Is it Palate or Palette at the 9th Annual Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival?

Welcome to the 9th Annual Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival! Lots to see and lots to eat!

Welcome to the 9th Annual Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival! Lots to see and lots to eat!

Aristotle said that we have five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. In this blog we are primarily preoccupied with taste, of course; but the other four senses also come into play here in Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, and often in rather unexpected ways. With the 9th Annual Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival right around the corner, I present my case for ‘palate or palette’, what’s your pleasure?

Touch is not just the province of bread bakers and pastrymakers, or even the fisherman who swiftly fillets a just-caught May River sea trout or flounder. Think of how the downy soft skin on a fresh peach feels, or the coolness of your favorite, foamy artisan brew in your throat whilst strolling through historic Old Town Bluffton.

Hearing is certainly part and parcel to the pleasure of cooking, dining and ‘festing as well. The clinking of glasses to be filled with bubbly and the sizzle of bacon as local chefs prepare their signature seafood dishes – our ears are constantly tuned to the snap, crackle and pop of a fine gastronomic experience at this festival. Check out The “Art of Cuisine” Iron Chef Challenge (Sat., Oct. 19th at 11 am) for a perfect example.

Yum! There's sure to be Lowcountry boil at this festival along with all manner of local seafood and southern favorites like barbeque!

Yum! There’s sure to be Lowcountry boil at this festival along with all manner of local seafood and southern favorites like barbeque!

Without our sense of smell, the pleasures of food would be greatly diminished. Our olfactory senses are said to be 10,000 times more sensitive than our taste buds and this festival’s Street Fest” is the perfect place to put that theory to the test. If the Iron Chef Challenge leaves you hungry don’t be surprised, but be swift and head over straight away to the “midway of food” along Calhoun Street during the Street Fest held on both Saturday, Oct. 19th and Sunday, Oct. 20th. There will a veritable bounty of ocean-caught delicacies transformed into every imaginable seafood treat from spicy seafood gumbo to heavenly crab cakes to fried oysters served with a horseradish mustard sauce. Not a seafood fanatic, don’t worry there will plenty of other goodies for your smelling and tasting pleasure.

Restaurant and eateries include Bluffton Family Seafood House, Alexander’s, Melly Mel’s, Palm Key Catering, Old Oyster Factory, Sigler’s, Skull Creek Boathouse, The Crazy Crab, Mulberry Street Trattoria, Reeves Outdoor Catering and more.

Catch a beautiful May River sunset during Oyster Fest on Oct. 13th and at Rockin’ on the Dock on Oct. 19th.

Catch a beautiful May River sunset during Oyster Fest on Oct. 13th and at Rockin’ on the Dock on Oct. 19th.

With food, as with anything else, seeing is believing, and sight plays an integral part in our culinary lives. Simply put, if food looks good, it tastes better. Food doesn’t have to be perfectly coiffed like a wedding updo, but it should look natural and the colors should reflect the identity of the dish. Bluffton’s local seafood and its farmland bounty are certainly fresh, upfront and center at this festival. On Sunday, October 13th Oyster Fest kicks off the week food-tastically with the first oyster roast of the season, plus a Lowcountry shrimp boil and barbeque at the Bluffton Oyster Factory Park. The park sits adjacent to Bluffton’s May River, the quintessential setting for partaking of fine local oysters with friends and like-minded foodies.

During the Arts & Seafood Festival, Bluffton always gets it just right in showcasing the many kinds of art embraced here. From the juried art show, author night, environmentally infused events and tours to, of course, the myriad of food-centered events – celebrating the “Bluffton State of Mind” with all five senses is as simple as spending a week, or even just the day, in our friendly town.

The Iron Chef Challenge brings out friendly and delicious competition on Saturday, Oct. 19th in Old Town.

The Iron Chef Challenge brings out friendly and delicious competition on Saturday, Oct. 19th in Old Town.

9th Annual Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival

Oct. 13-20, 2013

Events listed below are food and dining related but there are many more – like tours, music and art related events – please check the Festival website for details!

Kick-Off Events: Sunday, Oct. 13; 11 am – 4pm, Calhoun Street

Oyster Fest: Sunday, Oct. 13; 5-8 pm, Bluffton Oyster Factory Park

Dinner & Learn Tour at Waddell Mariculture Center: Monday, Oct. 14; 5:30 pm

Author Night – “Celebrate the Lowcountry”: Wednesday, Oct. 16; 5:30 pm, Rotary Community Center at Oscar Frazier Park

Wine Tasting: Thursday, Oct. 17; 4 -6 pm; Corks Wine Company, 14 Promenade Street, Old Town

Family Night at the Promenade: Friday, Oct. 18; 6-9 pm; The Promenade, Old Town Arts & Seafood Street Fest: Saturday, Oct. 19; 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday, Oct. 20, 10 am – 4 pm, Old Town

Rockin’ on the Dock: Saturday, Oct. 19, 6 pm- Dusk, Bluffton Oyster Company, Wharf Street