Monday, February 8, 2010

The Super Bowl Under The Stars

Every year for the past 27 years, my friend Frank's family has hosted a Super Bowl Party. Like most gatherings for the big game, it's well-attended and appointed with a fantastic array of food and drink. Unlike most Super Bowl parties - or other gatherings that take place during January or February in the Northeast, for that matter - it's staged outside.

You might think this is a pretty insane idea. And you would be right. Last night in Albany, the temperatures were somewhere in the teens but there was a steady breeze which made it feel even colder. People were decked out and layered, wearing hunting and skiing gear with heavy hats, gloves and boots, lined with hand and toe warmers. The chill was inescapable but the constant supply of grilled meat and alcoholic beverages was helpful in forgetting the fact that I couldn't feel my feet.

There were two large grills set up and piled with food starting at around 4:30. A large steamer behind them was loaded with clams. Across the yard there was a table with crock pots containing bear stew and venison chili alongside some Cajun shrimp which unfortunately froze solid before the game even began. There were rabbit legs with a honey mustard glaze, seasoned venison, bear and pork tenderloins, bison burgers with jalapenos and cheddar, Swedish meatballs made with bison and Italian sausage, skewers of venison wrapped in bacon and pastry pouches stuffed with minced venison, garlic and extra sharp cheddar cheese alongside sweet and sour Asian dipping sauces.

The most revered of all the cuisine was the Spedini. Or was it Spellini? Spinnini? I don't think I heard the name pronounced the same way more than once all night but whatever it was called was a thin piece of beef wrapped in a robust Italian cheese and grilled to perfection.

A vast array of microbrews were stuffed in a makeshift snowbank. Irish coffees were distributed during the 3rd and 4th quarters.

Unsurprisingly, the only female in attendance was a Newfie named Stella who was equipped with a bottle opener around her collar and one of these vests.

The party started back in 1983 when Frank's dad, his brother and his cousin were kicked out of his mom's house just down the street from where this party was held for being rowdy. In a moment of impromptu creativity and resourcefulness, they decided that they'd just bring a TV outside with them. While the first party was a born out of necessity, it's become a great tradition.

The part actually attracted a news crew from the local CBS affiliate who took a bunch of footage so they could pair it with a lukewarm voiceover and play it on the 11:00 news to give the Super Bowl coverage a "local angle":

The newscaster is clearly - and understandably - baffled by the fact that a large number of people would willfully stand outside in the dead on winter to watch a football game when they could just as easily huddle up indoors. I can't say I blame her, but if she was there last night, she would have understood why the crowd has grown so much over time.


  1. Only a true football (and exotic food) fanatic would stand outside for that length of time! Laissez les bontemps roule!

  2. Thanks Jay for the POST. It was a great party and everyone had a great time. At one point at half-time there was over 60 crazy partiers going strong and by the end of the game, 30 remained. Special thanks to Frank and my brother Joe for helping put together the party with me.

    -Chris G.
    the HOST