Things we're excited about: April edition

T.S. clearly didn’t experience the American winter of 2014, otherwise he’d be rejoicing for April’s melting potential, flower blooming, bird chirping, and short-sleeve wearing. Also, somehow “First we had a couple of feelers down at Tom’s place” doesn’t have quite the ring as “April is the cruelest month.” You can thank Ezra Pound for that one.

And so, we’re celebrating returns this April, not as a precursor to winter’s once-again disappointment, but for the in-the-moment joy they bring.

The return of America’s past-time

I think we can all agree that baseball is probably the most boring sport to spend three hours watching on a scorching Saturday afternoon, and yet, its je ne sais quoi is burned into our national consciousness. It’s undeniably global (is there a shortstop in the league not from Latin America? A Yankees pitcher not from Japan?), relies on a combination of strategy, speed, power, and luck, gives hope to all of us who only succeed 30% of the time, and is that rare sport where you can get in a solid 100 pages of reading a YA novel and still not miss any of the highlights—of either.

If you need more proof:        

 

The return of Game of Thrones

Wire, shmire, Sopranos, pianos. Game of Thrones has already surpassed those smart-but-retreaded genre masterpieces, and it’s only now entering season four (Breaking Bad still has the lead. . . but our money is on GoT to surpass it by the end of its run). And please don’t rely on Maureen Dowd to give you the low-down. Talk about an institution needing something unexpected to happen to its op-ed contributors.

But seriously, Game of Thrones has it all, and not in vapid, CGI-reliant, the hero-always-wins ways. Sure there are white walkers and dragons, a bit of darkness and magic, wargs and direwolves. There’s also our Westie chasing our neighbor’s giant rooster (kind of like Ghost versus the Mountain), the resilience of the avocado, the Cosmos, and, perhaps most amazingly, the success of James Franco. You tell me what’s more far-fetched. And GoT is way better scripted.

If you’re a fan, you probably want to  follow these insightful and interesting recaps by Andy Greenwald on Grantland.com.

The return of grilling

Back to the America theme. Depending on where you live, grilling defines a solid 5-8 months of your culinary season. Weekend gatherings revolve around it, decks fall because of it, probably a few fires start, maybe a divorce here and there cite it as an instigating event, but mostly it’s the closest we can get to our cave-people ancestors and their life with dinosaurs.

If you want a tried-and-trued Treebird grilling recipe, here you go (modified from Gourmet magazine).

Serves four (ranges are for how much y’all eat)

the stuff:
4-6 romaine hearts
2-3 lbs chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness.
1 cup pretty good parmesan, grated (doesn’t have to be $16/lb, but can’t be pre-shredded)

the dressing:
1 cup olive oil
4-8 garlic cloves, smashed (depending on your love of garlic)
2 TB Dijon mustard
6 TB fresh lemon juice (1/4 cup plus 2 TB)
1 TB anchovy paste (don’t you dare leave this out or don’t call it a Caesar dressing)
1 tsp good sea salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and then grill as you would, 2.5-3 minutes per side, put on a dish, loosely tent with foil.

Then you get an option. Either chop your romaine, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, plus the grill is already on, grill the romaine for 3-4 minutes, until slightly charred on the outside. Then chop it up.

Whirl everything in the dressing but the oil around in a blender for a bit, then slowly add the oil, until emulsified. Dressing done. 

Toss the chopped romaine with a bit of dressing and cheese (not too much), slice the chicken breasts and layer over the romaine bed, top with more cheese and a drizzle of dressing. Set more dressing out (you’ll have plenty extra) for those who like their leaves wet.

You don’t need croutons.

The return of The Masters

First of all, if you’ve never had a Moving Day party, you’re missing out. It’s an occasion for a party, just like Ground Hog’s Day or the Kentucky Derby or Mardi Gras, except a little more creative. And pretentious.

Second, you can’t compete with the immaculate landscaping of Augusta National. Sure, the institution itself enjoys Jim Crow and misogyny. Sure, it can only name holes after flora, using the purplest of prose: 
No. 1 - Tea Olive
No. 2 - Pink Dogwood
No. 3 - Flowering Peach
No. 4 - Flowering Crab Apple
No. 5 - Magnolia
No. 6 - Juniper
No. 7 - Pampas
No. 8 - Yellow Jasmine
No. 9 - Carolina Cherry
No. 10 - Camellia
No. 11 - White Dogwood
No. 12 - Golden Bell
No. 13 - Azalea
No. 14 - Chinese Fir
No. 15 - Firethorn
No. 16 - Redbud
No. 17 - Nandina

No. 18 - Holly

Sure, it was recently run by a grown man who unironically went by Hootie.

There may well come a day when women will be invited to join our membership, but that timetable will be ours, and not at the point of a bayonet.

-- Hootie Johnson

But look at those azaleas, those reflective water features, those stone bridges! It sure is pretty, and that seems pretty American.

Tiger Woods isn’t in this year’s field, Rory McIlroy is a volatile Irishman, Phil has too many feelings, so we’re going with the field. Though we wouldn’t mind if Bubba Watson won again (something about a golfer named Bubba who plays with pink clubs. . . oh, 2014).

The return of National Garlic Day

If you didn’t know how many official days there are, well, you’d be surprised. But we can really get behind National Garlic Day (evidenced by our salad dressing above), and if you’re not a garlic conissuer, well, then maybe April really is the cruelest month.

In the meantime, make some garlic soup. 

Patrick Kelly