November 12, 2010

Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Preview and Pick



Mississippi State Bulldogs
(7-2, 5-4 ATS)

Alabama Crimson Tide
(7-2, 5-4 ATS)

Both the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide have identical records both SU and ATS this year, but the two aren’t necessarily on a level playing field according to the oddsmakers on Saturday. They’ll meet in a bitter NCAA football betting rivalry in the SEC this weekend.

The Bulldogs have put together one of the most surprising seasons in the country this year, and there is reason to believe that HC Dan Mullen could be coaching this game to earn National Coach of the Year honors. MSU has already gone on the road this year and beaten the Florida Gators, and it has taken out the Georgia Bulldogs at home as well. Beating teams in the SEC West has been hard this season, but both the Auburn Tigers and LSU Tigers had an awful time trying to beat it. Of course, this was before we knew that all three teams were going to be ranked in the Top 20 in the middle of November… QB Chris Relf has done well this year, throwing for 913 yards and rushing for 495 more, accounting for nine total TDs. However, this team belongs to RB Vick Ballard. Even though Ballard only has 93 carries this year, he is averaging 6.8 yards per tote and has 13 scores. Defensively, the Dogs rank No. 9 in major college football at 17.0 points per game.

Something was definitely wrong this year for the Crimson Tide, and it has shown once and for all now. The LSU Tigers knocked them off last week to end their national championship dreams, but a spot in a BCS bowl game is definitely there for the taking. The Tide have three home games left this year, and they are 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS on the campaign there. However, RB Mark Ingram looks a shell of the man that won the Heisman Trophy last season, and it is a real harm to Alabama. He has rumbled for 641 yards and nine TDs this year, but obviously, these are nothing like the 1,700+ yards that he had last year. WR Julio Jones has finally shown up as a monster this year, and he has 55 catches, 758 yards, and four TDs. Defensively, Alabama is slumping in spite of the fact that it ranks No. 17 in the country in total ‘D’ at 307.1 yards per game and No. 5 in scoring at 13.8 points per game. The key is going to be whether HC Nick Saban can get his men up for these next two games, as there is no doubt that they’ll be alive for the Iron Bowl against the Auburn Tigers, especially if they are the No. 1 team in the land.

Click Here To Receive Bonuses Only Available to Bang the Book Customers @ Bookmaker! NCAA Football Betting Fans: Get Up To a 100% Deposit Bonus By Clicking This Link!

Though conventional wisdom suggests that the Tide are going to come out and just roll the Bulldogs due to the fact that they are angry, but we aren’t so sure. The game after losing to the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Ole Miss Rebels challenged Alabama. Mississippi State might do the same as well. This is a boatload of points to be giving a team that could still legitimately challenge for a BCS bowl spot as well.

NCAA Football Free Pick: Mississippi State Bulldogs +13

CHEF AND MENU AT CHICAGO’S SPRUCE RATE FOUR STARS.(Lifestyle)(Review)

The Capital Times July 26, 1997 Identifying the best restaurants in Chicago, clearly a garden of culinary delights, is a little like trying to pick out the most perfect petal on a rose.

One is as spectacularly sublime as the next, thus to choose one is a disservice to the remaining blossom.

A difficult task, perhaps, but not an impossible one. After a little due diligence on our part (no, don’t thank us), we think we may have found that petal. Moreover, we think it may be one of the most perfect petals we’ve yet had the pleasure to pluck.

Chicago Magazine first tipped us off, citing the 14-month-old Spruce as one of the Windy City’s best new eateries. The kitchen is manned by 28-year-old wunderkind Keith Luce, who spent time at Le Cirque and Le Cote Basque in New York City and West Virginia’s famed Greenbriar Resort before serving a two-year stint as sous chef at the Clinton White House.

What’s more, the restaurant already has garnered plentiful national attention. USA Today ran a recent piece about the 10 most outstanding restaurant meals in the country. Chef Luce’s ginger-roasted lobster dumplings in lime broth with sprouts was on the list. It was the only entry from Chicago or anywhere in the Midwest, for that matter.

Clearly, this would be a meal to remember.

To do this right, we recruited a baker’s dozen of discriminating diners to sample the young chef’s wares. The Gold Coast restaurant is located at the subterranean level of a professional building, all glass, light oak and fresh flowers. We were ushered to a private, glassed-in dining room that looked out over the main dining area, lit by candles and the fading day through sidewalk-level windows.

The modest menu was divided into first and second courses, representing a fusion of various contemporary cuisines.

The appetizer course ranged from grilled quail breast with a wheatberry salad, vine ripened tomatoes and marinated olives ($6.50) to ginger and lime leaf roasted Maine lobster on a cucumber, tomato and French bean ragout with spicy vanilla sauce ($12.50). This was the closest we found to the USA Today entree.

The entree course was even more adventurous. Personal favorites of Matthew, our server, included champagne-poached breast of Amish chicken with oyster mushrooms and spicy fig-gizzard rolls ($18.75); Copper River Salmon wrapped in phylo dough with shiitake, taro root and cilantro stuffing and fermented black bean sauce ($24); and pan-roasted horseradish and shallot-encrusted hanger steak with zucchini, tomato and onion confit and a Zinfandel syrup ($19). here best restaurants in chicago

Where to begin? we wondered.

At the appetizer course, of course, and we knew we would have to try the ginger and lime leaf roasted Maine lobster. Our group also opted for the smoked mussel and herbed shrimp salad wrapped in daikon (shredded Asian radish) with cucumber “Bloody Mary” sauce ($10.25). We tried the terrine of roast summer vegetables in a sweet pepper-habanero chile sauce ($6.75). And we had the pan-roasted baby lamb tournedo on smoked corn and chanterelles mushrooms drizzled with the basil peach coulis ($11).

When it came time to order the entrees, no one opted for the Amish chicken despite the allure of “spicy fig-gizzard rolls.” We did have the Copper River salmon and the hanger steak, along with the glazed vegetable and tempeh skewers with steamed adzuki bean and rice parcels, sesame marinated spinach and pickled plum vinaigrette ($17).

We also had the grilled Pacific Halibut and seafood sausage with braised summer lettuces, sweet onions and raspberry vinegar-cape gooseberry sauce ($23).

We also ordered two evening specials. The first was grilled black grouper and gulf prawn over a terrine of Yukon Gold potatoes vegetables vinaigrette ($24.50). The second was the daily dinner special for two, Limosine beef — imported from France — with summer truffles, baby vegetables and a twice-baked potato ($50).

Clearly, 13 people can make short work of even the most challenging menu.

Our wine choices, in order of preference, included the ’94 Truchard Vineyard Merlot ($45 a bottle), a verdant, velvety red from Caneros, Calif., with rapid maturation characteristics in the glass; a ’93 Phillipe Foreau “Clos Naudin” Vouvray from the Loire Valley, a lush, fleshy wine that still managed to retain its lightness and spark; and a ’95 Groth Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa that held great potential in its tannins, obviously too strong a wine to be served so young.

To say the dinners passed without discussion, particularly over how well done the fish was or should have been, would be a disservice to the diners we had assembled. Several diners felt their fish, seared rare, was not particularly to their liking. We’ve seen this done well before, as well as not so well. Reviews on this aspect of the dinner were, well, mixed.

How did some of the others stack up?

The ginger and lime leaf roasted Maine lobster was one of the hits of the evening. The spicy vanilla bean sauce was snappish and pert as only fresh ginger can make it, with rich chunks of lobster mixed liberally with the fresh greens, highlighted by the near-invisible presence of the sesame seeds. The overall effect was sublime.

The terrine of roasted summer vegetables was also slightly spicy, and the dish surprised us by being served almost as a puree. But the flavors, tastes and textures all fell neatly into place.

We didn’t have a chance to try the pan-roasted baby lamb tournedo (he was at the other end of the table) but were assured through full-mouth bites that it was excellent.

The only disappointment was the “Bloody Mary” sauce accompanying the smoked mussels and herbed shrimp, wrapped in shredded daikon. The net effect was both visually and flavorfully impressive. The sauce, however, lacked character and was a little too subtle for the dish.

As for the entrees — well, except for the aforementioned concern, there were few complaints from this crowd. web site best restaurants in chicago

The Copper River salmon, available only seasonally, was seared pink and yet still flaked to the fork. A layer of spicy wasabi separated it from the more bland vegetables while the phylo was shredded rather than wrapped around the fish, producing visually stunning strands that crisped in the oven to a delightfully crunchy texture. An outstanding dish.

The sizable grouper steak and large tiger prawn were equally as good. Again, light searing was the measure of the day, allowing in most cases (some would disagree) a rich succulence that the grouper otherwise doesn’t necessarily provide. The potato and vegetable bed on which the fish nestled provided a nice backdrop to the fish’s flavors.

We also enjoyed the grilled tempeh and vegetables, a light dish cooked in a rich marinade that was thoroughly enjoyable. The spinach alone may have been worth the price.

The greatest surprise, however, came from the two beef dishes. The hanger steak — named such because it hangs from the last rib of the Black Angus steer — was served rare; otherwise, Matthew promised, it would be too tough. It was indeed rich and tender, clearly an outstanding cut of beef outstandingly prepared, the rich zinfandel syrup and horseradish and shallot crust giving it a wonderful added dimension.

Easily the best dish was the Limosine beef. The 12-ounce medallions provided an ample cut that shredded easily at the fork. Also served rare, the beef was the richest, tenderest, most flavorful cut we had ever sampled. Absolutely superb.

And then there was . . . dessert. Try a bittersweet and milk chocolate pyramid with red wine sorbet, fresh berries and lemon verbena sabayon ($7). Or perhaps the house-made brioche bread pudding with roasted mango and vanilla bean ice cream soaked in Frangellica with a passion fruit coulis ($5.50).

Based on visual appeal alone, these weren’t food items, they were works of art.

Chef Luce eventually appeared at our request, shuffling his feet to an enthusiastic round of applause. Few in this group had a night quite like this in recent memory.

The chef, on the other hand, probably hears this every night. And he should.

Spruce 238 E. Ontario St., Chicago. (312) 642-3757. Hours: closed for lunch during August; open after Sept. 1 for lunch, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner, Mon.-Thur., 5:30-10 p.m; Fri.-Sat., 5:30-11 p.m. Street parking. Smoking/non-smoking. Credit cards, no checks. ****

Share it now!

Leave a Reply