After getting the news that Citizens Bank Park won "Best Ballpark Eats" at the Food Network's first-ever awards gala, I made a beeline for the next game, which turned out to be a humdinger.
The next day's headline was, "Phils unleash 20-hit attack while routing the Astros." Plus, it gave a tip o' the hat to Jackie Robinson. Finally. What wasn't to like?
The Cit, or whatever it's called, beat out Baltimore's Camden Yards, where I seem to remember getting decent barbecued beef, and AT&T Park in San Francisco and Safeco Field in Seattle, both of which should be honored for having names worse than Citizens Bank Park.
It seems like it was quite a contest. I didn't see the TV special. But ballpark eats was just the tip of the iceberg.
There were awards for Delicious Destination of the Year, for Hot Chocolate, and Tasty Technology. (That one went to PolyScience's Anti-Griddle, a cooktop that freezes instead of cooks. You slap your puree on that sucker and in seconds it's frozen solid, or you can set it so just the surface freezes and the center stays creamy. But whatever you do, don't lick the thing!)
There were categories for Edible Entrepreneur (don't ask), and Favorite Classic Read (Green Eggs and Ham took home the bacon), and on and on; Play With Your Food (a Jello-O artist walked way with first place), Better Burger, Delectable Delivery, Supermarkets (Wegman's, of course), and on.
It was a sweet, balmy April evening at The Cit. The Food Network said it had won - the winner was selected by viewers voting online - because its food stands had a distinctively "Philadelphia flavor."
This would include Rick's Steaks, Chickie's and Pete's Crab Fries (which are your standard, ripple-cut french fries sprinkled with Old Bay or something like it for $5.50 a cup), Planet Hoagie, Bull's BBQ, Peace A Pizza (Is Buffalo Wing Bleu Cheese-style Pizza a Philly thing these days?), Turkey Hill ice cream, and not least, Tony Luke's juicy, hot roast-pork sandwiches with a small plastic tub of broccoli rabe.
I know about the Tony Luke's sandwiches: I once missed two critical innings of baseball standing in line for one of them.
But a funny thing happened this time. You could walk right through those zigzag mazes and get a cheesesteak or barbecue or a pork sandwich, no waiting. It looked like they'd been busted for salmonella, not awarded "best eats."
It was Dollar Dog night, folks. And guess what? If you give 32,517 fans a choice between paying $7.75 for a cheesesteak, and a buck for a hot dog right off the grill (before they wrap it in a death-shroud of foil as the game progresses), the winner ain't in question.
So you could see many sights this particular evening - Jimmy Rollins dishing out a triple, concessions promising, "We fry in zero trans-fat oil" (neglecting to mention the scarily high caloric content of the items being so fried), and Chase Utley walloping a cinematic, 460-foot homer in the seventh.
The grilled Hatfield dogs - if you got them early on - were spicy, greasy exemplars of the genre. And while the signage said purchase was limited to six per person, this was not always the case.
On the Broad Street subway rattling north after the game, one young fellow seemed to have a bag of a few dozen, enough for a dog breakfast - you might say - for the whole frat house.
It was a moment, to borrow a line from the Food Network, that had a distinctively Philadelphia flavor.