On the Road: A Trip Down Gigante’s Alley in San Jose

To see all posts from my August 4 visit to the San Jose Giants, click HERE. To see all my posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all my “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).

If there’s one thing you might know about me, it’s that I have a designated eater at nearly every ballpark I visit. That individual is tasked with consuming the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits. At San Jose’s Municipal Stadium, home of the California League Giants, that individual was John Lambert.

img_0183John, a resident of San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood, grew up in Los Angeles. He went to college at Santa Barbara University, where he met his wife, Kristen. She finished school there, but John left before graduating and joined the Navy. He served in Iraq and southeast Asia as a Hospital Corpsman, spending time with the Marines because, as he explained, “Marines don’t have medical personnel so you get attached to their units.”

Upon leaving the military, John enrolled at USC business school and is planning on finishing next year. He now works for Kaiser Permanente, and hopes to remain in the healthcare field after finishing school.

On this evening, John wasn’t just a designated eater. He was a credentialed designated eater. The Giants do things the right way.

img_0207He also would not be eating alone. John was accompanied by Kristen as well as their friends Julia and Matt Messinger, who happened to be visiting from out of town to attend the Outside Lands music festival.


Clockwise, from top: John, Kristen, Julia, Matt

The designated eating crew was certainly rolling deep on this evening. In addition to the above foursome, my friend Jon was along for the ride and taking pictures all the while.

dsc00034Meanwhile, the six of us were accompanied by Giants CMO Juliana Paoli, marketing coordinator Sarah “Queen I’m A Balla” Acosta and food and beverage supervisor Tara Tallman. Phew! Let’s begin at the beginning. Where we began was the row of food carts stationed along “Gigante’s Alley.”

img_0144First up was the “Frickle” — a grilled cheese with fried pickles, served on garlic-buttered bread. It’s available at the Lagunitas stand. Tara, who would know about such things, said it’s been a “huge hit” at the ballpark.

img_0182Have at it, John.

“It’s buttery, crispy and not too salty,” said John. “I’d get it again.”

So would Kristen and Julia.

img_0184The Giants sell Hard Frescos at the ballpark, at a new Gigantes Alley cart. Hard Frescos are 5% ABV Mexican fruit ciders, using all-natural ingredients. They are gluten-free, so I indulged.

dsc09981 I spoke briefly with Hard Frescos co-founder Peter Sterns, who explained that the product was inspired by the aguas frescas (fruit-flavored water) he’d often enjoyed on trips to Mexico. They use real fruit and cane sugar, and aim for an authentic taste. (“It’s not a Senor Frogs, Cancun, Bud Light kind of thing,” he said). There are four flavors — Citrico, Cola Buena, Juicy Jamaica and Tangy Tamarindo — and while I can’t remember which one I had I do remember enjoying it. So there you go.

Here’s Peter, flanked by his wife and in-laws.

img_0189As you can see in the above picture, the Hard Frescos cart also sells Noodle Bowls.

img_0185John got some help from Julia on this one.


“They have a good texture, and I like that you can hold it and eat it during the game,” said John. “If it falls, it goes right back inside.”

(Unless, you know, someone is feeding it to you from three feet away.)

We then moved on to a Barbecue Chicken Pizza, courtesy of Willow Street Pizza.

img_0190“This is good. The barbecue is definitely the most pronounced taste,” said John. “Chicken’s good. Cilantro’s good. And there’s a good, crispy crust. I’m a big fan of flat crusts.”

img_2337And, hey, look! We had French fries! Garlic fries, even. I don’t know where these fries came from (my notes are distressingly silent on the matter), but that they existed is indisputable.

img_2338And then there were tacos, from the Coors Light Taco Truck. On the left we have pollo asado, on the right is beef barbacoa.


These were gluten-free, as tacos often are (and always should be). So John and I enjoyed our tacos in tandem.


I’ve had plenty of experience through the years when it comes to posing with food. Note that the item should always be held so that it is visible to the camera. I’m not faulting John for not doing so. These things take years of practice.

“Good!” said John, regarding his taco. My notes tell me that these were “solid street style tacos, gone in two bites.”

I’m not sure what inspired this particular reaction on my part.

img_2348Believe it or not, the items documented above only constituted the appetizer portion of the evening. The main event was still to come. In what will be a designated eating first, I’m going to split this into two posts. Let’s just take a step back, digest, and reconvene in a couple of hours.






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