"You owe it to the Colts to eat more than nachos
Any other year, the Super Bowl would not be on my calendar of culinary holidays. Sure, it’s the second biggest day of eating, after Thanksgiving, and presumably the second biggest day of cooking as well. There is something, however, about football that inspires the kitsch in the home chef: ovoid cheese balls, gridiron-shaped veggie pizzas, Crockpots bubbling with cocktail franks. No thanks. Most years I forget the game is even coming up only to find myself among the throngs of Trader Joe’s shoppers stocking up on Charles Shaw wine and “Prelude to a Quiche” appetizers.
This time, however, I can’t ignore it. I’d even say I’m a little giddy about the prospect of the nation looking to us for gastronomic inspiration. Word on the E street is that Hoosier food blogs are getting record hit counts as party planners (reporters? food writers?) have been searching for indigenous Indiana foods to serve in their spreads for the big game. The Chicago Tribune is apparently reporting that all we have down here is pie — and most of that sugar creme.
Somehow they neglected to look at local menus to see we actually still have foie gras — which their aldermen have banned. Now which city is more provincial and strict?
Those of us who live and eat here 365 days of the year know that there’s a lot more than pie, tenderloin or even duck liver to nosh in this great state. We may not be as lucky as Mayor Bart Peterson, who has feasted on crab cakes, lobster and littleneck clam chowder in recent weeks after winning wagers with the mayors of Baltimore and Boston. But a host of area restaurants are betting they can draw in local diners — and ensure a Colts victory — with some clever Colts-themed cuisine and cocktails. Here’s the plate-by-plate coverage of the best bets.
• Got to have the guac. At last check, avocados were still two for $3 at O’Malia’s, though the price is likely to rise after a recent freeze in California decimated the crop. This means guacamole, the king of Super Bowl foods, will be a little more dear this time around. Thankfully, Adobo Grill is offering its famous chunky dip for half price, just $3.75 an order, for takeout. Of course, you might be suspicious of this Chicago-based mini chain of Mexican eateries offering to supply area parties. But when someone passes you guac that’s this good, well, you intercept it.
• Floating on a sea of blue. While you may be whipping up your blue potato salad and blueberry surprise for Sunday’s game, most local restaurants are honoring Colts colors in the form of cocktails. At the Marriott Hotel downtown, they’re shaking up a “Blue Horseshoe” with Absolut Citron and blue curaçao. At both Champps locations, two drinks will signify loyalties: the Peyton “Mantini” and the Brian “Oranglacher.” Both employ Stoli vodka, one blueberry and one orange. Olive’s at the Omni Severin will offer its “BLUE41” martini with Smirnoff vodka for $5. Probably the most elegant of blue aperitifs is Morton’s Steakhouse’s “Blue Mortini,” concocted from pineapple-infused vodka, yet more curaçao and a cloud-like foam. For more everyday quaffing, the Ram Brewery is dyeing its Kolsch lager blue, and Buffalo Wild Wings downtown is offering blue-dyed Miller Lite, as well as blue Long Islands to bolster your team spirit.
• Belly up to the buffet. Buffets aplenty are planned at area restaurants, including a “tailgate” buffet ($13.95) at Champions at the Marriott downtown, which offers a visual buffet of 32 screens for watching the game. Mo’s, A Place for Steaks is offering a huge $200 package that includes three giant monitors for watching the game, buffets, cocktails and free merchandise give-aways. A four-course dinner at Morton’s for $85 includes a “Second Quarter” buffet with $15 going to United Way of Central Indiana. While it’s not a buffet, The Oceanaire Seafood Room will offer its Devour Downtown three-course menu for $30 with such delectable options as fried calamari, Costa Rican mahi-mahi and Miami-appropriate key lime pie and pineapple upside-down cake.
• Don’t be blue ... it’s free. If you lost your savings betting on the Patriots, just come to your senses, put on some Colts attire and get to any of six area Chipotle locations on Friday, Feb. 2 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., where you’ll get a free “blu-rito.” That same Friday, Morton’s will sponsor a Colts day with free petite steak sandwiches from 5 to 7 p.m. On game day, $5 gets you all the free pizza and wings you can eat at Rock Bottom, and one lucky winner will get a recliner and a big-screen TV just in time for watching the game. If you happen to book a special room package at the Omni Severin for Feb. 4, you’ll get that room free if the Colts win, to be paid, appropriately, by the Omni Chicago Hotel.