The familiar taste of a ripe, sweet Georgia peach is the ultimate flavor of summertime. Nothing beats biting into the fuzzy, soft fruit and hearing the sound of the peel break, while the juices run down your chin. Continue reading “Recipe Round-Up: Four Fresh Ways to Enjoy Sweet Georgia Peaches”
I had lunch with a good friend the other day, and toward the end of our meal together, she asked, “What are you doing Sunday afternoon?” When I replied with “Not too much, what’s going on?” She said, “Would you like to come pick blueberries with me?” To anyone else, this may have seemed an arduous way to spend the Sabbath, but the wheels in my brain immediately started turning. Would you believe the only way I’ve ever purchased or eaten a blueberry has been from the pint-sized packages sold in the produce section of the grocery store? Pick blueberries, I thought? That sounds like a blast! Continue reading “Scratch Baking & Blueberry Picking in The Peach State”
The return of the Farmers’ Market for me each season is just about as exciting as Christmas Day. With fresh herbs and local produce on my mind, I love getting up on Saturday morning, throwing on my yoga pants, a tank top, a pair of favorite flip flops and my over-sized sunglasses and heading out the door. Sometimes, I even pack up my 11-pound Shih Tzu, Ewok, and we ride with the radio up and the windows down on the way. Continue reading “5 Farmers’ Market Recipes to Make Right Now”
Tucked away inside Holiday Inn Statesboro, located just off the Highway 301 Bypass, sits an unassuming and pleasant surprise, a dining experience most travel outside of town to achieve. This secluded piece of Statesboro paradise known as Emma’s Restaurant and Lounge boasts understated elegance, a local head chef with humble beginnings whose food packs a flavorful punch and a skilled bartender unafraid to experiment.
Not long ago, I was invited to sample the new dinner menu developed by 23-year-old Executive Chef Patrick White and his team. Our meal began with a well thought out cheese board, or “Fromage Plate” featuring Grand Cru Reserve, Finley Blue Cheese and Fontina paired with dried apricots, fresh fruit, walnuts and large water crackers. Accouterments also included house made three berry jam and local truffle honey. My fiance, Kurt, joined me for the meal, and we ordered the Cajun fried oysters served with spicy aioli and a roasted garlic and herb creme fraiche too, because I was intrigued. Crispy on the outside with a subtle kick, one bite expanded my palate and left me wanting more.
As we waited to taste the next course, I sipped on a signature cocktail from the bar…this electric Pink Lemonade. It was bright and refreshing made with freshly squeezed lemon and Van Gogh pomegranate vodka.
Before White wore the coveted and hard-earned white chef’s coat he sports proudly today, he gained appreciation for the industry by working as a Waffle House line cook while attending the Culinary Arts Program at Ogeechee Technical College. Born and raised in Statesboro, he graduated from Southeast Bulloch High School. He later got a job at Emma’s as a dishwasher, and in less than two years, climbed his way up the ladder all the while training under former Emma’s Chef Jason Scarboro. Ain’t that America? I have mad respect for his ambition, dedication and will to succeed. Amazing what working hard and dreaming big will do for you!
The soup and salad course didn’t disappoint. Emma’s sources many of their ingredients locally and prides themselves on good relationships with area farmers and purveyors.
Kurt ordered the Local Shrimp & Grits. This $17 entree is made with andouille sausage, red onion, red bell pepper, madeira wine cream sauce and spicy onion tangles. The edible orchid was a fun touch! Beautiful presentation.
I ordered the $23 Grilled Angus Ribeye served with an Idaho and sweet potato hash with exotic mushrooms, topped with a cherry tomato and herb reduction. That was one really big steak, and I was extremely thankful for to-go boxes.
At Emma’s you can order sides for sharing. We opted for the garlic and herb sautéed Bacon Braised Brussel Sprouts and the Herb Encrusted Bleu Cheese Mac & Cheese.
Throughout the evening, White checked in frequently to see how we were doing and if we were enjoying the meal. He circulated around the restaurant taking care of his guests and thanking them for coming. I overheard a couple in the booth behind us say they’d driven from Richmond Hill, a community near Savannah, Georgia about 57 miles away, to try out the new menu. What a testament to the quality of service, food and reputation of Emma’s!
Because we couldn’t hold another thing, we ordered one dessert to-go and split it the next day. The chocolate cake was moist and decadent, served with fresh whipped cream and strawberries.
Thank you Chef White for an exquisite meal and for your undeniable attention to detail and eye-catching presentation with each plate you served. But mostly, thank you for serving us a meal with passion from your heart. You made a lasting impression, and your food was only the beginning.
Hey Some Kinda Good followers! 2015 is full of promise and all things new. I’m super excited to tell you about a few major changes that have happened in my life in recent months–I’ve moved from the coastal plains of Southeast Georgia to the South Carolina coast, my left hand has a shiny new friend and my career has grown LEAPS and BOUNDS after a very longtime coming. Take a look at my “news!”
1) Allow me to begin with the most exciting of all. My good lookin’ proposed over the holidays in his native Savannah at a quaint and perfect local Italian restaurant. I said YES and we couldn’t be happier! May the wedding planning commence.
2) I’ve accepted a brand new job in my absolute dream location! It’s an incredible opportunity and I’m thrilled to be back in the health care field working as the Director of Marketing & Public Relations for a wonderful hospital system in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
3) I’ve relocated from Statesboro, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina. I have to pinch myself every few seconds while walking around my two bedroom apartment (sneak peek below). I find myself saying out loud throughout the day, “I live here now. I really live here!” I love my kitchen; it has a breakfast bar and lots of cabinet space. As many of you know, Charleston is full of award-winning restaurants and celebrity chefs. It will take me a lifetime to discover all it has to offer and I will enjoy every last-minute of it, especially sharing my food finds with you! As I get to know Charleston, I welcome your favorite restaurants, coffee shops and hangouts. Have you been? What beach do you recommend? What are the top places I should check out? I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t love the Southern, coastal city. In other news, my final Statesboro Herald food column will run on Sunday, February 15. ‘Boro locals, there’s a special message from me to you there…don’t miss getting your copy.
It was the famous American baseball player Babe Ruth who said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” It’s true what they say about perseverance, and hard work really does pay off. 😉
I’m very excited to share with you our new episode of Statesboro Cooks, highlighting my Holiday Inspired Menu Featuring Pastured Pork Tenderloin. In the 30-minute program, I host and serve as an executive producer with my friend, Tyson Davis. If you’re in the Statesboro area, you can catch the show on local cable, Channel 99, at 7:30 p.m. 7-days-a-week throughout the holidays. If not, check it out on YouTube at the link below! I hope you’ll make these recipes, and thank you for watching.
Statesboro Cooks is a Georgia Southern University multimedia communications team production. To see the previous episode I hosted, watch here.
In a little brick building on the side of West Jones Ave. in Statesboro, Georgia sits Lee’s Restaurant, a slice of soul food heaven off the beaten path and a point of pride for those seasoned Statesborians in-the-know. In the same location since 1967, the Lee family has been satisfying hungry palates with their down home, Southern cooking for centuries, serving up what they describe as “soul food made with a lot of love and care.”
When you walk into Lee’s, you pass through the dining room to get to the buffet line. There, you wait your turn to place an order. There is no hostess stand or lobby area, but the employees greet you with kindhearted sincerity and genuine Southern hospitality. If you choose to dine in, you simply take your plate and find a seat.
Blue and white checkered flooring and an eclectic mix of tables and chairs make up the open dining room. Ceiling fans, a mix of silk and live plants and a quaint fire-place add character to the atmosphere. The chairs may have a few rips in their cushions and the tablecloths may not match, but what the restaurant lacks in decor, they more than suffice for in flavor of food.
Hot sauce, pepper sauce and mustard condiments sit on each table, along with a handy roll of paper towels.
The buffet includes a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes, timeless food that to those of us blessed enough to be from the South, tastes like home. The sheer smell takes me back to my grandmother’s kitchen and transports me to Dinner on the Grounds during Homecoming at my Baptist church. There are pork chops, liver, neck bones, fried fish, stew beef, meat loaf, macaroni & cheese, rice and gravy, green beans with potatoes and ham-hock, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and fried okra. Dinner is served with your choice of roll or corn bread, sweet tea or lemonade. Here you won’t find a soft drink machine or even a vegan or vegetarian-friendly menu offering tofu and gluten-free options. What you see is what you get, and what you get is pure, Southern gold.
My meat and three with a dinner roll and sweet tea hit the spot. This is the kind of meal that is indigenous to a place, the kind you long for when traveling outside the boundaries of Dixie. It is a delicacy–a plate most Northerners envy and can only aspire to duplicate. It is a flavor and taste many cooks never quite master, one that requires no culinary education, but yet a deep-rooted connection to the foodways of a land. This is a meal that should never be taken for granted. The price for this plate was $6.92 including the tea. Priceless.
Lee’s Restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. I sure love the “Go Big Blue” shout out on their outdoor sign. Any business who supports my Georgia Southern Eagles and serves up fine food such as this, is a place I’ll return to again and again. With Google reviews like “Best southern cooking around!” and “Don’t let the decor fool you,” take a little detour and see for yourself. Lee’s Restaurant is Some Kinda Good!
New to Some Kinda Good?
Thanks for stopping by! If you like this post, you may also be interested to read about a few of the other local restaurants and bakeries I’ve reviewed. As the Statesboro Herald food columnist and a Georgia Southern University alumna, the ‘Boro is a second home to me. Be sure to like Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Instagram, to keep up with all my latest, local food discoveries.
Shrimp and Grits: The Lowcountry staple has been around for more than 100 years and you can hardly visit a restaurant these days without seeing it on the menu. In 2011, Shrimp & Grits was the most popular dish served at weddings across the United States. Continue reading “Shop Local for Wild Georgia Shrimp & Grits”
During the summer of 2013, just six months after an intriguing new restaurant popped up in downtown Statesboro on the corner of South Main and West Vine Streets, I ventured inside to discover a restaurant that would become the backbone of our community, and so much more. It would become my go-to place for a special night out on the town, where I would ring in the New Year and the place where I would celebrate my birthday lunch with 15 of my co-workers. It would become the restaurant I would proudly share with out-of-town guests, it was my Happy Hour bar of choice–and the only place in town where I could order the Glorious Gin and Tonic with a fresh slice of lime or experience a Hunter Cattle Company hamburger, prepared with the utmost respect for the integrity of the ingredients. The hand-cut Parmesan truffle fries were unmatched, as was the cornmeal encrusted red snapper over Freeman’s Mill grits, the fried green tomatoes and their undeniably famous chocolate chip cookies. There, was a restaurant that would expand the ‘Boro’s culinary boundaries, introducing plates with king crab piled high atop crusty French bread and pan seared redfish over dirty rice with garlic green beans and crawfish cream sauce. There, the food would always be the main event. Always local. Always inspired.
I, along with hundreds of other food lovers from past United States President Jimmy Carter and other dignitaries to celebrity chefs and townspeople, would come to know this place as an experience where every meal was memorable, a place that breathed new life into a community and introduced a world of gastronomic excellence and quality to a food scene in desperate need of passion. It would be there in that restaurant where I would make two new friends—the Alabi-Isamas, restaurant owner Seni and his wife Janetta, a couple who acknowledges their customers as guests and welcomes everyone who steps foot through their doors as if reuniting with the prodigal son.
Then one August morning, just five months before the restaurant would celebrate two years in business, the unthinkable happened.
Statesboro’s food scene has suffered an immense loss, as South & Vine Public House (SVPH) caught fire on the night of Tuesday, August 26. The fire may have taken our beloved corner hangout, but one thing the smoke and soot can’t snuff out is Seni’s desire to reopen, his unquenchable thirst to provide this small town with the finest food and beverage available and a humble culinary intuition few possess.
In my one-on-one exclusive interview, I sat down with Seni to learn how the SVPH family is doing since tragedy struck, how the community has reacted to the news and what the future holds for SVPH.
Me: First off, how are you doing?
Seni: I’m a heck of a lot better now than I was last week this time.
Me: What were you doing when you learned there was a fire?
Seni: I was actually sitting at home on the couch about to watch “Hard Knocks,” the Atlanta Falcons thing on HBO. I got a call from Jimmy at Chops and he was telling me that the place was smoking and was on fire. I got Janetta out of bed and we ran out and probably did 100 miles an hour down Fair Rd. We got there and I see all this smoke. I wasn’t in good shape. As soon as I saw that, I knew it was bad.
Me: Describe the scene.
Seni: The fire department was amazing. I’d never actually seen firemen in action, up close and personal. It was something. They can’t talk with you because they’re trying to put out a fire, and I’m running around trying to figure out what’s happening, what’s going on and they really couldn’t give me much information at the time. I was just standing in the street freaking out. The smoke was one thing but the fire eventually had worked its way out of the roof. That’s when I was useless. There were probably 30 to 40 foot flames coming out of the building. They got it under control and before the night was over, I walked through the restaurant with them. It was just devastation. It’s pretty much all gone. All the equipment, all the stuff we worked on for years. It took me a very long time to get the place open, and everything in there was done by us. Every time I look around, every time I go in with all the fire inspectors, it’s just bad. Everywhere you look, you see something that means something to you. We had some very specialized pieces of equipment, some really cool bottles of liquor. All that stuff is gone.
Me: How has the community reacted to the news?
Seni: It’s been unbelievable in every sense. Everyone has been very supportive. Al Chapman, he’s a good friend of mine at Gnat’s Landing. He was there first thing in the morning just to see what he could do. I wasn’t very much good to anybody at that point. We had to find a way to secure the building and board it up so that people couldn’t easily enter. All my tools and stuff are in the building and I had no idea how I was going to get any of this done. Al is there and he says, “Man, don’t worry about it. I’ve got a guy that can take care of that.” He made a call and in 30 minutes, there was a guy there taking care of it. That was just Al helping wherever he could. He said, “Listen if your people need something, let me know.” He’s been true to that. He’s picked up two of my guys. Mellow Mushroom has also given a couple of my employees jobs. Joe Lanier at Loco’s reached out immediately. He didn’t know the extent of the damage but wanted to know if maybe we needed to store some of our food in their coolers. Southern Growlers’ Brad David reached out immediately. Everybody all over town – Heath Robinson at 40 East, Jimmy and Walt at Chops, I mean everybody has offered to help any way they can – not to mention our guests and our regulars, the community at large, our extended family. I’ve gotten messages from all over the country. I can’t say enough about this community and the South and Vine family. It’s not just us and the employees, but when I say our family, I’m talking about our guests that have also been devastated by this. South and Vine is very important to a lot of people. It’s one of those places you become a regular, and the staff knows what you eat, they know what you drink. They know where you want to sit. It’s a pretty neat place.
Me: Do you have plans to reopen?
Seni: I know we have to come back in some capacity. I’m obligated to. There’s no way I could just leave the community high and dry. What we do is very specialized and the people that enjoy it, they don’t have a lot of options. Honestly, that was the genesis of South and Vine – the lack of options. I would go out to eat with friends, and my wife and I would always feel like there’s got to be something better. People have to want more. After a while, I got tired of saying it and instead of just complaining about it, I decided to put my hat in the ring and see what I could pull off. I’m not a trained chef or anything like that, but I’ve been cooking my whole life, and I know what I think tastes good, and I know what I want to eat. I figured maybe other people would enjoy the same things, and that’s really how the idea of South and Vine came about. It seemed like the right move, because a lot of people in town, in the region and all over have enjoyed many of the things we do there, like changing specials constantly, making everything we possibly can from scratch in-house and bringing in a really neat selection of libations. Our beer, wine and liquor selection is pretty eclectic, and there’s a wide variety of things. As good as it was, there’s still a ton more that I want to bring in and execute. This week, I was supposed to get a 23-year-old single barrel bourbon, which is not something you see hardly anywhere. Statesboro shouldn’t have to take a back seat just because we’re a smaller town. I think we can do just fine right here.
Me: What do you need from the community?
Seni (with a chuckle): Whenever the time comes for us to reopen, come eat. I also just want to say thank you to the community. Thank you for the immense support you’ve shown and continue to show.
In response to the overwhelming amount of support Seni has received on the South & Vine Public House Facebook page, he writes “Thank you so much for your kind words. We will do our best to make sure this community and our wonderful guests get to enjoy all they’ve become accustomed to once again. We love you all and can’t wait to see your beautiful faces!”
Remembering the good times at South & Vine Public House…may they live on forever.
New to Some Kinda Good?
Thanks for stopping by! If you like this post, you may also be interested to read about a few of the other local restaurants and bakeries I’ve reviewed. As the Statesboro Herald food columnist and a Georgia Southern University alumna, the ‘Boro is a second home to me. Be sure to like Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter to keep up with all my latest, local food discoveries.
Wild Georgia Shrimp & Summer Corn Chowder
All summer I’ve been wanting to make Shrimp and Corn Chowder, and today, I did it. Aside from peeling the potatoes and shucking the corn, the recipe requires little to no effort other than stirring and simmering. Continue reading “Wild Georgia Shrimp & Summer Corn Chowder”