Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 25, 2014

Rating Congress’ Super Bowl Food and Booze Bets

Super Bowl XLVII is nigh, which explains why silly food bets have been flying around the Capitol all week.

SPOILER ALERT: Although we are still some 50-odd hours away from kickoff, late night host Jimmy Fallon’s prognosticating pooches have already awarded Sunday’s championship game to Charm City:

(Something tells us the NFL/sports-entertainment complex will go through with the contest anyway.)

The only constant in all the friendly wagers brokered by bicoastal lawmakers is Maryland crab cakes — a sublime bartering chip, as anyone who’s hoisted a forkful of delectable, pan-seared jumbo lump crustacean to their lips whilst hanging amid Baltimore’s charms can attest.

Regardless of which team claims the Lombardi Trophy, the Baltimore Ravens or San Francisco 49ers, Maryland Republican Rep. Andy Harris has already lost because under the conditions of his terribly lopsided bet, a Ravens defeat will cost him his favorite crab cakes (no mention of the actual producer), while a home-team victory nets him — wait for it — a box of taffy from House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s home district of Bakersfield. (A taffy factory? Maybe.)

The real action is over on the Senate side.

Maryland Democrats Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin threw down the gauntlet first, wooing California Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein with a treasure trove of epicurean delights, including Heavy Seas Beer, crab cakes from Faidley’s Seafood and incredibly fudgy Berger cookies.

Boxer and Feinstein responded in kind, but failed to fill in several blanks, offering up Dungeness crab, sourdough bread, wine from Napa Valley and cheeses from ‘Northern California. When HOH asked what types of wine and cheese might be in play, a Boxer aide suggested any prospective payouts would likely be a game-time decision.

While Mikulski seemed fine with allowing her West Coast colleagues to dictate the terms — “They’ll do okay,” she said of the ultimate selections — we elected to play devil’s advocate with the open-ended agreement.

Napa Valley is home to some of the most sought after cult wines in the world — the kind of ultra exclusive pours people pay dearly for. If Cardin and Mikulski wanted to play hardball, they could request to whet their potentially winning whistles with the 2005 Marcassin Estate chardonnay ($300), 2007 Sloan Estate Proprietary red ($600) or, the crown jewel of California opulence, the 2007 Screaming Eagle cabernet sauvignon Napa Valley ($1,500). Master sommelier Kathy Morgan, who is apparently less greedy than we, suggested going with the 2007 Dana Estates Lotus Vineyard, another cult cabernet sauvignon she estimates might set one back around $350.

In terms of coveted dairy, Righteous Cheese founder Carolyn Stromberg said she would dig her heels in for the seasonal vivace, a sheep- and goat’s-milk blend handcrafted by cheese-maker Soyoung Scanlan at Andante Dairy. “I’ve had several cheeses from Andante, and they’re always absurdly delicious,” Stromberg assured us of the revered Northern California producer.

Although appreciative of the high praise, Scanlan tried to shepherd us away from vivace, noting that it is not currently in production and therefore unattainable. She suggested, instead, that true cheese lovers seek out her artisanal contralto or cavatina lines, both of which run $35-$40 a pound.

Then again, fancy cheeses and heady wines might be wasted on Mikulski.

She told HOH she plans to spend game day with friends and that she fully intends to get her snack on.

“I’m a chicken wing-, Doritos-eating-, guacamole-dipping sports fan,” Mikulski boasted to HOH.

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