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.

A Taste of Tuscany

Although our extended family got together to celebrate Father’s Day, I wanted to treat my husband to a special meal, one which I did not have a hand in preparing. So I presented him with a list of three restaurants from which to choose.  I had heard or read good reviews of all of them, so I was pretty sure we would enjoy our meal at any one of them.  The one he chose probably would not have been MY first choice,  but now I’m so very glad it was his first choice, because it was delightful in every way.

Called Brio Tuscan Grille, it is located at the Mall.  (See why it was not my first choice?)  On a busy Sunday afternoon, when there were families out and about at the Mall, cars and traffic nearby,  this little place was an oasis of calm and quiet tucked to one side away from all the hustle and bustle.  We were seated outside at an umbrella shaded table, on a patio/courtyard, and there we relaxed, sipped a glass of wine, and leisurely ordered and then enjoyed a wonderful meal.

The menu is extensive, and there were some additional chef’s specials for Father’s Day.   Also, every Sunday a pre-fixe menu of four different offerings is presented.   This is what got our attention, because for 19.99 a three course meal was available that included a soup or Caesar salad, the main entree and dessert.  Our waiter, a friendly and well informed young man,  was very familiar with the menu and able to answer questions, and make suggestions.  As soon as we placed our orders, he brought us a basket of wonderful crunchy bread, and our first course(s) arrived soon afterward.

My husband’s first course was Lobster Bisque, and mine was the Caesar salad.  We were both very satisfied with our choices.  His soup was served in a small tureen, a beautiful golden color with bits of lobster floating in the rich cream broth.  My salad was cold and crisp romaine lettuce and crunchy croutons with a well balanced dressing and topped with shaved Parmesan cheese.  Even though I brought my camera with me with the intention of taking pictures and writing about this outing,  I completely forgot to start at the beginning and get photos of the appetizers.  I must have been really hungry!

Mr. D’s entree was called Chicken Limon.  It consisted of two large chicken  breast fillets, dipped in an egg batter, then pan cooked in a lemon sauce with capers.  It was served with a mixture of grilled vegetables, and spaghetini, a fine pasta similar to angel hair.  It was attractively plated and garnished with sliced lemons.  The quantity was such that he was not able to finish all of it, and brought some home for enjoying at a later time.

My entree was called Shrimp Verduta.  It was served in a large, shallow dish, and consisted of a mixture of large shrimp, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and caramelized onions over a bed of angel hair pasta.  This was absolutely delicious.  The smell and taste of garlic was there, but not overpowering, and the blend of flavors seemed perfect to me.  I enjoyed it thoroughly, but could not eat all of it, so I too brought a portion home.

We were very happy to have saved room for the desserts.  Our waiter brought to our table a sample display of six different desserts from which to choose.  They were all served in small glasses–not a large serving–but just enough to satisfy after a large meal.  Mr.D. chose the chocolate cake with caramel sauce and cream topping, (below, right); and mine was hazelnut pudding topped with sliced almonds,  whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.  Oh, my!  it tasted like Nutella, and I was in heaven.  This is what they looked  like before we devoured them!

            Would we go back here again?   Absolutely!