World Series Party
A hot dog at the ball game beats roast beef at the Ritz
So true, Humph. However, most of us will be enjoying the World Series from the comfort of a living room. Still, that’s no reason not to eat well. For those hosting a World Series Party we’ve put together some food and drink ideas evoking both cities and the explosive poetry that is baseball. First up. . .
Philly Cheese-steak Sandwich
What else, besides Rocky, comes to mind when someone says “Philly” but the cheese-steak sandwich? This glorious combination of steak & cheese on an Italian roll came to be in the early 1930s at the hands of Pat and Harry Olivieri, a pair of hot dog vendors near south Philly’s Italian market. Their first sandwiches were served sans cheese until a drunk, obnoxious fella named Joe “Cocky Joe” Lorenza added provolone to the mix in the 40s. Frank Olivieri Jr. (Pat was his great-uncle) gives a hilarious oral account of the cheese-steak’s provenance in an interview with Philadelphia Magazine. For the sandwich check out Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, but also check out Rachel Ray’s bite size variation―the Philly cheese-steak crostini. One last thing about the sandwich: skip the cheese-like product so favoured by so many and go straight for a real, not processed, sharp provolone. You won’t be disappointed.
A classic of the ballpark experience the soft pretzel, I was amazed to learn, is as much a part of Philly’s culinary history as it is New York’s. In fact Pennsylvania―where the first American flag was sewn, the Declaration of Independence signed, the Battle of Gettysburg fought ―is also home to Sturgis’ Bakery, founded in 1861 as the USA’s first commercial pretzel bakery and the first of many in that state. However, the soft pretzel is as much New York as Times Square and the Empire State Building. Soft pretzels are mainly a vehicle for salt and mustard and best enjoyed the day they are made. I heartily recommend the boil-first method for a softer, fluffier pretzel. This version from epicurious.com will yield a classic; have spicy and sweet mustards on hand to garnish.
Another stalwart of baseball cuisine, this is a cheap ‘n’ easy snack to have within reach for those idle moments between scarfing hoagies and pretzels. You can make this with or without peanuts; either way, it’s a perfect, sweet foil to the aforementioned salty soft pretzel. Serve in small brown paper bags for authenticity.
Beer, Bronx Cocktails, Manhattans, and Fish House Punch
Frankly, beer is the natural beverage of choice to accompany meat sandwiches, pretzels, and baseball. If you find yourself, as I have on occasion, with copious amounts of beer and nary a spot in the fridge to cool it, try this wicked little trick for cooling your beverage in 10 minutes or less. If you are considering pre- or post-game cocktails, the Bronx Cocktail and the Manhattan are excellent choices. The Bronx Cocktail―a perfect Martini with the addition of orange juice―was actually invented in Philadelphia. The eponymous Manhattan, on the other hand, is wholly New York, a drinking man’s drink and will not steer you wrong. Well, it might. Finally, despite its somewhat unappetizing name, Fish House Punch is a great option for serving large groups and has been so in America since 1732. Now that’s a punch with a pedigree.