The Grey Cup is on this Sunday! It’s the final showdown for the 2014 season of the Canadian Football League where the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Calgary Stampeders will do battle at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver to win — what else but — the Grey Cup. Curious to learn more about Canadian football and the Grey Cup? Check out Grey Cup Central. Curious about the differences between Canadian and American football and why we Canucks think our game is superior? Well, you can Google that and I’ll just stay out of the
I’m not a big sports fan, but I can get behind the excitement of any playoff game (a bit like those people who only go to church at Christmas and Easter, but that’s another story). Gather a crowd of friends, fire up the big screen, pass the cold brewskis around (and non-alcoholic libations for the designated drivers) and feed the fans well. Good, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs food for vicarious football players. The kind of stuff you can eat without too much fuss while watching the game.
And then you can do this all over again in February for the Super Bowl.
Grey Cup Celebration Menu
Think of me as your party coach, here to help you quarterback your party with a selection of make-ahead, straightforward food that you can serve while cheering on your team.
First Half Party Snacks
Every party needs snack food. Don’t just dump a bag of chips in a bowl and peel the lid off a tub of dip. That’s a lame fumble. Put a bit of effort into it and you’ll be rewarded with a snacking touchdown.
You can’t go wrong with sugared or spiced nuts. This is the kind of snack that makes someone absorbed in the game take notice. Set out some bowls of these, along with a selection of olives. You know, start your party with a bit of class.
And yeah, you gotta have chips and dip. But make those chips something interesting and flavourful like artisanal pita chips or organic blue tortilla chips. And even if you serve regular old chips, make sure those dips gain you some return yards. Like avocado hummus or muhammara, a Middle Eastern roasted red pepper and walnut dip. Oh, yeah. And, as your party coach, I’m saying you have to have this kick-ass chunky guacamole. And get some vegetables on that table. Even beefy football players appreciate a little fresh crunch dipping action.
Grey Cup Main Course
Repeat after me: mugs and bowls, mugs and bowls. Forget about the plates. Things can slide off plates. Even if you’re serving dinner during half-time, the excitement will be pretty high and you need to plan ahead for the risk of crucial play reenactments. It’ll be cold out, so have two or three hot entrees for your football enthusiast friends to choose among. Set out a selection of breads or rolls to complement them and you’re golden.
Soup is great party food. You can make it ahead of time and keep it hot though the party in a slow cooker. How about something exotic, hearty and as-spicy-as-you-like-it? I suggest this curried pumpkin and coconut chickpea soup. A mug and a spoon is all you need; no fancy table settings required.
You can never go wrong with chili at a casual get together. Just set out some crumbled tortilla chips, chunks of avocado drizzled with lime or lemon juice, and chopped cilantro that people can use to garnish their bowl of goodness. Score a conversion by going vegetarian; this quinoa and red pepper chili is so satisfying that no one (almost) will miss the meat.
Let’s be honest: a meal without meat is an incomplete pass for some carnivores in the crowd. They’ll be having a touchdown celebration when you pass them a bowl of this classic beef stew with red wine. Just make it with chunks of potato or baby potatoes to round out the heartiness.
At the Goal Line: Dessert
I know that some women are huge sports fans, but even they will appreciate these manly chocolate cupcakes. Let’s admit it, football and dainty just don’t go together. If you’re serving a variety of desserts, my rule is that at least one should be chocolate. Trust me on that.
Brownies are a good choice for your game party dessert. They’re easy to eat and not messy. Since we already have chocolate covered, let’s celebrate the Canadian-ness of the Grey Cup with these cream cheese, cranberry and white chocolate blondies. (Red and white, get it?) Plus, they’re just delicious.
A tray of ramekins filled with panna cotta is a super simple way to add extra flair to the Grey Cup dessert table. That is, if they make it that far; your guests may be intercepting them on the way. Vanilla panna cotta with a few fresh berries on top delivers eye appeal without fussiness.