Amelia Island Eats …..

I love the flavor of fresh, local food when I am traveling.  You can walk into an Applebee’s or Zaxby’s just about anywhere you go, but you can’t find freshly caught seafood prepared with freshly gathered produce just anywhere.
Why should I settle for the common and ordinary when the uncommon and extraordinary are an option?!

While we were in Amelia Island last week, enjoying fresh and local fare was a highlight of our trip.  Raising little foodies sure made this a lot of fun!  In five days of dining out, we only had one meal that was a let down (The Marina Restaurant).

That is a pretty good record.
From traditional seafood dishes to eclectic cuisine we dined on it all.  A few meals that stood out for me would be the shrimp po boy I enjoyed beach-side at Sliders Grill the afternoon we arrived on the island. Sliders also served up some fabulous fried Kosher dills and calamari.  Audley was still talking about that meal when we left and a couple hours later as he was still full!

I thoroughly enjoyed lunch at Cafe Karibo our last full afternoon there.  This trendy little cafe is also a microbrewery.  There I had the absolute best shrimp salad on a fresh, buttery croissant.  This shrimp salad was fantastic; not too much mayonnaise in it, and the shrimp that had never been frozen was amazing!  I also added a cup of seafood soup to my order at Karibo.  Instead of the common bisque you find at many seafood restaurants, this was made with a tomato base and filled with diced potatoes, corn, snapper, crab, and shrimp.

All I can say is “YUM!”
Audley & I enjoyed a night out for two at The Crab Trap; a 30 year tradition in Amelia Island.  This casual restaurant with it’s hardwood floors, actual traps from fishing boats, and a really cool Florida/Georgia rivalry wall had the best fried seafood. I usually prefer my seafood broiled, but this one night, fried was the way to go.  Audley said the oysters he had to eat were the best, and for oysters (not always my favorite) they were good.  I think the thing I liked best about the Crab Trap was that the locals love this restaurant, too.  It was comforting to hear the waitstaff calling customers by name and greeting them as they walked through the doors.  That says a lot about their reputation.
Of course the night out for the two of us made this one of my favorite restaurants of the trip.
But, there was one restaurant that still has my children and hubby talking.  

This fun restaurant in one of Amelia’s historic homes was full of surprises that delighted our senses and thrilled our taste buds.

The first surprise was when you walked into the door of this sweet old home place.

As you enter the door, you are immediately transplanted from 1910 to 2011 with this fun and contemporary decor.  The red walls, white and black tile work and simplicity of it all really made a statement.
The kids were even impressed.


So why did I chose 29 South for our lunch?




You got it, my decision was solely based on the fact that chef/owner, Scotty Schwartz, had a gorgeous kitchen garden out back from which he gathers many of his ingredients.

I just love fresh!

The menu at 29 South was super fun.  We started off with two orders of these great pulled pork spring rolls topped with a sweet chili glaze.  Who would have ever thought something so different would be so delicious?!


Pulled Pork spring roll On Carolina Slaw with Sweet Chili Glaze


I chose to start off my meal with a completely scrumptious rich and creamy crab bisque.  It was loaded with vegetables and seafood and was quite satisfying.


crabs were harmed in the making of this scrumptious bisque!

And while I feasted on possibly the best shrimp & grits ev-ah  (how positively Southern is that dish?) ……

Mill Ground Grits and a Sherry, local shrimp & Andouille sausage pan gravy

…..the rest of my family seriously put away some lunch!

Fried chicken Sandwich, Applewood Pulled Pork,  Irish Ruben Clubhouse Sandwich, Waygu Burger (American Kobe beef),  & Buffalo Chicken Tacos w/ a spicy sweet sauce and blue cheese crumbles.

In fact Audley was so torn over what to order, he ordered both a pulled pork sandwich AND a ruben club sandwich!

{He was ready for a long nap after that.}

The best part was how awesome it was to enjoy a meal with my little foodies and have their take on it;  they had plenty to say, and all of it was positive.


29 South was well worth our time and a restaurant we will definitely visit again.

I don’t know if Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach is on your agenda in the future, but the local cuisine sure did add a lot of personality to our trip!

Food on the Beach

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get back into the swing of things after a relaxing vacation?  I think I have discovered my destiny in life after my children grow up is to own a quaint, little seaside inn.
 {I would be a great beach bum!}
Our holiday to the beach was planned rather quickly.  With the jr. high school out for spring break (unfortunately college kids had their break several weeks ago), I decided that we all needed a break from work, soccer, band, rain, flooded yards, and laundry.  We took advantage of the many hotel points Audley has accumulated over the last several months with Hilton, loaded up the vehicle and headed off to beautiful Amelia Island, Florida.
It was fabulous having a week away from the reality of stay-at-home-motherhood!


Located on the Atlantic coast, Amelia Island is a beautiful and quaint island located on the Georgia/Florida state line.  This quiet coastal community is completely opposite Panama City/Destin/ Myrtle Beach which is why we chose this area to escape.  I don’t want 100 variations of the same beach shop every three feet and really despise the crowded beaches.  When I have a get-away, that is exactly what I want to do; GET AWAY!


We could not have requested weather any more perfect than what we had.  There were no crowds, no party-minded young people, just families content with having a good time.


And we definitely had a lot of  fun!


If you have tried to plan a vacation lately, you know that it isn’t cheap.  With gas prices out the roof and trying to fill up the bottomless pits that I call children money goes quick! But, there are ways to maximize the time and money you have to its absolute fullness.
Here are a couple of ways we were able to maximize our money on food costs……
  I packed a cooler filled with sandwich meats and cheeses, bottles of water, then fixed a bag loaded with chips, fruit cups, bread for the sandwiches, and other small snacks.  This kept us from having to stop at every convenience store we passed during the nine hour drive! A $1.00 can of Pringles (even cheaper if you use coupons) goes a whole lot further than .99 grab bags of chips, and a Dole fruit cup or granola bar is definitely healthier for a child to munch on.
Buying a case of water ($3.99/24 bottles) saves a bundle when you pay $1.50/bottle at a gas station!


Carrying simple groceries and snacks with us also served another purpose …. food on the beach!  Jumping waves, building sand castles, and tanning while reading a good novel really build up your appetite!


For eating out, we chose restaurants that were local, not chains.  Restaurants that feature products raised locally are my favorite.  There is something so appealing about eating the freshest of ingredients, ingredients that come from just down the road, not across the globe.
Yes, these can be pricey, but go at lunchtime!  Most of the time lunch menus are just as extensive as a dinner menu and half the price. When you are feeding five who all eat off the adult menu, dinner gets expensive!   I think that my children are well-behaved, but when going to a pricey restaurant at night, I don’t want the fear that they might disturb others who are dining.
Going at lunch allows their inner-foodie to enjoy a meal, at a lower cost, and I don’t worry as much if they might bother other diners.
Eating out for lunch nearly every day was an enjoyable break from the beach and touring the historic district.
right on the harbor in Fernandina Beach
For supper we made sandwiches and one night even grilled our own dinner out on the beach!  I bought steaks here before we left, and then we visited a local fresh seafood market and purchased shrimp.
 Local fishermen bring their fresh catch in daily to sell.  You can’t beat that!
Audley packed our small grill and we set up a little kitchen right on the beach for a fabulous supper as the sun set.
fresh Atlantic shrimp


And our chef of the evening …….



squeezing fresh lemon juice on the shrimp




Ribeye Steaks & grilled shrimp
It was great saving money on food, which allowed us the opportunity to do other things like play golf and check out some other local sites.
This week I hope to share some more of our holiday, including a great restaurant review!
Until then, I guess I will return to reality and begin one of the 99 loads of laundry waiting in the hallway!