Monday, March 19, 2012

The 2012 Outer Banks Taste Of The Beach Grand Finale.

The Outer Banks Taste of the Beach concluded last night with the grand finale event at Pamlico Jack's Pirate Hideaway. From OBX Taste of the Beach website:
SOLD OUT! The Taste of the Beach 2012 Grand Tasting
Sunday, March 18 $60 per person
TIME: First Session 4:30pm-6:30pm
Second Session 7:00pm-9:00pm
The TOB Grand Tasting, the grand finale event, on Sunday, March 18th is always the hottest ticket in town with over 20 area restaurants along with the best beverage vendors to give you an experience of a lifetime. Taste your way through The Outer Banks in one location! It's how this event began over 25 years ago and it is still the event people rave about.
This year we have split this event into two sessions to provide a more relaxed and enjoyable setting for you. First session begins at 4:30 until 6:30, then we take a break, clear out a bit, and open up to second session ticket holders at 7:00 to 9:00. When you purchase your tickets be sure it is for the session you desire as you will not be admitted if you hold tickets to the other session.
Along with your favorite restaurants there will be beer and wine booths! Your ticket price includes beer and wine but there is also a cash bar available if you prefer something else.
Restaurants will be competing for the 3rd Annual TOB'y Awards; Best Booth Presentation, Best In Show, Best Outer Banks Catch, and the two top awards, the Chefs Award and People's Choice Award. These awards will be announced at second session, but both session attendees will have the opportunity to cast their votes.
Tickets are limited and specific to sessions! Please order carefully. This is an adults only event 21+. Please no children or strollers.
Pamlico Jack's Pirate Hideaway
6803 S. Croatan Hwy., Nags Head, NC 27959
Call 252-480-3337 for information. Limited to 250 people per session.
To order tickets
SOLD OUT!! Both sessions.
We are sorry but there can be no more tickets added. We have reached max capacity. Please do not call.
Your faithful Rosie and a saaaaaad Mr. Hawthorne, were in attendance. In past years, the event has been held from ... 5/6 PM - 9/10 PM ? And it's always been a horrid crush of 500 people. Personally, I think more. That's in addition to the volunteers that seamlessly work the place and all the vendors. This year, they changed the "Grande Finale." They turned it into two sessions. The first session was from 4:30 to 6:30. 250 tickets. The second session was from 7 to 9. 250 tickets. Wanna guess which session the Hawthornes went to? If you guessed the Early Bird Special, you would be correct. Our tickets were $60.00. Each. Ouch.
The Hawthornes arrived a little after 4:30.
The line moved quickly.

Arrr matey!
We were greeted by pirates.

Rosie has always had a problem juggling everything at the Taste of the Beach. This year was much better. I'm wearing my Ducks Unlimited vest which has four velcro pockets. I am organized. I have my notebook in one pocket with pens. I have my cell phone in another pocket. Not that I would use it. I have an extra camera - my Nikon Coolpix - in another pocket. And I have battery packs and a flask in yet another pocket. No no no. I didn't have a flask, but it's a damn good idea. I'll make a note to carry one next time. (They're stingy at the wine bar.) OK. Let's go to Taste of the Beach. There are three different rooms, two downstairs and one upstairs. I'm hitting each one counterclockwise.

Pigman's Bar B Que.
 Serving redneck eggrolls with BBQ.
 Not bad.
 But I don't want BBQ.
 I want seafood.

Sugar Creek Seafood Restaurant.
They were serving a crab dip with lots of crab.
And they were serving crab niblets with
 cheese, pretzels, and sriracha aioli.
 Too much filler.

Sweet potato parfait with creme brulee, raisins, and candied pecans.
 Looked good, but I didn't try it.
 I'm not into sweets.
 Too soon for a dessert.

I did try the oysters with lemon saffron jelly,
 vodka, cilantro, and shallots.
 Didn't really taste the saffron or the vodka,
but these were good.
They also served a ceviche of bay scallops with Peruvian corn,
 which I wouldn't have identified,
 and micro greens.
 Not a fan.

Next up is Black Pelican Restaurant.

This is a blood orange fresca
 which I didn't try. Mr. Hawthorne did.
 He wasn't expecting alcohol and said this packed a punch.

Hawaiian pink sea salt and grilled shrimp over
 watercress radish relish and prickly pear cactus.
 Didn't care for the shrimp.
 First I thought they might be undercooked,
 but then decided it might be farm raised shrimp
 which I don't like.
 It had a funky texture.
The sign said grilled shrimp.
These shrimp were not grilled.

Cinnabon cheesecake.
 Didn't try.
 I'm not a "sweet" person.

Next up is Lucky 12 Tavern.

Mark is serving shrimp, tasso, crawfish,
 roasted red peppers, and green onions
 in a shrimp stock with jalapeno cornbread.
 A spicy concoction with juicy, properly cooked shrimp.
 First room is complete.
Moving on to the second room downstairs.

First stop was The Pit. Boardriders Grill.
 They were serving pulled chicken
 with a chili sauce and a pineapple mango sauce.
 Didn't try it.
 Didn't want chicken.

Next is Peppercorns Restaurant.

 They served a shrimp and grits cake with some sort of sauce,
 the recipe for which I was told was a "guarded secret."
 I have no problem with that.
 Guard away.

Oh, noooooooo!!!!
 I waited until they came back with another tray of these.

Yay! I got one.
 Truth be said, this was the best item I tasted.
Oysters with andouille sausage and Gouda cheese.

The Great American Grill at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Seafood casserole with rock fish, shrimp, and crab.
 This was a mess.
Also served was an avocado mousse with
citrus chipotle shrimp with crunchy tortilla chips on it.

I ate one and didn't want another.


On the left is sweet and smoky shrimp with crab dip in a filo cup.
 On the right is pulled pork with coleslaw.
 I liked the shrimp.
 Didn't try the pork.

The Good Life Gourmet.
Good Life was serving a corn muffin
with an ear of corn and two pitiful shrimp on a plate of ???
 I had to ask what the sauce was.
 It was a crab dip.
 I shouldn't have to ask.
 I should be able to tell.

Bad Bean Baja Grill.

Bad bean was serving a bay scallop ceviche
 and roasted pork belly tacos on fresh corn tortillas
 with marinated cabbage and spring onion aioli.
 I didn't even want to try another bay scallop ceviche
 and I didn't want pork.

Port o' Call Restaurant.
 The sign said chicken and shrimp "relouade."
 Boneless chicken breast stuffed with shrimp,
spinach, roasted red pepper, and fresh mozzarella,
topped with a brandy tomato cream sauce
served with a Parmesan risotto.
 Didn't want chicken.

This did not tempt me.

Moving on to Pamlico Jack's.

They were serving chili rubbed lamb chops
 with a quinoa salad, papaya sauce, and fried plantain.

Their dessert section was tropical cheesecake
 and a Hershey bar cheese cake.

   Coastal Provisions Market.
 Carolina pork belly pastrami sliders
 with Mt. Olive Caraway slaw and Lusty Monk Mustard.
 Didn't appeal to me.
 Didn't try it.

Kelly's Outer Banks Restaurant and Tavern.

More shrimp and grits.
 Green chili grits.
 Please, folks.
 No more shrimp and grits.

For desserts, Kelly's offered Bananas Foster,
Sweet Potato Creme Brulee,
 Mandarin Orange Cupcakes,
and Peanut Butter Chocolate Pots.

 Now, I'm moving upstairs. More entertainment.

La Dolce Vita Italian Cuisine and Pizzeria.

Sorry. Not into Italian tonight.

Aqua Restaurant.

Mediterranean North Carolina Tuna Tartare with olives,
 capers, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, and organic olive oil.
 Petite crab cakes with fire roasted corn relish and lemon aioli.
 (Crab was over-powered.)
 OBX Roll - crab and avocado with spicy tuna,
 masago, and sweet sesame sauce.
 Baja Roll - crab and avocado with
 seared seven-pepper tuna with citrus ponzu.
 I didn't care for this.

Front Porch Cafe.
Didn't try whatever it was.

Jolly Roger.

Jolly Roger served shrimp and scallop a la vodka
 with tomato and mozzarella and basil bruschetta.

  The Brine and Bottle.

Hatteras tuna loin with sunchoke, micro collard greens,
candied bacon, with a bing cherry gastrique.

The bacon overpowered.

Bonnie's Bagels.

Cafe Lachine.

I didn't try this but I loved the idea.
 Chocolate cups with espresso cream and toasted meringue.
 Crab cakes with serrano ham, spinach, and remoulade.
My favorite part was the pirates.

Bottom line.
Per person.
The reason I go to this event is to get ideas.
I want to be inspired.
I want to taste something here,
and think, "Golly gee, this is terrific.
 I want to be challenged.
I want to recreate this at home."
That didn't happen.
We came.
We ate.
We went home.

I wanted more.
There was nothing really memorable to me,
except the lovely chocolate cups presented by Cafe Lachine,
and I didn't even eat one.
As I said, I'm not a "sweet" person.
I go for food and ideas.
And I came back with nothing.
There was nothing spectacular or exceptional here tonight.
There was nothing memorable except the desserts.
I didn't even eat any desserts
and they stand out in my mind.
I'm also tired of the current vogue of plating on glass.
Yeah, looks pretty when you present it,
but when you start serving from it,
it looks like a HOT MESS.
Stop, please.
Bottom line:
Rosie and Mr. Hawthorne were UNDERWHELMED.
Color me blah on the whole event.
I know I need to cover these events for my readers, but crap,
it cost me over $120 bucks this year
and there was no bang for my buck.
 (Plus I had to listen to Mr. H. bitch about the $$$.
 Do you know how much ammo he could buy for $120???)
This event is designed mainly for tourists, not locals.
If this is the best the Outer Banks has to offer,
I ain't comin' back.
I know you might think Rosie is a bitch,
but I tell it like it's served to me.
 Oh crap, you know I'll be back next year.
 What I go through for my readers.

I will grant you,
I always have expectations.
When I forced myself to go to Pauler Deen's restaurant
at Harrah's Casino in Cherokee,
I was all set to rip her a new one.
Thing was, I had a wonderful meal.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Tonight, I was looking for inspiration and bedazzling.
Didn't get it.


Chomp on it.
I certainly am.
 Sorry, but the Taste of the Beach
 needs new life breathed into it.

 Until next year.
 I'm sure I'll be back,
but please, folks,
 step up to the plate.


Marilyn said...

Maybe next year you need to try some of the non-seafood items?

Sorry it was such a disappointment for you.

Maybe they need to hire you as a consultant for next year's Taste the Beach?

Anonymous said...

Drove by the event around 6pm last night and the parking lots were packed...told my husband that was way too many people for me. Glad we did not go, especially for what was offered and the price. We did go to the 6 course food/wine pairing at Kelly's on Friday night and it was very enjoyable and a great value for $49/pp. Also tried the Oyster Fest at Sugar Creek and at @25/pp that was not a good value, but live and learn. Glad we went to a couple of events. I will go to Kelly's again next year.

Anonymous said...

(continued...) thanks for your detailed review Rosie.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit the presentations were, for the most part, very inviting . The flavors just didn't match up except for the desserts. There were some real winners there. Kelly's for one.

Anonymous said...

Bummer. Maybe the seafood festival this fall will be more to your liking, and hopefully it won't cost as much. I also think you need to go with a group, so at least someone in your group tries each item. Did Mr. H try the pork belly or like any of the dishes you avoided?
Aqua wins best sparkley display.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Mr. Hawthorne ate only seafood and desserts, reason being he already has many variations on pork, chicken, etc. that he likes, so those don't interest him. You can't sample everything. It's too much. You have to draw the line somewhere. We try to keep it light. We're always open to any creative recipes with seafood. That's what we were looking for and that's what was lacking.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

And other anony, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the presentations. They were lovely, but the flavors were somewhat lacking. It was a disappointment.

1st anony, I'll be back next year. Please don't let me discourage you from going; however, I do think it's too pricey. Overall, the food, to me, was mediocre this year.

I've been to Kelly's for the past two or three years and didn't go this year. It's a great value what with the wine pairings, but it was the same menu as before. So we passed.

Mar, as for the non-seafood items,
I don't want heavy. No BBQ. No sliders. I want creative seafood dishes and I didn't get that.

southdrivein said...

Rosie, I remember when when taste of the beach was 5 dollars and was held at the Holiday Inn and it was overflowing with local seafood dishes that was a truer representation of local Outer Banks cuisine I think it would be a great idea to only allow four things to be served to the public at TOTB; Crab, Shrimp, Oysters and Gamefish Tuna Mahi,etc)Its a pretty safe assumption that people come to the Outer Banks to eat Seafood and not red meat and poultry

Rosie Hawthorne said...

South, I agree with you. The event IS called Taste of the Beach. When I think of Taste of the Beach, chickens and cows don't come to mind. I don't recall any fish outside of rockfish on any of the menus, except for raw tuna.