Sure, the seats need to be cleared of snow and a few more heaters have yet to be installed but let's be honest, when it comes to a new season of outdoor baseball at Target Field, the only thing that truly gets me excited is new additions to the menu of ballpark fare.
The sweet wafting scent of Kramarczuk's brats on the grill and the sights of fresh, juicy pulled turkey piled high on a mouth-watering bun were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to unveiling all that Target Field has to offer fans this year.
Today, we got our first taste of Target Field -- and let me tell you, it was delish. This year's Media Food Tour, though a bit chillier than last year, was full of scrumptious goodies from the sweet to the savory to the holy-cow-what-was-that?
Minnesota Twins President Dave St. Peter said year one at Target Field certainly taught them a lot in terms of what fans want and what became their favorites. So this year, they're taking that same approach -- with an emphasis on high-quality local food -- and putting a few twists in the mix.
"We're calling it Target Field 2.0," St. Peter said, adding it's all about sticking to Minnesota roots.
So without further ado, I present you with the new tasty tidbits for 2011:
Turkey To Go
Think the freshness of Thanksgiving turkey, straight out of the oven, but turned into a fabulous day-after sandwich. This pulled turkey on a bun has long been a favorite at the Minnesota State Fair since 1959 and even branched into a food truck along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.
The turkey maintains that sweet, juicy flare thanks to an overnight marinade. Then it's pulled fresh and piled high on a soft sandwich bun. Add a side of Ken Davis BBQ sauce on the side and you've got one tasty, filling meal. Find Turkey To Go right behind home plate in the main concourse.
Walk A Taco
The much-anticipated taco in a cone hops from its St. Paul location to bring Target Field fans even more variety within the Señor Smokes menu. Joining the already popular burrito sales, Walk A Taco is packed with all the fresh taco fixings in either beef, chicken or veggie. The combination of flavors gives fans a little spice, a lot of fresh vegetables and finishes with a great crunch from the aerodynamic cone.
The cone was actually developed a year ago, as the brain child of Tomas Silva, operations manager and co-owner. "We were trying to think of something for different festivals and things like that, where it would be real easy for people to carry around and eat," he said. Obviously, that makes it a perfect fit for Target Field.
When I heard Target Field was doing an apple pie, it was almost too obvious. What's more American than eating apple pie and watching baseball? Owner George Atsidakos took his family's long-standing recipe from 1914 and deep-fried it to create a crunchy, flaky crust, perfect for the ballpark. One bite and it's clear -- this belonged at Target Field. "We presented it to the Twins and after the first bite, they loved it," Atsidakos said. The apples are freshly crushed every day and it shows -- the tangy sweetness oozes from this cinnamon-sugar coating to create a perfect bite. Add a scoop of Blue Bunny Ice Cream and fahgitabout it.
Food Network Partnership
Foodie fans will soon see a familiar sign at Target Field. The Food Network will have its very own cart at the ballpark, offering two new takes on Kramarczuk's classics. The first -- a smoked bratwurst slathered in horseradish cream with caraway sauerkraut and fried shallots, which had a smoky, robust taste and plenty of zip from the sauerkraut and horseradish garnishes.
The second is a wild rice bratwurst with pickled cabbage and beer mustard. Don't be thrown by the wild rice, this brat is packed with flavor and you truly can't even taste the difference. And as a bonus, the wild rice brat packs in good nutrition to help you feel less guilty about diving in one ... or two.
One thing Pres. Dave St. Peter said they really missed the boat on last year was including a kosher dog to the plentiful hot dog line-up. Not anymore. This year, Hebrew National will be coming to Target Field, bringing the first kosher dog portable cart. The cart will be supervised by a Rabbi or one of his representatives Sunday through Thursday.
All the food items -- bread, condiments and even specially packaged soft drinks will fall within kosher standards.
Last but certainly not least, Hrbek's is getting a few upgrades to its already plentiful menu. Along with the famous Rex Burger, Hrbek's take on a juicy lucy, the restaurant will feature walleye sliders. These tasty little walleye patties are flaky, perfectly crisp on the outside with a tangy homemade tartar sauce that brings out the fish flavor. Garnished with red onion, lettuce and tomato, each slider is its own delicious bite.
"It's Minnesota -- people are very familiar with walleye so we thought about maybe doing a slider," said Chef Pastor Jimenez, Sportservice's executive chef at Target Field. "We thought it would work very well, especially in this type of environment where people can come in before the game, or after the game, and try something different."
But don't worry -- all your favorites from last year aren't going anywhere. The Pecos River Red Chili from the Loon Café, the Tony O's Cuban sandwich and the Vincent Burger at Town Ball Tavern will all be back.
From the looks of it, season number two will be everything and more that hungry Twins fans are looking for. Oh, and I'm sure the baseball will be great, too.
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