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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is it about Seafood or Barbecue?

When renting a vacation house for the week, part of the attraction is to have our own kitchen and offset food costs by preparing some meals at home (mostly breakfast and lunch as well as heavy snacking).  Vacation spent in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina means of course a few trips to the beach.  The beach inherently means seafood. Doesn't it?  Well, no. My mother does NOT eat anything that was raised in water. Ever. Also, we are in the culinary south, aren't we?  Regardless, someone spotted Pigman's Bar-B-Que and it was put on our to-do list.

I thought it had a fairly good chance of pleasing everyone in the group.  As you may have noticed on the first night, pulled pork was ordered by 1/3 of us.  We then had dinner in one night and were ready to try Pigman's.

The atmosphere was a bit more chaotic, and the dining was far more casual.  Orders are placed at the cash register, the meal is paid for and then a server brings trays to the table.  We had a bit of confusion - one order was forgotten and one wasn't sure they received the right order.  However, this is what it looked like:

Beef with hush puppies, sweet potato fries and cole slaw.

A trio of sides

The ribs!

I had the beef which was soft and tender as well as flavorful.  The smoke was in the background rather than the first recognizable flavor which is exactly how I prefer it. The sweet potato fries were crisp and the cole slaw was flawlessly prepared. I sampled a bit of the ribs and the meat easily yielded and could be pulled or broken apart with fingers or fork.  Although this experience was not entirely crowd pleasing, the majority enjoyed themselves.

A quick tour through the crowded retail area also resulted in our purchase of 2 souvenir t-shirts.  One with a nod to Mr. Marley included an illustration of a pig's face with the caption, "We be hammin..."  Fun.  Vacation.  Fed Well.

Pigman's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Outerbanks, North Carolina - Dinner in Nags Head

Hours and hours of driving, two of it stuck in traffic, a quick stop at the realtor's office to pick up the keys to the rental house, throw the bags in our bedrooms and we are ready for dinner.  Our vacation home is off the main road and we talk it over for a few minutes. Each of us noticed a few different restaurants in the area and when the Mr. gave the name, "Firefly," I just thought it sounded promising.

We thought about simply driving until we found something that looked good.  I know, we shouldn't judge a book by the cover and we shouldn't judge a restaurant by it's facade, but we hadn't had a chance to look through our tourist guides or get a feel for the area and so we hoped the Firefly would provide us with a great first night memory.

Looking for the restaurant also gave us our first lesson in paying attention to the mile post markers.  It is those posts which allow the tourists to determine how much further they have to drive and find their destination.

My older son's girlfriend called to make a reservation since we are a group of 6 and it is a Saturday night after all, and when she was told they do not accept reservations I was hesitant.  After spending most of the day in the car I could hardly stand the idea of spending time waiting for a table in a crowded restaurant with crying and frustrated children or arguing adults.  When we pulled in to the parking lot and I saw the over sized Adirondack chair for photo-ops, I was sold.  Nothing to do with food, but I just wanted it to work out.

After a few minutes of posing and photographing, the group walked in and were immediately seated.  The dinner crowd had not yet formed and I ordered a margarita on the rocks with a huge smile! A few orders for iced tea were placed.

Once we ordered, our lovely server brought us this:

A large, salty and crispy dish of "cracklins."  Well, it was received with mixed reviews, but I think we all appreciated the thoughtfulness of the gesture and the ability to have a new culinary experience right away.

I was the only one to order a first course and it was the most luxurious and silky cup of soup.  Shrimp and corn chowder I will not soon forget.  It was sweet with just the right amount of texture to puree blend.  The temperature of the soup was comfortably hot and I could feel the road weariness begin to slip away and my shoulders fell down from my ears.

I continued my new and flavorful journey by ordering the lobster macaroni and cheese for my main course. Main dishes are customizable with a list of side dishes so I try the spicy deep fried green beans with a remoulade dipping sauce.

The crumble on the casserole, I believe were smashed crackers, but the entire dish was warm in seasonings and quite a few steps away from those "back home."

Here's a glance at the other options at the table:

Pulled Pork with Waffle Fries - 2 were ordered in the group

Prime Rib Sandwich with Waffle Fries

Firefly Signature Chopped Summer Salad

Steak with cole slaw and potatoes

The tired travelers thoroughly enjoyed their meals.  We left full and happy, ready to unpack (well, maybe it can wait until morning) and talked about our plans for the following day.  The one thing we agreed to do was go to the beach and so our vacation truly began at the Firefly and we were Fed Well.

Link to Firefly

Firefly Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 26, 2013

Perkins in Virginia - On the Way to an Outerbanks Vacation

Vacation.  For us in 2013 the definition involved 6 adults, one 6 year old yellow lab female, one pick up truck, one car and many hours on the road.  We began on a Friday afternoon and stayed overnight in Virginia on our way to North Carolina.  The theory was that half the miles or more would be behind us so on Saturday we would be able to kick off our week with some immediate beach time.

We found a motel that accepted our canine family member, Maddy, had a reasonable rate and was modern and mostly clean.  (It was a motel after all - nothing is perfect)  We started our day with a meal in the motel's Perkins.  Maddy was able to rest comfortably in our room since we planned to check out after breakfast. Here are our orders.

A country omelet 

French Toast with bacon

Poached eggs with potatoes

The photos above and below were part of one meal.  A pepper and onion omelet with pancakes.

 Two eggs over easy with pigs in a blanket and hash browns.

Steak and eggs

Classic choices, right?  Everyone was happy and filled with anticipation.  What activities will we be able to accomplish?  We talked about what we hoped to see and do;  para-sailing, tea with the queen at an Elizabethan Garden, and of course simply planting ourselves at the beach.  I hoped the rental house was as good as it looked online and said a silent prayer to the vacation God(s) to allow everything to go smoothly and for everyone to have a good time.  Future posts will reveal how it all played out.

On a Saturday morning in July, one group of vacationers was happy to start their vacation feeling Fed Well.