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I admit it: Pizza makes me happy. To some, it’s just bread, sauce, and cheese. But to me, it’s the perfect food.

It’s great hot or cold, fresh or leftover. And with the right selection of toppings, you can please even the pickiest eaters (just don’t ask me to add pineapple).

That’s what makes pizza the perfect vacation vittles. Whether it’s just you and your significant other, a gaggle of pre-teens, or four generations in a rented beach house, pizza satisfies everyone. And the best place to go on St. George Island is BJ’s Pizza and The Island Sushi Company.

As the name implies, pizza is kind of their thing. You can build your own with over 16 possible toppings or try one of their specialty pizzas, like the local favorite shrimp pesto pizza, piled high with mozzarella cheese, shrimp, sliced tomato, scallions and pesto on a homemade pizza crust.

Another local favorite is not quite what it sounds like: buffalo chips. It’s homemade pizza dough covered in a blanket of hot wing sauce and parmesan cheese, then baked until crispy and served with ranch dressing. Yum on all counts.

Now, I’ve heard there are people who don’t actually like pizza (though I don’t think I’ve actually met one). For those folks, BJ’s offers a whole array of subs and sandwiches, from a traditional BLT to a mushroom Swiss burger. You’ll also find salads, appetizers, calzones, and Blue Bell hand-dipped ice cream.

If you’re looking for a real departure from pizza, The Island Sushi Company is right next door with everything from basic rolls to their own specialties, like the Island Bliss: spicy tuna, cilantro, jalapeno, and cream cheese.

So if you’re tired of wasting valuable vacation time asking, “What’s for dinner?” and getting crickets in return, just pile in the car and head to BJ’s Pizza. Your smart suggestion for the best ‘za on the island is certain to make you the vacay MVP!

Winter at the beach brings a quiet serenity that’s perfectly suited to the introspection of a New Year’s resolution, the reawakening of the early spring, even the romance of Valentine’s Day.

No matter what you’re celebrating, you won’t find a more perfect place to toast the sunset – or the sunrise (hey, we don’t judge) – than St. George Island on Florida’s Forgotten Coast.

I can certainly recommend a few places to find a quiet place with a view of the Gulf, but honestly you’d have a harder time finding a place that doesn’t sparkle with coastal magic.

  • Up the Stairs in Apalachicola, an upscale, quiet dining location to get away from the bustling crowds (21+ only).
  • Gormley’s at the Gibson, set in the Historic Gibson Inn in downtown Apalachicola.
  • Apalachicola Ice Company, where you can enjoy a beer and some live music in the courtyard
  • Bowery Station, complete with outdoor beer garden and live music.

Of course, these are just a few of your options. All along Highway 98 – otherwise known as the Big Bend Scenic Byway Coastal Trail – you’ll find a string of quaint, small towns that feel like you’ve stepped back in time to old Florida: from Port St. Joe to St. George Island, Apalachicola and Carrabelle. Each one offers its own unique selection of bars and restaurants that are peppered with patios, balconies, verandas, terraces and decks perfect for you to behold the sunset, the surf or just the people walking by.

And if you really want to get away from the crowds, grab a bottle of bubbly and settle in somewhere cozy on St. George Island. You can drink a toast to new beginnings with someone you love. Our selection of rental homes is rife with decks and patios ideal for reflecting on all that the new year holds in the glint of a perfectly blush-colored sunset set to the melodies of rolling waves. Cheers!

Florida is home to a variety of animals, and some of the species here are special to our area because of the estuaries and marine marshlands. St. George Island is a top destination for visitors who want to take a step back in time to enjoy a more pristine and natural island that’s not built up. The strict building codes that keep this island as natural as possible make it ideal for visitors who want a glimpse of an endangered bird or sea turtles making nests. Taking an estuarine walk is a great way to catch a peek of the natural flora and fauna of St. George Island.

Birding Enthusiasts

Birdwatchers have documented almost 300 bird species on the island, making this a prime destination for birders. Some of these species include threatened and endangered birds. The time of year you visit can play a role in what you see because of neotropical raptors and birds that use it as part of their migration route, such as tanagers, hawks, buntings, warblers and falcons. Other birds found in this area include marsh hawks, egrets, bald eagles, osprey and herons. Four pairs of bald eagles that actively nest on the island could be spotted on your estuarine walk.

Reptiles and Amphibians

There are several reptiles and amphibians that call this area home. Some of the potential species you could see include the gopher frog, several types of salamanders, Eastern indigo snake and several turtle species.

Turtles can be a big draw to the area. Scientists believe there’s a minimum impact on the turtles that nest on the island from the humans who live here and light pollution at night, but it’s not enough to keep the turtles from returning to the area to the delight of residents. However, the turtle nests on Little St. George Island have to be protected from predators, such as coyotes.

Loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles have been found on beaches in the area. Hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley turtle also can be found in areas around the bay and other waters, but not by the beaches. Alligator snapping turtles also are here.

Mammals

St. George Island’s estuaries also are home to a variety of mammals. You can possibly see manatees, Florida mice, two species of bats and raccoons.

You just never know what you may come across during your estuarine walk, and each day may bring something different. Contact us today to talk about booking your upcoming vacation to see all the species that can be found on our pristine island.

If you have small children, had small children, or have ever seen small children from a distance, you’ll understand the desire to occasionally dine away from said children.

Don’t get me wrong; I love kids (I even have some), but sometimes you just want to enjoy a meal without your kids… and without anyone else’s kids either. Up the Stairs in Apalachicola gives you that opportunity.

But the real appeal at Up the Stairs isn’t just the lack of children (that’s just a bonus!).

Nestled above shops in the quiet fishing village’s historic district, this fine dining establishment combines fresh seafood, exceptional service, extraordinary signature cocktails, and a growing wine list to create an unforgettable dining experience.

House favorites like the crab bruschetta and crawfish as well as the shrimp and sausage gumbo reflect the unique flavors of Up the Stairs, where the freshest ingredients meet in the most interesting combinations. Shrimp Sambuca, Petit Curry Pot, and beef carpaccio also make an appearance on this anything-but-ordinary menu.

Up the Stairs is situated right in the heart of the village, convenient to shopping, museums, and the waterfront. So it’s a great place to refuel any time of the day or night. And if you’re not quite up for the whole dining experience, you can always choose to eat in the lounge, where you’ll find most of the same delicious dining room selections in smaller portions.

If you’re spending time on The Forgotten Coast – taking advantage of all the hidden gems you can uncover in the calm of winter – don’t miss Up the Stairs. The real star there is the food.

Or maybe the cocktails. Or the wine list. No, it’s definitely the food. I can’t decide; stop by for a bite yourself and let me know which one you decide.

Lunch and dinner served Wednesday through Saturday. Sunday brunch served 11am-3pm.

76 Market Street in Downtown Apalachicola.

Nothing beats autumn at the beach. The emerald water turns a little grayer, the sun is a little lower, the breezes are a little cooler. The crowds are even a little sparser.

But the best part of fall in the Panhandle is the Florida Seafood Festival.

Now in its 54th year, this two-day celebration is the state’s oldest maritime festival, drawing thousands of visitors to the historic town of Apalachicola on November 3rd and 4th!

The Festival is held at the mouth of the Apalachicola River under the shady oaks of Battery Park. This confluence of the river and the Gulf of Mexico form an estuary that gives the local oysters their distinctive salty-sweet taste. Some call these the best in the country, and in fact, nearly 90 percent of all oysters served in Florida come from this spot.

Of course, oysters are king at the Seafood Festival, but there’s more to it than just eating (though that’s really enough, isn’t it?). The festival also features arts and crafts exhibits, plus other seafood-related events including the Oyster Eating and Oyster Shucking contests, Blue Crab Races, a downtown Parade, 5k Redfish Run, and the Blessing of the Fleet.

There’s also musical entertainment with headliners I Am They, a Christian music group performing Friday, and country music star Jerrod Niemann on Saturday.

The entire event is free and open to the public, so just head over to Apalachicola and enjoy the fun!

For some, breakfast is just a habit, a quick bite with coffee to get you up and running. For others, it’s a way of life. If you fall into the latter category, you’re in luck—the Forgotten Coast loves a yummy start to the day! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite breakfast spots to check out during your stay on St. George Island.

First up, we have a new addition to the island. Weber’s Little Donut Shop opened just a few months ago, but they’re quickly becoming a favorite of locals and visitors alike. They offer a wide variety of pastries with innovative flavors, like Fruity Pebbles and cookies and cream. But don’t worry about being overwhelmed with options; at just $1 a pop, it’s easy to try them all. It’s not uncommon for there to be a line before they open at 8:00 A.M., so get there early for the most options. And don’t forget cash! Weber’s is a card-free establishment.

Next is more of a St. George Island classic: The Beach Pit. Now in their sixth year, The Beach Pit is the top spot for traditional breakfast, with everything from bagels to crepes. A favorite dish is the signature seafood omelet, which comes with a choice of shrimp or oysters. If you like your breakfast with a little “hair of the dog,” this is the spot for you—The Beach Pit’s full bar starts serving when they open at 7:30 A.M.

Although it’s just across the bridge, the flavors of Apalachicola’s Café Con Leche will transport you to Latin America. The owner, Tamara Suarez, blends Venezuelan classics such as arepas and fried plantains, with classic breakfast dishes to create an experience as unique as the Forgotten Coast itself. Customers rave about their coffee, and, if you take your cup of joe with the digital edition of your favorite newspaper, you’re in luck—Café Con Leche offers free Wifi.

Of course, if you’re more inclined to stay at home for breakfast, that’s an easy option, too. All Resort Vacation Properties come with fully appointed kitchens, right down to coffee filters, and no dress code means pajamas are the perfect attire. Happy breakfasting!

Some say variety is the spice of life, but for “chiliheads,” or those who enjoy chili peppers and other spicy foods, the spice of life is—well—spice! And maybe they’re onto something: studies show that capsaicin, the molecular compound that gives piquant foods their kick, has a wide range of health benefits. We’ve rounded up the top four benefits of capsaicin:

  1. Capsaicin contains antibacterial properties that fight chronic sinus infections, such as sinusitis. This works exactly like you’d suspect—the spice helps the nose to stimulate mucus production to clear up congestion. These same effects work well on allergy symptoms, too!
  2. Capsaicin can also relieve pain. Some studies indicate that this is because it blocks the pain signals being sent to the brain, while others suggest that it’s due to the endorphin release associated with spicy food. There’s a long history of it being used topically for pain relief by Native Americans, but ingesting it can have the same perks!
  3. Another surprising effect of Capsaicin is its benefits for a variety of diseases. Although it seems almost ironic, it can help with intestinal troubles, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and H. pylori, and it has been used to manage or even prevent diabetes. Some studies even show it can help fight certain types of cancer!
  4. If you’re trying to shed some weight, look no further than chili peppers. Not only does capsaicin add flavor to sometimes-bland diet food, it can help to fight the buildup of fat and speed up the metabolism. A little kick in the form of a chili pepper also can decrease a hormone involved in promoting hunger, meaning it can curb your appetite, too!

Interested in adding more capsaicin to your life? Regardless of whether it’s for the health benefits or just for the flavor, swing by Sometimes It’s Hotter Seasoning Company on Gulf Beach Drive, where you can choose from a variety of zesty seasonings. Choose from their three bottled seasonings—the 7-pepper blend of Original, milder Jalapeno and Sweet Onion, or the fiery Habañero—or the wide varieties of fish blackening and seasonings for grilling, jerk, poultry, shrimp or jambalaya. All of their offerings are low in sodium and free of additives, preservatives, and MSG, and, if you start to feel peckish, look no further than their prize-winning snack nuts! Their blends make the perfect souvenir or gift for the chiliheads in your life, so be sure to stock up.

 

Sources:

https://draxe.com/capsaicin/

http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/03/29/capsaicin-7-powerful-health-benefits-of-the-stuff-that-makes-peppers-hot-004.htm

Few things are as American as apple pie, making it the quintessential dessert for your Fourth of July celebration. But who wants to be stuck in the kitchen while everyone else plays outside in the surf and sand?

That’s where this Rustic Apple Tart recipe comes in. It has all the flavor of the iconic American classic with a fraction of the fuss, meaning you’re out of the kitchen and into those waves before you can say, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Serve warm, or at room temperature, with your favorite vanilla, cinnamon, or caramel ice cream. Pro tip: it pairs perfectly with fireworks!

 

Rustic Apple Tart

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith or Golden Delicious (or a mix of both), peeled and thinly sliced

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1 refrigerated pie crust (1/2 package)

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 cup apricot preserves or apple jelly, melted with 1 tablespoon water.

 

Instructions:

  1. Allow pie crust to come to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Toss apples, sugar, and optional cinnamon.
  4. Roll or stretch crust to slightly larger than in the package, to about 14

inches. Place crust on parchment paper on a pie pan.

  1. Arrange apple slices in a an overlapping spiral in the middle of the pie

crust, leaving about three inches of crust all around. Fold crust edges,

covering the outside edges of apples. Brush crust with beaten egg and

sprinkle with sugar. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

  1. Bake tart at 400 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes, until apples are tender

and golden. Cover edges of crust with strips of foil, if necessary, to

prevent burning, near the end of bake time.

  1. Brush apples with melted preserves. Cool and serve.

Our favorite time of year has returned to St. George Island — redfish season! This fish is just as interesting as it is delicious, so we’ve rounded up some facts, and, of course, a recipe to celebrate.

Also known as red drum, channel bass, spottail bass (for the distinctive spots on the tail that look like eyes to confuse predators), or just simply red, redfish are found in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Florida, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. They can live to be over 40 years old, and in the warm Florida waters, they can grow to be 45 inches long and over 50 pounds! Because of the popularity of redfish, the breed was almost fished out of existence by the mid-1980s. Thankfully, aggressive conservation measures have allowed the red drum to return and thrive.

This mild, flaky, delicate fish can be prepared a variety of ways: fried, sautéed, broiled, baked, or—our favorite—grilled. Due to the flaky texture of the fish, it has a tendency to fall through the grill, so try using a mesh screen. Another way to keep your dinner intact is to cook the fish “on the half shell”—that is, with the scales still present. You simply skip the skinning and cut two fillets from each fish along the backbone, then you’re ready to go. No clean up!

When paired with a fruit salsa, grilled redfish on the half shell is the perfect dish to get you in that island state of mind.

Also included are oven instructions for rainy days, and this recipe can also be used for redfish fillets, if that’s what you’re working with—just reduce the cooking by a few minutes.

Redfish on the Half Shell

Ingredients:

6 redfish fillets, scales and skin left on

Italian salad dressing

Creole seasoning

2 large lemons, thinly sliced

1 large lemon, halved

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the fillets in a pan, scales side down.

Pour Italian dressing generously over the fillets. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes.

Remove fillets from the marinade, draining excess.

Sprinkle with a little with Creole seasoning.

Grill or broil.

On the Grill: Preheat an outdoor grill. Grill the fish for three minutes flesh sides down with the lid closed. We’re going for grill marks here. Flip the fish so that the scales are now on the grill, and place thin lemon slices along this fish fillets. Allow the fish to cook approximately 6-8 more minutes or until just cooked through. Check thickest part of flesh for doneness. Flesh needs to be opaque all the way to the skin. Squeeze the remaining half lemon over the fish. Remove from the grill.

In the Oven: Set oven rack to the center of the oven. Place thin lemon slices along the fish. Broil fish, skin side down, for approximately 20 minutes leaving the oven door slightly ajar. Check thickest part of flesh for doneness. Flesh needs to be opaque all the way to the skin.

 

Pineapple Mango Salsa

1 large ripe mango, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup fresh, chopped pineapple

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

4 green onions, sliced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Toss all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve. May be made a day or two ahead.