Friday, July 30, 2010

Cupcakes & Cocktails Off-The-Cuff

Thanks to updates from Durham’s active Twitter community, GWG treated ourselves to an impromptu happy hour at Vin Rouge followed by Singles’ Night courtesy of The Cupcake Bar.

We found ourselves at Vin Rouge for the first time, and a little over-eager as we showed up before they were actually open, to try the Watermelon Rickshaw cocktail as seen 15 minutes earlier on Twitter. It was an interesting crowd at 5:30—several regulars showed up on the dot for the early-bird-special as we waited to enjoy our drinks. The drink special was made with watermelon, basil, lime and pinnacle vodka. We both found it tangy and refreshing with its mix of fresh basil and citrus flavors—although we enjoyed it a little less when we saw the bill ($10 each). We’ve yet to dine at Vin Rouge, but we found the smells tempting and will likely return for a full meal.
Next we headed over to our main event a few blocks over on Main Street—The Cupcake Bar’s Singles’ Night. We’d heard about their first event and were happy to have another opportunity to check out these bite-size delights. Normally the cupcakes have to be ordered by the dozen, but this event allows you to try them individually. We showed up right on time to find people lined up out the door of Center Studio Architecture and we heard they sold out by 6:30 (the event was supposed to run until 7:30). We tried an assortment—Strawberry Buttercream, Strawberry Daiquiri, Red Velvet and Coconut. The cupcakes were tasty but we did wish for a cooler seating area to enjoy them—several people made their way across the street to picnic tables but we were not inclined to linger due to the heat. Overall the cupcakes were tasty and worth the calories but the GWG aren’t planning any road trips to Cary right away. Perhaps we’ll get seconds at the next Singles’ Night.
 Our thanks to the active Durham food community for up-to-the-minute tweets that helped us plan a spontaneous and enjoyable after-work outing!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Treat Series

Ox & Rabbit Soda and Sundries—located on Ninth Street, and outfitted with a soda shop counter, Ox & Rabbit offers cool classics including a variety of shakes, floats and sodas. Take a seat at the counter as you casually consume your beverage or browse the store’s unique selection of gifts (including playful Durham apparel by Durham City Goods). We tried the Strawberry Oreo Shake and a Root Beer Float.—both were prepared with care and very refreshing.
Local Yogurt—this cool and colorful shop features a mix n’ match menu of frozen yogurt and fresh toppings. Pick your combination from staff favorites or create your own from the large selection of adornments—both healthy (fresh fruit, gluten-free granola) and indulgent options are abundant (organic cookies and brownies). We tried several from the staff picks—Rocky Road, Strawberry Graham, and Peanut Butter Banana. As their logo states, everything is “good and good for you.” Everything was fresh and tasty but we felt the prices were a little steep for the serving size (XS) and the treats were heavy on the toppings which sounds like a good thing, but ended up making a light dessert feel kind of heavy.

Goodberry’s Creamery—offering frozen custard concoctions (similar to ice cream but made with egg), Goodberry’s dessert stands can be found throughout the Triangle. Each day brings a featured custard flavor (dulce de leche on our visit) as well as daily concrete (like a blizzard), sundae and parfait specials. One of us went in with an established favorite (the “Sandstorm” Sundae—chocolate custard topped with hot fudge and malt powder) while the other was a first-timer and went with the Shortcake Sundae. As we sat out in the heat these cold treats kept us cool and satisfied.
Maple View Farm—the actual farm is located in Hillsborough but their fresh milk, butter and ice cream are for sell at many retail locations in the area. The large front porch filled with (sticky) rocking chairs makes the country store feel like home. Enjoy a trip with the whole family or go for a romantic evening complete with a sunset over acres of farmland. On our visit we tried waffle cones of their long running Carolina Crunch and Double Chocolate but they also offer ice cream by the pint, milk, cheese, soaps and other Maple View products. Nothing flashy here, but it took us back to the homemade ice cream we enjoyed as kids.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Carolina Breakfast of Champions

Nothing gets your day started right better than a fresh doughnut washed down with a crisp, cold Cheerwine–a perfect way to break up your coffee routine and meet half of your daily calorie allowance before noon! Now it is also a great way to show your NC pride as Krispy Kreme has concocted a confection that combines these two local products into a Carolina superfood.

Properly unveiled at the NC State Capitol on June 30th, the Krispy Kreme Cheerwine doughnuts will be available in North and South Carolina through July. Once GWG got word of this indulgent pastry we had to give it a taste test, and when one of us came upon a box at Food Lion it felt like doughnut destiny.
The doughnut itself is similar to any other you’ve enjoyed–regular glazed style with fudge and sprinkles on top. The center is where they’ve injected the Cheerwine-flavored crème–pink, gooey and ready to ooze out after a few bites.

At first bite a cherry flavor stood out, but as the crème made its rounds on my tongue, I was taken back to the sugar highs of my southern childhood. They hit the Cheerwine flavor pretty much dead-on–it makes for an interesting combination–one worth trying but probably not something you will miss after it’s gone (good enough for me to finish off my half dozen by the end of the week, without sharing).

Giving the doughnut a try is really no feat–this type of culinary creativity has already inspired food fanatics to push the button even further (KFC Double Down meets Krispy Kreme Cheerwine doughnut).

So no, the Krispy Kreme-Cheerwine combination is not this season’s chocolate and peanut butter–some flavor duos are just more classic than others. But it is worth a try in the spirit of Carolina pride!