Victory Knot a Victory for Dodgers

One day before the season begins, I found myself heading up Elysian into the Dodger Stadium parking lot. The gate attendant draws my attention to follow a blue line that will take me to the Stadium Club. I am no stranger to the Stadium Club, but I never had noticed the super-convenient blue line that takes you on a beeline directly to Lot M. It kind of made me think about all the things I don’t notice in life. Like the birthdays of people I care about.

The parking lot has that “morning of a wedding” day feel. There are all kinds of people coming in and out of the stadium with purpose. Crews are landscaping and painting. Chavez Ravine is being primped and primed. I feel like I should have worn an Easter dress. It’s that big of a day.

I call Dodgers’ Executive Chef Joseph Martin once I enter the building and he takes me to an impressive spread surrounded by his sous chefs and cooks. This spread represents the new items available throughout Dodger Stadium this year. There are the new fish tacos and a collection of new desserts that will be available on the sweets cart that comes around the luxury boxes. While everything looks good, there are two items that stand out.

The first is the Picante Dog, a returning concession stand hero back after a hard fought Facebook campaign brought it back from the grave. It was right there just as I remembered it from my first Dodger games as a young buck visiting from the Conejo Valley. Not to wax poetic, but for many people I assume the return of the Picante Dog will feel similar to seeing former Dodger legends strolling around the ballpark: It is great to see them and they are a little thicker than you remembered them.

The other item has already gotten quite a bit of press, but I am confident I am the first to have conquered it. This is truly a report from the gastronomical front line as I am the first blogger to have eaten the new Victory Knot successfully (to my knowledge).

The Victory Knot is simply a two-pound pretzel served in a pizza box. It's as simple and as amazing as it sounds. The Victory Knot is a warm, doughy pretzel so big it could feed four people (or two drunk guys or an entire sorority). It comes with beer cheese (to go with your beer), a mustard for the purists and a creamy icing that sort of elevates the Victory Knot into dessert territory. This is the stuff that dreams are made of. While not exclusively at Dodger Stadium, the Victory Knot is the exact direction stadium food should be moving. By that I mean portions that require a pizza box.

Some other news sources began taking photos, but I wanted to speak more with Chef Martin. He’s got a great way about him and he seems to really love his job. I’d probably call this guy to get a beer. I ask to go outside to view the inspired new outdoor seating at the Stadium Club. If you remember, there used to be a dipped down area of window seating, which has now been replaced by a wall of glass doors and outdoor dining areas. It is vibrant and really connects the club to the stadium. I can imagine drinking a beer before the game and watching the field crew prep the diamond. It's an inspired idea.

Chef Martin used to work with the Lakers, but Dodger Stadium was always his dream kitchen. It comes through in his enthusiasm. I asked him if he thought the Victory Knot would translate to more victories on the field or the added mental advantage we need to combat the cheesesteak-powered Philadelphia Phillies should we meet in this year’s NLCS (again). He laughs and says he hopes so. I asked him about our slow start this season (2-4, our worst beginning in seven years). He simply tells me he is excited to have the team back for “some home cooking”. I like this guy.

After a brief discussion about the 240 plus pounds of beef tenderloin being served in the Dugout Club on tomorrow’s opening day, he gives me a Victory Knot for the road. I looked for a wheelbarrow to help me get it back to my car, but decide this will be my cardio for the day. This thing may be two pounds, but it feels like twenty. It makes me love America.

Before leaving, I take the time to look around the stadium a bit. It is honestly the best it has looked on Opening Day in the six years I have been a season ticket holder. There have been many modifications and improvements I suspect will not get press beyond this post. The details are all there, however. There is fresh paint, new signs and architectural tweaks all around. There is new art on the walls. I even saw a photo of Mike Scioscia displayed prominantly behind the concierge desk. I was glad to see the Dodgers still want to claim him.

This mid-century cathedral to the American Game looks as promising as the thought of another summer of baseball. I am reminded again every April why the worst thing that could happen to this city is another bland, billion-dollar stadium with its frills and gimmicks. This is the house that Koufax built.

With so much talk of non-baseball issues this offseason regarding the Dodgers, things appear to be alive and well at the Ravine. The stadium looks sharp and fresh. There are bounces in people’s steps. The season is upon us and I cannot wait to enjoy it one Victory Knot at a time.