Low country boil is a quintessentially southern custom. Just dreaming about such a gathering brings images of sundresses and crisp white cotton shirts to mind. It’s unique to the South. Not only a meal, or even an event – it’s an occasion. It’s also easy to prepare and clean up.
To begin, all you need is a big pot, fresh seafood and a few other simple ingredients, including sausage, corn on the cob, onions, potatoes, shrimp, crab and Old Bay seasoning. Within a short time, you’ll have one of the coastal South’s favorite reasons to get together ready to go.
We’ve enlisted the assistance of interior designer and lifestyle expert Elaine Griffin to help us host a foolproof low country boil at home, similar to the one being hosted by the STAR Foundation of Coastal Georgia on May 27 at Village Creek Landing, on St. Simons Island.
Griffin’s top 10 rules for a successful low country boil are:
1) Use the best ingredients, including the freshest seafood and vegetables available. Fresh ingredients make all the difference.
2) Plan fun, interactive entertainment. “I highly recommend croquet,” said Griffin. “It’s ‘put your phone down, but not your cocktail’-worthy entertainment.” Of course, it’s hard to argue with that mantra.
3) Don’t cook? Call in the pros. Hiring a chef is a can’t-miss decision.
“Because, if you’re like me, the adjectives ‘talented’ and ‘chef’ are not in your repertoire of attributes,” said Grfiffin.
4) Have a signature cocktail, like the one Rod “RB” Brown of Sago at Sea Palms mixed for guests recently at this gorgeous lakeside home in Frederica that featured lime vodka, cranberry juice and mint leaves for garnish.
“It’s not an event without a signature cocktail,” said Griffin.
5) Set a memorable table, like the one around which members of the fundraising committee – Donna Davis, board chair, Courtney Prince, Kyajuana Gilbert, executive director, Molly Moroney Norett,– are gathered.
Griffin says the tablescape should make the guests’ mouths water as much as the meal.
6) Look cute and be comfy. Low country boils tend to be warm-weather soirees, so the objective is to be chic and comfy. Lightweight dresses for the ladies, and summer casual attire for men fit the bill.
“I’m partial to caftans from the Cloister Collection,” said Griffin.
7) Get zoned out. Scatter multiple seating areas throughout that are the perfect places for small groups of people to visit.
8) Set out thoughtful amenities, stylishly. Griffin suggests placing a small table in the vicinity of the dining table with thoughtful amenities, like lavishly rolled hand-towels, accented with sprigs of lavender, and hand sanitizer within easy reach of guests. And you can take it up several notches by branding them with your party logo, or having everything monogrammed, from wet wipes to paper goods.
9) A portable sound system, like this Sonos MOVE, from H&H Lifestyles.
“You need a great outdoor sound system that doesn’t require an I.T. department to install,” said Griffin.
10) A lavish, “loved-up” powder room stocked with essentials and decorative touches.
“It’s the one room in the house that 97 percent of your guests will see, so trick it out with every possible refreshing (your) day-in-the-sun look, and make it pretty.Great flowers, great scents, lovely styling, trés chic!“ –Elaine Griffin