Saturday, February 4, 2023

Port City Small Bites: Churkeychanga season at Flaming Amy’s, Polish Fest canceled again, and more

Flaming Amy’s churkeychangas are only served once a year during November, featuring a fried burrito, stuffed with all the Thanksgiving classics: turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, jalapeno gravy and cranberry salsa. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Josif Walters)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Lots of movement happens around the Port City when it comes to new openings and closings of restaurants, food trucks, bars and bottle shops, as well as the launch of organizational and nonprofit foodie events and festivals. While Port City Daily already covers the majority of such news, smaller shifts and changes sometimes fly under the radar.

READ MORE: Catch up on previous Port City Small Bites

“Small Bites” fills in the gaps of coverage, and lets readers know what to expect when it comes to expansions of existing establishments or menu changes, temporary closures and renovations, added hours or grand openings, pop-up events or other newsworthy tidbits that may get overlooked during the daily grind.

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Flavorful tidbits

For Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn fans, the most wonderful time of the year has arrived: It’s officially churkeychanga season. Both Oleander Drive and Carolina Beach locations will be serving Thanksgiving in a tortilla starting Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Stuffed with turkey, cornbread dressing, and garlic mash, the whole burrito is rolled tight in a flour tortilla and gets fried before it is smothered in jalapeño gravy and served with a side of seasonal cranberry salsa. The special wraps up for another year at the end of November. 

Rumcow in downtown Wilmington has released a new drink menu, capturing all the season’s flavors. A pumpkin White Russian comes with housemade pumpkin puree added to Kahlua, Titos vodka, Rumcow vanilla pumpkin cream, with a graham cracker rim. There’s also a spiced apple mule, made with Titos, housemade cinnamon-and-nutmeg-infused apple syrup, ginger beer, lime, and caramel, served with a flamed caramel apple. Plus, an orange bourbon drink and a new whiskey sour appears on the menu. 

Wrightsville Beach Brewery is appealing to vegans even more nowadays, as the brewpub has added guilt-free cheese to its menu. What does that mean? Pies aplenty — Margherita, Sweet Heat, vegetarian, cheese — can be modified for a $3 upcharge to be made with the vegan cheese. Plus, WBB’s Beyond burger, veggie tacos or the garden hummus wrap can get dressed with the ooey-gooey topping.

Taste of Wrightsville Beach returns in person for 2021, featuring over 30 vendors to eat and sip through on Saturday, with proceeds benefiting the Meals on Wheels program. (Port City Daily/Courtesy photo)

Tastes like a good cause

After having to cancel because of Covid-19 in 2020, Wrightsville Beach is putting flavor back into the island and for a good cause. The annual culinary fundraiser Taste of Wrightsville Beach, benefitting Meals on Wheels, will take place Saturday, Nov. 6, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. There will be over 30 vendors highlighting the best in local cuisine, plus beer- and wine-tasting booths. 

Awards are determined by a panel of judges who vote on best in show, best savory and best sweet dishes. Attendees will vote on people’s choice, best beer and best wine. Mega-Corp will perform live music throughout the evening. 

Tickets are $75 for general admission, ages 21 and up, and $25 for 20 and under; the event takes place in Bluewater Grill’s parking lot under a tent. The price includes tastings through all participating vendors — Ceviche’s, Flying Machine at Wrightsville Beach, Poe’s Tavern, Ocean’s, Wrightsville Beach Brewery, Tru Colors, Tower 7, Waterman’s Brewing, Surf Berry, Blue Shark Vodka, and more. 

All net proceeds will go to the Weekend Meals on Wheels program in Wilmington, which provides nutritious food and social engagement to seniors across New Hanover County. The program has served over 200,000 meals to locals in need since its founding. A donation of $25 funds 10 meals.

Polish Fest canceled … again

It’s not quite the news the Port City wanted to hear: St. Stan’s has canceled the Polish Fest for a second year in a row due to Covid-19.

According to festival chair Debbie Cool, the committee started planning in July to relaunch the annual event, which normally takes place the first Saturday in November. “Then the Covid numbers got so bad in September and we had to make a decision,” she said. “A difficult decision, but the well-being of our volunteers and all those that attend is top priority for us.”

By the time the numbers got under control, it was too late to put together a festival that costs $45,000 to launch and welcomes 8,000 guests to St. Stanislaus’ church grounds on Castle Hayne Road.

But not all is lost.

While there may not be the fun sounds of the Polka band or once-a-year Polish beer created by Front Street Brewery, fans will be able to nosh on pierogi, potato pancakes, and kielbasa this holiday season. The committee will launch a drive-thru frozen foods sale on Dec. 11, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Pierogi, kielbasa and potato pancake batter will cost $8 each, while Oplatiki (Christmas wafer) will be $5, and nut and poppyseed rolls will be $20 each.

Cars will line up in the church parking lot, be handed an order list, then will be delivered their goods, without ever having to exit the vehicle.

A ‘Top Chef’ 7-course dinner

Can’t get enough of Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and other culinary stalwarts dishing on the balance of salty and sweet, savory and umami flavors for each nibble on Bravo’s famed “Top Chef”? Foodies will get to be on the other side of the TV screen and take their palates along a similar journey come Nov. 9, 6:30 p.m. Bluewater will welcome three former “Top Chef” contestants to join Bluewater’s Fabio Capparelli in the kitchen, to create a seven-course dinner. Priced $175 a seat, the dinner comes with wine and cocktail pairings and starts at 6:30 p.m.

Katsuji Tanabe, Annie Pettry, and Casey Thompson will be creating one dish each throughout the night. Tanabe starred on season 12 Boston and is now in Raleigh, N.C., at A’Verde Cocina & Tequila Bar. Pettry was on seasons 14 in Charleston and 16 in Kentucky and is an entrepreneur in Asheville, N.C. Thompson appeared in season three, Miami, and Top Chef All Stars, season eight; she now works in Napa Valley, Ca.,  at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

Reservations can be made by calling 910-256-8500.

Three10 opened in the Brooklyn Arts District last Thursday. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

Now open

Brooklyn Arts District saw the opening of Three10 on 4th Street last Thursday. The seafood eatery has been under renovation since 2018, when owners Jennifer Conklin and Matt Walker saved a historic home on Bladen Street and moved it to the corner of 4th and Swann streets.

The eatery focuses on modern seafood with a Southern twist, has raw bar selections, featuring on-the-half-shell and broiled oysters, tuna crudo and peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, as well as small and large plates. Port City Daily interviewed the owners in September about their first restaurant and historic preservation project; read about it here.

Also in the Brooklyn Arts District, Pizzaria Don Luca will have its soft opening Tuesday, Nov. 2, according to owner Tony Perez. Perez has taken over the former Wheelhouse location at 1215 N. 4th St. The pies will be thin crust, handmade by an Italian chef. Also, vegan options will be served, and word on the street is Perez will be parking a vegan burger truck on site, too.

Opening soon

The Brooklyn Arts District will have a new lunch spot with The Kitchen Sink opening Thursday. Operated by Alicia Mitchell, the cafe will feature homemade artisanal breads, soups, salads and sandwiches (including its own version of the northern classic, beef on weck). It’s located at 622 N 4th St., in the former Foxes Boxes space; read all about the eatery from Port City Daily’s coverage published in September.

Across town in the northern part of the county, Porters Neck will get its first pho restaurant. From the owners of Umaii and Tokyo 101, Pho Vanhly Asian Bistro will launch in the Harris Teeter shopping center on Thursday. The dine-in restaurant, located beside Donut Inn, is going to specialize in pho yet will also be a noodle bar.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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