What I Ate This Spring Break: Vacation Restaurant Edition

So today is the final official day of spring break. Boo Hiss. As much as I hate to say good-bye to my free time, I have to admit that this break was the perfect combination: I went on a mini-vacation with awesome people, cleaned my apartment, and got to see my family. All in all, this has been one of the most well-balanced spring breaks in my personal history.

(I also did quite a bit of cooking and recipe documentation. Among other dishes, I made potato-leek soup, chocolate Guinness cake, and my own take on Chipotle burrito bowls complete with homemade slow-cooked pork barbacoa. Get your appetite ready: this week’s recipe posts are going to make you drool all over your computer.)

In honor of the end of my restful week, I’ve decided not to do anything productive today. You heard me right: instead of fretting over details of the coming week, I am going to lay low and enjoy my last day of freedom. Plus, today is the final day of the Baha’i Fast: tomorrow is Naw Ruz, the Baha’i New Year! Needless to say, it’s a pretty exciting time in my apartment.

I’ll probably spend the majority of the day reading the two books which have claimed my attention this week:

middlesexthe omnivores dilemma

Having free reading time has probably been the absolute best part of this break. I’m usually so bogged down with work and school that I don’t have time to read for pure enjoyment.

However, before I fall into the Reading Rainbow vortex, I really want to share some of the meals I ate while on my Wrightsville Beach vacation earlier this week. Before we get started, be warned: I ate without concern over calories. And while some of my meals were not the healthiest in existence, they were really freaking delicious.
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Let’s start with the Causeway Café, a very popular Wrightsville Beach breakfast haunt. I was quite charmed by the restaurants beach décor- it was all driftwood accents and kitschy souvenir shop goodies. They have a very detailed menu and it’s predominantly breakfast- since breakfast is my favorite meal of the day (I could probably eat breakfast for every meal), I was all too eager to try out one of their famous offerings. And, in spite of my vegetarian tendencies, I really couldn’t help myself- I didn’t hesitate when I decided to order the “Meat Lovers Breakfast”.

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The Meat Lovers Breakfast includes a GIANT sausage link which (I’m pretty sure) was homemade. It also included FOUR strips of bacon, and a slice of ham. Not salty country ham (which I kind of hate), but thick and moist regular ham.

BUT WAIT: That’s not all-

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We can’t forget about the scrambled eggs, grits, and pancake.

The pancake was almost the size of my face (and I have a HUGE face). It was thin (just the way I like ‘em) and had a very nice flavor. In my opinion, pancakes are frequently ruined because they are both too mealy, and they taste like flat slices of bread. This pancake was delicately sweetened, and the texture was nice and fluffy.

Also, I’ve spoken extensively on my grits theories, and I’m constantly frustrated by the ways that restaurants manage to ruin this subtly complex dish. In fact, as a rule, I try to order grits at every breakfast restaurant at which I eat- I think it’s a great restaurant comparison measure (plus I freaking LOVE them.) With all my needs and wants, I frequently expect to be disappointed by the average grits bowl- however, Causeway Café exceeded all of my expectations. Their grits are clearly made by real Southerners who know what the dish should taste like- smooth, creamy, and perfectly seasoned (the best grits should not require additional seasoning- another common mistake.) Also, in my opinion, the best grits should be so creamy that individual nuggets of corn kernel are indistinguishable- this is a trait that can be very difficult to attain. Causeway’s grits were the very definition of creamy- honestly, if I had not already been swimming in food, I probably would have ordered another bowl. They rocked my world.

(The eggs were great, too. I am really picky about my eggs- so picky that a paragraph in a beach wrap-up blog entry is truly not good enough. One of these days I’ll have to get around to writing my egg manifesto. In the meantime, just know that all the eggs I ate on this trip met my ridiculously high expectations.)

On to the next spot: during our last night in New Hanover County, my companions and I decided to go big before we went home and we dined at a French restaurant called Caprice Bistro.

As one might expect, Caprice is not known for its inexpensive or healthy dishes. It is, however, known for its delicious eats, and I figured: “JESSAMYN YOU’RE ON VACATION JUST SHUT UP AND EAT!”

Well, Jessamyn’s manic sub-conscious, I can’t argue with that logic.

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I love a good dimly lit restaurant photo, don’t you?

I ordered duck confit, served with sauteed potatoes, petit salad, and balsamic jus. The duck was positively sinful- it fell off the bone and was moist beyond belief. However, for the record (and I know I’m about to be admitted into a special layer of culinary hell), I hate balsamic vinegar. I try to like it- trust me, I try. But the sweet yet oddly nutty and savory flavor is always an unwelcome taste in my mouth. I’m not so unrefined that I don’t understand why balsamic is the chosen accent ingredient for this dish (or, for that matter, in most dishes), but I personally find the flavor to be very unpleasant. By no means did it ruin the dish for me, but it certainly didn’t help.

(I also ordered pomme frites with homemade mayonnaise and I ate them too quickly for a photo to be taken. Surprisingly, I was not very impressed by the fries. They tasted just like any french fries I could get at any restaurant. And, to worsen matters, I’m absolutely certain I’ve eaten better fries at significantly lower brow establishments. The mayo was good, but it was a little too thick for my taste, and dipping the frites in it was very difficult. Again, a very good dish, but it wasn’t a home run.)

After a great trip, and with sadness in our hearts, my posse and I were eventually forced to head home.On the way home from Wrightsville Beach,we decided to console ourselves at a restaurant called Chris’ Cosmic Kitchen.

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First of all, I need to applaud Chris’ Cosmic Kitchen’s proper use of social media- before heading out, my clan checked out yelp to find the best ‘on the road’ brekky option. The Cosmic Kitchen had excellent reviews AND an offer for a free drink simply by mentioning their presence on yelp. Therefore, guess who had a free cup of hot tea with her breakfast? THIS GIRL. By this point in the trip, I was starting to remember my food ideals and I decided to order the egg white Farmer’s omelet, served with rye toast and grits.

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The farmer’s omelet is stuffed with lots of yummy vegetation- peppers, spinach, mushrooms, etc. It was quite tasty. However, the grits did not live up to my aforementioned expectations. They were very thick, which is usually a good thing. However, the thickness could be attributed to the grainy texture of the grits. I could taste and feel every individual corn kernel. For the record- NOT A GOOD THING. They also required a fair amount of additional seasoning (from very unruly salt and pepper shakers). All in all, I was not pleased with these grits- they weren’t bad, and I’ve definitely had worse. But I probably wouldn’t order them again.

Ugh- writing about all this food has got me jonesing for another beach trip. Sad smile

In other news, I’m thinking about starting a mini-herb garden in one of my kitchen windows. Whole Foods has a really exciting selection of organic and local herbs for sale. However, my gardening thumb is definitely not green- it’s more like a muted grey. Do you have any at-home gardening tips?

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4 Comments

Filed under food, restaurant reviews, vacation

4 responses to “What I Ate This Spring Break: Vacation Restaurant Edition

  1. kently

    Jessamyn, please become a food critic. Seriously.

    Oh, and you’re not alone with the dislike for balsamic vinegar. Definitely not something I enjoy unless it’s flavors have been significantly altered in some way.

    And finally, please find time in your busy schedule to post about eggs. They’re also one of my favorite foods, and I’m always happy to add egg recipes to my book! =)

  2. Pingback: The Best Potato-Leek Soup (I’ve) Ever Tasted- A Continuation of Spring Break Culinary Adventures | My Name Is Jessamyn, Not Jasmine

  3. Pingback: What I Ate This Spring Break: Vacation Restaurant Edition | My … | TOPCOOKINGREVIEW.COM

  4. Great post! And I love duck confit… mmmm

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