Friday, August 27, 2010

Finding Our Bull City Connection

As two girls who spend a lot of their time in Durham, we often find ourselves amazed at the way a trip for food can turn itself into a full evening of activity. This was the case on Thursday after work when we headed off to grub at Chubby’s Tacos on Ninth Street—we had a general plan in mind but were flexible and let the night unfold itself.

We’d gotten word of the Splash Mob throughout the week, and headed from our downtown office on a mission to get a few pictures of the event. The weather hinted at a cooler season and was perfect for this community-wide water war—we weren’t there to play but got a kick out of watching kids and their man-child equivalents having a ball as they blasted each other with water guns, water balloons and eventually buckets of water. One of us even took a few balloons to the face in the quest to get a good shot.
Since we were already downtown we decided to catch the newly launched Bull City Connector for a free ride to Ninth Street. We walked a couple of blocks to Stop 20 and enjoyed a moment to relax, chat and dry-off as we waited for the next bus (our timing could have been better as we had to wait the full 20 minutes, but luckily we weren’t in a hurry). The GWG believe there is something about public transportation that makes you feel like you are a part of what’s going on—not just somebody speeding by in a car.

We got off at Stop 30 and walked down a quiet Ninth Street to Chubby’s Tacos with the mission to pig out (P.S. with all this repaving going on could they maybe work on the Ninth Street sidewalk?). Chubby’s offers a selection of Mexican sodas and we both decided it would be a nice change and a nice compliment to our fatty food—we tried the refreshing grapefruit (similar to Fresca) and sangria (non-alcoholic). One of us ordered the Smothered ChubbyChanga (the item that inspired our trip)—a fried burrito filled with your choice of meat and covered with chili and cheese. While this one is not breaking any size records, we have no doubt it racks up on calories.
The second entrée choice was Chubby’s nachos.  With a large portion of crisp corn chips topped with refried beans, cheese, jalapeno slices, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and your choice of meat—we opted for chicken fajita—this entrée is best for sharing. A few jalapenos from Chubby’s topping bar and some salsa for dipping made these nachos satisfying.
Just as we started to wonder where everyone was, a steady crowd lined up at the counter and we realized we might have to wait a while to order dessert. Unable to choose between Chubby’s selection of sweets, we ordered all four and they came out looking just like they do on the menu board—delicious. Our favorite was the sopapillas (fried flour tortilla dough with cinnamon & honey) followed by the fried plantains, fried ice cream, and the dulce de leche quesadillas.
As we left Chubby’s to walk back up Ninth Street toward the Bull City Connector, we were pulled off course by live music. Excited by the sounds in the air, we made our way one block over to Outsiders Arts & Collectibles on Iredell Street. We walked up as Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos finished up their set. Two food trucks were selling food and a crowd of people were enjoying the evening air with socializing and dancing on the front lawn.

We looked at each other, smiled, and commented on our love for Durham. Where else can you stop by a Splash Mob, ride a free bus to great Mexican food, and find your way to free live music all in the span of three hours?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Best Letdown Ever

On a recent tip from friends, GWG headed to Cary to attempt a monster meat challenge that promised to outdo all prior challenges. Tribeca Tavern offers an extensive burger menu including the forty-dollar “Glutton’s Glory.” We knew this meal had GWG written all over it and were willing to make the trip—but on arrival we were disappointed to learn it is no longer available.

 After overcoming the burger blow, we still had our hefty appetites to deal with and decided to stay for dinner—a decision that paid off.  We chose to sit on the outdoor patio, but the tavern also offers an indoor sports bar atmosphere and a unique second floor balcony area. We started with a couple of house reds from their large tap system of North Carolina beers—each came adorned with hard pretzels, a nice and unexpected touch.
In order to create some semblance of a massive meal we decided not to skip a course and started with the “Cheesy Poofs,” a dish that is a lot more sophisticated than it sounds. These puff pastries have a warm brie, cashew and smoked bacon center and are served with raspberry sauce. The combination of the flaky crust, the creamy cheese and the tart topping was delectable—we had quickly forgotten about our initial setback.

Then we were on to the burgers and our waitress gave us the rundown—Tribeca uses meats that are freshly ground in-house and offers many cheeses and toppings from local farms. Their gourmet burger menu gives Red Robin a run for their money—they offer a selection of original and adventurous burger combinations that make it hard to chose just one, so we each chose our favorite and agreed to share.

One of our choices was the “Mastering Augusta” beef burger topped with home-made pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes and three slices of bacon—a combination that rang our southern bells. The burger was cooked well and all the ingredients fresh and tasty, but with so much going on nothing really stood out. That being said, with a little more pimento cheese this burger could still qualify as a guilty pleasure.
The second choice was the Really Mean Mexican burger; it was bursting with flavor and heat. The ground beef was cooked medium-rare maintaining its juice and flavor and the burger included heaps of guacamole, salsa, chipotle coulis, NC pepperjack cheese and fried jalapenos. Although it was messy, this burger was one of the top burgers we've ever tasted.  To balance the heat, the GWG opted for sweet potatoes fries with a rum honey sauce. The waffle cut fries were fried to perfection and the sweet rum honey sauce was sent straight from heaven.

Reluctantly passing up on milkshakes made with homemade ice cream and the other delicious desserts at Tribeca Tavern, we made our way to Kilwin’s, a fudge, candy, ice cream shop located in the same shopping center.  Kilwin's, a national chain, has eight locations in North Carolina.
After sampling fudge, surveying the candy and peeking at the ice cream, we opted for the chocolate walnut fudge and some treats for friends. We made our way outside, sat at a table located in front of the shop, and quickly made our way into the fudge. The creamy texture of the rich fudge paired with the crunchy nutty walnuts was the perfect ending to an exquisite meal.

The GWG may not have accomplished the mission of tackling the Glutton’s Glory, but we did walk away happily stuffed and excited to go back and try more of Tribeca Tavern’s unique, fresh menu. With the glossiness of a chain and the special touches of a local favorite, Tribeca Tavern is a must try.