Wine and Food in
Check out all of Doc's Sips Across America articles.
BEAUFORT, NC - After a few glasses of wine here, there are some recreation options: you can plunge into the nearby Atlantic waters or have another pour and begin devouring the seafood. The annual springtime Beaufort Wine and Food Festival is celebrated a stone’s throw from the secluded bay where the notorious pirate Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Ann’s Revenge, sank. This ancient and very lovely city sits along the southern Outer Banks, North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, and a genuine American treasure that must be considered for the perfect vacation.
The Beaufort area is original America where Betsy Fulford traces her family’s roots back to the 1600’s. The stately old homes, the waterfront shops and restaurants and the natural beauty and friendly residents blend well together, making this an outstanding wine and food celebration.
I joined Carl White, the celebrated host of the hit television show, “Life in the Carolinas,” for three days of exploring and visiting, drinking fine wine and dining on gourmet dishes with a distinctive Southern flair prepared by local chefs and other North Carolina gourmet kitchen wizards. After dinner, live music inspired wine enthusiasts to shag, jitterbug and clog to exhaustion.
My temporary Beaufort home was The Pecan Tree Inn, across the street from an
exceptional restaurant, Beaufort Grocery Company, the venue for my first
wine dinner. The event featured esteemed local legend Chef Charles Park and
Chef Scott Crawford of Heron's Restaurant in Cary, NC. Under a clear North
Carolina sky, they served a spectacular four-course dinner paired with a
remarkable array of Zinfandel’s from the acclaimed winery, Terra d'Oro.
Joined by other locals including the talented executive director of the
Beaufort Historic Site, Patricia Suggs, the feast included crispy-fried game
hen with fois gras and roasted lamb loin.
THE GREAT GALA
An evening in paradise consists of fine wines, gourmet food and dancing. Under the giant tent on the Beaufort Historic Site, the masses gathered to celebrate joie de vivre the North Carolina way.
The Shag is the unofficial dance of the region, jitterbug’s cousin that seems easier as you get closer to the Atlantic. Between dancing, there were plates of food prepared by local and celebrity guest chefs, with endless wines of every style imaginable.
Members of the Swirley Girls, who hail from Burlington, North Carolina
mercifully offered seats for two lucky journalists. The Swirley Girls, Tar
Heel counterparts to Steel Magnolias and the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, are members
of a very good wine club.
GRAND TASTING AND BARBEQUE
The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Gallant's Channel hosted the long-anticipated Vin de Mer Grand Tasting, packing in guests from New York to Nebraska, while showcasing over 300 impressive wines and chef selections from area restaurants.
Barbeque tastes better with appropriate wines and live music like classics
from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tom Petty played by a precision band. Back under the
tent at the Beaufort Historical Site, the barbeque chicken and pork, the
stews, beans and cole slaw were in sync with a warm spring evening by the
sea. Craft beer was available, but the preference seemed to be wines. More
than a few paired nicely with all styles of barbeque. The aphorism that you
can’t go wrong pairing barbeque with Champagne or a high quality sparkling
wine was reaffirmed.
WINE, SEAFOOD, HISTORY
Beaufort’s restaurants are exceptional, and many are accessible via an easy walk from The Pecan Tree Inn. Innkeepers Dave and Allison DuBuisson are enlightened locals who team with other leaders to keep Beaufort vibrant year-round. The white sandy beaches of Cape Lookout, Shackleford Banks, and Atlantic Beach are nearby.
Historic Beaufort has over 100 beautifully restored 18th and 19th century
homes, the Old Burying Grounds, the North Carolina Maritime Museum, and
water taxi service to other islands. The protected, deep-water harbor is a
preferred port of call for yachts from the four corners. According to Dave
DuBuisson, a former journalist, “you might say that Beaufort is Nantucket
with a southern drawl.”
Beaufort is an ecotourism center with nature excursions by kayak or sailboat. Bird watching is rewarding. Salt-water fly fishers flock here for the fall run of false albacore around Cape Lookout. Walks are rejuvenating, working up a thirst and appetite.
Hoping to see one of the friendly ghosts and guided by a local expert, I joined Carl Lewis for a midnight tour of the Old Burying Ground. When that proved unsuccessful, we headed back to the waterfront. We joined our new friends from Raleigh, Jeff Adams and Patricia Holland, to laugh and drink the night away. Approaching sunrise, all agreed that great wines seem to take to the healing salty air of this beautiful eastern border of America.
DOC LAWRENCE PRODUCTIONS