#uvsecrets: Meet Hartford’s Hidden Food Scene

"We went to Fenway last week, but frankly, I'd rather be here," says Marty Bascom of E. Randolph (with his daughter, Sarah)

Okay, not hidden exactly. It’s there in plain sight, if we're being honest. 

You just have to know where to find it.

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It's not in downtown WRJ, although that's a pretty great food scene, too. Nope, instead you need to get yourself over to an Upper Valley Nighthawks game when the team’s playing at home. At the Maxfield Sports Complex along Route 5 in Hartford, you’ll find a little cluster of food trucks gathered along the road behind home plate and beside the first-base line.

We’re not talking anything exotic — this is a baseball field, after all — but it's not hot dogs, either. If you’re in the mood for a serious ball game, and get a kick out of watching kids chase helter-skelter after fouls, and like hanging out with your Upper Valley neighbors on a lazy, laid-back evening that doesn’t break the bank, you can make a full, delicious meal of it. For one thing, there’s Wicked Awesome BBQ’s truck, with pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches.

Debby Fennelly, co-owner of Wicked Awesome Bbq: "We're a little food-truck family here."

Farther down, Mike Welch serves pizza and tacos--he was off preparing for the Quechee Balloon Festival the night we were there, or else his picture would be here, too. Beyond him, Quechee Pizza Chef’s Nick Tsouknakis sets up a beer truck with Switchback, Harpoon, Zero Gravity, River Roost, and other mainstays of the Vermont craft beer scene on tap. “Vermont is kind of the Napa Valley of beer,” he says, happily. 

Nick Tsouknakis: "This is my first year doing this, and everyone I talk to, they're so happy I'm here."

And finally, of course, there’s the joint Mac’s Maple, McNamara Dairy truck. This is where you go for dessert. Not to cast aspersions on you fine people who settle for maple kettle corn or maple cotton candy, but really, this is where you need to go anytime (on a game night, that is) you have a hankering for a maple creamee. Sprinkled with maple-candy chunks. A treat that none of your flatland friends can even dream of, let alone procure on a regular basis. It takes about two hours to make a batch of maple candy, says Liz McNamara, and you really don’t want to let all that work go to waste.

Hungry yet? There’s a home game tomorrow night, June 20, against the Valley Blue Sox from Holyoke, MA. And if you miss that, the Nighthawks still have 16 home games to go.

Liz McNamara (left) and Abi Marsh, of Mac's. Those ears? It was Bark in the Park for Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society night.


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