Monday, August 30, 2010

Wilmington Trolley Tour

THE HEARTS: Great for History Buffs, enjoyable way to learn about Wilmington
THE FARTS: No A/C or Heat

Young At Heart says...

It can get rather difficult to figure out what will be enjoyable for family or friends to do while they are visiting us in Wilmington. But I will say, if you haven't tried the Willmington Trolley Tour then you should venture out and give it a whirl.

The entire tour takes approximately 45 minutes and although it isn't what I would consider cheap, it is worth the fee for visitors and those in love with historical homes. And by all means google online for coupons. We saved $1 a person on this day. I found my coupon in Brunswick Islands & Cape Fear Coast Visitors Guide which you can find in the lobby of most Wilmington hotels and down in the Cotton Exchange or you can also search them online at

The tour starts out on Dock and Water St. and departs hourly. We were the last three allowed on this trip. Our tour guide was informative and entertaining. From local facts to the details about the historical homes lining the tour, he did a wonderful job. My only problem was I couldn't always hear him. There are no windows on the trolley and you are open to traffic noises. In addition, there was a young child next to us that insisted on continually talking several octaves above the loudspeaker.

Baring my lack of auditory information, I was still awed with the visuals on this trip...

All in all, this tour is for (in my opinion) preteen and up, unless you have a very young history lover in your midst. However, the tour company does not put restrictions on any age. And I didn't notice a handicap accessible lift for wheelchairs. So if you are traveling with anyone using a wheelchair, call to find out if and how that can be handled.

Historic KISS,

Young Old Fart says...

You would think riding a trolley in downtown Wilmington would be a glamorous experience, my sore bum and sweaty shirt would have to disagree with you. Right off the bat I must warn our readers to NOT sit on "the hump" seat of the bus. Honestly, I couldn't concentrate on most of the ride due to my derriere's extreme discomfort.

Barring booty bruises, the tour definitely offered some pretty sites (however, I would avert my direction when you pass some of the sketch parts of Wilmington). Unfortunately, like YAH said, I couldn't hear our tour guide. Not that this was much of a loss, the parts that echoed out seemed pretty ho-hum and architectural. All in all, I think this activity constitutes as a "one time deal." It was a cute hour spent on a Saturday afternoon, but definitely not something I would spend $11 on again. Now, add a dozen donuts or so, a butt cushion, and some AC and I just might reconsider...

Kittens and fudge,

Friday, August 27, 2010

Gyrolicious: Review of College Diner

Hearts: Gyros (of course), decent service, wide menu variety, open 24/7
Farts: desserts not made in house

Young At Heart says...

OK, I know many of you loved this place when it was under a different name and served exclusively Greek cuisine. Well, first I didn't have the opportunity to try them when they featured only Greek food and second, I personally love diners if they have good food.

I was actually happy to see a diner (and from what I can see a true diner by northern definitions) pop up here in Wilmington. And I figure the owner changed his offerings because he wasn't making enough money to keep it only Greek. I mean he is in business to make money...right? Now for the definition of a diner by YAH:

1) Must have a wide offering of eclectic food such as American burgers, fries, etc.
2) Must have some offerings of Greek food. I kid you not, all northern diners offer some type of Greek food be it the gyro or the Greek salad. And no, I have not dug deep to find out if every northern diner is Greek owned (I am betting they are though).
3) Open 24/7 or close to it.
4) Serve breakfast foods not just for breakfast but also for lunch and dinner.
5) And last, bake their own desserts or find someone local that can do it for them, thus fooling the dinner into believing they baked it themselves.

The College Diner has successfully met 4 out of the 5 standards. Later on I will devulge which they failed to attain.

I had not eaten a gyro in over a year and I was definitely craving one when my Maryland friend and I decided to check out this place. With out diner's checklist in mind, in we went.

The place does have some of the interior characteristics of a diner but was missing the well known counter that is always found in northern establishments. After some online research I discovered that within the past year the owner had converted his exclusive Greek restaurant to a diner. Thus, the explanation I am sure for why no counter.

Upon parusing the menu, I immediately spied some Greek offerings. Praise to Jesus I thought! I have found a gyro under the flag of a diner. Immediately I had decided my selection. To my dismay, my friend also decided on the gyro. So much for variety in this review. Can you tell we both are missing our gyro buddies of late?

The gyro was delicious. A perfect blend of lamb, lettuce, tomatoes, a touch of onion, that special blend of dressing layered on pita bread. And to boot...fries to go along. It was gyrolicious! I could tell by the yogurt dressing that a Greek must own this place. They have a way with cooking the lamb to perfection along with dressing this sandwich with that yummy yogurt blend.

I was quite full after finishing my lunch but forged on for dessert. Unfortunately on this day there was no cheese cake. What! No cheesecake available at a diner? Blasphamey! Sin of all sins! They were out. So I took a peek into their dessert case but only saw two pies. Neither of which I wanted on this particular day. And besides...they didn't look like they were baked on the premises or nearby off the premises. Yes, this is the shortcoming. They are only 80% diner in my book. But I will be back.

I already hear that gyro calling my name....

Yogurt KISS,

P.S. For those of you missing some of the familiar Greek offerings from this owner's previous menu, call a few days ahead to see if the chef might not accommodate a special request. They are often flattered and if you bring a few people along to eat the same requested dish...he/she just might fulfill your craving. I figure the worst thing one might hear is no. And it might be a win/win. You will get your missed Greek dish and he will get an old customer back.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Old McDonald Had A Market: Review of Riverfront Farmers Market

THE HEARTS: Local Farm Grown Goodies at a fair price, view of the riverfront while you walk, and free music

THE FARTS: Not indoors, so weather impacted

Young At Heart says...

Calling all lovers of fresh veggies and home baked goodies! The Riverfront Farmers Market is located in downtown Wilmington and runs until mid December. For best pickings one should get there early but even later in the day you will find fresh goodies galore.

By the time we arrived, the market had been underway for 3 hours.
The entire market runs the length of the riverfront and can easily be accessed from the free parking near The Cotton Exchange. We were lucky to grab one of the only parking spaces left but I suspect that is because we arrived much later then true marketers.

The place was humming with vendors, visitors and true Wilmingtonians. I spied lots of
delicious home baked goods including breads of every variety, cookies, fudge, and even an organic variety of goodies. Mingled with this were vendors offering fresh fruit and veggies from several local farms, home grown honey, local artists, and of course multiple farms offering plantings from vegetables to exotic species that I assume will flourish here in my backyard.

Unfortunately I couldn't buy any of the food offerings as we were heading over to tour Wilmington and I was afraid that hours of heat would wilt my goodies. My friend from Maryland seemed to be enjoying herself and promised to return for some of the plant offerings. She is a devout flower gardener and tends her Maryland yard like a new born babe.

I for sure plan on becoming a regular Saturday morning worshiper of this lovely market. Heck...not only do I get to stock up on lots of home baked goodies, fresh veggies and a possible flower or two...I get the lovely view of the river while I meander amongst the offerings. I can't really think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning. OK...maybe sleeping in late but other then that it's off to the market I will go.

Honey KISS,

Young Old Fart says...

Have you ever been stuck at home on the weekend feeling really lame and reminiscent of a crazy cat lady? Okay, maybe that's just me. Either way, whether you are a feline freak or just bored and in the Wilmington area, the Riverfront Farmers Market is definitely worthy of your Saturday morning and early afternoon.

WARNING: If you plan on going to the market PLEASE pick a nice day weather-wise. Unfortunately, the day we went it was SCORCHING. It is for this reason that I feel like my review may be a little bit biased...I don't bode well when I feel like a stuffed turkey baking in an oven.

First off,
garden lovers will definitely have a field day at the market. It seemed like every other booth was plant/herb/flower related. While they were pretty to look at, I don't have a green thumb nor do I enjoy being attacked by various creepy crawlers.

Second, t
he market is a really nice way to support local stores and get some homemade food. Want a fresh baked loaf of bread? Head over to the numerous booths sporting goodies ranging from vegan loaves to Italian biscotti.

Finally, while you're roaming this slice of town be prepared to be serenaded by ornate musicians. The day we went there was a cute little banjo guitar type trio that definitely got my feet tapping.

All in all, the Riverfront Market is a nice way to spend some time perusing what Wilmington has to offer (as long as you aren't melting like the Wicked Witch of the West).

Kittens and fudge,

Friday, August 20, 2010

This Little Piggy Went to the BBQ: Carolina BBQ

Hearts: Cheap, Good Choice of Southern Comfort Foods, and decent service

Farts: Not so great desserts

Young At Heart says...

Southern comfort food is not one of my top choices for dinning but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Carolina BBQ is an exception. Now, it is not fancy by any means but rather an all you can eat buffet. And there is definitely lots to eat.

If you don't love the traditional southern comfort foods then this place is not for you. But if you love your food deep fried, slathered in butter, dripping with fatty goodness...then come on down!

Their buffet menu includes: fried chicken, fried fish, pulled pork bbq of two varieties, sausage with onions, mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, collard greens, squash, and corn. And this is not the full menu by any means, just what I can recall off the top of my head. Desserts include: banana pudding, strawberry shortcake, pie, and hand scooped ice cream.

And for the dieters at heart they do have a decent salad bar.

My favs were the pulled pork barbecue, the collard greens, hush puppies (these little doggies are out of this world with flavor), and the various greens on the salad bar. The thing I love best about buffets is if the cook is halfway decent, you should find something of your liking. For this spot, you will find lots to your liking just so long as you love traditional southern food. My friend found true love on our visit here. He was a traditional southern dish dressed with a splash of vinegar...collard greens. This was her very first time trying this veggie and she is now a devout worshiper of this southern gent.

The absolute best feature of this meal however is the price. They are celebrating 6 years of success in Wilmington and offer the customer all this fair for $6. Your drink (unless you get water) will run an additional $1.99. And you can eat all you want! Take out is priced by the pound.

So, if you are looking for a meal that will make you feel warm and full, follow this little piggy to Carolina BBQ.

Barbecue KISS,
Young At Heart

Monday, August 16, 2010

Brewing Some Love: Review of Front Street Brewery

THE HEARTS: good food, good service, consistent, right price

THE FARTS: ganache-less cake, sometimes a wait, noisy.

Young Old Fart says...

I am not into beer or any alcoholic beverage for that matter. In my opinion, they smell and taste terrible and cause people of all ages to act like fools (though this does get me to chuckle a bit sometimes). Thus, when we went to Front Street Brewery for the first time I really thought it would be the last. Luckily, I was very wrong and pleasantly surprised.

While FSB is not the classiest place to take someone to lunch or dinner, it does exude a local je ne sais quoi. In fact, it's so popular with Cape Fearers that it isn't unlikely you'll have to wait 15 minutes or so OR have to deal with a booming noise level (due to adult conversations, crying children, and excessively loud TVs). Personally, I prefer the first level of the pub because you don't have to walk down the stairs to get to the bathroom, and more families (aka children) tend to favor the top floor. Besides, you can get a good view of their brewing headquarters and the merchandise that is available for purchase.

On to the best!

Almost every time I go out to eat I get a really light meal so that I can splurge on a dessert. While the house salad with grilled chicken and balsamic vinaigrette was my main dish, I did steal a good third of the table's nachos. The fact that I allocated room in my stomach for something other than a salad and dessert should speak for these nachos in itself. One phrase comes to mind: "You can't have just one!"

The salad was good. To be fair to FSB, you really shouldn't come here for a salad. They are known for burgers, fries, beer, and all the other greasy things that go along with happy hour. However, the greens were fresh, the chicken was moist, and the dressing is thick and tasty.

Okay, the first time I had FSB's german chocolate cake I knew I had finally come to understand what love is. Everything went into slow motion and it felt like we were the only two people, or person/cake duo, in the room. The second time I encountered my lover my mom had to snap me out of unconscious singing. Yes folks, it's true. I sang a sexy song to a chocolate cake. Is this why I can't find a date? Unfortunately, around the third or fourth time I met my darling for some afternoon delight I had come to discover that a piece of him was missing. He was there physically, but his heart belonged to another. By "heart" I mean the best and most divine part of my beau...his sweet chocolatey frosting. Not only did this mishap cause me to scream "Oh good gosh, where's the ganache?!" it also left me crying at night, just knowing that things would never be the same again. Alright, alright, I know most people don't care as much as I do about cake so I'll sum up my lost love in three words: chocolatey, moist, and huge.

All in all, I know that every time I come to FSB I will get what I expect: decent service, good food, and a ganache-less cake that still hits the spot.

Kittens and fudge,

P.S. If anybody knows of a sweet buttercream slice that likes going to the movies or a delicious bread pudding that isn't allergic to cats, I am currently on the market.

Young At Heart Says...

We have been going to the Front Street Brewery for over a year now. I personally love the place and have taken both family and friends to this local stomping ground. Although I am not personally too found of many liquors, I do love some of their beer inspired dishes including the nachos. I would pass on the beer soup unless you are a true beer lover. If that is the case, bottoms up on that as well! And of course, if you love to drink all means, put this spot on tap! They are a well acclaimed local micro brewery.

We all shared the delicious nachos as our appetizer. They are made from chicken marinated in beer and topped with the standard nacho fixings. The beer definitely makes this dish and do plan on sharing! It can easily feed up to four.

For my main dish, I ordered my all time favorite. The apple, walnut and Gorgonzola salad with raspberry vinaigrette. It is yummy! And the best part, it leaves room for dessert.

My friend ordered a pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw and french fries. She enjoyed it all and believes that this dish is a true test of local success. Could be why FSB is doing so well.

On this day I shared the German chocolate cake with my friend. As always, it satisfied my sweet tooth but was not overly sweet. However, I did miss the chocolate ganache. Somewhere along the way, the chef decided to leave it off. My suggestion...put it back. Will I order the cake in the future?Absolutely! But, the ganache took it to the next level...a true piece de resistance. And for chocolate lovers...a must have.

I for sure will be back to FSB and hopefully, we will see you there as well. Not only does this local place have the food done right...the price is right too!

Beer KISS,
Young At Heart

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Blooming Spot: Airlie Gardens

The Hearts: Magnificent Airlie oak tree, butterfly house, Minnie Evans sculpture garden, Pergola Garden, stroller and wheel chair friendly for the most part.

The Farts: Hot in the summer and no flower markers for true garden enthusiasts

Young At Heart says...

I almost had a heart attack! Truly! I was ready to finally visit Airlie Gardens, with my friend in tow, when what did I discover on their website? This magnificent garden might be sold off by our illustrious New Hanover County government to close the budget gap. A heart attack in the making for sure!!

With my heart beating frantically, off we went. This is one of the most beautiful gardens I have seen. And keep in mind, we went in the heat of the summer which means that the majority of blooms are gone. I lived in S.C. for years and traversed that state regularly on garden tours. Airlie Gardens now tops my favorites!

From the splendid old gent Mr. Airlie Oak (that surely tops 6 stories) to the creepy crawlers perched along the trails (yes I am talking big ugly spiders), this garden will entice any gardener.

Upon entering, one is greeted by a kind person. I did question him in depth about the fate of Airlie Gardens (my blood pressure was way up just thinking of such a loss). He explained that they are currently working on a conservation conservancy which will protect the garden from commercial development but not from possible sale. I would suggest, if you are concerned about their future, you keep checking the website for updates.

Airlie is a beautiful array of nooks and crannies filled with sculptures, arbors, and sitting areas. Contrasted to the privacy of such hidden gems are the open spaces of the lake and greens surrounding the 400 year old oak. Truly, eye candy at every turn!

All gardeners will enjoy the multiple flowering landscapes. The true non gardener will enjoy Airlie's unique offerings including the butterfly house and Minnie Evans sculpture garden.

The complete tour will of course depend on how fast one walks but do plan on spending at least 1 1/2 hours. On this day we spent well over 2 hours enjoying all that Airlie has to offer.

And do bring your camera as you will find lots to photograph!

At every single turn there is more and more eye candy!

I will return for sure to this lovely lady, both in the winter for their well known holiday lights and again in the spring for the Azalea festival. I can't wait!

Blooming KISS,

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wrightsville Beach Under The Lense: A Pictorial Review

Young At Heart says...

Wrightsville Beach is a beach filled with serenity and beauty. I am not a big beach goer for the traditional beachie things like swimming, sunning, and the likes. Instead, I go with my camera in hand to find the best view...not just from behind the camera but for my soul as well.