We’re in the beginnings of Fall — the height of tailgating season, so we at Z’Scoop thought we’d share with you some tips on style, economies and fun facts of this seemingly (but not accurately) American tradition. And in the process, blow-up a few preconceptions of what exactly tailgating is.
It doesn’t have to be a football game! Tailgating can be used in camping, picnicking, roadside dining, concerts, horse racing, or any event where there is a parking lot — and it can be enjoyable, easy and an amazing experience for all parties — even the ones planning and preparing it!
First — Booze is a must. Even if you don’t drink, chances are your guests do, and will, and are expecting libations for the pre-game festivities. Whether you go with a complete bar set-up — bitters included — or a washtub full of iced cold beer and soft drinks (don’t forget the water!) … know your guests, their tastes and preferences and plan, buy and stock your tailgate party wagon accordingly.
Plan your menu based on ease, convenience and style. There are plenty of drive-thru restaurants where you can pick up ready-made food or deli items to eat, and based on your time and schedule, this may be a great option for you.
If you prefer to showcase your grilling skills, be sure that the parking area has the proper receptacles for disposing of your hot coals — after the meal, but before the game. Steaks, kabobs, briskets or chops will work fine — just be sure to allow the proper cooking (and clean-up) time before the concert, kick-off, tip-off or checkered flag starts the main event.
Hotdogs and hamburgers don’t have to be run-of-the-mill. Kick it up by stuffing the hotdogs or brats with artisanal cheeses, wrapping them with bacon, and providing interesting and unusual (but tasty) condiments like spiced heirloom tomatoes, avocados, baby greens and bakery rolls. And don’t forget the hot sauce!
Side dishes will make everyday entrees seem exceptional. Include at least one traditional picnic side such as a crudités platter, grandma’s potato salad or jacked-up coleslaw, but consider an exotic and creamy mixed vegetable salad of broccoli, red onion, celery, cranberry, and sunflower seeds, or an ethnic vegetable casserole as a side dish.
At least two types of desserts are required. This is serious. Two. And only one can be packaged (think brownies or cookies). But one should be a standout, kick-ass, slap-your-mamma, super-star. Whether you make it or buy it, it doesn’t matter, but this dessert has to be killer! Anything can be appropriate, as long as it’s exotic, decadent, and loaded with flavor.
To make even the most humble takeout a true tailgating experience, glam it up with serving tables, starched linens, leaded crystal, real silverware, antique china and not too bright but tastefully colorful serving platters. Presentation is key to impressing friends, family and, yes, even your work guests — peers, direct reports as well as upper management.
But to really knock your tailgate party out of the park, no matter what you place on the menu and serve to your guests, throw in a sterling silver candelabra or two — just to let them know who rules with style — even if you are wearing your favorite team or player’s jersey!
And for God’s sake, please — whatever you do — don’t forget the flowers!
All books are available at amazon.com. Click on title to order.
by Gooseberry Patch
The Southern Tailgating Cookbook
by Taylor Mathis
200 Picnics and Tailgate Recipes
by Carol Beckerman
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