Eve Batey (our concierge here at the SF Appeal) asked me to attend a meet and greet with celebrity chef Tyler Florence before Saturday’s Giants game.
Sure, I said. I love TyFlo and his fancy restaurants and cooking shows and la-ti-da cookery store. He even lives in my hometown in Mill Valley! Plus, I could spend some quality time with my brother Alex, a die-hard sports fanatic and foodie.
My brother picked me up Sunday morning and we headed out to AT&T Park by 11:30am for our special TyFlo time. Apparently, TyFlo is involved in some partnership with Major League Baseball and the California Table Grape Commission. As a result, he was pushing all kinds of grape recipes and throwing out the first pitch.
As we drove, Alex explained to me that this Giants vs. San Diego Padres game was kind of a big deal. He had all kind of sports explanations about pennants and things, but the gist was that it would delight everyone if the Giants won.
As we entered the park, Alex and I were handed Bruce Bochy bobblehead dolls.
“Who is Bruce Bochy?” I asked Alex as we rode the elevator to the fancy Club Level of AT&T Park. “Is he cute?”
“No.” My brother smiled. “He’s the manager.”
Baseball parks put my brother in an instant good mood. He walked around with a huge smile on his face, clutching his bobblehead and helping me try to find this grape party.
We asked a lot of AT&T Park personnel, none of whom knew who TyFlo was but all of whom said, “Oh, the grape thing? Sure. Make a left.”
Eventually, we were instructed to this weird lobby area that looked like an airport waiting area. Baseball fans might know it as the far end of the Club Level table and chairs section.
A thousand year old woman was stationed at the entrance, and all we had to say to her was “grapes” and she let Alex and me in. A very pretty and young publicist came up, introduced herself and told us to please enjoy the buffet. TyFlo would be up to say hi at any moment. And we should be sure to try the grape relish.
I had to hand it to the publicist. She’d managed to find the cutest orange flowy cardigan in the world. Female Giants fans find all kinds of creative ways to make orange attractive. As a casual enjoyer of spectator sports and “a winter” I own very little in Giants orange. Also, I don’t care. I wore pink.
We were two of maybe 10 or 12 folks who’d showed up for this thing. Standing around holding our bobbleheads felt a little awkward.
So Alex and I took a peek at the TyFlo/Grape Commission buffet, noting potato salad, hot dogs and cookies. I stuffed some water and cracker jack bags in my handbag for later, and tried a bit of the grape relish.
“What do you think?” I asked Alex.
“It’s chopped up grapes,” he said.
My poor bag was overflowing, with the water bottles I was stealing and our huge, boxed bobbleheads. “I’m already sick of this bobblehead.”
With that, TyFlo arrived with an entourage and entered this little lobby area. As Alex and I were closest to him, the publicist brought him right over to us.
“Hello!” I introduced myself and my brother.
TyFlo, who called my brother, “brother” seemed far more into talking to Alex. Alex was, after all, sporting a Giants hoodie and obvious, visual knowledge of the great American pastime. I’d just blown out my hair and donned a mom-tunic.
Anyway, I decided to announce to TyFlo all that we had in common.
“Our hometown is Mill Valley!” I beamed.
Guess who didn’t give a shit.
Next, I asked, “So I understand you’re throwing out the first pitch. Have you been practicing?”
This question, I should confess, was based upon an episode of the West Wing in which President Bartlett practices his pitches in the hallways.
TyFlo dives into this long speech about his love of the game and something about pitching from the rubber, which I felt sounded sexual.
And that was that. As he walked away, Alex leaned in and whispered, “What the fuck? He didn’t even answer the question.”
So we bailed. I wanted to go try some appetizers at Public House and Alex wanted a beer. But that was doubly complicated because leaving the park with bobbleheads involved engaging security in complex transactions and searches and special re-entry gates. Alex and I ended up walking the entire perimeter of AT&T park, carrying these stupid Bruce Bochy bobbleheads the entire time.
Oh, and we also had grape cookbooks at this point.
Finally, we found our seats along the third base line, got some snacks and some drinks and settled in. And there, on the field and looking confident, was TyFlo ready to throw out the first pitch.
“This better be good.” Alex mumbled.
TyFlo wound up the pitch (sports term) and tossed.
“OH!” My brother winced. “It bounced!”
“Is that bad?” I asked, half knowing that it must be. I mean, this isn’t basketball.
“Yeah.” My brother said. “YOU could hit the mitt.”
With that, we watched the game, my brother screamed and yelled the whole time, some weirdo down in front led us in cheers for four hours and 11 innings later, the Giants won.
I learned that when one’s team is behind, one might turn their baseball hat inside out and wear what is known as a “rally cap.” I also learned about Brian Wilson’s orange shoe controversy and that both Buster Posey and Aubrey Huff have overcome embarrassing names by becoming professional athletes.
I also spent an afternoon with my adorable little brother who made me laugh, shared his nachos and offered the following thoughts via email:
Well, you stole my question and TyFlo didn’t answer it anyway. We asked if he trained and all he said was some BS about how he loves the game. I remember the relish was just chopped up grapes. I remember you bitching about the bobble head the whole time. I remember walking around the whole stadium for no reason. Just as an FYI you might want to point out that the Giants won only one out of three in the very important series and they one win was the game we went too.
My brother is obviously much more brief than me, but there you have it. The Giants won, TyFlo is too cool for school and bobbleheads should come with carrying cases.
Thanks California Grape Commission! I might not have swooned over TyFlo’s grape relish, as was probably the idea, but I enjoyed sibling bonding and still intend to try the Wayfare Tavern. So it all worked out.