As all the posters around town have suggested, “baseball is back” and we found ourselves at our first match up of the season, one rainy night. (Courtesy of @mikefitnessventures)
All games are rain or shine, as the stadium is sans roof. Wet or dry the players are on the mound so long as the down pour doesn’t cause a safety concern.
For most fair weather fans, a baseball match is not only about cheering for the home team, seeing how fast the pitcher hurls a ball, watching how the players steal a plate, or even cheering as Canadian geese land on the field and proceed to watch the game for the best seats in the house. It also isn’t just chicken dances, sushi races, or hugs from the team mascot. Food also plays a heavy role in the making of a great Vancouver Canadians home game. So here is what is new and worth trying the next time you find yourself at Nat Bailey enjoying a baseball game.
Those who have been before, know the best food and drinks are situated behind third base: outdoors, past the the regular indoor concession vendors. On a sunny day, this would be the hub of Nat Bailey with a bouncy castle and activities for younger children.
Here, event goers can enjoy the classic Canadian Clamato juice and vodka Caesar, as prepared by The Keg.
And the Smoke Shack is where you can get the longest Hot Dog in the city. Not just a foot long, but a whole yard. This is the “famous yard dog”, enough Hot Dog and bun to feed a family of four. It requires four hands and a speciality bun, to meet the lengthy strand of pork wiener. Both are warmed on the grill and wrapped in tin foil.
I definitely recommend having a second set of hands to help dole out your condiments. It takes 2 to hold and navigate the track in which your ketchup, mustard, relish, and raw onions will land; over the wiener and between the buns. And then when you need to carry it to your seat, an escort helps to navigate the crowds, and mind the stares of people in shock and awe of such an irregular sight.
And then the next challenge comes with eating it. I advise being seated and having your hands free. There is no way you can get the entire end in to your mouth, so find yourself nibbling on this like a squirrel. And there is no way you can finish it, so sharing is best. We each started on either ends and never made it near the middle. Naturally, it is hard to get all the condiments you need on this, so as you can imagine, are left with bites of plain dog and dry bun.
It wasn’t available when I visited, but I am told they now offer a giant pretzel as well. As is with the case with the yard dog, it doesn’t taste any different than a regular sized Hot Dog/pretzel, but the point is the portion size and the novelty of such an giant treat.
And because this was my guest’s first baseball game we had to do the cliché peanut pairing with out local craft beer on tap. A sip of cold flat beer from a plastic cup, followed by the snapping of peanuts, throwing them into your mouth, and discarding the shells in a neat pile by your foot.
And new to the stadium this year is barbecue by Rosie’s BBQ & Smokehouse, roaming food truck. You can order a handful of their bbq based offerings from the Smoke Shack; and take advantage of their entire menu when their red truck is parked outside of the stadium entrance, on select game days.
Rosie’s even has a new smoker to mark the occasion. This is “Hank”, who has travelled to his new home in Vancouver, all the way from Texas. And thanks to the upgrade Rosie’s can now accommodate bigger events and take their show on the road.
The 3 Nat Bailey menu items, offered at every game day are the Brisket sandwich, NAT stack with brisket and pulled pork, and Brisket nachos. The brisket sandwich is made with 63 acres pit brisket, sweet onions, Texas dipping sauce, pickles, and Martin’s potato bun. I haven’t tried the full sandwich, but can confirm that their brisket is tender and tasty.
If visiting Rosie’s actual food truck, Mandys smoked patty melt is the one to get. A sumptuous 63 acres chuck brisket patty smoked and seared with Texas burger sauce, onions, and American cheese. Juicy and gooey, this one satisfies when you are craving a heavy burger, or something for the day after a night of heavy drinking. I just wished for some pickles on the side to help inject some freshness in between charred bites.
And if you are looking for something less decadent, they also do a Smoked Turkey breast served with Texas toast and pickles. You don’t often see turkey being offered outside of Christmas or Thanksgiving, so it is nice to be given the option here. Although at the same time it felt like it was lacking without the add on of stuffing and tart cranberry. Nonetheless this was nice juicy turkey breast, on the leaner side, whereas I prefer mine saturated in butter for a more tender take.
We would get a taste of the above and a selection of Rosie’s other popular barbecue items in a sample tray with their housemade corn bread and tortillas prepared with plenty of gluten and beef tallow for a delicious fattiness to this unique side. Enjoy as is or use as a tasty base for your smoked meats.
In conclusion, a Vancouver Canadians baseball game is more than just watching the physical sporting match. It is an family friendly occasion for all ages, where you can gather with friends to eat and drink and enjoy some of the city’s most celebrated barbecue courtesy of Rosie’s. Be sure to look out for their tailgate dates before you purchase your game tickets, to maximize your time spent at the “old ball game”.
Vancouver Canadians Baseball Club
4601 Ontario St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3H4