Wednesday, July 20, 2016

VBT PETCO Park: The Poor Man's Surf and Turf

I hope you had time to catch the All-Star Game in San Diego's PETCO Park last week. Me? Wanted to, but as I am too cheap to have cable I missed it. I thought for sure MLBTV would broadcast it, especially since I plunked down lots of bucks for it. But they didn't, reading the box scores was my All-Star experience. Thanks MLB.

If you did see it, you know what a gem of a park PETCO is. Great baseball venue. I lived in San Diego off and on for 12 years during my 24 year stint in the Navy. But, when I was living there that area was a bunch of rundown warehouses and the Padres played in the utilitarian and ugly Jack Murphy Stadium.

What I did learn during my time in San Diego is that it is a great town with strong ties to the the ocean that dominates its western boundary. What I learned during 24 years in the Navy is that we pay our service members waaaay too little for what they do. If you have ever been in the military you know how hard it is to make ends meet. It is with San Dog's seaside heritage and recognition of those that serve never having much expendable cash that I introduce the hot dog designed for PETCO Park: The Poor Man's Surf and Turf.

Start with a big bun; because buns are cheap and filling. Lay in a delicious all-beef (kind of like steak) Hebrew National frank, top with sliced avocado and cocktail shrimp (kind of like lobster). Pour on cocktail sauce to taste.

It is like surf and turf on a bun, but at a much lower cost. If you follow the Padres, like I have for years, you know that the cost of a few of these dogs is about the same as the Padres payroll. The Padres, forever the team selling off its talent.

Beer Pairing: You know what washes down the Poor Man's Surf and Turf Dog best? San Diego's southern border butts up against Mexico. Considering the beach and Mexico being within easy reach of any San Diegan, the beer paring can be none other than a cold, crip Corona. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

VBT Chase Field: The Snotty Sonoran

The second half of baseball season has begun! It coincides with the the day after National Hot Dog Day. I hope you celebrated in style! I tuned in the 1975 World Series (courtesy of MLBTV) and served up my latest creation for the virtual MLB Hot Dog Tour: The Snotty Sonoran.

This dog is designed for Arizona Diamondbacks fans. The Phoenix area is ground zero for the delicious Sonoran dog. My dog is basically a Sonoran with some extra hot stuff thrown in to make your nose run...making is a Snotty Sonoran. Here is how you put it together:

Start with an over-sized bun, coat the bottom with a healthy dose of Cholula Sauce, lay in an awesome Hebrew National all-beef frank that is wrapped in bacon, diced tomato, grilled corn, onions, avocado, pinto beans, diced jalapenos, and top with chipolte mayo. This concoction will give you one of the southwest's best kept culinary secrets with an extra kick.

Wash it down with a Mexican beer and keep a box of kleenex handy.

Beer pairing: A Mexican-inspired hot dog deserves a Mexican beer. Tecate is a widely available and affordable beer that will help squelch the heat that the culinary combustion of the Snotty Sonoran puts in your mouth. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Nashville Sounds: First Tennessee Ballpark

This year my baseball road trips are few and far between. I squeeze them in when I can. Since last year I have had a pressing urge to see the Nashville Sounds new ballpark. I saw a model of it at their old digs, Greer Stadium. It is not only very near downtown Nashville, but the guitar-shaped scoreboard concept transferred over to First Tennessee Ballpark, this time using state-of-the-art technology. So when a photo-journo assignment took me to Tulsa, I pushed an extra nine hours (one-way) to hit Nashville and take in a Sounds game.

I have led a good life. At least I must have. After raining most of the day, and raining all around the ballpark, the precipitation held back for the entire game. As far as the ballpark is concerned, I was not disappointed. Parking was steep, and somewhat outrageously priced for a minor league game, but ticket prices were fair. I loved the open concourse concept that every stadium should have and Nashville has built a pleasing and slick ballpark without overdoing it. The star of the show is of course that scoreboard. It really is amazing and cool. Love the new park.

The hot dog? Not so much. Firstly, I had a hard time finding the specialty dog. Like many teams, they do a poor job of advertising the over-the-top dog that should have you drooling just by word of mouth from other fans. I did find it, it is in the cleverly named “bandstand” area of the ballpark. Their premiere entry's name? The Hot Dog. Hard to create a buzz with a moniker that mundane.

I was excited to try it though, it boasts a Porter Road Butcher frank (a local Nashville company), Yazoo mustard, pickled onions and peach relish. It sounded really interesting. I love it when teams source locally, and had never heard of peach relish. I couldn't wait to bite in. And then I did. I hate to say it, but is was really one of the worst hot dogs I have had at a ballpark. I wanted it to be fantastic, and it wasn't even good. Sorry Nashville, I call 'em as I see 'em.

This dog could be saved. Firstly, it needs a new name. Secondly, and most importantly, it needs a new frank. I thought the Porter Road Butcher frank was a veggie dog or something. The taste, the was all wrong. I recommend replacing it with a Hebrew National. HN is tastey, recognized by all fans, and likely less expensive than a crafted frank. And while peach relish might be good on lots of things, it isn't on a hot dog. Call me Nashville. I'll help you design a dog worthy of your fantabulous ballpark.

Nashville is a vacation destination. Make sure you plan yours with a Sounds schedule in hand, you don't want to visit Music City without seeing a game. Just get a hamburger while you are there. 

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.