Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tobacco Road Corn Dogs vs GWG

Location, Location, Location. Tobacco Road Sports Café was paying attention in real estate class and has landed one of the best new spots for sports and food in the Durham area. Located above left field of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and across the street from the American Tobacco Campus in Downtown Durham, this spot hits a home run with sports fans and food lovers…a.k.a. Girls with Guts.
Started by three brothers who were looking for a single place to watch sports and enjoy good food, Tobacco Road Sports Café focuses as much on offering a unique menu as it does on providing a wall-to-wall sports center for guests. GWG were seated approximately three feet from our own personal television that happened to be showing opening round Wimbledon matches.

After eyeing them on a previous visit, we were back to order the “House Made Corn Dogs” which are deceivingly described as “mini” (although mini is probably accurate to someone who has conquered the 1-lb. Shaq at Joe's Diner). Four regular-sized, all-natural beef hot dogs are dipped and fried in corn and jalapeno batter and served with Dijon aioli. We split the dogs and shared an order of “Triple Sliders”—a platter including your choice of miniature BBQ sandwiches, burgers and corndogs (we thought this sounded like the makings of a pretty perfect meal).

Maybe our egos have gotten the best of us, but being seasoned state fairgoers we did not expect to struggle over a couple of corn dogs. The first was enjoyable and tasty, but even the thought of the second one was a little hard to swallow—we hit the grease wall (but we did finish them in true GWG style). The dogs were deep fried in batter with a slight hint of the corn and jalapeno bits you could see with your eyes, although a little more spice wouldn't hurt. Maybe it was the buttery, cheesy side of mac & cheese that brought us down, but we think that finishing all four of the greasy meats on a stick could be considered a food challenge.

The mini burger and BBQ sandwich added variety to the meal but didn't deliver much on flavor. Although the meat was tasty, each would have benefited from a spicy mustard, BBQ sauce, or other add-on to give it more interest. The buns could also stand a makeover for a place serving upscale bar food—they were reminiscent of the cafeteria, out-of-the-bag variety. Being minis, in two bites the sandwich disappeared leaving you looking for flavor.

Despite our corn dog difficulties, we found the side dishes to be very pleasing— all of the choices say southern comfort, and we chose mac & cheese and cheddar grits. Featuring more cheese and less mac, the macaroni was mixed with country ham providing a nice compliment to the creamy richness of the cheese. We are not exaggerating when we say this dish was swimming in cheese. The cheddar grits were more subtle but also pleasing—a nice alternative to its greasy counterparts.
This was not our first time at Tobacco Road, nor will it be our last—there is more on the menu to keep us interested. If you give the corn dogs a go, let us know what you think and especially if you polish off all four. One word of advice—we think this is a dish best served with beer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Sticky Situation

Mission: sample as many locopops as possible

Location: Locopops, 2600 Hillsborough Road, Durham, NC‎

Obstacles: the sun, brain freeze

Objective: beat the heat and eat 11 locopops before they melt

Outcome: messiest food challenge, yet

We've devoured a one-pound hotdog, we've taken down the double down, one of us even attempted the two-pound burger...but our messiest challenge to date, 11 locopops, outside, in June.

On a recent afternoon, GWG ventured to the Locopops on Hillsborough Road to sample a variety of their frozen treats, available in a range of traditional to adventurous flavors. After reviewing the menu (and ten minutes of indecision) we each chose five flavors—a decision that paid off as we instantly filled up a frequent buyer card, earning us a free pop (or 'paleta' if you live in Mexico)! Locopops offers water and cream-based flavors, so we sampled a combination to get a good feel for what this local shop has to offer.

Much thanks to the guy behind the counter for his friendly offer to label each flavor in order to help us maintain the integrity of our experiment. We should also apologize to the kids in line who had to wait a little longer than usual to enjoy their afternoon treat! There is always a welcoming atmosphere at Locopops, and they understand their customer—zip lock bags, baby wipes and other supplies are available to help those of us who are used to eating with bibs.

We took our bag o' pops and set up shop at the bright purple picnic table out front—drivers-by had to get a kick out of two grown women attempting to devour popsicles at a faster rate than they were melting. Some of the flavors were instant favorites and others were a little different—overall we found a preference for the cream-based choices.

Here is what we thought of each flavor:
  • Cookies-n-Cream - they've got this one nailed; with huge cookies chunks this is sure to be a unanimous favorite
  • Watergate Salad - tastes exactly like that mystery salad that always turns up at pot-lucks; sweet and enjoyable
  • Thai Rice Pudding - sweet and milky in a subtle way
  • Strawberries-n-Cream - more of a blend than strawberry chunks; not our personal favorite
  • Chocolate Banana - instant favorite; great flavor combination
  • Pomegranate Tangerine - sweet, fruity and refreshing
  • Chocolate Brownie - chocolate chunks make this a dead-ringer for Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie
  • Mighty Mojito - a slightly tangier option that will refresh you like a glass of ice-cold lemonade
  • Guava Jalapeno - fun to try for the oddity, but this one was hard to finish
  • Mango Chile - tastes just like the fruit, but heavier than some of the other fruit flavors
  • Rosemary Apple Cider - we suggest a little more on the apple cider and less on the rosemary
Locopops offers 'The Regulars' all the time (the tried and true favorites), but they also mix it up daily by rotating in "Guest Stars"—now it's your turn to try some flavors and let us know what you think!