March Madness Bracket: Belgian Ale & Pork Rinds

March_hareWork with me here: Until recently, I assumed “March Madness” was a reference to Alice in Wonderland a la “as mad as a March hare.” Turns out its about college basketball, which, this time of year, enjoys its own pseudoscience in the form of Bracketology. Apparently, Bracketologists predict the winner of the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament using – I’m presuming – that cousin of the parenthesis, the square bracket. Like so: [bracket].
Inasmuch as brackets are used to frame prospective matches between teams, it seems to me they can be used to pair off more than competitors. They could “bracket” potential complements too. Consider the “stunt pairings” trend of last decade, when all manner of foodstuffs and wines were pushed into a dark closet together as if at a teenage house party. Wine and McDonald’s hamburgers were often thrown together, the thinking being that the combination of “high” and “low” culture could break the seventh seal and unleash the apocalypse. Exciting. Turns out it was just a waste of wine. And sometimes Big Macs.

Christopher “Sommelier to the Stars” Sawyer landed himself a profile in Esquire for successfully abstracting the concept by pairing wine with movies. Likewise, Sonoma music scribe J.M. Berry, a.k.a “Winotone,” briefly paired wine and classic rock. Though he didn’t rate an Esquire profile, I’m sure if he’d stuck it out, Guitar Player Magazine might eventually have become his A.A. sponsor or something.

When it comes to food pairings that A) aren’t merely conceptual art and B) are edible, the benchmark was set in 1928 by H.B Reese when he recognized that chocolate and peanut butter could become something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s in this vein that I’ve recently began bracketing my own pairings in search of two great tastes that taste great together.

Continue reading “March Madness Bracket: Belgian Ale & Pork Rinds”

March Madness Bracket: Belgian Ale & Pork Rinds

March_hareWork with me here: Until recently, I assumed “March Madness” was a reference to Alice in Wonderland a la “as mad as a March hare.” Turns out its about college basketball, which, this time of year, enjoys its own pseudoscience in the form of Bracketology. Apparently, Bracketologists predict the winner of the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament using – I’m presuming – that cousin of the parenthesis, the square bracket. Like so: [bracket].
Inasmuch as brackets are used to frame prospective matches between teams, it seems to me they can be used to pair off more than competitors. They could “bracket” potential complements too. Consider the “stunt pairings” trend of last decade, when all manner of foodstuffs and wines were pushed into a dark closet together as if at a teenage house party. Wine and McDonald’s hamburgers were often thrown together, the thinking being that the combination of “high” and “low” culture could break the seventh seal and unleash the apocalypse. Exciting. Turns out it was just a waste of wine. And sometimes Big Macs.

Christopher “Sommelier to the Stars” Sawyer landed himself a profile in Esquire for successfully abstracting the concept by pairing wine with movies. Likewise, Sonoma music scribe J.M. Berry, a.k.a “Winotone,” briefly paired wine and classic rock. Though he didn’t rate an Esquire profile, I’m sure if he’d stuck it out, Guitar Player Magazine might eventually have become his A.A. sponsor or something.

When it comes to food pairings that A) aren’t merely conceptual art and B) are edible, the benchmark was set in 1928 by H.B Reese when he recognized that chocolate and peanut butter could become something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s in this vein that I’ve recently began bracketing my own pairings in search of two great tastes that taste great together.

Continue reading “March Madness Bracket: Belgian Ale & Pork Rinds”

Pork Rinds. The other Pigskin.

The Super Bowl and certain pork byproducts share a common ancestor – the pigskin. The first known footballs date back to 16th century Scotland and were comprised of pig bladders ensconced in deer leather. Pigskin eventually became the material of discerning footballers until a few centuries later when cowhide and polyurethane finally tackled football fabrication. However, they’re not as edible as “the other white meat,” or rather, the skin that covers it before being deep fried in peanut oil (and no matter what branding message the National Pork Board pays to play in its half-time commercials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture insists that pork is not a white meat).
In parts of the states pork rinds are known onomatopoeically as “cracklings.” In Newfoundland, they’re “scrunchions” and inexplicably in Quebec, pork rinds are referred to as “oreilles de Christ” or, literally, “ears of Christ.” This adds a whole new dimension to notions of transubstantiation (a fancy way of saying “metaphysical cannibalism”). The whole “Eat of my body drink of my blood” thing is a lot more enticing if oreilles de Christ were served instead of communion wafers. Church attendance would soar. And so would cholesterol. So, what blood/wine do you pair with them?

Ray Isle, Food & Wine’s executive wine editor. suggests a medium-bodied red.

“You need some tannins for the fat, but salt accentuates tannins, so you don’t want anything too intense. How about a Zinfandel. Cline’s 2009 California Zinfandel ($12) offers a lot of flavor for a fair price.”

Speaking of churchy things, the Public Religion Research Institute reported this week that about 3-in-10 Americans, believe that “God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event.” And we wonder why the Super Bowl is a Sunday. Go Niners!

Kudos to Wikipedia upon which I leaned heavily for this bit.