I’m not sure how many times a person can hear “Go! You Packers! Go” before going crazy, but I know that 11 isn’t enough.
As the Packer Tailgate band launches into their umpteenth rendition of said song, I take my umpteenth swig of Miller High Life and start to sing along. Not just sing along, but really SING along…what the hell, it’s Sunday morning at Lambeau Field.
Beer, brats and Packer-themed live music! Are you kidding me?
Kick-off is still a ways away. I do a quick calculation of time+alcohol+food and its not looking good. I fear I may have cracked the first beer a tad too early.
Rattling in the recesses of my head is that speech my wife gave me about how important the role of “pace” will play in our Lambeau experience. I remember something being said about “avoiding a repeat performance of last summer’s family reunion” (ouch).
So with pacing myself as a priority (not the first, but definitely a priority), I decide it’s time to soak up some alcohol by indulging in the fine selection of tailgate fare.
Our parking spot is decked out, thanks to good friends who are tailgating experts. In fact, virtually every parking spot is done up like a contestant for the Ultimate Tailgater Championship.
Team colors and alcohol aside, it’s the food that anchors the experience. It’s the food that can distinguish one tailgater from another, allowing one to carve out a niche in a sea of Flintstone-sized grills, endless brats and industrial-sized pots of chili.
I wandered next door to our tailgate neighbors, who lustily waved me over to the grill. Clearly breakfast was still on the menu. I arrived just as they were placing perfectly marbled rib eyes on the grill, which preceded the cracking of a dozen eggs in two massive frying pans, joining crispy hash browns that had spent the last half hour warming over low heat.
12 minutes later I had my first official “taste” of Lambeau tailgating – steak and eggs.
A medium rare rib eye with sunny side up eggs perched delicately on top of the meat, accompanied by liberally seasoned hash browns…all washed down with yet another Miller High Life.
The first cut of the egg and steak produced a sweet, shallow lake of yolk across the bottom of the plate, providing a gift with every bite.
1,100 some calories down, an estimated 4,000 or so still to go.
The most important meal of the day was booked and now it was off to find some lunch. After an impromptu touch football game earlier that morning, I’d been invited to join a group with Louisiana roots.
While gumbo and crawfish immediately came to mind, once on the scene, I encountered something entirely different, something more upmarket if you will.
It started with Po’Boy sliders. Simply addictive. Forget pacing myself, I couldn’t get enough. Fried shrimp, fried oyster and fried cod, these bite size morsels of heaven made the trip to Green Bay worth every cent, regardless of whether I ever make it into the game or not.
From a dusting of cayenne in pillowy-light batter, to the special sauce made up of, as best I could tell, mayo, scallions, capers and hot sauce (the laughing at my expense was boisterous as I tried to guess exactly what was in it). It was as good as a single bite of anything I can recall from any restaurant.
Toss in the fact they served their Po’Boy sliders with a glass of champagne and despite standing in an NFL-stadium parking lot, it was downright elegant…and delicious.
This group of veteran tailgaters (and actual veterans, as no less than four of the group had proudly served their country with military service) were just getting started.
I was ready to beg off another bite until half-time, which seemed completely doable….until a perfectly plated dish of “Oyster 3-Ways” arrived on the scene.
I’m an oyster lover, so abstaining was not one of the options I considered. In fact, a second and third helping were in the cards long before abstention.
An oyster on the half shell, presented with a dab of Tabasco and fresh horseradish anchored the plate, flanked by one that was hot off the BBQ and one that was deep fried.
As with the Po’Boys, beer wasn’t allowed. Instead they poured a crisp Pinot Blanc that perfectly complimented the oysters’ salty tang.
It was an ideal finale.
I thanked them and as I’d done for everyone else on this tailgating tour, I gave them a delicacy from my region – some authentic BC smoked salmon. The candied salmon was what I brought for anyone kind enough to invite me to break bread. It was a big hit by the way (I heard “hey, it’s salmon guy” at least 20 times before flying out of Wisconsin).
I slowly walked back to my parking stall, finishing off yet another Miller High Life someone had stuck in my hand. On the walk, I turned down four Brats, two pulled pork sandwiches, three bowls of chili (all smothered with various accoutrements) and a triple patty burger with eight pieces of bacon.
“Pace yourself honey, pace yourself”, I kept hearing it.
Postscript: The Packers won, I hung in there pretty good until things went a little sideways around midnight in downtown Green Bay, but it was all good. A manageable hangover on the flight back was worth the memories.
Monday, March 31st Anaheim – Disappointment. When the Seattle Mariners face the LA Angels in their season openers tonight, both teams will be trying to shake off the disappointment surrounding their 2013 seasons.
The Angels will be shaking a little harder, as they dove in the deep-end of the disappointment pool last season.
When the Halos took the field for their season opener a year ago, expectations were as high as their payroll. The chatter in the sports betting forums that night not only had them beating the Reds to start it all, but going on to have a deep playoff run (think parade, speeches, confetti). They went 1-for-2, as opening night produced a win, but it was a long painful slide down from there.
March Madness tips off today with a slew of games, including the Oregon Ducks vs. BYU Cougars.
Online sportsbook odds have the Ducks as a 5-point favorite for this 3:10 pm (ET) tipoff to be played at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Oregon comes into the tournament on a nice run, going on a bit of a tear down the stretch to grab an at-large bid. Their guard play is what paces this team and it’s what will get them a win and cover today. They should be able to take advantage of the huge loss BYU suffered when Kyle Collingsworth went down with a blown knee.