Macaroni & Cheese on the Outer Banks

trio outer banksIt’s winter on the Outer Banks, and although our weather is relatively mild, we still experience winds off the ocean from the north, daytime high temperatures struggling to reach 50 and nighttime lows approaching freezing. There’s something about this chillier weather that calls out for food that is warm, filling and familiar. That’s certainly the definition of comfort food—a dish that brings back enjoyable memories of childhood and home cooking.

If there is one universal comfort food, it has to be macaroni and cheese. From its Northern European origin to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, this is one food that most everyone agrees is perfect for both kids and those who are young at heart.

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Coastal Provisions

Outer Banks Oyster BarIn 2006 when owners Dan Lewis and Scott Foster opened Coastal Provisions located in Southern Shores Crossing the concept was fairly straightforward. “Originally it was going to be a specialty food market that would bring great food to the beach,” Dan says. “Not only gourmet ingredients, but also take out and catering provisioning people with great tastes.”

But the vision changed along the way as it became clear that although the market concept was good, more was needed. Dan and Scott, both classically trained chefs, found there was an increasing demand to combine their delectable food creations paired with a glass of fine wine or microbrew, with a relaxed sit down dining experience.

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The Cotton Gin

Cotton Gin Currituck ShopJust about everyone who has driven to the Outer Banks from the north knows about the Cottin Gin in Jarvisburg, or has at least passed by and noticed it.

It is to many vacationers an iconic welcome to the Outer Banks. Surrounded by grape vines-it’s home to Sanctuary Vineyards; the store is like no other retail environment we have ever seen.

Spanning across multiple floors and several loft areas, it can only be described as an eclectic blend of just about everything. There is women’s clothing and accessories, collectibles, men’s clothing, candles, food items, a small book collection of local titles, linens, a Christmas shop, garden décor and several other departments.

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The Outer Banks Top U.S. Destination Wedding Venue

OBX Destination WeddingThe Outer Banks is one of the fastest growing wedding destinations in the country. It’s true that many other locations offer beautiful settings, so what are the reasons for the ever-growing popularity of the Outer Banks for destination weddings, family reunions and corporate events?

Our award-winning beaches and immense variety of waterfront settings and event homes certainly contribute to our growing popularity. But most importantly, as a community, we have chosen to make events, weddings and reunions an essential part of what we do well. As a result, there is a wide selection of professionals ready to assist—wedding and event planners, caterers, photographers and musicians to name just a few. Many of the people who work in event planning are members of the Outer Banks Wedding Association, the organization that presents the annual Wedding Expo.

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Thai Room – Celebrates 30 Years

Outer Banks Thai Room FoodIf there is a mainstay of the Outer Banks dining scene it may well be Thai Room, located at milepost 8.5 on the beach road in Kill Devil Hills. Talk to most anyone who’s an Outer Banks resident or repeat visitor to our area, and they’ll rave about the Pad Thai noodles or the chicken with basil, which is a rather bland name for a spectacular dish.

The remarkable thing is that it’s been 30 years since Jimmy Ngeonjuklin and his brother Ta opened their doors, and much has happened in that timeframe. For example, the Outer Banks population has nearly doubled and much changed at Thai Room too. Jimmy married Thom, who still works in the restaurant today, and they raised a family. His brother Ta is no longer with us and is greatly missed. It was Ta who was the original chef, a job now held by Jimmy who is still there turning out classic Thai food.

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Hatteras Island-Style Clam Chowder

Hatteras Island Clam ChowderHere on the Outer Banks we make a unique version of clam chowder. Hatteras Chowder is a simple broth based chowder that is perfect for a cold winter evening when coastal winds are whipping past our windows and the ocean pounds our shoreline.

Its origins are lost in the sands of time, but it has been a part of the Outer Banks diet for over 200 years. There are tales of family recipes being handed down from generation to generation dating back to the early 19th century.

The basic ingredients for this recipe consist of clams, bacon, onion and potatoes. The reason is simple. Everyone had onions and potatoes in dry storage and most had pork salt meat available. And, given our location, anybody could get out and get the clams!

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The Children and Youth Partnership for Dare County (C&YP)

Dare Co Children and Youth PartnershipOne Outer Banks feature that makes it such a special place to live is how committed the community is to our children. Of course, many towns and municipalities may say the same thing, but here on the Outer Banks there is real evidence that this is the case.

The Children and Youth Partnership for Dare County (C&YP) is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The story of how the organization came into existence is a great example of what it means to be committed to the children of a community.

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Dare County Arts Council

Dare County Arts CouncilThe weekend after Veteran’s Day—that’s November 14-16 this year—the Dare County Arts Council (DCAC) will be hosting their 2nd Annual Veteran’s Weekend. It includes great music from Nu Blu on Friday evening at The Lost Colony’s Soundstage Theater, but the highlight of the weekend is the Veterans Writing Project presented by Ron Capps, a combat vet who is also a professional writer.

The DCAC, working with a number of sponsors, especially the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, pays for 25 veterans to work with Ron on Saturday and Sunday, showcasing just one example of how the Arts Council is an integral part of the Outer Banks.

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Annual Outer Banks Marathon

OBX Marathon WinnerThe 9th Annual Outer Banks Marathon will be run over Veteran’s Day Weekend which is when it’s held every year. It’s a huge event with approximately 6,500 participants lasting over the course of this weekend.

One of the best features of this event is how inclusive it is for a variety of people. There’s something for everyone over the weekend, fun runs, a 5k and 10K and a half marathon, making this a real family event. With the history of the event, a fundraiser for the Dare Education Foundation (DEF), it makes perfect sense that this event should be family-friendly.

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Sanctuary Vineyards

Outer Banks VineyardsHere we are in October, and out at Sanctuary Vineyards they’re just finishing the harvest.  Vineyard Manager, John Wright, says it’s been a good year for growing wine grapes, citing two Bordeaux varietals that he thought did particularly well.  “The Petite Verdot and Cab Franc looked really good this year,” he commented.

The vineyard is about 11 miles north of the Wright Memorial Bridge at the Cotton Gin.  The land is owned by the Wright family, who own the store and have also been farming the land for well over 150 years.  The first wine grapes were planted 12 years ago, and the vineyard has grown from a two-acre block to almost 11 acres.

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