So how was that roast bear?

If you’re a football fan, you may have heard the story of a St. Paul restaurant that cooked a 180-pound black bear as a little good-natured ribbing for the NFC championship game on Sunday.

Blake Montpetit, owner of Tiffany Sports Lounge, may live in Viking country, but his family hails from Wisconsin.

“We’ve gone with the Packers since 1986 at Tiffany’s," Montpetit says. "If there is a Packers game on and a Vikings game on, we show the Packers.”

So they had to stick it to their division rival, and what better way to do that than roast its mascot?

Montpetit’s cousin shot the bear back in the fall when the season was open, and froze it for a big occasion. They roasted the whole bear over charcoal and hickory. The process is similar to cooking a pig, and took more than 12 hours.

“It takes away the greasiness you typically have with bear,” Montpetit said.

Unfortunately the restaurant wasn’t able to serve the bear to patrons because of health code reasons, but it didn’t go to waste. After it was cooked, the meat was transferred to a family party in Somerset, Wis. But bystanders could take pictures while it roasted at the restaurant.

“It turned out good. It pretty much fell off the bone, so it was used a lot for sandwiches,” Montpetit says. “They’ll make some bear stew with leftovers. The ribs they just ate with barbecue sauce.”

Tiffany Sports Lounge features hearty sandwiches and burgers. Game meat is not a mainstay of the menu. And although bear might be a little out there for some, it’s not the weirdest thing the restaurateur has eaten. That would be mealworms. It was a bet on a fishing trip and he says there were a couple of cocktails involved.

“They don’t taste that bad,” Montpetit says. “Funny part is I researched them afterwards to make sure I wasn’t going to get sick and supposedly they’re really good for you. But it’s not something I’m going to go around and eat all the time.”

Montpetit couldn’t be happier with the way Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are playing, but knows the Super Bowl will be a tougher game than the win over the Bears. He predicts a high scoring game and says the final will be Green Bay 28, Pittsburgh 21.

There won’t be anything crazy on the menu for the Super Bowl though. Montpetit doesn’t think there’s any way they can top this story.

Besides, you can’t roast a Steeler anyway.

Can you?

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Jack LaLanne has touched your life.

You might not believe me, but I can prove it. Stand with your feet together and hands by your sides. Now spring your feet out about shoulder width apart while swinging your hands above your head. I’m sure you’ll recognize the move. You probably repeated it thousands of times as a kid. No, LaLanne didn’t invent the Jumping Jack, but his fitness television show, which ran for 34 years, opened with the host performing them under the credits. That’s what made the callisthenic so popular.

LaLanne passed away Sunday night at the age of 96.

How he’s remembered all depends on how old you are. Generations from the 50’s and 60’s will recall a black and white image of the Godfather of Fitness in his patented, belted jumpsuit on "The Jack LaLanne Show."

Those who discovered the man in the following two decades will never forget his impressive feats. In 1974 at the age of 60, LaLanne swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf while handcuffed, repeating a challenge he’d accomplished nearly 20 years before, except this time also towing a half-ton boat. A decade later, LaLanne towed 70 boats with 70 people one and a half miles across the Long Beach Harbor.

Anyone who only came to know the man recently will most likely remember the spry 90-year-old and his passion for juicing fruits and vegetables. Who didn’t want to run out and get a smoothie after watching infomercials for the Juice Tiger or Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer?

LaLanne dedicated his life to fitness because that’s what saved his own. He blamed a violent and unhappy youth on refined sugars and talked openly about attempting suicide. An encounter with famed nutritionist Paul Bragg put him on the path to health, which set off an eight-decade quest to help the nation get in shape. He did it with tough love and humor.

“Would you get your dog up every day, give him a cup of coffee, a doughnut, and a cigarette?” LaLanne would ask. “Hell, no. You’d kill the damn dog.”

He was also fond of saying, “If man made it, don’t eat it.”

LaLanne also revolutionized the sports world by encouraging athletes to lift weights. Prior to him, having
big muscles was discouraged and thought to only slow competitors down. He told stories of people sneaking into his gym at night to work out. So when Clay Matthews flashes his double biceps in two weeks at the Super Bowl, think of Jack LaLanne.

In interviews toward the end of his life, LaLanne had a standard response to questions about his mortality. He would say, “I can’t afford to die. It’ll wreck my image.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. LaLanne will certainly be missed, but his image will remain: The
fitness guru, the strongman, the juice fanatic.

It’s probably been a while since you did a Jumping Jack.

Me too.

Jack LaLanne would’ve wanted us to know that’s OK. His legacy is the idea that it’s never too late to
take care of yourself.

“Forget about what you used to do. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for."

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Major League Soccer is at it again.

In 2007, they tried to increase the sport’s popularity in the U.S. by importing David Beckham. Battling through injuries, Becks wowed the fans with his ability to “bend it” in about a half dozen games that season. His presence made such an impact that the L.A. Galaxy doesn’t even need him anymore, so he’s been on loan to Milan for the past two years.

But the league went to its big guns this week. If there’s one thing that America likes more than dreamy Euro-hunks, it’s cake. That’s why MLS had Charm City Cakes (the bakers from Food Network’s Ace of Cakes) create a soccer-themed cake for the MLS Draft at the Baltimore Convention Center on Thursday.

I’m sure there were more than a few people who showed up for the 30-pound confection and were disappointed to learn that a soccer draft was taking place. After all, your average American can name more types of cake than they can professional soccer players.

Credit to MLS for the clever ploy, but something tells me NBA Commissioner David Stern won’t be conducting a Throw Down with Bobby Flay at this summer’s NBA Draft. I doubt Roger Goodell will tap Mario Batali to create Cam Newton’s likeness out of ravioli this April. The NHL could definitely use a boost in the fan department, but you won’t see Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin battle on Iron Chef America.

As far as I can tell, outside of the cake, the most exciting thing to happen yesterday was that a guy whose last name is Kitchen was taken third. I’m sure he’s a fantastic soccer player, but with a name like Perry Kitchen, I believe he missed his calling.

I’ll leave you with one last question: Since soccer players aren’t allowed to use their hands, how did they eat the cake?

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Keith Solomon and his friends at the University of Maryland took down entire pizzas, dozens of chicken wings and pounds of fries. The competitions they had during their freshman year were simply about using dining hall points that were about to expire.

Two years later, Solomon and company have founded the nation’s first collegiate competitive eating club team.

“We were kind of surprised that we were the first,” said Solomon, a 20-year-old environmental engineering major and club president.

Now the challenge is for them to find others to compete against. The Maryland club, which started out as bragging rights, is trying to get its rivals at Duke to form a team. And students at several schools have contacted the club with an interest in starting a chapter of their own.

“Our hope is that this will culminate in a national championship in May," said Solomon, whose eating nickname is King. "That would be pretty sweet if we could get that done."

In the meantime, King and his court are gaining in numbers and working on strategy. The club boasts 30 members, and they take turns meeting at different people’s houses.

“We’ve done time trials with pizza and sandwiches," Soloman said. "Just to get an idea of who’s good with what. My specialty is Jell-o, but I’m not the best eater on the team.”

That distinction belongs to Phil “The Fury” Fiore.

He is not from the original group that gorged at the dining hall. Fiore had been honing his competitive eating chops long before the club became official in November.

“I’ve been eating competitively for a few years against friends and in some local competitions," said Fiore, a sophomore marketing major. "It’s like a pick-up sport. When I heard about the competitive eating team, it was an easy fit."

Fiore’s credentials include a victory at the 2009 Whiz Bowl, where he took down 8.5 cheese steaks in 15 minutes at the Saphire Café in Bethesda. He has also battled with professional competitive eaters at a dumpling contest in New York City, where he finished in the top 10.

Fiore is serious about his eating, but most of the club members just do it for fun.

“I personally am not looking to go professional, but I know at least one or two people would like to do this in the future,” Solomon said. “I guess you can kind of look at it as a farm team.”

Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, ranked No. 2 in the world by Major League Eating, loves the idea of a collegiate competitive eating club.

“I’m jealous, actually,” he said. “It’s a smart thing for them to do. And I think it’ll bring more interest and exposure to competitive eating, which is good for the sport.”

Bertoletti attended culinary school and said he would’ve jumped at the chance to join a similar club had it been around. His advice to the team is to be safe. MLE rules call for a paramedic to be on-hand for all events, and he doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt. After that, “Deep Dish” said, simply have fun.

“They’ll probably go to buffets, but they should check out the restaurant challenges in the area, and check out MLE when we’re in Maryland,” Bertoletti said. “I would definitely like to meet those guys.”

Fiore would enjoy that. He has his sights set on the big leagues.

“I’m going to be the MVP of this team,” he said, half-joking. “We’ll have to see if any pro clubs want to pick me up. There should be a competitive eating draft. I’d go in the first round.”

But for now, the Maryland team simply needs competition.

“My school has a Quidditch team,” Fiore said, referring to the fictional sport in the Harry Potter books. “If a Quidditch team can go national, why can’t competitive eating?”

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Ed. Note: The BCS Championship game is over, and Auburn reigns over the land. But there is one battle still to be waged: The Burger War. We found the tastiest burger in the state of Oregon and the most sumptuous burger in the state of Alabama and here, we pit the two against each other. Reporting on Oregon is Yahoo! Sports editor Matt Ryan. Reporting on Auburn is our food blogger, Adam Watson. (How do we know they found the best burgers in their states? We asked the computers. And the computers are never wrong.) May the best beef win!

What makes a great burger? Same thing that makes a great football team:

Every part must work together in perfect unison.

And behind it all, there must be a leader calling the right plays. On the field, that would be Ducks coach Chip Kelly. In the kitchen, we’re talking about Gabriel Rucker – head chef at Le Pigeon in Portland, Oregon.

Le Pigeon is a French/American restaurant that serves all kinds of fine cuisine, from mouth-melting foie gras, succulent pork chops, and for dessert, an apricot cornbread with bacon and maple ice cream. (Pause to collect yourself.)

But yes, mixed in with all that fancy food is a burger you will never forget.

Rucker, the James Beard-nominated owner, has been serving the burger since Le Pigeon opened in 2006. But there’s a catch: they only make five a night. That’s right, this burger is as rare as a punt from the Oregon offense. And to get one, you must get there early. One patron told me he travels two-and-a-half hours just to have one. In fact, during the 90 minutes I was there savoring my burger -- and a nice glass of wine to wash it down -- all five were sold.

So what makes this burger so special? Le Pigeon burgers are made with eight ounces of cascade natural beef ground in-house, and topped with Tillamook aged white cheddar, lettuce slaw, grilled pickled onions, homemade aioli, homemade ketchup, and Dijon mustard from France – all on a grilled ciabatta bun from a local bakery.

“It’s a very simple burger,” says Rucker, as if anyone can cook one up on the grill. “All the ingredients just work together.”

The flavors melt together all in one big, juicy bite that will have your taste buds doing jumping jacks – or maybe push-ups like the Ducks mascot.

A burger this good has to be costly, right? Nope. It’s a fantastic deal for only $11 with potatoes, or $13 with the salad -- barely costing more than the sloppy meat mess found at Five Guys.

And making this burger experience even better is the fact that you can get a sideline seat to the show. Sit back and watch the master at work, and feel free to cheer on the chef, who loves to talk with his customers like they are part of the team.

And the fans love Rucker and his burger. It’s so successful that at his newest restaurant in Portland, Little Bird, the burger is a staple on the menu.

If you want a perfect combination of style and substance, go to Eugene for the football and go to Portland for the best damn burger in the land.


In Auburn, a burger is a burger.

You won’t find too many patties served on ciabatta bread. Not a lot of toppings like exotic Japanese mushrooms. Don’t expect lavender mayo smeared across the bun. No cheese made from goats that live in the Himalayas and graze solely on air.


In Auburn, Michelin means tires, not fancy food. Sure, there’s fine dining to be had. But a hamburger is exactly what it’s supposed to be. And no one does it better than Niffer’s Place.

Opened by Auburn alum Keely Beasecker and some partners in 1991, the restaurant sits a mile or so outside the Tigers’ campus. (Niffer was the nickname of one of the founders.) “She never expected to be in business 20 years, which is a lifetime in the Auburn area,” says general manager Patrick Payne.

Now the restaurant is intertwined with the college. Niffer’s Place helps out students enrolled in the hotel and management program, and most of their employees attend the university. Of course it’s also a hotspot for hungry coeds. And those coeds are hungry for burgers.

“We hand-patty half-pound burgers with a little special seasoning in them,” Payne says. “They’re grilled up and served on a Kaiser roll from a local bakery.”

Niffer’s has over a dozen burgers on its menu. All are served with shredded lettuce and tomato. You can choose from a variety of sauces, but the good old-fashioned cheeseburger seems to mesmerize most. The truly bold can take on the Niffasauras: three half-pound patties, four slices of cheese, two strips of bacon and a fried egg on top.

All in all, the restaurant sold nearly 70,000 burgers last year. Many of those were downed by Auburn football players, who come in regularly. And a lot of them will be eager to try the burger named after the Heisman Trophy winner.

“Of course we’re all abuzz right now with the national title game, and so we came up with the CamBurger,”

Payne says.

That’s one of Niffer’s half-pound patties, topped with three ounces of thinly sliced roast beef and melted Swiss cheese. Unfortunately the burger’s namesake hasn’t gotten to try it yet. The team had already taken off for Arizona when Payne added it to the menu.

The Tiger faithful can cheer on the team and chase their CamBurgers with a glass of Cammy-Cam juice. Payne invented the cocktail as a tribute to the special concoction the Auburn quarterback keeps in a squeeze bottle during games. Niffer’s version of Cammy-Cam juice is vodka, blue Gatorade and an orange slice. (And in case you’re wondering, Newton is of legal drinking age.)

Niffer’s is proud of its hometown heroes, but the place don’t discriminate against Duck fans. If any are brave enough to show up in hostile territory, they have a white tablecloth sandwich to make them feel right at home. “The Quacker” is a juicy chicken breast marinated in Oregon Pinot Noir, then grilled and served on a toasted bun with sautéed mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese. But it probably won’t be flying out the door. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Maybe the folks in Oregon make it look pretty, but only Niffer's has the secret ingredient found in Cammy-Cam juice:



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Behind every great man there’s a great woman -- even at the World Series of Beer Pong.

Dan Range and Nick Syrigos won the sixth edition of the annual tournament at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas last Tuesday. The duo plan to use part of their $50,000 winnings to buy their girlfriends engagement rings. “The girls were there for us the whole time,” says the 25-year old Range. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Under the name “Standing Ovation,” Range and Syrigos beat 506 other teams from nine countries. They only lost a single game during the three days of competition. Even more impressive: They didn’t practice together going into the tournament.

Range lives in Columbia, Ill, just south of St. Louis, across the Mississippi River. Syrigos, 30, is a nearly an hour away in St. Charles, Mo. They played in a couple of satellite tournaments together, but practiced individually leading up to the WSOBP.

“We just counted on each other to shoot and get ready on our own,” says Syrigos, who manages a painting company.

Syrigos has been playing beer pong since he was in high school. (Surely he practiced with Kool-Aid back then, right?) Range, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer to the sport. He didn’t play in college and only started two years ago when he heard about the WSOBP. The two met at a tournament and eventually decided to join forces.

The idea behind the game is simple: Toss a ping pong ball into cups filled part way with beer. If a ball lands in your cup, you drink the contents. First team to sink all 10 cups wins. For player safety during the WSOBP, the contestants have the option to use water, and even if they choose beer, aren’t required to finish every cup.

“We tried to drink at a comfortable pace. You have to,” Range says. “It’s a long event.”

Syrigos insists it’s not about the alcohol, though. Winning the competition was the goal. And as you can tell from their team name, the pair doesn’t lack in confidence. “I knew we were going to win,” Range boasts. Syrigos had the same feeling and bet a friend two bottles of Grey Goose vodka, which he’s eager to collect. (Though it’s not about the alcohol!)

Outside of an engagement ring, he plans to use his winnings to pay off some school loans. Range, an assistant golf pro by day, plans on getting a new set of clubs. After the ring shopping, of course.

“Standing Ovation” holds the title for at least the next year. And Range has a parting shot for all the challengers gearing up for the World Series of Beer Pong VII.

“Come get us!”

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Beer Pong