Let’s Get-Together

As some of you may remember, I wrote last August about my great love of the Minnesota State Fair. Heading there every August 27th is a family tradition that is not only a great ending to summer, but also a fantastic way to celebrate my dad’s birthday.

20120829-083851.jpgWhile some may want a party with candles and a cake, he asks for one thing only: Sweet Martha’s Cookies at the end of the night. “Cold milk. Warm cookies. What more could you possibly ask for?” he told me on Monday.

We kept it fairly simple this year: food, Art Building, food, Horticulture Building, food, horses, people-watching, and food. My annual self-appointed job remains the single best thing about going to the Great Minnesota Get-Together: reading up on new snacks, charting our course, and eating everything in sight. It never fails to be a truly epic endeavor, and this year was no exception.

For those of you hardcore fair-goers, an inside tip: the Minnesota State Fair app was incredibly helpful. For my food preparation purposes, its details and directions were phenomenal and gave us a helpful way to plan our attack.

So, without further ado, may I present you with the 2012 Goelz/Nickerson State Fair Menu. In the spirit of the Summer Olympics, my family decided to score our meal throughout the evening:

* Duke’s Poutine: This Canadian import was a great way to kick things off! The fresh-cut fries came in a bowl covered in gravy and white cheddar cheese curds. Delicious! (9 out of 10)

*Turkey-to-Go: These pulled-turkey sandwiches always serve as our main course, though I have to admit I’m spoiled working downtown. Turkey-to-Go has a sandwich shop near my office, and I’ve had a couple throughout the year. Shame on me, I know, since it’s my family’s State Fair staple. (10 out of 10)

* Bacon Ice Cream from the Horticulture Building: My dad snagged a bowl before I found him, and promptly threw it away before I got a bite. But his review was short and sweet: Not enough bacon was mixed into the maple-flavored ice cream. Chunky and unappealing, and apparently “too many nitrates.” (4 out of 10)

*Risotto Poppers from French Meadow: An interesting new item. The spicy, flavorful & crunchy rice balls were a “healthy” addition to our evening, though I’m not sure that they’re, in fact, “glutten free.” The taste reminded us of black bean salsa. (6 out of 10)

*Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Puppy: Just imagine this for a second: warm peanut butter, baked into a fudge puppy, dipped in chocolate and topped with whipped cream. The presentation alone was great. The taste? Even better! (10 out of 10)

*Chicken Nachos on Stick: This was our one real “meh” food for the night. It was fine, nothing special. The chicken was seasoned well, but it was misleading to call it a “stick” food. Really, it was just skewered chicken lying in a bed of so-so nachos. (5 out of 10)

*Fresh Vegetable Pie:  Usually, I can depend on a veggie pizza for a bit of non-fried, healthy eating. But not this year!  Though typically one of my favorite treats, for some odd reason they decided to cover this whole darn thing in salt. Why ruin a good thing? Ugh. (2 out of 10)

*Cheese Curds from Mouth Trap: Believe it or not these were less salty than my veggie pie! And that’s really saying something. Tasty as always. (8 out of 10)

*Minneapple Pie: Everything about this little deep-fried, “homemade” apple pie is awesome. Bonus: their new truck is very fancy and the pies were even bigger than last year’s! (10 out of 10)

*Hotdish on a Stick: Who knew that tater tots, sausage meatballs, gravy dip, and deep frying was a match made in heaven? It is. I’d vote for one of these over a corndog, believe it or not. (8 out of 10)

*Cereal Killer Ice Cream from Blue-Moon Dine-In Theater: Actually, this was another “meh.” Though we had high hopes (especially after Blue-Moon’s sweet corn ice cream from last year!). They claimed the ice cream would taste like the bottom of a cereal bowl, but alas, it just tasted like chocolate ice cream with Coco Puffs on top. (5 out of 10)

*Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies and milk: This serves as my dad’s unofficial birthday cake. As far as everyone is concerned, it’s a “10” every year.

As I mentioned, we also have the familiar non-food related stops along the way. This year, we cruised through the Art Building, and I was excited to find a co-worker’s beautiful photograph of a cathedral in Germany. The Horticulture Building also had some great visuals in the form of seed art. My personal favorite was the “Crop Pot,” though a Michael Phelps merman/scarecrow was a close second. It certainly fit with our evening theme of scoring food Olympic-style. The other great addition to the night was watching the 8-horse carriages plow down the street after leaving the Coliseum. My mom was so excited to see the beautiful Percherons, you would have thought she was following a rock band.

All in all, though some of the new foods were a bit disappointing, our jaunt to the State Fair lived up to its annual expectations. Feet dirty, legs tired, stomach full, head buzzing – it might not sound great, but it is.  As my dad so aptly said, “What more could you ask for?”

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