We made it to the Wilmington area, more specifically Carolina Beach and were amazed at what a jewel this whole area is. A huge benefit to our journey is coming upon new areas that we have never been to and loving the vibes that these towns, cities and destinations offer. The whole coastal area from Northern Florida to the southern parts of North Carolina was an eyeopener.
We were there the weekend that Wilmington was holding its Azalea Festival, an event that started in 1948 and is today the state’s largest event. Over 100,000 people participate to celebrate the rich tradition of Southern coastal living, usually among the beautiful azaleas plants that are famous in the region. Wilmington itself was founded in 1739, and the town, rather city, hosts a multitude of museums that keep alive the rich history of the city, its plantations, its seafaring tradition, its railways, and its harbor.
The two day street fair is crazy with blocks and blocks of kiosks selling everything from craft beer to all kinds of street food to magic cures for all that ails you.
Unfortunately the azalea season came early this year and the blooms were pretty much done for the year. But that didn’t take away from the magic of the festival and an afternoon trip to Arlie Gardens where 67 acres of serenity of lakes and immaculately maintained gardens sit right on the intercostal waterway.
The tulips were out as were fields of poppies and one of the queens of the festival graced my lens.
One of the highlights of the area is a 400+ year old oak tree where weddings, receptions and any multitude of special events are held year round.
Just a very tranquil setting that is reflective of the history of slow southern ambience.
I have a love affair with spices, spicy food and spicy recipes. I remember eating the hottest spiciest baby clams in a little walk-in restaurant in Hong Kong, sweating bullets but managing to choke down those little pearls of fire. That recipe is for another day but I was reminded of that restaurant when preparing this recipe. It calls for 16 different spices which most likely aren’t in most kitchens, but they are worth the investment as you probably will find use for all of them again. As always, my go-to store for all things spicy is Savory Spice Shops located throughout the country and online. Go there to make this recipe, a little charmer called sixteen spice-rubbed chicken breasts wth black pepper vinegar sauce.