Confessions of a Picky Eater: Wilmington

Staff Writer
One woman’s struggle to stay inside her comfort zone

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Some of us like to keep our taste buds in their comfort zone while we travel and order dishes most familiar to us, like a trustworthy salad.

Hi. My name is Vicki, and I'm a picky eater.

I absolutely love to travel so you can imagine my constant dilemma of enjoying food, just limited aspects of it while I’m out of my element. I savor the comfort zone, which presents a challenge during upscale business lunches and dinners centered around—you guessed it: cuisine. Caviar and foie gras? I’ll take the sliders, please. Yes, I really am that gal.

Okay, more like filet mignon if it’s a nice restaurant but still, combine traveling with food and exotic (translation: gross), native foods and yours truly would be oh-so-much happier with a chicken Caesar salad with dressing on the side, hold the anchovies. Boring? I think not. Trustworthy and faithful? You bet. At least that’s what I tell myself, anyway.

Oftentimes, we don’t discover the true extent to our limited palate until we’re out of our familiar surroundings – that pivotal moment when absolutely nothing would taste better than a turkey club sandwich or in the case of my recent trip to North Carolina, a fantastically healthy spinach salad. "Boring? I think not. Trustworthy and faithful? You bet."

The place? Brasserie du Soleil in downtown Wilmington. The beautiful French restaurant had it all – charming décor, an outdoor fountain on an ideal 80-degree night, and an extensive menu. What shall it be, grilled Scottish salmon or sautéed flounder with a side of carrot confit? You can guess what happened next. I went with the familiar and trustworthy item to create your own salad. Here’s the thing: yes, dining experiences are about the food but to me they’re actually about everything else. 

The ambiance was divine and conversations about the day’s activities in “Hollywood East,” touring various movie sets and learning about their robust film and TV industry was invigorating. Wilmington is one of the top 10 destinations for filming in the country; studios get major tax incentives for filming here. This burgeoning industry not only created a new crop of jobs for production folks but also spawned a thriving dining scene as well. It’s fun to peruse menus with for a taste of the local fare, even if I’m only checking them out with my eyes.

One baby spinach salad with grilled chicken, gorgonzola, mozzarella, candied pecans, roasted beets, olives, artichoke hearts, and lemon vinaigrette dressing later, I was very content. And then there’s dessert, of course – a delectable profiterole concoction to awaken the senses. As this meal was consumed, I savored the beautiful weather after such a long winter up north and was thrilled to order what I wanted instead of ordering what I felt obligated to eat because I was in an unfamiliar location for a limited time. After enjoying a fruitful day in a rather affordable, friendly location, it was a very good day and meal -- profiteroles included.

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