Although the warmer temperatures have lingered longer than usual this year, the winter season is approaching, which means we can soon break out our heavy sweaters, snuggle up to a warm bowl of soup, and tune into our favorite winter sports. I attended a Carolina Hurricanes game a few years ago, and after participating in the Carolina Hurricanes Homegrown Media Series, I intend to visit PNC Arena to watch a game again in the near future.
Because the Triangle area contains many noteworthy restaurants, breweries, and other shops, deciding where to spend leisure time may prove problematic for indecisive people like me. Fortunately, the Carolina Hurricanes have partnered with local establishments to create an experience where fans do not have to choose between attending a sporting event and spending a night out on the town. The Homegrown Series ticket packages allow customers to consume local food and beer, listen to local bands, and sport custom t-shirts and posters designed by artists from the area. Each of the seven Homegrown games during the Hurricanes 2017-2018 season boasts a different set of local accouterments and vendors, and customers can purchase packages to attend all of the games, or they can consume separately drinks, food, and other products.
During Homegrown games, Canes fans not only get to savor local treats while cheering on the team, but they can sample from a variety of businesses, as each week highlights a different t-shirt vendor, brewery, band, food, and artist. Artists who designed the game posters on display were present at this event, and having the opportunity to bond with them over the local scene was incredible. I highly suggest checking out the t-shirt selection and observing the posters during intermission.
Along with artists, the room was full of bloggers and industry representatives who mingled over samples of local beer from breweries like Appalachian Mountain, Lonerider, Foothills, Deep River, Aviator, Blueprint. Bold Rock Cider and Top of the Hill (TOPO) Organic Spirits also attended, so those who prefer cider or liquor could taste alternative drink options. TOPO created a Hurricane cocktail to celebrate the team and showcase their delicious spiced rum. Although I would order beer at a game, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the sample of this signature cocktail.
Harris Teeter partnered with the Carolina Hurricanes to select a rotating food and beer menu to serve at each game, which I had the pleasure of sampling. An assortment of southern delicacies sat atop tables placed throughout the event space. The entrée selection for the seven Homegrown games contains traditional favorites like shrimp and grits, BBQ ribs with corn on the cob, fried green tomatoes and deviled eggs, and fried chicken with cornbread. More unique offerings include chicken and waffles with shoestring fries, a bologna burger with potato wedges, and a pimento grilled cheese with sweet potato fries.
I had a taste of all of these options except for the fried chicken and grilled cheese because of my dairy allergy, and the ribs were hands-down my favorite choice. Perfectly tender and falling off the bone, I could not help but returning for seconds of this BBQ staple; I literally was in hog heaven. I also have to give points for originality to the chicken and waffles, as this entrée is composed of chicken nuggets breaded in waffle batter and paired with pieces of waffle cones. My boyfriend and others selected the fried chicken as the favorite choice, and one of the local artists with whom we spoke said the PNC Arena chefs described it as “ the bangin’ chicken.”
To celebrate the second year of the Homegrown Series, the creators paired a dessert with each of the main courses. As a lover of sweets, I believe this decision was solid, as all of the options highlighted local ingredients and evoked a strong sense of the southern charm. Pecan pie is one of my all-time favorite desserts, and the chefs at PNC Arena did this dish justice. The peach cobbler was excellent as well, as it featured the perfect ratio of cobbler to warm, fresh fruit. My boyfriend’s favorite was the Cheerwine Float, which featured vanilla ice cream and the popular North Carolina cherry soda.
After this event, I left PNC Arena with a full stomach and desire to become more of a “hockey person.” If you are looking for a fun weekend activity, date-night, or family event, I highly recommend purchasing a Homegrown ticket package or enjoying one of its individual components.
Amy Sentementes is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at UNC Chapel Hill, where she studies political psychology and public opinion. She has managed to cope with the stress of graduate school by developing a love of cooking and “procrastibaking” for her friends and students. Additionally, Amy enjoys visiting local restaurants and breweries, and she hopes her research regarding group identities and stereotypes can help her evaluate cuisines from a unique perspective. A native Texan, she also loves visiting friends and family in the Lone Star State and cheering on her TCU Horned Frogs and Dallas Cowboys. You can follow her on Instagram @gradschoolfoodie.