Monday, May 7, 2018

Blaze Pizza

SoDu mom Devin Grendas tried out the new pizza place - Blaze Pizza. Here's her review!

My husband and I were excited to try another of the many fast casual restaurants in Durham. Blaze Pizza offers made to order fast fired pizza in an open-flame oven. There is a window where you can watch the fresh made from scratch pizza dough being made. The first person that greets you behind the counter takes your order and sends you down the assembly line to choose your sauce and toppings. The restaurant is well lit with plenty of seating along with a patio with lots of outdoor seating as well. The staff was very helpful and friendly and this is definitely a place that is welcoming to families. 

Out of the 8 featured signature pizzas available we chose the Green Stripe,  pesto drizzle over grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, chopped garlic, mozzarella, arugula and the White Top which has white cream sauce with mozzarella, applewood bacon, chopped garlic, oregano, arugula. They were both delicious with the perfect balance of toppings and sauce. Other menu choices available are: build your own pizza, that is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters, and vegan and gluten free options as well. This is now one of our favorite pizza spots in Durham and we are looking forward to our next visit. 

Blaze Pizza

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cocoa Cinnamon at Lakewood

Cocoa Cinnamon’s newest location has the most personality of the three,
making for a truly colorful coffee experience. 

There are tables outside for fair weather, and when that’s the case, as was last night when I went, they’ll have the garage doors open too. It’s a warm and welcoming place that you walk into, with flowered tablecloths, parasols suspended from the ceiling, and of course the admins of their famous brews. 

I sampled a sipping chocolate and their famous Chloe Kim churro ice cream sandwich. This is the only location with churros - important to note if you’re having a craving!

There are tables for four and two, and complimentary WiFi on weekdays. They leave it off on weekends so people can connect in real life, which is refreshing. 

I came for a work meeting but it’s definitely kid friendly, as long as they don’t run around like madmen after sugar, then you might need to take off for everyone’s sanity.

As always CC responsibly sources their food and beverages and pays a living wage. So you know your money is being well spent. 

I’m looking forward to many more balmy nights at Cocoa Cinnamon, 
hope to see you there!

What we loved: churros!

What we’d change: nothing!

Info: Cocoa Cinnamon
2013 Chapel Hill Road, Durham, NC 27707
Mon-Fri 7:30am to 10:00pm
Sat – Sun 8am to 10:00pm

Monday, February 19, 2018


What if your sushi was the size of a burrito? Dream no more, Sushiōki is here! Sushiōki offers rolls more than twice the size of regular sushi in a variety of flavors, some raw and some cooked, an option for everyone. They pride themselves on making each roll to order, serving "food fast, not fast food!"

I attended their bloggers night and got to sample all kinds of tasty goodness, including...

  • Titan Tempur - Tempura shrimp, butter lettuce, pickled cucumber, shredded carrots, sweet Thai chili sauce (This tied for my favorite, crispy and spicy, warm and flavorful)
  • RD Yoo - Poké marinated tuna, butter lettuce, pickled red onion, cucumbers, cucumber wasabi sauce (This was also my fave and was the closest I tried to a "regular" sushi roll, delish)
  • Veggie Bender - Exotic mushroom blend, butter lettuce, charred cabbage, shredded carrots, pickled red onion, green onion jam (loved the creamy combination of flavors)
  • Southern Sushi - Hickory smoked pork BBQ, creamy slaw, pork rinds, gochujang sauce (just like a BBQ sandwich transformed into sushi!)

I didn't get a chance to sample their other rolls including the most popular Bull City Bulgolgi (with korean BBQ beef), the Reel Alaskan (with sriracha salmon) or the Oh My Gahshi (with fried chicken and kimchi) but I can't wait to try them on my next trip. 

Can't forget their rice chips - handmade, paper thin and super crispy in four flavors: original, wasabi, BBQ, and cinnamon sugar. Some chips were as big as my hand! It was hard not to inhale them!

The atmosphere itself is clean, bright, and welcoming, and everyone that works there couldn't have been cheerier. They also have a mission at Sushiōki, to partner with agencies like "World Relief, to hire area refugees in need of an employer who offers all of its employees dignity, respect, and livable wages." It's pretty powerful stuff. I certainly left feeling like dining there is not only a yummy choice but a healthy and responsible one too. I can't wait to go back!

What we loved: For sushi lovers like me, there is nothing better than more sushi! Having a kids menu is super inclusive too. And the prices were right. Did I mention the chips?

What we would change: I would love the addition of some specialty Asian sodas, like the kind you pop open with a marble, and maybe down the future sake and beer choices. When the weather is nice, outdoor tables would be a huge plus too!

More Info: 
Located in the SoDu Food Lion shopping center near Brigs 
at 4900 NC Highway 55, Suite 510, Durham
Hours: 11am-8pm, Mon-Sat

Southern Sushi

Hickory smoked pork BBQ, creamy slaw, pork rinds, gochujang sauce

Friday, December 15, 2017

Halgo European Deli and Groceries

Sometimes you discover a special little corner of Durham when you least expect it. Local mom and author Melissa Rooney was lucky enough to experience this at Halgo European Deli and Grocery in SoDu and shares it with us here. 
I have driven to Durham’s South Regional library for seven years now, each time passing the cute little house across the street advertising Polish Kielbasa and Pierogis and thinking “I should really check that place out.”  After a months-long hiatus, I visited the library this week and, upon exiting, stared once again at the familiar house and signs. I’d nearly turned left onto South Alston Avenue when I made the split decision that today was the day and drove straight across the street into the tiny parking lot in front of the now sprightly green house. As I opened the door to the Halgo European Deli and Grocery and entered the store, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I’d been transported to a little store in Poland or Polish New Jersey, at least. 

 I’d expected a deli counter with funky sandwiches, meats and cheese for sale, but I did not expect the immense stock of edible goods that clearly came from Poland. “I have to bring my mother here,” I announced to no one in particular; then, catching the eye of the woman behind the counter, I explained, “She’s 100% Polish.”
The sandwich menu was sparse, but the smells emanating from the room behind the register took me back to the times I visited my grandparents in New Jersey when I was a child. I ordered the Traditional sandwich and looked around as I waited.
There were rows and rows of European chocolates and cookies, only a few of which I recognized, all bearing Polish business names and addresses.

On one shelf nearer the cash register were bags of what appeared to be Polish cheese puffs. 
 “I know where I’m getting my uncle’s Christmas present,” I said aloud, when I saw the Polish baseball caps and other paraphernalia by the door. The woman behind the counter appeared to pay no attention to me - typical Polish.

Near the baseball caps was an area reserved for Community advertisements, such as Polish-English language lessons and Polish Mass times.

As I was paying for my lunch, I saw several plastic containers of sugar-powdered pastry strips that looked somewhat like Mexican churros; but I knew their consistency was more like thin pie crust. “I had these at my grandmother’s house at Thanksgiving and Christmas growing up,” I said, enjoying that magical sense of destiny we all get from time to time. “I haven’t had one of these in 30 years.” I put an $8.50 box of faworki on the counter beside my sandwich.

“Seventeen thirty-one,” said the matron, who had the same height and stature, and apparently the same no-nonsense demeanor, as my grandmother.
I paid her, took my bag, and turned toward the door. “I made those,” said the matron in a gruff, clipped voice. I looked down at the plastic box in my arms. It read: Halina’s Cookies
4520 South Alston Ave., Durham, NC 27713.
I thought about my grandparents, making their way from the Baltic Coast to America around the time of the Second World War. They could have started a shop just like this one (my grandfather was a butcher).
As for my sandwich, the meat and cheese were thinly sliced and piled high on the kind of bread that’s only made north of the Mason Dixon line. There was a big slice of dill pickle to wash down each bite and a tiny hand-made pastry (which I later discovered was made on site by the matron) to finish things up. Next time, I’ll ask for more of that lovely Polish mustard and save half the sandwich for later (and I’ll buy some kielbasa).
It’s not every day you see an American store devoted solely to a small, relatively unknown country like Poland. Halgo European (i.e., Polish) Deli and Grocery has good food and a wonderfully cultural atmosphere; what’s more, half the shop is empty (at least for now), which, along with the unique and delectable goodies on the shelves, makes it easier to wait with your kids for your order. Halgo is the quintessential learning experience when it comes to immigration and social studies, but please be sure to wait with your kids outside if they are being physical or disruptive (there is a small grassy area with picnic table). I’m certain Halina will be pleased to serve new appreciative and well-behaved visitors, but I’m betting she won’t show it ;-) 

What you need to know:  

Halgo European Deli and Groceries
4520 South Alston Ave
Store Hours: Tuesday - Friday, 10:30AM - 6:30PM. Saturday, 10:00AM - 5:00PM

Google Ads