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Wednesday, 11 April 2018 17:14

Peanuts, Crackerjack and . . . ?

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Garlic fries aren't a new item at AT&T Park, but now you can get them in a miniature Giants batting helmet Garlic fries aren't a new item at AT&T Park, but now you can get them in a miniature Giants batting helmet

By Dan Clarke

A couple of days ago we came upon a feature in Nation’s Restaurant News highlighting 50 food options available at Major League baseball parks for the 2018 season.

A photo and brief description of each item was provided, along with the name of the ballpark and the catering company supplying its food. If not every major league location was mentioned, there seemed to be a good geographic distribution of those featured. Some of the offerings looked pretty tasty. Others just seemed weird--like the stuff sold from trailers parked near the midway at a county fair.

Reviewing the photos and descriptions for all 50 featured foods became tedious for us. We’ll save you from that fate by just concentrating on choices available in states of greatest interest for our audiences in Washington and California.

Fair warning here, though. When it comes to baseball we’re traditionalists (We knew the American League went wrong when they said that pitchers shouldn’t have to take their turn at bat and we think that regular season interleague games debase the all-star game and the World Series). Given this attitude, is it any wonder that we think baseball’s entire food and beverage menu could be satisfied with peanuts in the shell, good hot dogs and cold beer. O.K., include sodas for the kids and non-drinking adults and boxes of Crackerjack (after all, they’re in the song).

Diverse food, exciting food, creative food. We’re in favor of all of that, just not at a game where all should be subordinate to baseball. How do you watch a game, maybe record it on a scorecard, be alert to the possibility of a foul ball coming your way, take an occasional sip from your beer and put your fork into a bowl of something balanced on your lap?

All right, curmudgeonly rant having been dealt with, let’s look at some ballpark options for this season. We should explain that we haven’t attended a game yet this year and haven’t tasted any of the selections. What follows is just impressions based on photos and descriptions of the food.

organiccoup acai at ATT Picmonkey

At Safeco Field in Seattle, Mariners’ fans can avail themselves of something called Sound Seafood, which is a lobster roll served with celery salt aioli on a King’s Hawaiian roll. Lobster would seem a choice more appropriate to Boston, but this actually looked good and, served in a roll, it is probably easy to eat. The caterer, Centerplate, also offers On Deck Donuts, which are said to be mini donuts served with choice of toppings and dipping sauces. Sounds like they’re working too hard here.

AT&T Park in San Francisco offers the Juicy Lou, a big burger stuffed with cheese and served with crinkle-cut fries. Sounds substantial, if not terribly creative. At the same location you can try the Organic Coup Acai Bowl. Though we don’t usually think of eating dessert while watching baseball, this looked really good. It’s a bowl of acai sorbet topped with granola, berries and bananas. All-organic, so it must be healthy, too. These and other foods at AT&T Park are provided by Bon Appetit Management Co.

Across the Bay at the Oakland Coliseum, A’s fans can opt for something named the “Impossible Burger” which contains no meat. It does, however, comes with a variety of toppings, sauces and sides (Spectra Food services and Hospitality).

Dodger Dogs may be a standard order in LA, but Dodger Stadium offers some trendier choices, too. One is the Pretzel Chicken Croissant, a sandwich which includes a croissant (of course) stuffed with fried chicken, sun-dried tomatoes with herb aioli, swiss cheese and lettuce. Chicken recurs in their Spicy Chicken Sandwich. This dish is reputed to contain chicken in Buffalo sauce with jalapeno slaw, umami aioli and pickles, served on Texas Toast. Not in the mood for chicken? Cheeto-lote is an ear of roasted sweet corn “rubbed with chipotle-lime mayo, then dusted with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, cotija cheese and tajin.” Levy Restaurants is the Dodger Stadium caterer.

In Anaheim Shrimp Aguachile is a bowl containing “spicy lime-marinated shrimp with cucumber, onions and tortilla chips.” Caterer Legends Hospitality has also created something bizarre in appearance, but possible good-tasting, in their “Smoke Ring Spud.” It’s a baked potato, topped with smoked pulled pork, cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions and fried onions. Angel fans will have to figure out how to deal with what surely will be a messy experience.

Alas, we didn’t find a mention of the chow available at Petco Park in San Diego in the article on new and notable treats in major league ballparks. Padre fans are welcome to enlighten us on this issue.


pizza oven Buona Forchetta San Diego Picmonkey

Editor’s note:  Within half an hour of this article being linked via our weekly newsletter, Taste Publications received an e-mail from a Sarah Weinberg-Scalo, a subscriber in San Diego, who wanted to let us know that her city’s Petco Park had been named “Best Ballpark in America” by USA Today. That honor would be due, at least in part, to the food and remarkable diversity of local craft beer on draft, she suggested. We were missing out on Buona Forchetta, a popular local eatery with a new location at Petco, she said, as well as other ballpark vendors that she knew produced good food.

We appreciate Sarah’s diligence in clueing us in on Petco Park food and drink and, while we haven’t experienced Buona Forchetta first-hand, we have seen their website. That visit and reading some reviews from other sources tends to confirm for us her opinion of that pizza-focused business. We also checked out beers at the Petco Park Insider website. San Diego is generally acknowledged as America’s craft beer capital and the great breweries available at Petco reflect that. The most popular draft offering is from local brewery Alesmith and dubbed San Diego Pale Ale .394 in honor of the late Padre legend Tony Gwynn who hit .394 in 1994. We also note the candor (and maybe effrontery) of the website which acknowledges the availability of mass-produced brews under the category of “The usual beer-commercial ballpark swill.”

Read 1075 times Last modified on Thursday, 19 April 2018 17:55

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