Sunday, September 8, 2013

Roadtrippin' Through NC & VA - Part 1

Big Sam's Inlet Cafe & Raw Bar - Virginia Beach, VA
BFTB and I have done quite a bit of roadtripping recently and, as a result, have done quite a bit of good eating. Here's a recap of some of our more memorable meals from recent trips.

Steve's Breakfast Burrito

In August, BFTB and I headed north to spend a weekend in Virginia Beach. The first morning, we woke up and walked across the bridge over Rudee Inlet to Big Sam's Inlet Cafe & Raw Bar to grab some breakfast. I'd been to Big Sam's on prior trips, but I clearly underestimated its popularity. The Saturday morning breakfast wait was over an hour long... yikes. While we debated whether we wanted to head elsewhere, two seats opened up at the bar and we were able to snag them without any wait. We waited around for a little while before anybody came over to check on us and throughout the meal I kind of felt like we were in the way rather than appreciated customers, but we were eventually able to place our orders. BFTB ordered a Bloody Mary and Steve's Burrito Breakfast (a classic ham, egg & cheese burrito, served with 1/2 lb. of hashbrowns, salsa & sour cream) while I opted to order a Mimosa and the Wave Runner (2 eggs with choice of bacon, sausage, or ham, served with a 1/2 lb. of hashbrowns and choice of toast or a biscuit).

Wave Runner

Our drinks were prepared quickly and were both pretty good. My Mimosa was heavy on the champagne and BFTB's Bloody Mary was extra spicy (both big pluses in my book). Since we had chosen to sit at the bar, we were able to watch the chefs cook while we waited. I'm not a huge sweets-for-breakfast person, mostly because I don't really like maple syrup, but the pancakes and French toast both looked amazing. The pancakes looked giant and fluffy and the French toast smelled delightfully buttery and cinnamon-y. While they were both drool-inducing, our food arrived after a short wait and we were both pleased with our choices. BFTB's burrito was stuffed with egg and ham, but the cheese was served on the side. I'm not sure if the cheese-on-the-side thing is how burritos are always served at Big Sam's or was because BFTB requested a light amount of cheese, but it ended up being nice so that he could individually salsa and cheese each bite. Either way, it was really tasty and BFTB was stuffed by the time he got to the end of his burrito. With my Wave Runner, I'd selected an English muffin, bacon, and overeasy eggs, all of which were spot on. Most of all, I really enjoyed the hashbrowns. I always think it's interesting to try hashbrowns at different restaurants because I'm convinced that no two places prepare them the same way. This particular variety consisted of small to medium-sized squares of potato that had been fried to a crispy golden brown. Normally I prefer a few pieces of pepper or onion to be involved with my breakfast potatoes, but these were great just as they were. The biggest con would be that everything was overly greasy, but I feel like that's to be expected of an eggs-meat-and-potatoes-themed breakfast (and I might not have thought it was too greasy if I hadn't watched the griddle get buttered and oiled over and over and over again throughout my meal). Overall, we were both really happy and will definitely return to Big Sam's for breakfast the next time we're in Virginia Beach. For breakfast, Big Sam's gets a 7.5/10.

The Cheese Shop - Williamsburg, VA
On our way back from Virginia Beach, we decided to take the long route and stop in Williamsburg for lunch. BFTB had never been to Williamsburg, so I was excited to show him around. My parents (and a bunch of my other extended family members) attended the College of William & Mary, worked at Colonial Williamsburg, and were married at Bruton Parish Episcopal Church, so the entire area carries some mushy nostalgic value for me but, in all honesty, my favorite part of visiting Williamsburg is getting a sandwich at the Cheese Shop on Duke of Gloucester St.


Combo of Turkey & Virginia Ham (back) and
Prosciutto on Focaccia (front)

We arrived at 11:30 AM on a Sunday and the place was already buzzing with activity. We walked up to the counter and placed our orders, the Prosciutto on Focaccia for me and the Combo of Turkey and Virginia Ham for BFTB. We poked around the store part of the Cheese Shop for a while and picked out some chips, drinks, and a present for my parents: a large bottle of the Cheese Shop's famous House Dressing. While I truly love both sandwiches and all things calorie-laden, there is nothing in the world that whips me into a crack cocaine addiction-like frenzy like the Cheese Shop's House Dressing. Much more than a condiment, this stuff is delicious as a dip for bread and I'm convinced that I would eat it like soup if I had the opportunity. On trips to Williamsburg, I used to pack a cooler so that I could snag a glad ware-like container of it at the deli on my way out of town. However, I discovered two things on this most recent trip: (1) they've started to bottle the stuff in giant $14.95 jars; and (2) as I suspected (but had never confirmed), it's truly god-awful for you. I decided to buy my parents a jar so that I would look like an amazing, thoughtful daughter while also ensuring that I could enjoy the stuff sometimes while keeping it far enough away that I (hopefully) won't eat it on a regular basis.



By the time I had planned Operation: Favorite (But Not Fattest) Child, the deli cashier called my name and we picked up our sandwiches, paid for our food, and snagged a table on the front patio. My sandwich consisted of thick, herbaceous focaccia filled with a few slices of prosciutto and provolone topped with roasted tomatoes and, of course, a generous coat of House Dressing. While I normally like to load my sandwiches up with veggies, in my opinion, the sandwich's simplicity didn't result in any lack of flavor. Each component was delicious on its own, but the combination was out of this world. The salty provolone and prosciutto balanced beautifully with the slightly sweet flavors of the rich House Dressing. The focaccia was neither as oily nor as crumbly as a typical focaccia, so the whole sandwich seemed light (note that I said "seemed" rather than was...) and tasted delicious. I'm glad BFTB ordered something different, since I don't seem to ever get anything but the Prosciutto on Focaccia and I enjoyed trying a new sandwich. The turkey and Virginia ham seemed to be high quality cuts of meat and were well complemented by the thinly sliced provolone and light, airy French bread. BFTB was impressed, but felt that everything was a little too basic to be wow-worthy. However, we left the Cheese Shop two very happy sandwich-eating campers and the Cheese Shop gets a strong 8.5/10.

Big Sam's Inlet Cafe & Raw Bar on Urbanspoon  Cheese Shop on Urbanspoon

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