A guest blog post by Tracy
Autumn is on the horizon…that beautiful time of year when temperatures begin to drop, jackets make a highly anticipated reappearance, trees commence their annual transformation to rich, golden colors, and there’s a delightful crispness in the air that can only mean one thing. Wait…what??? I live in Houston. None of that will be happening here…at least not for quite some time. Nevertheless, football season is upon us!!! If you’re anything like me, this is the time of year when you begin rejecting Sunday (and select Monday and Thursday) invitations for activities unrelated to football. Come on, it’s been a long and tortuous off-season, and you don’t want to miss a moment! However, there’s more to a Sunday watching football than just a big screen TV. In fact, I firmly believe the brevity of the season demands that you make it something special.
Let’s start with the important stuff…drinks (more specifically, alcohol). Beer is undoubtedly the conventional beverage of the season, and while I’m definitely more of a wine drinker, whatever your preference, there’s an opportunity to make a choice that elevates the game day experience. For obvious reasons, a great tasting beverage is important (because no one likes a bad drink…unless it’s free, of course), but why not take it a step further? Choose something with a connection to your team. If you support a Texas team, perhaps a wine or beer (or vodka!) produced in Texas. If you support a California team, well…you get the gist. You could get really creative and find a connection to your team’s mascot (as below), or even find something produced by a current or former coach/player.
Having said all that, it’s my firm belief that game day should be treated as a celebratory occasion. And what does that mean? Bubbly, of course! Prosecco or Cava are my typical go-to, inexpensive sparklers, especially when creating cocktails such as mimosas or bellinis, but whatever you decide, you’re to be commended for starting your day off remarkably well. Bravo!
Now for the food! It’s no mystery that football and food have a long history. They’re BFF’s. Thick as thieves. Joined at the hip. You get it…inseparable. Personally, I’m far from a great chef, so meals on Sunday need to be good…but dumbed down considerably. Breakfast, however, is a no-brainer for me. You’d be hard-pressed to find a person who wouldn’t love toasted sourdough emblazoned with their favorite team’s logo.
Add a little butter and strawberry preserves (or if that bubbly has you feeling a little fancy, swap out that jam for lemon curd – you won’t regret it), and you’ve got yourself a proper foundation for a day chock-full of exhilarating television.
If you’re doing it right, that bottle of bubbly should be long gone by now. (Well done, you!) I don’t know your particular tolerance level, so it’s possible that this may be the appropriate time for a pre-game, booze-induced snooze. However, if you’re feeling reenergized, let’s start thinking about lunch. Pizza is always a trouble-free solution (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t love a good pizza and Italian wine pairing???). Carryout from your favorite wings establishment could work just fine as well, but who can drive at a time like this? Or, perhaps, like me, you try – on occasion – to make slightly healthier choices. During these particular times, I find that the slow cooker can be my best friend. The preparation (and dreaded clean-up) can be completed well before kick-off, leaving ample time for copious amounts of NFL news, injury reports and tweaking your fantasy football line-up.
I’m a big fan of turkey chili during the season, especially when it gets a bit cooler. This is not rocket science (and it’s unlikely to win any blue ribbons at the chili cook-off), but it’s healthy, tasty, incredibly simple (score!), and can be altered in infinite ways to your (or your guest’s) liking. And as an added bonus, it typically yields plenty of leftovers (i.e., no cooking tomorrow!).
My typical recipe includes cooked ground turkey, a few cans of diced tomatoes (fire-roasted if I’m feeling especially adventurous!), a can of kidney beans (drained), a couple of cans of green chilies, various diced fresh veggies (usually onion, celery and bell pepper), and taco seasoning. Since everything is already cooked, it’s all about letting the veggies get tender, melding all the flavors, and getting everything heated through.
By now you may be thinking, “Chili? Really? What’s so special about chili? I thought we were raising the game…?” I believe the toppings are where this meal has the opportunity to shine. Now is the time to impress your guests with a spectacular array of garnishes: assorted (fancy) cheeses, diced red onion, a variety of peppers, fresh cilantro, sour cream, sliced avocado, pico de gallo, corn chips, lime wedges, olives, scallions, bacon (yes, bacon!)…seriously, go crazy!
But what will you wear??? Dressing the part can be a vital element of the game day experience. Not only is it about looking great while supporting your team, but for truly diehard fans, there’s almost always a superstition factor. I’m among those who believe that players aren’t the only ones who determine the outcome of the game. If I don’t wear those socks, drink from that wine glass, or sit in the same seat week after week, the season is all but over before it begins. You must decide what works for you…and, more importantly, for your team. These days, the choices in NFL attire are practically endless, from the standard jerseys, t-shirts and hats, to undergarments, dresses and even high-end jewelry. Bottom line…choose wisely. Your team’s season depends on it.
But regardless of what you decide to eat, drink or wear, what’s most important is that you enjoy the day, that you share it with wonderful friends and family, that you understand that no matter the outcome… Okay, I can’t do it – that’s enough BS. What’s (obviously) most important is that your team WINS (unless they’re playing mine). So, good luck, and don’t forget to raise your glass and your game!!! Cheers to another fantastic season!
Tracy, Guest Blogger
Read a short bio on Tracy in Red Shoes. Red Wine.‘s Guest Contributor section here. Follow Tracy’s adventures in Travel, Wine, and Photography on Instagram: @texanstracy