When you ponder all the great food the Outer Banks of North Carolina is known for, you probably think mostly of seafood. The shoreline provides an abundance of fresh varieties of fish and shellfish, but if there is one thing that puts the entire state of North Carolina on the food map, it is barbecue.
When it comes to food, Outer Bankers are quite serious, and when it comes to representing North Carolina barbecue in all its variations and creativity, no one depicts the diversity of it like Outer Bankers. This concept was the inspiration for adding a barbecue event to the annual foodie festival Outer Banks Taste of the Beach (held March. 17–20, 2016). This famous, four-day culinary experience boasts more than 50 events that range from multi-course seafood dinners paired with world-class wines to an annual chowder cook-off that hosts nearly 800 in a casual outdoor setting. Since the induction of the barbecue showdown to the lineup of Taste of the Beach in 2012, this barbecue event has evolved to include a variety of tender, saucy wings. We are here to tell you that this event is evolving and not to be missed. It’s even changed its venue—from humble beginnings in the parking lot of a shopping mall to The Soundside event site in Nags Head, newly built and ready to host 750 guests with on-site parking amidst the backdrop of the Pamlico Sound in all its splendor.
Defending their three-peat winning title of Best Ribs, we will see the guys from Pigman’s Barbecue compete again for bragging rights and the ability to hang a banner on the front porch of their restaurant as they have done each year since 2012. Make no mistake, though, their win is not a given, and they have a big target on their backs with strong competition from Dave Boutilier, a Kansas City barbecue circuit competitor and the owner of SaltyDawg Smokehouse. Throw in The Blue Point in Duck, a world-class restaurant owned by nationally acclaimed, award-winning Chef Sam McGann (maker of possibly the best smoked brisket you have ever put in your mouth), and this is about to be stepped up a notch. This year’s event will feature about 15 competitors offering their own take on the finest in pulled barbecue, tender ribs and saucy wings.
Can we talk more about those wings for just a minute?
There are as many varieties of wings as there are stars in the sky, and if your life’s mission is to try them all, then being at this event is a pretty good start on the path to that goal. Last year was the first that wings were introduced to the event, and what a delicious development that was. Seven varieties of wings were offered, and while the panel of judges awarded Best in Show to SaltyDawg Smokehouse, the attendees weighed in with their people’s choice votes, pushing New York Pizza Pub’s wings out in front and declaring them the best choice. Now you’re thinking, “How do I get a spot on the judge’s panel at this event?” Lucky for you, it’s as easy as being there, and the 2016 presenting sponsors, Joe Lamb Jr. Realty and The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, look forward to greeting you with open arms.
So why all this hoopla over a barbecue showdown during one of the most touted seafood festivals on the East Coast? Because the Outer Banks represents part of North Carolina’s culinary traditions that include a bigger variety than shrimp, scallops, rockfish and oysters. Because North Carolina Eastern-style barbecue is among the best in the nation, and it deserves your attention, praise and time. For four days in the middle of March you can be the judge of tastes that spark new memories of sharing flavors with good friends and family that will remain in your mind longer than the flavors linger on your tongue.
This year's Taste of the Beach is held March. 17–20, 2016. Visit OBXTasteOfTheBeach.com for more delicious details.