Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ballpark Food (aka my ode to the Rangers in the playoffs)

One of the joys for many in summertime is attending a baseball game.  Ballpark food has certainly evolved from my recollection as a child attending Milwaukee Brewers games in County Stadium.  All I remember eating is a bratwurst or hot dog.  I think Bratwurst was "exotic" outside of northern ball parks such as County Stadium, Wrigley, and Cominsky.  My, how times have changed!

IceDaddy and I had the opportunity to attend a number of Texas Rangers games this year.  He remains a loyal fan from birth, so over the years he has attended many of their games.  There is something so pure about the experience of baseball - I think it transcends generations - the rules remain the same and it's a game children grow up with in America and many Latin American countries.  The same can be said for some of the food - you will find hot dogs, popcorn, pretzels, and Cracker Jack anywhere.  The cuisine (and I say the term loosely) varies geographically.  The Rangers lay claim to ballpark nachos.  Unfortunately, when you get used to good nachos with freshly fried chips, real cheese, and fresh toppings, ballpark nachos can disappoint.  With that in mind, here is my top ten guide to food at The Ballpark in Arlington.  While I wish that the new ownership team would consider revamping the menu to add some choices and some more unique "must get" items, I can always find something to eat.

10.  Stick with the B's - barbecue, bacon, and beer.  The Ballpark offers barbecue sandwiches that, while they will never win an award against a true bbq joint, they are decent and a fairly "Texan" item to choose.  A new favorite is a bacon-wrapped hot dog.  As the saying goes, everything is better with bacon and this certainly is true with this take on tradition.  A hot dog, perfectly cooked, wrapped in a crispy, chewy slice of bacon and served with choices such as grated cheese, bbq sauce, and sauteed onions.  Very yummy and worth seeking out on the main concourse.  Beer is, well, beer.  You can find the typical brands, but recently I've seen a greater variety including both imports and domestic such as Leininkugel's, Sam Adams, and Landshark Lager.  Just don't ask how much they cost!

9.  Know your vendors - better to find out where your favorite noshes are and seek them out than settle for substandard fare.  The main concourse offers the greatest variety, so your best bet if you want something unique (Chicago dogs, Tex-Mex, sandwiches, or healthy fare, for example), better to get those items on the way to your seats than find yourself stuck with more limited options if you're in the Club level (2nd deck) or third deck

8.  Lemon Chill and ice cream cookies - In the middle of summer it's just plain hot and miserable at a ball game.  One of the bright spots (and perhaps one of the most popular) is a lemon chill.  It's basically like an airy frozen lemonade.  Strawberry flavor also available and while it's a bit overly sweet by the end, it's a great option on a hot day.  As for ice cream sandwiches, who doesn't love vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies for about 1 BILLION calories?  It contributes to all the important parts of the body - a cookie for each thigh and the ice cream for the middle!

7.  Captain's Corral (Kids area) - For the bambinos, they offer numerous games and more than just hot dogs.  You can get a PB&J with a side of wiffle ball baseball.

6.  Healthy choices - Bravo to the Rangers for thinking about offering "healthier" options.  I'm not sure they actually have a philosophy for it since I've seen some pretty typical fare there (hot dog!?), but they do offer fresh fruit, which is at least a start.

5.  Tex-Mex treats  - I would never tell you to go to a ball park over a good Tex-Mex restaurant, but if you're looking for a Tex-Mex fix while you're there, options abound.  Standard nachos (chips, day-glo cheese-like substance, and jalapenos), deluxe (with lettuce and tomatoes), fajita nachos, burritos, and taco salads to name a few.  It gives you the flavor profile anyway.

4.  Peanuts and Cracker Jacks - who doesn't love these? 

3.  Ballpark sundaes - My first trip with IceDaddy to The Ballpark he made sure we had sundaes in a souvenier batting helmet.  It just tastes better that way and makes you feel like a kid again. 

2.  Discounts - Thank you Hank Greenberg for running the Blue Light or Red Rally specials!  If the Rangers score in the 5th inning, they run a special in the 6th.  One food/beverage item and one clothing item is discounted during that inning.  I wouldn't say the prices are slashed deeply, but it's a start. Last night, for instance, they offered $1 off of beer during the 6th inning.  I've seen people literally sprint out of their seats to get their special.  Another special?  Hot chocolate is available for only $1.  Frankly, it's been a bit of a joke since the weather has not really helped, but the point of having a food item for a dollar is still a great one.

1.  Garlic fries and The Fry Depot - The Rangers didn't invent the garlic fries (I think Safeco Field might have??), but let me tell you, The Fry Depot station at the Ballpark is probably my very favorite.  Fresh thick-cut fries tossed in a choice of toppings and served in their salty goodness to long lines of patrons.  Our personal fave is the garlic fries.  These are tossed with oil, chopped raw garlic, salt, and dried parsley.  This is literally such a garlicky dish that I've had colleagues ask me if I had a lot of garlic the day before!  You will OOOZE garlic from your pores, but they are awesome.  Runner-up options include cajun fries and sweet potato fries.  Skip the standard fries!

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