The Currituck Table
We laugh and say this is simply how we roll. But it isn’t, really. It is a whim, a grown-up one, that sure is fun.
by Amy Gaw
This supper is a whim.
From harvesting sea salt to brewing beer and making wine, from butchering humanely raised meats to collecting the bounties of the sea, from packaging goods to sell around the state to feeding people in local restaurants, everyone here romances food for a living, and we do it in rural Currituck County. Bonded by our passions for food and family and where we live, we’re celebrating the end of a busy and relatively storm-free visitor season.
We’ve set up a farm table and chairs on the north side of the real-life field of dreams that is the Wright family’s Sanctuary Vineyards. We bring our local specialties and let Chef Wes Stepp of Red Sky Cafe in Duck cook them for us and share a few of his favorite locally inspired dishes, too.
As busy entrepreneurs, we rarely have a chance to see one another beyond quick hellos in passing at food-related events or when dropping off our products to clients. But this is a no-stress, no-work meal, and that alone is satisfying.
Tonight, we are not here to promote, speak, judge, critique, report or inspire about Currituck County or its food. Tonight, we are here to enjoy fellowship and plenty of good eats. Smiles are big as we remark that the others clean up nicely and how interesting it is that our clothes all match the Carolina blues of the sky.
“We sure have it good” and “It doesn’t get any better than this,” we say, and we mean every word.
On this night we are grateful for simple pleasures, and in these moments we want for nothing. We laugh as we realize we are seated in a vineyard, dining in the rural countryside — just as the people who hire us and buy our products do.
Babies coo and drool, and little girls in boots and dresses shriek as they run with a Radio Flyer wagon. We sip Sanctuary Vineyards’ award-winning wines within sight of the growing grapes and enjoy the bubbly coolness of Weeping Radish beers and root beer, brewed just up the road, alongside savory bites of their Linguica sausages.
We moan in appreciation as we easily pick sweet white clusters of lump crab meat from their shells and pop them into our mouths with nary a bit of sauce. None is needed. These crabs were swimming this morning before being caught in Hunter Stuart’s traps. We laugh at baby Chilton, who reaches for a steamed leg to teethe on.
We eat family style, spooning out all of Chef Stepp’s Redneck Risotto — freshly caught shrimp and creamy grits —as soon as it arrives at the table. A tower of sliders filled with vinegary pork barbecue, a stack of crab cakes, and a simple plate of Weeping Radish’s grilled bratwurst with curry ketchup disappear just as quickly. We sprinkle locally harvested Outer Banks SeaSalt onto freshly steamed Currituck veggies grown by our farmer friends, the Snowdens, who weren’t able to join us.
The tiniest diners spot the peach pie early on, and the red wagon distracts them for only so long. The little girls help cut and serve the pie, freshly baked by the good folks at Grandy Greenhouse right here in Currituck.
The pie lasts only a little longer than it takes to serve it, and the children are more patient than anyone could ask, so we reluctantly push our chairs away from table. Well, not really; the wooden chair legs sink deep into that loamy Currituck dirt, so we pick them up and move them and agree that, indeed, we will do this again.
We have eaten well. That is how we roll. Call it coastal, Southern, country, soul or snout-to-tail. We eat what is fresh from the earth and the waters and we buy from our neighbors, and we all know the value of the bounty on our table.