Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hot Dog Alert #18

When you are the Triple-A farm club of the reigning World Series Champions, you really need to step up to the plate when pushing hot dogs at the ballpark. The Omaha Storm Chasers have done their parent club proud with serving fans one of the most exciting dogs in the minors: the Cor-Dog-O.

This delectable treat gets its name from the Storm Chasers President and General Manager Martie Cordaro. The team exec noted that he had really made it baseball when he had a monster dog named after him. In my opinion, there is not higher honor in the sport.

The Cor-Dog-O starts with a winning combination. Not one, but TWO Hebrew National franks. Throw in some pulled pork, coleslaw and wrap it all in a tortilla and you have concessions item that is all the rave at Werner Park. And it only costs $8. A bargain for anything with two Hebrew Nationals in it.

How good does it sound? It looks almost delicious enough to lure me to Omaha. Then I realized Omaha is in Nebraska. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Griggs Park: Alamogordo Pupfish

There are several things I like about independent league baseball. I love sitting at an obscure park in the middle of nowhere with about 35 other fans (tops) watching hungry ballplayers scrape through nine innings. I also like that it usually costs well below ten bucks for any seat in the stadium. Baseball on a budget, that's me.

I am a big fan of the Pecos League, a photo of me in the most circulated newspaper in New York City shows me eating a hot dog in front of Yankee Stadium wearing a Pecos League tee-shirt. One of my roadtrip plans is to eat a dog at each of the Pecos Leage ballparks; but there's a problem: they keep moving. The cities that host a team changes dramatically each season, and it's hard to hit a moving target. One of the towns that is relativley Pecos League stable is Alamogordo, New Mexico. Their team, the Pupfish, play at Griggs Park, or as the Pupfish have taken to calling it; The Aquarium. Catchy no?

Concessions in The Aquarium consists of two food carts. The Humming Bird Cafe cart dishes out, among other things, the hot dogs, while another cart called Swamp Donkey (really) sells shaved ice.

The dogs are pretty standard in The Aquarium. I had the $3 hot dog that comes equipped with a generous plump Nathan's Famous frank. Nathan's is a good choice, and my second personal favorite, right behind Hebrew National. It's pretty basic condiments as well. I opted for the traditional mustard and relish. You can never go wrong with that combo. All in all it was pretty tasty, and way better than what I expected for such a small park and fanbase. They would do well to offer up a specialty dog that is somehow linked to the team or region, but when you are serving less than 50 fans per game, no one can blame them for sticking to the basics.

Worth getting a dog there? You betcha! And before the game you can stop by the beautiful White Sands National Monument just a few miles away. And see my personal favorite regional tourist attraction: the final resting place of Ham the space chimp, America's first primate in space. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Hot Dog Alert #17

Is it Winston? Or is it Salem? I'll never figure it out, but apparently the folks in Winston-Salem, NC have. I'll take a wild guess and suggest it has something to do with tobacco since both Winston and Salem are cigarette brands. They say smoking is bad for your health, so let's talk about something good for you: hot dogs. Hot dogs are good for your aren't they? Tell me they are, because if they aren't, I'll never live to see 60.

Since I don't smoke I can't vouch for the region's tobacco, but I can attest to their exquisite taste in hot dogs. The Winston-Salem Dash have introduced a great dog to their lineup this year: the Cheesy Pig Dog. It is a hot dog with BBQ pork, mac n cheese and shredded cheese. It's cheesy alright. You can add some Texas Pete hot sauce to it to create the Flaming Cheesy Pig.

If you have never been to North Carolina, put it on your list of places to visit. The Carolinas are vacation worthy. They have mountains, beaches, cool cities and great food. Not to mention a high concentration of minor league baseball.

The Cheesy Pig Dog is sure to make you squeal with pleasure, so head on down to the ballpark and make a hog of yourself. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hot Dog Alert #16

There is no getting around it, concessions at stadiums are expensive. Eats at the minor league level leave a little more cash in your pocket, but it is still pricey to fill up at the ballpark. Sometimes your budget demands that you choose between a hot dog or a dessert. A tough choice.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals have solved the dinero deliema for the cash challenged. Now, thanks to their cunning culinary concoction, you can get both for the price of one by picking up their new Funnel Dog.

It is a sweet and meaty treat that is hot dog on a stick, covered in funnel cake batter and coated with powdered sugar. Dinner and dessert on a stick. And you though state fairs were the only place for crazy food items.

Cudos to the Naturals for thinking outside of the box on this one. Arvest Ballpark is a solid venue to catch a game in a corner of Arkansas where little else exists. If you like catching a game outside of the city, this is the ballpark for you. And if you can't attend the state fair this year, this is the dog for you. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

VBT Coors Field: Mile High Dog

One of my favorite ballparks is Coors Field. It looks and feels like a baseball stadium and has some of the most affordable ticket prices in the sport. Four bucks will get you a bleacher seat. Hard to beat that. Want to know something really scary? I remember when it was built in the early 1990s. It was a gem then and still is. The scary part? Coors field is now the third oldest ballpark in the National League. Yikes. Maybe it really is time to open all that junk mail I get from AARP.

One of the unique things about baseball in Denver and Coors Field is the atmospherics. The field is nearly a mile high in the sky and the thin air affects both pitch dynamics and flight of the ball after it is hit. I'll let someone smarter than me (yes, they do exist) tell you more about that if you are interested.

The high altitude is due to Denver's close proximity to the Rocky Mountains, which should be no surprise why they are called the Colorado Rockies. You know the lyrics to that patriotic song? The mountains purple majesty, or something like that. Which is why the Rockies uniforms are purple, and there is one and only one row of purple seats that circles the upper deck seating in Coors Field; it delineates the row that is exactly one mile high. And that is why the hot dog I designed for for the Colorado Rockies is called the Mile High Dog.

Start with the best. Grill up a Hebrew National all-beef frank, place in a brat bun and then garnish with veggies that are purple like the team's uniforms: red onion and red romaine lettuce (both are called red, but in reality are purple in color). Top with chipolte mayo to remind the eater that despite the altitude, the team is located in the west.

It is a very simple dog to make and is a delicious way to take in a Rockies game.

Beer pairing: It's Coors Field. Just get a regular banquet Coors and skip the lite. Live a little. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hot Dog Alert #15

If you are not from West Virginia, then you probably have never eaten a pepperoni roll. It is one of those very local delicacies that you find in pockets of macro culinary culture. More specifically, it is a central West Virginia dish. Think pig in a blanket but with pepperoni instead of a hot dog. There are different variants, including adding cheese, peppers and tomato sauce. As a central WV native, I had no idea we invented one of the tastiest treats on the planet. Unfortunately for the rest of America, the pepperoni roll seems to have never been able to break out of the boundaries of the Mountain State.

Now, you can get an over-the-top version and enjoy some hardball action Appalachian style. Head on over to Monongalia County Ballpark and catch a Black Bears game. The ballpark is only a couple of years old and has a dramatic sweeping view of the valley from the parking lot.

While watching the pitcher's delivery (I said, delivery, not Deliverance) test out the Black Bears ode to local cuisine: the Loaded Pepperoni Roll. It's close enough to a hot dog to warrant exploring, and trust me when I tell you that you will relish the experience. The Black Bears have taken a delicious pepperoni roll, cut it open and added custard chili and nacho cheese. It is guaranteed to stain your shirt and put a smile on your face.

West Virginia is a stunningly beautiful state, and now you can enjoy both it's natural beauty and it culinary claim to fame. Just don't tell them you know me. There's a reason I had to leave the state.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

VBT Wrigley Field: The Under Dog

Ahhhh...Wrigely Field. The second oldest ballpark in MLB and by the accounts of many, the stadium with the most baseball charm. I used to agree, then they put up that abomination of a scoreboard in left field. Now it looks like your grandma trying to sport an Apple watch. But you can't deny those that still believe; the brick, the ivy...the Chicago dogs.

The Chicago style hot dog is undoubtedly the most famous in all of baseball. While most ballparks offer some sort of specialty dog, nearly all also offer a Chicago somewhere on the concourse. If just one hot dog had to carry the mantle of the perfect ballpark meal, it would be the Chicago dog. And there is no better place on earth to eat one than Wrigley Field. Everything in the baseball universe would be perfect while eating one in the friendly confines if it weren't for one thing: the Cubs play there.

In case you haven't heard, the Cubs have not won a World Series in over 100 years...seriously. They have come close, but always choke. Someone in the Windy City has seriously pissed off the baseball gods. No one is more aware of the pain and hearbreak of being a Cubs fan than Cubs fans. And while they are perennial losers, Cubs fans remain loyal. In my opinion, Cubs fans are the most ardent and faithful fans in baseball. Some fanbases come close, but none beat the Cubbies supporters. And after rooting for the underdog for over a century, I think they have earned our respect.

That is why I designed the Underdog specifically for the boys on Addison Avenue. It's hard to improve on a ballteam's eats that owns the Chicago dog, so I pay homage to a great dog and abysmal team by taking the Chicago dog and building it backwards. It is basically an upside down Chicago dog. Underdog. Get it?

To make one start with a poppyseed bun, sprinkle in some celery salt, put in some tomato wedges, a pickle spear, spicy brown mustard, onions, relish and then put the frank on top. If you want to go really tradition use a Vienna Beef frank, but I used Hebrew National (because they taste better).

In the 2016 season, as I write this in the middle of May, the Cubs have the best record in baseball, as well as perhaps the best roster in the game. But it's early, and even if it all goes in their favor, the Cubs will find a way to blow it. They will choke. And Cubs fans, for all of their hopes and dreams, know it.

Beer pairing: it's Wrigley Field! You MUST down this dog with the beer that defines Cubs baseball: Old Style.