food winter 14 color

Photo by Erica Sterling

What is it that makes Gainesville unique? That would be difficult for even a lifelong resident to answer,given the town’s long history and diversity. But Blue Gill Quality Foods found a culinary way to crystallize Gainesville’s rich cultural milieu.

Blue Gill Quality Foods is a comfortably large space on Southwest 13th Street exemplary of what a local restaurant should be. It’s rooted in the community, sourced locally and makes everything from salad dressing to ice cream in-house.

Utilizing the spirit of Gainesville to make its cuisine distinct, the restaurant has come up with a style that has been described as “Southern Nouveau,” mixing the culinary heritage of North Central Florida and the greater South with a casual contemporary ambience. And nowhere does the restaurant let that blend shine than in its cocktails. With names like “Ocala Swamp Devil” and “Trailer Park Punch,” these drinks pay homage to the culture and geography of North Florida with a modern bartender’s aesthetic.

Blue Gill is Gainesville-specific, and it embraces that. The restaurant’s mission focuses on giving back to the community because it couldn’t have been produced by any other town.

Served up in Mason jars for just another Southern twist, Trailer Park Punch particularly nails the fusion of Southern and urban charm. Give it a try — paired with this comforting, homey sweet potato dish, you have yourself a regular Dixieland dinner.

Sweet Potato and Chestnuts

Serves 2
Prep time: about 1 hour


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup roasted chestnuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese

  1. Peel and cut sweet potatoes in equal-sized chunks. Cover with cold water and cook over medium heat until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Puree cooked sweet potatoes with butter and vanilla in a food processor.
  3. Place sweet potato puree in baking dish and cover with chopped, roasted chestnuts and grated parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes or until hot.


Trailer Park Punch

Makes one drink


  • 2 ounces rum
  • 1 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1 ounces orange juice
  • Splash of grenadine
  • Dash of nutmeg

Shake and serve over ice.

Optionally, serve in Mason jar. Garnish with orange slice, cherry and toothpick umbrella.