Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Culinary Tour - North and South Carolina

Last week, my husband and I ventured down to the Carolinas for a family vacation. When I say family, I mean the WHOLE family. There were 16 of us, including my husband's relatives from London, England. It was great to see everyone and to eat such lovely southern food.

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We stayed in Ocean Isle, NC, which is about 35 minutes outside of Myrtle Beach. Our first night there we dined at Tomo, a hibachi restaurant on the island. The show at this hibachi was similar to other hibachi restaurants, and the food was both delicious and reasonable. I had Chicken Hibachi and Jim had Salmon hibachi. Both came with a salad, soup, fried rice and vegetables. We also split cucumber rolls - 3 each. Other offerings at the restaurant included scallop hibachi, shrimp hibachi and teriyaki chicken. All of the above were ordered by others in our party and they said they were delicious.

Here is half of us at the Hibachi table:

Tomo Hibachi Japanese Steakhouse
120-7 Causeway Dr
Ocean Isle Beach
North Carolina, 28469

Tuesday - Outlet shopping in Myrtle Beach and then dinner at Benny Rappa's. This is a sort of unique restaurant because it has a menu that changes daily. I had eggplant parmesean and the rest of the family enjoyed lasagna, spinach and walnut ravioli, and italian sausauge. All of our meals came with a starter salad. Regular bread is complimentary, but they also offer garlic cheese bread for a nominal charge.

A note on getting there: Both Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach use a seperate numbering system. Even though the towns seem like one continuous town, there are TWO 17th streets, one in North MB and one in MB. When you're looking for Benny Rappa's make sure you're in NORTH Myrtle Beach. We went all the way down to 17th in Myrtle Beach, which was about a half hour out of our way.

Benny Rappa's Trattoria
1453 Highway 17S
North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582

After dinner we went to Broadway at the Beach to watch the fireworks. We also enjoyed a perennial favorite - Ben and Jerry's scoop shop!

There were five of us, and four of the group had Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road. I was the oddball who ordered Peanut Butter Cookie.

Wednesday - Every year, the family seperates and the girls have a ladies day. This year, it was decided we would tour Silver Coast Winery and partake in the wine tasting. The tour of the winery was very neat. Our knowledgable guide answered all of our questions without looking annoyed at all. After a 20 minute tour, and 20 minutes of questions, we were set to move on to the tasting. For $10 we tasted 10 wines - 5 white and 5 red. I loved their Calabash White so much that I purchased a bottle for $9. They also had a Viognier that I was very tempted to buy, but at $28 it was a little out of my vacation spending budget.

cheers! me and the in-laws

Silver Coast Winery
6680 Barbeque Rd.
Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469

By the time we got back, it was too late to organize a restaurant expedition like Monday's, so we dialed up Cinellis for Takeout Pizza. Being from NJ, I'm a little bit of a stickler for the taste of a good pizza. It's not THAT hard - dough, sauce and cheese - but most places outside of my immediate area have a very hard time with it. Anyway, this pizza was pretty good, as far as pizza outside of the NY/NJ/eastern PA area goes. It was also finished relatively fast for the amount we ordered - I think there were 8 pies in total.

Cinelli's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria
14 Causeway Drive
Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina 28469

Thursday - Today was newlyweds day. Yay! My husband and I set out on our own adventure in North Carolina. During the day we went to Southport, which is not far from Ocean Isle. We walked around and ate lunch at a gallery/cafe and went to the christmas and candy shops. Around 3 we caught the ferry over to Fort Fisher to go to the aquarium. Unfortunately, we got there at 4 and it closed at 5. The admission was under $10 so we took a chance and went in anyway. An hour turned out to be perfect for the size of the aquarium. We even got to see two of the staff don some scuba and clean the alligator tank - while the alligators were in it!!! Yikes!!

NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher
900 Loggerhead Rd
Kure Beach, NC 28449-3786

After the aquarium we headed to the next town over to enjoy a free wine tasting and some appetizers at 2 Wine Guys @ The Grind. We each enjoyed one complimentary glass and one we paid for. We also ordered an anitipasto tray with pepperoni and red roasted peppers.

After the wine, we still had time to kill before dinner, so we went to the Pleasure Island Beach boardwalk. I wouldn't say this was really a boardwalk (I'm from NJ, remember - we're KING of boardwalks!) but it had every store a boardwalk should have - surf shop, fudge shop, rides and an arcade. At dusk, a cover band took over the boardwalk to play their set. We watched for a bit and then made our way to Wilmington, NC.

For those of you who watch One Tree Hill, you'll be delighted to know that this is where it's filmed. We didn't, however, go on a star search for all of OTH's actors. We were here for dinner, so we headed straight for Front Street Brewery, where, for less than $40, we imbibed, dined, and went home with merchandise! Jim had the pulled chicken and I had the pulled pork. After tasting both, we decided that mine was the clear winner. The sauce was so delicious, I had to eat the whole thing!

Front Street Brewery
9 North Front Street
Wilmington, NC

Friday - Today was our last day, so the plan was to be lazy all morning. Unfortunately for us, the water had decided to kick it up a notch. A hurricane far off the coast made the waves extremely choppy with a bad undertow. The beach was evacuated before we even got a chance to change from pajama's to swimsuits. To kill the rest of the day, we went to Calabash, where they have a cute Christmas shop, combined with your normal souveneir store. Afterwards, we headed to Barefoot Landing. We had ice cream at Kohr Bros. and all the free samples we could stuff our faces with at the peanut shop, fudge shop and salt water taffy shop. Who needs lunch when you can dine on all those snacks?? By about 7, we were actually getting hungry, so we went to one place we could all compromise on - Ultimate California Pizza. If you've never been to one, it's very similar to California Pizza Kitchen, only I think this place has a lot more variety when it comes to pizza. Most of the choices can be made somewhat healthy, too. You can get your pizza on whole wheat crust, and they had a lot of low-fat options on the menu. Everyone was very satisfied with their dinner.

Ultimate California Pizza
2500 N Kings Hwy
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577-3079

After dinner, my husband, me and his cousin went to play mini-golf, where we were effectively pulverized by his cousin's high score. On the last hole I would have gotten a hole-in-one, but something was wrong with the hole and my ball went in and after two or three seconds, popped out!!! Oh well.

On the way back home, we stopped at a BBQ place in VA called King's Barebeque Two. We drove Jim's grandparents home and they couldn't say enough good things about it. All 4 of us ordered pulled pork sandwiches and were definitely satisfied. The price was right, too. Each platter came with a sandwich, french fries, cole slaw and a drink and was only $4.

King's Famous Barbeque
2910 S Crater Rd
Petersburg, VA 23805-9223


  1. Sounds like a fabulous culinary tour Melissa. What could be better having a great food accompanied by great family.

  2. What a great way to experience a vacation - with food! I love that you had your whole family in tow too!