Team Players in the 2011 Galveston Island Shrimp Festival

Story By Leslie Thompson
Photos By Shannon Rowan Hall

This year at the 2011 Galveston Island Shrimp Festival, two of Galveston’s historic hotels will join forces to defend the Hotel Galvez professional title of “Best Gumbo.” Executive Chef Antonio Rodriguez of the Hotel Galvez, and Executive Chef Patric Havard of The Tremont House, will collaborate on their strategy for the 2011 Galveston Island Shrimp Festival. Both chefs will be competing for the first time in this year’s gumbo cook-off, so the pressure is on to hold the “Best Gumbo” title.
After holding the executive chef position for 10 years at Omni Tuscan National Golf Resort in Tucson, Arizona, Rodriguez returned to Texas and joined the Hotel Galvez staff in February of this year. Bernardo’s of the Hotel Galvez, features the award-winning gumbo on both the lunch and dinner menu, as well as the brunch menu. Rodriguez is a firm believer sautéing his spices in order to build a good strong stock. “When preparing gumbo, it’s important to use the freshest ingredients possible,” says Rodriguez. “Your choice of stock and broth is a key ingredient.”
Bernardo’s usually serves 80 to 250 customers daily for breakfast alone. Poolside dining is always very busy, and you can only imagine how dinner is on the weekends at the Hotel Galvez. Bernardo’s offers a spectacular steak special at dinner. A complementary glass of house wine is served with any order of their prime beef, and a complementary bottle of house wine is served with any two orders of prime beef. The house specialty is blackened red fish and rock shrimp, which is sourced from local fishermen. Rodriguez’s favorite dish is the 16-ounce ribeye. “I prefer prime aged meat,” says Rodriguez. The poolside menu features a variety of dishes, from hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, to fresh salads.

Havard spent the last ten years at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston, and worked as a chef tourant before joining the Tremont House staff in April. He enjoys the historic nature of working at the Tremont House, and is excited to be involved in the gumbo cook-off this September. Havard loves gumbo and he enjoys the time spent with family as they create it together. “When you make gumbo, take the time [to] make it the day before you need it,” says Harvard. “Gumbo is better with age and the extra time gives the flavors time to really come together.” Fresh, local ingredients are no less than required for Havard. His favorite type of gumbo is chicken and sausage. He buys Texas sausage when creating his special gumbo, and has plans to incorporate his belief in supporting local ingredients here.
The Tremont will be adding gumbo to their menu this summer, as they have plans to change up the entire restaurant menu.
The Tremont’s specialty is a quality, wood-burning brick oven pizza, fresh from the kitchen. Havard’s favorite is the BBQ Pizza. A perk of being a café style venue, is that items are served quickly and are certainly made fresh. The cappuccino and smoothies are a must try, and the Tremont café is known for it’s quality ingredients and simplified preparation. Salmon and brick chicken, as well as fresh sandwiches and salads, are available on the dinner menu.
Rodriguez and Havard are responsible for the award winning restaurants, and all banquets, events, the poolside grill, and bar menus as well. They are excited to collaborate their efforts for the gumbo competition this year. “We are looking forward to it!” said Harvard.
Both hotel restaurants are open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While dining at either restaurant, you receive complimentary valet parking and excellent customer service. The Tremont Hotel is rated a top hotel on and the Hotel Galvez is rated one of Wyndham’s top hotels. Both are owned by the George Mitchell family and part of Mitchell Historic Properties, and are members of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America.

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A Hot Spot at 2011 Galveston Island Shrimp Festival

Story & Photos By Leslie Thompson

This year at the 2011 Galveston Island Shrimp Festival, Olympia Grill at Pier 21, will play a big part as the center for many event festivities. Owners Tikie and Larry Kriticos are going all-out by offering specialty shrimp-related dishes and cocktails, outdoor vending featuring amazing Greek food, and by arranging an official Greek Priest to orchestrate the Blessing of the Fleet at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25.
The Kriticos brothers are the first generation of their Greek-American family to be born and raised on Galveston Island. Following in their father’s footsteps as restaurant owners, they successfully bring the Greek to Galveston…. and lucky for you, they currently provide the island with two restaurant locations – Pier 21 and the original location at 4908 Seawall Boulevard. They believe Texas Gulf Coast caters to their needs just perfectly, as fresh produce and seafood is at arms length.

Olympia exuberates fresh and quality ingredients. It helps having the ocean just outside the back door, as well as fresh local fruits and vegetables available daily. It’s like a breath of fresh Mediterranean air, as you step into this Greek paradise and indulge in a healthy desirable meal.
Olympia Grill at Pier 21 is the spot to be this year at the 2011 Galveston Island Shrimp Festival. A few Olympia specials to look forward to during the event, include a variety of gulf coast dishes comprised of fresh-off-the-boat gulf shrimp and snapper, shrimp martinis and other exciting shrimp related cocktails, as well as an excellent and entertaining atmosphere. A sea of 200 chairs will cover the Olympia Pier 21 deck, which will be surrounded by the main entertainment stage, many boat shows, and the Harbor House Marina’s display of fanciful yachts.

The Kriticos brothers have other big plans on the horizon. They recently completed the creation of their new websites for both restaurant locations. You can visit or to access more restaurant information and menus. Plans to introduce one drink and one food recipe on the site blogs bi-monthly are in effect. The websites will also keep Olympia’s many local customers and visiting patrons up to date with current restaurant events and mixers. A recent addition to the menu, the new real homemade apple pie made from the heart with New York State and Fugi apples, is the rave among restaurant goers. I bet it’s got that Greek magic woven through it layers of goodness.

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Story & Photos By Jenny Johnson Hoffman

One of my favorite things about Galveston Island is the historic Strand district. The Strand is always a happening hang out with all of its restaurants, souvenir shops and historic markers; it is a frequent stop for all of the wonderful tourists that visit the island and a popular hang out for locals. It’s always a blast driving into the area from my home on the west end, just to walk around and enjoy all that it has to offer. One store in particular that is a frequent stop for my husband and I is The Admiralty Marine Model Gallery.

As I was trying to come up with my Island Hot Spot this month, it occurred to me as I was watching my husband standing in The Admiralty purchasing sterling silver wine stoppers for a few of his co-workers for Christmas, that many items in our home had been bought at The Admiralty. Several pieces of art, a beautiful ship’s wheel, toys for my nephew, small replicas of lighthouses across the Texas coast, books and even a pair of nautical cuff links had been purchased there. The Admiralty has been as much a fixture for my husband and I as Galveston Island has been.

Steeped in maritime history dating back to the mid 1800s, the historic Strand district has always been home to The Admiralty Marine Model Gallery. The store features all things nautical, including scratch-built models by Master Model Shipbuilder Allen LeCornu.

The Admiralty features marine sculptures, Lenox Classics crystal, Howard Miller clocks and one of the largest Spoontiques lighthouse collections in the country. You can also find Ritz jewelry, Scrimshaw and Swiss Army knives, unique decorator items, and, of course, ship models. The children’s section offers a vast array of stuffed marine animals, puzzles, games and pirate treasures. There are ship model kits for children, as well as a wide selection for adults -– beginner or expert.

Next time you are out and about on the island, stop in The Admiralty Marine and Model Gallery to see some unique nautical decor and to enjoy just another part of the rich maritime history of Galveston Island.

The Admiralty Marine Model Gallery is located at 2221 Strand in historic Galveston, Texas. For more information, call The Admiralty at 409-766-1776.

Jenny is a Television News Producer in Houston and she and her husband own a home on the west end of Galveston. Jenny can always be reached at

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Story & Photos By Jenny Johnson Hoffman

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I don’t cook. I can cook, I just don’t want to.

Therefore, nothing pleases me more than when a new restaurant opens up close by my beloved Galveston home. Beachsiders Food and Spirits did just that and I am thrilled.
Every restaurant on the island is unique in its own way, but one thing I truly enjoy about Beachsiders, is the fact that it is located on the beach.

When my husband and I go to the beach to surf, relax or take our dogs for a walk, we always go to Pirate’s Beach West located on 13 mile road. Often times when we made our way onto the beach, we would pass by a very unique stucco house. Time and time again, we would comment how that particular house looks just like a restaurant and now it is!

Our very good friend David serves as general manager of Beachsiders and not only does David do an outstanding job (as usual) the restaurant itself is outstanding. From the incredible view atop their outdoor cabana, fine foods and refreshing cocktails, Beachsiders is a welcomed addition to the West End of the island.

If you enjoy prime rib, then you must stop by Beachsiders to try their home cooked prime rib, it is their house speciality which is served all day.

If you plan on throwing a party or corporate event, let Beachsiders do the cooking for you. Their spacious building will accommodate any type of event you’d like to have and their friendly staff will take care of all of your needs.

So next time your in the mood to have some great food on Galveston Island, stop by Beachsiders.

Beachsiders is located at 4229 13 Mile Road at Beach Access marker 16 in Galveston. Beachsiders is open Wednesday through Sunday. Call for more information (409) 737-2000
Jenny is a television news producer in Houston. She and her husband own a home on the West End of Galveston. Jenny can be reached at

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Story By Jenny Johnson Hoffman
Photo By Galen Pruett

There’s nothing better for me personally than having the good fortune of owning a home in Galveston. I look forward to getting to the island all week and can’t wait to arrive at my house, get my dogs situated and then make my weekly trip to the grocery store to get my supplies for the weekend.

Because my home is located on the west end of the island, I do my grocery shopping at Seven Seas Grocery Store. In all honesty, having a store on the west end of the island makes shopping far less of a chore than it could be if they weren’t there. It is a cozy supermarket located just past Jamaica Beach.
Seven Seas is not a large store, but they have everything you need to enjoy your island time. The grocery offers everything from cooking supplies, dog supplies, frozen foods, a surprisingly large wine selection, spices, DVD rentals, non grocery items such as toilet paper, toothpaste and soap, plenty of cleaning supplies and the best meat market on the island.
Their meat selection is, hands down, the best on the island. New York Strips, filets, ribeyes, hamburger meat, ribs, brisket and the leanest stew meat I have ever seen. They also house a deli where you can order fresh sandwiches made with Boar’s Head deli meat, pigs in a blanket (I refuse to call them kolaches), breakfast tacos, cheeseburgers and bar-b-que.
Besides being so convenient, I also enjoy the employees; everyone is extra friendly and very helpful.
My husband and I have been going to Seven Seas since we became homeowners and one employee who has always been there to great us with a smile and a hug, is our favorite, Sharon.
There are so many homes on the west end of the island, some are full time residents, some are weekenders and some are rentals. I would encourage all of these people to do their grocery shopping locally, at Seven Seas Grocery Store.
Seven Seas Grocery Store is located at 17527 San Luis Pass Road in Galveston. They can be reached at (409) 737-1152.
Jenny is a Television News Producer in Houston. She and her husband own a home on the West End of Galveston. Jenny can be reached at

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Golf Cart
By: Jenny Johnson Hoffman
I often think of Galveston Island as a large playground for kids and adults. A bonus to having a home on the West End of the Island, is that the homeowners are allowed to have golf carts to go around in. My husband and I first bought a used golf cart a few years ago from our friends, Mike and Lara, and we loved it. My step kids enjoyed driving around in it with their friends. My my stepson is a licensed driver and he would escort everyone to the beach and to the Galveston Country Club to go swimming. Needless to say, having a golf cart was fun for our whole family. And then there was Ike….

As we prepared our home for the impending storm, we left our “toys” in the garage, not thinking we would be directly hit. We all know how that story played out, and we ended up finding our golf cart halfway down our street.
After a year a and a half of repairing and replacing items that were lost, my husband and I decided it was time for another golf cart. We went to the in the water boat show in Seabrook and saw a bunch of tricked out carts from Gulf Coast Golf Carts.

After having a bad case of golf cart envy every time a golf cart passed us on the street, we decided to stop by Gulf Coast Golf Carts’ location off of I-45 in League City. They offered up a large selection of new and used E-Z GO carts, Club Cars and several custom carts. Of course I wanted a “cool” cart, not just something you’d find on a golf course, and that was what they provided. I ended up choosing a fantastic E-Z GO ST Sport. The owner Jed Allen was more than helpful in assisting me in choosing a cart and even delivered my new golf cart the same day. After two weeks of blissful golf cart ownership, we realized a few things were missing. I realized a radio would be perfect for the cart, and after driving through a few sprinklers, we decided a windshield would be handy as well. I called my new friends up at Gulf Coast Golf Carts and they picked my cart up, added all of my new accessories and dropped it back off at my house.

My husband and I absolutely love our golf cart and have a blast riding around with our dogs, going to the beach, taking it to the Galveston Country Club pool or just cruising around the neighborhood. If you or someone you know is in the market for a golf cart, I strongly recommend Gulf Coast Golf Carts.
You can reach Gulf Coast Golf Carts at (281) 534-9998
Website :

Jenny is a television news producer in Houston. She and her husband own a home on the West End of Galveston. Jenny can be reached at

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 By Jenny Johnson Hoffman
Slim'sI’ve been a homeowner on Galveston Island for the past several years. Each weekend that I make my drive down to Galveston, I notice subtle changes to the island. 
Businesses are opening their doors for the first time and businesses shutting their doors for the last time. There are always old and new things to look at — yet some things stay so consistent that you can take them for granted. 
  As I began thinking about my Island Hot Spot article for the month, I wanted to come up with something unique to the island, yet something that is a consistent image I see during each trip to Galveston. 
  One business I always drive by is owned and operated by a fellow named, “Slim.” I always see Slim leaning against the side of his pick-up truck selling fruits, vegetables, honey and pecans. His daily banner reads “Vanilla… Pecans,” so my husband and I always refer to him as the “Vanilla Pecan Man.” 
He has become such a landmark to us, that if one of us is at our home on the west end and the other is driving, it is very common for us to say, “I’m on my way, I just drove past Vanilla Pecan Man.” 
Slim, whose real name is James, (but told me no one ever calls him James) drives to his location on FM 3005 every day from Texas City to set up his business. He displays fresh fruits such as pineapples, cantaloupes, strawberries, peaches, apples and blackberries and, of course, his world-famous jars of honey. 
Slim's StopAll of his produce is well priced, but my favorite part of shopping with him is just having the opportunity to shoot the breeze with Slim; the man has a genuine love for Galveston Island and a love of working and interacting with the public every day.
I don’t always stop when I drive past his pick-up truck, but I notice him visiting with customers and walking around making sure his products are displayed for everyone to see as they drive by. He is a real asset to our beloved island.
If you make your way over to the west end of the island, you’ll find Slim’s blue pick-up truck parked on San Luis Pass Road next to Cafe Michael Burger and across the street from Woody’s Beach Bar. 
If you have the time, be sure to stop by and enjoy a real live Galveston landmark.
  Jenny is a television news producer in Houston. She and her husband own a home on the west end of Galveston. Jenny can be reached at:

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Story and Photo By Shannon Hall
M & M Patio
When a former co-worker, Lawren Hall stopped me in a local retail store and told me M&M was coming back, my face lit up with excitement. She explained she was partnering with others to bring it back.
For me M&M is a Galveston icon. Rich in history, as a survivor of the 1900 Storm and Ike, off the beaten path and definitely and Island gem. I used to enjoy lunching at the former restaurant owned by Marita and Buddy Schultz before Ike. Now, I look forward to the comfortable spot managing partner George Elson created out of this legendary building.

It is the same fine dining experience in an Island casual atmosphere. I can dress up or come straight from the beach in shorts in flip-flops.

My favorite is the crab cakes, ahi tuna salad and the buttermilk fried asparagus with habanero ranch. I still have many menu items to try, and look forward to them. The menu features many different eats from a variety of appetizers to meals including Porterhouse pork chops and surf and turf with lobster tail!

Diners can feel free to eat in the main dining room, the bar or out on the beautiful garden patio. The patio has a backyard feel to it, and I have to say I definitely feel at home there. I especially enjoy hanging out on the porch swing on the balcony.

You don’t have to just come to eat, M&M features premium well liquors and standard 14 ounce well and call doubles. They also feature 28 wines by the glass, and they are not typically found on the island at your local grocery or liquor store.

M&M Bar and Restaurant at Night“Our wine list is growing and changing all they time,” says Elson, who feels you shouldn’t have to buy a bottle to have a decent glass of wine. I also noticed the big jar is back in the bar. If you frequented before, it is filled with pineapple slices marinating in vodka – pineapple infusion. My sorority sister turned me on to it back when it was the Palm M&M.
So, you don’t have to come in and have a meal, the M&M Bar is a great place to meet after work with friends. If you are looking for a place to hold a meeting, happy hour or party, the M&M has a variety of private rooms upstairs, including the former cigar room.

The staff is friendly and they all add to the at-home feel Elson has created at the M&M. Chef Luis Hernandez formerly of Rudy & Paco and General Manager Kris Kaufman, formerly of Waterman’s on the Island’s West End are always accommodating and welcoming.

Partners Bill and Libbie Ansell, Dr. Jim Grant and Lawren Hall have brought not only this fabulous Galveston icon back, but jobs as well in a dining experience next to none on the Island.

M&M is located at 2401 Church Street. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 4 to 11, dinner served from 5 to 9, and Friday and Saturday 4 to 12, dinner served from 5 to 10.  For information or reservations, call 409-766-7179.

And yes, my favorite, they still have M&M’s in a bowl at the bar!


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