Epicurean Hunt Evening: A Toast to Whalehead’s History

November 6, 2018

With a champagne glass in hand and the soft piano notes of Christmas carols playing, visitors to Whalehead at Historic Corolla can experience for themselves what the holidays might have been like at this former hunting lodge.

On Dec. 1, the mansion-turned-museum will host its Epicurean Hunt Evening – a special event that recreates what a gourmet dinner might have been like in the 1920s, when Whalehead was the private hunting retreat for Mr. and Mrs. Edward Collings Knight, Jr.

The event, by reservation only, encourages guests dress up in festive hunting, roaring twenties attire. The dinner kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with a Candlelight Tour of Whalehead. Guests will enjoy a five-course, wine-paired meal on Whalehead’s porch with recipes carefully crafted to replicate the kind of fine dining the Knights enjoyed. Deadline for reservations has been extended to Thursday, November 29, 2018. The event is expected to sell out.

Decades ago, wealthy businessmen descended upon the hunting lodges of the Outer Banks to fish, hunt waterfowl and forge work relationships and business deals. Currituck County remains today a hunter’s paradise and fall refuge.

Chef Chris Braswell, of Steamers Restaurant & Catering, has taken great care to ensure each course for the Epicurean Hunt Evening reflects the time period of the 1920s and Currituck County’s food resources.

“Some of the recipes for the event stem from recipes that originated from the Outer Banks,” Braswell said.

The appetizer, pimento cheese bruschetta, will include ham from Windhaven Farms in Isle of Wight, Virginia. “It’s a real, true country ham,” Braswell said.

First course will be oysters from Ocracoke. Second course is a shrimp and lobster bisque, a rich French-style soup that Steamers has served for 25 years.

Third course features Calabash rockfish Caesar salad, which involves frying the seafood in a light dusting of egg wash and flour – a North Carolina cooking style named after the town, Calabash.

“The way they cooked seafood in the past – it was completely reliant on good, solid basic cooking techniques,” Braswell said. “The food was always really rich and flavorful.”

For the fourth course, guests will enjoy confit quail with Old Mill Guilford grits and sausage gravy. Braswell selected Old Mill Guilford cornmeal for the grits because the mill has been producing all-natural, stone-ground whole grain foods for more than 240 years.

Fifth course will be grilled duck. Braswell is still working out the details of a simple, delicious recipe to keep it true to the hunting theme of the evening. Apple pie bread pudding will conclude the dinner.

For those who can’t make the Epicurean Hunt Evening, Whalehead offers Candlelight Tours Fridays and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. from Nov. 23 to Dec. 15.

The house is beautifully decorated as it would have been for Christmas during that time period, said Sierra Williams, Whalehead’s promotions and event coordinator.

“There are candles in all the windows at Whalehead,” Williams said. “It really is pretty when you walk up.”

During the tours, visitors can hear how the Knight family celebrated the holidays, from what types of gifts they exchanged to the homemade cookies they served. Christmas trees will be decorated throughout the house according to the 1920s time period. The tour also includes caroling at Mrs. Knight’s custom-made Steinway piano.

To make a reservation for the Epicurean Hunt Evening, call (252) 453-9040 Ext. 228.