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. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

VBT O.Com Stadium: BART Dog

You know what the ballpark in Oakland, aka Stadium, has going for it? It's not the worst in baseball, that prize belongs to Tampa. The Athletics need new digs and they know it. The second best thing Oakland has in its favor is the Bay Area Rapid Transit, known as BART. You can take the BART just about anywhere, and it will drop you off very near the ballpark. I love using the BART when on the eastern side of the bay. Well, you know, other than worrying about getting mugged while riding the BART. But I will risk bodily injury to avoid outrageous stadium parking fees any day.

I love public transportation so much that I designed Oakland's hot dog after the iconic people mover. I call it....are you ready? The BART Dog. Only BART stands for Bacon, Asparagus, Radishes and Tomato. The really great part about this hot dog are the vegetables on it. It is a little known scientific fact that if you put veggies on a hot dog it will cancel out the supposed negative effects of the processed meat and bacon. Really. I read it on the internet.

To make this Bay Area masterpiece take a large bun, lay in a grilled Hebrew National hot dog, add two slices of bacon, lay two asparagus poles alongside, arrange sliced radish discs on the side of the bun and top with diced tomatoes. You can add you favorite mustard or sauce to finish it off. I used the Secret Stadium Sauce from Milwaukee since I have a few bottles sitting around. Yeah, I have a stockpile of stadium-specific condiments in my home. They are strictly for science though.

Beer pairing: Brewed just up north from Oakland in Chico is Sierra Nevada Brewery. Grab a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to accompany your BART dog while watching the A's play in that cement ashtray they call a ballpark. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

VBT Dodger Stadium: The Vin Scully

Today we grab a dog and tune into a Dodgers game. Dodger Stadium is one of my all-time favorite ballparks. It's traditional (third oldest in MLB), it has great weather and it was built with a great mid-century modern flair. To honor the great Dodger broadcaster, I introduce you to The Vin Scully. It's a great hot dog all baseball fans will love. You know what is really crazy, weird and over the top about this hot dog? Nothing. It's an old school hot dog that it as traditional as they come...just like Vin Scully.

If you know baseball, you know Vin. If you don't, this one item should let you know just how famous and respected he is: he is a sports broadcaster and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Not only has he won countless broadcasting awards, he was named sports broadcaster OF THE CENTURY for the 20th century. Considering the competition, that's quite an accomplishment and an acknowledgement well deserved.

If you have never hear Vin Scully call a ballgame, I have no idea where you have been for the last, oh, 67 years. That is how long he has been calling Dodger baseball. His is THE most recognized voice in the sport and perhaps the smoothest of all time. Listening to Vin call a game is like having your grandmother tell you a bedtime story; you hang on every word and even if it doesn't end the way you want you know there will be another chapter that will. Vin's voice is one of the touchstones of baseball that every fan alive today has laid their fingers upon.

If you haven't heard this baseball great call a game, do it NOW. Vin will be officially retiring after the 2016 season. So stream it on the internet, hang six rolls of Reynold's Wrap from your radio antenna or whatever you have to do to tune in at least one game. You do not want to go though the rest of your life having passed up the chance to hear baseball's most memorable voice.

The Vin Scully Dog? Bun, Hebrew National frank, mustard, onions and relish.
Simple, traditional, tasty and screams baseball...just like Vin Scully would want it.

Beer Pairing: Los Angeles really doesn't have any nationally available brews, but Hawaii does. And since Hawaii doesn't have an MLB team, the Dodgers one of the closest to the islands. So I recommend a Kona Longboard to was down the Vin Scully (the hot dog, not the broadcaster). You can get it as most beer distributors, and it is sold in Dodger Stadium. Enjoy. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

VBT Comerica Park: The Delhi Dog

Detroit has a thing for big cats. Me...I 'm allergic to cats. But apparently the Motor City loves linking their teams to fur ball spitting felines. It made me wonder why the baseball Tigers are named such, particularly since Detroit is a long way from the jungle. It turns out, the team was named the Tigers waaaaaay back when after a local military regiment. Case solved. But you know what kind of tiger is on their logo? That would be a Bengal tiger, you know, the same breed as Tony the Tiger of Frosted Flakes fame.

Pull up a stool for a geography lesson. The area of Bengal is located in the border area between India and Pakistan, and it encompasses acreage of both nations. Bengal spice is usually associated with India, so connecting all of those dots I designed a hot dog that touches the roots of the Detroit Tigers mascot and gave it a distinct Indian flavor. Allow me to check your passport and introduce you to the Delhi Dog (for those of you that never leave the basement, Delhi is the most well-known city in India).

Serving up the Delhi Dog is pretty simple. Grab some naan bread (EVERYTHING tastes good on naan), lay in a grilled Hebrew National frank, and top with Channa Masala. Sprinkle on some paprika and you are ready to watch the Tigers smack a few homers in Comerica Park. What's that you say? You don't know how to cook Indian? Me neither. But Trader Joe's has an awesome frozen Channa Masala you can use, and most supermarkets carry some prepared Indian entrées.

The result is a slightly spicy treat that bites the palate a tad more softly than a real Bengal tiger would bite you when making a meal of you. And while you are at it, drink it with a Detroit original (although it is no longer brewed there) and grab a cold Stroh's beer. The perfect Detroit hot dog beer pairing.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

VBT Busch Stadium: The Hill Dog

Saint Louis, the Gateway to the West, was home to many immigrants back in the day. Like many cities settled by newcomers from Europe, ethnicities tended to resettle near others from the same home country. A common language and heritage made landing on your feet in the new country a little less daunting. In St. Louis, the Italians tended to congeal near the highest point in the city. They made their small Italian community with all the trappings of home, including restaurants and shops. Today The Hill, as it is now known, still embraces it cultural roots and boasts a large Italian residency. It is a spot with a strong Italian vibe and home to some of St. Louis’ best restaurants.

To design a hot dog worthy of honoring one of the nation’s most vibrant microcosms of old Italy, I channeled of one of the most famous and influential Italian-Americans to ever grace our shores: Chef Boyardee.  The Hill Dog is simple, yet delicious. Take a soft bakery bun, lay in a Hebrew National frank and top with Chef Boyardee spaghettios with meatballs. Bite in while watching the Cardinals put on a show at Busch Stadium.

they take their heritage seriously
Kids will love this hot dog, but Chef Boyardee won’t. After designing the dog and heading out to the store to grab a can. I discovered that Campbell’s makes spaghettios, not Chef Boyardee. Talk about busting a myth. But even if I can’t tie the famous chef to The Hill, baseball can. Baseball greats Joe Garagiola and Yogi Berra both grew up there, in fact their boyhood homes are just across the street from each other. One of The Hill’s more famous eateries, Ragazzi’s, was the root of one of Berra’s more famous “Yogiisms” when he said of the joint, “it’s so crowded nobody goes there anymore.”

Beer pairing: it’s St. Louis, you HAVE to eat The Hill Dog with a cold budweiser in hand.