New Bern, North Carolina

During our trip to North Carolina we spent some time in the town of New Bern, a charming, historic town located on North Carolina’s central coast.  It is situated between the Neuse and the Trent rivers.  Because it is surrounded on two sides by water there are a number of marinas where boats of all kinds are docked.  The beautiful waterfront area is also where large hotels and the convention center are located.

Boats of every kind line the waterfront marinas.

Lovely buildings line the waterfront. Some are hotels, others include a visitor’s center, and convention center.

A fairly recent addition to the waterfront area is a sculpture of a Licoris Lily, a gift to the city by a pediatric dentist, well-known in the area for his love of art.

The beautiful and unusual sculpture, Licoris Lily.

The downtown area consists of a grid of only a few streets, so it is very walkable.   All the shops are unique and interesting and invite you to browse.  There is a street on the outskirts of New Bern where you will find the large recognizable stores and chain restaurants.

New Bern was first settled in the 1700’s by a group of Swiss and German settlers.  Bern is the Germanic word for bear, and since the settlers came from a city named Bern, their new home was named New Bern.  There are bears in many shapes and sizes located all over the town center as New Bern has adopted the bear as its symbol.

One of many bear statues located throughout the city

Tryon Palace

Located just a few streets outside this area  is Tryon Palace, the first permanent colonial and state capitol.  It was refurbished and redecorated in 1952-1959.  It is open for tours on given days.  The city of New Bern was celebrating Mum Fest while we were there, and the gardens of the Palace were open for viewing and a plant sale was taking place on the grounds.

Beautiful, healthy plants waiting for someone to take them home to their garden.

A turret in the wall surrounding the palace.

The color schemes used in the planting beds were breathtaking.

A view of the stately Latham Garden, blooming with white chrysanthemums.

Framed against the sky was a chestnut tree with unripe fruit hanging from its branches.

Mum Fest is a two-day event in October that attracts thousands of people to the downtown area where the streets are closed to traffic but the sidewalks are lined with vendors, live entertainment, food, amusements and more.

New to Mum Fest this year was SeaFair, a 228 foot mega yacht, one of the 10 largest, privately owned yachts in the U.S.  The vessel has three decks of 28 galleries filled with art, jewelry, and sculpture from artists all over the world.  The yacht was docked at the Hilton Marina for Mum Fest Weekend and open to the public by paid admission.

SEAFAIR, a mega-yacht, filled with many galleries of art treasures.

There are quite a number of “fun facts” relating to this town two of which I list here:  it is the  birthplace of Pepsi Cola, having been invented by a pharmacist who lived there.  Currently there is a small Pepsi museum where you can go in to look around and sample the beverage.  Another interesting fact is that New Bern was the first city to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, and George W. danced at Tryon Palace. I’ve read that George was quite a good dancer and many young ladies were anxious to be his partner.

We had a delightful visit to this very interesting city.  The weather threatened rain at times, thus the clouds you see in some of my photos, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying many sights, shops and restaurants while we were there .  The city offers many very good restaurants, a few of which I’ll be telling you about in the next week or so.

Kohala Tuna Steaks

Vacations are long anticipated, and over too quickly.  We are now home again refreshed, renewed and ready to pick up where we left off. I had so made food-related adventures that I’m anxious to tell you about, that I don’t know where to start.  I guess the logical place is at the beginning.

Our destination was the eastern shore of North Carolina, where I have family.  On the day of our arrival our host was out deep-sea fishing with friends.  When he came home he brought a selection of fish he and the guys had caught, one of which was tuna.  The next day we cooked it, grilling it in a smoker.       This was my first experience with cooking in a smoker.   We searched through several books on smoker cooking and decided to try this recipe for a mildly flavored marinade so as not to overwhelm the tuna.  It was a good choice.  The butter and sesame oil kept the fish moist and buttery and the acidic flavors of lemon and  rice vinegar and the bite of ginger kept it all in balance.  The flavor of the fish was incredible;  slightly smoky, and falling apart tender.

KOHALA TUNA STEAKS

YIELD:  4 servings

KOHALA MARINADE

  • 6 Tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted, melted
  • 6 Tablespoons Asian-style sesame oil
  • 6 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh gingeer
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 crushed tiny hot red chile (optional)

4 tuna steaks, each about 1 inch thick

1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, either kosher or sea salt

soy sauce for serving

DIRECTIONS

1.   Soak wood chips of your choice for about an hour prior to smoking.   We used apple wood chips.

2.  Prepare smoker for barbecuing, bringing temperature to 180 to 200 degrees.

3.  In a shallow pan or baking dish, mix the marinade ingredients.

Place the tuna steaks in the dish and turn to coat both sides with the marinade.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 20 -30 minutes, turning the steaks several times.

4.  Heat a skillet over high heat and sprinkle in the salt.  Drain the tuna steaks.  Sear the steaks quickly on both sides.  Before you smoke meaty fish steaks, such as tuna or swordfish, it helps to sear them quickly over high heat to seal in their juices and add a light crust.

5.  Transfer the steaks to the smoker.  Cook the tuna to desired doneness, 20 – 25 minutes for medium-rare.  Avoid over cooking the tuna. Serve hot with soy sauce.

Suggested go withs:  Mix up a salad of thinly sliced snow peas, carrots, water chestnuts, and napa cabbage or bok choy tossed with a vinaigrette made with Asian-style sesame oil and rice vinegar;  we served this with twice-baked potatoes also.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post.

Wine go-withs include pinot gris, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, crisp whites or a fruity reisling.

SOURCE:    Smoke and Spice,   by Cheryl and Bill Jamison