Posted by signorad
It’s been the most talked about news for the last few days – and I’m not talking about Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement. Superbowl fever is here again and come Sunday, the whole of America – well OK, those who are not seriously cheesed off by their teams not getting through -will be on the edge of their bar stools as they wait to see whether it will be the New England Patriots or the Atlanta Falcons who’ll emerge victorious. Those who know me know that I haven’t got a sporting bone in my body but as I’m now a New Englander, I obviously want the Patriots to do well (sorry everyone!)
Last year I was pretty chuffed to have got to America just in time to see the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in Superbowl 50. And just before that we also watched the Patriots suffer a crushing defeat which obviously did not go down too well with the locals!
I’ll admit I won’t have a clue what’s going on! I don’t know the rules or how the game is played – despite Mr. D. trying to explain it to me a million times – but then why would I?
Sporty I may not be but one thing I can understand is the excitement of the country right now. I may not be a football/soccer fanatic but I’m jumping up and down as much as the next person during World Cup and Euro Cup seasons and never miss an England match (yeah let’s not talk about that!) and always make sure I have the best seat in the pub when I’m watching a game – complete with cider and a plate of pub grub of course. It’ll be no different in America on Sunday with packed bars across the country as everyone desperately waits to see who’ll be the new NFL champions.
But I know that not everyone will be watching the Superbowl in a crowded bar or pub. Superbowl parties are very much the rage here and some people will be celebrating with family and friends in the comfort of their own homes rather than “pay the over hiked prices in bars” – and why not? I think a Super Bowl party sounds like a great idea. As everyone knows entertaining is very much my thing, and I have to say it definitely sounds like my kind of party: there’s no pomp and ceremony, you don’t have to get your glad rags on, and there’s this mixture of a laid back, chilled out vibe combined with a feeling of excited anticipation as the guests get psyched up as much as the players!
As a relative newcomer to America and American football, I had to ask around in order to find out how to put together an awesome Superbowl party. I now wish I hadn’t left it so late in the day to throw a party myself but… There’s always next year!
FIRST THINGS FIRST:
- Decide who’s coming: invite your family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, your hairdresser, local barista… Invite who you want but be sure that you have enough space to accommodate your guests and that you can cater for large numbers.
- Work out your budget for food, drinks and the necessary extras.
- Get some bedding handy for anyone who might be staying over because they’re too drunk to drive – or heartbroken!
- Alternatively keep the number of a reputable cab firm handy!
- Ensure there is adequate seating for everyone as you don’t want any of your guests to stand the whole time. Drag in your garden chairs if necessary; borrow folding chairs and bean bags. If worst comes to the worst people won’t mind the floor or stairs.
- Get the tables ready. You’ll need one large table to hold the food, and then a few smaller tables within people’s reach to rest plates and glasses on.
- You may not know for sure until the day but consider whether you need to move the TV from its current location and position for maximum viewing benefit. After all, people are there to see the game so you don’t want any disgruntled guests!
- Drinks coolers and ice buckets – it might be cold outside but who wants to drink warm beer?
- Bottle openers – a must unless you want people opening bottles of beer with their teeth, or worse, your furniture!
- Napkins – cloth not necessary!
- Disposable cups, glasses, plates, and cutlery – it takes a brave woman – or man – to get out their best crockery and silverware knowing that they’ll have a never ending mountain of washing up to do afterwards! Just make sure you choose good quality cutlery because if there’s when thing I can’t stand it’s plastic cutlery shattering when I attempt to use it.
- Serving platters, trays and bowls
For one day you can go absolutely football crazy in your home!
- Use flags, posters, pictures, footy gear or anything else that screams football!
- Get inspiration for your colour scheme by using the colours of the teams that are playing.
- Decorate the main food table to resemble the football pitch.
- Decorations don’t have to cost the earth. Streamers and banners are relatively inexpensive, and use ordinary latex balloons rather than helium ones if you want to keep the costs down.
- Get crafty by creating decorations from crêpe or tissue paper.
- Beer, beer and more beer!
- Hard lemonade
- Sweet tea
I figured that much of the food would be classic American fare – and I wasn’t wrong. The food doesn’t have to be ‘fancy’ – not something my mother would ever want to hear – it should be quick and simple to prepare and serve and if it’s something that can be prepared in advance, so much the better.
The food tends to be fried or baked finger food, a little on the stodgy side with little need for cutlery, although you should provide some anyway. There’s no need to try to ‘elevate’ any if these dishes ( this isn’t Masterchef!) and food is generally served buffet-style so guests can help themselves as and when they want and load up during the game.
If you’re pushed for time and/or cash you could:
- Kindly ask everyone to bring a platter. This will also ensure that most dietary requirements are covered.
- Make big batches of dishes like chilli or lasagna which can be made in advance and frozen.
- This isn’t Come Dine With Me so if you can’t make everything from scratch, don’t be afraid to order in food or visit the freezer section at the supermarket.
- Its always good to offer a selection but don’t feel as though you have to give the kind of selection found on a restaurant menu!
- My own personal choice would be a minimum of six different appetizers; two mains, and a minimum of desserts.
- Don’t forget the sides for your main dishes and the accompaniments for the desserts.
- If you choose to go for one main only, you could always set up a build your own tacos, burritos or even sandwiches station with all the components laid out and your guests choose what they want. This way thry feel as though they’re getting a choice but how practical this idea is depends on space and the number of guests – there is also likely to be a bit of a wait.
- You could always choose one type of dessert e.g. brownies, cupcakes, cheesecake, cookies etc. Whip up a huge batch of the batter or dough, then divide them into portions and give each a different flavour. Once baked, you could give them different toppings.
- Its OK if you wish to forgo mains and dessert. But if you choose to serve snack food only, ensure there is a reasonable selection to choose from and make sure quantities are plentiful. It’s going to be a long game and people will get hungry. Furthermore, its also a good idea to have some ice cream in the freezer for anyone with a sweet tooth!
Obviously you can serve any kind of food you wish during the game. Use the suggestions below as a guide.
- Chicken wings
- Chips and dips
- Potato wedges
- Pizza rolls
- Fries with cheese and bacon
- Soft pretzels with cheese dip
- Mini blooming onions
- Pull apart garlic bread
- Mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce
- Anything battered or breaded including shrimp, calamari, chicken bites, mushrooms or zucchini.
- Loaded potato skins
- Steak sandwiches
- Fried chicken
- Pulled pork
- Chilli nachos
SIDES AND ACCOMPANIMENTS:
- Potato wedges
- Mashed potatoes
- Green salad
- Bread rolls
- Sweet potato mash/fries
- Onion rings
- Fruit pie bars
- Ice-cream cookie sandwiches
TO SERVE WITH DESSERT:
- Whipped Cream
- Chocolate sauce
- Caramel sauce
- Fruit flavoured sauces
Whatever you’re doing on Sunday, I hope you all have a great time – and may the best team win!
Posted in Let's Party!
Tags: America, American, American Football, Atlanta Falcons, Brownies, Cake, Carolina Panthers, cheese, Cheesecake, Chocolate, Cook, Cookies, cooking, Cream, Denver Broncos, dessert, drinks, England, family, food, Football, Friends, fruit, Lasagna, Massachusetts, Midwest, New England Patriots, party, people, pudding, Sliders, Soccer, sport, Super Bowl, United States
Posted by signorad
EVENT: Boston Beer & Sweet Fest
HOSTED BY: Drink Craft Beer
PLACE: Space 57, 200 Stuart Street, Boston, MA 02116
DATE: 4th-5th November 2016
TIME: Session 1 – Friday, November 4th: 6-9:30pm
Session 2 – Saturday, November 5th: 1-4:30pm
Session 3 – Saturday, November 5th: 6-9:30pm (the one we went to)
When I started writing this post I was slightly hungover – and its all the fault of my sister and brother-in-law!
When I left London in October to join Mr. D. in Massachusetts after finally being approved for my Green Card (go me!) My sister and her husband decided to treat me and the fella to tickets to this year’s Beer & Sweets Fest that was being held in Boston. I love alcohol; I love sugar; I love alcohol and sugar; I love sugar and alcohol – proof that my sister and brother-in-law really do know me too well!
SO WHAT’S THIS FESTIVAL ALL ABOUT?
The Beer & Sweets Fest is an event thrown by Drink Craft Beer, who in the past have hosted events celebrating all that is good about, well, craft beer! As everyone knows that it’s not much fun drinking without having something to munch on, so these beer events are usually teamed up with a food item of some kind. So there’s been the Beer & Cheese Fest, the Beer & BBQ Fest (Mr. D. would have loved that!) Beer & Chocolate, Beer & Ice-Cream (whatever will they think of next???)… Well now it’s the turn of sweets.
WHAT’S THIS FESTIVAL LIKE?
An indoor festival, there were a series of stalls where vendors from different companies were offering unlimited, free samples of either beer or sweets. Each company generally offered three different items for people to try.
And naturally most sweet treats were paired with a beer or cider from a neighbouring vendor – as suggested in the festival guide – which complemented it.
After having our IDs checked and receiving the obligatory wrist band, we then had to pick up a biodegradable tasting cup for all our drink samples (great way to cut down on waste) a festival guide and a pencil so that we could mark off all the goodies we’d sampled.
And then the fun began!
As each stall had about three items for everyone to try. Mr. D. and I worked out a strategy that we were going to go round the venue trying one thing from each stall before working our way around another two times so that by the end of the night we’d have tried everything.
Well at least that was the plan. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way because as much as I think I can consume sweet stuff and alcohol all day long, my tiny little body had other ideas and decided that it just couldn’t handle the buzzing, sugar rush it was getting.
Oh well we tried! And we didn’t do too badly either.
WHO WAS THERE?
Celebrating all that was great about New England beer, were a total of twenty breweries and cideries from the region as well as eight companies providing delicious sweet treats such as ice -cream, cookies, doughnuts, and various types of confectionery.
Here’s a list of the breweries, cider makers and confectioners who were in attendance, as well as the samples on offer.
BEER AND CIDER
Allagash Brewing Co. (ME)
Black – Belgian-style stout
Fluxus – Belgian-style saison w/ ginger
James Bean – Belgian-style strong ale w/ coffee
White – Belgian-style wit beer
Bantam Cider (MA)
Rojo-Chocolato – Bantam Rojo cherry & black pepper cider aged with chocolate roasted cacao nibs
Wunderkind – Cider with flower-blossom honey
Castle Island Brewing Co. (MA)
Hoodsie TBD – American stout with cocoa nibs & vanilla bean
Oaverzealous – Double IPA with oats & New Zealand hops
Palmside – Coconut porter
Citizen Cider (VT)
Americran – Cider with cranberries
Dirty Mayor – Cider with ginger
Stan Up – Vintaged cider made from heirloom apples
Clown Shoes Beer (MA)
The Barista – Brown ale with coffee & milk sugars
Chocolate Sombrero – Stout with cinnamon, vanilla, & ancho chili peppers
Space Cake – Double IPA
Downeast Cider House (MA)
Cranberry Blend – Cider with fresh cranberry juice
Pumpkin Blend – Cider with fresh pumpkin & chai spices
Exhibit A Brewing Co. (MA)
The Cat’s Meow – American IPA
Demo Tape Five – American brown Porter
Demo Tape Six – Dry-hopped kettle sour
Goody Two Shoes – Kolsch-style ale
Far From the Tree Cider (MA)
karr-UH-mel – Vanilla Sea Salt Caramel Cider
Cord – Oaked maple cider
Ember – Toasted chai cider with smoked vanilla & burnt sugar
Foolproof Brewing Co. (RI)
Emperor of the Yahd – Bourbon barrel aged Double IPA
La Ferme Urbaine – Belgian-style saison
Peanut Butter Raincloud – Peanut butter porter with chocolate
Henniker Brewing Co. (NH)
Hometown Double Brown –brown ale
King Misanthrope – Russian Imperial Stout
Ora – Belgian-style golden ale
Jack’s Abby Brewing Co. (MA)
Brewery Maker – Lager wine aged in bourbon barrels
Framinghammer – Baltic Porter
Red Tape – Amber lager
Lefty’s Brewing Co. (MA)
Big Brekkie Stout – Breakfast stout with organic chocolate, coffee, oatmeal, maple syrup, & bacon
Graham Cracker Porter
Vanilla/Chocolate Wedding Daze – Imperial Stout aged on organic vanilla beans & organic cocoa nibs
Long Trail Brewing Co. (VT)
Citrus Limbo – IPA infused with grapefruit & tangerine
Cranberry Gose – German-style gose brewed with cranberries
Barrel Aged Unearthed – Bourbon barrel aged stout
Lost Nation Brewing Co. (VT)
Gose – Slightly sour German wheat beer w/ coriander & sea salt
Cask Pitch Black – black ale dry-hopped withGalaxy hops
Cask Vermont Pilsner – pilsner dry-hopped with Mandarina Bavaria hops
Newburyport Brewing Co. (MA)
Das Kolsch – Kolsch-style ale
Joppa Grande – Foreign Export Stout
Plum Island – Belgian-style Wit
Night Shift Brewing Co. (MA)
Awake – Coffee porter
Trifecta – Belgian-style pale ale aged w/ vanilla beans
Peak Organic Brewing Co. (ME)
Nut Brown – Brown ale
Fresh Cut – Dry hopped hoppy pilsner
Happy Hour – Pilsner
Samuel Adams (MA)
Slice of Citrus IPA – Citrus IPA
Black Harbor Stout – Imperial stout with vanilla, black pepper, coffee, & cocoa nibs
Neighborino Flanders Red – Belgian-style sour red ale
UNION by Somerville Brewing – Barleywine
Yankee Swap 2016 – Rotating big beer
TBD Sour Brown Ale
Wormtown Brewing Co. (MA)
Blizzard of ’78 – English-style brown ale with cold brew coffee
Blonde Cougar – American blonde ale with honey
Norm – Oatmeal stout with cocoa nibs & toasted coconut
Spices Like Us – Imperial Russian Stout
Blackbird Donuts (Boston, MA)
Grapefruit and Cracked Pepper Glaze Donut
Cinnamon Spice Donut
Vanilla Sugar Donut
Chocolate Therapy (Framingham, MA)
The Cure – Dark chocolate truffle with cinnamon, bay leaf, cayenne, and Aleppo pepper
Fix – Smooth dark chocolate truffle topped with crunchy cocoa nibs
Honey Hops – Dark and milk chocolate truffle with Citra hops and honey
Honeycomb Creamery (Somerville, MA)
Apple Cider Donut with Caramel Swirl ice cream
Brown Butter Apple ice cream
Spiced Pumpkin ice cream
Kitchen Millie (Somerville, MA)
The Peanut Patriot – Peanut butter cookie
The Sugar Blizzard – Sugar cookies with sea salt and cinnamon
The Unrivaled Classic – Chocolate chip cookies
Miam Miam Macaronerie (South Boston, MA)
Chocolate Stout macaron
Salted Caramel macaron
Vanilla Bean macaron
Spindler Confections (Somerville, MA)
Salted Vanilla Caramels
Apricot Pate de Fruits
Sweet Lydia’s (Lowell, MA)
Turtle Bark – Caramel, pecans, and dark chocolate
Mexican Chocolate Stout S’More – S’more with vanilla marshmallow, ganache made with Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero stout, and graham cracker crumbs
Taza Chocolate (Somerville, MA)
Toffee Almond Sea Salt
Cranberry Pumpkin Spice
WHAT WE THOUGHT
To say that Mr. D. and I had a fab time is an understatement. There was such a good vibe from the time we entered the venue and the purple-shirted staff members were so polite, helpful and accommodating. The vendors were an absolute delight (I’ve been to similar events back in London and this has not always been the case) and we managed to sample some fabulous, top quality food and drink. I don’t know who comes up with these innovative, highly original flavour combos but we had great fun tasting them.
Admittedly I’m not much of a beer drinker – that’s more Mr. D.’s thing – so I was thrilled to see that there were quite a few cider makers there that night because I am most definitely a cider girl!
Although we did enjoy almost everything, if I’m honest, I was disappointed that a very delicious and unusual sounding cider – which shall remain nameless- had to be tipped into a waste bucket because neither Mr.D nor I could finish even that little two ounce sample which had an extremely strong taste which we did not find appealing. That’s not to say that it was rank – just not to our taste but that was the only thing we ditched that night.
WOULD WE GO AGAIN?
Oh you bet! We had such an amazing time there that if there was ever to be another one next year, we would definitely go. It wasn’t just the food and drink that was on offer that made it worth it, but the vibrant atmosphere, helpful event staff, friendly vendors and fab festival goers that made this event such a pleasant experience.
And let’s not forget that it’s events like these which give local breweries, cideries and confectioners the chance to put themselves and their products in the spotlight, and make themselves known to a wider audience.
SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO…
Although we thought everyone was amazing, there are some people who really stood out.
Mr. D. and I sampled some great tasting cider but it was the vendor who really stood out as much as those cups of appley goodness! He had no in engaging the festival goers in conversation and seemed oo have time for everyone. The fact that he complimented me ookn my accent means that he gets a zillion house points!
The vendor was very welcoming and took time to explain what the samples were and invited is to try them. And they were gooooood!
I found that this company were very generous with their samples. I’ve seen restaurants who serve up mingier dessert portions! They were all incredibly tasty and even though I’m not normally a huge coconut fan, I really loved the taste and texture of their coconut marshmallows.
FAR FROM THE CIDER TREE
Mr. D and I were very impressed with what we tried, and I loved the flavour of the vanilla sea salt caramel cider. The vendor was also a very cheery, laid back dude!
Okay, I was disappointed that there were no vanilla sugar doughnuts, and I really wish that their grapefruit and pepper doughnuts – which were created especially for the festival – had a greater hit of grapefruit. But I can overlook all of the above because Mr. D. fell head over heels for their cinnamon spice doughnuts, and I can’t say I blame him because they were pretty yum!
Mr. D. couldn’t get enough of their apple cider ice – cream – especially when he teamed it up with the cinnamon spice doughnut from Blackbird Doughnuts. And I loved the bits of roasted apple in the butter brown apple ice-cream.
THE CHUBBY CHICKPEA
They weren’t giving away any beer or sweet samples but instead were selling reasonably-priced actual food – for which Mr. D. and I were extremely grateful because as fabulous as sweets are you need food to mop up all that alcohol!
I ordered the falafel which was cooked to perfection – light on the inside and beautifully crisp on the outside. And Mr. D. loved his chicken schnitzel sandwich. Both were served with hummus – Mr. D’s fave – and a type of salsa.
My only complaint? Guys, ditch the bread roll/bap thing and go for a flat bread instead!
These guys have a food truck located in parts of Boston so catch them if you can.
EVENT STAFF MEMBER
Mr. D. and I need to give a massive shout out to a bespectacled, shaven-headed male event staff member on the Saturday night we attended – for having a heart of gold. Thank you.
MY SISTER AND BROTHER-IN-LAW
Thanks guys for this amazing gift. If it hadn’t been for you two, we wouldn’t have had such a great night out. Next time, leave the kids at home and come with us!
Well done to Drink Craft Beer – you excelled yourself. Here’s to next year!
Posted in Out And About
Tags: 2016, alcohol, America, Apple, BBQ, Beer, Boston, Brewery, Butter, caramel, cheese, chicken, Chocolate, Cider, Cidery, Citizen Cider, Confectioner, Cookies, Craft Beer, dessert, Donuts, Doughnuts, Drink Craft Beer, drinks, Falafel, family, food, fruit, Ginger, Ice cream, marshmallows, New England, people, Sugar, sweets, The Chubby Chickpea, Tickets