The last time Ottawa and the Edmonton Eskimos met in a Grey Cup game was 1981 and I’m pretty sure we hosted a party for family members to watch the celebration then and we’ve done so nearly every year since.
The early ’80s were the glory years for the Eskimos, who won every Cup from 1978 until 1982. Since then their fortunes have waxed and waned but at the Jones’ household, nothing much changes. Some years up to 20 family members and friends have been in the basement watching the game.
There are generational changes of course, and now we are the “old” ones at the party, but there is always at least one guest in the corner gnawing on a piece of kubassa. He’s the one who keeps edging closer and closer to the television trying to actually watch the game. There are also cousins and now grandchildren flitting about doing everything but watch the game. Mostly they are there for the kibitzing over who will win our version of a 50-cent East meets West draw.
The draw is a simple affair, with each person getting a strip of numbers and if you are a kid, and don’t have two quarters to rub together, Grandpa usually provides. The nattering and joking over who has which numbers is constant throughout the game, depending upon whether a field goal or touchdown has just been scored. The rivalry is intense. Someone will yell, “Is it my number? Did I win yet?” to which the kubassa-gnawer will answer, “Ssh! We’re trying to watch a game here. Watch the game!”
I am always amazed at how much food is eaten at the Grey Cup party. From trays of the usual sausage and munchies to a ham supper, it all seems to disappear.
The ham became a must-have some years ago. It has a crab-apple jelly and mustard glaze. I time the ham to be ready for half-time and 15 minutes before it’s scheduled to come out of the oven I top it with a jar of jelly mixed with one tablespoon of mustard. It’s served with pickles, buns or French bread and salad.
The appetizers throughout the afternoon are as follows:
Irwin’s Dip, which comes from my mother’s recipe book. And my sister-in-law Donna’s cheese ball.
This year, since the Eskimos are back, I decided to spice the appetizers up a bit and asked Chef Rino Lam, from XIX Nineteen Restaurant for some ideas. Lam admitted he has never attended a Grey Cup party, but nonetheless he will be cooking for one on Sunday for anyone who drops by the lounge.
“It’s just like Superbowl!” he said as he cheerfully chopped up the best guacamole I’ve ever tasted.
1 cups chopped onion
1 cup swiss cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
Microwave for 10 minutes. Remove from the microwave once or twice and stir as the cheese melts.
Donna’s Cheese Ball
6 oz. blue cheese
10 oz. cheddar cheese spread
12 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese
1 tsp. grated onion
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup finely chopped pecans
cup chopped parsley
Soften cheese. Combine with onion, spices, half the pecans and half the parsley. Shape into a ball and place in a foil-lined bowl. Chill overnight. Grey Cup morning combine remainder of the nuts and parsley. Roll the ball in the nut mixture to coat. Place in tin foil and put in the freezer until just before the guests arrive.
XIX Guacamole for 10
6 limes juiced
6 tsp. minced garlic
6 handfuls of chopped cilantro
3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1. Pit and roughly chop avocado
2. Put everything in a food blender and mix, but leave slightly chunky. Flavours are best if made a day ahead and stored in the fridge until serving.
XIX Bruschetta for 10
6 large tomatoes diced
2 red onions diced
handful of chopped basil
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
Chop ingredients and mix together. Serve on Italian crackers or on sliced French bread.
XIX Sambuca Prawns
8 tiger prawns peeled and deveined
1 tbsp. minced shallot
1 tbsp. minced garlic
tbsp. sambal oelak
Lam uses this tomato-based hot sauce found in the Asian food section of Superstore, but any hot sauce will do, he said.
1 fl. oz. white wine
1 fl. oz. Sambuca
handful fresh chopped cilantro
Heat frying pan. Add oil to hot pan. Add prawns and cook for one minute on one side. Flip and add the shallots, garlic and add the sambal. Stir and cook for another minute. Add white wine and Sambuca. Cook until prawns are done. Add cilantro.