Monday, February 2, 2015

Rancho Winslow Bowl Blowout

Black Bottle, and those amazing crackers

Sunday afternoon I ventured upwind (a rather considerable blustery wind, at that) to Rancho Winslow, to see if Princess Di needed a galley slave to assist her in getting stuff ready for that evening's discreet Super Bowl get-together. To me the party was all about the food and friendship.

Missy, getting her freak on

I’m not really into pro football, and could care even less whether New England/Boston or Seattle won the game. I sorta like the Seattle players, but really don’t like their coach Pete Carroll, who somehow never knew about the whole Reggie Bush thing, and when major NCAA sanctions were handed down against USC, bailed like a wussy to the Seattle gig. Carroll claimed that a two-year bowl ban, the elimination of thirty football scholarships, and forfeiture of some of the victories from 2004–05 had absolutely nothing to do with him leaving. Right. The opposite is true for Boston/New England. I kinda like the coach, just because he’s such a crusty, unpretentious asshole, but don’t like their players. Then the Patriots have that whole unethical thing going on too: filming opponent's sideline signs, Aaron Hernandez, deflate gate, etc. Bottom line, pro football is just a bunch of overpaid multi-millionaires out on a field, scrambling each other’s brains, and giving each other early onset dementia. Hell, Mike Ditka even said he’d never let a kid play football today knowing what he now knows. Mike Ditka, for crissakes!

Katy Perry, caterwauling

I'm not really into Katy Perry either, especially when she dresses conservatively to keep the network happy. I can tolerate her when she’s got some d├ęcolletage going on, but to me, her caterwauling voice is like fingers scraping on a chalkboard. I do like Lenny Kravitz, but he was barely featured, used mostly as a stage prop for Katy to grind against. I really like Missy Elliot, but she wasn’t even mentioned in any of the promos, so she turned out to be a complete (and pleasant) surprise. I did kinda dig the brightly colored sets, but they would only have been worth enduring with that poor, echoing football stadium sound quality if there were some mushrooms or mescaline involved, and those days are past. To amplify the effect even more, we had two TV sets going, one digital and one not, so the Rancho Winslow sound reminded me of those glory days at the drive in theater, when you got that quasi-Doppler distortion from all of the scattered speakers going at once.

The purple kale chip pyramid

Pancetta-mozz pinwheels

Chunky guacamole

Anyway, back to the food. Diane had gone into serious Martha of Manchaca mode and twice-baked some fantastic crackers that were made with pistachios, flax seeds, dried apricots, and a bunch of other healthy crunchy ingredients. I loved them, but suggested that they needed some cream cheese draped with some habanero jelly. Well, she rustled around and found some cranberry-jalapeno jam, and with a squirt of habanero chile paste, to slather a block of cream cheese with, and it ended up being a perfect combo. I whipped up a batch of chunky guacamole that sucked in the crowd (CBoy and Di, Grover and Jill, Scott and Rosa, and me). Di had created a mountain of crispy purple kale chips to nibble on. We had some dandy cheese with streaks of truffle cruising through it, and a pancetta, mozzarella, and basil jellyroll that I sliced up. All of those noshes went swell with the Black Bottle Scotch I was drinking over a couple of rocks. Black Bottle is a very tasty and extremely reasonably-priced blended Scotch that I highly recommend. I forget the exact price, but it seems like Specs had it for about $19 or 20 a bottle. It’s made by Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd., which also produces Bunnahabhain. Grover brought his now-customary bottle of Pilar Solera Rum, and he and CBoy were also working on some craft brews, while Di, Rosa, and Jill were sipping an assortment of wines.

Apples, strawberries, blackberries

Brussels salad with balsamic

Grover and Scott had spent the day smoking a couple of chickens, a big mess of pork ribs, and some of the fantastic sausage that Grover makes at Johnny G’s Butcher Block. Diane had a big pot of Great Northern beans simmering, made with bacon, onion, garlic, carrots, and lots of savory (the ideal complimentary herb for that bean). She also had a fruit plate and her delicious kale and brussels salad, with green onion, shredded cheese, balsamic dressing, and I forget what all else goes in to it.

They almost match!

Once I had taken some food porn shots, we all attacked the food, filling up our paper plates and the almost-matching, leftover Santa Claus napkins. Di took a lot of good-natured ribbing about neglecting her esteemed Martha of Manchaca mantle, but when she asked who wanted to wash real plates later on, we all shut up immediately. Grover knocked it out of the park with his BBQ, especially the ribs. Everyone was going nuts over the ribs. Ditto for Di’s pot of beans. They were so good that I had three servings of them. A little fruit and green on the side, and we were all very stuffed and very happy ranch hands.

Wacky Weir in one of his several outfits

Grover's chicken

Grover's ribs!

The beauty of this year’s Superbowl for me is that I got to chat with good buddies, get my drink on just a little bit, eat some righteous food (and lots of it), and see just enough of the spectacle for me to claim that I technically “watched” the Superbowl. I saw Johnny Weir totally freaking the shit out of everyone before the game started, John Legend singing at the beginning, Missy Elliot at halftime, that amazing catch by Jermaine Kearse which almost won the game for the Seahawks, finishing up with the contemptible call by Pete Carroll, which 
sealed the Patriots victory. Those four brief glimpses were just enough pro football for me, but I sure wish I had a pile of those ribs and beans in front of me right now. 

Di's beans

Mick Vann ©

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