Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Take Me Out To (Eat At) the Ballgame

The awesomeness that is bacon on a stick
The last place anyone would probably expect to find me is in a place where sports - particularly team sports - are played. I simply cannot get excited about cheering for a bunch of guys just because they happen to be wearing the right uniform.

That said, I will go just about anywhere to have a food adventure. And so when I was invited to take part in the Foodie Tour at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I put all my sports ennui aside and threw myself into the spirit of the thing.

The deal is this: Camden Yards is part of a growing number of ballparks highlighting local and regional cuisine rather than simply serving up wan hot dogs and institutional slop. A whole bunch of new items have been added to the stadium offerings in honor of the park's 20th anniversary. Foodie Tour participants were given a ticket listing eight items, each of which were available at no charge for a limited time:
Ready, set ... eat!
We were told to try as few or as many items as we liked. Well, you know Poppa Trix and me: We ate as many as we could.

First up: The crab mac and cheese dog from Stuggy's.
You know, as much as I love all three things on this bun I am not sure any of them are well served by putting them all together in one place. The dog is head and shoulders above your standard ballpark hot dog - no surprise if you're familiar with Stuggy's of Fells Point in Baltimore - but all that crab and mac and cheese sort of got in the way. Also, when I tried to eat it the mac kept falling off and landing on the floor.

That said, it's a fun idea and I didn't hate it. Maybe this would have worked better for me if I had a fork and a knife.

Next we tried the Camden Giant, a burger topped with a crab cake, courtesy of much beloved area franchise Gino's:
It's not particularly "giant," but I guess it's all relative. Yes, this is fast food, which I don't normally eat, but if I did I think I would be down with this. Before I tasted it, I doubted that the beef and crab flavors would both come through, but they did. The fries were surprisingly good - I didn't mean to eat them, but then ... I did. Oops. The Hoegaarden beer was a nice accompaniment.

But I suggest that you save your calorie allottment for the beer battered soft shell crab sandwich from the Old Bay Seafood Stand:

This was very crunchy, and way meatier than I was expecting. Poppa Trix was a huge fan. Home run.

By the way - get a load of those seats we were comped. Right behind home plate! I actually cheered when the guy with the stick hit the ball and everyone ran around the bases. Neat.

Another hit: Boog's pit beef sandwich (as in former Oriole Boog Powell):
I had heard mixed things about this Camden Yards staple - some people aren't fans, others rave about it. Normally, I want rare pit beef, but at a ballpark? Not so much. I was surprised, then, that at how moist the meat was, given its well done state. Poppa and I also quite liked Boog's mustard and barbecue sauce. A surprise success.  (But my heart will always belong to Jake's.)

Finally we hit up the Jack Daniels stand to score some bacon on a stick (that's what I'm chomping on in the top photo).
What could be wrong with a huge slab of bacon that's been smoked, grilled, and dipped in maple syrup, covered in Old Bay spices  and then stuck on a stick?

The answer: nothing.
Yes, we really ate all of that in one evening. The only things we didn't sample were the rockfish tacos and salad from Dempsey's and a giant pretzel in the shape of the letter "O." For Orioles. Get it?

In my defense, I already wrote about the tacos here, I figured I had ingested enough carbs without adding a pretzel to the mix, and I just couldn't see having a salad at the ballpark.

Overall, I have to say that was some pretty decent grub for a ballpark. There are worse things than grazing your way through a stadium's offerings, watching a ballgame on a breezy summer evening, and taking in some local color and scenery:
Just don't expect me to start rooting for any sports teams just yet. I am still firmly on Team Food.


  1. A foodie tour at a ballpark? Who knew? Those pix of you are adorable.

  2. Great photos good lord I would love that chicken looks amazing! Great fun!

  3. I just love that soft shell crab. I am a Yankee fan and I used to love the warm beer and hot it's gourmet city...What fun!

  4. Oh, that first picture is priceless. Love it.

    I am somewhat disturbed by the crab mac and cheese hot dog - I don't think the world is ready for that one.

  5. It's impressive how ballparks have really branched out...that is some hotdog! Not what we would find at Fenway way back when.

  6. What a fun idea! Stadium foods are usually such bad quality, not to mention the limited choices. Looks like you had lots of fun. I would go for the soft shell crab sandwich, never had one of those.

  7. Totally worth facing the ennui of sports to try upgraded stadium food :-) A lot of venues are doing this more and more. Wow to that crab sandwich.

  8. Wow. All that and a piece of bacon between the lips too! (Less teeth perhaps next time?) Even *I* would suffer through a day of baseball (this was baseball, right?) for a good reason to eat this kind of food. The softshell crab sammy looks like it would have been my favorite.

    1. Trevor, if I showed one less bit of tooth then this would no longer be a family blog!

  9. You guys really ate a bunch of yummy goodies there! That's the way to have fun at a ball game :)