Friday, April 17, 2015

The Gastonian: Savannah's Most Romantic B&B

Nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood on Gaston Street in the heart of Savannah's beautiful Historic District, The Gastonian is an elegant bed and breakfast consisting of two adjoining 19th-century Regency-Italianate-style mansions connected by a wooden walkway overlooking a formal garden. A four-diamond, award-winning Relais & Chateaux Bed and Breakfast Inn, and voted by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the top 50 B&Bs in the world, The Gastonian is known for its intimate atmosphere, beautiful antiques, grand decor and genuine southern hospitality. Built in 1868 as a private residential home, these majestic mansions, like many of Savannah's old homes, serve as reminders of Savannah's rich history. The exterior cracks on the mansion's façade and fireplace in the original kitchen of the inn were caused by an earthquake that struck the coastal empire in the late 1800s. Many Savannahians fled their homes during the panic, but The Gastonian remained standing. With 17 uniquely appointed guest rooms named after prominent Savannah natives such as Flannery O'Connor, Juliette Gordon Low and Mary Telfair, each room has antique furnishings, private luxury ensuite bathrooms and working fireplaces. Guests can enjoy the Inn's private outdoor garden, afternoon tea, complimentary hors d'oeuvres and wine in the afternoons, as well as desserts and cordials in the evenings served by candlelight in the antique-filled parlour. At night, praline cookies arrive at the door, and in the morning, guests are treated to personalized breakfasts served in their rooms on silver trays, for a touch of Southern hospitality in the heart of historic Savannah.

The flowering veranda at The Gastonian

The formal parlour at The Gastonian

Chilled bottles of Champagne for special occasions

Afternoon hors d'oeuvres are served each day

A wrought iron bench in The Gastonian outdoor garden

Spanish Moss - one of Savannah's quintessential sights

She-Crab Stew
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of The Gastonian

You don’t get more LowCountry than She-crab stew. This Blue Crab and sherry based bisque is a local favourite, and exemplifies the depth and warmth of food from the Savannah region.

6 tbsp butter
1 cup minced green onion
1 cup minced celery
1 tbsp minced carrot
6 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp white pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 cup sherry
1 lb claw crabmeat
Fresh parsley or mint leaves for garnish

Melt the butter over low heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cover, and steam until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, then whisk in the milk and broth. Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Lower the heat to medium and add the nutmeg, white pepper, cayenne pepper, cream, sherry, and crab, and cook until warmed through. Garnish with fresh parsley of mint and serve immediately.

Mashed Potato Cakes 
Serves 8-10
Recipe courtesy of The Gastonian

A Southern-fried twist on an old classic.

1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled and quartered.
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp whole milk
1/2 small yellow onion
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup fine dried breadcrumbs

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with lightly salted cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 -12 minutes, then drain well. Purée the potatoes by pressing them through a ricer placed over a bowl. Stir in the butter, then add the milk, onion and eggs and stir until blended. Add the Parmesan, salt and pepper and stir again until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is well chilled and firm, at least 2 hour or for up to 24 hours.

Spread the breadcrumbs on a plate. Heat a frying pan with some butter, and using a 1/3 cup measure, scoop up a portion of the potato mixture and set on top of the crumbs. Pat it down to about 1/2-inch thick and turn to coat evenly with crumbs on both sides until lightly coated. Transfer the potato cakes to the frying pan and cook 2-3 minutes on each side cook until nicely browned on both sides. Serve hot with a light drizzle of melted butter. Continue with the rest of the batter until complete.

Variation: Add in a tablespoon or two of sour cream, some sliced green onion, grated cheddar cheese, and/or chopped, cooked bacon.