The official start of summer is still about three weeks away. But for baseball fans flocking to the region’s ballparks, summer is already here. And many are bringing their appetites with them to the game. On this week’s State of the Arts, WKSU’s Mark Arehart puts on a bib and tries two of the most extreme sandwiches the Northeast Ohio's ballparks have to offer.
Crackerjacks, peanuts and hotdogs will always be staples at baseball parks. Fans are now finding larger, more creative offerings on the menu. Like at Canal Park, home of the Akron Rubberducks. On this sunny day, I walk up to the concession stand and instantly see something that catches my eye: The LaMontagna sandwich.
"So we start with three pieces of garlic buttered Texas toast. We top that with balsamic onion relish, roasted red peppers, Five Star salami, pepperoni and two Five Star Italian sausages, as well as provolone cheese," Rubberduck's Executive Chef James Phillips said.
In all, that's around a pound and a half of meat. I gave it my all but could only finish half.
Phillips said they sell nearly a dozen La Montagnas each game. The sandwich is actually one of the items on Canal Park’s Extreme Foods Menu, alongside another sandwich affectionately known as the Notorious P.I.G.
That sandwich uses two fried pork tenderloins instead of buns to keep all its meaty goodness in place. Phillips said out-of-the-box offerings like this are a big hit.
"No longer do we necessarily need to be a destination just for hotdogs, just hamburgers and stuff. We offer everything here really, anything you can get at an ordinary restaurant."
Big League Sandwich
Not to be outdone, Major League menus have stepped up to the plate, as well.
At Progressive Field, I find myself in a hot and noisy kitchen. This is where Executive Chef Todd Brazile is cooking up the club’s newest sandwich. It’s called The Heater.
"An awesome sandwich. So we start with a sweet Hawaiian bun. And the first layer we’re going to use is our bacon jam," Brazile said as he stacks the sandwich with pulled pork, seared pork belly, a house-made apple slaw and chipotle barbeque sauce.
"And then we’re going to top it off with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos."
Brazile said the unusual topping is the key to this sweet, spicy and crunchy sandwich.
"Nice and messy, like any other barbeque you want to have."
But what if pork isn’t your thing? Well about 20 miles away at the Lake County Captains ballpark, there's a fried fish and clam sandwich called the Moby Dick. It features an entire loaf of Italian bread with a pile of French fries inside. In all the sandwich comes in around 5 pounds.
If you finish that monster by yourself you get a free T-shirt to go with your very full stomach.