Monday, November 16, 2009

Game Day Food: part I of II

This weekend signaled the beginning of what I can only term Jessica's Wild Adventures in the Wide World of College Tailgates. To start, I went with Vronsky down to the lovely town of Chapel Hill to see the UNC Tarheels battle it out against Miami in football on Saturday and their basketball team take on Valparaiso on Sunday. They were victorious both times (hooray!) and I got to book-end both games with more soul-food and BBQ than I've ever eaten in my whole life over a two-day span.

I love baked beans and pulled pork, and while I don't share Vronsky's love for black-eyed peas, please don't come between me and applesauce or fresh biscuits. That said, the highlight of this little trip, gastronomically speaking, had to be our visit to the legendary Mama Dips for Sunday morning brunch.

After tailgating all day and celebrating all night, my body was craving grease with an abnormally high level of urgency. Mama Dips serves the entire gamut of what can be called soul-food, from chitlins to sweet tea and grits, plus traditional all-American breakfast fare, but what they are best known for is their friend chicken. When I am in the throws of a grease craving, I usually go for my standard cure-all: veggie omelet with a side of bacon, home fries and a ice-cold, full-fat coca-cola. While all that greasy loveliness was an offering on the menu, I decided to take a risk and try their "fried chicken breakfast," which included 2-eggs any style, grits, bacon, and two pieces of fried chicken smothered in gravy. Somewhere, a cardiologist is weeping.

I say, let him weep. The food was incredible, and bear in mind, this is coming from someone who actually doesn't like fried-chicken all that much. I usually find it to be too dry, but something about that gravy and "Mama's" secret batter put me over the edge. Plus, pair that Mama's some fluffy grits, warm, buttery eggs, and perfectly crispy bacon, and you can consider the day seized. I can see why the restaurant has earned accolades across the board, from Road Food to

My fried chicken brunch was the perfect mid-way meal for what was a long, exciting weekend of fight songs and cheers. It is a good thing I just bought some new winter "bike gloves," as I am going to have to hit the road long and hard to prep my arteries for next weekend, as I will be journeying to Ann Arbor, MI, one of my favorite places in all the world, to watch my struggling Michigan Wolverines try and upset the evil Ohio State Buckeyes. I believe in miracles!

And if the game starts to suck, I already have a back-up plan: a Zingerman's #11 and rounding off a bottle of scotch with my friend Mike. Plus, my friend Paul, a former Michigan football-er himself and the man who found me tickets (thank you!), always has the hook-up with the best tailgates in town, and so regardless of the outcome, I will be well fed.


  1. Ah, and we shall be there again soon! Southern soul food eases my heart and mind.

    It is simply divine, without question.

    Great post, JJ.

  2. Gastro Jess:

    Where is Chapel Hill and can you recommend a similar restaurant in New York City?

  3. Chapel Hill is in North Caroline...and I have not really ventured out in to the "soul food" section of NYC cuisine, aside from Bubby's down in Tribeca.

    BLUE SMOKE, the restaurant portion of Jazz Standard, has great BBQ and southern-style cuisine (amazing deviled eggs and baked beans), and I've heard good things about Dallas Jones.