High-quality ingredients added

Australia's hardest hitting Hammond Organ trio Cookin' On 3 Burners. No Gary, really, they are Australia's hardest-hitting Hammond Organ trio, Cookin' On 3 Burners.  


Tonight is about adding value.

If our mid-week, mid-tournament sabbatical taught us anything it is that the consumer is a desiccated sponge longing to sop up the last drop of unctuous material satisfaction.  Okay, not a pleasant metaphor, but when we delve into my mind it's not always perfect Pavard half-volley laser beam. Sometimes it's Cavani  face goal.  


So rub out the pain, re-adjust the nasal bones and prepare for an extra dose of good stuff. 


Don't think about the  'original but familiar content and invariable quality' of the already superlative blog. Think about if that content were actually better. Not better in the actual sense, but an improved  version of your image of the ideal World Cup blog. In other words, a better version of your image of what the ideal World Cup Blog could be. And take that times 2 because you know that's what you want. What you need. What you are reading right now.  Ummm..... Ummmm. Ummm. 


Day 17: The Games
Saturday’s matches included 10 goals, only one a penalty and no extra time. It seems to me this tournament has featured some of the most skillful goals of any World Cup. While the games are over for two of the biggest stars of the tournament, I can’t imaging enthusiasm waning.


I fully expect GH to expound upon his Ronaldo prognostication/curse so I won’t dwell on the Portugal show pony. Suffice it to say he was spot on, and a bold timing as #7 had just torn up the first two opponents when the prediction came down.


Below are the remaining sides in order of betting favorites. (Bold in action on Sunday).

France, looked awesome, already in the quarter finals
Brazil, Nemar, superstars remain.
Spain, have the smoothest ride to the final
Belgium, Should take care of Japan, will probably have to beat Brazil, France and Spain for the cup.
England, May come down to Spain in the Semis.
Croatia, Monday against Denmark may be their only chance at another win.
Uruguay, already into the quarters, if they upset France they could be the dark horse of the semis.  
Colombia, their first match against England may be their toughest until the final.
Switzerland, Toss-up with Sweden to see who plays England for a spot in the semi.
Sweden, See above.
Russia, if the home team beats Spain, they could book a spot in the finals. Not likely
Mexico, may be the best team to exit the round of 16, as they always do.
Denmark, They need four upsets to claim the cup.
Japan, See above.


Bold Prediction:
Alright Gary, you’ve kindled my competitive juices. On Tuesday England will give up a penalty in extra time to go down 0-1 to Colombia. After scoring a late equalizer in the 117th minute it will go to PKs and, for once, England will win and face Switzerland for a spot in the Semis.

On to the Beer
The French football was better than the beer today. I sipped a Kronenbourg Blanc.  This wit beer seems heavy on the sweet orange with some added non-beer-like flavoring.  The blue cobalt bottle was the best thing about this.


Warming Up:
Russia needs all the home cooking possible in their battle with Spain. What better to serve with that meal than a Baltika 6, Porter?


It’s a stout-dark, light-bodied ale of 7% abv that efficiently scrubs the Kronenbourg off my tongue. We can find tastier Porters, but Poland didn’t make the final 16.

I won’t attempt to review this beer because, well, let's just say there was an unfortunate incident that Gary won't let me forget about. I'll let the brewer describe in this by-no-means-translated passage that outlines the pleasures awaiting the Baltika 6 drinker: "The Baltika Selected is a new image combined with the original but familiar content and invariable quality. Brewed with added high-quality ingredients and having a racy flavor these varieties are meant for unhurried drinking in sedate and relaxed surroundings." In proper translation, VALUE ADDED!


Years ago a brewery tourist from Russia gave me a few worthless rubles and a story of how the family bought their beer. He took empty milk jugs to wait in line behind a grocery store for the beer tanker to arrive. I don't believe unhurried drinking in sedate and relaxed surroundings exists in any states of the former Soviet Union. 


 Montevideo, Minnesota

Artist: Movistar Uruguay

Nation: Uruguay

Album: N/A (2016)


If Saturday's matches ended up being the height of the tournament, I think I'd be OK with that. Tension, athleticism, drama throughout, and so many of those strikes were things of such beauty and class. Even Cavani's celebratory leap in front of the supporters after his second strike -- just poetry.


It helped that both teams I favored -- slightly in the case of France and considerably in the case of Uruguay -- prevailed. And then there was the small matter of my Ronaldo prediction bearing out. Although I don't understand the thing about the shorts.


Uruguay surprised me by looking a class apart on Saturday. It's true that Portugal's finishing was off all day and that Uruguay squeaked out a couple of lucky moments. But man, they looked good. Strong, disciplined, coordinated, cohesive, enjoying themselves.


And clinical. That's a word that I haven't had much cause to use much this tournament. I don't know that I saw much apprehension on the Uruguayan's faces or in their play. The seemed to know why they were there and what they intended to do. Suarez's big grin late, when they were protecting a one-goal lead, said everything about their demeanor. Ice cold. 


Speaking of clinical, in this post I'd intended to spotlight a Uruguayan musician I've enjoyed for the past few years named Jorge Drexler. His music draws on Uruguayan music styles alongside others -- jazz, bossa nova, downtempo, etc. A lot of it is cool, chilled, sophisticated and interesting, It's especially great stuff in Minnesota winter, I find, Look him up and start where I did, with his 2006 release "12 Segundos de Oscuridad," which contains a Uruguayan slant on Radiohead's "High and Dry," 


Oh, and the "clinical" reference for Drexler: He also happens to be an otolaryngologist. As one does. 

But while I was thinking about that, I remembered this video from a while back that bridges my part of the world and Uruguay. This little film made the news here in Minnesota and deservedly so. It's not a song, I recognize, but I think I can divert a little, especially for something as fun and charming as this. I won't spoil it for you other than to say it's a promotional spot put together by the folks at the big telecommunications company Movistar Uruguay. And, as with the World Cup, and as with music, it celebrates what we have in common and the good that can happen when we reach across cultures. Kudos to the crew who put it together and came up with the great idea. 


Poignant moment toward the end of that match as Ronaldo helped the injured Cavani off the field. Class, that. I hope Cavani's recovered for the next match and ready bring Uruguay some more magic. And I hope the other matches in the Group of 16 can measure up. 



Nat’s Kitchen


As one would expect two in-form teams clash in the late game on Sunday. Denmark will be underdogs to Croatia so we’d better eat while they’re around to enjoy it. Biksemad is the Danish version of hash (Tossed together food).


The dish itself is composed of leftovers from the night before, traditionally pork is the meat of choice. Ingredients are coarsely cut and easily discernible, unlike American canned corned beef hash (a guilty pleasure of mine when it comes to breakfast.)

Served with a fried egg, sliced pickled beets, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup or Béarnaise sauce. Add a cold Carlsberg and you just might fight off that post victory hangover.



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