How to Make Your Favorite Southern Foods a Bit Healthier
Whether you’re planning to visit the Lowcountry soon or are lucky enough to live here, two things are probably on your mind this month: beach season and indulging in your favorite Southern foods, especially as RBC Heritage week approaches. But your two priorities don’t work well together…right?
Southern food has a bad rap for being unhealthy, but you don’t have to give up your clean eating habits to try this cuisine! With a few simple swaps, you can enjoy Lowcountry fare while staying on track to meet your wellness goals.
- Load up on the veggies. Southern food is based on simple ingredients, many of which are vegetables. Collard greens, okra, and mashed sweet potatoes are both nutritious and flavorful. Try trading fried sides for plant-based alternatives, or order a salad as your main meal. The Cottage’s salads are anything but basic: our Avocado Caprese with Grilled Shrimp and Beets and Blue salads are made with the freshest ingredients and a little Lowcountry flare.
2. Pay attention to portion sizes. The nutritional value of Southern food doesn’t only depend on what you’re eating – it also depends on the portion size. If you want to sample a traditional dish without committing to an entire meal, order one of our appetizers, like our famous Fried Green Tomatoes. We can also split any of our entrees so you and a friend can share.
3. Look for lean proteins. The Lowcountry is known for its world-class seafood, which is a smart choice for health-conscious consumers. It’s a lean protein that delivers a host of health benefits, including omega-3s. Fish and shellfish are lower in saturated fat than red meats and are also lower in cholesterol than other proteins. Try our Blue Crab, Shrimp & and Avocado Roll or the Fish Taco Salad. Not a fan of fish? Ask for a grilled chicken breast instead.
Not ready to give up jambalaya, shrimp and grits, and pimento dip? Neither are we. But choosing lighter alternatives of your favorite Southern dishes is a great way to fuel your body while savoring the region’s classic flavors. We’re open Mon-Fri (9-11 am) and Sat (8-11 am), for lunch Mon-Sat (11 am-3 pm), or for Sunday brunch (8 am-2 pm)!
Three Ways to Make a Better Cup of Coffee at Home
A day without coffee is like…just kidding. We have no idea. If you’re like us, you can’t start your morning without a hot cup o’ joe, whether you brew it at home or stand in line at your favorite coffee shop, wondering how the barista serves up everything from cold brew creations to specialty drip roasts with (seemingly) little effort. And no matter what you order, the taste is always 10 times as rich as whatever you get from your old coffee pot, no matter how many grounds you add. So if you crave that rich, café-style coffee taste but don’t want to spend $6 every day on a latte, then keep reading: we’re sharing our favorite tips for making better coffee at home.
Start With Great Coffee Beans
A great cup of coffee is made from the ground up – literally. So if you buy high-quality beans, you’re more likely to brew a richer, more flavorful cup of coffee. For a lighter, brighter, coffee, go with a light or medium roast. If you want a deep, more complex flavor, go for a dark roast. We love coffees that are infused with unexpected flavors (like Creamed Honey, English Toffee, or Maple Brown Sugar), but no matter what you wake up craving, make sure that your coffee beans are fresh, and, if possible, locally roasted.
Coffee beans can last up to a month if they’re stored in a cool, dry place, but immediately after roasting, compounds begin to escape from the beans in a process called degassing – taking a lot of flavor with them. After 8 days, up to 70% of those compounds will be gone. As time goes on, you lose more flavor and are left with stale-tasting coffee. Buying local coffee ensures that less of your coffee’s “shelf life” has been wasted on packaging and transportation.
Get On the Daily Grind
We know what you’re thinking: grinding coffee yourself is pain. But it’s really not…so long as you use a great coffee grinder. Different brewing methods require different grind sizes to make great coffee, so make sure you pay attention to your grinder’s coarseness (or fineness) setting. If the coffee brews too quickly, it means the grind was too coarse. If it brews too slowly, it means the grind was too fine. Additionally, if the coffee tastes too acidic and sour it usually means the grind was too coarse, and if it tastes too bitter, it means the grind was too fine. Generally speaking, espresso requires a fine grind, pour-overs and AeroPress require a medium grind, and French Presses require a coarse grind.
Use the Right Amount of Coffee
Your coffee-to-water ratio will determine how strong or weak your cup of coffee will be – but exactly how much coffee should you use? As a general rule, use 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water, but feel free to experiment with your measurements depending on the coffee’s flavor (and fast you need to wake up).
Too much morning and not enough coffee? We can fix that. Enjoy a mug (or two) of locally-roasted May River Coffee Roasters coffee over breakfast then buy a bag of beans for later. Each small batch is infused with inspired flavors like Banana Cream Pie, Chocolate Covered Oranges, and Blueberry Cream. Learn more about May River Coffee Roasters here: https://mayrivercoffeeroasters.com/?v=c65242dc6c2c
The Lowdown on the Lowcountry’s Spring 2022 Festivals
There are a lot of reasons to love life in the Lowcountry, including (but certainly not limited to) Southern comfort cooking, the views of the May River, and always seeing someone you know at the farmers’ market. But ask any local what they love most about the area and they’ll probably tell you it’s our traditions – including festivals.
If you need yet another reason to visit the Lowcountry this spring (or simply want to know what’s happening right here in your own backyard), there’s an exciting lineup of events between February and May. Here’s the lowdown on the Lowcountry’s spring 2022 festivals.
The Hilton Head Marathon (Feb. 12)
Join thousands of runners across three distances (marathon, half, and 5k) and experience the scenic race that’s one of the premier running events in the region. With all races finishing at the same afterparty, you’ll celebrate your accomplishments with ice cold beer, free food, great tunes, and free swag. Learn more here.
Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival (Feb 21-27)
Calling all seafoodies! The Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival offers seven days of celebrity and local chef dinners, local wildlife education, wine tastings, cooking demos, and more. The festival explores the South’s evolving food culture, which has been returning to its roots in recent years by honoring its rich native agriculture. Learn more here.
Hilton Head Wine and Food Festival (March 21-27)
The Hilton Head Wine and Food Festival celebrates the area’s global wine partnerships, authentic cuisines, and local chefs. This year’s Festival will consist of exceptional wine dinners, the Sip and Stroll, Stay Gold plus the traditional Grand Tasting and well-loved Public Tasting. Learn more here.
RBC Heritage (April 11-17)
The RBC Heritage tournament is well-loved by golf fans and Lowcountry Locals alike for a reason: in addition to taking place on some of the area’s most pristine golf courses, the tournament has given over $45.8 million to those in need in South Carolina since 1987. Learn more here.
MayFest (May 14)
The Bluffton Village Festival, commonly known as Mayfest, is an annual celebration in the heart of Old Town Bluffton which takes place on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. Enjoy the art, crafts, music, food, Ugly Dog contest, pie eating contest, kids’ activities and a chance to meet old friends and new ones! Learn more here.
Hilton Head Art Festival (May 29-30)
More than 120 local and national artists – including painters, jewelers, sculptures, photographers, poets, and more – will be on exhibit this weekend in Hilton Head Island at Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina. Learn more here.
Whether it’s your first time visiting the Lowcountry or you’re a long-time local, there’s a table just waiting for you at The Cottage. Join us for breakfast Mon-Fri (9-11 am) and Sat (8-11 am), for lunch Mon-Sat (11 am-3 pm), or for Sunday brunch (8 am-2 pm). We’re excited to see you, seat you, and serve you some delicious Southern cooking!
Eight Southern Wedding Traditions We Love
The South is steeped in elegance, beauty, grace, and – the part your grandmother will never let you forget about – tradition. It should come as no surprise that the Lowcountry alone hosts thousands of weddings every year, and that even some of the most famous couples, like Justin and Hailey Bieber, have said their vows here.
One of the beautiful things about a Southern wedding is they tend to reflect the region’s laid-back atmosphere, so there’s no “right way” to tie the knot here. But there are a few treasured Southern wedding traditions that can help you honor the past while celebrating the future.
- A Themed Wedding Cake
From florals to match the bride’s bouquet to a three-tiered cake topped with flamingo figurines, we’re experts at baking custom wedding cakes that are straight out of Southern brides’ Pinterest boards. Our bakery is known for using only the finest ingredients to craft our pies, pastries, and scones every day, and our cakes are no different. Each wedding cake from The Cottage is custom made to complement your flavor preferences, wedding theme, and any dietary restrictions, while maintaining the highest standard of quality.
- Outdoor Weddings
The South’s pristine beaches, tall oak trees, and the grassy laws of antique estates are obvious draws for couples who are looking for an outdoor wedding. The Lowcountry boasts some especially beautiful venues, some of which overlook salt marshes or are canopied by swaying Spanish moss. We can’t think of anywhere that’s more timeless or romantic than right here in Old Town Bluffton.
- Bury the Bourbon Bottle
Because so many Southern couples dream of an outdoor wedding, and also fear that it may be ruined by weather, this Southern wedding tradition is still going strong. Southern folklore says if you bury a full bottle of bourbon upside down at your wedding venue exactly one month before your wedding day, it will keep rain away. Although this tradition is a bit of a head-scratcher, it can’t hurt to give it a try…and makes for interesting engagement photos.
- Southern Comfort Cooking
No self-respecting Southern bride serves her guests tiny portions of impossibly gourmet food. It’s a celebration! So why would you serve your guests anything other than comfort food, like fried green tomatoes, chicken and waffle bites, or shrimp and grits? No one does Southern comfort cooking quite like The Cottage, and we’re happy to cater small, local weddings and elopements.
- Bridal Sessions
Southern women are nothing if not practical when they need to be. Give your hair, makeup, and dress a test run in a bridal photo session. A long-standing tradition, these portraits maximize the use of the most expensive dress you will ever own, and save you valuable time on your wedding day.
Traditionally, a groom’s cake is a gift from the bride to her groom and is meant to showcase his talents, interest, or hobbies. Want to incorporate this sweet tradition into your big day? We’d love to design a mini, themed cake just for him.
- Seersucker Suits
It’s just too darn hot to force the men into stuffy tuxes, which is why most guys go for light, breathable Seersucker suits instead. If you’re asking your groomsmen to wear matching suits, go for light grey or tan. They’ll be pretty grateful when the ceremony gets started.
- Mason Jars Galore
Whether you use them as vases, hang them from trees as candle votives, or pass them out to guests at cocktail hour, it wouldn’t really be a Southern wedding if Mason Jars aren’t part of the decor.
You deserve nothing but the best for your big day, including a gorgeous wedding cake. Our showstopping cakes are sure to wow your crowd – big or small. Give us a call at 843-757-0508 for a free wedding cake consultation today.
As featured on the cover of today’s Bluffton Today
As featured on the cover of today’s Bluffton Today. Read more about the launch of May River Coffee Roasters’ three new Lowcountry-themed coffees, and the story behind each new roast, here:
Eleven Christmas Traditions Only Southerners Would Know (and How to Get in On the Fun)
However laid-back the lifestyle is, we Southerners are known for going big on three things: our hair, our portion sizes, and Christmas.
From the endless tins of Christmas cookies left on your front porch to the annual festivals whole towns know and love, there’s nowhere quite like the South at Christmastime – especially when it comes to traditions. Here are 11 Christmas traditions only Southerners will understand.
- Thinking that your light-up Christmas tree is more exotic than the Angel Oaks or palm trees in your backyard.
- Going to the beach on Christmas day and forgetting your sweatshirt, but there’s a cold front coming through. Brr.
- Looking at an inch-thick layer of ice on the pond water and wondering if you could skate on that.
- Giving (or receiving) citrus fruits as gifts. That’s a totally normal gift from Santa, right?
- Going to the Waffle House on Christmas day and seeing everyone you know because that’s the only place that’s open.
- Setting a poinsettia on every free surface in your house.
- Lighting a fire as soon as it hits 60 degrees.
- Stockpiling the pantry for when your family comes to town…
- …Then needing to hit the grocery store two hours before their plane lands because you decided to bake cookies and casseroles for everyone in the neighborhood.
- Eating deep-fried turkey and pecan pie for Christmas dinner.
- Hanging up the Christmas lights the week before Thanksgiving, then not taking them down until February.
Whether experiencing the joy of the holidays at one of the Lowcountry’s signature annual festivals, or seeing Bluffton’s historic charm brought to life by Christmas lights and carolers, there’s a lot to love about spending the holiday season in the South. But nothing fills us with Christmas cheer quite like seeing our customers – and having them join us for our own special holiday traditions right here at The Cottage. Join us for breakfast Mon-Fri (9-11 am) or Sat (8-11 am), at lunch Mon-Sat (11 am-3 pm), or at Sunday brunch (8 am-2 pm), and experience the magic, and traditions, of the holidays at our cozy cottage. There might be Christmas cookies in it for you.
Not Sure If You Should Hire a Caterer for Your Holiday Party? Read This.
It’s that time of year again: party planning season. Decking the halls and donning your ugliest Christmas sweater is the fun part, but whether you’re hosting Friendsgiving at your house or have family flying into town for the holidays, cooking for a crowd is never easy. While everyone is mixing and mingling in the living room, you’ll be in the kitchen attempting to arrange a charcuterie board, baste the birds in the oven, and keep your little “elves” away from the cookies all at the same time. And your niece? Oh yeah – she’s vegan now.
If this sounds a little too much like the ghost of Christmas future, then you should consider hiring a caterer for your holiday party. And if the thought of cooking a three-course meal for 10 isn’t enough to make you want to order out, here are three other reasons why you should give yourself the gift of some outside help:
- Top quality food (that you don’t have to cook). Even experienced home cooks have a hard time pulling off a full buffet by themselves – and not just because few people have that many serving spoons. It could take hours of cooking and cleanup to feed everyone on your guest list. And if you decide to host a potluck, there’s no guarantee your guests will love Marjorie’s ambrosia salad. Hiring a caterer ensures that the food will be top-notch (in both flavor and quality) without you spending hours standing over a hot stove. And your vegan niece? The caterers can make sure there are options for her, too.
- Professional service. Imagine the perfect holiday party: the food appears on-cue, each dish is beautifully presented, and there’s no shortage of napkins. With a caterer, you can expect your food preparation, delivery, and setup experience to be as seamless as if you were at a restaurant. And you won’t have to wonder if the deviled eggs have been sitting out for hours. Catered food is prepared according to restaurant health and safety standards, too.
- A sophisticated experience. During the holidays, folks look forward to dressing up, mixing and mingling with a cocktail in hand, and indulging in good food. You cook dinner almost every night, so why not treat yourself and your guests to a chef-prepared meal? Catered food (and possibly a signature cocktail) will instantly elevate your at-home holiday party.
This holiday season, let us help you throw a party that your guests will still be talking about well into 2022. Order holiday classic dishes like sweet potato casserole, stuffing (made the long way), and pumpkin pie off our Thanksgiving menu, or place a special order of festive sweet treats that will wow your coworkers at the annual office party. Give us a call at 843-757-0508 to learn more about our catering services.
What Southern Hospitality REALLY Means
Southern hospitality is more than a catchphrase for Lowcountry locals – it’s a lifestyle. If you’re from out of town, the saying likely conjures up images of rocking on the front porch, sipping sweet tea, and sit-down family dinners. But the roots of this down-home friendliness run deeper than inviting friends over every once in a while. So, how exactly do you define Southern hospitality?
You asked, and we’re answering. Here are the top qualities locals use to define Southern hospitality.
Entertaining and delicious food go hand-in-hand in the South. We embrace tradition in the kitchen, often preparing time-tested recipes that are prepared with a whole lot of love (and maybe a little butter). One dish is never enough, as you never know who might be joining you for dinner. There’s nothing quite like Southern comfort cooking to warm you from the inside out, which is why we take care in preparing our Shrimp & Grits, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Chicken and Waffles.
Guests are treated like family.
The saying, “There are no strangers, just friends we haven’t met yet,” is especially true in the South. Guests are treated like family here, so it’s clear why people are drawn to the Lowcountry’s inviting atmosphere. At The Cottage, our service philosophy is to every customer – new or returning – as if we go way back.
We don’t get in a hurry down South. Instead, we talk slowly to let guests know they’re welcome and to connect with them on a deeper level. The conversation flows seamlessly from the front door to the back porch, where you roll up your sleeves, sip sweet tea, and the only agenda for the day is enjoying the company of others.
You can forget about fixing your own plate or washing the dishes when you’re in the South. We take pride in cooking for others and serving our guests, lending a hand to our neighbors, and offering bits of hand-me-down wisdom. We’ll be the first to offer recommendations or point you in the right direction if you’re lost on some old back road – that is, if you don’t mind navigating by town landmarks.
Customers come to The Cottage for our award-winning food, but they return for our hospitality. Experience our café and bakery’s old-world charm at breakfast Mon-Fri (9-11 am) or Sat (8-11 am), at lunch Mon-Sat (11 am-3 pm), or at Sunday brunch (8 am-2 pm). We can’t wait to see you!
The Cottage Shrimp and Grits Wins Again!
Congratulations to Leslie and her incredible team for securing a win and finalist recognition for four categories in the Sun Select Today and Best of Bluffton Community Awards.
Sun Select Today Winner: Best Shrimp & Grits
Best of Bluffton Finalist: Best Bakery, Best Brunch, and Best Dessert
Stop in today to try some of our award-winning food!
Ten Surprisingly Delicious Southern Foods
From creamy pimento cheese to crispy fried pickles, the South undoubtedly has some of the most decadent, delicious, and downright bizarre cuisines in the nation. Born from a rich mix of culinary traditions and ingredients you might not find outside of the bottom states, Southern food is truly unlike anything else – which tends to confuse visitors.
While you might not see recipes like Ambrosia salad or tomato pie outside of the South, don’t knock ‘em until you try ‘em, especially if you’re visiting the Lowcountry. We’ve rounded up ten surprisingly delicious Southern recipes for you to try this month.
Shrimp and Grits
Creamy, savory, buttery, and rich are just a few words to describe one of our all-time favorite Southern foods: shrimp and grits. If you’ve never started the day with a bowl of stone-ground grits topped with local shrimp and scallions, you’re missing out.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Red tomatoes? Never heard of them! For this dish, unripe green tomatoes are sliced and dipped into a cornmeal batter and given a good fry. These crispy delights are the perfect summer snack, especially when they’re served in our Cajun tomato cream sauce or with cool ranch dressing.
It’s best not to ask too many questions when it comes to this dessert. One bite of this orange-grapefruit-coconut-cherry-marshmallow concoction says it all.
Fried Chicken and Waffles
Is it breakfast? Lunch? Both? Neither? Whatever it is, fried chicken and waffles have a permanent spot in our hearts and on our Sunday brunch table. Dunk a forkful of battered chicken and fluffy Belgian waffle in maple syrup for the ultimate sweet-and-savory flavor experience.
This creamy, spicy cheese spread is the glue that binds the South together. Spread it on crackers or grill it between bread to taste the sharp cheddar, or add a dollop to your basic bowl of shrimp and grits for a next-level breakfast.
Just add cream cheese and a stack of crackers to assemble a pepper jelly-based, fancy-ish, Southern-style snack.
Before you imagine a disaster that ended up on your Thanksgiving dessert table, picture this: a flakey, puff pastry crust, layers of heirloom tomatoes, four cheeses, four herbs, and crème fraîche. Need we say more?
Speaking of unlikely pies, possum pie is both completely delicious and completely roadkill-free. Made with chocolate, pecans, and cream cheese, this dessert is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.
When you read the ingredients list – pineapple, Cheddar cheese, crushed Ritz crackers – you may be tempted to pass on this particular dish, but don’t you dare. Mind your manners and start scooping.
It’s not summer in the South unless you’re sipping a glass of sweet tea on a sunny patio. If you’re ordering and you want your tea unsweetened, you have to say so. (You’ve been warned.)
No vacation would be complete without sampling the local foods. Join us at The Cottage for classic Southern dishes with a little Lowcountry flair.
Join us for breakfast Mon-Fri (9-11 am) and Sat (8-11 am), for lunch Mon-Sat (11 am-3 pm), or for Sunday brunch (8 am-2 pm). We’re excited to see you, seat you, and serve you some delicious Southern cooking!