Durham Bulls: Minor League Baseball with Major League Tastes!

You're in Bulls Country!

You’re in Bulls Country!

Just last week, I visited the city of Durham during a conference trip.  Most people know this city as Raleigh’s next door neighbor that is home to Duke University.  But don’t think for a sec that this city’s only claim to fame are insane college basketball fans and a nice airport.  Just off the road where tobacco warehouses once stood, you’ll find Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the home of the Durham Bulls.  This minor league baseball team is the triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays and is also famous from the 1988 hit film Bull Durham where a love triangle forms between Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins.  I didn’t come here to meet Crash Davis and swing for the fences.  I came because there’s one thing minor league ballparks do very well: the food!

"The best eatin in all of Durham!"

“The best eatin in all of Durham!”

North Carolina, being a southern state, has some of the most decadent snacks this side of the Mason-Dixon line.  Unlike the traditional hot dogs with mustard and Cracker Jack, this ballpark goes full southern when it comes to feeding their fans.  Depending on what state you live in, you’re likely to get a different variation of the hot dog.  New Yorkers go for the traditional mustard and sauerkraut.  Chicagoans savor the red hot with mustard, relish, onion, pickle, hot peppers, tomatoes, and celery salt on a steamed bun.  North Carolinians, however, go for the slaw dog.  While mostly popular in neighboring South Carolina, this dish combines a red-dyed weiner, topped with mild chili, melted pimento cheese, and garnished with minced cole slaw.  Is it messy?  Of course.  Is it delicious?  Absolutely!  This would be such a foreign item to a New Yorker, but one bite into this southern staple and my eyes practically rolled into the back of my head!  The smokiness of the weiner, the saucy chili, the gooey cheese, and the cool crunch of the slaw made this an experience!  That is one thing I can applaud the south for: their decadent twist on a ballpark staple!

Slaw dogs!  Get'yer Carolina slaw dogs!

Slaw dogs! Get’yer Carolina slaw dogs!

But it didn’t stop with slaw dogs.  That was just the appetizer.  For the main course, I dined on another item rarely seen in the big apple: pig wings!  A porky brethren of the chicken wing, this “wing” uses full-on pig meat, sort of looking like a rotund spare rib, soaked in sweet bbq sauce, served over a bed of fries!  And just like a good spare rib, it is fall off the bone goodness!  In fact, while I was tearing a piece off, it fell off the bone and under my seat at the game.  NOOOOOO!!!!  I managed to salvage the rest in all its saucy goodness.  By the time I was done, there wasn’t anything left other than two bones and a few salt crystals.

"Get'yer pig wings!  Good and saucy!  Soooweee! Oink Oink!"

“Get’yer pig wings! Good and saucy! Soooweee! Oink Oink!”

And to wash it all down, a bottle of North Carolina’s most famous pop: Cheerwine.  First produced in 1917 by “the oldest continuing soft drink company run by the same family”, Cheerwine is a cherry-flavored soft drink produced by the Carolina Beverage Corporation of Salisbury, North Carolina.  Cheerwine has a mildly sweet flavor with strong cherry notes, most notably black cherry; is burgundy-colored, and has an unusually high degree of carbonation.  The product was named for its color and taste.  And like how root beer has a misleading  moniker, Cheerwine contains no alcohol.

Cheerwine: North Carolina's oldest cola!

Cheerwine: North Carolina’s oldest cola!

When I wasn’t sampling tar heel cuisine and imbibing on black cherry pop, I was watching the Durham Bulls play the Pawtucket Red Sox.  It was not a great night for the Bulls as I saw Pawtucket crush one pitch after another.  It seems that almost every Sox player just knocked it out of the park.  For an added thrill, however, every time the Bulls hit a home run, the giant bull above the left field wall would start snorting smoke and glowing red eyes.

"Let's Go Bulls!"

“Let’s Go Bulls!”

The game ended in a 12-6 loss for the Bulls, but not before I was treated to an amazing display of fireworks from centerfield.  What I loved about the show was that I was really up close to the action.  That is one of the great things about minor league ballparks stadiums: because of the small number of seats and close proximity to the field, every seat inside feels like the best seat in the house!

 

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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