Once again, we’re in the middle of that period of football wasteland, especially with no home team to root for in the post season. Nevertheless, here comes the spectacle of Super Bowl LIV.
Regardless of the long gridiron tradition, it is as anticipated for its off-field festivities as it is for its on-field combat. The season has come down to a single game and the glory and esteem it will bestow on the San Francisco 49ers or the Kansas City Chiefs.
Super Bowl Sunday brings together friends and family to indulge in the biggest junk food day of the year. Once a year we indulge guilt-free in those waist-widening, artery-clogging foods we try to avoid fastidiously all year. And what better way to wash down those calories and fat than with your favorite beverage.
But what will we be enjoying this Sunday?
Here are several food facts for Super Bowl Sunday from the National Restaurant Association:
There will be 48 million Americans who will order takeout food. What will we be eating? For 69 percent of us, we will be noshing on salsa, chips and dips and 63 percent will be inhaling chicken wings. In fact, according to the National Chicken Council, 1.25 billion chicken wings will be devoured. They calculate that is enough to put 572 wings on every seat in all 32 NFL stadiums.
With culinary highlights and lowlights in mind, here is my premise for this week’s column: a Super Bowl Challenge for the best food, wine and beer produced in the two rival football regions.
After New York City, San Francisco is the dining capital of the United States. From the eclectic and bountiful waters of the bay, to the culinary heights of haute cuisine in the downtown area, to the ultimate Italian comfort food in North Beach, diners continually find “one of my favorite meals” in San Francisco. And don’t forget the Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Café.
Kansas City has cultivated a cult following for its pork and beef for over two centuries. Barbecue restaurants tempt locals and tourists with the wafting aromas of smoldering smoked ribs, chops and brisket. World-acclaimed steakhouses ply high-quality offerings from prized local ranches and butcher houses. Jess & Jim’s, Rye and Plaza III are standouts.
In this category the edge goes to San Francisco. Like the 49ers, it consistently delivers on what it promises, at a level far surpassing the norm.
This is an easy category. Just 45 minutes north of San Francisco lie two of the most famous and highly revered wine regions in the world, Napa and Sonoma counties.
But don’t sell Kanas City short. The foundation of the American wine industry must pay tribute to the Norton grape variety, first cultivated in Missouri in the early 19th century. In one year, 1880, production reached two million gallons, the highest in the United States.
Raise your glasses of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as you salute the underdog 49ers, facing the powerhouse offense of a Chiefs team akin to the powerful history of the Norton grape.
Craft beers are growing in popularity, a testament to the new generation of talented brew masters. Both Jimmy Garoppolo and Patrick Mahomes are stars this season.
San Francisco craft beermakers like Anchor, 21st Amendment, Barrel Head and Cellarmaker have been rising in esteem since the last century.
But don’t count out Kansas City. Its high-powered football team is a reflection of the influence and might of the state’s beer success. Yes, I know, Anheuser Busch is a juggernaut, but is it the posterchild for the shifting state of the beer industry to craft beer? Kansas City has its share of popular craft brewers, including Boulevard Brewing, Bier Station and Torn Label.
However, San Francisco easily overpowers Kansas City in this category, even if more Bud and Bud Light will be consumed this Sunday than any other beer.
Super (Snack) Bowl Sunday is nirvana for football enthusiasts and junk food aficionados alike. Whichever camp you fall into, just kick back and enjoy the game and the camaraderie.
Nick Antonaccio is a 40-year Pleasantville resident. For over 25 years he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member of the Wine Media Guild of wine writers. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sharingwine.