Friday Happy Hour - Pisco Sour

Here on the East Coast, we are currently experiencing Andrea induced misery. So, if why don’t we head south of the border for some clearer skies. Actually let’s just keep going south of the equator and celebrate the Peruvian/Chilean classic, the Pisco Sour. (Recipe and more after the jump)

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Why Miami FC Is Happening No Matter What

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It’s no surprise that soccer today is all about money. I don’t mean this in a nostalgic “Oh, don’t you miss when everyone was willing to play for free and there were no sponsors?” way. I don’t care about some company name being on the front of a jersey (though, really, LA Galaxy - we’re all supposed to pretend like Herbalife is a legitimate sponsor?). I’m talking about the basics of who owns the club.

There’s a reason you don’t see Leeds United jerseys everywhere you look. They’ve been English football champions more frequently than Manchester City over the past 40 years, but that doesn’t make any difference. If someone had told you in 1995 that Chelsea and Manchester City would sell out a MLB stadium, they would have laughed you out of the room. Who would want to watch two teams that had only won three championships over a combined 200 year history? Throw in a Russian oligarch and Middle East Sheik, though, and we’ve got ourselves a game.

So what does this have to do with Miami FC? (I’ve decided this is what they will be called, though I’m still open to the Miami Beckhams). MLS has made no secrets about wanting to be one of the best leagues in the world. Commissioner Garber has even promised we will see it in the next decade or so. But how does this happen?

There are two schools of thought. One is the route that was taken with Portland, Seattle, et al. You take a team that already has a strong fan base, you bring them up to the (relatively) big leagues), and you put their culture on a pedestal for all to see. And it works. Seattle and Portland could be the two worst teams in the league, and I would watch the game on TV because their fans are just THAT awesome. Those are the games that the casual sports fan flipping through channels might stop and watch - even if they don’t like soccer. As Beckham tours the country looking for the best way to spend $25 million, this would be one way to spend it. Take a San Antonio, or a Carolina, or an Orlando, and arrive on the scene with a stadium full of rabid fans.

But there are two problems with this scenario. One is Beckham himself. Beckham is Mr. Glamour. LA was the perfect fit for him. New York would work great as well. But both of those cities already have two teams. And, as much as I love San Antonio, Raleigh, and Orlando, they aren’t flashy towns. Second problem - remember that thing about the money over everything else?

That leads to the other school of thought on how to grow MLS into a top world league. Basically, you flood it with cash. Before the Premier League, there was variety at the top of the English pack. In the past fifteen years? There hasn’t been a winner that wasn’t named Chelsea, Arsenal, or Manchester (fill in the blank). Don’t think the MLS hasn’t noticed. Top talent won’t come to this league until this league can pay for top talent. So, it’s of little surprise that there is another name behind Beckham’s: billionaire Marcelo Claure. I don’t have facts to back this up, but I doubt that Claure’s money is going to follow Beckham if he goes anywhere other than Miami. And, simply enough, unless they are in hiding, there aren’t any billionaires in other US cities waiting to bankroll a team.

All of this adds up to one thing: the next MLS team is coming out of Miami with Beckham at the helm. Maybe, as has been discussed in other places, it will be a package deal that will bring Orlando along with it. But, either way, Miami is there. Is Miami the best place for an MLS team? No. In fact, Miami isn’t a horrible place for any team. The Marlins play in solitude, the Dolphins have a few people who accidently wander in, and the Heat are having trouble selling out NBA Finals games that feature one of the best teams ever assembled. So, unless the inaugural Miami FC team features Messi, Suarez, and Ronaldo, don’t expect any record-breaking attendance.

But that’s just the way it is. In soccer, now more than ever, money talks. Welcome to the league, Miami FC. Hurricane season should be interesting. 

In case you missed it, here is the 2013-2014 third jersey for the Baltimore Rav- er, Liverpool.

In case you missed it, here is the 2013-2014 third jersey for the Baltimore Rav- er, Liverpool.

NYCFC, NYRB, Cosmos, and the MLS

There has been a lot of movement in the past month concerning soccer in the the Big Apple. Several weeks ago, Manchester City and the NY Yankees announced they were teaming up to to create New York City FC (or NYCFC if you were looking for a way to shorten that six syllable name to an acronym that’s - oh, wait, also six syllables). Today, the NY Cosmos unveiled a partnership with Emirates and unveiled their sponsored jerseys (seen here - CREDIT AP).image

Meanwhile, NYRB, well, they still exist. And are winning. More than I can say about DCU. Though expect to hear more from NYRB as the summer transfer window gets closer.

First, let’s touch on NYCFC. A lot has been said about them already, so I’ll try not to belabor the point. Overall, this is good for the MLS. Expansion in other parts of the country (looking at you, Beckham) is still essential, but no one can argue against the importance of having some deeper pockets in the league. With the CBA, TV rights, and the possibility of the number of Designated Players coming up for debate in the next couple of years, you now have LA, Toronto, NYRB, and NYCFC (to name the larger players) with the resources to bring in big names. Even if Manchester City uses NYCFC as simply a team to develop talent for their bigger brother (which they say they won’t), it’s still a plus in terms of bringing in talent and visibility. All around, it’s good for the league.

The big question mark, though, is the NY Cosmos. What is their end game? They are coming into NASL later this year, yet they said today that they are still in communication with the MLS and Don Garber (cue angry whining about THREE MLS teams in NYC). Here’s the thing - the Cosmos don’t want to be in the MLS. Actually, let me rephrase that. They don’t want to be in the MLS as it is structured right now. They don’t want to be the 22nd, 23rd, or 24th MLS expansion team. They want to be the first team that is promoted from the 2nd-tier NASL to the 1st-tier MLS. They are making a very expensive gamble that all of the unique qualities of the MLS - franchises, salary caps, Designated Players - are just training wheels waiting to be taken off. 

Right now, you have a very small yet, remarkably, healthy NASL. Orlando is making waves with their aspirations. Carolina has been a darling of the league since its inception. Atlanta is on top of the tables. And this is with the Cosmos joining this year, followed by Ottawa, Virginia, and Indy in 2014. What is now a 7 team league might be up to 12 next year (if Puerto Rico gets it together). What if the Carolina Railhawks make a run this year in the US Open Cup? What if, three years from now, several of these teams do? What if some smaller sports network signs a TV deal with NASL? This could just make the perfect storm to actually create promotion/relegation in the US. It won’t happen overnight, but this is the gamble that the Cosmos are making. The Cosmos won’t be an MLS expansion team, but don’t bet against them making it to the MLS.

bowdoinorient:

We all take heed when The Princeton Review’s college rankings calls Bowdoin’s food the best. But, as you anticipate tonight’s feast, take a moment to count your blessings and appreciate the list’s other bookend: Fordham University, which last year was ranked worst for food. Diana…

Cuban Beef Stew & Tromba (121 Ludlow St.)

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First, let me start off by saying that I have been trying my best to eat out as much as possible this past week. Restaurants are starting to come back in the Lower East Side, and I want to give them as much business as I can. For this reason, I’ve been frequenting some of my favorites (Brooklyn Taco Co., Wolfnights, etc.) and finding some new favorites. One of these is Tromba, on 121 Ludlow, which just opened last Saturday. They braved the storm and power outage, staying open with a limited menu. I haven’t tried them at full strength yet, but I had some great food and wine there the other day.

Last night, though, I just had to take a break and do some cooking. Spurred on by the colder weather, beef stew sounded like the perfect idea. After a bit of searching, I decided to take most my inspiration from a recipe on AllRecipes. (Here’s the direct link http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cuban-beef-stew/) I made a few variations, but I’m sure the original version is good, too:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped 
1 1/2 lbs chuck stew meat, cubed
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup dry sherry
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup pimento stuffed olives
1/4 raisins
2 tbsp capers
Beef broth
5 Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
Salt & pepper

1. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Once translucent, add meat, browning on all sides.

2. Add bell pepper, bay leaves, cumin, and oregano. Stir, cooking for several more minutes.

3. Add sherry, tomatoe sauce, red wine vinegar, olives, raisins, and capers. Add beef broth until everything is completely covered.

4. Bring to boil, cover, and reduce heat. Let simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

5. Add potatoes, cook for another 45 min to an hour (until potatoes are done).

I like to then serve it over rice, but, if you are OK with potato overload (which I am), it’s probably pretty good over mashed potatoes (which I will be doing tonight).

Serves 6 to 8.

OK, Now I’m really back.

So I’ve claimed to be back before. Now I really am. I’ve relocated to NYC and am spending about a quarter of my time in San Francisco. Basically, I’m all over the place, and you can expect my posts to reflect this pretty accurately. So, expect a lot more food in addition to the usual sports, politics, and random stuff the crosses my mind (read: Aaron Sorkin stuff).

Speaking of politics, did you know there is an election tomorrow? Crazy. Go vote. 

Tags: drink

In my triumphant return to tumblr (OK, maybe triumphant isn’t the right word), I present to you the trailer for Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series, The Newsroom, that was released a couple of days ago.  It’s been too long since a Sorkin show was on the air, and, personally, I can’t wait until June 24th.

Andrew Luck - Savior or Bust?

Luck

First of all, I apologize for the break in content.  I got caught up with other things, and now I’m finding a bit more time.  But I want to discuss something that has been on my mind - Andrew Luck.  We’ve all heard about how he’s the next big thing.  We’ve all seen him play.  We’ve all read countless articles on him (including a new one today from ESPN).  For two years now, he has been the talk of the NFL.  And that’s where I get uneasy. (More after the jump.)

Now, call me jaded because I’m a Panthers fan, and Andrew Luck was supposed to be our savior and then he stayed in college.  (In the end, though, it worked out well.  There’s no way I would choose anyone over Cam Newton now.)  Does that factor into my thoughts?  Probably.  Do I have any real technical critique of Luck that makes me at all qualified to say the things I am about to say?  Not at all.  But, simply, how many times have we heard about the next superstar player, just to have them show-up in the league and underperform?

Maybe Luck will be the real deal.  For his sake (and probably the sake of the Colts), I hope he will be.  But the more you hype something, the more likely you will be disappointed.  And, all in all, we are really bad at predicting how a person or a team will perform when their day comes.  No one seemed to doubt the Eagles were the class of the league in September.  Similarly, the 49ers were supposed to languish at the bottom once again.  

No one knows for sure what is going to happen.  The more we talk about Andrew Luck, the more doubtful I get about his prospects.  There’s a very good chance that three years from now I will look at this and laugh at how far off I was, but, so be it.  I’m getting suspicious.  

What do you all think?