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Tailgating – The Football Feast Returns
began during the Civil War, found its way into football and today is
a prominent part of the college and NFL football tradition.
Tailgating is the parking lot ritual a few hours before kickoff just
outside the big stadiums, Things like an old barn in a field, a tire
and rope swing, a bamboo fishing pole, and Bluegrass music are pure
Americana. Tailgating has joined these hallowed icons and we are
happier people for it.
by burgers, chicken wings, and beer, tailgating 2011 has a brand new
look, sporting nicely decorated tables, flowers, plates of food
prepared ahead by great home chefs, and bottles of wines. You can
almost feel an appetite coming on thinking about it.
three hours to kickoff and you have a choice spot in the stadium
parking lot. The food is on the table and friends and family join
you for this auspicious occasion. By the look in their eyes they are
eager and hungry. An aperitif launches the event. The sparkling wine
has been chilled and uncorked. Because it’s not only delicious but
so affordable, Cava, the bubbly from Spain, is a no-brainer that
everyone loves on game day. There’s more than enough and we refill
the flutes as needed.
The clock is
ticking towards kickoff, however, and the food is on the table.
Chicken, seafood, barbecue pork ribs, grilled vegetables, and
various sauces and dips. Something for everyone.
with almost everything, but there are other bottles of wine served,
an interesting mix of chilled whites and food friendly reds.
ceremony encompasses practical things. Unlike the great feasts of
Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day, this outdoor event is part sports
fan enthusiasm and part picnic. Festive wines work well in this
Sauvignon Blanc and Vouvray, made from Chenin Blanc, are both from
France’s Loire Valley, and are flawless accompaniments to the
lighter dishes associated with tailgating. Spain’s La Mancha region
is known for Don Quixote and exceptional highly affordable wine. It
is the world’s largest designated wine region and is too easily
overlooked. The Paso A Paso from La Mancha, a classic 100 percent
Verdejo, is a flavorful, wonderful white wine bargain that sells for
less than $10 dollars a bottle. It will disappear soon enough as the
party begins. Look for Cencibel, the La Mancha name for Tempranillo,
and Granacha for red wine bargains like the
Venta Morales Tempranillo
(2009), and Pago Florentino, La Mancha (2005), also 100%
Tempranillo. These are just two examples of La Mancha wines that are
worth shopping for.
band is snaking into the stadium and the last courses are being
served. There’s still time for another glass of delicious wine and
some dessert, before the walk inside to get comfortably seated.
We, of course,
hope your team wins. By Monday, you’ll be planning the next menu and
wine selections for the upcoming Saturday feast. It’s a great time
to be creative, learn new things and experience new flavors. That’s
the joy of tailgating.
Shrimp and Grits
Recipe adapted from the cookbook, Let
Us Say Grace, by the Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church,
Clarkesville, Georgia. This recipe is a variation of a highly popular Shrimp
and Grits tailgating dish served at tailgating feasts throughout
the South. It tastes even better with glasses of
Yields: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 40 min
1 cup stone ground grits
4 cups water
1/2 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 pound medium
shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 slices bacon, diced
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large clove
4 teaspoons fresh-squeezed
1 cup chopped scallions
Salt and freshly-ground
pepper to taste
Pour grits into large bowl and cover with cold water. Skim off the chaff (hull) as it floats to the surface. Drain grits with a fine strainer.
In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 4 cups water to boil. Add salt and then slowly add grits, stirring constantly (so that the grits do not settle to the
bottom and scorch), until all are added. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook at a simmer, stirring frequently, for 40 minutes or until the grits are tender
(be carefully not to scorch mixture). Grits should have absorbed all of the liquid and become soft and should have the same
consistency as oatmeal (moist, not dry). If the grits become too thick, add warm stock or water to thin. Remove grits from heat and stir in butter and cheese.
Keep warm until ready to serve. Note: The grits can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Add a few tablespoons of
warm water to thin the grits before reheating.
Rinse the shrimp and pat dry; set aside.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon pieces until brown but not crisp. Remove bacon from frying pan and set aside.
Increase heat to medium and add just enough vegetable oil to cover bottom of pan; heat until the oil is hot. Add shrimp, garlic, and lemon juice; cook approximately 5
to 7 minutes or until shrimp are opaque in center or light pink (cut to test). Remove from heat and sprinkle with scallions and bacon.
To serve, spoon hot grits onto individual serving plates and top with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle the scallions and bacon over the top before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
Doc Lawrence is a veteran food and
wine journalist based in Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale. Doc Lawrence
writes and lectures regularly about subjects in which he is a recognized
and acknowledged expert - wine and food, theater, travel and cultural
tourism, visual art and music. His works have
earned praise from many editors and publishers.
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