Just in case you were out orbiting one of Saturn’s many moons in the last number of weeks, the biggest unofficial holiday of the year, aka Super Bowl Sunday, has just recently past. And the next really big American sports holiday, the Madness of March, is upon us. Both of these events are very communal in nature; watching them by yourself takes away from the excitement and fun. For me, the most communal of foods to have on hand for a Super Bowl or for a NCAA basketball tourney game is a big plate of chicken wings. Sure, beer would be nice, and an Eagles victory in the Super Bowl would be outer-worldly (I would probably be orbiting one of those aforementioned moons if such a thing happened) – but friends and wings are the essentials.
This notion was driven home to me recently when we got together with some old friends, one of which was recovering from a serious car accident. It’s nothing short of a miracle that he’s still here, much less able to get around. This was the first time he had been able to get out of the rehab facility and enjoy a meal with friends. Do you know what he wanted? Wings. So off we all went down to Charlie’s Bar in Somers Point for a big ol’ pile of wings.
Charlie’s is most certainly a local yokel kind of place. “At the Shore since ’44” they will tell you; Charlie Taylor opened the place, and a Taylor has been running it ever since. Its current setup is very much like a local sports bar: lots of TV screens showing the games, the bartender has on his sports jersey, etc. We were there because we had been told that they make some tasty chicken wings, and they give you four sauce options: your basic Buffalo, a hot sauce, a BBQ sauce, and a garlicky scampi sauce. Being a rather large group, we went for the Chicken Little (35 wings) and asked for all four sauces.
The wings came out unsauced and oh so crispity. There’s just something about nicely crisp chicken wings that is just so darn wonderful – that crunchy skin with dark meat in every bite hits those baser emotional notes. As for the sauces…although all the sauce choices were not a hit with everyone around the table, each person found one or two to their liking. And with four sauce choices, there was much discussion (friendly, I assure you) about which one was the best. The scampi was a novel idea, although I wouldn’t get it again. The Buffalo sauce hit all the necessary flavor points. The hot sauce tasted more like it should have been on a tamale than a chicken wing but was oddly appealing. The winner for me might have been the BBQ sauce, which had enough sweet and vinegar twang to it. But, when I really think about it, the best thing being served that afternoon was the connection with friends. Wings make wonderful kindling for the fire of happy, lively conversation.
So when you’re planning your weekend on basketball watching, I hope you are getting together with your buds to enjoy the action. And, you got to have wings as part of the equation – a truly American delicacy for the truly American sporting holidays.
Charlie’s Bar & Restaurant – 800 Shore Road, Somers Point. 609.927.FOOD.