Eastern NC is my Muse

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I once wrote a blog post about how my fiction writing abilities dried up when I moved back to California, from North Carolina. When I finally got back to NC in 2012, my muse? Totally revisited me. P.S. If you’re a writer and haven’t seen “The Muse” with Albert Brooks & Sharon Stone . . . you MUST.

Chasing Hope  is set in the small coastal town of Beaufort. Beaufort won my heart in 2001 when I moved to Eastern Carolina the first time. In 2012, Beaufort won a little contest which named it the “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel. Read a feature here.

It’s a special place and I still dream of owning a house downtown. Someday . . . maybe I will!

Here are a few photos of this gorgeous little town.

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Good Wine & Great Chow

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My first event at the Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend was awesome — the Wine, Bread & Cheese seminar. The second, “The Truck Stops Here”? Not great. The majority of the food was fried which is a total non-starter when you can’t eat gluten. There were simply not enough “food trucks” providing food to make the price of admission worth it for me, taking into consideration the fried thing.

As a result of my frustration from Friday night, I’m not going to lie . . . I was not even a little excited about Saturday. But I went to the Vin de Mer Epicurean Village {at Front Street Village} anyway. I’m happy to say that it was awesome. It was much more organized than the food truck event. There was simply no possible way for me to try every wine {although I’m sure there were some there that tried}. And while I was a little overwhelmed at where to start, I came up with a sort-of-ish plan to start with the whites, working around the tent and sampling the awesome food in between.

Here’s what I did enjoy {that I remembered to write down or snap a photo of}:

Charcuterie, Charcuterie Board, Cheese, Southern Foods

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My favorite eats were:

  • Sesame Seared Tuna from the Channel Marker
  • Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream and Caramelized Onions {and ugh…I can’t remember where this came from}
  • Asian Pulled Pork Taco with soy-ginger slaw and sour cream from Circa-81
  • Spring salad with strawberries, feta & basil-peach vinaigrette (Olive Oil & Vinegar from Beaufort Olive Oil Company made by Chef Merrell from Circa-81.
  • The fish & shrimp stew from Sammy’s Seafood House & Oyster Bar
  • The Charcuterie board from Southern Foods

Circa 81, Clarke Merrell, tapas, cocktails, Beaufort Wine and Food Weekend

I only saw one cooking demo – from Chef Merrell of Circa-81 {And Dank Burrito. And Beaufort Olive Oil Company.} but it was fun. I learned a few things from the demo. Like for instance, did you know that when you buy extra virgin olive oil from the grocery store, it may have as little as 15% extra olive virgin oil. The rest could be . . . anything. Eww. Kind of annoyed about the olive oil I purchase at the store. I also learned that clear bottles should be avoided which is a shame since I bought clear glass bottles for my olive oil and vinegar.

Chef Merrell made a spring salad that we were able to sample. I had a taste of a really good Sauvignon Blanc, with it, that I cannot remember the name of, for the life of me. Nonetheless, it was a fun demo and like I mentioned, I learned a few things. One of the things I enjoyed about the chef’s presentation was his advice to try stuff out when you’re cooking taking a “no rules” approach. I like that.

Before I forget, I also loved the Gin &  Tonic from Mother Earth Spirits out of Kinston. P.S. I’m a cocktail fan but I had never had a Gin & Tonic before. I’m a new fan. I bought a bottle of Crude Bitters – Rosemary, Grapefruit & Peppercorn. I can’t wait to try it. I also had a sample of their Orange & Fig. So good!

bitters, Crude Bitters,

Overall, it was a really awesome experience. I had a ton of fun. I have been to quite a few wine dinners, tastings, etc., over recent years. But this was the first time attending a wine & food festival of this type. There are things I would do differently next year for sure. But mark my words, at the very least I’ll be back for the Vin de Mer Epicurean Village next year!

Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend – Wine, Bread, and Cheese Seminar

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Today I went to the first of a few events I’ll be attending as part of the Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend. As an awesome 40th birthday present, my friend Jackie bought me tickets to the Wine, Bread & Cheese Seminar as well as Saturday’s Vin de Mer Epicurean Village. I bought myself a ticket to the “Truck Stops Here” food truck rodeo.

This was seriously one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given! I had such a great time. The event was at the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center which is part of the Beaufort Maritime Museum. The view was awesome. And it was a super fun location for an event like this.

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I arrived early, along with quite a few others and we watched as the room was set up.

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Because this is the first event I’ve attended during the Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The event exceeded my expectations. The only criticism I had is that I would have liked it to be a little longer. Nonetheless, it was a great experience.

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The cheeses offered were so very good. Southern Food’s Cheesemonger, Sasha Shreders, chose cheeses I have never had before and probably am not likely to have again for some time. However, I learned a lot and confirmed that cheese, is in fact, proof that God loves me.

I’m not sure I could pick a favorite if I had to though the Shakerag Blue and Brabander Goat Gouda were pretty amazing. The wine was excellent and paired perfectly. I only bought three bottles (my budget and wallet thank me). I’m saving the Petite Sirah for a special occasion.

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After the event was over, I spent a little time walking along the waterfront and sat for a bit, enjoying the view across Taylor’s Creek. Overall, it was a great way to spend a few hours of my vacation. I am looking forward to the next two events!