Fajitas at Las fincas

It is always a pleasure to have a new restaurant show up in town. It is especially nice when the food is great.

That happens to be the case with the new Mexican restaurant, Las fincas, in Swansboro across from the Ford dealership.

We have visited Las fincas a couple of times, but the fajitas and homemade tortillas have been so tasty that it was only on the second trip that my wife broke ranks and tried the fish tacos which were also tasty.

Fortunately we had some friends with us who tried the chimichangas. I suspect that Las fincas is going to do very well.

The completely redone interior makes it one of the nicest restaurants in the area.

If the crowds that we have seen there are any indication, their business is doing very well.

And on top of that, the food is reasonably priced which is again something we do not see a lot of in this area.

Shrimping on the White Oak

It is late summer and the conditions have finally conspired to make shrimp available to those who try to catch them on the White Oak River.

n talking to my friend, Ed, who is a life long resident of the Crystal Coast, I recently learned that shrimping on the river is a dying hobby. It cannot be considered an occupation because you could not make any money to speak of from it.

It seems that folks like Ed who continue to do it are doing it because they enjoy shrimping not because there is much money in it. A few years ago Ed said their were twenty-five boats on the river. Now most of the time now there are one o

I recently heard that prices for river shrimp were at 31 cents per pound if you could find a buyer. Most of the river shrimp are smaller so they are a lot of work to clean.

The batch pictured in the post probably took hours to clean.

Cleaning shrimp even with much larger shrimp is something of a labor of love. Taking the shells off and de-veiring small river shrimp might qualify someone for sainthood.

I was actually sort of excited to eat some of the shrimp that I like to imagine the estuary around my home has helped to raise.

The shrimp we ate had been swimming in the White Oak the night before. I wonder how long it takes for a Chinese shrimp to make it to our shores?

Certainly once you have eaten fresh Crystal Coast shrimp, it is easy to wonder why someone would try anything else

The new ramps in Beaufort

We were down in Beaufort earlier in the week. They are now busily reconfiguring the roads so that backing into the ramps will not force you to cross a road.

It looks like to me that these ramps are certainly going to improve water access in Carteret County.

I hope we get something like that soon for the Wildlife Ramp in Cedar Point. It is overcrowded almost all summer.

I sure the boaters down Beaufort way are glad to see this. In fact there are probably some boaters down our way that are glad to see this since some folks occasionally head up Beaufort way.

Maybe this explains why there were so many boats on the water when we visited Beaufort.

Some changes to Western Regional Access

I am happy to report the good folks at Emerald Isle have modified the boardwalk access to the beach.

The two showers were previously just on the edge of the boardwalk. By the end of a busy day, one could expect a sizable pond covering the board walk.

Now there are three showers, and they have been moved far enough away from the boardwalk that there is no pond to wade at the end of the day.

All this comes after the winter effort to create accessible ramps to the beaches both at Western and Eastern Regional Accesses.

I also noticed as we were walking out, that there is now a recycling receptacle for cans. That is a great idea. Last year containers for recycling fishing line were added.

The beach accesses get a lot of use in the summer, but by October they are back to almost being our personal beach accesses.

I am really pleased at the effort that Emerald Isle has made in improving these accesses over the last few years.

We might have to go back over tomorrow. I understand there is beach volleyball tournament. That should be fun to watch.

Warm start to a wet day

When I checked our window thermometer this morning is showed that our high temperature for the day was 82 degrees. Apparently we reached that around mid-night since we were only at 77 degrees when I got up at 7:30 this morning.

We had blue sky this morning and a nice breeze. We went to church this morning, and as we were walking back to our car, we could see dark clouds to the west. By the time we had driven the seven or eight minutes to get home the rain had started.

We have been through some relatively heavy periods of rain this afternoon, but nothing serious so far. Our rain gauge had about six tenths of an inch of rain in it at 6 PM, but we have seen some additional rain since then.

The big change when I went out to check the gauge was the temperature. By 6PM our temperature had fallen 17 degrees almost to the point of it no longer being shorts weather. Yesterday I was sweating on a beach, today I am glad we did not cool the house off last night.

We might have enough residual heat to make it through the cool spell. I suspect the real casualty of the rain will be the remaining strawberries. My guess is that this rain will finish them off.

We have had mixed luck with this years strawberries. They seem to have come out of the field very ripe. We had to throw away about one third of the ones we bought from Buck’s Corner Farm.

I think everyone is quietly anticipating the return of the tourists. The beaches are still uncrowded and peaceful. The fishing remains slow with winds and weather not cooperating very much.

We are still wrestling with getting people to take advantage of our electronic village. The sheet at the crossroads seems to remain a favorite way of advertising.

Connecting Twitter to our real estate listings seems to be a good idea. Also using YouTube to post virtual tours of area homes is working.

Right now it looks like we will be returning to warm weather before the Memorial Day weekend tourist season kickoff. We are all hoping that this is a good season, our businesses need a shot in the arm.

Shrimp & Grits, Cape Carteret Style

One of the things that you figure out over time is that every restaurant on the Crystal Coast has its own version of shrimp and grits. Since my wife loves grits and enjoys shrimp enough to eat them with grits, I have seen several different plates of shrimp and grits.

I have even had to give up my dinner on occasion when a particular recipe was too spicy for my wife. I love shrimp, and I have yet to see a dish that destroyed really good shrimp like we have here on the Crystal Coast.

This weekend we were coming back from a visit to the Core Sound Museum on Harkers Island. We stopped by the Fish Town fish market in Beaufort for some shrimp.

My wife had decided we were having shrimp and grits for dinner. All I could remember was the time back in 2006 when my oldest daughter and I cooked shrimp and grits for my wife for Mother’s Day. My memory told me that it was an all day procedure.

Still i know that my wife has a good dose of Southern cooking magic running in her veins. That innate ability to make a meal quickly out of almost nothing is a skill that I believe you cannot teach. Number one they never measure anything, and the only cooking instructions are, “Cook until done.”

When we got home, I started cleaning the shrimp, and quickly saw that the magic was actually a package of Southern Garlic Cheese Grits from Savor the Flavor of Sumter, SC.

Our recipe ended up being very simple. After cooking your grits about twelve minutes take a pound or so of cleaned, deveined NC shrimpand saute them in olive oil with some chopped onions (green ones if you have them) for about three minutes.

Spoon some grits on the plates, add shrimp, and some crumbled bacon for an extraordinary meal in minutes.

The meal only took a minimal amount of magic.

Quiznos opening in Cape Carteret

There is always excitement when a new eatery opens in the area. It is especially nice to get something new which is no already in the area.

The Cape Carteret area does not have a lot of quick lunch places so getting a Quiznos should be a real help to hungry workers who need to eat quickly and get back to work.

According to the sign they are opening Friday, March 27 at lunch. I am sure the place will be mobbed.

I will wait a few days before trying it. There seemed to be a lot of activity at the shop today so it looks like they will be ready.

While a good sub would be nice, I have had it on my mind that this about the time of year that the Crab Shack in Salter Path opens. We might just make our way down there and see if we can find some whole fried clams.

Harris Teeter in MHC

We made our second trip to Harris Teeter in Morehead City today. A weekly ten dollar coupon will certainly get more than passing attention in this economy especially if you are in the area anyway.

So far we have been impressed with the produce and with a couple of Angus NY strip steaks that we got last week. They were $5.95 a pound and came off the grill about as close to what we used to raise on the farm as anything that I have seen recently.

Unfortunately I did not see any meat for the grill that caught my attention on our second visit. We did pick up a very tasty rotisserie chicken today for only $4.99. That is not bad since we get two meals out of a chicken.

We have found some things that we cannot get in other places like my favorite Ruby Red Crystal Light and Green Mountain Gringo Salsa.

The story is huge for our area, but certainly uncrowded at this point. We all know that we are grocery nirvana right now. Summer will soon be here, and we will be reduced to Monday through Thursday shopping except for small trips. I will not complain about the tourists coming since we all need them to keep our economy going.

Harris Teeter is a nice addition to the area. We’ll certainly stop by occasionally and especially for the next two weeks since we have a couple more ten dollar coupons.

A nice rain yesterday

Yesterday was something of a rainy day here on the Carolina coast. That is a good thing since we needed the rain.

The greater excitement and rain came well after dark. Sometime around 10:30 pm, we started hearing thunder which is sometimes hard to distinguish between the live mortars at Camp Lejeune.

With the thunder came even more wind and finally rain which was heavy for a while. We got an inch in the night which made our total for the day 1.5 inches.

That is a good start to some spring moisture. We have to keep those spring plants in good health. I am counting on fresh strawberries before the end of March.

Riso's Italian Restaurant

For a while we have been enjoying meals at Riso’s on Route 58 just before you get to Silver Creek Golf Course heading north.

Recently we had the pleasure of eating there twice in a few days.

One of my favorite meals is Pete’s Special which is meatballs and Italian sausage covered with tomato sauce and cheese and then baked and served with a side of spaghetti and a salad.

It is a great meal and often there is enough left over for a second meal.

I recently tried one of their Sausage Parmesan subs. It made a very nice lunch.

On my last trip there I had the special which was Pete’s special with less meat and more pasta backed in the same dish. It is a little lighter than Pete’s special, but it does still come with the choice of a garden salad or a Caesar Salad.

The interior of Riso’s has been redone. They are closed Sunday, but recently they have opened for lunch. Last I heard Riso’s was still taking reservations for Valentine’s Day.

Unfortunately I know that I have a phone number for them, I just cannot find it. I will post one as soon as I can track it down.

Clean-up at the Emerald Isle Valero

We were turned down Coast Guard Road for a visit to the point when we noticed that the Valero-Wine Mart that recently caught fire was being torn down.

We headed on out to the point to capture a few pictures.

When we came back, we stopped long enough to take a few shots of the excavator tearing down the burned out building.

It was very efficient and quick. When we drove by the next day, there was nothing but bare ground visible.

Based on what I have read in the newspaper, and how quickly the old building disappeared, it looks like they will have a new store as soon as possible.

All you can eat shrimp and fish

I love shrimp, especially the ones that I fix myself.

I also enjoy shrimp fixed just about anyway that they can be done.

Even fried shrimp are okay as long as they are not heavily battered.

On Wednesday night we decided to try the Fairway’s all you can eat shrimp and fish special for $9.99.

I got the shrimp and my wife got the fish which was whiting. We both enjoyed our meals.

I restrained myself and only got one refill basket shrimp (pictured above).

If I had been lucky enough to be with another eating partner I probably could have made it through another basket with a little help.

Still I had plenty, and we will probably be back for another patch soon.

A seat in the sun

The recovery to our normal weather has hopefully started.

It might be a bumpy start given there is a large east coast storm slated for early next week, but we have blue skies and warmer temperatures.

We often go out in the afternoon to run errands. Emerald Isle is usually where we try to get our missions accomplished.

If you have a choice, why not go to the post office at the beach or the grocery store at the beach.

Of course taking advantage of Emerald Isle’s nice bike/walking trail is another good reason.

When it is too cool for the beach as it was today, the bike trail is often warm enough to be very enjoyable.

Before we went for our walk we drove down Cedar Street which is just across the road from Captain Willis Seafood.

There is a small parking lot and a nice pier out into Bogue Sound. Today the sun was just right for sitting there and soaking up a few rays.

It was a nice spot to be. There was no breeze, the sky was blue, and it was very peaceful.

We have to soak days like that during the “winter.”

We might see cold temperatures again next week, but all I needed for my walk was a sweatshirt.

I have to try to remember where I left my coat.

Rejuvenated Cape Carteret Ramp

One of the things you need to enjoy the water is a boat. In order to get the boat into the water, you need a boat ramp.

It is always with great interest that we watch a new ramp show up or an older ramp get improved.

In the last few months, Cape Carteret has really spruced up the town ramp on Manatee Street.

My understanding is that if you are a resident of Carteret County, that you can apply for a permit, pay a fee and use the ramp.

I have not been over to the town hall to ask, but I have been told that the fees are graduated depending on where you live in the county.

The ramp also has a nice parking area for trailers and trucks.

I expect it will be a lot more popular now that it has been fixed up.

The sign by the ramp says that there is a $200 fine for using the ramp without a permit, I would make sure that I had the permit before my boat touched the water.

Ephemeral Snow

The snow storm which gave us about one half an inch of snow is long gone. The last snow flurries were around 10 PM last night.

The temperature did drop last night to around twenty degrees Fahrenheit. However, the bright sunshine is making short work of any snow that it can reach.

We are still just below freezing at noon today, but our driveway is bare as are most of the roads.

We drove over to Emerald Isle to see how the snow was doing on the beach.

It is a mere shadow of itself. One of my neighbors told me that he has been living here for six years, and this is the first snow that he has seen.

I guess a snow once every six years is not much to complain about especially since I did not have to shovel any of it.

We did make the Roanoke, Va. weather blog.

It did snow on the beach

Well it happened. After two years of preaching that we do not have snow down here on the coast, we got some snow.

Today, January 20, inauguration day, we got snow. All day I did not think it was going to happen.

When I got up just after 7 AM, the temperature was still 40F.

However, in three hours until 10 AM the temperature dropped to 34F.

By 11 AM the temperature had dropped another two degrees and we were down to freezing.

By 12:30 PM we had some light snow. It snowed most of the afternoon, but it was never cold enough for it to freeze on the driveways and roads.

The exception to that happened to be bridges, culverts, and shaded spots in the road.

The bridge to Emerald Isle was more icy than any of the roads, but they were sanding it as we came over for a visit.

It was very quiet over on Emerald Isle. It would have been a good night for peaceful meal if you could have found a restaurant open.

We were happy to have eaten over on the island last night when we had some choice with restaurants.

Snow in the forecast?

We just got back from spending a few day in Roanoke, Virginia. The temperatures were brutal for Virginia with the low reaching 2F on both Friday and Saturday mornings.

The big news here on the coast is the potential for the first real snow since 2003.

I think it is going to be a challenge. As we were out and about today, I saw the temperature hit 56F. This evening just before midnight the temperature remains at 45F.

About the only thing we can do is wait and see what happens. If it does snow, I will try to get over to the beach to take some pictures.

The weathermen seem convinced that we will see snow tomorrow. Even one to three inches could be pretty.

A good spot for sunsets

Once again we managed to calculate our day so that we could be in the right spot to take some sunset shots.

This time we were up the White Oak River visiting some friends in River Oaks Plantation.

It is one of my favorite subdivisions. Everyone seems to really enjoy living there.

They have a nice dock with boat slips, and a serviceable boat ramp.

Up in their section of the White Oak, they do not have to worry as much about oyster rocks as we do in the lower stretches of the White Oak.

And of course they have the most fabulous winter sunsets of any spot on the river.

There are also great live oaks scattered around their subdivision. Some are huge.

It is a great community if you are looking for a place to enjoy the great out of doors and be a little off the beaten path.

A favorite lunch & dinner spot

One of my absolute favorite things about the Crystal Coast has to be our locally owned and operated restaurants.

It is pretty easy to know who is cooking the food at these local spots. It is not unusual to find the chef or owner wandering the dining room.

We have been on the coast for over two and one half years. In that time we have found some places where we can count on them consistently providing an excellent meal.

Among the lunch places that we frequent, there are a couple that really stand out. One of them is the Fairway Restaurant at 833 Highway 58 which happens to be just before the spot where Taylor Notion Rd runs into 58 if you are headed north on 58.

All the restaurants along the coast have to work hard during the winter months when our population has shrunk. The best restaurants survive by creative cooking and delivering meals that are a great value.

Fairway excels in both cases. There is always something unique on their menu, and recently they raised their game with the introduction of family style dining. We have been a couple of times and been impressed. The charge for the country style meal is $9.99. Taxes, gratuity, and beverage are extra.

Tuesday night when we visited, we enjoyed ribs and pulled pork which came with tossed salad , mashed potatoes, and peas. They have also added all you can eat fish and shrimp on Wednesday night and all you can eat steak on Thursday nights. On Monday nights they are doing all you can eat pasta.

It is nice to have a cosy, friendly place like Fairway just around the corner especially for a comfort food lunch. This past Thursday they were running a thirty-five cents per chicken wing special when we dropped into Fairway for lunch. I love their teriyaki sauce which I get on the side. My wife had her favorite meal, chicken pastry. It was a $5.99 lunch special that included her tea. My wings could not have been better. I only wished that I had ordered some more to have while watching the national BCS bowl championship game.

So the next time you are driving through Cape Carteret, do yourself a favor and stop by Fairway for a great meal at a reasonable price.

If I can get a menu and permission to post the daily specials, I will do that.

Another year rolls by

As 2009 has quickly established itself as a year of hope, I have decided to create another website, and once again leave behind the previous website.

Maybe this is becoming a tradition, but updating my blog becomes more challenging after a number of software upgrades. This year I had to rebuild my data files a couple of times. I still managed to lose a couple of posts.

I am hoping the software is a little more stable this year, and I might not have to be hunting through old files to find lost posts.

A lot of people have decided that 2009 will be a better year than 2008. As a Realtor®, I would certainly hope so.

As someone enjoying living in a wonderful spot, I cannot complain about 2008. We had some great weather, fantastic tomatoes, and lots of fun out on the water.

I would be happy if this year matched 2008 in that respect. However, I am always happy to catch more fish. I did not catch my big Redfish last year, so that remains a priority for this year.

Click on these links for most of my 2008 Carteret County posts and for my 2007 Carteret County posts.