Fans' Fare

Cheering on the Ravens demands a game plan for Sunday's Super Bowl food fest

January 24, 2001|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,SUN STAFF

Could anything you put on the table be more exciting than the Ravens in a Super Bowl?

It's time to find out, because, surprise, you're having a party!

Maybe your spouse impulsively invited a dozen friends from work to enjoy the event in your den. Maybe, in a burst of newfound fan-dom, you invited a bunch of people over to study the finer points of big-time bowl action. Or maybe it's a long-term commitment that has now arrived.

Whatever -- suddenly, the only bowl action you're concerned about is what kind of food you're going to serve this jumping, screaming crowd.

There are two major rules: Keep it simple and keep it purple.

The first step is to choose your game plan. You can do everything yourself, or call in a little help from the pros. You can get a lot of professional help -- having the entire party catered -- or you can call on guests to bring dishes.

You can even go pure purple and offer guests an entire menu of color-themed food. Have purple and gold tortilla chips with dip served in a hollowed-out cabbage. Make eggplant Parmesan. If you can find purple Peruvian potatoes, you can roast or mash them. Put out a bowl of purple grapes. Make grape-juice punch, and for dessert, serve Purple Passion ice cream from Lee's.

This is the 15th or 16th Super Bowl party for longtime Baltimore resident Victor Giordano, whose wings and chili are not only loved but also expected by the two dozen or so friends who are regulars for the January event.

"This is the one party I'm expected to have," he says, laughing. He gets some help from participants: They'll bring desserts and maybe some snacks.

His strategy includes starting early -- but not too early. "I usually start doing everything the Saturday before," he says. "I do the chili then." Look for him Sunday at the grill in his Wyman Park yard, where he'll spend all morning grilling wings.

This year will be unusual for him in several respects. For one, he got married in 1999, and he and wife, Rebecca, have a 5-month-old baby boy, David, to introduce to Baltimore football and to Super Bowl fans. And for another, for the first time in his experience, Baltimore's own Ravens will be on the field. Although he says the party is more about the people than the game, he's found that by the third quarter, even nonfans are absorbed in what's happening on the field -- and he expects that to be especially true this year.

Although it's her first super party, his wife is really getting into the spirit, he says. "She went out and bought a bunch of purple stuff, plates and things to put around the house."

If you haven't tried such an event before, you may still be lucky. The Rev. Sharon Smith, associate pastor at First Christian Church in Roland Park, usually gathers with old friends on Super Bowl Sunday. She didn't expect to have two playoff-watching parties as well, but when a church event at her home in Timonium spilled over into a football event, she was so delighted she invited the entire crowd back for the next playoff game.

"That was really a party," she says. "It was so spontaneous." Her menu was also spur-of-the-moment: Her supermarket was having a sale on subs. And everyone brought something -- a chocolate pudding cake, cookies, hot brownies. "I had two gallons of ice cream in the freezer I never opened, because there was so much food. It was definitely more fun that if it was planned."

Her home's family room, open to the kitchen, is ideal for a football party, with a sofa, loveseat and chairs along the walls and the television in the corner. "I go upstairs and get four to six pillows and throw them on the floor. And I have a basket with blankets, and I throw those out, too. It was just a sea of people." One male guest added sartorial elegance to the event by wearing a purple business suit. "It was wonderful," Smith says.

It's also wonderful if throwing parties is your profession. Amy Bernstein, sales executive at the Classic to Go division of the Classic Catering People in Owings Mills, notes that even a little planning and advance preparation can create a super occasion.

Classic to Go is offering a wide array of typical party foods -- veggies and dips, nachos, chili, crab fondue, cheese platters, crab cakes, wraps, wings, potato skins --as well as several menu packages. Or you can simply hand over the ball.

"We've already had several people call to book full-service events," Bernstein says. Full service includes food, drinks, glassware and plates, table decorations, and staff to help serve and clean up. Such an event typically costs $25-$40 per person, depending on the food choices, plus paying the server or servers.

Most people will opt for something simpler. Menu packages range from $9.50 to $26.25 per person. The least expensive (for a minimum of 10 people) includes a deli-sandwich platter with potato and pasta salads; the most expensive (also for a minimum of 10 people) features shrimp salsa, beef tenderloin, grilled chicken Caesar salad, and a roasted vegetable platter.

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