The Year in Ballpark Food, Part II
Yesterday’s culinary compendium included copious coverage of ballpark food and regional cuisine, focusing on trips I made to Arizona, California, Ohio and Indiana.
The journey continues today, with a heavy emphasis on what may have been my favorite road trip of 2011: the Carolinas. It all started at Joseph P. Riley ballpark, the home of the Charleston RiverDogs. This is a team that has provided me with plenty of food-based news items through the years (Homewreckers! Pickle Dogs! Pig On A Stick!), and I was excited to finally make my first visit.
The team was ready for me.
Not the best photo, I know, but hopefully indicative of the RiverDogs’ bountiful array of creative food options. Oh, and a Philly Cheesesteak Brat eventually made an appearance.
Here’s a better view of the top-loaded “Kitchen Sink Nachos,” which are served in a pizza box.
But I focused my efforts primarily on the Pickle Dog, making sure to grip the pickle firmly from the rear so that the hot dog would not slip out.
The next day I drove to Myrtle Beach (home of both the Pelicans and the Mermen), and en route I stopped for lunch at “Hog Heaven BBQ.” Apparently, what passes for heaven in the mind of a pig is an afterlife of eternal cannibalization.
Dismayed and confused by this concept, I instead opted for some crab.
I was admonished by various quarters for ordering seafood at a BBQ joint, and I understand those criticisms. But here in NYC a platter such as the above is (relatively) hard to come by, and I have no regrets. None!
I stayed with the seafood theme at that night’s Pelicans game, ordering up some fried clams.
The following afternoon, en route to Kinston, I went to a BBQ joint and actually ordered some BBQ. Bart’s was the name.
At Grainger Stadium that evening, I followed the recommendation of GM Ben Jones and ordered a Philly Cheese Steak, North Carolina style. “Magnifique!” is what I imagine a French fan of Carolina League baseball would say upon biting into the following:
Are there any French fans of Minor League Baseball out there? What a rare subset of fans that must be.
Much less rare is the sight of a Bojangles fried chicken joint in the state of North Carolina. As I was making my way from Kinston to Durham, I patronized the following establishment.
Being a man of perpetual movement, at that night’s Durham Bulls game I ordered a Doritos-brand “Walking Taco.”
That’s nacho typical taco, but it provided all the sustenance I needed until the following morning’s stop at Biscuitville.
Less than two hours later, I patronized another regional fast food chain: Cookout. I’ve since heard from many Cookout aficionados, all of whom insisted that milkshakes should be purchased. Duly noted, but this time around I ended up with a Cheerwine float.
One of the highlights of the following day’s travels was lunch at Zack’s Hot Dogs, a Burlington, N.C. institution.
Since I’m always a proponent of a balanced and healthy diet, the hot dog lunch was followed by a bologna burger at that evening’s Danville Braves game.
The last stop on the Carolina excursion was Winston-Salem. A pre-game meal was obtained a Bibb’s BBQ, located a proverbial hop, skip, and jump away from BB&T Ballpark (domicile of the Dash). And what a meal it was:
That’s about all she wrote from the Carolinas; but fortunately I was able to squeeze one more trip into the 2011 campaign: Maryland, home of the crab pretzel!
More specifically, the home of the cheese and crustacean-laden snack seen above was Aberdeen’s Ripken Stadium. But perhaps an even more anomalous ballpark treat is that which can be found at Hagerstown’s Municipal Stadium: pickled beet eggs!
The Hagerstown Suns experienced some drama this past season, when a light pole fell onto the field during a storm. This is where the light pole used to stand…or is it? Maybe this mark was made by a huge pickled egg!
Or maybe a huge Krumpe’s donut used to lie on that spot! After the game I went to nearby Krumpe’s Do-Nuts (open 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.) and picked up a few.
My trip, as well as my season of traveling, ended the next day in Delmarva. Needless to say, I did not leave Arthur W. Perdue Stadium on an empty stomach.
That was dinner, consisting of a “Chessie Dog” (half-pound frank with cheese, onions, peppers), Crab Dip (with three bread dipping sticks), and a Scrapple sandwich. But there’s always room for dessert, especially when it’s as appealing as the concoction known as “Sherman’s Gelati.”
And that, as they say, was that. I hope you enjoyed, or at least tolerated, this trip down recent memory lane. It provided me yet another opportunity to revive a season which is in actuality dead as the proverbial doornail, and for that I am grateful.
Return to the Road, Part 4: Looking to the Future, Wrapping Up the Past
The end of the season is fast approaching, and before it all goes dark I plan on hitting the road one more time. Here’s the itinerary:
As you may recall I visited Williamsport last season, but this time around I’ll be spending the evening as a member of the team’s promo crew. From there it’s off to Maryland, taking in four games within a region that is definitely not lacking in Minor League Baseball. The relatively last-second nature of this trip, combined with the hurricane uncertainty surrounding the east coast, means that many of the specifics have yet to be ironed out. But I’ll do my best to roll with it; we all will.
As always, get in touch with any recommendations regarding things to do/see/eat while on the road. Time is always at a premium, but I do my best to take everything into consideration. Really, I do.
But, jeez, since I’m returning to the road I better hurry up and finish this “Return to the Road” series of blog posts. The previous dispatch covered Day 5 of my Carolinas trip, focusing on the culinary delights and shopping meccas to be found between Durham and Burlington.
Today’s post, then, starts in Burlington. One more time, in bold:
Day 6: Burlington, N.C.
I attended the B-Royals game the night before, but before departing I the next day I made a point to explore Burlington’s downtown area.
It’s an appealing place, with more traditional establishments such as shoe stores, tailors, and banks sharing space with tattoo parlors, art studios and dive bars.
A Rookie ball town with Class A aspirations:
The ultimate destination was Zack’s, an iconic hot dog joint that’s been in business for 83 years. Simply put, this is a must-visit establishment if you’re ever in Burlington.
The place was jam-packed and the service lightning quick. I ordered a hot dog with slaw and onions, cheese fries, and the third (and best) Cheerwine incarnation I was to come across: an ice-cold glass bottle.
Thoroughly satiated, I then made the idyllic drive to Danville.
Unfortunately, the remainder of the afternoon was spent in a losing battle with the Danville Best Western’s internet connection. I should have explored the town instead, especially the famous “Millionaire’s Row.”
But such is life on these trips, mistakes are made and you can never do it all.
Day 7: Winston-Salem, N.C.
The final destination was Winston-Salem, home of the Dash. Not too much to report from here that hasn’t already been reported, but I would like to note that prior to attending the ballgame I stopped at Bib’s BBQ in the city’s downtown.
The motto of this establishment is “It’s Not Eastern or Western…It’s Bestern!”
“Bestern”, in my case, consisted of a three-bone plate of St. Louis Style ribs, red cabbage slaw, hush puppies (the best I had on the trip!), Texas toast, collard greens and a sweet tea.
Writing these posts agitates me — why can’t these plates of food actually be in front of me now, in real life? In New York City I subsist on red velvet donuts, taco trucks, and Triscuits.
Bibb’s is located on 5th Street, not be confused with 4 1/2 Street.
As for downtown itself, I didn’t have much time to explore. The two photographs I have feature buildings right across the street from one another. This historic and dignified church…
is in a perpetual stare-off with this monolithic fortress of unspecified commercial concern.
Anti-climactic as it may be, this really is all that I’ve got from the Carolinas (save for the inevitable pics of the random swag that was accumulated).
Thanks, as always for reading. Hope everyone safely weathers the storm this weekend, and here’s to an excellent last week of the Minor League season!