Taste of the Beach: Foodie Nirvana

By Michael Lay | Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Outer Banks Taste of the Beach

By the time you read this post less than 24 hours will separate Outer Bankers and thousands of visitors from the first of four consecutive days of epicurean bliss known as Taste of the Beach.

From modest beginnings only a few years ago, Taste of the Beach has evolved into what Coastal Living Magazine calls "one of the Top 10 Seafood & Wine Festivals" in the nation. In fact, the schedule of events is truly awe-inspiring in its scale. It's difficult to imagine a community 10 times the size of the Outer Banks mustering up a comparable event from either a qualitative or quantitative standpoint. Dozens of restaurants from Corolla and Duck to Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Manteo will present cook-off competitions, tastings, a BBQ showdown, tapas crawls, cooking and beverage classes, intimate dinners, wine & beer pairing meals, oyster roasts, St. Patrick's Day-themed brunches and parties, and much, much more.

By the time the Taste of the Beach Kick-off Party officially opens the festival at the Outer Banks Brewing Station on Thursday at 5 p.m., Taste of the Beach early birds will have been treating their taste buds for hours. Some will begin by fueling up with a hearty "Eat Outta The Pan Breakfast" at The Good Life Eatery in Kitty Hawk (beginning all four days at 8 a.m.), while others will gear up for the day's activities at The Front Porch Café (Nags Head location) by discovering some of the best coffees from Hawaii, Central and South America in the "Coffee Cupping Workshop" at 10 a.m. Thursday.

By lunchtime festival-goers can participate in the "Creative Local Atlantic Seafood Specialties Cooking Class" under the direction of Chef John Romm of the Beachside Bistro at the Sea Ranch Resort in Kill Devil Hills. Others may prefer to visit Bad Bean Baja Grill in Kill Devil Hills for their "Ceviche & Tequila Tasting," which features fresh seafood cooked by the acidity of flavorful citrus fruits paired with top-shelf tequilas.

In the early afternoon, gather in Duck for the "Outer Banks Restaurant Tour," a chauffeured series of tastings, kitchen tours and meet-and-greets with owners and chefs at Tommy's Market and Aqua Restaurant in Duck, Coastal Provisions Market in Southern Shores and Ocean Boulevard in Kitty Hawk.

By mid-afternoon you'll be forgiven for feeling a bit parched. Join brewer Paul Charron of the Full Moon Café & Brewery in Manteo for "Beer Flight School" as he pilots you through brewing history and explains how "Beer Saved The World," all washed down, of course, with tastings of brewed-on-the premises ales from the coolest, smallest nano-brewery on the East Coast.

By early evening, be ready to belly up for "Oysters at The Creek" at Sugar Creek Seafood Restaurant in Nags Head or feast at "Basnight's Shrimp Extravaganza" at Basnight's Lone Cedar Café on the Nags Head/Manteo Causeway. Or stop at Trio's in Kitty Hawk around dinnertime for "Classic Pairings...Wine & Cheese Matches Made in Heaven." The list of options is dizzying.

The aforementioned Kick-off Party is a Do-Not-Miss event! Buy raffle tickets at the door, drinks at the bar, purchase tickets to any remaining open events on your list and then put your wallet away. Get the inside scoop on upcoming events, enjoy scrumptious light appetizers provided by Outer Banks Brewing Station and boogie to the classic rock and Americana sounds of Whiskey Creek...for FREE! No pre-registration is required, but attendees must be 21 or older.

All the above is only a small sampling of the first day's events. Amazingly, it goes on like this from 8 a.m. to midnight for the next three days, culminating in Sunday evening's much-anticipated Grand Tasting at Pamlico Jack's Pirate Hideaway in Nags Head! One blog simply cannot do the event justice. Please visit the Taste of the Beach website for complete descriptions of the more than 70 individual events, including ticket availability, prices and a downloadable PDF of the complete event program.

Please note that a number of events appear in the schedule more than once over the course of the festival, offering opportunities to attend alternate sessions of booked events or address potential scheduling conflicts.

Other Outer Banks Happenings

Join Outer Banks This Week in wishing a happy first birthday to Duck's Cottage Downtown Books in Manteo! March 15 will mark the one year celebration of the opening of Downtown Books after Outer Banks literary institution Manteo Booksellers was laid low by flooding from Hurricane Irene. From March 14 through March 16 customers will receive 20% off any book in stock with the word "one" or the number "1" in the title! Spend $35 and receive a free Downtown Books coffee mug in appreciation of your support of a local independent bookstore.

It's a safe bet that many of the food lovers attending Taste of the Beach are also music lovers. If that describes you, then consider the latest offering in the Whalehead's 2013 Piano Concert Series in Corolla. On Sunday, March 17 at 1:30 p.m. Dr. Roosevelt Newson, Dean of Music at Elizabeth City State University, takes his place at the Steinway with a specially designed musical program. Admission is $20.

In the midst of all the Taste of the Beach festivities and food, leave a spot in your schedule for the 22nd Annual Kelly's St. Patrick's Day Parade taking place Sunday, March 17 at 1 p.m. rain or shine. This year, the 1-mile parade returns to the "old" route, beginning on the Beach Road at Bladen Street (milepost 11.5) and ending at Driftwood (milepost 10.5). After the parade mosey on over to the post-parade party at Kelly's followed by a traditional Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage complete with trimmings and beverages.

Do you have unused or out-of-date medications in your medicine cabinet? Don't wash them down the sink or toss them in the trash where they can work their way into the environment. Safely and conveniently dispose of unused or unneeded prescription or over-the-counter medications at the Medicine Drop Drive Thru held Monday, March 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head. The Town of Nags Head's Mobile Command Trailer will be on site and Dare County Sheriff's Office will collect medications for proper disposal.

Climate Refugees, a film showing Tuesday, March 19 at 7 p.m. at Kelly's Restaurant and Tavern in Nags Head, examines the potential impacts of over-population and climate change on civilization. Climate refugees are people who have been displaced by climatically induced environmental disasters such as droughts, desertification, sea level rise and more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, cyclones, fires, mass flooding and tornadoes. Such disasters have the potential to initiate mass migrations and border conflicts, and it is worth noting that the Pentagon now considers climate change a national security risk. The screening is sponsored by the Outer Banks Peace and Justice Interfaith Coalition.

The Dare County Arts Council's series of free Art Talks continues Wednesday, March 20 at 6 p.m. when artist Mary Ann Remer, whose printmaking work is currently featured in the main gallery, discusses media and techniques while providing insight into her creative process and sources of inspiration. Remer is also an accomplished calligrapher and works in watercolor, acrylic, collage and mixed media in addition to printmaking.

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway

This week you have a chance to win a $35 gift certificate to Agave Roja and a $35 gift certificate to BARR-EE Station!

For more information about Agave Roja, check out their website.

BARR-EE Station

For more information about BARR-EE Station, check out their website.

Last Week's Winner

Congratulations to Anna Leibolt!!!

You won a $50 gift certificate to ARTspace and a $35 gift certificate to Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe!

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway Winner

For more information about ARTspace, check out their website.

For more information about Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe, check out their website.

About the Author Michael Lay
Michael Lay is a local graphic designer, artist, photographer and writer. He lives in picturesque downtown Manteo, NC, and is the manservant of two beautiful and willful feline princesses, Sophie and Sassy. You can contact Michael at mike.lay@oneboat.com.