Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tales of a tailgate...10 reasons to park it

There are few reasons to want to hang out in or around your car...
 1)  There's the overly creepy gentleman lurking outside the mall...not a good reason.  
2) Or the guy who seems to be washing, waxing, or drying his car off (i.e. oogling you and your groceries) in the neighborhood.  
3) And let's not forget the classic scenario in which you live in a large city and a giant meteor is about to strike Earth, but you're stuck in traffic due to zombie mutilation at every exit. 

 All of those scenarios ARE NOT the purpose of this blog.  I'm talking about the all-American tailgate happening at a concert, football game, or festival near you!  Here are 10 reasons you shouldn't fight it when you're friends suggest they'll get the beer, and you bring all the gear~

10) Everyone's happy-Kids, parents, grandparents, friends...anyone and everyone enjoys good, old-fashioned camaraderie around a gas grill placed too closely to the exhaust pipe...In all seriousness, food = good, a portable bar = good, cornhole or other tote-able game = good.  No one's wearing a frown face when they have a personalized koozie and a baby in college colors.
9) Other people are crazy-People go all out at tailgates...yellow and black astro-turf grass, full body paint, a band hooked up to a van's generator...the sightings are endless. Chances to meet interesting and new people are a dime a dozen, or should I say a deviled egg a dozen (yeah, some times they're good cooks!~) The tailgater can also chat it up with" # 1 fan" guy (insert high fives here), free food guy (insert chili dogs here), or "good story later" guy (insert good office lunch talk here)...they'll all be there.  I once saw a topless lady painted in a Caribbean scene at a Jimmy Buffett concert, like she jumped off the wall at the Louvre, had a high school friend punch someone in the face (okay, that was before tailgate), and watched two sorority sisters participate in a hula contest.
8) Creativity-You can theme it out to no end at a tailgate.  Name your team, band, or historical era here.  There's nothing like a pint of Mead and turkey leg to get a good Renaissance fair going, and there's quite a bit of glory in being dressed head to toe in "insert school colors" to get ready for the big game.  You can name your own cocktails, appetizers, and games, be the envy of all the other spaces, and forever live in some family from Georgia's Christmas or campfire stories.
7)The secret's out... It's more fun that the actual event- You may have paid high dollar for that ticket, but let's face it:  the tailgate will probably exceed your expectations, and leave you wanting more quality time leaned up against the hood (especially in a scenario where you're with long-lost girlfriends).   You'll still be shaking a maraca long after "Margaritaville" has played, or singing the fight song when half-time has come and gone.  You may choose to sell those tickets (expect less than face value :( ) to that cheap attendee (who was counting on your second wind fizzling out) in exchange for one more Jello shot with your best friend.
6) Calories in a car (or different zip code) don't count-Everyone's heard that old wives' tale, right? That's why pizza rolls, spinach dip, and queso are a must for a tailgate.  No one's chomping on salad and rice cakes when they're ready to party (use the Bridesmaids Kristen Wiig voice for that one).  So, mix in that extra bag of shredded cheese and forget that you used a rubber-band to secure your jeans instead of buttoning them (we've all done it...don't lie).
5) Make your own soundtrack-There's no better reason to bring back the mixed tape, err CD, than a tailgate.  Downloading and burning your favorite tracks, or for you high techies, plugging in your iPod or Pad, is the quintessential way to spend your pre-game or show.  Everybody knows the band isn't gonna play that obscure "classic" and that the arena only gets 30 seconds of "We Will Rock You" before copyright issues.  Don't be afraid to sing at the top of your lungs (#1 fan guy is sure to stop by and join in) and pretend you've got a spot on stage or a solo at half-time.
4) Did someone say half day?-That's right.  Tailgate starts early, and if it doesn't fall on a Saturday or Sunday (which it usually does, and therefore negates # 4) that means you need to leave work early so you can get your pig in a blanket on!  Tell your boss "Buh-Bye" and head for that spot closer to the port-a-potties.
3) Camping without the camping-Tailgating is so popular because it reminds us all of camping...without the actual camping.  The best part is always "getting there" or the "before"...i.e. you want to roast marshmallows, but sleeping in a tent is for the boy scouts.  Tailgating combines all the camp fun without the mosquitos and deflating air mattress.  Everything's outdoors, portable, and you're definitely roughing it when you have to go into a bush to use the bathroom because the arena is too far of a walk.
2) You can finally use that...-You know how you get all of those presents or free items you'll never use??  Well, tailgate is the perfect time!  Plastic cups from Bob and Susie's wedding suddenly become expendable beverage holders to trade for a temporary tattoo at the t-shirt stand.  Those fold-able chairs that you always carry in the car are suddenly your couch away from home.  That mini blender that Aunt Maureen was sure you'd use a lot is finally dusted off to provide a frozen concoction that helps you hang on (Thanks to JB for that lyric).  There's no telling what treasures lie in your attic or garage that could suddenly be key props in an amazing tailgate experience.
1) The number one reason tailgating is "the heat"?  It doesn't have to be done in the heat...because tailgating is year round fun.  Break out those gloves, that parka, and your cordless cappuccino maker for a teeth-chattering good time.  This afternoon retreat is really about getting together with friends and family to celebrate, whether the game is win or lose, the concert is rockin', or the festival has pickles on a stick or not.  Tailgating is fun in the Fall (or any month at all)!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cravin' more in Charlotte

So it's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you, without a dope beat to step to...okay, not my words, but those of Aliyah in "Try Again" (or whoever raps on that track with her anyway).  But it has been a busy couple of months, so the blog suffered a backseat to my other agenda items such as "work at thankless job" or " move for the second time in a year".  But I'm back to bloggin' with a killer recommendation for all you foodies in the Charlotte area.  It's only the hottest place to hit Graham street...Crave Dessert Bar.  I had heard about this decadent eatery from a valet attendant back in January.  He asked my friend and I, "Are y'all going to smoke hookah now?" as we were leaving restaurant week at Morton's Steakhouse.  We replied with the average, run-of-the-mill response, I suppose, "Uh, no".  Hookah?  Were we the caterpillars from Alice in Wonderland.  But it piqued our interest, and turns out, the spot he referred to was Crave.  A few, or uh 10 months, later we finally landed at Crave after a dinner out to celebrate my divorce (it's final ladies and gentlemen...woot) and we were stunned to find that this place was hopping on a Saturday night.  There were, of course, your club goers in dresses that would make Snooki blush, your hipsters contemplating Plato over the hookah, your baller, shot callers, you get the idea.  And there were a few average citizens, i.e. us, who were seated outside.  We ended up preferring the outside to the inside, as the inside seemed trendier, noiser, and was also mostly reserved for people who pull up in stretch hummers (shout out, Melissa).  But seriously, the ambiance is pretty killer, if you're looking for a low-key, yet happening, spot to spend a Friday or Saturday night.

On to the desserts and drinks, and all I can say is "Wow".  You've got the signature cocktail, the One Night Stand that is literally smokin' (as dry ice is involved), and your classic city drink, the Manhattan (no matter what city), as well as Bellinis, spiked coffees, champagne concoctions, and of course your designer drinks with the ironic names, like the "Clean Slut".  I went with water on my last visit, but I have tried the ONS and the Sweet Surrender (a strawberry martini of sorts).  But if you're not the libation sort, or you're driving, might I suggest the desserts, hence the name.  The red velvet cake is THE BEST, yes ladies and gents, you heard it here, the BEST red velvet cake this side of a Steel Magnolia groom's cake.  It's moist, delicious, and the icing is to. die. for.  Nuff said.  I also tried the scrum-didly-umptious Strawcup Berrycake and it was "Berry" awesome.  You can't get the atmosphere (cool, funky, zen) or the taste (oh so divine) without experiencing it yourself, so if you're craving a cool city vibe, slide on over to Crave for a devlish good time:)

And if you want to know about the hookah (completely LEGAL and innocuous folks), I may have a story to tell:)