Best of 2011-Food

Let me begin by saying that I’m not a “foodie”. I’m not into gourmet stuff. I just like a good quality food. I’m willing to try almost anything, especially ballpark food, just for my blog. That being said, I looked back over the variety of things I’ve tried or Ross has tried, just for you, my readers.

I have to say that the majority of places we’ve gone have had decent food. Most had passible hotdogs, fries and the like, so if I don’t mention it here, that means it was good or average enough not to stand out.

Best Hotdog–Reading Phillies

Best Hotdogs in the WORLD! The Berks hotdogs in Reading
Best Hotdogs in the WORLD! The Berks hotdogs in Reading

Hands down…no debate the Berks hotdogs at Reading’s First Energy Stadium are not to be missed. We went to may be fifteen or twenty games here and we never failed to eat at least one every time. The quality never waivers. These are the first hotdogs that you really don’t need ketchup to give them taste. In fact, by the third or fourth time I had one, I just gave up on the condiments all together, eating them plain. How many other hotdogs are THAT good?

Best Fries–Crab Fries–Philadelphia Phillies & Trenton Thunder

Chickie and Pete's Crab Fries
Chickie and Pete’s Crab Fries

Both Citizen’s Bank Park and Trenton’s Waterfront Park have Chickie’s and Pete’s outposts and everyone knows that Chickie’s and Pete’s have the best crab fries. I guess “technically” they’re not strictly ballpark food, but they are the go-to fries. If you see them, eat them.
Best Liquid Refreshment–Lemonade–Clearwater Threshers

Cheers! Lemonade at Brighthouse
Cheers! Lemonade at Brighthouse

Anyone who’s been to Brighthouse Field during baseball season knows how important it is to stay hydrated. Soda just doesn’t cut the mustard. You need something cold and caffeine free. Sure, you can go for the bottled water, but one bottle of water is just like any other. Here, you can see Ross and I sipping on a cold, sweet lemonade that was made as I ordered it. It’s sure to keep you refreshed.

Best Extra–Awshucks Corn–Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs

Awshucks Corn at Coca Cola Park.
Awshucks Corn at Coca Cola Park.

It may be called Coca-Cola Park, but I’d call it Awshucks Corn Park. The corn is roasted in the husk and then dipped in melted butter or melted butter, parmesan cheese and garlic. I preferred the buttered, Ross preferred the “everything”. If you’ve every had braces and tried to eat an ear of corn on the cob, you know how difficult it is. It would take me more than twenty minutes to eat it and another twenty to brush my teeth, but it was SO WORTH IT! So much so, I did it twice in a week!
Best Special Treat–Fried Oreos–Hagerstown Suns

Fried Oreos
Fried Oreos

They are beyond awesome…but not something you could eat every day. They are a once a summer treat. I’m looking forward to them next year when we return to Hagerstown’s Municipal Stadium…but only once. They are warm, sweet and almost melt in your mouth. I swear I could feel myself gain a hundred pounds as I finished my third, but for a once a year treat, it couldn’t be beat.

Best Cheese Steak–Philadelphia
(Sorry, I didn’t get a picture)

I decided to split this to Philly vs Everyone Else. If you’ve ever been to Philly, you know that there’s a reason why they are called “Philly Cheese Steaks”, so I found it unfair to try to compare all the ballparks in one category.

Ross and I debated on this one for a while, but we have come to a unanimous decision: we like Campo’s Steaks at Citizen’s Bank Park the best. Sure, there are a lot of people who will say that Tony Luke’s are better, but Ross and I like Campo’s. We feel that the steak is a smidgeon thicker at Campo’s but it’s the bread that kept us coming back for more.

Best Cheese Steak–Outside Philadelphia–Clearwater Threshers
(Sorry, I didn’t get a picture)

As any true cheese steak fan knows outside of Philly, what we call a “cheese steak” isn’t what everyone else calls a “cheese steak”. Once you have had the best, you really get choosey as to what is acceptable to you.

At Brighthouse Field, Delco’s has a steak stand just behind home plate. While hot dogs are the go-to food in Reading, Delco’s are our go-to dinner in Clearwater. The steak is good, not fatty at all and it’s smothered in cheese and the rolls are perfect.
Overall, I enjoyed our gastronomic tour of the ballparks. Once I started blogging here, I really made it a point to try a hotdog at every park for comparison as well as looking for any food that would make that park stand out. For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. Of all the foods we ate, there were only two that were just plain bad. They weren’t just not to our liking, but bad. I won’t mention them here, I mean it could have been just an off night for them, but I will tell you this much…I won’t try them again to find out!

I hope you liked this review of the Food of 2011. I’ll be posting more “Best of” lists in the near future.

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Step 2 to Bring Home the Bacon

Betsy and Ross at Coca Cola Park
Betsy and Ross at Coca Cola Park

It was our first game at Coca-Cola Park. Ross and I had tickets for the first game of the Pawtucket Red Sox and Lehigh Valley IronPigs, but due to the flooding from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee (see my post: Deeper and Deeper) Ross and I did not feel safe traveling that far when our ability to cross the river was so precarious.

Even though Allentown is technically farther from us than Reading, it takes us about the same amount of time to get there as it does to Reading.

One thing I always take notice of is the atmosphere of a stadium as well as the vibe of the crowd. The day got off to a good start when a gentleman saw Ross and I taking pictures of each other and he came over and took this picture. It’s one of the few I have of the two of us at a game where we not all contorted from one of us trying to hold the camera out far enough to get us both in the shot.

Do you remember a few months ago when I was at a park where I grabbed a cheesesteak for dinner and I learned that important life lesson about never eating at the only concession stand without a line? It was a good sign that every single solitary stand at Coca-Cola Park was LONG! The first place we stopped was “Aw Schucks”, a stand selling roasted ears of corn on the cob.

Since getting braces, I haven’t had corn on the cob and at this time of the year it kills me. I love corn. Ross offered to get one and let me see if I could manage it.

Awshucks Corn at Coca Cola Park.
Awshucks Corn at Coca Cola Park.

To my surprise, I was able to eat it! I ran back and got an ear for myself. Ross’ ear was an ear “Aw Shucks” style, with butter, a “secret blend of southwestern spices” and parmesan cheese. I chose one brushed with butter and added salt and pepper. Both were wonderful! This corn may very well end up on my upcoming “best of” post after the conclusion of the season.

Next, we wandered out onto the outfield walkway:

The Scoreboard at Coca Cola Park
The Scoreboard at Coca Cola Park
Looking In From The Outfield Walkway at Coca Cola Park
Looking In From The Outfield Walkway at Coca Cola Park

We then had a “Box of Rivets” which are Pretzel Factory pretzel bites with red, white and blue salt. Very yummy and much better than the standard “Super Pretzels” normally sold at sporting events.

Rivet Pretzel
Rivet Pretzel

We continued around and as we came to left-center field, we looked up and there in the sky was a beautiful rainbow. It had to have stayed in the sky for almost half an hour. After a week of rain and flooding, it was a welcome sight! We also hoped that it was a harbinger of good things to come.

Rainbow Over Coca Cola Park
Rainbow Over Coca Cola Park

The stadium has a lot of interactive things to do, a mini golf putt-in game, bouncy things for the kids, speed pitch, a playground and my favorite…a cut out “Thingy” where you could stick your head through to take a picture…

Hey!
Hey!
Betsy with Ferrus and FeFe
Betsy with Ferrus and FeFe

As we continued around, we found the “Pigs to the Bigs” Wall:

Pigs to the Bigs Wall
Pigs to the Bigs Wall

Here, each star has the name of former IronPigs players who went on to play in the Majors, like Dominic Brown, Vance Worley and John Mayberry, Jr among others.

The first indicator of how important this game was, not only was Ruben Amarro, Jr. in attendance, but also Dave Montgomery and Steve Noworyta.

Ruben Amarro and Steve Noworyta.
Ruben Amarro and Steve Noworyta.

Pitcher Ryan Edell looked good but gave up a run early…once he settled in, he was rock solid. He doesn’t have a lot of speed, he uses his placement and control to get strike outs. He reminds me of a younger version of the Phillies’ Jamie Moyer.

Ryan Edell
Ryan Edell

He was simply amazing with how he shook off that early run and he just dominated the Sox from that point on.

Brandon Moss came up in the second and hit the ball solidly to left center to tie the game.

Brandon Moss
Brandon Moss

In the third, Moss hit another one that was inches from going over but it bounced back, Scott Podsednik scored and Kevin Frandsen was thrown out at the plate. The Pigs were ahead 2-1

The Pigs stayed in the lead until the eighth when Tagg Bozied missed a tag of the lead off better that eventually allowed the Sox to drive in a run to tie it up.

The game remained tied until the bottom of the tenth. When Moss returned to the plate with the bases loaded…and then…

The Crowd Goes Wild
The Crowd Goes Wild

Moss hit a single to drive in the winning run! The crowd went HOG WILD!

It was an amazing game! The atmosphere was electric. I can’t speak to what the feeling would be during a regular season game, but this, only the second post season in IronPigs history was amazing.

The people in this stadium were super friendly, the facility is one of the nicest I’ve ever been to, it’s almost a perfect blend of the amenities of Citizens’ Bank Park, with the intimacy and “home town” feeling that I love about Bright House Field.

It was an amazing win. I was blown away. Where else in the world do people chant “Oink” in unison?

The Pigs now go to Pawtucket for up to three games. They only need one more win to bring home the bacon.