carb_0310Dreams really do come true.

Take the story of Steve Carb, for instance. He came to Hilton Head Island as a young man with little money and few prospects. By day he took real estate classes. By night he worked as a bus boy and dishwasher at the Old Fort Pub. Today he owns some of the hottest restaurants in town, including Giuseppi’s Pizza and Pasta, One Hot Mama’s, Frankie Bones, the Black Marlin Bayside Grill & Hurricane Bar, The Lodge and WiseGuys.

greendrinks_0310There’s one in Cape Town, South Africa. There’s another in Jakarta, Indonesia. And there’s yet another in Laayoune, Morroco. In fact, there are more than 500 chapters of “Green Drinks” worldwide, including one right here in the Lowcountry.

The Bluffton Farmers MarketThe Bluffton Farmers Market isn’t going into hibernation this winter. The popular market that started in 2008 on the banks of the May River was supposed to end in November, but it is staying open on a limited basis through the season until March 4. Instead of weekly, the market will be open from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of every month. It will set up at 40 Calhoun St. in the Carson Cottages area of old town Bluffton, though the number of vendors will be smaller than during the warmer months. The decision to keep the market open through the winter was in response to popular demand from both farmers and customers, said Ed McCullough, chairman of the board of directors.

Getting a good value on vino brings out the spirit of the season.

Bliss 2008 Mendocino ChardonnayWinemaking techniques have really improved over the past few decades, so it’s fairly easy to avoid evil gut-rot that causes horrible headaches after a couple of glasses, but harder to avoid wines that are simply ordinary.

Most of the cost of a wine that retails for $10-$12 reflects the bottle, transport and mark-ups by the distributor and retailer. What’s left has to cover the wine itself, marketing the brand and the winery profit.

How these costs are allocated can vary considerably, and, if most goes into the wine, it will be very drinkable. If not, it can be distinctly ordinary. The wines selected here are all produced by family-run enterprises of varying size, which have an established commitment to their wines, and are perhaps less bottom-line focused than the multinationals.

$11.99-$12.99 Bliss 2008 Mendocino Chardonnay
Distributed by Grapevine. Lightly oaked and refreshingly fruity.
Sold at A Wine and Spirit Shop, Reilley’s and Rollers

At this year’s Taste of the Season, local chefs showcase their cuisine, cake bakers get competitive and a silent auction beckons bidders.

celebrity chef Robert Irvine will make an appearance this yearFor 20 years, the Hilton Head Island holiday season has kicked off with a tasty event. Taste of the Season offers a taste of the area’s best restaurants as well as auction items ranging from trips to the Caribbean to original artwork.

“For the 20th, we’re really putting the spotlight on the amazing array of phenomenal chefs and restaurants we have in our area,” said Charlie Clark, spokeswoman for the event’s host, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve learned over the years that chefs are an incredibly competitive group of people. They truly bring their ‘A’ game to this event and pull out all the stops to showcase their best cuisine.”

Whatever your plans for Halloween, don’t be a pumpkin! Cut up the night with some spooky spirits, bewitching brews and deadly drinks. If you stay home and concoct your own nightmares or head out for a night howling at the moon, Hilton Head’s bartenders have just the right recipes for you. Just make sure that you party
responsibly. No one wants to be a mummy for real!

A seasonal Southern rite of passage

I A seasonal Southern rite of passageused to joke with relatives up North that South Carolina only has two seasons: hot and not hot.

The truth is, seasons in the Lowcountry — yes, there really are four — are flled with subtleties, especially autumn, when it’s still possible to swim by day, and wear a cozy sweater at night.

remys1It’s midnight on Hilton Head Island, a place where even most grocery stores close by 10 p.m.?

Even though most bars and restaurants have started winding down for the night, the island still has many late-night offerings.

Check out this list for ways to extend an evening out with friends.

Background

Rosés – Wines for the SummerAfter being unfashionable for a while, rosé wines are increasing in popularity. In major markets, stores carrying perhaps five different wines a few years ago now offer more like 20.

The change is evident on the Island: Red Fish, for example, has a rack of rosés in a prominent position by the entrance, and most of the specialty stores carry several well-chosen selections. This is particularly welcome for the summer, when a rosé can be an ideal and versatile wine with enough different styles to work with most dishes.

All rosés are made from red wine grapes, and any of them can be used to make a rosé. The wines work particularly well with Mediterranean food, and that’s probably why the producers in southern France have such a long and established history. Many of these wines are made from a blend of grapes also characteristic of their red wines, and these same grapes are to be found in some of the best rosés from California.

LICKING OUR CHOPS HAS NEVER BEEN SO MUCH FUN.

Mmmm ... Barbecue

More than 900 people basked in a sweet hickory-smoked plume at historic Honey Horn Plantation last month, sinking their teeth into the best ribs, pulled pork, cornbread and side dishes the Lowcountry has to offer at the 13th annual Kiwanis Rib Burnoff.

“This is a good, southern, hometown, little festival right here,” said Eric Anthony of Barrier Island Barbecue, a griller for the Iron Pig team, the amateur team that won first place for ribs in both the blind tasting and the popular vote, first place in barbecue in the popular vote and the coveted Showmanship Award. “All the competitors know each other. We’re all friends up until 11:30, then from 1:30 until 4 o’clock we don’t talk to each other, and after that we’re all friends again.”