As far as food holidays go, New Year’s often gets overlooked. For me, food couldn’t be more important on New Year’s Eve — a night of celebrating is just not sustainable without good food. Plus, this holiday is rich with traditions that promise good luck and prosperity, or at the very least, something delicious to add to your festivities.
Here on the beach, some local spots are offering special menus and entertainment to send 2019 out with a bang. Avenue Grill in Manteo is ringing in 2020 with a Roaring 20’s themed party. Dinner will be served from 4 to 9 p.m., with a late-night menu, DJ, and entertainment from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Located right on the water at the Shallowbag Bay Marina, it’s a great spot to catch the Town of Manteo’s firework display, as well.
The Lifesaving Station restaurant at the Sanderling Resort in Duck will offer a four-course a la carte menu from 5 to 10:30 p.m. for $75. Reservations are required. Ocean Boulevard in Kitty Hawk will be sharing details and taking reservations for their annual New Year’s Eve dinner on their website, obbistro.com, beginning Dec. 1. Aqua and The Blue Point always do something yummy on Dec. 31, keep your eyes on Facebook for details.
Wherever you find yourself on New Year’s Eve, find some way to make it special. In Spain and Mexico, it’s customary to eat twelve grapes at midnight to bring luck to each of the twelve months in the year ahead. French, Greek, and Bulgarian cultures indulge in cakes on New Year’s, often with a coin hidden inside for luck. If you and your friends are up for it, celebrate like the Danes do in Denmark by leaping off of chairs (believed to banish bad luck) and smashing plates on your friends’ front doors to show your love (the more broken plates your door collects, the more popular you are).
In Mexico, tamales are a favorite on Christmas but are often served on New Year’s, as well. Many hands make light work of mixing masa to fill corn husks, braising some sort of delicious meat to spoon on top, and steaming the tamales to be served with red or green sauce. You can make a night of it — a whole tamale party — assuming your friends or family are helpful people and don’t mind getting their hands dirty. But, there’s also a sort of underground tamale network on the OBX that I haven’t quite tapped into yet, from which you could source 50 or 60 of these savory little bundles, if you’re cool enough. My husband and I used to get our tamales through a friend at work, making shady, hungry pick ups on the side of the road, but we’ve lost our connection over the years. If you are a member or a customer of this secret club, and can get me in, please call me.
Tamales are often found alongside bowls of Menudo – spicy soup made from tripe… which is cow’s stomach. It’s a reputable hangover cure some of us just might desperately need on January 1st. Are cow innards not your thing? It’s OK — plenty of warm, spicy, nausea-busting soups exist on the Outer Banks, ready to heal all your wounds from the night before. Vilai Thai’s Tom Yum lemongrass soup has some serious magic restorative powers and for comfort without the kick, try the Wonton Soup at Pok’s Art. It’s a soothing broth full of silky ribbons of pork wontons and cabbage, and extra little chunks of pork floating around for good measure.
Don’t forget brunch! Outer Banks Brewing Station, Coastal Provisions, and Trio have all been known to put on a big brunch show for New Year’s Day in the past. A Bloody Mary could be exactly what you’re missing. There’s still time on New Year’s Day to lock down luck for 2020 through traditional food, as well. Pork is a sure bet — it pops up in several cultures round the world as a means of bringing prosperity and good fortune. There’s no shortage of good pork BBQ here on the beach, with Pigman’s, Currituck BBQ, High Cotton, and plenty others to choose from. Here in the south, we’re also well-versed in black-eyed peas, greens, and cornbread — synonymous with pennies, dollars, and gold, respectively. And, you can throw in some lentils, which bear resemblance to coins, and noodles for good measure. Long noodles, long life, they say. Try the Pad Thai from Thai Room, if you’re on the hunt for amazing, life-affirming noodles.
However you choose to ring in the New Year, at home or out on the town, get some tradition on your plate and some luck in your life for 2020.