Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fast Food Friday

Recent fast food marketing from KFC, Wendy's and Subway gave the GWG an idea—try out new products from these restaurants to see how they stack up. Over the course of two days, the GWG tested some of the newest items in the quick service market—most notably the Double Down Sandwich at KFC featuring fried chicken breasts in place of a bun. Click here for pictures of our fast food feast.
The venture began with "Fast Food Friday," a lunch consisting of the Double Down, Wendy’s new fresh cut fries, and for dessert, a milkshake from Cook Out (nothing new but necessary to complete the meal). To fit this into a slightly exaggerated lunch hour we headed to Hillsborough Rd.—a fast food mecca where all 3 stops are within a block of each other (although lunch traffic made even this short distance hard to navigate).

We went in with a bit of a strategy—first we headed to Cook Out to grab milkshakes because the location did not have seating. Both sides of the double drive-thru lane were backed up but moving quickly giving us plenty of time to consider our options (41 flavors!)—we got one banana pudding shake and one with Reese's cups (we later came to find that this portion of our meal contained the most fat and calories). Cook Out couldn't mess up a milkshake and these two were no exception providing a nice sweet flavor to wash down all the salt we were about to consume.
Next we hit Wendy's to try the fresh cut fries as seen on TV—from first glance they appeared to be about the same as before but with some potato skin left on the edges. After giving them a try, we confirmed our first impression—they taste the same as always and we aren't sure we would have realized the change if we hadn't seen the commercials.

Finally we made it to the main course—the KFC Double Down—bacon, Monterey Jack & pepper jack cheese, and Colonel's Sauce sandwiched between two pieces of fried, boneless chicken filets (also available grilled but why go healthy at a time like this?). For a $5 sandwich, it was a little smaller than expected but it turned out to be more than enough. The main challenge was figuring out how to handle this meat monstrosity that leaves nothing between you and the grease—it is served in a sleeve that is probably best used as a grease glove.

As far as flavor goes, if you like KFC you will most likely enjoy the sandwich—the seasoning of the chicken was the standout flavor with the other ingredients complementing the filets and compounding the calories. After a few bites you notice a processed after taste and you can start to guess that the sodium content exceeds the daily limit. It was fun to try this carnivore's concoction but we agreed that it is mostly a gimmick that probably won't stay around long.
The following Monday, GWG met up before work to try Subway’s new breakfast offerings. The light and fresh value breakfast was a great way to start the work week. We ordered a Western Egg White Muffin Melt (ham, egg, cheese, pepper and onion on an English muffin—we opted for turkey) and the Steak, Egg and Cheese on flatbread. Each sandwich was pleasing as a breakfast item but lacked a kick. A small dish of salsa, a chipotle sauce or jalapenos would have made the sandwiches more memorable. Although the amount of flavor was not out of this world, the value and freshness of the meal made us each suggest returning for other pre-work meals.

Fast food isn't our first choice but as GWG we thought we'd get our hands greasy for "the sake of the blog."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Feaster

Slideshow

Eating in good company makes tasty food even more enjoyable, and as a friend put it this weekend, “When you find an 18-pound turkey for $9 and a Turducken for $20, it’s time for Feaster.” Feaster, a post-Easter feast among friends, was a day of cooking, eating, laughing and hanging out. See the full meal in our slideshow.

The center piece of the meal was a turducken breast. Although turducken is not a household name, this multiple-meat dish is picking up steam as a holiday item. The boneless turkey breast stuffed with boneless duck breast, boneless chicken breast and in this version, Cajun-style pork sausage, is not just a meal—it’s an experience.

Because we only used the breast of the turducken, an additional 18-pound turkey was also prepared. Cooked the Thursday before, it was the first turkey prepared by a member of GWG. Although the multitudes of websites about cooking turkey make it seem difficult to create the perfect bird, it really seemed like the most important things were time and patience.

For simplicity, the turkey was placed in a roasting bag with cut up veggies and then baked for the allotted time until the internal temperature was correct. Then it was allowed to cool before being cut. The end result was dry but overall a successful first attempt.

The menu was set a week before the event and friends brought additional side dishes and desserts. There was corn, fried okra (fresh from the bag), green beans, gravy, mashed potatoes (prepared with cream cheese and sour cream), stuffing, cranberry sauce, salad, homemade rolls (complemented with honey butter), and apples with a sweet cinnamon-yogurt fruit dip.


There was also a nice variety to satisfy the sweet tooth—a light and moist homemade lemon pound cake, decadent homemade Oreo truffles, and M&M cookies made from scratch and fresh from the oven.

Thanks to everyone who chipped in to make this a great day!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Day of Indulgence - Part Two

Slideshow

After a fun-filled afternoon of snacks at Elodie Farms, GWG was just getting started. (See our slideshow for images of the day's events.) Our next stop took us to City Beverage—closer to home in Southwest Durham. On warm days and evenings, those passing by will notice the outdoor patio full of people relaxing under the shade of umbrellas. Inside is a colorful, retro-inspired restaurant and bar with a comfortable atmosphere that invites you to stay a while (or play a while in the "Lava Lounge" with pool tables, jukebox and video games).


City Beverage has a selection of wine, beer and cocktails that offers a little of everything including 32 beers on draft, classic martinis and margaritas, and many other fruity mixed beverages. We took our time enjoying a couple of refreshing rounds as we studied their equally eclectic food menu. We had trouble narrowing down our choices, so we decided to share several appetizers so we could get a taste of it all.

This turned out to be a smart and flavorful decision...we ordered 3 items from the starter menu—Spicy Firecracker Pork Dumplings, Beer Cheese Fundido, and City Beverage Spuds. The dumplings definitely had a kick and were served with a tasty cucumber-peanut relish and peanut sauce that tempered the spice. We weren't quite sure what to expect with the Fundido, and this was the one dish that got a little lost among the others—the creamy cheese dip wasn't quite warm enough and didn't have as much flavor as expected.

If you order the City Beverage Spuds you can choose fries or homemade chips—we went with the latter which were coated in spices and served with a delicious gorgonzola dip. Our last selection came from the dinner menu—a large helping of Spinach & Artichoke Nachos—homemade tortilla chips loaded with fresh spinach, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic, tomatoes and peppers, mozzarella, asiago and sun-dried tomato-caper salsa. The description says it all—full of flavor and sure to disappear fast.

Following a round of drinks and appetizers at City Beverage, we left in search of dessert. Luckily, the fantastic cakes at Nantucket Grill were close, so we headed that way.

The Nantucket Grill’s Pastry Chef is an award winner and it shows in all their "Mile-High Dessert Cakes". There are more than 10 flavors to choose from and you can order a half-slice or full-slice depending on your appetite. Of course the GWG went with a whole slice of our favorite flavors—unbirthday cake and carrot cake (we also had a bite of our friend's chocolate peanut butter cake).

Seriously, their cake is out of this world. The servings were larger than expected and the moist cake and creamy icing were a sweet-tooth's heaven. Cake and coffee served at the bar was the perfect ending to a fun day.

Nantucket Grill is a great spot for a girls' night out or a casual date. Be sure to go with plenty of room in your stomach because even a half-slice is filling—but order your own flavor, sharing is half the fun.