MEET THE ASTROS ROOKIES

Ken Hoffman reveals 19 outrageous new ballpark foods on the menu for Astros opening day

The massive Barbacoa Burger looks to be a hit. Photo by Ken Hoffman

Originally appeared on CultureMap

 

Nineteen rookies have made the Houston Astros' roster for their home opener on April 2 at Minute Maid Park.

Wait, you thought I meant 19 new players? Nah, that roster was pretty much set with almost every regular back from the 2017 World Series champs.

I'm talking about the menu at concessions stands. Where to start? How about a Three Little Pigs sandwich? This little piggy has slow-smoked pulled pork, spicy Italian sausage, black pepper bacon, cabbage slaw, and golden grain mustard BBQ sauce on a butter-toasted pretzel bun. Confirmed, that's just one sandwich, served at the Brew House Tiers in centerfield. 

Think about a Cinnamon Bun Sundae, with a warm giant cinnamon roll lost under vanilla bean ice cream, whiskey caramel sauce, Bailey’s chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and berries. Most cities have obscenity laws that prohibit this sort of thing. Available at the Brew House Tiers in centerfield.

"Being World Series champions has made it exciting for us," says Mat Drain, the Ayatollah of Aioli for Aramark, which runs the food show at Minute Maid Park. 

"We know we'll see an attendance increase so it energizes our culinary team to get more creative and make sure that we add more variety. Our goal is to improve the fans' experience every year."

The Astros held their annual hot dog and pony show to introduce new menu items to a curious and hungry crowd of media superstars. Watching the media eat makes the food fight scene from Animal House look like a Martha Stewart tea party.

I once got between Chronicle sports writer David Barron and a free cheeseburger. I spent three weeks in the hospital.

The Astros are really pushing the envelope on fan food this season (Cheddar Biscuits with Burnt Ends, seriously?), but the show-stopper is a Loaded BBQ Funnel Cake. It's got pulled pork, chopped beef, smoked sausage, citrus kale black bean slaw, and BBQ sauce on top of a deep-fried funnel cake. It’s available at the Brew House Tiers in centerfield.

Dominic Soucie, Aramark's resident evil genius, gave rise to this trifle.

"I was watching a show called Carnival Eats on the Food Network. Those chefs at state fairs and carnivals are very creative and I thought, 'Why not bring a taste of the carnival to the baseball stadium?' That's how I came up with the Loaded BBQ Funnel Cake. It has all four of the major 'S' food groups: sweet, savory, smoke, and spice."

The slogan for Astros players this year is "Never Settle." Here's a slogan for Astros fans: "Skip Lunch, Come Hungry."

Here’s the rest of the Astros' new menu items for 2018.

Jane Dough Cookie Dough 
Gourmet, edible, small-batch cookie dough. Sections 113, 129, 156 and 427. Also available at the Cookies & Creamery stand behind Section 219 and The Park stand behind 231.

Haute Dog
Foot-long hot dog served on a New England style roll with chopped brisket, bacon, BBQ sauce, and pickles. Served at the Budweiser Brew House in centerfield and the Texas Legends Grill behind Section 231.

Astros Slider Trio
Texas Pulled Pork Cheesesteak, with grilled onions and peppers, topped with queso blanco on a jalapeno cheddar hoagie. Texas Brisket Cheesesteak, with chopped brisket, etc. Hot Dog Sliders, on New England-style rolls. Available behind Section 114.

BBQ Burger
Grill beef patty with onion rings, bacon, jalapeno slaw and BBQ sauce on a Challah bun. Texans Legends Grill behind Section 231.

713 Burger
Nolan Ryan Beef patty on a jalapeno potato roll. Texans Legend Grill behind Section 231.

Taco Trio
Smoked pulled pork with pineapples and salsa verde on flour tortillas. The Taco Trio location behind Section 125.

Loaded Burrito
Choice of beef or chicken fajitas with cilantro lime rice, refried beans, cotija cheese, pico and sour cream crammed into a flour tortilla. HTX MEX behind Section 215.

Loaded Burrito Bowl
Same as the Loaded Burrito above, served in a bowl. HTX MEX behind Section 215.

Loaded Taco Fries
Fresh-cut fries smothered in picadillo, shredded lettuce, queso, olives, avocado, sour cream, and tortilla strips. The Brew House in centerfield.

.45 Express
Nolan Ryan Beef franks slathered with hot Cheetos, green chili queso, tortilla strips, cheese, pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos, sour cream, and cilantro, served on a crisp, corn tortilla inside a flour tortilla. Torchy’s Tacos in centerfield.

Barbacoa Burger
Braised beef, queso, pico de gallo, lettuce, avocado, and sunny side up egg served on a butter-toasted onion roll. Brew House Tiers in centerfield.

Osso Italian Nachos
Crispy pasta chips covered with ground Italian sausage, chopped tomato and formaggio blanco. Osso & Kristalla behind Section 226.

DAT Creole Meat Pie
Louisiana-spiced Akaushi beef with rougaroux sauce in flaky pastry. Osso & Kristalla behind Section 226.

Smoked Sausage and Queso Kolache
Jackson Street BBQ behind Section 124.

Cheddar Biscuit with Burnt Ends
Jackson Street BBQ behind Section 124.

You didn't think I forgot, did you?

The Astros better win on April 2, otherwise they won't be able to sell beer the rest of the year. How come?

Answer: they will have lost the opener.

Hysterical.

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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