Why Livermore, you ask? Well…blame it on the Little League Intermediate World Series! Yes, Gary and I are in Livermore, where Gary is umpiring–but that’s another post altogether.
Adventures in eating started out out in Union City on Saturday, July 27, where Gary and I met up with my great-niece Joy and her kids and Aunt Thelma at the Outback Steakhouse. Since I knew there was a Goldilocks’ bakery nearby, I mentioned this to Joy, and she ended up taking us to Red Ribbon and then to Valerio’s bakery right next door. Well, guess what? Coconut macaroons, mocha mamon, ensaimada, mango cupcakes, and a container of kakanin–pandan-favored biko, regular biko, palitaw, kutsinta, espasol. Red Ribbon had all the fancy cakes and pastries, but Valerio’s was like walking into the neighborhood bakery of my childhood in Manila. Name it, they had it–and they have a website I have to check out.
Sunday July 27 meant going to church, and while sitting in the car afterwards, I convinced Gary to check out the Farmers’ Market near downtown Livermore. Gorgeous golden cling peaches–you know, looks like the one on the can? Even better because this was a real peach the size of my hand. I kid you not. Samples of fresh fruit, pluots, peaches, nectarines, grapes, strawberries. Fresh vegetables from a local farm, home-made jams and jellies, kettle corn, and pita chips and several types of hummus. Olives with a bite and the best stuffed grape leaves I have ever had. Fresh, lemony, toothsome. And bread. So we ended up with artichoke hummus, regular hummus, stuffed grape leaves, asiago sourdough, strawberries (a half-box for $10), two of each of the peaches, yellow/green/pink pluots, black plums, red plums.
Monday night after the LLWS parade in downtown Livermore, the umpire crew and families dined at Cattleman’s Choice. The best 8-ounce sirloin I have ever had. Cooked medium, it was soft and buttery–put all other steaks I have eaten to shame. Nothing can compare. Yet. I am sure there is another steak round the corner waiting to be eaten, but for now, this has set the bar. And their version of a blooming onion. Wow. A plateful of thinly sliced onion strips with a fine coating of batter. The onion strips were probably about 6-9 inches high. My mouth is watering just thinking of the steak and onions.
And now, drum roll please: concession stand food. Tri-tip sandwich. Excellent. I am sure that the burgers, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches were good, but the tri-tip cast them all in the shade. So much meat in a steak roll for $8,which normally costs $6 during the regular season. Freshly cooked–didn’t need to add anything else to the sandwich, the meat tender with the right amount of chew. I had to get a second one after the third game last night, and this time I added a little barbecue sauce. The sauce added the right touch of spicy flavor if you really wanted it, but the plain sandwich didn’t need it. Really.
As an umpire’s wife, it’s my duty to check out concession stands at the ballparks we go to, and Livermore has moved up to the top of the list. Woodbridge’s Vets Park was on the list when they had the crab cakes and the pulled pork, but since they changed the concession stand manager, it hasn’t been the same. Am staying put in the hotel today, so I am going to finish off the stuff in the fridge for lunch. If need be, there is a Wendy’s across the street, but don’t hold much hope for the pretzel bun chicken. We had that for lunch on Monday. ‘Nuff said. Don’t go out of your way for this.
Food trucks? The Hawaiian shaved ice stand (pineapple and orange flavor, LARGE), the coffee/dessert stand? And Friday’s Puerto Rican dinner, which consisted of a beef empanadilla, rice and peas, and fried plantains. That was real good.
I expect Saturday is going to have an even bigger variety, with more folks coming to the ball field. I expect there will be more. Sunday will be even better…