Newsday's new all-encompassing baseball blog on the Yankees, Mets, MLB and more from around the sport.
BloggersErik Boland Marc Carig Cody Derespina Nick Klopsis Mark La Monica David Lennon Casey Musarra Anthony Rieber
All-Star Game to feature wide array of food and drink
When I agreed to go to Wednesday’s All-Star Game menu sampling at Citi Field, I figured it’d be a small, quick affair. They’d unveil one or two big dishes, we’d try them, the chef would answer questions at the end. Event over.
I couldn’t be more wrong. There was so much food, ranging from traditional to the exotic, that it was impossible to try it all. And if the event was any indication, fans that go to the All-Star Game on July 16 at Citi Field will be in for quite a treat.
A little background: I’m one of those people with the stomach of a whale and the metabolism of a hummingbird. I can eat a full meal and then come back in an hour looking to start round two. I’m not too healthy of an eater, but I’ll eat just about anything, provided it’s not something out of Fear Factor.
So even after having a bowl of cereal two hours earlier, I figured I’d be in good shape. After the PR representatives helped me get my bearings in the Caesars Café, I formulated my plan of attack. I’d start with the Two Boots pizza station toward the front and go clockwise, hitting each individual station for photos. Then I’d double back and grab samples. That way, the photos would be done early, and I could focus solely on trying as many foods as I could.
It took all of 20 seconds for that plan to fall by the wayside. For that, I blame the meatball sliders that the Two Boots staff put out right as I got to the counter. I tried to hold off, but the intoxicating smell of ground beef and garlic was just too much. It tasted surprisingly good, though the garlic knot was a little crunchy for my taste. I pulled out my phone, took a few pictures of what was out and moved on.
I made my way to the adjoining Mama’s of Corona booth and snapped a few photos, then grabbed some sushi at the Daruma station to my immediate right (it was good, but don’t ask me to say what kind of sushi it was -- as much as I enjoy sushi, I can’t tell the difference between two types of sushi). Then it was on to the bar area, where they had set up the usual ballpark foods: hot dogs, burgers, etc. I decided against trying any of those, since they weren’t terribly special -- a Nathan’s hot dog is a Nathan’s hot dog, no matter what ballpark you’re at.
But buried between the veggie dogs and Keith Hernandez’s Mex burger was the crown jewel of the afternoon -- the All-Star Meatball Hero. The press releases I received had really hyped it up -- it was the special dish of ARAMARK executive chef Robert Flowers, and the recipe had been passed down in his family for three centuries. Even my colleague Neil Best (who was there covering the event for the Sunday paper and blogged about the hero) approved, and he’s a pescatarian.
I took one of the bite-sized heroes (everything at this event was sample-sized), bit into it and immediately found myself in love. The key, as I would soon find out: the meatball -- made of ground beef, pork and veal -- had simmered in a sweet red sauce for three hours during the prep stages. I thought it brought out the flavors perfectly. I couldn’t help but have another one immediately after finishing my first mini-hero.
Not long after, I satisfied my Greek heritage by sampling a gyro (verdict: satisfactory, but I have very high standards for my native food) and made my way to the El Verano Taqueria station. There, I had a vegetarian taco and chicken pippa taco, which were both good.
I grabbed some thick-cut Idaho fries from the Box Frites station and tried the pesto, buffalo blue cheese and smokey bacon sauces. (My personal sauce ranking: Smokey bacon, pesto, buffalo blue cheese.) I doubled back o the Catch of the Day station between El Verano Taqueria and Box Frites and scored some lemonade to wash it all down.
Then came the out-of-the-norm foods, the stuff you wouldn’t expect to be at a ballpark -- Colorado frenched lamb chops, thyme-seared Long Island striped bass, chef-carved grilled black angus skirt steak drizzled with special steak sauce, a baked pancetta/three-cheese/lobster mac and cheese trio, steamed branzino, “Batter Up” fried chicken. Most of those foods are available every game in the club level and the suites, but I figured, “What the heck, I’ll try them anyway”.
That was easily my best choice of the day. I tried the lamb chops (a bit small, but still tender and very flavorful), the skirt steak (very tender, tasted as good as it looked), the mac and cheese trio (all three were equally good) and the fried chicken (very crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside).
I made my way back to the entrance to make sure I photographed everything at the early stations, where I was guilted into eating an All-Star Slice from Two Boots and two cannolis from Mama’s of Corona. (To be fair, the All-Star slice was the last one, and the guy behind the counter really wanted to get a fresh pie out of the oven.)
About two minutes later, the food coma hit. I couldn’t move, and a sudden urge to nap overwhelmed me. After sitting down for a while, I decided that it was time to head back to the office, since 48 food photos weren’t going to post to the website by themselves. I shot five rapid-fire Vine videos of all the food that was left, then made my way back to my car.
But not before I grabbed one last gyro.