Archive for April, 2011

It’s A Tie

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

 Greetings once again from the erstwhile arbiters of good taste at Camellia Cottage Bed and Breakfast in wonderful Wilmington NC. Previously we’ve brought you the best walks around town, best area hamburgers to be savored, best mini-museums to spend an hour at, and best locally-based downtown Wilmington activities. Now it’s time for some Best of Wilmington bars and restaurants a la Paula and Steve, rapid-fire style. The only catch is—we couldn’t really choose a single best in each category so we are presenting two – it’s a tie!

Best Martini Bar – Tre Benzios and Olive or Twist

Best Neighborhood Bar – The Satellite and Duck and Dive

Best Wine Bar – Le Catalan and The Fortunate Glass

Best Beer Bar – Front Street Brewery and Cape Fear Beer and Wine

Best Informal Seafood Restaurant – Hieronymus and Dock Street Oyster Bar

Best Italian Restaurant – New York Pasta House and Osteria Cichetti

Best Thai Restaurant – Indochine and Big Thai

Best Overall Downtown Restaurant – Caprice Bistro and Deluxe Cafe

Any additions or challenges to the list?

Spring Breakfasts

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Here at Camellia Cottage Bed & Breakfast in Wilmington, NC, we try to keep our food seasonal and local.  What a bounty we have this time of year!  One of my favorite combinations is asparagus and eggs.  Frittatas, quiche, stratas, omelettes…especially with fresh potatoes, fresh parsley or dill and a good Romano cheese.  Yumm!!  Great for supper as well as breakfast.

Then we’ve got strawberries and strawberries and strawberries.  Now, I grew up in Chicago and strawberries came out around Father’s Day.  Here, they’re happening now.  Where do I start?  Jam, shortcake, fruit salad, cheesecake, ICE CREAM, cream puffs, simply sliced with a drop or two of a fruity balsamic vinegar, combined with rhubarb in pie or cobbler or eaten whole with the juice dripping down your chin.  Beautiful color and incredible fragrance, they are the jewels of the breakfast table. 

Coming up next, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers followed by sweet corn and squash.  Check out our daily breakfast menu at, better yet, come join us!

Marvelous Mini-Museums

Friday, April 1st, 2011

When someone mentions museums, my mind tends to wander back to day-long childhood explorations at the Smithsonian in Washington or the Museum of Natural History in New York. As a young man, I loitered for hours upon hours in the Prado, Louvre and British Museum; completely losing myself in other times and places. But, who has that kind of attention span anymore? Not me. Not my wife. And, the poor dog is relegated to the back seat of the car while we amuse ourselves with history, science and art. That’s why I’m blogging (or blathering) about mini-museums today.

First, a brief definition: a mini-museum is one which allows you to enrich your mind with potentially fascinating yet non-critical information for up to an hour, after which you move on to some other activity without feeling guilty about not having read every description in small font under every picture and every artifact.

 With that in mind, here’s a list of five mini-museums in the Wilmington area to engage your mind on a rainy day or a small portion of a sunny day. When you’re done, come on over to the Camellia Cottage Bed and Breakfast, enjoy a glass of wine or beer on the front porch and share a fabulous factoid or two with old or new friends. We’ll see you then.

Fort Fisher Visitors Center

The Civil War gallery utilizes models, recreated environments and dioramas, archival photography, oral history presentations, period uniforms and extensive military memorabilia to interpret the role of the Fort. Emphasis is placed on the difficulty involved in building the Fort, its strategic importance to the cause of the Confederacy, the extraordinary lengths the South employed to protect it, and the rapid decline in the fortunes of the Confederacy after the fall of the Fort. A separate gallery interprets the role of Fort Fisher during World War II.

Underwater Archaeology Exhibit

The “Hidden Beneath The Waves” exhibit is located across the parking lot from the main museum at Fort Fisher. Although just a small room, it illustrates the state’s maritime history in artifacts – Native American dugout canoe fragments, colonial bottles, Civil War shells, steam ship parts. The exhibits focus on local shipwreck dive sites and Cape Fear maritime history dating from prehistoric to the Civil War to the present. 

 Wilmington Railroad Museum

Started in 1979 by three women and a table of ACL Railroad artifacts, this museum is dedicated to preserving the rich history of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the history of railroading in the southeastern U.S. Exhibits quickly expanded, helped by donations of a vintage locomotive, boxcar, and caboose.  For the next 25 years, the Museum added to its collections, acquiring artifacts and providing information that interpreted the growth and impact of railroads, along with the people who worked on them. In 2007 the Museum moved to an authentic 1883 railroad freight warehouse, a setting that provides more space for the collections and greatly improves comfort and accessibility for visitors. 

Wrightsville Beach Museum of History

The Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, housed in the turn of the century Myers Cottage, exists to preserve and share the history of Wrightsville Beach. Visitors to the cottage will find a scale model of Wrightsville Beach circa 1910, exhibits featuring the early days of the beach including Lumina Pavilion, our hurricane history and information about the interaction between the people and our natural environment which have shaped the 100 year history of Wrightsville Beach. The Museum is designed to reflect how life was lived in a typical home on the Beach and throughout the community.

Burgwin-Wright House

The Burgwin-Wright House, beautifully restored, is the oldest museum house in  Southeastern North Carolina. Visitors will enjoy the fine detail of the Georgian style architecture, the 18th and early 19th century furnishings and stories of the people who have lived in this house. The house is graced by a formal or parterre garden, a terraced garden, and an orchard. This charming property creates a link with the past and is an excellent example of a colonial gentleman’s town residence. Behind this fine colonial home, there is a free-standing building which houses the kitchen and a craft room.