Waiting for his coat after lunch yesterday, Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets, said he’s doing everything he can to make the Denver Broncos feel at home as they prep for the Super Bowl at the Jets’ training center.
“You know what they wanted? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!” Johnson said.
Inside gossip is to be expected at the National Football League’s first dining pop-up, Forty Ate, an intimate space inside the Renaissance Hotel at Times Square run by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group.
Service in the 78-seat room will extend through Saturday. Those without reservations can try a small bites menu in the hotel lobby bar offering Pig Skins in a Blanket for $16. The special decor includes a leather helmet from the early days of the game and bronze busts of Hall of Famers.
Johnson had lunch at a window table overlooking the TKTS Discount Ticket Booth with his lawyer, Ira Akselrad, general counsel of The Johnson Co. Both had the Gridiron Burger (without the brioche bun) and thick fries, $22 on the menu, as well as the $14 Tuscan kale caesar salad.
One table over was Atlanta Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora, formerly of the New York Giants, with his fiancee, Leila Lopes, a former Miss Universe. Umenyiora said the salmon was excellent. The $29 entree came with Beluga lentils and roasted parsnips. “Now’s when you’ve really got to watch your weight, when you’re not playing,” he said.
After lunch, the couple planned to try the simulated toboggan run built outside on the stretch of Broadway temporarily dubbed “Super Bowl Boulevard.”
Other patrons included a couple in their 60s, a father and his high-chair-seated son wearing matching Giants jerseys with Victor Cruz’s number, and the bloggers known as “the Men Who Dine,” Alan Watts and Gennaro Pecchia.
Union Square Events Executive Chef John Karangis, standing in front of a display of Super Bowl rings, said he was hoping for a “good game” on Sunday. He’s rooting for the Broncos because he’d like Peyton Manning to win a second championship.
Outside on 39th Street, next to Super Bowl Boulevard, about 30 people lined up in front of an ice-cream truck painted with the motto “Embrace the Cold,” waiting for free cones.
PepsiCo offered warm shelter -- along with truffle oil-coated Cheetos and Diet Pepsi Bellinis -- at its #PEPCITY tent, a fun mash-up of high-end New York with the company’s snack foods and beverages. Cheetos (both regular and Flamin’ Hot) were paired with popcorn dusted with Cheetos spices, a creation by PepsiCo (PEP:US) executive chef Stephen Kalil. There were also cupcakes topped with dollops of Mountain Dew syrup and crushed Doritos.
Moroccan BBQ Sauce
“For Bellinis specifically, I’m really interested in finding a way of getting it to market,” Seth Kaufman, head of marketing for the Pepsi brand, said of the peach-flavored, clear-soda concoction. “It probably will never show up in every grocery store, but you can see it in high-end food establishments. That type of product is all about celebration. Our brand is about celebration.”
Chef and restaurateur David Burke served Cherry Pepsi barbecue wings. “We make this Moroccan barbecue sauce with black honey, fennel, and a lot of spices. We took some of the honey out and added Cherry Pepsi, and dried cherries and ginger and scallions.” He’s rooting for the Broncos as he’s opening a David Burke Kitchen in Aspen (where he has an apartment) in March.
The tent’s music stage presented some brawny Broadway talent in football uniforms, performing “Empire State of Mind” with a dance routine that included lining up in position.
The art on view includes a skyscraper scene “painted” in Cheetos, as well as a replica of the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City, courtesy of the Snarkitecture art collective. Perfect for photo ops, Victor Cruz stood in front of it signing autographs.
At the Museum of the Moving Image in Long Island City last night, former NFL running back Marshall Faulk walked an audience through a timeline of the Electronic Arts (EA:US) video game “Madden.” Faulk noted that 1998 was the last year when the game was made for Sega Genesis, as well as the date when full-on 3D characters were introduced.
At a party afterward, Faulk sat for a photo session using a contraption manned by game producer Andrew Brown, which will be used to make the likenesses of real-life players in the game. It features hacked TV stands and an array of off-the-shelf cameras, which take images that a computer program stitches together to create a 3D model -- reducing the time artists spend on the likenesses from 10 to 12 days to one day, Brown said, thus allowing them to work on improving other aspects of the game.
The portability provides access; all the Pittsburgh Steelers were photographed during a visit to the team.
A mother of a nine-year-old asked the players on hand, including Michael Vick and Cam Newton, for advice on going up against her son. “Decide on five or six plays and work those plays,” Faulk said.
Vick doesn’t like playing himself in the game. “I play with Peyton Manning or Tom Brady,” said the free agent quarterback.
“I can’t play without myself,” said Newton, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers.
Both players tried some old versions of the game available to play in the museum’s exhibit “Madden NFL: 25 Years and Running,” on view through Feb. 23.
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