Friday, April 29, 2016

Hot Dog Alert #14

Things are bigger out in west Texas and a little...different. There is a whole lot of space between entertainment options out there, so you need to make your leisure experiences count. The Midland Rockhounds, one of the more pleasant minor league baseball visits I have had, prove they too can think outside of the batter’s box. While their venue may be small, they put themselves squarely in the crosshairs of hot dog adventurists with the introduction of the Peanut Butter & Jelly & Bacon hot dog.

baseball gods not happy with all of this hot dog meddling?
I have never met anyone that didn’t like PB&Js, or bacon, or hot dogs. Three all-time favorite comfort foods are now rolled into one with this interesting entree. I have not tried it, but I have had peanut butter on a hot dog, and if done correctly, it can be tasty.

Regardless of food, a Rockhounds game is a must if in the Midland/Odessa area. Get to the ballpark and rustle you up some of west Texas’ finest entertainment and let us know how this new mashup dog tastes.

Monday, April 25, 2016

VBT US Cellular Field: Zloty Dog

For you casual baseball fans, there is another Chicago team besides the Cubs. The White Sox play on the south side of the Windy City at US Cellular Field. And sorry to inform Cubs fans but the all-around food menu is much better at the White Sox venue than the Cubs 100 year old ballpark. Chicago is unique in that it has stadiums on both ends of the century spectrum with Wrigley Field built in the the first part of the 20th century and US Cellular in the latter half.

You know what else Chicago has? Poles, and lots of them. Windy city residents that claim Polish heritage constitute 7.3% of the citizenry of America’s third largest city. Chicago also has the largest Polish population in the world of any city outside the borders of Poland. In short, there are lots of Pollacks in Chicago. You know one thing they are really good at? Meat. Kielbasa and Polish sausage are well known here in the states. Poland is also one the handful of nations that consume a large quantity of pierogis, with the polish variety often being filled with sauerkraut.

To honor Chicago’s intimate connection with Poland, and while we watch a White Sox game, I present to you: The Zloty Dog. Let me save you the Google trip, the Zloty is the national currency of Poland. For this dog you will need a large bun of your choosing, a long Polish sausage, sauerkraut and frozen pierogis. If you can make your own pierogis, I have a room available at my house for you; rent free.

I use frozen pierogis, mainly because you have to be a elf of Eastern European bloodline in order to make the damn things. I just don’t have that coordination. To make up for it, I do make my own sauerkraut, but you can get by with a jar from the grocery store. I used a Sam’s Choice smoked Polish sausage from Wal-Mart because I am a cheap bastard with no income. If you have a Polish deli near you, and flush with cash, be my guest. The rest is pretty simple.

Grill up the Polish sausage, place in bun, put some brown mustard on it, cover in sauerkraut and top with three or four pierogis. Faster than you can say Lech Walesa you have a Zloty Dog in hand. Enjoy while you wonder how many White Sox it takes to change a lightbulb.

Beer pairing for the Zloty Dog: wash is down with your choice of the Chicago-brewed Goose Island beer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

VBT ATT&T Park: The Golden Gate Dog

Despite not being a Giants fans, I always enjoy going to AT&T Park. Why? Besides being an awesome baseball venue (albeit a waaaay overpriced venue), it is an eater’s park. I’d put AT&T up against any MLB stadium in a contest of overall fantabulous food offerings and it would land in the top few on anyone’s list.

The one food that, although it has migrated to many other parks, defines baseball in San Francisco ballparks is garlic fries. The stinky rose is big in the Bay Area. Just to the south is the burg of Gilroy, where one can get garlic flavored ice cream at the annual Garlic Fest. The fries are delicious and guaranteed to keep you off of the jumbotron kiss cam.

food prep for the Golden Gate Dog
You know what else is uniquely San Franciscan? The Golden Gate Bridge. Do you know why it is called the Golden Gate? Because of the small waterway entry into San Francisco harbor of the same name that the bridge spans. The bridge is not golden at all, it’s actual color is international orange. Remember that, it’s important.

see, it really is orange
So today we tune into the Giant’s game and watch the bay boys while chowing down on The Golden Gate Dog. All of San Francisco’s finest on a bun. It is a mass of garlic fries atop a Hebrew National frank in a sourdough bun. All of that heavily drizzled with french dressing. Why french dressing? Because it is international orange, just like the Golden Gate Bridge.

To make the garlic fries, grab your favorite brand of frozen french fries (not the crinkle or steak kind), bath them in olive oil, toss them in minced garlic and bake them per instructions. When they are done sprinkle them with parsley flakes and kosher sea salt. You can make your own french dressing too like I did, but I won’t bore you with the details of that, just get a bottle of your favorite brand. Cut a baguette of sourdough bread into a bun, lay in a grilled Hebrew National, the garlic fries and and then add the french dressing.

Want to make it a true early season San Francisco baseball experience? Turn on the air conditioning and cool it way down in your living room. Like Mark Twain observed, “The coldest winter I ever experienced was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” Wrap yourself in a blanket and enjoy your Golden Gate Dog with another San Francisco original: an Anchor Steam beer.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hot Dog Alert #13

The minor league baseball teams once again refuse to be excluded from the unique and unusual hot dog bonanza. In fact, some MiLB teams will out shine their MLB parent clubs. The Three Dog Night Dog in Akron comes to mind.

The Charlotte Knights, a White Sox affiliate, returns a fan favorite to their 2016 menu. While at BB&T Ballpark this year, sink your choppers into The Uptown Dog (Uptown is the central business district of Charlotte, NC and where the baseball stadium is located). This artery-clogging beast is a large hot dog, stuffed with pimento cheese, wrapped in bacon and then deep fried. Sounds delicious, but be sure to put 911 on speed dial before taking a bite.

Sir Lance-a-Dog
A Knights’ entree also worth mentioning, although technically not a hot dog, is the Sir Lance-a-Dog footlong corn dog with copper batter. Who doesn’t love a good corn dog?

And for those who still live in mommy’s basement, there is some new veggie dog creation as well. But, who cares really?

Live in the area? Give us your opinion on these tasty Charlotte ballpark creations.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

VBT Rogers Centre: Pizza Dog

For the second installment of the 2016 Virtual Baseball Hot Dog Tour, we cross the border into Canada to catch a Blue Jays game. Why international so soon? Because that is the game that was on at five o’clock when my tummy said it’s time to eat.

If you are old enough to remember the 90s (the 1990s) you remember when the Sky Dome opened (now called the Rogers Centre). It was a true marvel of the day. The first retractable roof ballpark. It was super cool. Now….not so much. Other retractable roof stadiums outclass it, are slicker and offer so much more. But Toronto gets respect for being the first in this “never have a rainout” innovation and dazzling fans with it for about a decade.

You now what else Canadian baseball fans are first in? Pizza consumption at the ballpark. The hot dog still reigns supreme as the concession of choice, but Blue Jays fans eat more pizza than any other fan base in baseball. That is why the dog I created for the Blue Jays is The Pizza Dog. Now canucks and watch their Jays and have both a dog and pizza in one. All the tastiness without the guilt of bucking one of the sport’s most hallowed traditions: watching a game with a dog in hand.

Creating the pizza dog at home is simple. Bun, frank, sauce, cheese, pepperoni. Here is how mine is constructed:

  1. Use a brat bun made at the bakery in Wal-Mart. They are thicker and have a homemade bread texture that is more like pizza crust.
  2. Grill and lay in a Hebrew National frank.
  3. Spoon in a generous amount of Newman’s Own Sockarooni sauce. It’s spicy and gives the dog a kick.
  4. Sprinkle on shredded mozzarella cheese.
  5. Top with pepperoni disks.
Microwave for about 30 seconds to melt the cheese and warm up the ingredients.

It’s a delicious dog that every fan will enjoy, Canadian or not.

Beer Pairing: grab a Molson Canadian to compliment the Pizza Dog.

Friday, April 8, 2016

VBT PNC Park: The Willie Stargell

PNC Park. My favorite. I don’t know how they did it but the folks in Pittsburgh captured everything that makes a baseball park the perfect place for a day’s entertainment. I have spoken with numerous other fans who have either been to all 30 MLB parks or most, and the majority of them also put PNC Park at the top of their list.

I grew up listening to the Pirates in the 1970s. One of the most prolific long ball hitters of the day was Willie Stargell. It was said that when he hit homers he didn’t just punish pitchers, he humiliated them. He holds the record for the longest homerun in numerous ballparks (most of which are now gone).

For a time, when he hit a homerun, customers in his chicken restaurant in the Hill District of Pittsburgh were treated to free chicken. It was called “Chicken on the Hill with Will.” Catchy no? And while he was lucky enough to be part of a talented Pirates team that won several championships during his tenure, he was also unfortunate enough to have to don one of baseball’s most gaudy uniforms when the Pirates switched to the mustard yellow and black threads. This is the only time in my childhood I felt fortunate to not have a color television.
To kick off the 2016 Virtual Baseball and Hot Dog Tour, I make my first stop at PNC Park and honor one of its most honored and accomplished Players: Wilver “Willie” Stargell. A Hall of Famer and one of the more accomplished sluggers of the 20th century.

The Willie Stargell
I used a soft hoagie bun with the ends cut off. Willie was never svelte, and became pretty hefty later in his career, the soft and fluffy bun is tribute to his unmistakable physique. For my first dog creation I used a chicken frank instead of beef to tie in his “chicken on the hill” gimmick for selling chicken. To force fans to remember those unsightly uniforms of the late 70s I used not one, but two types of mustard. It is topped off with black olives to complete the Pirates team colors of yellow and black.

While not extravagant or crazy, neither was Willie Stargell. He went out every day and did his job, and did it well. I think the hot dog that honors him will fill you up quite nicely as you lean back and take in a Buccos game. 

Beer Pairing: If you live in the Three Rivers area grab an Iron City beer to wash down the Willie Stargell. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Introducing: The 2016 Virtual Baseball and Hot Dog Tour

The 2016 season is upon us. History has already been made. If you have not been following baseball this year, you are missing out. How hot has the action been? I still do not know who won the NCAA March Madness tournament this year. Been too busy catching the action on the diamond.

In fact, I have missed little. Despite the still shabby shape of the economy and the hot dog explorer’s fund, I sprung for a year’s subscription of MLBTV. That’s Major League Baseball Television for the uninitiated. As long as I have an internet connection I can catch nearly every MLB game televised, with the exception of the confusing and inexplicable MLB local market blackout restrictions. That means, here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I cannot get any of the Arizona Diamondbacks or Colorado Rockies home games; despite living more than 300 miles from either city. Other than that it’s really cool. I can watch up to four games at once. It typically runs about $110 a year, but veterans get a 35% discount, which made it affordable for bums like me.

Which leaves me with what to do this summer. In 2014 I drove 19,000 miles to all 30 MLB ballparks, and slogged 22,000 miles last summer for the same. Despite having a carbon footprint the size of Sasquatch, it’s a little hard to finance three years in a row. So I decided to tour every MLB park again this year the same way Tom Brady participated in the Super Bowl….from the couch. That’s right, stay tuned for the 2016 hot dog explorer’s virtual MLB hot dog tour.

This summer, I will watch a game a televised game from each of the 30 MLB ballparks in the air conditioned comfort of my living room. But here is the exciting part: I will personally design a hot dog for each of those ballparks that you can recreate at home. That’s right, a specialty dog for each baseball team. I’ll try to design a dog that somehow symbolizes the team, a player from the team, or the city in which the team plays.

There will be a few common themes in each dog:

1.   I will try to make it with ingredients you can get from a local Wal-Mart store. Wal-Marts are everywhere and allows fans to make it at home without any super special ingredients.
2.   I will try to pair it with a local beer, one that symbolizes the team or city. A lot of larger liquor stores carry out of market beers, maybe you can find it at your local beer mart.
3.   Unless the dog calls for a specialty frank, I will use Hebrew National franks. Why? Mainly because they are the best tasting, and they are available nationally.

Got a suggestion for your home team? Let’s hear it. I’ll try to recreate it and feature it in my blog and give you credit. Fire up the grill and play ball!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hot Dog Alert #12

So you thought cracker jacks and mac ‘n cheese was over the top huh? While the Pirates do offer a one of a kind dog, concessions at the ballpark are about to get even fruitier...literally.

The Cleveland Indians, who last year had one of the best monster dogs with The Thomenator, are upping the Pirates by including one of the most unconventional hot dog toppings ever: Froot Loops.

Meet the Slider Dog. It is a one-fifth pound frank topped with mac ‘n cheese (what’s with all the mac ‘n cheese dogs lately?), bacon and sprinkled with America’s favorite fruity breakfast cereal. Sounds delicious no?

It has gotten a lot of press lately, but no real reviews of how it tastes. It has been my experience that you should never judge a dog by its advertised ingredients, some of those wild concoctions taste pretty darn good together. Although, this may be a stretch. Any Indian fans want to give us a report?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Hot Dog Alert #11

Avast matey! The race for over-the-top hot dog booty has reached the high seas. Well, at least the shores of the Allegheny River. The Pittsburgh Pirates have cranked up the concessions at notch at PNC Park this season with the intention of making waves. They are introducing the Cracker Jack and Mac Dog. You heard right...cracker jacks and mac ‘n cheese on the same bun.

It’s a dog that is a crazy as those late 70s Pirates uniforms, but the team assure us it is delicious. It starts out with an all-beef frank topped with mac ‘n cheese, salted caramel sauce, deep-fried pickled jalapenos, and then sprinkled with cracker jacks. All this wrapped up in naan bread. Just using naan instead of a bun would bust the unique barrier, but add in the rest and you have a dog that fans will be walking the plank to try.

It looks amazing really. And the bonus? You get to eat it at PNC Park. If you follow my blog you know that PNC is my favorite of all MLB parks. Pittsburgh just does it right at the ballpark.

Heading there this summer? I hope to but not certain I can make it. How about ordering up a Cracker Jack and Mac Dog and be a guest blogger to let America how it really tastes?