Friday, May 27, 2011

Farmer to Table

Beach season is in full swing, and so is the S & N Bed and Breakfast.  From late spring to early fall friends and family flood our home to enjoy a taste of island life.  While at times I find the constant changing of linens overwhelming, both Chef and I love to have guests stay with us.  It gives us a reason to indulge in both eat and drink, our children the chance to share their hoard of toys, and our pets get the rub downs that they deserve.

Speaking of Bed and Breakfasts, above is the Greyfield Inn.  What is the difference between an inn and a bed & breakfast?  The mealtime.  Inn's serve dinner, while B&B's do not.  Dinner at the Greyfield Inn with the man I love was what I wanted to do the night of my big 30.  It is a little gem tucked away in an oak hammock on Cumberland Island, GA. Built in 1900 by Thomas and Lucy Carnegie for their daughter Margaret, the home was made into an inn in 1962 by her daughter Lucy Ferguson. It is where JFK Jr. was married and wild horses roam. 

Chef and I ventured there at sunset in our little fishing boat for dinner. Doesn't he look dapper? We cruised up the Amelia River and through the Cumberland Sound.  It was my mission to have a day of firsts in celebration of this monumental day, and while I have been to Cumberland Island more times than I can count, this was my first time dining at the award winning inn. 
When we arrived we were greeted on the dock by two young women with lulling southern accents.  They drove us to the inn in a vintage Land Rover Defender,  a vehicle Chef dreams of owning one day.  We bumped up a dirt road to the graceful mansion just in time for drinks at the Honest John where a spread of cocktail fixings awaited.
There is something special about a tiny bar unguarded by a tender, with nothing more than a notebook for patrons to calculate their mischief.  My handsome date made me a gin and tonic, himself a Negroni and we then ventured into the library.
This room immediately filled me with a sense of easy wonder.  It is the kind of space that you could easily sit in silence for hours, or ramble on  in deep conversation in front of a roaring fire listening to jazz.  The tomes that lined the shelves wore the marks of avid readers from generations of life.  If I ever have the luxury of a library at home, this space is what I will use as my inspiration.

We made ourselves another round and headed into the drawing room where some of the other dinner guests were mingling.  We grabbed a few small bites and decided to head to the porch to enjoy the twilight.  I sat on a porch swing with the girth of a daybed, and Chef in a rocking chair.  We searched the grounds for wild horses that drift across the island, but none graced our presence.  The dinner bell rang and we made our way back inside.

One giant table was set in the dining room.  At the Greyfield Inn you dine with whomever is a guest that evening, and on this particular night it was as if the Fates planned the seating chart. There were eight of us dining in total, and two of the couples were farmers.   We were all to sit at one large table in a room with a fire crackling in the hearth.  We were surprised by this style of dining, but happily took our places at the table.

There is a wonderful intimacy that develops amongst strangers sharing a meal.  We quickly fell into conversation with the couple who sat across from us, owners of Deep Creek Ranch.  They supply grass-fed beef to some of the finest restaurants in Orlando, and it was fascinating to talk shop with them.  There was also a pair of farmers from New Jersey, and a couple from Wisconsin as well.  The company was excellent, the four courses were superb, the ambiance was perfection.  

After the meal we made our way down the dark dirt road to the docks and cast off into the night.  There was no moon to speak of and a brisk wind on the water, but we were still warm from the cozy dining room.  The whole evening was wonderfully old fashioned and intimate: from arriving by small boat, to classic cocktails on the porch, to the charm of dining by fire and candle light in a century old home on a small island in the deep south, where hospitality is still more than a mint on your pillow. 

1 comment:

Katie Haas said...

I LOVE THIS!!!! You are such a great writer Nan and someday I hope to go to this place. Did you get to spend the night or just dinner?