THE GAME: UCLA vs USC
A couple of days ago, a friend sent me an email asking my opinion on Hak's "Chipotle Bourbon" BBQ sauce. I'd never tried the sauce, though I was certainly aware of its existence.
I mentioned the other day that I frequently browse the condiment aisles of supermarkets at which I'm shopping. Hell, sometimes I'm not even shopping; sometimes I'll be out for a walk, pass by a market, and stop in to look.
So I've noticed this line of sauces before, but never bought any, for several reasons.
Actually, just two reasons: First, the price tag is between 7 and 9 dollars, depending on the store. I have no problem spending that kind of money for a sauce that I love, or something that comes recommended to me. But for a sauce about which I have no information? I try to keep those purchases at 4 bucks and under.
Second, I don't like the label. I fully realize that may sound like a strange reason to reject a product. But the label is cold and vaguely modernist, invoking the memory of credits from some forgotten late-90s movie. Maybe one of those Steven Seagal direct-to-video numbers, the kind to which my friends and I used to invent drinking games. ("Drink every time Seagal exhibits a skill in the film that he probably doesn't possess in real life" was a particularly inspired rule of my creation, and one which inevitably resulted in inebriation before the movie had reached the halfway point. Which was usually around 36 minutes with those films.)
You get the point. The sauce never called out to me. But now I had a reason to try it. And it was surprisingly good. Chipotle has become ubiquitous over the last 15 years, and its use as an ingredient often overpowers the other flavors in a dish. I found this to be a wonderfully nuanced amount of chipotle, nicely complementing the bourbon. I decided it would taste great with some chicken, which I just happened to have in the fridge.
NOTES ON THE FOOD:
- I had roasted a chicken the day before and there was plenty left; I chopped up one of the breasts and heated it in a pan while tossed in the sauce.
- I shredded some cabbage in my Cuisinart mini-prep and stirred in Bob's Big Boy's tartar sauce.
- Originally I was thinking of making sliders, but I wanted something a little more substantial, so I picked up King's Hawaiian Mini Sub Rolls.
- The chicken and tartar sauce were joined by a scattering of pickles to provide some tang and crunch.
- These were so damn good, I ate the two in the picture and then made myself another one. I considered making a fourth, but was able to restrain myself.
NOTES ON THE GAME:
- USC and UCLA are pretty similar teams: lots of talent, good offense, and average (USC) to bad (UCLA) defense. It should be a high-scoring and somewhat entertaining game.
- I went to the first USC basketball game at the Galen Center... more than 10 years ago. It's a little hard to believe that it's been open that long. I really like that arena. (Especially when compared to the Sports Arena.)
- A common theme for UCLA this season has been going up by double-digits and then getting really sloppy. They've done it again; after being up by 10 a few minutes ago they are now down by 9. In some games, they've been able to turn it around in time to win. Last weekend against Arizona, they were not.
- USC is up by 12 at the half, despite the fact that UCLA is out-rebounding them and shooting a better percentage from the field. UCLA can play better in the second half... but so can USC.
- UCLA is averaging 11.9 turnovers per game; they had 13 in the first half.
- I'm becoming a broken record on this, but Top 10 teams should not give up 50 points in a half. (Though I think after the last three halves, it is obvious that UCLA is a Top 10 team in name only.)
- UCLA goes to a four-guard lineup in the second half but their rhythm is just off. USC's offense is running patient and smooth, and they're shooting more than 40% from behind the arc.
- UCLA outscored USC in the second half, but it wasn't enough. The damage was done by allowing that 50-point first half.
- I honestly have no idea what will happen to UCLA from here. Other teams have figured out that they simply don't play defense or box out. These are the kind of stretches that cost coaches their jobs.
- USC had a rough start to conference play, but if they continue improving, they should get a high seed in March, maybe as high as a 5 or 6 (depending on the conference tournament).