It’s one thing to try Virginia Beach’s delicious, farm-to-table cuisine at culinary hotspots like Commune or Terrapin. But it’s another entirely to learn about the city’s farm-fresh culture through personal, hands-on experience. Thankfully, though, there are multiple ways to learn about where the city’s freshest food comes from, how it’s harvested, and even how to make some delicious recipes yourself! Here are the three best places to get your hands a little dirty (in the best way possible).
1. Kayak right on up to a delicious seafood dinner.There’s never been a more enjoyable way to “work” for your food. On Surf & Adventure Co.’s Sunset Dinner Tour,start off with a kayak excursion through the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge (located in nearby Pungo, about a 30 minute drive from the Resort District). With the help of a trusted guide, paddle through stunning scenery (from small, wooded channels to gorgeous open water) and try your hand at spotting local birds and other creatures. But the fun has really just begun: at the end of the tour, dock at Blue Pete’s restaurant, a popular local spot since 1972, for a scrumptious seafood dinner. (And make sure to check out the picturesque gazebo behind the main building.)
2. Get back in the classroom!It’s a fact: school has never been this enjoyable (or tasty, for that matter). At New Earth Farm, a sustainable, organic and educational working farm located in Pungo, take a Food Lab class and learn how to make kombucha (you can even purchase your own SCOBY—that’s the starter for the super-popular probiotic drink — to take home), how to pickle vegetables, or more — the class offerings always reflect what’s in season. Or for an even more involved experience, take a Farm Table All Local and Seasonal Cooking Class, an on-farm cooking class in which local chefs utilize the farm’s gorgeous garden to teach all-local and seasonal recipes. (Plus, together you’ll create a three to six-course meal. And really, what’s not to love about that?)
3. Explore a real live oyster farm.Eating an oyster is just like tasting the sea itself, but eating an oyster right in the place it was farmed takes the experience to a whole new level. Book one of three types of oyster farm boat tours with Pleasure House Oysters, and set out on the gorgeous Lynnhaven River for an unforgettable culinary experience. With Captain Chris Ludford at the helm, learn all about the process of growing and harvesting oysters, as well as sample the delectable fruits of the sea at their freshest: plucked out of the water and shucked by Ludford (or one of his compatriots) right then and there. (And if you’re lucky, you’ll find a pea crab tucked into one of your shells — it’s considered a good omen!)
New York-based journalist Avery Stone is exploring Virginia Beach all summer for Coastal Living. Follow her adventures here, and catch up on her previous discoveries, below!