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April 17, 2009

Bridge, bunco and poker

dead%20man%27s%20hand.jpgI had no clue that Bucky was such a social butterfly until this post. I'm always amazed at the amount of entertaining other folks do. The last time I had people over for dinner was Christmas...2007. Here's guest poster Bucky. EL

I have my poker group.  Mrs. Bucky has her bridge and bunco groups.  (If you don’t know what bunco is, it’s a game that is something like Yahtzee, but requires neither the skill nor the concentration that Yahtzee demands.  It is mostly, so far as I can tell, a good excuse for a bunch of women to get together and drink copious amounts of wine.  Thus, my nickname for Kaikala’s bunco group:  The Drunken Buncos.)

It doesn’t turn out this way often, but the planets and stars have aligned in such a way that next week our home will be host to the bunco game on Tuesday night, the bridge game on Thursday night and the poker game on Friday night. ...

This schedule does not make for a happy cat.

The Drunken Buncos all show up at 7 p.m., each with a bottle of wine in tow and having eaten dinner, so Mrs. Bucky only has to provide dessert on Tuesday night.  Next week she’s making her special vanilla bean cheesecake, which to me doesn’t go with wine, but I won’t be there anyway, because when the Drunken Buncos are coming, I stay at the hotel across the parking lot from my office.

Her bridge group starts at 6 p.m. with a light supper. They then play bridge for a couple of hours before having dessert.  Kai will be making this chicken dish that she makes. It’s not a casserole, because it’s served cold, but I wouldn’t call it a chicken salad either.  It has chicken, walnuts and green grapes in it, along with some other stuff.  Even though it’s got chicken in it, I like it, so I stay home on bridge group night.  That, plus once in awhile only seven show up, so I sit in.  I love playing bridge.  It's the best card game ever invented.

Friday night the guys will show up around 6 p.m., maybe 6:30. We’re a little more flexible about scheduling.  When everyone is there, they will go once around the table while I grill rib-eyes. 

I don’t know yet whether we will have fries or onion rings with the steaks, but we’ll have the little garlic loaves that I like to make, with cheese melted over the top.  After dinner, we’ll play until midnight or so and then we’ll go to the Waffle House for breakfast.

This is a lot of entertaining for us in one week.  I probably won’t be in the Sandbox much next week.  Well, except for Tuesday night.

(Photo credit: Uncle Larry)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 12:30 PM | | Comments (36)


I'll take the bridge game with the poker food, please. Then the bunco dessert.

I'd go with onion rings with the steaks and garlic loaves (which sound very tasty), that way there is a vegetable. Sort of.

It has chicken, walnuts and green grapes in it, along with some other stuff

Sounds like a Waldorf salad to me, Bucky.

My regular poker game is foodless; the organizer is a bit of a stickler. However, when I host, there's usually something on the grill...

Ok, ok...Mrs. Bucky just read this post and said, "What? Of course it's chicken salad. What do you think chicken salad is?"

And it turns out those aren't chopped walnuts, they are chopped pecans.

In my defense, I know a rib-eye when I see it.

Sounds like a Waldorf salad to me, Bucky.

I thought a Waldorf salad was the one with carrots and raisins?

Even though it’s got chicken in it, I like it

You don't like chicken, Bucky?

Bucky, you brought back memories of my younger days -- playing poker through the night, sustained by overstuffed corned beef sandwiches, mountains of potato salad and copious quantities of beer. Followed by an hour or two of refreshing sleep, a raid on Dunkin Donuts and then (heaven help me) off to work.

You don't like chicken, Bucky?

I see Bucky as a Beef Guy.

When I was a wee lad, my father's poker nights involved Limburger cheese and onions (along with beer, of course). The kitchen had a certain aura the following morning.

I thought a Waldorf salad was the one with carrots and raisins?

No, that's carrot & raisin salad.

This is Waldorf Salad

Michael A. Gray -- was that back in your Mad Men days?

Ever grill some top sirloins? They are the best. I get them from Omaha Steaks now and then.

My step-mother in Sun City Center talks about her "bunco" group. Maybe the spelling is different, but she comes home with interesting embroidery when it's over. Is "bunco" code for ladies of a certain age gathering to drink wine and doing almost anything else together??

EL - your initial assumption was correct; I'm not a social butterfly. This poker group is six guys. I've been friends with one of them for 45 years. The one who joined the group last started playing with us in 1988. These five guys, plus two others that I fish with, constitute my entire social circle.

Kaikala, on the other hand, recently exchanged email addresses with a woman she met in a long checkout line at the grocery store.

Lissa - as usual, you demonstrate clear-thinking and organization skills.

Rob - I'm not much for fowl. Eve is right, I'm a beef guy.

Michael A. Gray - in our younger days we would start the whole thing at about 10:00 p.m. and after the Waffle House breakfast, go play 18 holes of golf.

Hal - I think Waldorf salad has apples in it, doesn't it? At least the Waldorf that Kai makes does.

MD Canon - bunco is a dice game, played with three dice. But I suspect you are correct. It is mostly an excuse to get together and do something else.

I know Grauls makes a chiken salad with grapes and nuts. Not Grape Nuts, which is probably the worst cereal ever made, but I digress. Anyway, I think Grauls uses almonds in their chicken salad. There may also be dill in there as well.

45 years? Bucky you are way older than I thought.

As for the chicken salad with grapes. Not necessary the grapes.

But even worse, peeled grapes, at least from someone you don't know, and don't know anything about their hygiene.

I had a boss that used to bring me lunch from a neighborhood place, I presumed so that I would keep working during lunch. He liked to choose my lunch too. And he kept bringing me a chicken salad sandwich that contained peeled grapes. And all I could think about was: who peeled these grapes? were their fingernails clean? is there any way to peel grapes except using one's fingernails? is there ANY way this chicken salad with peeled grapes could be sanitary? No.

Plus the sandwich always had sprouts, even though I told him I didn't like sprouts and didn't trust their cleanliness either (this was after some E.Coli outbreaks involving sprouts).

He was from New York. Which I guess means being pushy and ignoring people's wishes.

Anyway, would you eat peeled grapes not knowing who peeled them or how clean their hands/nails were??

Hey! Some of us like Grape Nuts! Plain out of the box or with some plain yogurt and maybe some fresh berries...crunchy and tasty.

Aces and eights. Not good.

Yes, Laura Lee, that was back when I was slaving away at a PR firm not unlike the ad agency in "Mad Men." In fact, I left the firm when one of my fellow poker players offered me a job, heading up the publicity department of a large company, first in New York, later in London. "Why me?" I asked. "Because you played your cards right," he shot back. Talk about winning at poker.

Poker chow...always refer back to Oscar Madison(in the movie).."I got green sandwiches and brown sandwichs" after Felix moves in its
"tuna salad with the crust removed"
My wife is also a Bunco player which the sons and I refer to as Drunco

Grape Nuts are useful as "filler" when making Cat Poop Cookies.

LJ - yes, 45 years. He was childhood friend, we probably drove 50,000 miles in high school, dragging Main St. at night, a college roommate, best man at my wedding and godfather to Bucky, Jr. Oh, and these grapes aren't peeled.

Bob - you know your poker, but I'm not a supstitious person.

Hue - I see a pattern developing here, with MD Canon's and your input.

Only in the fall, when I can get really crisp, tart apples from the Farmers' Market (thank you, Dave Reid!), do I make my Waldorf salad. No grapes in mine, only apples, walnuts, and celery, and for an added taste, fennel stalks, chopped like the celery. Nice counterpoint to the apples! Try it! Great with grilled tuna steaks.

I found this old Grape Nut commercial that touts the natural goodness of the cereal. Who knew that Cat Tails were also edible?

LJ, that sounds like a control freak boss. Hope you dumped them. There are better bosses out there for you.

I was such a Euell Gibbons fan as a kid. Had all of his books. Drove my mother crazy wanting to cook cat tails and such.

I was invited to play Bunco with a group years ago. It was fine, I won my share, but I didn't fit in when they would sit around afterward to drink and talk, as the conversations were always completely about their kids. No other topics were of interest to them. Nice people, but after a while it was really boring. I kept suggesting we play for big bucks, hoping I could make a killing and quit.

RoCK - Thanks...I had forgotten all about ol Euell Gibbons.

Ah, Euell Gibbons -- does anybody remember the merciless parodies of him which Johnny Carson did on a regular basis? (To be fair, Johnny also booked him as a frequent guest.)

Euell Gibbons, he tried to do right, but it just didn't happen.

Grape Nut cereal, to me , its like what it would be like to eat gravel.

But hey, I had the greatest round of golf ever today! Plus, I got sunburned big time and I was home by 12:30.

Bucky, a lot of people have forgotten about Euell Gibbons, including this lady.

Bunco, if planned with thoughtful consideration, is certainly all about the drinking :-)
I used to be in a fantastic Bunco group. We would eat wonderful food, have wine and blender drinks, play a few rounds, stop to eat some more and make more blender drinks, play a few more rounds, than stop to figure out the winners. There were two ladies that drank more than they should have, but they never drove at the end of the evening.
I miss my Bunco!!!

The trick to eating Grape Nuts is to pour them in a bowl, drench them with milk, do something useful for a half hour and come back to your Nuts when they're nice and soggy. A sprinkling of blackberries, blueberries or raspberries makes 'em even tastier.

Hey Bucky, when you go to the Waffle House, do you order your hash browns smothered, chopped, or what? Out west, do the waitresses make a show out of shouting your order across the room? That was a big thing down in GA when I was first introduced to the joys of Waffle House. We don't have a lot of them in the Baltimore area, though.

I always have a waffle, so I don't have hash browns. I have bacon, too. mmmm...bacon.

No, the waitresses don't shout across the room...they just write down the order on the little ticket and hang it up for the cook.

they just write down the order on the little ticket and hang it up for the cook.

That is the way they do it here too.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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