The final day of my Spring Training sojourn around the Cactus League found me and Mike (that's him circled in yellow on the right side of the picture above) at Camelback Ranch in Glendale.
Only two years old, the Dodgers and White Sox share one of the largest facilities in all of Spring Training, with both teams having their own administrative buildings and practice fields, while the stadium itself can hold nearly 15,000 fans, including the lawn seating in the outfield and down the corners.
But not having paid much attention to the food at the previous stadiums, I decided to do a true taste challenge - hot dogs. I've remembered Dodger Dogs since I was a child; they were a staple of Dodger Stadium and as synonymous with the team as is Vin Scully. So given the opportunity to compare them to the famed Chicago Dog, complete with an authentic Vienna beef dog, was irresistible. Add to the mix the Sonoran Dog, a Tucson creation of an all-beef hot dog, pinto beans, pico de gallo, and salsa verde, and I had the makings of a gastronomical event the likes of which my colon had never seen.
To sum it up, the Chicago Dog was the runaway winner, despite the fact that I had to assemble it myself, but all the ingredients were available - pickle spears, tomato slices, neon-green pickle relish, onions, mustard, and the ubiquitous sport peppers and celery salt, all on a poppy seed bun. Flavorful, juicy, and much better than the attempts I've had before.
The Sonoran Dog was a distant second, and was missing ketchup and mayonnaise as key elements. The bacon was soggy and limp, and had it been crispier, the distance between it and the Chicago would have decreased considerably. But the wetness of the beans and salsa verde caused a major bun malfunction almost immediately, and relegated it to knife and fork status.
The Dodger Dog, however, was as bland and mushy as cheap bologna, which is how I described it to Mike. To which he replied, "Ew." Well said. Ever since Dodger Stadium amended their food policy to allow fans to bring in their own food, I haven't had a Dodger Dog, so somewhere along the line, the quality in either the meat itself from Farmer John (the longtime maker of them) or the concessions company took a major hit, but whatever the reason, this Dodger Dog was nasty beyond belief. You can do better, Dodgers, and you should.
And in an anti-baseball establishment statement, Mike decided to get some Asian noodles from Island Noodles, a surprising concessionaire that was at all the stadiums we visited. And he was doubly happy to add a liberal dose of Sriracha.
All in all, the weekend was great, it was wonderful to see Mike and Janelle again; it had been way too long since I had seen them last, and I got enough baseball in to springboard me into the regular season.