Thursday, June 27, 2013

Joey's Small Bites: An All-Star Feast For Man or Beast

Hello, everyone!  Welcome to the latest edition of Joey's Small Bites.  I'm Studious Metsimus roving reporter and culinary expert, Joey Beartran.  And for this segment I'm serving both roles, as I found myself roving in the Caesar's Club at Citi Field on Wednesday chowing down on all sorts of culinary delights that will be part of the All-Star Game menu.

From new takes on traditional ballpark food to items rarely (if ever) seen at any sporting event, the Mets and ARAMARK had it all on display for this hungry bear to sample.  (Don't worry.  I left some for the other members of the media who were invited to the event.)

After a brief introduction to the new food items, including a description of the newest item - the All-Star Meatball Hero - by ARAMARK executive chef, Robert Flowers, it was time to dig in.  And boy, did I ever dig in!

Robert Flowers (photo by my Studious Metsimus colleague, Ed Leyro)

For my appetizer, I had the Trio of Mac and Cheese, which was topped with pancetta, lobster and three cheeses.  That was followed by the Citi Field Loaded Tater Tots, which were made with cheddar cheese sauce, bacon bits and scallions.  And although technically it's a dessert, my final appetizer consisted of a delicious raspberry cheesecake doughnut with a white chocolate dipping sauce.  I probably should have gotten two of these because my sister, Iggy, had most of mine.

Iggy took advantage of the fact that I was enjoying my mac and cheese by eating my mini-doughnut.

The mac and cheese was very cheesy (which is a good thing if you're a bowl of mac and cheese) and the loaded tots were sublime.  When I asked Iggy how *MY* raspberry cheesecake doughnut was, all she said was "nom, nom, nom".  I took her comment as a "paws up" review.  During games, the mac and cheese can be found in the Citi Field suites, while the loaded tots can be purchased in the Promenade Club.  The delectable doughnut dessert is a product of the Acela Club.

After consuming my scrumptious appetizers, I moved on to two items that were perfectly sized for my bear paws.  The Mex Burger from Keith's Grill (which can be found on the field level in the left field corner near Section 132) and the Major League Grilled Cheese (it's in the Caesar's Club) were served in miniature versions that allowed me to have a few of each.

The tasty burger is a Brooklyn Burger patty served on a toasted sesame bun.  The burger is topped with cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and comes with bacon, guacamole, chipotle aioli and jalapeños. The grilled cheese sandwich has a thick combination of Swiss, cheddar and gouda, topped with - you guessed it - more bacon!  Both sandwiches were incredibly mouth-watering and quite satisfying.

Despite all the food I put away, I still had a little room in my tummy for dessert.  And I'm glad I had that space available, as there were a number of delicious mini-cupcakes in five flavors to satisfy every bear's palate.

For Iggy, I chose the lavender blueberry cupcake, but I could easily have chosen from the selection of S'mores, red velvet, vanilla bean or chocolate cupcakes.  I, on the other paw, decided to have a slightly larger dessert.

After eating so much food (especially bacon) and dessert, I had to take a nap.  Fortunately, Mrs. Met was there to rock me to sleep.  Although I was in dreamland, my Studious Metsimus colleague took photos of some of the other food items (and apparently he took a photo of me in Mrs. Met's arms).

These items included fresh pea ravioli (made with ricotta, polenta and pancetta), Colorado frenched lamb chops (with an herb crust and mustardy goodness), chicken and waffles (or as they call it, "Batter Up" Fried Chicken with Warm Pizzelle and Maple Butter - I'm calling it chicken and waffles).  There was also a slice of pizza that was tentatively called the All-Star Slice (although my colleague was told that the name had not been finalized) that was topped with andouille sausage, crawfish, shrimp and a jalapeño pesto.

The piece de resistance was a meatball slider, which my colleague didn't photograph with the proper lighting (grrrr...).  The meatballs are made with a mixture of andouille sausage and ground beef and are topped with melted mozzarella cheese and a marinara sauce.  But the best part is that they don't serve the sliders in regular bread.  Rather, they serve them between a pair of garlic knots.  Yup.  You read it right.  Garlic knots.  Yum-a-licious.

Believe it or not, I have not included every new item in this review.  There were many more items to digest (quite literally) at this event.  I didn't get to sample the aforementioned new All-Star Meatball Hero created by chef Robert Flowers, but the news release given to us by the Mets promised that it is taken from Chef Flowers' 300-year-old family recipe and is made from several of Pat LaFrieda's best meats (ground beef, pork and veal).  The news release goes on to say that the meat is simmered in sweet red sauce for three hours and is then topped with buffalo mozzarella and fried basil.  The meatballs are served on a long sesame seed roll.

I'd like to thank the Mets, ARAMARK and Joe D of Mets Merized Online for making this culinary trip possible.  (Joe D was kind enough to pull the strings that got my colleague, Iggy and I into the event.)

It's going to take some time to get over my self-induced food coma, but believe me, it was well worth it.  And if you're fortunate enough to be attending the All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16, you'll see (and taste) for yourself exactly what I mean.


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