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Press Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle

What’s New

Kim Severson, Carol Ness

Is the Cracker Jack organic, too?

The latest food offering at Pacific Bell Park affords the rest of the country yet another reason for a collective eye roll at California’s expense.

Now, in addition to fish tacos, fresh mangos and garlic fries, a select group of San Francisco Giants fans can get organic produce and vegetarian goat cheese sandwiches.

The food at the new stand comes from the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market in downtown San Francisco, where ballpark chef Rey Hernandez shops twice a week for game-day supplies. On the menu this past weekend: A rustic baguette stuffed with goat cheese, arugula, grilled peppers and eggplant and topped with salsa verde ($6.50); stone fruit ($2 apiece); Meyer lemonade with blackberries ($4.25); roasted corn on the cob with garlic butter ($3.50); yogurt-berry parfaits with Straus whole milk yogurt and organic granola ($4.50), and a made-to-order strawberry shortcake ($4). The bad news is the cart is only available to people who have tickets for suites or the AAA and field club levels, where a much more sophisticated and exclusive selection of food is available than in the rest of the park.

The slow, handcrafted of the nature of the food served at the booth means fans might not see goat cheese sandwiches in the cheap seats, a stadium spokesperson says.

“”That will be a very long shot because it is a very labor- intensive area,” says Markus Hartmann, general manager of Bon Appetite’s ballpark operation. The VIP caterer feeds about 11,000 seats out of 42,000 at the stadium.

Of course, organic apricots and lemon thyme-scented lotus root chips will likely never unseat the hot dog, the undisputed king of the ballpark. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that baseball fans will eat 26. 1 million hot dogs this year.

At the Oakland Network Associates Coliseum, one out of every four fans has a hot dog … despite of new offerings including popcorn shrimp, fish and chips and an outrageous dessert featuring a slice of cheesecake wrapped in a flour tortilla, deep-fried and coated in cinnamon and sugar.

On any given game in San Francisco, fans buy 8,000 Giants dogs … the most popular of 10 different kinds of hot dogs sold at the park. That includes this year’s new addition to the hot dog line-up: a vegetarian dog.

Garlic fries are going strong, too, with six stands at Pac Bell Park devoted to nothing else. Other ballparks around the country have tried to adapt the recipe, including Seattle and Minnesota. But unless they follow the recipe exactly, the fries don’t turn out right. The secret, beyond olive oil and the black pepper, is fresh, hand-chopped parsley, says Greathouse.

You won’t find good garlic fries at Dodger Stadium, even though the food service tried to copy the San Francisco dish.

“”We didn’t give them the right recipe,” food and beverage manager Bill Greathouse says. “”We don’t like the Dodgers.”

— Kim Severson .

Market Watch

The produce aisles heat up.

The recent heat wave unleashed a torrent of melons. Crenshaws and sharlyns are kicking in alongside peak cantaloupes and watermelon.

In the organic bins, look for the orange-fleshed Orchid and little yellow Doll watermelons.

Elegant Lady peaches, the Valley’s best, are flooding in, along with increasingly popular white peaches and white nectarine. Full pints of Northwestern blueberries are here, with prices plummeting.

Organic treats just in are Elephant Heart plums, with their greenish skin and purple meat, and tiny fresh Zantz currants.

Also look for new local red torpedo onions and the first sweet red corn.

More Alaskan fish is showing up in response to consumer demand for more sustainably harvested seafood. The Berkeley Bowl has Alaska king salmon as well as hook-and-line rock cod, and expects small Alaskan cohos by the end of the week.

— Carol Ness .

Discovery

This stuff’s the real deal, eh?

When it comes to Canadian bacon, most Americans likely have never tasted the real thing. Now they can — without crossing the border.

What passes as Canadian-style bacon in this country is a cured and smoked, ham-like meat. Real Canadian bacon isn’t. It starts as a lean cut from the loin. Next, it’s cured in a sweet and salty brine.

Many Canadians call it peameal bacon, not Canadian bacon (which would be redundant, eh?). That’s because in the old days, the pork would have been coated with pea meal. These days, cornmeal is used, says Ken Haviland, president of the REAL Canadian Bacon Co. — which is in Michigan, not Canada. Confused?

The Chronicle Food staff loved it. .