LIVE LOCAL, LIVE SMALL: DONUTS, TRAILS AND TOURIST ATTRACTIONS LEAD THE CHARGE IN LIVE-LOCAL RESOLUTIONS FOR 2015
“It’s the Porterhouse of donuts,” Anthony chuckled, as he eyed the confections from Wake n’ Bake (1401 N Lake Park Blvd. Ste. 46, Carolina Beach). It was a donut stuffed with an entire oatmeal-cream pie and iced with chocolate. I leaned back in the passenger’s seat and waited for the verdict. Stuffed with more sugar in a finite period than the human body should be able to hold, I giggled and trembled uncontrollably—which caused Anthony to start making jokes about addiction, detox and my embarrassing drug habits (i.e. sugar).
After careful consideration and preparation, Anthony bit into the stuffed donut. It actually took a couple of bites to get to the oatmeal pie. I began selecting and splitting up other offerings from the dozen perched on my lap. “What amazes me most about this is that neither of us are drunk or stoned,” I said.
Anthony gave me a pointed look.
“I mean on anything other than baked goods,” I amended. “Have you wondered why it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the front seat of a car but not a box of donuts?’
Anthony sighed and shook his head. “Most people don’t react to donuts the way you do.”
He turned left out of the parking lot, and we began a tour of Carolina Beach’s residential area—passing pieces of donuts and commenting on flavors, possibilities and the nicely overcast day. How did we get here? I am a gainfully employed (well, I am a writer and a small-business owner; that could be stretched to mean “gainfully employed”) and a contributing member of society. How did I wind up driving around Carolina Beach, blitzed on donuts, and looking for a house that Anthony might have lived in 10 years ago?
At the beginning of the year, our editor lady and I sat down to discuss what Live Local would cover in 2015. We decided that among other topics, I would go try 50 things I hadn’t done before in our area. Besides visiting the Burgwin-Wright House and other battlefields, I admitted I had never had a beer at the Barbary Coast or eaten a Britt’s donut.
There is a moment when you begin to wonder how this is even possible after living here for over three decades. I just did not grow up in a donut-eating family. I think I was 9 before I had my first donut. Anthony immediately recognized the importance of making at least that part of the list come to fruition. It started a few weeks ago with, “Isn’t it Britt’s Day?” He was referring to the day Britt’s opened for business for the season.
Located on the Boardwalk at Carolina Beach, Britt’s Donuts is a local institution that has served amazing, homemade, hot, fresh donuts since 1939. They are only open during the tourist season, and though they do sell donuts by the box to-go, the best way to eat them is piping hot! “I didn’t expect it to be in a garage,” Anthony commented.
We were sitting on blue bar stools at the counter and taking a breather after wolfing down the gooey delicious rounds of dough. Indeed, the front of the building consisted of two roll-up garage doors. Actually, it felt a lot like the beach-version of Café du Monde in New Orleans, known for their beignets. And, yes, the donuts were absolutely heavenly: sticky, delightful and wonderful to bite into. Wow!
On our way out to Britt’s, Anthony, donut connoisseur extraordinaire, suggested we check out Wake N Bake, the newest confection shop on the beach. Actually, the way this conversation started left me terribly confused. Anthony and another person were having a discussion of stoner-food etiquette. I was completely lost.
“No, it’s a donut shop that will make anything with a donut; they even put cereal on donuts!” Anthony almost sang.
Was I back in college? I wondered. What happened?
When he pulled into the parking lot of Wake N Bake, I was primed. But I was not prepared. Oh my gods!
They have Fruit Loops on donuts. For real! They have pistachio, white chocolate chips, Fruity Pebbles, coconut, and—really, you just have to go see for yourself (the won the write-in category for encore’s annual Best Of 2015 as Best Donuts). Between us, we purchased 18 donuts, one stuffed donut and two fritters (one apple, one cherry). This is too wonderful to be legal for purchase.
As it just so happens, Wake N Bake released a new summer menu, which now includes a Creme Brûlée Creeper (vanilla filled, and coated with vanilla custard icing and a caramelized-sugar topping), Smokey the S’mores (chocolate icing, graham-cracker crumbs, flame-toasted marshmallows), Peanut Butter and Jelly (grape-jelly filling, peanut-butter icing, crushed, roasted peanuts), The Danimal (Nutella icing, topped with animal crackers), Rosemary Jane (olive oil, house-made herb seasoning of rosemary, garlic, dried onions, salt, and hemp seeds), and Peanut Butter Get Bizzy (peanut-butter cream filling, chocolate icing, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and peanut-butter drizzle). They also have extended their hours to 10 p.m. and added a few new fruit-filled and white-cream filled classics.
But back to my “50 new things” list: It is a third of the way through the year, and I have actually done better than expected. So far I have had a Britt’s donut and my first beer at Barbary Coast. A friend and I took a late-night, horse-drawn carriage ride last week (don’t warn Jock, but now I really want to take the caroling trolley they offer during the holidays). Jock and I went raptor hunting with the Cape Fear Raptor Center, wherein I became enchanted with Archie, their great horned owl.
I planned to walk part of North Carolina’s Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail, which I thought was going to require a few days travel time. However, it looks like the trail is coming to us! The trail that connects the NC State Parks from the Great Smokey Mountains to Cape Lookout has opened a loop that comes through Onslow and Pender counties! I did walk part of the section that comes through downtown Burgaw, and at the ribbon cutting, there was much discussion about trails, tourism and the local spending that can be attracted to an area as the result of a trail. The new loop comes through Penderlea Homestead Museum, Moores Creek National Battlefield and Holly Shelter Game Land. I’m giving myself a “half-done” on this one: Hilda, my puppy, and I are going to go walk more of it in the fall, which will include a trip to Moores Creek.
My friend Captain John promised to spend some time with me, working on water recreation: surfing, fishing and kayaking. I still have an assortment of attractions to visit: Cape Fear Serpentarium, Wilmington Railroad Museum and Old Baldy Lighthouse. I think I’m off to a pretty good start for the first third of the year. We still have five slots left in my 50 things to do, which encore readers can choose for me to try this year. If you have a suggestion, please visit our website and leave a comment on this piece.
In the meantime, Jock is bearing up under the onslaught of donuts that have taken over our house. “I brought home dinner!” I announced. It seemed like the least I could do with all the hard work he is putting into the kitchen renovation.
He grinned and selected a cream-filled treat. “This is only temporary until we have a stove again, right?” he clarified.
I nodded, “Of course, I also have to go eat at Goody Goody Omelet House and Winnie’s Tavern for the list.”