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Back in 1952, Ben Hogan had an idea: how about the Master’s champion from the year prior host a dinner.  Remember, the winners of the Masters are an exclusive club, so they get together each year on the Tuesday night of the tournament week to welcome the previous year’s winner to the club.  That club is officially known as the Masters Club, but unofficially it’s called the Champions Dinner.

 

The previous year’s winner gets to select the menu, and he also pays for it.  Since the Masters has had champions from all over the world, the menu items are a wide range.  Former champs aren’t required to eat what the defending champion is serving.  They can order off the Augusta National regular menu.  The Members of the Masters Club arrive at the stately white clubhouse wearing their green jackets and ascend a staircase to the second floor, where dinner is served in the library.

 

While it’s difficult to find some of the early menus, there are a few that stand out:

 

When Tiger got to choose the menu for the 1998 Champions Dinner, he stuck to a typical 22-year old fare: cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, French fries, and milkshakes. 

 

Some good ones from the 90s: Fred Couples served Chicken cacciatore in 1993, ‘Gentle’ Ben Crenshaw served Texas barbecue in 1996, and Mark O’Meara served chicken and steak fajitas, sushi, and tuna sashimi in 1999.  It’s hard to imagine Tom Watson plowing down on some Texas BBQ.  Instead, he probably wrote another letter to Augusta National complaining about it.

 

The 2000’s produced some great champions, as well as some good menus.  The most memorable Masters champion of that decade was Phil Mickelson in 2004, finally getting that non-major winner stigma off of his back.  His 2005 menu was lobster ravioli in tomato cream sauce, Ceasar’s salad, and garlic bread.  Phil’s 2007 menu was spot on, serving barbecued ribs, chicken, sausage, and pulled pork with cole slaw.  Well done.  Mike Weir, our friend from north of the border brought some hometown flare to the 2004 Champions Dinner, serving Elk, wild boar, Arctic char, and Canadian beer.  The house money is on quite a few orders off the Augusta National menu that night.

 

Angel Cabrera served an Argentinian menu of asado, a multicourse barbecue featuring chorizo, blood sausage, short ribs, beef filets and mollejas.  Phil went with a Spanish themed menu in 2011 in honor of two-time defending Masters champion Seve Ballesteros, who was battling brain cancer and could not attend (he died a month later).  He served seafood paella and machango-topped filet mignon, asparagus, a salad and tortillas, then ice cream-topped apple empanada for dessert.

 

Charl Schwartzel knocked it out of the park with his South African-themed meal.  The opening course consisted of a chilled seafood bar, including shrimp, lobster, crabmeat, crab legs and oysters.  The main course was a braai, a South African barbecue, which includes lamb chops, steaks and South African sausages.  On the side were salads, cheese, sautéed sweet corn, green beans and Dauphinoise potatoes.  Desert was simple – a vanilla ice cream sundae…if they made it that far.  Fuzzy Zoeller, who has been known to offer some advice to previous Champions Dinners, said this about Charl’s selection: “Just make sure Schwartzel doesn’t burn the steaks and we’ll have a good time”.

 

Jordan Spieth did it right.  He went middle-of-the-road in terms of menu, but kept true to his Texas roots.  He started with a local greens salad, then ‘Authentic Texas Barbecue’, with beef brisket, smoked half chicken, or pork ribs, BBQ beans, potato salad, and green veggies (for those that didn’t load up on BBQ).  He finished it off with a warm chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Well done, sir.

 

All indications are that 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett will keep his menu ‘quintessentially British’.  I’d probably stop by Chick-fil-A on the way…just in case.

Posted By Onward Reserve

Super Bowl LI Preview

2/3/2017 9:01 PM

 

 

NFL ratings are way down this year.  Thursday night games diluted any sort of exclusivity that the NFL has, and the Monday night games provided zero value.  Here in Atlanta, all that seems to be forgotten as our beloved Falcons won the NFC in spectacular fashion, and are heading to Houston to play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51.

Game: Super Bowl 51
Time: 6:30PM ET on FOX
Place: NRG Stadium, in Houston, TX
Odds: Patriots -3, O/U 58

Atlanta is a great sports town, but we only have one Championship to show for it (1995 Braves).  The Falcons win over Green Bay ranks high in terms of Atlanta sports moments, only behind the famous Sid Bream slide in 1992.  A Falcons win on Sunday would solidify Atlanta as a tier one sports town.  A Lombardi trophy would look nice in Arthur Blank’s new stadium.

To the game: The Patriots are making their seventh appearance in the Super Bowl since the Brady/Bilichick began 16 years ago.  They are favored to win, and by the sound of all the pundits, a win against the Falcons is just a formality.  However, the Falcons shouldn’t be overlooked.  Dan Quinn will be making his third Super Bowl appearance in four years, and he boasts one of the most dynamic offenses in history, with more tools than a Swiss Army knife.  This game should be great.

The quarterbacks are the most interesting storyline in this game.  Tom Brady vs. Matt Ryan.  Both are the preverbal faces of their respective franchises, and both got the Super Bowl via distinctly different paths.  Matt Ryan was squeaky clean, and managed a high-powered offense in as good a way as could be scripted.  Brady, on the other hand, missed the first four games of the season due to the deflate-gate suspension.  He never admitted fault, but took the four games to make it go away.  Since that suspension, he’s been playing like a man on a mission.  He REALLY wants to win the Super Bowl, and have Roger Goodell hand him the trophy.  

On the field, The Falcons offense is the story.  It all starts with the running game, featuring Freeman and Coleman who seem to get 6+ yards every time the touch the ball.  It’s usually a 2nd and 4, which allows Matt Ryan to pick apart the defense.  He loves to spread the ball around: if you put on a Falcons jersey and ran on the field, you’d catch a ball.  The New England offense is the usual machine, with Edelman seeming to catch almost everything that leaves Brady’s arm.  The Patriots don’t make mistakes, but they haven’t played a defense like the Falcons’.  

The Falcons’ defense is the game changer.  They know how to get stops.  Their pass rush is going to force Brady into hurried situations.  Now, he is Tom Brady, and he’s as good as there is, but getting chased around isn’t necessarily the best situation to execute a game plan.  Expect a timely pick, and a couple momentum-killing sacks by the Falcons, which will allow their offense to stay on the field.  Expect the Falcons to play the Super Bowl exactly like they played their last few games: get up early and fast, and let their defense wreak havoc.   The Patriots will put up a fight, but they won’t be able to answer.

Game Predictions:
MVP: Julio Jones.  He has 150+ yards and 2+ TD.  
Gronk plays, but is largely ineffective.  50 yards receiving.
Deion Jones wins defensive player of the game.  10+ tackles and a couple sacks.
Halftime Show: The Puppy Bowl will get more viewers than Lady Gaga.  Who cares.
Style MVP: Bilichick.  ‘Fashion Dad’ worst case scenario.

Final Score: Falcons 37 Patriots 27


Posted By Onward Reserve

 

Before we talk about Super Bowl Sunday, let’s talk about the following Monday.  You will never experience a day where more people are late to work, closing the door all morning, or postponing meetings.  The Super Bowl is a huge event – one of the most watched TV events all year.  Not to mention that it takes about five hours to play (after all the commercials and pregame/halftime festivities).  All of this is the perfect prescription for having a few too many adult beverages and an extra helping of nachos.

 

Embrace it.  Think of the Super Bowl as the adult version of Halloween.  Instead of going door-to-door looking for the goods, host a Super Bowl party so you can control the environment.  Choosing to throw a Super Bowl party shouldn’t be taken lightly.  There are certain expectations that come with having your closest friends and their friends over to watch the big game.  Here’s how to do it right:

 

  1. TV.  If you have some type of tube television, you are not equipped to host this party.  Upgrade immediately.  If your TV remote is adorned with duct tape, upgrade immediately.  The Super Bowl is to be watched in HD on some sort of LED-type television that is 50+ inches.  All the electronics places will have great deals leading up to the game, so don’t skimp.
  2. Invitations.  Send out invitations and ask for RSVPs.  It’s tough to gauge how much food/seating/beverages to supply if you don’t know how many mouths you have to feed.
  3. Seating.  Be sure that everyone has a seat.  The pregame, the game, and the postgame will take hours upon hours, and your guests won’t take floor sitting lightly.  They are leaving the comfort of their own La-Z-Boy to watch it at your party, so be sure that the accommodations are fitting.
  4. Food.  Hors Devours are easy.  Chips, dip, peanuts, finger food, etc.  Stuff that you can put out that won’t go bad.  As for the main courses, this can be a bit tricky.  While general logic says to have ‘football’ type food – hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, pizza, etc., don’t subscribe.  Instead, show your guests your culinary skills by smoking a bunch of meat – like a few beef briskets or a couple pork butts.  You don’t want to cook something that will require a bunch of work, because you’ll want to watch the game too. Try preparing some of our Smoked Georgia Red Hot Wings.  For sides, go with the theme…baked beans, cole slaw, good buns, etc.  If you don’t feel like cooking, then have your party catered.  You’d be surprised at how cost efficient catering your event can be, especially when you consider all the clean up you don’t have to do.  The choices are limitless here... it’s your party, so you make the call.
  5. Drinks.  First, make sure you have an ample supply of non-alcoholic beverages.  It is imperative that there are more options than beer or liquor.  If you are having a large party (more than a dozen folks), it’s a good idea to ask the guests to bring their beverage(s) of choice.  Otherwise you’ll spend a fortune…  Do provide plenty of fridge space, ice, and mixers.  If it’s just a few friends, then do your duty and supply the booze.  Get a couple cases of preferred beer and/or a couple bottles of the spirit of choice.  You know your friends, and it’s best to keep them happy.  If they are worth their salt, then they’ll bring the host a generous gift in return.
  6. Décor.  Go light.  Let the new TV be the centerpiece.

 

Beyond these principles, have a little fun.  Super Bowl Box Pool is a relatively inexpensive way to get everyone invested in the game.  Have a ‘No Jerseys’ policy. The Super Bowl only happens once a year, so celebrate enough to last you until the next one.  

Posted By Onward Reserve

How to: Eggnog

12/16/2016 6:00 PM

 

This time of year, indulgences are commonplace. Whether it’s a second helping of dinner, an extra finger of bourbon, or a seasonal treat like eggnog, we are all planning on hitting the gym right in the New Year.

 

Originating in Britain quite some time ago, eggnog was a drink associated with the aristocracy. The Brits originally mixed it with brandy or sherry, but those spirits were quite expensive in newly-revolutionized 18th century America. Being the resourceful bunch that we are, we turned to domestic whiskey – bourbon in particular – as a substitute.

 

Eggnog is readily accessible. Pre-mixed cartons are available in the dairy section of any grocery store. Pour the chilled mixture in any glass with a little nutmeg on top and you are ready to go. For those that are interested in something homemade, this recipe from Alton Brown is as good as it gets. It’s an easy recipe that can be served chilled, or can be spiked with bourbon if you need to grease the Christmas party wheels:

 

Ingredients:

• 4 egg yolks

• 4 egg whites

• 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon

• 1 pint whole milk

• 1 cup heavy cream

• 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

• 3 ounces of your favorite bourbon

 

Direction:

 

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup of sugar and continue to beat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the whole milk, heavy cream, and grated nutmeg until combined.

 

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Beat in the one tablespoon of sugar into the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture. Chill and serve.

 

For the spiked version, add the 3 ounces of bourbon at the same time the whole milk, heavy cream, and nutmeg are added to the yolk-based mixture.

 

This recipe will make about 6 or 7 cups of eggnog.

Posted By Onward Reserve

Must-Watch Christmas Movies

12/14/2016 4:12 PM

 

 

There isn’t much better than a Christmas-themed movie. The holiday season is a great backdrop for some excellent flicks, whether it’s a classic like “A Christmas Carol” or a comedy like “Scrooged”. Christmas movies have that extra element of holiday spirit to add to the comedy, the romance, or the action flick (“Die Hard”).  Thanks to all the television networks and Netflix, you’ll have the opportunity to see any and all Christmas movies multiple times, so take advantage while you have some time off. Prop your feet up, pour yourself a tall glass of eggnog, and get to work on the remote.

 

Here is your guide to some of the best ones out there:

 

(In no particular order)

 

‘Miracle on 34th Street’ – The highly decorated 1947 film is one of the best ‘feel good’ Christmas movies out there. The real Santa (aka Kris Kringle) finds that the person hired to play Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is drunk, and is in-turn hired by the beautiful Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) to take his place. After knocking it out of the park in the parade, Kris is hired as Santa for the Macy’s store on 34th Street. Faith in the real Santa is restored in this classic…watching this one should be an annual family event.

‘A Christmas Story’ – Everyone can relate to this story. We’ve all had that one present that we couldn’t live without. For Ralphie, it’s a Red Ryder BB Gun. It’s all he can think about. While his behavior leading up to Christmas doesn’t warrant such a gift, he is pleasantly surprised on Christmas morning when his dad surprises him with the BB gun. Predictably, it doesn’t end well – for Ralphie’s glasses or for their Christmas dinner, which is ultimately celebrated at a Chinese restaurant.

 

 

 

 

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – This is not only a great Christmas movie, but one of the best films ever made. Donna Reed and James Stewart star in the 1946 film about seeing what would happen if things would have been different. George Bailey (Stewart) gets to see what happens to his town of Bedford Falls, NY without him via his guardian angel Clarence Odbody. After a change of heart, George finds great fortune, and an angel gets his wings…

 

‘Elf’ – Some of Will Ferrell’s best work. Farrell stars as Buddy the Elf, who is adopted and raised as a six-foot tall elf at the North Pole. Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) reveals to Buddy that he isn’t a real elf, much to Buddy’s she-grin, and that his real father lives in New York City. Buddy tracks him down, starting the main plot of the movie – winning his dad’s favor and bringing the spirit back to Christmas. Highlights: Buddy’s reaction to the department store Santa (“You stink. You smell like beef and cheese. You don’t smell like Santa.”), Buddy’s reaction to the little-person author (“he’s an angry elf”), and the best way to answer the phone this holiday season: “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?”

 

 

‘Christmas Vacation’ – If there were rankings, this would be number one. Numero Uno. The National Lampoon movie was an instant classic as soon as it was released in 1989. We’ve all be quoting Cousin Eddie lines for as long as we can remember.  The premise is a Christmas worst-case scenario when both sets of in-laws visit for the holidays, as well as an unannounced visit from a ‘salt-of-the-Earth’ unemployed cousin who’s holding out for a management position. After a destroyed house, a ruined turkey, and a one-year membership to the ‘Jelly of the Month Club’, all ends well for the Griswalds.

 

 

 

 

Posted By Onward Reserve
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