September 3, 2010
As I lay here, nursing my hangover, I reflect on its cause, the event known only as the Jimmy Buffett tailgate party. This tradition, going on for 20+ years with those wacky fans known as Parrotheads, make it the most fun and entertaining tailgate party ever. There are many who do not care for Buffet tunes, yet purchase tickets to his show just for the parking lot party itself. I am not one of those, an acoustic version of Stars on the Water was played after I said “I Do” and walked back down the aisle at my beach wedding. Anyway, my point is, Parrotheads certainly know how it’s done.
I was first introduced to this Buffett way of life by an ex-boyfriend whose parents were Parrotheads and strapped a large grey fin to the top of their van for every show. My first concert, I marveled at the bed of a pick up truck that had been turned into an erupting volcano and a mini-van transformed into a pirate ship complete with sails and girls flashing party-goers as they stumbled by. Portable bars and inflatable palm trees were at every turn and just about every other person was dressed in some sort of ridiculous costume. Men wore coconut bras and women wore hats topped with margarita glasses. It was wonderous…..(Yup, that chick’s boobs are definitely on the internet somewhere.)
I’ve often considered Jimmy Buffett a kindred spirit and feel that his concerts attract the same (for the most part, of course there is always that asshole who can’t hold his booze). The shows I have seen in my time have been some of the most fun I’ve had in my life. And last night, was no exception.
My cousin Stephanie invited my husband and I to the Bristow, VA show. My husband was a Buffett virgin and it had been in years for me, so I jumped at the chance to go. Tony and I wanted to be in complete charge of the tailgate party, the least we could do for the free tix. I came up with a menu that was simple, traveled well and that was suited to the setting. I thought to myself “What an awesome blogging opportunity!” It’s always an awesome blogging opportunity except that I get drunk too early and forget that it’s an awesome blogging opportunity.
A Buffett worthy menu:
Jen’s famous pasta salad
Super cheesy crab dip
Surf & turf kabobs
Drinks: Lime jello shooters, frozen margaritas, madras’, and virgin strawberry daiquiris for the kids
Jen’s famous pasta salad: I am truly known for this dish. Honestly, the attention I get for it, although awesome, is undeserving. It’s the easiest thing to make and I only put the ingredients together because I thought they would look pretty in a bowl. Little did I know it would become the hit that it is today. I am requested to bring it to most parties, I have given out the recipe countless times for those needing a dish for a gathering, and I even made 4 batches of it for one of my besties beach wedding in Sandbridge. And last night at the show, our tailgating neighbor said “Pasta salads are usually so boring, if you’ve had one, you’ve had them all, but this! I can’t even describe it, it’s just so delicious!” The secret? I think it’s the store-bought dressing, but maybe it really is a genius concoction with the perfect pairing of ingredients. Who knows….
1 cucumber, sliced and quartered
1 orange or yellow pepper, coarsely chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 bottle Girard’s Italian Dressing
1 6oz container of crumbled feta cheese
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Fresh or dried dill to taste (dried dill doesn’t really add flavor, it just looks pretty)
Salt and oil the cooking water and cook pasta al dente, according to package. While your pasta is cooking, chop your vegetables. Using a peeler, peel the cucumber on 3 sides only, like so.The purpose of this technique is 1) it looks pretty and 2) it provides just the right amount of crunch. Then, cut the entire cucumber into circular slices and quarter, like this.
Toss cucumber pieces into a large serving bowl. Chop the pepper and half the tomatoes and add to the cucumbers. Drain the cooked pasta in a colander and toss under cold water until cool to the touch. Add to serving bowl. Add the entire bottle of dressing and container of feta and stir to mix. Add salt, pepper and dill to taste. Can be served immediately, however, it’s best after it’s been refridgerated for bit. It’s perfect to make the day before.
Super Cheesy Crab Dip: I came up with this recipe on the fly. I love a rich, creamy, cheesy crab dip and the recipes I was looking at either did not have enough cheese or just not enough flavor. So, I got the general idea of how to make a crab dip and put what the hell I wanted to put in it. Sweet Success! It was devoured quickly and the kids really loved it. I have been requested to make it for Thanksgiving, after it was decided that night that I will be hosting Thanksgiving this year. AH! You can either make this right before you leave for your party and as long as it’s kept covered, it will be warm for quite some time. OR, transfer it to a crock pot and set to low and keep it warm before serving.
1 lb backfin crabmeat, picked through for shells (you can certainly use lump, but for a dip, I go the cheaper route)
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or mix it up and use 1 cup cheddar and 1 cup pepper jack! yum!)
4 tbsp sour cream
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/4 cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lemon ( I used a little more)
Crackers or sliced & toasted french bread for dipping
Pre-heat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well blended. Put in casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with crackers or bread.
Surf & Turf Kabobs: My husband is solely responsible for this AMAZING dish. These kabobs could not have been more perfect for the occasion. Unfortunately for you, I was already enjoying jello shooters and margaritas, so taking pictures of these pieces of art were the furthest thing from my mind.
1 lb raw, fresh, medium-sized shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 lb scallops (probably u12-u15)
4 filet mignon (yup, we used filet, but feel free to use any cut you like), cut into squares
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch thick slices
2 red onions, cut into 1 inch thick slices
3 pints of button mushrooms
My husband says you have to soak the mushrooms before you skewer them. Soak them in what, I don’t know. We soaked them in water one night but they still split. This time, he brushed them with an olive oil/balsamic vinegar/garlic combo and left them in the fridge over night. It worked, no splitage! Other than that, all he did was skewer all the ingredients the morning of the show, kept them chilled and when we were ready, grilled for about 5 minutes on each side. Perfectly pink steak and grilled shellfish on a stick? Hell yeah, it was great.
Grilled Watermelon: Actually, I never got around to grilling the watermelon. But, I do believe that JB would appreciate a melon that was grilled. Don’t you?
Drinks: Make it easy on yourself! I love a “real” margarita, but the mix will do just fine for a tailgate. For jello shooters, simply follow the directions, except add 3/4 cup of vodka in addition to the cold water, then poor into party cups and chill overnight. If you don’t know what is in a Madras, it’s simply vodka, cranberry and orange juice. But the most important thing is the umbrella.Notice the table cloth! I even had themed confetti. I love confetti.