Today is one of my favorite days of the whole year! It’s not a holiday, it’s not a weekend, it’s not my birthday – it’s the first full day of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament! Thirty-two teams play in sixteen games today and then the other thirty-two teams play tomorrow. It’s ALL DAY hoop action! Upsets abound, and people cheer for teams they’ve never even heard of, just because they picked them on their bracket or because they want them to beat a team that stands in their team’s way of reaching the Final Four. The sports announcers are in hog heaven, getting to speculate and prognosticate, and leading us in a cheer for underdogs everywhere (unless it will affect their bracket!).
It’s a tradition at our house for everyone to fill out a bracket or two. I have always filled out two – one with the teams that I WANT to win, and one with the teams I think will win. It gets harder and harder for me to distinguish between the two! I tend to always start with the winner, and usually Duke gets inked in that spot…. I work backwards from there. I have a hard time picking teams I don’t like to win even their first round matches, regardless of how high they are seeded. I am virtually glued to the television set from the minute games start until the end of the day. My son and I chat several times during the day as we compare brackets and cheer on our teams. My daughter and I will compare notes and commiserate when our teams lose and whoop and holler when they win.
The fun doesn’t end on Friday – there are sixteen more games to be played over the weekend! It’s like IV basketball! Now that you know what a fanatic I am, you might have a new appreciation for where I was this time last year. Last March, on the 6th, to be exact, Mary and I boarded a plane bound for Sydney, Australia. That means we left before the tournament started, and we got home after it was all over. I missed the WHOLE THING! In the good news/bad news category, Duke lost in the first round – I didn’t have to see it, and I didn’t have to miss not seeing them play. And best of all, I was DOWN UNDER! The whole tournament was the last thing on my mind.
One year ago today, I was in Melbourne, Victoria, with Mary, Shelley, Kerrianne, and Janice. It’s Janice’s city, so she was showing us around. The highlight of this day (for me) was our visit to Chokolait in the Hub Arcade (right next to the Royal Arcade). Even though we had just had breakfast, I was tempted to try their unforgettable Chili Hot Chocolate, Texas-style. “Freshly prepared with genuine Belgian chocolate for a rich, smooth, and sumptuous hot chocolate experience. Dark or milk, chilli or cinnamon; White, jaffa, affogato or mocha” YUM!! Mary and I had chilli, of course. It was like drinking a melted chocolate bar (of the finest varietly) with a kick of chili powder. So, so, delicious! And in case that wasn’t enough, we were all tempted by (and succumbed to) the Chokolait Pavlova with strawberries and double cream. O. M. G.!!!!
The Pav was so good that I had to message owner Ross (yes, of course we met him and had a photo taken with him!) for the recipe after I got home. He kindly obliged (through a rather hilarious series of emails) and I made the heavenly treat for the American Pixies who came to Tiki later in April. Meanwhile, back in Melbourne, we were so stuffed we could barely waddle back to the arcade, where we immediately stopped at Suga (see Janice’s page posted on our Facebook wall recently) and watched them make candy. For those inquiring minds who want to know, we did NOT eat lunch that day! But we did see more chocolate….. And who knows, the Chokolait Pavlova may become a March Madness tradition here!
Let’s go Duke!