I got a comment on the last posting from our man Therbs, who's looking to watch the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks and wants to have a Super Bowl party. If I was in Australia I'd be at the beach or watching the cricket (not the game-actually watching a cricket rub his legs together and chirping), but to each his own.
Kickoff where he's at is 8:30 am. Hmm. That's breakfast time. That adds a whole new dimension to the party. Most of what we serve at football parties is more lunch and supper type stuff.
Now, most college and pro football fans and Milwaukee Brewers baseball fans have tailgate cuisine down to a fine art-but they're not usually doing breakfast nosh. I'd bet it's the same with AFL and rugby fans there.
He's thinking of an American-style breakfast (pancakes or ham and eggs) and hot dogs for halftime. Not bad. Even wants to buy some American brew for atmosphere. If he wants to make it authentic he'll charge his guests $8/cup and it'll be watered down in the interest of maximizing profits.
For a sports party, of course, the big key is that the food needs to be portable-something you can eat while sitting in front of the tube. You don't want to be getting up to a table and risk missing a play.
So, since Therbs has asked me for some ideas, here goes:
-For breakfast, maybe go with bacon instead of ham. Yeah, bacon is a nutrional time bomb. Everyone likes it anyway. How about scrambling the eggs with onions and bell peppers and serving with salsa on top for quick and dirty huevos rancheros? I don't know what the salsa situation is there, but you all eat tomatoes with your breakfast anyway so it won't be a foreign concept.
-A proper Midwesterner would grill up some bratwurst for his tailgate instead of hot dogs. Not that hot dogs are bad, but bratwurst generally have a better aroma and taste. You could even do up brats for the breakfast meat instead of bacon. If you can get good bratwurst, I'd run with that. If frankfurters is what there is, so be it. Grill them if you can.
-Still another option for the halftime/in-game snack is doing a batch of chicken wings. Buffalo wings are popular here (though not my personal favorite). If you have Buffalo wings, you need to serve them with celery sticks and blue cheese or blue cheese dressing on the side. As an alternate you could do up barbecued wings-just bake up a bunch smothered in your favorite barbecue sauce (if you have one). You'll want to do a few dozen since they don't have a lot of meat on them.
-The halftime fallback can also be pizza, which I'm sure you can make or have delivered right around late morning.
-You may want to have a bowl or two of salty snacks on hand-crisps, popcorn, etc., or a tray of cheese, sausage, and crackers. You could put out a tray of vegetables like broccoli, carrots, radishes, cauliflower, etc. or a tray of fruits. Some roughage might help push everything else through the system.
-As for libations, well, you could go with a run-of-the-mill Yank brew like Bud or Miller. Personally, I'd see if I could get Samuel Adams beer. That may not be available most places outside of the US, but you may as well have a decent American product. I'd have no problem with serving whatever Melbourne's best is, though. Life's too short to drink bad beer.
It wouldn't be unheard of to see Bloody Marys at a tailgate, either. Or hot chocolate or coffee fortified with a splash of whiskey or rum. Might think about those as well.
Huevos rancheros, with bratwurst as the meat for breakfast.
Halftime/in-game of wings and assorted snacks.
Beer/Bloody Mary/Hot cocoa-coffee
There you are. Unfortunately, the hard-and-fast rule of Super Bowl parties is that there aren't really any hard-and-fast rules for what to serve (other than keeping the food portable). Different regions of the US have different specialties. Someone in Louisiana might do Cajun seafood, while a Midwesterner might serve brats and a Texan serve pulled beef or chili. Whatever you and your guests might like will work just fine. Knock yourself out!
But before the Super Bowl are the conference championships this weekend. In what I would consider a minor miracle, my Bears are in-and playing their greatest rival, Green Bay, for the marbles in the NFC. This may possibly be the greatest sporting event ever played in Chicago. I suspect a good portion of the football-watching segment of the American population will be watching this one. Two of the original teams in the league who've been going at it since 1921. What could be better?
The Packers are favored to win, and based on what I've seen, the oddsmakers and conventional wisdom are right. The Pack had a ton of injuries this year but held it together good enough to bull their into and through the playoffs. They were a favorite to win the conference in the preseason, so it isn't like they came out of nowhere.
The Bears will, I think, have to play near-perfect ball in order to beat the Packers. Their talent level on the offense is not great overall. Jay Cutler can at times look like the greatest QB to play in a Bears uniform, and at other times make you wonder what his thought processes are. He's going to have to be the Cutler that showed up v. the Seahawks last week in order for the Bears to get to Dallas. Same with the offensive line, which at times has been putrid. The Bears are about even with or slightly better than the Packers overall on defense, and the Bears special teams (kicking and returners) are way above what the Packers have.
I'd love to see the Bears get to Super Bowl XLV. Unfotunately, I see the Packers winning it in a close match.
The AFC matchup is the New York Jets v. the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh is a pretty well-balanced team overall, playing at home. I've not seen much Jets football so I'll refrain from commenting in-depth on them. I'm thinking that the Jets will run out of gas against the Black and Gold on Sunday afternoon. I think Pittsburgh has more weapons than the Jets do-and to be honest I don't want a New York team in the Super Bowl. ESPN will fall all over themselves telling the world how great the Jets are until the sporting public develops collective nausea, and I have to think that Bears/Steelers or Packers/Steelers would be of more interest to the average football fan. Two tough, hard-nosed teams from tough, hard-nosed Rust Belt cities that know how to play REAL football, and all that.
Should be a good Sunday afternoon. However the Bears/Packers game comes out, the Bears considerably exceeded my (fairly low) expectations of them in 2010-11.