A bumper weekend of sport lies ahead, with three RBS 6 Nations fixtures – Scotland v Ireland tomorrow at 2.30pm; England v France at 5pm and Italy v Wales on Sunday at 3pm – and on Sunday night (11.30pm Irish time) the Superbowl kicks off in Houston's NRG Stadium.
With cold, wet weather forecast for the coming days, it’s the perfect excuse to invite some friends around to watch the match with some good food and beers. We’ve rounded up some tasty sharing meals to see you through to the final whistle, and Beerista’s Sorcha Hamilton has some advice on what to drink below.
Pizza and pasta
The word "pizza" first appeared in print in 997 AD, in a Latin text in the south of Italy. I firmly believe its continued popularity (and the reason it's still appearing in print) is down to its ability to appease large groups of ravenous people, fast. You can't go wrong if you serve some homemade pizzas, and Lilly Higgins's simple chorizo, courgette and pepper recipe uses readymade dough to make life easy – and frees up your time in case you follow Ross O'Carroll-Kelly's pre-match routine of selecting your own team. If you want to make your dough from scratch, Liam Reid's recipe includes mozzarella, chorizo, caramelised fennel and onion with rocket and parmesan. He also swears by the Smithwick's Ale he puts in his dough. Or if you're feeling really virtuous, try Domini Kemp's low-carb pizza, made with a cauliflower base instead of dough – although this is best made in advance to let the base dry out fully.
Pasta is another good crowd pleaser – and stomach liner, if you plan on following Beerista's beer recommendations.Donal Skehan's one-pan pasta dish is perfect match fare. It takes just 20 minutes in a single pan to make this silky tomatoey dish, leaving you to get on with the important business of watching the game. Another good one-pan dish is Donal's stove-top lasagne – again this is low on effort and high on taste. It takes a little longer to cook, so pop it on 20 minutes before the game and it will be ready for half time.
Speaking of half time, for a quick chocolate fix why not make a Nutella mugcake while the pundits are chatting? These cakes cook in just one minute in the microwave, and there's minimal washing up as everything happens in the one mug. To make one cake, combine half a beaten egg, 5 tablespoons of Nutella and 2 tablespoons of flour in a mug. Beat until smooth. Microwave for 60 seconds. Devour.
Spicy finger food
Back in savoury land, we're big fans of Kwanghi Chan's recent recipe for a spice bag, a favourite of many Dublin chippers and Chinese takeaways. This recipe for a finger-licking combo of chips, chicken wings, char su pork and veggies serves 10 people, so you'll certainly be a popular host.
Lilly Higgins reckons her baked barbecue ribs are so messy they're "not first date food" – which automatically earns them a place at a big get together in front of the TV. Serve them with charred corn on the cob and lots – and lots - of napkins.
A favourite of The Irish Times Food & Drink team, this Korean Fried Chicken dish from Donal Skehan is the best wing recipe we've tried at home, with some seriously moreish Gochujang sauce, a punchy Korean condiment that you can now get in all good Asian stores.
For the Superbowl, try a late-night snack favoured by Americans: loaded nachos with homemade chilli. Yes, we know these are technically Mexican snacks, but nobody's built a wall just yet.
In fact, the avocados you're most likely to buy in shops here are of the American Hass variety – patented in California by a Wisconsin man, Rudolph Hass, in 1935 (read more on the subject from Aoife McElwain here). Use these to make Domini Kemp's guacamole and load onto some nachos, which are named after their inventor, a Mexican restaurateur, Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya. Resistance can be delicious, afterall.
As either the Patriots or Falcons take home the Superbowl prize – and the prize money; the winning players will get a bonus of almost $100,000 each – finish the night off with some peanut millionaires, similar to millionaire's shortbread but with some added nuttiness. A fitting end to a night of US entertainment.
The perfect beers for a big sport weekend have enough flavour to keep you interested but not too much bitterness - or high alcohol content - to take your mind off the action. A good one to start with is Galway Bay’s 4.8 per cent Althea, an American Pale ale with a delicious hoppy aroma and a gentle bitterness. Or if you like something with more of a hoppy kick try Stone Barrel’s Boom, a 4.5 session IPA.
For a tasty, easy going stout, Black Rock Irish Stout by the Dungarvan Brewing Company is a winner - it’s smooth with plenty of toasted, malty character, medium-bodied and very drinkable at 4.3 per cent.
If lagers are your thing, try Galway Hooker’s 4.3 per cent Amber Lager. It’s got a lovely caramel smoothness and a good clean thirst-quenching crispness to cut though all that tasty food you’ll be cooking up.