by Tommy Klauber
Sitting on the sidelines on a beautiful day while enjoying one of sports’ most spectacular sights-a polo game-should be enough on its own, but it seems we all like a nosh or two with our thundering hooves.
As I look over the delicious spread of Asian Chicken Sliders, carved Hanger Steak, House Smoked Trout, Orecchiette Salad, Corn Muffins and the “Chocolate Fix’s”, while anticipating a hard charging game and working up a major appetite on the sidelines.
I start to wonder if there is someone else at another polo club thinking the same thing I am...that life is good!
Polo is played on nearly every continent, and that thought made my culinary curiosity kick in...what are they eating while watching polo in Barbados or Cape Town or Bangkok? So I set about checking it out, as any good culinarian would, and I hope my investigation will help give your tailgate spread some global influences.
I hit the Internet looking for some answers from the worldwide polo community and posted the question: What do you serve at your tailgate that reflects the unique flavor of your region, country or club?
It should come as no surprise to the “real” polo spectators that the first responses were in the beverage category. Claudia Hodari described the national beverage of Argentina, “mate,” to me: “In Argentina, more than eat, we drink matŽ while tailgating,” she says. “Five or six of us sit around watching polo while one ‘cebe’ pours the hot water. We pass the matŽ, or gourd, around and around, each taking his or her turn slurping (which is politically correct), to the last drop of the bitter ‘yerba,’ a tea-like herb, from the matŽ. If they do not want another turn, they say ‘gracias,’ and won’t be served again on the next round.
“With matŽ, we eat ‘galletas de grasa’; salty, rich crackers,” Hodari continues. “The yerba matŽ, and thermos are carried in a specially made pouch for such traveling purposes. Many of us usually bring our own matŽ kits to the polo matches. Our excursions range everywhere from our regular club practices to Ellerstina’s Gold Cup, the Hurlingham Open and even to Palermo. It’s especially important on cooler days. If no one in the car comes prepared, we will often stop at a gas station on the way and buy ‘matŽ listo,’ fast-food style matŽ, served in a plastic cup, versus a gourd, with a straw and a Styrofoam
thermos. Hot water is available for free at all the gas stations across Argentina.”
Sandra Funk says the British way of enjoying the good polo life is to drink Pimm’s Cup No.1 while stomping divots. She shares the recipe from the famous 1989 book by John Lloyd, The Pimm’s Book of Polo. Mix 1 part Pimm’s Cup No.1 with 3 parts chilled lemonade, add some mint, cucumber, orange and strawberry. It takes only one sip to “tickle your fancy,” Funk says.
Down Barbados way, the polo flavor is tropical and definitely spicier! The island claimed by the British Crown in 1625 has a rich polo heritage, dating back to 1884. Conkies and Bejan fish are the snack du jour when taking in the finals of the Barbados Open 14 goal finals at Holders Field.
At the Brittany Polo Club, playing on the beach is a unique way to experience the sport. Sipping Muscadet and slurping oysters with a lobster pot au feu makes Michel Albin a popular man at his beach blanket polo picnic.
Polo is a global game both on the field and at the tailgate, says Romeo Gutierrez from Club de Polo Monterrey. “Here in my club sometimes we have Mexican antojitos and sometimes we have Oriental food,” Gutierrez says. “It depends on the humor for the event and how classy it will be... and you know that Oriental is the best for that finger food quality. Ha!”
While enjoying the game here on the west coast of Florida, we, too, can add our culinary heritage to the game...fresh stone crab claws with classic mustard sauce, locally grown tomato and basil salad topped off with a great piece of key lime pie, Cuban sandwiches with a very local flavor, or a refreshing watermelon salad with a mint twist. With a little imagination, the sky’s the limit!
Asian Chicken Sliders
2 lbs. ground chicken thighs
1/8 C. soy sauce
2 T. rice wine vinegar
2 T. aged rice wine vinegar
2 T. ginger (micro plane)
2 T. sesame oil
1/4 cup scallions (small circles)
1 t. mint (minced)
1 t. fish sauce
1 t. sriacha
1 C. panko
2 heads napa cabbage
3 carrots (thin strips with veg peeler)
3 cucumber (think strips with veg peeler)
5 bok choy
2 bunches of scallions (cut into 1/2 inch strips)
1 green apple (peel and slice)
2 large oranges (deseeded, peel, thin cut slices)
1 lemon (deseeded, peel, thin cut slices)
1 cup sambal
1/4 C sesame oil
1 C. rice wine vinegar
1 C. + 1 T. kosher salt
1/4 cup black and white sesame seeds (toasted)
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 arbol chile (crushed with seeds)
1/3 C. fish sauce
2 C. hoisin sauce
1/2 C ketchup
2 C. honey
2 C. red wine vinegar
1/4 C grated ginger root
1 oz. minced garlic
1 oz. sesame oil
Place all ingredients, except for the bread crumbs, in a bowl and mix
with your hands. Add panko and mix with your hands until completely mixed. Let it rest in refrigerator for a time. Take out of refrigerator and form 2 oz. patties.
Mix salt and cabbage, and let sit in refrigerator for at least 3 hours (best if overnight). Rinse with cold water and dry. Place the carrot, cucumber, bok choy, scallions and cabbage in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with remaining salt. Then add the apple, oranges, and lemon. Stir. Set aside.
In a robot coupe, quickly make a paste with the sambal, arbol chile, garlic, sesame oil, sesame seeds, rice wine vinegar, and fish sauce. Mix all ingredients together and place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours_-best if overnight.
Combine the hoisin sauce, honey, ketchup, vinegar, ginger, garlic and sesame oil in a saucepot and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. On a hot griddle or sautŽ pan, sear the sliders for 3-4 minutes. Place on bun, top with hoisin sauce and kim chi. Serve immediately.
with Olive Oil & Herbs
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. Thai fish sauce
2 T. maple syrup
11 lbs. hanger steak, trimmed and divided in two
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 oz. small potatoes, quartered
5 T herbaceous extra virgin olive oil
6 oz. greens, preferably baby spinach
1/2 C. coarsely chopped herbs
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
Combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce and maple syrup. Coat steak with the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Let marinate 2 hours at room temperature. An hour before serving, heat oven to 375¡. Coat potatoes with 2 T. oil, salt and pepper. Roast until crisp. Keep warm. Heat grill. Grill steaks. Set aside. Briefly sautŽ greens in 1T. of oil. Drain well. Place on dinner plates. Slice steaks, and arrange on greens. Top with potatoes. Warm remaining oil in a small skillet. Add herbs and lemon zest. Cook about 30 seconds and pour herbs and oil over potatoes and steaks. Serve. SPC