Via one casual exhortation by popular demand, the Cod's snapped out of his funk, and returned to his NTTBD duties. (Dozens and dozens of oysters will do that.) All that remains is the crown jewel of the college football season, the single contest that crowns an indisputable champion to reign supreme over the realm of college football. This year, we have the highly anticipated matchup of the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers. For a contest of this magnitude, one must choose a heritage pork dish that captures the full glory of this highly anticipated matchup. Unfortunately, the receipt for this game involves time travel, or an unusual degree of foresight. For this big matchup, what you will want to do is thaw out that underseasoned and disappointing stew you made back in November! Enjoy!
Datlline, the Westin Diplomat, Hollywood, FL. The Cod actually has one of his fins wrapped around a ticket for this game, due to the many valliany labors of his corporeal host. Posting this from the lobby of the Clemson team hotel -- a riot of orange interspersed with the odd Hassid and Russian dames of all ages who look like they could scratch a diamond. With no rental, and cabs a sucker's bet, the most immediate food options are Douchebag Sushi on one side of the lobby, and Asshole Steah on the other. Thus far, the food highlight has been a breakfast Cubano from a hole in the wall across the street. But! Allow me to suggst reverse-engineering a Cubano. The bread is the trickiest part, but something baguettish will work. You will need some pickles, and some Swiss Muensterish cheese. And then roas some of the nicest pork you can find, layer it with the best country ham you got, put some butter and mustard on the bread, press it up in a sandwich press, cut on the diagonal and enjoy. Go Tigers!
Shit just gor real for the NTTTBD -- the Cod has a skin in the game. Whimsical notions about foodstuffs and bowls become more concrete when your own sustenance hinges on a cabbie cussing in Creole making an illegal u-turn on A1A in front of a burger joint that has a 90 minute wait.
Which brings me to the biggest injustice of this bowl season. Due to the Medici-esque network of bowl alliances, the Clemson Tigers are in Hollywood, FL, getting ready for an Orange Bowl date against the West Virginia Mountaineers. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech, who lost to Clemson -- Twice. Lopsidedly. -- is scrimmaging in the neutral ground on Esplanade, preparing for a Sugar Bowl against one of the most storied programs in college football. One of many, many legit options for this game would be to go to Cochon Butcher. Meanwhile, not even Luther Campbell knows where to eat around Sun Life Stadium. Choke on that Gambino, Hokies and Wolverines.
The bowl juggernaut picks up some real steam here, with six bowls, including two actual BCS bowls. We will skip a pairing for the first offering -- one of many many bowls in Dallas that are not the actual Cotton Bowl. Houston was BCS bound until spitting the bit against Southern Miss, and for a one-loss effort, they get a no-name bowl against a team that might have done well to opt out of bowls this year.
As for the Outback Bowl, like the Chick-Fil-A bowl, it's a bowl themed around a non-pork meat, a terrible steakhouse in this case, so let's hope the lads from the Classic City grabbed some goodies from the Spotted Trotter on their way to the airport.
Down the road, its the 'Cocks and the Huskers in a bowl with a surprisingly entertaining Twitter feed. Well played. Nebraska is all about feedlot corn, I think, but Williams-Brice is not far from Caw Caw Creek Farms. Get you some belly, and per Homer's suggestion, rustle up the deep-fried sous-vide 36 hour all belly porchetta, per Homer's suggestion.
The Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl features a matchup that was more compelling in 2006. Checking the archives, the Lee Bros. were extolling country hams, which is still a good idea.
The Rose Bowl, the granddady of them all, and features Bret Bielema's brat-bolting Badgers. State St. is not where we want to be, so consider the Nueske's sausage snack sampler. See if the Ducks can't bring a nice Wilamette Valley Pinot Noir or something.
The BCS finale for the day involves the two most disagreeable D1 programs playing in a stadium named after a fraud. Have a salad or something instead.
To quote Jaques Derrida from his appearance at Chick-fil-A Bowl particpiant UVA, "I am not going to keep my promise." The first of these five bowls is already underway, and the Cod has to figure out a week's worth of outfits that can go from Miami booster bonhomie to Seattle academic dyspepsia, and I do not have a five course artisan pork menu up my sleeve. But, in the sprit of New Year's resolutions, and the heritage pork kick we've been on, my suggestion is you resolve to be your own artisan in 2012. Buy a few books, Ruhlman's Charcuterie, either or both Fergus Henderson books, maybe Grigson. (Come to think of it, Grigson did "pork for chicks" long before Libbie Summers took a crack, and with considerably more integrity.) Get a Butcher and Packer catalog. Consider a chest freezer. Get a pig. It's not hard to find someone who has pigs. If you're stumped, talk to your favorite local restaurant and ask where they get their pigs. If they say "off the Sysco truck," find a new favorite restaurant. Chances are, you can find a farmer who will slaughter your hog at the size you want, and even feed it what you want it fed. Make sure the farmer saves the innards head, and trotters for you. Check back in and let me know how it goes. As a rule, a man or woman who can make his or her own bacon is someone respected in the community.
The Chick-fil-a Bowl, naturally, is a bowl sponsored by a fast food chicken sandwich chain. This chain has, for many years, featured advertisements where cows who cannot spell encourage humans to EAT MOR CHICKIN. Indeed, they are so zealous about this brand that they worry that exhortations to eat more kale will confuse their customers.*
Two items come to mind:
1) Why would a bowl title sponsor with a brand that is all about eating chicken instead of beef sponsor what appears to be a meat-eating contest using the very beef-centric Brazilian churrasco format?
2) Also, it's not clear what day this contest happened, young athletes have good metabolisms, etc, but NINE POINT ZERO THREE POUNDS OF MEAT? That's like being 36 weeks pregnant with a five-star Rivals OL prospect. Let's hope the plumbing in the team hotels is up to the task.
Four bowls? On a Friday? Before New Years? ESPN is generous, they are.* The Music City Bowl, another outdoor bowl in a location that is relably pretty chilly in the middle of the winter, features two teams that are the football version of "it's that guy." Wake Forest...? They started that four fingers for for quarters thing? Right? They were ok a few years ago? Yeah. Missisippi State...? They had that African-American head coach? They lost 3-2 to Auburn? Yeah. But Nashville is not far from the best bacon in the world.** Cook some and eat it with your fingers. Alternatively, buy the Momofuku cookbook, and to everything with it that Chang and Meehan tell you to. either way, you will be spending your time more profitably than if you watch this game.
The nightcap brings the second representative from the state of Iowa, and we burned the LaQuercia card this afternoon. Tell you what: get up, get in to it, and get involved. Find a pig's head, cut the jowls off, and make jowl bacon, aka guanciale. Not difficult. Then you can make bucatini alla matriciana that will make the angels weep. The fellow in the orange Crocs has a good recipe.
*Not that anyone asks me, but it seems as if spreading out the bowls in the first week of January for better TV scheduling amounts to a tax from participating schools to ESPN.
**The post linked here garnered the Cod his only STFU Foodies mention. A special day, it was.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Dec. 30 Noon Dallas ESPN BYU vs. Tulsa
New Era Pinstripe Bowl Dec. 30 3:20 p.m. New York ESPN Iowa State vs. Rutgers
Quite a thing to wake up from a long Dayquil's journey into Nyquil and find that Mr. No Rez has FFed you, and somewhere in the confusion, you lost track of a whole day, and the Valero Alamo Bowl to boot. Considering that one of the premises of the Nose-to-Tail Bowl Digest is that time and space do not exist, in that we presume that one can magically summon boudin from the depths of Louisiana to your Gaslight District hotel in San Diego at a moment's notice, we have no qualms about retroactively suggesting that you make gougeres dusted w/ Microplaned country ham and pop one whenever eithe Wazzu or Baylor scores a TD.
On to the matter at hand! We begin with the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, not to be confused with the Military Bowl, and not intended to give you a nagging sense that LBJ was on the money. This bowl is in Dallas, which is good, because good bowls happen in cities where bad things happen for Kennedys (Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, Los Angeles, Havana). Unfortunately, it features BYU, a Mormon institution. One of the tenets of Mormonism is that they can't have nice things, and nice things do include heritage/artisanal pork. Tulsa is more cows than pigs, last I checked, so we will borrow one of the choices for the Pinstripe bowl: Despite the Cod's deep animus for Iowa State, Iowa is home to La Quercia, the Sam Adams of heritage pork in the US, if you will. I was not super-impressed with their offerings a few years back, but they appear to have expanded their range, and I am very interested in this acorn edition business.
In about an hour, from when I'm writing this, the aforementioned Cyclones will take on the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers in the New Era but I hope you brought a warm hat and longjohns too so you can sit and watch an 8-4 Big East team play a 6-6 team Pinstripe Bowl. Your questions are answered here. If you happened to be in the East Village, you could actually follow this bowl digest suggestions, and get yourself a porchetta sammich from Porchetta (fin tip to Homer for the general idea), hop in a cab, and be at the game with this sandwich to keep you warm. (Bring two, and trade one for a ticket) Better still, you could save cab fare, lug this sandwich to Professor Thom's, and enjoy the game in one of Gotham's few oases of good sense.
A nagging cold and the next step in a foolish SC/NY/VT/MA/SC/FL/WA idiodessy means that neither the Military Bowl or the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl will get the full treatment it deserves. But then, does a DC-based bowl a few days after Christmas pitting another MAC team (I swear, they create new MAC teams in a lab just to populate these bowls) against a service academy. It's Toledo Vs. Air Force, and the Cod would like to suggest that we can honor the service of our lads in the Air Force without watching them play football. We will push real hard on the definition of "artisanal," and stump for a half smoke at Ben's Chili Bowl in lieu of shivering at Fed Ex Field.
The Bridgeoint Education Holiday Bowl makes for more complicated feelings. The Holiday Bowl has a tradition of hamtasticness, but it is now sponsored by an off-brand University of Phoenix for-profit education outfit that sounds like a non-denomenational church. But it is in San Diego. FOC Nastinchka, on a recent visit was left wondering if it was legal to marry the pig ear salad at the Linkery. You might want to find out for yourself.
The darkness brings only darkness with the Bowl Formerly Known as the Meineke Car Care Bowl at 8pm. The Cod and cinetrix were in attendance last year, and can attest that the parts of Charlotte you see in Bowl Land are pretty terrible -- dystopian warrens of chain hotels connected by chain restaurants, populated by some of the vulgarest folk you are likely to see outside of Houston or Atlanta. If you need a bowl fact icebreaker, you can tell folks that Charlie Strong is only the third Louisville coach to take his team to a bowl game in his first two seasons. It's a fact! It's two seven and five teams, and sadly, Tom O'Brien can coach only one of them, in this case the NCST wolfpack. The high point of their season was the low point of the season for the lads from the Cod's day job, and the less said about that better. Somewhere, someone is saying that it's a positive step for their program to be playing in a post-Christmas bowl, and they may even be right. I would consider skipping this one and taking the kids to see Swedes torture teens from the Baltics, but if you must, fix yourself a sandwich with some Molinari Coppa.