MaryStarr_062021.jpg

Years ago when my sister and I were trying to find out about our ancestors, we turned to Ancestry.com. Since she was undergoing chemo at the time, I was the one who submitted my DNA sample for analysis. Our results were a little surprising. With our coloring – reddish hair, fair-to-medium skin and light eyes, we knew we had a lot of Northern European stock. I am predominantly Norwegian, Irish and Welsh – about 75% of my total DNA. It was the other 25% that proved more interesting and provided a peek into history. According to the fine folks at Ancestry and their algorithms, I’m one-quarter Turkish, Greek and Italian. I’m a result of centuries of international trade and a bit of pillaging and plundering, I guess.

I’m saying this because I’ve always felt a connection with my smattering of Italian genes. Italian food, music, wine, history and zest for the good life – la dolce vita — inspire me. So, when I had the opportunity to write a tribute to Sal Cenicola, who died in August after a series of health issues, I was excited about it.

In the Coastal Illustrated feature, we hear from four people who knew Sal well, and their recollections of him. In addition, we have some special photos and some menu recommendations to try when you stop by Sal’s Neighborhood Pizzeria and order a pie or entrée. While there, soak in the atmosphere – the big brick oven, cozy bar area, photo-covered walls and delicious aromas – it all adds up to a wonderful experience.

After that delicious food, you’ll need a welcoming place to land. Check out our Coastal Home feature where we discover the best nautical decorating trends. From crisp blue and white color schemes to seaworthy accessories, it’s all here. The experts at Taylor House Interiors guided us through our search, and gave great advice.

In our Local Q+A we meet CPA Ben Lee. Ben talks about his favorite Golden Isles landmark, goals for the remainder of the year, and advice for young people considering becoming certified public accountants.

In our literary column, Cary Knapp, explores a revenge thriller by author SA Crosby, a popular crime writer who’s been compared to such giants as Elmore Leonard and Walter Mosly. In “Razorblade Tears,” the themes, in addition to the crime the book is centered on, include race, Southern culture and homophobia. At its core though is a story about love triumphing over hate, Knapp says it is fiction noir at its best.

I spoke with Jim Henderson about the Coastal Illustrated feature being about Sal, and he thought he might take us on a little trip to Sal’s beloved Italy. Jim has an affinity for all things Italian, from his sunglasses to his cologne, despite having zero Italian heritage. He gives us two recipes for authentic Italian cocktails – the Negroni, which is a long-time favorite of mine, and the Peroni Limone, a concoction made of Peroni, limoncello and lemonade.

In Coastal Home, reporter Gordon Jackson talks with Cece Bowen of Transform Your Interiors for some tips on how to stage a home to sell. Cece’s got some great advice. Speaking of wise words, horticulture columnist Anne Ditmer has some suggestions to for introducing fall color into our southern gardens. The most encouraging news is you don’t have to forego all those luscious autumn colors simply because you live in the Deep South.

Belinda Thomas is the focus of our Realtor Q+A. This longtime St. Simons resident has some important advice for newcomers and those who are planning to enter the real estate profession.

Cheri Leavy rounded up some yummy things to eat in Shore Things. In “Let’s Dish,” she makes recs about dishes from around the area that will help you branch out and try something other than your favorites. You’ll find these restaurants’ menus in our sister publication, Coastal Cuisine, along with a ton of other great suggestions. In the words of my favorite chef, Jacques Pépin, “bon appétit.”

Our Captured pages are filled with the friendly faces of doing good things in our community. We stopped by Southern Soul’s Firebox BBQ Invitational, which featured bbq from all over, at Gascoigne Bluff recently. This event benefits the Firebox Initiative. Our other event was the Golden Isles Alzheimer’s Walk, which benefits the Georgia Alzheimer’s Foundation, local dementia-care group Memory Matters and dementia research at Emory University.

I hope reading this issue brings you half as much joy as putting it together did for our team. We appreciate you all. Now, can we all agree to pray for cooler weather? I’m ready for fall, y’all.