For those of you who follow me (Trevor, @trevorlarge) on twitter will know that close to my first love of rugby, is food. I like a bit of cooking, I like a bit of eating, and combing an away trip to combine rugby, food and eating with my good lady is just about as perfect as it gets!
So a fair few years ago, I started “theming” our weekend food during the Six Nations. Sarah & I are English, so every year, during the Six Nations, we honour the weekends opposition and theme our food and drinks according to the opposition. For example;
Scottish weekend – we’ve certainly done the whole Haggis, Tatties ‘n neaps. With a whiskey sauce. Scottish mussels are easy to find in the supermarkets, Scottish Salmon and of course Scotch Beef has a fantastic reputation. Desserts are easy too, Scottish Raspberries are in plentiful supply, shortbread and there’s some great Scottish cheeses around. Drinks, there’s plenty of good Scottish beers, hunt hard enough you’ll find decent Scottish ciders too, and that’s without even talking about whiskey. There’s certainly plenty to go at for a decent Scottish themed food and drink weekend.
Wales – I’m fortunate to work in Cardiff which still has a fantastic old fashioned food market with some very butchers and a great fishmongers. Working on the theory you won’t have that luxury on your doorstep, you won’t go far wrong with Welsh Lamb. A shoulder of lamb will sit happily in a slow oven for hours whilst you cheer on your teams in a typical Saturday double header. Slow roast it with red wine, loads of garlic and rosemary, or marinade in a North Africa spice mix such as ras el hanout and serve it with cous cous. Obviously the national symbol of Wales is the leek, and you’ll find loads of good side and even main dishes. Welsh Lamb and leeks…. That’s a great way of honouring your welsh opposition! Or perhaps you look at some of the great Welsh producers available online such Patchwork Foods, see below!
Irish weekend – it was to feature Guinness right? Certainly that’s the drink of choice, and you wouldn’t go far wrong with a Irish Beef and Guinness pie. Irish Beef is in easy supply and a pie easy to make, so that’s a fairly easy dish to make. Look up colcannon which is an Irish dish of potatoes and cabbage for the perfect accompaniment. One year we did Corned Beef Hash with an Irish Beef brisket, soaking it in brine to make salt beef, before cooking, cooling, shredding, then frying with onions, garlic, potatoes, chilli sauce…..
France – French cuisine is as simple of as difficult as you want. Forget the posh stuff, leave that for the restaurants! Go simple, and long and slow so it’s in the oven before the game starts. Coq au vin or Boeuf Bourguignon are effectively a chicken or a beef stew. Forget plates, serve it in a bowl, with chunks of French Baguette (you’ll even find French butter in the supermarkets). You should a Tarte Tatin in the frozen desserts section, or you’ll be spoilt for choices of French Cheese. It’s Kronenburg on the beers, or if you’re Coq au vin or Boeuf Bourguignon, it would be rude not to buy some extra French wine. French day, done.
Italy – our first Six Nations weekend, so I thought I’d give you my Italian menu as an example.
Well start Friday with a fresh pasta dish, probably with sardines. We like spending an hour or two in the kitchen on a Friday, and making fresh pasta is time consuming. We’ll buy some Italian wine, make the pasta, grill the sardines. Friday done.
Saturday brunch is a recipe Sarah has seen in the Sainsbury’s magazine. I’m sure you’ll find it online, it’s called “Italian Eggs” and looks like eggs and tomatoes. That will be easy. Before the games start on the Saturday, I’ll do osso bucco which is veal dish which is long and slow meaning I can watch the rugby and the oven will do the work. Not sure what I’ll serve it with, but I’m thinking of polenta and Treviso Radicchio Rosso side (like a purple chicory, and something we had a lot when in Treviso).
Sunday lunch before the game, I’ll do Roast Pork Stuffed with sage and lemon and wrapped in prosciutto. Milanese Potatoes (effectively roast potatoes with Italian herbs), some veg and a sauce which I’ve not quite worked out yet will do a great Sunday lunch before kick off.
We’ll obviously ditch the usual cider this weekend (Italian Cider does exist, but hard to come by) and I’ll go with Peroni, Sarah will probably alternate between Aperol Spritz and prosecco, and with some Italian wines around, we won’t go thirsty! It will be early to bed on Sunday night with tiramisu for supper!
England - well as we’re English, there won’t be an English weekend, but if you wanted one, I’m sure there’s plenty of ideas around on both the food and drink!
Planning. If the above is something you’d like to do, do the shopping early. And I promise you’ll enjoy the rugby even more!
However, I get that cooking isn’t everyone’s thing. If it’s not your thing but you like the idea of having some sort of theme, why not order an excellent Six Nations Pate pack from Patchwork Pate? Patchwork have put together a celebration of pates from the Six Nations countries to allow you the taste of the Nations! Click on this link here https://www.patchworkfoods.com/six-nations/ to learn more and order! Here’s their boss, and #rugbyunited follower, Rufus with his unique rugby ramble on some rugby history and the Six Nations - https://www.patchworkfoods.com/six-nations/
And don’t worry, if you have some pate left over, I wrote a blog for Patchwork followers on what to do with their leftovers, you can also read this here - https://www.patchworkfoods.com/patchwork-blog/guest-ramble/
So this year, when you are planning your weekends for the Six Nations, why not celebrate your opposition in true rugby style? Think about your drinks, think about your food, and if all else fails, speak to Patchwork and celebrate the Six Nations in style!