The 599 people (official attendance was determined by counting the number of left-over Cafe 641 menus) who joined Olindo Mare (pronounced Oooohlinnnndoooo Maaaaaaaaaaray) and other spares in the Superdome last night were treated to the following:
PREMATURE UNFURLING: Ms. Rita did all she could to convince Ol' Man Benson to wait on dropping his 2006 NFC South Championship banner until September 24th when it might actually be seen by more than 53 people. But Benson gets what Benson wants.
SUPERB BALL STRIKING: Missed in the fury of boos that followed Mare's 3rd consecutive field goal miss was the former Dolphins' kicker's oversized quad muscles. Said Chef's youngest brother, "Damn. Mare strikes a mean ball."
COSTUME MALFUNCTIONS: Chef knew he was in for a long night when his pre-season stache slipped his lip after getting wet in the rain AND when the emergency spirit gum vial spilled all over his forearm and hands, gluing them together AND when his beautiful daughter kicked over a $7 Budweiser after only one sip.
HOT PINK & GOLD SPOONS: Chef worked overtime to create the perfect tribute for an 11-year-old Who Dat from Section 635. Ms. Cliette traveled to Jackson, MS this summer to scout and photograph the Black and Gold, with father Mr. Clio and brother Clio III. Her reward: a custom Cafe 641 hot pink and gold spoon that was missing its last coat of gold paint (sorry Ms. Cliette).
Another of these tokens went to Cafe regular Jon's daughter, who turned out for both preseason games and was louder than most on her row. After Proud Mary led the Cafe in a 4-finger salute at the close of the third quarter, the youngster climbed seven rows to ask:
"Chef, if I leave before the end of the fourth quarter, can I still keep this spoon?"
"Bless you child."
Proud father, Jon, who is a lover of all things Deuce Upside Your Head, reminded Chef that he created a musical tribute to the Saints and Cafe 641 just before driving all night to attend the NFC Championship debacle in Chicago. Jon has been asked to re-assemble his band for a 30-minute performance up and down the escalators following each home game.
EMPTY TABLES: Chef received an unwelcome text message midway through the first quarter: "the restaurant is not very crowded -- hope the food is good" Sure, reservations were suspended due to the light turnout, but most disappointing was the no-show of a chef from John Besh's new restaurant, Luke, who had been given two complimentary seats in Cafe 641. We don't care that your boss competes on Iron Chef. You want anymore free tickets to the Cafe, then we best be eatin' free at your swanky kitchen.
BEAR SIGHTING: While climbing down from the Dome heights, Chef ran into the usual rival fans at the escalator traffic jam, thanked them for traveling from Miami, and then stopped, mouth gaping. There, standing in front of him was a true to life Bear fan, grinning in a white "NFC Champions" t-shirt. After fighting off an initial urge to break off the tip of a golden spoon and spear the animal, Chef politely thanked him for his patronage and inquired if he might be hungry. Bear fan said, "Sure, I could eat." "Good," Chef continued, handing the stupid grin a menu. "Then maybe you could help me figure out how the hell you supposed to cook up that sorry piece of meat that runs your offense. Every Rex Grossman recipe put to work in the Cafe test kitchen tastes like shit."