At Dana Communications, we are fortunate to work with some of the finest chefs (and bartenders) on the planet. Certainly, when we visit the resorts that we represent, we eat and drink well. In fact, we eat and drink very well. The editors of Food & Wine magazine would be jealous if they knew about our ongoing culinary experiences when traveling for work.
I thought I would share with you a few of our favorite dishes and drinks that we have enjoyed over the past year. I’ve put together a five-course meal, each course from a different property. I could probably repeat this a dozen times and still not exhaust the possibilities for a mouthwatering “meal to die for.” This feast focuses on seafood.
Cocktail: Gabriel’s Pomarosa Mojito (Royal Isabela)
Gabriel Mercado is a legendary bartender who brilliantly oversees the outdoor Bar at La Casa at Royal Isabela, a stunningly beautiful boutique resort on the northwestern coast of Puerto Rico (Porta del Sol region). There is no finer experience than sitting at the bar—looking out over a vista that culminates with an ocean view beyond the golf course—and sipping this wonderfully refreshing drink unique to Puerto Rico.
By the way, the Restaurant at La Casa serves great food with virtually all ingredients coming from the organic garden on property or from local fishermen and farmers.
Gabriel’s Pomarosa Mojito
3 lime wedges
6 mint leaves
¼ pomarosa (rose apple)*
1 tsp. brown sugar
2 oz. white rum
2 oz. soda water
Use a pestle to mash the first 4 ingredients, then add the rum, soda water and ice. Stir.
*The pomarosa is a popular fruit in Puerto Rico. It is often exported to the States, but if you’re unable to find it locally, have some fun experimenting with different fruits, like kiwi or berries.
First Course: Rockfish Carpaccio (Kingsmill Resort)
Executive Chef Justin Dalinger has been using local, Chesapeake Bay ingredients to create wonderful meals for 14 glorious years at Kingsmill Resort in Virginia. He understands that the James River upon which it sits is the focal point of almost everything that happens at Kingsmill, Williamsburg’s leading golf resort and the host of an LPGA tournament every year. Chef Dalinger’s culinary philosophy is to use fresh, local ingredients and prepare them to accentuate their essential qualities.
1 lb. skinless fish fillet, cleaned and trimmed
¼ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of black pepper
½ cup parsley, chopped
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
6 basil leaves, chiffonade
3 sprigs thyme, chopped
½ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup wilted ramps and fried beet salad
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Rub the fish with olive oil, garlic and pepper. Sear each side evenly in 30-second intervals. Let rest. Then, roll in the herbs. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Once well-chilled, use a sharp knife to shave into individual 3 oz. portions. Place each slice on parchment paper for plating. Place fish on chilled plate and pull back parchment paper. Serve with ¼ cup of wilted ramps and fried beet salad, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and top off with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Second Course: Scottish Salmon (Brush Creek Ranch)
The experienced culinary team led by Executive Chef and Executive Sous Chef Collin and Emily Meyer likes to prepare food that goes with the extensive outdoor activities available at Brush Creek, a luxury dude ranch that represents the best of the American West. They serve up corned buffalo hash, grilled quail and big steaks—substantial food that’s needed after an active day on the ranch. One of the most popular dishes at this Saratoga, Wyoming property is Scottish salmon. The team procures the best product available and keeps it simple.
6-8 oz. filet of salmon, skin on
Salt and pepper
Olive or canola oil
1 Tbsp. Plugrá (French butter) or unsalted butter
Season the fish well with salt and finely ground pepper. Heat oil in frying pan. Pan sear the fish—get a good, crispy sear starting with the side you want to show on the plate. Flip the fish with a fish spatula when the proper sear is reached. On low heat, use the melted butter to baste your fish. Add fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, crushed garlic cloves and tarragon are good options). Place the fish in a 375˚F oven for 10-15 minutes to reach your desired doneness.
Third Course: Shrimp & Grits (Jasmine Court, The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort)
Chef de Cuisine Matthew Fitzgerald loves to talk about bringing a modern culinary approach to traditional Lowcountry cooking. He sees Jasmine Porch with its high ceilings, wood floors and overstuffed Charleston furniture as the ultimate Southern dining experience within a hotel that prides itself on offering the comforts associated with an old Southern mansion.
While Kiawah Island Golf Resort is best known for The Ocean Course—which has hosted the Ryder Cup and a PGA Championship (and another in 2021)—the food and beverage program is unparalleled with more than a dozen restaurants, cafes and lounges.
Jasmine Porch Shrimp & Grits
2 Tbsp. tasso ham, small diced
Sliced bell pepper (red, yellow and green)
Sliced red onion
6-8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper to taste
1 oz. white wine
3 oz. tasso gravy (recipe below)
1 oz. heavy cream
6 oz. cheddar grits (recipe below)
Brown tasso ham in olive oil and add peppers and onions; cook until onions are translucent. Add shrimp and season; sauté 2 minutes and deglaze with white wine. Add gravy and cream; simmer until shrimp are cooked. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve over grits.
Cheddar Grits (approx. 10 servings)
1 qt. half & half
1½ qt. whole milk
1 lb. Anson Mills white grits
1 ear corn, roasted & cut off cob*
¼ lb. butter
Salt, to taste
Cheddar cheese, to taste
Heat liquid to simmer. Once liquid is simmering, slowly stir in grits. Let cook, stirring constantly, until grits are fully absorbed with liquid and thick. Add corn, butter, and salt. Pull from heat and fold in cheese.
*Roasted Corn: Place fresh corn—still in husk—in 400˚F oven until outside starts to brown (approx. 30 minutes). Shuck when cool.
Tasso Gravy (yields 1 qt.)
2 oz. butter
2 oz. andouille sausage (pulse in food processor)
2 oz. tasso ham, small dice
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 pt. fish fumet (clam juice may be used in a pinch)
½ cup heavy cream
Sauté butter with meat and garlic. Add flour and cook until golden. Whisk in liquid and stir constantly until thickened. Adjust seasoning as desired.
Dessert: Mascarpone Crème Tart With Fresh Summer Berries (Salamander Resort & Spa)
Jason Reaves, Executive Pastry Chef, produces some of the most exciting desserts on the planet. Twice a winner of a Food Network Challenge, Jason has an international reputation as an up-and-coming pastry chef. He is just one of many young stars on the Salamander Resort & Spa culinary team. In just two years, this Middleburg, Virginia equestrian-focused property has gained a reputation as a rising star in resort cuisine. Its Cooking Studio offers terrific entertaining and educational opportunities to learn about the state-of-the-art in food and beverage. And the proximity to the highly regarded Virginia wine scene adds to these gastronomic pleasures.
4 oz. granulated sugar
8 oz. butter
1 egg, whisked
12 oz. all-purpose flour
1/8 oz. salt
Cream together the butter and sugar. Slowly add in the egg; scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. Sift together the flour and salt. Slowly add sifted ingredients into the creamed butter mixture; mix just to combine. Wrap dough tightly with plastic and chill for at least one hour. On a lightly floured table, roll out the chilled tart dough to a thickness of 3/8”. Roll the dough onto a rolling pin and unroll over a greased 10” fluted tart pan. Press the dough against the sides and into the corners of the pan. Blind-bake the tart shell by placing a piece of foil on top of the tart and filling with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 350˚F for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the foil/weights for the last 5 minutes of baking. Cool the tart shell completely. Carefully remove the tart shell from the pan. Fill with the mascarpone crème filling and chill overnight before cutting and serving.
Mascarpone Crème Filling
½ Tbsp. powdered gelatin
2 Tbsp. cold water
2 cups heavy cream
5 Tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla bean paste
5 egg yolks
1 cup mascarpone cheese
Bloom the gelatin in the cold water. In a saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla and bring to a boil over medium heat (watch closely—it will boil over if not careful). When the cream boils, slowly stream half of the hot cream into the yolks while whisking constantly; pour the mixture back into the pan and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of the spatula (it will separate if cooked too long). Remove from heat and whisk in the gelatin until it melts. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and chill over an ice bath until it just starts to set. Mix the mascarpone until smooth. Fold the mascarpone and crème together. Fill the tarts. Chill until completely set (a few hours or overnight).
2 cups ripe, local berries (any type)
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla bean paste or extract
Mix together the berries, sugar, and vanilla. Cover and chill until ready to serve.