We hope you recovered last weekend and are ready to go hard. This week, it’s the final road game of the year and the penultimate contest as well for our beloved Buckeyes of The Ohio State University. The lads are taking a trip to America’s Dairyland to hunt down and kill some varmints called “Badgers,” and to burn Madison to ashes if all goes according to plan. Many pundits and fans alike think this week’s game is the biggest stumbling block between Urban’s Buckeyes and an undefeated 2012 (zombie) season. The bottom line is that we’re all going to be watching and hoping the good guys come out on top the next two weeks. (Note to visiting fans reading this column: no team led by Bert (sic) Bielema or Brady Hoke can ever be considered the good guys.)
It’s the second to last tailgate of the season too, so let’s do this right. Today’s “star” is one of the most popular tailgate foods for a reason—it’s got-damn delicious and easy to make. Let’s face it, you’ve gotten lazy over the bye week and thus it’s a good thing we’ve got a tasty, yet easy main course on tap today. Speaking of “on tap,” you know Wisconsin has a reputation for producing beer—not necessarily the world’s most delicious beer, mind you (*cough*Milwaukee’sBest*cough*), but nonetheless, beer. We’ll discuss that more below. This is what we’re serving up for the final road game of the year:
Don’t worry about the extra pounds you’ll put on today. It’s Wisconsin week, so it’s time to fromage it up. Stop by your local grocer for a cheese plate or select your own favorites. Chop (disdain for the 12-year-old within prevented me from using the word “cut” here) the cheese into cubes, insert toothpicks and you’re all set. If your grocer’s deli has a plate that includes some processed meats, that’s even better. Seems pretty easy, right? It is. But there’s another option here. If you can find one of these, it’ll make a nice addition to your tailgate. Utz cheese balls are the snack you can’t stop eating even though you desperately want to. Sure, your fingers will instantly turn orange with your first handful, but that’s just more flavor for later. I imagine there are three or more empty Utz barrels lying in the corner behind Bret Bielema’s desk and a half-full one on top of it.
Wisconsin is the home of processed meat giants Oscar Meyer and Johnsonville. Celebrate! It’s time to make game day bratwurst! (And stay tuned at the end of this section for a special Wisconsin-centric twist on an old tailgating favorite.) To do bratwurst correctly, parboil the porky and/or beefy goodness (who really knows what’s in those things, anyway?) for 6-10 minutes in beer (see the “Liquids” section below for more on the topic). After parboiling, pull the bratwurst out of the beer (use tongs, they’re hot!) and crisp the outside by placing on a hot grill or frying pan. Be sure to flip them to maximize the crisping process. This part won’t take long if the grill/pan is hot, so don’t walk away. Once finished, serve in a hotdog style bun and slather with your mustard of choice. Since we’re facing Wisconsin this week, we’re finishing with a special flourish. As you may know, the state of Wisconsin leads the nation in cheese production, producing about a quarter of the country’s cheese. So, after you liberally slather the mustard on your tasty sausage, top it with some fresh, fancy shredded Wisconsin cheddar (see photo, which is an actual camera phone shot of the ones I made earlier this week). Sure, your arteries may harden just a little and your aorta might constrict just a tad, but when you taste these beauties it will all be worth it. Grill up a little sweet corn as a side dish. There is no alternate main course this week because this is what we’re having, dammit.
The poor (homeless?) man’s bratwurst is the hot dog. While a good quality hot dog can be a wonderful thing, more often we settle for blandness and disappointment. Tailgating at home or at the game? Simply grill up a few. If you’re on the go this week and have a Sonic nearby, stop in for a chili cheese dog. Buckeye expatriates out west can stop by their neighborhood Wienerschnitzel, where they have something called an Angus Pastrami Dog on a pretzel bun that I’m dying to try. I had Wienerschnitzel during my spring trip to Vegas, but I’d already ordered when I found out about the pastrami dog. Lacking either of these establishment, there’s always Dairy Queen or your local neighborhood convenience store, where the hot dogs roll back and forth in perpetuity until some unsuspecting soul walks in and buys one—only to pay for it later in gastronomic Hell. Hey, at least they’re cheap and filling and soak up the alcohol you’re going to consume.
Unfortunately, this week’s main brew is not available in my area. Brewed in Milwaukee is the double fermented (or “kraeusened”) Heileman’s Old Style. Once upon a time you could get it at Cleveland Indians games but I’m not sure that’s still true. A Midwestern brew through and through, Old Style is a fairly typical light bodied pale American lager. But it’s a pretty good one. It won a silver medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup. What it isn’t, is Milwaukee’s Best, Old Milwaukee, or Schlitz, and that is reason enough to drink it. Old Style can be found in three places in Ohio: Ohio Valley Beer Co. in Cincinnati, Superior Beverage Group of Columbus, and Bonbright Distributors in Dayton. If you’re not in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin or Iowa, Old Style can be a challenge to locate. That’s ok, because if you’ve got a taste for livin’ you can be drinkin’ cold Blue Ribbon. Pabst Blue Ribbon (or “PBR”) is another American lager from Milwaukee, but is much more widely available than Old Style. PBR will certainly do in a pinch. Why are we not promoting some fancy microbrew this week? Because Bret Bielema, that’s why.
Ramzy says the #situationalbourbon for this week is something called the Bacon Bourbon Breakfast (or 3B) and if something can have a tastier name than that, I don’t know what it is. You want cocktails? We got cocktails. This week you can try the Wisconsin Lunch Bucket. All you need is beer, orange juice and amaretto. Please keep in mind that this is a slammer shot type drink, so you’ll want to pace yourself. Here’s a handy how-to video on the drink. There’s also a drink called the Wisconsin Badger but I am not sure I recommend it. It consists of brandy, cranberry juice and three kinds of schnapps. Finally, here’s one called the Wisconsin Swamp Water. Err…enjoy?
Once upon a time there was a man named Butch Vig, who went to the University of Wisconsin to study film direction. A drummer, musician, producer and filmmaker, Vig contributed soundtrack music for the B-movie classic Slumber Party Massacre and kicked around in a few garage bands before launching a full time career as a music producer. Vig is well known in music circles for producing Nirvana’s breakthrough album Nevermind and Smashing Pumpkins’ Gish and Siamese Dream. He went on to work with such bands as AFI, Jimmy Eat World and Foo Fighters in the 2000s.
In 1994, Vig, multi-instrumentalist Duke Erikson and guitarist Steve Marker started remixing bands like U2, Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode. Enjoying this work, the trio felt they should start a band that could translate the spirit of remixes into its music. The result, with Vig on vocals, sounded like garbage, which would become the band’s name. While watching 120 Minutes on Mtv, Marker found vocalist Shirley Manson in a music video for a band called Angelfish. He showed the video to Vig and Erikson and Manson was eventually added to complete the lineup of Garbage. The band released its self-titled debut album in August of 1995, debuting at No. 193 on the Billboard 200. Fueled by songs like “I’m Only Happy When it Rains” and “Queer,” the album debuted at No. 12 on the U.K. album chart and No. 5 in Australia. The album’s best song, “Stupid Girl,” climbed to No. 4 in Britain.
In 1998, the band’s second album, Version 2.0 debuted at No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 13 in the U.S. The album’s launch was a huge success thanks to the chart success of its first single, “Push It.” That song was followed by two more hits: “I Think I’m Paranoid” and “Special.” Version 2.0 received Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Best Rock Album in 1999 and two more singles followed: “When I Grow Up” and “The Trick is to Keep Breathing.” Version 2.0, which by now you may have surmised is what we’re listening to this weekend, went double platinum in the U.K., and also went platinum in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Spain; and gold in Sweden, France, Belgium and Portugal. The album is an absolute maelstrom, with a slick production polishing the gritty technorock tracks underneath. It remains one of the seminal albums of the late 90s.
Enjoy today’s game and enjoy the video below from Garbage, which is such an appropriate name for a band from Madison.