Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Smooth Getaway Postcard From Coastal Georgia

It must be a sign from the cosmos when you find yourself cutting college classes to cook. That still small voice in your head can often direct you to your destiny, if you listen. Such listening is exactly what chef Dave Snyder did, when he found himself in this situation years ago. A guidance counselor suggested Dave might consider culinary school, since college wasn't his cup of tea. The rest is history.

As head of the successful Halyard’s Restaurant Group on Saint Simon's Island, Dave offers the devout foodie a culinary paradise. Residents and tourists alike throng his restaurants, Tramici and Halyards, to sample the fabulous menu items, daily specials, and adult libations. Tramici offers a casual Italian bistro atmosphere with outstanding brick oven pizzas, pastas, and salads. Halyards offers an upscale but relaxed dining experience with lovely decor, intimate booths and innovative seasonal menus. You can’t go wrong with either venue.

Among chef Dave’s many food passions is using the finest, freshest ingredients to create signature dishes that tantalize the palate. Recently, he introduced “Sunday Plantation Suppers” at Halyards, where traditional comfort foods are served up in southern family style. A typical menu includes buttermilk fried chicken, pork chops and grilled Manchester quail with mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and a crisp salad. I love to cook, but Sunday dinner out with the family is something I also enjoy immensely.

Here’s some cool news Dave shared with me, when we met to discuss his life and passions. Be on the look out for a new line of products under the Tramici label. The first offering will be the fabulous marinara sauce that makes their lasagna dazzle with complex blends of tomato, fresh herbs and some secret ingredients. Soon to follow will be salad dressings and other condiments that foodies can savor for their home cooking enjoyment.

Chef Dave is involved in the South Atlantic Fisherman's Association, which gives him ample opportunity to meet with state and national government officials about maintaining our oceans, so that fish and seafood thrive. Dave is no stranger to a fishing boat. He makes his way out into local waters as often as possible to provide the freshest local catch for his patrons.

On a more personal note, I asked Dave what he loves about living in coastal Georgia. He simply replied, “Peace.” He also loves southern hospitality, which abounds in both of his businesses with servers trained to offer a friendly and welcoming environment. I asked about a favorite meal he makes in his down time. He graciously shared this yummy recipe for fish tacos.

Chef Dave’s Fish Tacos

Cook long grain rice in chicken stock. Then prepare the salsa. In a pot, boil tomatoes, jalapeƱo peppers, yellow onion and garlic for about five minutes. Puree in a blender with cilantro until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice. Saute local Snapper dusted with ground cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper in a hot pan with olive oil and a touch of butter. Do not overcook. Slice an avocado. Roll up all ingredients in a warm corn tortilla and enjoy with an icy cold beer!

Both Tramici and Halyards cater or you can dine at Village Creek Landing, where events of all sizes may be held. Experienced coordinators are on hand to help plan your special event. This is also where adventures begin if you’re looking for a sunset cruise, kayaking or fishing instruction. Chef Dave offers cooking classes and interactive dinners he’ll prepare for you and your guests. His book Edible Art is available on either restaurant website mentioned above. Here's to you chef Dave: you continually inspire and delight clientele with the best of everything!

Melissa Lee is the author of The Permanent Tourist Website about Coastal Georgia. From the Cumberland Island to Sapelo Island and all of the islands in between, rich history and natural beauty abound. Saint Simon's Island offers tales that date back to pre-revolutionary-war days and is the gateway to Sea Island, a small enclave where the rich and famous gather to enjoy the good life. Jekyll Island, otherwise known as a millionaire's playground with the fabulous Jekyll Island Club Resort where the federal reserve was founded in the early 1900s, is yet another of the many places you can explore on her site.

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