On the Road: Leaning Healthy in Modesto

To see all posts from my August 3 visit to the Modesto Nuts, click HERE. To see all posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

This man, his name is Derek Nyquist.

img_0129Derek lives in Turlock, California, located approximately 15 miles south of Modesto. He’s an eligible bachelor who regularly attends Nuts games, as well as those hosted by the Stockton Ports and Fresno Grizzlies. Derek said that he’s been a huge baseball fan ever since he was nine years old; he is a big autograph collector, and also plays on Sundays for a team in the amateur Mexican-American League.

Derek earns his living making milk cartons for Evergreen Packaging, who have a plant in Turlock. He said that if you “drink a milk carton, then there’s a good chance I inspected it.”

“I put on the side panels [of the carton],” he continued. “There are games for kids on it, no missing persons. I once did a side panel for the Everett AquaSox.”

Derek’s job on this evening was to serve as my designated eater (the individual recruited to eat the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits). We were in attendance on a Wednesday evening, and on Wednesdays the Nuts offer $1 specials on a variety of concession stand staples. Ed Mack, who oversees the Nuts concessions, quickly assembled a cavalcade of dollar items for Derek to sample.

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The soda in the below picture happened to be a Columbia sarsaparilla. In my youth, I remember watching an episode of Full House where Stephanie is unable to spell “sarsaparilla” correctly and, consequently, I have never made the same mistake. This is one of many ways in which I am superior to Stephanie.

As for this particular sarsaparilla, it’s made by Columbia Soda Works. Derek said that Columbia Soda Works is a “tourist attraction” and that “they film Westerns there.” I had a sarsaparilla as well, and was heard to remark that it was “creamier, sweeter and less fizzy than your average root beer.”

Continuing on this “interesting non-alcoholic beverages served at Modesto Nuts games” tangent, please note that the team sells “Noah’s Spring Water.”

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Noah’s is bottled by the Modesto-based Varni Brothers Corporation. The company website notes that the “Noah’s” name was chosen because it is a “friendly and refreshing symbol with more than 4000 years of recognition.”

Finally, if it’s beer you’re wanting while attending a Modesto Nuts game, please note that the team offers selections from Turlock-based Dust Bowl Brewing. The picnic pavilion at John Thurman Field is sponsored by Dust Bowl Brewing, as a matter of fact.

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But back to the subject at hand, which I believe was Derek and the dollar menu.  Derek took his dollar dog and dressed it up accordingly.

img_0124Then he ate it.

img_0125Derek was ambivalent about the hot dog, calling it a “standard hot dog.”

“It wasn’t cold,” he said. “You get a cold one every once in a while.”

We moved on to a new addition on the Nuts’ concession menu, one that is rather unorthodox by ballpark standards: a Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowl. Ed told us it was part of an attempt to “lean healthy” on the ballpark menu and that it had “been well-received and one of our bigger sellers.”

img_0126Have at it, Derek.

“It’s better than I thought it would be,” said Derek. “It’s got a little bit of spice to it. I’ve never had anything like this at a ballgame. Normally I’d go toward junk food.”

Next up was the Pulled Pork Quesadilla, a made-to-order item which also contained a melted, four-blend cheese. It is served with a side of tortilla chips, sour cream and salsa.
img_0128“I haven’t had a lot of quesadillas in my time,” said Derek, who can be seen brandishing this quesadilla in the photo at the top of this post. “It’s good. There’s plenty of meat and they didn’t overdo the cheese.”

And speaking of cheese, these are deep-fried cheese curds. The Nuts sell them at a finger food stand that specializes in garlic fries.

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Curds? No whey!

Derek quickly provided a demonstration on how to eat a deep-fried cheese curd.

img_0131Derek’s an athletic guy, but nonetheless he was unable to pull off the ol’ “throw a cheese curd in the air and catch it in your mouth” stunt. He made a yeoman’s effort, though.

“They’re as advertised, I guess,” said Derek, of the cheese curds. “I can’t say they’re anything out of the ordinary. I’d be more apt to get the rice bowl again.”

Thus concluded Derek’s stint as a designated eater.

img_0133“You filled me up. This is the most ballpark food I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’d definitely rank the Teriyaki Bowl at the top. The quesadilla and hot dog are tied, and then the cheese curds. And I’d never had Columbia Sarsaparilla before either.”

As a token of appreciation for his hard work, Derek received the official “Designated Eater” t-shirt.

Derek was the second person to ever receive the t-shirt, and the first to pair it with a Salem-Keizer Volcanoes hat. The Volcanoes are pleased, which is a good thing. No one wants to deal with a displeased Volcano.

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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