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Are you ready for some tailgate action?

Are you ready for some football?

That question prompts an even more important one: Are you ready for the tailgate party?

The tradition of tailgating supposedly began at the 1869 Rutgers vs. Princeton game. Fans traveled to the game by horse drawn carriage and laid out their meal at the 'tail end' of the horse. Fast forward to 2006, please and the more pleasing image of tempting foods artfully arranged on the 'tail gate' of a shiny clean SUV.

I asked a number of tailgate experts for their secrets to tailgate success. This is what I discovered:

Kitzie Randall, UO Duck fan - preparing foods ahead of time is key for her. Her favorite: build your own pocket sandwiches. Start with pocket bread, grilled chicken, grated cheeses, diced cucumber, garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes, a drizzle of salad dressing if you wish. She likes to add a Asian cole slaw or Thai noodle salad, cookies, chips and beverages. Decorations: team colored plates, napkins, plastic ware, tablecloths, and pompoms.

Tracy Randall, UO Duck and LOHS fan - another proponent of the 'cook it before you go' camp. Favorites: grilled flank steak or chicken over Caesar salad, or a self-serve Baked Potato bar. Ditto to cookies, chips and décor. May add balloons to the decorations and few strings of green and yellow beads.

Bonnie Trumbull, OSU Beaver fan, supporter of all things 'State of Oregon' - Bonnie is the Queen of the Panini. She starts with good bread and adds sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, grilled vegetables, deli meats and cheese, then lets her Panini press do its magic. She wraps the sandwiches individually and places them in a cooler (without ice) to keep warm until serving time. She adds a little something sweet and a refreshing beverage, then serves it all on her most fun black and orange service ware.

Melanie Breedlove, UO Duck fan, and all around football enthusiast - Melanie takes her tailgates global. She serves sushi; it's portable and finger or chopstick friendly. She finds sake or champagne to be the perfect accompaniment, and finishes the tailgate with just a little chocolate: Chocolate dipped strawberries or chocolate covered raisins.

Joan Robbins, UW Husky fan - While at UW, Joan got an education in finance and tailgating. She tells me UW tailgates are amazing; dishing up great food with a picturesque view of Lake Washington. She recalls tailgates of barbecued oysters and flank steak sandwiches.

Joan often makes Tailgate Sandwiches, using this recipe from the Junior League of Portland. The recipe is easily modified to incorporate your favorite ingredients.

Try making it with grilled eggplant, zucchini and roasted red peppers and use Port City Pasta's fresh focaccia bread. Experiment and enjoy!

Remember that foods left in the 'danger zone' - between 40 and 140 degrees - for more than two hours should NOT be eaten. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. And when in doubt, throw it out.

Bon Appetit!

Tailgate Sandwich

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Inspired by the annual Civil War Football Game between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University

1 loaf focaccia

Olive oil

Salt and other desired dried herbs

6 to 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature

4 to 6 tablespoons mayonnaise

4 to 6 tablespoons Dijon

¼ pound turkey, sliced

¼ pound proscuitto, sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

¼ pound provolone cheese, sliced

1 small tomato, thinly sliced

1 cup fresh spinach, shredded

Step 1*. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Season bread by brushing top of loaf with olive oil and sprinkling with salt and other seasonings.*

Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in a 300-degree oven. Remove and cool.

Step 2: Slice cooled focaccia in half horizontally and spread both halves with butter, mayonnaise and mustard. Layer ingredients on bottom half of bread in the following order: turkey, proscuitto, onion, provolone, tomato slices and spinach. Place second half on top of layered half. Wrap sandwich tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil.

Refrigerate at least eight hours, or overnight.

Cut into wedges to serve.

*Step 1 is unnecessary if using Port City Pasta's bread.

From Portland's Palate, A Collection of Recipes from the City of Roses by the Junior League of Portland.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.