–Julia Crowley, EDN
Saturday, November 26, the kick-off time for the Civil War game between University of Oregon and Oregon State University was scheduled for 12:30 pm. In preparation for my early morning arrival at Autzen Stadium, I had my my Duck gear ready to go: “O” shirt, check. “O” face stickers, check. “O” yellow and green socks, check. “O” purse and “O” jacket, check. I was ready to tailgate and celebrate, all for the love of one university team, — the Ducks.
Dropped off in front of the Masonic Lodge around 8 am across the street from Autzen, I began the search for my die-hard tailgating friends. Along the way, people were getting out their grills, stoking the wood in their fire pits, setting up big screen televisions on truck tailgates and even hanging chandeliers inside their Oregon Duck tents. Fans were throwing yellow and green footballs to one another and everyone had music playing. Kegs of beer were tapped, bottles of wine lined the tables of tailgaters waiting to be popped, and one group even brought a bottle of ‘Grandpa Jelderks homemade Civil War moonshine.‘
What mostly caught my attention, however, were the Duck inspired, cars, trucks, RVs and buses. In fact, there was even a Ducked-out ambulance which had been converted into the ‘Manublance Tailgating Squad.” One of my favorites was a 1940’s era restored GMC school bus painted in team colors with a matching trailer that was hitched to the rear. The trailer was a portable kitchen with stove, refrigerator and wet bar.
There’s no doubt about it: dedicated Duck fans know how to tailgate like no other, but the tailgate that rivals the best of them is the one put on for Tower Club members and their friends in the King Estate Winery Tailgate Tent.
At 10 am, my friend and I left the Masonic Lodge tailgating area and headed for the King Estate tent. It’s an easy tent to spot because its larger than most tailgating tents, in addition to having logo flags flying from all corners. Being among some of the first people to arrive, we quickly claimed two seats at a table in the sun. Lucky for us, the weather was warmer than expected at 54 degrees, not bad for a late November day. The smell of fresh baked bread and bacon lured us to the buffet, and the set-up was more like something you’d see at a wedding reception than at a tailgate.
Silverware was wrapped in yellow and green linen, chafing dishes were lined from one end of a 12-foot linen-covered table to the other, and fine China plates were stacked high, ready to be filled with the many delicious options prepared by the King Estate culinary team. The menu items included Sage Sausage Puff Pastry, Roasted Potatoes, Roasted Fruit and Ricotta Crepes, Roasted Petite Tender with Hollandaise, White Truffle Scrambled Eggs, Estate Bacon, Bananas Foster Bread Pudding and Seasonal Fruit Salad. Of course, there was also an excellent selection of King Estate wines, including King Estate Signature Pinot Gris, NxNW Riesling, King Estate Signature Pinot Noir and NxNW Cabernet Sauvignon.
I started off with the White Truffle Scrambled Eggs, Roasted Potatoes, Estate Bacon and Bananas Foster Bread Pudding, with a glass of King Estate Pinot Noir. I must admit, I’ve never before attempted to pair eggs with wine, but Pinot Noir is one of the most food-friendly wines in the world, so I felt I had made a sound wine selection. The bright cherry, caramel and toasty oak flavors of the Pinot Noir actually paired really nicely with the White Truffle Scrambled Eggs, in addition to pairing excellently with the Estate Bacon and the Roasted Potatoes.
With the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding, I refreshed my now-empty glass of Pinot Noir with the NxNW Riesling. With aromas of bananas and pineapple, this dry and crisp Riesling unconditionally complemented the sweetness of the bread pudding, and the pair was scrumptious.
Under normal circumstances, I would have saved the bread pudding for last, but knowing that drinking wine at 10 am is a little out of the ordinary for me, I had no problem going from the bread pudding to the Petite Tender with Hollandaise. Cooked to perfection and drizzled with Hollandaise, I decided to now fill my glass with the NxNW Cabernet Sauvignon. I love the big, bold flavors of Cabernets with all kinds of red meats, but a Petite Tender with a high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon is one of those combinations that is at the top of my list of food and wine pairings. Tenderloin beef usually has a milder flavor than other red meats, so the bold blackberry, plum and coffee flavors often found in Cabernets are never overcome by the delicate flavors found in tenderloin cuts, and not surprising at all, the NxNW Cabernet was absolutely delicious with the Petite Tender.
After we ate way more than we needed to and conversed with the other football fans at our table, including of Beaver and Duck fans and winery owner, Robin Pfeiffer, of Pfeiffer Vineyards, we played a game of Duck Bean Bag Toss which was set up right outside the tent. In fact, many of the nearby tailgaters had games they were playing. From University of Oregon and Oregon State beer pong tables, to “O” shaped washer toss games, everyone was having fun and supporting their team.
After the bean bag toss game, it was almost time for kick-off, and my friend and I were getting ready to head out and watch the game at one of the local sports bars since we didn’t have tickets to get into Autzen Stadium. Before departing, we decided to have one last glass of wine and watch the pre-game commentators give their picks on the large flat screen television that King Estate had set up inside the tent. We must have looked pretty sad about not having tickets, because just then we were given two Club level tickets to the game. Unbelievably excited, we headed towards the stadium, took the escalator up to The Club at Autzen, and found our seats that were, without a doubt, the best seats either of us have ever had at Autzen. We sat down just as the two fighter jets flew above the stadium indicating the start of the game.
We stayed for the entire game, although many people left early because the Ducks were creaming the Beavers, which ended with a 49-21 win for the Ducks. The weather was warm and the skies were sunny for the whole game, and just like they always say, “It never rains at Autzen Stadium.”
For a recap of the game from the Eugene Daily News Sports Editor, Sam Finley, click here. For a fun video on the Civil War 115th Annual Tailgater, made by Eugene Daily News’ Inside Outlaw, click here.
All photos courtesy of Maria Curtis