For most people, the start of the baseball season brings to mind breezy summer days at the ballpark, the smell of freshly mowed grass, and the thrill of a ninth inning comeback. And, inevitably, hot dogs.
However, the New York Mets organization, one year after opening Citi Field, is continuing its efforts to change that image.
On Wednesday, March 24, the Mets and food and beverage partner ARAMARK hosted their All-Star Dining Lineup, showcasing the foods that would be featured at Citi Field for the 2010 season.
Few people would think of a sweet and meaty Peking Duck Breast served between a delicate bun as ballpark food, but that is exactly what they will find being served in the Acela Club, according to Drew Nieporent, head of the Myriad Restaurant Group.
“At Citi Field, we are trying to emulate the high quality food you would expect to get in Manhattan,” he said.
Fan-favorite Cascarino’s will be continuing its relationship with the Mets, and is introducing four new pies this season, the highlight of which was a Grandma’s pizza with vodka sauce, which was layered over a thin crust that was at once chewy and crispy.
Momma’s of Corona will continue to bring Citi Field patrons Italian heroes featuring authentic salami and cheeses. Like a fine antipasto plate on a roll, their hero delivered the full flavor of the meats and fresh mozzarella, while an enjoyable sting of black pepper cut through it all. Their homemade cannoli was traditional but perfect, with fresh cream and a crunchy shell.
According to Irene DeBenedittis, whose family owns Momma’s, a full line of cupcakes and even a prosciutto bread will be available this season.
Floyd Cardoz, a chef for the Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), fronted by mega-restaurateur Danny Meyer, displayed some of the group’s newest delicacies, including a braised chicken mole taco served with cilantro, diced onions, and a fresh tomato salsa. The tacos will be featured at El Verano Taqueria.
However, USHG chef Robb Garceau, who hovered above the fry station with equal measures excitement and pride, stole the show. He unveiled Box Frites’ two new types of frites, or French fries.
The Garlic Frites were topped with fresh parmesan cheese, roasted garlic, butter and oregano. They were crispy and salty with a pleasant pungency from the garlic. Much as the chef promised, the garlic flavor was not overpowering.
“This is not knock your socks off garlic,” said Garceau. “These are socially acceptable.”
Box Frites will also unveil Disco Frites, the chef’s take on gravy and cheddar fries. Buffalo Chicken Frites and Fried Cheese Curd Frites will be coming later.
For the fish lover, Catch of the Day, headed by chef Dave Pasternack, features everything to quell an oceanic craving.
This year, the stand will feature a crab cake sandwich, made with jumbo lump crabmeat and served on a potato roll with tartar sauce. The sandwich was crisp and tangy from the sauce, and the huge chunks of crabmeat made it evident that “imitation” crab was nowhere to be found on the bun.
The chef is also planning some curveballs for later on in the 2010 season. Most notably, Pasternack is toying with the idea of bringing a plate of oysters to the park, which might just shatter any lingering notion New Yorkers have of “ballpark food.”
“Imagine sitting in the stands watching the ballgame, with a pint of beer and a plate of oysters. How cool would that be?” said Pasternack.