Sitting in a comfortable corner booth at Thyme & Tide Café, I couldn’t help but smile at the giggles coming from the tiny kitchen where Kareen Spruill and her granddaughter, Jackie Vesley, prepared one of their special Café Samplers for me. It’s just what I was craving: a platter of fresh fruit, grilled pita bread, sliced cheeses, pimento cheese, and shrimp salad, although you could also choose tuna or chicken salad if you prefer.
This is the way I always imagine eating in the summer, light and fresh bits of things here and there, best enjoyed at sunset with a glass of wine. The Café Sampler plate and The Sanctuary Sampler plate (overflowing with gourmet cheeses, shaved prosciutto and salami, olives and other savory, grabable things) are made for doing just that – eating seated among the tall pine trees on the grounds of The Cotton Gin and Sanctuary Vineyards, maybe sipping wine and swaying along to live music during their Acoustic Sunset events on Thursday evenings.
Kill Devil Hills, our little town, home to great people, pretty beaches, and the best pizza in the state of North Carolina! TripAdvisor has compiled a list of the top pizza spots in every state based on user reviews and Slice Pizzeria in Kill Devil Hills won the honor for North Carolina!
What do we talk about when we leave reviews on a site like TripAdvisor? The food, of course. The atmosphere, maybe. How we were treated, for sure. The hard-working staff and owners of Slice have had us covered since 2008. The pizza dough and sauce are made from scratch, topped with the highest quality Grande cheese, the freshest ingredients, and baked in stone ovens. The space inside their building at the corner of Baum Street and 158 is clean and welcoming and the staff is friendly, fast, and efficient. The online reviews reflect all of this but there’s even more to Slice Pizzeria than the reviews describe. Owners Rick Amodei, Jeremiah Stewart, and Elizabeth Cubler give back. They are proud supporters of our local schools and athletics, the Wounded Warrior Project, the Beach Food Pantry, and the SPCA. Slice Pizzeria is a charitably spirited part of our community and a warm and inviting place to get a great meal.
It’s June! The sun is shining and the water is warm, it’s prime time to enjoy OBX life to the fullest. Blow a kiss goodbye to your hot kitchen, get out of the house, and have a good meal somewhere. At the top of my list this week is Two Roads Tavern, located between the highways in Kill Devil Hills.
Their menu has my heart for many reasons, most of all because of their Carolina Pickle Brine Sandwich – a fried chicken breast that’s been soaked in pickle brine and hot sauce for a good long time, long enough to let that salty, sour, spicy juice soak in and render the chicken completely plump and tender. The flour the chicken is coated in is the trick, according to Kyle Forbes, the owner of Two Roads. A chef buddy of his developed it a few years ago. It’s not just flour and it’s definitely not breadcrumbs or cornmeal; there’s a sugary, sweet, unknown component that makes it the very best.
38 years ago, Christina Brodeur and Bob Eckard’s family purchased Carawan Seafood Company from the original owners, the Carawan family. Knowing nothing about the seafood business, Christina and Bob’s mother, and eventually the rest of the family, set about operating what is now a landmark of our OBX community. Carawan’s is like a friendly next-door neighbor: always there with a smile and some yummy stuff to share. Picking up fresh catches from the docks in Wanchese every other day (sometimes daily in the summer), Carawan’s feeds our seafood cravings year-round. The rough but charming building, riddled with character, is most folk’s first stop when they land on this side of the bridge and many pass through on their way out, too, happy to bring a bit of the beach back home with them.
What is Carawan Seafood offering? Today, cobia, Spanish mackerel, tilefish, and softshell crabs are in season so that’s what they’ve got, among a few other local options as well as cod and salmon that are shipped in to meet our needs. You’ll also find fresh, local, often organic produce, and lots of little North Carolina odds and ends to help you complete your experience: grits, spices, sauces, and wine and beer courtesy of Sanctuary Vineyards, Weeping Radish, and Foothills Brewery.
Don’t be jealous, but we have one of the best little farm stands here on the OBX. I know you think yours is good too, and it’s true – anyone selling fresh produce straight or straight-ish from the farm is good stuff. But ours is a little blue shack called Tarheel Too Produce, run by the nicest guy named Ed, and I think I got all my veggies for this frittata for like 75 cents. Not really, but his prices are great and the quality is the best. My favorite is when the veggies are small, because I think they’re more flavorful that way, and still covered in dirt. Like, yes, I am eating from the earth, thank you very much.
We’re doing everything right today with this recipe: Coconut Fried Rice Balls with Spicy Peach Dipping Sauce. Joey and I enjoyed these two nights in a row this week because we have no limits on crunchy fried starchy things with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. Yeah, that sauce… today is its first appearance on the blog but it won’t be its last; it’s definitely going to pair up with some fish and/or chicken soon. It’s two fresh peaches, 1/2 a jalapeno, and a little coconut cream, in a blender. Coconut cream is kind of a specialty ingredient, I know, but the good news is, it’s also an ingredient in pina coladas, which pair amazingly well with these Coconut Fried Rice Balls. Sooooo… you’re welcome?
Cruising into this summery weekend and feeling really good with this Mint Thai Basil Gelato by my side. Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer on the OBX and I am reeeaadddyyy to partyyyy! And by party, I mean work and probably hang out with myself on Memorial Day because Joey is on call for work. But whatever, more gelato for meeee!
Hello, May! You are here, and the OBX is gettin’ busy. The shop is busy, you guys are busy, we’re all busy. Thank goodness for this easy peasy lemon squeezy recipe for Beans and Greens with Sausage, loaded onto some crusty, olive-oiled bread. It’s good for you (hello beany fiber and greeny vitamin K and iron), it’s simple (hi, one pot), and completely delicious (talkin’ about you, spice and garlic). Let me not forget to mention you can eat it with your hands, unless you don’t enjoy using a big hunk of toasted bread as a utensil, in which case… you’re missing out on an important part of life. I mean… ⤵⤵⤵ … yum.
Well, these little superstars were a big surprise. They were voted Fan Favorite by everyone I know. OK, nobody actually voted or called them that, they just said they were really good. Like, reeeaaalllyy gooooood. Bonus: Because I made a batch for some of Joey’s beer-drinking friends, we also learned they pair incredibly well with beer. I kinda want to change the title of the recipe to Beer Pairing Cookies. Yes?
Speaking of the title, I do want to point out there is no peanut butter, in its true form, in these Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies. The peanut butter is inside the peanut butter pretzels – you know, PeanutButterPretzels? The kind with big salt crystals that come in the big jugs.
Let’s chat for a bit about great food, created with a little bit of heart and soul in downtown Manteo. Maria and Thomas Williamson, the husband and wife owners of Avenue Grille, stay true to who they are by featuring coastal southern cuisine reminiscent of Thomas’s grandma’s cooking combined with clean, real food that, in some cases, also happens to be gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian. Their menu has something for everyone and is a reflection of how they love to cook and eat at home. But there’s another element of great importance to how Avenue Grille operates: community. Maria and Thomas wholeheartedly support their town and their restaurant has become a gathering place for locals, as well as hungry visitors. We are not just customers in this place, we are friends, here to enjoy fantastic food and breathtaking views.