The annual Target Field food preview has become a must-stop on the local media circuit. From sports writers to radio personalities to food critics to, logically, Sven Sundgaard, it's that rare sort of catch-all press junket that members of the press are actually eager to attend. And, while we all nobly say it's in the name of a story, it doesn't take long to see that, to man or woman, our motivations are vastly more primal as we unabashedly stuff our faces with first-look grub served from spreads fit for a king, but served in a ballpark.
And it's with that humble admission that, in the name of good journalism, digital editor Drew Wood and food and dining editor Stephanie March gorged themselves on all that is new to the stadium in 2014 so that you may know where and with what to stuff yours at a Twins game.
Butcher & The Boar's Beef Rib Tips (Sec 140)
His take: Thumbs up. Juicy, tender, and kinda smokey sweet. Then again, it was literally served to me by Peter Bortcher, so what would you expect. I'd be interested to see how this one plays out in about the 7th inning of a day when their stand had been persistently busy all game.
Her take: Thumbs up. All the right kinds of meaty smokiness and spice. Kinda messy and hard to figure out if it's a fork or finger situation (it's fingers in, trust me), but that's a nice quick maxi-hit of flavor you won't mind licking your digits for.
Butcher & The Boar's Knob Creek Neat (Sec 140)
His take: Although I question my desire for it when I'm sitting in the sun on a killer 85 for 85er (an 85 degree, 85 percent humidity day), assuming it's served in a glass slightly larger than a thimble, thumbs up.
Her take: Thumbs up. I bleed whiskey. All year 'round.
AZ Canteen's Smoked Meat Sandwich, Minnesota Crispy Belly Bacon Sandwich, and Cucumber Mint Lemonade with Vodka (Sec 119)
His take: Thumbs up x three. On an 85 for 85er that julep-esque Cucumber Mint Lemonade isn't just damn tasty, it's essential for survival. As for the sammies, the Crispy Belly Bacon with jalapeño jelly and vinegar slaw was perfectly cooked and had a delayed-reaction spicy kapow!, and the Smoked Meat Sandwich with vinegar slaw and maple syrup hot sauce, although slightly dryer was similarly sneaky good and totally palmable for in-seat or concourse-walking eating.
Her take: I enjoyed the limeade, but it was hard not to throw the Knob Creek in there. Bygones. For what was essentially a thick-cut-bacon-dog sandwich, I couldn't have been happier. Loved the fresh kick from the jalapeño jelly, a nice change from sausage. Ditto for the smoky meat sandwich which had beautifully soft and thinly sliced meats topped with crackin' slaw, a refreshing upgrade. Three thumbs up.
Valentini's Porchetta "Slugger" Egg Rolls, Italian Burger, and Bucket Of Mini Meatballs (Sec 133)
His take: Two out of three ain't bad. While the Porchetta Egg Rolls left something to be desired (Steph's had some sort of cream cheese but mine had no trace), the Italian burger topped with pepperoni was served with a bit too much bun for my liking but was solidly scrumptious in my eyes, and the meatballs—explained as the same meat mix as the burger "only round"—were equally tasty.
Her take: Let's leave the idea of a porchetta egg roll in the bullpen, hmmm? Too dry, too odd, not good. I like the Italian burger, the pepperoni and cheese gave it that pizza burger feel (douse it with the excellent red sauce if you can). And the meatballs were just plucky. I'm glad they replaced the HUGE meatball with a bucket of minis so that I can better steal from my kids. So thumbs down, thumbs up, thumbs up.
Roots for the Home Team Salad Creations
His take: Salad. At a baseball game.
Her take: Huge thumbs up in that foodist Mom sort of way. These city kids grow their own produce, collaborate to come up with creative salad recipes, and work together to make, market, and sell them at the games. They're fresh, they taste good, and you get good karma points for supporting them.
Club Dining's Brat Dog (Club Level)
His take: Thumbs up. Um, massive bratwurst wrapped around a hot dog served on a pretzel bun and topped with bacon and kraut? Who cares that a normal human being can't open their mouth wide enough to take a full bite of it? Yes please.
Her take: Thumbs meh. I think I got sauerkraut up my nose. I liked the bun, I liked the kraut, the actual sausage situation was a bit gimmicky for me and obviously hard to eat.
Izzy's Hand-Scooped Ice Cream (Sec 114)
His take: Sorry, my thumbs are too busy shoveling copious amounts of that killer salted carmel ice cream into my mouth to comment.
Her take: Thumbs to the sky. I have a little song about Izzy's that I sing in my head whenever I'm eating that ice cream. It's a happy song. I'm personally going to be really happy to have that at the field because I don't like my ice cream in a batting helmet.
It's important to know that while we stuck with profiling the new foods, your old faves are still available. Walk-a-Taco, Murray's steak sandwich, Mac's fish 'n' chips, Angie's Kettle Korn, and more are all still there.
So we ate a lot but we didn't eat everything. At the end of the tour we were treated to the display (don't touch) of The Bigger, Better, Burger Bloody Mary, which is a bloody topped with an assortment of trickery including a bacon cheeseburger. Wow. Just wow. I think if anyone sees someone walking down the concourse with that they should automatically offer up a high-five. Because that person is winning.