The second greatest thing about going to watch the football as a kid is the food. It’s one time when your parents don’t get mad if you want half a cow between two burger buns covered with the greasiest onions invented, or a hot dog the size of a baseball bat that’s way too big for your tiny belly. It’s a tradition, it’s a learning process, it’s what makes you become a man.
Fortunately for me, I got my food on the way and inside the ground, as we had the occasional use of a hospitality box as the mighty Aston Villa. Once inside I knew there would be the same incredible meal served each and every time we went - “chicken in a basket”. Yes, hold on to your seats folks, it was chicken…in a basket. It came with chips too. Awesome.
Unfortunately for my beloved club, my eyes have been opened to the incredible progression in hospitality catering and the best offering I’ve come across to date comes from Chelsea Football Club - oh wow. So, Chelsea, known for having a few bob in their back pocket, partnered up three mega-star chefs - their very own award-winning executive chef at Delta Airlines, Linton Hopkins; London’s Michelin starred chef, James Lowe of Lyle’s in Shoreditch; and also Christ Garrett, the executive chef for the club.
These three geniuses devised a menu that’s stylish but a good fit for a football crowd. There’s a good dosage of meat - some deep fried breadcrumbed mutton to dip in mint sauce and southern style buttermilk fried chicken that completely obliterates my old “chicken in a basket” favourite, which only had chips as an accompaniment unlike Delta and Chelsea’s collard greens and cabbage coleslaw - both damn tasty.
If you’re into your fish then there’s a smoked eel, beetroot & horseradish dish that’s delicately light and gets the back of your mouth dancing, or if you’re into something more hearty and paunch-filling then you can go for the white grits with she crab cream, mussels and prawns. My advice, do both.
Some people may not want the fried food or the seafood, and if that’s you and baked goods is the way you like to go, the Gamekeeper’s Pie is banging. Rabbit, Mallard and Pheasant that falls apart under a blanket of cream mash potato with a little crunchy top layer. I’d pair any of these offering with the roast pumpkin, sitchelton, walnuts and bitter leaves.
Then, just when you’re about to fall asleep in front of the football, properly finish yourself off with two big scoops - one from the pear and sultanate cobbler that’ll make you wonder why you’ve never eaten more of this incredible dish called cobbler before; then an ice cream with boiled peanuts and sourdough with a drizzle of honey on the top.
Now - make sure you have coffee to stay awake for the football, and if your mind it still stuck on the food, then here’s a few recipes that the Delta team have provided us so you can try and recreate what is an awesome day out for food, plus football.