Archive for the 'Stadium Snacks' Category

Buy Me Some Garlic Fries and Dodger Dogs…

Dodgers vs. Cardinals

I avoided eating a Dodger Dog last season out of fear that doing so would cause The Astronomer’s beloved St. Louis Cardinals to lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After the Dodgers swept the Cards in the Division Series with me consuming only team-neutral concessions, I vowed to eat whatever my heart desired the following season. Superstitions be damned.

Dodgers vs. Cardinals

We returned to the ballpark last week to witness some regular season play between the Dodgers and the Cards. With the sun slowly setting in the distance and cheery fans sporting their brilliant Dodger blue, my appetite was piqued for greasy stadium fare.

Dodgers vs. Cardinals

During the first inning, The Astronomer and I shared an order of Gordon Biersch garlic fries ($5.75). What makes these spuds super special is the abundance of minced garlic and parsley bits coating each shoestring. Every bite delivers an intense garlicky hit that’s dreadful for one’s breath, but oh so good for one’s soul. I’m not much of a sports fan, but I will gladly tag along to any event where these fries are served.

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Track 'n' Snacks in the Bird's Nest

We arrived in Beijing on Sunday—in time for the third day of Olympic Track and Field competition. After dropping off our luggage in the hotel, grabbing a quick bite, picking up our tickets and getting in a short run, we headed to the National Olympic Stadium. The venue is also known as the Bird’s Nest for its structural appearance and symbolic cradling of the world’s dreams.

As a serious runner and all around huge fan of international distance running, The Astronomer was STOKED to the bone about seeing world class runners doing what they do best. He was especially excited to see America’s Bernard Lagat in the 1,500 meter semifinals.

As we walked toward the stadium, we saw a bunch of people peeking over a fenced-off area. Curious as to what the commotion was all about, we took a look too. The blocked area turned out to be the athlete’s warm-up facilities! The Astronomer grabbed my camera and started snapping away like a seasoned paparazzo.

The Astronomer searched the area for American distance runners, but only spotted a group of Kenyans stretching. I’d never seen the boy so star struck before.

The first thing we accomplished upon entering the stadium was grabbing dinner. Since we were hungry as heck and didn’t want to miss any of the action on the track or field, we bought a lot of food. The concession stand had a good variety of snacks, but nothing that qualified as a decent meal. In certain rare situations, volume must take precedence over taste.

The popcorn (10 RMB) was 89 percent buttered and 11 percent caramel coated. The Astronomer and I were drawn in by fragrant fumes emanating from the popper. From the look of things, this may be the Games’ top selling item.

To round out our meal, we procured some yogurt with peaches and mangoes, bread with dried fruit, butter cookies and crackers with “scallion” flavoring. Dinner set us back 40 RMB—cheap compared to the price of stadium food in America, but pricey compared to our previous dinners in China.

Here’s the view from our seats. The stands were packed and the crowds were in good spirits. The Chinese government did a great job training their constituents how to cheer and do The Wave. Our seats were near some Jamican fans—it was a huge night for Jamaican track.

The action on the field was far more exciting than the stadium snacks. Here’s Usain Bolt picking up his gold medal for his record breaking 100 meter performance the night before.

Here are the 3,000 meter steeple chasers lining up at the start. “With a dominating gun-to-tape performance, Gulnara Galkina-Samitova captured the event’s first Olympic gold medal with an 8:58.81 World record, while smashing through the nine-minute barrier in the process.” Galkina-Samitova’s stride was unbelievably smooth as she jumped the hurdles and over the water pit—it gave me chills.

Here are the 1,500 men lining up for the second heat. Although The Astronomer was cheering his heart out for Bernard Lagat, America’s premier middle distance runner missed out on the finals by .02 seconds.

We also witnessed the women’s 100 meter dash where the Jamaican women swept gold, bronze and silver. Victory laps are awesome! Go women!

The last race of the evening was the men’s 10K. The runners started off in a pack, but at 6,800 meters, 2004 bronze medalist Zersenay Tadese took over with a real move to break up the pack. As the race wore on, some runners got lapped by the leaders! Man, how embarrassing. Thank god that never happened to me in high school or college. I would have died. Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele won the race in 27:01.17, setting a new Olympic record! Woot!

In addition to the track events, we also saw men’s hammer throwing, preliminary men’s high jumping and women’s triple jump. Nina recently asked me if it’s hard to watch track and field live because there’s so much going on at once. The answer? Not so much because it’s easy to focus on one event. Also, the big screens and announcers (Chinese and English) draw the crowd’s attention to specific events.

At the end of the meet, the Fuwas came out to play! Here I am happily posing in between Yingying and Nini. The Olympic spirit turns me into a giggly school girl.

The Bird’s Nest is located next to the Aquatics Center, which according to the official spectator’s guide, “sparkles, glows, and the iridescent bubbles on its outer walls are unforgettable.”

One last look at the visually arresting Bird’s Nest.

Wachovia Center Funnel Cakes – Philadelphia

February 28, 2007
Cuisine: American (Traditional)

Wachovia Center
3601 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148

Phone: none


Funnel Cake ($5)

The Gastronomer and I recently attended a Philadelphia 76ers game, and as halftime approached several of my friends and I succumbed to a scoreboard ad touting greasy and delicious funnel cakes outside section 114. Funnel cakes have long been one of my favorite sweet treats—better than a donut, they provide the perfect closure to a day at a fair or amusement park. When the opportunity to indulge arises, it is hard for me to resist.

When we arrived at the funnel cake stand, there were at least 30-40 people in line. After deliberating briefly, we decided that the wait would be worth it. Little did we know that the small deep fryer could only hold two funnel cakes at one time, and that we would miss almost the entire third quarter. While my friends and I waited in line, the Gastronomer struck up a conversation with the funnelers. She returned to report that behind the stand lived a “kind woman putting kind powdered sugar on the kind funnel cakes” and a man cooking in the dark. In surprising news, the cakes and frying oil were proclaimed to be trans fat free. This information gave us courage to persevere as the line crept forward.


When we finally received our funnel cakes, I was struck by the fact that they seemed to be rather small. The powdered sugar-to-dough ratio for funnel cakes is always rather high, but these were ridiculous. The skimpy portion of actual cake was disappointing but not unexpected—arena concession stands exist for no other purpose than to inflate the profits of the stadium owner and teams. Fortunately, when I bit into one of the light and slightly crispy strands, my mouth was filled with the classic taste that I have come to love. If I breathed too hard on the cake, a cloud of sugar would rise into the air and coat my clothes—just as it should be. I finished half of the cake before we even made it back to our seats. The Gastronomer tried a bit of the cake and liked it enough to have another.

Funnel cakes are pretty much all the same, and I would rate this one as about average. The batter was good, although maybe a little too crunchy at the edges, and the sugar served its purpose but was certainly overdone. I thoroughly enjoyed eating it, but in the final analysis, I’m not sure the cake was worth missing almost ¼ of the game.

Next time I’m at the Wachovia Center, I’ll probably pass.

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