The ingredients in these iconic Lowcountry dishes may seem familiar, but the recipes are decidedly not. With these coastal-inspired ideas you can turn shrimp and grits into a shrimp and cornmeal spoonbread soufflé, or roast your Lowcountry boil on the BBQ.

Hilton Head Best BurgerAfter accepting the difficult assignment to locate Hilton Head Island’s best burgers, I did two things right away: bought a new pair of running shoes, and renewed my gym membership.

With that important preliminary work out of the way, I proceeded to ask everyone I knew where I might track down the island’s best burgers, and I got a meaty response: 14 in total. That meant I had a lot of burgers to eat and not a lot of time to do it.

Three local chefs. Four recipes. One perfect holiday meal.

Taste of the Season

Looking for a little holiday culinary inspiration? Look no further: In October, Monthly asked three Taste of the Season chefs for their favorite holiday dishes and assembled them into one perfect holiday dinner you can make at home — assuming you have the time and considerably more cooking abilities than we do.

Consider this also a sneak preview of the cuisine you can sample from more than 35 of the Lowcountry’s top chefs at the 21st annual Taste of the Season, taking place Dec. 3 at the Marriott Resort & Spa on Hilton Head. The event finds chefs competing for the honor of “Best Cuisine” and confectionery artists vying for the top honor of “Best Cake.”

Unexpected American RedsMost wines produced in the United States are made as single grape (varietal) wines from a rather limited number of grapes.

But as wine drinkers become more adventurous, wineries are exploring less-frequently planted grapes to create blends — a common practice in Europe, but one that’s still relatively unusual here. This month’s column concerns both types; these wines will often be found under the “Interesting Reds” label.

The grape Blaufränkisch (“Blue Franc”) is grown mainly in Austria. But the Steele Winery in California has a 2008 Shooting Star Blue Franc that’s nice example — and a better value than an Austrian import. It’s a light red, scarcely oaked to make it appealingly fruity, and with light tannins that lead to a clean, dry finish. It’s ideal for salmon or chicken.

Iberian Summer WhitesSummertime brings the pleasure of lazing on the deck with a cold bottle of wine in easy reach and another waiting for dinner. For this month, a lighter wine for sipping and something with a bit more character for the meal.

Wine has been produced on the Iberian Peninsula, now occupied by Spain and Portugal, for more than four millennia, but many of the region’s wines were not very widely distributed until the last couple of decades. Things changed dramatically after the two countries joined the European Union: There was a major influx of capital into the wine industry, and techniques in the vineyards and wineries were improved rapidly. The white wines produced on the Atlantic coast, just north or south of the border between Portugal and Spain, have benefited from these developments, are particularly suited to the summer, and are achieving a deserved popularity.

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Memorial Day is the official opening of grilling season, at least for those living in less hospitable Northern climates, so the four wines this month are designed to be drunk around the grill.

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Every year in May, the Kiwanis Club sponsors Hilton Head’s a barbecue event at the Coastal Discovery Museum.

This year, the 14th Annual Rib Burnoff and Barbecue Fest will be held from noon-4 p.m. on May 15 at Honey Horn, rain or shine.
Hundreds of residents and visitors join the Kiwanis Clubs to raise funds for local children’s charities, listen to some down-home music and to enjoy some of the South’s best barbecue.