OBX - January 2012

The Outer Banks beckons food lovers for the 2012 Taste of the Beach Weekend this March

Many people from Hampton Roads think of an Outer Banks trip as a way to quickly escape and find some serenity in the sun, sand and maybe an elaborate beach house.

But when they visit during Taste of the Beach weekend, their agenda quickly gets stuffed. Guests of this foodie fest fit for a king are met with tons of options for fabulous food-related events all weekend long. Yes, the beautiful beach will still be there, but you may be too busy eating to pay much attention.

The Outer Banks Restaurant Association (OBRA) has been sponsoring the Outer Banks Taste of the Beach festival for more than 25 years, and 2012 will be the fifth year of presenting it as a weekend long celebration. More than 50 distinctive, culinary-themed events are scheduled to take place from Corolla to Manteo. Mouth-watering options include cooking classes, special menu presentations, celebrity guest chef appearances, brewery tours, wine tastings, tapas crawls and much more than you can fit in four days. This year’s eating extravaganza takes place March 15–18 and coincides with the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, parade, 8k fun run and other activities, making it a grand weekend to come to the Outer Banks.

The weekend culminates with the OBX Grand Tasting on Sunday, March 18 at Pamlico Jack’s Pirate Hideaway on the Roanoke Sound waterfront in Nags Head. This event always draws hundreds of people hungry to try samples from 30-plus of the beach’s finest restaurants and largest beverage vendors. Because of the popularity of the event, this year, organizers made it even bigger.

“The finale event of Taste of the Beach, the Grand Tasting will be the hottest ticket in town,” says Ben Sproul, chairman of the Outer Banks Restaurant Association. “This year we have added an early session, so we now have two times that guests can choose from to sample dishes in a less crowded atmosphere.

Plus, if you have to drive home Sunday evening, the early session should make that a little easier on you too.” Sproul says that attendees can choose to come from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. or 7 to 9 p.m. During the event, restaurants will be competing for the 3rd Annual TOBY Awards, Best Booth, Best in Show, Best Outer Banks Cuisine and the two top awards the Chef’s Award and People’s Choice Awards. Winners get annual bragging rights, and the People’s Choice winner is featured in advertising of the following year’s event. The Chef’s Award winner receives a beautiful award featuring a commissioned piece of artwork.

Other 2012 highlights include the OBX Chowder Cook Off on Saturday, March 17; The Champagne Lounge on Friday, March 16; and Ocean Boulevard’s Carolina Fare chef’s tasting menu. During the Chowder Cook Off, seafood lovers will have the chance to sample and judge dozens of hot chowders served by Outer Banks restaurants while enjoying live music and cold beer. The Champagne Lounge is also a can’t-miss, with champagne tastings from around the world, gourmet appetizer samples and massage treatments. At the Ocean Boulevard event, diners will enjoy a tasting menu of dishes prepared with fresh ingredients sourced from local purveyors.

More information on these events and many others can be found at www.obxtasteofthebeach.com. Events are continuously being added through early February, so check back often to make your reservations.

Several hotels, inns, and cottage rental companies are offering special Taste of The Beach weekend rates and event ticket packages over the long event weekend of March 15–18. Their offers and website links are also featured on www.obxtasteofthebeach.com, on the accommodations page.

The Outer Banks always has plenty to entertain, endless choices for accommodations depending on your needs and breathtaking beauty. Taste of the Beach makes your visit even better by showcasing an impressive group of chefs, business owners and culinarians all working to celebrate and serve the best OBX fresh and local cuisine. Every foodie looking for tasty travels can appreciate that.

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