Summer is here

Includes: Wilmington Tea Room, Tower 7 and Trolley Stop in Wilmington, NC and Cafe Helios in Raleigh, NC  

Even though the calendar doesn’t say it’s so, here’s how I know. All of this occurred in a single weekend:

  • I went to my first wedding of the season.
  • The air temperature is 90+.
  • The ocean temperature along the N.C. coast makes it warm enough to swim in (I did).
  • I ate frozen Thin Mints.
  • I had fish tacos and a margarita.
  • I ate a hot dog and hamburger (both veggie, thank you).

As you can tell, tasty food was woven throughout the summery weekend.

It began with a bridal luncheon at the Wilmington Tea Room. Full tea in a feminine, waterfront setting: salads, dainty little crustless sandwiches, three delicious varieties of hot tea and gorgeous miniature pastries. The blackberry brownie bite and cherry scone were both delicious, but a much less sexy-looking bar cookie stole the dessert show. It’s  hard to tell in the photo, but that chocolaty center is pure, decadent fudge.

The rehearsal dinner was outside, also adjacent to the water, with a lovely cool breeze blowing and food prepared lovingly by family friends of the bride’s mom. I think the carnivores enjoyed some kind of prime rib or tenderloin or something of the sort.

As you can see, we veggie lovers had lots to eat– assorted fingerling potatoes roasted with plenty of salt, sauteed peppers and mushrooms and caesar salad.

Dessert was a wonderful custom-made cake by friends of the bride and groom on staff at Mitchell’s Catering. Sometimes colorful cakes in unique shapes look a lot prettier than they taste. But this groom’s cake was excellent on both counts. Depicting a favorite Belgian beer on the outside, the interior was rich poundcake with a mocha filling. (Perfect to eat alongside a good beer, by the way.

The wedding reception featured a second scrumptious and beautiful cake — this one lemon poppyseed.

After all the rich food and wedding festivities, a long walk on the beach was in order, followed by simple food. Two bursting-with-flavor seafood tacos at Tower 7 fit the bill.

I liked the Santa Fe Shrimp taco best: marinated black tiger shrimp, salsa fresca, red cabbage and jack cheese. I enjoyed the San Felipe taco, too — Dos Equis-battered cod, salsa, avocado, cabbage and cotija cheese. The flavor was great, but oddly, the fish was one long chunk instead of bite-sized pieces. Miraculously, even though both tacos were full to bursting, the tortillas held together for my entire meal.

Okay, almost done! (I’m getting full just reminiscing about all of this.)

As I was leaving Wilmington, I had to try a hot dog from the famous Trolly Stop. Unlike Raleigh’s most well-known hot dog joint (which will remain unnamed but rhymes with “loopy’s”), the Trollly Stop serves veggie dogs (and four other more mainstream types, as well). I ordered a UNCW dog (available only at the Fountain Drive location near the University of North Carolina at Wilmington campus): a dog topped with deli mustard, secret sauce (it was piquant and a bit sweet), onions and diced tomatoes. Excellent! The bun was steamed soft and warm and the toppings were sloppily satisfying. How nice to be able to grab a quick veggie dog anytime you like. It’s crazy for me to buy packs of eight, only to eat one or two.

The final weekend food stop: a veggie burger at Helios.

As you know, I’m a big fan of the Raleigh Times’ veggie burger. And now I have another favorite.

Fortunately, I don’t have to choose one over the other — they couldn’t be more different. The Times’ version is designed, I’m assuming, to mimic its traditional meat counterpart. It looks, feels and tastes like a grilled hamburger. The Helios burger is obviously made of veggies — it’s a tad crumbly and squishes apart some when you take bites, just like a home-made veggie patty.

But the toppings — wow. Standards like mixed greens, cheddar and tomato. Avocado, like the Times. But then there are the caramelized onions and sweet and sour chipotle glaze. Yum! The onions were rich and sweet and the glaze was very savory and had a nice little kick. Check them out in this close-up photo of a bite.

And to wrap it all up: a bittycakes Key Lime Buttermilk cupcake. The perfect finish to a sweet, love-filled weekend.

P.S. Oh yeah, the Thin Mints. Afternoon snack after all that strenuous driving back from the coast …

About atarheeltastes

I'm a passionate foodie who started this "temporary" blog during a gustatory tour of Tuscany. I decided to continue, since I love to dream about, plan for, prepare, eat and write about food!
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