Monday, May 26, 2008
Traveling to the South
I've logged many miles lately to New York, Austin, and North Carolina for jobs and friends. I've been able to taste a lot of good food, too. Anything I can't get fresh in Texas, I indulge on these trips. The most recent was to North Carolina, where I fell in love.
I was born on the beach and I've been attracted it since last year, when I first surfed. It's hypnotic, it's soothing. I can watch the waves, walk in the surf, and stand in the sun for hours. So when I got off the plane in Norfolk, I headed straight to Virginia Beach.
Of course I got lost, almost gave up, but the beach was calling me. Soon I found the boardwalk and a parking spot. I basked in the sun before my stomach grumble. It had been hours since breakfast and I went in search of seafood. What I found was Spicy Devil Crab aka spicy crab cakes. And the crab cakes were not all bread and little meat. They were in fact all meat. I dug in hungrily. They were flaky and not too spicy. I could have eaten a dozen.
After another walk of the beach, before I drove to Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Once again I got lost, unable to find the Hampton Inn. Fifteen minutes later, there I was inside my nice room with a very large bed. I quickly left to explore, finding the Main St and the few blocks of downtown. The city sat on the bay and boats docked at the harbor. I went for a quick run, trying not to get lost.
Soon my tummy grumbled again, and I went in search of bar-b-que. My compadre on the plain said that I might not like the bbq here because they use vinegar. I told him I was german and loved all things sour. So I found myself at the Bar-b-que Barn, looking at the menu confused. There was a bar-b-que sandwich, bar-b-que plate, ribs, hamburgers, etc-- no sausage, brisket, choice of ribs, chicken. I was definitely not in a Texas bar-b-que country. So I chose the sandwich, mashed potatoes, and green beans. I found my first reason to move to North Carolina, coleslaw on a sandwich, GENIUS!
The next night I was invited over to a local's house for a grill out. I gladly accepted. There was a several things to choose from. There was chicken, beans, corn, ribs, hamburgers, and hot dogs. Plus there was this famous bar-b-que sauce I had to try. One taste of the sauce on a chicken wing and I knew the cook had developed a great recipe. I soon started guessing ingredients only to find silence. I wasn't going to get the recipe, but I enjoyed it anyway.
On my last day, I hit the Outer Banks for some seafood and the beach. Upon arrival, I hit the visitor center to get tips on local restaurants, before making my way to the beach. It was soft-shell crab season, I was told. I kept that in mind and landed at one of the recommended spots, The Black Pelican. A place located close to the beach. I ordered She-Crab soup, which was delicious and creamy, and shrimp and grits. The grits had a kick from jalapeno, but were perfectly cooked and creamy. The shrimp was plump and soft. A southern classic made right.
I was sad to leave, but hope to be back soon.