Ohio State will look to improve to 7-0 tomorrow in Bloomington, when the Buckeyes square off against Indiana. It will be the second consecutive night game for Ohio State and so you’ll have ample time to tailgate again this weekend. That’s a good thing, because you might need that extra time once you read about this week’s “Star” (see below). Despite the loss of talented quarterback Tre Roberson, who sustained a broken leg earlier this season, Indiana’s offense has been pretty efficient. You’ll want to match that efficiency in your preparations. Waste no food or drink. Capitalize on every opportunity to refill your glass or grab a second helping. Finish. It’s all in the preparation for this week’s night game.
Van Buren, Indiana is home to Pop Weaver, one of the country’s largest popcorn manufacturers. You can find their products in many Walmart stores. Here’s a handy site to find the nearest one that carries their popcorn. They sell both microwaveable and bagged varieties. Popcorn is an excellent snack for tailgating because it’s easy to grab on the go and the salt provides impetus for continued beverage consumption. If you can’t find Pop Weaver products, pick up your otherwise preferred popcorn snack. Many stores have those giant tins with regular, cheddar and caramel popcorn. These are always good (as long as the popcorn isn’t stale, that is) because it’ll give the people at your tailgate a choice. There are also many gourmet popcorn retail stores you could visit and get any number of exotic flavored corns. These stores have everything from chocolate covered to habanera to bubblegum and all popcorn flavors in between. Sample several and stock up on the ones you like best. Crackerjacks or Fiddle Faddle are fine choices too.
The 19th state to enter these United States back in 1816, Indiana is not widely known for unique cuisine. However, there is an Indiana staple that should be better known far and wide—the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. It’s everything you’d expect from the Midwest. It’s meaty, breaded, and fried (the epitome of a Hoosier). If you’re using the grill, you may have to adapt a bit for this, but basically the sandwich consists of a pounded out pork tenderloin patty, dredged in flour, dipped in an egg and/or buttermilk wash then a breadcrumb mixture, and fried in hot oil. After draining the excess oil from the frying process, you slap that baby on a hamburger or hoagie bun, trim it with your favorite toppings and chow down. You can use a skillet or a pot of oil for cooking. Both sides should be golden brown. Toppings can include lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mustard, mayo, or even ketchup. I like Tabasco on mine, but I like Tabasco on almost anything. I have had mixed success grilling things after they’re breaded, but feel free to experiment. You can always have the grilled version without the breading. I eat pork loin a lot. Typically I buy whole tenderloins and slice them up before cooking, but you might be able to find pre-sliced and possibly even pre-breaded pork tenderloins. Here’s a pretty good recipe, in case you need step-by-step instruction. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this. You know a sandwich is probably worth eating if there’s a documentary about it. Serve with fries (regular or sweet potato), onion rings, or salad.
It is incredibly unfortunate that former Indianapolis-based Burger Chef no longer exists. If it was still around, this would be the no-brainer solution for those who lack the time or funds to properly tailgate. You’d simply hit your local Burger Chef and throw down a couple of Top Shefs, Big Shefs, or Skipper’s Treats. Alas, the final Burger Chef closed shop in 1996, after the parent company of Hardee’s bought its stores from General Foods. If you live near a Hardee’s, stop by and grab some quick grub. You get bonus points if your local Hardee’s used to be a Burger Chef. Otherwise, honor the fallen greatness that was Burger Chef by picking up flame broiled burgers from your local proprietor, which may only be Burger King these days, but you probably know your area better than I do. I have heard that neither Hardee’s nor Carl’s Jr. charbroil their burgers anymore, or at least not at all locations. Use your judgment. The important thing here is to remember how awesome Burger Chef once was, if you’re old enough to remember Burger Chef at all. They had their own “fixins” bar where you chose your own toppings (and how many of each), and they also introduced the kid’s meal before McDonald’s ever thought of its Happy Meal concept. Alternately, you could find some frozen, breaded pork patties at your local supermarket, heat those up and create a facsimile of today’s Star entrée.
Indiana has quite a few small breweries and brew pubs but I haven’t seen anything uniquely brewed there that is widely available nationally (or globally). If you’re traveling to Bloomington for the game, try something from the Bloomington Brewing Co., which has been churning out beer since 1994. Here’s a list of establishments that carry their products. I’m intrigued by the Quarrymen Pale Ale and the Ruby Bloom Amber. Three Floyds Brewing Co. in Munster, Indiana, makes some very highly regarded products, but outside of Indiana and the Chicago area, they are also not widely available.
Since we’ve only got a few weeks left before Halloween, pick up your favorite Oktoberfest brew for this week’s tailgate. I finally got to sample Yuengling’s Oktoberfest at Eat Too Brutus last Saturday and it was the object of my desire until we ran out. There is one store here in Orlando that sells it, according to the beer finder on the Yuengling website, and two restaurants that serve it locally. You could also do the pumpkin beer thing. I generally like a good pumpkin beer, but the second one is less satisfying and by the third I’m just sick of it. In other words, a little pumpkin goes a long way, so don’t load up on pumpkin beer or you’ll risk having your tailgate party turn on you.
Indiana’s Oliver Winery has been operating since 1972, beginning life in the basement of Indiana University law professor William Oliver. He soon established his vineyard north of Bloomington and eventually passed the business on to his son Bill in 1983. Major facility expansions in 2002 and 2007 made Oliver Winery one of the largest in the Eastern U.S. and its wine is now distributed in 14 states. If you are in one of those 14 and enjoy wine, grab a bottle of their Sauvignon Blanc, which pairs nicely with fried pork tenderloin, according to winedin.com. If not, the winery does ship from its online store, but it’s too late to help you this weekend. The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc features the flavor and aroma of peach and melon, with a balanced finish. If you’re headed to Bloomington and want to check out Oliver Winery, they have weekend tours and their tasting room is open on Saturdays and Sundays.
Cocktail options for this week include the Hoosier Honey, the Hoosier Cocktail, or the Hoosier Strawberry. Or you could make Bloody Marys and/or Margaritas with Hoosier Momma drink mixes. Health nuts that are still willing to drink alcohol will love Hoosier Momma products, as they are vegan, gluten free, and low in sodium. Ramzy says this week’s #SituationalBourbon is Sam Cougar, but adds that it isn’t that great and you probably can’t find it anyway. Another option this week is to drink Seagram’s whiskey. Seagram’s has a distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, however it has changed hands a few times in recent years and I’m not certain whether it’s still producing Seagram’s products.
Indiana has given the world a surprising amount of decent music. The obvious choice for this week’s tailgate would be to suggest John Mellencamp, but I’m not going to do that (although if I did, I would insist on either his Scarecrow or Uh-Huh albums). But Indiana is much more than folky heartland music. The Jackson 5 hail from Gary, Indiana, and members of Guns ‘n Roses and Motley Crue are from the Hoosier State as well. Indiana gave us diverse artists such as John Hiatt, Cole Porter, The Ataris, Crystal Gayle, and the late Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon. But today we’ll be focusing on one of the world’s greatest rock bands, with a flamboyant lead singer that was born in Bloomington on Oct. 10, 1954.
David Lee Roth, the son of a Jewish ophthalmologist, matriculated to Pasadena, California (by way of Swampscott, Massachusetts) in his teens and eventually found himself enrolled at Pasadena City College, where he met brothers Alex and Eddie Van Halen. Roth joined the Van Halens in a band called Mammoth, which changed its name to Van Halen in 1974 because another band was already performing under the Mammoth name. They cut a demo in 1976 with the help of Kiss bassist Gene Simmons and a year later they were “discovered” by Warner Brothers. In February of 1978 the band released their self-titled debut album, which is our choice for today’s tailgate music.
Van Halen sold more than 10 million copies in the United States. It is one of two Van Halen albums (1984 being the other) to reach diamond status in sales. A 2006 readers’ poll by Guitar World magazine ranked the album the seventh best guitar album of all time. You may know of this album from playing Guitar Hero. Nine of the album’s 11 songs are available to play on the video game.
The album opener quickly serves notice that you’re going to party, and you are going to party very, very hard. “Runnin’ With the Devil” is a brash, rocking, screaming howler of a song and quickly introduces you to Eddie Van Halen’s distinct guitar tone. “Eruption” is a bit self indulgent, but it leads nicely into the band’s galloping cover of the Kinks classic “You Really Got Me.” At only 3:50 in length, the longest track on the album is my favorite: “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love.” Other highlights include “Jamie’s Cryin’” and “Feel Your Love Tonight,” along with the humorous “Ice Cream Man.” Because of Van Halen’s short running time, you’ll need to supplement this with other tunes. I recommend Van Halen II, Diver Down, or Fair Warning.
Indiana can have a bit of a sleepy atmosphere, but having this game at night and rocking out to some VH beforehand will go a long way toward building the kind of mood your tailgate party needs. Enjoy the game and my favorite song from the album, here: