0410_booksMatt and Ted Lee know Lowcountry cooking and are sharing it with the rest of the world.
The brothers’ first cookbook won the 2007 James Beard Award; their latest, “Simple Fresh Southern,” offers easy versions of Lowcountry recipes.

0410_wineSpring has finally arrived, and we can once again enjoy the deck or patio, or a concert under the stars enhanced by a glass of wine as the sun sets over the trees. Al Fresco is Italian for “in the fresh air,” and that’s where many Italian wines are drunk during much of the year. So what better choice to add to the enjoyment of the return to warm weather?

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.

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.

Looking for some fresh ideas for appetizers at your holiday get-togethers? Try these yummy recipes from local caterers.

CARAMELIZED ONION DIPCARAMELIZED ONION DIP

Recipe and Photo
Courtesy of Christine’s Catering

1 tbl. vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
Kosher salt and black pepper

FruitcakePoor fruitcake. Long the butt of jokes about its density and impressive shelf life (some people make them a year ahead and “feed” the cake with liquor to preserve it and enhance its flavor), it’s possibly the most maligned of desserts. Originating in Roman times, fruitcake was outlawed in Europe in the early 18th century because it was considered too “sinfully rich.” Now, thanks in part to Johnny Carson’s claim that there is, in fact, only one fruit cake in all the world, being passed along from one grossed-out person to another, urban legends abound of some sweet old grandma/aunt/neighbor giving a fruit cake gift that’s then pitched out, re-gifted, or stored away and forgotten, holiday after holiday, too terrible to die.

But fruitcake can be delicious. Try these variations on traditional fruitcake from two accomplished Southern bakers, and you may find yourself eating it year-round — and even giving a gift that will shatter the recipients’ prejudices forever!

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.”

With hunting season underway, venison, dove and small game are on tables around the Lowcountry. Here's some recipes courtesy of wildgamerecipes.com:

Venison mushroom pot roast

4 pounds venison
3 tablespoons olive or cooking oil
3 carrots, diced
2 onions, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 box mushrooms
1 pint light cream
1 quart meat stock
Salt
Pepper