Taste of the NFL

The gargantuan Taste of the NFL is an epic chef-athlete-fan event held each year on the night before the Super Bowl. (Super Bowl Eve? Isn't that when John Madden comes down your chimney and tells you about football players, who give 110 percent?) The food and wine event, which features an athlete and a chef who represent each team, benefits food banks in all 32 NFL cities -- to the tune of 4 million meals last year, when the event was held in New Orleans.

If you're lucky enough to be cavorting around Brooklyn on Saturday, you, too, can schmooze, sip, nosh and get your picture taken with the NFL player or alum of your choice. The rest of us will have to be content with imagining the delicious fare cooked up by Taste of the NFL veteran Paul Arenstam, from Berkeley's Summer Kitchen+Bake Shop, who will man the Oakland Raiders booth -- along with Ted Hendricks, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990 -- and serve Braised Pork Chile Verde con Arroz. Meanwhile, over at the San Francisco 49ers' table, David Lawrence, from San Francisco's 1300 on Fillmore, will be whipping up Maple Braised Beef Short Ribs with White Grits -- and sharing the limelight with Chris Doleman, Hall of Fame 2012.

Why are we telling you about an event happening on the other side of the country? Because the 49ers will host the 50th Super Bowl at their new Santa Clara stadium in 2016, which means the Taste of the NFL will be here. Start getting excited.

Cupcake colors

It takes more than nachos and beer to make a great Super Bowl-watching party. It takes cupcakes, too -- preferably in team-specific colors. McCormick, the food coloring outfit, has offered up the secret for turning canned white frosting into scarlet and gold Niners hues (hopefully for next year -- we refuse to make Seahawks green). To achieve the appropriate redness for a true Niner cupcake, you'll need to add 150 drops of red, 10 drops of yellow and 3 drops of black to that 16-ounce can of frosting. For gold, it's 100 drops of yellow and 1 of black. (Three digits' worth of food coloring sounds extreme, so it may be easier to do it as 25 drops=¼ teaspoon. Or use gel or paste food coloring.)

Top 10 wine tourist spots

We're unable to resist the allure of top 10 lists, but this one -- from Wine Enthusiast Magazine -- holds some surprises. The glossy mag chose 10 "must-visit wine travel destinations" for its third annual travel-centric issue, and their picks include some surprises:

The Aegean Islands, Greece (pictured)

Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico

Hill Country, Texas

Mendoza, Argentina

Sonoma

Baden, Germany

Barossa Valley, Australia

Walla Walla, Wash.

Languedoc, France

Umbria, Italy

-- Jackie Burrell