Eating with Rob

My new marriage and the eats that bring us together.

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Rosé colored glasses.

Friday, July 11th was a balmy evening, the calm before the storm that would be teaching, unpacking, therapy-ing, and and pre-limming in just over a week. When Rob got home from work, we put together a really relaxing dinner, inspired by these little glasses of rosé.

We wanted something simple and refreshing for our evening together, and It started with a gorgeous sausage link, made by Sausage Craft, a local small-batch sausage maker here in Richmond (http://sausagecraft.com/).

It is truly amazing stuff. A little more expensive than the usual sausage links you’d pick up at the grocery store, but not totally unreasonable (this link was $6, if I’m not mistaken). It’s not something we get terribly often since it’s not tons of meat for the price, but it’s a nice splurge and we love supporting the local company and their ethical methods.

While Rob prepared the sausage, I decided to put together kind of a fruit and cheese board. Normally you’d have summer sausage or some type of chilled meat with accompaniments like these, but we had hot sausage and we didn’t care.

I sliced some apples and broke out Ritz crackers that I’d impulse-purchased to accompany some tuna salad I’d made earlier that week for lunch. I thought they’d add a nice carby component to our little composition.

I also bought some smoked mozzarella cheese on my previous visit to the grocery store. I feel like I’m at my most indulgent when I’m buying nice cheese - which is excellent, because it’s not a very expensive habit, especially when combined with my general frugality regarding clothes and other material stuff. So if spending $5 on cheese makes me a high roller, so be it!

I also chopped up some berries and made a little dipping plate of Greek yogurt and honey. I’ve found this is a nice pairing with fruit, if I feel like it needs to be sweeter (and sometimes it really doesn’t). Since we had lots of fruit on this plate, it was nice to have that dipping option on the platter.

And of course, we had our sausage. Meat, cheese, fruit, and big fancy cutting board? Check. Time to move it to the patio to enjoy with our rosé.

That’s a summery meal if I ever saw one. I parked the cutting board right between the two of us so we could both eat from it without having to dirty additional dishes. Here’s a wonky picture of it.

We sat outside for I think about two hours, under my lovely bulb lights, both eating to our heart’s content. So often, I plan a specific recipe ahead of time spend a lot of time and energy in the kitchen, mixing and adding so many components together to make one big dish, and then I’ll throw together a salad or some canned veggies as an afterthought loosely related to variety and nutrition. And as much fun as I usually have in that process, what a welcome change of pace this was - to just eat plain ingredients. I sometimes forget that that’s even an option. Kind of like how Rob forgets how to smile like a real person.

This dinner, though including some nice quality ingredients, was so simple and refreshing, not unlike our slow and relaxed Friday evening. I think about this night frequently when planning meals now - it opens my eyes in circumstances when I look in my fridge and say “there’s nothing to eat!” Sometimes it doesn’t have to be an artfully combined recipe - a little plate of things you have can go a long way.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia summer rose rose wine wine sausage sausage craft smoked mozzarella apples yogurt honey Ritz crackers strawberries blueberries fruit

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Melanzane parmigiana.

Rob usually goes out for drinks with a few of his friends from work on Wednesday nights, but on Wednesday, July 9th, Rob was eager to show off our place. So we invited his good friend Eric over for dinner on our nice new back patio. 

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We had stopped by the Carytown Farmer’s Market just a few days before, where I impulsively purchased a local eggplant for a whopping 99 cents. I had actually never cooked with eggplant before, but I had half a mind to give the parmesan version a whirl. 

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I basically winged it, beginning with the tomato sauce Rob and I have been making a lot lately. I fried some garlic and oregano in a mixture of olive oil and butter and then added freshly blended San Marzano tomatoes (my immersion blender is the perfect tool for this job!), and of course some salt and pepper. After about an hour of simmering on the stove, I added a little chiffonade of fresh basil we have growing on our patio, and the sauce was in good shape. 

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One of my favorite things about our new apartment is its proximity to Belmont Butchery (http://www.belmontbutchery.com/), where I have purchased some very fresh, local, and high quality meat in the past (such aaaaaas http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/95493466337/feaster). When I decided to make eggplant parmesan from scratch, it seemed silly to add shredded mozzarella from a bag in the refrigerator aisle. So I walked down to the Butchery, where they also have lots of fine canned goods, wines, and cheeses. 

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"Smooth, silky, and pulled to perfection." I might need to acquire a labelmaker of my own so that I can print such poetic musings about my leftovers.

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After making my tomato sauce and admiring my mozzarella, I was prepared to batter and fry my eggplant. If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been recently converted to wet batters rather than dredges, so I whipped up an impromptu mixture of flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika, a touch of cayenne, dried oregano, and a whole egg. 

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I coated each of my eggplant slices in my batter and let them fry until golden brown and fantastic. I have always just let my fried foods sit on a paper towel upon extraction in the past, but I finally wised up and used a cooling rack over paper towels, which yielded a much crispier and less greasy result. Look how nice!

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While frying the eggplant, I was also assembling my baking dish. I coated the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of my homemade sauce, added a layer of fried eggplant, then a slice of mozzarella, and then more sauce on top. 

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Once all of my eggplant were done, I put the finished dish into the oven and let it bake for about 30 minutes at 350, and by the time Eric and Rob arrived, it was bubbly and delicious. I managed to not take a SINGLE photo of the finished product, or of anyone who ate any of it. It was so good that once it came out of the oven, I honestly forgot about the camera. 

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This was a wonderful dinner. The weather was warm but breezy, the patio lights were twinkling, and of course the company was delightful. The three of us ate right through this little 8x8 dish, full of 99% eggplant and fresh, local, home-grown, and from-scratch ingredients. I’ll definitely be putting this recipe together again sometime.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia eggplant farmer's market Carytown eggplant parmesan Belmont Butchery mozzarella mozzarella cheese tomato sauce homemade tomato sauce basil fried eggplant garlic butter olive oil

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A place of our own.

On Sunday, July 6th, Rob and I made the excursion up to D.C. to make the ubiquitous newly-moved trip to IKEA. We were excited to buy a few things for the apartment, most notably a patio table since we now, for the first time ever, have a patio! I also insisted that we festoon it with bulb lights, which Rob dutifully hung for me the next night.

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While Rob labored in the early evening heat, I prepared our dinner. It was a burger and fries kind of night, so I whipped out my favorite recipe for sweet potato fries (http://www.amybites.com/?p=2784). Behold, the ingredients!

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After julienning my sweet potatoes and tossing them with olive oil, cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne, I devoted my attention to the chipotle dipping sauce. I have been known to make this sauce even when I’m having something unrelated to sweet potato fries (case in point - http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/93313058917/sunday-funday). Because it’s creamy, it’s spicy, it’s sweet, it’s garlicky, and it’s amazing.

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I find it difficult to get crispy fries without burning the ends a little bit. I’ll have to do more research the next time I make them. But all around, they still looked pretty good to me upon extraction from my tiny oven (this was the meal that proved my regular sized cookie sheets would fit in there, thank the lord).

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While the fries were finishing in the oven, I prepared our burgers. I usually make burgers from ground turkey, but the organic beef was on sale at the Kroger that week, so I fired it up on our cast iron skillet. Which again, took up about half of my comically small stovetop, but it yielded about the juiciest burgers possible sans grill.

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I plated up our dinner and took it outside, where Rob had just finished putting together our patio table and chairs AND hanging the lights. So handy!

Doesn’t our IKEA table look so fabulous, by the way? And it was such a steal! We love it and eat dinner on it so often.

The burgers hit the spot on that long summer evening, and the sweet potato fries and chipotle garlic aioli were divine as usual. But I think the best part was ignoring the boxes, the e-mails, and the work, just drinking our cheapy PBRs and enjoying our first dinner under our new lights.

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I can’t describe to you how enchanting this was, and I couldn’t believe this was ours. I think about this night every time we eat out there and how fantastic the novelty remains. There’s nothing that calms your nerves after long days in front of a computer screen like eating a good meal outside, with the most important person, in a place of your own.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia IKEA bulb lights patio patio furniture patio table outdoor furniture burger cheeseburger sweet potato fries chipotle garlic aioli aioli garlic paprika cinnamon cayenne sweet potatoes Kroger

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Home fries.

We were very happy to see the morning of Saturday, July 5th, the first day of the first weekend since our move. Before getting down to brass tax with all of the cardboard boxes in the apartment, we made our first restaurant exploration in our new neighborhood and walked over to The Franklin Inn (http://www.thefranklinrva.com/).

We selected two of their three specialty brunch menu items - in a rare twist, the 1/3 we did not order was the biscuits and gravy. Instead, Rob had the shrimp and grits, one of his favorite things to order just about anywhere.

This was one of the better renditions we’ve tried around town. These cheesy, stone ground grits were nicely seasoned and just the right texture (for me, anyway), topped with beautiful shrimp and little bits of bacon. Here’s a picture obstructed by a drinking glass after Rob had smothered it with the spicy sauce that came on the side.

B&G lover that I am, I opted for the Franklin’s Benedict, essentially a crab cakes benedict, implicating poached eggs and crab cakes on an English muffin, topped with house-made hollandaise. The little shrimpy on top was an extra treat.

I think I only managed to eat one of the two, partly because of how delicious my side of home fries was. They were absolutely perfectly seasoned and crispy. Just delicious.

As if we weren’t already feeling good about our new neighborhood, this first visit to The Franklin Inn made us so glad to be in a residential area with cute corner restaurants like this. We haven’t been back to try any of their lunch or dinner fare, but with its low-key atmosphere and around-the-corner location, I can say for sure it won’t be long. Fun brunch!

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Museum District The Franklin Inn shrimp and grits stone ground grits grits shrimp hot sauce bacon crab cakes benedict franklin benedict crab cakes poached eggs hollandaise eggs benedict home fries

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Fishing for counter space.

Day 2 in the new apartment didn’t yield much productivity - since it was a Wednesday, I taught and saw clients, and Rob was at work all day. So by the time we got home and were ready for dinner, my kitchen was still in its barely unpacked and disheveled state from the night before. We tried to prioritize it so I could get us cookin’ again, but instead I had this little mess to cook in.

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Behold, my counterspace!

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This should have been my clue to do one of two things: 1) eat dinner out/order dinner in, or 2) make something that is not complicated. Whatsoever. Instead, I managed to have all the fixins for fried fish tacos (http://www.afamilyfeast.com/fish-tacos/). Which would involve frying my cod, mixing the sauce, pickling beets, salsa and avocado making…essentially space, utensils (most of which were still packed away), organization, and a well-timed system. All I had was a prayer and a tiny stove full of real fire. 

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This was a comedy of errors. I had my battering station on top of my microwave, pickled beets cooling on my dishrack, and Rob mashing avocados in the living room. But somehow, when I finally got these tacos assembled on paper plates teetering on a corner of a cardboard box, they looked a lot better than they should have, all things considered.

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The fish were the star of the show - I’d never made such a tempura-like batter before, but the lone Sprite I’d somehow had on hand made the batter airy, light, and sweet. Even though I love beets, I didn’t think they brought much to the party, and I have much to learn about good pickling. But my little mashed avocado addition with my homemade pico de gallo (diced tomatoes + red onion + lime juice + tequila) was a perfect match with the creamy sauce the recipe called for, full of yogurt, mayo, hot sauce, and other spices.

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Sweaty, covered in flour from the batter, and irritable from all of the cooking errors and improvisations in a tiny, cramped new space, I retreated to the living room, where Rob and I ate our little tacos together. 

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He loved them just as much as I did. Even though I never, ever should have made such an involved dish under these conditions, we were both so satisfied with our dinner and were ready for a long night of unpacking. I would definitely make this recipe again for a fun, summery treat…in a fully unpacked and organized kitchen with adequate utensils and counterspace :)

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia moving tacos fish tacos cod fried cod pickled beets avocado pico de gallo tomatoes red onions lime juice tequila sauce hot sauce yogurt mayonnaise

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Movin’ on up.

13 months after moving Rob from New York to Richmond, it was July 1st, 2014 - the day we would say goodbye from our first home together and move across town. Rob captured this sweet moment of my Peachy girl, practically begging us not to move her from her cozy bed.

This was a challenging move for us…honestly, just because July 1st fell on a Tuesday. Therefore, no friends were available to help, AND I had to TEACH. So we hired some movers to give us a hand, and having never used movers before, we have to say we highly recommend the experience. But before they arrived, we thought we’d have one last treat in our downtown locale…

Sugar Shack! (http://www.sugarshackdonuts.com/) One of the few endearing establishments near our apartment, we had loved going to Sugar Shack for the best donuts in town, and Rob often stopped in for coffee on his way to work. In fact, the first time we ever had Sugar Shack was almost exactly a year before, when we were moving me out of my place to the apartment downtown (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/62187115019/love-is-sweet). Just look at this airy cinnamon-sugar donut o’ Rob had.

I have tried a different donut every time I’ve gone, and from glazed to chocolate sprinkles to powdered sugar, I have to say that the one I had on this moving day was one of the best. Behold, the SAMOA!

Every bit as good as its Girl Scout Cookie namesake (and actually better, if you ask me), this chocolatey, coconutty donut was top of the line. This one and the glazed are two of the best donuts I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

Eight hours, one lecture (yayyy teaching), and lots of heavy lifting later, everything we owned was at our new place in the Museum District, and that endorphin boost we’d gotten from the donuts that morning was a distant memory. But we were in luck, because our new place juuuuust so happens to be incredibly close to Belmont Pizzeria, our favorite pizza in town (http://www.belmontpizzeria.com/).

We sprawled out on our old couch in our new 2 BR/1 BA (after acquiring some very fine beers from the neighborhood bodega, no less) and beheld our glorious sausage and mushroom pizza. One of my favorite things about Belmont is that when you order sausage on a pizza, it’s sliced links! So unique.

This was such a thick and meaty pizza, what with the meaty texture of the mushrooms on top of the sausage and the big, substantial crust. Even Peaches, who probably had acute stress syndrome by this time in the moving process, withdrew from under our bed to sniff around this delicious pizza.

Our first meal in our old apartment was pizza (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/55875304892/home-is-wherever-im-with-you), and our first meal in our next apartment will probably be pizza. We’re fortunate on this move to know where to find good pizza, and now that we live so close to this amazing eatery, we don’t intend to take it for granted. Moving may not be the most pleasant activity, but we certainly made up for it with delicious food from some fabulous Richmond originals.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Sugar Shack donuts cinnamon sugar samoa samoa donut museum district belmont pizzeria sausage mushroom Peach the Cat moving

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Movin’ to the country, gonna eat a lotta peaches.

Rob and I spent the final weeks of June packing up our first apartment. We were moving across town to the Museum District, and I think we were both amazed by how much effort it took to put our little one-bedroom spot in box after box. Here’s the last meal I made in our first home, before packing up the kitchen.

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I found myself in a little bit of a Food Network Magazine recipe drought over the summer, when the recipes were mostly dependent on access to a barbecue grill. We barely had one window that opened, let alone an outdoor space useable for a grill, so I had to dog-ear lots of recipes for another day. But I decided to give the Peach-Mustard Pork Chops a go anyway (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/peach-mustard-pork-chops.html).

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I procured my lovely peaches from Relay Foods, a great service here in Richmond that makes local and organic groceries accessible to its city-dwelling residents (https://www.relayfoods.com/). We don’t do all our grocery shopping through it, but if they’re having a good deal on things like fruit, veggies, and bread, I like to use them.

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My garlic though, I have to boast, came from a real-deal farmer’s market! I’m pretty sure it came from Byrd House Market (http://byrdhousemarket.blogspot.com/), which is a great one since it’s open during the day on Tuesdays, rather than just weekend mornings like many other markets.

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The spices for my pork, however, came from good ol’ Kroger. Since then, I’ve learned that buying spices from ethnic markets (especially an Indian market west of town called Bhavani Cash and Carry, holy cow do they have great stuff. pun intended).

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After coating my pork chops in a mix of brown sugar, paprika, coriander, garlic powder, mustard powder, and salt and pepper, I had to forego the grill and selected a simple pan searing treatment instead. Once they were done, I used the same pan to sear my peachy halves.

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I was really interested to see how the peaches and mustard would pair together; I was pretty sure that between the peaches and brown sugar, anything too savory would get in the way of this sweet little dish. Though not mind-blowing, I’m impressed that it worked, though I think it would have done a little better with some caramelization from a nice hot grill. One thing I will say though is that the plate looked a lot better once I added our broccolini to it - must have still been in the oven for these shots.

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Rob and I enjoyed this final home-cooked dinner in our apartment before washing the dishes and putting all of my kitchen things in boxes for the trip across town. They barely fit in this storage-challenged little kitchen, but it was time to move to greener pastures.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia pork chops food network food network magazine peaches peach Relay Food mustard peach mustard pork chops farmers market Byrd House Market broccolini spice rub

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Golden brown.

On the morning of Sunday, June 8th, Rob, Lynn, and I headed over to Cape Hatteras to see that lighthouse they’re famous for. And it didn’t disappoint.

Rob and Lynn CLIMBED that sucker (I waved from the ground), and after we had all enjoyed the view of and around the lighthouse, we thought we’d find a place for lunch. We stopped in one of the tiny towns that make up the Outer Banks, in what I believe was Buxton, North Carolina, at a place called Diamond Shoals (http://www.diamondshoals.net/).

This was an incredibly confusing restaurant - it had the feeling of a downhome, country, fried basket of seafood place, but it was also a sushi bar and seafood market. It must not have bothered us too much if we were willing to give it a try, and Rob started things off by ordering a bowl of their clam chowder, which they claim was the #1 chowder in the Hatteras cookoff. But it was actually really, REALLY good, some of the best I’ve had.

Rob also had their crab cake sandwich with fries. Both were greasy and satisfying - I think I liked Mama Kwon’s crab cake a little better; the meat to filler ratio seemed higher in that big ol’ patty than this one on Rob’s sandwich.

Lynn had fried clams and onion rings, a very golden brown little platter with a touch of vegetation via the coleslaw. No judgment from me though - it looked like it had been perfectly done. She has so much self-control with her diet every other day of the year, I was happy to cheer her on.

For this last meal of vacation, it was go golden brown or go home apparently, because I too ordered some fried seafood (I told you it was that kind of place!). I had fried oysters and sweet potato fries, both of which were just delicious. I’m not sure I’ve ever met an oyster I didn’t love, whether raw, baked, or fried.

If you want a basket of fried seafood, Diamond Shoals is the place for you. Stuffed to the gills, Lynn gracious paid the bill and we sojourned back to Kitty Hawk to get our car from the hotel where we had been staying. We did make one last beach stop on the drive back though, and Lynn was nice enough to send along this picture she took of ol’ Rob and me.

There’s a really good one of her and Rob too, but I get such a kick out of this one that I just have to share. I had one exposure left on my instax, and they were posing so nicely, and then this wave threatened to encroach on their feet. They started running, and I made a decision. An exposure well spent (I’m actually holding it in the above picture).

It was a bit of a drive from Hatteras back to Kitty Hawk, where we would say goodbye to Lynn and head back to Richmond. And it was an even longer drive up north to Virginia. After several hours had elapsed and dinnertime was imminent, we thought we’d made one final stop on our Outer Banks Vacation - Virginia Diner (http://www.vadiner.com/).

I had heard of Virginia Diner lots of times - they’re very famous for their peanuts (peanuts, ham, and tobacco are kind of the big industry in Virginia). When I saw that it was en route to the Outer Banks, I told Rob we should definitely try to stop and eat, or at least buy some peanuts, on the way back. How sweet of him to indulge me.

Not that he didn’t indulge himself too, with this plate of chicken fried chicken covered in white gravy. In keeping with the golden brown theme - plus gravy. Upping the ante.

I wonder how coleslaw became such an obvious pairing with fried food. I guess something super healthful like kale or spinach wouldn’t be the first choice for the type of person who’s ordering chicken fried chicken. Gimme some vegetables…and smother them in mayonnaise. That’s what I want with my crispy noms.

As Rob happily munched on his chicken, fries, and coleslaw, I got to work on my entree. I had never really had “Virginia ham” before, and you know I’m such a “when in Romer.” Even though I’m pretty much always in Virginia, where there’s pretty much always ham. Oh well.

I ordered the Virginia ham biscuit platter, which was three little slider-sized biscuits filled with thinly sliced ham, and some pickles on the side. I had it with a side of “Waldorf salad,” which is usually apples, celery, and walnuts served on top of lettuce. This had apples and celery, but also raisins and a “peanut dressing” that was really a lot like peanut butter, topped with even more chopped peanuts.

It was more like dessert than a sweet and savory side, but I couldn’t complain - both were so good! The ham was moist and flavorful - simple, really requiring nothing more. And I thought the Waldorf salad was actually pretty unique, more of a signature item than even the Virginia ham. But there was one more stop on this peanut train.

PEANUT PIE. I had never had anything like it, but after the gluttonous weekend we’d had, there was no point in yielding at this point. This peanut pie was probably little more than ground up and whole peanuts, eggs, butter, and sugar. It was way more intensely peanutty than a peanut butter pie, and I thought it was delicious.

We rolled out to the car, having our fill of all things Virginia as we ended our weekend getaway. Just when I thought we couldn’t get any more Virginia, Rob humored me by stopping on the side of the road so I could take this award-winning photo of this billboard out in peanut country. Though we would be eating a LOT of lettuce during the next week to compensate for our poor choices, this was such a fun and relaxing weekend. We’re so grateful to Lynn for having us out and for feeding us so well, and we hope to make it back out to the Outer Banks sometime within the next year and maybe even return to a few of these eateries.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Outer Banks North Carolina Buxton Kitty Hawk Diamond Shoals crab cake crab cake sandwich clam chowder clams fried clams onion rings french fries fried oysters oysters sweet potato fries coleslaw golden brown Virginia Diner peanuts ham Virginia ham biscuits peanut pie waldorf salad apples peanut dressing celery raisins

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Faturday.

We had a lot of fun in the Outer Banks on Saturday, June 7th, and we ate a lot of scrumptious food. When reading about breakfast places in the area, Rob and I were both tickled and intrigued by the idea of this barbecue joint that had breakfast. So we went into Kitty Hawk and took a seat at Duck Deli (http://www.outerbanks.com/duck-deli.html).

They boast a pretty good breakfast, and we were hopeful that there would be a barbecue flair to at least some of their breakfast offerings. Not so much, as it seemed to be traditional fare of bacon, eggs, sausage, biscuits, and the like. There’s not anything wrong with that, and I think Lynn enjoyed her egg on an English muffin (not pictured for some reason). But the sausage biscuit I ordered (above) was, surprisingly, just a sausage and a biscuit! Was I silly to think there might be something else on it?

Rob’s was the clear winner because he was assertive enough to actually ask for some barbecue with his breakfast, and he had a very delicious platter of eggs, home fries with onions, a biscuit, and a helping of their pulled pork.

That was definitely the way to go, and I asked him to share more bites than I typically do. These Kansas Citians love their pulled pork, and I thought the Carolina style version Rob had that morning was very good. But without the barbecue, Duck Deli’s breakfast was really kind of sub-par - not a lot of creativity, freshness, or really a good execution. Luckily for us, we had better things ahead!

Lynn sent us that picture of ol’ Rob and me, scaling Kill Devil Hill, where the Wright Brothers flew their first airplane. We spent a good amount of time walking around the field and inside at the museum before thinking about lunch. Lynn entertained Rob’s and my craving for sushi, and we went to Sanya Asian Bistro, where we could pick up ANYTHING with these chopsticks (http://www.sanyaobx.com/).

Despite this phenomenal cosmic power, we mostly just used them to pick up sushi. Rob and I both had the Kitty Hawk box, a bento box in which the highlight was the half Kitty Hawk roll, full of tempura shrimp and cucumber, topped with white tuna, and served with eel sauce. Very good!

Each of our boxes also came with a California roll that we planned to share with Lynn. This was your basic California roll, with crab, avocado, and cucumber. I found it a little dry, strangely enough.

Despite a slightly lackluster California roll, the other components of our bento boxes made them worth it. I especially liked the little spring roll, but the lightly dressed salad and orange slices rounded this out into a nicely portioned little meal.

Lynn had a similar little box, but with chicken teriyaki instead of sushi. She said it was very nice, and I was glad she liked the California roll we shared, too.

After our sushi lunch, we went back to our motel and spent some time on the beach! Which was very relaxing and fun, and I’m so glad that’s when we went, because we were about to fully ruin our swimsuit bodies.

Rob has been on a tiki kick for several months, so he was thrilled to try Mama Kwan’s Grill and Tiki Bar (http://www.mamakwans.com/). Imagine tiki kitsch meets sports bar, and there you have Mama Kwan’s. Also, here is Rob’s hungry face.

We started with tiki drinks of course, and Lynn and I shared this Parrot Head Freeze, advertised as “big enough for two” and served in this awesome souvenir glass that we definitely took home with us.

Our food arrived before long, and both Rob and Lynn had fish tacos. These sauteed mahi mahi tacos are their most popular dish, served with cheddar and jack cheese, green onions, jasmine rice, cabbage, and lime sour cream. Isn’t the jasmine rice such an interesting touch?

Rob was extra adventurous and ordered his mahi mahi blackened; the menu highly recommends it. I can certainly say it photographed well.

It tasted good, too. I don’t often order things blackened, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the bite I had of Rob’s taco - it actually wasn’t very spicy at all, just had some really nice complexity to an otherwise well-prepared fish.

Okay, one more picture of that because I can’t help myself.

Great. I had the crab cake sandwich, which I think may have been just crab meat and panko bread crumbs. I was a bit alarmed by the very uniform shape, which made me wonder if it came straight from a freezer. But the menu claims they’re hand-battered, and I did find it very tasty with their bistro sauce, which seemed to be kind of a tangy mayo/remoulade type of thing.

After getting our fill of our respective seafood entrees, we were very, very bad and told ourselves, “We’re on vacation! Let’s get dessert.”

Lynn loves a good key lime pie, so I was not surprised whatsoever that that was what she ordered. Look how creamy and airy! Such a nice summer treat.

Rob had the salted caramel chocolate cake, which seemed an unusual choice for him since he doesn’t usually go for chocolately stuff. It must have been the caramel that enticed him.

I have to say, I think I won this round with the Mochajumbie, a dessert I actually selected from the drink menu. I think it had a chocolate ice cream base, mixed with Kahlua, rum, Chambord, creme de cacao, and “secret stuff.” This was basically a super duper thick chocolately, raspberry milkshake with a little kick from the rum and Kahlua. It was unbelievably good.

We were so incredibly full after this meal, but it was definitely the best meal we had that day; I might not do breakfast at Duck Deli again and the sushi was fairly run of the mill, but I’d definitely do Mama Kwan’s again. We may have been a little gluttonous, but we so seldom get to see Rob’s mom, especially for a beach vacation, that we thought a little indulgence wouldn’t hurt. Big thank you to Lynn for showing us such a good time that day and for funding these wonderful meals.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Outer Banks North Carolina Duck Kill Devil Hills Kitty Hawk Duck Deli Carolina style barbecue breakfast sausage sausage biscuit eggs biscuit home fries onions sushi Sanya Asian Bistro Kitty Hawk roll tempura shrimp shrimp avocado crab California roll bento box chicken teriyaki spring roll cucumber chopsticks Mama Kwan's

1 note &

A bushel and a peck.

Friday, June 6th, 2014 was the five year anniversary of the day Rob asked me to be his girlfriend. This year, instead of a fancy date night, Rob and I found ourselves at Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina (http://www.awfularthursobx.com/).

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Rob’s mom was planning to be in…Charlotte, I think, for the first week of June, but she asked us if we wanted to spend the weekend with her at the Outer Banks.  While most couples might not consider spending an anniversary with their mother-in-law, we had never been to the Outer Banks before and thought it would surely be a relaxing, beachy getaway.

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So once we were at Awful Arthur’s on Friday night, where “kicked back casual is the rule,” we of course had to order some oysters. We weren’t expecting very high quality from this VERY divey looking place, but they claim to be one of the top ten oyster bars in the country, so we went into it with an open mind. While they weren’t quite up to a Rappahannock standard, the three of us really enjoyed sharing this half peck of very liquory oysters.

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I had been craving crab legs, and hey, when in Rome. So I ordered a half a pound, which doesn’t seem like much, but on top of those oysters, I was sittin’ pretty. I’m not sure I could differentiate between good crab legs and bad crab legs since they all kind of taste the same to me, though I have a feeling I might know bad crab legs if I met them. These were just fine.

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Rob and Lynn both had the fried softshell crab sandwich. Can’t go wrong with that, and they agreed - the crab tasted fresh, the breading was crispy and flavorful, and the whole thing was just as satisfying as you might imagine. Plus, it was the perfect fried accompaniment to the arcade games we played at the pier across the street right after dinner :)

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Awful Arthur’s, between the name and the appearance of the place, might seem a little comical at first, but this was just the kind of dinner we were looking for. Beachy, casual, and divey with a range of cheap seafood options, all of which we found very satisfying. If we go back to OBX any time in the near future, we may forego it since it didn’t blow our minds, but we’ll certainly remember it as a reasonably failsafe option. But this time, it was such a fun way to spend our five year anniversary and a great start to our weekend vacation.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Outer Banks North Carolina Kill Devil Hills Awful Arthur's Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar oyster bar oysters raw oysters crab legs soft shell crab fried soft shell crab soft shell crab sandwich fries arcade pier

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