Baseball without food is like square dancing without the Allemande Left. Sure, you can do it, but you'll undoubtedly get that aching feeling that something very important is missing. No worries, we here at Walkoff Walk want nothing more than to help you fill your bellies while you attend your favorite ballparks in 2010. Even better, we want to tell you what new stuff is cookin' and where you can come 'n' git it.
Last year, we barely even skimmed the culinary surface of stadiumfoodeatery. Thanks to the savvy gourmands we call "commenters," we had a great discussion about provolone and beer and whatnot to fill in the cracks. Lucky for us, Scoreboard Gourmet has been on the ballpark concession beat for long enough now that we can enjoy tasty bites here and head over there for the full buffet.
Relax, doddering traditionalists. Nobody is taking your precious hot dogs and peanuts away from the concourses. Enough of your caterwauling about what "real" baseball fans do and do not eat. Baseball is not about staid devotion to the same boring tradition for tradition's sake; it's about expansion! Expansion of leagues, expansion of tastes, and expansion of bellies. How else can you explain these many new delicacies that MLB teams are newly offering?
Out at CitiField, the Mets and Esca chef Dave Pasternack have introduced a Crab-Cake Sandwich (photo source) to the Catch of the Day stand. Some other new items include Peking Duck Bun, Lasagna Bolognese and an entire stand devoted to gluten-free pudding. Of course.
Down I-95 in Philly, the fans got the chance to vote for a signature hot dog at Citizens Bank Park for the 2010 season. The candidates included The South Philly, an all-beef frank topped with broccoli rabe, spicy roasted peppers and sharp provolone on an Italian roll, The Olde Philadelphia topped with pepper hash, dill pickle and yellow mustard on a poppy-seed roll, and The Citizens Bank Park Summer Hot Dog, topped with cucumbers, pickled onion salsa and ancho pepper sauce on a pretzel roll. Be careful, Philadelphians. You don't have such a great track record with heated hot dog situations.
As so thoroughly dissed by the culinarily-immature Paul Daugherty, the Reds are introducing sushi rolls to the slack-jawed yokels at the Great American Ball Park. Note well that Cincinnatians are now allowed to consume actual raw sushi at baseball parks; only smoked salmon and shitty California rolls will be sold. With today's flash-freezing technology, delicious raw sushi can be flown in anywhere. But I suppose I wouldn't trust Midwesterners to transport said fish from the loading docks outside Dusty Baker's office either.
Out in Pittsburgh, the fans prefer to indulge on - how do I say this without sounding cruel - heftier concessions, such as the Victory Knot pretzel. The behemoth is accompanied by three different dipping sauces - chipotle honey mustard, sweet cinnamon cream and beer cheese - and is served in an actual pizza box. It weighs approximately as much as your neighbor's Yorkie and contains enough carbs to power a small studio apartment for a week. Don't fret, Pittsburgh is not the only place you can snag the Big F**king Pretzel. Fans in Chicago, Arizona, and Washington can also go wayyy off their diets with the doughy delight.
And if you're at Nationals Park and want a bit more protein to accompany your carbohydrates, try the Chicken and Waffles, one of many new concessions introduced by the Nats in 2010. Chicken and waffles is one of those magical culinary marriages like chocolate and peanut butter, or sardines and whole grain mustard, but this one has quite an interesting backstory. Some nutritional anthropologists trace its origin to the Jazz Age of the 1930s while other go even further to the eighteenth century, when Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron back from France. Either way, fried chicken + waffles + cayenne syrup = NOM.
And then there's Target Field. The new open-air ballpark in Minneapolis had its unofficial debut this past weekend and it's the food that's getting all the raves, not Justin Morneau's new no-iron cotton Dockers. Some of the classic Minnesota State Fair selections include barbecued Turkey Legs, pork-chops-on-a-stick, walleye-on-a-spike, and veggie kabobs. You can get wild rice soup, hamburgers stuffed with braised short rib and smoked gouda cheese, or Tony Oliva's authentic Cuban sandwiches.
If your idea of haute ballpark cuisine is more gastropub and taqueria than broiled meat on sticks, then the two new Traci des Jardins restaurants attached to AT&T Park are for you. In the spot that once housed the upscale Acme Chophouse comes two new San Fran ballpark restos: Public House, with its modern twist on ballpark fare and Mijita, a proper taqueria. Public House also features twenty-four locally-sourced beers on tap while Mijita will have tasting flights among the 60 different tequilas behind the bar.
And with a lineup that features Aubrey Huff batting cleanup, Giants fans will need all the tequila flights they can get their hands on.