Well, the kids schools have changed to a different schedule and they actually get two weeks off in the fall. That was good for us as it coincided with my wife's yearly trip to the Outer Banks with her wind surfing buddies and we went as a family. First food stop of the trip was a T/A truck stop in Ohio for some Popeye's chicken. It was, as always, pretty good. I'm a fan of their mashed potatoes and gravy, too. We stopped for the night in Charleston, WV, but didn't eat there as it was late. Next morning we made do with a stop at the Beckley, WV Tamarack Center for some Starbucks and pastries. Lunch was a stop at a Sonic in Virginia, where we ate light, (planning a dinner stop at Sam and Omie's in Nags Head). The jalapeno poppers and onion rings were, as usual, decent fair for the road. We did make one quick stop on our way to dinner. We popped into the Weeping Radish
in Grandy, NC. This is a place that was featured in an episode of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, so we figured on a stop to sample some of their libations, (my wife is a nationally ranked beer judge and home brewer, so you can guess what she was looking forward to). This place is really quaint and they have their own goats on the premises, which feature in some of their dishes. We got seated and ordered our drinks. A flight of their beer sampler for the wife and Root Beer for me and the kiddos. My wife declared the a couple of the beers to be OK, but a big part of the flight were beers that were heavily diacetyl and butterscotchy. That's not a good thing in beers.
The Root Beer wasn't horrible, but the brew master was seriously fond of licorice. I don't mind hints of licorice in a nice Root Beer, but this was upfront and in your face. More of a licorice soda, than a true Root Beer, maybe. We paid up and headed for our dinner destination.
Dinner was the highlight of the day, though. We made it in to Nags Head, NC in the evening and immediately made our way to Sam and Omie's for some of their delicious crab cakes. There was a short wait for a table, (as is not uncommon for dinner there), but we were seated shortly and got to place our orders. My wife and I already knew what we had planned. Crab cakes. First up for me, tho was a cup of She Crab soup. This was really good. Creamy and speckled throughout with crab. A very rich and thick soup. I'll be having it again.
The crab cakes at Sam and Omie's come in two varieties. Fried or grilled. There's no mix and match option with them, so we ordered one fried dinner and one grilled and then just switched one of each so we'd be able to see which we liked best. Man, talk about a hard choice. Both are scrumptious and flavour filled. Moist and full of crab. The grilled has a buttery flavour from the grilling and is just as moist as the fried, but I do like the crispy crust on the fried. I'm hard pressed to pick a favourite, but might just have to lean a small bit in the direction of the fried, due to the texture of the crust. Both are fantastic. The sides were good, too. We both had collards and mashed potatoes and both were outstanding examples of the sides. The corn bread was sweet corn bread and didn't exactly thrill me. I prefer a savoury, buttermilk corn bread. This meal was a solid winner, though.
After dinner we made our way to our destination, Avon, NC, down the island, and our groups rented houses.
The next night, after a day of heavy lounging and wind surfing, we made our way to Nino's pizza for dinner and one of the best pizzas in the OBX. Nino's makes a pie that's almost Neapolitan. They have a nice, crisp crust and a variety of toppings. Ours was spinach, ham, garlic and feta. A really great pizza and one of the best I've had in a long time. Sorry for the lack of pictures on the initial pie, there will be one later, tho. We went back!
Most meals, other than dinner, were catch as catch can and made at our house. We did make a nice big batch of Jamaican curry chicken that was popular with the eaters. First time I've made that one and I must say that I prefer Trinidadian chicken curry over the Jamaican. The curry powder profiles are vastly different and the Trinidad curry powder is a bigger hit with me.
Our next foray out for dinner was to Ketch 55 in Avon. It was originally called Mac Daddy's but it underwent a change of ownership in the last year or so. I think it shows in the new menu and the items. One of the main reasons we went was that my daughter had a hankering for some oysters on the half shell, as did I. It's nice having a 10 year old oyster companion. The oysters at Ketch 55 were OK. Not too large, but they tasted fresh and hit the spot for both of us. Sadly, I only have a picture of the aftermath.
My main course, and my sons, was the seafood combo plate of fried flounder, scallops, shrimp and potatoes with slaw. It was singularly unremarkable. I've had much better fried seafood at other local places and the chef could stand to put in some time working at one of them. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, either. And the slaw.....sigh.....slaw is always a hit or miss for me, it seems. This one was filled with thyme and not a tasty example of the genre at all. I had one taste and that was it.
The next night we all indulged in a shrimp feast of steamed shrimp, (various varieties from plain to spicy) from Risky Business Seafood
, in Avon. This was a great choice for us. The spicy shrimp, coated and soaked in seasoning was fantastic and a highlight of the trip. I've had crab from Risky Business int he past, but the shrimp was top notch! Worth the trip to get, no matter where you are on the island.
Last night in Avon was taken up with readying for departure. Getting surfing gear and stuff together so dinner out was pretty much out of the question. What to do? Call Nino's for an extra large pie and some Cheerwine! As usual, it was great. Just....bigger than usual. A knife and fork or fold slice.
That's it for Avon. Only one stop left. Breakfast on the way out was at Stack'em High
in Kill Devil Hills, NC. A group tradition and not a bad one, either. My wife ordered her usual waffle with eggs and the kids and I all had a short stack with eggs and bacon. The pancakes were OK. Vanilla is a predominant flavour in these and they're not too dense. Sadly, the line cooks at Stack'em High suffer from the same problem I run into almost everywhere. They don't know how to make a egg to over medium. They're seemingly always overdone. *Sigh*. The bacon and coffee were good, tho. (If you stop in make sure to get a carton of milk if you take milk in your coffee. For some reason they only offer non dairy creamer). Stack'em High is a good place to start the day early. There are two of them and they're each owned by different people. We went to Stack'em High #1. Haven't ever been to the other place, so I can't say if their quality is the same.
We made the run for home in one long trip. NC to Indiana in one day. I'm already looking forward to next years trip.