It’s week three, and tomorrow we welcome the California Bears to The Shoe for yet another noon kickoff. We feel you. We know firsthand how difficult it is to get properly tailgated up for a 12 p.m. game, and we have many bros who live in time zones that make these early kickoffs even more difficult. This is a 9 a.m. kickoff for Buckeye expatriates living on the west coast and it’s not even the same day for Charles down in Oz (we think…we’re not really sure how time travel works). This week’s edition of Tailgatin’ 2012 is very sizable, so let’s get right into it.
For the last two weeks we’ve concentrated on the munchies you have sitting around in bowls or bags, ready to be quickly stuffed into your gaping maw. For California, we’re giving you a hall pass to find your favorite salty snack, but we’re picking the dip: guacamole. For some reason, people in California put avocado on everything they eat—sandwiches, chicken, pizza (probably). It’s a weird obsession, but almost any menu item you come across at any restaurant with the word “California” in it comes with avocado. The California Avocado Commission (yes, this is apparently a thing) has a whole bunch of interesting guac recipes for you to choose from. Go nuts and try as many of those as you like. Again, what you put that guacamole on is up to you, but I’m recommending nachos. While extremely messy, nachos are an excellent game day dish that allows you to be as creative as you like. I have recently grown fond of blue corn chips with ground or shredded beef or chicken, topped with shredded lettuce, spicy queso dip, jalapenos and smoked chipotle flavored Tabasco for some extra kick.
California is a culinary hodgepodge and their cuisine is quite often a fusion of many different types of food. Basically, California-style cooking can be an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach. But among the foods that California is known for, we’re partial to sourdough bread and Mexican food. We’ve got dishes for both in this week’s tailgate main course selections.
Sourdough is an excellent base for a patty melt, and what’s more tailgate-y than grilling burgers? We suggest a double burger; with cheese on top of both patties (feel free to add a third slice below the bottom patty as well). Be sure to add the cheese before you pull the burgers off the grill (except the bottom slice, obviously), giving it a chance to melt (if you’re cooking on your stove top at home, the whole, assembled sandwich is put in the frying pan until the cheese melts). Grill the sourdough bread, too, although if you’re tailgating from home, feel free to use the toaster if it’s more convenient. From the bottom up, the patty melt should be constructed as such: bottom bread, (optional) cheese slice, burger patty, cheese, burger patty, cheese, (condiments/toppings of choice), top bread. Our suggested toppings for the patty melt include Thousand Island dressing and grilled onions, but stick with what you like. Also, grilled onions can be tricky when cooking out, unless you have a pan with you.
Our other main dish combines the golden state’s love of Mexican food with the abundant waters of the Pacific Ocean—we’re talking fish tacos here, people. There are more ways to prepare fish tacos than there are empty pork rind bags crumpled up on the floor of Bret Bielema’s car. Essentially, any grilled fish will work. Tilapia is inexpensive. Mahi mahi tastes better. Go with your preference. You’ll need something crisp to put on top of it. Shredded cabbage works well, but lettuce is fine. Then you’ll want lemon or lime juice, cilantro and maybe something spicy to top it off. Here’s an excellent recipe from the master, Bobby Flay. I can vouch for it.
The budget challenged or those pressed for time due to late night Friday drinking activities have a couple of excellent options this week. The first, and preferred, is the Frisco Melt from Steak ‘n Shake. For just $5.49 you can get a double steakburger with American and Swiss cheeses and their tangy “Frisco sauce” on sourdough bread, plus fries. Another option, if you happen to live near a Jack in the Box, is the Sourdough Steak Melt, which features marinated steak, three different cheeses, grilled onions and peppercorn mayo on San Francisco’s signature bread. You don’t even have to get out of your car to grab these on the way to the game or watch party. Caveat: If you’re actually in California, feel free to ignore these suggestions and go to In-n-Out Burger because, In-n-Out Burger (#AnimalStyle).
For our game day brew, we’re traveling just 14 miles from Cal’s campus to the Anchor Brewing Company in nearby San Francisco. Anchor bills itself as “America’s first craft brewery” and produces a nice variety of beers from which to choose. Because we commemorated the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks earlier this week, I’m recommending Anchor’s Liberty Ale. It’s a very drinkable American ale and you can’t doubt the Ricky Stanzi-like patriotism in every glass:
“Liberty Ale® was first brewed to celebrate the bicentennial of Paul Revere’s historic ride.”
Liberty Ale is widely available, but if your local grocer or liquor store doesn’t carry it, they likely carry the signature brew, Anchor Steam, which is also a good choice.
For another alternate option, we’ll travel 168 miles from the Berkeley campus to Chico, California, home of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Sierra Nevada makes outstanding beverages. Their Sierra Nevada Pale Ale often graces my refrigerator (but usually not for very long). Feel free to stock up on that, or you may still be able to find their Summerfest Crisp Summer Lager, which I wholeheartedly recommend, especially on a hot day.
Of course, Northern California is well known as wine country, particularly the Napa and Sonoma valleys, not too far from the Cal campus. I’m not a huge wine guy, but it’s only appropriate to give you a white and a red selection for a game against Cal, so I’ve enlisted the help of my wife, who does drink wine. She also works for a national wine and liquor distributor and helps her company prepare for Epcot’s annual Food and Wine festival at Disney. She suggests a pair of wines from Ferrari Carano in the Sonoma Valley, about 80 miles from the University of California’s Berkeley campus. Her recommendations: the 2011 Fume Blanc and the 2010 Siena. The Fume Blanc is a Chardonnay with…
“…aromas of lime, kiwi, citrus, melon and a touch of grass (ed. note: attn: Les Miles), complemented by flavors of grapefruit, lemon and lime with a mango and guava finish. Cool, stainless steel tank fermentation gives this wine a crisp freshness while the subtle oak character from barrel aging adds complexity and depth.”
The Siena is a red blend that is 74% Sangiovese, 14% Malbec, 8% Syrah, and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, and has…
“…delicious aromas and flavors of fresh-picked blackberries, raspberry jam, cola, cinnamon and clove. Sweet oak notes of vanilla and butterscotch complement lingering tart cherry, cranberry and strawberry. A wine with nice acidity and refined, elegant texture, Siena has tannins that are showy and evenly coat the palate. “
So yeah…wine advice from Our Honor Defend. It’s a real thing.
Your cocktail du jour is inspired by a classic California band that formed in 1971 in Los Angeles: the Eagles. Of course we’re talking about the Tequila Sunrise, which is both a potent cocktail and a 1973 hit from the Desperado album. Since we’re facing yet another noon game, the orange juice will fool your body into thinking you’re simply having breakfast at Denny’s. There’s also the California Sunset, a drink which is probably great, but I won’t make it simply because there’s just way too many ingredients. Who has that kind of time to make drinks? But if you’re at a bar and your bartender knows how to make one, go for it.
Ramzy’s #SituationalBourbon of the week is the rare and expensive George T. Stagg.
“Its proof runs into the 140s, which makes it one of the meanest whiskeys you can find – if you can actually find it.
Stagg is uncut, generally unavailable and regularly beats pretentious and expensive Highlands scotch in taste tests.”
Playing Cal is great when it comes to music. There are so many options from the greater San Francisco Bay area, and any of them are acceptable and encouraged (except Smash Mouth, which is horrible and should never be played by anyone, ever). They cross the entire musical spectrum: Jellyfish, Lindsey Buckingham, Pablo Cruise, Y&T, The Doobie Brothers, Vienna Teng, The Pointer Sisters, Primus, Sly & the Family Stone, the Greg Kihn Band, Green Day, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steve Miller Band, Romeo Void, Santana, Night Ranger, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Hot Tuna, and Huey Lewis & the News. If you have the stomach for hardcore punk, the Dead Kennedys may be an option for you. They formed in San Francisco in 1978 and became one of the most influential bands of their genre. Any of the above will provide an excellent accompaniment to your tailgate, but we’re going to boil our preferred recommendations down to the following three:
In the late 1960s, the region adjacent to Berkeley, which we sometimes call “San Francisco,” became the epicenter of the countercultural revolution. Specifically, that city’s Haight-Ashbury district, which is just 17 miles from the school we’re playing, was the world center of the infamous “Summer of Love.” If ever a time and place embodied “sex, drugs and rock and roll,” that was it. San Francisco and Hollywood combined to produce a new kind of music, known as psychedelic rock, which was meant to be the aural equivalent of psychedelic drugs. One of the biggest and most popular bands of the genre to come out of San Francisco was Jefferson Airplane. We recommend their 1967 gold record, Surrealistic Pillow, which contains two of their biggest singles, “Somebody to Love,” and “White Rabbit.” If you want a band that is truly representative of the hippie movement of Northern California, it’s early Jefferson Airplane. If you prefer something a little more modern, I enjoy the Winds of Change album, which came from the later “Jefferson Starship” incarnation of the band (note: NOT just “Starship”—the “Jefferson” inclusion is critical here. Trust me.).
Recommendation number two is possibly the most famous and successful band to come out of the Bay area. Journey formed in 1973 with members of Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch getting together to create something completely different (eventually). Unbeknownst to many, this band is still around, although the only founding member remaining is guitarist Neal Schon. When Steve Perry joined the band in 1977, in an effort to give the group a charismatic front man to share vocal duties with Gregg Rolie, it was like catching lightning in a bottle. The band grew more and more successful, eventually filling stadiums worldwide. We suggest their 1981 smash album Escape, which went platinum nine times over. The album contains plenty of rocking tunes (the title track, for instance), their well-known anthem “Don’t Stop Believin” and a few quality ballads for the ladies at your tailgate party.
Our third suggestion is another very influential band from San Francisco, Faith No More—a band that once chose Courtney Love to be its lead singer. In 1988, ex-Mr. Bungle member Mike Patton replaced vocalist Chuck Mosley. A year later, the band released The Real Thing, which would put them on the map with a song called “Epic.” That song reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. If you want to get crazy before a noon game, put on The Real Thing and crank the volume to maximum for “Epic.” Here’s the controversial and well-known video for the song (embedding not available, sorry).
Enjoy your pregame, Buckeye Nation, and enjoy the actual game too.