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.
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!
How to Photograph Your Food Like a Pro
We’re big believers in #PhoneEatsFirst. While there’s no way to capture the taste of a perfectly made meal (yet), a photo of your plate will help you remember one of the most important parts of your Lowcountry vacation: the food.
Some food photos elicit envy and hunger pangs, but we’ve all seen (and perhaps even posted) some terrible shots. From the camera flash causing a glare on your plate to unflattering bites taken out of a burger, good food photography is becoming more and more of an art. Here’s how to take a crave-worthy photo that you’ll be excited to post.
Lighting is Everything
Good lighting separates all the best photos from the rest, but shooting in bright, indirect light is especially important for food photography. Harsh glares or heavy shadows can make what’s on your plate look washed out, worn down, or simply unappetizing. Natural lighting is best for highlighting the food’s colors and textures (we recommend opting for outdoor seating when possible). Still, you can get a similar effect inside the restaurant by toggling your phone’s exposure.
When you open the camera app, focus on your subject manually with the touch of your finger. You should see a little image of a sun appear. If you slide your finger up and down the small bar that appears, you can control the amount of light in your photo even before you take the picture.
Think Like a Food Stylist
Who says playing with your food is a bad thing? Wait a minute for the ice cream to drip. Take a scoop out of your tomato pie and leave the fork full on your plate. Slide your burger toppings closer to the edge of the sandwich, or experiment with utensil placement. The little details make all the difference.
Frame the Food
The food is plated, the lights are hot, and the last thing to think about is photo composition. Remember, the “rule of thirds,” a classic principle of photography, suggests that your photo should be broken down into thirds – both vertically and horizontally – so you have nine parts total. If the points of interest in your photo run along these lines, you’ll have a visually appealing shot. Try enabling the grid feature on your camera app so you can see these lines while positioning your phone.
Instead of the expected phone-directly-over-food shot, try taking pictures from unexpected angles. Getting down on your sandwich’s level or making a gentle dollop of whipped cream, the focus of your photo will highlight the food’s delicious details.
Did you really go on vacation in the Lowcountry if you never posted a picture of Fried Green Tomatoes or Shrimp and Grits? We’re proud to say that our meals are as photogenic as they are delish. It’s because we cook our reimagined recipes with fresh, local ingredients (and a whole lot of love). Join us for breakfast Mon-Fri (9-11 am) or Sat (8-11 am), for lunch Mon-Sat (11 am-3 pm), or for Sunday brunch (8 am-2 pm) to savor our cafés old-world charm while capturing new memories.
The Nitty-Gritty Details: Everything You Never Knew About Grits
There are few foods more Southern than grits. This warm, creamy comfort food has been a Lowcountry breakfast staple for centuries, but outside of the South, little is known about this quintessential meal. Here’s everything you never knew about grits.
So, what are grits?
Grits are often incorrectly described as “savory oatmeal.” Grits are made from dried corn kernels that are ground into smaller bits. They are similar to Italian polenta, but the two are typically made from very different types of corn and using different grinding methods. Polenta is coarse enough to be shaped into a cake while gits should have the consistency of a thick paste when cooked.
Types of grits include:
- Stone-ground grits can be hard to find outside of the South, but they seem to be making a comeback. This is the most traditional type of grits as they’re made almost the same way that they were in the 19th century.
- Hominy grits are made by removing the hull and germ of the corn.
- Quick grits have a finer grind than regular grits. This allows them to cook faster and last longer on store shelves.
- Instant grits have been pre-cooked and dehydrated. While instant grits work in a pinch, we would rather cook our grits with the love and care they deserve.
Where did grits come from?
Grits themselves have their roots in Native American culture, but it is believed the name “grits” comes from the Old English word “grit” which means “coarse meal.” Gristmills, which turned locally grown corn into grits and cornmeal, used to be numerous in the South but were replaced by steel-rollers in the mid 18th century as the food rose in popularity. Grits’ dense nutritional properties and inexpensive price made it staple on Southern pantry shelves.
What makes our grits special?
Like all good Southerners, we take our grits seriously at The Cottage. It all starts with a bed of cooked and buttered-to-perfection grits, then we top it with locally sourced Lowcountry shrimp. But we don’t stop there: creative toppings like brisket, pimento cheese, and bacon have made our Shrimp and Grits stand out at the Beaufort Shrimp Festival and other food competitions.
Foodies know that the best part of traveling is eating like a local. If you’re visiting the Lowcountry (or are looking for a flavor sensation in your own backyard), put our award-winning Shrimp and Grits on your must-try list. We serve grits over lunch Mon-Sat (11 am-3 pm) and at Sunday brunch (8 am-2 pm).
How to Stock the Essentials in Your Southern Pantry
We get many questions from customers about what our “secret ingredients” are, so we’re finally spilling the beans: we don’t have any. Really. Southern cooking was born out of necessity and uses simple ingredients like butter, cornmeal, and pecans to create comforting, wholesome meals. So while we put a twist on classic meals like our Cajun Jambalaya, Pimento Shrimp and Grits, and Lowcountry-inspired Fried Green Tomato Avocado Caprese salad, our dishes begin with the basics.
Just like all good Southerners, we hate to turn people away empty-handed, so we’ve put together a list of Southern cooking pantry staples you have to have on-hand.
- Sugar. Most Southern dishes are indulgent, which is why having a bag of classic cane sugar in your pantry at all times is a must. This sweet staple isn’t only used for cobblers, pies, and cakes but can be used to make sweet tea and barbeque sauce, too.
- Cornmeal. Where else do you think cornbread comes from? You can also use cornmeal to make delicious pancakes and cornmeal-crusted chicken.
- Grits. Not to be confused with cornmeal, grits is another ground corn product that’s the go-to breakfast item in many households. Keep it simple by boiling your grits and topping them with butter, or jazz up a basic bowl with cheese, bacon, or shrimp.
- Pecans. If you picture the pecan pie recipe your family has had for generations, you’ll know why these rich, buttery nuts made the list.
- Bourbon. This bold, caramel-sweet, Kentucky-born booze is essential for making classic cocktails like a Mint Julep or Sazerac and as a glaze or addition to your favorite desserts.
- Barbeque sauce. This is the ultimate way to make any cut of meat finger-lickin’ delicious.
- Hot sauce. Some like it hot, and if you’re one of those people, a healthy dash of hot sauce will take things to the next level.
- Jam. We top our flakey buttermilk biscuits with a pad of butter and delicious jam.
- Beans. Yes, the Southern pantry does include some vegetables. From baked beans and pinto beans to red beans and black-eyed peas, legumes are a great staple in your pantry.
- Honey. Use it as a natural sweetener or as a complement to savory or spicy marinades.
- Lard. The rumors are true: lard is a necessity in the Southern kitchen. You’ll be happy to have it when you want to make a pie crust or fry up some chicken.
- Mayonnaise. It’s not just for potato salad, slaw, or deviled eggs; any Southerner will tell you that spreading mayo on both sides of your bread is the way to make a perfect grilled sandwich.
At the Cottage, we pride ourselves on making elevated dishes that begin with fresh, local ingredients. Are you getting hungry? Join us for breakfast Mon-Fri (9-11 am), Sat (8-11 am), or for Sunday brunch (8 am-2 pm). We’re also open for lunch Mon-Sat (11 am-3 pm). We can’t wait to see you soon!
Leslie Rohland on Eat It And Like It – Bluffton Food Scene
Leslie joins Jesse Blanco of Eat it and Like it to discuss how they have adapted to the unique environment many businesses are facing.
Check out the video here.