Photo Sarah Wyatt
Ethan Stowell serving sumptuous sandwiches at Safeco Field’s Bullpen Market.

Safeco concessions go to bat with Ballard food vendors

by Sarah Wyatt

The Mariners have your peanuts and Cracker Jack…and Dungeness crab rolls.
Popcorn, peanuts and beer: the aroma of traditional baseball stadium food signals the beginning of spring. Mariners fans have enjoyed these staples for decades, but times change and so do the tastes of baseball fans. This season, ravenous Mariners fans will enjoy their favorite baseball staples, many with new tweaks. Over the weekend, the Seattle Mariners debuted their new concessions menu, a progressive selection of comfort foods crafted by several Ballard vendors, including Bonache Sauce, Hot Cakes, Ballard Bee Company and chef Ethan Stowell.

Centerplate, the Mariners’ hospitality partner, worked with local vendors to develop a new Northwest seafood menu with a nod to traditional baseball culture. Along with the contemporary versions of the old favorites, several new cocktail and beer offerings will all bring the fans out to the ballgame.

Along with chicken wings, tater tots, fish and chips, crab rolls and salmon chowder, Safeco Field’s updated menu now includes cask-conditioned ale from local brewers that will pair well with the new menu offerings. Seattle’s burgeoning craft distillery community is represented at Safeco Field with a line of hand-crafted cocktails. The libations are available at the Sound Bar, located near Sound Seafood, and feature local, small-batch premium spirits from local vendors such as Fremont Mischief Distillery.

Fan destination

Safeco Field’s Bullpen Market, previously a dank, cramped space, had a complete overhaul in 2011. Located in left and center field adjacent to the home and visitor’s bullpens, “The ‘Pen” is now a spacious, open area with a fire pit, cocktail bar and food concession stands.

The culinary star of The ‘Pen is Ethan Stowell, executive chef and owner of Staple & Fancy Mercantile on Ballard Avenue. His food philosophy--“all about keeping it simple, using fresh ingredients and allowing the food to do the talking”—is a good fit for the local baseball crowd. For several years, he has offered selections at the ballpark such as grass-fed BBQ brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, Italian sausage and bratwurst, an updated ‘anti-fast-food’ burger and an Oyster Po’ Boy. Stowell hopes his new offerings will be popular with the fans.
"We're very excited to bring our new seafood and wings to the ballpark this year," says Chef Stowell. "Seattle has such a great abundance of seafood and it's wonderful to offer even more of it to the fans and, the wings we've worked on are some of the best in town, and a fantastic addition to The 'Pen. I've very much enjoyed working with the Safeco Field Hospitality team the last few years and it just keeps getting better and better."\

The Pen gets saucy

Stowell and Ballard’s Bonache Sauce will take on the park’s favorite finger food, chicken wings. Inspired by flavors found in Belizean and Panamanian sauces, Bonache owner Mark Olsen created a line of condiments that he promises will bring the heat but focus on flavor of the wings. The Classic variety is spiced with the company’s Socorro sauce, while Honey Serrano wings are flavored with the Hatch variety along with honey from Ballard Bee Company.

“I had very little interest in creating a 'melt-your-face-off' type of hot sauce,"
explained Bonache founder Marc Olsen. “The 'magic' in eating chilies occurs largely in the vastly enhanced and expanded flavor pallet that they can facilitate in the food. Even the most basic types of food, like rice and beans, can be transformed entirely.”

A suite deal

Hot Cakes in Ballard, known for its molten chocolate cakes, cookies and s’mores, will debut on the Safeco Field private suites menu. Chocolatier Founder Autumn Martin created an array of cakes, tarts cookies and other treats for guests in the ballpark’s premium suites. Martin founded Hot Cakes in 2008, selling the namesake molten chocolate cakes in mason jars at the Ballard Farmers Market. In May of 2012, she opened Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery on Ballard Avenue.
Fans can enjoy the shameless noshing along with unobstructed views of the playing field from The ‘Pen. The area opens a half-hour earlier than other entrances, giving hungry fans a chance to eat while watching batting practice. The Mariners take on the Oakland Athletics at Safeco this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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