07/31/15

Tips on Creating the Best Outer Banks Beach House Meals

Surf or Sound Beach House Dinner

The afternoon sun begins to lower in the sky, the kids start to wander in from the beach, and  the  family shoppers  have just returned from the market with pounds of fresh local produce and seafood. It’s time to begin the annual ritual of cooking a bountiful vacation meal.

Whether you have a family full of chefs or you prefer to keep things as simple and lazy as possible, vacation meals create rich, fond memories, that can be summoned up on even the coldest Midwest winters day.  We’ve gathered our favorite advice from experienced guests and chefs to help you plan the best culinary experience for your family.

Preparation

While you don’t have to have every detail of  your menu planned out, it does help  to prepare a bit ahead of time.

Start a Pinterest board with your favorite recipes and meal ideas and invite family members to contribute. Check out our Delicious Beach Eats and Great Beach Drinks boards on Pinterest for inspiration.

Bring your recipes with you.  Don’t worry if you can’t find what you want to cook online.  Take  a photo of your grandma’s best seafood recipe  card or your favorite magazine clippings with your phone so you can access them  away from home without the risk of losing family heirlooms. You can even upload the image to pinterest.

Assign meal nights ahead of time. Make a list of everything you’ll need and ask family members to sign up to bring items like spices, cooking oils and special sauces so you want have to buy everything once you get to the house. Some families like to assign nights ahead of time so that each group has a specific meal to prepare for. Even kids can get involved, helping to prepare ingredients, set the table, and decorating.

Breakfast

Fresh brewed coffee, bacon, eggs, sausage and pancakes? There’s nothing better than coming home from a long sunrise stroll on the beach to the smells of breakfast cooking. Some families have traditions where the first to rise in the morning gets breakfast started for the group. Others keep it casual with everyone preparing their own breakfast as they get up. However you like to do it, vacation is a good  time to try new things and treat yourself. Try this recipe for Everyday Granola  from Epicurius, it can be made  ahead of time and makes a great addition to  yogurt.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut*
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup assorted dried fruit

Preheat oven to 300 °F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Mix first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Stir honey and oil in saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture; toss. Spread on prepared sheet. Bake until golden, stirring every 10 minutes, about 40 minutes. Stir granola  and  cool. Mix in fruit.   Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight.

Lunch

Mid-day is the perfect time  to try one of Hatteras Island’s local restaurants or sandwich shops or picnic at the beach. If you had an early start it might also be a great excuse to take a break from the beach to make a sandwich and a cool drink. Try this recipe for Best Gazpacho from the New York Times. You can make a large batch ahead of time so that when lunch time hits, you have something that will cool you down, quench your thirst, and satisfy your hunger all at once.

Ingredients

  • About 2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cored and roughly cut into chunks
  • 1 Italian frying (cubanelle) pepper or another long, light green pepper, such as Anaheim, cored, seeded and roughly cut into chunks
  • 1 cucumber, about 8 inches long, peeled and roughly cut into chunks
  • 1 small mild onion (white or red), peeled and roughly cut into chunks
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, more to taste
  • Salt
  •  ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste, plus more for drizzling

Combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic in a blender (If necessary, work in batches.) Blend at high speed until very smooth, at least 2 minutes, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides.  Add the vinegar and 2 teaspoons salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The mixture will turn bright orange or dark pink and become smooth and emulsified, like a salad dressing. If it still seems watery, drizzle in more olive oil until texture is creamy.

Strain the mixture and discard the solids. Transfer to a large pitcher or bowl  and chill until very cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Before serving, adjust the seasonings with salt and vinegar. If soup is very thick, stir in a few tablespoons ice water.  Serve in bowls or glasses, over ice. A few drops of olive oil on top are a nice touch.

Dinner

Laughing with family you see just a few times  a year  over a glass of wine while you  prepare the evening meal is an experience unto itself.   Dinner in a Hatteras Island  vacation rental home has so many  options. Many guests choose to  divide cooking duties among the larger group with each  person or small family  in charge of a different week night. Some families have theme nights, a Polynesian Luau by the pool or a Mediterranean tapas night. Some folks even bring a folding table and a grill down to the beach and dine oceanside. It’s hard to beat the sound of the crashing waves as a dinner soundtrack and younger kids can continue to expend energy running on the beach.

Tapas Night

Tami Vogel is lucky to have chefs in the family – Pictured is their version of tapas night.

Try this  lowcountry boil  for a fun, no-fuss meal that will have everyone satisfied.

Here are even more top  tips from our  experienced guests!

The first day we make a shopping list and go get groceries for the week. – Brittany M.

Anytime someone goes to the store we always ask if we need anything and they pick it up. We used to keep track of what we would buy and divide the expenses at the end of vacation…but it’s so much nicer to just pick up whatever is needed and don’t worry about it. We are all family. – Carlene O.

The ladies in our family get together several months before vacation and plan the menu for the week. Then, each family chooses a night to cook. We also divide up set-up and clean-up. If you cook, you don’t do clean-up or set-up. We put money in a “grocery pot” for the week, and take money out of it to purchase groceries. It works well for us. – Sharon W.

Each family signs up for a dinner (we’re parents plus three married children with their own kids for 4 dinners). Then we have an eat-out night, an “everyone pitches in” night, plus a left-over night on the last night. The first night is often brought from home–lasagna (frozen homemade) or tacos or something with little prep time needed. Probably our favorite beach (dinner) meal is a mixed seafood dish in seafood stock (often clams, crab legs and crabmeat, fish, shrimp and mussels) with linguini or fettucini. Everyone brings items to share for lunches, breakfasts, snacks and desserts. If a family wants to do a big breakfast like sausage gravy and biscuits, they usually do it for everyone. And of course there has to be an “Apple Ugly” morning! And in our family it is ‘traditional’ that we finish the ice cream on the last morning. As to chores, those not cooking usually clean the kitchen after a meal (voluntary basis)  – Carol M.

Thanksgiving turkey dinner! The family is scattered now, so we take advantage of the ones we get to see for vacation. Plus the frozen turkey works as a great ice pack on the trip down!! – Sherri M.

One year I did a surprise Hawaiian Luau and brought outfits for everyone, had great food and we even had a scavenger hunt. It was fun! – Carlene O.

(On nights the family isn’t cooking)…  we have pizza nite, everyone chips in night, on your own night, usually each family goes out, and then leftover nite or clean the fridge out nite usually the last day – Ranae F.

Fish tacos or take a folding table down on the beach about 4pm, make lots of fun appetizers, dinner for the kiddies and hang out all together until bedtime for kids. The best. – Ellen H.


07/23/15

Hatteras Island’s Other Coast

Soundfront Homes

The waters that surround an island often contribute to its character. It’s  the Pamlico Sound, the Atlantic Ocean’s quieter counterpart, that sets the slower pace of life on Hatteras Island with its calm waters, saturated sunsets, endless views, and open starry skies.

A low, sandy barrier island, Hatteras Island sits 30 miles “out to sea” from the mainland of North Carolina. The “sea” between the island and the mainland is actually the Pamlico Sound. Part of a large interconnected network of lagoon estuaries, the sound is part of one of the biggest estuaries in the United States, second only to the Chesapeake Bay. Alive with waterfowl, fish, crabs, shellfish, marsh grasses, seals and turtles, the sound also serves as an important habitat for spawning fish like striped bass, shad and herring. Even larger species like dolphin can occasionally be found spending time there. Fed by inlets from the Atlantic Ocean and freshwater rivers to the west, the sound water is a brackish mix of salt and fresh water and is shallow throughout, with an average depth of 5-6 feet. These shallow depths, paired with the soft sandy floor, make it an attractive place for kids to play and swim and have helped make Hatteras Island a world-class kiteboarding and watersports destination.

SoundSUP

A Soundside Vacation

Vacationer Kathleen Holmes explains why  her family chooses to rent a home on the sound: “…not only are the  views wide-open and amazing, but our family likes to spend all day on the water, boating, fishing, crabbing, stand up paddleboarding and swimming. Some of us may head to the ocean for a while, but we all come home to enjoy dinner together every night in the glow of the setting sun. Then we soak in the hot tub underneath the millions of stars visible in the unpolluted night sky. It’s truly a giant breath of fresh air coming from New York City.”

Some soundfront vacation homes have their own dock or walkway and a number of neighborhoods on the sound have a community sound access or boat ramp. Surf or Sound Realty manages premier vacation homes, while homes on the sound may be valuably priced there is no shortage of amenities, like elevators, private pools and hot tubs.

Surf or Sound Realty is  known for offering some of the Island’s most spectacular oceanfront homes, but the soundfront experience is one that’s equally incredible. No matter where you stay on Hatteras Island the ocean is never far away.

Sound Sunset


06/23/15

Cape Hatteras Named #1 Best Beach for 2015 by Business Insider

Number One Beach Business Insider
This year, Business Insider decided to take on the task of ranking the #1 beach in America. They combined some of the most notable beach rankings to develop the ULTIMATE best beach list for 2015. Coming in at #1: Cape Hatteras, of course! With it’s uncrowded shores, warm, tranquil sound waters, lighthouse  and  charming villages, anyone who has been here will tell you, it is  simply the best.

Business Insider  compiled rankings from top sites and publications like Dr. Beach, Forbes, Coastal Living and the Travel Channel to come up with their ultimate list. Read the full article or check out the top 13 video.


04/20/15

Welcome to the Village of Waves

Located about 30 minutes south of Nags Head and other central Outer Banks attractions, the slower pace of Waves provides a great place for water and nature lovers who enjoy a little peace and quiet. This area has become renowned for water sports enthusiasts, such as kiteboarders, paddleboarders and windsurfers, who enjoy the slick, shallow waters of the Pamlico Sound. Surfers and ocean lovers can also enjoy some of the best WAVES on the East Coast. A paved multi-use path runs the length of the village for cyclists, joggers and strollers. Tucked behind windswept Live Oaks and Loblolly Pines, you’ll find neighborhood entrances, restaurants, galleries and shops — just off the beaten path.

Here are a few of the great places you’ll find in Waves:
Find their locations by choosing points of interest on the interactive map on our website

Ocean Gourmet and Gifts — Homemade fudge, Hand-dipped ice cream, and fresh-baked cinnamon rolls in the morning

Dairy Queen — Soft-serve ice cream, blizzards and classic burgers and fries from the take out window.

Hatteras Island Sail Shop — Since the 1980s,  one of the best launches on Hatteras, with a hard sandy bottom and great exposure to the southwest winds. Shop offers lessons and rentals and a wide range of kiteboarding, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and kayak gear.

Atlantic Coast Cafe –  Laid-back cafe serving breakfast and a casual lunch and dinner menu with a seafood flair. Enjoy your meal inside or outside on the deck where pets are welcome.

Hatteras Island Surf Shop — Established in 1971,  the surf shop has every thing for your surfing, skim boarding, and body boarding needs and offers lessons and rentals.

Michael Halminski Gallery –  A resident of Hatteras Island for over 40 years, Michael Halminski sells fine art prints and note cards of his iconic photography.

Charlies Boat Rentals — Rent Pontoon Boats, Motor Boats and Waverunners by the hour or the day.

Top Dog Cafe — Laid-back, Florida Keys-style restaurant for wraps, burgers, surf n turf and fish tacos.

REAL Watersports — Internationally recognized kiteboarding and surfing shop, and lesson center. Four acres of the latest and greatest gear, rentals and lessons.

Watermen’s Bar and Grille — Excellent food, drinks and coffee overlooking the sound with family-friendly with picnic tables on the deck and indoor/outdoor eating options.

Leonardos Pizza — Simply great pizza and subs.

Waves Market and Deli — Boars Head meats and cheeses, specialty beers and wine, groceries and quirky sandwiches, wraps and fries that have developed a cult following.

St. Waves Seafood and Steaks — Fresh seafood and hand-cut steaks, take home steamer buckets and fresh homemade desserts (try the key lime pie!)

 

 

 

 


04/13/15

Have we Solved the Mystery of the Lost Colony?

Artifacts from the Lost Colony
What has been called, “one of America’s most intriguing unsolved mysteries” is one step closer to being solved.

Many are familiar with the story of the Lost Colony, brought to life in an outdoor drama on Roanoke Island each year. A group of men, women and children came to Roanoke Island in 1587to establish the first English settlement in the New World. They found life to be difficult and sent their Governor back to England for supplies. Held up overseas by the impending war from Spain and did not return until three years later. The colony had vanished. There were no typical signs of distress and the only clue that seemed to be left was the word “Croatoan” carved into a post.

According to an article just released on the Outer Banks Voice, two “star finds” were made in the past week on Hatteras Island. These, along with many years of supporting artifacts, led chief archaeologist for the Croatoan Archeological Society to announce that “Overwhelming circumstantial evidence” shows that some of the 1587 colonists, proclaimed so many years as lost, lived for generations on Hatteras Island and assimilated among the Croatoan Tribe of the Native-American Manteo. He went on to describe a wonderful brotherhood that existed among the Croatoan  Natives and colonists and describes  Hatteras Island as a wonderful place, even hundreds of years ago.

There you have it, Hatteras Island has been a favorite for vacationers for over 400 years.

Read the entire article here.


04/10/15

Get Your Vacation Started Even Sooner with Early Check-In

Count Down to Island Time

Jump Start Your Vacation

As you’re counting down the moments until your feet hit the sand, consider this – upgrading your reservation with the Early Check-In option guarantees your family access to a minimum of the lowest living area of your vacation home by 1:00 on your check-in day. You can unload your groceries, unpack the car, change into your swimsuits and hit the beach – or, if your house has a private pool you’ll have access to the pool area as well.

Don’t wait! Now is the time to add this feature to your trip, availability is limited and weeks have already started to sell out. Call our office 1-800-237-1138 or click to chat on our website and reserve your early check-in today!

Keyless Entry

Another exciting program we are offering this year is Keyless Entry  Check-In. Over half of our homes are equipped with high-tech electronic keyless door locks, allowing you the option to bypass office check-in and check-out altogether. If your home offers this feature, you’ll be given your unique code 14 days prior to arrival. When your house is ready you’ll be sent a notification via email or through our mobile app letting you know!


04/9/15

Spice up your Vacation Experience with a Personal Chef

PersonalChef

Hatteras Island vacationers can take their culinary experience to the next level by hiring a personal chef to prepare dinner in their vacation home! With meals ranging from indulgent 5-course feasts to themed Polynesian Luaus – the Hatteras Island personal chef experience allows guests to take a night off from cooking and take home new memories and a few new culinary skills.

Culinary Culture
Home to seven charming villages dotted along the pristine Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Hatteras Island sits 30 miles off the North Carolina coast, providing some of the best fishing in the East. Local restaurants serve everything from North Carolina Barbecue to freshly caught, straight from the docks seafood. It’s easy to see why culinary experts enjoy working on Hatteras Island.

Mouth-watering Traditions
One of the first personal chefs in the area, Outer Banks Personal Chef Lynn Flowers explains, “When I arrive at my client’s vacation house, it’s wonderful to be greeted with such enthusiasm. Everyone is SO excited to see me. I have clients for whom I have been cooking for 15 years. They treat me like family. They keep coming back to the Outer Banks for our gorgeous beaches and they hire me to cook and serve them up a most memorable meal. I have seen their kids grow up and new babies  be born.”

Busy work and home lives have guests looking for relaxing, enriching activities to add to their family vacation schedules. Some chef services even include cooking lessons, and if they don’t: “I really don’t do “cooking lessons” but when I am hosting personal chef events that’s exactly what it turns into! Everyone gathers around the bar while I cook and has a glass of wine. It becomes dinner and a show,” Gwen Hart of Enchanted Cuisine exclaims.

Book Early
It’s a trend that’s catching on. Many chefs who started booking summer dates in January are completely booked for some summer weeks by March. Jamie Pauls, owner of Café 111 explained  “I still get people who have just found out about Café 111 and are excited to hire us.” – he does his best to work them in but many of his prime summer weeks are already booked by the end of Spring.

Prime Location
Vacationers love the personal chef experience. The quality of the meal is equivalent to what you’d find in the finest regional restaurants and they have the opportunity to get to know and learn from some incredible local chefs. The open layouts and gourmet kitchens in many of Surf or Sound Realty’s vacation homes provide the ultimate setting. Plus, most restaurants can’t top the views from our oceanfront homes.


03/19/15

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Opens for Climbing April 17

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Opens for Climbing April 17

The National Park Service has announced that the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse will be open for climbing in 2015 from Friday, April 17 through Monday, October 14.

Climbing hours for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse will be 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily in the Spring and Fall, and 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., May 22 through Labor Day, Monday, September 7. Ticket sales for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse begin at 8:15 a.m. daily and close at 4:30 p.m. in the spring and fall, and at 5:30 p.m. May 22 through Labor Day.

Tickets to climb are $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens (62 or older), children 11 years of age and under, and those holding a National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Access Pass. Tickets are available on a first come/first served basis and can only be purchased in-person at the site the day of the climb. There are no advance ticket sales.

Before you go, understand that climbing the lighthouse can be strenuous. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse climb is equivalent to climbing a 12-story building- and the view is spectacular. Children must be at least 42″ tall to climb and children under twelve must be escorted by a person who is at least 16 years old.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse, also part of the National Park and a great stop on the way to or from Hatteras Island, will be open as a self-guided experience this year to cut down on wait times that were often experienced for the 45 minute guided tours offered in years past. This change should allow more visitors to have an opportunity climb the lighthouse each day.

Opening day climbs will be FREE! Residents and visitors are welcomed to tour and climb the lighthouses at no charge on, Friday April 17. Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and can only be obtained in-person, that day, on-site.


02/19/15

Cape Hatteras Named Travel Channel’s #5 Sand and Surf Hotspot

Sand and Surf Hot Spots

With miles of uncrowded beaches and unrivaled kiteboarding conditions, it’s no surprise that Cape Hatteras was named #5 on the Travel Channel’s countdown of the Top 101 Sand and Surf Hot Spots in the world. The unique shape of the island means there’s almost always a hot spot for watersports – a place where the conditions are just right for surfing, kiteboarding, sailing, boogie boarding or just flying a kite.

The unique geography of the Outer Banks is what drew the Wright Brothers here over 100 years ago to test the flying machines that would become the first airplanes. It’s also what brings kiteboarders from all over the world to Hatteras Island to experience the thrill of riding the wind. With soft sandy beach breaks and miles of coastline the island is known as the best place on the East Coast to learn to surf. Another reason Hatteras Island is a must visit vacation destination.

Each hour-long Travel Channel episode features 20 Hotspots. Travel fans have been eagerly awaiting the top 20- catch it tonight at 5:00 Eastern Time on the Travel Channel or check out the Hatteras Island clip here:

The Travel Channel Video

 


02/11/15

Exciting new ways to search for your vacation home

The process of finding the perfect Outer Banks vacation home has naturally evolved over the years. Instead of just bookmarking pages in a catalog, now you can walk through the house with an interactive floor plan, compare your favorite homes side-by side, and invite family members all over the country to leave comments and vote on their favorite houses while saving all of the information in your online account.

When redesigning the Surf or Sound website we thought long and hard about the best ways to help people discover the perfect vacation home for their family. We wanted to go beyond the typical web search and make finding a vacation home both exciting and intuitive. We had custom features built, like the ability to view the homes in your search result in a gallery-like grid or on a map with optional aerial overlay to get the best idea of the home’s exact location, interactive maps that let you find things to do and places to eat near homes you’re thinking of renting and a total cost calculator that lets you determine the total cost of your reservation and see the price per person or per bedroom with just one click!

Check out this video that takes you through the different ways of finding your home on our website: