RECIPE: The Ritz-Carlton Lodge’s She Crab Soup

soupThe Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation‘s She Crab Soup

Yield = 5 8oz. Cups

2/3 Cups Onions, small dice

2/3 Cups Celery, small dice

¼ Cup + 1 Tbsp Flour

3.5 Tbsp Sherry Wine

3 Cups Clam Juice

½ Tbsp Crab Roe

1 tsp Worcestershire

½ tsp Tabasco

1 tsp Onion Powder

1 tsp Garlic Powder

½ tsp Celery Salt

½ Cup Heavy Cream

Lemon Juice to taste

Salt & Pepper to taste

Crab meat, as desired

Directions:

Sweat onions and celery in olive oil and butter until tender.  Add sherry wine, cook until alcohol has burned off.  Add flour and cook for one minute.  Slowly add clam juice, and crab roe stirring constantly to break up clumps to create a smooth mixture.  Add Worcestershire, tabasco, onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt and heavy cream.  Simmer for another 45 minutes.  Finish with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to preferred taste.  Add crab meat as desired.

These Georgia B&Bs Will Make You Want to Move In

Photo Courtesy of  Lucille's Mountain Top Inn and Spa

Photo Courtesy of
Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn and Spa

Spring is right around the chilly corner.  The 2015 class of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers will soon be hitting the Trail northward from Springer Mountain.  Quite often friends and families gather together to encourage loved ones who are starting their trek.  We hope this brief list of fabulous bed and breakfast inns (B&Bs) in the Northeast Georgia Mountains will help you find a special place for your fond, temporary farewells.

These B&B ideas come from our friends with the Northeast Georgia Mountains Travel Association.  They always have great tips on the best places to enjoy spending time without necessarily spending a lot of money.

Bed and breakfast inns are special places to get away that offer an entirely different experience than cookie-cutter motels.  At B&Bs in Northeast Georgia’s mountains, you’re truly guests, not simply occupants of a room with iffy towels and TV clickers that are more germ infested than most CDC labs.

Cozy.  Comfy.  Friendly.  Fascinating get-aways. B&Bs are entirely different from places where you try to sleep by a busy freeway with a breakfast menu that consists of soggy cereal in a tiny Styrofoam bowl.

B&BS are mini vacations that you’ll remember long after most sleazy motels are plowed down to make room for another car lot.

When you need a break – when you REALLY need a break – pick one of Northeast Georgia’s lovely B&Bs with one-of-a-kind decorations and fabulous attitudes.  Enjoy a delicious homemade breakfast (that someone else makes for a change), have a quiet conversation (without you-know-who bothering you) in a spot with beautiful views and not-so-strange strangers.

Here’s a B&B you might like: Your Home in the Woods Bed & Breakfast Inn serves oatmeal from baked peaches and locally sourced blueberries.  Foodies will love their apple cheddar quiche and “creamy eggs” — scrambled eggs with cream cheese and Dijon mustard.  Going with a fussy eater?  Don’t tell him or her what’s in it and watch as it’s munched down faster than you can say, “I knew you’d like it.”

All of Northeast Georgia’s B&Bs are above average, of course, and many use local foods to add a gourmet twist to their breakfast offerings.

Twin Creeks Bed and Breakfast Inn, for example, makes a blueberry, cream cheese and croissant casserole.  Their signature dish is a carrot-cake Belgium waffle with cream cheese, cinnamon sugar butter and sublime syrup.

Photo Courtesy of Misty Mountain Inn and Cottages

Photo Courtesy of Misty Mountain Inn and Cottages

The Misty Mountain Inn B&B includes a full breakfast with fresh ground coffee and juices.  Daily offerings vary, but think of … a country breakfast with home fries and scrambled eggs with diced ham.  Add in a few cheeses, bacon, biscuits and toast with jams, jellies and locally produced honey and you’ll have a good idea of what’s for breakfast.  Or select a vegetarian quiche, a breakfast sausage casserole, waffles and pancakes or simply delicious coffee with a loved one.

Glen-Ella Springs is a fabulous place for dinner or to spend the night … followed by breakfast and appreciation.

Photo Courtest of @cgponder via Instagram

Photo Courtest of @cgponder via Instagram

If you’re adventurous, take a drive around magnificent Lake Rabun – be sure to notice the unique boathouses – then, stop by for a quick hike up Minnehaha Falls (honest).  Afterward, head down Bear Gap Road, the back way to Glen-Ella Springs.

Just when you-know-who is absolutely sure you’re lost and promises himself/herself never to trust you again, say, “Oh, no!  We’re almost out of gas and we have no food!  We’re going to die in the wilderness!”

Keep driving few miles through deepest, darkest Georgia to Glen-Ella Springs.  Park and go inside where you’ll say, “We have dinner reservations!”

(Yes, I actually did that years ago.  I’ve forgotten her name, but I’ll bet she remembers that date, if not me.  She’s probably doing better after all these years.  Probably.)

Glen-Ella Springs offers blueberry pancakes with Vermont maple syrup and hickory smoked bacon that could make almost anyone forgive you for almost anything.  (Some restrictions apply.)

Everyone’s favorite culinary masters at Glen-Ella delight guests with their Two Cheese Strata served alongside creamy stone-ground grits from Nora Mill Granary of Helen, GA.  Count me in for country ham and made-from-scratch biscuits.  Unless they’re serving Caramel French Toast Casserole and Mini Herb Egg Muffins.  Tough choices.

Everything at Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn & Spa – truly one of America’s finest – is fabulous.  If you’ve never been treated like royalty, Lucille’s is your big chance.  If you’ve never seen a sunset or sunrise in the Northeast Georgia mountains, Lucille’s is your big chance.  If you’ve never spent a night in a deluxe room with a couple of robes that probably cost more than your first car, Lucille’s is your big chance.  If you’ve never had a gourmet breakfast where the only thing that could possibly intrude upon the delight is trying to figure out which spoon and/or fork to use (trust me, they’ll bring you more) … yup, Lucille’s is your big chance.

My three-course breakfasts at home – generic V-8 juice, a generic English muffin, generic bran cereal and inexpensive coffee – aren’t the same as what you’ll be served at Lucille’s.  In a dining room overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northeast Georgia, you’ll dine on Gruyere and Shallot Frittatas, Crème Brulee French Toast with Minted Strawberries, Pancakes with Spiced Blueberries and a side of thick sliced Applewood Smoked Bacon.

Photo Courtesy of Lucille's Mountain Top Inn and Spa

Photo Courtesy of Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn and Spa

I’ve been to Lucille’s Mountaintop Inn.  Didn’t have a clue what I was eating (sorry), but if I get to choose where I want to eat my Last Meal, take me to Lucille’s, please.

Pffft.  Forget going to the Smokies.  Forget motels that have numbers in their names.  The next time you need to get away for a little adventure, exploration or relaxation, spend a night — and maybe the time of your life — at one of the forty B&Bs providing the best the Northeast Georgia Mountains can offer.

Robert SutherlandRobert Sutherland is a freelance writer enjoying life in Gainesville, GA. Robert has two adult daughters, six grandchildren, one Kawasaki and a loving girlfriend. Robert’s e-mail address is: RJS@RobertSutherland.com.

What to Order at Five Must-Try Buford Highway Vietnamese Restaurants

By Kate Parham Kordsmeier

Photo courtesy of Lee's Bakery

Photo courtesy of Lee’s Bakery

The Restaurant: Lee’s Bakery

The Order: Banh Mi (sandwich)

This traditional Vietnamese sandwich—pâté and/or various kinds of pork and deli meat comingle alongside pickled veggies (think jalapenos, daikon, carrots and cucumbers) and fresh herbs (usually coriander or cilantro) in between a crusty French baguette smothered in mayo—is not only made from scratch at this sandwich and soup shop, it’s also the steal of the century at just $2.99. Go for the Grilled BBQ Pork version.

 

The Restaurant: Nam Phuong

The Order: Gỏi cuốn (spring rolls)

Gather up a group and head to this unsuspecting Vietnamese mecca where you roll your own spring rolls, also sometimes called salad rolls or summer rolls. I’m partial to the BBQ pork, but the shrimp is also great—simply dip rice paper into warm water and pile it high with your choice of fresh herbs, rice vermicelli and julienned carrots and cucumbers. Dipped in a tangy fish sauce, these rolls are DIY delicious.

 

The Restaurant: Chateau Saigon

The Order: Bò Lúc Lắc (Shaken Beef)

Like many Vietnamese dishes, this French-inspired beef creation is named for its cooking method: tender beef is tossed back and forth in a shaking motion over high heat. At Chateau Saigon, you’ll find it served authentically over greens with sautéed onions, scallions and tomatoes, alongside rice.

 

The Restaurant: Pho Dai Loi #2

The Order: Phở (Beef Noodle Soup)

This soup shop, tucked away in a corner of a strip mall, is the undisputed master of Vietnam’s iconic dish of phở. Here, a deliciously rich broth chockfull of spices (think cinnamon, star anise, roasted ginger, roasted onion, cardamom, coriander, fennel and clove) teems with rice noodles and a variety of beef cuts, from eye round steak and well-done flank to marble brisket, soft tendon and bible tripe (mix-and-match the cuts to customize your soup). Each steaming bowl comes with a bounty of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime and jalapenos for toppings.

 

The Restaurant: C’om Grill

The Order: đu đủ (papaya salad)

Though papaya salad is often thought of as a Thai dish, the Vietnamese version is equally bright and packed with flavor. At this casual eatery, you’ll find their signature salad brimming with green mango, papaya, Fuji apple, roasted peanuts and crispy scallions in a fish vinaigrette sauce. It’s the perfect balance of textures and flavors, and comes with the option to add pork, beef, chicken, lamb, shrimp or fish.

KateKate is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications. Click here to read more culinary content from Kate

Brunswick Gets All Shook Up 

By Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Photo Courtesy of  Georgia Elvis Festival

Photo Courtesy of Georgia Elvis Festival

Brunswick is about to be all shook up by the annual Georgia Elvis Festival, coming to town March 12-15, 2015.

Locals and visitors are invited to put on their blue suede shoes and stroll along downtown Brunswick where shop windows will be decorated featuring the King of Rock and Roll and stop to listen to live performances in Brunswick’s town squares and Mary Ross Park for ol’ times sake. Additionally there will be two Vegas-style Elvis shows.

While you’re in town for the festival, you’ll be sure to be shoppin’ around at the locally owned stores in the Brunswick Old Town Historic District and on Mallory Street in St. Simons Island or going beyond the reef dining at one of the local seafood restaurants. My favorite laid-back restaurant in the area, Half Shell, is just across the causeway on St. Simons Island.

Heading to Brunswick with your sweetheart? Be sure to snap a selfie at Lover’s Oak (at Prince and Albany Streets), a 900-year old tree said to be the place where Native Americans would meet their romantic partners before England’s colonization of the land.

EileenEileen is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.

5 Spring Break Destinations that Won’t Break the Bank

By Susan Rodman

Spring Break. The perfect time for parents and kids to recharge before the crazy, jam packed, marathon that is the end-of-school. Planning a spring break vacation on a budget can be daunting, but it’s perfectly doable, if you know where to look. Here are five spring break destinations in Georgia that won’t break the bank.

Panola Mountain State Park

Panola Mountain State Park

Georgia State Parks: There is no better value than a Georgia State Parks vacation. I like to call them my ‘yes’ vacations. Whatever anyone wants to do, the answer is yes, because everything is so affordable. We’ve canoed at George T. Bagby State Park, learned archery at Panola Mountain State Park, rode horses at FDR, and studied the water at Amicalola State Park. With the first time camper program, you can get everything you need for your trip, and get help setting it up.

Photo courtesy of The King & Prince Resort

The King & Prince Resort

Golden Isles, GA Between Jekyll Island and St. Simon’s Island, there is lots of free and inexpensive fun, besides just playing on the beach. Our favorites, the Tidelands Nature Center on Jekyll and searching for tree spirits on St. Simons Island. With so many free and inexpensive activities in the Golden Isles, there may be room to splurge on accommodations. The Golden Isles offers vacationers a plethora of lodging options, from the luxurious Cloister at Sea Island, to the beachside King and Prince Hotel on St. Simons Island or the historic Jekyll Island Club. Explore Georgia has a great deal at the King and Prince or Days Inn Jekyll Island for those with an early spring break.

The Rock Ranch

The Rock Ranch

The Rock, Ga. For something a little unique, plan a camping trip in a Conestoga Wagon at the Rock Ranch near Barnesville, Ga. These authentic wagons include bunk beds, wood for the fire, clean port-a potties and a folding table stocked with essentials. In-expensive add-ons like as a hot dog dinner, storyteller or astronomer are available, but frankly, we had a wonderful time just enjoying roasting marshmallows and running around the pasture. During special events like Spring at the Ranch, campers receive a discount on the added entertainment.

Stone Mountain Park. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Stone Mountain Park. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Stone Mountain, GA Part theme park, part natural park, Stone Mountain is a fun escape just outside of Atlanta. The Crossroads section offers a 4D theatre, SkyHike, mini-golf, train rides and more. Be sure to see the special offers available on their website for discounts to Stone Mountain attractions. The outdoor granite museum, and the hike to the top of the Stone Mountain is a must and free. The Marriott Evergreen Resort is perfect for families. A recreation area off the main hotel allows kids to swim inside or out, as well as play with giant chess or checker sets while Mom and Dad relax with a cocktail on the porch or by the outdoor fire pits.

World of Coca Cola

World of Coca Cola

Atlanta, GA – There are so many different things to do in Atlanta, it’s hard to choose a few for this article. For those looking to keep the costs of visiting multiple attractions down, consider an Atlanta City Pass. You can visit some of Atlanta’s most popular attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, Inside CNN Studio Tours and either Zoo Atlanta or the Atlanta History Center and either Fernbank Museum of Natural History or the High Museum of Art. The passes are good for nine days after the first use and allow you to save time by bypassing the ticket lines.  If museums aren’t your thing, check out Goldstar for discounts on shows or Atlanta on the Cheap for deals and discounts around the city.

SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

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