Georgia On My Mind– Glen-Ella Springs Inn

Somewhere not too far from Atlanta is a wonderful bed and breakfast where the craziness of city life (or just daily life) falls away. When I stayed at the Glen-Ella Springs Inn, it was just chilly enough to miss a swim in the pool but a great time of year to walk in the garden or rock in a wooden rocker and enjoy the bucolic setting of Glen-Ella Springs, where a home has stood for 100 years.

Be sure you don’t miss Barrie Aycock making pancakes on a Sunday morning. It is a special recipe of cakes that capture all that is right with breakfast as the most important meal of the day. You can also buy a bag of the mix to take home but somehow it just isn’t the same. You can’t tell from Barrie’s smile that this may be the millionth pancake she has flipped in her innkeeper role. Her wit is wry and her smile genuine. The breakfast buffet on other days is just as tasty.

Bobby and Barrie Aycock rescued the historic 1830s building in 1986. Leaving the original heart-pine walls, floors and ceilings, the 100 year-old Glen-Ella Springs Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Did I mention the rest of the meals? Glen Ella has a well deserved reputation for wonderful food — some southern favorites but with a lighter interpretation.  Chef Chris Bolton draws on regional recipes and local ingredients. Be sure you try the signature dish, Trout Pecan or the Jumbo Shrimp in Low Country Gravy over Fried Parmesan Grits. I picked up a copy of their cookbook and have made several of recipes. The Blue cheese spread is to die for and very easy to make (see the featured recipe).

While outside of building itself doesn’t sport much Victorian fanciness, my room had the full stop Indulgent Traveler bed—big and comfy with all the trimmings. With heart-pine paneled walls and ceilings, my room was both rustic and elegant with a mixture of period antiques and locally handcrafted items. There was no TV’s in the rooms, but there are two TV’s on the property with full satellite connections and frankly, I didn’t miss it at all.

Combining business and pleasure on this trip, my small group of 10 people met in the Garden House Living Room where we were very productive just so we could get outside and wander in the 17 acres of gardens and meadows.

I also have to warn you that getting to the Inn at night can be a challenge of navigation and steel nerves down some country lanes and finally a gravel road. But follow the directions and you will find that the destination is worth the journey. Prepare to let down, relax, enjoy wonderful food – and let the world pass you by while rocking rhythmically on the porch.

Trout Pecan 

This is our “signature” entrée at the Glen-Ella Springs Inn, having been on our menu since we opened in 1987. We were the first restaurant in the N. GA mountains to offer a sautéed boneless trout, and it remains our most popular entrée.

Serves 4: preparation time 15 minutes

4 6-7 ounce fresh rainbow trout filets
2 cups of our coating mix (see below)
1/2 cup butter, or half butter and half cooking oil
1 large or two small limes, halved
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon minced fresh mild herbs such as parsley, thyme, oregano

Coating mix:
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs or croutons

» Toast pecans about 5 minutes in a 350 oven and set aside. Turn oven to 325.

» In a food processor, combine ingredients for coating mix and process until combined.

» Dredge fish filets in coating mix. In a large non-stick skillet, heat enough butter, or oil and butter, to just cover the bottom of the skillet, when butter is hot, quickly add trout filets, skin side up. If your skillet isn’t large enough to hold all the trout without crowding, sauté half the fish at a time. Reduce heat to medium and cook trout on the flesh side for about 5 minutes until nicely browned.

» Transfer the fish, browned side up to an oven-proof baking dish and continue cooking the rest of the fish in the same manner adding more oil/butter if needed. If oil in skillet starts looked burned, wipe out skillet and add more.

» Squeeze limejuice over each fillet; sprinkle with the herbs and the toasted pecans. Place in oven and bake for about 5 minutes or until fillets flake easily with a fork. Serve immediately with an extra wedge of lime.