Cue the “Mission: Impossible” music.
“Your mission, Mr. Lendon, should you accept it, is to attend one of the world’s foremost sporting events and eat from the concessions all day for under $15.”
This is crazy, I say to myself. Can’t be done. For the 2014 Super Bowl, a single "premium canned beer" was $14 (making bottled beer seem like a relative bargain at $14), a soda $6. At a regular season L.A. Dodgers game, all-you-can-eat pavilion seating starts at $30 and goes up from there.
And this is the annual Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club, the best of the best for golf. Nevertheless, I set off on my mission.
Mission log follows.
Once upon a time, I had a perfect romantic meal. It was ten years ago, but that doesn't much matter. The restaurant, by design, existed outside of time – mid-century French fanciness, untouched by fad or fashion. It seemed not outside the realm of possibility that the same tuxedoed waiters had been escorting the same fresh-faced and helium-bosomed young ladies (and their uncomfortably collared "uncles") to starched and sumptuous banquettes since the restaurant's opening in 1960, and that the maitre d' had air-kissed the same doyenne's surgically-taut cheek with the exact vim and deference he had since the year her Chanel suit was new.
It was Valentine's Day, and for a girl who frequently sported combat boots and a battle-scarred heart, this was as close to Hollywood l'amour as I'd ever gotten. In previous Februaries, I'd poured my heart into handmade cards, meticulously-chosen poetry volumes (and the occasional glass of single malt for myself), and had received, on various occasions a power drill, "I dunno - where do you wanna eat?", "Oh shoot...we're doing this?" and inevitably the bill for whatever entertainment ensued.
If there's dip on the table, you know you're at a party. If there are at least three varieties present, that party is probably for bowl game - and lucky you.
People don't go making dips all willy-nilly for a weeknight meal or a prim Sunday brunch. They're reserved for gloppy, sloppy abandon in the company of other revelers and these dips should not hold back. We repeat - they should not hold back.
Food editors like us are bombarded with recipe suggestions from celebrity chefs and product representatives touting non-fat, mayo-free, cheese-free, joy-free options for game day. We maintain that if you're eating sensibly the other 365 days of 2012 (okay - 362, because what fun is life if you can't go a little nuts on Thanksgiving, your birthday or New Year's Eve?), a little sour cream on a Frito isn't going to spell your demise. (Though apparently insufficient safety procedures might.)
So go ahead and get dippy with it, and scoop up a few of our favorite recipes from dip devotees Richard Blais, Eva Longoria, John Currence, Marcela Valladolid and our very own recipe boxes.
Food in the Field gives a sneak peek into what CNN's team is eating, and the food culture they encounter as they travel the globe.
CNN International sports correspondent Patrick Snell samples the classic pimento cheese sandwich at The Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia - for "work purposes," you understand.
John Kim covers golf for PGA.com
Every year, tens of thousands of golf fans, and millions worldwide, look towards Augusta National Golf Club with visions of Amen Corner, the world’s best players and - pimento cheese?
It’s true. The culinary offerings of The Masters may not rival your five star listings in terms of presentation, seasoning nor taste for that matter, but the fame of the Masters branded sandwiches, sweet tea, lemonade and even their own potato chips make it one of the hottest menu items in town and the price - $1.50 for drinks, $1.50-2.50 for sandwiches, $1 for chips - is always right.
Though pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches draw the most demand by tradition alone, their barbecue and chicken sandwiches are starting to build quite the following as well. A $10 bill will feed two easily, grab a spot under one of the stately pines near Amen Corner and you’ll have one of the best lunches you could ever hope to have – anywhere in the world.
Follow all the golf action from The 2011 Masters at majorschampionships.com
Read and get recipes - Pimento cheese freeze-out at the Masters
Heartbreak ensued yesterday at the annual Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia when a power outage at the golf club's production center temporarily interrupted the availability of pimento cheese sandwiches to hungry fans.
It's not like you didn't know this day was coming. Same date, every year, as long as there's been a calendar - it's just that the 364 other planning days just happened to flap on by, and you're left with nary a bottle of bubbles in the fridge, and guests set to arrive within the next 12 hours.
You don't need excuses - you have us.
We've got recipes, hosting tips and everything you need to know about buying, speed chilling and opening Champagne to get through tonight.
Your mantra - revised slightly from Thanksgiving
No one's got far-flung food ambitions for New Year's Eve. They want to be with friends and loved ones, sip something with bubbles in it, and eat simple things that allow them to drink more bubbles. If you wanna get schmancier than that with the menu - mazeltov. We encourage embracing the low bar.
You can't out-cook a ghost.
Goodness knows I have tried. I've spent hours, days, weeks, months in pursuit of the perfect biscuits, hauling ingredients from my husband's native North Carolina to our Brooklyn apartment, putting my lard-smeared hands on every text I could find and cornering octogenarian in-laws at holiday dinners. Moreover, I have rolled, beaten, patted and whispered to endless dough batches, made my own butter and buttermilk (the mention of that effort earned me a high-pitched "Sh*t, girl!” from none other than Paula Deen, and I will never get tired of telling people that), gone ice-less so as to accommodate more flour varieties in the freezer and I swear unto the heavens, I never, ever twist the biscuit cutter.
Still, I come giddily bearing the star of each batch, butter-slathered and piping hot, and study my husband's face as he takes the first bite. He's appreciative and unfailingly complimentary - a Southern gentleman, after all - but deep down, I know it's never going to measure up to the ones his long-departed Memama and her housekeeper Nettie rolled out on a linen pillowcase and served to him as a child. I've learned to be okay with that.
Grandmothers are canonized in Southern cooking, and while it's taken as read that your own cooking, with rare exception, will pale in comparison, willful deviation...doesn't go over so well.
Over the next seven days – including yes, the very day of – we'll be sharing our time-tested hosting tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities (that's always fun, right?), hosts and home cooks we love. Our goal – sending you into Thanksgiving with a confident smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on the other side with your sanity intact.
Bless your heart, you've pulled app duty. It's often a thankless task, as you're essentially running defense for kitchen, so peckish guests don't pick away at the corn pudding and green bean casserole before the turkey is served. It also calls for a thick-ish skin, as many folks will feel the need to loudly state that they're ONLY deigning to nibble so they won't, you know, STARVE before the REAL meal is served.
Their loss. You're going to be serving up major flavor in bitty bites and those folks who decide to hold out for the big feast will be kicking themselves once they hear the rave reviews.
A few of our favorites: