Part of the reason I like to cook is that it can be an incredibly relaxing experience and also provide a sense of accomplishment. I start with a recipe, some ingredients and a certain amount of time and in the end I am happy to gobble up the results. When I combine it with my favorite tunes, even tackling the most challenging recipes can become literally a piece of cake. A little My Morning Jacket…or Allison Krauss or maybe if I’m baking bread, Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes always seems to make the dough rise a little higher.
There’s a real, undeniable connection between food and music. Maybe it’s a deep-rooted human experience, offering more than mere sustenance by moving the pleasure palate through all five senses – smell, taste, sight, touch and sound – simultaneously. I just know it makes me really happy. It’s not surprising that many people share this love of experiencing great live music and delicious food in combination. But what may be surprising to some is that a world-class music and fine dining experience can be enjoyed right here in little ‘ole Hilton Head Island! Intrigued? Read on my friends.
First, I will admit that The Jazz Corner holds a special place in my heart since my very first date with my now husband Matthew included a glass of wine and dessert (and hand holding!) here. In my quest to be fair-minded, I will play down the world-class chef, Mark Gaylord, the inspired cocktail menu, the elegantly cool atmosphere and of course, the multitude of talented musicians (including many locals) who perform here regularly. What began over a dozen years ago by Bob Masteller and Charles Swift as a venue acoustically “perfect” for enjoying great jazz from every location in an environment evoking a swing era New York jazz club has surpassed those criteria to become a grand musical and fine dining experience on par with the best clubs along the East Coast. In fact, the club was recently acclaimed as one of the top “150 Great Jazz Rooms” in the world by Downbeat Magazine in February 2011. The Jazz Corner utilizes the talents of the many gifted artists in the area (and touring big names), focusing nightly on one category of jazz including swing, traditional, New Orleans and mainstream jazz as well as rhythm and blues and contemporary blues. Their website is regularly updated with details for the week and upcoming artists.
While the food and dining experience here has always been outstanding, The Jazz Corner kitchen amped up their pedigree several years back with the addition of Chef Mark Gaylord, a graduate of Johnson & Wales and several regional restaurants including the acclaimed Anson restaurant in Charleston, SC. Chef Mark is also something of an expert in Southern “heritage” cooking working with such notables as James Beard recipient Mike Lata, celebrity chef Tyler Florence, and Glen Roberts of Anson Mills. It is satisfying to hear about the significant part the Lowcountry and foodie champions like Chef Mark are playing in the preservation and resurgence in popularity of Southern cooking techniques and locally grown ingredients.
It only makes sense that jazz, a true American original (New Orleans to be specific), pairs so well with Southern flavors. Chef Mark says, “Our team at The Jazz Corner understands how music and food complement each other. We want to elevate the dining experience to meet the music and create a total sensory event for our patrons.” With gorgeous and satisfying dishes like their “Fish & Chips” (Pistachio encrusted tilapia, roasted leek & champagne cream sauce, white balsamic vinegar, pear & apricot chutney, and goat cheese served with hand cut fries) and Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with spiced peach butter and dried blueberry demi-glace (recipe below!), Chef Mark you have succeeded brilliantly!
Chef Mark mentioned that he is creating a distinct “Southern Flavors Menu” showcasing local ingredients and recreating pre-Civil war recipes. He and the Masteller’s are also contemplating writing a cookbook series that matches Chef Mark’s recipes with the seven eras of jazz. In the meantime, you can book a table at The Jazz Corner – if you’ve never been I hope I’ve convinced you that it’s a uniquely wonderful way to spend an evening on the Island and if you have already, well, no further explanation required!
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, The Jazz Corner
Spiced Peach Butter
- 2 cup Frozen Peaches
- 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 cup Peach Schnapps
- 1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- 1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
- 1/4 lb. Unsalted Butter (room temp)
Method: Place all ingredients except butter into a sauce pot over high heat and reduce the liquid by 1/3. Remove from stove, let cool down for ten minutes, add to food processor and puree while slowly adding the butter. Refrigerate for service.
Dried Blueberry Demi Glace
- 1 oz. Clarified Butter
- 2 ea. Shallots (split & thinly sliced)
- 1/2 cup Port Wine
- 1 oz. Blueberry Vinegar
- 1 oz. Blackberry Brandy
- 3/4 cup Veal Demi Glace
- 1/4 tsp. Chinese 5 Spice
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
- 2 tsp. Lt. Brown Sugar
- 1/2 c. Dried Blueberries
Method: Heat the clarified butter in a sauce pan over med. heat and saute the shallots until translucent. Add the port wine, blueberry vinegar and blackberry brandy and let come to a simmer. Add all remaining ingredients and bring back to a simmer for five minutes and remove from heat.
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
- 2 Pork Tenderloins (trimmed and cut into 4 portions)
- 4 cloves Garlic (chopped)
- 1 large Shallot (chopped)
- 1 tbsp. Chopped Rosemary
- 1 tbsp. Chopped Cilantro
- 2 oz. Olive Oil
- 8 slices Apple Smoked Bacon
Method: Coat the pork tenderloin with all ingredients and tightly wrap two slices of bacon around each portion. Heat a saute pan over med/high heat and sear the pork until the bacon is crispy. Turn pork and repeat. Turn one more time and place the pork into a preheated 375 degree oven and cook to desired temp. Remove the pork from the oven, let stand for 3 to 5 minutes, slice each portion into 3 even pieces, place over the blueberry demi glace and top with the peach butter.