Thursday, October 20, 2016

VBT Minute Maid Park: The Apollo 13

Gather 'round kids. Uncle Tom is going to tell you about once upon a time when America had an actual manned spaceflight program. It was tremendous. We even went to the moon! Now, we have some fiscal blackhole orbiting the earth that we hitch a ride to when the Russians allow us to ride in their rockets. It was a great time kids, America was great and the space program was a real source of national pride.

Once those mighty rockets rose off of the launch pad, their oversight was transferred from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas. Houston would manage the flight until its return home. Did you know that the first word ever received from the surface of the moon was “Houston?” Know you know how the Houston Astros got their team name.

But it didn't always go smoothly. Several astronauts gave their lives reaching for the stars, and three nearly did but made such a harrowing brush with death that they made a movie about it. Apollo 13 had a near catastrophic explosion on its way to the moon, they had to abort their planned lunar landing and barely made it back alive. With the exception of Apollo 11 (the first lunar landing), Apollo 13 is the most famous of all moon missions.

It is in honor of those brave souls that cheated death we introduce the Apollo 13 Dog. It's a bit of a monster so pay close attention:
Start with a very large bun. Lay a bed of pepperoni medallions, lay the frank on top of the pepperoni, squirt on some mustard, put in some diced onions, dash in some sriracha sauce, a bit of chopped jalapenos, some relish, shredded cheese of your choice, diced sweet peppers, some avocado, a few tomato wedges, some crushed potato chips, two spoonfuls of pinto beans, and top with a sprinkling of Tang. That's right, Tang. It's an astronaut themed hot dog you know.

You know how many toppings that is? You guessed it, thirteen. This is a loaded dog that will send you over the moon with processed meat pleasure. And trust me, the Tang tastes great on it.

Beer pairing: It's Tex-ass. Blast off with a six pack of Lone Star while plowing your way through the Apollo 13 dog.

Monday, October 17, 2016

VBT Nationals Park: The Politician

Ahhhhhh, our nation's capitol. Full of history, monuments, museums and....sleaze. Too bad the Nationals ended up in Washington DC instead of Charlotte when they moved from Montreal. The District of Columbia would be a great town if it wasn't full of politicians.

Somehow, during my lifetime, we went from our elected officials being representatives of the people to being tools of establishment politics. With all of the disdain that our lawmakers in Washington invoke, this hot dog was designed with them in mind. Here is The Politician.

Start with on oversized bun. A big one, over inflated like our national budget. Then put in a all-bull frank (normally an all-beef wiener, but in this case it would be bull), lay in some pork, just like every bill passed in congress. I use some boneless ribs in my dog, add two slices of bacon because bacon comes from pigs and...well, you can connect those dot. Lastly, add some shredded mozzarella cheese. I originally did not intend to put cheese on this dog, but a lobbyist from the dairy industry bribed me to do so.

While this dog is delicious, it is named The Politician, so be prepared for an upset stomach after ingesting it. As well as a bad taste in your mouth. Just kidding, it really is tasty, but will all of that political jargon I couldn't resist.

Beer pairing. Fat Tire is one of my favorite beers. Their brewery is in Fort Collins, Colorado. That is no where near Washington DC, but Fat Tire rhymes with Big Fat Liar, so it really is a fitting beer for The Politician.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

VBT Angel Stadium: All Dogs Go to Heaven

Nearly everyone has had a dog that eventually crossed the rainbow bridge. It is an absolute life cruelty that dogs only live for about 10-15 years. Nothing is more heartbreaking than losing your best friend. But with the unbridled goodness that lives in all canines, all dogs must surely go to heaven. That is why, when I set out to design a hot dog for the Anaheim Angels, I didn't want no Mickey Mouse hot dog, I wanted one that represented dogs and angels. I don't know about you, but when I cross over, I will have a pack of fluffy and furry friends knock me over and give me the lick down of a lifetime. As soon as that is over, I am taking all of them out to the best hot dog stand on the other side.

What do all angels have in common? Halos and wings of course, and they are the centerpiece of the All Dogs Go to Heaven Dog. It features a larger then usual toasted bun (because dogs love to gorge themselves), an all beef Hebrew National frank (dogs LOVE beef), the frank it topped with boneless buffalo chicken wings (representing angel wings), onion rings (a nod to the halo), and chopped celery (because this dog had to have something healthy on it). It is a dog that you, or your dog, will love. So the next time you tune into an Angels game, grill up an extra dog for the dog and catch a few innings with your best friend. And this time, let him up on the couch.

Beer pairing: Although brewed in nearby San Diego, a Ballast Point beer will give your dog a nice compliment with its hint of hops. Pour your bestest pal a dish full of cool water, and yourself a cold Ballast Point brew.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

VBT Fenway Park: The Green Monster

Fenway Park. You either love it or hate it. For those of us that hearken for the days of old and traditional baseball, we love Fenway Park. It is the oldest ballpark in MLB and also the smallest. At well over a century (that's right, a century) old, it was built during an era when all ballparks were situated downtown and nestled snuggly into the the surrounding neighborhood. As a result of the tight fit, ballparks were often designed to accommodate what acreage that was available. That meant for some rather unconventional dimensions. For Fenway, that meant a short left field. Very short. It would have made for a pitcher's nightmare as even the most anemic hitters would have little difficulty poking a homer into left field.

To compensate, for the short 310 feet to the wall, they made it over 37 feet tall. To this day, while it is no great feat to bounce one off the wall, it takes a real slugger to put one over for a round tripper. The outfield wall, painted green, even has a famous nickname: the Green Monster. A monster that swats down would be home runs, frustrating right hand hitters.

To honor one of the most iconic ballpark features in the history of the game, the hot dog designed for the Boston Red Sox is none other than the Green Monster Dog.

Keeping it green, put in a high quality veggie dog (I use Field Roast brand) into a grilled bun, add sliced avocado, fresh tomatillo relish, diced jalapenos, a few sport peppers and top with fresh cilantro. All green condiments. This is a dog you can eat with a clear conscience. No meat and all veggies. For all of you hot dog haters out there, this dog is for you.

Beer Pairing. While Sam Adams is brewed in several parts of the country, this lager is primarily made in the vicinity of Boston. While most versions of its lineup of brewskies will work, I recommend the summer ale. It is clean and refreshing, and baseball is, after all, a summer sport.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

VBT Safeco Field: Sushi Dog

Ever been to Seattle? No? You are missing out. Great scenery, the Space Needle, greenery, lots of asian influence and crappy weather. If you don't mind gray skies, Seattle should be on your list of places to visit. Oh yeah, they have a pretty cool ballpark too.

I used to love sushi. Delicious raw fish wrapped in veggies and rice. These days, I only eat the so-called California roll; all veggies and no fish. Why? Have you ever seen raw fish under a microscope? If you have, you probably don't eat it either. Trust me on this.

With a bustling asian influence, I offer Seattle Mariners fans the Sushi Dog. It starts with a toasted bun, fill the bottom with a layer of cream cheese (this is a nod to the famous Seattle Dog, which is nearly as renown as the Chicago Dog), put in a Hebrew National frank (I would use raw fish, but see above), lay a row of sliced cucumber on one side, shredded carrots down the middle, diced celery on the other side, pour on a small amount of soy sauce, and the sprinkle on kelp granules. There you have a dog that tastes like a huge sushi roll, minus the raw fish (you did look up what crawls on raw fish didn't you?).

This is the perfect dog to watch a Mariners game on TV. If you are in Seattle, SafeCo Field has some of the best eats in the league. But since this is a virtual baseball tour, become one with the couch and watch the Mariners toss the horsehide around.

Beer pairing: Rainier Beer has been a Seattle favorite for decades. With catchy commercials and a crisp and affordable beer, it is the perfect locally produced suds with help your Sushi Dog slide down your gullet.

Monday, September 26, 2016

VBT Camden Yards: The Sponge Bob

When I was in the Navy, I heard some ships were making a port visit to Baltimore. Baltimore? I didn't grow up that far away, but I had to look at a map to realize Baltimore indeed has a harbor and access to the ocean. Then I realized that the Star Spangled Banner was written about the bombardment of Fort McHenry which is basically in Baltimore. Moral of the story: Baltimore has a close relationship with the ocean. How close? Maryland crab is world renown and you can't swing an oriole without finding a place that serves up authentic Maryland crab cakes. And take it from me, they are delicious.

Any hot dog that honors the Baltimore has to include crab and somehow give the city's close proximity to the ocean a nod. Therefore, allow me to introduce: The Sponge Bob. A hot dog that mixes beef and seafood that taste awesome while watching an Orioles game.

Start by toasting a regular bun in the skillet, lay in an all-beef Hebrew National frank, two halves of a crab cake on one side, sliced tomatoes on the other side, pour on a small amount of cocktail sauce and sprinkle on some Old Bay seasoning. When I started designing hot dogs, I never thought hot dogs and sea food would compliment each other; but they do.

Baltimore native Edgar Allen Poe may have been manic, but this dog will have you cRaven another (get it? Craven? It has Raven in it? Tell me you get it).

Beer Pairing: If it's Baltimore we are talking about (and it is), it has to be a National Bohemian. Natty Bo, as it is known locally, is brewed in Baltimore and is a crisp and clean beer that the Sponge Bob will soak up nicely. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

VBT Citi Field: The Big Apple

New York; the city that never sleeps. Also known as the Big Apple. Know why? Yeah, me neither. But it does play nicely at Citi Field where they raise a big apple just beyond the outfield wall after a Mets homer. It is a mets' icon that migrated from old Shea Stadium to their newer digs. It's cool and cheesy at the same time; kinda like New York City in general.

Mr Met: Don't piss him off

FYI, the Mets have much better food than Yankee Stadium, which is why I put a lot of thought into designing a hot dog for the team. Plus they have Mr. Met, that dude with the huge baseball for a head; I couldn't let him down. Which is why I have come up with a dog called...are you ready?....The Big Apple. Unique no?

Start with a regular grilled hot dog bun. This time, instead of going with a meat dog, use a Field Roast brand of apple smoked veggie sausage. Since we are closing in on the end of the Virtual Baseball Tour, I thought I'd give you and your cholesterol a break from the meat. Add sliced apples, a row of apple sauce and drizzle on caramel sauce (you know, like caramel apples). The sweetness of the apples and the fake meat taste pretty well together. Trust me on this.

Beer pairing: what better with a sweet dog than a cream ale? Genesee Cream Ale is brewed in Rochester and widely available in most regions.