By Catharine Kaufman
Tailgate parties will be heating up throughout the Big Easy on Feb. 3 making a pit stop at New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome 6:30 p.m. ET. Super Bowl XLVII kicks off with a touch of Cajun spice, some San Francisco sourdough (the 49ers), Baltimore bivalves and crustaceans (Baltimore Ravens), and a friendly sibling rivalry as the Harbaugh bros vie against each other.
Paying homage to a pair of seasoned coaching brothers and a trio of seafood towns, here’s a primer on how to quarterback a winning Big Game shindig.
New Orleans cuisine, a marriage of Canadian Cajun and European Creole flavors will spice up any party with such faves as Andouille and Boiudin sausages — push pedestrian bratwursts to the sidelines. Cut sausages in quarters and wrap in puff pastry for a riff on pigs in a blanket. Serve with Cajun dipping sauces with varying degrees of hotness. Po-Boys are monster stuffed sandwiches on French bread which can be swapped out for brown pumpernickel loaves, resembling edible footballs.
For pescavores, bake a heap of barbecue shrimp in their shells bathed in olive oil, garlic and bay leaves with a side of dirty rice or jambalaya. Big Easy Gumbo, an okra seafood stew, can be tweaked by adding red and white kidney beans for a Super Bowl-friendly version. Traditional munchies include crunchy praline, a confection of pecans, brown sugar, butter and vanilla, or for savory palates sprinkle a dash of cayenne and sea salt.
For some San Francisco treats, whip up a plate of sourdough bruschetta topped with pitted whole black olives reminiscent of mini footballs, or grilled Bay scallops with chopped garlic and tomatoes. Top crispy flat breads with San Fran’s famous Crab Louie salad accompanied by a mug of seafood cioppino, a staple of North Beach, San Francisco’s Little Italy.
In honor of Chinatown, serve some Asian fingerfoods including, sesame jumbo shrimp, football-shaped chicken balls, veggie spring rolls with ginger-mango dipping sauce and a pile of almond cookies and custom-made chocolate-dipped fortune cookies with kitschy messages inside.
Of course, San Francisco (or the upper East Bay city of Martinez) lays a solid claim as any to the origin of the martini. So shake up a batch, James Bond-style. Do a purple martini representative of the color of the Ravens uniforms and bursting with antioxidant blueberry or grape juices, or a cranberry martini paying tribute to the red threads of the 49ers.
Ravens fans can chow down on some Chesapeake Bay delights like crab cake sliders or a gooey crab dip with an assortment of raw veggies from purple carrots and cauliflower florets (go Ravens) to red peppers and radishes (go 49ers). Try oyster fritters or steamed oysters in the shell with a garlic olive oil drizzle (while February passes the rule of thumb test for safely eating oysters since it’s a month containing the letter “R”).
For your just desserts, serve the “official state dessert” called Smith Island cake, a towering yellow cake layered with divine chocolate fudge icing.