Sunday, November 29, 2009
F-O-O-D Food! Food! Food!
Throughout the Fall and in the beginning of Winter, there’s really nothing better than a Sunday afternoon, a comfortable couch, good people to be around, and a full football game ahead of you featuring your favorite NFL team.
Well…maybe I take that back. Take that exact same scenario, eliminate the couch, and instead replace it with a seat in the actual stadium the game is being played in. Yeah, now there really might be nothing better than that.
Oh, nope…I’ve got it. Keep the stadium seat, the game, and the people. Add the stadium parking lot, a grill, and a whole truck bed full of food and equipment for a high-scale tailgate, and I think you’ve hit Nirvana.
Yep, it’s true. And I am humbled and grateful to say that I have been to there.
We pulled up into the Gillette Stadium parking lot 3 hours before kick-off. Packed into the black truck like sardines, there was Warren at the helm, Mad-Dog Jim as wing-man, and Kate, Bobby, Molly, and I happily wedged in the back. We parked and unloaded, and the tailgate – or should I say Pregame Show – began.
To maintain proper hydration, Warren unloaded a bar with a wealth of options, ranging from his kickin’ Bloody Mary’s, to his famous Rum Punch, to his ‘Double D’ Margaritas (Delicious and oh-so Dangerous…as many of us have learned). Not to mention a selection of beer and wine, if we were so inclined. We couldn’t risk losing a member of our team from dehydration.
Bobby was quick to set up the grill, and the coals were glowing in the chimney before we knew it. The first trays were ready to hit the heat. It was on.
First there was the reheating of Kate and Bobby’s spinach and cheese pastry rolls. Flaky, buttery pastry dough encasing a mixture of earthy spinach and salty cheese. All in a fun spiral shape – great looking and even better tasting! A great jump start for the taste buds.
Second was Bobby’s ‘Multi-Layer’ Dip. This is the title you give an attempt to replicate a classic 7 Layer Dip, but forget how many layers you added to it when you’re finished. We quickly forgot about the number ambiguity though after our first bites. Its blend of refried beans, guacamole, salsa, cheese, sour cream, bell peppers, etc., etc….tasted perfectly delicious in every Tostitos Scoop we devoured.
Then there were Kate’s marinated steak tips. Her homemade marinade/sauce was savory but sweet, with the ‘No Way!’ ingredient being Coca-Cola. After only a few minutes of hitting the hot grill, these tender, juicy, and perfectly seasoned tips were sliced and consumed with closed eyes and smiles. Utterly delicious. Let’s just say I still think about them.
Game faces necessary.
Bobby’s chicken was marinated simply but perfectly with rosemary, olive oil, and sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar. Paired with the grilled skewers of peppers, onions, and mushrooms and you had yourself an ideal, well rounded pre-game munchie.
Warren’s concoction hit the grill next. After taking the time to bring it up to temperature, he lifted the layer of aluminum foil to reveal both spicy and sweet Italian chicken sausage simmering in his homemade tomato sauce. With a spoonful of sauce you tasted the sweetness of the tomatoes, the saltiness of the parmesan, and the kick of the red pepper in a 1-2-3 punch. Thrown on a toasted roll with added parmesan cheese on top and you’re in a good place. Licking the escaped sauce off of your fingers after consumption brings the whole experience together.
Finally Kate’s huge tray of Mac and Cheese had waited long enough in line and reheated on the coals. Molly happily stirred as I documented. “Wow the first picture ever of me cooking!...well, sort of cooking.” Cheesy and gooey, just like you dream about, and especially delicious with Warren’s sauce mixed in with it. Some pasta shells escaped the tray and fell onto the grill grates from vigorous mixing, which Molly and I quickly took advantage of. The crispy, cheesy product that came from the single grilled noodles was an unanticipated delicacy.
And just in case we felt lost during the stretches of time when food was either being cooked or heated, there were chips (Cape Cod of course) and crackers, cheese, and salami at the ready to hold us over and bridge the gaps. And just when you think that that may have been enough, there was no way we were resisting the Wings & Beer Bar (the booth might as well have had the lights of heaven shining behind it) in the clubhouse at half time. Half with buffalo and half with teriyaki sauce, please.
We sat and stood and cheered for the Pats with full and happy bellies. We had known well before that we would be in no need for dessert at our tailgate - Leigh Bodden’s 3 interceptions and the Pats solid 31-14 revenge victory over the Jets was deliciously sweet enough.
Good food and good football. I’ll take it any day.