Full disclosure: The author is a lifelong Philadelphia sports devotee … and has been waiting a very long time for an Eagles championship. But not as long as his dad has.
History will be made when Super Bowl LII kicks off at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Feb. 4. The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles swoop into town tracking their first championship, with nothing more than New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and his record five Super Bowl rings standing in their way. For wine lovers heading to the Twin Cities this weekend, the Minneapolis/St. Paul metroplex is home to 18 Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners, and tickets to the game are going for about the price of a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. (Which of those 3-hour indulgences represents the better “value” is a real hedonist's "tastes great, less filling" paradox.)
Most of us will be partying at home for the Super Bowl. To that end, as is our tradition, we’ve fielded a new pair of recipes from local chefs in Beantown and the City of Brotherly Love. From Philadelphia’s Frankford Hall, part of restaurateur Stephen Starr’s family of properties, chef Reinaldo Alfonso shares his recipe for Smoked Barbecue Wings. And from Boston’s Craigie on Main, a Best of Award of Excellence winner, chef Tony Maws digs up his Fried Clams with Squid Ink Anchoïade. The Pats, of course, have been here before, and so have we, which means chowder fans can dust off these fan-favorite recipes for Neptune Oyster New England Clam Chowder and Island Creek Oyster Stew.
You already know Philadelphia's "signature" dish. The cheesesteak is as famous as Philly fans' bad attitudes—and about as gross an oversimplification as an actual representative of the city's many fine cuisines. So sure, if you want to go full Philly kitsch for the Super Bowl, sling some cheesesteaks (Steak-umms'n'Whiz wit onions if you're cooking at home), get some Italian hoagies (the Herr's potato chips go inside the sandwich, not on the side) and soft pretzels, pan-fry some scrapple and put out some Taylor ham (call it pork roll if you must), pick up some Tastykake Krimpets and Good & Plenty from the Wawa and maybe even get your own luxury wooder ice fountain.
But Philadelphians know that fine dining is as much a part of the city's history as booing Santa. For decades, chef Georges Perrier's Le Bec-Fin and its sister restaurants were the city's leading lights; Le Bec-Fin closed in 2013, but Philadelphia is now home field to two of the country's most exciting restaurateurs, Stephen Starr and Iron Chef José Garces. Starr Restaurants includes nearly two dozen Philadelphia eateries, including the Continental, Buddakan, Morimoto and Serpico, as well as Best of Award of Excellence winner Le Coucou in New York, among others. Starr's Frankford Hall is a Bavarian beer garden in Fishtown specializing in schnitzels and sausages—who better to ask for a Super Bowl recipe?
"The vibe at Frankford Hall is all about fun," says chef Reinaldo Alfonso, formerly of Starr's Alma de Cuba. "Our food is meant to be a perfect accompaniment to that fun. We riff on German cuisine, like giant warm pretzels, different types of traditional sausages, schnitzel and spaetzle, and since we’re in Philly and not Munich, we also have burgers, fries and milkshakes." His chicken wings are brined before getting a barbecue rub with celery seeds and cayenne; then they get at least a two-hour low-and-slow smoke. “Hot wings and football go hand in hand!"
"While wine might not be considered the 'go-to' football beverage," Starr Restaurants wine director Erik Segelbaum says, "let’s not underestimate the power of pairing locally. What could be more appropriate than a Pennsylvania wine? To team up with the smoke and spice of this dish, I love the Galen Glen “Vinology” Semi-Dry Riesling 2016 from Lehigh Valley, Pa. It’s the perfect wide receiver for this dish and definitely a well-priced crowd-pleaser."
The New England Patriots and Tom Brady are hoping to win their second straight Super Bowl this Sunday, for the second time. In fact, it's Brady's eighth Super Bowl start, which means that we've covered Boston before, and before that. Nevertheless, New England has an All-Pro lineup of restaurants and cuisines to excite our palates anew.
Chef Tony Maws has a reputation in Cambridge for refined hominess at Craigie on Main. One of his staff's favorite dishes is Fried Clams with Squid Ink Anchoïade. "[Anchoïade is] a southern French condiment that's essentially aioli with anchovies in it," says director of operations Carl York. Along with the dip (which York warns will stain your teeth, not unlike a tannic glass of red wine), the clams are garnished at the restaurant with finely diced dehydrated olives, chives, pickled Jimmy Nardello peppers and preserved lemon. "It's pickle-y, it's briny, it's salty—they're addictively delicious."
York's "perfect pairing" with Craigie on Main's fried clams is Champagne, specifically Savart L'Ouverture Extra Brut NV. "It's full of Pinot Noir red fruit … it's a slightly richer, in-your-face kind of wine, and being that that dish is kind of insanely pungent in flavor, that's a super-good pairing," he says. "My other go-to with [fried clams] is a [beer from a] local brewery over in Everett called Night Shift. They make a killer IPA called Morph, and every batch is different—the formula is kind of the same but the hop profile changes all the time—and it's just awesome. I can't imagine a more enjoyable thing to have with a plate of fried clams than a Night Shift Morph."
Note: The following list is a selection of widely available outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases, all priced at $15 or less. More value wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search. Or download Wine Spectator’s free Xvalues app for iOS.
HESS SELECT Chardonnay Monterey County 2015
Exuberantly spicy, with plenty of cream and tropical notes to the ripe pear, apple compote and dried apricot flavors. Smoky details linger on the fat finish. Drink now through 2020. 175,000 cases made.
ACROBAT Pinot Gris Oregon 2016
Floral cantaloupe aromas open to creamy, easygoing pear and spice flavors in this white. Drink now. 90,000 cases made.
PACIFIC RIM Riesling Columbia Valley Sweet 2016
Soft and delicately sweet, with lively pineapple and lemon flavors that show spicy accents. Drink now. 60,000 cases made.
DANCING BULL Sauvignon Blanc California Winemaker's Reserve 2016
Has a striking presence of lemongrass and fresh ginger to complement the crisp, mouthwatering core of lemon and ruby grapefruit. Juicy on the finish. Drink now. 28,000 cases made.
SOKOL BLOSSER Evolution Lucky No. 9 White 20th Edition America NV
A lively blend, with plenty of spice and supple peach and pear flavors. Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sémillon, Müller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay and Early Muscat. Drink now. 43,000 cases made.
CHARLES & CHARLES Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2015
Crisp and easygoing, with lively pear and apple flavors. Drink now. 22,000 cases made.
CHATEAU SOUVERAIN Sauvignon Blanc California 2016
Crisp and bright, with Meyer lemon, mango and Key lime flavors. A touch of lemon verbena shows on the finish. Drink now. 29,000 cases made.
JOSH CELLARS Chardonnay California 2015
A fruity and balanced white, with a mix of ripe apple and dried peach flavors, accented by buttery notes. Spicy finish. Drink now. 200,000 cases made.
SNOQUALMIE Riesling Columbia Valley Winemaker's Select 2015
Succulently sweet, with soft peach and spiced pear flavors. Drink now. 30,000 cases made.
FETZER Gewürztraminer Monterey County Shaly Loam 2015
Vividly floral, oozing with rose petal details, this white boasts juicy peach notes at the core. Finds balance with a spicy and refreshing finish. Drink now. 306,000 cases made.
MIRASSOU Moscato California 2016
Direct and compact, offering lemon and peach flavors that are mouthwateringly juicy, with an appealing candied edge and a dash of floral details. Drink now. 90,000 cases made.
14 HANDS Hot to Trot Red Columbia Valley 2014
A zesty red, with violet and red currant aromas and lively blackberry and smoky spice flavors. Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah. Drink now through 2021. 795,000 cases made.
CLINE Zinfandel Contra Costa County Ancient Vines 2015
Plump and jammy, with zesty wild berry, grilled anise and pepper flavors. Drink now through 2021. 60,000 cases made.
CLINE Cashmere Red California 2015
Trim and zesty, with expressive dried cherry, smoky beef and grilled anise flavors. Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah. Drink now through 2021. 20,000 cases made.
COLUMBIA CREST Grand Estates Red Blend Columbia Valley 2014
A snappy red, modestly structured but appealing, with blueberry, cherry, tobacco and spice notes. Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2021. 45,000 cases made.
DRUMHELLER Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2015
Supple and expressive, with easygoing black cherry and toasted spice flavors. Drink now through 2022. 33,000 cases made.
KIRKLAND SIGNATURE Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County 2014
A subtle, reined-in style, this is trim and spicy, with touches of cedar, cherry and berry that hang with you, ending with fine-grained tannins and a sense of elegance. Drink now through 2022. 25,000 cases made.
CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2015
Trim and focused, with modest blackberry, spice and green olive flavors. Drink now through 2021. 507,500 cases made.
EDNA VALLEY Merlot Central Coast 2015
Plum sauce and dried berry flavors mix easily in this open-textured and spicy red. Dried green herb notes show on the finish. Drink now. 38,927 cases made.
HOGUE Merlot Columbia Valley 2014
Supple and user-friendly, with cherry, mocha and spice notes. Drink now through 2019. 27,280 cases made.
CASTLE ROCK Pinot Noir California Cuvée 2014
Modestly varietal, presenting a bright, trim core of wild berry and sour cherry flavors. Maintains a tame personality through the clean finish. Drink now. 41,600 cases made.
CHATEAU SOUVERAIN Merlot California 2014
Straightforward and appealing, with savory cherry and spiced herb flavors. Drink now through 2019. 47,000 cases made.
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