In this new weekly Voracious column, yours truly has undertaken the incredibly difficult task of reporting on what the uber-foodies of our city serve to>"/>
In this new weekly Voracious column, yours truly has undertaken the incredibly difficult task of reporting on what the uber-foodies of our city serve to their guests when they throw parties. All of these shindigs will have two things in common: they'll have good food and they'll be hosted by those you have come to know in the local food scene, whether they be bloggers, chefs or restaurateurs.
The only thing I knew heading into this year's Super Bowl was that Kim Kardashian's boyfriend played for the Saints and Kendra Wilkinson's husband played for the Colts. My name is Julien Perry and I let my favorite E! reality shows shape my sports knowledge.
It didn't matter. Sunday turned out to be the best Super Bowl for me yet. That's because I had the pleasure of attending a Super Bowl party at Fresh Bistro, where Dante Rivera of Dante's Inferno Dogs was camped outside, grilling up a mix of pork-sausage links and all-beef franks.
Full disclosure: I actually helped in the planning of this party. Fresh Bistro chef Dalis Chea and I talked about the possibility several weeks ago, and Dante and I confirmed plans over dinner at Susan Neel's shortly after. Dalis donated his restaurant (and television); Dante donated his services; Isernio's donated the dogs. I showed up. It was almost too easy.
Fuller disclosure: I am a friend of Frank Isernio's. When I told him about the Super Bowl party idea, he jumped at the opportunity to donate product. I mean, when Dante is doing the grilling, how can you refuse?
Booze was a mix of PBR, Budweiser, Guinness, cheap white wine and whatever Fresh Bistro had on tap.
The guest list was an equally random mix of restaurant industry folks and friends, including: Chefs Seth Caswell (Emmer & Rye), Robin Leventhal (Crave, Top Chef), Lucy Damkoehler and Craig Hetherington (TASTE), "Oyster" Bill Whitbeck, Nelson Daquip (Canlis sommelier) and former Governor Booth Gardner, a good friend of a friend, who was wheelchair-bound, but happy to be mingling with fellow Saints fans, nonetheless. By the way, I counted just two Colts fans out of the roughly 40 people in attendance.
As I sat in front of the flat-screen, I watched as guest after guest tried to get inside the restaurant (note: when trying to access Fresh Bistro, use the door on the corner). Surprisingly, it took about an hour before anyone ventured outside to pick up a hot dog. But once that happened, the floodgates opened.
I was second in line. I felt I had something to prove to myself: If I wasn't going to win a Super Bowl bet, I was going to win an eating challenge! Dante had me down for five dogs, but after I devoured my first one piled high with peppercinis, jalapenos, sriracha and sweet chili sauce, I knew this was going to be a tough game to win. And I didn't. I was full after two. Dalis, however, did manage to eat five--the most of anybody that night. Granted, I was filling up on PBRs and Doritos (rookie mistake).
I didn't realize the Saints had won until the crowd started to disperse. If memory serves me correctly, there were only a handful of people glued to the game--the rest were busy eating and mingling. Good-byes were said, hot dogs were taken to go, a coffee run was made to Starbucks across the street. Fortunately, the cleanup was minimal (mental note: throw next party at a restaurant where trash cans are large and abundant, and a morning cleanup crew awaits).
I may not be able to tell you a month from now who won the game, but I still have several leftover PBRs in my fridge and a photo of me posing with Booth on Facebook to remind me of the good times.