I planned one true vacation this year, and that was to join 4 of my best friends and their families at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. If you’ve never been to the Outer Banks (or OBX for short), you’re really missing out: pristine beaches with water that’s warm, but not too warm and waves that are big, but not too big. We paid in advance for a luxurious, semi-oceanfront house with an elevator (!) and a home theater. So what happens on the eve of my one, true vacation?
A humongous hurricane named Irene happened, that’s what, and headed straight for landfall at Cape Lookout, the southernmost point of OBX. I know, I know, this is one of those first world problems, but it was hard not to be bummed out about it. We tried to stay chipper by enjoying quality time with my sister and her family, playing games, watching Netflix, and working out with P90X.
After the storm passed the metro DC area with almost no power outages and barely any rain (so much for all of the media hype), we had to wait and see if our little area of OBX was affected. Luckily, my friend AC’s family, who own two condos in Ocean City, MD, graciously offered the condos to us until we got the “all clear” from our OBX rental company. Normally, Ocean City is super crowded with a, uh…let’s just say, “Jersey Shore”-lite vibe. But thanks to Hurricane Irene, the beaches were serene and quite pleasant.
On RC’s recommendation, we got hoagies from Primo. This place is the real deal. They have, like, a hundred different sandwiches and the”whole” size hoagie is 2 feet long. I got the (small) Napolitano hoagie, which was the first time I had ever had sopressata, a salami-like cured meat. It also contained prosciutto and sharp provolone, topped with lettuce, thinly sliced onions, lettuce, oil, salt, and pepper. Definitely one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. TC ordered a Turkey Schwartzie, which came with turkey breast, Swiss cheese, cole slaw, and Russian dressing. Apparently, cole slaw and turkey is a winning combo — who knew?! Also, the Pal Joey, with your choice of hot or sweet sopressata and fresh mozzarella, was a crowd favorite.
Next on my path of culinary education was Dogfish Head Brewery. I hadn’t realized that Dogfish Head beer was brewed in Delaware, and we were only 10 miles from the Maryland-Delaware border. (Actually the brewery is in Milton, DE but we ate at the restaurant in Rehoboth Beach.) Both the service and the food here were very uneven. On one hand, the hostess was awesome and went out of her way so that we could all sit together. On the other, our server was inattentive and didn’t think to bring the kids’ meals out first, even though we had requested it. For the food, the buffalo wings, crab cake sandwich, and fish tacos were great, but the calamari, chowder, rockfish, and brownies (served with the kids’ meal) were subpar to gross. (Which brings me to a point: how in the world do you screw up brownies?!) The thing about eating at a brew pub, though, is that if you get a little tipsy from the beer, you don’t care as much about the food or the service… and that’s definitely how I felt by the end of dinner. We had tried several beers, including the 90-minute IPA and the Raison d’être. I’m not sure which one I liked better, but I was pretty happy with both. (Apologies for the poor quality of the photos below — something about taking my big ol’ camera out to dinner while I was on a beach vacation just didn’t appeal to me, so these were taken with my iPhone, with flashlight courtesy of AC.)
Luckily, our rental had been spared, so we were able to salvage part of our OBX vacation. All was not lost; hooray! What better way to celebrate than with some North Carolina BBQ?! For dinner one night, we ordered take-out from Corolla Village BBQ, featuring NC pulled pork, pork ribs, cole slaw, potato salad, beans, and cornbread. The meats were good but the sides were awesome.
Originally, we were all going to take turns cooking, but since our vacation was abbreviated, we only managed one home cooked meal. AC, LS, and DS did most of the work, making us a magnificent dinner of linguine with roasted cherry tomatoes, breaded chicken cutlets, and salad. I supervised TT as she made the parmesan garlic bread to ensure that each piece had the proper amount of olive oil and garlic. It’s very important, you know!
Before we left OBX, TC and I had lunch at Awful Arthur’s. Maybe I had overinflated expectations, but I thought the food was good but not great. I got the oyster sandwich, while TC had the shrimp sandwich. We shared an order of the hush puppies, which were disappointingly dry. On the other hand, the sweet tea, another thing I miss about the South, was just right.
All in all, a great beach vacation despite the drama with Hurricane Irene. It was a nice, relaxing time with old friends, which I will always remember fondly.