Exploring the Carolina Coast

13 August 2015 / By travel4foodfun@gmail.com
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When Tom and I were planning our cross-country road trip for our move from Connecticut to Southern California, we decided to take our time to discover the beauty and diversity of America. Since we have spent so much time in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic area, we drove quickly out of the city to spend several days in the Carolinas.

Our journey began when we decided to get off I-95 in Delaware to follow the smaller, local highways. The Atlantic coastal areas of Delaware and Maryland were stunning. The land is flush with growing fields. The roads are dotted with local markets selling fresh local produce and seafood.

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After we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel, we decided to continue the “back roads” route and took a “detour” to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Tom and I didn’t know much about the area but knew it was a popular beach destination. Our primary purpose, however, was to eat excellent seafood. After doing some research on our drive, we chose “I Got Your Crabs” in Kitty Hawk, NC as it was highly rated and opened late (necessary as our drive was taking much longer than anticipated due to our explorations). Despite our late arrival, the restaurant was packed. However, the meal was only satisfactory and didn’t live up to our expectations. The best item we ordered was the fried shrimp which were plump, lightly breaded and not greasy. Tom was disappointed with the Chesapeake Bay crabs. They were old, and the meat was dry. I was super excited to try the oysters from Virginia, but they were warm. I like my fresh oysters to be chilled. Perhaps the lackluster food was due to our arrival 30 minutes before closing time? I don’t know, and probably won’t be back to find out, which is unfortunate as the staff was incredibly friendly.

The next day, we explored the North and South Carolina coast. We want to emphasize the pure beauty of the area. It is breathtaking with beautiful, clean beaches, waters, inlets, and wildlife. We wish we had more time to go fishing and prepare a spectacular home cooked meal! Tom and I loved the FEEL of the Carolinas. The locals were some of the friendliest people we have encountered. The one negative we noticed was a lot of development occurring. If you get a chance, explore the undiscovered beach towns before they become crazy like Myrtle Beach!

Along our relaxing drive, we stopped at an incredible farm stand and picked up delicious snacks. We got tasty sour plums, juicy nectarines, and some local salted ham.  We have a large cooler and are always prepared to purchase exceptional looking foods!

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We noticed the area also has a handful of wineries, distilleries, and breweries. After doing research, we discovered the Carolinas grow muscadet grapes that produce a sweet wine. We preferred dry wines and learned that Silver Coast Winery in Ocean Isle Beach, NC makes European style wines. Of course, we stopped for a tasting! The winery is charming with lovely artwork throughout the tasting room. We learned from Debbie (who gave us a tour) and Al (who poured our samples) that the wines are regional, made from grapes grown in the mountains of North Carolina and Georgia. Although the wines aren’t necessarily sweet, it didn’t suit our taste. The wines we sampled were very acidic, indicative of younger vines. If you are interested in exploring the wines of the region, stop for a taste. We are glad to stop for a tasting, but North Carolina wines are still not up to the level of complexity that we’re used to drinking.

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Probably the most disappointing place for us was Myrtle Beach, SC. Luckily we just passed through on our way to Charleston, SC. If you’ve never been, Myrtle Beach is a 30-mile long tourist trap. It seems like each block had a large tourist shop and a mega miniature golf complex. The one highlight was Palmetto Distillery. Stop for a free sample of South Carolina’s first legalized moonshine. Each day, the shop offers samples of four spirits. We tried the original moonshine, strawberry moonshine, apple pie moonshine, and their newly launched whiskey. Tom enjoyed the original, and I loved the strawberry. The strawberry is so easy drinking that I could probably drink it like there’s no alcohol in it. It’s that smooth!

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Tom and I had a fantastic 2-day adventure exploring the coast of the Carolinas. The landscape is stunning, and the locals were so friendly and welcoming. We highly recommend escaping the more developed areas to relax and enjoy the “true” beauty of the area before it evolves into another Myrtle Beach.

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