Forty local chefs will serve up their signature dishes and new recipes at this annual holiday party circuit season kickoff.
Purchase Tickets Online
When: 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6
Where: Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa
Tickets: $65, VIP $125. The only place to purchase tickets is online at hiltonheadisland.org/taste.
For information: Visit the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce website at hiltonheadblufftonchamber.org or call 843-785-3673.
There’s a new generation of restaurants and chefs here as the Lowcountry has changed and grown over the past 30 years. But there’s been one constant event that has showcased the local culinary scene: Taste of the Season.
The 30th annual event sponsored by the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce will kick off the holiday party circuit at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at the Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa. Attendees can enjoy the best of Lowcountry cuisine from area chefs, who will be serving their signature dishes and trying out new recipes, as well as wine, craft cocktails and beer. The silent auction boasts unique holiday gifts or get-aways to some of the country’s most notable hotels and resort destinations.
For those looking for a full night of indulgence, VIP tickets will get them early access to the event as well as lounge seating, private catering, open bar until 7 p.m., and complimentary valet parking.
A Taste of Taste
To get your taste buds ready for Taste of the Season, we asked a few local chefs to share examples of the holiday fare they will be serving at the Dec. 6 event, along with the recipe they use to make it. These sides and salads are sure to please even the pickiest of palettes and will definitely add some pizzazz to your pre-holiday feast.
SERG Takeout Kitchen – Baked Brie En Croute with Apricot Preserves & Roasted Almonds
1 (4.4 ounces) brie round
1/4 cup sliced dried apricots
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1 sheet puff pastry
1 tablespoon water
Directions  Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Pull out puff pastry and allow to thaw until pliable, about 15–20 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the egg and water to make egg wash.  In a separate bowl, combine the apricots, almonds, dried cranberries and apricot preserves. Set aside.  Lay pastry on floured board. Cut off the triangle edges on the side of the dough. Save to make design for the top of the brie. Egg wash the edges of the dough.  Scoop apricot mixture in the middle of the puff pastry sheet, flip over brie on top of the mixture. Fold in the dough to completely cover the brie, egg washing the sides as you fold in the dough. Egg wash entire loaf.  To give the brie a more holiday look, cut extra pastry into poinsettia leaves, stocking or bell shapes and place on top before baking brie to golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.
– Recipe by Andy Borgmeier, chef at SERG Takeout Kitchen
The Cottage –Pistachio Cake
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup pistachio paste
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, finely chopped; if at all possible, use unsalted pistachios in this recipe.
Cream cheese, whipped white chocolate ganache or buttercream frosting (recipe below)
Directions (cake)  Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray and line three 8 x 2-inch cake pans with parchment.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.  Cream the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color, about 2 minutes on medium speed.  Add the sugar and continue to mix until fluffy and light.  Add the eggs, one at a time, being sure each is well mixed before adding the next one.  Add vanilla.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternating with sour cream.  Add pistachio paste and nuts and mix just until blended.  Pour batter into prepared pans on counter 4 to 5 times.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. The top should be browned or, in this case, “greened.”
Ingredients (buttercream frosting)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup meringue powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (for pistachio buttercream frosting, substitute 1/4 teaspoon pistachio paste for almond extract)
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 cups softened, unsalted butter
Directions (buttercream frosting)  Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water and cool to room temperature.  Mix in the meringue powder. Use a mixer to beat on slow for several minutes until the powder is dissolved and mixture is foamy.  Increase the speed and beat until soft peaks form.  Beat in the vanilla, then the confectioners’ sugar.  Add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. This will provide enough frosting for your pistachio cake.
— Recipe by Leslie Rohland of The Cottage Café, Bakery & Tea Room
The Pearl –Tuna Poke
2 ounces pineapple, diced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 ounces bigeye tuna, diced
1/2 avocado, diced
1 teaspoon ponzu sauce
Sliced radishes (garnish)
Micro cilantro (garnish)
Directions  Sauté diced pineapple with sesame oil, 1/4 cup brown sugar, sesame seeds and soy, then chill.  Mix all ingredients into a bowl. Serve over wonton chips. Garnish with sliced radishes and micro cilantro.
— Recipe by Nate Clepper, executive chef at The Pearl Kitchen & Bar
Healthy Habit –Apple Cranberry Quinoa Salad with Crumbled Bleu Cheese and Toasted Almonds
1 medium red apple (honeycrisp, fuji, gala all work great), medium diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 cups quinoa, cooked
1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions Combine all ingredients and mix in a bowl.
— Recipe by the Healthy Habit Culinary Team
5 Tips on Getting the Most from Your Taste of the Season Experience
1. Don’t go it alone: Grab your significant other and a few friends to enjoy the night with. You’ll need an extra set of hands anyway to hold your drink while you are tasting dishes.
2. Come hungry: There will be more than 40 restaurants serving up samples of their very best dishes, as well as spirits, wine and beer (you can always go back for seconds). Check out the Taste of the Season website (www.hiltonheadisland.org/taste) to see which restaurants will be there.
3. Take your time: Taste of the Season is your chance to meet the chefs and staff at these restaurants. Talk to them about their dishes and their business. You’ll also vote for the “People’s Choice Award.” Choose wisely.
4. Make a night of it: VIP access will get you early access, an open bar until 7 p.m., private catering, lounge seating and complimentary valet parking.
5. Bid early: When you purchase tickets (hiltonheadisland.org/taste), you’ll be prompted to create a login in Bidpal.com. That’s the website you’ll use to bid on the silent auction, which will open a few days before Taste of the Season. Get an early look at what’s up for grabs and start bidding. Last year’s high-bid items included “Choose Your Trip” With JetBlue, a year of treatments at Namaste Spa and a four-night stay at a Marriott Vacation Club of your choice.