Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.
Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout writers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.
The winner of the previous Takeout Draft: Best cheese, as voted by readers: Allison Robicelli!
This week, the topic is football-party snacks, encompassing both at-home game-watching foods and sports bar delicacies. Competing in the Thunderdome this week are members of the Takeout staff: Kate Bernot, Aimee Levitt, and Allison Robicelli. The randomizer has selected a draft order:
Let’s kick this thing off.
Kate Bernot: FINALLY I get to go first. And with this heavy burden of choice atop my shoulders, I choose: Nachos
Aimee Levitt: Because what else would you choose first?
Allison Robicelli: Please elaborate on your preferred style of nachos
Kate: Loaded with all the cheese and olives and sour cream and guac, it’s truly the best sports food. It’s an entire buffet on a plate.
Aimee: Pro pulled pork or no?
Allison: I was introduced by a friend to “Canadian nachos”, which are my new favorite. They make them on a pizza pan so there’s maximum cheese coverage.
Kate: I’d prefer chicken or crumbled beef to pulled pork but I would never kick pulled pork nachos out of bed.
Aimee: I want some nachos now.
Allison: Nachos are such a mixed bag. If you’re making them yourself, they’re always great. But ordering them is such a crapshoot. You wouldn’t think it’s hard to screw up nachos, but somehow it happens far too often. Topping distribution is everything.
Aimee: Or overcooking. Or undercooking. It’s hard to get the cheese right. But it’s funny, when you think of nachos, you never think of bad nachos, only the good ones.
Allison: Nachos really require some sort of liquid cheese that won’t congeal. For my oldest son’s christening I made a nacho cheese fountain that was pretty awesome. I’d do that again.
Kate: The Takeout has just the guide for that!
Aimee: My pick is… bratwurst!
Kate: Near and dear to my heart.
Aimee: Mostly because the only football games I’ve ever actually sat through have been outside, and there’s something so magical about taking that first bite of the hot brat in the cold fall air.
Allison: How do you serve this as your fancy Midwestern football parties? Asking as a coastal elite.
Aimee: Grilled, if possible.
Kate: I’d grill them outside, then serve them on buns with a mustard bar.
Aimee: Also, the smoke makes them taste better.
Allison: I’ve eaten many a brat, but never in the context of football. Then again I don’t much care for football. I’m a hockey gal myself.
Aimee: Me, too. Shhhh.
Kate: Football can stand in for many fall/winter sports here.
Allison: For my first pick: WINGS
Kate: I was wondering how fast wings would go. Classic pick.
Aimee: What goes on them?
Allison: The only reason I would go to a sports bar is for wings.
Kate: I know you love Hooters, Allison, don’t play.
Allison: I like classic Buffalo, and I like them hot. I like them broiled a bit after they’re sauced so it caramelizes a little and doesn’t get too messy when you eat them. I do not discriminate between drums and flats. Truthfully I prefer to eat wings in the safety of my own home, so I can shower immediately after. If I’m eating wings, I’m eating wings. I do not want anyone looking at me as I eat wings, for their safety as well as mine.
Kate: AVERT YOUR EYES
Allison: I have no time to be looking pretty when eating wings. I am not here to impress you.
Aimee: Is it possible to eat wings without making a total mess?
Allison: No, and it’s not worth it to try.
Kate: I guess that’s what those KFC unsauced wings are for?
Aimee: They were still messy. And greasy.
Allison: Okay, my second pick! PIGS IN A BLANKET
Allison: Which are the world’s most perfect food.
Kate: I would be so pumped if every party served pigs in a blanket.
Aimee: With puff pastry, but I’d eat them regular, too.
Allison: When I was a kid and had to go to stupid grown up parties I would put a whole bunch of pigs in a blanket into an unfolded napkin like a hobo satchel, hide under a table, and have my own little party. I still eat them this way.
Aimee: That sounds perfect.
Kate: I’m going to try that at my husband’s holiday party this year.
Aimee: My next pick is pizza. I had to do it.
Kate: Damn. I was hoping I’d get to snatch that one.
Aimee: It’s not a real lazy gathering unless someone orders a pizza.
Allison: So we’re talking regular ol’ pizza, not some sort of snack sized pizza, yes? No pizza rolls?
Aimee: God, no. Slices. Preferably foldable ones. I get so annoyed with the square Midwest slices.
Allison: The fact that you’ve decided that pizza is a snack food is one of the many reasons why I love you.
Aimee: People say it’s not?
Kate: Those people are wrong.
Allison: I say one slice is a snack. You need at least two to count as a meal. Unless you’re doing one slice and one square. If you mix them up, you’re still in snack territory.
Aimee: Isn’t football really an excuse to eat as much junk food as possible while wearing a jersey?
Allison: That’s why they make the jerseys so big
Kate: Yes. Preferably carbs. Which brings me to my next pick: soft pretzels. I realized making them myself isn’t difficult and they’re such a crowd pleaser.
Aimee: Cheese or mustard?
Allison: Why not both?
Kate: ^ Allison gets me. They’re a great canvas for all the mustards and cheeses and horseradishy dip things. No rules.
Allison: I think we all share the same inclination towards bad decisions. We enable each other. There’s a local specialty in Baltimore called a crab pretzel, which is just a soft pretzel covered in crab dip, topped with cheese and broiled.
Aimee: Oh my God. I want that.
Allison: A big problem with a lot of Baltimore restaurants is that they don’t understand crab doesn’t need to go on everything. But pretzels? That’s like a gold standard. That’s the apotheosis of pretzeldom
Kate: Points for that vocab word. Okay, next pick: Saucy meatballs I’m a sucker for anything on a toothpick, and these are the kind of things I can eat 10 of without realizing.
Aimee: In a crock pot with colored toothpicks?
Kate: Is there any other way!
Allison: I know of the existence of saucy meatballs, but it was not something I grew up with. Don’t they have grape jelly or something in them?
Kate: Sometimes they do. I will eat them any of the ways, as long as the sauce is tangy and vaguely tomatoey
Allison: I’m a big fan of frilly toothpicks. Sometimes I’ll use them for dinner instead of a fork. It’s very challenging when eating thing like pork chops or stew, but I make it work.
Kate: Classy, I like it
Allison: Better than frilly toothpicks: the ones that look like little swords.
Aimee: Yesssss. Next pick from me: Buffalo chicken dip. Because we haven’t had any dips yet and this needs to be remedied.
Allison: I was also anxiously awaiting some sort of solo dip, since Kate took up three with her nachos pick.
Allison: I should have made my first pick “appetizer sampler” and screwed all of you.
Aimee: That is not a snack. That’s a menu item at TGIFridays.
Allison: Yeah, at a SPORTS BAR. So it counts! Anyway back to your buffalo chicken dip.
Aimee: Which is amazing. And delicious. And all sorts of hot, cheesy goodness.
Allison: Is this another crock pot thing? Because I’ll go make this right now.
Aimee: You can do it in the crock pot or the oven.
Kate: It’s pretty much a staple at the football parties I’ve been to out here. It’s so good. You can make it spicy but it’s also creamy enough to temper that heat.
Allison: It also seems pretty easy to make
Aimee: It is. My bro-ish coworker used to make it for himself for dinner.
Allison: Why don’t I eat more dip for dinner? I’m going to change that. I’ll build up a nice library of Dinner Dips for our readers. Ok, it’s my turn now! My next pick is: MOZZARELLA STICKS/CURDS/FRIED CHEESE PRODUCT. I don’t think this even needs to be explained.
Aimee: You aren’t distinguishing between mozzarella sticks and cheese curds?
Kate: Oh you need to pick one *calls referee*
Allison: I thought this was a regional thing? Because I never saw cheese curds growing up in Brooklyn. Didn’t even know about them til I married a man with Iowa roots
Kate: but they’re very different experiences, I think
Aimee: One squeaks and the other strings. Totally different.
Allison: Then I’ll take mozzarella sticks as I’m still not familiar with fried cheese curds. If it’s on the east coast, it’s a rarity.
Kate: Mozzarella sticks are fantastic. I really like the big pull.
Aimee: We’ll have some curds when you’re out here in Chicago. Then you will see.
Allison: I apologize for the delay in that last response but Georgie decided to interfere in the draft. His picks are terrible. Mostly tuna-flavored
Aimee: No sardines?
Allison: He finds them too oily. Anyway, my next pick! ONION DIP. This is just an excuse to eat a tub of sour cream. Something I’ve done before, FYI.
Aimee: And there is nothing wrong with that.
Allison: It felt shameful, but then again, how is it any different from me eating yogurt, or a tub of ice cream?
Kate: Onion dip requires Ruffles, imho. Non-ridged chips just can’t compete. So friends, if you’re inviting me over for onion dip, stock Ruffles.
Allison: A ridged chip is always better for dipping.
Aimee: My next pick: Tater tots. Especially if you do Tater Tot Slop and cover them with melted cheese and sour cream and salsa. Which I realize is nachos, but Kate got us all right out of the gate.
Kate: Tater tatchos are slightly different from nachos. But tater tots in any form are welcome
Allison: I think tater tot slop/Irish nachos whatever needs to be eaten with a spoon and probably from a bowl. Like: tots, chili, cheese, repeat. All the way up the bowl. Or you can do that in individual mugs and top them with a tiny plastic sword, to be festive
Aimee: In team colors.
Allison: I would also accept a tater tot mug topped with a tiny paper umbrella. Not enough tiny paper umbrellas being used in the appetizer space
Kate: OK, for my fourth-round pick, I’m going with a food that really needs to be ordered for a football party: the party sub
Aimee: Do you prefer anything particular in your party sub?
Kate: I love the oil-vinegar-cold-cuts combo, preferably with at least turkey, capicola, salami, and provolone in the mix.
Allison: You do not need to be having a party for a party sub. That needs to be immediately clear.
Kate: I don’t have kids! There’s no one to eat the extra 3 feet of sandwich!
Allison: Matt and I ate a 6 foot hero together before we had kids! It took us four days, but we did it. You just need to apply yourself.
Kate: I aspire to that level of dedication.
Allison: Well he made me order the hero, and I was under the impression he was inviting people over, but he only invited one. That person only had a single slice of hero, and I wasn’t going to let all that sandwich go to waste.
Kate: You did what you had to do. Okay, for my final round pick, since we have nothing sweet on here: puppy chow. A friend brought this to a Super Bowl party last year and we devoured it.
Aimee: That is so old school!
Allison: What the hell is puppy chow? I have heard of this but never had it. Is it Chex mix?
Kate: Chex, yep, with peanut butter and powdered sugar and chocolate The crunchy texture (plus peanut butter and sugar) is so addictive. One of those things you can eat a gallon of without realizing.
Allison: Oh shit this looks delicious. We always had cannoli trays at parties, which was fine and all, but not really snackable. Georgie is fully involved now FYI.
Kate: Awaiting the catnip picks.
Allison: I can still move my fingertips though so we’re good
Aimee: The pressure! Okay… are you ready? Salad! hahahahaha just kidding
Allison: YOU DON’T WIN FRIENDS WITH SALAD LEVITT.
Levitt: I KNOW
Kate: Good fake out!
Aimee: I do win friends with brownies. So that’s what I’m choosing. Specifically David Lebovitz’s dulce de leche brownies.
Kate: Also an excellent choice for sports parties that goes overlooked with all the salty-snack focus.
Allison: Dessert needs to be mandatory at all snacking events.
Allison: Every party I do I always make my sea salt brownies and cut into tiny bite-sized squares. That qualifies it as a snack And since you took brownies off the table, my last pick is.....LEMON SQUARES
Aimee: Those are good, too.
Allison: I love lemon squares just as much as I love brownies, but don’t have them nearly enough.
Aimee: They’re way underrated.
Kate: Oh I really do love them, somehow I only think of them in summer though. Need to fix that.
Allison: Then I’ll go to a party that has them, and I’m like “Oh shit! Lemon squares! Fuck yes!” They’re one of our favorite things that we never regularly make for ourselves.
Kate: I used to make a version (the recipe was from the magazine where I used to work) with beer in them.
Allison: When I’m lazy I’ll just eat lemon curd on Lorna Doones, which are my favorite packaged cookie. But it just ain’t the same. An entire lemon bar is too sticky to eat, but you cut it into bitesized squares and they’re perfect. You can lick all the stickiness off your fingers in a socially acceptable way. Unlike what I do with wings, which is why people don’t invite me over for parties anymore
Aimee: This party already has wings. It’s too late for socially acceptable.