Everything I know about football can pretty much fit on a cocktail napkin. My dad, who is something of an oracle on American sports in spite of being British, has given up hope.
He tries to teach me but sports trivia just doesn’t stick. (And by “trivia”, I also mean rules, team names, number of players etc). The names of America’s Next Top Model Contestants? Yup. Which stores are currently selling nautical tops that would suit my friend Ingyin? Yep. But even the most basic football fact has a shelf live in my head of a couple of hours tops.
My Dad is a self confessed sports geek. And we tease him about it, but actually, secretly, it’s really impressive.
Leave him for an hour in a NY bar and by the time you come back to collect him for dinner he’ll be chatting away to strangers about the Rangers’ form in 2008. People are placing bets on his ability to name obscure basketball MVP winners, or baseball stats from the 1980s, and he is beating Wikipedia.
So when a few years back I was asked to write an introduction to Superbowl for a Polish magazine, I tapped my Dad for research and dug pretty deep into the NFL website.
Yes, you read that right. I wrote an actual article, for a real life magazine about Superbowl and I still can’t remember how many players allowed on the pitch. Um, field.
But here’s what I do remember: both teams in the Superbowl have to bring their own balls – 12 each – to play with. They’re inspected of course, and the host stadium provides about 120 other balls, which is handy because on average 72 balls are used during the game, but the fact remains, as true as it was when we were children playing with scratch teams in the playground at break time: if you wanna play football, you’d better bring the ball.
I first read about this drink in a book I picked up in The Strand Bookstore; Vogue Cocktails. It’s the kind of fresh yet smoky cocktail that you can imagine people passing round on trays at parties in the 1950’s before tucking into a deviled egg or two.
Jon and I had a test run, where we drank possibly one too many, then ate our way through a couple of pounds of peanuts. Highly recommended combination.
I serve them in champagne saucers, but I’m told that straight up scotch glasses are more traditional. Whichever way your pour them, a football fan is indisputably football, but also, kinda classy. Got to love that.1 measure scotch 1/2 measure Cointreau 1/2 measure grapefruit juice (ideally fresh juice)
- Shake the ingredients together, then serve over ice
This drink also works really well made in a pitcher, so that people can help themselves while play is in progress
Pizza Wonton Bites (serves 8)
Nothing classy about a wonton pizza bite, which tastes fried, though they’re actually baked. This keeps the kitchen smelling good, and makes life much easier if you’re feeding a crowd. They can be made a day or two in advance and heated up just before you want to serve them. If you freeze them, they’ll need a few more minutes in the oven, but can be baked from frozen.
30 wonton wrappers (I’m guesstimating 3 or 4 per person) 2 large balls of mozzarella cheese 8 – 10 tbsp marinara sauce (shop bought is fine) 30 small slices of salami 1 egg Vegetable oil
- Preheat the oven to 400
- Spoon a blob of marinara sauce into the middle of the wonton
- Top with a cube of cheese and a slice of salami
- Crack the egg, and give it a quick whisk. Use a pastry brush (or your fingers) to dab a layer of egg around the edges of the wonton wrapper, then fold over into a triangle (try to seal out air pockets)
- Repeat for the rest of the wontons. If you’re making these in advance, cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate or freeze.
- Brush both sides of each wonton with vegetable oil and place on a baking tray
- Bake for about 10 minutes until the parcels are golden and crispy – keep an eye on them – I bought a packet of wontons recently that took 17 mins to cook up, and conversely, a different packet took 8. It depends on the wonton and the reliable-ness of your oven.
- These can be made in advance and warmed through in a low oven to re-heat.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve
If You Can Make That You Can Make This
- Switch out the salami for pineapple chunks and sliced ham
- Or mushrooms and a drop of truffle oil
- Or chopped black olives
- Switch out the mozzarella for goat cheese
- Or cheddar
- Leave out the tomato sauce altogether and go with cooked bacon and cheddar cheese
- Or replace it with pesto and add chopped cherry tomatoes and mozzarella
- Or replace the filling with mozzarella and mango chutney.