Dave Snyders is always a busy guy, but during the holidays, the bustle across his three restaurants only grows. The chef is the owner of Halyard’s and Tramici, both on Cinema Lane, as well as La Plancha on Frederica Road. All three are popular choices for locals and tourists alike.
And starting with Thanksgiving, the restaurants see a flurry of familiar faces.
“For us at the restaurants, it’s certainly a busy time. We have a lot of tourists who come to town for the long weekend. We’re really thankful to see them when they come in,” he said.
“Being the Golden Isles, we also have our regulars who come every year from Nashville, Atlanta, even Chicago and Dallas. We see them during the summer and then we won’t see them again until Thanksgiving.”
The restaurants offer a variety of fare — from fresh catches to classic Italian to Mexican street food — and have become part of a tradition for many. And Snyder understands that flavors hold powerful nostalgia. No where is that more evident than at Thanksgiving tables.
“I think a lot of it is based on your history, the flavors you grew up with ... they make you feel good. If you’re not having a great year, there’s nothing like some comfort food during the holidays. Well, even if you’re having a great year, comfort food is nice. It just makes you feel good,” he said with a chuckle.
As a chef, Snyder enjoys exploring the tastes and textures of those classic dishes. Many times he and his team experiment with twists on some tried and true favorites.
“We tend to mix things up quite a bit. I love to play with the traditional recipes and try something new,” he said. “It’s all about trial and error. You can’t be afraid to try something new. That’s how you ensure that your Thanksgiving won’t be boring.”
That can go a long way to jazzing up some familiar Thanksgiving dishes. For example, Snyder blended two fall favorites — sweet potatoes and apples — in an innovative twist on a dessert.
“This is a bruléed sweet potato pie with apple compote. It’s one of those recipes that came about from wanting to do something different with some of those familiar favorites that are available this time of year. We had some fun with it,” he said.
“The brulée adds a nice little crunch. The apple compote is balanced by the apple cider vinegar to bring a little acidity, which cuts the sweetness a little bit. But the good thing about this recipe is that you can also add twists to this. If you want something lighter, you could do half sweet potato and half butternut squash. You could also use pears instead of apples if you prefer.”
Bruléed Sweet Potato Pie with Apple
2 sweet potatoes, whole
½ cup honey
Pinch cinnamon, ground
Pinch nutmeg, ground
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
Pinch Kosher salt
4 each eggs
1 oz sugar
Directions: Lightly coat potatoes with oil and salt. Bake in a 350 degree oven until done. Allow to cool. Peel potatoes and put through rice mill or mash well. Combine potatoes with remaining ingredients.
Bake in pie shell at 350 for 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Sprinkle with sugar and use torch to brulée the top. Add apple compote and whipped cream to garnish.
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
2 cup apple cider
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 oz bourbon
1 teaspoon salt
Directions: Combine all ingredients and bring to boil, lower to simmer. Cook and stir frequently. Reduce by 50 percent and allow to cool.