.
QUEEN’S PARK IS AT 112 TWENTY-FOURTH STREET NORTH IN BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA. VISIT QUEENSPARKBHAM.COM TO LEARN MORE. Anthea Gerrie is based in the UK but travels the world in search of stories. Her special interests are architecture and design, culture, food, and drink, as well as the best places to visit in the world’s great playgrounds. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, the Independent, and Blueprint.
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Laura Newman’s Recipes: AMOR PICANTE MARGARITA 2 ounces Lunazul Blanco Tequila 1 ounce passion fruit syrup, such as Reàl
1/2 ounce lime juice 2 dashes Scrappy’s Firewater Bitters Spiced salt, to rim
Combine all ingredients (except spiced salt) in a shaker with ice; shake well and strain into an iced double rocks glass with a spiced salt rim. Garnish with a lime wheel.
SPICED SALT: Combine 2 tablespoons Tapatío Salsa Picante Seasoning with 3/4 cup kosher salt in a mason jar. Shake well.
CHINATOWN 1 1/2 ounces Bulleit 10 Year Bourbon 3/4 ounce Campari
3/4 ounce Cynar 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice; stir and strain into an iced double rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Above: A sampling from Queen’s Park’s National Margarita Day celebration, including the Amor Picante Margarita
Left: Laura Newman’s signature Midnight Breakfast cocktail
1 1/2 ounces Tito’s Vodka 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla syrup
4 ounces cereal milk
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice; shake well and strain into tiny milk jug. Garnish with Fruity Pebbles and a paper straw.
VANILLA SYRUP: Combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water in a saucepan. Add the scraped seeds and pod of half a vanilla bean. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved; strain and refrigerate.
CEREAL MILK: Combine 1 1/2 cups milk with 2 cups Fruity Pebbles, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/4 cup light brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes; fine strain and refrigerate. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 57
Rendering by Dhiru A. Thadani of Seaside’s proposed new plaza, including planned additions to Bud & Alley’s restaurants, the Krier Tower, and more Opposite: Bud & Alley’s owner, Dave Rauschkolb Photo by Marla Carter
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Legacy BUILDING UPON A
A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW
By Dave Rauschkolb
I still can’t believe that thirty-three years have passed since we pulled into that empty, sand parking lot along a deserted stretch of beach. A single-story wood structure sat with a small tower on top. Next to it, a similar single-room building was placed to form a gateway to the beach. A little further east, a collection of cabanas surrounded a sandy courtyard, and across the street sat a tiny post office. Pretty much everything else was sage-colored scrub. That was the first time we set foot in that simple entrance of Bud & Alley’s. I was twenty-four years old. I recall looking through the bar entrance and across the simple screened porch to that beautiful Gulf of Mexico vista, seeing so many vivid shades of blue and green. It was like a dream— utterly impossible at the time to even fathom a prediction of the New Urbanist wonder that Seaside would become in the heart of the Florida Panhandle. It is hard for me to find the words to express the deep gratitude I feel to Seaside’s town developers, Robert and Daryl Davis, for this chance and to the millions of loyal customers who have crossed the threshold of Bud & Alley’s all these years. Nearly all of us who embraced the early concept of Seaside when Robert laid out his plans to us are still here. He gently coaxed V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 59
Bud & Alley’s will remain open for dining through the majority of the expansion process.
Bud & Alley’s as seen from the Gulf of Mexico before the recent changes to the boardwalk
us into making what would become life-altering decisions to start businesses based on his enthusiasm. Scott Witcoski—my business partner at the time— and I, the Modicas, Bill and Heavenly Dawson of the Dawson Group, Bob and Linda White of Sundog Books, Donna Spiers and Jacky Barker in the realty office, and Pat Day in the post office were the first, and so many others followed. Yes, we caught on to his vision; Robert had us all at “hello.”
After all, we have had the privilege to witness and contribute to Seaside’s growth for thirty-three years. We have all relished playing our roles in the community building process from scratch—a rare opportunity. With every new building’s foundation, it was always exciting to see what Robert and Daryl and their band of architects and town planners would come up with. I saw much of this town designed on napkins and butcher-block paper on our dining tables; we put it there as much for the architects as we did to save on linen costs. Nearly every Seaside property transaction has had some part of its origin planned over a meal at Bud & Alley’s. Clearly, I should have been a realtor on the side. My partner for the first twenty years, Scott Witcoski, and I would work with Robert Davis to add a little bit to the Bud & Alley’s building over time: a porch here, a gazebo there—always with a group of colorfully serious architects in tow. In the late 1980s, architect David Mohney designed the iconic copper-topped dining gazebo. In 1994, in response to increasing business, a brand-new kitchen and the roof deck were commissioned by Robert Davis. Town architect Richard Gibbs designed it, and Bud & Alley’s finally had two-story views with a lovely, airy design. Just like Seaside as a whole, we always embraced change with thoughtful planning and careful timing. In 2017, Robert gave me the opportunity, after all these years, to purchase the land and the Bud & Alley’s building. I knew the south beachside of the town center 60 | M AY 2019
If there ever was a place in the world to embrace change, it is Seaside, and the changes never stop being visually stunning as this dance of architects leaps into its fourth decade. would be developed over time, and I truly felt that it was important that the very first changes be at Bud & Alley’s. That way, no matter what new projects built up around us, Bud & Alley’s would be the constant—always there as we always have been. I also sincerely and firmly believe in Robert’s vision for the south side, and I felt that I could enthusiastically help usher in each change as it happened. If there ever was a place in the world to embrace change, it is Seaside, and the changes never stop being visually stunning as this dance of architects leaps into its fourth decade. As long as I have been here, change has been a constant. But with every change, wonders have always emerged to enhance and refine the Seaside experience for all. Credit goes to Dhiru Thadani for designing the recent plan for the Lyceum’s gorgeous new performing arts stage and enhancements, as well as the new Seaside Post Office location and the most stunning public restrooms anywhere. After negotiating the land purchase, it was extremely important to me to take Bud & Alley’s into its next thirty-three years with care and consideration for the past and to honor the old building by keeping it as it has always been; only some minor interior restoration was necessary. It was critical to find the right architect who had been around Seaside since the early days to design the enhancements. Thankfully, architect, author, and former Seaside town architect Dhiru Thadani
Enhancement plans include a bar with outdoor seating on the 30-A side of Bud & Alley’s, a new stairwell, an elevator, restrooms, and an 850-square-foot roof deck expansion. Rendering by Dhiru A. Thadani
was up to the delicate challenge of marrying the old and the new. In my view, the resulting design is a perfect match. First, Dhiru worked with Robert to design the beautiful continuous boardwalk from Pizza Bar east to the Seaside Pavilion. Dhiru’s design of the new additions to Bud & Alley’s is quite stunning and beautifully blends the two buildings into a structure that, before the first footers are even poured, is getting rave reviews. “In the early 1980s, Robert bought three sharecropper cottages in Alabama and moved them to Seaside,” Dhiru says. “Placing two of these humble structures, along with a flagpole, created a recognizable place along the barren strip of 30-A. The eastern cottage is now the Shrimp Shack, and the western cottage serves as the entry to Bud & Alley’s. The ethos of moving and recycling buildings is probably one of the most sustainable strategies available. It is antithetical to the throw-away society that we currently live in. The strategies employed at Seaside are to build only what is needed at the time, to be debt free or keep debt to a minimum, and to develop the town incrementally. This strategy helped create a lovable place and a patina that is groomed by time, unlike newer developments that are laden with debt and lack character. “Dave, Robert, and I were in full agreement to keep these original structures in place, as they are integral to the history and character of Seaside. As a consequence, the expansion additions occur on the north and west of the original Bud & Alley’s cottage and dining room.” My customers simply adore the roof deck, and I felt it was essential to add some additional space, so 850 square feet will be added on the north side with panoramic views around town. That new section of the deck will serve as the roof of a new roadside kitchen and operational facility that will eventually house Taco Bar and Pizza Bar. The new building will have a full-service roadside bar.
In the first handful of years, Pizza Bar will remain in its present location, and Taco Bar will operate next door. The new kitchen and roadside bar will house a yet-to-be-determined walk-up restaurant. The other enhancements will include a three-story tower entrance to the roof deck with an elevator, making the roof deck accessible to wheelchairs for the first time. On the west side of the building will be additional bathrooms, including two upstairs. A new entrance plaza will flank the new Bud & Alley’s building on the west and east sides and a tree-lined roadside walkway. “The eastern edge of these structures defines the newly planned plaza that fronts the yet-to-be built Krier Tower,” Dhiru explains. “The intermediate alleyway that cuts through Bud & Alley’s will be closed. To transverse east–west through the commercial district of Seaside, one would either walk along 30-A or south of Bud & Alley’s. The goal is to activate the street life opposite the Airstreams as well as encourage locals and visitors to experience the beauty of the Gulf Coast while walking along the newly completed boardwalk between the Obelisk (Coleman) Pavilion and the Seaside (Temple) Pavilion.” All construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, and I am determined to keep all of the restaurants operating during the construction, with Bud & Alley’s being closed for only its regular short period around the holiday season. I am as excited about the future of Bud & Alley’s and Seaside as I have ever been. Let us watch as new wonders of architecture and planning play out before our eyes—just as they always have in Seaside, this very special place to us all.
To learn more or plan your dining experience, visit BudandAlleys.com. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 61
Aperitif A THIRT Y-A TRADITION
Unwind with a ’Tini! At Café Thirty-A, Tuesday and Thursday evenings are sacred. From five o’clock to close, this institution along Northwest Florida’s Scenic Highway 30-A shakes, stirs, and muddles its famous martinis.
Visit CafeThirtyA.com to learn more.
’Tini Night is a well-known event along 30-A and in neighboring areas, with locals and visitors alike heading to the bar at Café Thirty-A for tasty drinks such as the Berry Blue Tini, the Seagrove Beach Breeze, the James Bond, the Pineapple Cosmo, and more. Owner Harriet Crommelin and team welcome you to stay for dinner and enjoy fresh seafood, Mediterranean-inspired dishes, and wood-fired pizzas.
Photo courtesy of Café Thirty-A
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Five O’clock SOMEWHERE
64 | M AY 2019
There’s nothing quite like sipping a cold, refreshing cocktail while soaking up the sun on a hot summer day. The classics are always safe bets, but we thought it might be time to mix it up and add some new flair to your daily mixology. To kick off the summer season, we’ve teamed up with connoisseurs across the internet to give summer cocktails a whole new twist. Let’s get shaking!
Limoncello Daiquiri By Beautiful Booze BEAUTIFULBOOZE.COM “It’s getting pretty warm down here, and I know summer is almost another month away so I’m looking for some drinks that will help combat it,” says Natalie Migliarini of Beautiful Booze. “My all-time favorite go-to summer cocktail is a daiquiri, so of course it was the first thing I wanted to try with limoncello.”
Ingredients 1 ounce rum 1 ounce limoncello 1 ounce lime juice Simple syrup to taste
Directions 1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
Casa Spring Fling By Casamigos
1/2 ounce orgeat syrup 1/2 ounce simple syrup 6–8 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters Edible flowers for garnish (optional)
CASAMIGOSTEQUILA.COM Directions This colorful drink has a kick! We are loving the recent throng of celebrities getting involved with or starting their own craft liquor brands, and George Clooney’s Casamigos is no exception.
2. Shake hard to chill ingredients.
2 ounces Casamigos Blanco Tequila
3. Fine strain into a coupe glass.
1/2 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
4. Garnish and enjoy!
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1. Combine all ingredients, except Peychaud’s Bitters, into a shaker. 2. Add ice and shake vigorously for a few seconds. 3. Strain into a Collins glass and add fresh ice. 4. Top off with bitters and garnish with three edible flowers in the center.
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 65
Bon appétit! Honey Lavender
For the Honey Lavender Tea Ingredients
1 ounce dried lavender
By Dixie Vodka
1 ounce honey
1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Lemonade is known as a refreshing summertime staple, and Dixie Vodka has taken the lemonade stand to a whole new level for adults only with their Honey Lavender Lemonade.
2. Remove from heat, add 1 ounce dried lavender, and cover.
5. Chill in a glass container.
3. Let stand for 30 minutes. 4. Stir in 1 ounce honey, then strain. 6. Refrigerate for a week to ten days.
1 1/2 ounces Dixie Wildflower Honey Vodka 1 ounce honey lavender tea (recipe follows)
For the Cocktail
4–6 ounces lemonade Lemon slice
1. Combine Dixie Wildflower Honey Vodka and tea in a glass with ice.
2. Top with lemonade and stir. 3. Garnish with lemon slice and fresh lavender sprig.
Cucumber Seas Cocktail By Stir and Strain STIRANDSTRAIN.COM Refreshing and cool, cucumber is a great flavor to enjoy during the warm spring and summer months. This tasty concoction by Stir and Strain offers a perfect blend of sweetness, mild cucumber, and a salty finish.
Ingredients 1 1/2 ounces vodka 1 ounce Thatcher’s Organic Cucumber Liqueur 2 shiso leaves 1/2 ounce lime juice 1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio) 3/4 ounce coconut milk Hibiscus salt and cucumber slices for garnish 66 | M AY 2019
Directions 1. In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the shiso leaves with lime juice. 2. Fill the shaker two-thirds full with ice, and then pour in the vodka, cucumber liqueur, simple syrup, and coconut milk. 3. Shake hard for 20 seconds and double strain into a rocks glass with ice. 4. Garnish with cucumber slices and hibiscus salt.
Scandinavian Picnic By Craft and Cocktails CRAFTANDCOCKTAILS.CO “Everyone seems to have a spring in their step, and the herbs are blooming with their purple, pink, and yellow jewels—a good sign to roll out the picnic blankets from their winter hibernation,” says Craft and Cocktails’ Ashley Rose Conway. “This Scandinavian Picnic cocktail would be perfect for sipping in the park!”
Ingredients 2 ounces aquavit (I used Krogstad) 2 ounces green apple juice 1 1/2 ounces celery juice 3/4 ounces lime juice 1/4 ounce + 1 teaspoon cardamom syrup (recipe follows) Pinch of salt Garnish: green apple slice, celery ribbons from 1 stalk, fennel sprigs, edible flowers (optional)
For the Cardamom Syrup Ingredients 1 cup sugar 1 cup water 1 1/2 tablespoons cardamom pods
Directions 1. Split cardamom pods and crush seeds slightly. 2. Add sugar and water to a saucepan. Bring almost to a boil to dissolve sugar.
For the Cocktail 1. Juice the green apple and celery.
3. Add cardamom bits to the pan.
2. Using a vegetable peeler, create thin ribbons of celery.
4. Reduce heat to simmer; let steep for 15 minutes.
3. Roll them up and skewer them in a line, twisting every other one to the side.
5. Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool.
4. Put all liquid ingredients and salt into a shaker with ice and shake.
6. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a container and store in the fridge for up to a month.
5. Strain into a coupe glass or a Nick and Nora glass.
6. Add green apple slice to the rim of the glass. 7. Add the celery skewer and balance on the apple slice. (I added a few extra celery curls to the apple slice to make it look more organic.) 8. Garnish with fennel fronds and edible flowers on top of the celery curls. Cheers!
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NANBU IS CHANGING THE 30-A CULINARY SCENE
In t e r v i e w b y A B I G A I L R YA N Photography by STEVEN MANGUM
If you’re from Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast or you’ve visited the area in the last few years, chances are you’ve heard of Chef Nikhil Abuvala of Roux 30a. But how well do you know his newest business endeavor, Nanbu noodle bar?
68 | M AY 2019
hat seemed a pipe dream for Abuvala has come to full fruition, and we had a chance to sit down with him to chat about the noodle bar that has taken the local restaurant scene by storm since opening its doors in the Art District of Grayton Beach at the beginning of 2019.
VIE: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started in the restaurant industry?
Nikhil Abuvala: I was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and later moved to Santa Rosa Beach. At the age of thirteen, I started taking private sushi-making lessons, where I discovered my love and passion for the culinary field. Shortly after that, I was offered a job to join a sushi team, and the rest is history. For years I worked to produce unique culinary creations, and then I decided to open my own company, Roux 30a, in 2013. I host private dining experiences that showcase different foods from around the world, cater private events, and much more. Earlier this year,
I decided to open a Japanese-inspired restaurant called Nanbu noodle bar. It’s an open-kitchen concept featuring ramen and poke, bringing that big-city flair I experienced living in Atlanta to this quaint beach town I am so fortunate to call home.
VIE: How did the idea and inspiration for Nanbu begin? NA: Some of my favorite food is clean, Asian-style cuisine. Being of Indian
heritage, I remember my grandmother cooking for me when I was young. She inspired me, as did my first job working with Japanese food and being a sushi chef. I love Asian culture and how clean it is! The idea started as a need to provide lighter, healthier food in this area. With so many incredible restaurants here that are inspired by rich, Southern-style cuisine, I wanted to bring that lighter flair to people.
VIE: Where did the name “Nanbu” come from? NA: With it being a Japanese restaurant, I wanted to incorporate the Japanese
language into the name. Even though it is clean food, we are still based in the South, so I wanted to do Southern-inspired Japanese cuisine, and the word nanbu means “having to do with the south” or “from the south.”
VIE: If you had to choose a favorite item on Nanbu’s menu, what would it be? V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 69
NA: For an appetizer, it would definitely be my pork belly steamed buns! The best thing, though—and the whole reason I chose to do a ramen and poke style menu—is my Faroe Island salmon poke bowl. That will always be my go-to meal. VIE: Where do you find inspiration for developing new recipes and menu items? NA: With Nanbu meaning “southerner” and my desire to create healthier cuisine,
I took inspiration from a type of ramen dish called bikini ramen. Most ramen has a thick, rich broth to it, and I wanted to do something different. I wanted to create a brighter, refreshing bone broth that you might see around the world paired with fresh ingredients. One of our menu items is called the Nanbu Noodle Bowl—it’s a Southern-inspired bowl filled with barbecue pork shoulder, collard greens, and charred corn, but the broth keeps the dish light.
VIE: What do you see for the future of Nanbu? Do you hope to open a second location here or in another city?
NA: Of course! The whole idea and the design behind Nanbu are that it is
something that is repeatable. I have the most incredible staff, and if our success continues the way it has just over the last several months, I hope to grow the franchise and open more locations.
VIE: What is your favorite thing about your work? NA: Both of my concepts, Roux and Nanbu, are open-kitchen restaurants. My favorite part is being involved with the customers and their dining experience. It’s
70 | M AY 2019
Chef Nikhil Abuvala
With so many incredible restaurants here that are inspired by rich, Southern-style cuisine, I wanted to bring that lighter flair to people. the coolest thing in the world to be able to cook something and then serve it to the customers and see the pleasure that comes across their faces when they eat it. I love that instant gratification; it’s one of the most rewarding feelings!
Nanbu is located at 26 Logan Lane, Unit C, in the heart of the Art District of Grayton Beach, Florida. Be sure to dine with them Tuesday through Saturday nights from five to eleven or on Sundays from five to nine-thirty—walk-ins only. To learn more about Nanbu, visit NanbuNoodleBar.com.
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4646 Gulfstar Drive • Destin, FL 32541 • unitedlighting.com
IJ by 72 | M AY 2019
f ine w e i k
S I T GETS BET
C O L L E E N S AC H S
R E T
| photography by M E L L OW M E D I A
or twenty years, Vin’tij has been a restaurant dominated by creative food, an extensive selection of wines, and polished service, all behind the unassuming exterior of a strip mall in Miramar Beach, Florida. On September 18, 2018, owner Todd Reber made what he calls “a quantum leap” to a stunning new location in Grand Boulevard. Reber says the most significant change in the restaurant is in the address. It is true the longtime favorite menu items are there. Reber says the oyster BLT, the pecan chicken, the shrimp and grits, and the blue cheese and grape tart will never be taken off the menu. The fish of the day is still perfectly cooked. And the warm griddled lemon pound cake (served with sautéed strawberries and cinnamon ice cream) is still at the top of the dessert menu. Vin’tij Food and Wine continues to have an award-winning wine boutique, and the menu is designed to complement the extensive selection of wines. In fact, wine is at the forefront of everything, from the four-course dinners to the grapevines in the restaurant’s logo. If you love Vin’tij, you will find all the things you love about it in the new location. But the concept has expanded in wonderful ways. A brunch-style breakfast, a longtime dream of Reber’s, has been added and is served alongside the lunch menu until 3 p.m. The breakfast menu lists such classics as omelets, waffles (including cinnamon waffles topped with maple-bacon ice cream), and eggs Benedict (the version changes daily), alongside dishes inspired by cuisines of the world. Huevos rancheros with pork carnitas, filet and eggs with chimichurri, and a charcuterie
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 73
Above, left to right: Vin’tij’s shrimp and grits The oyster crostini makes a great appetizer. Owner Todd Reber with the oyster BLT and the smoked chicken and brie sandwich
board are on the menu. According to Reber, a new favorite is the guacamole board with toast points, chopped egg, dukkah (an aromatic Egyptian nut and spice blend), bacon, pickled red onions, and pico de gallo. There are even alcoholic beverage options that work beautifully with breakfast: a bright and fresh grapefruit, lemongrass, and ginger sake cocktail; a pink grapefruit sangria; and a sake Bloody Mary.
The oyster BLT, the pecan chicken, the shrimp and grits, and the blue cheese and grape tart will never be taken off the menu.
With a larger kitchen, Vin’tij is now able to offer vegan, gluten-free, and low-carb fare, making it possible to accommodate individual dietary needs. The Vegan Lucky Bowl—roasted cauliflower, new potatoes, mushrooms, garlic green beans, blistered tomatoes, shishito peppers, arugula, and garlic chips—is served over Asian stir-fried quinoa rice.
Cuisine Ignacio Bernard as the “creative inspiration for the majority of our menus, special events, and our four-course wine dinners.” Chef Jimbo Butler, who has been with Vin’tij for more than fifteen years, oversees the integrity of the original recipes that are so loved by regulars. And Chef Joe Canton manages the kitchen to make sure everything runs smoothly.
It takes a lot to make Vin’tij the exceptional restaurant that it is. In the kitchen are three chefs and “a team of talented cooks,” Reber says. He describes Chef de 74 | M AY 2019
Reber credits his wife, Sabrina, with turning a passion of hers into one of the most exciting new features at Vin’tij. Cold-pressed juices are offered in the boutique refrigerator to grab and go. These thoughtfully created juices are the result of Sabrina’s quest to learn how the powerful nutrients of extracts can heal. That passion is
evident as Sabrina discusses traveling to the Amazon where she spent fifteen days living with a Shipibo tribe going into the jungle to learn about barks, roots, leaves, berries, flowers, and plants with healing properties. Dragon’s Breath Elixir provides immune and digestive support in one to two tablespoons consumed with meals. Juice blends provide a variety of benefits, depending on the ingredients. Various juice blends can boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and support heart and brain function. Vin’tij also offers juice cleanse programs of one, three, and seven days. The cold-pressed juices are scheduled for pick up each day, so they are at their freshest and most beneficial. In addition to the juices, nut milk is also included each day of the program. Superfood smoothies and smoothie bowls, offered until 3 p.m. each day, are another part of the added attention to nutrient-dense options. The Farmers Market smoothie provides eight servings of fruits and vegetables. The restaurant itself is simply beautiful. Swaths of cool, intense color cover the ceiling and walls. Large windows let in abundant light during the day, while simple clear globes bathe the dining room in soft light in the evening. The dining room, wine shop, and juice boutique occupy the same space, one flowing into the other.
The length of one long wall in the dining room is graced by a stunning mosaic of a gnarled grapevine made from thousands of tiny hand-cut mirror pieces (another mosaic adorns the wall in the bar area). Sabrina calls it their “family tree.” It was such a massive project that the whole family—Sabrina, Todd, and their two children—worked on it together. It is appropriate that the entire family created the mosaic; the name Reber means “keeper of the vine.” Combining the old and the new in a beautiful new space, the Reber family is clearly living up to its name.
VINTIJ.COM Colleen Sachs loves food and traveling around the world and has been writing about both for twenty-five years. She lives with her spouse and a multitude of pets in Santa Rosa Beach and Pensacola, Florida. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 75
A LEGACY IN CENTRAL FLORIDA
BY COLLEEN SACHS
The Columbia Restaurant in the historic Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, Florida, has been a mainstay of the area’s cuisine for generations. The restaurant began as the Columbia Saloon, opening on December 17, 1903. To put this in a historical context, while local cigar workers were enjoying Cuban sandwiches and Cuban coffee at their new neighborhood café, the Wright Brothers were making their first flight. With the reopening of Goody Goody, a burger place that was a local favorite for eighty years before closing in 2005, and Ulele in the old Water Works building on the riverfront, the Gonzmart family is preserving Tampa cuisine in a delicious way. 78 | M AY 2019
he father (actually, by now, the great-greatgrandfather) of this restaurant empire was Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez. His great-grandson Richard Gonzmart is the current caretaker of the family of restaurants as CEO and president, while his brother Casey is chairman of the board. Richard’s daughter Andrea and Casey’s son Casey Jr. are the fifth generation to be part of the family business. Andrea says, “Working at the Columbia Restaurant is not a job: it is a legacy that I am responsible for carrying on. And because of what my father has instilled in me from birth, it is by no means a burden, but a privilege.” She attributes the longevity of the restaurant to love and passion. This is a business that weathered Prohibition, the Great Depression, and the downturn of Ybor City in the 1960s when blight struck the neighborhood. Andrea continues, “But because of love and passion, every generation has overcome these challenges.” And because generations of that family persisted, generations of my family have made memories at Columbia Restaurant. My grandmother was born in Ybor City in 1910 and went to Columbia Restaurant with her family as a child. My mother remembers my grandfather stopping there while taking the family on a Sunday drive to get everyone ice cream cones with flavors such as guava, watermelon, and mango. (The ice cream was produced from the 1940s to the 1960s by the Tropical Ice Cream Company, founded by Casimiro’s son Gustavo.) She also remembers going
there for the Gasparilla Pirate Festival night parade in the 1950s and seeing the original long mahogany bar lined with men in pirate costumes. My parents, who met at the University of Tampa, went to Columbia to celebrate the evening they got engaged, and my brother was engaged there five decades later. This restaurant is the stuff of memories, so, not surprisingly, there are dishes on the menu that would cause an uproar if they were to change. The classic Cuban sandwich, originally known as the Mixto, is a tribute to the diverse populations that came to Ybor City as the century turned from the 1800s to the 1900s: ham from Spain; salami from Sicily; mojo roast pork from Cuba; and cheese, pickles, and mustard from Germany. The Columbia version is served pressed, so it is warm, and the fresh Cuban bread is crisped. It is likely that I have never been to Columbia Restaurant without having the 1905 Salad; the name honors the year the saloon became the restaurant. I love this salad so much I often duplicate it at home. A base of crisp iceberg lettuce is tossed with julienned ham, Swiss cheese, green olives, and tomatoes. What makes this salad unique is the zip the garlicky dressing gets from just the right amount Worcestershire sauce.
There are other locations around Florida, including Saint Augustine, Celebration, and Clearwater Beach. The Sarasota location opened on Saint Armands Circle in 1959 and is now the oldest restaurant in Sarasota. My family has favorites that are always good to see. My mother, whose table of choice is in the patio dining room near the fountain, loves the warm Cuban bread wrapped in paper that is brought to the table with butter when you are seated. My father loved the Shrimp Supreme, marinated and fried bacon-wrapped shrimp. While taking the Florida Bar exam at the Tampa Convention Center, I was in search of comfort food during the lunch break. I walked across the bridge
to the location that was then on Harbour Island to have Boliche (roast eye round of beef stuffed with chorizo), black beans, rice, and platanos. And while I have tried all the desserts on the menu, I continue to gravitate to the flan. It was my favorite as a child and has been served at Columbia since 1935, when the restaurant opened Tampa’s first air-conditioned dining room. Keeping things interesting, the Gonzmart family is always looking for ways to make the menu even better. Richard Gonzmart makes frequent trips to Spain and brings ideas back to the restaurant, where Chef Geraldo Bayona, who has been with the company since 1997, brings them to life.
Above: The retro-inspired interior of Goody Goody in Tampa Photo courtesy of Goody Goody Opposite: Richard Gonzmart in the wine cellar at Columbia Restaurant, Ybor City Photo courtesy of Columbia Restaurant
The importance of Columbia to generations of families is not lost on the family that preserves the restaurant, which is the oldest restaurant in Tampa. About walking through the fifteen dining rooms, Andrea says, “I often get stopped by a server who wants to introduce me to their table because the patrons may have gotten engaged at the Columbia, or their grandparents would often bring them to the Columbia . . . There is always a story that warms my heart.” The Columbia Restaurant makes history outside of Tampa as well. There are other locations around Florida, including Saint Augustine, Celebration, and Clearwater Beach. The Sarasota location opened on Saint Armands Circle in 1959 and is now the oldest restaurant in Sarasota. Richard Gonzmart’s appreciation of history, combined with his childhood memories of growing up in Tampa, prompted him to purchase the rights to Goody Goody, a barbecue stand turned burger place that opened as a drive-in in 1925. At its height, Goody Goody had several locations, with the last closing in 2005. It was known for its burgers with secret sauce (a seasoned tomato-based sauce with onions), house-made pies, and milkshakes. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 79
he Gonzmarts reopened the restaurant, still graced by its historic sign, in Tampa’s Hyde Park Village in 2016. I couldn’t wait to get there to order my usual: a Goody Goody Burger POX (pickles, onions, and secret sauce) and a piece of butterscotch pie. Richard says that while working at Columbia as a young man, he would often stop on the way home and pick up a bag of Goody Goody POX burgers to feed his family. I got hooked on them going there with my siblings, parents, and grandparents in the 1970s, and the burger I had in the new location brought back a flood of happy memories. Opposite: The bone-in pork chop at Ulele comes with guava demi-glace, twice-baked mashed potatoes, and seasonal veggies.
The butterscotch pies, as well the coconut cream, banana cream, chocolate cream, and apple pies, are made on-site daily. In fact, making the food from scratch and to order was one of Richard’s goals in reopening this part of Tampa’s culinary history.
Photo courtesy of Ulele Below: The view from the balcony overlooking Columbia’s main dining room in Ybor City Photo courtesy of Columbia Restaurant
Before I returned, I heard that the butterscotch pie wasn’t the same as before. When I asked about this, I found that the main ingredient in the original is a molasses-infused sugar that is not mass produced anymore. The recipe has been adjusted to create a version that is reminiscent of the original. According
to Richard, “If you’re older than me, you might not like the new version. If you’re younger than me, this will be the best butterscotch pie you ever had.” Without getting into whether I am Richard Gonzmart’s age, I could tell the difference. While the original is the best butterscotch pie I’ve ever had, the new version is second only to the original. Happily, from time to time the original recipe is offered for a week or so in honor of Miss Yvonne Freeman, who baked the pies for Goody Goody for more than five decades and still visits. While Columbia and Goody Goody preserve historic Tampa restaurants, Ulele (pronounced you-lay-lee) is a new concept that honors history. Impressed with a native-themed restaurant in Montreal, Richard wanted to celebrate the foodways of the indigenous people who lived along Tampa Bay during pre-Columbian times, as well as the foods and crops of early European pioneers. Richard’s focus for the menu is local: shellfish—oysters, crab, and lobster, which were prevalent in local waters; Gulf seafood; pork—brought to North America by the Spanish through Tampa Bay during their first excursions; and beef—because Florida is one of the largest cattle producers in the country. The restaurant is named for Princess Ulele, the daughter of a Tocabagan chief in the 1500s; she is said to have fought to save the life of Spanish explorer Juan Ortiz. A statue of her walking through fire is located near the entrance to the restaurant, which is housed in the old Water Works building, constructed in 1903. The Water Works had provided water to northern downtown Tampa and Ybor City, and the building, empty for many years, was in disrepair. To encourage the development of the Tampa Heights neighborhood north of downtown, Tampa’s mayor, Bob Buckhorn, put the building out for bid as a riverfront restaurant. In addition to Ulele, that neighborhood now includes two food halls, a brewery, and coffee shops, all accessible from the Riverwalk. Ever mindful of history, Richard recognized that when Columbia Restaurant was in its infancy in the early 1900s, it served beers from Florida Brewing Company, which used water from the Water Works. As a tribute, he included the Ulele Spring Brewery in the construction of Ulele, and he brought on a brewmaster to create a beer of malted grains, hops, yeast, fresh fruit, and local honey that would pair well with the foods served in the restaurant.
The restaurant is named for Princess Ulele, the daughter of a Tocabagan chief in the 1500s; she is said to have fought to save the life of Spanish explorer Juan Ortiz. 80 | M AY 2019
At the top of the menu are the popular oysters charbroiled with garlic, butter, and grated cheese on the ten-foot barbacoa grill. An appetizer of fried okra eschews the breading for a squeeze of lime juice and sprinkle of salt that makes it impossible to stop eating one after another until the plate is empty. Soups include Native Chili with alligator, wild boar, venison, duck, ground chuck, and cranberry beans. The loaded version of this hearty bowl adds jalapeño, red onion, and white cheddar. In addition to the abundant seafood entrées, Ulele serves a Crackling Pork Shank, a Tomahawk Pork Chop, and a handful of steaks. Inspired by those tropical ice creams at Columbia that my mother loved as a child, Ulele is making its own ice cream (the coconut is not to be missed). With that, things have come full circle. Richard Gonzmart and his family have preserved Tampa culinary history in three very different restaurants. At the same time, Richard’s vision has ensured that he and his family will continue to make history.
VISIT COLUMBIARESTAURANT.COM, ULELE.COM, AND GOODYGOODYBURGERS.COM TO LEARN MORE.
Colleen Sachs loves food and traveling around the world, and she has been writing about both for twenty-five years. She lives with her spouse and a multitude of pets in Santa Rosa Beach and Pensacola, Florida.
Japanese Cuisine. Southern Flair.
WALK-INS ONLY TUESDAY–SATURDAY 5–11 PM SUNDAY 5–9:30 PM
What is Nanbu? The word itself is Japanese for “southerner.” It is synonymous with the unique sense of warmth and hospitality you find only when you venture south. Walk in our door and that’s what you’ll find—friendly faces, stellar service, delicious noodles, and more to match. Japanese Cuisine. Southern Flair. That’s Nanbu. 26 LOGAN LANE UNIT C, GRAYTON BEACH, FL 32459 NANBUNOODLEBAR.COM
C’est la vie
LIVE WELL, DINE WELL
Sometimes here at VIE, we do things simply because we love food. Our annual Culinary Issue shares some of our favorite restaurants, recipes, and dining destinations. We also know that many foodies enjoy making their own feasts, and it’s so much more fun to do so when you have a collection of dinnerware, accessories, and tools that you love! This C’est la VIE collection is designed to make you feel right at home in the kitchen or behind the bar so you can help your guests feel at ease too.
Teak Bar Cart with Beverage Tub $1,799 – frontgate.com 82 | M AY 2019
Weston Wine Caddy $104–$118 – frontgate.com
Feed the 3 Messenger
Hermès Mosaique au 24 Gold Dinnerware Collection $130–$835 – kneenandco.com
Shake, 4 Stir, Repeat
Bar Tool Set in Copper $79 – crateandbarrel.com
Jonny from the Block 5
Jonathan Adler Versailles Salt and Pepper Set $48 – jonathanadler.com
Tea Forté Limited-Edition Jardin Collection $20–$40 – teaforte.com
Give It a Shot
Clase Azul Reposado Tequila claseazul.com
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The Rocky Mountains reflected in serene Moraine Lake Photo by Gilles Baechler / Shutterstock
SEE THE WORLD
It seems like everyone’s got a bucket list of national parks to visit, and they’re not all in the United States. Canada’s Banff National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies just west of Calgary, is a spectacular one to explore! Highlights include glacier-fed Moraine Lake (shown here) and Peyto Lake, and Lake Louise is an attraction that also includes a ski resort. The Fairmont Banff Springs, in the heart of the park, offers luxe accommodations and top-notch amenities, along with incredible views and outdoor adventures.
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Wond ul erF Alaskan Lodge Adventures
BY CAROLYN Oâ€™NEIL | PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF WITHIN THE WILD
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TAKE A SUNLIT JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF AMERICA’S FORT Y-NINTH STATE TO EXPLORE AL ASK A’S NATURAL BEAUT Y, WILDERNESS THRILLS, AND WILDLY DELICIOUS CUISINE . While Alaska may be best known for vast expanses of wintry terrain—images of dogsleds navigating snowy backcountry and harbor seals sunning on floating icebergs come to mind—summer in Alaska offers a different wonderland. Meadows of wildflowers and green valleys are alive with animals on the move and birds soaring overhead. Waterfalls splash into winding rivers filled with fish, bays teem with playful otters, and coastal tide pools burst with starfish and other colorful sea creatures.
Alaskan summers are alive with nature and greenery. Above right: Glacier trekking as seen from a helicopter
The summertime sun in Alaska shines brightly all day and into the night, so it’s the best time of year to explore by kayak, hike forest trails, swim in crystal lakes, and work up an appetite to enjoy the bounty of the land and sea. Fresh-caught halibut and salmon star on summer menus, and sunlit gardens yield a bumper crop of berries, vegetables, and herbs. Toast with one of many Alaskan craft beers or a cocktail garnished with edible flowers, but don’t wait until sunset—that may be well after midnight! V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 87
helicopter, or floatplane. Upon arrival at Within the Wild’s luxury lodges, what truly delights travelers is the welcome surprise of personalized service, expertly crafted local cuisine, and comfy rustic-chic cabins. Race you to the hot tub!
Coastal Alaska Summer Fun, Alaskan Style The state of Alaska is huge; it’s twice as big as Texas and boasts more than half the entire US coastline. So there’s lots to explore, and it is best when done with folks who know their way around. Embracing the pioneer spirit of Alaska, Carl and Kirsten Dixon began guiding backcountry explorations in the 1980s. Today, they own Within the Wild, comprising two adventure lodges that invite summer guests to discover the diverse delights of Alaska, from hold-on-for-the-ride river rafting adventures to relaxing and reading in a rocking chair. You know you’re in for a summer camp–style adventure when the suggested gear list includes hiking boots, warm socks, and a swimsuit, with an added reminder to pack it all in a soft duffel bag for transport by water taxi, 88 | M AY 2019
TUTK A BAY LODGE, SOUTH OF HOMER The adventure begins with a short commercial flight from Anchorage into the charming seaside town of Homer. Then it’s on to breakfast at La Baleine Café on the Homer Spit, a long, skinny stretch of land reaching into Kachemak Bay. Run by formally trained chef Mandy Dixon (daughter of Carl and Kirsten), the café hums with locals and visitors craving salmon BLTs, omelets with farmer’s market veggies, or steelcut oats served with Alaska’s fireweed honey. Fueled and fired up for the next leg of the trip, guests board a water taxi that shoots across the large bay
NATURE SIGHTINGS CAN BEGIN IMMEDIATELY AS GUIDES POINT OUT BABY BEARS ON THE ROCK Y SHORE OR BALD EAGLES IN THE TREETOPS.
dotted with fishing boats and delivers them to the long dock of Tutka Bay Lodge. Nature sightings can begin immediately as guides point out baby bears on the rocky shore or bald eagles in the treetops. The aroma of spruce trees and wet stones splashed by the salty sea perfumes the air. Open May through September, the intimate lodge is spread over eleven wildflower-filled acres and features a main lodge, six private guest accommodations, kitchen gardens, sauna, hot tub, and boathouse connected by a large relaxation deck with panoramic vistas and room for a stylish helicopter landing. Helicopters are common in Alaska since there is little to no access by roads in the remote backcountry for such guided activities as fishing, wildlife viewing, bear watching, glacier touring, and hiking high meadows (with lunch packed by the lodge chefs) in the Kachemak Bay State Park. Donâ€™t worryâ€”the chopper will come back later to pick you up!
This page main: The sun-washed relaxation deck at Tutka Bay Lodge This page inset: Guided bear watching is a popular activity. Opposite top: The dock at Winterlake Lodge Opposite bottom: Starfish abound in the tide pools of Tutka Bay.
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Alaskan mountain peaks stay covered in snow year-round. Opposite top: Donâ€™t miss appetizer hour at Within the Wild lodges! Opposite bottom: An otter floating in Tutka Bay
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EVEN THOUGH IT’S WELL PAST TEN, THE SUNLIGHT CATCHES THE SPL ASH OF SEA OT TERS PL AYING AND POSING FOR THE EVENING’S ENTERTAINMENT AND FANTASTIC WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY.
After dinner, since it’s still full daylight, the adventures continue with a boat ride into Tutka Bay. Even though it’s well past ten, the sunlight catches the splash of sea otters playing and posing for the evening’s entertainment and fantastic wildlife photography.
Gardens and Glaciers WINTERL AKE LODGE, BA SE OF WOLVERINE MOUNTAIN
A Taste of Alaska There are unique adventures for the palate as well. With appetites often on overdrive given the exhilarating lodge activities on tap, the kitchen is a hive of culinary creativity. Each day busy chefs turn out freshly baked breads and desserts. Inspired by the state’s Russian history, proximity to the Pacific Rim, abundant seafood, and focus on organic ingredients, menu specialties include slow-cooked fish chowders, elk sliders, barbecued salmon, and halibut with rhubarb and ginger. A meal may start with grilled oysters and shrimp ceviche and end with artisanal cheeses from France and California. The Dixons are so serious about offering their guests a world-class culinary experience that Tutka Bay Lodge houses a cooking school. Built into the Widgeon II—a ninety-foot 1940s-era troop transport boat turned crabbing boat, which now sits safely on dry land—the cooking school is festooned with giant driftwood chandeliers hanging over a massive wooden dining table. Of course, salmon is a popular subject. Guests might make salmon bacon with a sweet birch syrup glaze and learn the difference between cold-smoked and hot-smoked salmon.
Winterlake Lodge guests arrive via floatplane, landing gently on the two-mile lake and gliding smoothly to the dock. In winter you might arrive via dogsled, as the lodge is located at Mile 198 on the Iditarod Trail, offering dogs and mushers a rest during the famous annual race that covers nearly a thousand miles from Anchorage to Nome. Located on the western edge of the Alaska Range, this remote lodge is nestled on fifteen acres at the base of Wolverine Mountain. This picturesque property has six individual comfy and cozy knotty-pine cabins, a central main lodge with a bar and vaulted ceiling, and a game room. Outside there’s a hot tub and sauna house, along with beautiful flower gardens. The lodge offers complimentary massages, yoga classes, and daily cooking classes in the kitchen overlooking the vegetable gardens. Rhubarb and berries grow abundantly here. There’s even a resident forager on the kitchen staff. (A word of caution: not all berries in Alaska are edible, so refer to a guide before snacking on your hike!) In summer, when daily temperatures can reach into the 80s, the refreshingly cold lake offers welcome relief. Splash around in kayaks, or take a dive off the dock to earn bragging rights that you swam in Alaska! V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 91
Voyager What makes Winterlake Lodge especially unique is the sled dog camp. A helicopter whisks guests up into the mountains to a snow-covered valley where the lodge’s sled dogs spend their summer months. Enjoy a hot chocolate, and then jump onto the runners to try your hand at mushing, or strap on cross-country skis for a spin around the camp. Then the helicopter takes off to tour the majesty of Alaska’s vast blue-and-white glacier fields and sets down so guests can go for a thrilling walk along the top of an icy glacier. Back at the lodge, dinnertime talk usually starts with, “What did you do today?” and continues with tales of moose spotting, fly-fishing success, adrenalinepumping river-rafting moments, or interactions with friendly sled dogs. Multiadventure vacations are trending with travelers, and Alaska is ready to roll out the red carpet to welcome visitors to a place of true beauty and adventurous spirit.
VISIT WITHINTHEWILD.COM TO LEARN MORE OR BOOK YOUR TRIP.
Carolyn O’Neil is an Atlanta-based food writer who specializes in culinary travel and healthy lifestyles. She believes travel is the ultimate way to learn about people of the world, and cuisine is the most exciting way to learn about their histories and cultures. Visit her blog at TheHappyHealthyKitchen.com.
Up on the glaciers, even summer visitors can try dogsledding.
Bobby Hotelâ€™s Rooftop Lounge and classic house car exude the hip vintage vibe that Nashville is so good at preserving. Photos courtesy of Bobby Hotel
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NASHVILLEâ€™S ALLURING PAST REMAINS A KEY PLAYER IN BOTH ITS PRESENT AND ITS FUTURE, EXPLAINING WHY THIS RETRO CITY HAS NEVER BEEN MORE ATTRACTIVE TO VISITORS AND LOCALS ALIKE. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 95
verywhere you turn these days, another city is in the midst of what a travel writer dubs a renaissance. A downtown is building new residences to accommodate demand; a new neighborhood is a hot spot for chef-driven restaurants; luxury hotels are popping up in a city that’s always been lacking. While Nashville, Tennessee, has seen great transitional change over the last few years, it’s not undergoing a renaissance so much as it is experiencing a resurgence. The city is growing immensely in both population and tourism, yet this evolution can be largely attributed to people discovering Nashville’s existing allure, rather than the other way around, locals say. You see, it’s hard to get back to your roots when you never really left them in the first place.
Right: The famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway Below: A vintage shot of the Grand Ole Opry at Ryman Auditorium with a crowd lined up to get in Photos courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.
“The convergence of creativity, hospitality, business, and authenticity—that’s the secret behind Nashville,” says David Ewing, the ninth-generation Nashvillian and lawyer who runs the tour company Nashville History On Tour. Back in the 1780s, Tennessee’s capital was first settled along the Cumberland River by people who saw its natural beauty and the opportunity of a growing river city. They built buildings, set up colleges, and opened businesses, and it is those same three things that continue to draw people here, according to Ewing.
For Nashvillians, authenticity—an often-overused word—is not a marketing term, but a way of life. It’s manifested in nearly every aspect of the city, from music to food to reimagined historic buildings. They do things the way they’ve always been done because it works and it’s real, not to draw the masses. Yet draw the masses is what they’ve done, anyway. Take a look.
Sweet Sounds A group of former slaves called the Fisk Jubilee Singers—who hailed from Fisk University, the oldest college in Nashville—traveled the globe performing to raise money for their beloved school in the late nineteenth century. These talented artists are widely credited with developing Nashville’s favorite nickname. “Nashville became known worldwide, because everywhere they went they talked about Nashville, and we became Music City,” says Ewing. The Fisk Jubilee Singers are still an active performance group today, though it’s Nashville’s country music scene, obviously, that is most well known. However, as a hub for creativity and entrepreneurship, the city is now home to artists and performances in nearly any music genre you can imagine. Ryman Auditorium is mostly to thank for that, having launched the careers of household names like Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash. In 1943, when the Grand Ole Opry moved into the Ryman (where it would stay for the next thirty-one years), it became the hottest ticket in town. After the Opry got its own custom-built home in the midseventies, however, the Ryman sat empty and began to deteriorate.
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AS THE STORY GOES, THE EXTRA-PEPPERY DISH WAS FIRST INTENDED AS PUNISHMENT FOR A WOMANIZING GREAT-UNCLE. THE PROBLEM? HE LIKED IT! In another case of what’s old is new again, take a walk down Lower Broadway, also known as Honky Tonk Highway. Artists from Luke Bryan to Florida Georgia Line to Jason Aldean all have bars and restaurants named for them. While this might seem like a trend, it’s far from a novel idea. “That all started in the fifties with Ernest Tubb,” says Tucker. “Everyone wants to tout these branded honky-tonks as being innovative, but it’s been going on for a long time.” She’s talking about Tubb’s Midnite Jamboree, the second-longest-running radio show in history. When the Opry finished up for the night, many artists and fans would head to Tootsies Orchid Lounge for a drink and then to Tubb’s record shop to continue the evening. The broadcasts still take place, though off Broadway at Texas Troubadour Theatre (near the Opry).
Fowl Play Hot chicken, one of Nashville’s greatest hits, can now be found on menus at top restaurants around the country. While Hattie B’s gets much of the press, the dish originated at a no-frills place called Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack some seventy years ago. As the story goes, the extra-peppery dish was first intended as punishment for a womanizing great-uncle. The problem? He liked it—and shared it with friends, which led to his opening the eventual cult favorite serving up mild to sun-inyour-belly-for-days hot chicken. Above: Fried chicken meal at Woolworth on 5th Photo by Danielle Atkins Cocktails at Woolworth on 5th Photo by Nathan Zucker
“It was in horrible shape; they nearly tore it down,” says Van Tucker, CEO of Nashville Fashion Alliance, who’s lived in the city her entire life. Fast-forward to 1994, and the Mother Church of Country Music reopened following a complete restoration. Performers like Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and even Brad Paisley drew crowds back. Today, the Ryman is once again the hottest ticket in town. “Now it’s the coolest music venue, and all the musicians want to play there—not just country music, but even Jack White,” says Tucker.
Prince’s has two locations in Nashville today, though the original was unfortunately damaged (and is closed indefinitely) following a fire in December 2018. You can still visit the other location south of town on Nolensville Pike. While Nashville’s food scene has come a long way in the last five years—think nationally acclaimed hits like Pinewood Social, Henrietta Red, and The Catbird Seat—staples like the old-fashioned “meat and threes” are still a big draw, and for good reason. Arnold’s Country Kitchen, for example, which came under new ownership about a decade ago, is still as good as it was upon opening in 1982. “You have to get your meal with a roll and cornbread,” says Tucker, “and mac and cheese totally counts as a vegetable—it might be our favorite one.” V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 97
here are more Southern vegetables to be found on the menu at Woolworth on 5th; these include pickled okra and fried green tomatoes. As good as the food is (especially the Dime Store Burger), this restaurant’s cultural significance to Nashville is greater. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were four lunch counters between Church and Union Streets downtown. At that time, “lunch counters were the American fast food,” says Ewing, “but none of them served African Americans.” That’s why students in town, including civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis, started staging peaceful protests to upend this form of segregation. The former F. W. Woolworth department store on Fifth Avenue was the site of Lewis’s very first arrest (he’s reported to have been cuffed nearly fifty times in his life). “They were not the first lunch counter sit-ins in America, but they were the most successful and got the most attention nationwide,” says Ewing. April 19, 1960, marked a turning point in desegregation at downtown lunch counters. In early 2018, Woolworth reopened wholly restored, preserving much of the original art deco architecture, including the gilded handrails, terrazzo floors, and hand-laid tiles. Guests can eat at the rebuilt lunch counter and order many of the same foods (albeit, at a higher price) that patrons enjoyed more than sixty years ago, experiencing an important history lesson in the process.
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A Second Life Downtown Not far from Woolworth, more historic buildings are getting new identities as boutique hotels, attracting more visitors to downtown while retaining all the charm of years gone by. They’re all within a few blocks of the area known as Printers Alley, so named for the newspapers, publishers, and printers that used to be based there. In the 1950s, it became the place to go for dining, drinking, and burlesque dancing second only to Las Vegas. Following Prohibition, it was illegal to have liquor by the drink in Nashville until 1967, “but you could go to Printers Alley and get a mixed drink, and they just looked the other way,” says Ewing. Embracing the culture of Printers Alley, the first boutique hotel to reopen in the area was Noelle, in December 2017. Located in the former home of one of Nashville’s first luxury hotels (the Noel Hotel, which dates back to the 1930s), the hotel enlisted artist Bryce McCloud to create prints of Nashville’s lesser-known folks to adorn the guest rooms. Another local creative, Libby Callaway, curates the beautiful
NEXT CAME FAIRLANE HOTEL, A MORE INTIMATE, MIDCENTURY-INSPIRED PROPERTY THAT FEELS A LITTLE LIKE STEPPING INTO A SCENE FROM MAD MEN . lobby store called Keep Shop, while coffee roaster Andy Mumma is behind the retro-chic Drug Store Coffee bar. Next came Fairlane Hotel, a more intimate, midcentury-inspired property that feels a little like stepping into a scene from Mad Men. From the guest rooms (which feature custom-built beds with fold-down armrests inspired by an old Playboy issue) to the Penthouse (with a floating fireplace and rotary phone) to Ellington’s Mid Way Bar & Grill (the topfloor restaurant that evokes a retro country-club feel and serves up a memorable Bees Knees), the hotel transports you to a simpler time with outstanding service to boot. Spring 2018 saw the opening of Bobby Hotel—look up and it’s hard to miss, as it features a 1956-retrofitted Scenicruiser bus on its rooftop. And in February of this year, Dream Nashville made its debut next door. Crafted from four reimagined historic buildings (including the former Climax Saloon, Nashville’s “most famous bar of all time,” according to Ewing), it plays up its Printers Alley theme with multiple nightlife and music venues. “It’s selling the retro vibe in a big way, and how everything fits together,” says Ewing. The Fairlane Hotel exterior makes a retro yet elegant statement. Photo courtesy of Fairlane Hotel Opposite: A spacious guest room at Dream Nashville
Nashville itself is doing the same thing, building off years of authenticity to continue the legendary hospitality that draws visitors from around the world. Whether you’re looking to experience the music, the food, the hotels, or something else, you’re also sure to discover a rich lesson in history—and perhaps a little bit of yourself—in that magical place Southerners lovingly call “Nash-vull.”
Photo courtesy of Dream Nashville
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Culture BOW & ARROW
What’s New in Auburn, Alabama With so many origins and styles of barbecue out there, it’s clear there’s a battle waging in the US over which is best. But for Caleb Fischer, the idea of barbecue conjures up thoughts of simplicity and truth, not a lot of excess. So for him, Texas-style is king. That was the philosophy behind his teaming up with James Beard–nominated chef David Bancroft when the duo decided to pool their talents and love of barbecue to open Bow and Arrow. The Auburn eatery showcases their Texas heritage but with an Alabama twist (hello, white sauce!) through offerings that include brisket, smoked turkey, pork shoulder, sausage, ribs, tater tot casserole, potlikker greens, and mac and cheese.
Head to BowAndArrowBBQ.com to plan your visit! Photography courtesy of Bow & Arrow
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A seafood paella preceded by cheese, charcuterie, and bread with good olive oil is the quintessential Spanish celebration feast.
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By ANTHEA GERRIE Photography courtesy of
TOMA AND COE
and Everything Nice
ho knew the most popular dish in Spain’s tapas bars would be not the paella, the tortilla omelet, or the premium ham made from acorn-scoffing pigs for which the country is famous, but—Russian salad? It took an expert on Andalusian cuisine to point this out as we traveled from one bar to the next across the country’s beautiful south in search of the province’s regional delights. “No two ensaladillas rusas are ever alike—and when we made a stop in the region of Extremadura, we were horrified to find it’s not a staple at all!” laughs Manni Coe of specialist Spanish tour operators Toma and Coe. He loves nothing better than to share his favorite bars, restaurants, and producers with increasing numbers of visitors drawn to Spain by the country’s reputation for the most exciting food in Europe. The company’s focus is Andalusia, the land of flamenco, bullfights, and the fabulous Alhambra. It’s known more for its iconic cities—Seville, Granada, Córdoba, and Málaga—than its regional fare, but there’s more to the province than gazpacho, the refreshing cold soup of blended raw vegetables or fruit, which can be found just about everywhere. One highlight is white gazpacho, a delicious alternative based on garlic, ground almonds, and green grapes; like all gazpachos, it’s always served chilled, particularly welcome when the summer heat creeps up into the nineties. Even more delicious is
strawberry gazpacho, with the fragrant, ripe fruit replacing most of the tomatoes when in season. It works! As for that ensaladilla rusa, you can always expect diced boiled potatoes and mayonnaise as a base, with pieces of tuna, prawns, or hard-boiled egg—or sometimes all three—and occasionally peas and carrots. It’s invariably served with a flourish from a ring mold, looking as white and fluffy as a mound of fresh goat cheese, the perfect sharing plate for two or three. Andalusia invented the tapa—named for the snack in a saucer that was originally served covering a drink and usually complimentary. Today it’s the most fun and affordable way to taste Spanish specialties; the drink of choice to wash down tapas remains a dry fino or a rich oloroso. These excellent aperitifs are made in the Córdoba area, but those called “sherry” can only be labeled thus if they are made in the southwesternmost area of Spain around Jerez de la Frontera from which the sherry takes its name. This is also the land of great tuna, and the tuna capital of Barbate is a great draw in May, when visitors flock to the city to sample the freshly landed fish served in dozens of different ways.
HE LOVES NOTHING BETTER THAN TO SHARE HIS FAVORITE BARS, RESTAURANTS, AND PRODUCERS
WITH INCREASING NUMBERS OF VISITORS DRAWN TO SPAIN BY THE COUNTRY ’S REPUTATION FOR THE MOST EXCITING FOOD IN EUROPE.
While southern Spain is the most colorful area of the country with its rich and exotic heritage, thanks to Moorish invaders bearing culinary influences from Jewish and Arab settlers, the most exciting Spanish food today is in the north. The restaurants of northern Spain have dominated the top ten of the San Pellegrino V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 103
World’s Best Restaurants list for its seventeen-year history; notably El Celler de Can Roca, the current number two, has won twice and never dropped out of the top three in eight years. It’s a worthy successor to Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli, which was a serial winner in the first few years of the contest. Both the Roca brothers and Adrià cook in Catalonia, the latter in its fabulous foodie capital, Barcelona. Here, Suculent, in the edgy Raval neighborhood, is special; nearby—within a minute’s stroll of the famous Ramblas, right behind the theater—lies Bar Cañete, one of the world’s buzziest watering holes, with fabulous tapas served around a long, convivial, horseshoe-shaped bar. The Roca brothers, whose main restaurant is in Girona, have their own Barcelona outpost, Roca Moo, in the elegant Eixample district, where both the Hotel Omm and the Mandarin Oriental make lovely perches. The Mandarin Oriental fields its own fabulous tasting menus from multiMichelin-starred female chef Carme Ruscalleda and her son, who heads up the hotel’s Moments restaurant. Like Catalonia, Spain’s País Vasco (Basque Country) perches on the country’s northeast coast, and here the dining hot spots are the cities of San Sebastián and Bilbao. You only ever need to visit the bars of the old town to eat well in San Sebastián, famous for its “pintxos”—think more substantial and more exciting tapas. While Gandarias and A Fuego Negro are highly rated, a personal favorite is La Cuchara de San Telmo in a back street near the church (try the foie, served in a spoon with apple). 104 | M AY 2019
lively city—Vigo, with terrific fish restaurants of its own—the finest seafood is to be had on the coast, in the coves of the glorious and wild Rías Baixas. The stars here are percebes—barnacles, much more delicious than they sound—and navajas, razor clams. Galicia is also famous for its Albariño white wine,
LA CORUÑA, AN ELEGANT CITY OF SPARKLING, GLASSED-IN
VERANDAS, IS THE COUNTRY’S
UNOFFICIAL OCTOPUS CAPITAL,
AND MESÓN DO PULPO, OFF THE HANDSOME PLAZA DE MARÍA
PITA, IS A GOOD PLACE TO TRY IT.
Above: Vine-ripened tomatoes tasting of summer are the great glory of Spanish cuisine. Left: Sherry is aged in barrels in Spain’s westernmost province of Jerez de la Frontera, the region from which the drink takes its name. Opposite: Chef Fernando of Toma and Coe food tours puts the final touch on some Spanish tapas.
With food of this quality, it’s amazing that San Sebastián’s restaurants get patronized at all, but two of the country’s greatest chefs are at work here—Juan Mari Arzak (at Arzak) and Andoni Luis Aduriz (at Mugaritz). Despite the old-fashioned cottagey surroundings and veteran chef-patron, Arzak serves cutting-edge food and has held a coveted three Michelin stars for several years. A young upstart who has achieved his own three Michelin stars in nearby Bilbao is Eneko Atxa; his restaurant Azurmendi is as worthy of a visit as Frank Gehry’s fabulous Guggenheim Museum. By comparison, a fourth foodie corner of Spain—the northwestern province of Galicia—offers nothing but the country’s finest seafood and beef. La Coruña, an elegant city of sparkling, glassed-in verandas, is the country’s unofficial octopus capital, and Mesón do Pulpo, off the handsome Plaza de María Pita, is a good place to try it. The city of Santiago de Compostela, famous for its church, the world’s most famous site of Christian pilgrimage, is also renowned for its brilliant Galician beef, the product of elderly dairy cows in their retirement. And, although Galicia has a third
perfect for washing down the shellfish, and wine aficionados may want to venture into the Rioja region lying south of País Vasco just to enjoy the region’s superb wines. One of the most famous wine estates, Marqués de Riscal, is also home to Frank Gehry’s hotel, its titanium folds rising like a mini-Guggenheim above the plain. Rioja is worth exploring to visit a new generation of winemakers operating out of fantastically designed wineries, and when checking lists throughout Spain to order a bottle, make sure to explore the rich reds of Ribera del Duero as well as vintages from Navarra and Penedès. And wherever you are, don’t forget to order a plate of jamón ibérico de bellota—the finest ham you’ll ever taste and the original product that won Spain its fabulous reputation for stunning food.
Toma and Coe (TomaandCoe.com) has a Secret Andalucía culinary tour departing Málaga on June 4, 2019, and will create bespoke food and wine itineraries for individuals and small groups. Anthea Gerrie is based in the UK but travels the world in search of stories. Her special interests are architecture and design, culture, food, and drink, as well as the best places to visit in the world’s great playgrounds. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, the Independent, and Blueprint. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 105
T H E
B I R T H P L A C E
Sweet Tea B y S a l l i e W. B o y l e s
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Granted, coffee gets more press, but Americans have enjoyed a long love affair with tea, albeit one steeped in controversy. Upon dumping about ninety-two thousand pounds of the precious cargo, shipped from China, into Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773, patriotic protestors (a.k.a. the Sons of Liberty) turned an unfair tax on tea into a battle cry for the American Revolution: No taxation without representation! After the Declaration of Independence, tea retired from politics and returned to the parlor, sparking new conversations.
y the late 1700s, the talk of cultivating tea on American soil had taken root. Native to Southeast Asia, the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub, was the chosen species, and South Carolina’s Low Country offered the preferred subtropical climate. Historic documents indicate that the first American tea was planted along the Ashley River near Charleston, but the effort was apparently not taken seriously and failed. Before and after the Civil War, the US government’s agricultural arm shipped seedlings here and there for propagation and even offered financial incentives to growers, but the experiments were abandoned—until 1888 when Dr. Charles Upham Shepard stepped in. A respected botanist, chemist, lecturer, and writer, Dr. Shepard established the Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville, South Carolina, twenty-five miles northwest of Charleston. Approaching his work as he would any scientific experiment, Dr. Shepard traveled to the Orient to study the tea culture. Along with collecting common and rare varieties of tea to test at Pinehurst, he selected ornamental plants, particularly other camellias and maples, to grow for their sheer beauty. Dr. Shepard’s love of horticulture and his meticulous nature influenced every farm-related function: growing, harvesting, and processing. His diligence paid off. By 1903, the first commercial tea farm on American soil was producing ten thousand pounds of tea per year, and the product was quite good. Pinehurst tea, an oolong, took first prizes at various exhibitions throughout the country, including the 1904 Saint Louis World’s Fair. Coincidentally, a hot summer in Saint Louis inspired a vendor to add ice cubes and sugar to make it a cold drink, thereby popularizing sweet iced tea.
Despite Dr. Shepard’s success, the production of Pinehurst tea ended when he died in 1915. With only a caretaker left to oversee the farm, Pinehurst was sold in parcels, primarily for residential development, but Dr. Shepard’s legacy didn’t die. Generations of his camellias still blossom in neighborhoods named Tea Farm and Shepard Park, as well as grace the entire town. Many other plants traced to Dr. Shepard remain in the business of making tea.
Coincidentally, a hot summer in Saint Louis inspired a vendor to add ice cubes and sugar to make it a cold drink, thereby popularizing sweet iced tea. Initially, the Thomas J. Lipton Company purchased what was left of the farm in 1960 to study the plants. A few years later, Lipton bought a potato farm on Wadmalaw Island, twenty-five miles away, to establish the Charleston Tea Plantation as a research facility with shrubs transplanted from Pinehurst. In 1987, nearly a century after the birth of Pinehurst, William Barclay Hall, a third-generation tea taster from London, bought the Wadmalaw operation and once again began producing tea commercially. Carrying on the tradition—and now under the ownership of the Bigelow Tea Company—the Charleston Tea Plantation processes and sells tea and tea products from Dr. Shepard’s plants. The working farm also welcomes thousands of visitors each year to journey back in time and gain a sense of its history. Branded as American Classic Tea and Charleston Plantation Tea, low-country tea might have lived
happily ever after with such surnames, but a newcomer to Summerville inspired the town not only to reclaim its heritage but also to emerge as the birthplace of sweet tea. The latter, no doubt, has raised more than a few eyebrows, from Boston to Baton Rouge, but Summervillians say (with a wink) they have the history to prove it. As the story goes, Will Rizzo and his wife, Dottie (she’s a Summerville native), launched Azalea magazine to highlight the area’s history, culture, and people. “I wasn’t raised in Summerville,” says Will, “so from an editor’s standpoint, I was looking for stories to be retold. The tea theme kept coming up, and I was shocked that Summerville was not taking advantage of that from a point of pride.” With fresh eyes on the subject, Will resurrected Dr. Shepard’s story, laced with another tidbit he and Dottie unearthed: a receipt from 1890 for food and drink ordered for a Confederate soldiers’ reunion. Surmising the happening occurred in what is now the heart of Summerville and the pounds of sugar requested would be mixed with the gallons of tea and ice on the list, the Rizzos deduced that locals were concocting sweet iced tea at least fourteen years before the beverage made a splash at the Saint Louis World’s Fair. Planting seeds but not foreseeing all that he was sowing at the time, Will made “Birthplace of Sweet Tea” Azalea’s cover story in the spring of 2010. Sweet tea became the talk of the town, and about a year later, a chamber of commerce leadership class decided to trademark “Birthplace of Sweet Tea” as Summerville’s tagline for their civic project. No longer a tiny asterisk in America’s tea-growing history, Summerville reappeared as the star with billboards along the Interstate to prove it. On October 8, 2013, a ribbon-cutting ceremony launched the Sweet Tea Trail—a map of the area’s historic and cultural points of interest plus restaurants, shops, parks, etc.—and a Sweet Tea Trolley to take riders on guided tours. To cap it all off, a Sweet Tea Festival became an annual event celebrating local cuisine and culture. “We’ve had more fun with this,” says Bill Collins, who championed the sweet tea crusade during his tenure as mayor of Summerville. Over thirty years, he also V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 107
owned one and then both of the town’s newspapers, so this man knows how to run with a story. In 2015, correspondent Martha Teichner interviewed him for CBS Sunday Morning: “You’re a politician. Convince me that Summerville is the birthplace of sweet tea.” Mayor Collins enjoys repeating the answer he gave her: “You said I was a politician. Trust me. Would I lie to you?” Indeed, the evolving tea saga grows more colorful by the year, yet it’s one of many enchanting aspects of a town that grew up rather quietly in the shade of her more famous sister city, Charleston. While younger, Summerville can trace her colonial history to the trading village of Dorchester, founded in the late 1690s. Structures from Dorchester and Fort Dorchester, which was erected in 1757, endure today at Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site. To note, Pineland Village, settled in 1785, came after Dorchester. Summerville, nicknamed Flower Town in the Pines for an abundance of azaleas, wisteria, and other flowering plants, was finally established in 1847. As implied, Summerville began as a summer sanctuary for wealthy Charlestonians, who packed up their families to avoid mosquitos that bred in the marshes and infiltrated their plantations. Doctors subsequently deemed that the combination of Summerville’s dry, sandy ground and numerous pine trees, which filled the air with turpentine, created a healing environment for respiratory ailments. Year-long and seasonal residents built grand homes in Summerville, and first-class inns catered to a who’s who of distinguished visitors. Residents, in turn, opened boarding houses for everyday people passing through and others seeking employment. Having grown up on tea farmland, Summervillian Bill McIntosh, a lawyer by profession and historian by hobby, credits the town’s tradition of welcoming visitors and accepting newcomers to fostering a stable economy and preserving the past. “The many beautiful antebellum homes in town survived and exist today,” he explains, “because folks converted their mansions into boarding houses in hard times. Instead of being abandoned and falling into disrepair, those homes were used and maintained. Visitors sustained Summerville.” Tying his hometown’s friendly nature to the birth of sweet tea, Bill reasons, “We’ve always invited guests to sit on the front porch and sip sweet tea. That’s all the documentation you need!”
If still not convinced, naysayers must acknowledge this town’s commitment to the cause, evidenced by Summerville’s Guinness World Record for the Largest Sweet Tea. Unsurpassed as of this writing, the feat occurred on June 10, 2016, also National Iced Tea Day, when over twenty-five hundred gallons of sweet tea filled a fifteen-foot-tall fiberglass Mason jar. Volunteers used 210 pounds of tea leaves from Charleston Tea Plantation to brew 1,425 gallons of tea. To that they added 1,700 pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar and more than three thousand pounds of ice. Besides setting a record, the special batch of sweet tea was dispensed into normal-sized Mason glasses for drinking. Fittingly, Summerville adopted the worldfamous container, nicknamed Mason, as their mascot, and gave him a place of honor in the Town Hall courtyard. Mason also appears in a mural on the Visitors’ Center, courtesy of local artist Kevin Morrissey. All signs indicate that Summerville will go on serving sweet tea and Southern hospitality for generations. Placing generous pitchers of sweet and unsweetened iced tea on every table of Baker’s Garden BBQ Kitchen in Summerville, Kay Baker, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Dennis, says, “You can drink your fill and then fill your glass before you go. We treat everyone as we would guests in our own home.” Crediting Dennis for the ideal sweet tea brew, one that is thirst quenching and energy boosting, she adds, “You have to have it really strong and really sweet, especially in the summer.” Along with all-you-can-drink tea, generous portions of slow-cooked beef and pork with traditional Southern sides like collards and hash “made the old-fashioned way,” make the restaurant a top-choice eatery from Thursday through Saturday. “We’re shopping and cooking the other three days of the week,” says Kay, “and we’re closed on Sunday for church.” The Bakers are also known for their signature desserts, such as Dennis’s made-from-scratch, award-winning Sweet Tea Pecan Pie. Although the details of the recipe remain a secret, Kay divulges that they use American Classic Tea from Charleston Tea Plantation. Providing another hint, she shares, “Technically, it’s less sweet than the traditional pecan pies we make
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Visitors sustained Summerville. We’ve always invited guests to sit on the front porch and sip sweet tea. That’s all the documentation you need! because we substitute sweet tea for some of the heavy syrups and sugars. It has a lighter, more delicate taste.” Urging readers to get a true taste of the cuisine and hospitality, she says, “Y’all come because we’ll spoil you rotten.” “Sweet tea is the Southern liqueur,” says Mayor Collins. Cool and flavorful, it can be the perfect parlor drink served in Grandma’s heirloom crystal or an afternoon pick-me-up poured into Mason jars and consumed while shooting the breeze. People have their preferences about lemon slices and varying amounts of sugar, but what matters most is the intention to stir up something good. As Mayor Collins affirms, “Sweet tea symbolizes hospitality. You can sense the friendliness throughout our town. I hope we never lose that. People have been coming here for a long time to relax and enjoy our beautiful Flower Town in the Pines, and they will continue to come as long as our hospitality flows.”
As director of tourism, Tina Zimmerman recognizes that travelers typically stop in Summerville because it’s “just a short ride to Rainbow Row and the historic plantations,” but they quickly find there’s so much more. “Summerville is a place,” she says, “where flowers bloom by the acre, and history lives on every corner; where world-class cuisine is served with a side of Southern charm; where sweet tea is measured by the gallon.”
For more information about Summerville and the Birthplace of Sweet Tea, readers should go to VisitSummerville.com or drop by the Visitors’ Center at 402 North Main Street, Summerville, South Carolina 20483. Sallie W. Boyles works as a freelance journalist, ghostwriter, copywriter, and editor through Write Lady Inc., her Atlanta-based company. Among the source materials for this piece, Boyles, who grew up in Summerville, relied upon accounts of Pinehurst Tea Plantation from newspaper articles by Beth McIntosh, who was a columnist for The Summerville Scene. Her articles appear in Beth’s Pineland Village, a book of local history.
T H E
B A K E R S ’
Sweet Tea Recipe I N G R E D I E N T S •
Black tea bags (The Bakers use Charleston Tea Plantation’s American Classic, Dr. Shepard’s oolong.)
Optional garnishes: lemon, mint
Makes 2 gallons
In a two-quart saucepan, add approximately one quart of fresh, cool water. Place 10 to 12 black tea bags in the water. You may add more or fewer tea bags, depending on desired strength. Bring to a rolling boil. As soon as the water is rolling, turn off heat and place saucepan to the side, allowing the tea to steep for approximately 5 minutes, or 10 minutes for stronger tea. Strain, remove, and discard tea bags. While the tea is still warm, add 1 to 3 cups (depending on your taste) of sugar. Gently stir until all sugar is melted. Pour approximately half of this mixture into a one-gallon pitcher filled with fresh, cool water. Stir well. Pour into individual servings. Garnish with ice cubes and lemon or mint. Refrigerate between servings.
Y’all enjoy! 110 | M AY 2019
THE RED BAR HAS BEEN PART OF SO MANY PEOPLE’S LIVES THESE PAST TWENTY-FOUR YEARS. I’M OVERWHELMED AT THE OUTPOURING OF SYMPATHY, CONDOLENCES, HELP, AND FUND-RAISERS FROM OUR FRIENDS AND THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE. I’M SHOCKED, AND YET I HUMBLY ACCEPT IT.
—Oliver “Oli” Petit
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A PLACE WHERE EVERYONE KNEW YOUR NAME A FAMILY WITH RESILIENCE
BY LISA M. BURWELL PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROMONA ROBBINS
The Petit family gathers at the site of the Red Bar and Piccolo Restaurant in Grayton Beach, Florida, just a few weeks after a fire destroyed the landmark destination.
A myriad of texts, emails, and phone calls was wildly transmitted throughout the sleepy coastal communities of Seagrove and Grayton Beach early in the morning on Wednesday, February 13, 2019, with the news that the beloved Red Bar had burned to the ground. Looking at the messages, it was impossible to believe; the disbelief led to an internet search to confirm that the worst was true. That the landmark restaurant—a hot spot in Grayton Beach, Florida, since 1995—was no longer there was incomprehensible, especially in the wake of what our neighbors
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OUR COMMUNITY HAS ENDURED THE LOSS OF AN ICONIC GATHERING PLACE FOR LOCALS AND VISITORS ALIKE. OUR THOUGHTS ARE WITH THE ENTIRE RED BAR FAMILY DURING THIS TIME. THE MEMORIES THAT SO MANY SHARED THERE WILL NEVER BE LOST, AND WE CAN REMAIN THANKFUL FOR THAT!
—Kristen Blossman Red Bar at 70 Hotz Avenue in Grayton Beach, Florida
had just endured from Hurricane Michael a few months prior. The memories at Red Bar were numerous, and everyone had their favorite ones to share on that fateful and regrettable day. Owner, visionary, and proprietor Oliver “Oli” Petit tried to wrap his mind around the loss of his family business and the loss of jobs for his 113 employees. All was gone in minutes. Thankfully, there was no one in the building at the time of the fire. “The Red Bar has been part of so many people’s lives these past twenty-four years. I’m overwhelmed at the outpouring of sympathy, condolences, help, and fundraisers from our friends and the community at large. I’m shocked, and yet I humbly accept it,” says Petit. He added that there wasn’t a single employee that he wouldn’t hire back. The Red Bar is an institution, and so many grieved the day they learned the news. Thousands poured out their hearts on social media, 114 | M AY 2019
extolling the place and sharing their best memories. We’re showing just a tiny sampling here. Petit, a native Belgian, opened the Red Bar and the adjacent Piccolo Restaurant in 1995 with his brother Philippe as his business partner and their father, Louis Sr., as an investor. It became known for its live music, a menu of staples that fans came back for time after time, and an eclectic atmosphere thanks to the decor—a mélange of memorabilia that Petit had amassed over decades, including classic movie and band posters, antiques, quirky signs, stickers, and much more. People of all ages and from different walks of life enjoyed and caught on to the vision of what Petit had created, and his patrons always had smiles on their faces. The music was loud and cool, and you felt like you were being transported to a darkly lit, groovy European eatery once you entered the front door.
Art by Bryan Hand at the Red Bar’s main entrance
“ Louis Jr., Oli, Louis Sr., and Philippe Petit
WE ALL GREW UP IN THIS DIM AND SANDY BEACH SHACK. SOMETIMES YOU WANNA GO WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME. REST IN POWER, RED BAR. THANK YOU OLI AND FAM FOR GIVING US ALL A HOME.
—Nikki Ricci Red Bar’s annual Super Bowl viewing party, 2017
Oli Petit and family at the Red Bar Employee Benefit Concert at Grayton Beer Company Photo by Nick Brooks
Petit’s dashing good looks and accent made a big splash when he moved to the beach twenty-five years ago and worked as a chef at Josephine’s Bed & Breakfast and Modica Market. Seeing him cruising down Scenic Highway 30-A in his 1972 red-hot Pontiac Grand Ville convertible was easy on the eyes. This was way back when, during his bachelor days; to know and see this family man and all of his successes today is impressive. But his most significant accomplishments to date might be the display of his grace, character, and strength and how he has vowed to rebuild the Red Bar. The biggest testament to his reputation is how the community has rallied around him and his family during this time.
hundred employees. A total of $27,590.56 was raised! The five-hour event included local music acts the Forrest Williams Band, TKO, the Wildlife Specials, Cadillac Willy, and guest performances by Fritz, Tanner Gray of the Graytones, Andi and Ken Johnson, and more.
Thousands of people gathered on Sunday, February 17, 2019, at Grayton Beer Company for a benefit concert to support the Red Bar and its more than a
“Our brothers and sisters at the Red Bar needed the community to step up, and it did so in spades,” said Jamey Price, president and founder of Grayton Beer
The event would not have been possible without assistance from a number of area businesses, including Shofar Stage Productions, South Walton Artificial Reef Association, Oyster City Brewing Company, Grayton Beer Company, Grayton Beer Brewpub, Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, Proffitt PR, The Lewis Bear Company, AJ’s Grayton Beach, and Johnny on the Spot.
Company. “The scale of this benefit concert would normally take months of planning. A very dedicated group pulled it off in less than a day. It was our goal to bridge the gap between the fire and the Red Bar employees finding employment. We made great strides.” Petit has plans to reopen the Red Bar this Labor Day weekend. He realizes this is an aggressive goal, but it’s one he is striving to reach. For those who wish to donate, you can do so by visiting Gofundme.com/official-redbar-go-fund-me. This is the only GoFundMe account that is officially endorsed by the Red Bar.
Visit TheRedBar.com to keep up with news on the rebuild and reopening, and visit this story on VIEmagazine.com to see more memories and condolences from fans of the Red Bar. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 115
BY N AT H A N R . CO R D L E Â· P H OTO G R A P H Y BY B R E N N A K N E I S S 116 | M AY 2019
Paella (pie-ay-yuh): a Spanish dish containing rice, saffron, and a mixture of chicken, seafood, and sausage, among other local ingredients and spices.
aella originated in the eighteenth century along Spain’s eastern coast near the city of Valencia and quickly permeated Spanish and Western European culture, becoming a regional staple using variations of fresh, local ingredients. Although paella is known as a Spanish dish, it has become immensely popular in the American South. The soul of the South is often found in recipes passed down through many generations, from Hoppin’ John in the Carolinas and tamales in the Mississippi Delta to fried chicken in Alabama and jambalaya in Louisiana. Culinary culture in the South is truly a melting pot of ingredients, recipes, and spices. It should come as no surprise, then, that paella has become so popular among Southerners and chefs in the region. While not to be confused with jambalaya (although paella was an early influence on the Creole recipe), the Spanish dish and its variations of ingredients, methods, and spices perfectly mirror the American South’s cultural, culinary melting pot. Deep in the American South along Scenic Route 30-A in the Florida Panhandle, paella has developed somewhat of a cult following. On any given Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday night in the quaint little community of Seaside, Florida, you will find the Paella Queen manning her station inside of 45 Central Wine and Sushi Bar. A twenty-one-year fixture on the Seaside culinary scene, Joyce Russell was a founding partner of Fermentations wine bar in 1997 and even became known to Jim Carrey
as “the food lady” when the restaurant catered for the cast and crew of The Truman Show during its filming. But it wasn’t until several years later that Russell tempted fate and challenged Maria Pilar Rubinos Baxter, a native of Madrid, Spain, and a family friend, to a paella cooking contest. Russell, in her infinite wisdom and with an “I can do anything” attitude, purchased the freshest ingredients for the dish: local grouper, lobster, mussels, clams, shrimp, and chicken. Baxter only bought five ingredients. Russell thought that by using the most ingredients she would win; her opponent, however, had secret weapons: her seasoned paella pan and secret seasonings. Baxter explained to Russell that in Spain, locals use proteins that are available and keep the recipe simple but full of flavor, always using a variety of spices, including, of course, saffron. In the end, Baxter’s recipe won, and Russell’s ego was a little bruised. She was humbled by the experience but determined to learn. Five years later, Russell found herself in the catering business, and she was hired to cook paella for a large wedding event. Studying under Baxter, Russell had perfected her own recipe. She faced a new challenge, though: how to cook paella for a hundred people at a party versus eight people in her tiny kitchen. She purchased the largest pan that was available at the time and a burner—a six-hundred-dollar investment just for the equipment. That was the spark that ignited the fire of paella along Scenic Highway 30-A. And the Paella Queen was born. As fate would have it, Chef Jim Shirley was hiring for his catering company at that time, and by the time he opened 45 Central wine bar in Seaside in 2014, Russell was known as a tried-and-true paella chef, at least among her peers. Russell, along with Jim Shirley and their team, decided to try cooking and serving paella one night a week for the guests at 45 Central. No one could ever have dreamed what a tremendous hit it would become—so much so that a second and third night had to be added to accommodate the growing following. Paella nights at 45 Central quickly became tradition, and the queen found herself woven once more into the fabric of Seaside and the 30-A community. As the crowds grew, so did the pans. A second, larger pan was purchased to accommodate the Friday and V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 117
Introspections Sunday night crowds. Affectionately called Pan-Tiki, it is dwarfed by the company’s newest addition, PanZilla, which is eight feet in diameter and used for large-scale special events. Most recently, the pans were deployed in the wake of Hurricane Michael to provide hot meals for relief workers and victims of the storm in Panama City and Port Saint Joe. For the Paella Queen, her work is about more than just the food—it is about the experience. Russell most enjoys the people and the sense of community. While she may grow tired of hearing “Is that jambalaya?!” she never tires of the camaraderie between locals, new customers, and repeat visitors who plan their vacations and family trips to the beach around paella night at 45 Central. The 30-A paella experience brings a European flair to Florida’s Gulf Coast and provides locals and visitors with a change of pace and culture a few nights each week. As for her recipe, Russell uses the basics—rice, saffron, shrimp, mussels, chorizo, and sausage—but keeps a tight lip when it comes to her secret seasonings. Russell has embraced her reign as the queen, sitting upon her throne (or standing behind her pan) and making sure that each dish is made with nothing but the best ingredients and a lot of love. Long live the Paella Queen!
Visit FortyFiveCentral.com to learn more or plan a visit for paella night—every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 6:00 p.m.
Bar” Kitty Taylor, Broker, GRI, CRS, CIPS Catherine Ryland, Broker Associate
The S tore @ 1969
“Grayton Girl Team” Selling Grayton and Beach Properties along 30A. Realtor of the Year 2017 for the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors 850.231.2886 | 850.585.5334 133 Defuniak Street, Grayton Beach, FL 32459 GraytonCoastProperties.com
Thereâ€™s No Place Like
HOME (and by that, I mean yours)
BY SUZANNE POLLAK PHOTOGRAPHY BY LANDON NEIL PHILLIPS
120 | M AY 2019
The tongue-in-cheek name of the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits is meant to be somewhat humorous, but most take it seriously. Our purpose is to introduce people to the endless possibilities their houses contain. We teach students to create a living space that expresses their personal style, individual values, and culture. We want to unlock the potential lurking in any house, no matter where you live or in what stage of life you find yourself.
In three words, the Academy is about home, hearth, and hospitality. Requests for private classes fly in daily. Besides cooking, people want to learn how to be a lady, master small talk, get their personality into their partner’s pad, use their grandmother’s silver, meet new people in a new city, raise their social IQ, and so much more. Where else besides here can you learn esoteric and necessary skills that make life more rewarding and beautiful? Classes start with an object and a theme to explore ways of creating the world you want at home. For example, in our Roast Chicken Class, the idea is that our homes should be problem solvers. By thinking in 360 degrees, a chicken dinner unlocks the components of a satisfying life. The bird delivers more than protein, and you will acquire more than just cooking skills. Dinner becomes a way to deepen relationships or ignite a love affair. You might teach a child how to set the table or a teenager how to carve; you could discover the joys of eating with your hands or practice how to use a knife and fork properly.
“How to Inherit Your Grandmother’s Silver” covers principles that have withstood the test of time. Classics are not here to restrict us. They are here to inspire and evolve to suit our needs. We are not exploring ways to build assets or suggest polite ways to ask your grandmother for treasure. The silver pieces are tools to learn your history by asking questions about her memories of her grandparents, her dinner parties thrown for special guests, what mattered most to her. We dive into ancient traditions to find new ways to put these pieces to work when using our manners and curating our dining rooms. The serious questions that often arise speak to the need for the school. Should I serve alcohol for a baptism party? (Yes! Sunday afternoon is a priest’s Friday night, and it’s time to unwind.) How many bottles of dish soap do I need for cleanup after Thanksgiving dinner for fifteen? How do I address a Christmas card if both husband and wife are doctors, but not medical doctors? These questions might surprise people who grew up seeing things done correctly, but otherwise, how would a person know? The best place to learn is at someone’s knee. That’s what the Academy offers. Many conundrums become clear with a hands-on approach. We purposely do not use all the “right” tools in class. One goal is to show how to make do! Wine bottles may replace rolling pins, knife handles sometimes muddle cocktails, broom handles become pasta-drying racks, balloons make ice spheres for strong cocktails. Often we leave things to the last minute on purpose to replicate any busy household.
Our Oyster Roast Class is a whole other kettle of fish. A science class at its most fun starts with cocktails and covers oyster species, steaming, shucking, male versus female, crabs and pearls inside, the “months ending in -er” myth, nutritional value, and proper accompaniments; the class ends with a feast instead of an exam. The best takeaway, like all good outdoor parties, highlights meaningful interactions with interesting people. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 121
Introspections The houses I’ve lived in—and there have been many— meant everything to me. They’ve alternated between a calm oasis I refused to leave in the midst of chaos to party palaces where I couldn’t get anyone to exit on time. Growing up, my diplomatic family met everyone through our homes in Africa. For eighteen years, we threw weekly dinners with every nationality seated at the table; our biannual parties for hundreds lasted all night. As an adult, my houses have been my most valuable assets. I used them to design the life I wanted at different times. My taste developed by organizing interiors and gardens. I used our rooms to add value, conjure joy, and help create more meaningful lives. I want every cubic inch to give its all. When my children were small, I craved adult conversation so much that my dining rooms vibrated with weekly dinner parties and salons, a throwback to what was familiar from my childhood. Then the room piped down to a quiet space for writing books and supervising homework, all evidence easily removed when the area reverted to its intended purpose. One kitchen made a few dollars when I became a baker, churning
The Academy leads students to grow in confidence, knowing there is not one way but thousands of ways to own your personal style. What is yours? out loaves of bread and ignoring the legalities of a commercial enterprise operating in a private kitchen. During my marriage, I did a lot of entertaining, and any room could be switched to party mode at a moment’s notice—even dressing rooms. But my houses also supported me emotionally when one son was diagnosed with cancer and then two others deployed to the war in Afghanistan. My home necessarily turned into my private sanctuary. There was no mistaking mine for anyone else’s. My African history, my parent’s social traditions, and my children’s activities found their way into the aesthetic of how we lived. I organized my homes so that each person could thrive and grow from a secure base. The essential purpose of a house is not financial; it’s about how we use the house to build a life we want to live.
The Academy leads students to grow in confidence, knowing there is not one way but thousands of ways to own your personal style. What is yours?
Suzanne Pollak, a mentor and lecturer in the fields of home, hearth, and hospitality, is the founder and dean of the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits. She is the coauthor of Entertaining for Dummies, The Pat Conroy Cookbook, and The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits: A Handbook of Etiquette with Recipes. Born into a diplomatic family, Pollak was raised in Africa, where her parents hosted multiple parties every week. Her South Carolina homes have been featured in the Wall Street Journal “Mansion” section and Town & Country magazine.
THE FUTURE IS NOT DISPOSABLE BY A R I X Z A L AC E P H OTO G R A P H Y C O U R T E SY O F L A S T R Å
s we waited patiently, Jen and I made our predictions. “I think we are going to get six,” Jen said to me with confidence. “Six! That is a lot for one meal,” I replied. “I am going to go with three, maybe four.” We had just sat down at our table. While walking into the restaurant, we both agreed not to stop the wait staff from handing us plastic straws during our meal. The rule was simple. Do not discourage them in any way, regardless of how many straws we have already received. It was an experiment I had been conducting at a variety of restaurants; this particular restaurant was a nice one, so I anticipated the number would be low. 124 | M AY 2019
After ten minutes, the waitress took our drink orders. Jen asked for hot water with lemon, and I ordered a margarita on the rocks. The waitress strolled back to the table with the drinks and a glass of water for each of us. As she set the glasses on the table, my eyes widened with disbelief. There were five small beverage straws in my margarita and three in Jen’s hot water. That was eight straws, already more than either of us had predicted. Next, our server set the glasses of water on the table. Beside each, she placed another straw. We were up to ten straws already. By the time our check came, a total of seventeen plastic straws were on our table. As I watched the
waitress clear it, I noticed she discarded the drinking straws with everything else even though some were still wrapped in paper.
AS FAR BACK AS THE LATE 1990S, I BEGAN NOTICING MORE AND MORE PLASTIC TRASH FLOATING IN THE WATER AND COLLECTING
This particular “research dinner” took place about six months before banning plastic straws became a significant environmental movement in 2018. It quickly grew into a worldwide movement when a YouTube video showing a group of biologists pulling a plastic straw from the nostril of a bleeding sea turtle went viral. The video marked a real turning point in the public’s perception of disposable plastics. Finally, there was an emotional connection between our daily habits and the harm they were causing. Governments small and large jumped on the bandwagon, as did multinational corporations like Disney, Starbucks, and McDonald’s, to name a few. Cities, states, and even entire countries instituted plastic straw bans.
Single-use disposable plastics are a problem that my friends and I have been aware of for well over a decade—and the problem is getting worse. A big part of being an avid surfer is exploration and adventure. We travel the globe and the oceans looking for perfect waves. These journeys often take us to extremely remote places—places where we are the only people. As far back as the late 1990s, I began noticing more and more plastic trash floating in the water and collecting on the beaches of uninhabited islands and remote surf spots. It was alarming, to say the least.
While it was nice to see real attention given to the problems associated with disposable plastics, this was not a new concept for me. I have been a surfer and an environmental conservationist my entire life.
The straw awakening of 2018 was long overdue. It made sense that the plastic straw would be the proverbial shot over the bow, the canary in the coal mine that would finally begin a global conversation about disposable plastics and their effects on the environment. We’ve all used them. They are not confined to any
ON THE BEACHES OF UNINHABITED ISLANDS
Lastrå founder Arix Zalace and Jenifer Kuntz with their dogs Japhy and Kali Photo by Sean Murphy
AND REMOTE SURF SPOTS. IT WAS ALARMING, TO SAY THE LEAST.
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Introspections socioeconomic class. Plastic straws are as commonplace at fine dining restaurants as they are at dive bars. Many who watched the disturbing video of the sea turtle felt an immediate connection and a twinge of guilt. It makes sense that the plastic straw would be the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. Chefs and foodies the world over have become more conscious of what they are putting on their plates and into their mouths. Organic, local, free-range, wildcrafted, heirloom, all-natural; these are all terms no longer foreign or confusing to consumers. They have become definitive of the awareness consumers have about where their food comes from. It is important to us, and it matters almost as much as how the food will taste. With that in mind, it is logical that the next step in this culinary evolution would be for consumers to take note of what happens after they finish their meal. What affects will a dining experience have on the environment—on the planet—once they leave the table? While plastic straws might seem like a minuscule part of the overall global plastics problem, there are several things to keep in mind. In America alone, hundreds of millions of plastic straws are used and discarded daily. These straws are too small for a recycling system to deal with effectively, and the majority end up falling through the cracks. That is, if they even make it into the recycling system. Many clog municipal sewer systems, rivers, and lakes and eventually end up in the environment or the oceans. Plastic straws are among the top ten items found during beach cleanups conducted globally.
This was my mind-set two and a half years ago when I first began designing Lastrå, the product I was doing “research dinners” for. I wanted to develop a product to help educate consumers of the growing plastic pollution problem—something that would help get the conversation started. The plastic straw was a perfect starting point. Jen wanted to eliminate plastic straws from her business (an organic juice bar and café), so during that time, we began experimenting with paper straws only to learn that many people did not like the texture, the taste, or the sogginess that would ensue after a short time. It was at this point that I started manufacturing stainless steel straws and began to document how people responded to them. I asked a lot of questions to learn what could bring about lasting change in their habits, and in talking with thousands of people, I began to understand what they liked and disliked about stainless steel straws. From this knowledge, I designed and built prototypes, refining each new version of Lastrå. I wanted to create something that was fully functional, easy to use, and easy to carry and store—but also something that people would want to carry. The product had to be beautiful enough and unique enough that others would inquire about it. I wanted people to show it off. I soon realized that what I wanted to create was a conversation piece.
THE FACT THAT SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS A
After three years of research, design, and testing, Lastrå came into being. I STRAW SET COULD BRING SATISFACTION AND had created a complete reusable straw SPARK CONVERSATION MEANT, FOR ME, THAT set that was not much larger than a single straw. Three straws were nested I HAD ACHIEVED MY GOAL. one inside of the other and a cleaning brush was built into the housing that This information is just the tip of the iceberg. Even though it takes hundreds held the set together: it was compact, sanitary, and most important, elegant. The of years for plastics to decompose, they do break apart into smaller pieces stainless steel set was also made to last a lifetime. I took the prototypes of the final long before this. Scientists have learned that microplastics (MPs) are quickly design and showed them to others to see how they interacted with these sets. There becoming the biggest potential threat not only to the environment but also to was curiosity and excitement and, as one man told me, “a feeling of satisfaction.” I human health. Microplastics are defined as any piece of plastic smaller than five realized something at that moment. What is often missing in our disposable culture millimeters found in the environment. What’s begun to alarm scientists more is the pure satisfaction you get from a well-made, well-designed product. The fact than the MPs themselves are the organic contaminants that stick to them. MPs that something as simple as a straw set could bring satisfaction and spark conversaact like magnets for PCBs, pesticides, flame retardants, and many other known tion meant, for me, that I had achieved my goal. hormone disruptors. In recent years, studies have shown that microplastics are starting to show up everywhere, and if you think this does not affect you, think Since the release of Lastrå at the beginning of 2019, we have fostered relationships again. Microplastics have been found in drinking water, table salt, in the tissue of with companies and stores big and small. We are honored to be featured by large fish and shellfish, and, yes, even in beer. They are getting into the food chain, so companies like Wild Birds Unlimited and Caesars Entertainment, but learning the choices that we make when we dine today do inevitably affect what we will about the programs and steps these companies are taking to help create a more be eating in the future. sustainable planet is even more exciting. 126 | M AY 2019
Lastrå is also partnering with Food52.com to help start the conversation with their customers about the importance of reducing single-use plastics. This is the reason Lastrå was invented—to start the conversation. We are also collaborating with communities around the country to create programs that help them become plastic-straw-free, start the conversation about single-use-plastics, and even generate revenues for the communities. The conversation about disposable plastics has begun, and it will take all of us to keep going and find the best solutions. For me, environmental conservation has never been about saving the planet; the planet will carry on without us. It has always been about saving ourselves. The future is not disposable.
VISIT LASTRA.LIFE TO LEARN MORE OR ORDER YOUR LASTRÅ PRODUCTS TODAY.
Left: Plastic waste often ends up in streams, rivers, and oceans where it threatens the health and safety of wildlife, ecosystems, and humans. Opposite: Lastrå metal straws are designed to be stylish, easy to clean, and most of all, long lasting, thereby helping to reduce plastic waste.
30A WINE FESTIVAL 2019 From February 20 through 24, Alys Beach, Florida, celebrated the Eighth Annual 30A Wine Festival through the town’s cobbled walkways, on its spacious lawns, and in its beautiful beachside retreats. The event, which benefited Children’s Volunteer Health Network, kicked off at Caliza Pool and Restaurant with a wine dinner prepared by Chef Drew Dzejak and featuring wines from Hertelendy Vineyards. Other highlights included the favorite Bourbon, Beer & Butts and the Grand Tasting along Charles Street. Rosé & Croquet brought the weekend to an end on Sunday with a croquet tournament on the Kelly Green set amid whimsical Alice in Wonderland–inspired decor. Cheers to another fantastic 30A Wine Festival!
Winners of the 2019 Rosé & Croquet tournament Photo by Bella Dear Hadid Wesleyann 128 | M AY 2019
Photo by Dear Wesleyann
Photo by Dear Wesleyann
Photo by Dear Wesleyann
Photo by Pure7 Studios
Photo by Pure7 Studios
Photo by Dear Wesleyann
Photo by Dear Wesleyann
Photo by Pure7 Studios
Photo by Pure7 Studios
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The Last Word
Solution on next page
FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD BY MYLES MELLOR
1 5 9 10 12 13 17 18 19 21 23 25 27 28 29 30 33 35 36 38
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 11 14 15 16 20 22 24 25 26 30 31 32 34 37
Caviar source Salad with the same name as a general Strong-scented herb used in ancient cuisines Melted chocolate, e.g. Leave Fish with a mild flavor (2 words) Spicy Spanish rice ingredient Apple state (abbr.) Pimento cheese is popular in this state (abbr.) Fat for cooking Cocktail party bite The ___ (mom, pop, sis, et al.) ___ person Chef who kicks things up a notch Fancy party dress Light-brown colored She’s called lazy in the kitchen Bread base Big name in building-block toys General who gave his name to a famous beef dish
Cauliflower relative Portugal’s cont. Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, etc. (2 words) Get better, as wine Gush It might be deviled Charlie Bird restaurant is well known in this area of NYC Room, for short Request to a waiter Martini ingredient Open Red wines General who gave his name to a brandy Word after sushi and juice Church bench Herb that tastes like licorice Word after filet Chef ’s measurement (abbr.) Gold symbol Compass point on top left Everything Military person (abbr.) V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 131
The Last Word Puzzle on previous page
First we eat, then we do everything else. —M. F. K. Fisher
FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION FOR $29.95 V IEM A G A ZINE.C OM / S UB S CRIBE
THE ART OF LIFE DESIGNED 11974 US HIGHWAY 98 WEST MIRAMAR BEACH, FL 32550 | (850) 837-5157 | SUGARBEACHINTERIORS.COM
Au revoir! BEFORE YOU GO . . .
Le 37 POP at Le Negresco Hotel ran through the spring of 2019, but guests can enjoy Chef Basselot’s creations at Le Chantecler year-round. Photo courtesy of Le Negresco Hotel
Isn’t that nice? Le Negresco Hotel in Nice, France, is home year-round to Le Chantecler, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant featuring colorful decor and an even more colorful menu of local produce and French specialties by Chef Virginie Basselot. Le Negresco also celebrated Basselot’s creations at its temporary pop-up dining experience, Le 37 POP, which offered certified old Nice recipes in a relaxed, family-style setting.
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