Joe Buonacquista knows a little bit about the weather conditions the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will face during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
For the last decade, Buonacquista and a group of friends have lined up on opposite sides of the pigskin for a weekly Sunday morning game of football – regardless of field conditions.
Subfreezing temperatures? Play on!
Snow showers? Of course!
“That’s what football is all about,” the Red Bank resident said. “You play through the weather … It’s part of the game.”
Sunday’s Super Bowl, he said, will be played the way the game was meant to be played … outdoors in the cold, dome not included. “It’s going to be a great game. Will the weather be a factor? That remains to be seen.”
Although the big game is still several days away, forecasters are predicting that temperatures should be in at least the uppers 30s for the 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
Buonacquista and his hardy gang of football-playing friends will take to their Hazlet Middle School field Sunday morning for a preview, of sorts, of the big game. Playing the game, he said, is as much of a tradition as watching the game.
“We get out there at 10 a.m. and finish up by about 12:30 p.m. so we can go home to watch the game,” he said. “You can’t have one without the other.”
Like millions of Americans across the country, the Raiders fan will be tuning in to watch the game at a home party. “It’s the best way to watch the game,” he said. “You get your food, your drink, your bets, your commercials and, hopefully, a great game.”
Buonacquista’s prediction? Denver 24-17.
Also predicting a Denver win is Steve Bidgood, owner of the Salt Creek Grille in Rumson. An avid Broncos fan, he says there is no way that Peyton Manning will be beat. “He’s just that good,” Bidgood said. “People will be tuning in to see what he does.”
Although the Giants and the Jets didn’t make it to the big game, Bidgood is convinced that New Jerseyans will be tuning in to support one of their own, former Middletown South High School standout, Knowshon Moreno, the Broncos starting tailback.
“He’s come a long way,” Bidgood said. “There’s a lot of support for him around here … People want him to have a great game.”
Although he has attended a number of Super Bowls, for this in-his-backyard event, Bidgood is opting to attend a friend’s Super Bowl party. And he won’t be showing up empty-handed.
“I’ll be bringing some mesquite grilled baby back ribs from Salt Creek Grille, some spinach artichoke dip and a few other goodies,” Bidgood said. They’ll be the perfect complement to the deep-fried turkeys and other Super Bowl fare that will be served at the party.
“Super Bowl is all about the food,” Bidgood pointed out. “It’s become a real eating event.”
In fact, Super Bowl Sunday is the No. 2 food consumption event of the year, second only to Thanksgiving, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Food and football are made for each other,” Bidgood said.
It makes sense then that Salt Creek Grille is offering takeout for most anything on its menu for Super Bowl – baby back ribs, gourmet dinner salads, boneless buffalo wings, deviled eggs, calamari, stuffed jumbo shrimp and more. “People want more than the typical football snacks,” Bidgood said. “This is a daylong eating event.”
By opting for takeout rather than cooking, party hosts can spend their time eating, talking and watching the game – and the commercials.
Of course, for fans who don’t want the fuss and mess in their homes, bars including Salt Creek Grille will be open and ready to serve. “We’re expecting a nice crowd,” Bidgood said. “Even if you’re not a football fan, people tune in for the Super Bowl.”
For fans who can’t make it to the Meadowlands, they can watch the game Jersey Shore style at the Tiki Bar at Driftwood in Sea Bright. Located on the beach, the bar is equipped with radiant heaters, a half-dozen big screen TVs and a complimentary buffet for Super Bowl Sunday.
“How many chances do you get to watch the Super Bowl right on the beach?” chef Chris Asay laughed. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
If the beach isn’t for you, Ama Ristorante in Sea Bright will be offering Super Bowl in style, Asay said. Small plates will be available in the bar, where the four big screen TVs will be tuned into the game, while the restaurant is offering a prix fixe three-course menu. “So if the wives don’t want to tune into the game, they can have a fine dining experience,” Asay said. “And the husbands can pop into the bar to get the game updates. It’s the best of both worlds.”
So what’s the best Super Bowl food?
If the National Chicken Council is to be believed, it’s the humble chicken wing. According to the council’s 2014 Wing Report, there will be 1.25 billion chicken wings consumed this weekend.
Little wonder, then, that wings are front and center for Sickles Market’s Big Game catering menu. “Wings are definitely popular,” said Cheri Scolari, culinary marketing specialist at Sickles. “They just seem to go together.”
But, she added, there are many other super Super Bowl foods, starting with strip steaks, which are 50 percent off this week at the market. “It’s a little more upscale, but it’s a real favorite.” Leading up to the big game, Sickles has been showcasing a new recipe featuring the strip steaks during the week – everything from Peter Luger marinated strip steaks to strip steak chili served with guacamole.
Sickles is also offering a variety of platters to meet food needs from pregame to postgame, Scolari said. There are deluxe sandwich platters and 3-foot round subs, a nacho basket and a crudite platter. And what’s a Super Bowl without potato skins, jalapeno poppers and pulled pork?
Of course, no game-day feast is complete without desserts, and Sickles is offering everything from an assortment of quick breads to (dessert) bar platter.
“Food is a very important part of the Super Bowl,” Scolari said. “There’s a lot of menu planning going on … chips and dips just don’t cut it anymore.”
The National Chicken Council’s 2014 Wing Report predicts that 1.25 billion wings will be consumed during Super Bowl XLVIII. Here are some other for-the-bird statistics from the report:
• If the 1.25 billion wing segments were laid end to end, they would stretch from CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash., to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford … 30 times.
• This year, 20 million more wings are expected to be consumed compared to last year’s Super Bowl.
• Residents of Columbia, S.C., have the highest order rate for chicken wings.
• 51 percent of wing eaters prefer ranch dressing.
• 35 percent of wing lovers choose barbecue sauce as their dipping sauce.
• 32 percent prefer blue cheese with their wings.
• 65 percent said Buffalo wings are their favorite flavors/styles.
• Of the wings eaten during the Super Bowl, 75 percent will come from food service outlets; 25 percent from retail grocery stores and supermarkets.