One of the small towns located close to where I reside, Beaufort, SC is Bluffton. Actually, Bluffton is not all that small as it ranks as the 5th largest ‘city’ in the state (by area), due to the incorporation of various annexations in the past dozen or so years.
The largest of these was the property known as Palmetto Bluff, previously a hunting property, now a development replete with Jack Nicklaus golf course, a spectacular Auberge Resort, multi-million dollar homes and it’s own little “town”. These fine folks also hold homage to all things deliciously Southern at their annual Music to your Mouth Festival held in November. It’s a literal bacchanalia of food, wine and southern-inspired artisans showcasing their work.
Of course, with the gorgeous setting overlooking the May River and sumptuous, tasty treats prepared by foodie celebrité chefs like Chris Hastings, Sean Brock, Craig Deihl, Steven Satterfield and Hugh Acheson one cannot go wrong just attending the Saturday Culinary Festival. I was lucky to be invited last year and write about the Culinary Festival as part of my other blog, Hilton Head Island Foodie Vibe. Fingers-crossed, I will be invited back this November. Whether I am or not, it remains the finest example of mixing business and pleasure that I have encountered.
There are actually a whole slew of events that make up the festival and one can surely carve a very nice foodie-centric getaway out of the week, if you are so inclined. Note that it is not a free affair – the cost is as they say, somewhat substantial, but where else can you actually strike up a conversation with that many accomplished chefs AND sample their best creations, all on the same day? This year I heard that there will be a bacon forest – are you kidding me? I must see (and nibble?) that!
To say that Palmetto Bluff is a “nice property” is an understatement. To give you an idea, it has received the AAA-5 Diamond award for the last 3 years, U.S. News & World Report ranked it as the #1 hotel in the entire U.S. this year, and Conde Nast Traveler named it the #3 best southern golf resort and #15 spa this year. While that is all well and good, I find that the best aspect of this place is that it actually fits into Bluffton.
This could be deemed peculiar since Blufftonians are known – and proud – to flaunt their ‘own state of mind’. Old Town Bluffton itself, is well, old… and rustic with paint peeling, un-manicured yards and even neighborly roosters crowing at dawn… and other, usual times too. The flora and fauna here can be wild and well, quite beautiful in it’s own overgrown and verdant way.
In Bluffton you can find a million-dollar home sitting contently next to a tiny, rusty tin-shingled cottage. When you belly up to the oyster table at the annual Rotary Oyster Roast don’t be surprised to find yourself standing between the CEO of the largest corporate business in the county and your car mechanic – both happily shucking and sucking down some briny May River beauties and discussing fishing for sea trout, college football and/or the stock market. No one really puts on any “airs” here – it’s that kind of town.
Bluffton is one of my favorite places in the Lowcountry. I did live there for a few years and while it has transformed in ways there are still some things that have not changed in literally years (or even decades). I find comfort in this – the positive changes which equate to growth and, hopefully, prosperity – and reassurance that the beautiful aspects of the town, the May River and the quirky, friendly people of Bluffton will remain that way.
Here’s to you Bluffton with my mixed bag of pictures taken over the last 12 months, maybe you’ll be enticed to give her a visit …