Treat Yourself To Oysters for #NationalOysterDay (or any day) in Raleigh & Wake Forest NC!

Sunday,August 5th is one of my favorite food holidays because it is National Oyster Day! The seafoodie in me loves to eat these beauties from the sea. Whether you like them raw on the half shell, roasted, charbroiled, topped off with cheese or fried in a po boy sandwich, there are so many places to enjoy fresh oysters in the Triangle. Here are some of my favorite places to enjoy oysters in Raleigh & Wake Forest!

18 Seaboard

NC oysters from Core Sound topped with pimento cheese and proscuitto

18 Seaboard, the brainchild of Chef Smith and his wife Laura,winner 2018 Best of Downtown restaurant for a business meeting, is best known for its locally sourced seafood dishes. Here is where I made my first stop to celebrate National Oyster Day!

Pair the oysters with a glass of Rosé or 18 Seaboard’s Prosecco cocktail

Chef Jason Smith, who was recently featured in the IndyWeek top 100 dishes, gets his oysters fresh from Locals Seafood and serves Core Sounders topped them with pimento cheese brulee +prosciutto +crystal cane syrup ! They are raw but torched at the end to melt the cheese just a little. You get 5 to an order, but you may want more after tasting the hot sauce sugar syrup. It is literally the icing on the oyster!

Chef-Proprietor Jason Smith was recently featured in Indy Week! 18 Seaboard serves delicious local NC seafood dishes!

18 Seaboard

18 Seaboard Ave
Raleigh, NC 27604

Whiskey Kitchen

Oysters, fried to perfection at Whiskey Kitchen

Whiskey Kitchen..winner of 2018 best of Downtown Bar Food, known for best outside patio and an all around great vibe. I recently was here enjoying a girls night out and the fried oysters were such a memorable bite!

The Drink Menu is extensive at Whiskey Kitchen. No matter the celebration, they have plenty of libations!

During the day, Whiskey Kitchen still has a great atmosphere but it is more kid friendly and even dog friendly on the patio. If you are a fan of day drinking, head to Whiskey Kitchen for the best place to enjoy fried oysters on the patio for and pair is with prosecco, a glass of wine, a Bloody Mary, beer or just ask Johnny to make something special!

Whiskey Kitchen

201 W Martin St
Raleigh, NC 27601

bu*ku Wake Forest

If you read my review of bu•ku Wake Forest, then you know I could never say nada to their

~

….

These oysters are on their menu everyday so I can celebrate my love for oysters anytime and so can you!

bu*ku Wake Forest

1228 Heritage Links Dr suite 100 Wake Forest, NC 27587

National Oyster Day may be coming to an end but lucky for us we have quite a few restaurants here in Raleigh that serve up these delicacies from the sea. Hummingbird features Chef Coleen Speaks’ oyster dishes (she does an amazing oyster po’boy, along with smoked marinated oysters and charbroiled oysters), as well as Mandolin, who offers delicious local NC oysters on the half shell with Chef Sean Fowler’s house-made sauces. Another restaurant in Wake Forest that I have enjoyed is Shuckers. Remember, The World Is Your Oyster, go out there and enjoy!

Photo Courtesy of Mandolin

Do you like oysters? Did you celebrate National Oyster Day? If so, leave your favorite oyster spot below!

Concert Recap |@KidzBop Live Rocks Raleigh @RedHatAmp @LiveNationNCSC

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to review this show and share our experience with you. The opinions are 100 percent my own!

Music has always been oxygen to me. It is apparent I have passed this trait on to my soon to be 7 yr old daughter!
She sings, she dances and she gets lost in the beats just like me. While I love this aspect, I am always concerned with some of the more “adult” lyrical content of today’s pop hits. A few years ago I found a great solution to this modern problem. It is called KIDZ BOP. Some of my child free followers may not know what that is. No worries, I am here to help!

KIDZ BOP is a musical group that takes all the current top 40 hits and remixes some of the lyrical content within the songs to make it more kid-friendly. They use very similar music and most of the lyrics are the same.The most important difference is any cursing and sexual innuendo are replaced seamlessly with more kid appropriate lyrics. Young talent with amazing vocals do the cover songs. They also come up with dance moves to go with the dance tunes that will sure to get any kiddie party started! So when I learned that this group was touring and stopping in Raleigh,NC at Red Hat Amphitheatre, I wanted to surprise my soon to be birthday girl with her very first concert experience! It actually was our first mother and daughter concert date and we had so much fun!

KIDZ BOP has been Billboard Magazine’s #1 Kids’ Artist for eight consecutive years (2010 – 2017).
What works so well is the fact that each song they produce could stand on it’s own as an original. Most of our Friday Family Fun Nights at home consist of my daughter and I having our own dance or lip sync battle to any of the songs from the latest Kidz Bop Album. My husband will even play it in the car to just jam out during road trips. Parents, kids, girls and even boys enjoy rocking out to KIDZ BOP which is why the Kidz Bop Live 2018 Summer Tour is a must see!

The concert was 90 mins long with a 15 min intermission and featured 20 hit songs. Our favorite moments were dancing along to the Kidz Bop Shuffle, singing along to Havana, and other latin hits like Despacito / Mi Gente. We also liked all the Bruno Mars songs: Uptown Funk/ That’s What I Like/ Finesse / 24K Magic and the 90’s Dance Off featuring adults from the audience was EPIC! They showed us their best dance moves to Whoomp There It is / Jump / Poison / U Can’t Touch This and we the audience got to choose the winner by giving the loudest applause.

WATCH MY FUN VIDEO RECAP OF THE SHOW ⤵️

I had alot of Friday Night fun with my little one at #KidzBopLive 2018 at Red Hat Amphitheater in Downtown Raleigh. Those KIDZ BOP kids are so talented and put on an amazing show! Catch some of their singing [and our dancing] via my @sobesavvy u instatories and be sure to check out LiveNation.com to see what other concerts are coming to the the Triangle!

#NCFarmTour | Where NC Agriculture Meets Educational Fun ~Recap by SobeSavvy.com

On June 27-29, 2018, I joined a group of bloggers on a fantastic tour of northeast North Carolina. We were invited by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to experience the diversity of eastern North Carolina including cucumbers, white potatoes, wine, beer, brats and seafood. Here is a recap of what I learned, where we traveled, who we met and of course, what I ate along the way!

Day 1- Wednesday, 6/27

Stop 1 on the #NCFarmTour – Lunch at Nothing Fancy Café, Edenton

Locally owned, Nothing Fancy Café features made-from-scratch southern home cooking. The restaurant also features a variety of retail items including antiques and baked goods. I left with a beautiful $5 pineapple candle holder and an appreciation for this restaurant who serves field to fork food. The collard greens I enjoyed as a side came from a local NC farmer and tasted like my grandma made it! Nothing Fancy Café is also my new favorite place to enjoy a burger. When the beef comes from a local farmer, trust me you can taste the quality and the difference.
Facebook: @NothingFancyCafe

Stop 2- AJ Smith and Sons Farm, in Edenton, NC

Did you know that Edgecombe County is #1 in growing of cucumbers in NC? We visited a farm started by AJ Smith and is now run by his four sons + grandsons. The farm is extremely diversified. They grow clary sage, peanuts, soybeans, corn,watermelons, cucumbers, and snap beans. The farm also has cattle and hogs. We got to pick some cucumbers at AJ Smith and Sons Farm as well as learn about the process of preparing them for packaging. And just in case you were wondering..yes, they do get waxed for preservation purposes. All cucumbers are not created equal. However, curved or straight if they were grown in NC they will taste great!

SobeSavvy Tip: When selecting a cucumber, look for cucumbers that are very firm and rounded right to the ends.

Stop 3 on the #NCFarmTour is a tour of Historic Edenton

PLAY | Thanks to the Chowan County Chamber of Commerce, we took a horse and wagon tour of historic Edenton. We learned alot of history, enjoyed nature, and viewed beautiful architecture in the “South’s Prettiest Small Town”. WATCH my youtube video of highlights from this tour:

EAT | Ended Day 1 of #NCFarmTour at Cypress Creek Grill, a family-owned restaurant is in downtown Elizabeth City, one block from the Pasquotank River. Their meals feature
fresh seafood and local ingredients. Executive Chef Bradley Chambers created a special menu that showcased the best of what Northeast NC has to offer and combined an amazing array of flavors!

STAY | We stayed in nearby Elizabeth City overnight at Fairfield Inn, which offers guest FREE breakfast with stay plus this comfy, modern hotel has an indoor pool/jacuzzi and mini fridge+ microwave in the room.

Day 2- Thursday, 6/28

Day 2 of #NCFarmTour started off at TCOM, LP

Look up in the sky..it’s a bird, it’s a plane..no it’s a blimp that has been assembled and tested at TCOM,LP located in Elizabeth City,NC. It was so cool to tour the 225-acre facility that manufactures and test aerostats (airship or hot air balloon, especially one that is tethered). The hanger is 150 feet tall and 1,000 feet long and can hold six fully-inflated 71-meter aerostats. Their blimps are used for sporting events, by the US Military and for national security. TCOM,LP
is not a blimp manufacturing company however they do make the envelope and assemble them without the mechanics on it. It was so fascinating to see up close!

SobeSavvy Tip: Here’s an interesting connection to agriculture: The first aerial applicator was not a plane,
but a hot air balloon. It was used in 1906 to spread seed over a valley in New Zealand that had flooded.

Day 2,Stop 2 #NCFarmTour John E. Ferebee Farms

This seventh-generation family farm focuses on potatoes, each year growing and packing red, white and yellow flesh potatoes. John E.Ferebee Farms potatoes are shipped across the US. They’ve also worked with many of NCDA&CS marketing programs. We met both sisters but it was Martha took us on the tour around the facility, which have washed bulk capabilities/cold storage, and onto the potato fields. I learned that summer potatoes of eastern NC come from farms situated alongside well nourished soil beside saltwater sounds/freshwater river beds. Did you know that NC produces over 16,000 acres potatoes? This farm grows 350 acres of North Carolina Potatos.

Day 2 #NCfarmtour Lunch and Tour at Weeping Radish

If you are hungry for bratwurst, beer and knowledge just talk to Uli Bennewitz, owner of Weeping Radish, a brewery, restaurant, butchery and farm that celebrates craft! He came to NC in the early 1980s, from Bavaria, Germany, established a microbrewery and worked with lawmakers to change the NC laws to allow microbreweries to sell beer directly to consumers. In addition to brewing beer, cattle and hogs are sourced from local farms and processed on-site into sausage and charcuterie. The retail counter sells sausage, pastrami, bacon and beer. The Pub serves lunch and a housemade draft root beer that you must try!

Day 2 #NCFarmTour ..a look at our visit to Sanctuary Vineyards, Jarvisburg, NC

The Wright family-owned vineyard grows a variety of grapes on 10 acres. All grapes are picked by hand and the use of french oak barrels gives their NC wine a wonderful taste. We toured the vineyards and learn how world-class wine is made at Sanctuary Vineyards. I purchased a bottle of Morton which is a red wine blend that I can not wait to enjoy!

Jennette’s Pier, Outer Banks

PLAY | Jennette’s Pier is the oldest fishing pier in the Outer Banks and has been a landmark since 1939. Fisherman catch a variety of fish from the 1,000 foot pier including red drum, speckled trout and croaker. We bloggers took advantage of the opportunity to cool our heels from all the farm tour walking at the pier since you get access to the beach!

Today was filled with so much to learn, see and do, here are some of my fave moments from the #NCFarmTour Northeast North Carolina Day 2 w/@nc_agriculture @gottobenc ——————— •A visit to @jennettes_pier_official gave us access to the beach and a chance to see the oldest fishing pier in #OBX • We got to see who makes the envelopes for blimps and learn this history of #TCOM ,LP •John E. Ferebee Farms gave us an inside look of how they grow and pack red, white,yellow potatoes •@weepingradish is where we celebrated the craft of cooking, butchery amd farming. We had lunch at this microbrewery before taking the Beee and Brat Tour • i enjoyed tasting some NC wines from Sanctuary Vineyards and learning about their wine making process •Beautiful views from my balcony room at The Oasis Suites Hotel • Lastly, Dinner @lonecedarcafe Where their fried soft crab was some of the best I ever had caught fresh here in #NC.

A post shared by Lifestyle|Food|Travel|Fun BLOG (@sobesavvy) on

EAT | Dinner at Basnights Lone Cedar Café, located on the Roanoke Sound, is family owned/operated and serves only seafood caught in NC by local fishermen. Pork, poultry and vegetables are sourced from local farms. Herbs are grown on-site. Deserts are made from scratch daily on-site by the pastry chef. Everything we tried was delicious, especially the soft shell crab!

STAY |The Oasis Suites Hotel is the only boutique hotel on the Outer Banks. All rooms have private balconies with water views and are very spacious! Take a LOOK at my room reveal video to see for yourself how lovely this hotel property is:

Day 3-Friday, 6/29

Everything tastes better with bacon right? If you like savory and sweet, try the Maple Bacon Donut from Duck Donuts, Nags Heads

After enjoying breakfast from Duck Donuts, we started Day 3 of #NCFarmTour at O’Neals Sea Harvest in Wanchese. Sara Marabilio, who is the Fisheries Extension Specialist at NC Sea Grant, met us at the family owned and operated
seafood wholesaler to lead the tour and provide more information about NC Seafood. At O’neals Sea Harvest, you can purchase locally caught, fresh
seafood daily. The also sell fresh and frozen seafood (crab, variety of fish, shrimp & scallops) through their retail store and Monday-Friday they serve the fresh catch at their restaurant on-site.

Next stop, was nicknamed by me as Crabmeat Lover’s Heaven because Captain Neill’s Seafood, in Columbia is the largest domestic crab processing (by hand-picking) plant left. Owner Phillip Carawan started buying hard/soft-shell crabs, then opened (in 1997) a facility to process wild caught crabs caught from NC waters and purchasing daily from crabbers that dock behind their facility. Captain Neill’s processes a variety of crabmeat products in
addition to oysters, cocktail fingers and ready to eat steamed crabs.
They sell to a variety of markets, including grocery chains, under the
names Capt. Charlie’s and Capt. Neill’s. I learned that aprox 11 pounds of crab yield 1 pound of crabmeat and that an emplyee can pick the meat out of the crab in aprox 15 seconds! I left there amazed at the efficiency of the process and hungry for crab. SobeSavvy Tip: If you are a member of Sam’s Club you can purchase their crabmeat there.

EAT |Our last stop and final lunch on #NCFarmTour was at Garden Spot Café in Plymouth,NC. Located in a building built around 1900 on the banks of the Roanoke
River, this restaurant is owned by three sisters and known locally for their home-style cooking. They offer a variety of menu items to meet every taste preference. I tried the fried shrimp platter/flounder because after all that time learning more about NC seafood I was craving it!

All of these stops on the tour are just a short drive from the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh. I encourage you to take the to time to explore more of NC, shop at your local farmers market, support restaurants where you can eat local foods and buy local goods. There are so many fun ways to support our state’s number one industry, AGRICULTURE! I am so inspired to incorporate what I have learned when it comes to food that my family consumes and make sure it comes from a North Carolina Farm!

Leslie Heigh, Founder of SobeSavvy.com on the #NCFarmTour

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#FoodieFriday Feature| Dinner For Two Review @bukuwakeforest! Eat Global,Support Local and Celebrate Grand Opening 6/28 in Wake Forest, NC

Recently, SobeSavvy.com was invited to a hosted dinner at the new bu•ku Wake Forest, a restaurant that is recognized for its global street food menu thanks to its flagship establishment in downtown Raleigh,NC. Their website states they are inspired by the pushcarts of street vendors from all over the world. I was excited to taste what they offered and hoped it would remind me of my experiences abroad as well as introduce me to something I’ve never had before.

If you are asking yourself… what is global street food?..It is basically no frills food native to the area it originates from. It tastes exactly like they would make these dishes in their home for their families. My introduction to street food was sudden and unexpectedly delightful. The year was 2006 in Phuket Island, Thailand. My friend who lived there at the time was taking my husband and I around and showing us the sights. We were hungry and he said “Let’s go by noodle stand #5”. Not quite sure what that was so we went along with it. We pulled up to a side street where an elderly woman had set up a plastic table on the back of her bike with a steaming contraption alongside. To our western sensibilities this was strange. We had one of the best meals of our lives right there in the alley. That unique dining experience shaped my willingness to try different foods and made me ready to enjoy dinner for 2 at bu•ku.

RESTAURANT VIBES

Since this locally owned and operated restaurant is celebrating global street food in an elevated way, you will not find plastic tables here. The decor is modern and the ambiance is inviting yet intimate. You have the option to dine inside or outside on the patio but as soon as I walked thru the doors at bu•ku Wake Forest, I knew I would enjoy dining in the serene, beautifully designed dining space. I had an early dinner reservation at 6p but soon the restaurant was bustling with quite a few large dinner party celebrations as well as friends casually meeting for drinks after work at the bar. There were even families with children enjoying dinner and couples enjoying a dinner date night. No matter how busy it got, service was welcoming and attentive throughout the evening.

COCKTAILS ANYONE?

If you are one that enjoys a good drink before, during or after your meal, then you will be quite satisfied with the wine list, beer and cocktail menu at bu•ku Wake Forest. Whether you choose to enjoy on their patio, at the bar or with your dinner, I do suggest this restaurant for their interesting selection of wines, beers and craft cocktails. Here are two drinks that you must try on your next visit to bu•ku:

Sangria Roja at bu•ku is the perfect Summertime Sip!

My new favorite bubbly cocktail: The Secret Garden at bu•ku

DINNER MENU

Per bu•ku Wake Forest, their Global Street Food menu is ..”a new type of dining, designed for the type of mix & matched tasting and plate-sharing that sparks conversation.” If you’ve ever been to the Raleigh location owned by culinary visionaries Sean Degnan and Tony Hopkins, you will notice some menu differences. The team partnered with longtime friend, Todd Ohle, owner of the second bu•ku Wake Forest, and each restaurant has its own Chef that develops their own creations while still supporting menus and programs for the entire restaurant group. Just like the Raleigh location ( which is moving to Cary in 2019), bu•ku offers gluten free, vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu. Feast your eyes on the small plates, large plates and big bowls we enjoyed for dinner:

Small Plates | Chinese Steamed Buns at bu•ku | 2 per order- Braised Pork, hoison sauce, pickles and scallions. Served on a perfectly warm “steamed” bun. Perfection in it’s simplicity yet complex in it’s flavors. Yum!

Small Plates | Edamame + Ostras Asadas at bu•ku | Edamame has a bit of a kick thanks to the addition of peppercorn. The grilled local oysters are some of the best I have had in the Triangle because of the flavorful toppings!

Large Plates | NC Catch at bu•ku | Local Seafood meets Global Flavors on a plate! The flounder was perfectly cooked and served on a bed of cauliflower,rutabaga mash, pistachio and topped with fennel-shallot confit. My favorite part was pouring the parmesean beurre on top!

Big Bowls | Vietnamese Phô at bu•ku | The seared filet mignon was so tender and my favorite part about this dish. I wanted more flavor from the broth and plan to do some spice additions to my leftovers at home!

Dessert | Tres Helados at bu•ku | You get a trio of chefs selection of gluten free sorbet and ice creams, toasted coconut flakes, and fresh berries. It was my first time having avocado ice cream and I loved it!

SobeSavvy Tip: EVENT ALERT A celebration for the new bu•ku Wake Forest will take place Thursday, June 28th with a cocktail hour and ribbon cutting for media and city officials on Thursday, June 28th. Dinner service will begin at 5pm and feature live music from Joe O’Keefe’s “3 Second Rule” band (who owns neighboring Wine 101), as well as complimentary sangria for all guests. As founding members of A Place at the Table, Degnan and Hopkins will donate a portion of proceeds from this evening to this charitable cause!

Thanks for reading and I hope you are inspired to make dinner reservations for 2 at the new bu•ku!

bu•ku Wake Forest

1228 Heritage Links Dr suite 100, Wake Forest, NC 27587

Hey #Raleigh, If you seek Authentic Greek, head to @TavernaAgora during @TriRestweek and #TakeBackLunch

Leslie, Founder of SobeSavvy.com visits Taverna Agora to #TakeBackLunch during Triangle Restaurant Week

Greece is known for many things. The Acropolis and inventing the modern Olympic games just to name a few. Something else Greece is known for… healthy and delicious food! Whether it’s how they cook their lamb or use feta cheese in different dishes, Greek cuisine is adored worldwide. Although Greece is 5,000 miles away and eating there for lunch or dinner tomorrow is impossible for most, I have some great news. Greece is right here in the City of Oaks in the form of Taverna Agora Restaurant!

Taverna Agora is a bi-level restaurant serving authentic Greek cuisine in the heart of downtown Raleigh

Located in downtown Raleigh,NC, Taverna Agora offers old world flavors and rustic roots “reminiscent of gathering places found in Greece.” As soon as you walk in you get a feeling of traditional mixed with modern. The atmosphere is quite charming and I loved the decor both inside and on the covered rooftop patio.

At Taverna Agora, get ready to Eat, Drink,OPA!

SobeSavvy.com was invited there for lunch during the special Triangle Restaurant Week that runs from June 4 thru June 10. For a fixed price, you get to try dishes from the regular menu at a discount. Lunch at Taverna Agora during this special is $15 per person (plus tax/gratuity) for 3 COURSES! THAT is such a great deal don’t you think?!

Taverna Agora’s TRW Lunch Menu

Drinks are not included with TRW Lunch menu but I shared on my instastories two cocktails identified as “Village Favorites”. Both the Greek Mule and Greek Lemonade were refreshing!

We started with a couple of great cocktails and got down to the business of food. Our waiter welcomed me back (since I dined there before) and gave a warm welcome to my guest who was there for the first time. We ordered an appetizer, entrée and dessert from the special Triangle Restaurant Week menu as follows:

1ST COURSE

Greek Village Salad at Taverna Agora

Options were Lemon Chicken soup or a choice of two different salads. Both the Greek Village Salad and the Watermelon and Feta Salad were fresh and flavorful. I also was pleased to see that the portions were big enough to share with each other. Thanks to the quality of the balsamic vinegar combined with watermelon and feta, I have found a new fave summer salad!

Watermelon and Feta Salad at Taverna Agora

2ND COURSE & 3RD COURSE

It’s Lunchtime at Taverna Agora!

For entrees we went with the Chicken Penne and a Gyro Pita. Each of these were quite good and we were impressed again by the quality of the ingredients used. I have leftovers of the pasta that I can’t wait to enjoy! We both finished with their signature Greek dessert of Baklava.

Save room for Taverna Agora’s dessert…the 3rd course was amazing!

SobeSavvy Tip: Make some time and join Taverna Agora during your lunchtime to #TakeBackLunch. Studies show you’ll be happier and more productive when you back away from your desk, leave the screen and take time for lunch. You could even win a midday meal for 10! Enter >>>>here.

#TakeBackLunch on June 15th National Take Back The Lunch Break Day at Taverna Agora!

Triangle Restaurant Week ends Sunday but there’s still time to experience multiple dishes and flavors and immerse yourself in the tastes of Greece. You can still get those amazing dishes on their regular menu but don’t miss this chance to try the TRW Menu at this great price! Plus service was attentive and professional and I loved the setting. For all of those reasons combined with delicious food, hurry down to Taverna Agora!

TAVERNA AGORA

326 Hillsborough St.

Raleigh, NC 27603

Thanks Taverna Agora for hosting SobeSavvy.com! I really enjoyed my dining experience and looking forward to next time!

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Dine with a View and Taste What’s New at @OceanicDining + @BlueWater_ILM in #WrightsvilleBeach @WilmingtoNCoast

Today’s #FoodieFriday feature is dedicated to two restaurants my family and I dined at during our recent visit to Wilmington, NC to see What’s In Bloom. Bluewater Waterfront Grill and the Oceanic Restaurant, both located in Wrightsville Beach, are two places that I would recommend for enjoying delicious food/cocktails with gorgeous views!

OCEANIC RESTAURANT

703 S.LUMINA AVE. | Seafood
www.oceanicrestaurant.com/

For dinner on Saturday, we had a reservation at the Oceanic Restaurant, located on the beach and connected to the Crystal Pier. They recently launched a new menu at the Oceanic and SobeSavvy.com was invited to check it out! Having lived in Florida, I have found that usually beachside restaurants either have good food and a non existent view or an awesome view and subpar cuisine. Oceanic Restaurant on Wrightsville, Nc is the rare gem that manages to do both.

Being the only restaurant in Wrightsville Beach situated on the Atlantic Ocean carries a lot of responsibility and they carry it well.
Oceanic also played a huge part in restoring the Crystal Pier, which literally stretches into the atlantic ocean with a fishing pier and outdoor above ocean tables.

We were seated upstairs at a table with a beautiful view of the sand and the surf below. They presented a neat kids menu with crayons for my little one to enjoy.

I ordered a White Sangria unlike any other I have ever had. It came with a frozen stone fruit popsicle immersed in the glass. Loved it! Hubby ordered a nice glass of Greek white wine, which paired well with our appetizer order of Oyster Rockefellers. I am still dreaming about those plump fresh oysters, topped with creamed spinach, pernod and crumbled bacon. So amazingly good!

In lieu of dinner rolls, you can expect an order of hush puppies to arrive in a basket for all to enjoy! My little one ordered the kids pasta marinara and a side of steamed broccoli. Kids and pasta go together like fish and water, so she was happy.

We tried two new items from their dinner menu that caught our attention: Shrimp and Grits and Brick Roasted Chicken. The Shrimp and Grits were large shrimp sautéed with shallots, pancetta, mushrooms, cajun spices, finished with cream and served over a fried Asiago polenta cake. The shrimp were good BUT that polenta cake was the perfect sponge to soak up all that creamy goodness. The chicken was amazing! I don’t usually order chicken at a seafood restaurant, but after the GM described it, I am so glad I did! It was moist, flavorful and the skin was the perfect grade of crispy without being overcooked.

SobeSavvy Tip: This restaurant and its unique seaside setting makes Oceanic very popular amongst visitors and locals alike. It is a place you MUST visit when in Wrightsville Beach, NC. Come for the food, stay for the view and GET IN LINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE with Yelp Mobile App.

BLUEWATER WATERFRONT GRILL

4 MARINA ST. | Seafood
www.bluewaterdining.com/

Bluewater Waterfront Grill, recently launched a brunch program at the restaurant and includes a Bloody Mary bar, champagne cocktails and a new cocktail program. SobeSavvy.com was invited to check out what’s new so this is where we decided to enjoy Sunday Brunch for Mother’s Day!

Brunch, without a doubt is one of the best ways to start of a lazy Sunday morning/afternoon. Brunch on the Intra-Coastal waters of the NC coast is even better. Enter the Blue Water WaterFront Grill in Wilmington Beach, NC. Set amongst beautiful boats and folks pulling up their pleasure crafts right to their dock, this restaurant is a mainstay in the area.

What’s New! They have a special build your own Bloody Mary and Champagne Cocktail Bar on Sundays that we enjoyed. Peach Bellini and Red Sangria set the tone for a wonderful meal experience. Bananas Foster French Toast was divine as was the Egg & Bacon Croissant.

Sitting dockside was a fun treat for our little one. She loved watching the comings and goings of the watercrafts as she enjoyed her kids menu item Fish & Chips. Such a relaxed atmosphere on a picture perfect warm spring morning. This was a brunch to remember!

Thank you to Oceanic Restaurant and Bluewater Waterfront Grill for hosting my #HeighPartyof3 during our visit to Wilmington,NC and Island Beaches. If you are looking for family friendly dining with great service, a delicious food/drink menu and amazing views, make reservations at these two places for a memorable dining experience.

#TRAVEL | Visit #WilmingtonNC & Island Beaches to Enjoy Nature and Discover What’s In Bloom🌹

TRAVEL | Visit Wilmington NC & Island Beaches to Enjoy Nature and Discover What’s In Bloom! Photo Credit: SobeSavvy.com

You all know the saying ..”April Showers Bring May Flowers“,well my #HeighPartyof3 decided to put the theory to the test and headed to Wilmington NC & Island Beaches to discover What’s In Bloom! In the past, we have visited during the summer as a fun, “Family Travel” destination and also spent a “Daycation” in Wilmington NC & Island Beaches because for us it’s just a 2 hour roadtrip from Raleigh, NC.

This was our first time traveling to Wilmington NC in the Spring and I thought instead of flowers as a gift for Mother’s Day, why not experience botanical gardens and more in this beautiful city! With just 24 hours to explore, there is so much to get outside and do here. Take a look at our weekend itinerary filled with nature-theme activities the whole family can enjoy!

DAY 1 Arrive Saturday

Wilmington + Wrightsville Beach

Before you explore, make your first stop at the main Visitor Information Center, located at 505 Nutt Street in Downtown Wilmington. It opens on Saturday at 9am and is open daily except for Thanksgiving/Christmas. You can get any questions answered by staff, pick up maps, guides and vacation coupons!

Pick up an Official Visitors Guide and more at the main Visitor Information Center | SobeSavvy.com

Take a self-guided walking tour at Airlie Gardens , a 67 acre historical garden in Wilmington. We took advantage of the complimentary tram ride and learned so much about the lush gardens and its rich history. Go and see a 468 yr old Airlie Oak, Azaleas, and the Butterfly House. Learn about Minnie Evans, an African American woman who was a domestic who sold her artwork at Airlie. She once said ” God has some 600 shades of green, and He dressed the world with them.” She died in 1987 and local artists created the Bottle Chapel, a memorial sculpture garden, in 2004 in her honor. It was such an amazing sight to see!

Walk thru Airlie Gardens and learn about history while enjoying nature | SobeSavvy.com

All that walking will surely work up an appetite! Sweet & Savory Café is close by and offers a Saturday Brunch. This farm to fork restaurant in Wilmington is known for its variety of menu choices and fresh baked goods at their bakery.

Dine at Sweet and Savory for Saturday Brunch for a variety of Farm to Fork dishes | SobeSavvy.com

SobeSavvy Tip: Short on time or rather have a quick bite to go? Grab something at Port City Java. I enjoyed an iced coffee for a caffeine boost before our next activity!

Port City Java uses the Japanese Iced Coffee method for a more flavorful,bright,complex brew and its oh so good| SobeSavvy.com

We checked in at the Hampton Inn Wilmington/Downtown and got changed into our bathing suits for some fun in the sun at Wrightsville Beach, located just 15 mins away from Downtown Wilmington. It’s a spacious, clean beach with clear blue waters and is one of the most environmentally friendly beaches in the state. We collected shells to take home as a souvenir and our daughter played by the shore until it was time for dinner at Oceanic Restaurant attached to Crystal Pier. *Be sure to check back here for my #FoodieFriday review of our dining experience at this restaurant. Wrightsville Beach is a walkable beach town with the beauty of nature all around!

Play, Relax and Start a Seashell Collection at Wrightsville Beach | SobeSavvy.com

The Arboretum at New Hanover County closes at 8pm which made it a great last stop of our day. It happened to be prom night and many people were there to capture the perfect photo. Visit the 7 acres of nature trails and gardens, which include a Japanese tea house, gazebo, children’s cottage, ability garden and water garden for FREE!

See the beauty of blooms for free at The Arboretum at New Hanover County | SobeSavvy.com

DAY 2 Depart Sunday

Kure Beach+ Carolina Beach

Sunday,Mother’s Day..all I want to do is sleep in but when you have a six year old daughter who’s motto is ‘Carpe Diem’, you get up early and seize the day! We enjoyed brunch with a view in Wrightsville Beach at Bluewater Waterfront Grill (which you can see a few of my photos here + stay tuned for my #FoodieFriday feature) before our visit to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach. It’s worth the short drive from Wilmington to see more than 2500 animals and the 2 special exhibits: Dinosaurs! and Butterfly Bungalow. The cherry on top of our Sunday Funday at the Aquarium was when one of the butterflies landed right on my husband’s hand! My whole family had a fin-tastic time at this attraction learning just how much animals and nature are connected to each other.

Visit the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher to be inspired by nature and all its wonder | SobeSavvy.com

We did not plan to have another beach day but our daughter’s pleas and the call of the ocean breeze encouraged us to stop at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. It is right down the road from the Aquarium so it really was a convenient stop. This public beach is great for bird watchers because alot of nature is unspoiled here.

Kure Beach is a pure and natural playground for beach goers, bird watchers and nature lovers | SobeSavvy.com

Did you know that one of the only places in the world where you can see the Venus flytrap growing in its native environment is at Carolina Beach State Park? See the rare Venus Flytraps for FREE and learn about one of the world’s most unique carnivorous plants!

Head to the Carolina Beach State Park for a tour along the Flytrap Trail | SobeSavvy.com

SobeSavvy Tip: Ranger-Guided tours of the park’s Venus flytrap trail are available Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10am. I recommend the guided tour, as the flytraps can be hard to find on your own. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes with socks for this guided tour. Insect repellent is highly recommended as are long pants. You can always change back into shorts and sandals in the park’s visitor center bathrooms. The hikes meet at the flytrap trail head and depart promptly at 10am so be sure to arrive in time to park and meet. If you gey hungry after hiking the nature trails, go a half a mile to dine at Michael’s Seafood and enjoy fresh seafood dishes like loaded oysters and snow crab legs!

Dine at Michael’s Seafood, conveniently close to Carolina Beach State Park | SobeSavvy.com

Thank you to Wilmington and Beaches CVB and the attractions who welcomed my family and I to experience nature-theme activities and feature them in my 24 hour itinerary. I hope you and your family will review this travel guide and take the opportunity to visit Wilmington NC & Island Beaches soon to see What’s In Bloom!

#CheerstoMom Cocktail Recipe with @TOPOdistillery Organic Spiced Rum🍍Inspired by #DisneyDoleWhip

In celebration of warmer temps in NC and Mother’s Day weekend, I plan to host some Mom friends on my outdoor patio for a fun, ‘Cheers to Mom‘ celebration! I like to create speciality drinks when I entertain and to me, nothing says summer is near more that a good rum cocktail. I have been seeing all these Disney Dole Whip recipes and decided to try one of my own using NC’s own award winning organic spirits: TOPO Carolina Spiced Rum!

The Spirit

Admit it, the words “organic” and “liquor” do not usually exist in the same sentence. Not anymore. After being a fan and consumer of TOPO Organic Spirits [they offer a whiskey, vodka, gin and moonshine], I was excited when my friends at TOPO sent a sample of their new release, TOPO Organic Spiced Rum. After living in Miami for almost 20 years and attending several Rum festivals [like the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival], I became somewhat of a rum expert. dark rum, light rum, Haitian Rum, Jamaican rum, Puerto Rican rum. I have had them all at one time or the other. What I was not familiar with however was rum from North Carolina!

TOPO has the distinction as the only Green + Certified distillery in the country. Environmentally friendly and 100 % organic ingredients go into their lines of spirits. I didn’t quite know what to expect. But after the initial smell and sip, I was in love!

Per their website, the rum… “has flavors of the coastline: allspice, vanilla, orange peel, peppercorns, cinnamon and clove. It’s a marriage of the finest organic botanicals with an incredibly smooth rum. We make a tasty white rum and then use a mortar and pestle to grind spices to add more flavor. You can smell and taste the difference. “

The Cocktail

More than one of my Disney Social Media Mom friends [that I recently got to connect with at the Disney Social Media Moms Conference On The Road Celebration in Miami] has made me aware over the years of a special concoction they had enjoyed at one of the Walt Disney World Theme Parks called “Dole Whip”. It is sometimes in the form of a soft serve ice cream or as a non alcoholic beverage. However there are some places in the park that will serve this as a rum infused tropical cocktail, sort of like a grown up smoothie! I have not had one yet, but I am on a mission to get there soon to enjoy one or two for myself. Until then, I thought I would DIY my own Disney Dole Whip Rum drink and call it a ‘Cheers To Mom’ Cocktail.

The Recipe

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Dole Frozen Pineapple Chunks
Vanilla Coconut Milk
Topo Organic Spiced Rum 2 TBLS of White Granulated Sugar
Ice Cubes

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Blend the above in a blender at high speed for 30 seconds and sample. Adjust any ingredients to taste. I added a little more rum because well, more rum equals more fun! Top of with Whip Cream [optional] and enjoy!

SobeSavvy Tip: Give the gift of TOPO for Mother’s Day!

Known far and wide as one of the nations premier local breweries, plan a date and take Mom on a TOPO Distillery Tour at their Chapel Hill complex. When you are done, go upstairs to dine at their restaurant and patio bar, The Top Of The Hill, which offers great sunset views of Chapel Hill! You can also give your Mom a TOPO Gift Card or simply go to your local ABC, purchase her favorite TOPO Organic Spirits and box it up with love!

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED ANY OF THE TOPO ORGANIC SPIRITS? HOW ABOUT A DISNEY DOLE WHIP? If not, here is your chance to enjoy the two together on your very own with the above Cheers to Mom cocktail recipe!

Enjoy and Cheers to Moms everywhere! 🍍🍹🍍🍹🍍🍹🍍

EVENT RECAP | Great Grapes Wine & Food Festival 5/5/18 @GreatGrapesFest @drinkeatrelax @BoothAmp #CaryNC #UncorktheFun

This weekend there was a whole lot to celebrate: The Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo and …. Wine + Good Times at the GREAT GRAPES WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL! This ‘drink.eat.relax‘ event is held at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in the Town of Cary and as a wine lover, I have enjoyed coming to this event each year! [*ICYMI, check out my 2015/2016/2017 past event recaps of this event, here.] I must say, just like fine wine this event keeps getting better with time. These are some of my favorite moments from this year’s GREAT GRAPES WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL!

HUNDREDS of WINES

Yes, HUNDREDS of wines available from over 22 wineries to taste. Everyone gets a souvenir tasting glass to have and stroll from tent to tent and table to table, tasting and sampling the rich heritage of North Carolina vines. Did you know that all NC wine is not made from sweet muscadine? In fact there was some of everything to try from sweet to dry!

GOURMET BITES

If you bought the VIP Ticket option, you not only got early entrance into the event, but also a souvenir glass & bag and access to all the show tastings. Plus you got access to the VIP area which featured specialty higher-end wine selections not available elsewhere, free water and soft drinks, and featured food tastings (served Noon – 3pm).

People ready to UNCORK THE FUN

Wine Lovers from all around come out to the GREAT GRAPES WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL, the largest and most fun casual NC wine festival in the Triangle. I loved seeing all the matching outfits, hats and groups celebrating birthdays. Some couples even turned this festival into a wonderful day date idea!

IT’S FAMILY FRIENDLY!

My favorite thing about this festival is that it is kid friendly. That means we can enjoy the event as a family and not worry about finding a babysitter! Kids 12 and under are FREE and they even have a dedicated area for kids to play. Guests are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the festival picnic style. Our daughter loved meeting “The Sauce Boss”, relaxing on the lawn and listening to Live Music!

Beautiful GREEN SETTING of the Town of Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre

Although this festival happens rain or shine, thanks to Mother Nature we had a picture perfect day! I love going to events at Booth Amphitheatre because of the scenic setting. You are surroundes by nature, gorgeous trees and a lake that you may even see ducks in!

SobeSavvy Tip: The fun is happening here again on May 19, 2018 at the BEER & BACON FEST. Tickets to this festival is ON SALE NOW!

Also GREAT GRAPES WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL maybe coming to a city near you. Here are some upcoming dates:

For more information go to www.uncorkthefun.com! Hope to see you there next year! CHEERS 🍷

Where To Find Fantastic #Gifts For #MothersDay & #Graduation @UPlaceNC University Place #UPlaceNC #ChapelHill

You heard the saying April showers bring May flowers, right? Well the month of May is here and two things it brings around every year are Graduation and Mother’s Day! It’s time to get shopping for these special occasions and I knew just where to go for fantastic gifts in Chapel Hill. University Place! Just down the road from UNC Chapel Hill, this shopping mall has a mix of national and locally owned stores. Here are some of the places to find great gifts for Mother’s Day and Graduation!

SILVERSPOT CINEMAS

Treat Moms & Grads to a Dinner and Movie Experience at SilverSpot Cinema! Moviegoers can order food and it will be delivered to your seat or you can opt to dine at Trilogy, their full service restaurant and bar adjacent to the cinemas. They have an upcoming event called “Brunch & A Movie” where they are offering a 3 course brunch with a mimosa or bloody Mary and a movie ticket for $30. Sounds like a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day and Graduation Day with family and friends. Gift Cards are also available for purchase and make a great gift.

GERRIE & CO.

I stopped in Gerrie & Co., a Fine Jewelry and Giftware store, after seeing their 50% off Mother’s Day sale table outside. I’m glad I did because they have quite a delightful selection of jewelry, glassware, accessories, scarves, items from Metropolitan Museum of Art and more. I also learned this is a mom and daughter operation so I loved supporting! Plus they will gift wrap your items for FREE.

Be Pure Beauty

Looking for an ethical beauty gift for Moms and Grads? Shop clean beauty products at Be Pure Beauty and also pick up a gift that gives back like jewelry from The Shine Project. You can also treat Mom to a beauty makeover or pick up a fragrance for your Grad. Still not sure what to buy? Check out Be Pure Beauty’s Mothers Day Gift Guide.

FRANK GALLERY

Support local artists and shop for Graduation and Mother’s Day gifts at Frank Gallery. They have affordable prints, handmade pottery and more items in their gift shop. If your Mom or Grad loves art, give a gift from the heart from Frank Art Gallery.

SOUTHERN SEASON

A visit to University Place is not complete without stopping in Southern Season for gourmet gifts and amazing treats! It’s a one stop shop for any celebration. From the food, to the champagne, you can buy gifts and the gift wrapping here! Graduation and Mother’s Day gifts galore can be found in this store! Moms, it’s ok to pick up a little something for yourself too.

For more unique gifts, stop in Peacock Alley Gifts, Night Gallery/Branching Out and Carolina Corner. Still not sure what to get? A gift card or two from Burlington Shoes and Bath & Body Works is always a great idea! Don’t forget to stop in The Frame and Print Shop to find the perfect greeting card to put those gift cards in!

For more Mother’s Day and Graduation gift ideas and to see more of my finds at University Place, I have made a twitter thread list for you to take a look here. From art galleries to one of a kind independent shops, University Place is a great place to shop, dine and be entertained all in one spot! Get there now before Mother’s Day and Graduation to pick up fantastic gifts today!

UNIVERSITY PLACE

201 S Estes Drive

Chapel Hill, NC 27514